Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Mycroft, the Merrick Brothers, Nona and Me

So I started writing this as a status update over on the Facebook page but it got a bit too long so now it becomes a blog post!

Sorry I've been a bit absent the last couple of weeks. What have I been up to? I'm not really sure. I have no idea where the days have gone. I'm back at uni part-time for my final semester and I'm also doing some freelance website design work on top of my part-time job. But none of that usually keeps me this quiet on the reading/blogging front. Other than that stuff, time has just disappeared :/

Maybe it's just that I haven't really felt like writing reviews. Sometimes I just have to be in the right head space. You know? But I have read a few things...

I read Ellie Marney's final book in her 'Every' series, Every Move, which of course I loved. It was bittersweet really, getting to the final book but also the sadness that I won't get any more Rachel and Mycroft. Gosh I love them. Thanks Ellie! I do have things I want to say so I'll try write a review soon. 

I also read the first two books in Brigid Kemmerer's 'Elementals' series. Again, I Ioved these, not wanting to finish. After Storm, I was so disappointed I wouldn't get to read any more stories about Chris. But then I started reading Gabriel's story and I was good with getting to know another Merrick brother. I am however a bit slow at getting hold of book three as it focuses on Hunter who I am really not a fan of. Give me a Merrick brother and I'll be happy! I want to read book four but I just can't bring myself to skip a book. So I'm in limbo at the moment. Can anyone promise me that I will grow to like Hunter?

Last night I started reading Nona & Me by Clare Atkins. I went to bed with only 20 pages until the end. I got the book a few months ago but then just wasn't in the reading mood to pick it up. I've been feeling guilty but I knew that if I tried and wasn't in the mood, then it would end up back on the shelf, forgotten. Does this happen to anyone else? Anyway, last night it just jumped off my shelf and screamed "READ ME!". I couldn't put it down. It's a captivating and important story and I hope I can find the right words when it comes to reviewing it. I'm saving the last 20 pages as a reward for when I finish my assignment (hopefully tomorrow night!). It's a good motivator.

I hope every one is doing well and reading lots of lovely things. I'm a bit behind on reading everyone's posts but I hope to catch up soon.
Love xx

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Writers Festival and a Book Launch

~ Perth Writers Festival 2015 ~

It's that time of the year again! This past weekend, the Perth Writers Festival returned to the grounds of The University of Western Australia, featuring both local and international authors, for three days of literary goodness. While other commitments stopped me from attending the majority of events, I did manage to stop by for the appropriately named panel, YA Is Where It's At. 

Chaired by the wonderful Amanda 'AJ' Betts, the session was full of laughs and chatter as Rachael Craw, Dave Hackett and Sean Williams discussed their latest books and what it is about YA that makes us love it so.

L-R: Rachael Craw, Dave Hackett, Sean Williams and Amanda Betts

Dave Hackett reading a hilarious excerpt
from his new book, The Summer of Kicks

Catching up with Rachael Craw after the event


~ A Small Madness Book Launch ~

On Monday night, I attended the book launch of Dianne Touchell's second book, A Small Madness.

Rose didn't tell anyone about it. She wondered if it showed. She looked at herself in the mirror and turned this way and then that way. She stood as close to the mirror as she could, leaning over the bathroom basin, looking into her own eyes until they disappeared behind the fog of her breath. Looking for something. Some evidence that she was different now. Something had shifted inside her, a gear being ratcheted over a clunky cog, gaining torque, starting her up. But it didn't show. How could all of these feelings not show? She was a woman now but it didn't show and she couldn't tell anyone.

If you've read Dianne's debut, Creepy and Maud, you'll know that A Small Madness is bound to be an incredible read. I'm looking forward to cracking open the spine of my newly signed copy and if the blurb hasn't intrigued you then I suggest you check out the wonderful review by Danielle over at Alpha Reader.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Flywheel by Erin Gough

Title: The Flywheel
Author: Erin Gough

Release Date: 1st February 2015

My Rating: 5/5


Seventeen-year-old Delilah's crazy life is about to get crazier. Ever since her father took off overseas, she's been struggling to run the family's café without him and survive high school. But after a misjudged crush on one of the cool girls, she's become the school punchline as well. With all that's on her plate she barely has time for her favourite distraction – spying on the beautiful Rosa, who dances flamenco at the tapas bar across the road.

Only her best friend Charlie knows how she feels about Rosa, but he has romantic problems of his own. When his plan to win an older woman's heart goes horribly wrong, Del is the only one who can help Charlie stay out of jail. 

All this leaves Del grappling with some seriously curly questions. Is it okay to break the law to help a friend? How can a girl tell another girl she likes her without it ending in humiliation and heartbreak? And – the big one – is it ever truly possible to dance in public without falling over?

In A Nutshell:

The Flywheel is a very special book and has snuck into a little corner of my heart. I hope you love it too.

My Review:

Every now and then a book comes along and leaves you with an indescribable bubble of excitement that you don’t know how to express but you just want everyone else to experience. The Flywheel was one of these books for me.

Through a small amount of bad luck, seventeen-year-old Delilah has ended up running her father’s café, The Flywheel, after their manager is deported. Not wanting to spoil her father’s much-needed holiday, Del believes she can fix the problem without needing to inform him. But what started with Del taking a day off school to interview a new manager, turns into a week and then a month and so forth.

Unfortunately, that’s not all Del has to deal with as the problems in her life begin to pile up. From the beginning, Del is the subject of ongoing anti-gay harassment at school. Her love-sick best friend Charlie drags her along on a crazy plan that almost sees him thrown in jail. She catches an employee stealing from the café, and she’s arguing with her other bestie, Lauren. But it doesn’t stop there. Del’s screwed up things with the flamenco-dancing, grass-roots campaigner Rosa from across the street who she has had a crush on for ages, and a corporate franchise threatens to close The Flywheel.

The Flywheel is the kind of book that emphasis the reason YA lit is so important; it speaks to readers assuring them they are not alone.

Del and the people in her life are realistic characters, each with their own flaws and virtues. Their paths are all going in different directions, some expected and some not but they learn its ok to not know who they are and what they want right this minute. There is no ‘right’ way in life as to how to handle the ups and downs that are thrown at you. Everyone handles themselves differently, and Gough’s characters, particularly in the form of Del, Charlie, Rosa and Lauren emphasis this. They also learn that you can’t just force people to do things; they have to come upon the realisation themselves. Del in particular has to learn that just because she is confidant with who she is and has accepting friends and family, that doesn’t mean others are quite at the same stage as her.

The Flywheel was the 2013 winner of Hardie Grant Egmont’s Ampersand Project. Following in the footsteps of the 2012 winner, Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil, The Flywheel has snuck in and snuggled into a little corner of my heart.

I read The Flywheel in one go, sitting down to read the first chapter before bed and the next minute discovering it was 1:30am and the book was finished. There was nothing I didn’t like about Erin Gough’s debut and I look forward to her future additions to the Aussie YA scene.

Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont for this review copy.

If you liked this, try: The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl, Wavelength, The First Third and/or Wildlife.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Title: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour
Author: Morgan Matson

Release Date: 4th May 2010

My Rating: 5/5

Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it's Amy's responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn't ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip - and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar - especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory - but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.

In A Nutshell:
Who doesn't love road trips?! I read the whole thing with a smile on my face and now it has joined my list of 'favourites'. Read this. Now.

My Review:
I absolutely adored Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour. I bought it four years ago when I was in the US and since then have been too scared to read it, fearing it wouldn’t live up to my extremely high expectations (road trip stories are my favourite kind). But right from the first page, I loved it and I’ve always wanted to do a proper US road trip so it all just added to the excitement for me. I read the whole thing with a smile on my face, completely absorbed as Amy and Roger began the pre-planned trip across North America that Amy’s mother had mapped out for them. But before you know it, the virtual strangers throw caution to the wind and choose their own path in an attempt to find their way in life and on the road.

Every road trip needs music so song lyrics and music pop up throughout the book, whether it be singing along to a song, quoting a musician or used as an opening to each chapter. Roger’s playlists are a fixture with him creating a different one for each new detour, and these are shared with us in Amy’s scrapbook (which we get to look at) as she makes notes about the random happenings and useless information she discovers along the way. Eventually, after much begging from Roger, Amy agrees to let him listen to her playlists, which turn out to be filled with songs from various musicals.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour is a story full of all the fun stuff in life: spontaneous adventures, mini-marts, deserted roads, root beer and cream soda, skittles and peanut butter cups, new friends, old friends, Twenty Questions, topiary sculptures, southern hospitality, famous explorers, flirty boys, blushing girls, aliases, local cuisine, free clothes, roadside diners, Elvis, hungry bears, ride-on lawn mowers, blossoming friendships, sneaking out and breaking in…

All this awesome, crazy, random stuff helps coax Amy out of her devastated shell and wake Roger up from his heartbroken state as they realize there is so much in life to be excited about and that it doesn’t hurt to let people in.

This book was just so much fun and I really didn’t want it to end! Definitely another one to add to the 'comfort read' pile.

Monday, January 26, 2015

5th Blogoversary and Australia Day Giveaway!

For those of you who have been following updates over the past week, The Tales Compendium has just celebrated its 5th birthday! Pretty cool, huh!?

As mentioned in the Getting To Know posts throughout the week, in which I interviewed the Aussie bloggers behind Reading Wishes, YA Madness, Inkcrush and Alpha Reader, I'm now holding a give-away to celebrate my 5th blogoversary. But because the week was also about celebrating Aussie YA bloggers, I thought why not wait until Australia Day (today!) and do a double giveaway of signed books by Aussie YA authors!

So yes, this is happening! Signed copies of Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield, Zac & Mia by AJ Betts, The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta, Vulture's Gate by Kirsty Murray and Guitar Highway Rose by Brigid Lowry are up for grabs. 

Please fill out the form below for your chance to win! Entries close 26th February 2015 and you must be a follower to enter. Extra entries for those who share the giveaway on their blogs or social media.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Getting To Know... Jess from The Tales Compendium

This month marks my five-year blogoversary and there are a number of Aussie bloggers who have been with me from the beginning and others who I have met along the way. While many are no longer blogging, there are still some who are and who continue to keep me enthusiastic about what we do and why we do it. To celebrate five years in the YA blogging community, I thought I would do some little get-to-know-us posts in the lead up to my blog birthday which is today!

Getting To Know Aussie YA Bloggers

Today, it's my turn to answer the questions...

Jess from The Tales Compendium

How long have you been blogging?

5 years today! How time flies when you are having fun. It has been amazing and I'd just like to shout out to all my online book-loving friends, and the authors who chat with us and don't get freaked out by our fan-girling/stalking. And to the publishers who are enthusiastic and open to including book bloggers and recognising the value in what we do. Especially Penguin Teen Australia who have been with me from the very beginning :)

What is your favourite thing about having a book blog?
All the wonderful people I have met over the years. It's so nice to belong to a community that shares my enthusiasm and that is always there to welcome you back if you take a little break. No one understands my YA love like my fellow bloggers :)

What are some of your favourite YA reads?
I have a 'favourites' page here on the blog and the books in my banner are all favourites. But for a quick answer, Where She Went by Gayle Forman, Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield, Just Listen by Sarah Dessen and Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley.

Which author/s are on your auto-buy list?
Gayle Forman, Cath Crowley, and Stephanie Perkins

What is your favourite book to re-read?
Harry Potter :) But since we are talking YA then it would be Just Listen by Sarah Dessen.

Where is your favourite place to read?
At home on the couch or my bed with a blanket and a cup of tea.

Which book do you swear you will finally read in 2015?
I'm going to finally read the 2nd and 3rd book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy

What is your preferred genre?
Contemporary :)

What has been your favourite blogging or book event/experience?
This is really hard because I have been to a lot of book events and met a lot of my favourite authors but the Reading Matters Conference held by the Centre for Youth Literature in Melbourne was amazing. I'll be attending again this year and can't wait!

What is your favourite book to film adaptation?
I was pretty happy with Tomorrow When the War Began... and Harry Potter. Also, I was super surprised how much I loved Mockingjay considering I didn't particularly like the book.

Which book would you like to see become a film?
I'm always scared the books will get ruined by turning them into films (just look at what they did to Vampire Academy, City of Bones, Beautiful Creatures! Oh the horror!) but I am looking forward to Melina Marchetta's screenplay of On The Jellicoe Road. I have complete trust that it will be amazing. It would also be nice if they could do the rest of the Tomorrow series. There was a rumour it could become a TV show but that seems to have fizzled out :(

Favourite new Aussie blog you have discovered in the last year or two?
I'm sorry to say I haven't really discovered anyone new. I haven't had much time to browse blogs over the last couple of years so have just been sticking with those I know. I would love to hear about the new wave of Aussie YA bloggers so shout out to me in the comments!

And now for some non-book related fun...

What are some of your favourite TV shows (current or ended)?
I'm a bit of a TV junkie so I have quite a few favourites! Currently screening includes Criminal Minds, NCIS, Scorpion, The Night Shift, Rizzoli and Isles, Chicago PD and Chicago Fire.
Those that have ended could be a very long list but for now I'll say Veronica Mars, Buffy, Gilmore Girls, The Newsroom, Friends, Dark Angel...

How about all-time favourite movies?
Easy A, Pitch Perfect, Love Actually, Still Crazy, Die Hard, Remember the Titans

If you could visit anywhere in the world, either for the first time or a return visit, where would you go?
I am obsessed with travelling and have done quite a lot of it. My favourite place to visit is Paris and I flirt with the idea of moving there almost every day. If I can stop myself from going back to Paris again then I would love to go to Canada and see the Northern Lights.

If you were an animal, what would you want to be?
I'm going to say a giraffe because I think they are awesome. And they are tall and I am not :)

And the all-important question, what is your favourite ice-cream flavour?
I'm pretty happy with cookie dough ice-cream but lately I've been obsessed with vanilla custard gelato from a new place near my house.

Where can you be found?
Blog: The Tales Compendium (You are here now!)
Instagram: jwillis_87
Website: Jessica Willis

Thank you to everyone who has commented, shared, entered giveaways and fan-girled with me over the last five years. You guys rock. Check back on Monday the 26th Jan for a special Blogoversary/Australia Day Giveaway :)
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