Saturday, 29 October 2016

Beautiful Illustrations but little dialogue in Snow White

This graphic novel took me around 15-30 minutes to read, because this book is 99% illustration & 1% dialogue.

Also I'm back! There were no posts the last few days because I was very busy throughout the week! I didn't even think I would get to posting this week but TA-DA I have! I hope you enjoy the review.

Snow White: A Graphic Novel
Image: Goodreads

Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan 
Published by Walker Books Australia
Imprint is Candlewick Press
Published in September 2016
Aus RRP: $27.99
YA Retelling/Graphic Novel 

The scene: New York City, 1928. The dazzling lights cast shadows that grow ever darker as the glitzy prosperity of the Roaring Twenties screeches to a halt. Enter a cast of familiar characters: a young girl, Samantha White, returning after being sent away by her cruel stepmother, the Queen of the Follies, years earlier; her father, the King of Wall Street, who survives the stock market crash only to suffer a strange and sudden death; seven street urchins, brave protectors for a girl as pure as snow; and a mysterious stock ticker that holds the stepmother in its thrall, churning out ticker tape imprinted with the wicked words "Another... More Beautiful... KILL." In a moody, cinematic new telling of a beloved fairy tale, extraordinary graphic novelist Matt Phelan captures the essence of classic film noir on the page--and draws a striking distinction between good and evil.

Thankyou SO much to Walker Books Australia for sending me this book for review! However, this doesn't effect my opinion.

When I saw that this book was described as a 'darkly stylised noir' I knew that I had to read it.

This graphic novel is a retelling of Snow White set in New York City, 1928 around the time of the Depression. The setting of this novel was fairly clear to see through the illustrations.

The illustrations in this book were absoloutley beautiful. 

They were stunning! If this makes sense the illustrations were both detailed & simplistic. When I first looked at the images they seemed so simple, but if you look in closer, they have so many little details that help develop the story and the plot.

The choice of colour in each scene was also used to convey emotions, for example, some scenes that involved Snow, were a light, sky blue and there were also scenes that were created in rusty browns and reds.

I know I'm not very good at explaining drawings, but all I can say is that I would HIGHLY recommend you take a look at this book just for the illustrations alone, because they are just incredible.

My problem with this book lies in the fact that there is very very little dialogue, which as much as the illustrations conveyed a lot of the information, I could still find myself getting lost because I didn't know exactly what was happening.

At the start of the novel, I didn't even know what was really happening because characters are not introduced. In fact I'm still not sure who a few of the characters are at the moment? It would've been great if there was more talking in this book. It would've made the book easier to understand and the illustrations and dialogue would've worked really well together. 

Let me just say here, there was dialogue, just very little of it.

Bits & Bobs:

  • I really liked the depiction of the seven dwarves in this book. I thought the way Matt brought these characters in was very smart.
  • I also enjoyed the idea of film, and actors/actresses in the 1900's that is thrown around a bit in this novel.
  • The era this book was set in was great. The setting and time period this book was placed in came through clearly in the novel & I really liked that.
  • There is also a reference towards Macy's and I liked this little modern part of the book! (This shop/reference is also a big part of the ending!!)
  • It's really quick to read! I read this book last night, (by the way I wrote this review today & I read this book yesterday. Can you believe it? I can't either!) after I finished Gemina & it took me about 30 or so minutes (but that was when I was really looking & taking time to admire the illustrations) so it could take you even quicker! 
The illustrations in this book were amazing, but the lack of dialogue made it hard to understand at some points. Some more chatter would've definitely upped my rating!

Anyway to finish off:
Here's a picture of a half a page of them from my Instagram. It doesn't really show that much but it's a little teaser? 

Also, I have no idea how to make this Instagram embed centre, so I had to leave it like this. It's annoying me heaps, I'm sorry if this annoys you too.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Why anyone that wants to can write a book

I'm fairly oblivious to most drama in the booktube community. That's why I only heard of this incident a few weeks ago. (Even though it took place ages ago) 

A little while ago, a big booktuber came out with her first book. I was so happy for her a) because she is such a beautiful, gorgeous person and b) because NEW BOOKS! Soon after it was published, I noticed many people getting upset that she was a booktuber & she was an author. 

Image result for gif I dont understand

I don't know if my opinion is controversial but, to me, anyone that has the drive and passion can write a book.Image result for gif typing
YES DWIGHT, even you can.

Don't you think that being a booktuber or blogger could be an asset to someone who wants to write a book? Think about it. They review books all the time. They know what they like as a reader and what they don't like in books. They know all about cliches that readers can't deal with and we all know that having a book without cliches is awesome!

Being a beta reader, I have read plenty of publish-worthy work from bloggers and booktubers. Whoever says that booktubers and bloggers can't be proper authors probably hasn't read any of their work, because the people I have beta read for have books that are incredible and in my opinion should be printed. To have people say that a booktuber can't be an author is just not true. Just because someone reviews books, doesn't mean they can't write books. 

If someone's fulltime job isn't writing, it doesn't mean they can't be an author. Of course they can! No matter your job, YOU CAN BE AN AUTHOR! YOU CAN WRITE A BOOK!

Bookworms are very imaginative aswell! Think of all of the ideas, plots & characters someone who reads a lot could come up with! I also want to point out that just because booktubers and bloggers read a lot of books, doesn't mean they will copy the ideas and plots of authors. Perhaps we could be inspired by authors? Definitely. But would we plagiarise authors ideas, storylines and characters? Never. 

So this post might be a little bit all over the place, but my overall point is that anyone who has the passion to write CAN write a novel, whether they are an author, a booktuber or a book blogger. 

Also that no one should be criticised for writing a book just because it's not their job or because they're meant to review books not write them. You can review and write and read, it's not one way or the other.

Do you believe that anyone can write a book no matter who they are? Let me know your thoughts about this.

Julia x

(I would usually post this during the week, but I have been so busy lately that I have just decided to post it today!)

Saturday, 15 October 2016

The importance of body image in Nothing Tastes As Good

This book surprised me in so many ways. ALSO A CHARACTER SHARES MY NAME!

Image: Allen and Unwin

Nothing Tastes As Good by Clare Hennessy 
Published by Bonnier
Imprint is Hotkey
Published in September 2016
Aus RRP: $19.99
YA Fantasy 

Annabel is dead. And she's not happy about it. Despite having strived to be 'lighter than air' back when she was alive, the consequences of that yearning haven't quite sunk in yet. Julia Jacobs is fat. Which Annabel immediately notices when she's assigned as Julia's ghostly helper (don't even think about calling her a guardian angel). And as her helper, Julia's problem seems pretty obvious to Annabel. Fat = problem = unhappy. Sorted. The only trouble is that whatever is causing Julia to overeat is hidden deep within her. Annabel will have to get to know Julia to uncover this secret and 'fix' her. Annabel can become the voice of reason, Julia's source of strength. Except... all this time spent in someone's head has got Annabel thinking. Not just about food, but about her family too. And that maybe happiness can mean more than eradicating all the flesh from your bones

Thankyou SO much to Allen and Unwin Australia for sending me this book for review! However, this doesn't effect my opinion.

I really liked this book. I liked how the author blended a fantasy character (Annabel) with a contemporary real-life character (Julia) It was really interesting reading this book from Annabel's perspective. Being a ghost, we see Annabel's past life and have little hints that Annabel was obsessed with her weight. This made for a very interesting story, because we have a ghost of a girl who used to obsess over her weight try and help a girl who is overweight. 

I was very interested in how exactly Annabel would help Julia. Reading from Annabel's perspective was very confronting. She described Julia as disgusting, and this made me sick to my stomach. Seeing how Annabel saw people's weight was absoloutley horrible, but I appreciated the raw honesty the author wrote with from Annabel's perspective, as hard as it was to read.

Enough on Annabel and more on Julia. Julia was the editor of her school's paper but we can tell from the start of the book that something has happened to Julia relationship wise. I'd spoil this book if I told you, but the thoughts in Julia's mind and memories are eye-opening. On the outside Julia may seem like a normal teenager, who is a little overweight but has a pretty great life, but no one understands what she has been through in her relationships. This was really highlighted in this book, which i liked because people can seem perfect on the outside but aren't even close to that on the inside. I also like how in this book (before Annabel came) Julia was aware of her weight but never overly cared about it. I think it's important to realise that people who are overweight might not always feel conscious about their appearance. I hate how all over-weight people are portrayed as insecure, when I know that this is not the case for everyone. Especially it's not the case for Julia until Annabel comes along. 

Bits & Bobs:
  • There is a whole chapter dedicated to sorbet. Do I need to say more?
  • I wasn't a real fan of the cover, but I'm so glad I looked beyond that *hint hint people* LOOK BEYOND THE COVER if you don't like it, but if you do even more reason to pick it up!
  • This book is a super fast read so if you need something you want to read quickly....
  • THE CHAPTERS ARE SHORT!!!!!! (I love short chapters, they make me want to read a book more often, because I will often have time to read a few pages and I like to end reading on a chapter)

Julia x

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Cliches, Cliches and more Cliches in Stealing Snow

This could possibly have the most cliches of any book I have ever read ever.

Media of Stealing Snow
Image: Bloomsbury
Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige
Published by Bloomsbury
Imprint is Bloomsbury Childrens
Published in October 2016
Aus RRP: $16.99
YA Fantasy 

Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn't belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door – and Snow knows that she has to leave … 
She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she's destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate …

Thankyou SO much to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me this book for review! However, this doesn't effect my opinion.

So, this book review is going to be kind of a non-spoilery rant.

This book involves soooooo many cliches. One of the worst being a million love interests. So, basically everyone Snow meets loves her. This was so annoying. I really don't like it when everyone a character meets fall for them. That's what ahppened in this book except then she falls for them too. This book tried to make me sympathise with Snow. Which got on my nerves because how can I sympathise with a poor girl has to choose out of a million men who to love. I don't want to get involved in the love interests too much because then I could start on spoilers and we're not going there. All I can say is that I disliked the love aspect of this book.

So now that I've got to that, let me address the start of the novel. Where we have the typical 'I'm in a mental hospital but I don't belong here' This is of course a common theme which is actually introduced in the blurb. Can I just say that if you're in an institution, you're there for a reason. PLEASE don't say to me you don't deserve to be there, or you only get mild visions because, yes you do need help. Snow doesn't believe she should be in the institution. Despite having dreams/visions, an accident Snow feels she doesn't belong at the institution. I just felt like telling her that she obviously needs help.

This is when yet another cliche hits. She wasn't crazy at all! The answers are all in Algid. This is where the blurb stops and the spoilers begin. But of course, Snow was right, she wasn't crazy at all! 

I couldn't connect with any of the characters in this book. I couldn't connect with Snow at all. She was one of those characters who always wants sympathy. Sympathy for being in a mental institution when she shouldn't have been in one. Sympathy for having to choose between too many guys. Snow always thought/felt sorry about herself and it was impossible to like her as a character. Which reminds me of another cliche that comes up 'my family have abandoned/don't like me/locked me up here. 

None of the supporting characters interested me either. They were all infatuated with Snow, because she is perfect.

I'm sorry but this book was about to be a DNF for me. Maybe it should've been. What a let down!

Julia x

Friday, 7 October 2016

Cults & Quinoa in The Boundless Sublime

I loved The Boundless Sublime. So very very very much. It's also a #LoveOzYA 

The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson
Published by Allen and Unwin 
Imprint is A & U Childrens
Published in August 2016
Aus RRP: $19.99
YA Contemporary 

Ruby Jane Galbraith is empty. Her family has been torn apart and it's all her fault.

The only thing that makes sense to her is Fox - a gentle new friend who is wise, soulful and clever, yet oddly naive about the ways of the world. He understands what she's going through and he offers her a chance to find peace. Fox belongs to a group called the Institute of the Boundless Sublime - and Ruby can't stay away from him. So she is also drawn into what she discovers is a terrifying, secretive community that is far from the ideal world she expected.

So, most people I know hated this book. I went in to this book worried. Because nobody I knew liked it. I loved it though. Sure as many books do, have small imperfections. But, I really loved this book for the most part.

Let's talk about the plot which is based around a cult. I must admit, I knew very little about cults before I read this book. Of course I'd heard about them before, but a) I'd never actually read about them and b) I haven't been in actually looking at what a cult is. As you can probably guess this book woke me up a bit. So, I kind of learnt along with Ruby about cults and what they were and such. This book in a sentence is: A girl who has suffered severe trauma is sucked in to the world of cults. But it's also so much more.

Now, don't get me wrong, Ruby was VERY naive. But maybe it was because I was kind of in the journey with her, and as a reader wanted to see what would happen, but I didn't really mind. Because let's be honest, you have to be very naive to get involved in a cult. Or, you could willingly? Anyway let's just say I'm not the cult professional ok? I thought that the plot was very well done and the plot twist at the end was NOT EXPECTED. Anyway, this book scared me. In the way that's like 'this actually happens and for certain people it's this easy.' As easy as it is to just assume you wouldn't get involved in something like this because COMMON SENSE there are many factors that play a part in Ruby's decision to join the cult. For example: Trauma's in her life, family difficulties because of this trauma and first love.

Which leads me on to characters. Ruby was a bit of a shell. She was a gothy-type girl before a trauma, but then, when she faces a trauma, becomes a shell of herself. What I liked in this book, was how clear it was to see. Ruby shows little interest in anything, until Fox comes along. 

You know when you just get a odd feeling about a person. I hardcore got that feeling on a character. Fox. Straight away I just had a radar that was going off as soon as Ruby met him that was saying 'STICK AWAY' We're introduced to him and when Ruby talks to him, he knows nothing about anything. This is where I stop because of spoilers, but when I found out why he didn't know anything I was officially SCARED. Scared in the way that you finally realise why he doesn't understand anything and you just want to drop your book and hide from every single cult ever. 

Also: I don't know why but I always pictured Fox as the surfer dude with blonde hair from Teen Beach Movie. Don't ask me: a) why I pictured that and b) why I've watched that movie because I don't know the answer to either.

Bits & Bobs:

  • As much as I am scared of this cult they kind of have good taste in food. I mean not all the time. Their obsession with kale is unfortunate. But I have to say their love of quinoa was good to read! Quinoa and Rice are my faves. 
  • Also the names in this book were really confusing! All the people involved in the cult their names were so HARD to remember. It was hard to connect characters and their names!

Julia x

Sunday, 2 October 2016

A trio of mini reviews

Three little reviews of Highly Illogical Behaviour, Tell Us Something True & Promising Azra.

Highly Illogical BehaviorTell Us Something TruePromising Azra
Images: Goodreads 

All three of these books, are published by Allen and Unwin. As always: Thankyou SO much to Allen and Unwin Australia for sending me these books for review! This however, doesn't effect my opinion.

Let's start off the mini trio:


Highly Illogical BehaviorHighly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley

Ok, let me start off by saying this book looked very promising. It's a contemporary based around a boy who is agoraphobic and a girl who sets out to 'fix' him. 

I love contemporaries. I also like to learn more about mental health issues aswell. So this book seemed like it was perfect for me. But let me say, I strongly disliked this book.

It's one of those stories where I didn't like any of the characters. Lisa, a character who is oblivious to what she's gotten herself in to when she claims she can 'fix' Solomon which means she would then use him as a muse for a project that would get her in to a phycology program for her college. I just didn't understand how a character could have this mindset. How can you not understand how a) you can't just 'fix' someone with a mental health issue and b) use them for a boost on your collage application?! HOW? Lisa also thinks she knows everything about Solomon, which of course she doesn't. Lisa thinks she knows what to do with Solomon, but in all honesty she doesn't and she should not be making decisions about what Solomon should and shouldn't do.  

The story also begins to go up the route of 'love can fix everything' which doesn't sit well with me. Love can't fix everything. Especially not mental illnesses. I was quite horrified to see that this book started going off in that direction. As soon as a love interest is introduced in to the story Solomon starts getting better? Which just isn't realistic. I do understand, that love and strong friendships do help people with mental illnesses to get better, but no one can change as dramatically as Solomon does in this book after finding love.

This book has a lot of hype and so many people loved it. I did find it interesting to read about agoraphobia, but I couldn't really enjoy the story overall as the overwhelming sense of 'love will fix it' was hard to read.



Tell Us Something TrueTell Us Something True by Dana Reinhardt

This book is basically about River, who doesn't know what to do with himself when his girlfriend breaks up with him. He somehow manages to fake his way in to a support group for teens where he meets an amazing girl, and the lies continue from there...

I liked this story. It's really short & I read it in one night. With that being said it didn't really wow me. I really liked River, post-breakup. Because he was realistic and wasn't portrayed like most guys are portrayed in books. He was very upset about his breakup and struggling with the reality. He was vulnerable and I appreciated seeing this in a male character. Where as I'm used to male character post-breakup getting on their high horse and acting above their girlfriend and like they don't care.

I also loved the new love interest in this story. Although, not as a love interest as a friend that River needed at the time. When she became a love interest I was kind of all NO NO NO. Because then she almost becomes River's rebound and I did not want that because he was such a gorgeous, kind male character and I didn't want him to turn in to a jock-like figure.

Also the fact that the plot was mainly based on lies and lying became an issue for me personally, as River began lying about things way out of his depth. Especially when people began to empathise with him and his problem and it was all a joke. I don't think anyone should lie about something as serious as mental health or drug issues, ever.


Promising Azra by Helen Thurloe 
Promising Azra

Azra is an incredibly intelligent teenage girl who loves science. The only problem is, whilst she is in school, her parents are trying to marry her off to her cousin she's never met in Pakistan.  

I really enjoyed this book. Azra is a character that is very relatable. She loves science, friends & school. She cares a lot about her family, even though they restrict her from competing in school science competitions.

The thing about this book, is that Azra is so relatable that you can see yourself in her shoes. You can see and imagine what you would feel like in a position like hers. Where you've dreamed of your future, only to have it crushed by an arranged marriage. It made me think, how terrifying it would be just to have your future in your parents hands. This book is based in modern day Sydney, which was incredibly eye-opening because I didn't realise that these marriages are organised in Australia even today, and that girls are stopping their educations and flying to Pakistan for them. 

Being in Azra's mind I was suddenly hit with the realisation of what it would be like to be put in an arranged marriage. Before reading this book, I would've just said 'Easy, I would choose my future over an arranged marriage' But this book made me see that tradition often wins. You would have to choose between your family's tradition or your future (which could result in your family leaving as they may not want to associate with you anymore after denying the marriage) I now see what a difficult situation and choice this is. Breaking your family's trust is something that most girls who are put in arranged marriages cannot do. They would rather throw away their future than abandon their families.

This book also discusses the lengths families will go to, to get their daughters to get married, when they don't want to. We also hear about the ways girls can prevent getting taken to Pakistan for arranged marriages. 

We also see in to Azra's home. Where education isn't valued and skills such as cooking and cleaning take priority. In this Pakistani home, we see how Azra's Mother insists that Azra learns these skills as she will have a husband she will need to look after when she's older like she does. There is a clear heirarchy in this family with the Father on the top and the Mother is beneath him, she does not have the same rights as Azra's Father.

This book is really important and I highly recommend you read it.

Rating: ★.5

Julia x