Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Favourite Books of the Decade

I'm not going to lie, I ended the decade terribly when it came to my blog. The posts really fizzled out and the reading became non-existent. In saying that, it is 2020 and that means that despite it being a new year, it's also an entirely NEW decade!

Instead of fixating on how slack I became towards the end of the decade, I wanted to celebrate how much I really did and am learning to love reading again, by sharing with you all my favourite books of the decade. In no particular order, these are the books that have stayed with me throughout the years. 

Favourite Books of the Decade



Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan 
Honestly, this is one of my favourite books to read in general - I would say top five! It was one of the first LGBTQIA novels I've read that not only explores ideas of sexuality but also identity, loyalty and friendship during high school life. I absolutely adore this story. 
Review here.

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
I didn't think I would love this as much as I did when I read it.  A super fun and creative read, and the hype around it is well earned. 
Review here.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
A middle grade novel that explores family bonds, loss and grief. A touching and memorable read.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor
This was my favourite YA fantasy series in the decade and I am definitely planning a re-read soon!
Review here.

I fell back in love with Middle Grade after reading this. Also Catherynne M. Valente has magical writing skills.



It probably is a really big claim to say this was my favourite book of the decade but in all honesty, I still cannot get over this story. Do not come @ me about this.
Review here.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I feel like this is really self-explanatory.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
If anyone asks me for a recommendation on what to read, this will be one of them, because of how beautiful the story is. It's one of the rare books I've read that focuses on a platonic friendship and how strong the bond is between two best friends. 
Review here.

Atonement by Ian McEwan
This might be one of those cliche favourite reads, but Ian McEwan writes in such a poetic manner and the story has stayed with me despite reading it just ONCE. 
Or maybe twice ...

Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Need a recommendation for thriller/crime novels? THIS. IS. IT. It is so creepy and enthralling at the same time.
Review here.



Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
This might not be the read for everyone, but the fact that I zoomed through a 900 and something page book and implore people to give it a go says something.
Review here.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
A classic that I think everyone should read, at least once, in their life. 
Review here.

Neil Gaiman is a creative genius and if you were to read any of his masterpieces, this short story is well-worth your time.
Review here.

The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett
I truly did not expect 1. for this plot to go in the direction it did and 2. to love it so much because I was shocked by it. A story of family and finding love that explodes into one about belief and creation. 
Review here.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
I really don't know what to say about this that gives it justice. Safran Foer delivers a powerful story set post 9/11.
Review here.

This is definitely a long list, but I couldn't narrow it down anymore than I already have. Hopefully, if you haven't gotten around to reading any of these, at least one will get added onto your 2020 reading list!

What was your favourite read for the decade?


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Sunday, 6 October 2019

Ride It Like A Girl Is The Movie You Didn't Think You Needed To See But Must Go Now!

Title: Ride it Like a Girl
Actors: Teresa Palmer, Sam Neil, Sullivan Stapleton, Magda Szubanski, Mick Molly
Release Date: 18th September, 2019


Review


I had never planned to watch this film, nor even heard about it, until the day I went to see it and I am actually really glad I did see it. 

Ride Like A Girl has left an impression on me for two reasons. 

One, it showcases what I would think is one of the most controversial sports/sporting events in Melbourne - the Melbourne Cup. For readers who don’t know, the Melbourne Cup is a well celebrated horse racing event, so much that there’s a public holiday for the day. It’s “the race that stops the nation” as the saying goes. What makes it so controversial is the recent surge of protests from animal rights advocates that are fighting to stop the Melbourne Cup from happening due to a number of falls that have resulted in putting down some horses. Yet, here we have a movie that conveys the excitement of horse racing, the passion jockeys and punters alike have and how glamorous the Melbourne Cup is. It really puzzled me when I left the cinema, as I couldn’t tell how well Ride it Like a Girl would be received.

Two, it takes this controversial event to highlight sexism within the sporting industry and how a female jockey came to win the Melbourne Cup for the first time ever. I absolutely love the story of Michelle Payne and how she leaped over every obstacle she faced to achieve her dreams. Ride Like a Girl portrays the struggles Michelle faces, both at a personal and professional level, and how her determination and perseverance not only meant she was able to win but more importantly that she was recognised as an elite athlete amongst a male-dominant sport. It was plainly obvious how the horse racing industry looked down on women, despite letting them compete. No one would give her a chance, but once she worked hard to get there, she proved everyone wrong. 

The second point was personally why I have eventually decided that I really loved Ride It Like A Girl. Honestly, I had no clue that Michelle Payne was the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup or that she even existed - I guess because I’m not very interested in horse racing to begin with. Yet, I find her story inspiring. So much that I would urge young girls to watch the film. Michelle’s life story is retold in a concise manner, with great Australian actors but my favourite thing about the cast is that they included Michelle Payne’s real brother, Stevie Payne in the film to play himself. I love, love, love Stevie, and how his role not only tugs at your heart but speaks lengths regarding any person who has Down syndrome and what they can achieve if they are given the right opportunity. Furthermore, the film uses real life footage in some parts, which I appreciated because it really made me believe that Ride it Like a Girl is based on a true story. 

Be ready to laugh, cry and feel proud of a piece of Australian history that has unfolded in such a beautiful film. 

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Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Put Down Everything Else, You Need To Read "After The Flood"


Title: After the Flood
Author: Kassandra Montag
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2019

A little more than a century from now, our world has been utterly transformed. After years of slowly overtaking the continent, rising floodwaters have obliterated America’s great coastal cities and then its heartland, leaving nothing but an archipelago of mountaintop colonies surrounded by a deep expanse of open water.

Stubbornly independent Myra and her precocious seven-year-old daughter, Pearl, fish from their small boat, the Bird, visiting dry land only to trade for supplies and information in the few remaining outposts of civilization. For seven years, Myra has grieved the loss of her oldest daughter, Row, who was stolen by her father after a monstrous deluge overtook their home in Nebraska. Then, in a violent confrontation with a stranger, Myra suddenly discovers that Row was last seen in a far-off encampment near the Artic Circle. Throwing aside her usual caution, Myra and Pearl embark on a perilous voyage into the icy northern seas, hoping against hope that Row will still be there.

On their journey, Myra and Pearl join forces with a larger ship and Myra finds herself bonding with her fellow seekers who hope to build a safe haven together in this dangerous new world. But secrets, lust, and betrayals threaten their dream, and after their fortunes take a shocking—and bloody—turn, Myra can no longer ignore the question of whether saving Row is worth endangering Pearl and her fellow travelers.

Review

I really wanted to write this review as soon as I finished reading it, but I kept typing than deleting because I couldn’t find the right words to eloquently explain how incredible After the Flood is. I came to the conclusion that I would just keep it simple. Here are three things I loved about Kassandra Montag’s debut novel:

I loved that After the Flood was a heavy read. The entire time I was reading this, I felt I was sharing a sense of burden not only with the protagonist but every other character on page. The emotions that were bouncing between the characters were so intense, I was forced to feel and process them as well. However, despite being so emotionally invested, not once did I feel mentally exhausted and had to put the book down. It was a one day read, because I just wanted to continue on the journey with the characters. 

I loved that the Montag made me think. Not only does she make the setting in a world that could possibly happen to us, with the effects of climate change ever increasing, she also makes her characters and the situations so realistic that I had to question myself on everything that was happening. What would I do if the world began to flood? How would I survive? How far would I go to survive? And do I think about myself only or those around me as well? Themes of loyalty, humanity, sacrifice, guilt, family ties and love are explored in After the Flood, amongst others, and it really made me think hard on it all. 

I loved that the characters were so flawed. Each and everyone of them carried a secret, a burden, a trait that, peeled away, revealed so much history. It’s hard not to empathise/sympathise with them but also at times dislike them. The choices the characters made stemmed from their previous lives, what they’ve encountered and the losses they’ve endured. The best part was that it wasn’t just the main character that had depth. It really was every character that was introduced and played a large part in the novel. Such a realistic portrayal of people. No one is perfect and everyone carries scars, and Montag creates such a great representation of that through her characters. 

I wholeheartedly give Kassandra Montag’s debut novel a full five stars because it was that amazing.  It’s not my first five star rating for the year, but definitely the first read, in awhile, that had me engrossed from the very first page. I’m struck by how much I still think about it want to discuss it with others who have read it. Please do yourself a favour and pick this up.


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Sunday, 18 August 2019

Reviewing Debut Novel "Relic" by Bronwyn Eley

Title: Relic
Series: The Relic Trilogy
Author: Bronwyn Eley
Publication Date: September 12th, 2019
Add to Goodreads
In the city of Edriast, there is no deadlier duty than to serve as the Shadow.

As the personal servant of the powerful Lord Rennard, the Shadow's life is all but forfeit. Rennard possesses one of five rare and dangerous Relics – a jewel that protects his bloodline, but slowly poisons everyone else in its proximity. When the current Shadow succumbs to its magic, nineteen-year-old blacksmith Kaylan is summoned to take his place. It's an appointment that will kill her.

As the time Kaylan has left ebbs away, hope begins to fade...

That is, until she discovers a plot to destroy all five bloodlines in possession of the Relics. As her life hangs in the balance and rebellion bears down on Edriast, Kaylan must decide where her loyalties lie – and how she'll leave her mark on the world.

Review


I received an e-ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Eley's strength lies in her ability to evoke sensations and emotions. She describes the experience of being near the relic and the effects it has on Kaylan in such a vivid manner that I was physically recoiling in some moments. The use of language works, making it easy for me to position myself within the scenes and feel as though I was there with Kaylan as well. She was also able to set up the plot and world quite well by the end of the novel. However, I would say that it took me awhile to fully understand how the world worked and why the relic was so important. Furthermore, majority of this first book was dedicated to just setting up for the climax of this series. It's not a bad thing per se, but I was hoping to see some action or scenes that didn't just involve talking. If anything, Eley's managed to build a solid foundation in which I'm hoping will launch us into an action-packed second book that is a lot more gripping and intense.

I struggled to fully love Kaylan as the protagonist, but can acknowledge that there must be more to her than what has been revealed in Relic. I did come to love Markus, but felt like he was written for readers to be attracted to - as really the only male that is of any interest. At first, I couldn't grasp whether Lord Rennard was suppose to be a villain or a flawed character to empathise with and learn to understand. Even now I'm conflicted as to how to feel about him, only because the characters that are around him and seemingly know him aren't also sure how they feel about him either. I'd like to think that there will be more characters revealed in the second instalment that could perhaps be written with more conviction.

The plot line is intriguing and different to many of the other YA fantasy novels out there, in that the protagonist does not support some form of cause (at least not yet) and the desire for power isn't necessarily driven by an individual or group. It really questions human nature and why people fight for what they believe in, which I liked. I'm interested to see where Eley takes this trilogy when it comes to world expansion, character growth and overall plot development. If you're up for exploring a debut Australian author in a world that's questioning its own authority and bound for change - good or bad - definitely give Relic a try!


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Wednesday, 24 July 2019

IT'S BEEN 7 YEARS OF BLOGGING Y'ALL! LET'S CELEBRATE TOGETHER.


PrintedWords& has turned 7 years old. It’s incredible to think that 7 years has passed since I started this blog in 2012, as a hobby to procrastinate from studying for VCE (Year 12 exams) but also to reach out and discover a community to share my love for reading. It’s definitely been a bumpy ride. I had a smooth run for the first 3 years before hitting roadblocks, including reading slumps, lack of organisation and falling off the writing process altogether. The last time I celebrated an anniversary for the blog was in 2016 - PrintedWords& 4th birthday. I missed the 5th and 6th anniversary due to my lack of commitment. In fact, I barely posted anything! It’s definitely been a disappointment for me - as a personal project I was so proud of but have been unable to be consistent with it. I can blame life, sure, I live a life that is constantly go go go, but I see other bloggers who are able to balance both their life and online presence so really it’s not a great excuse. 

To celebrate 7 years of being online, albeit not always present, I wanted to tweak the look of PrintedWords& a little (look I didn't do much honestly), and invite you guys back into this space as I begin to produce new and more consistent content. I think I’ve come to realise that part of the reason why I was never motivated enough to continue blogging was because I felt so pressured releasing blog posts that I hoped would gain thousands of views or read books to review based on its popularity within the book community, not because I liked them. PrintedWords& return really is going to be based on what I like and am excited to share. I’ve always had people look at me weirdly when I tell them the blog name has the “&/and” at the end, but to me, it’s because I’ve always wanted to expand beyond just book reviews. I’ve written travel posts, film reviews, other discussion posts etc and know I will continue to do so. Most of what I write will be book related content, but if there’s something I think is worth highlighting 100% I will share it with you all. 

I had to think hard as to whether I wanted to continue this blogging journey. It would’ve been so easy to pull the plug and call an end to 7 years of writing, but it didn’t feel right. I am still very passionate about reading, writing and being able to discuss it all. So without further ado, this is PrintedWords& new look and I hope you all love it as much as I do. 

Anniversary Giveaway


Of course it wouldn’t be a blog anniversary without some type of giveaway to celebrate! I'll be giving away the thing I love most - books (surprise, suprise)! I want to share with you guys some of my favourite reads in the last few years, that I think deserve more love. The giveaway is international, I'll be relying on Book Depository to ship out to you!

YA Giveaway


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I absolutely loved how whimsical and poetic this was, but also how heartbreaking and haunting the entire read became. It really made me sad, so much that I couldn't forget it. 
Read my full review here.

Middle Grade Giveaway


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Middle grade is a genre I could never, ever be bored of and A Face Like Glass kept me entertained and engrossed from the get go. A very unique and intriguing concept with great writing. 
Look, I'll link my full review even though it's a 7 minute video that I did in like 2013 or something, when I had braces still hahaha.

Adult Fiction Giveaway


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This was my favourite read last year, a full five stars to Neil Gaiman for his writing and story development. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is absolutely incredible and you are doing yourself a disservice if you have not read it, 
Full review here.

I am actually so excited to have reached 7 years! 


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