How would you spend your birthday if you knew it would be your last?
Eighteen-year-old Leonard Peacock knows exactly what he'll do. He'll say goodbye.
Not to his mum - who he calls Linda because it annoys her - who's moved out and left him to fend for himself. Nor to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing the unthinkable. But to his four friends: a Humphrey-Bogart-obsessed neighbour, a teenage violin virtuoso, a pastor's daughter and a teacher.
Most of the time, Leonard believes he's weird and sad, but these friends have made him think that maybe he's not. He wants to thank them, and say goodbye...
Leonard Peacock's eighteenth birthday pretty much sucks. His deadbeat mother has forgotten it's his birthday, and because he doesn't share much about himself with others, no one else knows. So he's decided to be the gift-giver, and gives presents to the only four people he remotely cares about: his elderly chain-smoking, Bogart-loving neighbour, the Iranian violin genius he communicates with only by listening to his music, the only teacher who really gets him, and the Jesus-obsessed homeschooled daughter of a preacher.
While doing this, he doesn't tell any of them it's actually his birthday. Because at the end of the day, he plans to give himself the only gift he'll be getting this year...
OMG. This book is. Wow!
I started reading Leonard's story and at first found myself wondering why I should care about this very disturbed individual. I mean, his head is in a very dark place, he continually talks about Nazi Germany, and he's planning a crime on his birthday. But then he interacts with Walt, an old man he considers his friend and is there for him more than his actual mother. It also becomes obvious that not only is he studying the Holocaust at school, but the class happens to be taught by his favourite teacher. And that the person he wants to kill did something truly awful to him.
So I kept reading because his voice was compelling, plus I had to know how this was going to turn out. The more I read, the more I realised that poor Leonard had a lot of problems, but I also felt that he got himself into some weird situations because of his awkwardness and deep abandonment issues. Then the incident that completely gutted him comes out and struck me hard. Seriously, when I reached that part of the story, everything came together and made so much sense.
I also liked the future letters, which were a cool idea and made it easier to get into Leonard's headspace.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is another amazing, sad, troubled and hopeful story by Matthew Quick. He really knows how to weave a tale that gets under your skin and before you realise it, you're feeling so much! This book might at first confuse the reader and make them feel strange about following this weird guy around, and THEN it throws you a curveball and totally shatters you. You hurt so much for Leonard. :(
One of my favourite things about Matthew Quick's characters is that they're all lonely, misunderstood, different people with their own ideas about life and the world. People who see things differently and don't fit the preset mold society likes to design. I can relate to that so much.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, August 2013, ISBN 9781472208187, Headline
THE EPIC SERIES BEGAN WITH WAY DOWN DARK, SHORTLISTED FOR THE ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARD.
IT CONTINUED WITH LONG DARK DUSK.
IT CONCLUDES... NOW.
There was one truth on Australia, the prison ship on which Chan was born and raised: you fight or you die. Usually both.
But everything on Australia was a lie. Abandoned and alone, Chan was forced to live a terrible existence on the fringes of society, Australia's only survivor after a terrible crash-landing on Earth.
But Chan discovered she was not alone. Together with the unlikeliest of allies, Chan carved out a place for herself on Earth. And now the time has come: she's finally found a reason to keep going. But friends have become enemies, and enemies have become friends. It's time for Chan to create her own truths, and discover a life beyond fighting and death.
Chan lives just outside the walls of Washington with Rex and a group of nomads. She also has access in and out of the city--along with Rex--because they work for Hoyle. They help the police by taking care of the matters that require a bit more force. Something that Rex is almost exploited for.
No matter how much time passes, Chan is still determined to locate and reunite with the little girl she lost. But Mae is hard to find, and even though Hoyle's supposed to be helping, he seems to be withholding information.
Taking matters into her own hands is something Chan is used to doing, but when she does, it leads to some uncomfortable revelations, and sets her on a one-track route to disaster...
Okay. This book just didn't work for me the same way as the previous two. I mean, it once again felt different--which is cool--but my mind kept wandering. Chan's voice usually consumed my brain when reading her narration, but this time it sadly didn't. I found myself losing interest. And for once, started to find Chan's pursuit frustrating.
I liked the unexpected friendship between her and Rex. I liked her friendship with Fiona. I liked that she got herself an actual job. I didn't like her 'relationship' with Hoyle. I'm sorry, I just didn't buy it. At all. I didn't like her flimsy connection to Ziegler. And I especially didn't like where the Mae story ultimately leads. Not after her all-consuming obsession with finding the kid.
Overall, I was disappointed. I honestly wanted to love this book as much as the previous two, but it's nowhere near as strong.
Oh well. It happens.
Dark Made Dawn is the final action-packed installment to a trilogy, that until this book, I was totally invested in. Unfortunately, for me, the conclusion just didn't deliver.
I still enjoyed getting here, though.
Dark Made Dawn, October 2016, ISBN 9781444796391, Hodder & Stoughton
His life, his art, and the making of his cinematic empire.
GEORGE LUCAS by Brian Jay Jones is the first comprehensive telling of the story of the iconic filmmaker and the building of his film empire, as well as of his enormous impact on cinema. At once a biography, a business manual, and a film history, GEORGE LUCAS explores for the first time the life and work of a fiercely independent writer/director/producer who became one of the most influential filmmakers and cultural icons - a true game changer.
On May 25, 1977, a problem-plagued, budget-straining, independent science fiction film opened in a mere thirty-two American movie theatres. Its distributor - 20th Century Fox - were baffled by the film. The film's production had been a disaster from nearly day one, hampered by bad weather, malfunctioning props and ill-fitting costumes. But its release on a quiet Wednesday in May of 1977, changed cinema forever. The film was Star Wars.
The fiercely independent thirty-three year-old George Lucas was just getting going. Determined to control every element of the film-making process he had founded Lucasfilm ltd., in 1971. Among his hits, Lucas gave us six Star Wars films and four featuring the globetrotting archaeologist Indiana Jones. Together these ten films have earned more than $6 billion worldwide and won some of the largest and most devoted fan bases ever seen. In 2013 he sold Lucasfilm to Disney for $4.05 billion. Along the way the man who invented the Blockbuster also gave us computer generated imagery (CGI), created a small animation company called Pixar and reinvented the way movies were made, marketed and merchandised.
It's no secret that I'm a Star Wars fan and have been since the first moment I watched A New Hopeon the big screen. Even as a very young girl, I fell in love with the characters and the story and followed all the other movies eagerly.
So checking out this book was a must!
Even with his faults and stubborn need to create his vision as he saw it no matter what, there's no denying that George Lucas is the genius who changed the path of SciFi movies and had millions of people--both young and old--fall in love with everything Star Wars. If it wasn't for him, we never would've met the wealth of ideas and images that shaped many of our childhoods. And without George Lucas wanting to take control of his own creation, the special effects industry wouldn't be what it is today.
But, in spite of all this, there's much more to this geeky and skinny kid with big ideas and a need to express them. And that's where this book comes in. We get to learn more about his childhood and teenage years, and well into his adulthood. Not just about his movies, but also his life.
GeorgeLucas is a well-written and interesting biography that delves into his extraordinary life and really captures the essence of the man we all think we know, but really don't. Sure, he's the creator of one of the biggest cinematic franchises ever, but even more than that, he's a man with a vision that captivated millions and will go down in history that way.
This is a great addition for any StarWars fan's collection, or if you're just curious about this iconic man.
George Lucas, December 2016, ISBN 9781472224330, Headline
Last year I read and absolutely adored an amazing book called Magonia. So of course I was interested in checking out the sequel!
It's been a year since Aza 'died' and returned to her human life with the borrowed skin of someone else. She might not look like herself on the outside, but she's still the same. And she's madly in love with her best friend, Jason, and getting on with her life. But she can't forget about the sky and longs to go back. She even knows that her evil mother will one day return and try to end what she started... but she's content.
Jason loves Aza so much he's happy for every moment they have together. Yet, he's afraid of losing her, and because of that paranoia has made a deal with the devil and lied so much he sets the wheels in motion for some very awful things.
Everything is bleak and falling apart but for once, Aza is free to find her own way and hopefully stop her mother's devastating plans...
Wow. Yeah. This sequel soars as high as the first book. Not only did I find myself returning to the wonder introduced in Magonia, but the world spreads its wings wider. Introducing an array of colourful, weird and wonderful creatures from earth, sky and sea. The imagery in this world is truly fantastic, and the way it's described made everything bloom so vividly in my mind.
Aza is still full of strength she sometimes doubts. Jason is still determined to protect so tightly that he makes everything worse. And Eli's fun and strong. There were a few surprises thrown in and plenty of catastrophe and sadness. But what stands out the most for me is the wonder.
Both of these stories are beautiful companions. So unique and magical that I'll never forget them. This book is SO good.
I've had my eye on this book for a while now, and because I just can't buy ALL THE BOOKS, I put it on hold at the library. I got stuck into it yesterday and finished it today. Yep. I was hooked from the beginning.
Summer, Fenrin and Thalia Grace are the kind of kids that everyone in school copies, adores or wants to be. They have a big house, money, style and power. River is new in town and she's determined to catch their attention. She pretty much wants to be liked and accepted by them, but there's also a deeper, darker reason why she's so obsessed with the Graces.
The Grace family is rumoured to be witches--although they constantly deny it--so River wants to learn from them, and ultimately, to become them. Of course, there's also the fact that she's in love with Fenrin. The boy everyone loves and goes through girls like they don't matter.
Then there's the Grace curse, something River decides is her job to fix...
But there's so much more. It's hard to sum up the twisty depth of this story, because this book is awesome!
I loved every minute of it and didn't want to put it down. River's voice was compelling and interesting and full of personal secrets she mostly didn't want to share but become obvious along the way. She's sneaky, totally self-involved, obsessed with projecting herself in a certain way, and even somewhat delusional. This girl's all about showing just what's on the surface, and hiding the many things she really feels and the past that continues to haunt her.
She's unreliable and selfish, totally judgemental. And I loved her. Her story was intriguing and combined with the very mysterious and charming Graces, I lost myself in this story. It's SO darn GOOD.
There are several creepy moments, exciting moments and deep moments that lead to a very wicked situation. And a really cool twist. I really enjoyed the pacing of the story too. Plus, I'm hanging to see where the story goes in the second book.
I loved this witchy story so much I'm definitely going to buy myself a copy.
PS. Am I the only one who totally thought Summer was in lurve with River?! ;)
Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has been on countless crime scenes, but this is definitely a first. Her fleeing target has left behind a truck loaded with ice cream and a dead body - frozen solid and covered in chocolate and chopped pecans.
As fate would have it, Stephanie's mentor and occasional employer, Ranger, needs her to go undercover at the ice cream factory to find out who's killing employees and sabotaging the business. It's going to be hard for Stephanie to keep her hands off all that ice cream, and even harder for her to keep her hands off Ranger. It's also going to be hard to explain to Trenton's hottest cop, Joe Morelli, why she is spending late nights with Ranger...
Stephanie Plum has a lot on her plate, but for a girl who claims to have 'virtually no marketable skills', these are the kinds of sweet assignments she does best.
I love the Stephanie Plum series! I look forward to reading Steph's latest adventure every year. So of course I was really excited about the latest book.
Stephanie and Lula are about to grab an FTA when he makes a run for it and steals Lula's Firebird. This leaves the girls with no other choice than to commandeer the ice cream truck Virgil obviously stole.
This wild ride leads to a whole lot more trouble, when a frozen chocolate-covered dead man falls out.
Now this has become a murder investigation and Steph's going to have to go undercover for Rangeman, which means working in an ice cream factory. But no matter what section she works in, she just can't figure out what's going on. Employees are either too nice to suspect, or too mean not to be a suspect. And when she has to dress up as a clown and ride around with the cranky Jolly Bogart driver in an ice cream truck, Stephanie will never look at frozen treats the same way again.
Life in Trenton is complicated in a lot of ways, not just work. Lula is walking around naked with Briggs hoping to break into reality TV. Grandma Mazur is dating an aged bikie-bartender. And Stephanie STILL can't make a choice between Morelli and Ranger...
I seriously love how Janet Evanovich continuously and effortlessly tortures Stephanie in every book, but also manages to slip in a bit of bliss. After all this time and all these books, I still love catching up with Steph, Lula, Ranger, Grandma Mazur, Morelli, as well as the other (many) colourful regulars.
Turbo Twenty-Three is another fun murder mystery with a sweet-toothed twist. It's also a great addition to this very awesome series. The mystery kept me guessing, and everything else made me LOL. There were so many hilarious situations--mostly starring Lula! And several sexy situations with Morelli, or was it Ranger? ;)
No matter what happens, Stephanie has a knack for bouncing back, so I can't wait to see what she gets up to next!
Turbo Twenty-Three, November 2016, ISBN 9781472201690, Headline Review
When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt's fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone . . .
Inspired by the original Hogwart's textbook by Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original screenplay marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. A feat of imagination and featuring a cast of remarkable characters and magical creatures, this is epic adventure-packed storytelling at its very best. Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition for any film lover or reader's bookshelf.
The film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will have its theatrical release on 18th November 2016.
I have to admit that after barely tolerating Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I was a bit nervous about reading another story set in the Harry Potter world. Yet, there was something about this story that I found really appealing. So I was really excited when I received a copy from Hachette Australia.
Newt Scamander is a Magizoologist and he's visiting New York in hopes of finding a certain beast. However, when a No-Maj (American version of Muggle) ends up with Newt's case and he accidentally lets out a bunch of magical creatures capable of causing mischief, Newt has to get them back. But these beasts aren't the only problem in New York.
There's a dark threat calling attention to the wizard world, a zealot trying to find an audience, an ambitious wizard, a troubled witch trying to prove herself, and an ordinary man caught in the middle.
And all of these things end up leading back to Newt...
Wow. What a fun thrill ride! This story has a bit of everything, which amounts to much awesomeness. I loved Newt, he was so kind and caring and shy and scatterbrained and cute! Tina was brave and determined and decent and driven to prove herself. Jacob was nice and sweet and loyal. Queenie was so cheeky and fun and smart and knew how to use her beauty.
And the beasts! OMG. They were all so adorable and amazing and wondrous and TOTALLY AWESOME. The only thing I missed while reading was the actual movie imagery, but I had no trouble imagining all of the magical details.
BTW, did I mention that the setting was perfect? The 1920's was definitely a great time to set such a colourful story. Plus, it's far enough in the past that it doesn't interfere with future events, but close enough to still be familiar and even foreshadow a thing or two.
Not to mention that this hardback book is gorgeous! There are so many lovely illustrations, and even the font and page settings are lovely.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is definitely an unexpected gem in the Harry Potter world. But more than that, it's a brilliant fast-paced, intriguing story full of interesting characters, fascinating magical animals and a bunch of surprises.
There's also something else this book proves, and that's: the ONLY person who can truly write a Harry Potter story is the always brilliant J.K. Rowling. (Yes, this needs to be in bold!)
I seriously LOVED this book so much more than I thought I would. I'm looking forward to watching the movie.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay, November 2016, ISBN 9781408708989, Little, Brown
Can you believe that this is the fourth week of November? Already!
Seriously. I know I've said this about a thousand times, but this year is going way too fast, which some people might think is a good thing. 2016 hasn't been very kind, has it? It's taken a lot from us and it definitely feels like the negative energy is trying to eclipse all the positive vibes.
A special illustrated edition of the AMERICAN GODS novella from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman. We first meet Baldur 'Shadow' Moon's in AMERICAN GODS, where he gets caught up in a war between gods in the USA. In THE MONARCH OF THE GLEN, Shadow's journey has brought him to the north coast of Scotland, where he finds himself a bouncer at a party.
Like I said in my Black Dog review, I'm a huge fan of Neil Gaiman's work. He always manages to tell intriguing stories about deeply interesting character who are inherently good, extremely wicked, or a wonderful mix of both. And yes, being another story set in the American Gods world definitely appealed to me.
Shadow Moon is minding his own business in a bar in Scotland when one of the locals starts a conversation with him. Well, he pretty much calls him a monster and claims he can just tell. Plus he offers him what he says is an easy job during a private weekend party. Shadow also catches the attention of the barmaid, who turns out to be an enigmatic woman whose words don't make sense, yet the meaning is very obvious.
At the same time, Shadow's nights are full of weird dreams with people from his past, strange situations and men who want his help.
When the weekend finally comes and he arrives at the isolated house, he starts to realise that something isn't quite right. And that he's gotten himself caught up in the middle of an ancient situation with only one outcome...
Of course this turned out to be another excellent story by a master storyteller. I seriously love Shadow and the trouble the poor guy unintentionally attracts. Again, his easy, calm manner make outsiders--no matter how smart they think they are--realise too late just how clever he really is. I also really liked the very cryptic Jennie and the sorrowful story she had to tell. Like Black Dog, Gaiman sprinkles this story with very relevant breadcrumbs that slowly but surely lead to the heart of everything. The mythology and folklore was definitely awesome, and totally fitting.
This book is so beautiful. The cover is simple but still manages to catch your eye, the hardback book is lovely, and the illustrations made by Daniel Egnéus add to the tense drumbeat. There's even a burgundy bound ribbon bookmark attached.
The Monarch of the Glen is an intriguing and exciting novella with an air of wonder and danger that hooked me instantly. It's another very clever story I'll happily be adding to my bookshelf.
Neil Gaiman, you've done it again.
I loved this. Heaps!
The Monarch of the Glen, November 2016, ISBN 9781472235435, Headline
A special illustrated edition of the AMERICAN GODS novella from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman.
Baldur 'Shadow' Moon is on his way back to America, but in this story he's only made it as far as the Peak District in Derbyshire, England. Here he becomes involved with a strange, small-town couple - and the spectral legend of a black dog that causes death.
I'm a huge fan of Neil Gaiman's work. He always manages to tell a magical story deeply soaked in myth and folklore, while the familiar setting is somehow grounded in our world. Not to mention that this happens to be a story set in the American Gods world. So of course I wanted to read this novella.
Shadow Moon is an American wandering across the English countryside when he stops by a small pub and meets some of the locals. Oliver and Moira are an older couple who seem kind and are full of local stories. Cassie is an enigmatic alluring woman who seems to disappear as quickly as she appears.
Due to the heavy rain and the absence of accommodation, Moira and Oliver offer him a room in their house. But when the old man collapses on the way, it's not clear if the black dog said to roam the area has actually hooked its claws into him, or if that's just what he calls his depression.
The longer Shadow stays, the more he notices and becomes embroiled in an old secret that refuses to stay dead...
This is another excellent story by this amazing storyteller. I love Shadow. His easy and calm manner hide a clever mind most miss because of his appearance. I also really liked the mysterious Cassie and the sad story she had to tell. I enjoyed the mystery as much as the many breadcrumbs laid out along the way. And the combination of ancient dog and cat mythology was totally awesome.
I also have to mention how beautiful this book is. The cover is eye catching, the hardback book lovely, and the illustrations made by Daniel Egnéus throughout are so eerily purrfect. There's even a black bound ribbon bookmark attached.
Black Dog is an intriguing and mysterious novella that hooked me in and kept me guessing until the very satisfying end. It's also very clever and so pretty that I can't wait to add it to my bookshelf.
Neil Gaiman has done it again.
I loved this so much!
Black Dog, November 2016, ISBN 9781472235442, Headline
The stories behind Australia's many, many strange, inappropriate and downright hilarious place names.
From Dismal Swamp to Useless Loop, Intercourse Island to Dead Mans Gully, Mount Buggery to Nowhere Else, Australia has some of the strangest, funniest, weirdest and most out-of-place names going - now described and explained in one humorous and fascinating book.
Australia's vast spaces and irreverent, larrikin history have given us some of the best place names in the world. Ranging from the less than positive (Linger and Die Hill, NSW), to the indelicate (Scented Knob, WA), the idiotic (Eggs and Bacon Bay, TAS) to the inappropriate and the just plain fascinating, MOUNT BUGGERY TO NOWHERE ELSE is a toponymical journey through this nation of weird and wonderful places.
From the moment I saw this book listed in the Hachette Australia catalogue, I knew this was something I would definitely be interested in. Not only because there really are some bizarre names all around Australia--I mean, I grew up near a place called Rooty Hill!--but also because as a writer, I love setting stories in Oz. So this book is going to come in very handy.
This turned out to be quite the book. I love the cover and even the way everything's set up inside. Each state and territory is separated, has its own introduction, and the places within each section are in alphabetical order. Very handy! There are also a bunch of peculiar, but funny illustrations peppered throughout. And some of the meanings--not just the names--to some of these places will either have you scratching your head or laughing out loud. I know I laughed at a few. LOL.
Actually, the only thing I was disappointed with was the lack of pictures. It would've been really cool to have location pics featured in the book.
And just for the record, yes, Rooty Hill is mentioned! :)
If you've ever wondered about some of our weird and wonderful location names, then this is definitely a book you'll want to check out. I'm shelving it in my reference book section, and I know I'll get plenty of use out of it.
Mount Buggery to Nowhere Else, October 2016, ISBN 9780733635588, Hachette Australia
Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theatre, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims the origins of the United States for a diverse new generation.
HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theatre artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages - "since before this was even a show," according to Miranda - traces its development from an improbable performance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.
I have to admit that when the Hamilton craze swept through America, I had no idea what it was about. It actually took me quite a while to find out what everyone was talking about, and when I did I didn't really care much. I'm not a big American history buff, so it didn't sound like something I would be into. And to this day, I still haven't heard a single song. I know, my bad. :/ But what I do like is how Lin-Manuel Miranda modernised an old history lesson in a very diverse way.
That, is awesome on so many levels. So I'm really happy about his success. He's obviously a very talented writer, composer and lyricist, plus seems like an all-round good guy who's managed to revolutionise theatre itself. So, good on him!
Now, for the book and why I was interested in checking it out. Well, for one thing: it's beautiful. It seriously looks like a book that was made years ago and got lost in history only to resurface again. The pages are uneven, some of the colours even seem faded and mostly are matte, but the content is HUGE. There's, of course, the musical. Then there are behind-the-scene photos and features about the actors, heaps of footnotes, outfit design sketches, notebook pages, interviews, historical facts that relate to the Hamilton story and a whole lot more.
I think this book is a MUST for any and all Hamilton fans.
It really is lovely!
Hamilton: The Revolution, October 2016, ISBN 9781408709238, Little, Brown