Discussion: The Power of Imagination

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Our imaginations are powerful - yet how often do we use them?

There are a whole heap of different cover trends out there, and each one of those appeals to different people. A pretty cover may not be the make-or-break when it comes to whether we buy a book or not, but for the majority of us it definitely plays a part. When it comes to book cover models as opposed to typography, it can have some impact on how we perceive the characters and visualise them in our own minds.

But just how much does this affect our reading experience?

Personally, I'm not one to let a book cover dictate how I read or see the characters because at the end of the day my mind's going to see them the way it wants to. It's difficult to describe how our imaginations work (that's the magic in reading after all), but the landscape in a novel, and hence the characters - are defined in our brains based on a) the writing itself and b) how we as individuals interpret it. 


Some people may picture a celebrity as a character hottie after reading a book, especially if they were in a book-movie adaptation. Case in point:


Another avenue to take is going with what the book 'cover model' looks like. Now, in some cases...there have been instances where the cover model just DOES NOT fit how you saw the characters in your head at all.

That's okay too! 

And hey - while I wouldn't normally take any piece of advice from the people on 'Dance Moms' - this one ain't too bad:

However, even if we do base our character images based on these things, reading will still be an inherently creative experience. The words on a page never stay that way, since as we see them they transform right before our eyes into something alive. It is the power of imagination that facilitates this, and what a special one it is. 

BUT WAIT...there's more.

What about graphic novels and picture books?

WELL. That certainly throws a spanner in the works...or does it? 

(I seem to have lots of rhetorical questions today for some reason).

As a child, I remember reading picture books and having such a great time using the images in there to inspire how I saw the scenes that the story was conveying. Sure, this may be a form of 'guided visualization', but at the end of the day our little brains are still working to create something in our minds.

Anyway, this post started off as something just about cover models, but as you can see morphed into something else entirely. 

My main point is that our minds and imaginations have endless bounds, and reading is a way to exercise those creative muscles by immersing ourselves in the world which authors have created. 

What's your take on reading imaginatively?

Loony Literate Launch Linky

Thursday, 29 January 2015

loony literate launch

As part of Emily @ Loony Literate's new blog and name change from 'The Loony Teen Writer', she's invited other bloggers to spread the word! So, here are my answers to the trivia questions she put up:

1) What’s something a bit LOONY about you? 

When I saw this question all I could remember was this Big Bang Theory moment:

There's nothing too loony about me, but I do remember I had this phase after seeing a spider in the corner of the bathroom ceiling where I looked up at the ceiling every time I went into a room just to check there wasn't anything there.

2) Since I’m Australian – what’s your favourite book by an Australian author? 

Oh Emily this is a tough pick! (so...I'm going to pick three)

  • Genesis by Lara Morgan (The Rosie Black Chronicles #1)
  • A Waltz for Matilda by Jackie French
  • Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

3) What’s your favourite kind of post to write, and why? 

Discussions that are fun for you guys to read, and posts that support author and the blogging community. Booklovers REPRESENT.

Jennifer Lawrence has facial expressions and gestures for every occasion it seems.

4) Favourite genre of YA? 

I honestly don't have one particular favourite, since I find some of my best reads in all types of genres. I love historical fiction, but also a contemporary done well, mindblowing thriller, or dystopian that has great worldbuilding.

5) Biggest blogging goal? 

It would be pretty awesome if I got a quote from one of my reviews in a book, we'll see if that ever happens!

6) Name another blogger who has been an inspiration to you. 

I think the whole blogging community when we come together can be an inspiration to each other. For me, the amazing Aussie bloggers like Emily that I've met online and in person are shining examples of booklovers who have fantastic features and fabulous blogs in general.


7a) A 2014 contemporary YA release where the main character is called Emily 

That would have to be 'Since You've Been Gone' by Morgan Matson!

b) Madam Rosmerta from Harry Potter makes lovely oak-matured what? 


8) If you haven’t done this already, look up your full name (or your pen name if you use one) on an anagram finder. What’s the best anagram of your name?

I used my blog name and got 'Bike anion ego'

9) One thing you want to see more of in YA? 

I read Time Riders by Alex Scarrow ages ago and have since been wanting to find some more books focusing on time travel that are just as entertaining.

10) And finally – are you excited about Loony Literate????

I can't wait to see what Emily comes up with at her new blog home! 

ARC Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

18879761I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Released: 1st February 2015
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Pages: 288
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Bookworld | Book Depository
Cody and Meg were inseparable. Two peas in a pod. Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review

I Was Here in some aspects is a book that I at first found difficult to rate - it tackles a tough issue in a realistic way, but unfortunately I still had my qualms with it. Even so, this novel, like others by Gayle Forman, places the focus on the emotional turmoil of its characters. The pain and the grief, and the frustration at losing someone so close, was explored deeply and with an edge that felt authentic. 

Meg was my best friend, and I thought we were everything to each other. I thought we told each other everything. But it turns out, I didn't know her at all.

When Cody realises just how much she didn't know her best friend Meg, she is understandably devastated, but sets off on a mission of her own, along with some help from Meg's ex Ben to find out why she had decided to take her own life. This isn't exactly an uplifting read, and there certainly isn't any humour to break up the tension. For the whole duration you're walking on a wire that's tense with emotion. However, despite this - in terms of plot developments and action, there wasn't much that actually happened. Very early on in the story it took a darker turn with the discovery of some files on Meg's computer, which was a twist that changed the direction of the plot. I was expecting a few huge revelations, but when they didn't come, or were anti-climatic, I did feel a little let down. I can't help but compare this experience to how I felt about If I Stay, which I had the same issue with. This author's style is one that won't appeal to everybody, but if you don't mind focusing on the characters' inner thoughts and sentiments rather their outward actions, then this could work for you. The message that did clearly come through to me though was one of forgiveness  - which is an important one to remember, and I'm glad I could get that out of the story.

How can you believe someone to be beautiful and amazing and just about the most magical person you've ever known, when it turns out she was in such pain that she had to drink poison that robbed her cells of oxygen until her heart had no choice but to stop beating?

Alongside the agony of coping with Meg's carefully orchestrated 'Final Solution', was a romance that just didn't feel right. It's understandable that in such an taut situation with all emotions running high that such events could unfold, but the inevitable bond that developed was one I couldn't understand or support. Cody's decision-making at times, going to stranger's houses on her own where who knew what could happen, and grappling with feelings for her now dead best-friend's ex were things I didn't like. Moving forward is something that is part of the grieving process, and I'm sure is different for everybody, but Cody's actions didn't resonate with me. However, what did in some ways balance that out was the fact that Meg's parents were in the picture. This gave the novel a more holistic and multifaceted insight into the devastation left behind after Meg's death - and it was those moments which I found especially moving. As for Cody's mother Tricia - well, she wasn't the most nurturing at the beginning, though she did undergo some character development by the end which was nice to see.


I Was Here is an emotional read as a whole, but its flaws for me not being able to fully connect with Cody's character and lack of plot developments brought down my rating. However, If you're already more of a fan of Gayle Forman than I am, I still think there's still a possibility you'll like this one and should give it a try. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Club Picks

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by bloggers at The Broke and the BookishThis week I picked the top ten books I'd love to read with a book club.

1. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton


This is magical realism done absolutely spot-on, and the lyrical prose holds so much meaning.

2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


Because that twist would keep everyone talking for hours, and the relationship dynamic is twisted yet fascinating.

3. Dare Me by Megan Abbott


I think Megan Abbot's work is underrated, and her books with all their complex characters and her enthralling prose would be great to discuss at a book club.

4. Every Day by David Levithan


David Levithan has such unique storylines, and this one really leaves room for thought.

5. Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth


This is a stunning fairytale mixed in with historical fiction, and I loved it - there are so many layers to the story to discuss.

6. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith


It's become a favourite classic of mine, and I'd love to discuss Cassandra's character development with others.

7. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar

As with all of Plath's writing, there is so much depth and honesty within it, and theories to be made as to what the message is that she's trying to convey.

8. The Passion Flower Massacre by Nicola Morgan


Another underrated read which is fascinating and chilling at the same time - a story which you know will end badly and you want to know how. 

9. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker 


There was something about this book which grabbed me from the very beginning, and gives you cause to wonder how you would feel if the world irrevocably changed forever.

10. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume


This is a fantastic coming-of-age novel which shows how friendships can evolve over time, leaving room for discussion.

Are you part of a book club? What books would you pick to read at one?

Cover Love: The Flywheel

Monday, 26 January 2015

There are so many fantastic upcoming releases to look forward to in the world of YA, and many of them have beautiful covers too! For this edition of cover love, I've picked The Flywheel by Erin Gough!

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 cafe - The Flywheel - 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?
I love the artistry of this cover with the soft blues and watercolour illustrations. I have a review cover of the book itself which I'll be reading soon!

Releasing February 2015

Genie's Weekly News (19)

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Hi everyone and welcome to my weekly blog feature to recap the week with bookish news and what to expect coming up! So without further ado...

*Reading Right Now*


The last novel I read by Sally Gardner was The Red Necklace which I enjoyed, and now it's onto this story with some time travel and historical elements.

*Previous Posts*
*Recommendation of the Week*


I really loved this Morgan Matson novel - it's an enjoyable contemporary read with the perfect balance between cute and serious.

*From The Interwebs*


  • The Flywheel by Erin Gough - I got this surprise in the mail from Hardie Grant Egmont and it looks like an interesting read which I hope to get to soon.
  • The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand - I'm almost finished I Was Here, and have just started another book, so hopefully that's enough of a break before I start tackling books with those heavy issues again.
*Movie Reactions*

I didn't really like Into The Woods, so I was looking forward to something that would refresh my cinematic palate, so to speak. I watched this at the movies on Tuesday, and it was a really fun experience. Rebel Wilson was hilarious as expected, and Hugh Jackman even had a small part to play! I'm going out to see The Wedding Ringer with some friends next week, so I'll let you know what I make of that one.

How has your week been?

Discussion: An Open Letter to the Blogging Community

Saturday, 24 January 2015

I did have this discussion planned for some point, but being inspired by the post by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence, I decided to post this open letter to the blogging community now.

Dear book-loving bloggers,

There has undeniably been some drama in the global blogosphere in recent months with various issues arising. Luckily here in Australia our close-knit community hasn't been affected as much, but what is happening elsewhere does inevitably have an impact on us all. Book blogging, above all - should be something we choose to do because we enjoy it.  It's an outlet to share our opinions openly, while still importantly giving everyone the respect they deserve. No blogger or author should be subject to harassment online for their actions, whoever they are. Acting immaturely and spreading those negative notions of jealousy and hate will ultimately get us...nowhere.

*end lecture*

Every blog is different, and so too is every blogger an individual. Sure, we all have our own styles and ways of doing things - that's what makes us so diverse and unique. It's only natural that at times we doubt ourselves and look at those follower numbers, thinking they're not nearly as high as some of the 'bigger' or 'more recognised' blogs out there. Yes, we may look at people's book hauls and wish that we had access to those highly-anticipated ARC's as well.

But is this what our blogging experience should be reduced to?

I think not.

Let's get back to basics - Why do we blog? What are our commonalities?

Well, the most obvious one is: we love books.

Isn't this what it's all about? Isn't this why we're book blogging in the first place? If the answer to those questions are yes, then it's this common factor that should be a cause to bond over, and not something to spark all the dramas we've been seeing.

Sharing our passion about the books we love, and supporting the authors who write them is what makes blogging all worth it. Authors out there need our support to get the word out for their novels we believe are amazing, and if we don't like it - it's NEVER an option to go against them personally. Without authors we wouldn't even have books in the first place (so basically - we have a lot to be thankful for.) SHARE THE LOVE PEOPLE!

It may have been said before - but let me reiterate:
We are a COMMUNITY as booklovers, so let's keep acting like one. We all have positive contributions to add to the blogosphere, and it's time to embrace our differences, our opinions, and our inner fangirls. 

Review: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Friday, 23 January 2015

7664334Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Released: 4th May 2010
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Pages: 344
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Bookworld | Book Depository
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.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Knowing it had a good reputation, I had bought the audio version of this book for one of my best friends as a birthday present. After hearing that she loved it, I couldn't wait to start it myself, and definitely wasn't disappointed. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is a road-trip novel at its best, and Morgan Matson has created realistic characters who are going on a personal journey as much as a physical one. Travelling across America on what was meant to be a simple errand, Amy and Roger's story spans much further than that - and it's on their epic detour that all the fun happens. 

"So I think we have to be open to what happens", he said. "We can't know exactly what's coming."

I loved Morgan Matson's Since You've Been Gone, so I definitely knew that she could write an awesome YA contemporary, and this book really impressed me as well. After the death of her father, Amy's mother who has moved to Connecticut in their new house is someone she barely talks to anymore, and her brother Charlie is in rehab. There's a lot about family dynamics that come through in the book at certain points, especially during the flashbacks. These small glimpses into the past when her father was still alive gave the necessary background into how the members of the family had developed as a whole. This has more depth than a fluffy-contemporary, but at the end of the day - it was a heartwarming story.

What gave this book an edge over others in its genre was the scrapbook element where Amy and Roger both put photos of where they've been, the music playlists they've listened to, and other interesting facts about the states they passed through. All of the receipts from the diners they visited and hotel rooms made everything seem more realistic and road-trip-like. It was refreshing to have these sections that break up the text and add to the experience. What I did enjoy about Matson's writing style was that it wasn't too heavy on long-winded descriptions, but instead focused on the dialogue. Amy and Roger had a few awkwardly funny moments, and their own bond inevitably strengthened as the drive went on. Aside from the two main characters, the secondary ones were also given some time, and had their own quirks. What makes this story multifaceted are the sub-plots that weave together with the goal of the road-trip itself to create a novel that I didn't want to end.


Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is a YA contemporary that I wholeheartedly recommend. It's cute without being overly 'fluffy', and serious enough with an ending that will warm your heart. If you want a feel-good story to lighten your day, then this is for you!

Waiting on Wednesday: Saint Anything

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where the participants tell their readers about an upcoming release they are waiting to read. This week I've picked Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen.

Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world.

When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident? Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

YA contemporary is a genre expecting a whole heap of awesome this year, and Sarah Dessen looks like she's going to deliver with her latest release. 

Releasing 5th May 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Classics on my TBR

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by bloggers at The Broke and the BookishThis week was a freebie, so I picked the top ten classics I want to read at some point. 

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

It's a long one, but there's something about the historical Russian setting that appeals to me. I watched the movie, and it was quite interesting, so I'm looking forward to one day seeing how the book compares.

2. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo


Another lengthy classic, but I am a fan of European historical settings and I hope I can one day get through this one.

3. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald won me over with The Great Gatsby, and I can't wait to read more of his modern classics. If anyone has recommendations on more of his works which they've liked, let me know!

4. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte


I actually own a copy of this but am yet to read it...

5. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

I find the French Revolution fascinating and did an assignment on it recently, so this novel intrigues me.

6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott


Another quaint classic sitting on my shelf waiting to be read *stares guiltily at bookshelf*

7. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey, so I do want to read more of Austen's work...turns out that yes, I own a few of hers waiting on my shelf too.

8. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

It's nice to have a more lighthearted and quick classic read to shake things up.

9. The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells


After reading similar modern novels like Dr. Franklin's Island (which really creeped me out at the time), and The Madman's Daughter, it'd be interesting to go back to the original. 

10. Middlemarch by George Eliot

I just discovered this recently, and since it's been praised by the like of Virginia Woolf, I suppose it must be good.

What classics have you read and loved, or want to read at some point?

Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Monday, 19 January 2015

24187511The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Released: 1st January 2015
Published by: Allen and Unwin
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher/Netgalley
Pages: 353
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Bookworld | Book Depository
Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14: Debate Club. Her father's 'bunny rabbit'. A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school. Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15: A knockout figure. A sharp tongue. A chip on her shoulder. And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Landau-Banks: No longer the kind of girl to take 'no' for an answer. Especially when 'no' means she's excluded from her boyfriend's all-male secret society. Not when her ex-boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places. Not when she knows she's smarter than any of them. When she knows Matthew's lying to her. And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 16: Possibly a criminal mastermind. This is the story of how she got that way.
Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

In some ways, we can see Frankie Landau-Banks as a neglected positive. A buried word. A word inside another word that's getting all the attention. A mind inside a body that's getting all the attention.

This E. Lockhart novel is certainly different to her best-selling mystery We Were Liars, though I could still see her distinct style coming through on every page. Although The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is a book that didn't blow me away completely, it was still an interesting take on the evolution of a teenage girl within the intricate social milieu of an elite boarding school. 

She was not only worried about losing her boyfriend's affection. She was worried about losing her status with his friends. 

Frankie's desire to be noticed and ultimate quest for appraisal was something that did come across as her being 'needy' at first, though I did come to realise that it is in some cases an accurate representation of how teenage girls may feel. The storyline chronicles her relationship with Matthew, who is older and 'cooler', with a clique of friends that Frankie longs to be part of. I could sense a hint of satire in Frankie's way of thinking, and her sharp wit and logical thinking soon dispels any notions of her being a lovesick-boy-crazed teenager. 

Frankie's mind is a word overlooked, but when uncovered - through invention, imagination, or recollection - it wields a power that is comical, surprising, and memorable.

Exploring the inner-workings of the social hierarchy was interesting to a point, though there were a few tangents at the beginning that slowed down the plot in places. I expected the storyline to be a little bit more edgy (if that explains it) in places with perhaps a darker undertone, but it did stagnate on the lighter end of the spectrum. Even so, throughout Frankie's escapades and detective-work to look into how the 'Basset-Hounds' really operated, I was kept engaged and wanted to know what would happen next.

It was a fundamental element of her character. Life as it was presently occurring was not acceptable to her. Were she to mellow out - would she not become obedient? Would she not stay on the path that stretched ahead of her, nicely bricked?
She did not get much out of therapy.

What people will either love or hate about this book is E. Lockhart's writing style. There's something inadvertently gripping about it, as it seems to be speaking to you personally. It's not exactly conversational, but the references to the reader in various places does definitely draw you in. I love the sophistication in the areas where Frankie is devising her next plan, and by the finish it felt satisfying to know how everybody had ended up.

It is better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can't see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than stay silent. It is better to open doors than to shut them on people.


Featuring a sassy heroine and a dash of feminism, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is a novel that E. Lockhart fans should definitely check out. If you want a glimpse into the students of a preppy private school rebelling against the system with a sardonic twist, then this is for you.