Saturday, 27 October 2012

Tarot Cards, Tea Leaves and Time...Oh My!

The Raven Boys
By Maggie Stiefvater

Rating: 4.7

I guess I make things that need energy stronger. I'm like a walking battery."
"You're the table everyone wants at Starbucks," Gansey mused as he began to walk again.
Blue blinked. "What?"
Over his shoulder, Gansey said, "Next to the wall plug

Blue has two rules:
1.) Stay away from boys because they were trouble
2.) Stay away from Aglionby boys, because they were bastards.

In Blue's family, the women are psychics - spending their days amongst herbs, fingerless gloves, tarot cards and tea leaves. And Blue never minded being the odd one out...until every psychic she comes across tells her the same foreboding message: she will kiss her true love and he will die. 

Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah are from Aglionby Academy, whose emblem features the all-mysterious raven. The boys, led by Gansey, have been delving into the mysteries surrounding the myth of ley lines - or lines of power. For Gansey, this is more than just a dream - it is his chance to solve something greater than himself and to solve the mysteries surrounding his near-death experience. With no direction and with no clear idea of what he's looking for, Gansey agrees to see a psychic in town...not knowing that the psychic in question, Blue's mother, is more than prepared for his arrival.

After a close encounter with a spirit on St Mark's Eve - by the name of 'Gansey' - Blue is told that, due to her lack of psychic powers, the only way she could have seen this spirit (who will soon die, the appearance of the spirit almost a premonition of what is to come), is if she is either his true love or if she is the one who kills him. Scared, Blue makes a promise to herself to avoid guys altogether...shocked when her mother informs her that a 'Gansey' has come for a reading. Nothing like she expected, Gansey is set on finding where the ley lines are - a secret Blue's mother, and the other psychics, are less than willing to tell him.

Disobeying her mother's wishes, Blue joins the Raven boys on a journey across the town - by car, foot and helicopter - in order to find the ley lines and unlock the mystery behind the mysterious figure of Glendower, a Welsh noble who disappeared for the pages of history. Facing time pauses, vivid visions, murder, rituals, Latin words, baby ravens named Chainsaw and the highs and lows of friendship, the group discover that there is a lot more at stake than Gansey's quest for Glendower, or a kiss that might bring death.

Sweet Shadows ~ Taking Hair-Raising to the Next Level

Sweet Shadows (Medusa Girls #2)
By Tera Lynn Childs

Rating: 4.6

I am interested in you, Gretchen." 

When I still won't look at him, he presses his fingers against my jaw and gently turns my face. He is looking straight in my eyes when he says, "I'm interested in you."

His midnight blues burn with an intensity that almost makes me believe him. Makes me want to believe him. He knows just the right thing to say to mess with my mind. He always has. He leans closer, watching me. His lips are a breath away from mine.

This time I'm not buying it.

My knee connects with his soft spot and he doubles over, gasping for air.

"Find your own way home," I snap before turning and marching back to my car

Despite being the descendants of the Gorgons and Medusa, these girls do not have bad hair days. Go figure.

The kick-ass trio - Greer, Gretchen and Grace - have discovered that they're the much-anticipated Key Generation. 

But fancy title aside, being the Key Generation is more trouble than it's worth. There seem to be three groups of beings in this book...

Group #1: Those that want to kill the girls before they open the door and unleash the monsters:

Group #2: Those that want to kill the girls after they open the door and unleash the monsters:

Group #3: And those that will casually stand by and offer words of wisdom:

Overall this book really focused on the relationship between the three sisters and how each of them are brave and powerful in their own way. 

Whether they're able to see the future, teleport away from danger, or simply kick ass, each girl is an integral part of the Key Generation. And together they have the ability to save...or destroy...the world as we know it.

Willow - Raw, Emotional and a Must Read

By Julia Hoben

Rating: 4.8

Well, sometimes I worry that my whole life will be based about what's comfortable and easy. I'll care too much about what makes me feel good to ever really reach for anything. And then I worry that even if I do, I won't succeed.” 

An intensely realistic and blunt tale of a girl whose past threatens to overwhelm her - so she turns to cutting herself in order to numb her mind and escape from the suffocating pain that follows her day in and day out, rushing over her like a wave. 

Willow struggles to keep her ugly secret to herself, nursing her grief - until Guy, with all his kind heart and book-loving tendencies, comes along and uncovers it. But far from hating her, he sticks by her side and tries to help her face the past that she's been trying to out-run. 

Because sometimes in life it comes to a point where the past needs to be acknowledged...and the pain needs to be felt so the wounds can finally heal.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Best Book You Will Ever Read ~ TFIOS by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars
By John Green


My great-aunt's father-in-law, a jovial Italian, used to have a favourite saying of his - "How are you tomorrow?" 

He used to ask it with genuine feeling and curiosity, waiting for you answer as he sat in his usual chair, my great-aunt's dog Sam curled up at his slippered feet. 

At the time, I never understood it. I used to tug at my mother's hand and say, "Mum - how can you know how you'll be tomorrow?"

My mother brought up the memory to me a few months back and she said to me, "He was telling us, in his own way, that there is a tomorrow. That though there is now, and the present moment that we're stuck in, that this moment will move on and we will see and live in tomorrow." 

Now, being older, I find this idea bittersweet and it is with this quaint saying and the feeling that it brings, that I will try my hardest to review The Fault in Our Stars with justice.

I decided to start the book today, bringing it with me as I clambered into the back of my family's car - trying to concentrate on the story amid the sound of Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs, which my younger sibling were watching. 

Immediately, I fell in love with the main character Hazel - her brutally honest analysis of her situation, the world and others utterly refreshing in comparison to the fake and mass-produced view of the world that we are so often fed by the media.

It would be so easy to start off this review with 'Hazel, a fighter of cancer...' , or, 'Hazel, a girl battling with cancer...' 

It would probably save me a lot of time and effort - I wouldn't have to analyse her in depth. But that's where that kind of description is just wrong. 

Because Hazel is so much more than a girl 'with cancer'. 

One of the most striking features about her is that she is simply a girl. Normal. Sure, she has cancer, but that doesn't make her any less of a person, or make her the person she is. 

I especially loved how Hazel referred to depression as "A side effect of cancer" and cancer as "a side effect of dying".

I know I'm probably losing you, but I just wanted to be clear: she isn't Superwoman. She isn't battling cancer in an awe-inspiring way. She isn't your typical 'Nicholas Sparks cancer fighter'. 

She is a girl with a story - a raw, painful, but with flashes of sunlight and bubbly champagne, story of a girl who met a boy and who decided to read books, be loved and love in return.

I had just read where Hazel met Augustus for the first time when our car pulled up at the Australian Museum. It was here at the museum where John Green's genius really came to life for me. 

I was in one of those 'discovery' rooms, and I came across rows and rows of wooden drawers, all with neat little labels. Looking closer, I read the words 'Butterflies', 'Spiders', 'Moths', etc. Being a butterfly gal, I opened the one marked 'Butterflies' first, and stared down into a collection of beautifully coloured butterflies, pinned in neat rows.

I looked to my left and saw a few little children gawking at another draw of butterflies...and felt a little sick. 

I couldn't explain it. It was as if I couldn't quite believe that this was it. I stared at one butterfly in particular - one with turquoise wings, with delicate eye-patterns marking the tips of each wing. And I thought Is this really it?  

Such a beautiful creature has it's life cut short simply to be forever trapped on a pin, in a draw in a dusty museum? 

And people will think "Gees, this butterfly is so pretty! Oh, look at its wings!" No one will ever think, "Maybe this butterfly had better things to do than just sit there and look nice." 

Because in this life, often the most beautiful things aren't seen. We ignore them. We overlook them. We refuse to face them.

This does not mean I hate museums, or insect displays! It was simply drawing a comparison between the display and The Fault in Our Stars.

Hazel's heart (in a not-so-literal sense) is quite like the butterflies I spotted today. She doesn't allow it to live, to be free - she refers to herself as a 'grenade', because she accepts that when she dies, she will probably hurt those around her and close to her. 

She's also cautious of allowing Augustus to be with her and to love her. One of the sweetest sentiments 'Gus' expresses to her is "Oh, I wouldn't mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you."

Lives are meant to be lived. Lungs are meant for breathing. Eyes are meant to see. And hearts are meant to be used, too. 

Love is meant to be expressed and sometimes it is painful. Sometimes when it is stolen from you, you will be left breathless and stricken - but it is always worth it

Augustus' message is always clear to Hazel - that everything is worth it, and that you do not have to do extraordinary things to be extraordinary and beautiful. Even if you don't leave an 'impact' of the world, you can still be an extraordinary person and can be remembered for simply being.

This is not a cancer story. This is not a sappy romance about two kids who fall in love and have to deal with the tragedy which is cancer. 

No. This is a story about a girl named Hazel, who was sixteen and 'Okay' - and who met a boy named Augustus who smoked unlit cigarettes, liked watching V for Vendetta and didn't understand that the point of videogames was to win, not to sacrifice the player's life to save the prisoners. 

Them falling in love is not the point. Them fighting cancer is not the point. 

The point is that they both liked books, drank champagne, disliked 'literal hearts' and found beauty amidst the foggy chaos of everyday life. 

They lived.

It reminded me of a part of a Sarah McLachlan song I once heard: 

"I will remember you. 
Will you remember me? 
Don't let your life pass you by. 
Weep not for the memories. "

WHISPERS AT MOONRISE - A Shadow Falls Review!!

Whispers at Moonrise (Shadow Falls #4)
By C.C. Hunter

Rating: 5

' “Take some very deep breaths," Miranda said. "Relax. Concentrate. Then envision a frosty six-pack and wiggle your pinky."
A frosty six-pack. Kylie inhaled. He held out her pinky, and right then Della chimed in. "We are talking a six-pack of soda, not a cold guy with good-looking abs, right?"

There was a strange kind of sizzle in the air. And suddenly appearing in front of the refrigerator was a shirtless, shivering guy with great abs. His blue eyes studied the three of them in complete bafflement.

"What the...!" he muttered.
Kylie gasped.
Miranda giggled.
Della snorted with laughter
.” ' 

What I want to do to Lucas:

To sum up of Lucas and Kylie's relationship:

My mental image of Fredericka:

My current state:

My thoughts on the 'Lucas revelation':

I am now going to go curl up in my sock drawer and sleep for days.

Heaven by Alexandra Adornetto ~ Review

Heaven (Halo #3)
By Alexandra Adornetto

Rating: 3.9

That is when you need faith the most. Not when everything is going your way, not when you have much to be thankful for, but when there is darkness all around.” 

I love love. 

I love books about love. 
I love couples who are in love. 

But if Heaven has taught me one is that there can sometimes be a thing as too much love!

I admit that yes, Beth and Xavier's relationship is cute. But in Heaven, it can be cute bordering on nausea. 

Xavier, however, is adorable and I can't hate him at all in this novel. His spirit, drive and pure heart really come through, helping him overcome challenges with an elegance and ease that Beth seems to lack. 

If I'm to be perfectly honest, in this book Xavier seems to be more angelic than Beth!

It really bugged me. In Halo and Hades, Beth acts so much more mature - going about Earth with a wisdom beyond her years and thinking things out, taking advice from Gabe and Ivy and being a patient, loving person. I liked that Beth. 

This new Beth seems to be have PMS 24/7, because she has some serious angst issues!

She takes her stress out on Gabe and Ivy who are - you know - just trying to stop her from getting killed. She wants to be with Xavier and gets cranky when things go downhill. She questions God's plan for her. She acts like a jealous girlfriend. 

And also the bit with her in Heaven (the pearly gates one)? She acted like she was two seconds away from being thrown in juvie. Serious. Attitude. Problemo. So much for the 'angel' part, Beth!

Another flaw were the numerous plot lines:

Plot Line 1: The Seven are after Beth and Xavier 'cause they tied the knot. Plot 1.
Plot Line 2: Beth and Xavier go into hiding.
Plot Line 3: Xavier gets possessed by Lucifer. For no. Damn. Reason. At all. And the reasoning behind it is never explained and the whole things is blown out of proportion. It lasted for, like, two chapters and then we never came back to it!! 

Plot Line 4: The random appearance of Jake for 0.78 seconds. Wow. That was...anticlimactic.
Plot Line 5: Xavier isn't 100% human - he's part angel.
Plot Line 6: Beth wants to be with Xavier forever so she needs to find a way to be with him on Earth.
Plot Line 7: Endless loving and eye-gazing.

Confused? I know I am!

But the parts where they explained the faith were good and well thought out. Gabe and Ivy develop more as characters and some great new characters are introduced. Though the plot can get a little sidetracked and though Beth can be a little clingy and whiny (Xavier has the patience of a saint for dealing with her!), overall it was a nice conclusion to the series...although personally I felt the two books before Heaven showed more of Adornetto's story-writing magic

Top 3 Reads for October

Number #1:
A Vision in Green (Florence Vaine #2)
By L.H. Cosway

Rating: 4.8

I managed to finish this brilliant novel in record time - mainly by munching on apple slices, ignoring the clock, listening to a mixture of Taylor Swift, Green Day and Train and gluing myself to my chair. In less than six hours I have finished reading a rollercoaster-ride of a book that had me smiling, laughing, tearing up and face-palming continuously!

Florence Vaine (better known as Flo) is an Empath - able to see, interpret and even change or fix people's auras - and since she moved to the mysterious town of Chesterport, she has discovered a world she never knew existed and for the first time in her life, she's found somewhere she belongs. 

And with the evil coven of witches defeated, Flo hopes that the new peace will last and that her new life will have a degree of normality to it.

But the battle is far from over.

Flo's dysfunctional father - drunk, loud and violent - continues to treat her like the worst kind of plague, taking up residence in her dead grandmother's house. Flo is transported back to her memories of the past...the endless parties, the drinking and the verbal and physical torture she endured at the hands of the foul man she had to call her father. 

But Flo, despite her stutter, isn't willing to be stepped on again. She shows a backbone and resolve that shocks her father - so much so that in order to keep his hold on her life he resorts to threatening to hurt those she loves most unless she distances herself from them...namely Frank. 

Florence loves Frank and is torn between being with him and letting her father ruin Frank's life - something he has the power to do. But all the while, little by little, Flo begins to suspect that her father's attitude and lifestyle is purely in place to make him forget something - or to keep something at bay. 

And maybe, just maybe, Flo isn't the only one with a supernatural secret.

On top of her home problems, Flo must deal with frightening and eerie happenings in the Chesterport forest - happenings that are strangely linked to a being that visits her in her dreams and insists that she is far more than she realises...that her powers may just have origins she never dreamed of. 

Can Frank and his brothers help her to get to the bottom of this supernatural mystery? And can Frank keep Flo from shutting him out and find a way for them to be together?

Number #2:
By Terri Clark

Rating: 4.9

Is it a sweet dream, or a not-so beautiful nightmare...?

From the author with all the comedic, heartwarming lines -  Terri Clark - comes a story of a girl whose dreams are just left of wacky. 

Mainly, because they come true. 

But just this once she'll have to be open to the idea that they're there for a reason, and use them to bring Rafe, the murderous criminal, to justice. 

Whilst enjoying her summer, buying a new dress and finding a boyfriend of course.

But hey - a girl can multitask, can't she?!

Number #3:
Shut Out
By Kody Keplinger

Rating: 4.4

This is the story about a World War III that neither guy - nor girl - is ready for... 

What starts off as a strike for peace, may just turn into the ultimate battle of the sexes...but who will be the first to cave?! 

When the Hamilton High football and soccer team rivalry gets to breaking point, the team's girlfriends decide to take matters into their own hands, with comedic results!

Be prepared for poolside serenades, bookstore fantasies, sexy grins, egged cars, broken limbs and a whole lot of ice-cream, as the girls strive to teach these men exactly who is in charge! 

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