This page has moved to a new address.



This page has moved to a new address.



Monday, February 13, 2012

Massive, Huge, Ginormous Announcement

As you may have noticed, I've been a ghost on here for more than two weeks.  It's not because I've been raiding temples in South America as some people have speculated.

Nor have I discovered and chanced science forever by discovering the elusive Graviton.  Though this one's not due to lack of effort.

A couple of weeks ago, Stephanie Sinclair and I decided to join forced and become cobloggers.  I could have joined her blog or she could have joined my blog.  Instead we chose to launch an entirely new, far more incredible blog than either of us could ever imagine.

That blog is open.  Now. is closing.  But is ready for business and it's going to rock.

We're opening today with an interview with the incredible Veronica Rossi, author of Under The Never Sky.

Tomorrow, Steph and I go head to head in a Review War of Under The Never Sky.

We've got great reviews coming up and this week we'll be giving away a Hardcover copy of Under The Never Sky to one lucky follower of our new blog.

That's just the schedule for the next three days.

So come on over, join up and enjoy the show.  We've got lots of give aways, special appearances and unique blog posts coming up over the next few weeks.  Don't miss out.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Authors: Please write like this

The recent GoodReads drama has brought on a whole slew of discussion about the state of the YA community and the bloggers and the authors.  The debate over how reviewers should review books is not new but has been given a fresh make over and pushed onto the stage like a reluctant débutante, shaking in her six inch heels.

It was mostly revitalized by Stiefvater and has been picked up and debated over by others and other others.

Of course, the commentators come out to ask why we can't all review nicely and why we use snark and why can't we all just get along?  Albeit with slightly less personality and absolutely no originality or differences in how we express ourselves.

I'm going to pretend for a moment that the arguments are sane and reasonable.  Logically, if authors and other bloggers can legitimately make requests for the style and function of our reviews - then I think we should be able to do the same.

nd so here is my personal take on what an author is, and can do with their novels:

The only legitimate way to write your novels is in the style of a love child between Melina Marchetta and Neal Shusterman.  That's drunk.  Also, with a gambling problem and it's writing only to make money so that the mob won't kill them and their entire family.  Imagine exactly what that child would be like, and write the novels that this child would write.  Except you can't use vowels.  Not even the letter "y" if it's functioning as a vowel.  Maybe not even commas either.  Commas are completely unprofessional.  I think their curly little tail is taunting me aggressively.

The only exception to the aforementioned and completely valid writing style above is if you're writing in the style of Laini Taylor or Markus Zusak.  Those are also valid writing styles that you can adopt.  I will also allow you to deviate from the Laini Taylor style but only if you're writing in the style of Laini Taylor if she were born in Elizabethan times and hanging out with Shakespeare (but not friends.  If they're friends then you've gone too far).

And theoretically, if reviews by definition must lack opinion and emotion then they should probably reflect the product that they are commentating on.  Therefor none of you should ever write with emotions and none of your characters should have a personal opinion about anything.  The storylines and themes should absolutely not resonate on a personal level with your audience.  This will help us reviewers a lot since then we won't need to include an emotional response to your book in our review.

I also think your novel is not a valid novel and is only a very long expressive post if any of your characters use the word "irrevocably" or deviate from the above standards at all.

This is a completely valid, well-thought out opinion and I hope that all authors will respect it.  I will now only be reading your work if you do all of the above to standards that I deem acceptable.  It is then perfectly understandable and reasonable that, should you fail to perform to the above expectations, that I will no longer consider you authors but instead refer to you as expressive post writers. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Review: Raw Blue by Kristy Eagar

Raw BlueRaw Blue by Kirsty Eagar

Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly café. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing … and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago at schoolies week.

And then Carly meets Ryan, a local at the break, fresh out of jail. When Ryan learns the truth, Carly has to decide. Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy? 

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you've been around Goodreads for a while, you may have noticed that there's this particular reviewer.  Let's call her Smarty McSmart-Pants.  This reviewer has a reputation for having near impeccable taste in books.  Usually, whatever book she gives five stars, we're bound to love as well.  Some of the other reviewers and I have a little thing going where we recommend her books because, clearly, whoever can recommend a book she likes is Queen of Goodreads for that short amount of time. 

So when Smarty McSmart-Pants personally descended from her cloud-like residence and recommended this book to me via a burning tree, I jumped at the opportunity to read it.  After all, it had everything going for it.  Firstly, it’s written by an Australian author.  A condition know within the Goodreads community to be like the kiss of the angels.  Secondly, it’s recommended by aforementioned reviewer, and thirdly, it was insanely expensive to purchase.   So I am completely flabbergasted that I liked this novel a lot, but didn’t really love it. 

There’s a lot of words I want to use to describe this novel and its main character, Carly.  See, I want to describe it as a graphic reflection on the life of a nineteen year old, traumatised rape victim.

But she wouldn’t appreciate that description.  She wouldn’t like being summarised as one horrible moment in her life or to have what happened to her cheapened or used for shock value.  Though it may seem silly to kowtow to the wishes of an imaginary literary character, I will.

So this is the story of Carly, nineteen year old soft-hearted surfer-chick, who is hiding out in Manly and working as a kitchen cook to escape her family and the consequences of trauma inflicted upon her.  She meets Ryan, another surfer with a shady past, and they spark up an awkward and shaky relationship.

The title of Raw Blue is a very accurate one, reflecting the real state of this novel.  The prose are brash and raw with strong emotion. 

“I scrabble my fingers in Ryan’s pubic hair and they brush against his penis which is spent, soft and vulnerable."

These prose are interspersed throughout the narrative.  They are brash, strong and gloss over nothing.

The strongest aspect of this novel, undoubtedly, is its dealing with the subject of rape.  The guilt, shame and anger is all there in its crippling insidiousness, helping the reader to feel as brittle and impotent as Carly is.

This is Carly’s journey to survive and conquer and the novel focuses on this as opposed to the romance with Ryan who serves as a catalyst for change but ultimately is powerless to rescue Carly from her own crippling emotions and trauma.  That she has to do herself.

My major gripe with the novel is in its lackadaisical plot and sudden ending.  The novel ends so abruptly and unexpectedly that one gets the impression Eagar was called to dinner just as she came toward the ending and never returned to finish the narrative.  It leaves this awkward, unfulfilled feeling like great sex which is cut short and ends unsatisfactorily.  There was a climax missed there, I feel, and I finished the novel with a vague frustration.   There were plot points that had felt strong all the way through and then suddenly fizzled into limp nothings.  Shane and Danny felt like potential completely wasted.  What really was their point outside a brief moment each gave to the plot?  I felt like there was so much missing, having been cut away from Eagar’s original intent.

I have one more complaint with this novel as silly as it is.  I feel it’s my duty to inform international readers that the bulk of Australians do not talk like the characters in this novel.  I’ve probably referred to someone as “mate” a total of three times in my life and I’m pretty sure every single one of those was in jest.  Perhaps that’s what stopped me from really escaping into this otherwise marvelous narrative.  I couldn’t escape the mental images of every Ocker, daggy Australian bloke that Ryan produced in me.

I believe this is the clinical definition of gross.

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Book Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)Where She Went by Gayle Forman

It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where She Went is the successional addition to Forman's spectacular If I Stay.  If the seminal theme of If I Stay were about finding a reason to continue living, then Where She Went’s theme could be construed as finding what makes life worthwhile and livable.

Adam, an infamous badboy rocker, has been in a perilous emotional and mental state since his longtime girlfriend, Mia Hall left him. Chance brings them together for one more night and this novel chronicles those precious twenty-four hours together and Mia and Adam get down to what’s really important. 

You guys would not believe the horrible search terms I needed to use to find this image...

Okay, not really.  But there’s a lot of dissecting their relationship and what happened between them to result in a three year absence that has crippled Adam emotionally.

In form and function, Where She Went is very similar to If I Stay.  They’re both character driven novels sparse on action and heavy on reflective and emotional content.  They’re also almost entirely reliant on the strength of their character voices, giving Forman and veritable tightrope to balance on between pained and raw characters, or whiny emo complainers.

There is a noticeable difference that is strongly pronounced between this novel and the last one though.  In If I stay there is a full cast of varied, lovable, interconnected characters common history but divergent personalities.   Where She Went is a departure in this area.  Adam is an isolated character, having lost even his passion for music which had been fueling him.

Where Mia had been a self-introspective prone to examining the people around her, her relationship to them and everyone’s motives, Adam is more of a reactive character.

“My hand is shaking and my heart is pounding and I feel the beginnings of a panic attack, the kind that makes me sure I’m about to die.”

We get a lot of this physical narrative and you have to search within the circumstances and dialogue to make sense of Adam’s motives and reasoning because he is usually quite vague about it himself.  Mia was a character who knew herself and the people around her.  Adam is a character who is almost wholly blind to his and other people’s motivations and reasoning.

Gayle uses a variety of rich, descriptive language without seeming ingenuous to the voice of a twenty-one year old musician – at least to the layman.

Still, despite all the praise, I struggled to connect to Adam and the narrative to the degree that I had in If I Stay.  But don’t confuse my admittance that this is a less emotive novel, with it not being an emotional novel at all.  Where She Went still packs a falcon punch to the heart strings and still manages to illicit some seriously strong passion.

Perhaps my favourite aspect of this book is the song extracts at the beginning of each chapter.  Stiefvater’s debut, Shiver, never resonated with me as I never connected to Sam’s poetry.  It always felt contrived and weak and lessened the novel for me.  Adam, on the other hand, I would listen to and read were he a real person. 

Perhaps that's Forman's strongest ability.  Her characters have a complexity and depth to them, missing in so many other YA novels.  It's not exactly hard to make musicians seem sexy but Forman certainly knows how to exceed past all expectations.  For most readers, this novel will not disappoint.

Tuba?  More like Tuboner!  Hahahahahaha!  Okay, no more musician jokes.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book Review: Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test, #2)Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

Kate Winters has won immortality.

But if she wants a life in the Underworld with Henry, she’ll have to fight for it.

Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.

As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.

Henry’s first wife, Persephone.

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I requested Goddess Interrupted as I'd seen potential, amidst the frustration, in The Goddess Test.  I thought that, given time, hard work and thoughtful application to her prose, Carter might be a good author one day.

Unfortunately, that didn't quite happen here and part of me understands why.  A lot of the reviews for The Goddess Test focus on:

GAH!  The mythology!  WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


A VIRGIN!?  A VIRGIN!?  ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!

A VIRGIN.  I mean, I'm not getting over that any time soon!

So I appreciate Carter's efforts to address some of that a little in the novel.  Well, no not really, but I'm trying really hard to be nice here.

But the underlying themes of fidelity and sexual repression were always highly problematic and they've only devolved in this novel.

We see this through the characters of Ava and Persephone who are judged and censured very heavily by the main character, Kate.  Ava stays pretty firmly in the camp of irredeemable slut.  As for Persephone: one moment she's the Whore of Babylon and the next she's just a selfish, confused woman.  Note:  Neither of these are accurate or even good characterization! 

Kate says over and over that, no matter what, she would NEVER have cheated on Henry.  That's nice, Kate.  You're all of, what?  18?  Easy to make absolutes when you're 18 and it's your first time in love.  So very, very easy. 

Persephone was a confused, naive girl when she was married off (didn't chose) to the Lord of the Underworld.  She never loved him, she hated her job and she withered up without the sun and freedom.  She stayed that way for THOUSANDS of years before finally falling in love with a man and deciding that she'd had enough of a loveless, passionless marriage.  Yet everyone, even the other gods who saw her and how miserable she was, judges her as a shameless hussy.

How long does Kate last in her passionless, loveless marriage?  *Pulls out fingers and toes to start counting* well, let's see.  They married just before her six month vacation where she didn't see or hear from Henry.  And when she gets back shit breaks out and so when she finally decides to leave him it would have been... a day.  Yes.  it takes her a day of actually being with Henry before she hangs up the crown and decides to ditch him. 

The double standards, which exist all through this book, are aggravating. 

In the the first book Ava is punished by Kate.  You see, Ava had been in a relationship with one man.  Then she'd ditched him and started seeing another guy.  Guy #1 bursts in on guy #2 and they fight.  One of them almost dies.  Whose at fault?  Ava.  Obviously.  Men can't be expected to control themselves when it comes to sex and it was CLEARLY Ava's fault for... whatever.

So we see Calliope turn evil and she does it because her husband, Zeus, has cheated on her throughout antiquity.  It was really satisfying to see everyone angry and annoyed with Walter.  To see him take personal responsibility for his actions and how they've affected Calliope and to see him take part in her punishment... no, wait.  Sorry, none of that happens.  Actually, Calliope is handed over to him so that he can punish her and and try to force her compliance.  She disgusts him.  Charming.

The fail, unfortunately, doesn't stop there.

We have frustrating characters, too little plot for too many novels, bad pacing, vague action scenes and feminist issues with how the main character is treated.

I could spend all day complaining about how often we had to have Kate reassured that Henry loved her, or how frustratingly annoying Henry is or how unnecessary James is as a character.  About how Henry WASN'T a virgin because he'd had sex.  Once with Persephone.  And it was terrible.  You know, I think that's actually worse than if he were a virgin...

But most of all, I'm STILL just really disappointed.  Because this is still watered-down mythology and a poor excuse of a Hades/Persephone retelling.  It's still a copout in so many ways and it's still thoughtless in its narrative and treatment of characters.

I won't read the next one.  I think Carter's progress as a writer is limited in the world she's already built.  But I do think I've seen evidence in the text that leads me to believe that she's better than this.  I guess I'll have to wait until she leaves this series behind to find out if that's true.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)If I Stay by Gayle Forman

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year- old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make -and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I played the violin for five years and the viola for three.  It is the piano that only lasted for one year.  My older brother and I began our lessons together when I was nine.

My brother was a smart kid, but he didn't know it then.  It didn't help that his little sister was extremely competitive, precocious and bratty.  I think he always believed he didn't have much going for him - but boy he has it where it counts.

Back then I thought I was so much smarter than him, and taking up the piano was another chance for me to prove that.  Unlike my brother, who had never played an instrument before, I could sight-play and was already studied in the necessary music theory aspects from the violin.

And, in form, I was better than him.  For a while.  Effectively speaking, I always was always going to be better at him in the technical arena.  But he was better where it counted.  When it came to the heart of the music, bringing a piece alive and making it beautiful - I was completely outclassed.  I played like a robot and he played with his soul.

This book makes me regret that more now than I've ever regretted it before in my life.

If I Stay is a beautifully written, character-driven novel about a girl choosing between life and death.  It was also one of the best narrated audiobooks I have ever listened to.

Mia's body is in ICU and she is waiting to die.  As the events from her car crash unfold, she examines her relationships with everyone to determine whether or not it's worth staying or dying peacefully from her crash.

There were parts of this novel that had me weeping, my heart aching and my chest pounding with emotion.  Mia's voice, her relationships, her struggles and her pain are so brilliantly related to the audience.

The writing isn't perfect.  There are some parts that could have been a little more polished.  Some paragraphs that probably needed another edit.  However, the technical writing aspects are far and above overcompensated by the heart and soul of this novel.

This novel is like Mia's Cello.  It is beautiful, resounding and emotional.  Just as Mia can play Adam like her instrument, so too can Forman play her audience - strumming all the high and low notes with perfect, breathtaking clarity.  Without a doubt, Forman has it where it counts.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Would you like some plagiarism with your Amazon?

Important Links:
Original call for help
The ebook that started it all
The original content
More discussion

What Happened?

Goodreader Beth's previously published (2005) work was being sold by Robin Scott on Amazon and claimed as Scott's own writing.

All of Scott's plagiarized work has now been removed by Amazon.  Which, funnily enough, was everything she'd ever published on the website.

Who'd have guessed?  Also, my shrug is very French, no?