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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blood Storm by Rhiannon Hart

Title: Blood Storm
Series: Lharmell #2
Author: Rhiannon Hart

Release Date: 1st August 2012

My Rating: 4/5

Previous Book: Blood Song

The rain wanted to be ocean; the ice in the mountain caps wanted freedom. I never knew that water held such longing. The clouds above my head rumbled like a growling wolf, impatient to release their burden. I held the rain there a moment longer. I turned to Renata, heard her gasp and knew my eyes glowed blue.

I spoke a single word. 'Rain.'

In the Second Book of Lharmell, Zeraphina and Rodden must travel across the sea to find the elusive ingredients that will help them to win the coming battle against the Lharmellin – but shadows from Rodden’s dark past may come back to haunt him. And while she learns to harness her new abilities, Zeraphina still fights the hunger that makes her crave the north – not to mention avoiding her mother, who wants to see her wayward daughter married to a prince at all costs.

In A Nutshell:
An atmospheric and addictive series that pulls you in and begs you to get lost in Zeraphina and Rodden’s world.

My Review:
It has been several months since Zeraphina destroyed the leader of the Lharmellins and she has spent her time ‘holidaying’ in Pergamia. Her real reason is to learn more about the Lharmellins from Rodden, and to avoid her mother who is on a mission to marry her off to a prince. Unfortunately, her home is where yelbar can be found, a metal deadly to Lharmellins, which Rodden and Zeraphina desperately need. So they leave Pergamia under the cover of night, heading across the continent of Brivora, for Amentia.

Hart’s descriptions were perfect. I could picture all the different locations so clearly and did not get lost in heavy detail. As they travel through deserts, across oceans, through the rich and the poor cities, they meet new people that help and hinder their quest. With harmings hunting them down and their safety depending on one another, the intimacy of trying to survive and the trust they hold in each other leads Zeraphina to question her growing feelings for Rodden. And thankfully, Rodden’s secretive nature finally breaks down midway through the book when he shares his devastating backstory. 
Throughout their journey Zeraphina works to harness her new abilities and upon arrival in Amentia, she battles with her mother over her engagement to an arrogant, abusive prince. The injustice of her arranged marriage and the questions of choice and royal expectations are raised in the second half of the book which I thought was a nice offshoot from Zeraphina and Rodden’s quest. 

As the second book comes to a close, both their heavily guarded feelings for one another become more obvious as another encounter on Lharmell becomes eminent. Old foes return and their lives hang in the balance, not just from the threat of harmings, but also from the assumptions made by royal families after Zeraphina and Rodden disappeared on the trip together.

Despite a somewhat devastating cliff-hanger, I thoroughly enjoyed Blood Storm and am so please it lived up to the expectations I had after loving Blood Song. As I think many of you know, I often struggle with fantasy, but for some reason Rhiannon Hart’s novels just pull me in and beg me to get lost in the world she has created.

This has been an official stop on the Blood Storm Blog Tour. Check out the other stops featuring reviews of both Blood Song and Blood Storm, as well as guest posts.

SEPTEMBER 20 Inkcrush

SEPTEMBER 21 Refracted Light

SEPTEMBER 22 Little Book Owl

SEPTEMBER 23 Intrepid Reader

SEPTEMBER 26 The Tales Compendium

SEPTEMBER 27 Larissa Book Girl

SEPTEMBER 28 The Eclectic Reader

SEPTEMBER 28 Beauty & Lace

SEPTEMBER 30 Ticket to Anywhere 

Other Links

Blood Song on Goodreads
Blood Storm on Goodreads
Rhiannon on Facebook
Rhiannon on Twitter
Rhiannon's Blog
1st Chapter of Blood Storm

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Title: Pushing the Limits
Author: Katie McGarry

Release Date: 25th July 2012

My Rating: 5/5

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.

But when Noah Hutchins--the smoking hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket--explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

In A Nutshell:
Pushing the Limits had me staying up until the early hours just to read a bit more of Noah and Echo’s story. First of all, the chemistry between the two… Yeesh! It was fiery, highly charged and fever inducing and totally had me blushing at some points. But, it is an emotional roller-coaster as two lost, lonely and broken people attempt to rebuild their destroyed lives. Does that sound too depressing? Never fear, you will fall in love with this book and the characters within.

My Review:
Oh gosh, I’m going to try not to gush too much over Katie McGarry’s debut novel Pushing the Limits. But OMG, love!!!

Ok breathe.

Pushing the Limits had me staying up until the early hours just to read a bit more of Noah and Echo’s story. First of all, the chemistry between the two… Yeesh! It was fiery, highly charged and fever inducing and totally had me blushing at some points.

But in all seriousness, it is an emotional roller-coaster as two lost, lonely and broken people attempt to rebuild their destroyed lives. Does that sound too depressing? Never fear, you will fall in love with this book.

Noah and Echo are searching for ‘normal’ while constantly being haunted by their pasts. Both have a desire for independence, Echo from her father and Noah from the foster system, but are trapped by the guilt and frustrations of the previous years. Echo struggles to live up to her father’s expectations while Noah fights to surpass the low expectations the system and society has always had for him.

Both their stories are ones that show how a life can change in an instant, for the better or the worse. It looks at the meaning of family - in all its variations, loyalty, the power of self-confidence, and how different a life can be when you have someone on your side who believes in you. These are emphasised by the supporting characters such as Lila, Isaiah, Beth and Mrs Collins. In Echo’s case, it interestingly looks at friendships and examines those so-called friends who only want you to be their friend if you are a certain version of yourself. Noah has to learn not to be so controlled by his emotions as he tends to act first and worry about the consequences later. As a kid who has been by himself for so long, he has to realise that he doesn’t have to do everything by himself.

As Echo and Noah search for happiness, be prepared for tears and to fall in love with these characters. They are definitely my favourite YA couple this year!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Melina Marchetta Giveaway!

As you may have noticed, this week has been Melina Marchetta Week here at The Tales Compendium.

Day One - On the Jellicoe Road Review
Day Two - Saving Francesca Review
Day Three - Looking for Alibrandi Review
Day Four - Event Recap

So what do you think today's post will be about?
That's right, it's
a giveaway!

I have
a signed copy of Looking for Alibrandi and a signed copy of On the Jellicoe Road up for grabs!

You must be a follower via GFC to enter and the giveaway is open internationally until 11:59pm 30th September 2012. Please fill out this form.

I hope you have enjoyed Melina Marchetta Week!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Melina Marchetta Event Recap!

Last night I was lucky enough to be part of a group of YA fans who got to hear Melina Marchetta speak at an event at Subiaco Library. The event was organised by Perth YA Fans Unite (of which I am a founding member of) and our aim is to bring more YA authors to Perth and in turn, have more book events. So we were super excited when Melina said 'yes' to doing an event!

Melina with a copy of Quintana of Charyn which she gave away

Melina spoke about all her books which I thought was really nice as authors will often just talk about the main book they are hoping to promote (their newest). While the majority of the audience was made up of teenagers, there was still a good collection of people across all ages which I think just goes to show just how much Melina's books have influenced people over the years. It's almost 20 years to the day since Looking for Alibrandi was published and Quintana of Charyn, her 7th YA book, will be released next week.

First we heard about Melina's inspiration for Looking for Alibrandi and how close the book is to her heart. She also told us how she never thought that anyone other than her extended family would read it and her doubts about whether she would write another book after her debut (there was 11 years between her 1st and 2nd). We heard how she came up with the idea for Saving Francesca and about the difficulties she had writing On the Jellicoe Road (something she started writing after Alibrandi but was put away for a number of years before it was ready to be looked at again).

Melina also mentioned how she was pigeon-holed as a particular sort of writer after the release of Alibrandi and Francesca and this really annoyed her. She sure showed those critics with the release of Jellicoe, The Piper's Son and the Lumatere Chronicles!

Discussing the trials and tribulations that occurred in the process of turning Alibrandi into a film flowed nicely into Melina confirming that On the Jellicoe Road is in the process of being turned into a film (she has written the screenplay and they are searching for the perfect actors). This received a lot of enthusiasm from the 75-strong crowd and had people discussing and trying to guess who they thought would make the perfect Taylor Markham and Jonah Griggs.

Melina also gave us insight into some of the locations she created in the Lumatere Chronicles. Photos taken from her trips to Italy, Turkey, Greece and France showed us how she was inspired by real-life landscapes, buildings and artwork that she found and re-imagined for the scenes in the books.

Melina discussing location

Melina also showed us a bunch of the international covers of her books, particularly The Piper's Son and Finnikin of the Rock, and talked about how the images are chosen and why they are not the same as the Australian ones. Unfortunately all she can do is make suggestions (for example that they should use the Aussie ones!) but ultimately it is up to the international publishing house.

After speaking, Melina generously signed every book that was put in front of her and I'd say at least 90% of the crowd wanted at least two books signed. Not only was she happy to sign but she let us get photos with her and have a chat. There was no urgency to get through the line as fast as possible which I have experienced at other book events. The line was long and took more than half an hour to get through but it was well worth it!

Part of the signing line

Melina and I

It was so lovely to meet so many other Perth bloggers and afterwards a small group of us headed in search of somewhere where we could continue our discussions of what we were reading and which YA boys would make the best boyfriends. It got rather heated at one point where the group was split down the middle as Team Adrian or Team Dimitri was screamed out. Whoever said book nerds are quiet loners have obviously never met any Perth YA bloggers!

From left to right: Hannah @ The Girl in a Cafe, Claire @ Claire Reads, Nicole who guest posts for Claire, Rebecca @ Reading Wishes, Amy @ Following the Reader, Me, and Taneika @ Flipping Through the Pages

A big thankyou to Melina Marchetta, the staff at Subiaco Library, Dymocks Subiaco and all the Perth YA Fans who helped spread the event details and make it such a successful evening. Lets do it again soon!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cover Reveal: Reaping Me Softly by Kate Evangelista

I'm very excited to help AToMR Tours reveal the cover of Kate Evangelista's new novel, Reaping Me Softly!

You might remember that I have been a big supporter of Kate since the very beginning and I absolutely fell in love with her debut novel, Taste, when it was released earlier this year.

Reaping Me Softly will be published by Omnific Publishing on 30th October 2012 and this is the beautiful cover...

Ever since a near-death-experience on the operating table, seventeen-year-old Arianne Wilson can see dead people. Just as she’s learned to accept her new-found talents, she discovers that the boy she’s had a crush on since freshman year, Niko Clark, is a Reaper.

At last they have something in common, but that doesn’t mean life is getting any easier. All while facing merciless bullying from the most powerful girl in school, Arianne’s world is turned upside down after Niko accidentally reaps the soul of someone she loves. This sends them both into a spiral that threatens to end Arianne’s life. But will Niko break his own Reaper’s code to save her? And what would the consequences be if he did?

Are you excited? I am!


Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Title: Looking For Alibrandi
Author: Melina Marchetta

Release Date: 5th October 1992

My Rating: 4/5

'And what's this about you and your friends driving around Bondi Junction half-dressed last week?'

'Who told you that?'

'Signora Formosa saw you. She said you and your friends almost ran he rover. She rang Zia Patrizia's next-door neighborhood and it got back to Nonna.'

Telecom would go broke if it weren't for the Italians.

Josephine Alibrandi is seventeen, illegitimate, and in her final year at a wealthy Catholic school. This is the year her father comes back into her life, the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family's past and the year she sets herself free.

I'll run one day. Run from my life. To be free and think for myself. Not as an Australia and not as an Italian and not as an in between. I'll run to be emancipated.

In A Nutshell:
Looking for Alibrandi is an excellent account of growing up in a culture that other people may not understand. Josie is still just a regular teenage girl; uncertain in herself and the direction she wants to take in life, and trying to juggle the pressures of family, school, friendships and boys. This a must-read Australian YA classic.

My Review:
Looking for Alibrandi is the first book I have read where I have seen the film first. Normally I will always read the book prior to seeing the film, if I see it at all, but this time, it wasn’t really my fault. I was only 5-years-old when the book was released and 12 when the film came out. I had only just discovered YA fiction and I’d never heard of Melina Marchetta. I absolutely loved the film and I think what made it so good is that Melina actually wrote the screenplay for it, rather than someone else re-writing an author’s story. All the important bits were included and now, having read the novel, for the first time I am not disappointed by the film version of a book. It must have really stuck with me because I can’t even listen to U2’s With or Without You without thinking of the film (if you have seen it you will know why). But enough about the film, this is a book review after all.

Looking for Alibrandi is an Aussie YA classic. How do I go about writing about a book that was released almost 20 years ago to the day and is still a favourite on so many bookshelves? Alibrandi was Melina’s debut novel and it won many awards, and it is easy to see why. It gives the reader the opportunity to realise they are not alone in what may be going on in their life and I believe it is a special person who can communicate with teenagers in the way Melina can.

Looking for Alibrandi is an excellent account of growing up in a culture that other people may not understand, which is such a prevalent issue here in Australia, even now, two decades after the novel was written. What Josie Alibrandi has to deal with are the same problems that teenagers are faced with every day. The issues are timeless. She reflects a typical teenage girl; uncertain in herself and the direction she wants to take, and trying to juggle the pressures of family, school, friendships and boys. It’s very interesting to see Josie mature in her understanding of the world and her acceptance of who she is and what part she may play in the years to come. The search for acceptance in all areas of life and the highs and lows of the family dynamic are universal.

The final year of high school is hard enough, but for Josie, having always lived with her mother and under the watchful eyes of her very traditional Italian grandmother, her life is thrown into disarray when the father she has never met suddenly reappears in her life. Not only that, but she has to navigate the unfamiliar territory of having a boyfriend, come to terms with the loss of someone she cares about, and unravel the secrets and lies of the Alibrandi family.

Having now read Melina’s four contemporary novels, I can safely say that her writing is captivating and it is very easy to sit and read a whole book at once. If you haven’t discovered the writing of Melina Marchetta, I strongly suggest you do. You won’t regret it.

Looking For Alibrandi Film Poster

Three generations of Alibrandi women

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Title: Saving Francesca
Author: Melina Marchetta

Release Date: 31st March 2003

My Rating: 5/5

Francesca battles her mother, Mia, constantly over what's best for her. All Francesca wants is her old friends and her old school, but instead Mia sends her to St. Sebastian's, an all-boys' school that has just opened its doors to girls. Now Francesca's surrounded by hundreds of boys, with only a few other girls for company. All of them weirdos, or worse.

Then one day, Mia is too depressed to get out of bed. One day turns into months, and as her family begins to fall apart, Francesca realises that without her mother's high spirits, she hardly knows who she is. But she doesn't yet realise that she's more like Mia than she thinks. With a little unlikely help from St. Sebastian's, she just might be able to save her family, her friends, and - especially- herself.

In A Nutshell:
I adored Saving Francesca! It is a story of family, friendship, acceptance, strength, and looking deeper at people to discover who they really are and not just the public persona they put on.

My Review:
Oh gosh. Why oh why did I wait so long to read this?! I absolutely adored Saving Francesca and it has gone straight to my all-time-favourites list.

What I love most is that it is so real. I can picture Francesca, Tara, Justine, Siobhan, Thomas, Will and Jimmy as if they were going about their lives. There is a warmth in all of them as they are just ordinary kids, searching to be allowed to be themselves and belong without ridicule, something that is not easy in high school. People will often put on the face that they think others want them to be and they become half the person they could have been, because they are trying to please others rather than be themselves.

Saving Francesca focuses mainly around the themes of family and depression. Francesca’s once strong-willed and vibrant mother wakes up one morning and doesn’t get out of bed. This continues for months and Francesca’s dad is left to try and hold the family together. Francesca begins to question the way her parents have always interacted and her own place in the world, and while she just wants everything to go back to the way it was, her family will never be the same and she has to learn to adjust to the new family dynamic.

Amongst the trouble at home, Francesca is struggling at her new school, Saint Sebastian’s, which for the first year is accepting girls to the once all-boys school. As one of 30 female students, Francesca, who has come from an all-girls school, struggles to fit in as both the girls and the boys try to find a way to understand and relate to each other.

As Francesca begins to make new friends and rediscover those from her pre-teen years, her life begins to look up until a run in with some old ‘friends’ threatens to tip everything off balance again.

It is a story of family, friendship, acceptance, strength, and looking deeper at people to discover who they really are and not just the public persona they put on.


In 2010, Melina wrote a companion novel called The Piper's Son which looks at where Thomas McKee is, five years after the events of Saving Francesca. I read The Piper's Son before I read Saving Francesca. Click here for my review.

Monday, September 10, 2012

On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Title: On The Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta

Release Date: 28th August 2006

My Rating: 4/5

I'm dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.

Taylor is the leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs - the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother - who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

In A Nutshell:
On the Jellicoe Road is a story about family, in all its different forms and meanings, with characters that will stay with you long after the last page.

My Review:
It has taken me a while to have the motivation to pick up On the Jellicoe Road. It is one of those books that people have either really enjoyed or just not understood it and given up, or stuck with it but still not ‘gotten it’. I will admit it, I found myself rather confused for a large part of the first half of the book but I then hit a point where all of a sudden everything just clicked and it made complete sense. I couldn’t believe I didn’t see it all before and thinking back now after finishing it I can’t understand why I was confused because it all joins up and gets explained so completely. Such is the eloquence of Melina Marchetta as she weaves a heartbreaking tale of love, loss, abandonment, strength and resilience and friendship.

It is rather difficult to write about Jellicoe because the story is based around secrets that need to be discovered in due course and it is very easy to spoil the book so I am going to be rather vague and for that I apologise.

On the Jellicoe Road is set in the countryside of New South Wales in Australia and follows Taylor Markham who has just been appointed head of the Boarders, a job she is less than thrilled to be given. For a reason no one knows, there has been a long-standing feud between the Boarders, the Cadets (who spend 6six weeks a year in the countryside) and the Townies (who live in the town near the Jellicoe School). Taylor’s first job as leader is to negotiate new territory rules with the leader of the Townies, Chaz Santangelo, and the the Cadets, Jonah Griggs, who is the last person Taylor ever wants to see again. What follows is six weeks of arguments, flirting, truths and revelations.

I love all the characters but especially Taylor, Jonah, Raffy and Chaz. I love their dynamic and the love-hate relationship they have that intertwines them together. I love that Taylor and Jonah are both searching for something but are afraid of letting people in. Appearances can be deceiving and it is interesting that when the three rival groups start to look past the fact that they are from opposing sides and get to know each other, the feud that was never their fight becomes less important in some ways but extremely important in others as Taylor and those closest to her work to uncover the truth of ‘the five’ and what happened so many years ago.

Narnie, Tate, Webb, Fitz and Jude and characters in a manuscript that Taylor finds and believes are fictional but she slowly comes to recognise similarities between the characters and information she picks up from things said at the Jellicoe school. The story of the five teenagers and how they became friends is so incredibly heartbreaking and only becomes more so as the book goes on and you are able to relate them to actual people. I love the legacy that ‘the five’ leave without even knowing how their actions reverberate through the generations of the kids at the Jellicoe school.

The story comes full circle as the hints we are given into the lives of Taylor and the other characters, including the five, all end up coming together to create this story of a community and what it means to have people that you love and count on to hold your world together. I found myself in tears of sadness as the last chapters drew to a close revealing the tragic circumstances of what had been a very close group of broken people who sought and found a family after their own families were torn apart.

I love that the adults of the Jellicoe community, who know the truth, work so hard to protect everyone involved and the secrets, while battling their own demons from the past. I like the way that memories can play tricks on you and the different ways events are perceived by those involved.

There is sadness in knowing that certain characters have felt ripped apart by the things that they know, haunted by history and events they have tried to move on from, but never really wanted to, or had the opportunity to do so due to a sense of responsibility.

On the Jellicoe Road is a story about family, in all its different forms and meanings, with characters that will stay with you long after the last page.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Melina Marchetta Week!

Are you ready?

This week here at The Tales Compendium is Melina Marchetta Week!

Over the next five days there will be reviews, an event recap and best of all, signed giveaways!

Make sure you check back each day for a different Melina related post!

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