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Friday, 28 June 2013

Book Talk: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

This book needs to come with a sticker that reads, "WARNING: Do not read at 5:00 am because you will wake your whole household with your hysterical sobbing!" (Yes, this really happened to me. No, they were not at all sympathetic. Or happy. Oops.)

But don't let that put you off! This is a truly remarkable book. It's the only book that has ever made me cry as much as I do when I watch Titanic -- and if any of you have ever seen that, you know it is not pretty. I'm not usually such a sentimental person, but real drownings and fictional cancer really get to me.

Anyway, this is the only John Green book I have read to date, and I have extremely mixed emotions about reading another -- not because I didn't enjoy it, or because I don't think he's an amazing writer, but because I'm afraid he'll once again reduce me to a soggy, quivering mess. That's a dark place I'd rather not return to, which is why I'm currently rereading The Sweet Dead Life (my signed hardcover copy!!!!! Thank you Joy Preble!!!!!!), a nice, comparatively cheerful, and sarcastic-funny read.

This is the book that will make you donate to cancer charities, get through a whole box of tissues, and never again believe the quote, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars but in ourselves." That's right: we can't trust everything we read, not even by Shakespeare. (Sidenote: I really adore the metaphorical resonances and deep symbol-y meaning of this book's title. Me likey.)

I tried to describe this for you in my own words like I usually do, but I can't do it any better than the master himself, so here is the book blurb:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

 I found this book because my best friend Ellie forced it into my hands, and as I caused her significant emotional trauma at the hands of a paperback last year, I agreed to read it, even though I was warned of its sadness. (I was also told much about its awesomeness.) I don't regret my decision at all, despite the aforementioned 5:00 am incident. This is a book we can all relate to. Even if we don't fully understand how "some infinities are greater than other infinities."

Ellie describes Augustus as "cute to an idiotic level and idiotic to a cute level". I totally agree. There is nothing else to say.

Go get it on Amazon!

Star Rating: 5/5

So, friends, even though you will be devastated, you need to read this book. I give you permission to scream at me if you don't like it. Just try it. And buy tissues.

*sobs* I'll never be able to look at a venn diagram the same way again! (You'll get it when you read it.)

So to end on a light, happy note -- the author of the ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD series, Kendare Blake, will be here on Wednesday to talk to us about movies, her next book, writing, and what's in Thomas Sabin's desk drawer. (Admit it, you so want to know...)

If you've forgotten what I said about the Anna series or you're a new reader, check it out here.

See you there!!!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Writing Wednesday -- What's New?

Hey guys. As I don't have the usual commitments I do today, I can afford to blog a lot earlier.

So then, what's new on the writing front? Well:

1) I FINISHED MY FIRST DRAFT! YAY! Am now on my six week break before I start edits, as recommended by author Stephanie Morril. It's a lot harder than you think. My fingers keep drifting to the Microsoft Word icon... must... not... edit...

2) 2/3 through a short story about Slenderman -- or a variation, at least. I've turned fiction into local folklore, which of course the main character doesn't believe -- in the beginning, at least...

3) Trying to think of another idea for a writing competition I'm entering. I have one, but... it's a bit... random, let's say. One aspect of it is original and the other is cliché. It's hard to explain.

4) I have an official writing partner now! *waves to Abby*

5) Need to decide which of two projects to attack next. I'm leaning towards #1 now, which is better than last week at least. No doubt next week I'll be leaning towards #2. But "we'll jump off that bridge when we get to it" -- to quote my Favourite TV Show Ever, Ghost Whisperer.

6) Lastly (if this counts), I'm compiling a list of Original Quotes and one of Favourite Book Quotes.

That's about it, I guess. Still a grammar nazi, if anyone was wondering, and still finding mistakes in published books occasionally -- something which simultaneously drives me nuts and makes me weirdly happy, because it leads me to believe I should be an editor. Fun fun fun!!!

Let's see if I still want to be an editor when I'm on draft 8 of WIP and still not satisfied ;) It sucks to be a perfectionist.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

(Belated) Book Talk: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Sorry this post is late! Internet went on Friday and yesterday we were out all day.

I have once again proved my theory correct. Every book I buy thinking, "well... I'm not sure whether I REALLY want this... but I guess I'll buy it. What the hey" -- I end up loving. Seriously. It happened with four out of my five favourite books ever -- and number five was a magazine freebie. I kid you not.

So now it has happened yet again, with Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This post is perfectly timed actually, because I literally just saw the movie, oh, ten minutes ago? I approve of the film, by the way, which is rare for me. They did the book justice.

Quiet, friendless freshman Charlie has spent his whole life watching from the sidelines. His first experience of high school is nerve-wrecking to say the least. Never had a date, never kissed a girl, never been to a school dance... Charlie is a wallflower, and while this allows him to absorb and understand the world, he has never experienced it. That is why Charlie sets out to "participate" with the help of his new friends Patrick and Sam, the latter of which Charlie might just have a teensy weensy *cough* HUGE crush on. Just maybe.

What makes this book really interesting is that it's all told through letters from Charlie to his "dear friend" -- whom he actually doesn't know. Confused? Read the book and you'll understand. The reason I didn't think I'd really like this book was that at first glance it struck me as too normal. I like weird books -- as you can probably tell from previous Book Talks. Where were all the ghosts? Where were all the werewolves? Where were all the secret societies of immortal Russian monks compelling witches from folklore to save doomed princesses and stalking girls to fulfil the prophecy?!?! A high school coming-of-age book? For me?

But I was so wrong. This is not an ordinary book. This is an extraordinary book. It gave me chills. The letter thing was really cool. The writing is beautiful, but not in the simile-and-metaphor way that usually comes to mind; it's beautiful because Charlie is so utterly honest. I got two amazing quotes for my collection from this book -- "we accept the love we think we deserve" and "and in that moment, I swear we were infinite" -- which I loved so much I took a picture of the page and set it as my top bar picture thingy on google plus. This book was an emotional rollercoaster. By the end I was feeling pretty bipolar to tell you the truth. The highs are high, but the lows... are very low. All in all, despite the slightly melancholy feel to some parts, still a great read.

Star rating: I'm going to cheat and say 4 1/2

Amazon's page:

And while you're at it, see the film too!!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Triple Music Monday!!! (and quiz!)

Hey guys :)

To compensate for my loooong absence, I will be giving you three songs today. Yay! So without further ado:

Wherever You Will Go by The Calling -- I adore this song with all my heart. There really is nothing else to say. I just absolutely love it.

Defying Gravity from the musical "Wicked!". My favourite song from my favourite musical. What's not to love?

And lastly, Summercat by Billie the Vision and the Dancers -- this has been in my head for a week. Catchy. Very catchy. You have been warned!

And if you want some extra fun:

The Dreaming Anastasia quiz! Approved by author Joy Preble. If you've read the book, do it! You know you want to...

Friday, 14 June 2013

Book Talk: Sirens by Janet Fox

First, guys: I’m so sorry I abandoned you for so long. I was in the hospital but I’m okay now and blogging will resume as normal. Thanks for not overloading me with angry comments ;)

I got this book last year as a giveaway (thank you so much Ms Fox!), and WOW was it good. Set in 1925, Sirens tells the story of 16-year-old Josephine Winter, or Jo, whose father sends her to live in New York with some cousins in order to find a suitable husband. At least, that’s what he says. Jo, though, knows better: this is all just a cover-up, designed to get her away from Danny Connor, gangster extraordinaire.

Upon arriving in Manhattan, Jo is swept up in the glittering, bobbed-hair world of her cousin Melody. New York City isn’t so bad after all. This is the land where dreams come true, and Jo’s dream – making her way on her own, being self-sufficient and maybe, just maybe, becoming a writer – could finally be realised.

But Jo is harbouring a dark secret, one she must keep even from her parents. Her brother, Teddy, who faked his own death last year, is still very much alive, and she’s the only one who knows this. What she doesn’t know is: why would he have to pretend to be dead?

She is determined to find out, and find him.

Me and my mother never agree about books. Ever. But we both adored this one, so that speaks volumes about Ms Fox’s lovely voice and gripping plots. It is a real talent to be able to write something which appeals to both teenagers and adults alike. This is a great historical mystery with romantic elements, and Fox does a wonderful job in immersing the reader in 1920s NYC. She also made me fall in love with a character we never actually meet, which is scary. I’m still trying to figure out how on earth she managed that...

Star Rating: 5/5. Jo was a really interesting and thoughtful heroine, and Lou was a great character too. It just goes to show how there is ALWAYS more than meets the eye.

Find out what Amazon has to say here.

And of other news, one of my favourite trilogies ever, DREAMING ANASTASIA by Joy Preble is currently on sale in the Kindle store until the 23rd of June. Dreaming Anastasia is $1.99, and Haunted and Anastasia Forever are both $2.99. That’s right! The whole trilogy for under ten bucks. You can’t afford to miss this, people. Joy talks about it more on her blog here, and if you want to know exactly what I think, this link will take you to my review post, and this link to an interview I did with her last year on my old blog to celebrate the release of book 3.

Help get Dreaming Anastasia onto the top 100 list!

AND -- last but not least -- if anyone has any questions they would like to ask KENDARE BLAKE, author of Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares, in the upcoming interview, please leave 'em in the comments section, and providing there isn't a ridiculous number like 37, I'll submit each and every single one. 

Now, I believe you have four awesome books to go buy, so I'll shut up and let you read those instead ;)

Saturday, 1 June 2013

And the winner is...

The winner (and only entry) of the THE SWEET DEAD LIFE giveaway is:


Christina Kit!!!! Congratulations!

Christina, I'm emailing you now with what to do next. Your free copy of a very awesome book is just a hop, skip and an email away! :)

And if you all enjoyed the interview, you'll be excited to know I'm pulling some strings for an interview with ANOTHER amazing author I've talked about here! Can you guess who it will be?