Joelene_tnJoelene Pynnonen says: While reading is generally a solitary event, love of books has always been something that people have fiercely bonded over. The emotionally intense journeys inherent to reading demand to be shared, recommended, and dissected with friends, family, or anyone else who will listen.

 

Rest is still inwrittenThis is what made the Hachette Bloggers’ night such a pleasure to attend. Aside from having a wonderful welcome from the evidently passionate and book-mad staff, and the chance to meet the equally enthusiastic Laini Taylor, it was a chance for everyone to finally talk in person to each other about a deep mutual interest.

The bloggers that I met at the event were wonderful – I’m sure the ones that I didn’t meet are just as lovely, but alas, I’ll never know. In fact, the only downfall of the night was that I didn’t have the time to meet everyone, which considering the turn-out would have been quite a lofty achievement.

The people that I did meet, however, have already given me a wealth of information. Rachel from The Rest is Still Unwritten is amazing for finding free YA books on Amazon and sharing her finds on Facebook. On her blog she writes long, passionate reviews of all of the many books she’s read and, considering that her favourite books list shares some hefty similarities to my own, my want list has grown because of her blog. On top of this, it turns out that she was one of the stops in the Shine Light Blog Tour, proving yet again that in YA it’s a small world.

YA book addict.jpgTracey at YA Book Addict is another book blogger who has a wealth of information at her disposal. She’s a bit of a Renaissance woman when it comes to the online community. Her wonderful blog has a wealth of information about YA, and she’s firmly embraced the New Adult genre too. As well as the blog, she has a strong presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, which makes following her easy, no matter your preferred platform.

cuddlebuggeryKat Kennedy of Cuddlebuggery fame was also at the Hachette Bloggers’ Night, which was a huge and lovely surprise – and not only for myself. I think that Kat was almost as in demand as Laini on the night, and didn’t see her alone once. If you haven’t stumbled upon Cuddlebuggery in your online wanderings, I suggest you drop everything and go there now. Anything that Kat Kennedy and Steph Sinclair don’t know about YA books, authors and gossip is not worth knowing, and they tend to share their knowledge with everyone else. They’re also intelligent reader/reviewers, analysing books through a feminist and multi-cultural lens.

The Hachette event was a fantastic way to connect with other readers and reviewers. In a world where so much discussion of books is conducted online, it was a nice change to be able to sit down and talk to people about what they read, what they’d recommend and everything else book related.

Blogger Links 

http://cuddlebuggery.com/

http://youngadultbookaddict.blogspot.com.au/

http://rachybee-the-rest-is-still-unwritten.blogspot.com.au/

 

 



Joelene_tnJoelene Pynnonen says: Money drips through your fingers like water in Sydney. After shopping in Brisbane, Sydney feels like a surfeit. The stores are bigger, there are more of them and there are sales everywhere.

 

 

hachettesydney2014 015Bel and I were lucky enough to meet up with Jorge from Spotlight Report during our visit. Because of his local expertise, I discovered two stores that were probably my favourite part of the trip. Utopia is the self-proclaimed Home of Metal, and lives up to its name. The staff are friendly and almost scarily knowledgeable about the local and International Heavy Metal scene. Within twenty seconds of me asking, they had found a reasonably priced album for my incredibly hard to buy for baby brother.

The other store Jorge told me about is one that I will be visiting every time that I go to Sydney in the future. Basement Books is buried in a passageway out behind Central Train Station. At first glance it looks like a little hole-in-the-wall bookstore. As you get closer, however, it expands into a verifiable Aladdin’s cave of wondrous things. The store stocks a wide range of art supplies and canvasses as well as books of every major genre. All at unbelievable discounts. Obviously I spent my time there combing through the fantasy and YA sections. Had my luggage allowance been more extravagant, I dread to think of how badly my credit card would be suffering right now.

hachettesydney2014 034After a five-hour day at Paddy’s Markets, my cards were depleted enough. For anyone who hasn’t had the chance to visit Paddy’s Markets, it is one of the places to go in Sydney. A labyrinth of stalls selling all sorts of things, everyone is bound to find a bargain here. From costumes to unusual pieces of jewellery, fresh fruit to ornamental swords, handbags to Australian memorabilia; Paddy’s has it all. Located in the heart of China Town, it is a short distance from the beautiful Chinese Gardens and is surrounded by some wonderful Asian restaurants. Bubble tea is also abundant, so there are many and varied reasons to visit.

There are a lot of great things to buy in Sydney, but it is also a beautiful city. I’d recommend walking rather than catching a bus or taxi. There are some truly amazing churches and old buildings that you may miss out on if you’re in a rush.



rutkoski_winnersA general’s daughter and a defiant slave should be worlds apart, but as Kestrel and Arin are discovering, those worlds can touch all too easily.

In Kestrel’s world, war and marriage are the only options open to her. Her father, the revered General Trajan, expects her to follow in his footsteps, conquering territories for the Valorian emperor. She would rather play music and study the people around her.

Finding herself in the slave markets one day, she encounters a Herrani slave who seems as determined to escape his fate as she is to escape hers. One rash decision later, she is reluctant the owner of Arin. She becomes the talk of the town due to the ridiculously high price she paid for him, and this price may grow steeper over time.

This is possibly the hardest review I’ve written this year. I have such conflicting feelings about The Winner’s Curse that I’ve put off writing about it for far too long. The novel is getting amazing reviews online, and they are well-deserved. The world-building is wonderful, the writing superb, and yet…

About halfway through the book there is a massive world-altering event that shifts the entire dynamic. It’s stunningly brave writing to have a shift of this calibre, and there’s no way that the story would have worked without it. The shift isn’t the problem, but it’s the way things change after the shift that kills me.

A change of atmosphere is to be expected. It’s the change in the characters that I can’t come to terms with. Arin’s character development might be a bit heavily influenced by his romantic lead status, but it is otherwise believable. Kestrel, on the other hand, becomes someone that I don’t recognise. She’s initially intelligent and alert. She is a strategist who watches the people around her until she knows their weaknesses. Her strength isn’t in combat but in her mental prowess, and she knows it. Aside from playing the piano, it’s the one area in her life that she actively tries to improve.

Despite this, the moment that her strategic side is desperately needed, she stops using it. For maybe the last quarter of the book she stagnates, becoming the opposite of the dynamic character she was at the beginning. There’s more action here than in the rest of the book, but it just crawled for me. Every page I turned I was waiting for her to do something – anything – and it didn’t happen.

Strangely enough, the thing that I expected to bother me most didn’t bother me at all. I’ve rarely seen slavery written well, unless it has been written by someone who has been a slave rather than for purposes of entertainment. I actually hiked this book right up to the top of my reading list because I was so sure that I would dislike it and wanted to get it out of the way earlier rather than later. I should have had some faith. The slavery aspect is handled with the care it deserves. Kestrel has an interest in the Herrani people and treats them respectfully, so when she meets Arin there’s already a framework for friendship.

There’s a lot happening in The Winner’s Curse, but it is a love story at heart, and this aspect of the novel is handled brilliantly. There’s no insta-love in Kestrel and Arin’s story; they have to work hard to get there. Arin is full of anger at all Valorians; he initially makes no exceptions for Kestrel. It’s only when he realises that she isn’t out to break or conquer him that things start to change. For her, it’s finding someone who can match her mentally and someone who doesn’t expect her to fit the standard Valorian model.

After having finished The Winner’s Curse I’m desperate to get my hands on the second book in the series. Not because of the cliff-hanger ending, but because I need to see if Rutkoski can recreate the magic that I felt at the beginning of the novel without resorting to the unwarranted plot-devices at the end.

Winner’s Curse – Marie Rutkoski

Bloomsbury (March 4, 2014)

ISBN: 9781408858202



Joelene_tnJoelene and Belinda are representing The Escape Club at a Laini Taylor/Hachette event in Sydney.

With Bel doing her part to make our Sydney trip fantastically memorable, I’ve decided to pull my boots up and make sure that I have everything in order too. Not wanting Bel to show me up yet again, I considered making a video of my efforts, but I fear that watching me read is somewhat less fascinating than curling hair. And Bel’s hair-curling video really is fascinating. She’s achieved the classical vintage look with seemingly no effort – bonus for getting to watch her sing in the mirror!

So, my copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone arrived. I nearly squealed with happiness, which would have likely caused my customers some distress, but managed – just – to hold it in. Obviously, I started reading it in my break because I am dedicated to the YA bloggers’ night! All altruism here; no ulterior motive.

Joelne's dressAnd wow. If you haven’t read Daughter of Smoke and Bone yet, you should. My paltry ten minute break was more than enough time for me to fall into the pages and wish never to emerge. It was also enough to keep me glued to the pages for at least ten minutes too long and receive disapproving stares from my manager when I did emerge.

Maybe it’s just me, but something about a novel set in Prague featuring an art student with peacock-blue hair demands to be read. I put the book down just to come and write this, by the way. I am obviously so dedicated, and sort of hate my computer a little bit right now because it’s keeping me from my book. I was up to a really good part too. I tried to get to a part that wasn’t good, but it was an exercise in futility. They’re all good parts. Seriously, get this book!

Now, I’m sure that some very unkind Burn Bright readers will think that reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone is just another way of procrastinating, so I made alternative attempts to organise. And also, no. Reading great books is in no way a pleasure to me. It’s all for the cause!

I went dress shopping! I bought dresses, and skirts. Now I have too many options rather than too few so I’ll have to try everything on multiple times and demand second opinions.

I have also figured out cost-cutting measures for accessories. It’s a slightly dangerous venture but again, dedication, I have it. If I wait until late enough at night, I can raid my sister’s stash of necklaces, bangles and earrings. It will require bypassing her bad-tempered cat, but I think it can be done.

Now all that I have to do is hope that Days of Blood and Starlight arrives in store soon, so that I’m not stranded without the second book when I finish the first. Also figure out make-up. This may just require another shopping trip…



Joelene_tnJoelene Pynnonen love a good kids movie.

 

 

the-lego-movie-posterEmmet Brickowski is an ordinary construction worker, living life by the manual, when he finds a woman called Wyldstyle illegally searching his construction site. She’s mesmerising, and for once Emmet goes against the manual, following her rather than reporting her. Stumbling into a chasm, he finds the Piece of Resistance, the only object that might stop the evil Lord Business’s super-weapon, the Kragle.

Years earlier, it was prophesied that a person called “The Special” would be the one to locate the Piece of Resistance, which makes Emmet, Lord Business’s number one target. When he is captured by Lord Business’s lieutenant, Bad Cop, Wyldstyle steps in to save him. Now it’s up to him to find the powerful master-builders and convince them to launch an attack on Lord Business’s empire before he uses the Kragle to destroy them all.

I love kids’ movies, especially the ones that have been released in the last few years and are targeted at a wider audience. Even so, Lego Movie was not something that I was interested in when the trailer came out. Now, I’ve played several of the Lego games and am well aware of how fun they are. I just didn’t think that it would translate well to the big screen. Fortunately, my brother twisted my arm until I agreed to see it.

From the out-set Lego Movie is a fast-paced and laugh-out-loud funny film. There’s plenty of slapstick comedy for kids, but this is interwoven with subtler social-commentary humour and pop-culture jokes. The combination works so well that you’ll have to watch the movie more than once to appreciate all of the jokes.

This is one of those movies that combines its elements perfectly to create a fun and exciting film. The animation is wonderful, not quite losing the authentic feel of a stop motion film even though it is CGI. Voice acting is equally flawless. There are too many amazing performances to list, but Liam Neeson’s role as Good Cop/Bad Cop is superb.

While Lego Movie is a fantastic film, it is let down by the ending, which introduces a theme that has been done before – and better – by Pixar. The movie is entertaining enough to carry itself without needing a deeper meaning, and would have been stronger for it.

Lego Movie is another animated film that is transcending age. The plot is simple, but the execution is clever. 



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