Tuesday, 3 May 2016

I'm still here!

And it's about time I popped in, right? :P

See this picture? That's me as a Mii. Hubby introduced me to the Miitomo app and I have a lot of fun changing her outfits. Plus making cute/cool pictures I can post on Twitter. As well as here.

This one seemed very appropriate since so many of the things that have happened this year have left me with more questions than answers.

By now you've probably heard that Samhain Publishing is closing down. And since I have all of my currently published books over there--that's 11 books--there'll come a time when none of these will be available in the wild.

Yikes!

So if you're interested in my Sierra Fox or Recast series, there's still time to buy the books from Samhain's website, as well as other retailers. You can check out all the buy links HERE (SF) and HERE (R). The publisher hasn't actually set a definite closing date, so it's business as usual until she does. The thing that's affected me the most is that even though RAISING SOME HELL has a beautiful cover, it won't be published. Which means that HELL OF A RIDE will be the only Elsewhere book available.  

I find this really sad because I always visualised Elsewhere as a duology. Bummer. :(

The above is not an ideal situation to be in and it kinda feels like being stuck in Limbo Land, but I'm just glad that, for now, my books are still available for sale. When Samhain actually closes, I don't know what I'll do with them. I mean, the Sierra Fox series is done and I'd kinda decided not to continue with the Recast series, so... Who knows what I'll do. 

I guess I'll have to think about this. But not today. 

I've already mourned this situation and am ready to face whatever happens next with these already written/published stories. I think that the best thing for me to do now is to concentrate on new stuff. I need to stop thinking about this and just get on with the actual writing. It's so easy to get caught up in the negativity of publishing, and I don't want my writing to suffer again like it did last year. 

Anyway. Like I said, nothing I can do about the above. I'll just announce when any sales are going on and keep hoping that readers get a chance to experience these 11 books before they're pulled. :)

So, what else have I been doing? A LOT of stuff. I've been hanging out with my hubby more than usual since our daughter got a weekend job. I've also caught up on a bunch of shows, become hooked on others, read many books, and keep trying to figure out where to go from here. I mean, the publishing industry is in a very unstable position at the moment, so it's hard to determine which way to go. The best thing to do is just write and revise, get caught up in what I love the most: writing!

Thanks to my very supportive husband, I actually get the chance to do that everyday.

This week is going to be another bits and pieces kind of week, but next week I'm going to work on the third draft of my 1980s YA novel. I had a blast writing it during NaNoWriMo last year, and am looking forward to finishing it so my daughter can read it. After that, who knows? But the one thing I do know is that there are several stories battling to get out of my head.

I'd also like to start blogging about my word/page progress, inspiration, etc. while I'm actually working on a project. Think I'm starting to miss blogging. I used to blog daily, and it became a part of my every single day so much that I never neglected my website like I do now. :/

We'll see what happens...

Sunday, 1 May 2016

HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay until death. Whoever comes to stay, never leaves. 

 Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth-century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Blind and silenced, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children's beds for nights on end. So accustomed to her have the townsfolk become that they often forget she's there. Or what a threat she poses. Because if the stitches are ever cut open, the story goes, the whole town will die. 

The curse must not be allowed to spread. The elders of Black Spring have used high-tech surveillance to quarantine the town. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town's teenagers decide to break the strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into a dark nightmare.


I received an ARC of this book and was very excited about reading it because I love horror, and I'm always on the lookout for super scary stories.

The town of Black Spring appears to be a lovely place with beautiful views and a dark mythology that attracts visitors. Yet, it's very different to other towns. For starters, a 300-year-old witch randomly appears wherever/whenever she wants. And the residents don't mind. The creepy Black Rock Witch is dirty, chained and has her eyes and mouth sewn shut. She's a curse the town lives with every day. A team called HEX keep an eye on her via some very high-tech surveillance and always know where she is. Plus all the residents are sworn to secrecy and are severely punished if they break the strict rules.

Anyone who moves to Black Spring does so for life. There's no leaving after settling in, because as soon as they try to leave they have the compelling desire to kill themselves.

Yeah, this isn't the best place to raise children. And when some of the teenage kids decide they've had enough of the witch's curse and mess with tradition, bad things start to happen...

Okay.

Like I said above, I love scary stories and according to the many glowing reviews that's exactly what this book offered. It started out pretty well. I was so intrigued at the beginning that I ignored the clunky writing and the weird phrases. I wanted to know more about this witch, and see where the story would lead. But the writing style just didn't grab me. I don't know if something was lost in translation, but I mostly struggled through the narrative.

As compelling and creepy as the witch appeared to be, I gradually lost interest. Found my initial intrigue slipping away with every new page I read, and really disliked every single character. Not to mention that the middle dragged on so much that by the time I reached the 'shock factor' portion of the story, I just didn't care.

Seriously, all the characters in this book were awful. I disliked everyone, so it made it really hard to care about anything that was going on. And don't get me started on just how politically incorrect some of the narrative--both in thought and speech--came across. Plus I didn't buy the total disconnection that parents seemed to have towards their kids. Or the very open and shameless favouring parents showed over their kids. And the dialogue? Oh man. Who actually speaks like any of these people? o_O

BUT for me, the most disappointing thing of all was that I wasn't scared. At all. Creepy atmosphere: check. Spooky location: check. Super ominous witch: check. But none of these things were coherently strung together to be effective.

*shrugs*

It's a shame, really.

Hex started out well enough, and I honestly did get caught up in the building tension and the creepy imagery, but it failed to keep me interested. The way it was written constantly threw me off, the characters never felt real, and after a while I just didn't care about anything/anyone. I found this book very average, and absolutely hated that ending.

I think Katherine van Wyler, the mute, blind witch was the only character with anything real to offer to this story. Actually, maybe if her POV was added to the second half of the book, it would have added a lot more to the overall story.


HEX, April 2016, ISBN 9781444793208, Hodder & Stoughton

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

THE INQUISITION by Taran Matharu

More demons, epic battles, and fights to the death: introducing the unmissable next instalment in the Summoner Trilogy... 

 On trial for a crime he did not commit, Fletcher must face the Inquisition who will decide his future - the process is gruelling, lead by those who will do anything to see him suffer and haunted by ghosts from the past with clues to Fletcher's tragic origins. 

But Fletcher has little time to dwell on these new revelations when the king announces a deadly challenge to the graduating students at Vocans. One that involves entering Orc territory to complete a risky mission. 

With loyal demons by their sides, commoners and nobles, dwarves and elves must overcome barriers of class and race and work together to triumph. The reward: a fortune in gold, the safety of an empire and PEACE. With the entire empire watching, Fletcher has much to prove, but there are those out to get him and it soon becomes clear that there's a traitor in their midst, trying to thwart the mission and create unrest within the Empire. 

With everything stacked against him, Fletcher must use everything in his power to fight his way to victory.


Last year I read an awesome fantasy book called The Novice. And this year, thanks to Hachette Australia, I got the chance to read the second book in this very entertaining trilogy. But first, isn't that cover gorgeous? 

A year has passed since Fletcher attended the Vocans Academy to become a battlemage. He's been imprisoned in his old town of Pelt and is awaiting trial for a crime he didn't commit. With only the company of his Salamander demon, Ignatius, and the books he's continually learning from, he's starting to wonder if he'll never leave his cramped cell.

When the time for his trial finally arrives, it becomes clear that the odds are stacked against him. The testimonies against him are damning and well rehearsed. Not to mention the Inquisitors are very keen to see him put to death. But when the surprising testimony of an old man, as well as a savage test reveal who Fletcher really is, his life is pardoned by an unlikely source.

Yet that doesn't mean he's free to enjoy life as a student back in Vocans, because he now faces a new challenge. A group of students are selected, split up into smaller groups and are sent off on a dangerous mission to rescue a noble and destroy the awful abominations the orcs are breeding. But that means trekking into the jungle, foreign territory that will make them targets.

With such a tight plan and so many people who still want him dead, how will Fletcher and his true allies make it out alive? And how will they be able to ease the mounting tension between the dwarves, elves and humans, while the whole world is watching?

Wow. This turned out to be just as captivating as the first book. And very different, which is always awesome. Not to mention that the danger levels are constantly getting higher, the twists and turns keep coming, and the revelations are so fulfilling.

This fantasy world is vivid, filled with lush places and amazing creatures. The characters cover a wide spectrum--some I absolutely adore, others I can't stand. There are many familiar faces and a few new ones, but they all add to the intrigue. This very well-written adventure not only explores a world on the edge of war, but also contains some very strong friendships and even stronger enemies.

BTW, I still want my own Salamander. Or maybe a gremlin, because I loved Blue! ;)

The Inquisition is an excellent, fast-paced, heart-stopping adventure that hardly gives you a chance to catch your breath. Just when you think things are slowing down: Pow! It picks up again and doesn't stop until you reach the amazing conclusion. An incredibly tense ending that perfectly sets the stage for what is sure to be an explosive finale.

After that final scene, I can't wait to see what happens next...


The Inquisition, May 2016, ISBN 9781444933260, Hodder Children's Books

Saturday, 23 April 2016

RACING SAVANNAH by Miranda Kenneally


16045296
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This might be the fourth book in the Hundred Oaks series but, because I've been reading them out of sequence, it's my sixth. And man, it was fantastic! :)

Savannah's father has just gotten a new job working at Cedar Hill Farms as the new head groom. This farm trains horses and is owned by the very rich Goodwin family. She lives in the shared staff accommodations with her father and his pregnant girlfriend. Her room might be tiny, but Savannah knows what it's like to be poor.

Her father has only given her one rule: stay away from the Goodwin family because they like their privacy. But as soon as she's settled, she crosses paths with the very alluring Jack Goodwin and can't seem to stay away from him. He's suddenly everywhere, and even helps her secure her dream job of becoming a jockey because she's the only one the most difficult horse likes to be around.

But Jack's got a lot to prove to his father, and his father is trying to secure an important business deal, and Savannah finds herself getting entangled in the middle of everything...

I loved this book! It's another winner. And the main reason for that is Savannah. She had an amazing and honest voice that hooked me into her story. She's strong and although she might get swept up in things sometimes, she stays true to herself. She also loves her family and is willing to do whatever it takes to help them. Not to mention that her love of horses is a quality that I really enjoyed reading about because I love horses.

With a main character this awesome and a love story that goes through many ups and downs, as well as focusing on some pretty cool friendships, of course I was going to love it!

Also got a kick out of catching up with some of the characters in previous books, and their siblings. It was super cool to see one couple actually get married in this book!

BTW, you know a book is awesome when I totally got caught up in the excitement of horse racing... and I don't even like horse racing! LOL.

Friday, 22 April 2016

STAR STRUCK by Jenny McLachlan

Star Struck
 A spotlight shines down on the two of us and everyone drifts into the shadows... 

 Pearl is destined to be the star of this year's school musical. Being the lead is all she wants - especially as it means kissing super-hot Jake Flower. 

 Then a new girl walks into the audition... Hoshi can sing, she's an amazing dancer and she's seriously cute. Before Pearl knows it, she's stolen her part, her friends and Jake's attention! 

 But this girl doesn't know who she's messing with. Pearl's used to battling every day and she's not going down without a fight. Sparks are going to fly! 



I received a copy of this book this week, and since I loved the other books in The Ladybirds series so much, I just had to read it right away. I picked it up yesterday afternoon hoping to get a taste, and finished this morning. 

So, yeah, just like the other three books: I was instantly hooked.

Pearl isn't a very nice girl and a lot of people are scared of her. She smokes, drinks, makes out with boys, and doesn't have much respect for anything. She's a total troublemaker, so she's always in trouble at school. She's also good at manipulating people, and somehow manages to get herself out of most things. Well, except for the troubles at home.

That's why she's so interested in being in the school musical, so she can be away from the house and concentrate on doing something she loves. The school will be performing Romeo and Juliet, and she's convinced she's going to be Juliet. No one else will be as good for the part. Plus she'll get to cosy up to Jake Flowers.

But on the day of the auditions, when it looks like the part is pretty much hers, a new girl waltzes into the auditorium. Hoshi Lockwood is different. She's cute and quirky, she has pink hair and a dress style all of her own. She also happens to have recently moved from Japan to live with her English father. Everyone likes her instantly. So much that she practically steals the part of Juliet from Pearl.

Of course Pearl is so angry that no matter how hard she tries to be good--so she can once again reconnect with her old friends--she attempts to sabotage Hoshi whenever she can. But no matter what she does, Hoshi is just too lovable and worms her way out of everything. Plus she insists on being nice to Pearl. Is this new girl adorable enough to melt Pearl's cold exterior? Or will Pearl's awful home life keep her trapped in an endless cycle of trouble?

Okay, I didn't expect to like Pearl as much as I did. And to be honest with you, I still pretty much hated her at the beginning of the book because she's truly awful. Some of her mean girl traits are so frustrating, but when she meets her match and nothing she tries works, I found myself getting really comfortable with the story. 

This installment was written very well. I mean, the transformation of Pearl is a gradual and awesome one. It sneaks up on you, as the truth about her life is revealed: that she's embarrassed about the condition of her home, that her mother is pretty much absent, that her brother is an abusive jerk, and that no matter how hard she tries to be good, it just doesn't seem worth it. I loved how this book explained a lot about what made Pearl behave the way she did, and why she lashed out at her childhood friends.

Sometimes, circumstances change people so much that the only way they know how to live is by lashing out and being defensive. Which is totally how Pearl was at the beginning, so it was nice to see her realise that not everyone or everything is awful.

And Hoshi. Well, what can I say about this awesome character? She's nice, smart, talented, kind, loyal, confident, and has her own secrets. Even though Pearl manages to treat her badly at the beginning because she's downright jealous, Hoshi somehow sees through the hard exterior and sticks by her new friend. It's adorable, really.

Star Struck is not just another awesome installment to The Ladybirds, it's the perfect way to end this super cute series. Pearl is very different from her quirky friends, but she still managed to make me smile and somehow managed to worm her way into my heart. I went from not being able to stand her, to actually feeling sorry for her. And in the end, I was very happy with how her love story turned out. 

I loved this story as much as the other three! Can't wait to see what other tales Jenny McLachlan will share with us. :) 

Thank you Bloomsbury Australia, for introducing me to this super fun and quirky series.

Star Struck, April 2016, ISBN 9781408856130, Bloomsbury Childrens

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A KISS FROM MR FITZGERALD by Natasha Lester


It's the roaring twenties in the Manhattan of gin, jazz and prosperity. Women wear makeup and hitched hemlines and enjoy a new freedom to vote and work. 

Not so for Evelyn Lockhart, who is forbidden from pursuing her passion to become one of the first female doctors. Chasing her dream will mean turning her back on her family: her competitive sister, Viola; her conservative parents; and the childhood best friend she is expected to marry, Charlie. 

 In a desperate attempt to support herself through Columbia University's medical school, Evie auditions for the infamous late-night Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway. But if she gets the part, what will it mean for her fledgling relationship with Upper East Side banker Thomas Whitman - a man Evie thinks she could fall in love with, if only she lived a life less scandalous . . .


Firstly, I just want to thank Hachette Australia for sending me this wonderful book. And by the way, isn't the cover beautiful? It looks even better in person. The attention to detail is gorgeous.

I read the prequel short story for this book a few weekends ago and I enjoyed it so much I couldn't wait to read the book. I'm really glad that I read the short story first, because it introduced me to the character responsible for some of the decisions Evie makes at the beginning of this book. :)

Evelyn 'Evie' Lockhart lives in the conflicting world of the 1920s, where women are expected to act a certain way but are just starting to chase their own dreams. She's from a small town, and even though women are starting to live independent lives in the city with their own jobs and rent to pay, girls in Smalltown U.S.A. are expected to want only one thing: to marry well. And her conservative family is no exception. Her stuffy mother wants her to marry their neighbour and childhood friend, Charles Whitman. 

But Evie wants so much more from life. She's always been happy and carefree, curious and determined to study. And attending several anatomy classes in secret has fueled her desire to chase a real education. 

When fate delivers a sad and terrible situation into her life and she watches one of her friends die during childbirth, Evie decides she wants to help other women by becoming a doctor. And her ambition is further stoked after a chance encounter with the handsome and charming Thomas Whitman. He might be Charles' older brother, but she hardly knows him and is surprised by how easygoing and supportive he is. Before long, she finds herself in New York City for the chance to study medicine so she can become an obstetrician, as well as widen her horizons and live her own life.

In order to support herself so she can afford to go to college, she becomes one of the Ziegfeld Follies. A job that sees her scantily dressed and on parade for men to lust over, but also gives her the chance to perform on stage, and make good friends. She even manages to help the other girls with medical issues. But with the risk of her secret being found out, the cruelty of the medical profession towards women, keeping a shameful family secret, a scorned man willing to do anything to ruin her happiness, and the fact she's falling in love with a good man who stands to lose a lot if he's attached to her, Evie finds herself having to make some heart-breaking decisions...

This book was amazing!

As soon as I started Evie's story, I was hooked. Not only is she a wonderful, kindhearted, adventurous narrator, but her story swept me off my feet. It had me cheering for her every step of the way. Had me damning the awful sexist pigs not willing to give her the shot she deserved when she was clearly the smartest person in the room. And had me swooning over the charming and good man that was Thomas.

The early twentieth century was a time when women were trying to breakout on their own, but surviving in such a male-dominated world was hard. These women were ridiculed if they wanted more from life than marriage and children. Belittled if they wanted to make a difference. Their everyday struggles are captured perfectly in this book, and it doesn't shy away from the many highs and lows Evie's hard choices lead her to. Or the price all of these pioneering women had to pay for wanting an education.

Evie is one of those characters that worms her way into your heart so deeply you feel every single thing she does. This book toys with your heart and emotions. One second you're overjoyed, and the next you're sad. It never stops. The tension, the secrets, the struggles, the family drama and the romance ALL keep you glued to the pages until you reach The End.

*sigh*

A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald is an amazing, well written, heart-wrenching story that I'll never forget. It threw me so deeply into the very colourful, lavish world of this tumultuous time that every vivid detail played out inside my head like moving pictures. It features an endearing, fun, smart, kindhearted, strong heroine who'll capture your heart as much as the wonderful friends she makes along the way.

So much happens in this book that I don't think any review can do it justice. You just have to read it yourself, to experience the awesomeness. :)

I loved this book SO much, it's going on my keeper shelf!


A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald, April 2016, ISBN 9780733634635, Hachette Australia

Saturday, 16 April 2016

LONG DARK DUSK by JP Smythe

Life was simple on the Australia: you fight or you die. On Earth, however, things are a lot more complicated. 

The moment she learned the horrible truth about her life on Australia, the derelict ship overrun with violent gangs, Chan Aitch made it her mission to save everyone she could from their fate worse than death. But her efforts were in vain. Now, everyone she cares about is dead or in prison, and Chan is more alone than ever before. 

 As the only person to have escaped Australia's terrible crash-landing back to Earth, Chan is now living in poverty on the fringes of a huge city. She believes Mae, the little girl she once rescued on the Australia, is still alive - but she has no idea where Mae is, or how to find her. Everything on Earth is strange and new, and Chan has never felt more lost. 

But she'll do whatever it takes to find Mae, even if it means going to prison herself. She's broken out of prison before. How hard could it be to do it again?


Last year I read the first book in The Australia trilogy, and loved it. After the shocking events that led to the conclusion, I was very excited to read the next installment.

Chan is now living inside the secure walls of Washington. She lives on the fringes, in the shanty towns where the poor survive and try to stay out of trouble. She's an outlaw and knows that if she's found, she'll be captured. So she stays in the shadows and has a few allies.

Alala buys what she steals, and has helped her survive in this dangerous world. She's become a less-than-perfect substitute for Agatha. Ziegler is a writer who reports what others deny. He helps and educates Chan however he can while she tells him her story about the prisoner spaceship she lived in most of her life. Everything else about this alien world, and it's disturbing history, she's learned from museums.

Chan is resourceful and strong. She knows how to take care of herself, but she's very much alone. She lost her mother. Lost her guardian, Agatha. She thinks Jonah is dead. There's only one person left: Mae. She's obsessed with finding the little girl she promised she would take care of. But Mae is impossible to find, so when Alala strikes a deal to help her, she takes the chance. And it leads to a whole lot of trouble. The kind of trouble that could lead to fighting, murder, and getting captured.

This new world she lives in might seem protected, modern and comfortable but it's also capable of hiding as many secrets as Australia...

Okay.

*takes a deep breath*

This book is as amazing as the first one. It's written in three parts, and each one throws Chan into a multitude of problems and situations that'll get your heart pumping. It never lets up. Even the narrative keeps the pace going.

Chan is as awesome here as she was in Way Down Dark. She's as totally motivated, dedicated and still wants to save everyone. One of the best things about this book was just how different it was to the first one. It's full of twists and turns. And when you reach a certain part, you can't help but think: OMG. What just happened? Did that really happen? And of course it did, because this story is that brilliant!

Long Dark Dusk is an incredible, unpredictable, fast-paced adventure featuring a tough and very likeable heroine. This story pushes you onto the edge of your seat and keeps you there the whole time. It's like an adrenaline shot. An emotional roller-coaster ride. An awesome book that keeps the reader guessing every step of the way and constantly shocks you.

I absolutely LOVED everything about this story, and cannot wait until the third/final book.


Long Dark Dusk, April 2016, ISBN 9781444796377, Hodder & Stoughton

Friday, 15 April 2016

HORROR BLOCK x 2


It feels like I've fallen behind on just about everything lately, so this time I've decided to post the contents of the February and March HORROR BLOCK boxes together.

As you all know, this is what the box looks like every month:


Here's a quick look at how they were packed...

 

(February is on the left. March is on the right.)

As you can see, there seems to be a zombie theme both times.

And here's what was inside:

 

Once again, February contents are on the left and the right is what came in March.

I was actually very happy with both boxes, though I have to admit that I'm really over the magazine. I wish they would swap it for something else, I really do.

Anyway. The zombie stuff is all exclusive to HORROR BLOCK and kicks-ass.

This is still my favourite subscription box. :)

Have a Horror Friday!









Friday, 8 April 2016

ASKING FOR IT by Louise O'Neill

In a small town where everyone knows everyone, Emma O'Donovan is different. She is the special one - beautiful, popular, powerful. And she works hard to keep it that way. 
Until that night . . . 
Now, she's an embarrassment. Now, she's just a slut. Now, she is nothing. 
And those pictures - those pictures that everyone has seen - mean she can never forget.


After reading the incredible Only Ever Yours, I really wanted to check out this author's other book. And thanks to Ashleigh from Hachette Australia, I did.

Wow. This book is heavy. It's sharp enough to cut, and doesn't hold back.

Emma O'Donovan lives in a small town. She's eighteen and so pretty she totally knows it. Actually, she loves the fact. She thrives on rubbing it in every other girl's face. She's beautiful and all the boys want her, and when they don't seem to want her, she can't help but wonder why. She's vain, manipulative, cruel and a total liar. She's the epitome of a mean girl, and the way she treats her friends makes you cringe.

The day her parents go away on an overnight trip she has some friends over. Then they all head out to a party. There's a guy Emma has her eye on, but when he doesn't pay any attention to her and instead finds himself another girl, she settles for another guy. A total creep who entices her to take a drug that totally wrecks her. Then she drags him into a bedroom, and before she can stop it, she's hooking up with this guy--who has a girlfriend. But what's the big deal, right? It's over quickly and he seems to like her, so no harm done. (Wrong.)

However, when several other boys enter the room and once again engage in a bit of pill-popping, she takes part because she doesn't want anyone to think she'll wimp out. And the next time she wakes up is when her parents are dragging her back into the house the next morning. After finding her on the porch like a sunburnt piece of garbage.

When she goes to school, she thinks everything will be okay. Because she can't remember what happened. Not even after she sees the degrading, awful and perverted photos the boys she thought were her friends posted online. Photos that paint a horrible picture of a girl who can't remember what happened, and is clearly passed out.

But when it's obvious that she couldn't have consented to any of those acts and the police get involved, who will believe her? After all, everyone saw what she was wearing. Everyone saw her drinking. Everyone saw her dragging a guy into a room. 

*sigh*

This is a very uncomfortable, brutal book to read. Where the reader is introduced to a mean girl who mistreats and ignores her friends, steals from them, and is willing to say/do whatever it takes to make sure people love her. Emma is vain and nasty, loves it when girls worship her and boys notice her. But on the flip side, she's also a girl who's grown up listening to her parents and every other adult telling her how pretty she is. So much that it's become the scale of her life. If not for her pretty face and lovely body, who is she? So she takes pride in her beauty and flaunts it with revealing outfits that suit and make her feel good, but others use as a way of judging her.

After the terrible incident happens to Emma, she transforms into another person. One who retreats from society and is constantly blaming herself. She's always feeling sorry for the lives of the boys she ruined. She hardly believes she's the victim. And is still, in her new depressed state, looking for acceptance. And the most important acceptance she seeks is that of her parents, because all she sees is judgement and truly believes she ruined their lives. It's only her brother who calls everyone out, but he's not enough to make her see the truth, which leads to an ending that will totally frustrate you.

But you know what? It's realistic and totally fits in with Emma's personality. As well as the pretentious ways of her two very selfish parents. (I wanted to slap both of them! Grrr.)

Asking For It is a well written, chilling account of the turmoil, confusion, guilt, betrayal and pain that one woman goes through after continually punishing herself for not being able to remember. It's raw and truly awful in places. It made me cringe a lot. It's totally frustrating in other sections. And it's also very sad. Plus the way people covered for the guys responsible made my blood boil. But you know what else it is? This book is essential reading for everyone.

People are quick to judge girls/women on what they wear or how they dress, on how much sex they have or don't have. But NONE OF THAT MATTERS. When someone is violated, their stories must be heard, and society needs to treat them like people. Not pariahs.

#NotAskingForIt 


Asking For It, May 2015, 9781848664173, Quercus Children's Books

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

SIEGE AND STORM by Leigh Bardugo

The first book was Shadow and Bone. Now Alina's story continues. 

Darkness never dies. Alina and Mal are on the run - but they can't run for ever... 

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and he needs Alina to realise his dangerous plan. Somehow, she must choose between her country, her power, and her love - or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm. 

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.


I really enjoyed the first Grisha book, so I was excited to get stuck into this one.

Alina and Mal are on the run from the Darkling and the awful incident that happened inside the Shadow Fold. They've made their way over the True Sea and have settled in a small village, where they work and live in a cramped room. But they don't mind the work or the accommodation, they're just happy to finally be together. It's all Alina ever wished for: to be with Mal.

But when rumours surface about the Darkling's survival, Alina knows he'll come searching for her. She's suspicious of everyone, and is constantly glancing over her shoulder. Her paranoia isn't misplaced, because the Darkling and his Grisha eventually track them down.

Before she realises what's going on, she's on a boat and heading back to Ravka. She's now a prisoner and the Darkling has a new plan for her. But while onboard, Alina and Mal encounter a mysterious trio who start out as foe and soon reveal themselves to be friends.

What follows is an unexpected return to the palace, a mischevious prince trying to take back what his family has lost, and the desperate people who are willing to place all hope in the Sun Summoner. But it's getting harder and harder for Alina to know who she can trust, who has their own agenda, and who might still be on the Darkling's side.

As Alina accepts what she's becoming and finds herself haunted by the Darkling, she might end up losing the one person she cares about the most...

Wow. This book jumps right into the action and trouble! I loved how we're first introduced to Alina and Mal's very quiet new life, but it's ripped away too quickly. It's nonstop action from the beginning and throws the reader into the mystery of another mythical creature, as well as introducing a new player in this very dangerous game. A guy who masquerades as a privateer but turns out to be so much more.

The action in this story is an edge-of-your-seat experience. The suspense and danger levels are huge, and when you reach the downward spiral of the story, everything gets really brutal! The only problem I had with the second installment of this trilogy is the middle. There was just too much politics and strategic planning for my liking, which I think made the book sag a bit. But not enough to stop me reading.

Siege and Storm is an intriguing and often exciting sequel. It literally cracks open the world of the Grisha and reveals so many secrets you can't help but wonder who can truly be trusted. Because sometimes--due to her newfound power and ambition--you even find yourself wondering if Alina can be trusted. O.o

Bring on the last book! I can't wait to see how it all ends.


Siege and Storm, June 2014,9781780621708, Indigo

Monday, 4 April 2016

THE GUTSY GIRL by Caroline Paul & Wendy MacNaughton

The Gutsy Girl
Why should girls miss out on the joy of adventure? They can jump off rocks, swing on ropes, and climb trees just as well as boys can. But girls often allow fear to stand in their way. 

 In The Gutsy Girl, author Caroline Paul emboldens girls to seek out a life of exhilaration. Once a young scaredy-cat herself, Caroline decided that fear got in the way of the life she wanted--of excitement, confidence, self-reliance, friendship, and fun. She has since flown planes, rafted big rivers, climbed tall mountains, and fought fires as one of the first female firefighters in San Francisco. In The Gutsy Girl, she shares her greatest escapades as well as those of other girls and women from throughout history, and offers engaging activities such as confidence-building stances, creating a compass, positive self-talk, and using crickets to estimate outside temperatures. Each section includes a place for girls to “journal” their adventures, thus encouraging a new generation to develop a zest for challenges and a healthy relationship to risk. 

The Gutsy Girl is Lean In for young girls, a book about the glorious things that happen when you unshackle from fear and open up to exhilaration. Fully illustrated and enlivened throughout by bestselling illustrator Wendy MacNaughton's whimsical pen-and-ink drawings. 


I received a surprise copy of this book, and the first thing I noticed was how cool it is. It looks more like a notebook than your average novel.

As soon as you get started, you get the feeling that this book is going to be unique. It might begin as a personal story about the first time the author decided to embark on a daring adventure--because she wanted to have fun, instead of letting fear hold her back--but soon becomes a lot more.

There are Girl Heroes featured throughout the book. And She said... quotes from women who achieved or inspired to achieve. Then there's the How To diagrams, and the Journal This! pages for you to actually write whatever you want for each prompt. Not to mention the Derring-Do sections full of encouragement.

Combine all of the different features, plus some very cool illustrations, and you have an awesome handbook for all young feminists who aren't sure whether to pursue their choice of adventure/s.

The Gutsy Girl is a very cool non-fiction book that inspires and empowers young girls because it encourages them to chase their dreams. It also helps them realise that as girls--and women--we don't have to settle for anything less than what we want.

Personally, I think this should be required reading in primary school.

(My daughter helped write this review.)


The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure, April 2016, 9781632861238, Bloomsbury USA

Friday, 1 April 2016

THE PROMISE OF AMAZING by Robin Constantine


18114943
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I was trying to figure out what to read next, I decided to go through my Kindle books and got stuck into this one right away.

Wren is the youngest kid in the family and the only one left at home. She's also an average student, quiet and a good girl. She's not sure what she wants to do in the future, and works at her mother's catering business. That's actually where she crosses paths with Grayson, and saves his life.

Grayson is smart, athletic and a bad boy who is trying to change. After being expelled from his school because of a term paper scandal, he's determined to stay out of trouble. And when Wren saves his life, he doesn't just see it as a second chance, but he's really keen to get to know the cute girl he can't shake.

But no matter how bright their mutual attraction burns, sometimes the past has a way of dragging you back. And when that happens to Grayson, Wren might be the one who gets caught in the crossfire...

I really enjoyed this YA contemporary book. It's told in the alternating POVs of both Wren and Grayson--which was done very well. Sometimes this story was fun. Sometimes it was cute and sweet. It's also downright twisted in some places. And a good degree of frustrating when Grayson's lies spiral out of control.

Also liked how when it came to Wren and Grayson, not only were their interactions an integral part of the story, but each had their own friendships to deal with. As well as a good dose of family drama.

This is definitely a keeper. Loved it.

BTW, I love the adorable cover!

 
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