Thursday, December 18, 2014

Nandi Reviews: Lament and Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater



Lament (2008)
Ballad (2009)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic

LamentSixteen-year-old Dee is a cloverhand – someone who can see faeries. When she finds herself irresistibly drawn to beautiful, mysterious Luke, Dee senses that he wants something more dangerous than a summer romance.
But Dee doesn’t realize that Luke is an assassin from the faerie world.
And she is his next target.

BalladWhen his best friend, Dee, fell in love with a faerie, James realized she’d never feel the same way about him.
Trying to escape into music, James finds himself surrounded by more faeries than ever. Before he knows it, James is trapped in a dangerous game. One where the only way to win is to betray the one you love…

I don’t usually read novels set in the faerie world, but these two books sounded interesting and I had heard great things about the author, so I thought I’d give them a try. I was pleasantly surprised. I usually find faerie YA books difficult to get into because the background to the faerie world isn’t well established. Stiefvater, however, manages to explain the world in a well thought out and simple to understand way, making it easy for the reader to immerse themselves into the story she is creating. Stiefvater also has some great laugh-out-loud comic moments that add to the enjoyment of the books.

At the end of Lament, I was left excited to find out what happens next with Dee and Luke, as the story doesn’t have a long-term definitive conclusion. Soon after starting Ballad, I realised I probably wouldn’t find out what I wanted to know. Dee and Luke don’t feature very much in Ballad, and even though I knew the story was about James, I was still disappointed. The parts where they do feature adds to James’ story, without concluding theirs.

By the end of Ballad, I was left with numerous questions from both books. I felt like there should be a third book to conclude parts of the story that were left hanging, and I was rather frustrated that I didn’t have the end to the story. This was possibly because I read them one after the other without a break, so all the parts of the books I had questions about were compounded. I think it would have been better to wait a few days or weeks before reading Ballad, almost treating it as a stand-alone novel with some common characters from the same world.

Despite the questions I had at the end of the books, I thoroughly enjoyed them, and I look forward to reading more of Stiefvater’s work. The books were well written and entertaining, and explain the faerie world excellently.

(Review by guest blogger - Nandi Ziller. Thanks Nandi! Looking forward to your next reviews!)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkowski


Title: The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkowski
Publisher: Bloomsbury (2014)

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.
But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 
The Winner's Curse it not something I would normally choose for myself, but there was something in the cover and the storyline that got me excited to read it.

I am so glad I did! I really enjoyed this novel, that had more of a historical flavor to it rather than fantasy.

Kestrel is a great character and a suitable role model in that she stands by her convictions. Arin is also interesting and the plot moves forward quickly, with enough going on to keep you interested.

This book is also competently written and certainly rises above the over-saturated YA marketplace. The world building is concise and I had very few questions at the end. I especially loved the different races and how their cultures were represented.

Give this a read this holiday season. You won't regret it!

I cannot wait until the sequel is out!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review: We Were Lairs by E. Lockhart


Title: We Were Liars
Author: E Lockhart
Delacorte Press (2014)

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

I bought this on a whim, having remembered that it is one of the Goodreads winners this year. It was also pretty hyped on social media so I figured it would not be a mistake in buying it.

I don't know what I was expecting going into this book, but I was certainly expecting it to be better.

 One of the things that really stands out is the jarring and confusing use of metaphor throughout the book. Half the time, it felt that what was being described was actually happening to our narrator. And then irritation sets in as I realized it was a really shitty attempt at metaphor. The other half felt like purple pose written by a teenage who has discovered description for the first time.

The style it is written in is also really, really confusing.

I read. The book annoyed.
The plot failed.
Sentences were short.

If you were not aware, the book does have a plot twist. But, by the time I got that far, I felt so manipulated and fed-up by Cadence (our privileged narrator) that I just didn't care.

The good things about We Were Liars? It is nice and short. It has the potential to be an awesome story. Maybe if a more proficient writer like a Sarah Dessen had decided to tackle something like this, it would have gone better.

But this book has enough good reviews and don't base your opinion solely on my grumping about it.

I was in the mood for an awesome contemporary YA with a twist and this just did not deliver.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Film Review: Mockingjay Part 1


Title: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Director: Francis Lawrence
Lionsgate Films (2014)

So I went to go see Mockingjay on opening night (as any good fan would) and I was completely mind-blown.

Firstly, I was initially pissed off that they split the book into two films. They do that far too often and makes me think the studios are only in it for the money. To the doubters, this movie had to be split. There was so much going on. Not just with Katniss, but with the Capitol and the Districts. Never at any point did I feel the story was dragging and nothing was happening.

I love Jennifer Lawrence. Both as a person and as Katniss. She has this very real quality and I have rarely been so emotionally invested in a character. Lawrence has made a favorite book character come to life and her portrayal of the changes in Katniss' mental state throughout the films is simply amazing. For me, she is Katniss.

I am also so impressed with Josh Hutcherson. He does not feature much in this installment, but he is absolutely amazing when he does get screen time. I will say nothing, for fear of giving something away!

The sets and costumes were brilliant as always. There was hardly any focus on the outlandish Capitol fashions, but we got a closer look at District 13 and their military ways. Brilliant.

The odd thing for me is that Mockingjay was my least favorite book, but ended up being my favorite movie (so far! We are waiting for Part 2). I think it is because at this stage in the game, I am so invested in the characters and story that I am aching for things to work out for them.

One of my favourite parts features a song that was also included in the book. The Hanging Tree was a song that Katniss used to sing with her father. The scene with this was absolutely breathtaking and haunting.

(Here is a fan-made cut scene regarding The Hanging Tree song that I found while fangirling over Google that you should watch!)

Anyway, if you enjoyed the first two movies, you will not walk out of this one disappointed! I will say no more and simply send you on your way to your nearest cinema!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Carnegie Medal Nominees for 2015

Here is the list of Carnegie Medal nominees for 2015.

This is an annual award for outstanding children's / YA Fiction. I am quite excited to see who wins it!
Please visit their website for more information here.

The official longlist will be published in Feb 2015. Is your favorite here?

Angus, Sam. Captain
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447263029

Avery, Tom. My Brother's Shadow
Publisher: Andersen Press. ISBN: 9781849397827

Baldacci, David. The Finisher
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447263005

Barraclough, Lindsey. The Mark of Cain
Publisher: Bodley Head Children's Books. ISBN: 9781782300199

Bedford, Martyn. Never Ending
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406329926

Bergin, Virginia. The Rain
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447266068

Black, Holly. The Coldest Girl In Coldtown
Publisher: Indigo. ISBN: 9781780621302

Blaxill, Gina. Saving Silence
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447208846

Booth, Anne. Girl With A White Dog
Publisher: Catnip Publishing. ISBN: 9781846471810

Bowler, Tim. Night Runner
Publisher: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780192794147

Boyne, John. Stay Where You Are And Then Leave
Publisher: Doubleday Children's Books. ISBN: 9780857532930

Breslin, Theresa. Ghost Soldier
Publisher: Doubleday Children's Books. ISBN: 9780857533050

Brooks, Kevin. The Ultimate Truth: Travis Delaney Investigates
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447238966

Butler, Heather. Us Minus Mum
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers. ISBN: 9780349124070

Buxton, Jamie. Temple Boys
Publisher: Egmont Books. ISBN: 9781405268004

Cain, Cate. The Jade Boy
Publisher: Templar. ISBN: 9781848772298

Camden, Steve. Tape
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books. ISBN: 9780007511204

Cantor, Jillian. Searching For Sky
Publisher: Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9781408846643

Carroll. Emma. The Girl Who Walked On Air
Publisher: Faber Children's Books. ISBN: 9780571297160

Cassidy, Anne. Finding Jennifer Jones
Publisher: Hot Key Books. ISBN: 9781471402289

Chan, Crystal. Bird
Publisher: Tamarind Books. ISBN: 9781848531239

Christopher, Lucy. The Killing Woods
Publisher: Chicken House. ISBN: 9781906427726

Conaghan, Brian. When Mr. Dog Bites
Publisher: Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9781408842539

Cotterill, Jo. Looking At The Stars
Publisher: Bodley Head Children's Books. ISBN: 9781782300182

Creech, Sharon. The Boy On The Porch
Publisher: Andersen Press. ISBN: 9781849397728

Crossan, Sarah. Apple and Rain
Publisher: Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9781408853061

Crow, Matthew. In Bloom
Publisher: Much-In-Little Books. ISBN: 9781472105516

Crowe, Sara. Bone Jack
Publisher: Andersen Press. ISBN: 9781783440054

David, Keren. Salvage
Publisher: ATOM Books. ISBN: 9780349001371

Dawson, James. Say Her Name
Publisher: Hot Key Books. ISBN: 9781471402449

Day, Susie. Pea's Book of Holidays
Publisher: Red Fox. ISBN: 9781782952602

Dickinson, Matt. The Everest Files
Publisher: Vertebrate Publishing. ISBN: 9781906148928

Doherty, Berlie. The Company of Ghosts
Publisher: Andersen Press. ISBN: 9781849397292

Don, Lari. Mind Blind
Publisher: Kelpies. ISBN: 9781782500537

Doyle, Roddy. Brilliant
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447248804

Earle, Phil. The Bubble Wrap Boy
Publisher: Penguin Books. ISBN: 9780141346298

Easton, T.S. Boys Don't Knit
Publisher: Hot Key Books. ISBN: 9781471401473

Elson, Jane. A Room Full Of Chocolate
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books. ISBN: 9781444916751

Furniss, Clare. The Year of the Rat
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books ISBN: 9781471120275

Gaiman, Neil. Fortunately, The Milk
Publisher: Bloomsbury ISBN: 9781408841761

Gardner, Sally. Tinder
Publisher: Orion Children's Books. ISBN: 9781780621494

Gavin, Jamila. Blackberry Blue: And Other Fairy Tales
Publisher: Tamarind Books. ISBN: 9781848531062

Gemin, Giancarlo. Cowgirl
Publisher: Nosy Crow. ISBN: 9780857632814

Gibbons, Alan. Hate
Publisher: Indigo. ISBN: 9781780621760

Gilman, David. Monkey and Me
Publisher: Templar. ISBN: 9781848773356

Gleitzman, Morris. Loyal Creatures
Publisher: Puffin Books. ISBN: 9780141355009

Green, Sally. Half Bad
Publisher: Penguin Books. ISBN: 9780141354309

Haig, Matt. Echo Boy
Publisher: Bodley Head Children's Books. ISBN: 9781782300069

Hall, Tim. Shadow of the Wolf
Publisher: David Fickling Books. ISBN: 9781910200001

Hardinge, Frances. Cuckoo Song
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN 9780330519731

Haughton, Emma. Now You See Me
Publisher: Usborne Books. ISBN: 9781409563693

Hearn, Julia. Dance Of The Dark Heart
Publisher: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780192729309

Helsby, Genevieve. My First Orchestra Book
Publisher: Naxos Books. ISBN: 9781843797708

Howes, M.J. Feed
Publisher: Chicken House. ISBN: 9781908435965

Ho-Yen, Polly. Boy In The Tower
Publisher: Doubleday Children's Books. ISBN: 9780857533036

Inglis, Lucy. City of Halves
Publisher: Chicken House. ISBN: 9781909489097

Johnson, Catherine. Sawbones
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406340570

Laird, Elizabeth. The Fastest Boy In The World
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447267164

Landman, Tanya. Buffalo Soldier
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406314595

Lewis, Gill. Scarlet Ibis
Publisher: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780192793553

Lockhart, E. We Were Liars
Publisher: Hot Key Books. ISBN: 9781471403989

Mason, Simon. Running Girl
Publisher: David Fickling Books. ISBN: 9780857560582

Massey, David. Taken
Publisher: Chicken House. ISBN: 9781908435736

McCaughrean, Geraldine. The Middle Of Nowhere
Publisher: Usborne Books. ISBN: 9781409522003  

McGovern, Cammie. Amy and Matthew
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447239000  

McGowan, Anthony. Hello Darkness
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406337846

McKenzie, Sophie. Every Second Counts
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books. ISBN: 9781471116049  

Mitton, Tony. Wayland
Publisher: David Fickling Books. ISBN: 9780857560148

Moorhouse, Tom. The River Singers
Publisher: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780192734808  

Ness, Patrick. More Than This
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406331158

Nicholls, Sally. Close Your Pretty Eyes
Publisher: Marion Lloyd Books. ISBN: 9781407124322

Pass, Emma. The Fearless
Publisher: Corgi Children's Books. ISBN: 9780552566155

Pratt, Non. Trouble
Publisher: Walker Books. ISBN: 9781406347692

Rai, Bali. Web of Darkness
Publisher: Corgi Children's Books. ISBN: 9780552562126

Reeve, Phillip. Oliver and the Seawigs
Publisher: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780192734556  

Riddell, Chris. Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9780230759800  

Rix, Megan. A Soldier's Friend
Publisher: Puffin Books. ISBN: 9780141351902

Robin, Stevens. Murder Most Unladylike: A Wells and Wong Mystery
Publisher: Corgi Children's Books. ISBN: 9780552570725

Robinson, Hilary. Where the Poppies Now Grow
Publisher: Strauss House Productions. ISBN: 9780957124585

Rosoff, Meg. Picture Me Gone
Publisher: Penguin Books. ISBN: 9780141344034  

Sales, Leila. This Song Will Save Your Life
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447252832

Sedgwick, Marcus. She Is Not Invisible
Publisher: Orion Children's Books. ISBN: 9781780621098

Sharpe, Tess. Far From You
Publisher: Indigo. ISBN: 9781780621654  

Slater, Kim. Smart: A Mysterious Crime, A Different Detective
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books. ISBN: 9781447254096

Smith, Alex. Devilskein and Dearlove
Publisher: Arachne Press. ISBN: 9781909208155

Smith, Andrew. Grasshopper Jungle
Publisher: Electric Monkey. ISBN: 9781405273411

Sutcliffe, William. Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books. ISBN: 9781471122552

Suzuma, Tabitha. Hurt
Publisher: Bodley Head Children's Books. ISBN: 9781782300205

Symon, Andrew. Jack Shian and the Mapa Mundi
Publisher: Black & White Publishing. ISBN: 9781845027063

Walter, Jon. Close To The Wind
Publisher: David Fickling Books. ISBN: 9781910200056

Westcott, Rebecca. Dandelion Clocks
Publisher: Puffin Books. ISBN: 9780141348995

Review: Tease by Amanda Maciel


Title: Tease
Author: Amanda Maciel
Publisher: Hachette (2014)

Emma Putnam is dead, and it's all Sara Wharton's fault. At least, that's what everyone seems to think. 
Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who's ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media. In the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her own role in an undeniable tragedy. And she'll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

I recieved a review copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review from PanMacmillan South Africa. Thank you!

Tease is one of those books that I would never have picked up had I found it in the shops. It does not meet my usual checklist of things that drives me to purchase a book (supernatural, dystopian, fantasy, sci-fi). But, I was pleasantly surprised by Tease.

Told from the point of view of a bully, it brings to light just how awful the high school experience can be. The peer pressure of fitting in, having a hot guy, being in the "cool" group of girls. Do not expect to like Sara. She is an awful person initially and she is supposed to be awful.

I think this is an interesting read in that it highlights some of the major problems found in schools today. It is also a difficult book to digest, especially if you have been at the brunt of high school nastiness yourself.

The writing is not bad and I do like how the story alternates between the past and the present. I would have liked Sara to have grown more as a person, though.

Well worth the read if you want something a little different and are tired of mainstream YA.




Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon


So I have decided to participate in the upcoming 24 Hour Readathon this Saturday the 18th October. I doubt I will be able to read for 24 hours solid, but it is a good excuse to hit my TBR pile with a vengeance!

Pop to the website for more info and let me know if you are taking part!