20 April 2014

It's Time...For a Very Exciting Change!



Two and half years ago, after some friends on Goodreads told me I should write reviews, I decided to take it one step further and start a book blog.  In all honesty, I thought it would last maybe a couple of months.  I never imagined I would blog for so long.

When I first started, it was all about the books - I didn't really care who read my blog, I was happy to just post reviews and have a record of what I'd read and how I felt about it.  But the longer I blogged, the more I realised it wasn't just about books - it was about people.  I've met some amazing, wonderful, funny, kind and passionate readers over the last two years, and I've never ever felt so at home in a community as I have in the book blogging community.

However, since my return from Australia at the beginning of this year, I've found it difficult to motivate myself to blog.  And so when an amazing opportunity to co-blog came my way, I instantly jumped on it - and from there, everything has fallen perfectly into place.

So, as of today, I will be joining April at My Shelf Confessions as co-blogger.  April and I have already found we have so much in common and it's going to be amazing.

Thank you to every single person who has supported me here, The Aussie Zombie will remain as a record of  what I've read, and who I was for so long, but please come and join me and April at My Shelf Confessions - it's going to be a blast!

08 April 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Unique Books I've Read


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. I heart lists!

I'm the kind of reader that is automatically curious as soon as I see a book that's a bit different from the normal.  However, I'm also a little scared of them - what if I don't understand why a book is clever, or funny, or profound because it's just STRANGE to me?

This list is all about books that caught my eye for being different - and proved I had nothing to be scared of.



Rapture by Phillip W. Simpson

With a plot based in Christian eschatology, in theory I should never have liked this series.  But it was the main character that really made this series for me - and despite my reservations, the religious aspect didn't bother me at all - and by the end I actually understood more about it ;)

Every Day by David Levithan

Yes yes, this one AGAIN.  But the gender neutrality of A, the underlying message of the book, and the idea of inhabiting a different persons body every single day without having your own body?  Fascinating, moving and intense.

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

It's the subject matter that makes Forbidden a little unique - but it's the way that Suzuma made me care about the characters that really made it stand out to me.

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

The only intersex book I've ever read, it's also an outstanding book with characters that I adored and despised as appropriate, and the kind of gritty plot that I love.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

This is just about as unique as a book can get - there are pages with just a few words in the middle of the page, upside-down, sideways, diagonal, multiple columns on one page - I loved it, but just to look at it is pretty mind blowing.  And yes, the story is just as freaky as the format.



In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

In the Shadow of Blackbirds is unique because it takes a whole bunch of genres - paranormal, historical fiction, romance and squishes them all together, sandwiched between photographs in the most unusual and perfect way.

Meat by Joseph D'Lacey

The first (and only) eco-horror-dystopian I've ever read, it's also horror with a social message - and along with being more than slightly disturbing, it's a book that made me think about meat in a whole different light (but I still love a bacon sarnie)

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

YA dystopian/PA isn't THAT unusual ;) but there are so many elements in Not a Drop to Drink that go against the standard formula - there's no overwhelming romance, it's a page turner even when not a lot is happening and has some of the strongest female characters I've ever read.

The Three by Sarah Lotz

I'm still at a bit of a loss how to describe this book (my review has been in draft format for several weeks as I keep thinking about the book and tweaking things), but it was so riveting.  Although I need to wipe it from my mind before I fly next.....

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Although a GLBT isn't unique for Levithan, the narration of this one is about as unique as it comes - a Greek chorus of AIDS victims isn't a recurring theme in YA GLBT novels.

What unique books have you read?  I need some more odd ones for my collection ;-)

06 April 2014

Showcase Sunday #73


Showcase Sunday is hosted by the fabulous Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea and is all about sharing our new books - beg, borrowed or bought.

Nothing exciting to report this week - just the normal day to day stuff.  Some beautiful weather however, and I'll take that as the most exciting thing of the week ;)

And also a quiet book week - just a few ebooks that fell into (onto? what is the right word?) my Kindle:

Purchased
The Lost Souls of Angelkov by Linda Holeman - Russian historical fiction, hurrah!
On Deadly Ground by Simon Clark - Post-apocalyptic-sounding horror.
Shelter by Susan Palwick - adult science-fiction dystopia where compassion is a crime - intriguing!

Short and sweet this week.  Have a great week peeps!

05 April 2014

Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver


Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver

Published: 5 March 2013 by HarperTeen

Pages: 391 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Dystopia, Romance

Source: Own library

Find it online: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

As the third book in the series, this review may contain some spoilers.  My review of Delirium and my review of Pandemonium.

Synopsis

They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.

But we are still here.

And there are more of us every day.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor.

Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.

Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.

But we have chosen a different road.

And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.

We are even free to choose the wrong thing.


My Thoughts

It's over.  Finito. And although I was never madly in love with the Delirium series, I was entertained by both the first and second books (apart from the EVIL cliffhangers) so I was looking forward to seeing how Oliver wrapped it all up.

I wasn't sure at first that the alternating POVs of Lena and Hana would work for me.  I didn't particularly like Hana in either of the first books, so I wasn't particularly interested in her perspective, but in the end I appreciated how it gave a different dimension to the plot rather than just Lena survives in forest, Lena does resistancy-type things, Lena spends nearly 400 pages trying to decide who she loves.

Right from the beginning , I've liked the idea behind the series - that love is outlawed, that it's 'curable' and for people that truly believe in the cure, it's the reason behind a lot of the misery in the world.  And in Reqiuem, Oliver continues to build on that idea, and it has a lot of creative merit.

Lena developed a lot in Pandemonium, but to be honest I found she had slipped back a little into her Delirium-blah personality in Requiem, which is possibly in part due to the alternating POVs, but I honestly think there is just something that never fundamentally clicked about her for me.  And the love-triangle thing just, ugh.  I'm sure Julian is a perfectly nice boy, but he's so...unmanly.  I envision him as a weedy little boy, all pale skin and mousy voice.

Strangely, I enjoyed Hana's perspective perhaps far more than any other part of this series, when it comes to characters.  I liked seeing her inner conflict and turmoil, and the way she handled it and tried to convince herself that she was feeling something else than she actually was.  It sounds so strange when I say it, but I really liked that feeling of disconnect and insecurity.

I've found this whole series pretty readable and both Pandemonium and Requiem were read-in-a-day type books for me, and that actually says a lot about how engaging I found them to be, considering neither are slim volumes.


As a series ender, there was never going to be the possibility to please every reader - and honestly, I didn't hate it.  In fact, I kinda liked it, but I have strange tastes in endings, so I'm probably just a black sheep here.  And I can see how it could be disappointing for some readers - but it worked for me.  Goodbye Delirum, we had some good times and bad, but overall, it was fun knowing you.

04 April 2014

Review: Burning for Revenge (Tomorrow #5) by John Marsden


Burning for Revenge (Tomorrow #5) by John Marsden

Published: 1997, republished 7 February 2013 by Quercus

Pages: 274 (paperback)

Genre/s: Young Adult, War

Source: Own library

Find It: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ The Book Depository ~ Audible

As book five in the series, this review may contain minor spoilers.


Synopsis

The action doesn't let up in the most explosive Tomorrow book yet -- another international bestseller from John Marsden. 

The journey to Stratton isn't an easy trip, especially when the enemy's headquarters lie somewhere along the way. And that's exactly where Ellie and her friends unwittingly find themselves. With only five of them against hundreds of armed soldiers, escape seems like a suicide mission. But Stratton is where Ellie's grandmother lives, so the journey must be made -- even though the odds aren't good.

Ellie must summon all of her courage and guerrilla instincts to survive the latest high-stakes installment of the action-packed Tomorrow series.

My Thoughts

Picking up shortly after the conclusion of Darkness, Be My Friend, the teens find themselves back in Hell, feeling like they have been abandoned by the New Zealanders after their failed attempt to sabotage the local airport.  Each is driven by their own feelings as to what they want to do next, but as a group they once again make a decision and stick to it.

After deciding that staying in Hell is not in the best interests of the group as a whole, they decide to make the trip to the nearest big city, Stratton, in hopes of making contact with their families, some of which are rumoured to be working in the nearby vicinity.

On a personal note, when reading these books I always come across more and more Australian slang words that I had completely forgotten about over the past few years, and I loved it (and even tried some out on friends and colleagues, with much hilarity and strange looks ensuing).  I've always wondered how this comes across to readers who aren't Australian or haven't been exposed to the slang before, but this whole series definitely FEELS Australian, and I'm glad that hasn't faded away.

Ellie continues to feel conflicted about her feelings for Lee, and there's a quite grown-up perspective to how they behave with each other which reflects just how much the characters have matured and continue to do so.  

Burning for Revenge is probably the most action packed book of the series so far - the group embarks on yet another act of sabotage, which is probably the most on-the-fly thing they have done so far - and they utilise both their old knowledge and bravery they have gained along the way.  The final act of the book is also incredibly intense, and really shows the lengths that the characters go to to protect each other - and even forgive something they could never have moved on from in the past.

Burning for Revenge is the fifth installment of the Tomorrow series, and although the risk with such a long series is that the plot and characters can feel a bit similar, Marsden continues to up the ante both in terms of intensity and in how far the teens go to try and sabotage the enemy that has invaded Australia.


03 April 2014

Life of a Blogger: Handwriting


Life of a Blogger is a weekly feature hosted by Jessi at Novel Heartbeat, which is all about what us bloggers do when we aren't blogging.

When I was a teenager, I used to write for hours - I filled notebooks with stories and notes and ideas and it would take a long time until I got handcramp.  Nowadays however, after just a few lines I can't write anymore.

I also have different handwriting depending on the occassion, as you can see below:



Therefore, most of the time, I write in a cursive scribble because my hand hurts too much when I write more than a post-it note.

01 April 2014

Top Ten "Gateway" Books/Authors In My Reading Journey

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. I heart lists!

When I was a teenager, I devoured books - I was in the library nearly every day, always had the maximum amount of books checked out, stalked my grandmother's shelves for new books and spent my school holidays holed up in my bedroom reading book after book after book.

When I started working however, I suddenly didn't have time to read as much, and as it was back in the days when libraries were only open from 9am to 5pm, I kind of lost my passion for reading a little.  There were so many GROWN UP things I could suddenly do and experience, I was just too busy.

It was only in my mid twenties, when I moved overseas and suddenly didn't have as much going on around me as I wasn't spending time with family and friends that I really started reading passionately again.  So this week's list is a testimony to those books that made my teenage reading journey, and to those books that rekindled my love as an adult.

Introduced Me To Young Adult Novels As a Teen

John Marsden's the Tomorrow series - it was also the first series that I stalked as it released - every weekend I would go shopping with my mother SPECIFICALLY so I could check if the local newsagent had the lastest book.  If it did, I'd go home and re-read the whole series again so I could read the newest book.

Introduced Me To Young Adult Novels As an Adult

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins - I actually turned my nose up at Young Adult novels for a long time as an adult - I honestly thought they were all like Twilight - too tame, too soppy, too simple.  But The Hunger Games piqued my attention so much that I had to read them - and then realise that YA literature IS amazing.

Introduced Me to Dystopians

The Children of Men by P.D. James - before this, I'd only read Nineteen Eighty-Four - but The Children of Men really kicked off my dystopian curiosity.

Introduced Me to Contemporary Young Adult Romances

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith - OK, so I still don't have all the love for YA contemporary, but if I hadn't read TSPoLaFS, I probably would never have ready any others.

Introduced Me To Historical Romance

Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer - Does anyone else remember the Reader's Digest Condensed books?  There were three or four 'abridged' versions of popular books in one volume - and there'd be a huge variety - historical fiction, legal thrillers etc. and my grandmother had dozens of them.  I used to read them after school at her house, and that's the first time I read Morning Glory - which I immediately stalked the full-length version at the library and I've probably read it more than any other book.

Introduced Me To Zombies

Jonathan Maberry & Z.A. Recht

Maberry's Patient Zero and Recht's Plague of the Dead were among the first zombie books I ever read - and are responsible for my zombie fixation.

Introduced Me To Horror As a Teen

Stephen King - I don't actually remember the first Stephen King book that I read, but he's always been my go-to author for horror - I love the epicness of his novels - I can read them like I can eat popcorn (i.e. a lot, quickly).

Introduced Me to Horror As an Adult

Scott Sigler - Still one of the most intense horror series I've ever read, Sigler's Infected holds the honour of being the first book that I actually couldn't read a certain scene because it made me feel physically ill.  And considering the amount of horror I read, it's a strangely good compliment.

Convinced Me That Vampires Are OK

Pretty as She Dies by Rhiannon Frater - mainly because it's hardcore vampires - no sparkles, hot smexy times and seriously dark.

31 March 2014

February + March Wrap Up

I just realised I haven't done a wrap-up since January, so this is a double wrap-up!

February - I had an awesome reading month in February - for such a short month I was over the moon to see how many books I'd read.

The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley 
Schapelle Corby by Kathryn Bonella 
How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr 
This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready 
Anything to Have You by Paige Harbison
State of Emergency (Collapse Series #1) by Summer Lane
Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi
Zom-B Underground (Zom-B #2) by Darren Shan
Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver
Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Cherry by Sara Wheeler
If You Stay (Beautifully Broken #1) by Courtney Cole
Golden by Jessi Kirby
In Velvet by Burt Weissbourd
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Total pages read as at end of February - 10,510.  Woohooo - ahead for the year!.

March - Aaaaand it all camecrashing down.  March pretty much kicked my arse - work was insane and then in the last week I broke a tooth and could not for love or money get into a dentist for two days.  When I wasn't crying in pain I was floating around in a drug-induced haze - neither of which were very condusive to reading.
The Worlds We Make (Fallen World #3) by Megan Crewe
The Assault by Harry Mulisch
The Reapers are the Angels (Reapers #1) by Alden Bell
Into That Forest by Louis Nowra 
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills
The Three by Sarah Lotz
Such Good Girls by R.D. Rosen 
Night by Elie Wiesel 
Miss Peregrine's House for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #1) by Ransom Riggs

I also DNFed all over the place.  Before March I had 5 books on my permanent DNF shelf.  By the end I had 9.

Blazed by Jason Myers - read 96 pages - now I like dark books.  In fact, I LOVE dark books - the grittier the better, but this was just too much - and I hated the main character.
Dark Days by Kate Ormand - read 39 pages - it just felt so clunky - and way too fast - and I didn't believe a second of it.
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West - read 30 pages - I KNOW.  But I hated Caymen and her 'rich people are evil' speeches.
After the End (After the End #1) by Amy Plum - read 141 pages - I really didn't like the paranormal aspect.  Perhaps because I didn't EXPECT it, but it just drove me crazy.

I'm now nearly 1000 pages behind on my page goal for the year, but there's still LOADS of time to make up for it.  Bring it on, April!

30 March 2014

Showcase Sunday #72

Showcase Sunday is hosted by the fabulous Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea and is all about sharing our new books - beg, borrowed or bought.

Ugh, what a week!  Apart from being insanely busy at work, I then ended up with an abcess under one of my teeth - I have never been in so much pain in my life!  Luckily I have excellent drugs and am feeling lots better - just in time for Monday :-|.  But I'm so glad that the clocks went forward and now the evenings will be lighter for longer, huzzah!

Ebooks for review 
Kiss of Broken Glass by Madelein Kuderick
Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley
Feral by Holly Schindler
Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson
In a Handful of Dust (Not a Drop to Drink #2) by Mindy McGinnis
Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

Ebooks purchased (because I felt poorly and I deserved cheering up!)
Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
Trans-Sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian
Hushed by Kelley York
Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
How Beautiful the Ordinary edited by Michael Cart

Have a fabulous week!!

29 March 2014

Review: State of Emergency by Summer Lane


State of Emergency (Collapse Series #1) by Summer Lane

Published: 18 January 2013

Pages: 228 (paperback)

Genre/s: New Adult, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian

Source: Own library

Find it: Goodreads ~ Amazon 

Synopsis

What would you do if the world as you know it ended in an instant? 

How far would you go to survive? 

Cassidy Hart is your typical High School graduate: A little shy, a little sarcastic, and a little naive. But when an electromagnetic pulse takes down the United States, she's forced to kick into full survival mode when she gets separated from her father. 

Yeah. Things suck. 

But with the help of a handsome soldier named Chris, she just might find her dad without getting into serious trouble.

Emphasis on might. 

Oh. And there's the matter of avoiding getting killed in a world that's quickly turned into an active war zone. 
It's going to change Cassidy's life.

It's going to be a major pain in the butt.

My Thoughts

State of Emergency is a new adult romance post-apocalyptic dystopian.  That's a whole bunch of very specific genres, and it's also one of the rare post-apocalyptic books that also fit the dystopian bill (under my very specific definition), as the world goes to shit when a crazy bunch of dictator types take over the world after an EMP.

However, the characters are so inconsistent that I found it a struggle not to roll my eyes pretty much all the way through the story.

Cassidy is an isolated, directionless young woman, trying to find a job after not going to university, when an EMP strands her in the middle of the city.  Upon arriving home, she jumps in her EMP-proof car and starts the drive to her father's cabin in the country.  Now, Cassidy and her father are preppers which is fine and consistent with the EMP-proof car.  However, Cassidy has never shot a gun in her life, and in fact later in the story refuses to, only to later on pick one up and be a great shooter.  Inconsistency aside, what kind of hard-core prepper that has a cabin in the woods DOESN'T have experience or at least an understanding of guns?

OK so she's a little confused when it comes to firearms.  However, when the romance kicks in after she picks up an ex Navy Seal on the road, she is apparently so dazzling and beguiling that he throws out his years of training and experience and pretty much trots around after Cassidy, even when she has the most ridiculous ideas (yeah!  let's go to a refugee camp, because as all preppers know, nothing bad EVER happens in refugee camps!).

Probably my favourite part of the story was Cassidy and Chris trying to survive on the road, in bad weather and encountering some crazy travellers, but even those interactions just seemed off - EVERY SINGLE PERSON goes ape-shit crazy within 24 hours of the EMP.  Now I can imagine that there'd be looting, some panic buying and some megalomaniacs trying to take control when the authorities are helpless, but would everyone REALLY go all cut-throat-bandit-survivalist within 24 hours?  I really hope not, and it did get a little tiring that pretty much every person they met had robbing and murder on the brain.  And that Cassidy continued to walk into ridiculous situations.

Personality wise, she's also quite irritating - mentioning several times how she had no friends before the EMP, which I understood the first time she mentioned it - the more often it was mentioned the more I felt like it was just a way to make me feel sorry for her as a reader.  And I didn't.

State of Emergency has an intriguing premise, a lot of potential to be a true post-apocalyptic-dystopian series which is rarer than you would think, and combining romance with such a desolate backdrop could have been a great juxtaposition, but in the end the inconsistency of the main character stopped me from truly enjoying it.

28 March 2014

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi


Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi

Published: 15 November 2011 by Harper Teen

Pages: 340 (paperback)

Genre/s: YA, Dystopian

Source: Own library

Find it: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ The Book Depository

Synopsis

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

My Thoughts

Whenever I see someone is reading a book that they are probably going to dislike, I start to question their motivation behind reading it.  I mean, why put yourself through torture when you could be reading something that rocks your world?  But I do it myself, and Shatter Me is a perfect case in point.  I love a good dystopian, but when the romance is more prominent than the world-building, it's probably going to end in frustration and also some feelings of guilt - why am I reading something that I won't like?  Isn't that really unfair on the book?

In the interests of full disclosure, I read Shatter Me for Book Club *waves to awesome book club girls Jana and Karin* - and although I've owned a copy since shortly after it was first released, I possibly would never have gotten around to reading it otherwise.

First, the characters.  Oh, Juliette, you are a contradiction - and normally that would mean I'd dislike you with a burning fiery passion.  Alternately brave and shit-scared, she wasn't easy for me to like.  But to be fair, she'd just spent a year in complete isolation in an asylum, so I'm a little bit more forgiving on the inconsistencies than I would normally be.

Connecting to the characters is, of course, the romance.  Now I'm really sorry to all the Team Warner readers out there, but I don't get the bad boy attraction.  He's a dick.  A power-hungry, abusive dick.  And he will never redeem himself to me.

Adam is sweeter, and much more the boy that I'd pick if I was Juliette - he's caring and kind and has this weird childhood-protective connection to Juliette that I found rather fascinating, even if it is a little too close to insta-love for my comfort.  And sadly, that's pretty much all I have to say about the romance/s in Shatter Me - they just didn't rock my world.

It would be impossible to review Shatter Me without talking about the writing style - it's...unusual, and it took me a while to get used to all the metaphors and stuff, but by the end I actually enjoyed the style far more than all the other elements of the book put together.  It's wordy, but it's not overwhelming - despite the fact there's a lot to take in, some of which works and some of which is just completely over the top, it's easy to read.  Which is actually quite a skill.

The world building is interesting for what exists, but that's just the problem - there's not enough volume for me to have been completely sucked in by it.  Humans have fucked up the environment and Juliette has a strange super-power that allows her to kill/hurt/maim people by touching them - sounds really cool, but there's just not enough substance for me.

Am I glad I read Shatter Me?  Yes.  I enjoyed the writing style immensely once I settled into it, and I could easily have read the whole book in one sitting.  However, a bit more world-building and a bit less love-triangle-insta-love-romance would have made it far more memorable and enjoyable for me.  I do own the second book, and maybe one day I will actually read it, but I'm undecided right now.

27 March 2014

Life of a Blogger - Favourite Animals

Life of a Blogger is a weekly feature hosted by Jessi at Novel Heartbeat, which is all about what us bloggers do when we aren't blogging.

This week's topic is favourite animals.  Let's start with a sad story where I tell you that I am not allowed pets in my rental house.  I've always had a pet cat, right up until I moved to the Netherlands, and I still get an urge to kidnap other people's cats even after no having one for six years.

So instead I made friends with all the neighbourhood cats - the only downside being that sometimes their owners move away and therefore the cats also.

I'd post some pictures of my own previous cats but I find it a little depressing, so let's talk about other animals that I love.

ELEPHANTS!  I've always been fascinated by elephants - I even lined up at Melbourne zoo for an hour in 35-degree heat to see a baby elephant a few years ago.  And I used to collect elephant figurines (in fact, they are still packed up at my dad's house).

Frogs - I love frogs so much I have a tattoo of one (also, an elephant tattoo would have been huge-er and more painful that I chose a frog instead!).

I'm pretty much an animal lover no matter what it is (except snakes, eeeep), and I've never been a fan of dogs.  Now, back to my petless existence *sad face*

25 March 2014

Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. I heart lists!


1) Go to BEA.  It's pretty much the holy grail of bookish people and apart from that - NEW YORK.  One day my pretty, one day.

2) Meet one of my favourite authors - even though I'd probably just either a) babble or b) act like a shy 5-year-old and stare at my shoes.

3) Read a Russian classic - War and Peace or Anna Karenina or similar.  Just to say I have.

4) Read the whole Song of Ice and Fire series - I'd intended to do this in 2013, and have kinda planned it into 2014, but .... it's long.

5) Meet my bookish BFF Karin! - Which will happen in a few short weeks.  So excited!

6) Read all the books on my TBR - hahahahahahahahaha *falls off chair* - but I had to put it here because, well, it's a bucket list and bucket lists aren't always things you can easily achieve.

7) Read a book in Dutch - Yep, it will probably be Nijntje but it would still totally count.

8) Work for a publishing company - A bit of a tricky one considering I'm not intending to change my career path any time soon, but might be possible one day.

9) Write something - Blogging has actually scared me off writing - I don't know WHY (in fact, it should perhaps have encouraged me), but one day it would be cool to put an idea into words.

10) Have my own home library - like with wall-to-wall shelves and comfy chairs and no one else except other bookish people are allowed in there.

What's on your Bookish Bucket List?

24 March 2014

Review: This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready


This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

Expected Publication: 1 April 2014 by Simon Pulse

Pages: 384 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Contemporary

Source: Publisher for review

Find It: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ The Book Depository

Synopsis

Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.

Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties in to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.

But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined...

My Thoughts

Religion in books is a difficult subject, and something I usually try and avoid.  However, in This Side of Salvation it's used as a plot device that works well to drive the plot without shoving a whole bunch of ideals in your face.  Add in a sweet romance and a close brother-sister relationship and a load of grief, and This Side of Salvation ticks a whole lot of boxes.

David and Mara's parents have always been religious, but when their older brother John is killed in tragic circumstances, they begin to become more and more involved in a radical religious movement, which focuses on the Rush - the more 'modern' version of the Rapture.  David's father especially embraces religion as a lifestyle, most notably by speaking in bible quotations all the time.

This Side of Salvation is told in 'then' and 'now' alternating chapters, which works fairly well for the plot - as it begins with the disappearance of David's parents, rather than starting from the beginning and climaxing later in the story, its definitely an attention-holder.

My favourite thing about This Side of Salvation is the relationship between Mara and David - despite the fact that they have different beliefs and respond to the change in their parents differently, they actually become closer, especially once their parents disappear.

Whilst I enjoyed the romance between David and Bailey, at times it felt like it was a little 'thrown in for good measure' - I had much more invested in the sibling relationship, and even David's relationship with his best friend than in the actual romance itself.  However, as characters David and Bailey had good chemistry and complimented each other pretty well.

What really stands out for me in This Side of Salvation is the depth of the grief felt by David's family - it's almost palpable in places and I could understand why his parents chose to cling to their beliefs - because they just didn't know how to deal with the death of their son.

Incredibly readable, with a fabulous sibling dynamic and an intimate study of how grief impacts people in different ways, it was a good read and I'm glad I picked it up.


23 March 2014

Showcase Sunday #71 - Business as Usual

Showcase Sunday is hosted by the fabulous Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea and is all about sharing our new books - beg, borrowed or bought.

Hello lovelies!  It's been so busy lately with work, I'm feeling like I'm behind on absolutely everything else and it's driving me C-razy.  I want to get back to normal!

But hey, at least spring has finally sprung, and I got some awesome books this week!


Purchased
Split Second (Pivot Point #2) by Kasie West
Ruins (Partials Sequence #3) by Dan Wells
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirsten Cronn-Mills
Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Ebooks for review
The Forever Song (Blood of Eden #3) by Julie Kagawa
Deep Blue (Waterfire Saga #1) by Jennifer Donnelly

I hope you got some awesome books this week too - have a marvellous week!

20 March 2014

Review: Under the Dome by Stephen King


Under the Dome by Stephen King

Published: 10 November 2009 by Scribner

Pages: 1074 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Adult, Horror, Science Fiction


Source: Own library

Synopsis

On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener's hand is severed as "the dome" comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when -- or if -- it will go away.
Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens -- town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician's assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing -- even murder -- to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn't just short. It's running out.

My Thoughts

I first read Under the Dome in 2010, just after it was first released.  A long time fan of Stephen King, I was looking forward to getting stuck into another King epic.  For me, Stephen King has the ability to make even a 1074 page book into a fast, addictive, page-turner, and Under the Dome was no exception (I read it for the first time over a weekend - yep, in two days).

Since I've read about 300 books in between readings, my memory was pretty hazy as to the details, but I knew the major plot line - a small town in Maine is suddenly cut off from the outside world by a invisible, impenetrable dome.  What follows is the story of what happens to the townspeople inside as shit starts to get real.

I was a huge fan of the opening of Under the Dome the first time, and the second time was no exception.  It's a real attention grabber - the dome falls within the first few pages, and the amount of detail in which King describes the event is so imaginative that once I started reading, I found it difficult to stop.

As with many King novels, the cast of characters is huge, but there are only a few key characters - some of them average guys just trying to do the right thing and others are just plain crazy evil bastards.  I love me a good baddie, and the baddies in Under the Dome are pretty despicable.  Despite all the characters, I really liked how it gave me more perspectives - although I'm definitely a reader that will disregard less-than-stellar characterisation for a good plot line, so readers who need that strong character connection may not be able to forgive as readily as myself.

Under the Dome sounds like it couldn't possibly stretch to over 1000 pages - it's a bunch of people stuck in a small area and it sounds like the problems they face could become pretty repetitive, but King finds ways to make each persons' story unique.  A pretty big deal considering the multitude of characters, but as always the amount of imagination and planning that goes into Under the Dome is pretty typical of King, and one of the reasons I enjoy reading his books so much.

Perhaps my only disappointment in the book as a whole is the actual reason behind the dome and the ending.  It's kinda cool, and unique, but it also felt in the scheme of the plot it was over and done with pretty quickly - just not as balanced as I would have liked it to be, and perhaps even no real explanation would have worked better for me.

On the second reading, I've rated it slightly lower than my first reading, but before blogging my ratings were pretty much on gut feeling and the speed of which I read a book rather than weighing up the pros and cons, but I still really enjoyed Under the Dome, and it's definitely one of the most memorable Stephen King books I've read.

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