Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Monday, 29 September 2014

Publication Date: October 1st, 2014
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK, AUS / Dutton Juvenile 
Preorder: Book Depository / Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Booktopia
Goodreads Summary: If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

(°☆.。.:*a.k.a. Jess thought this was beautiful as a contemporary. She's a tad unsure about the magic though. She's tough on her magic.°☆.。.:*

Seeking Saturday's Read #5

Saturday, 27 September 2014

So we convene, once again another Saturday coming to an end. Currently I've been stuck in a repetitious cycle. Sure, high school has technically released me, but 2014 has not freed me from the grasps of the schooling system just yet. In about a month I sit my last set of exams--the ones that seem to determine my future, but to others "they don't define a thing" and to teachers "they're just a hurdle in life but you've got to get 100% anyway". So I'm confused. Is this the be all and end all that isn't really the end at all, but forget that because you've still got to smash the ball out of the park? What is it that they I want from me? 

Point is, I've been "studying" this week, which really constitutes to about a 3:2 ratio of actual work and rummaging through the fridge (guess which ratio favours which task). And then there's the stress. I attract stress like pollen attracts bees. It adores me. I, not so much. But I've figured out a great way of abating it: shopping. Right, so in hindsight it's not the best coping mechanism. Especially not in this day and age with all our techno gadgets and the fabulous world wide web that can pretty much bring anything to your doorstep, trading hours inapplicable, shop assistants available at all hours. I fear my shopping habits and boy have they perpetuated in these past few weeks (trips to library also mean that I've got to walk past a shopping mall and several bookstores. My resistance slips every time, but what do you expect from me?!) 

In other news, today I trotted off to the Sydney Book Lover's Meet Up, hosted by Little Book Owl and finally got to meet my lovely blogger pals Laura from Laura Plus Books and Maddie from The Girly Geek. We all waddled off to Kinokuniya, as all booklovers do and let go a little bit. I'm so bummed that I doubled (really tripled) my plans so I couldn't stay all to long. That being said, it was so great meeting both the girls (and being surrounded by likeminded people!) Hurrah for not holding back! 

I'm currently reading Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. It's a mixed bag with this one (isn't it always?) I expected magic realism but I'm getting a lot more of the realism side of things. If anything, it reads as a wacky contemporary. For those who know me a tad better, I'm not one to start a fan club for contemporary reads. I get my fix from the big screen. So I wanted some magic. The only thing magical about this book, so far, is how it's made its intended fantasy component elusive. A common magician, this is. 

P.S. I tried for a lunchtime edition of SSR today, I really did, but alas, the world does not seem to want it. I brought my camera and everything...but the memory card. And I always have spare memory cards in my wallet but not today. Why, world, why?! 

But enough about me, what's in it for you this week? Next week? The upcoming month? What are your reads, plans and current favourite songs (I'm serious about this. My spring playlist is looking malnourished.) 

Blogger Confession: I Can't Read a New Book Without Finishing my Review

Thursday, 25 September 2014

It’s an affliction. One I can’t seem to shake. I’ve tried and I’ve tried and I’ve tried, but this girl is just set in her ways. 

The Ten Book Challenge Tag

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Thank you to sweet Erin over at The Hardcover Lover for tagging me for the Ten Book Challenge. I’m thrilled to share this with you all! 

The 5th Wave #2: The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

Monday, 22 September 2014

Publication Date: September 16th 2014
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile/ Penguin Australia 
Purchase: Book Depository / Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Booktopia
Goodreads Summary:  How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

(In honour of advocating fairness, Jess rates this taking into account all the factors. She does, she swears! Let her explain) 

Seeking Saturday's Read #4

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Let's just all take a moment to process the fact that, for once, I'm eating a savoury breakfast. I normally steer away from savoury things in the morning because it means I have to put in effort. Like actually turning on the stove. I used to be so enthused by cooking, and then I slipped into what seems to be a permanent phase of laziness. In said phase, the stove and I avoid one another; it means less waiting, less effort to balance the flavours and less excess dishes (my favourite part, really). This morning, on my first weekend of freedom, it seemed like a cause for celebration: you deserve eggs, Jess (little did I know, eggs induce quite the thirst.) 

What isn't captured in this image is the complications I endured along the way. Like when I had to choose between two types of cheeses. Let me ask you this: when cheese moulds, is it mouldy or is it ageing? I had quite the internal battle (but don't worry, out of caution, said mould went straight into the bin). Once that was sorted, I realised...I was out of eggs. Brilliant. But no fear, two fridges makes for a hoarder's haven--a concept that the occupants of my house know a thing or two about--and so, after a quick rummage through the second fridge, I produced eggs! 

I've been trudging through The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey since...Tuesday. Would you believe it? I read at an exponential speed but it is now Saturday. Five days, this book has been with me, and I still have yet to find the motivation to finish it. Why? For the most part, I hardly remember what happened in the first book (if you've got the same affliction then hop on over to Recaptains for a summary--thanks Sana for the head's up!) But in all honesty, I just couldn't connect to the characters. 

The writing is exceptional; a perfect encapsulation of desolation, devastation and desperation. But it's dragging--the biggest telltale of a filler novel. I'm not impressed.

So now that we've convened at the end of yet another week, tell me how your's has been or what's in it for you next week. And here's a question for you: what's your stance on the filler novel? 

My Young Adult Kryptonite(s): Part One

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Cover traps, historical contexts and the insistence of witty banter and glorious one-liners. 

Last week, one conversation dictated our weekly brunch, reducing my friend and I to ridiculous giggles. As aforementioned, we discussed what is most aptly termed Our Kryptonite(s) in YA fiction

Or in plain english, the traits of YA fiction that cripple me, every damn time. 

The TBR Tag

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

As I was perusing the lovely Noelia’s post over at A Day in Bookland, I realised that she had in fact tagged me to do the TBR tag. This tag was created by Rachel and her co-blogger Dana (Dana Square) and I remember reading this a couple of weeks ago over on their blog A Perfection Called Books and being thoroughly entertained! That being said, I’ve always been iffy about doing the tag myself—I’ve got a complicated TBR system. But I’ll swallow my apprehension and have a crack at these ten questions, regardless. 

1. How do you keep track of your TBR? 
Here’s the thing: I have two TBR lists. One that I keep on Goodreads and one that I keep mentally encased within my poor excuse for a memory. 

I’m not too great with keeping a track of my Goodreads TBR. It’s now just a compilation of really old books that a past me wanted to read and books yet to be published. I keep a track of it more for the latter. A couple of months back I did a purge. My TBR sat at 500 and I was overwhelmed, to say the least. And so I sat my backside down and spent an afternoon getting to know that little cross button. It was a cathartic experience seeing 200. But then I took a holiday. What happens to your garden when you neglect the basic prep and pamper? It grows bloody out of control. And so slowly my TBR crept up. I’ve been meaning to do another purge but have yet to gather the strength to let anything go. I’m a hoarder by nature (thanks for the gene, Pa!) But I want to see that TBR at 100.

The mental TBR is the one I religiously follow. It’s where I schedule my review copies along with my personal reads. It constantly moves up and down according to deadlines and whatnots (and raves! It follows inccesent hype and the amount of people who tell me “You need to read this. Now!”) I worry for this one, though. My memory isn’t known for being the greatest. 

2. Is your TBR mostly print or Ebook? 
My mental TBR is majority print. I prefer it that way. But I’m sure my “fake” TBR leans more towards the latter. 

3. How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next? 
Deadlines get prioritised. Simple as that. And then in between I sneak personal reads in, depending on my mood. 

4. A book that has been on your TBR the longest? 
Mental TBR: Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The Mother is relentless in her badgering: “Jess, just read it! I need you to read it. We need to discuss.” Sorry Ma, I’ll pass until I can no longer. 

Goodreads TBR: Gone With The Wind—also one of the Ma’s favourite books (There was a moment when the potential for Jess to be named Scarlett was very, very real.) 

5. A book you recently added to your TBR? 
Tentatively named Snow Like Ashes #3 by Sara Raasch. Well, aren’t I a ball of fun. I told you, I use Goodreads to add unpublished books with neither cover, name nor synopsis. 

6. A book in your TBR because of it’s beautiful cover? 
Rooms by Lauren Oliver. Oliver and I have not got the best relationship but that cover is stunning. Maybe her adult reads are worth a go? 

7. A book in your TBR that you never plan on reading?
I’d like to say that I’ll get around to reading everything but that’s highly improbable. This would probably have to be The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait. I’m confused as to what I was thinking when that was added. It must have been during my “artistic” phase. 

8. An unpublished book in your TBR that you’re excited for? 
Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Stievater. Just. Give. It. To. Me. 
I’ve no words to give right now. I just need a dose of Gansey and Blue and I need it now. Asap. Please. (Is my desperation showing through?) 

9. A book in your TBR that everyone recommends to you? 
Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee. I’ll get there. I swear. 

10. Number of books in my TBR? 
I’ve trimmed my GR’s TBR down to about 191. I want it lower. Mental TBR: who knows—we’re trusting my highly unreliable memory here. 

Lets drumroll this. I tag:

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Monday, 15 September 2014

Published: September 9th 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Purchase: Book Depository / Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Booktopia
Goodreads Summary: Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

(aka the "gets a star for being a standalone" (I kid) and the rest for being damn enjoying, despite the many faults. Or, in short, Jess gets lured by royalty.)

Seeking Saturday's Read #3

Saturday, 13 September 2014

It's hilarious that this edition of Seeking Saturday's Read was taken mid afternoon as opposed to my usual, ridiculously unnatural morning photographs. I thought I'd mix it up (I was lazy and running behind on time) and decided on a lunch rendition. In my mind I thought I was a creativity queen (what's with the past tense? Replace thought with think). Until reality came a'knocking and I realised: my lunch is merely breakfast, eaten at an hour normal to the rest of human civilisation. And thus the ingenious plan was foiled. 

I prefer to be the con-ner as opposed to the con-ee. When the deception of a sample that was The Orphan Queen was unearthed needless to say, there was a swarm of disappointed, and a little cheated, reviewers sulking. Myself included. Furious!Jess however must contend with a bigger force: her inherent curiosity. In this case, what do you think won out? I caved, peaked and groaned (and then proceeded to preorder). Must 2015 be so far away (it really isn't though but in addition to being curious, I'm also conveniently impatient--I just have all the winning traits, don't I?) I'm in desperate need for some good fantasy. My withdrawal symptoms often induce odd trains of thoughts and ideas. Like the one where I feel the need to just create a fantasy for myself (not pretty, I advise future Jess to give up on this.) 

In other news, I graduate in three days. How about that for a bucket of news. Does it scare me, to be taken out of the cocoon of the schooling system and pushed out into the sea of reality? Of course. But trepidation is natural, is it not? At this point in time, what runs through my mind is what do I do with myself? Career wise, where do I see myself ending up? What does a person who wants to pursue everything pursue first

So I'm a little ball of confusion this week. But there's fun to be had. Perhaps some instantaneous happiness will be enough to evoke a cloud over my overly active train of thought. There's only so many what if, what if, what if's that a girl can take. 

But let's put me aside and talk about you. How do you predict  your week will unfold? Trepidation:  is there any this week? And most importantly, what are you reading? Inspire me

Snow Like Ashes #1: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Publication Date: October 14th 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray / HarperTeen
Preorder:  Book Depository / Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Booktopia
Goodreads Summary: A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.
So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own. 

(Or as Jess likes to call it, the just read it rating) 

How To Un-Chore Reading

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

I'm going to go ahead and make the assumption that we're all here because we love reading. That's a safe bet, is it not? But at the rate that most of us go, when and does reading have the potential to become a chore? 

I'll answer this--yes. There are times when this interest of mine becomes laborious. Between all the other mundane chores that I must do, I find reading to be a form of escapism. However, when a book fails to conjure excitement within me, either because I've lost interest or have lost my ticket to the "empathetic train", I tend to become restless. Suddenly it becomes a task, one that I'm achieving for the sake of achieving and not for personal enjoyment. And that's when the priorities become misplaced. 

I'm lucky, in that I'm able to pinpoint the slip in my consciousness. When the hold on interest begins to slip, I know that it's time to call in the dream team. It's a failsafe that has never failed to save me. 

The bad boys in question? A good face mask, a good playlist of the Romantic epics (I've been having a Romanticism year, forgive me) and a handful of berries of some sort. And then said book in question and I nestle together in a corner and mediate our problems out, together. As a team. 

And luckily, we tend to reconcile. Call it what you will but this chimera of a formula has got me fooled. I'm a simple girl who is easily fooled by physiological reassurances. Give me a mask that will harden my expression (think a good botox face), a little soul-consuming classical piece and some Vitamin what the heck's in season and I'm set. 

In the privacy of my little corner of the world, the book and I become one, once more. I dig deep and find some merits and suddenly the chore becomes no longer.*

Do you ever feel as though reading has overstepped the boundaries, wandered into the chore territory? How do yo fish yourself out? 

*Unless we're talking DNF potential. That's another story. We shall not reconcile. 

(Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini / Ren Invisible Pores Detox Mask) 

The Lone City #1: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Monday, 8 September 2014

Publication: September 2nd 2014
Publisher: Harperteen / WalkerBooks
Purchase: Book Depository / Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Booktopia 
Goodreads Summary: The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

°☆.。.:*・Actual Rating: 2.7 stars °☆.。.:*・ 
(Or otherwise known as Jess reads a less intricate The Handmaid’s Tale with bouts of insta!love) 

Seeking Saturday's Read #2

Saturday, 6 September 2014

A week has flown by and now we're back round to Saturday (#nocomplaints). To think that in January of this year I sat around on my backside, my voice traveling through the walls, ventilating the joys of christmas and the dread of yet another year long wait. And now we're T-minus three months away. It scares me, how time flies. 

I've been contemplating the structure of the Seeking Saturday's Reads. What would I do with them? The perfect answer, for me, is to simply spill my guts out through the written word--share a bit of this and that.

The Anna reread has finally kicked off. To be honest, it's a tad belated. Originally scheduled to fall in line with the release of Isla, I seemed to lose track of my TBR (don't we all) and somehow I missed my cue. But no fear, as a novice Contemporary reader (it's not my most loved gem. Share with me your knowledge, please) I've decided to take it slow. One reread per month. That way, come the festive months, I'll be giddy with joy and spirit and full of Isla and Perkins happiness (or so I hope to be). 

I forgot how adorable Anna and the French Kiss was. It feels like eons ago, that time I read Anna and Lola (back with those covers), and so it feels so exhilarating to jump on board the train of love and bring afresh those potent feelings. Seeing as my memory could rival a goldfishs', I love my rereads--they bring about perspectives, details and quirks I would have never caught the first time round (or, more likely, I would have forgotten that I caught the first time round). 

It rained haphazardly, but nonetheless torrentially. Endorphin-ed up, that wasn't going to hinder me. I whipped out the chia seed pudding and the strawberries and made a mess of myself. But let me be. It's Saturday, a word I believe to be synonymous to fun. 

So spill. What's your upcoming week looking like? What's on the menu, book-wise, life-wise, food-wise? 

The Reading Slump—So how do we cure it?

Friday, 5 September 2014

The reading slump, or more commonly known as the seventh circle of the booklover’s inferno. We’ve all been to this hell, and we’ve all made it back (kudos). So it’s escapable. But the problem is there is no set time for this sentence; it varies. You could be there for three days, but heck, you could be there for three months. The question remains; how do you get the lighter end of the sentence? 

Between #2: Between the Spark and the Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Publication: August 14th 2014
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers 
Purchase: Book Depository / Amazon / Barnes and Noble 
Goodreads Summary: Freddie once told me that the Devil created all the fear in the world.
But then, the Devil once told me that it's easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry.
The problem with River West Redding was that he'd done both to me.

The crooked-smiling liar River West Redding, who drove into Violet's life one summer day and shook her world to pieces, is gone. Violet and Neely, River's other brother, are left to worry—until they catch a two a.m. radio program about strange events in a distant mountain town. They take off in search of River but are always a step behind, finding instead frenzied towns, witch hunts, and a wind-whipped island with the thrum of something strange and dangerous just under the surface. It isn't long before Violet begins to wonder if Neely, the one Redding brother she thought trustworthy, has been hiding a secret of his own.

°☆.。.:*・Actual Rating: 2.7 stars °☆.。.:*・ 
(Or more commonly known as the Jess is indecisive but it's not yet a three)

I got conned into a story promoting illogical ideas and themes by lyrical, purple prose.

The Breakfast Diaries #2: Strawberry Season

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

It returns! I've spent a good while collating images of my breakfast on days where I make that special effort because I desire being late and procrastination becomes completely alluring. That's right, I haven't forgotten this series but it's harder than you think to accumulate photographs when the stomach is proclaiming "8 hours, no food in me. Replenishment, I tell you. Replenishment!" In this edition, the books still feature (shocker, I know) but they're salient nature melds away as the humble strawberry takes centre stage. 

Chobani Greek Yogurt / Half a banana / Strawberries at the height of ripeness / No words except: Let me bow to you, Ms Mafi. Look at that tantalising cover. 

Magisterium #1: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Monday, 1 September 2014

Publication Date: September 9th 2014
Publisher: Random House Children's Publisher UK 
Preorder: Book Depository / Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Booktopia
Goodreads Summary: Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail. All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him. So he tries his best to do his worst - and fails at failing. Now the Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future. The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .

I’m going to try and regurgitate (lovely word) this whole subjective experience to you all in the most objective manner possible.