Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Review: The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta

Thomas Mackee wants oblivion. Wants to forget parents who leave and friends he used to care about and a string of one-night stands, and favourite uncles being blown to smithereens on their way to work on the other side of the world. But when his flatmates turn him out of the house, Tom moves in with his single, pregnant aunt, Georgie. And starts working at the Union pub with his former friends. And winds up living with his grieving father again. And remembers how he abandoned Tara Finke two years ago, after his uncle's death. And in a year when everything's broken, Tom realises that his family and friends need him to help put the pieces back together as much as he needs them.
As a general rule, I'm not the biggest fan of most contemporary novels. I think it's that its a lot harder for a contemporary writer to engage a reader because usually there isn't much action going on, so they really have to work hard at keeping us hooked with something else. With say, paranormal or dystopian, there's generally some big adventure and a bad guy and a happily ever after ending where the said bad guy is defeated. It's edge of your seat action that can keep us reading even if the characterisation and writing are somewhat flawed. With contemporary it's easier to fall short because let's face it, it's easier to write a big action scene than well rounded characters and the like.

Melina Marchetta however is one of the contemporary authors who really does contemporary well. I adore, adore all her books and come out of all of them feeling a wreck of emotions. I don't know any other author who can make me feel more despair or heart ache or joy as I read their books. And Marchetta's latest novel is no different.

The Piper's Son is perhaps less YA than the rest of Marchetta's novels, but it's just as brilliant nonetheless. The characters are older and it's a darker novel in general, in both the mindset of the characters and the issues they face. Thomas Mackee is not the most likeable character to begin with, but Marchetta's writing keeps us caring until we get to know him better and we start caring about him and his family because of who they are as well. It's a roller coaster of emotions that you ride with them and Marchetta's way of making us truly feel for her characters is amazing. And the ending is one that leaves you with a smile on your face and a happy, satisfied feeling all round.

Melina Marchetta has written a marvellously deep and engaging novel with The Piper's Son and I can't wait to read what she comes up with next!

Overall:  ♥♥♥♥
Published: March 1st 2010 by Penguin Australia // 9 March 2010 by Candlewick Press (in the US)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren


The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan
Monster Republic by Ben Horton
Valiant by Holly Black
Beastly by Alex Flinn

I had originally planned to spend an afternoon shopping for clothes with my sister in the city, however we just happened to walk past a discount bookshop that was having 50% off all children's books. Needless to say, I couldn't resit and (after much digging through the messy piles of books) I walked away with this lot. The best thing is that they worked out to be under $3 a book! Bargain!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos. 

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own. 

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: Jem, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. 

As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all. 
Clockwork Angel was amazing and, despite its size, very very quick read! I honestly could not put this one down for even a minute!

Everything that made The Mortal Instruments such pure awesomeness is present here in this debut to Clare's new series. There's action and adventure right from the word go, with a million twists and turns along the way. And of course there's just the right amount of romance, this time between two boys (though I wish it was a little less obvious who Tessa will inevitably choose). There are also a few familiar faces that pop up again, and of course we get to meet the ancestors of some of our favourite character's from the Mortal Instruments (Jace's great great great great grandfather/uncle/cousin/relative of some sort anyone?)

I have to admit however that sometimes everything was a little too similiar to its predecessor. The whole Jess, Will and Jem trio living together at The Institute and their whole group dynamic was very reminiscent of Isabelle, Alec and Jace. And the whole poor helpless girl finding out about the Shadowhunters etc etc, well, wasn't that Clary's story?  These were just small gripes that I had in the back of my mind as a read however and luckily they didn't really take all that much away from the story.

All in all, Clockwork Angel was an incredibly enjoyable novel that will have you lost in another world. The ending was brilliant and that cliffhanger has got me demanding the next book now!

Overall:  ♥♥♥♥
Published: August 31st 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review: Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison

THE TRANSFORMATION Beth has always been “The Beast”—that’s what everyone at school calls her because of her awkward height, facial scars, and thick glasses. Beth’s only friend is geeky, golden-haired Scott. That is, until she’s selected to be her choir’s soprano soloist, and receives the makeover that will change her life forever.
 THE LOVE AFFAIR When Beth’s choir travels to Switzerland, she meets Derek: pale, brooding, totally dreamy. Derek’s untethered passion—for music, and for Beth—leaves her breathless. Because in Derek’s eyes? She’s not The Beast, she’s The Beauty.
 THE IMPOSSIBLE CHOICE When Beth comes home, Scott, her best friend in the world, makes a confession that leaves her completely torn. Should she stand by sweet, steady Scott or follow the dangerous, intense new feelings she has for Derek?
 THE HEARTBREAK The closer Beth gets to Derek, the further away he seems. Then Beth discovers that Derek’s been hiding a dark secret from her …one that could shatter everything

Heartbreaking, haunting and sweet, Sing Me to Sleep is a book that will linger in your thoughts long after you've turned the last page. The blurb of this book gives nothing away and while it's a little slow to get going, once you've met Derek it soon becomes pretty obvious what's going on, and what's going to inevitably happen. The story also starts speeding at an incredible pace from there and I wasn't able to put it down!

There's definitely a lot of sweet, romantic scenes throughout this novel and I think Morrison has done a wonderful job making them both realistic and sigh-worthy at the same time. However, even though Derek's erratic possessive and controlling behaviour is explained in the end of the book, I still felt rather put off by it. Also, the whole part of the book about how Beth was a "beast" also felt rather unnecessary for me, although I do understand why it is there.

Overall, I really did enjoy reading this book. In fact Sing Me To Sleep is one of my favourite contemporary books I've read so far this year!

Overall:  ♥♥♥♥
Published: March 4th 2010 by Razorbill

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Review: The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron Fey, iron-bound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her. Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's alone in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.
The Iron Daughter was fast paced and every bit as exhilirating as it's predecessor, if not even more so! Every time I tried to find a not-so-interesting passage to place my bookmark, I failed- there wasn't a page that didn't have me wanting to continue!

The trademark of Julie Kagawa's style of writing- her descriptiveness in both the setting and interactions between her characters- is evident here again and make this novel a real treat for your imagination, while still being absolutely engaging and believable. Ash and Meghan's relationship only gets more intense and heart wrenching this time, but Meghan and Puck fans will be pleased to see their relationship grow too. Grimalkin returns in this adventure, which I was so happy about because I loved him so much in the last novel (I am very much a cat person!). Another unexpected and unlikely character is also back, and I have to say I became very attached to them by the end of this book. And of course, we meet a whole host of new characters as we learn much more about both the faerie world, Nevernever, and each of the main character's back stories.

This novel has everything- action, adventure, love, tragedy and humour. It's the kind of book that'll keep you up late at night and late for work/school because you really won't be able to put it down. I absolutely cannot wait for the next book in this series!

Overall:  ♥♥♥♥♥
Published: 27 July 2010 by Harlequin Teen

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Review: Need by Carrie Jones

Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.

She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right - not human - in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.

In this creepy, compelling breakout novel, Carrie Jones delivers romance, suspense, and a creature you never thought you"d have to fear.
Lately I've been in a bit of a book rut. Nothing seems to impress me anymore- even books that I've been anticipating for months are being thrown to the floor in frustration at how little they seem to hold my interest. Need however, was the book that brought me out of all that. It was amusing, different and will have you needing to finish it in one sitting (haha yes, lame pun I know).

Zara surprised me as a character who I could relate to very easily. She was complex and doesn't easily fit into a description. She wasn't a pushover, but she was a pacifist in the way she tried to deal with her problems. She was strong and yet vulnerable too, especially after the death of her father. Though the way she reacted and dealt with things were not always agreeable, they were realistic, and that is what I like most about her. The story itself was also suspenseful and fast paced, though sometimes a little too much so. Some parts of the novel needed to be better explained and just built up more, however overall it was still a very entertaining read.

I know the whole pixie thing can sound like a bit of a lame rip-off of faeries, but there's a lot more to this book than meets the eye. There's depth, there's humour, there's mystery and there's some very sweet romance- pretty much everything a good YA book needs to be absolutely awesome!

Overall:  ♥♥♥♥
Published: First published April 2010 (Australia) by Bloomsbury/Allen&Unwin Australia 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Love Letter To My Literary Crush

In honour of all the other poor (and definitely more swoon worthy) literary men who will no doubt be rather neglected when Eclipse is released today/tomorrow if you're in Australia, Frankie from Frankie Writes is holding a blogfest for everyone to write to their non-Edward/Jacob literary crushes. It was so hard to choose the most crush worthy guy from all the books I've read, so I cheated and picked two =) If you want to participate or check out others who are participating, follow the link here

Dear Ariel (from the Theatre Illuminata Series by Lisa Mantchev) ,

You do know that you're meant to be a girl right? Or at least that's what most people assume Ariel from The Tempest is supposed to be. And then there's the whole mermaid thing. Don't worry though, I'd totally pick you over Nate any day- girly name or not.  You're complex and I love that. You aren't particulary good or bad, and its nice to find someone who isn't completely one or the other in YA fiction once in awhile. Your love for Bertie is magical, and it's your intensity which makes me swoon. You're almost like a sick puppy in the way that you keep coming back after Bertie keeps rejecting you in Book 2, just because you love her ridiculously. I very much hope that you two work out, but I promise to love you and your butterflies either way.

Dear Jonah (from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta),

That one scene where you and Taylor are cuddling in bed after an awful day and she ask's you what you're thinking and you reply "That you deserve romance", will forever be imprinted in my mind as one of the sweetest moments in YA fiction (yes I realize it doesn't sound so great there but in context it was lovely). I don't watch Glee, but I know a character said something like that too, but heck you said it first!  Being built like a rugby player and quite inclined to violence, you're definitely not the kind of guy I usually go for. But you stick by Taylor through everything, despite being as broken as you are as well, and that is beautiful. You also automatically know exactly what to order her for breakfast and that says more about how much you care about someone than 3 little words ever could.