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:

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.


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.


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.


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