Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn - Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamed

Title: Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn
Author: Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamed
Genre: Fantasy
Publication: September 1st, 2014
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Disclaimer: I received this as an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Baba Ali is an apprentice to Charles Babbage in England, famous for his modern inventions. One day Ali receives a clockwork box, which marks he journey back to his homeland. What he doesn't know is that it will be fraught with danger and grief. Yet Ali will gain knowledge, strength and love as well.

This is the tale of Baba Ali and his quest to save a legacy, and possibly his life.
Review:

Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn is the type of novel I didn't think I'd ever read, but the premise sounded interesting and different so I figured why not. Little did I know, it's actually a retelling of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, only I didn't realise until halfway through the story.

In fact, I wasn't fully engaged with what was happening until the last half kicked in. That's when I felt like the story really made sense and the characters had some sort of purpose. It wasn't that the plot was slow, more so that the first half was only a build up - necessary but not overly interesting. It did take me awhile to get past all that. Still, the second half really made up for my lack of interest, with the action and fantasy elements becoming a larger focus. At first I was really confused with all the inventions and technologically advanced objects, which I didn't expect to see in this setting, but once the magical factors also made an appearance everything smoothed out.

I really liked the mapping of the settings, especially the cave where Ali finds in the desert - much like the original story - and his own homeland. It carried a really mystical and mysterious tone, perfect for where the plot was heading. The characters were decent, although only Ali stuck with me, whilst the villains were pretty typical and one-sided. Yet, I could actually imagine them as characters in a Disney/animated movie and this entire story could be made into one, if it wasn't so violent and had less mature content.

It was an interesting read, with great writing but ultimately, I couldn't really get into it as much as I would have liked to. I think my reading experience really influenced this, because  I was reading this as an e-book, so it felt like the story was going on forever. In print format it's actually on around 200 pages long, but I just kept feeling like I wanted it to end. I enjoyed it more in the last half and I appreciated it for the meaning and lessons it left. I think I am part of the minority with this view though as Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn has an average of 4.45 stars on Goodreads, so definitely check it out because I might be for you!





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Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sunday Spotlight



Sunday Spotlight is a weekly feature hosted by PrintedWordsAnd, highlighting the best book read during the week.

This week's spotlight is reserved for The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski.



The Winner's Curse was released at the start of this year, and has garnered an immense amount of popularity and hype. It centres around Kestrel, the general's daughter of an empire won over by war and violence, and her instinctive decision to buy a young slave at an auction. Kestrel finds a spark in the slave, Arin, that surprises and intrigues her. Yet, Arin hides a secret, one that could cost Kestrel more than what she bargained for.

I was absolutely addicted to this, right from the get go. Marie Rutkoski has a way with writing, impactful and descriptive. The world building was great, very believable and vibrant. Likewise, the characters had depth and were likeable. Kestrel is intelligent and independent, and I admire her skills in warfare - that was definitely an interesting an aspect to a YA heroine. Arin I sympathised with, but I'm not sure I agreed with his ways at the end. Still, I'm interested to see how far his emotions will take him and what role he plays in the sequel. This, coupled with the strong plot - logically drawn out and paced well - meant that The Winner's Curse was an amazing and enjoyable read. It was also a plus that the relationship development was actually done right, so at least I could see how and why they were drawn to each other.

The ending was definitely bittersweet and I cannot wait to read the next book.

What was your favourite read?


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Friday, 15 August 2014

Talking Personal + Bout Of Books 11.0

Hi guys! If you didn't know, I'm Tracey, and I run this blog. Every month I'll be "Talking Personal" with you guys on what's been happening in my life, exciting announcements, events I'll be participating in and just random stuff I'd like to share!

Daily Life:

  • I've started university again! Three weeks into my second semester and I'm already behind (no surprises there). I'm actually really enjoying uni at the moment, and loving what I'm doing. My study tip: do subjects you like so you don't feel bored out of your brains while in class. 
  • I found a new Korean restaurant, Arisoo, with amazing customer service and really great food. It's small but easy to find, and the environment is pleasant. I think my family went a little nuts and ordered way too much food, but it was well worth it. I only snapped a few pics since I was too busy eating. 

         
                                   
Location: 285A Victoria St, Abbotsford, VIC 3067
Price Range: ~$15 - $20

  • Part of my preparation for the start of warm weather includes tweaking my computer a bit. I love this desktop because, hello, ice cream. I actually got it from DesignLoveFest where you can find many more designs that are really adorable. 



Announcements:



  • Giveaway Winner:
Last month I hosted my first giveaway to celebrate PrintedWordsAnd reaching two years. The giveaway was actually a lot more successful than what I expected. It ended this Monday and now I am going to announce the winner. *Drumroll*



Congratulations Kayleigh, I should've e-mailed you already so hopefully your prize comes soon! 

  • Book Sale
Alicia Kobishop's novel The Fine Line will be on sale on the 30th August - her birthday. The novel is available on Kindle at Amazon for 99c. That's actually, really cheap. 


Events:

  • BOUT OF BOOKS 11.0
Bout of Books 11.0 is a week long read-a-thon starting on the 18th August and runs until the 25th. (Sign up sheet here). Keep an eye out for updates, but in the meantime check out what I'm reading for the week. Let me know if you're participating as well!




So that's a wrap up for the past 2 weeks of August.


What have you been up to?

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Thursday, 14 August 2014

One Kick (Kick Lannigan #1) - Chelsea Cain

Disclaimer: I requested a copy of this novel to review from Simon & Schuster.

Plot:
Kick Lannigan was abducted as a child before being miraculously found and returned home. Ten years later and Kick has immersed herself in every self-defence and weaponry practice, vowing to be stronger than ever.

She's lived just fine on her own, but when Bishop - a mysterious man - comes to find her about the missing children's case, Kick is pulled back into a world she's tried hard to protect herself from.


Review:
One Kick is an easy read due to the fast pacing and intense plot development. Immediately, the prologue creates an impact, drawing me into a world that I did not expect to encounter in this story. I know Kick get's abducted, but there's more to it and it was definitely an eye-opener. The story has moments of flashback to introduce important parts, but they were done short and succinct so it left an impression. This also meant I wasn't jolted out of the present time whilst reading. It was a solid plot, straight forward and memorable. 

Chelsea Cain's writing was definitely a surprise, thrilling but also horrifying. There's quite a bit of gory moments, which I could stomach but still madee me cringe a bit. At first it was a little hard for me to get into the story, but then the novel started flowing and I quickly got hooked. It's pushed as a thriller, but does become quite emotional at some points. Cain does a great job in greying out the area between good and bad, especially in people, which I liked. 

I grew to like Kick, stubborn and hot-headed, but deeply scarred so you can't help but hold some sympathy towards her - even if she never asks for it. I admire her strength but can also relate to the vulnerability that is hidden underneath the front that she puts up. Her interactions with Bishop were amusing but also interesting. I'm not sure what direction they'll end up in, but it's definitely a relationship where they're both wary of each other yet, can still be open enough to develop a bond. As for Bishop, I'm intrigued about his role, but as a character he's still little too mysterious to really determine a conclusive judgement.

One Kick is the first in a series, but I found that it made for a good introduction to the characters and the setting. I'm not sure what the next book will touch upon, although it is hinted at the end. I do have a few questions but I'm hoping they'll be answered later on. The novel didn't end without some hiccups - I am confused at some parts as well - but they're not overly noticeable to detract from the entire story.

One thing I know for sure, One Kick has definitely pulled my interest into Cain's other works and the continuation of this series.

One Kick will be released on the 19th of August, 2014.




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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fairyland #2) - Catherynne M. Valente


Note: This is the second book in a series, and whilst I will try to keep it spoiler free,  I can't promise that some points raise will reveal minor events of the first novel. Yeah I kept it spoiler free guys, woo!

Plot:

September's returned to her normal life, after the thrilling adventure in Fairyland a year ago. Yet, she is restless, eager to return to Fairyland and reunite with her friends. When she accidentally falls back into Fairyland she discovers that it is almost in ruins and it's partly her fault. September finds a new purpose and so her adventures begins again, although not exactly as how she imagined it.

Review:

The time between reading the first and second book in this series was actually quite long, but I was immediately sucked into the world of Fairyland and the adventure that occurred. This is credit to Valente's writing, which I have loved right from the beginning. It's the perfect tone for a modern day fairytale, whimsical and magical.

September is such a brilliant character, and in this second book she exemplifies the process of a child growing up and understanding the works of the world. It's unusual that she doesn't learn the worldlier things in real life, but in a fantasy world, which functions differently to her life in the US, yet can still deliver the same lessons. I've always admired her courage and perseverance, but in this Valente has her learn the value of loyalty and friendship, and that not everything is good and bad - there's always a grey area.

My favourite "character" in this novel though, was the narrator, because of how poetically he delivered the story. There was a lot of emphasis on growing up and discovering emotions, which children usually ignore, and I could not help but feel a sense of nostalgia as I remembered the more carefree days of my childhood. I know, how sappy. September does meet new friends and acquaintances along the way, some who actually carry a much heavier role than needed for Middle Grade. It's subtle but I found it thought-provoking. Others were okay, not as memorable, but they helped make the world a lot more believable.

Fairyland is an amazing place, although you do get a lot more of it in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. It's a place, much like Hogwarts and Neverland, where I wish I could visit and experience myself. It feels so real and every moment September spent there I stuck close to her because I could not get enough.

I'm not sure why I was so surprised at the ending, because the revelation in the first one was as big as this one. The finale had such a bittersweet feeling, yet again, but it gathered all the loose ends and the messages and tied it all up with the emphasis on family and love.

I actually loved The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There more than the first book, only because I had already developed an attachment to Fairyland so revisiting it was the best adventure to look forward to. The plot had a stronger direction and it moulded into the context that the story is set in - World War I I'm pretty sure. I am constantly impressed by Valente's works and this no exception.





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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Hosted By: The Broke and The Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish, where we list our top ten according to a topic of the week. I'm actually not participating in this weekly, only because I know that for some of the topics I really can't come up with a list of ten. For future topics though, check them out here.

Top Ten Books I'm Not Sure I Want To Read

So this week I get to tell you guys which books I'm hesitant to read because of the hype or mixed messages I've heard, or ones that I've bought but don't really think I want to read anymore.


  1. Bloodlines Series by Richelle Mead - there is one reason why I have not read this, and still am not ready to read it. I haven't forgiven Richelle for doing what she did to Adrian and I still hate the ending of the Vampire Academy series. 
  2. Divergent Series by Veronica Roth - yet another well-loved series that I've avoid, originally because of the hype but now because someone spoiled the entire series for me. It was such a major part of the last novel that now I'm just angry and think it's not worth reading the series anymore. 
  3. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver - it's supposed to be a great psychological thriller, but I've read comments on it being too explicit and disturbing to really read. My friend watched the movie though and her reaction has made me intrigued to actually stomach it. 
  4. Legend Series by Marie Lu - I know, what a surprise. This series is one of THE most hyped up and loved books on the blogosphere/booktube but every single time I pick it up to read the blurb, something just makes me put it down. It's suppose to be dystopian and all but I just can't help feel that it's a predictable romance. Don't kill me please. 
  5. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov - I bought this curious to see how a touch subject became such a classic piece of writing, and quickly got disturbed. Not sure if I want to reach for it again. 


  6. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black - I always find myself adding this to my cart and only to remove it at the checkout. I've heard its good, but I've also seen some average ratings for it so I'm in two minds. 
  7. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz - it's good, I know it's good but is it really for me? That's the question I ask myself whenever I look at this book - is it the most suitable book for me?
  8. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner - I loveeee the cover but I'm hesitant on the story line. A Romeo & Juliet plot set in the future just seems weird to me, especially since I'm not a fan of Romeo & Juliet the original. Hmmmm. 
  9. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent - this is an acclaimed Australian novel, and usually I jump at the chance to support any fellow Aussie but I. just. don't. know. about this one. 
  10. If I Stay by Gayle Forman - this is pretty low on my list because on the one hand, I want to read it so I can watch the movie, but on the other I think it'll be fine if I watch the movie and not read it all. It's just one of those things where the movie might make up my mind for me. 

Even after writing this post I'm still very unsure about all ten of these, help! If you think I should read any of them leave a comment down below telling me why - I would really appreciate it! 


What's Your Top Ten?



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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Sunday Spotlight


Sunday Spotlight is a new weekly feature hosted on PrintedWordsAnd highlighting the best book read during the week! 

This week I took part in the #AYearAThon Read-a-Thon with the month's topic being Middle Grade.  Claire Legrand's The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls wins a place in the spotlight this week, and here's why! 



The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls follows Vivian Wright into the local children's home kept by Mrs Cavendish. Vivian's never taken notice of the home before, not until her friend Lawrence Prewitt goes missing. 

I did not expect this to be as creepy and compelling as it was. It's definitely middle grade, but with a spark of grotesque horror that was both thrilling and fascinating. I loved it for it's creativity. Legrand definitely stretches reality to deliver this story and her writing doesn't let her down. It's descriptive and straight to the point - which I find is a big positive in any middle grade novel. The plot builds steadily, a little dry right at the beginning, but picks up pretty early on. I'm not sure I loved the characters because I couldn't create a strong attachment, but Vivian seemed like a really believable character and I admire her courage and brains. I also liked that she powered through challenges and grew into a better person by the end of the story. I can definitely see younger readers coming out of this with a fascinating adventure and a minor lesson that they can mirror. My version of the book had small images of roaches pop up here and there on the the pages, which really freaked me out because I have a serious fear of them, so that added to the shock factor as well. 

Definitely a recommend, especially for younger readers - my brother really liked it when he read it as well. 

What was your favourite read for this week?



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