Reviews by Nara

  • Quite the disappointment

    by Nara on 17/09/2014

    I think the main problem I had with Endgame is that there are way too many points of view. Twelve is just ridiculous, and the author is really just unable to handle them all adequately. Frey switches too quickly between the povs for the reader to really be able to connect with any of them, especially because the characters are so poorly developed.

    The entire premise didn’t really make sense to me. I feel like things should have been explained in a bit more detail or something, because the whole “twelve lines of humanity” and each having one member to “fight” for the survival of the line? Um, whut. Please explain how, when, why.

    The writing itself is pretty poor quality as well. It has a feeling of almost being more of a script than a novel- it’s very overt in stating everything, with complete disregard of the classic “show don’t tell”. The dialogue seems pretty cliched and cheesy at times, and the plot is very chaotic.

    Well, shaky premise, terrible world building and poor handling of multiple points of view- I’m certainly not continuing on with this series.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 08/10/2014

17%
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RRP  $24.99 $20.62
  • An enjoyable contemporary with a touch of action, romance and mystery

    by Nara on 14/03/2014

    If you go into this book expecting something like Delirium, I'm afraid you're probably going to be disappointed in one aspect of the book or another. Going from Delirium to Panic, Oliver makes the transition from dystopian to contemporary as well as series to standalone, and as a result I feel that there's quite a different writing style and tone to this book compared to Delirium. I guess that also stems from the fact that this book is based on fear rather than love. (By the way, for some reason a lot of people seem to have shelved Panic as a dystopian, but I'm pretty sure that it's a contemporary. Maybe those people haven't actually read the book and assume that it's a dystopian because Delirium was a dystopian. Seriously though, look at the blurb. IT CLEARLY ISN'T A DYSTOPIAN, PEOPLE.)

    Contrary to what it looks like in the blurb, rather than two main characters, there's more so four overall. Only Heather and Dodge actually get points of view, but there are two other characters, Natalie and Bishop, who are just as important to the story. And while it also seems like Heather and Dodge are the main couple, very early on in the book, it becomes obvious that the pairings are actually Heather x Bishop and Natalie x Dodge. Some comments about these ships:

    Natalie x Dodge
    Natalie was probably my least favourite protagonist. There was just something inherently unlikeable about her character (for me). She was shallow and temperamental and -_- Dodge, also, wasn't a particularly solid character. Basically, his motives for entering Panic centre around revenge, and I feel like his character is almost just defined by this revenge. Accordingly, the romance between Natalie and Dodge wasn't too interesting for me. I mean, the romance itself wasn't badly done; I just didn't care enough about the two characters to really enjoy it.

    Bishop x Heather:
    Probably the only person of the four who I actually really liked was Bishop. Initially, at least. Later on in the book there's a somewhat predictable curveball which sort of twisted his character a bit, but when you learn the motivations behind his choices, I suppose they're acceptable. Heather was also not a bad character, and the majority of the book is focused on her journey to face her fears. Seriously, these two had the sweetest relationship- with a very natural evolution from best friends to more-than-friends. I didn't even need to ship these two; the ship sailed itself.

    In terms of the actual game of Panic, I did have some issues about the background of the game. Mostly the fact that a lot of things seemed to go unexplained, particularly about the judges. In the game, there are some people who are chosen to moderate the events and arrange the challenges. Who chooses these people? How are they chosen? How are they paid? Where does the prize money come from?? SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS. The actual games, however, were pretty good. Enough action and mystery and thrills to keep me reading on.

    Overall, ignoring the unanswered questions, Panic was quite a realistic contemporary, and I'd recommend it to people who like their mysteries with a touch of romance and action.

Format: Hardback

Publication Date: 04/03/2014

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  • Incredible.

    by Nara on 24/11/2014

    I Was Here, for me, has been Gayle Forman's best novel by far. While her other novels, of course, are nothing to dismiss, I feel like I Was Here had that little something extra- that igniting spark- to really take the story to the next level.

    I really appreciated how the love interest and the romance didn't just come in and "fix" everything for Cody. I feel like that happens too often in this sort of novel- the romance dominates the book and everything else, including the protagonist's character development, becomes secondary. In I Was Here, the romance takes a back seat, with Cody struggling to accept what has happened to her best friend as the main driving force of the plot.

    There were some surprising mysteries threading things together, and as we discover more and more secrets about Meg's life, the tone shifts to become unexpectedly darker. As she digs deeper into what Meg has been hiding from her, Cody begins to question what she truly knew about her best friend, all the while trying to deal with her grief.

    If you'd like to read a book which handles many contemporary issues, including suicide and bereavement, in a poignant and realistic way, this book is certainly one to look out for.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/02/2015

18%
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RRP  $19.99 $16.25
  • Head Transplants. What an idea.

    by Nara on 02/09/2014

    All I knew about Noggin before reading it was that it was about a boy who had his head cryogenically frozen and then sewn onto someone else's body.
    Really, isn't that all you need to want to get your hands on a copy of this book?
    However, for the sake of a proper review, let me continue.

    After reading this book some other things I now know about Noggin:
    1. It's a book about a boy who had his head cryogenically frozen and then sewn onto someone else's body, but it's not only about this boy. It's about his best friend, his girlfriend, his parents, the new friend he makes at school, and how this time leap has affected them all.

    2. The main character Travis, is a bit annoying at times. He has this very firm conviction that his ex-girlfriend is still in love with him, and he has difficulty with accepting that she has moved on. I think that this annoying aspect of his character is what makes him most real. It's completely understandable that one might have difficulty moving forward when everyone you know has suddenly aged 5 years, and you're stuck in the past, not knowing what your future holds.

    3. Don't even try and wrap your head around the medical aspect of things. I could not stop my eyes from rolling at the thought of transplanting someone's head onto someone else's body. I mean, how could you even attach all the nerves in the spinal cord of the body to the appropriate nerve endings in the head? Yeah, so don't read this book expecting science.

    Read this book expecting an examination of human nature, and one boy's resistance in accepting that times have changed and his very real, very emotional journey to adapt and thrive.

  • Head Transplants. What an idea.

    by Nara on 02/09/2014

    a

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/08/2014

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RRP  $17.99 $12.54
  • Cliches, cliches everywhere!

    by Nara on 14/03/2014

    Admittedly, I really disliked Beautiful Disaster, so I have to say that I didn't have particularly high expectations for this book. To be honest, I hadn't even read the synopsis and therefore didn't realise this book was going to be a zombie book. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I liked this book much more than McGuire's other novels- although it still wasn't particularly amazing.

    While I did like the book overall, there were definitely quite a few flaws that I could pick up on. One in particular is that there really is nothing new about this novel. The plotline is a rather typical zombie novel- weird virus infecting people, sudden outbreak of people all zombie-like, BRAIIIIINS! In terms of the romance aspect, which was surprisingly not really the focus of the novel, I've read a couple of reviews where people have said that the romances aren't typical ones, but they kinda are...it's the whole people getting bonded by escaping together from danger cliche. Also, despite the imminent danger of being devoured by zombies and what not, the book is actually pretty slow.

    I really didn't like the reason behind how the zombie apocalypse started- the flu vaccine?! Seriously?! Also a rather unbelievable fact was that the ENTIRE apocalypse started at the same time in one day in the US. I mean, seriously, what happened? Despite everyone being inoculated at different times, did the vaccine/virus magically activate itself in everyone at the exact same time? PLOT HOLE.

    For some reason, I felt really invested in Nathan's story. I don't even know why. I mean, he was okay as a character but I wouldn't say that he's particularly engaging or original. I guess I really liked the relationship he had with his daughter. In fact most of the family type relationships were quite interesting- and they were the main reason why I continued reading the book. They were a lot more interesting than the various romances or action or whatever.

    The ending was pretty unsatisfying. I mean, I get that it's difficult to solve the problem of the apocalypse in one book, but the ending was just so....open. THE WORST KIND OF ENDING. Basically it was one of those "we must rebuild humanity in the wake of destruction" cliches.

    I can really only recommend this book to people who have never read any zombie novels or watched any zombie movies. That way you won't be smacked in the face by the countless cliches.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/10/2013

32%
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RRP  $19.99 $13.49
  • An epic high fantasy

    by Nara on 24/11/2014

    Despite only having read Sabriel out of the original Abhorsen trilogy, and not really remembering anything from it anyway, having read it so long ago, I really enjoyed Clariel. Filled with compelling action and fantastically well developed characters, it's definitely the sort of high fantasy that I was looking for.

    I have to admit, the pace was very slow at the start, with almost nothing of note happening until about halfway through the book. That initial poor pacing is probably what brought the book down a star for me, as pretty much everything else was fabulous.

    I think perhaps the other thing I would have liked to have seen would be more exploration of the magic system and world building. I'm sure that would have been dealt with in Nix's other books, but I feel that I still would have preferred it had he showcased a bit more of the magic in this book for those who are new to the series.

    Clariel was a very interesting character, in fact, one of the most interesting I've encountered in recent times, and she's apparently featured in the book Lirael (according to the author's note) so perhaps reading that would have given me a better idea of what sort of person she is. I feel like she was quite flawed, being both headstrong and easily influenced by others at different points in the book. She seemed to jump into things without considering the facts, leading to quite the series of shenanigans.

    Even if you haven't read the other books in the series, I'd definitely recommend this book. Push through the initial slow pace, and you have an amazingly written, action packed and exciting high fantasy novel.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 24/09/2014

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RRP  $22.99 $19.55
  • Not quite as powerful as expected, but still a decent read.

    by Nara on 14/03/2014

    "Cancer would take away plenty. My hair, my body, my life. What I'd never realised though, was that there was one privilege to dying: the right to live without consequence."

    While I'd still definitely say that it's a good book overall, I feel like Side Effects May Vary perhaps didn't meet my expectations, which, granted, were sky high. I just feel like on the whole, it wasn't quite the poignant, powerful book I expected it to be. I mean, the blurb says that Alice has done "irreparable damage" to people around her, and while the things she did were bad, they weren't as horrible as I thought they might have been. And therefore, the repercussions didn't seem like they'd be too bad. Really, the only thing that I really didn't like was the way Alice treated Harvey. Other than that, I mean, sure, the things Alice did were kind of bad, but I wouldn't say that they were absolutely terrible.

    I had some problems with the first 100 pages or so, but things definitely picked up as I read on. I think initially, the book doesn't quite have that "grab" factor and I found my mind wandering a fair bit- as the plot settles though, I went speeding through the second half.

    Side Effects May Vary is told in dual point of view (Alice and Harvey) and in two different timelines: then and now. I'm not sure whether it was just me, but for some reason, at times I found all of these different perspectives a bit confusing. Maybe because it jumps so quickly between them, or maybe I just wasn't concentrating hard enough on the book, but I found it confusing. There were a fair few time skips within each timeline, so that also added to the confuzzlement. And I feel like we didn't quite get enough time in one time period before we were whisked away to the other- it made connecting to the characters a bit difficult.

    "On that cold night in January it all slipped into place for me and she became my everything and my everyone. My music, my sun, my words, my hope, my logic, my confusion, my flaw.

    I was thirteen years old, and she was all these things to me. And I was her friend."

    The main focus of this book is probably on Alice and Harvey's relationship, and I'd say that the quote above pretty much summarises this relationship perfectly. Alice seriously doesn't deserve someone like Harvey. Part of me wanted them to end up together for Harvey's sake, but I feel like a bigger part of me didn't. Basically, I did not ship them. I suppose Alice does redeem herself by the end of the book, which obviously we are all expecting, but I still felt like perhaps Harvey let things slide a bit too easily. Also, let's be honest, Harvey was a bit of a doormat. Perhaps a justified doormat, but a doormat nonetheless.

    While this review sounds a bit negative haha, I did enjoy the book overall. Maybe it didn't quite meet my expectations, but it was definitely still a decent read.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 26/03/2014

17%
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RRP  $17.99 $14.85
  • What happened in Summer Fifteen?

    by Nara on 25/07/2014

    *Part One: Welcome.*
    Welcome to this review. Let me explain.

    We Were Liars is split into five parts, with the titles as shown here.

    This review is not a conventional review.
    This review will not analyse any aspect of the book.
    This review should entice, should intrigue, should make you buy a copy of this book.

    Let me begin.

    *Part Two: Vermont*
    What happened in Summer Fifteen?
    The encounter with a sparkly vampire? The late entry into a school of magic?

    No.

    The summer of two boys and two girls.
    The mystery. The laughter. The accident?

    *Part Three: Summer Seventeen*
    Mirren: sugar. Curiosity and rain.
    Johnny: bounce. Effort and snark.
    Gat: contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee.
    Cadence.

    They are the Liars.

    *Part Four: Look, a [spoilers removed]*

    *Part Five: Truth*
    Here is where you will be enlightened.
    Here is where you will be hit by feels.
    Here is where you must expect the unexpected.
    Should someone ask you about this part, you know what to do.

    LIE.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/08/2014

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RRP  $17.99 $13.99
  • A compelling debut

    by Nara on 14/03/2014

    I want to start this review by addressing our male lead. Bodee is a rather interesting name. And it suits a rather interesting character. One of the main reasons I had wanted to read this book was that the blurb says that the book contains a "quiet and awkward boy next door". I feel like, in YA, there are too many bad boys and just confident love interests in general. It's actually fairly rare to find a quiet and/or awkward male lead. And wow, Bodee was an excellent one. I suppose recently, there have been a gradual increase in the number of more interesting love interests- and I have to say, this is I change I wholeheartedly support.

    I suppose, in a way, Alexi's secret was fairly obvious, and at times it seemed a bit silly to have her talk about her "biggest secret" because it was so obvious to the reader. At the same time, it was completely acceptable, because to all the other characters in the book (except Bodee) it was indeed a secret. I guess that's the privilege of being able to see inside her mind as a reader.

    There was only one major issue I had with this book- and this was how the main conflict was resolved. I feel like the "villain" of the novel got off a little bit too easily. On one hand, I did understand why it was that he got off somewhat easily, but just on a very fundamental level, I disliked how the issue was kind of swept under the rug in a way (sorry, it's difficult to talk about without spoilers). I did recently read an interview with the author where she said that she didn't want to deal with this issue because the book was more so about Alexi's journey, and I suppose that's understandable.

    Faking Normal is definitely a very unique read. I do agree with the statements in the blurb- Courtney C. Stevens blew me away with this thoughtful, realistic, compelling debut. She's certainly been etched onto my list of authors to watch out for.

Format: Hardback

Publication Date: 01/05/2014

29%
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RRP  $35.99 $25.43
  • Let me tell you about a story

    by Nara on 17/01/2015

    Let me tell you about a tale of a girl. A girl and her brother. A girl and her brother and a town that connects to the land of the fae.

    Let me tell you about a tale where the writing is reminiscent of Maggie Stiefvater's. That slow, lyrical feel that makes you think of moonlit nights and pure magic.

    Let me tell you about a tale that simply *is* pure magic.

    Let me tell you about a tale with fantastic protagonists, protagonists with a sibling relationship that is realistic in its secrets and fighting and honesty and love.

    Let me tell you about a strange twist on Sleeping Beauty, where it is the boy who sleeps. A boy who has horns, who is fae, is he good or evil?

    Let me tell you about the changeling whose foster mother refused to give him back, even after receiving her own child. The changeling who wants to fit in, and yet is drawn to the monthly celebrations of his own race. The changeling named Jack.

    Let me tell you now: you want a copy of this book.

Format: Hardback

Publication Date: 10/02/2015

$26.35
  • Quite a good book, despite the woeful lack of worldbuilding

    by Nara on 14/03/2014

    In order to end on a more positive note, I'll start off with the negative aspects of the book; the biggest of which is to do with the world building. There's a complete lack of world building, and this is probably the main reason this book gets four stars rather than five. I'm a big world building reader, so if a book has crappy world building, it isn't very likely to get five stars from me unless the other aspects are seriously compelling, which wasn't quite the case with this book. There are a few references to other settings in the world of the book- the Empire, the land where Ileni's people live (I can't even remember the name of that place...) but there's pretty much no development of those aspects of the world at all. I suppose this is the first book in the series, so it's possible that everything will be explained properly in subsequent books. I do have to admit that the book was very focused on Ileni and her immediate survival- so that perhaps explains the lack of world building. Doesn't necessarily mean I liked it though.

    Of course, I wouldn't have given the book four stars if there weren't some other interesting aspects of the book. One of which was the romance. It definitely wasn't instalove, but there was kind of a sense of it being a romance of convenience. Ileni is the only girl in the assassin compound, and the only person there who protects her or even acts like he's sort of on her side is Sorin (even if it is because he has orders to do so), and so he's almost a love interest by default. Like, would you rather pick the fifty other hostile, deadly assassins or the one less hostile but still deadly assassin? haha. Still, I did quite like it overall. If you like slow burning romances, I think you'll probably like this one (despite the feeling of it being a leeeetle bit too convenient). By the way, I am quite sure that the previous love interest referenced in the blurb as "the man she expected to spend her life with" (whose name I have momentarily forgotten lol) will turn up in later books and FREAKING RUIN EVERYTHING. I will flip a desk if that happens.

    I really loved the protagonist. She was exactly the strong female lead needed in this story- lost all her magic? No problem, she uses the few dregs she has left to do a lot of useful things. Lost the man she expected to spend her life with? Whatever, she got a new love interest, bro. Lost her "purpose in life"? That's okay! She creates a new, much more compelling, much more useful role for herself. I wouldn't say that she's badass (although there are a couple of epic moments in the book where you can't help but fistpump at what she does), but she's pretty clever and somewhat opportunistic. See? She's such an awesome character!

    If you like character oriented high fantasies, I definitely recommend this book! If you're a person who doesn't like books with little world building, I'd still recommend this book! There are so many other interesting aspects which can grab and keep your attention.

Format: Hardback

Publication Date: 04/03/2014

29%
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RRP  $35.99 $25.43
  • An incredible debut

    by Nara on 25/07/2014

    *Shortly Before Reading Falling into Place*

    Nara doesn't understand how her life will be changed by a book. A simple, yet exquisite book. She doesn't realise that Falling into Place is going to one of the most incredible debuts she has ever read. She doesn't know that she's about to question every other debut she has read, because this book is just. That. Good.

    *Shortly After Reading Falling into Place*
    Nara wonders how she will ever read another contemporary again without comparing it to the beauty of Falling into Place. She remembers the stunning prose, and the rather unconventional narrator, and realises this is one of the most unique books she has ever read.

    *Some Time After Reading Falling into Place*
    Nara wonders how she might describe this book to someone else.

    A book about depression?
    A book about drug addiction?
    A book about eating disorders?
    A book about bullying?
    A book about love?
    A book about friendship?
    A book about normal, everyday teenage life?

    Nara realises that this book tackles every cliched teen problem one can think of- and portrays them in the least cliched, most beautiful way possible.

    Nara realises that Falling into Place has most definitely launched Amy Zhang firmly into her list of authors to watch out for in the future. She urges anyone who wants to read an honest contemporary about the most realistic of issues to give it a go.

Format:

Publication Date: 01/09/2014

14%
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RRP  $17.99 $15.30
  • One pause

    by Nara on 14/03/2015

    One moment. One pause. One decision to read a great book.

    Two versions of your life are revealed. In one, you never read this book. You don't experience the joy of reading a book set in Sydney, Australia, of actually seeing a diverse cast of characters (Italian/Irish protagonist, Chinese and Korean best friends, girlfriend from Hong Kong), of an honestly written book about how one choice changes everything.

    In the other, you pause and grab the book. This extremely underrated gem of a book, as most Australian YA novels are. A book with a very jumpy timeline that nevertheless suits the very candid tone of the narration. A book where it almost sounds like a friend who's telling you a story and has to keep going back to tell you background he's forgotten.

    So, yeah, it gets a little preachy at times, with constant references to the "choice" the protagonist has made. But I think that's okay. It's okay to emphasise that life is precious. It's okay for the author to want to empower others who suffer from depression. It's okay to show that it's okay to reach for help.

    And it's okay for you to pause.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/04/2015

14%
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RRP  $19.99 $17.11
  • Priorities, people.

    by Nara on 14/03/2014

    I'm really curious as to how collaboration works when there's only one POV character. Do the authors alternate between chapters? How do they make sure that the writing style and voice of the protagonist remain the same? So many questions! In any case, this must have been quite a good collaboration because I noticed no shifts in tone or character voice or anything like that.

    One thing I can say about the writing is that the suspense is done very well, although I must admit that the mystery was pretty typical and predictable. There aren't really any big twists or surprises; the plot hardly deviates from the obvious. Still, I didn't mind that because the execution of the suspense, pace and action was done quite nicely.

    I must say that I didn't really like the romance. I mean, when suspicions about Elusion being addictive and dangerous pop up, Regan suddenly trusts this random guy she's only known for a few days over her best friend who she's known since childhood. Sounds legit. I wonder why she trusts him so much. It can't be anything to do with his stellar looks *cough cough*. When they then go to investigate these suspicions, knowing they have limited time they're allowed to be in Elusion (there's a one hour time limit, as spending more time than that in Elusion can result in brain damage or some such thing), they waste time by making out. DUDES. PRIORITIES. You only have to wait a freaking hour before you can make out to your hearts' content in the real world. ONE. FREAKING. HOUR.

    Ahem, anyway, moving on, world building was pretty well done on the whole- this is certainly a world which could possibly be our world in the future. From acid rain so bad that special heavy duty umbrellas have to be used to oxygen levels so low that everyone has to go around with "oxygen shields", yep, I can definitely see it happening. Similarly, on the whole, the scientific background behind Elusion seemed pretty solid (although I don't know too much about neurochemistry so I can't say for sure if it actually was legit haha). There is perhaps a lack of back-story as to how the world ended up being the one it is in the book, but I don't think that this is something that always has to be included in a book. I mean, authors don't include the history of Earth in a contemporary.

    It does seem as if there are a lot more science fiction books in YA these days, which is most definitely a change that I approve of. If you enjoy sci-fi books, this is certainly one that I'd recommend.

    p.s. dat cover.

Format: Hardback

Publication Date: 18/03/2014

29%
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RRP  $35.99 $25.43
  • What Did I Just Read...?

    by Nara on 14/06/2014

    The Minnow is one incredibly strange book. "Whimsical" doesn't even begin to describe it.

    I've seen many claims that the narration is incredibly powerful. And while the narrative voice was indeed very poignant, with the innocent tone highlighting Tom's youth, at times I felt almost as if the narrative voice was too young. It didn't really seem like a year ten student speaking, but someone much younger. And while I could appreciate the author's attempt at a "moving and powerful coming of age story" with roots of "the heartbreaking truth of grief and loss", honestly, I didn't particularly feel any strong emotion when reading the book. I felt very much like an observer rather than letting myself really get immersed in the world.

    Probably the biggest reason for this was the very disconnected flow. The pacing just seemed off for me, leading to a slightly boring read, to be quite honest. The writing style was also rather problematic. While it was a very subtle writing style, where nothing was overtly stated, and sure, this follows the rule of "show don't tell"- it almost stuck too closely to that rule, because it was actually rather confusing at times. I would have liked some explanations, particularly at the end.

    All in all, The Minnow was an impressive effort for a debut novel, but unfortunately, I found the execution lacking, with poor pace and a lack of emotional engagement.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 28/05/2014

34%
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RRP  $19.99 $13.09
  • Fungus Zombies. That is all.

    by Nara on 22/04/2014

    Well that wasn't anything like I expected.

    First, because I honestly expected some sort of paranormal. I mean, come on! "Girl with the Gifts"! Totally sounds like a paranormal. Well, no. It was a post-apocalyptic. With zombies. Horrifyingly well-described fungus zombies. *shudders*

    Second, was this actually "Melanie's story"? Well, yes. And no. I think on the whole, this tale is more so one focused on a group of people attempting to survive in a less than perfect world, and in the group happens to be a girl named Melanie. You could probably even argue that Melanie isn't the protagonist.

    One thing that I unfortunately didn't really enjoy about this book was the pacing. Despite it being a "zombie" book, and despite the imminent danger of being devoured by said zombies, there wasn't really a sense of urgency to the story. In fact, at times, there was almost a languid pace- with the action and adventure side of things being rather overshadowed by character development and dialogue. Which I suppose isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it did have me feeling slightly bored at times.

    I would rather not say anything about the actual plot, because this is a book that is best read "blind". Hence the intriguingly minimal blurb. Overall, bar the pacing, The Girl with All the Gifts was a well crafted tale with interesting characters and a sucker punch of an ending. Definitely recommended to fans of horror and fans of post-apocalyptic sci-fi.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 14/01/2014

$29.99
  • A Realistic Take on Body Image

    by Nara on 18/08/2015

    I think perhaps my expectations were slightly too high for this one. The main reason I was disappointed was that the book ended up being kind of typical rather than the fresh take on body image I expected it to be, with the whole beauty contest ending up being a relatively minor part of the plot.

    I also didn't really like Willowdean as a character. Of course, it was clear that she was made to be flawed on purpose, making her a much more realistic character, but that certainly didn't make her particularly likeable. I could forgive most things about her, but for the way she treated one of the characters. I mean, just because you have some issues of your own, that doesn't really excuse you from treating others badly, and the way that Willowdean treats that character really didn't sit well with me.

    That being said, Will definitely was an intriguing character- she's incredibly sassy, and most of the time appears accepting of her own weight. At the same time, she does have her insecurities about her body image, most evident when she's suspicious about why Bo, a good looking coworker, seems to like her. Her insecurities also lead to her having a bit of a falling out with her best friend Ellen, who Will thinks is a lot prettier and skinnier than her. While I thought Will was being a bit unreasonable here, there's no doubt that she acted in a realistic way, especially when it came to her trying to make amends with Ellen.

    Overall, Dumplin' was definitely a pro-body image novel that realistically examines the issues and insecurities that come with being overweight. Despite not enjoying it as much as I expected, I'd definitely still recommend that you give it a read.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 26/08/2015

17%
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RRP  $17.99 $14.85
  • An incredible debut

    by Nara on 25/07/2014

    *Shortly Before Reading Falling into Place*
    Nara doesn't understand how her life will be changed by a book. A simple, yet exquisite book. She doesn't realise that Falling into Place is going to one of the most incredible debuts she has ever read. She doesn't know that she's about to question every other debut she has read, because this book is just. That. Good.

    *Shortly After Reading Falling into Place*
    Nara wonders how she will ever read another contemporary again without comparing it to the beauty of Falling into Place. She remembers the stunning prose, and the rather unconventional narrator, and realises this is one of the most unique books she has ever read.

    *Some Time After Reading Falling into Place*
    Nara wonders how she might describe this book to someone else.
    A book about depression?
    A book about drug addiction?
    A book about eating disorders?
    A book about bullying?
    A book about love?
    A book about friendship?
    A book about normal, everyday teenage life?

    Nara realises that this book tackles every cliched teen problem one can think of- and portrays them in the least cliched, most beautiful way possible.

    Nara realises that Falling into Place has most definitely launched Amy Zhang firmly into her list of authors to watch out for in the future. She urges anyone who wants to read an honest contemporary about the most realistic of issues to give it a go.

Format: Hardback

Publication Date: 09/10/2014

29%
OFF
RRP  $35.99 $25.43
  • Both incredibly confusing and incredibly creative, this is a book like no other.

    by Nara on 14/03/2014

    One thing that I can say about White Space is that it's a major contender for the most confusing book I have ever read. Literally until the halfway mark (and this book is quite a hefty one), I had absolutely no idea what was going on. Constant point of view changes with incredibly short chapters and very random unexplained events had me in a state of perpetual confuzzlement.

    However, another thing I can say about White Space is that it's a major contender for the most creative book I have ever read. When the truth about the earlier confusing events is revealed, just...wow. The premise behind the story is incredibly compelling.

    It is sort of like Inkheart, as you may have gathered from the blurb (if you've read it. If you haven't read it, don't. It's better to go into it without reading the blurb because it's kind of spoilery) and also somewhat like Inception (a book within a book? haha) but really, I think I'd class White Space in a category all in its own- both frustrating as well as enthralling to the last word- this is a book like no other.

    Honestly, it's difficult to review this book properly, and that's mostly because of how differently I view the first half of the book compared to the second half. I, quite frankly, really disliked the first half. If I were to rate the halves separately, it'd get 2 stars, simply because I had no idea what was happening. The only reason I kept reading was to see whether things would finally be explained. And, man, was it worth it. The second half is incredible. Anyone who reads this book thinking that the beginning is crappy, I really urge you to persevere with it, because the second half is completely worth it. I really don't think I've ever read another book where the second half has changed my opinion of a book so drastically.

    Well, I've said pretty much nothing about the actual content of the book in this review, and I think it's for the best. This is one book that is best read while knowing hardly anything about it. Stick with it, because it's truly worth it.

Format: Hardback

Publication Date: 11/02/2014

29%
OFF
RRP  $37.99 $26.79
  • Fabulous

    by Nara on 14/02/2015

    Basically, if you read this book:

    1. Your trust in everything and everyone will be shattered
    Holy moly, authors and their bloody plot twists.
    I don't even know how to feel right now.
    Other than that I should never trust anyone in this series again ever.

    2. You will wish that you had some kind of awesome superpower
    The characters in this book are divided into two groups: the Reds and the Silvers, divided by the colour of their blood and their abilities. Silvers have special abilities like manipulating water, reading minds, controlling metal...
    And dang if I don't want me a power.

    3. You will kind of see how this book is a mix of all these existing books and ideas
    It's kind of like The Hunger Games. It's kind of like The Selection. It's kind of like X-Men. It's kind of like Red Rising.
    And honestly, you don't care.
    You don't care that the idea is not necessarily completely original, because it's so freaking well written.
    You're invested in the plot, you're invested in the characters, you're invested in the romance: what more do you need?

    4. You will have a ridiculously pretty book gracing your shelves
    LOOK AT THAT COVER.
    SAH BEAUTIFUL.

    So yes, do buy.
    And do enjoy.
    /Nara out.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 10/02/2015

$19.99
  • VILLAIN POV.

    by Nara on 14/02/2015

    Reason Number One to Read This Book:
    Villain POV.

    Reason Number Two to Read This Book:
    VILLAIN POV.

    Reason Number Three to Read This Book:
    Yep, you guessed it. FREAKING VILLAIN POV.

    Honestly, if you're a fan of the Lunar Chronicles, you know that Queen Levana is one of the most hateful villains that can be found in YA today. She's evil, she's power hungry and she's completely unforgivable.

    Or is she?

    Fairest gives you that rare insight into Levana's background, and into the way she processes things. You realise that while she's slightly insane, there are reasons for the things she does.

    You feel sympathy for her.

    You feel confused about how you feel sympathy for her.

    And yet you still feel sympathy for her, despite the terrible acts she's done, despite how freaking detestable she is.

    And if that isn't a sign of a good book, I don't know what is.

    Plus you get to see what she looks like under that veil. I'm pretty sure you want to know.

    Do yourself a favour and grab yourself a copy of Fairest as soon as possible.

    You won't regret it.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/02/2015

15%
OFF
RRP  $16.99 $14.44
  • Woo! Diversity!

    by Nara on 15/10/2014

    Despite, being called Nona and Me, I feel like this book was very much focused on Rosie and the journey she takes to define her own identity as a white girl split between the town where her best friend and boyfriend live and the Aboriginal community into which she's been "adopted". In fact, Nona didn't really have that large a role to play for most of the story, and featured mostly in flashbacks. I suppose I didn't mind too much that this was the case, although it would have been nice to learn a bit more about Nona.

    As teenagers go, Rosie makes quite a lot of foolish decisions that either had me sighing in disappointment or clenching my fists in frustration, but I don't see this as a bad thing. It was simply something that made her a more realistic and relatable character. It was also great to see both her parents at various points in the novel. Too often, "disappearing parent syndrome" features in Young Adult, but I'm happy to say that wasn't the case in Nona and Me.

    The way the Aboriginal aspect of things was handled was very culturally sensitive, and I feel like I've learnt a lot more about Aboriginal culture from the book, despite the fact that education didn't seem to be a major aim of the story.

    If you're looking for a bit of diversity, or simply a YA book set in Australia for a change, this book is definitely worth checking out.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 24/09/2014

16%
OFF
RRP  $19.99 $16.70
  • Music is Magic

    by Nara on 14/03/2015

    Aaaaand here is yet another severely underrated novel from an Australian author! Skye Melki-Wegner has created yet another book with a fantastic world, great characters, a unique magic system and an action-filled plot.

    The magic system is quite a creative one: the use of music to produce magic and to hack into "The Hush", a sort of shadow world which is a parallel of the real one. I do have to say though, the world building probably wasn't the best in terms of how the rules of the magic system were laid out, but that might also just be because I normally read a lot of adult SFF where the magic systems tend to be more defined.

    The characters were all very interesting, as Melki-Wegner's characters tend to be. They each have their backstories and motivations for joining the Nightfall Gang (which is a sort of Robin Hood of thieving gangs), and they're not going to let anything or anyone stand in their way. There's also a hint of romance, but it's not really explored fully- which I actually appreciated. It wasn't something that was necessarily needed.

    The book is sort of a crossover between Young Adult and Middle Grade (think sort of the level of Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan), and I think it could be enjoyed by readers of both. It's certainly a book by a fantastic and emerging Australian author, in any case.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 02/03/2015

17%
OFF
RRP  $19.99 $16.50