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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Matched by Ally Condie

Title: Matched
Series: Book 1 in the Matched trilogy
Author: Ally Condie

Release Date: 2nd December 2010

My Rating: 3/5

Watched by society.
Trapped by rules.
Freed by love?

On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her match. Society dictates he is her perfect partner for life. Except he's not. In Cassia's society, officials decide who people love. How many children they have. Where they work. When they die.

But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy, she is determined to make some choices of her own. And that's when her whole world begins to unravel.

My Review:
Cassia is the kind of girl who has always followed the rules, always done whatever society has deemed best for her. But all that changes when she starts to rebel and question parts of her life. While this is a story set in a dystopian society where someone has decided to go against the rules, this is not an action based story (although I can't speak for the sequels). Rather, it focuses on one girl and her moral/internal battle that she has over what she has always believed is right, and what happens when she starts to question it and think for herself. It is the kind of story that you get caught up in and you find yourself feeling so angry at the society on behalf of the characters. They are so oppressed and I found myself hoping for more and more instances of rebellion but it just didn't really happen. I think I wanted Cassia to take more action rather than her just worrying about it. I think the ending has set up the sequel for more aggressive action but I'll just have to wait and see.

Obviously the main focus of the story is Cassia's relationship between her match, her best friend Xander, and Ky, the quiet outsider. Unfortunately, I couldn't get into either of the relationships. I felt Xander's feelings for Cassia but her feelings towards him didn't feel real. Neither did Ky and Cassia's feelings towards each other. They just kind of suddenly decide they are in love. There wasn't really an in-between and it didn't feel real enough.

I do like each of the characters individually; Cassia's parents, her grandfather, her younger brother Bram, her friend Em and, once separated from their romantic entanglements, Xander and Ky. There is a lot of potential for her family in the sequel because, as you will find, their lives take some dramatic turns as well.

In some ways this story is reminiscent of The Hunger Games but only on a small level. I don't feel Matched will appeal to boys. It is a love story, a story of secret rebellion but without much action. I am very interested to see what Condie does with the sequel, but I guess I now have quite a while to wait.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hyperventilating, but self-inflicted...

As most of you know, I am Australian and I am currently travelling around the United States for a few months. In Australia, we don't get a lot of books until a couple of months after they are released in the US.

Such is my addiction to books, I have been walking into every Borders or Barnes and Nobel, even little independent bookshops like Booksmith in San Francisco (my current adopted city) to have a look at all the books that are over here. I want to buy every book I see, and I keep seeing all the books that I have read reviews of in everyone's blogs and then I realise that I can't buy any at the moment because my luggage is already way to heavy. Then I start hyperventilating because I really want them and I freak out that by the time I will be able to buy them, I wont be able to find them.

So, I have a really long list and the bookshops in Boston, one of my final stops, are going to love me so much.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Grace by Morris Gleitzman

Title: Grace
Author: Morris Gleitzman

Release Date: 1st August 2009

My Rating: 4/5

Eleven-year-old Grace only knows one world - the world of her mum and dad and twin brothers, and the strict religious community they belong to. But when her dad is thrown out of the church for asking questions, Grace is torn. How can she stay in the church and keep her family together?

My Review:
Eleven-year-old Grace has been brought up in a very strict religious community where questions and individual thinking are not allowed. This has become a problem for Grace as she is starting to grow up and be curious about life. She is also stubborn and independent and this is absolutely frowned upon by the Elders in her community.

This book is not anti-religion but deals with themes such as tolerance, family, authority, closed-mindedness and freedom. It will provoke discussion about prejudice and how we treat those who are different to us.

I believe children will be able to relate to Grace, not from her up bringing but from the frustration of having grown ups ignore them or not listen to their view or opinions. I would not recommend this for those under eleven unless they have quite a broad view of the world, otherwise, be prepared for a lot of 'why' questions.

I grew up reading Gleitzman, from Blabbermouth and Two Weeks With the Queen to Worry Warts. He has such a brilliant writing style and has the amazing ability of being able to write about tough subjects and current affairs in a way that reaches out to children (for example, Toad Rage, Boy Overboard and Once). Grace was released this time last year, and while the topic was not something I would have usually chosen to read, I picked it up anyway because Gleitzman had written it. Because of the subject matter, this book will not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is a damn good book!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan

Title: Immortal Beloved
Series: Everlasting Life Book 1
Author: Cate Tiernan

Release Date: 1st October 2010

My Rating: 4/5

New name, new town, new life. Nastasya has done it too often to count. And there's no end in sight. Nothing ever really ends ...when you're immortal.

'After some of the events I've witnessed I felt like I was a shell with nothing alive left in me. I hadn't been going around killing people, but people were hurt -- the memories just kept trickling in like rivulets of fresh acid dripping into my brain until I wanted to scream. It was in my blood, I knew. A darkness. The darkness. I had inherited it, along with my immortality and my black eyes.'

My Review:
I was very skeptical when this title arrived on my desk as I thought it would be another story where "a 'normal' high school girl finds out she is a vampire/witch/wolf and then meets the mysterious boy who also happens to be a vampire/witch/wolf. Blah blah blah" The only reason I picked it up, the blurb didn't really appeal to me and neither did the title, was because I had read Tiernan's Sweep series when I was younger and thought I would give her new writing a try. Boy am I glad I did because what I found was an original take on the life of an immortal.

Nastasya, Nasty to her friends, has lived every kind of life possible in her 450 years. She's not a vampire, she's just... immortal. Yes she can tap into some magikal abilities but she rarely does and prefers to have her fun the 'old fashioned' way; partying with her friends, hooking up with random people and drinking herself into oblivion.

After witnessing her friends conduct unspeakable acts of in-humanity, Nasty has a wake up call. She decides to disappear, and, remembering the kindness of a stranger in a chance meeting decades ago, she heads off to River's Edge in Massachusetts. Here she finds a kind of immortal boot-camp/rehab/retreat; so not her thing, but where else can she go?

Nasty has a mysterious past that she does her best to block out and we slowly (but not too slowly) peel back the layers to discover her secret. We get to see back to different decades of her life and I love the little snippets of finding out what she has been doing for the past 450 years. As usual, there is major sexual tension between Nasty and another character, we get to see Nasty developing a conscious, there is good old fashion rivalry, an interesting cast of characters that you care about, and also the tension of the friends she left behind as they close in on her.

I'm not really a fan of the title and I think it is pretty unoriginal but maybe that's just me. There are quite a few loose ends but that's what you get in a series but it doesn't matter as the sequel is going to be amazing! I can not wait to read it!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Up, Up and Away!

Just a little update on what I like to call My Life.

Today I am flying to America for 3 months of travelling fun. But never fear, I have my trusty net-book with me and will still be posting reviews as well as little bits and pieces from book events I hope to find while I am over there.

If anyone knows of any book signings, release parties, or would like to meet up, please let me know.

My itinerary is:

Los Angeles 6-12 Sept
Las Vegas 12-16 Sept

San Francisco 16-23 Sept

Vancouver 23-26 Sept

Seattle 26-30 Sept
Chicago 30 Sept-4 Oct

Washington D.C. 4-10 Oct

New York 10-30 Oct

Boston 30 Oct-12 Nov

New York 12-16 Nov

Colorado - New Mexico - Arizona 16-21 Nov

Indiana 21-28 Nov

If anyone would like to read my travel blog, please feel free.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tomorrow When the War Began is here!

Some of you may remember I blogged a couple of months ago about the extremely exciting news that the amazing Australian YA series Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsden, was being made in to a movie. Well...it's out!

Last night, accompanied by some very special people (including Linda over at So Much To Tell You), I finally saw my most anticipated movie release of the year. All of us are mega fans of the series and we thought it was AMAZING! We were so happy they didn't screw it up and the move from book to screen was done so well and it stayed true to the book. I was really impressed with the casting which I think says a lot because as you all know, you always have your own image as to how the characters look. Oh and there is also an awesome Australian soundtrack as well.

When it finished, all of us wanted to stay in our seats and watch it again and again. We really hope that all 7 books get made into films, and all in quick succession. I have read that there is talk, if the movie is received well (!!), to make the first three books into movies and then the remaining books into a TV show. I vote all 7 into movies!


If you have not read these amazing books, you should go out right now and buy the first. If you are a fan and are skeptical about seeing the movie, don't be, it's awesome.

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