2 Sep 2015

Review: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

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The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
July 1st, 2015 · Bloomsbury Australia
Source: Publisher - thank you!
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 256
Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
The Devil You Know was one of my most anticipated releases of 2015, with Trish Doller being one of my favourite authors. Unfortunately, I didn’t love it like I hoped I would, but I did still quite enjoy it.

Things that I liked:

- The Devil You Know was addictive! I read it within a few hours and two sittings for a few reasons. 1) I obviously wanted to know how it would end and 2) I didn’t want to be reading it at night, knowing it would be tense and thrilling, which it definitely was. I don’t know about you, but I get a bit crazy reading thrillers. The suspense, I just can’t deal!
- The writing was great, as per usual with Trish Doller.
- There’s a pie run, which is so American and I LOVED it! I've never tried banana cream, but have always wanted to since I watched Bewitched. I wish pie was bigger here in Australia...
- I loved the feminist undertones.

Things I didn’t:
- I didn't connect with Cadie. She's a reckless character and will probably test your patience...
- The first half was slow moving for me, considering it was a thriller. It eventually did pick up though and provided a solid ending.
- I normally swoon over the romantic interest when it comes to this author, but the romance wasn't a winner for me. I was constantly thinking about which guy was the villain (yep, I did not crack the case. Hmm, surely all those crime/detective shows I’ve watched should have turned me into Miss. Holmes by now, right? Obviously not) and because of that, I was never sold.

A quick thriller that kept me on my toes. Not my favourite by the author, but still an enjoyable read overall. Nonetheless, and as always, I can’t wait for Trish Doller’s next release. Hopefully it'll be more my thing.

Have you read this and if you have, what did you think of it? Are you a fan of Trish Doller? Do you like pie? What's your favourite flavour? And if you've ever tried banana cream, TELL ME ALL ABOUT IT. Let me live vicariously through you!

26 Aug 2015

Review: Risk by Fleur Ferris

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Risk by Fleur Ferris
July 1st, 2015 · Random House Australia
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 288
Taylor and Sierra have been best friends for their whole lives. But Taylor’s fed up. Why does Sierra always get what – and who – she wants? From kissing Taylor’s crush to stealing the guy they both met online for herself, Sierra doesn’t seem to notice when she hurts her friends.

So when Sierra says Jacob Jones is the one and asks her friends to cover for her while she goes to meet him for the first time, Taylor rolls her eyes.

But Sierra doesn’t come back when she said she would.
One day. Two days. Three . . .

What if Taylor’s worrying for nothing? What if Sierra’s just being Sierra, forgetting about everyone else to spend time with her new guy?

When Taylor finally tells Sierra’s mum that her daughter is missing, Taylor and her friends are thrown into a dark world they never even knew existed.

Can Taylor find Sierra’s abductor in time? Or should she be looking for a killer? 
Risk was a book I was really looking forward to this year, especially because I've never read a book like it before. It sounded like a great story (it was) and one that would hook me from the start (it certainly did).

Firstly, let’s chat characters. Sometimes Taylor’s voice felt too young for a 15 year old, but I think something to take into account is that no two teens are the same and also, teenagers will be teenagers. Maybe it was also the fact that a) I don’t normally read characters this young and tend to be drawn to upper YA and b) that it was so frustrating to watch, especially in the beginning because I knew where it was headed and there was nothing to do, except watch it play out. As much as I was tempted to hit pause a few times, I couldn’t not turn the pages and ended up reading this in a day.

The only fault I had with Risk was that I felt the author’s voice come through at times towards the end, so it felt a tad “teach and preach”. But I can let it slide. Because not only did I enjoy this a lot, but I like to think this book could have the power to save someone’s life and teach them about the dangers of the internet, and that is way more important.

Debut author, Fleur Ferris, addresses internet safety and online predators, both subject matters that need to be talked about, especially with young adults who have the potential to be at risk. Engaging, relevant, hard to put down, this book is a chilling nightmare come to life and one that is all too real. Risk is a book that should be required reading for all teenagers.

Have you read Risk or do you plan to? Have you read a book with similar subject matter before - what did you think of it? Is this something that needs to be discussed more in YA?

Don't forget to join #bookclubaus on Twitter this Friday @ 7:30 (AEST) to discuss the book and for a Q&A with the author!

25 Aug 2015

Top Ten: If I Were Teacher for the Day...

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Top Ten Tuesday is held by The Broke and the Bookish and involves lists and books, two of my favourites.

I love todays topic so much and had such fun putting together a list of books that would be on the syllabus if I taught High School English. Not enough teens enjoy reading and I remember the majority (I’m guessing 95% or more) of classmates read the cliff notes of books we were assigned because they found the book boring and dull. Well, that would not be a problem in my classroom! I would be that awesome teacher who taught books that students could relate to in voice and character. Who would celebrate and welcome discussions and questions. Who would make a point of including diverse voices and character because everyone deserves to heard and seen. And in this moment, I kind of feel like making this all into a reality… On to my list!
1. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta *
This book is my favourite so of course I’d want to push it on my students. Brilliant book, that is all!

2. Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield *
*see answer to #1

3. The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell *
This book is incredible, moving and I could see such this inspiring a beautiful, open discussion in the classroom. It doesn’t shy from tough topics and I think teenagers would appreciate that. Also, I would hope it made students appreciate their lives, their health and how lucky they are.

4. Risk by Fluer Ferris
I would push this book into the hand of students as early as possible because I think this book could save lives. Hopefully it would scare the pants off them and be a wake up call to how dangerous the internet can be.

5. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Such an important, eye-opening book that I hope would create a safe, positive environment to talk and learn about intersex.

6. My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi
HIV and AIDS are not talked about nearly enough and that is why this book is so great.

7. Fault Line by Christa Desir
I think this is a very well done book that tackles rape; it’s messy and heartbreaking and unflinching. I think this would also lead to a wonderful discussion about rape culture.

8. Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
A fantastic book and * see reasons for #7

9. Every Day by David Levithan
Fantastic book that addresses gender identity, sexuality and so much more.

10. Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
With an incredible realistic male POV and an unflinching look at PTSD, I’d love for this book to be read in school.

*aplogies to my imaginary students for making them cry. Because boy, did these books make me bawl...

Do you agree with any of my choices? Let me know which books would YOU put on the class reading list and why. Oh, and what books did you have to read for school? Any that surprised you and ended up loving? Hopefully none put you off reading! Required reading has been known to do that...

19 Aug 2015

On the Old Days & Reminiscing About My Past TBR

The other day as I was sorting my shelves and going through books to donate to a Save the Children book sale, I began reminiscing about my once small, manageable TBR pile. This isn’t the first time I’ve had this thought and to be honest, I miss what my TBR used to be like. (And before I go any further, I’m talking of my physical shelf, not my long, perpetual Goodreads shelf. Because I love adding books on there, discovering new titles and finding out about hidden gems I’ve missed - that is not the problem. Not that there is a problem, more just a recent realisation of sorts.)

You might be wondering where I’m going with this, so let’s take a trip down memory lane. Before blogging, I was a very different reader and my TBR was a shell of what it now is. Not that I’m complaining! I used to have a small pile of books that either I’d acquire from the bookstore or library that I’d make my may through, one by one, and then I’d finish them, be without my next read, PANIC! (NO BOOKS! THE HORROR!) and then race back to the library or store and start the process all over again. Like supply and demand, I suppose?

So often I look at my shelf and have trouble deciding on what to read next. There are books I obviously want to read (and then some I don’t, those of which have now been donated. I mean, why was I keeping books I didn’t plan on reading for years, if ever? Be gone books! Go find a new, loving home! Anyway, I keep getting off track…) You see, the real trouble is, I’m such a mood reader that it can be a struggle to find my next book. Just a few weeks ago I was in a slump and there was nothing on my shelf that jumped out at me. Contemporary is my favourite genre so that’s what preoccupies most shelf space, but it’s not what I turn to when I slump; that would be mystery and thriller. So I went to the shop and bought three books - I read two and gave up on one. But the great thing about this is, these books aren’t sitting on shelf, collecting dust. They’re being read like they should be; fulfilling their life purpose and all ;)

I mean, I do love having a shelf full of books waiting to be read, never being without a book, but I do miss the simplicity of before.

Like…buying a book and actually reading it, rather than it adding to my already full shelf of books to be read. See, this is probably why I also don’t buy books often. I feel a sense of duty to the books I already own and feeling like I'm cheating when I buy more. And when I do, something like this follows:

"But all the books at home! You can’t disappoint them! They’ve been waiting for your return, patiently waiting to be picked up and shown the love they deserve. It just isn’t fair! Don’t break their hearts again, they won’t be able to take it, poor things!”, my inner conscience bellowed. (And yes, I read this with a British accent, didn’t you?)

Don’t you love that, too? Buying a book and reading it? Getting to it sooner rather than latter? I want more of that. I want to read a book soon after I buy it, not years later. I want to follow my mood, not my shelf. I want to not worry about being swallowed whole by my shelf and never being found again. Mostly, I want more enjoyment because after all, that’s what reading is all about - and I think this is the way to it.

So, what am I proposing? I’m going to try to get back to that small (or small-er, let’s be real) stack of books I can’t wait to devour and actually end up getting devoured, or uh, read. I’m sad of the books that sit unread and the books I somehow acquire that I don’t *need* or really want. I’m about to get a lot pickier with buying (I’m going on a book buying ban. Exceptions to be made if I plan to read that book within a week of buying it) and my shelves are going to get a lot smaller. Well, we’ll see - I’m not that fast a reader… I’ll keep you updated. That is, if you’re interested? I feel like this post may have put you to sleep? If you survived, you deserve a waffle for all my waffling. *throws waffle with maple syrup goodness and strawberries your way* *apologises for the sticky delivery*

So tell me - what do think of your TBR? Are you ever overwhelmed, do you wish you got to books sooner? Do you make a dent in your physical TBR or are you somehow acquiring more books that you can read? Are you afraid of drowning in a sea of books, too? Let’s chat. 

11 Aug 2015

Dive Into Diversity: Cover Chat


Just as all people deserve to read books and see themselves on the page, it’s also important for them to see themselves on covers. So today I'd like to chat covers - starting with authors who have taken matters (and covers) into their own hands, along with sharing favourites. Because who doesn't love a cover well done?

Authors who write diverse stories are also determined and passionate about their covers representing authentically. Take Dahlia Adler’s recent f/f Under the Lights, for example. If you’ve read the cover reveal post you’ll see how hard it was in trying to bring this cover to life. As Dahlia said: "So, two girls, who are clearly into each other, one of whom is Asian-American. Surely there’s an endless abundance of stock photos of that, right?” But thankfully with Maggie Hall’s (author and designer) help, as you can see, they got there in the end!

Another cover I want to mention is a recent cover reveal for More Than Fashion by Elizabeth Briggs. In case you didn’t notice from the cover, it’s NA ;) After unsuccessfully browsing stock sites trying to find an interracial couple, the author decided to take matters into her own hands and put on a custom photo shoot, which you can read about here.

While these were both successful covers, most authors don’t get much say in their covers, if any, and lot of it comes down to publishers and their choosing. The good thing I discovered after searching and putting a tweet out for others to have their say, was that I didn’t get much negative feedback (i.e.: whitewashing), apart from Nicole pointing out Immortal Rules original cover. But that’s not to say there hasn't been disappointment and white-washing in the past because I’m sure there has been.

All I can hope is that we’re becoming a more diverse, rich book community and covers will accommodate that. 2015 has been a pretty fantastic year of diversity and I hope this is just the beginning of many, many more wonderful diverse titles to come, along with that many, many more badass diverse covers!

As for my favourites? The Last Leaves Falling (US version) is my not only one of my favourite diverse covers, but one of my favourites in general. Oh, how I love it! It's stunning and eye-catching and it's so damn perfect for this book. And if I haven't read this yet, PLEASE DO. I haven't been able to review this yet, it's a bit too close and personal for me to put into words, but this book is so incredible and brilliant.

Dumplin is just downright fabulous. Her stance is bold and awesome and I have a feeling I'm going to love this book! Such a simple yet wonderful cover, don't you think?

I've been a fan of the Lies We Tell Ourselves since I first laid eyes on it. I love how it's a yearbook.

So now it's your turn to chat - sound off in the comments and tell me which diverse covers you love! Also, what would you like to see more of on covers? What's missing? As always, link up your diverse reviews below. I look forward to seeing what you've been reading!