vincent-The stars never rise picKrista:

Cover

I love this cover, very eye catching and pretty.

Characters

There are a handful of characters as Nina ends up joining a group of outcasts. But the story really focuses on her and her intentions to save her sister.

Favourite

I liked Nina the best; totally understood her actions and thoughts with what was going on around her. Her priorities and intentions were always in the right place.

Least Favourite

Nina and Mellie’s mother. She could have played a bigger role in their lives, even under the circumstances.

Beginning

Nina is debating her future role in society and how to protect and take care of her sister when some unexpected news causes everything to change.

Storyline

Mellie has committed a sin that endangers her whole family who are barely getting by already. If her secret gets out, the church will bring unwanted attention to their family, and they will have to pay, ruining the future for all of them. In trying to protect her sister, Nina escapes and joins a fugitive group, which is also being hunted by the church.

Ending

Perfect.

Thoughts

Rachel Vincent has yet to disappoint me with her writing. It’s very well crafted, great pacing and never a dull moment. I love stories that include a secluded community on the cusp of discovering life is not what it seems. This book pulled off the story well, and I ended up being somewhat surprised at the somewhat twist towards the end. It all made sense when revealed, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Quote

“I feel like my life is a book, and someone turned the page before I was ready, and now I can’t follow the story.”

 

rachel vincentBelinda:

Cover

A red and pink butterfly shiny embossed along with the title against a buttery mat black backdrop. The wings of the butterfly look like they’re ink bleeding out onto the page. It’s quite dramatic and eye catching.

Characters

There is an over abundance of evil characters.

Favourite

Hmm, Annabelle. Coz… all the reasons.

Least Favourite

Mellie. UGH! Stupid, stupid, stupid girl.

Beginning

Life it tough and Mellie’s mistake makes life impossible.

Storyline

Nina does her damndest to keep her crap together. She runs into a group of outcasts with the same abilities as she has and they begin to work together to keep Mellie safe.

Ending

You wouldn’t believe it if I told you.

Thoughts

I didn’t mind that I guessed the major plot points early on in the book because watching how Rachel Vincent crafted the storyline was entertaining. I wanted to slap the daylights out of Mellie, but that may just be watching some of my own stupidity played out in the book, making me overly sensitive.

The possibilities for further books to be great, mean that I’m interested to see where Rachel will take Nina, Finn and the others.

Quote

“Exorcists aren’t born every day, but I think it’s reasonable to assume the Church had a few at one point.” ~ Finn talking to Nina

 

 

vincent_SOULJoelene:

Cover

A dark cover with a luminous butterfly centre page and the title in sharp capitals. The cover is lovely but nothing about it connects to the story within – not even the title.

Characters

A soulless horde of demons, a holy order that is just as merciless, and trapped in the middle are Nina, her sister, and several new friends who might just be her key to unlocking the secrets to her world.

Favourite

Devi. She stands out. Though she’s not in the book all that much, she steals most of the scenes she’s in.

Least Favourite

Despite quite a bit of time being devoted to her, I never got a clear idea of who Melanie was. We’re told a lot about her personality, but what we’re told doesn’t mesh with the choices she makes. She feels more like a vehicle than a person.

Beginning

In a world ruled by the Church and preyed on by voracious demons, Nina is doing her best to keep herself and her sister fed. It may mean selling her immortal soul to the Church – if the demons stalking her don’t get it first.

Storyline

Nina has always thought that she knew how her world worked. When a demon attacks her and she meets a boy who can do things that only church officials should be able to; everything she thinks she knows begins to unravel.

Ending

The world Nina thought she knew is as tangible as ash. Along with her friends, she’s going to have to figure out how to survive a new – and much more deadly – reality.

Thoughts

This is an amazing premise. I think Vincent says that she’d been thinking about it and talking it through for a few years before sitting down to write. That makes sense; there’s quite a bit to this world. On the other side, there are a bunch of things that I didn’t get. I’m guessing that demons come from a pretty bleak realm if they’re so impatient to get themselves a human shell. But what’s the point of possessing a human when there are so many restrictions? No sex, no excess (food, alcohol, drugs) of any kind, frequent mandatory church sessions. Having the coveted human shell seems more like a chore. Also, the love was pretty insta. I liked Finn, and Nina had her moments. I think they could have worked well together if built up more gradually.

Quote

“The plan is to send the bastards back to hell, then dance on their corpses.”

“She’s kidding about the dance.” Reece’s gaze was focused on the end of the alley, his eyes narrowed in concentration as he listened.

Finn stepped up to my side. “No, she’s not.”

 

Discussion Topics:

The title The Stars Never Rise comes from the poem ‘Annabel Lee’ by Edgar Allan Poe. Do you see connections between the title and poem, or is the allusion tenuous?

For fun-if you found out one day that you are going to develop a gift that would help save others lives…would you train to develop it or be too shy to reveal yourself?

 

http://rachelvincent.com/

Paperback, 368 pages

Published June 18th 2015 by MIRA Ink (first published June 9th 2015)

ISBN 1848453833 (ISBN13: 9781848453838)

Joelene:

 

 



hardcastle_running like china picOn August 25th 2015 a giant leap was achieved for mental health in Australia. A young lady by the name of Sophie Hardcastle pinned her heart to her sleeve and put pen to paper to give us an intimate insight into what it’s like to live through Bipolar 1 in her book Running Like China.

Joelene and I had the pleasure of meeting her at the Hachette YA Bloggers evening earlier in August. Sophie is a well spoken, intelligent woman who really has a lot to say. Not a word wasted and many lessons to teach us all. Her story is the reality for so many people regardless of age or background.

Here’s the goodreads blurb…

“Most of the time we don’t notice the darkness… not until we’re in the thick of it. It was like that for Sophie Hardcastle, as the joy she’d always known disappeared. She was constantly tired, with no energy, no motivation and no sense of enjoyment for anything. Her hours became empty. And then, the month before she turned seventeen, that emptiness filled with an intense, unbearable sadness that made her scream and tear her skin.

In this brave, bold and beautifully told memoir, Sophie lays bare her story of mental illness – of a teenage girl using drugs, alcohol and sex in an attempt to fix herself; of her family’s anguish and her loss of self. It is a courageous and hopeful story of adaptation, learning to accept and of ultimately realising that no matter how deep you have sunk, the surface is always within reach.

If you have the guts to take the journey with Sophie please allow time for the memoir to resonate with your altered perceptions because undoubtedly it will change how you see the world. Chances are you’re either managing mental illness yourself or know someone who is; so this book will certainly make sense, make you emotional, and give hope.

Vivid is the perfect word for how Sophie writes. Even in the difficult chapters, where you feel like you should turn away from her pain and anguish, the words still leap forth and take you into the moment — like it or lump it.

Please, please make the effort to track this book down, borrow it from the library, buy it from any good book shop. There’s even an audio book for the people on the go. There is no excuse not to educate yourself and those around you.

http://www.sophiehardcastle.com/

Paperback, 273 pages

Published August 25th 2015 by Hachette Australia

ISBN13 9780733634260

 

Here’s Sophie on the youtube channel Where I Write talking about just that and reading the Prologue to the book.



Belinda_kisses_tnBel reflects on this powerful documentary.

 

 

bowling-for-columbineI have my own personal thoughts on the gun laws in the USA, so watching this one brought up a lot of emotion, made my mind boggle and my stomach churn. Michael Moore takes a look at the gun culture in the US, with a focus on the Columbine school shooting and the Buell Elementary school shooting.

There are extremely graphic scenes of people being shot, shooting themselves and the remains of those who were shot. It is not at all comforting. Nor should it ever be.

The emergency calls from those within the Columbine school are horrific, the desperate pleas from parents asking for information on their kids, and the media vultures wanting to be patched through for live on air information.

He interviews one of the creators of South Park,Matt Stone, who shone a light on the internal stresses on students. I have to agree there was unnecessary stress put on students to achieve. The focus was less on their personal well being and more on their academic or sporting prowess — the fear of the unknown beyond high school, and how that may have lead to the school shooting.

Marilyn Manson was given his chance to comment, and though I’m not a fan of his music, he spoke sense. He said that perhaps people were not listening to them, or listening to the people who may have been able to signal any problems.

Moore takes a look at the differences between Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia and the US, and asks the question ‘Why there is so many gun related deaths in the US?’

The jewel in the crown would have to be the interview with Charlton Heston the leader of the NRA (National Rifle Association). This man showed up after both of these tragic shootings and rallied on his constitutional right to bear arms.

There have been over 20 gun-related mass shootings in the US since the release of Bowling for Columbine.  There is no question that changes need to be made; the difficulty is trying to get the change to happen.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts on this documentary if you’ve seen it.

 

 



between-poster

In a more traditional format of one episode being released weekly on the popular website, Netflix, is the sci-fi drama, Between.

The small town of Pretty Lake is struck down by a mysterious virus that kills anyone 22 or older. So you literally have a modern teen friendly mix of Lord of the Flies, Gone, and Under the Dome.

There are the usual suspects, the rich family, the poor family, the smart family, the religious family and the farming family; each with their own internal struggles as well as their fight to make a place in the new pecking order.

Throw in a few conspiracy theories and you have an intense mix of angst and suspense to keep you coming back for more.

The one stand out character for me was Krystal Hope Nausbaum who plays Amanda. I am impressed that the writers bothered to add such a complex character into the fracas. I have great respect for a script to include a character with Down’s Syndrome, and not only make the character intelligent, but have the other characters interacting in a way where the character’s differences aren’t pointed out in an overt way. She just is. No apologies, no explanations.

Kudos to Michael McGowan on creating an addictive program. I have a feeling we’ll see more stuff like this from him in the future.

I hope you’ll all give Between a chance and let me know what you thought.

 



Joelene_tnJoelene

black -Darkest part of the forestCover

The white title nestled in twisting green foliage suits the novel. The font is reminiscent of old-fashioned hand-lettering and has sharp edges that give the impression of violence.

Characters

In a town twined so closely with magic, you’d hardly expect to find ordinary characters here. And happily, you don’t. The characters in Darkest Part are all unique – some of them making themselves unique because they were not born, blessed or cursed so. There’s the human and his changeling ‘brother’, the girl who hunts Fae and her brother who cannot escape what they gave him – no matter how much he tries.

Favourite

I’d really want to say all of them, but I guess that Hazel stands out the most for me. A bit dull considering that it’s a point in the book that everyone loves her – but I’m no exception. She’s fierce and determined and happy to be selfish if it means finding her vocation even when she knows that her vocation is not the slightest bit nice.

Least Favourite

Probably Alderking. Not because he was evil and you were supposed to hate him, but because I didn’t really feel much of anything for him.

Beginning

A horned boy sleeps in a glass coffin nestled in the woods. Through the long years, parties have pulsed around him, artists have painted him and two siblings have tried everything they could think of to free him.

Storyline

Fairfold is a town buried in the heart of an enchanted forest. Its citizens have learnt to adapt to the strange and sometimes terrifying creatures they live alongside. When the horned boy wakes, Fairfold is about to get a whole lot more dangerous.

Ending

I wasn’t sure that I liked where this story was going, but wound up loving the ending.

Thoughts

I read this in about a day while I was visiting my aunt because I’m the kind of person who will abandon my own kin if a book is good enough. Holly Black just has this way of writing characters that you want to spend time with – and one book was not enough with these guys. This feels like a stand-alone, but I will live in hope that it will turn into a trilogy.

Quote

There’s a monster in our wood

She’ll get you if you’re not good

Drag you under leaves and sticks

Punish you for all your tricks

A nest of hair and gnawed bone

You are never, ever coming –”

Belinda_kisses_tnBel:

black_forect blackCover

There are a couple of different covers to this book. I have an ARC (advanced review copy) Mine has the forestry against a brownie-orange backdrop, much like the ebook and the hardcover.

Characters

Holly has crafted some truly fun characters in this one.

Favourite

I would have to say Hazel. The girl kicks butt and is unapologetic about keeping her people safe.

Least Favourite

Hmmm… Ainsel.

Beginning

There’s a boy in the darkest part of the forest, in an enchanted sleep, held within a glass coffin.

Storyline

Hazel wakes him up and the crap hits the fan.

Ending

Dude! Read it and find out.

Thoughts

Holly Black can be a little hit and miss for me, but this book was a bullseye. I adore stand alone books that have you chomping at the bit for more. It would be great to have a bunch of books from the same reality, but not necessarily needing to be read in any particular order.

Quote

“Maybe. Just the other day, she made Carter carry dried holly berries in the pocket of his jacket. He got mad and chucked one at me. They sting like a bitch.” ~Jack talking to Ben

 

Krista McKeeth_2_tnKrista:

Black_dollCover

It’s eye catching, cute yet ominous. I prefer the white background over the the orange/brown one, personal preference.

Characters

Main character, Hazel she’s a very strong character, opinionated, and unselfish. Speaks her mind and is loyal.

Ben- Hazel’s brother. Somewhat competitive and some protective. He was bestowed the magic of music talent when he was young and is very gifted.

Severin-Horned boy coffin. He is focused and determined; on a mission, but finds time to make friends and build relationships with other characters.

Favourite

Severin- Because he’s different and has a great back story.

Least Favourite

Ben and Hazel’s parents. Nothing specifically regarding each, but I felt that the way they raised Hazel and Ben, and it’s contrast to how they are now, was sad.

Beginning

The introduction of the world and characters. They live next to a forest that has creatures of all kinds. Hazel likes to fight with her sword and pretend she is a knight. She is very protective of her brother. We learn of her guilt regarding a kiss that went horribly wrong, and Ben’s loss of his magic of music. Also there are ominous hints regarding a bargain that Hazel made, unknown to the other characters and readers until further along in the book.

Storyline

From the jacket: “Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.
At the centre of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground, and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

“Until one day, he does…

“As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?”

Ending

I really enjoyed the ending, things came full circle nicely, even though there was a bit of a surprise decision made. It fitted with the overall emotions of the book and made sense.

Thoughts

Once I finished reading the book, I sat and thought about if for a while. The characters really made the story for me and I found them admirable. The world building is imaginative and story line is exciting and full of adventure. I liked this book, and I recommend  it.

Quote

“Hazel kissed boys for all kinds of reasons — because they were cute, because she was a little drunk, because she was bored, because they let her, because it was fun, because they looked lonely, because it blotted out her fears for a while, because she wasn’t sure how many kisses she had left.”

“You and your sister are very dear to each other. To show your regard, you give each other lovely bouquets of lies.”

 

http://blackholly.com/

Hardcover, 328 pages

Published February 5th 2015 by Indigo (first published January 13th 2015)

ISBN 1780621736 (ISBN13: 9781780621739

 

Discussion Topics

Everyone has more than one self – though maybe not as noticeably as Hazel. Which of your selves do you not trust?

Hazel is overwhelmingly filled with thoughts of kissing. Funny side topic or distracting angst?

There are some side stories in which we learn about the townsfolk’s interactions with the creatures of the forest; which was your favourite?



Keep in contact through the following social networks or via RSS feed:

  • Follow on Facebook
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Follow on Pinterest
  • Follow on Google+
  • Follow on GoodReads
  • Follow on Tumblr
  • Follow on LinkedIn
  • Follow on Keek
  • Follow on YouTube
  • Subscribe