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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Annual End of Year Book Survey - 2014 Edition

This year, book wise, has been shocking for me. Reading and blogging have been practically non-existent compared to previous years and my Reading Challenges were an EPIC FAIL (again). But when I did find the time, there were some wonderful books and now that I only have one semester of uni left, and half the workload, I hope to get the blog back to its former glory. No promises, But that's my goal.

Until then, I'm going to answer some of the questions that are part of Jamie's 5th Annual End of Year Book Survey over at The Perpetual Page-Turner. I've only read 19 books this year but I'll do my best to answer most of the questions. Here we go...

~ Books Read in 2014 ~

~ Best in Books ~

Best Book You Read In 2014?
The Impossible Knife of Memory, The Diviners and Me Since You. I can't possibly choose between these three. They were/are amazing.

Best Series You Started In 2014? Best Sequel Of 2014? Best Series Ender Of 2014?
Best start to a series was The Diviners and I am thoroughly looking forward to Libba releasing the follow-up, Lair of Dreams, in 2015. Every Word, the follow up to Every Breath, is a wonderful edition to the Sherlock Holmes-inspired novels that have been gracing bookshelves this year. And the best series ender is of course the long-awaited Isla and the Happily Ever After. I just wish it wasn't the end! 


Best Book From A Genre You Don’t Typically Read/Was Out Of Your Comfort Zone?
I'm not usually a fan of books set in the past or from the sci-fi genre, but both these books were wonderful surprises. The Diviners is set in the 1920's so automatically I put it in the 'not-my-thing' basket. But it is a crime/murder mystery set in New York so I gave it a go. It ended up being one of my favourite books of the year. Spark is a genetically modified sci-fi with suspense, action and romance that kept me awake until 2am as I had to finish it before bed!

Favourite Cover Of A Book You Read In 2014?
Without a doubt, Wild Awake was my absolute favourite cover this year. The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl comes in second.

Most Beautifully Written Book Read In 2014?
I refuse to choose between The Impossible Knife of Memory and Me Since You.

Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book Of 2014?
Sounding like a bit of a broken record here but... Me Since You.

Book You Can’t Believe You Waited UNTIL 2014 To Finally Read?
Something Like Normal and The Diviners.

Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
"My earbuds were in, but I wasn't playing music. I needed to hear the world but didn't want the world to know I was listening" - The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Favourite Couple From A Book You Read in 2014?
Rachel and Mycroft from Every Breath

Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year?
The father/daughter relationship between Andy and Hayley Kincain in The Impossible Knife of Memory and Alba's friendship group in The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl. Also, from The First Third, Billy and Sticks (and Sticks's family, especially when his dad teaches Billy to ride a bike).


Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure?
Something Like Normal by Trish Doller (I can't believe it took me so long, Becca!)

Best 2014 Debut You Read?
The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn. I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on her second novel, The Protected. 

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Isla and the Happily Ever After, The First Third, Every Word, and Severed Heads, Broken Hearts.


Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
Me Since You was just incredible but it had me crying for literally half the book. The Impossible Knife of Memory and Something Like Normal also had me reaching for tissue boxes. Coincidentally, all three books discuss PTSD.

Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Severed Heads, Broken Hearts.

Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Spark. Thanks, Rachael Craw. Major Cliff-hanger at the end! Grrrrrrr

~ Blogging/Bookish Life ~

Favourite Review That You Wrote In 2014?
Me Since You and Severed Heads, Broken Hearts

Best Discussion/Non-review Post You Had On Your Blog? 
My post about a Harry Potter Party that I attended. Seriously awesome :)

Best Moment Of Bookish/Blogging Life In 2014? 
I met John Marsden....

Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
My review of Jewel of the Thames was the most viewed post with 3000 views more than any other post. 

Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
My Me Since You review.

~ Looking Ahead ~

One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

Just One Year by Gayle Forman. I meant to but for some reason just never got to it. Probably because I wasn't the biggest fan of Willem in Just One Day.

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?
The Howling Boy by Cath Crowley, Cloudwish by Fiona Wood, I Was Here by Gayle Forman, I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson... I could keep going...

2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
The Way We Bared Our Souls by Willa Strayhorn

Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?
Every Move, the third and final book in Ellie Marney's Rachel Watts and James Mycroft series. Also, Lair of Dreams, the followup to The Diviners by Libba Bray.

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?
I want to get back to reviewing a book a week as I have missed my blog this year. And my TBR pile/cupboard/bookcase looks as if it will tumble over soon!

Happy New Year to you all! May your 2015 be filled with amazing books xx

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After
Author: Stephanie Perkins

Release Date: 14 August 2014

My Rating: 4/5

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart. 

Companion Novels:

In A Nutshell:
Well-worth the wait! Where can I get myself a Perkins boy?!

My Review:
Three years ago, I had a reading slump and Stephanie Perkins pulled me out of it with Lola and the Boy Next Door. So I was hopeful that her latest book, Isla and the Happily Ever After, would do the same thing for me this time around. It did.

I adored Isla. I was completely absorbed from the first page and read it all in one sitting, refusing to let the characters go, even for a minute.

There were so many swoony moments with Stephanie’s trademark “awwww” inducing scenes and just like with St. Clair and Cricket in her previous books, Josh is just as desirable. Stephanie knows how to write the gooey, romantic stuff that just makes you melt and wish you had your very own Perkins boy.

Isla lives in her own little world with her childhood best friend Kurt, while she dreams of Josh, who she’s had a crush on for three years. And before you make any assumptions, this isn’t a ‘love triangle’ thing. Kurt is practically her brother. Moving on, I’m sure most people can relate to being infatuated by someone from afar. Isla has little confidence in herself, partly stemming from being the shy, softer-spoken sister amongst her more outgoing siblings. But Isla also shuts herself away, sometimes enjoying her own company, but shutting others out to avoid the potential hurt that comes from letting someone into your life.

After a brief, chance meeting back home in New York over the summer, Isla and Josh have gone from zero interaction, to sharing small smiles across the halls at the School of America in Paris. And while this small amount of interaction means the world to Isla, she can see that Josh is no longer the outgoing guy she has watched the last few years. After an assumption is corrected, Josh and Isla begin spending more time together. But the reasons for Josh’s sadness and how he deals with it, and Isla’s own lack of self-worth, could potentially become their undoing.

My heart burst with love for the characters Stephanie has created and for the cities they spend their time in. Set amongst the magical streets of Paris and the bustling environment of New York and Barcelona, to me, Isla felt like a sort-of ‘love letter’ to those cities. It was so nice to once again get lost in their descriptions and be reminded of the wonderful times I have experienced there. Particularly Paris. I miss it so much and Isla just left me with a deeper yearning.

Just like in Lola and the Boy Next Door, Stephanie’s characters from Anna and the French Kiss, as well as Lola, show up in her latest offering. The cameo appearances of Anna, St. Clair, Cricket and Lola were like catching up with old friends and it was such a treat to gain insight into what their lives are like now, and how they are connected to the world of Josh and Isla.

Isla and the Happily Ever After has all the feelings of falling in love: the nervousness, the uncertainty, the butterflies, the racing heart, the blushing, the can’t-contain-the-excitement that bubbles out of you… it’s all there.

Isla and the Happily Ever After was well-worth the wait (for a number of reasons). I loved it and I hope you do too. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Celebrate Reading YA Conference Recap

Last month, I attended the Celebrate Reading YA Conference held at The Literature Centre in Fremantle, Western Australia.

The Literature Centre supports local and interstate authors and provides writing workshops for students across Western Australia. For more information about what they do, visit their website.

Authors in attendance and speaking on panels were: John Marsden, Melina Marchetta, Vikki Wakefield, AJ Betts, Lucy Christopher, Michael Gerard Bauer, JC Burke, Anthony Eaton, Kirsty Murray and Matt Ottley. As expected, many of us fan-girled over meeting John.

Class Photo! Authors and Lit Centre staff. 
A better photo can be found on their website.

If anyone is interested, click here for a look at the panel sessions.

Anna, from the Centre For Youth Literature in Melbourne, was prolific at tweeting. Me, not so much. Here are some of my favourite quotes and comments from the conference.

Trying not to fan-girl too much in front of John

One of the conference highlights was a screening of Home and Away by John Marsden and Matt Ottley. Matt has composed music to go along with a reading of the picture book with his illustrations complimented effectively by a symphony orchestra and seventeen-year-old opera singer, Nina Baumer, as well as narration by sixteen-year-old Kyle Green. 

Created as part of The Literature Centre's The Sound of Picture Books, the video is a remarkable and emotive experience that shares the story of an Australian family placed in the position of refugees. While the book was already an important piece of work, the music and narration adds another dimension and left the audience speechless. Hopefully Matt will eventually make it available on YouTube because it is something everyone should watch, but for the time being it is only available at The Literature Centre's bookshop or via Matt's website under Store > DVDs. I highly recommend it.

I got the chance to speak with Melina about the progress of the On the Jellicoe Road film. She's written the script, which was a struggle, but she is now very happy with it. Melina recently wrote a blog post about it here. Currently searching for funding, Melina will share any news as soon as she can. Follow her blog to be the first to know. Melina also let slip that she would love to film it in the southwest of WA. I can only hope this happens so my friends and I can road trip down south (from Perth) and check out the filming!

And Melina is also writing her first adult novel, which sounds intriguing...

"a thriller set in London revolving around two bombings, thirteen years apart, and the impact it has on the family of the accused." - from Melina's blog

Catching some Fremantle sun with Vikki

We also got a little snippet from Vikki's new book. Get excited!!!

I think I have about four or five pics with Amanda from different events :)

I got to meet Lucy! Have you read Stolen? You should.

Thank you to all the authors who shared their stories, knowledge and inspiration over the weekend and a massive thank you to all the staff at The Literature Centre and the volunteers who helped make the Celebrate Reading Conference a wonderful two days.

PS. Stay tuned for post-Christmas signed giveaways from the conference :)

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