Waiting on Wednesday: A Court of Mist and Fury

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

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 A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas.

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court--but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people. Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court.

As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms--and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future--and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

Considering I'm not a massive fantasy reader, A Court of Thorns and Roses really blew me away. Ending on a cliffhanger and with so much more scope of what could possibly happen to the characters, I'll be on the edge of my seat waiting for this one!

Releasing 5th May 2016

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

11472275Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Released: 16th August 2011
Published by: Random House 
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Library
Pages: 372
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
It's the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We're out of oil. We've wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS - and his massive fortune - will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle.

Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions - and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.
When I'd first come across Ready Player One, I have to admit I had my doubts over how much I'd really enjoy it...

After all, I'm:
- Not really much of a gamer
- Not a person who grew up in or have a lot of knowledge about 80's pop culture
- Not a huge fan of scifi


I came to regard it with a curiosity that was ultimately hard to ignore. It was just one of those books which I knew I would be drawn to read eventually, since the premise was so fascinating and it had gotten so much praise from other booklovers out there.

And so, despite my initial doubts, this has turned out to be one of my favourite books of the year!

And I'm about to tell you why.


Ready Player One is a science fiction adventure that is as enchanting as it is beguiling. While on the surface it may seem like just the sort of thing only the stereotypical 'geeky gamer' will enjoy, it really is so much more. Though saturated with references to the pop culture of times gone by, in essence this is a story which tackles the inherent fallacies of a virtual world, a battle between good, evil, integrity and ethics, friendship, and a healthy dose of competition. I honestly surprised myself with how much I ended up loving this book, because it has so many of these hidden complexities and that mystical quality where no matter what you're doing, or where you are - you just can't help but be enraptured by this world Ernest Cline has created.

It was the dawn of a new era, one where most of the human race now spent all of their free time inside a video game. 

Who wouldn't want to live in a virtual reality where limitless possibilities extend across the horizon and the banalities of the real world merely fade into the distance? The answer presented in this book in the OASIS - a system developed by the enigmatic James Halliday. Wade is our protagonist, the ordinary underdog from humble beginnings who is obsessed with gaming and on a quest to complete the challenges his hero has left to society. 

Throughout the story, his journey is an exhilarating one which takes the most whimsical turns, in directions that defy logic and enchant the reader. Cline's masterful storytelling takes us on a journey through different dimensions and planets - all with that distinctive 80's charm which punctuates the whole novel. Wade is a character who holds a sense of justice, and wishes to maintain the integrity of the OASIS which had become his greatest escape from his otherwise meager existence. With the earth falling to pieces around him and the rest of humanity, this 'game' is seemingly the only good thing left; something to salvage and immerse himself in.  

Something which really stood out to me in this book aside from the thrill of the riddles throughout and dynamic settings was the deeper message here. There have been other books I've been totally mesmerized by because they take this idea of reality and a virtual one (eg. the Foreverland series), and this is no different. It too has a wow factor which is unmistakable. In a situation where the line between fact and fiction, morality and immorality are blurred, there is scope for so many complex antitheses to play out. This combination of adventure and deeper elements which make you think brought this book to a whole other level. 

In a competitive environment where so many others on the scoreboard are vying for the same prize, there is always that question of who to trust where Wade (or 'Parzival' as we come to know him) is concerned. Avatars aren't 'real' people, so nobody can be truly as they seem. Can one's personality really transcend a digital representation? This is the question which Wade must tackle, and in many ways we do as well in our own ordinary lives. As he proves, it's also a matter of becoming more comfortable in your own skin (a cliche, but one that rings true). 

From being a geeky, reclusive teen, to one who is (okay still in some ways both of those things), but with a renewed sense of confidence, it's fair to say that the character development was done well here. Basically - being a nerd pays off!

I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn't know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life. Right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realised, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it's also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real. 


In all, I'm so glad I took a chance on this book, and I'll definitely be off reading more in the scifi genre now - so hit me with your recommendations! Ready Player One is intelligently written, superbly executed and is about more than just gaming. Even if you're like me and not quite sure whether it's for you, believe me in saying it's worth a try. It'll take you into a reality all of its own...

Pre-Release Tour: Guest Post from Morgan Matson - 5 Unexpected Things about The Unexpected Everything

Friday, 22 April 2016

The Unexpected Everything
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Releasing: 1st May 2016
Published by: HarperCollins
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Andie has a plan and she always sticks to the plan. Future? A top tier medical school. Dad? Avoid as much as possible (which isn't that hard considering he's a Congressman and never around).

 Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby - pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else? Relationships? No one's worth more than three weeks. So it's no surprise she's got her summer all planned out too. Until a political scandal cancels her summer pre-med internship, and lands both her and Dad back in the same house for the first time in years.

Suddenly she's doing things that aren't Andie at all - working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark in closer than expected. Palmer, Bri and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but here's the thing ... can she?
Morgan Matson always knows how to write compelling YA contemporaries with a cute side, but also with real heart. I adored both Amy and Roger's Epic Detour and Since You've Been Gone - so to see that she had another book coming out soon, I was pretty excited!


So, to kick off this pre-release tour and give you some more reasons to also be adding it to your TBR, here's Morgan Matson with a few things that were unexpected in writing this book.

Guest Post by Morgan Matson: 5 Unexpected Things about The Unexpected Everything

1) It did not have a title for the longest time.  I had a really hard time titling Since You’ve Been Gone too, and I only came up with that one when I heard the Kelly Clarkson song playing and was like, Wait just a minute… But we went down to the wire with The Unexpected Everything.  Now, though, I can’t imagine it being  called anything else.

2) Bertie, the main dog in the book, is a Great Pyrenees.  He was originally a goldendoodle, but we found when we started looking at dog models (a real thing!) for the US cover, the goldendoodles didn’t photograph as well. We wanted  something…fluffier.  So Bertie became a big white fluffy dog instead.

3) It’s my longest book so far! It was just really important to me that the three sides of Andie’s life – friendship, family, and romance – all be equally balanced, with none more important than the other. I wanted them all to drive the story equally.  My editor and I kept looking at places where it could be cut, but while we trimmed a little, the way the subplots wove together made it resistant to cutting. So it’s long! But I’m so happy that nothing got shortchanged – because life isn’t just one main plot with a tidy subplot.  It’s usually everything, all at once.

4) From the beginning, I wanted to write a relationship book.  I’d been getting a lot of emails and tweets from readers who were mad my characters finally got together on the last page.  And so I wanted to show a real relationship between Andie and Clark through this book – the falling for each other and occasional fights, and bringing someone into your group of friends.  I’d never really done that before, and I was really happy to finally get to do it.

5) Andie’s friends – Bri, Toby, and Palmer – were so important to the story, for me.  I was part of a group of girls in high school (there were six of us) and I realized I hadn’t told that story in any of my books yet.  A lot of what happens with the friends is based on, or inspired by, my own friendships.  When I was in high school my friends and I spent tons of time at our local diner, talking for hours, just hanging out.  I wanted to try and capture that feeling in a book.

Other stops on the tour coming up!

Hope you all get to reading The Unexpected Everything - I know I will be! 

{Blog Tour} When We Collided by Emery Lord - Review & Author Interview

Thursday, 14 April 2016

When We Collided by Emery Lord
Released: 7th April 2016
Published by: Bloomsbury
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Pages: 352
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them. Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by.

Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi's zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there's something important Vivi hasn't told him.

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart and Jandy Nelson, When We Collided is a powerful story of two teens whose love is put to the test by forces beyond their control.
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Mental illness. Food. Art. Grief. Family. Love? These are some of the first things that may come to mind after finishing When We Collided. At its most basic, yes it does encapsulate all of these things - but beneath the surface it is so much more. It is a story about people coming to terms with the hardships around them, tand hose within themselves. It is the narrative of two antithetical personalities who find a spark. Even more so, it is a book which drives home the fact that we are not invincible, and everyone has their limits; because it is our fallibility which makes us human.

When I met Jonah Daniels yesterday, there was a magical shift in the trajectory of the summer. He's the ring to my Frodo, the wardrobe to my Lucy Prevensie. His presence in my life sets me on my journey, and I can feel it, a vital mission pulsing in my bones. Here is a boy who needs me.

But, despite the fact that we are imperfect and hold our own eccentricities and inner turmoils, there is still hope and happiness to be found. This, is where Jonah and Vivi come in - two of the most different yet so well developed characters I've found in YA. If you wanted to put Vivi in a box, you may say she holds some of the characteristics of a 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl'. Perhaps on the surface she appears to be, and yet her vivacious eccentricities and exuberant persona only just scratches the surface. What I loved about this was that the author doesn't sugarcoat mental illness in this book, and tackles it head-on, in such a way which challenges us readers in terms of what we may find 'likable' in the characters we come across. Admittedly, Vivi can seem self-absorbed, and doesn't always realise the effect her whirlwind behaviour has on others. But when it is properly revealed why she does and thinks certain things, it all makes sense - and suddenly, Vivi is someone to empathise with as opposed to just another female character there to 'fix' the guy she's aiming for.

Here is something I never expected to feel: love at first sight for an entire family. But life surprises you. Life tells you to close your eyes and blow out the candles, and sometimes life smashes your face into the cake before you can even make a wish. But! Sometimes, every once in a while, you get your wish in. You wish for a boy to spend the summer with, and instead life gives you his whole beautiful family. 

With character development getting a big tick from me, while the romance did progress quickly, the book was truly grounded by the family aspect. One of my favourite things to see in a contemporary is a family dynamic which goes beyond the dramas which the two protagonists are facing. Enter Jonah Daniels: A teenage boy who is wise beyond his years and has more responsibilities than most boys his age. With a family still grieving, a restaurant to help run and a life of his own to live, it certainly isn't easy. His character was so well contrasted with Vivi's, and when the two 'collided', the results essentially made for a rollercoaster ride of a story in which there were some shocks and tears, along with an unexpected yet fitting end. The rest of the Daniel's family held characters which were also quite well developed and not simply those 'cardboard' secondary characters which sometimes seem to be there just for the sake of it. Leah, the youngest, was especially adorable, and brought that childhood innocence to a book which deals with some heavier issues. 


I can already tell that When We Collided will be one of my favourite contemporaries of the year. Beautifully told, with a heartfelt message at its core and very real characters, this is a contemporary with wow-factor. 

Author Interview with Emery Lord

From the start of the novel I could see that Jonah and Vivi are quite different characters in terms of their personalities and outlook - which one came to you first when you started writing, and how did you come up with the idea of how their lives would collide?

This is a weird thing to say, but they came to me at the same time because they both have my core qualities. Part of me is as pragmatic and introspective as Jonah; another part of me is as playful and emotional as Vivi. So I gave them each these mindsets, then built them up as characters. It was really fun to explore two different sides of my personality in totally different context!

I love how this book is more than just a romance and includes a sense of family as well, especially for Jonah. How important for you as a writer was it to also portray the Daniels family as a whole?

It was really important to me because I think the death of a loved one is often both personal AND a shared family experience.  You experience not only your own grief, but theirs. But you also have commiseration and shared memories in a way that is so, so helpful.

Having written two other contemporary YA novels with The Start of Me and You and Open Road Summer, what is it about the genre which makes you want to write in it?

Well, I love spec fiction as a reader—magical realism, fantasy, dystopia, all of it. But I think I write contemporary YA because my definition of magic spans a slightly different spectrum. Maybe we don’t have powers like moving things with our minds…but we can move people to action. Maybe we aren’t actual empaths, absorbing people’s feelings, but we can show up for our friends and ride out painful experiences with them.  So, I think I like exploring that as people develop their “powers”—which is very often as teenagers.

Incorporating aspects of mental illness and depression in YA is becoming more prominent. What prompted you to explore these ideas and the challenges for teens facing them in your book?

My own experiences, and that of my friends and family. Mental illness is just so common in real lives; I find it surprising it’s not talked about more in books—especially without there being tragedy. Just for me, I wanted to write a book about how life can be hard sometimes and still really, really good and filled with love. It feels truest to my own life!

The writing has such a lyrical style in some placed which I adore - what's one of your favourite quotes which you think captures the essence of the story?

A member of my marketing team said, “We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could know” encapsulates what it feels like to be a teen, for her. I think it does for me too.

Finally, congratulations on writing such a brilliant and moving story which I'm sure will be embraced by so many readers. Can you give us any hints on what we can expect from you next?

Thank you! Next, I’m writing about belief and cancer and summer camp.


Emery Lord
Emery Lord is the author of Open Road Summer and The Start of Me and You. 

She lives in a pink row house in Cincinnati, with a husband, two rescue dogs, and a closet full of impractical shoes. 

Visit her online at www.emerylord.com and on Twitter at @emerylord.

Check out the other stops on the tour!

April 6: What Sarah Read
April 11Winged Reviews
April 12Tales of Yesterday
April 14: Genie in a Book

Review: The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

Monday, 11 April 2016

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Released: 8th September 2015
Published by: Candlewick Press
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher 
Pages: 400
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Today Miss Chandler gave me this beautiful book. I vow that I will never forget her kindness to me, and I will use this book as she told me to—that I will write in it with truth and refinement…

But who could be refined living at Steeple Farm? Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, just like the heroines in her beloved novels, yearns for real life and true love. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm in Pennsylvania where the work never ends?

Over the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks a new, better life for herself—because maybe, just maybe, a hired girl cleaning and cooking for six dollars a week can become what a farm girl could only dream of—a woman with a future. Inspired by her grandmother’s journal, Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz brings her sharp wit and keen eye to early twentieth-century America in a comedic tour de force destined to become a modern classic.

Joan’s journey from the muck of the chicken coop to the comforts of a society household in Baltimore (Electricity! Carpet sweepers! Sending out the laundry!) takes its reader on an exploration of feminism and housework, religion and literature, love and loyalty, cats, hats, bunions, and burns.
Thank you to Walker Books Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

My books promised me that life wasn't just made up of workaday tasks and prosaic things. The world is bigger and more colorful and more important than that. Maybe not here at Steeple Farm, but somewhere. It has to be.

The Hired Girl is a delightful piece of YA historical fiction; a story of one girl's quest for a better life outside the confines of her prior existence, and learning more about herself and others along the way. Told in an epistolary form, this book takes us right into the heart of our protagonist Joan's mind as she eventually finds a home with the Rosenbach's as their new maid. In this new setting she discovers what it's like to live with people from another cultural/religious background, as well as adjust to the new way of living this means for her without compromising her own identity. 

This is the type of historical fiction novel which does a really good job of mimicking the style of other works from the time, in that it reads like a classic. Joan (or 'Janet' as she comes to call herself) is a teenage girl who longs for an education which a hard life on a struggling farm with her father and brothers could not provide. Even if you don't typically read books in this style, the first person diary entries were endearing, and I'm sure we can all appreciate her love for books and reading which we share too!

In her new workplace with the Rosenbach's, a Jewish family, 'Janet' must prove herself with hard work and following rules surrounding kosher and such. It's not often that you see YA books which really provide insight into Judaism and what it means on a daily basis. This made for an interesting read, since I learned a few things about it myself, and it's clear that the author had done research to be as accurate as possible. Getting to know the family, from David the handsome son to Malka the original maid, led to a few interesting twists in between. Though for the most part this is very much a character driven novel and Joan's prose was at times longwinded, the characters all developed well and Janet finally realised what she really wanted out of her life. 

Another interesting note to make is of the pieces of artwork acting as designs to mark each 'part' of the book. These were wonderful in adding to that historic feel and set the scene well. At the back of the book is a list of their details so if you want to see them in colour you can check that out too. 


Overall, I really enjoyed The Hired Girl. On an unrelated point, It seemed somewhat appropriate that after I finished it I went to go and see Fiddler on the Roof! This is a story about religion and culture, accepting the kindness of others, and making the most of life's opportunities. 

Review: The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub

Monday, 4 April 2016

The Yearbook Committe by Sarah Ayoub
Released: 1st March 2016
Published by: HarperCollins
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Pages: 304
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.

The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?

The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends …

The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.

The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?

The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.

Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?
Thank you to HarperCollins Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Since reading Sarah Ayoub's debut novel Hate is Such a Strong Word, I've been impressed by her ability to write stories for a teen audience which are both candid and astutely written. In The Yearbook Committe we meet a cast of characters who all have their own unique backgrounds, personality traits and challenges. It is this diversity which gives rise to some well observed insights into how people cope in situations which they didn't necessarily plan for, and that (even though it sounds cheesy), self-discovery is the result. I adored this book as a real page-turner; essential reading for any YA fan.

Everything seemed uncertain, different, damaged. Just like the promise of our youth, now irreversibly changed due to a night whose sinister warning had been brewing steadily beneath the surface of our teenage dreams. 

This book isn't 'just another contemporary novel' among all the rest standing on the shelves. What makes The Yearbook Committee different is the subtle yet powerful balance between the 'everyday' dramas of life in high school, to the deeper issues facing adolescents; sometimes with dire consequences. This isn't a book that outright preaches a certain message though - it's intelligent enough to let each individual reader take what best resonates with them from it. 

Gillian 'I wonder what it feels like to be so secure, to have everything you ever wanted. To wake up feeling like life is perfect. I was starved of those feelings, and on some level I guess my mum's ideas about what makes life amazing was part of the problem. I go to sleep thinking about the future. Would I ever stop feeling like I just don't measure up?

Multiple POV's can be hit-and-miss depending on how well each character is differentiated, and if each is represented equally. In The Yearbook Committee each perspective, be it from Charlie the subversive strong-willed activist, to Gillian who is struggling with her own insecurities and finding her voice, Matty who has more responsibilities than most teenagers his age, Tammi who is defined by being only 'cool by association', or Ryan whose aspirations are in question. These may at first glance appear to be stereotypical archetypes. Yet, don't we all in some way know a 'Charlie' or a 'Ryan' out there? Perhaps we even embody some of their characteristics within ourselves. Each of these characters is unique, and still they are united by this common task - producing the yearbook. The convergence of these personas is aptly portrayed, making the novel an interesting read, as well as a touching one when further links between them are revealed. 

The yearbook committee had started out as a random bunch of people who walked the same halls, sat the same exams, shared the ordinary school experiences that became extraordinary as we learnt to look beyond one another's facade, Facebook profile picture, group of friends.

The layout of the book itself also adds interest and makes it all the more relevant to the teens of today. Alongside scribbled minutes of the meeting are social media profile updates, emails and conversations. I always love it when a book has these multimodal elements, and The Yearbook Committee is no exception. It reinforces that central concept, while the characters' lives are allowed to spiral out from it. The structure allows for some twists along the way, which you wouldn't necessarily see coming.


The Yearbook Committee is a truly multifaceted read, which evoked so many emotions in me. It has both a lighthearted, witty side as well as a serious one - switching between the two effortlessly. This is an outstanding piece of Aussie YA which I'd recommend to everyone.

Genie's Weekly News (48)

Sunday, 3 April 2016

So in seeing this post, you may well be thinking:

Well, it definitely hasn't been a week since my last wrap-up like this, but it's good to be back! While settling into a new routine with uni starting and life being busy in general, I know that this blog has taken a back seat a little. However, I have missed posting here, and want to be more active on the blogosphere in general again. I'll be doing my best :)

*Reading Right Now*


It's they type of psychological thriller where at the moment I can see that there's something definitely brewing in terms of the suspense, but it hasn't it the 'creepy' stage yet. That being said, I'm pretty hooked and want to see what happens next.

*Recommendation of the Week*


I loved Gone Girl, and since I've heard good things about this one I thought I'd give it a try. Although perturbing and unflinching insight into a macabre situation, it is still compulsively readable and definitely worth checking out if you're a thriller fan.

*From The Interwebs*

There's a new book bloogger joining our Aussie community! Holly's a fellow bookseller and bookworm , and I can't wait to read more of her posts here.

Thanks so much to HarperCollins Australia for these review copies!
This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang - This is one of my most anticipated contemporary releases of the year, and since Falling Into Place was so emotional and beautifully written, I hope this one lives up!

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry - Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres and apparently Julie Berry's first novel All The Truth That's In Me was a big hit, so I'm excited for this one.

*AusYA Bloggers and Readers Group Announcement*

I'm sure a few of you have seen it already, but for those who haven't, there's been a rebranding and redesign of our Facebook group, and we now have a twitter account @AusYABloggers 

How has your week been?