Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Review: Wicked, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years #1) by Gregory Maguire

Wicked, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years #1) by Gregory Maguire
Release Date: 6th December 2000
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: eBook
Pages: 406
Rating: DNF

This book was read as part of the 2013 ODY, 2013 OTS, 2013 EBC and 2013 BSR

Summary from Goodreads:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery"In Baum's land of Oz, animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. Green-skinned Elphaba, future Wicked Witch of the West, is smart, prickly and misunderstood; she challenges our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil."

I thought I would enjoy this a lot more than I did. Anything and everything that includes a retelling, or reimagining, of a classic story or fairytale, is something that I'm bound to love. But, I just didn't love this. And I think the problem is, when you strip this back, and take away the fact that it's set in the Wonderful Land of Oz, and our main protagonist is Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, then what you end up with is a purely political book. And thats just not something I'm interested in.

I've wanted to read this for years, ever since I read one of Maguire's book way back when I was in high school. Seeing Wicked in the theatre only made me more interested, so when I acquired this one sometime last year, I added to to be TBR and was super excited to read it at some point this year. And now that I've read about 300 pages, I'm very disappointed. The fantabulous that I was expecting, probably because I expected it to follow the same plot as the musical, wasn't there. Instead I had a really political book, with our main character Elphaba fighting for animal rights. Which is all well and good, but this isn't the story I was looking for. I was looking for the forbidden romance between Elphaba and Fiyerio (which I did get, but it was cut waaaay to short), the warring between best friends Elphaba and Glinda, the downfall of Nessarose, Elphaba's preaching sister, destined to be the Wicked Witch of the East. Maybe if I had read further I would have gotten this - but with only 100 or so pages to go, its a bit late to be introducing these storylines.

I will give Maguire credit for taking a classic evil character and showing her in a new light. Elphaba was brought to be the Wicked Witch of the West through cirucmstance - her crusade for animal rights pitted her against the Wizard, painted as a dictator leader. I'm assuming the loss of her lover, Fiyerio, also pushed her onto this path. Since I didn't finish the novel, I don't really know, but everything Elphaba did seemed to make sense, given the context. Elphaba is a human, not just an evil character.

This is the first time that I've DNF-ed a book. I've always had the view of pushing through to the end, even if I wasn't enjoying the novel, because sometimes, the best things happen at the end. But as days crawled by where I didn't even touch this book, thoughts of putting this book down and picking something up eventually came. And with that, I picked up The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. And I loved it. I flew through it in a couple of days, and so I thought of picking this one up again. But, I went for something else, and it's become apparent to me that I won't be picking this one up again.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Haul (2)

A couple of weeks ago I showcased the tonne of books I had recently bought. But wait....THERE'S MORE! At the beginning of the week I stumbled upon this online book sale where all the books were $3 - granted, their range was pretty small, but still, $3! So naturally I had a look and decided to buy these beauties, and they arrived in the mail the other day, so I thought I'd feature them here.

Grave Mercy by R.L LaFevers
This is one of those books that I see everywhere. Everyone seems to have read it, and loved it. This has been on my wishlist for a while now, so obviously when I saw I could grab it for $3, I snapped it up quick smart.  

The Circle by Sara Bergmark Elfgren & Mats Strandberg
This one intrigued me. Witches aren't something I read a lot about - I honestly can't remember the last book I read about them. This isn't one that I'd hear of before, but I checked it out on Goodreads, and people seemed to be enjoying it, for the most part. The synopsis was intriguing, and it was only $3, so I really couldn't resist. 

Carnival of Souls by Marissa Marr
I haven't read any of Marr's books yet, by the Wicked Lovely series has been on my wishlist for a while now. So when I saw this, I thought I might as well give it a go, see if Marr's style of writing and storytelling is for me. Plus, the synopsis sounded pretty cool.   

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wishlist Wednesday (20)

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted at Pen to Paper

This week I'm wishing for...

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black 

Summary from Goodreads:

"Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself."

Why I'm Wishing for It:
When this was first released I heard nothing but good things about it. Every review I saw for it was singing it's praises, and after reading the blurb, it's not hard to imagine why. I want to see what all the fuss is about!

What about you? What are you wishing for this week?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Let's Talk: Reading Put-Offs

Let's Talk is a weekly meme hosted by Melissa at i swim for oceans. Each week, there's a new topic to discuss. 

This week, let's talk about Reading Put-Offs.

Which books have you been putting off reading for a long time and why?

There are so many books that I put off reading. Shadow and Bone, Across the Universe, Delirium and Mila 2.0 have been sitting on my bookshelf for a couple of months now, even though I've heard great things about them and obviously want to read them at some point (hence why I bought them). But, for some reason or another, whenever I finish one book, it's a different book that I pick up to read next.

There are also heaps of series that I put off starting, for one reason or another. The Wicked Years series by Gregory Maguire is something I've been wanting to read for years, but I've only just now gotten around to reading book one. It was the same with the A Song of Ice and Fire series - I kept putting it off because the books are sooo long and I didn't think I had the time for them.

It's not that I put off books because I don't think I'll enjoy reading them - if I didn't think I'd enjoy reading them, I wouldn't add them to my TBR in the first place - it's just that there are soooooo many books out there to read. Its always a struggle to pick which book to read next because there are quite a few to choose from, and inevitably, some are going to keep getting pushed back because you've picked something else. Ahh, the struggles of the never ending TBR - so many books, so little time!

Posted on Let's Discuss hosted by The Fiction Conniption and Oh, Chrys! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wishlist Wednesday (19)

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted at Pen to Paper

This week I'm wishing for...

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater 

Summary from Goodreads:

""There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve," Neeve said. "Either you're his true love . . . or you killed him."

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them-not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can't entirely explain. He has it all-family money, good looks, devoted friends-but he's looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys:"

Why I'm Wishing for It:
There was a lot of hype surrounding this one when it first came out. I'm not entirely sure why, but I just didn't take any notice of it, and even though I saw this book pop up around the blogosphere, I never actually read a review for it, or even the blurb I don't think. It's only over the past few days that I've seen it pop up again, and after some investigation, this book does sound rather interesting. Might as well give it a go!

What about you? What are you wishing for this week?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Review: Withering Tights (The Misadventures of Tallulah Casey #1) by Louise Rennison

Withering Tights (The Misadventures of Tallulah Casey #1) by Louise Rennison
Release Date: 8th July 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: Hardback 
Pages: 351
Rating: 4.0/5.0

This book was read as part of the 2013 ODY and 2013 BSR

Summary from Goodreads:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery"Picture the scene: Dother Hall performing arts college somewhere Up North, surrounded by rolling dales, bearded cheesemaking villagers (male and female) and wildlife of the squirrely-type. On the whole, it’s not quite the showbiz experience Tallulah was expecting… but once her mates turn up and they start their ‘FAME! I’m gonna liiiiive foreeeeeever, I’m gonna fill my tiiiiights’ summer course things are bound to perk up.

Especially when the boys arrive. (When DO the boys arrive?)
Six weeks of parent-free freedom. BOY freedom. Freedom of expression… cos it’s the THEATRE dahling, the theatre!!"

Ahh, this was a throwback to the books I used to read way back when I had only just become a teenager. This is the humourous, light hearted fun I remember from when I read Rennison's Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series back when I was 13. And that's exactly what I was hoping for.

Rennison has a real knack for writing the whimsical teenager. Tallulah, our protagonist, only has a few problems - most of which revolve around boys.
She's the light-hearted teenager that can be hard to come by in books now-a-days, what with almost every book tackling some sort of issue, whether it be abuse, mental health, or the premise of the book itself leading the protagonist to have a less than breezy life (well, at least I've seen this in the majority of books I read). Don't get me wrong, I love these books, but it was nice to sit back and read about a girl who's biggest problem was her small boobs.

This is no work of literary genius. This isn't a book that's going to make you feel all the feels. This doesn't have a protagonist who's trying to move through some big, big issues. And this isn't set in a world that our protagonist has to change. But, maybe if you think you might need a bit of a break from books like this, you might want to give Rennison's books a try. If I was laughing out loud on more than one occasion, I'm sure you will too.

Sidenote: If you saw the movie Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging way back in 2008, don't base your opinion of Rennison's books on this - they're soooo much better!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Let's Talk: Required Reading

Let's Talk is a weekly meme hosted by Melissa at i swim for oceans. Each week, there's a new topic to discuss. 

I just discovered this meme only yesterday, and I thought I'd give it a go. I've been thinking about doing discussion type posts on here for a while now, but I'm terrible at coming up with ideas, so this serves as a great prompt!

This week, let's talk about Required Reading.

Which books from your required reading days (high school/middle school) made the biggest impact on you?

I remember that in high school, there was always one book that you actually enjoyed reading, and the rest you absolutely loathed. I don't know how much of an impact these books have had on me, and considering I'm struggling to remember some of them, let's talk about the ones I do remember - that one book each year that I was actually happy to read. 

In Year 7, it was Exodus by Julie Bertagna. This was one of the first dystopians I ever read - little did I know how much I would come to enjoy dystopians in the future. And, just now researching this book to find the author's name, I've discovered that it's part of a trilogy - and now I'm actually considering going back, re-reading the first novel (which I never do), and then getting into this series. Whether that actually happens is fairly unlikely, but just the fact that I'm even thinking about it should convey that I did really enjoy this book, way back when I was 12 years old. 

I honesty don't remember any of the books we had to read in Year 8, so lets skip forward to Year 9. That year, I was content to read Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos. I say content because at the time, I wasn't into reading deep and emotional books that tackled the feelings and emotions related to eating disorders, but for that year, that was the best book. 

In Year 10, it was To King a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This one's a given, although I do think the play Oedipus came a close second, just because it was so messed up. To King a Mockingbird is such an iconic novel, pretty much anyone who's read it loves it, or enjoyed it at least. 

In Year 11, it was The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood. Now, I didn't actually finish this book, but I did like the bits I read...I guess that speaks volumes for the books we had to read in Year 11. Actually, we spent the majority of our time studying a movie called Jindabyne. I think that movie's stuck with me the most, not because it's any great movie masterpiece, but rather, because it's the complete opposite. 

In Year 12, it was Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. Even though this novel is full of the technical devices that English teachers love (which isn't surprising, since Guterson was a teacher before becoming a novelist), I really enjoyed it. It's a great murder mystery with some racial prejudice in there to spice it up and make it quite interesting to read. 

So there you go, a look into some of the novels that have stuck with me from my school days. Was this interesting at all? I realise I didn't actually say much about each novel I mentioned, simply because I find it hard to remember what they were about. Required reading for me just wasn't all that memorable; most of the novels I just read because I had to, and then as we began to dissect them, I found I liked them less and less, until I positively hated them. What about you? Did you have any required reading that really struck a cord with you? Or were you like me, and hated almost anything you studied in class?

Posted on Let's Discuss hosted by The Fiction Conniption and Oh, Chrys! 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Book Review: Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu

Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu
Release Date: 29th November 2012
Publisher: Baker and Taylor
Format: Paperback 
Pages: 308
Rating: 4.0/5.0

This book was read as part of the 2013 OTS, 2013 ODY and 2013 BSR

Summary from Goodreads:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery"What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbours. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets."

To be honest, I thought I'd like this a lot more than I did. I don't know what it was - maybe I had set my expectations too high because of all the hype - but I just wasn't wowed by this. But, I think this has done just enough to get me interested in reading book some point in time. 

Legend conforms to everything that's the rage at the moment - set in a dystopian future, we follow a boy and a girl from two vastly different upbringings on their quest for the truth. As the blurb says, Day is the country's most wanted criminal, June is the country's biggest success story. Each are searching for answers, and for both, one wrong move would mean certain death. Legend has the premise, and it even pulls it off - this is a well done book with a great, fast moving plot, with plenty of twists and turns.

And the characters are great too. Day and June are just the right mix of fight and vulnerability. Tess and John seem like lovely people, although my feelings for either of them weren't particularly strong. Thomas intrigued me - he's a ruthless soldier, following his orders no matter what they may be, but his pursuit of June reminds us that he is human. And Commander Jameson is brilliant - the complete opposite of June, her antithesis. If June had followed her orders exactly and never stopped to think, she could have ended up just like Commander Jameson, and boy, are we glad that she didn't.

Maybe I'm just a bit over the dystopian genre at the moment, because I just can't seem to pinpoint anything in particular that I disliked. I liked everything, but just not enough. It's probable that I will read Prodigy, but maybe I'll take a look at some reviews first. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wishlist Wednesday (18)

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted at Pen to Paper

This week I'm wishing for...

All Our Yesterdays by Christin Terrill 

Summary from Goodreads:

""You have to kill him." Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside. 

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was. 
All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice."

Why I'm Wishing for It:
I've seen this one around on the blogosphere the past couple of weeks, and it sounds right up my alley. I might be in a bit of a dystopian slump at the moment, but I've not doubt that at some point in the future, I will absolutely devour this one. And lets not forget about the time travel. I WANT IT! 

What about you? What are you wishing for this week?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Book Haul (1)

I don't usually do these types of posts but I've bought/received so many books over the past 2 weeks or so that I thought I'd share them with you. This is what happens when I discover a stall in my local shopping centre with all novels $5, AND they keep bringing out more books - I can't help but buy some. Please forgive me in advance for the terrible photos. 

Looking for Alaska by John Green
Ahh John Green - the (unoffical) representaive for YA lit. I haven't read a lot of John Green in my time, so I thought I'd pick this one up since I did enjoy The Fault in Our Stars.

Withering TightsA Midsummer Tights Dream The Taming of the Tights by Louise Rennison
Quite a few years ago, I read Rennison's Confessions of Georige Nicholson series, and absolutely loved it. Her books are a hoot and a half. So naturally when I stumbled across her new series, that's already had 3 books released, I had to buy them all!

Vortex by Julie Cross
This one I pre-ordered at the end of last year, since I loved the first novel in the series, Tempest. I'm excited to read this one - hopefully soon. 

The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales
I stumbled upon this at the book stall, and since it was only $5, and I think it could be quite interesting, I grabbed it.

Insatiable by Meg Cabot
I didn't really know much about this one when I picked it up, but I do know Meg Cabot - I'm currently reading her Abandon series, and loving it, so I thought this was a solid investment. 

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
I read City of Bones earlier this year, and whilst I wasn't in love with it, it was always my plan to continue on with the series at some point. Grabbing the second novel for only $5 was very convenient 

Angelfall by Susan Ee
I've heard about this one all over the blogosphere, so a couple of weeks ago, I decided to grab this one on The Book Depository. I've no doubt I'll enjoy it - everyone is singing its praises!

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith
Another one I've seen around the blogosphere for a while now. I always intended to grab this, but I just never got around to it - so finally, I grabbed with when I bought Angelfall.

Once by Anna Carey
This one is the second novel in the Eve Trilogy. I've had Eve on my wishlist for a while now, but I never got around to getting it, so when I saw the sequel at the $5 stand, I picked it up as a way to force me to acquire the first novel and finally get onto reading the series. 

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wishlist Wednesday (17)

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted at Pen to Paper

This week I'm wishing for...

Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor

Summary from Goodreads:

"Three tales of supernatural love, each pivoting on a kiss that is no mere kiss, but an action with profound consequences for the kissers' souls:

Goblin Fruit
In Victorian times, goblin men had only to offer young girls sumptuous fruits to tempt them to sell their souls. But what does it take to tempt today's savvy girls?

Spicy Little Curses
A demon and the ambassador to Hell tussle over the soul of a beautiful English girl in India. Matters become complicated when she falls in love and decides to test her curse.

Six days before Esme's fourteenth birthday, her left eye turns from brown to blue. She little suspects what the change heralds, but her small safe life begins to unravel at once. What does the beautiful, fanged man want with her, and how is her fate connected to a mysterious race of demons?"

Why I'm Wishing for It:
I don't usually go for short stories, but if Laini Taylor's involved - count me in! The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series is just so amazing that I'm open to read anything else Taylor has written, even if it's short stories. 

What about you? What are you wishing for this week?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Book Review: Underworld (Abandon #2) by Meg Cabot

Underworld (Abandon Trilogy #2) by Meg Cabot
Release Date: 1st June 2012
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Format: Paperback 
Pages: 318
Rating: 3.5/5.0

This book was read as part of the 2013 ODY and 2013 BSR

Summary from Goodreads:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery"Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn’t dead.

Not this time.

But she is being held against her will in the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey.

Her captor, John Hayden, claims it’s for her own safety. Because not all the departed are dear. Some are so unhappy with where they ended up after leaving the Underworld, they’ve come back as Furies, intent on vengeance…on the one who sent them there and on the one whom he loves.

But while Pierce might be safe from the Furies in the Underworld, far worse dangers could be lurking for her there…and they might have more to do with its ruler than with his enemies.
And unless Pierce is careful, this time there’ll be no escape."

** Spoiler Alert: Read at your own risk**

Oh Underworld. I really, really wanted to love you. But, unfortunately, you fell into the trap of being a filler between the first and third novel in the series. What a shame. 

I loved book 1 in this series, so needless to say, I was excited to pick this one up and continue forward with the story. But herein lies the problem - the plot didn't particularly go anywhere. We spent in entirety of this book trying to save one person, which is all well and good, but I need a bit more. And not only did the plot not really go anywhere, but I had some major issues with the characters. Take Pierce, our protagonist, for example. I don't know why, or how it happened, but Pierce suddenly became extremely stupid in this novel. There were many times when she'd say something and I'd think, Oh honey, really? Here's an example

Pierce: Oh look, my phone works, lets turn it on and watch some videos

2 seconds later

Henry: I saw you looking at your magic mirror, you really shouldn't do that

Pierce: Huh?

That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but really, IT'S NOT THAT HARD TO FIGURE OUT. Pierce just aggravated me with her sheer stupidity at points.

Also, let's talk about John. I get that Pierce and John are meant to be or something, but you know what, he's really not that great of a guy. Sure, he wants to keep Pierce close and protect her, but you know how he thinks he'll achieve this? By constantly lying to her and trying to trick her into doing things that would force her to stay in the Underworld with him. Yeah, no, that's not what a guy who loves you is supposed to do. 

So what exactly did I like about the book? Well, we got a lot of back story established here, which was probably the main purpose. We also had some cool new characters established, who I'm sure will play a big role in the final novel. Whilst I did have some issues (read: lots of issues) with the plot and our two main characters, I devoured this book quickly because of all the questions that were posed and the answers we were getting. It's just a shame that these questions and answers weren't surrounded by a more interesting and forward moving plot. Here's hoping that the final instalment will be much, much better. 

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