Honey, I Shrunk the Reviews (Mini-Reviews!)

Because I’m kinda horribly out of the habit of review-writing (that, and also incredibly lazy), instead of writing actual, full length reviews of the books I read during the time I was wallowing in my creativity slump-induced angstiness, I’m going to devote a single post to a few mini-reviews. This may be something that reappears at a later date, as a way of me talking about books that I read but didn’t review because a) I didn’t have time b) I didn’t have enough thoughts about to devote an entire review to c) I abandoned this blog again. I have a few ideas brewing in the back of my brain re: things I’m going to do differently, and these mini-review posts are one of them.

But onto the books. !!!! Titles are linked to Goodreads pages.

The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis — 4 stars

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I absolutely adored The First Third. It was a dead charming novel that had me in the rather unglamorous state of laughing and crying at the same time, and pretty much meant that The Sidekicks was an instant-buy. Will Kostakis has a rather incredible ability to fill his stories with so much heart and you can’t help but want his characters to end up happy. The character development in The Sidekicks was absolutely superb, and each of the three narrators – Ryan, Harley and Miles – felt super realistic.

I thought that the format of three separate novella-esque sections, each from a different point of view, was very effective, and worked so much better than a standard split-POV/alternating chapters. With each of the boys’ perspectives you learnt more, and gained more insight into their lives and how they related with each other.

As much as I loved reading The Sidekicks, it did feel a little disorientating, because the story pretty much instantly throws you into the mind of these grieving characters, but you never really get introduced to the person they’ve lost, or at least, you don’t until much later. But that aside, The Sidekicks was an absolutely gorgeous novel.

Remix by Non Pratt — 4 stars

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Remix got off to a somewhat rocky start for me. The characters were pretty whiney and unbearable, and it looked like all anyone could think about was sex, sex and more sex. But after a while the story definitely grew on me, and I found myself really enjoying it.

I’m pretty much guaranteed to like anything where female friendships are the main relationship, and even though there is some romance (using the terms super loosely there) in this book, it’s really Kaz and Ruby’s relationship that’s the focus of this book. And as much as their friendship (I initially mistyped that as “firendship” and one of the suggestions was “midshipmen” o.o) was really put through the wringer, and there was plenty of angst and miscommunication going on, you could really see how much they cared for each other, and just how well they knew each other.

Part of me wants to write a longer review of this one because I have quite a few thoughts about it, so maybe if I reread it in the future I’ll write a full review. But Remix was a book that had surprising depth and complexity, much more than the first few chapters suggested. Really good use of dual-POV, although the very short chunks written from each girl’s perspective was a little jolting at times. In all though, Remix was a pleasant surprise.

All The Rage by Courtney Summers — 4.5 stars

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I’ve been wanting to read All The Rage for what feels like forever. But for reasons unknown, it was only released here in January (with the weird yellow cover, whyyyyyyyyy), which made me feel a little better about not getting to it, because it wasn’t actually out yet. I’m a massive Courtney Summers fan, and even though I don’t think this was quite on the same level as This Is Not A Test, I couldn’t put it down.

If you’ve read any of Courtney Summers’ other books, you’ll know that nothing gets sugar-coated or glossed over, and this is true for All The Rage. I think the blurb is a little misleading. It’s not incorrect, but I think the focus is a little off, because this book is about the aftermath, and the long-term effects of rape culture. It’s not about Kellan Turner, it’s about Romy and how the events of the night she was raped continue to affect her life – not only on a personal, psychological level, but also in how she interacts with others, as well as how rape culture

All The Rage looks at the consequences of rape culture, something which Courtney Summers touched on in Some Girls Are, but fully explores here. This is a powerful and important novel.

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit — 3 stars

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I really have no idea how to feel about this book. I mean, the writing was absolutely stunning, and the settings leapt off the page thanks to really evident research. But I just didn’t get it? I’m not sure what the point of the story was, and I feel like it maybe all just went over my head or something. I mean, I enjoy a little arty-farty literary stuff from time to time, but this one lost me big time.

Sometimes the narration felt a little too reminiscent of The Book Thief but more contrived. And I have no idea who the target audience was, because it wasn’t middle grade, but it didn’t quite feel entirely YA-ish either. I mean, child narrators in YA aren’t unheard of, but this book seemed way too dark and miserable for how simplistic the writing was sometimes. As I said, I’m really not sure how to feel about this one. The plot felt muddled, and although there were some really lovely moments, and moments where it seemed like we were finally getting to the point, they didn’t go anywhere.

So yeah. Not sure how to feel about this one. If you like literary fiction maybe give it a shot, but otherwise I wouldn’t really go out of my way to encourage anyone to read this. It’s a fairly tentative three stars.


When will my next post be? Who knows, but in the meantime, you should totally check out Bookish Friends, a podcast started by a friend of mine that’s all about – surprise! – books. The podcasts are currently about the books longlisted for this year’s Inky Awards, and the latest is about I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. I’ll be appearing on a few of the future podcasts. But if you like bookish discussions, definitely give Bookish Friends a listen!

A Sheepish Return (The Word “Whoops” Comes to Mind) + Music, Inkys and New Directions

So… um, yeah. Somewhere not long after my last post I descended into the pits of a hardcore creativity slump where I only managed to get through two books between the end of January and about a week ago. I managed to decide that book blogging was this utterly pointless endeavour that would only lead to misery (or something like that). Then I realised I was sick of moping around all day and spending hours doing nothing productive on the internet. So I’m back, and with a shiny new layout for the blog to boot.

I was tagged for the three daily quotes tag that I never did finish, and I have about six partially-written posts sitting in my Drafts folder. I do want to start kind of fresh-ish though, so I won’t be doing anything with them at this point in time. Part of the problem, I think, was a bit of burnout, and I also got a bit too hung-up in counting stats and followers and views and that wasn’t particularly helpful. There’s a moral in there somewhere.

Going forward, I’m changing my approach a little bit. I’m not going to obsessively check my stats everyday, for one. I’m still going to take part in the community – or try to, at least – but without getting too caught up in the “they’re doing that, should I be doing it too?” kind of mentality I was developing. I think I’ll also keep the posts a little shorter, so I can write them in one or two sittings, instead of stringing the writing over several days. That sort of thing, so that this blog doesn’t start feeling like a chore.

Onto more positive things! Although my creativity slump pretty much killed my desire to read or write or be productive, it was pretty decent fodder for obsessively listening to music. I’ve pretty much had The Goon Sax’s debut album Up To Anything playing on repeat ever since it came out, and I’ve lost count how many times I’ve watched the video for ‘Boyfriend’.

The Inky Awards longlist was also announced while I was gone. The Inkys have a very special place in my heart, not only because I was one of the teen judges back in 2013, but also because Inside A Dog always provided an environment where everyone else loved books and reading as much as I did. I could spend an entire blog post talking about the awesomeness of the Inkys (and maybe I will??? Who knows???). I’ve read a few of the titles on the longlist, and hope to read a bit more of the list this year.

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Image courtesy of Inside A Dog

If you’re between the ages of 12 and 20, and live in Australia, you should totally apply to be an Inky Awards Judge. You’ve still got a couple of days to apply, and I can personally attest to how amazing an experience being a judge is. 

In terms of “what is Sarah reading?” news, I currently have a bag of books sitting beside my bed. There are a few books sitting on my bedside table that I recently bought when I decided that I’d had enough of being in a constant state of bleh. The bag contains mostly reading copies (including a couple of ARCs) that I’m reading for my local bookshop, so I’m pretty set for reading material.

So, I’m back. Hopefully I’ll do a better job of sticking around this time.

More Thoughts on Pride and Prejudice (2005 film) [Part Two]

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A little while ago, I watched the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and I had some thoughts about it. I had more thoughts than would fit in a reasonably sized blog post, so here’s the second part of my ponderings on the film. In Part One I discussed the effect that adapting it into a film that would appeal to a wide audience had on the story, and for this post, I’ll be talking about the depiction of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, and what I thought of the changes that were made to the romance between them.

Fun fact: I’m currently sitting on hold, listening to The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and being told that I’m twenty-fourth in the queue by a man with a lovely velvety voice, so I’m trying to see how much of this review I can get done before I get through. I should try blogging to classical music more often. It’s both calming and empowering. The man’s just told me I’m twenty-first in the queue, so I’ll stop rambling about this, and get onto rambling about something more on-topic. Continue reading

Cadavers, Graffiti and Buses, Oh My! (Review of Night Owls by Jenn Bennett)

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I think it was the frankly stunning cover that initially drew me to Jenn Bennett’s Night Owls (published in the US as The Anatomical Shape of a Heart). There’s apparently a pretty decent-sized part of me that’s attracted to pretty, shiny things, so with the title written in gold, how could I resist? Unfortunately my intense love for the cover didn’t quite transcend to the story of Night Owls itself.

Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Aussie YA Novels (#LoveOzYA, Baby!)

Top Ten TuesdayIt’s Tuesday again! I seem to be doing a pretty good job of participating in Top Ten Tuesday every other week lately, for no apparent reason. BUT this week is a freebie, so how could I resist? This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (which is, as always hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) happens to coincide with Australia Day, so I thought it would be an excellent chance for me to talk about my favourite Aussie YA novels. I tried making a list of them back in October elsewhere on the interwebs, but I’ve been lucky enough to read some awesome local reads in the months since, so narrowing down to a top ten fifteen* will be no mean feat. Continue reading

Judging a Book By Its Cover: Recently Read

It has been a while since I’ve written one of these! But I’m bringing Judging a Book By Its Cover back to talk about the different covers for a book I very recently (as in a couple of hours ago) finished reading: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti.

Luckily for continuity with previous iterations of this little ramble, there seem to be three versions of Zeroes. One’s the Australian cover (ie the version that my copy is), one’s the US cover and I’m pretty sure that the third is the UK cover. Us Aussies rarely seem to get our own covers for novels which are different to the US or UK versions, so it’s a bit of a novelty (omg geddit?) to have our own for this one.

Exhibit A: Australian cover

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What I love about this one is the fact that all the authors’ names are in the same size fonts. Scott Westerfeld is one of my favourite authors, and the creator of Deryn Sharp who is one of my favourite characters ever, but I don’t like the fact that his name is in a bigger font on the other versions of Zeroes. Sure, he’s more high profile and marketing and all that, but it irks me and I think it’s unfair.

Rant aside, I do like this cover. It’s not going to appear on any list of my favourite covers of all time, but I like it. It’s got a suitable tone for the story and it’s fairly distinctive. The yellow’s perhaps a little clash-y with the grey and the black, but the design’s consistent in its sort of painted/graffiti-esque style, and is pleasantly rough aroudn the edges.

Exhibit B: US cover

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I think this one looks a little more mature than the Australian cover, in a way. More clean and streamlined, less DIY. I like the blue paint effect with the crack in the concrete, but I’m not sure whether I like the way the font on “Zeroes” looks or whether it doesn’t match. I think I prefer how the “Every power has a price” tagline is displayed on this cover to the Australian one. Just seems to be fitted in a bit more nicely. Don’t like the fact that at first glance (between the larger font and the bestselling author bit) this looks like only Scott Westerfeld wrote it, with Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti’s names all but faded into the background.

Exhibit C: UK cover

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With yet more disproportionately size author names, this cover seems to make me think of music. Why, I have no idea. Where the Australian cover and the US covers were the same idea presented in slightly different styles, this one is quite different. I feel like I’d have to see it in the flesh to really be able to decide how I feel about it, because it looks like there are lots of little details that you have to look closer to see. Fits the book quite well, I think, and is growing on me the more I look at it.

It’s interesting to see how the covers for books differs from country to country, and I’m sure it says something about how the marketing folks see their audience.

Plan on writing a review for this one in the not-too-distant future.

Which version of Zeroes do you prefer? Any thoughts on author name size ratios? Have you in fact read Zeroes? What did you think of it?