Friday, 28 February 2014

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

This post contains a review and a bookish manicure.

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Published February 1, 2014 by Hardie Grant Egmont
Source: the publisher
Rating: 4 stars

From the blurb: I read somewhere that human beings are genetically predisposed to record history. We believe it will prevent us from doing stupid things in the future.This is my history. There are things in here: babies with two heads, insects as big as electric guitars, god, the devil, limbless warriors, rocket ships, sex, diving bells, theft, wars, monsters, internal combustion engines, love, cigarettes, joy, bomb shelters, pizza, and cruelty.Just like it’s always been.

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith is set in the fictional town of Ealing, Iowa. Sixteen year old Austin Szerba lives with his parents, and his older brother, Eric, is overseas in Afghanistan. He spends most of his time skateboarding with best friend Robby Brees, as well as hanging out with girlfriend Shana Collins. He keeps a history of his life, documented in notebooks. 

I don’t even know where to start with this book. It won’t be for everyone but I really admire an author that sets out to write what they want to write, rather than writing what they think or know their audience will want to read. Snaps for Andrew Smith.

The beginning of this novel is a perfect example of contemporary YA. Austin’s thoughts felt so true to life, it was like sharing the most intimate thoughts of an average teenager. I respected his friendship with Robby, he has no issues with him being gay, and he’ll stand by him even when local boys show up to give them a beating.

Once the virus is released and giant bugs start populating their town things did get a little weird, gross to be more accurate. But the story was still excellent and the repetitive way Austin told his story was enjoyable to read because it was used with purpose. The sci fi element was odd, intriguing and I had no idea where this story was going to go. I think there will be teens who’ll love this book. It’s clever, unique, weird, and funny.

Thank you to the fantastic people at Hardie Grant Egmont for my review copy.

This is a really simple cover but I still wanted to paint my nails to match, it's not every day that I paint my nails neon green. However, neon green does not photograph well and I layered it over white to make it pop and that seems to show through. So, this is not my best work but I'm sharing it anyway!

I used 2 coats of L.A Girl Brites Kryptonite over China Glaze White Out. I used a fine brush and acrylic paint for the antennae.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Afterworld by Lynnette Lounsbury

This post contains a review, a bookish manicure, and a giveaway.

Afterworld by Lynnette Lounsbury
Published February 1, 2014 by Allen & Unwin
Source: the publisher
Rating: 3 paws
From the blurb:  Dom is the youngest person ever to arrive in the Necropolis, the 'waiting place' between death and what comes after. And it isn't long before he catches the attention of Satarial, a cruel Nephilim from the beginning of time, who has grim plans to use Dom as entertainment in his vicious gladiatorial games. When Dom's still-living sister, Kaide, appears in the Necropolis too, Satarial has the leverage he needs, and the stage is set for the biggest shake-up the afterlife has seen in centuries.
Dom's only option is to compete in the Trials and attempt to win the chance to enter the Maze. In his favour he has an enigmatic young Guide, Eva, and a Guardian, Eduardo, who may not be what he seems. But will they be enough?
Afterworld by Lynnette Lounsbury starts off in India and then changes settings to Necropolis, a place where some humans go after death. Dom, a fifteen year old boy, ends up there after a car crash. He’s the youngest person to ever get to Necropolis and finds himself the centre of attention due to his youth. His appearance sets in motion a series of changes to the afterlife.

I haven’t read many books set in the afterlife, the only one that comes to mind is Sanctum and I do not recommend it. So, Afterworld felt quite unique to me, especially for YA fiction.

Told in third person, I never felt connected to any of the characters though I did admire some of their traits. Dom felt a lot older than his fifteen years yet I found his instalove with Eva a little full on considering his age and the time in which they’d known each other (one week). Eduardo was by far my favourite, he was entertaining and had the most depth to his character. I appreciated that even the bad characters had positive aspects; they weren't all evil, they had reasons for why they’d become so bitter.

The world building was well done, there is a lot to take in, but it felt detailed and thought out. Whenever I found myself questioning an aspect of the world, such as where do all the humans younger than fifteen go, an answer would be provided that fit the level of knowledge the characters would have.

The pacing was slow, but not in a negative way. For Dom, time in the afterlife is going too slowly, all he wants is to collect enough minutes to make his way through the Maze, so it stands that his week there would take up a fair amount of the story.

While reading I was sure this would turn out to be the first in a series and that Dom’s quest to reach the Maze would not be featured in this book but I was wrong, this book definitely stands alone and has a satisfying resolution.

Thank you to the wonderful people at Allen & Unwin for my review copy.

Purchase: A&R ~ Booktopia ~ Bookworld ~ Dymocks ~ Fishpond (intl shipping)

I really like the simplicity of the Afterworld cover and went for a black manicure with an accent nail to match the cover. I started with 2 coats of Ulta3 Black Satin on all nails excluding my ring nail.

On my ring nail I used 2 coats of China Glaze White Out. Once dry I sponged on China Glaze Elephant Walk and Nail It! Matte Grey. Once that was dry I used acrylic paint and a fine brush to paint the walls and Dom's figure.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin I have 3 copies of Afterworld to giveaway - open to Australian residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 24 February 2014

The Disappearance of Ember Crow by Ambellin Kwaymullina

The Disappearance of Ember Crow (The Tribe #2) by Ambellin Kwaymullina
Published November 2013 by Walker Books AU
Source: the publisher
Rating: 3 paws

From the blurb: Ember Crow is missing. To find her friend, Ashala Wolf must control her increasingly erratic and dangerous Sleepwalking ability and leave the Firstwood. But Ashala doesn't realise that Ember is harbouring terrible secrets and is trying to shield the Tribe and all Illegals from a devastating new threat - her own past.

Mini review:

The Disappearance of Ember Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina picks up six months after the events of The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf. Ashala has been living with a wolf pack but returns to her tribe when she hears the news that Ember has left them and doesn’t want them to try and find her.

I really enjoyed TIoAW when I read it a year and a half ago and at the time I was keen to read the sequel but I was also really happy with the way the story was wrapped up. So, on starting The Disappearance I really had to work at remembering the characters and the events of the previous book and slowly my interest returned.

This book takes a close look at Ember’s past and has some big secrets to reveal about her family. The story starts off in the Firstwood, with the Tribe and a visit from some of the Saurs, but it also covers new ground with Ashala, Connor, and Jules travelling to Spinifex City, providing the reader with vivid descriptions of the Australian-based environment.

There’s plenty of action and intrigue but I didn't find myself vested in this book as I did the previous one, and I can’t really put my finger on why. I still think this is a unique and very Australian series, perfect for teens who enjoy dystopian reads.

Thank you to Walker Books for my review copy.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Stacking the Shelves (2)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews

Purchased from a book fair (all but one are Aussie YA):

Little Bird (Girlfriend Fiction #13) by Penni Russon
Fifteen Love (Girlfriend Fiction #15) by R.M Corbet
A Letter from Luisa (Girlfriend Fiction #16) by Rowena Mohr
Thirteen Pearls (Girlfriend Fiction #18) by Melaina Faranda
Dare You by Saw Lawson
The Bridge by Jane Higgins (NZ YA)
Mostly Sunny with a Chance of Storms by Marion Roberts
Aliki Says by Irini Savvides
Friends Forever by Margaret Clark

Also, I had my blog layout updated and improved by the wonderful duo behind These Paper Blogs, Christine & Megan. The girls did such a great job and were fun to work with!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Mary Poppins by P.L Travers and Tape by Steven Camden

To try and catch up and get back into a regular schedule, I have some very short reviews to share :)

Published December 1, 2013 by Harper Collins
Source: the publisher
Rating: 4 paws

From the blurb: When Jane and Michael Banks draw up an advertisement for a nanny, Mary Poppins arrives on a gust of the East Wind and slides up the banister, changing their lives forever. Mary Poppins is a most efficient and loveable character - strict but fair, full of surprises and, in spite of her airs and graces, a true fairy-tale creature with universal appeal.
Soon the Banks children are whisked off on the most exciting journeys they had ever had. But Mary Poppins has only promised to stay until the wind changes...
Mini review:

I have seen the Disney movie version of Marry Poppins many, many times since I was a kid and I adore it. Reading the book was like watching the movie, I had all of the scenes from the movie in my head, and even the stories that were not part of the film were enjoyable. Now that I’ve read about P.L Travers’ dislike of the film, it in no way lessens my love of the movie and I highly recommend the book, to kids, young adults, and adults. 

Tape by Steven Camden
Published January 30, 2014 by Harper Collins
Source: the publisher
Rating: 3 paws

From the blurb: In 1993, Ryan records a diary on an old tape. He talks about his mother’s death, about his dreams, about his love for a new girl at school who doesn’t even know he exists.
In 2013, Ameliah moves in with her grandmother after her parents die. There, she finds a tape in the spare room. A tape with a boy’s voice on it – a voice she can’t quite hear, but which seems to be speaking to her.
Ryan and Ameliah are connected by more than just a tape.
This is their story.

Mini review:

Tape by Steven Camden is set in England and covers two timelines. The first involves thirteen year old Ryan, he lives with his dad, stem-mum and step-brother, Nathan. The second is the story of Ameliah, also a teenager who now lives with her grandma after the death of her parents.

The concept of Tape is clever and it kept me guessing during the beginning of the book but it was then easy to figure out the connection between the two main characters. Ryan and his best mate Liam were funny and entertaining. Ameliah was cute and shy. I enjoyed seeing where each of their stories would take them and their perspectives were easy to switch between.

One thing that bothered me at first was the constant use of ‘mom’ in what was clearly an English book by an English author, but I googled it and there are areas of England that have always used 'mom'. So while it looks totally out of place I suppose this story was set in one of those areas.

Thank you to the wonderful people at Harper Collins for my review copies.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Mish Mash Challenge: Seasons

The final Mish Mash Challenge theme is: seasons. I was considering doing a mani I've seen where you have a tree stretched out over four nails, but seeing as we don't get such clear cuts seasons here, I decided to go with something a bit more Aussie.

I chose five Aussie flowers: our national emblem and four state emblems. Our national flower, Wattle, can flower during all seasons. The state flowers each bloom in a different season: Sturt's Desert Pea (summer), Cooktown Orchid (autumn), Waratah (winter), and Royal Bluebell (summer).

I started with 2 coats of Pop Beauty Mint Magic.

I painted the flowers with a fine brush and acrylic paint.

So, that's it for this Mish Mash Challenge! It's good timing because now my Wednesdays are freed up reviews but I've had a lot of fun, found lots of wonderful bloggers to follow, and tried different techniques. 

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

So, today is the first day I'm sharing a book review on here, paired with a bookish manicure. Want more details? Check out my post yesterday.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
Published Jan 2, 2014 by Text Publishing
Source: the publisher
Rating: 4 paws

From the blurb: Hayley Kincain is hoping for a normal life now that she and her father have left their life on the road. But it seems things will never be normal when your dad is running from a past that tortures him and you’re trying to block out your own painful memories.
Then Hayley meets Finn. Perhaps she doesn’t need to work out her problems all on her own anymore. If only she’d let him in.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson is the story of seventeen year old Hayley Rose Kincain and her father, a former soldier now living with post-traumatic stress disorder. They have spent years on the road in a truck, moving from place to place, living with his alcoholism and mood swings. But now they've settled into her grandmother’s house and she’s in senior year at Belmont High School.

Laurie Halse Anderson has such a way with words, I am always utterly absorbed by her stories and this book was no different. Hayley is such a strong girl, one who has tried to take on the role of parent. Living in such close quarters with her father has meant she’s taken on some of his troubles, she suffers from anxiety and paranoia, but she doesn’t want to seek out or accept help from anyone.

Meeting Finn Ramos is one of the highlights of this story, for Hayley and for readers. He’s a wonderful mix of adorable, intelligent, and respectful – there is just something about guys named Finn (viewers of My Mad Fat Diary will agree with me!)

This is such a sad story and one that I’m sure rings true for a lot of families. The lack of help available to returning soldiers and their families is pitiful and I’m sure it will be something governments focus on in years to come.

The Impossible Knife of Memory is a gripping tale of one girl trying to make the most out of her life while realising she's not as alone as she thought.

Thank you to the lovely people at Text Publishing for my review copy.


I really love the icy cover of this book and when I got a new textured polish I realised it was the perfect for matching nails.

I started with 1 coat of Orly La Playa on all my nails, excluding my thumb nail. Once dry I dabbed on 2 coats of China Glaze There's Snow One Like You, a white textured polish, leaving room down the middle for the crack in the ice. On my thumb nail I did 2 coats of CG There's Snow One Like You, without the blue underneath.

I'm happy with how these turned out but it's one of those manicures that makes no sense when I'm not holding the book in my hand! It was fun to try out a textured polish, I quite like the look and feel of it.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Stacking the Shelves (1)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews - it's a way for us to share the books we borrowed, bought or received during the week.

Oohers, what's this? Well, I've decided to trial combining my book blog with this blog, so from now on The Bookish Manicurist will also feature YA book reviews as well as bookish manicures and nail art. More info in the vlog!

For review:

The Cracks in the Kingdom (The Colours of Madeleine #2) by Jaclyn Moriarty (Aussie YA)
Broken (Avena #2) by Marianne Curley (Aussie YA)
Silver People by Margarita Engle
Vampire Academy: the Ultimate Edition by Michelle Rowan and Richelle Mead

Pressie from a friend:
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Marie Semple

And I got one new polish: Pretty Serious The Pink One

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Mish Mash Challenge: black and white

It's the second last week of Kimber's Mish Mash Challenge! The theme this week is black and white and while I was browsing online, I found this one stroke flower tute by Cute Nails.

I started with 2 coats of China Glaze White Out.

I used a flat brush, a rigger brush, and acrylic paint for the flowers.

I can't believe next week is the final theme!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Mish Mash Challenge: Animated movie/tv show

Mish Mash Challenge time! I thought I had this week set, I was going to use a manicure I'd done about a month ago but then I was too lazy and forgetful to post on Wednesday! So, here it is, 4 days late.

I went to see the Disney movie Frozen and decided to do nails to match because the characters are adorable!

I started with a base of 2 coats of Ulta3 Block It Out and then I sponged on Ulta3 Soft Hydrangea followed by Ulta3 Lily White on the tips.

I used a fine brush and acrylic paint to do Sven (the reindeer), Olaf the snowman, and the trees. I finished it off with Deborah Lippmann When Lightening Strikes.

They didn't turn out quite as planned but I was happy with it overall

Monday, 3 February 2014

No One Else Can Have You

Today I have a manicure that I've been wanting to do for months, ever since I first saw the moose-printed jumper-inspired cover for this book. Over the weekend I read No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale and it was so weird, funny, and intriguing.

I started with 2 coats of Ulta3 Lotsa Fun.

Then I used acrylic paint and a fine brush to paint the moose and the pattern.

If you like mysteries and teenage girls playing detective, give this book a go!