Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

This post contains a review and a bookish manicure

Published June 1, 2014 by Harper Collins AU
Source: the publisher
Rating: 4 stars
From the blurb: I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?
Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.
What happened? Dorothy.
They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.
And I have a mission.

Dorothy Must Die is the debut novel by Danielle Paige. Amy Gumm is a teenager living in Flat Hill, Kansas, along with her mother, who spends her time either heavily medicated or out drinking. Amy is biding her time until she can leave Kansas and find a new and better place to live. Then a tornado sweeps her, their trailer, and her mum’s pet rat, Star, to Oz. But it’s not the Oz we know from the film or book. This Oz is clearly in trouble, the landscape has faded, magic is being mined, the flying monkeys are choosing to cut off their wings. What is the cause of all the trouble? Dorothy, and her need for more and more magic.

I liked Amy from the beginning, she’s determined, loyal, and kind. She hasn’t had the best life, she’s been neglected and she’s quite lonely, but she doesn’t complain. What she does is save her money and think of the future. But that will only get you so far, especially when your mum steals your savings and abandons you right before a tornado. Amy’s reaction to winding up in Oz was so believable, she wonders if she’s dreaming, or if it’s an Oz-themed amusement park. Her magical training was also as realistic as magical training can be, it didn’t just come to her, she had to work at it.

This was such an imaginative version of Oz. I liked that there were so many well-known aspects (the Yellow Brick Road, the Emerald City), but it was also unpredictable and edgy, often violent and cruel. I liked that the harsher aspects weren't tamed for the YA audience, there are some really horrible scenes, but they’re still appropriate for YA. The former good guys, Dorothy, Glinda, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and Lion are now the baddies, and it’s up to Amy, and the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, to fix things.

The only thing that lost me was the ending, with a title like Dorothy Must Die, I had expectations as to how the story would end, and I was not aware this was going to be a series, but after that ending it’s obvious this was just the beginning. It’s not a cliffhanger, but there is lots left to wonder about until the sequel. Also, bonus points for no love-triangle - I thought we might have been heading in that direction, but there was a pleasant twist at the end that proved me wrong!

Dorothy Must Die is a captivating re-telling of a childhood favourite. It’s creative, surprising, and sure to leave you wanting to visit Oz again.

Thank you to Harper Collins my review copy.

I first heard of Dorothy Must Die late last year and loved the cover immediately. In February the author, Danielle, commented on another bookish manicure of mine and said she'd love to see nails for her book. So, I waited patiently for the book to be released here, and six months later, I have nails to match!

I began with 2 coats of Ulta3 Black Satin on all nails.

I added red tips to my nails using acrylic paint.

For Dorothy’s dress, shoes, and bow I used acrylic paint and a fine brush.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Rage by Stephen King

Rage by Stephen King (originally published under the name Richard Bachman)
Published in 1977 by Signet, and later as part of The Bachman Books
Source: purchased
Rating: 3 stars
From the blurb: A high-school student with authority problems kills one of his teachers and takes the rest of his class hostage. Over the course of one long, tense and unbearable hot afternoon, Charlie Decker explains what led him to this drastic sequence of events, while at the same time deconstructing the personalities of his classmates, forcing each one to justify his or her existence.
Rage is Stephen King’s fourth novel, originally published under his pseudonym, Richard Bachman. The story revolves around Charles Everett Decker, or Charlie, a senior at Placerville High School, Maine. In March Charlie attacked a teacher with a pipe wrench, and when he was allowed back to school a month later, he started bringing his dad’s gun to school. In May he takes a class hostage and Charlie tells them his story, delving back into childhood memories, while also learning more about his classmates.

I read Rage a month ago and have put off reviewing it until now because I really don’t know what to say about it. Did I enjoy it? No. Was it interesting? Yes. Would I recommend it? Well, maybe to serious King fans.

Charlie hasn’t had the best childhood, but I also didn’t feel like it was the worst experience, or an experience that justified shooting people. It’s clear Charlie and his father have never been close, Charlie has always believed that his father hates him, and it’s probably true. He had a couple of experiences with being bullied, and didn’t have many close friends, apart from best friend, Joe. It’s hard to judge someone else’s experience, but I kept waiting for him to describe a catalytic moment or event, but he never did.

Reading this bought back memories of reading Forgive Me,Leonard Peacock. Charlie and Leonard share similar traits: they’re judgmental, they feel entitled and better than others, but in Leonard’s case I understood why he attempted to carry out his plan, I didn’t understand Charlie in this way.

The end of Charlie’s story lost me, especially the last few moments in the classroom and the follow up letters/documents. It wasn’t what I was expecting and I didn’t find it that believable.

In the late eighties and the mid-nineties there were four school shootings, and in each one the shooter either had a copy of Rage or had mentioned reading it. Following the last incident in 1997, King called for the book to cease being printed. If you do want to track a copy down, your best bet is to find a second hand copy of The Bachman Books (I got mine via Abe Books). After reading Rage, you can see how someone in a particular state of mind would find it inspirational, but I don’t think the entirety of the blame can be placed on the book.

King’s books often have references to the Beatles in them, and Rage features two: Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and A Day in the Life.

Rage is a very different book from the rest of King’s work, it definitely reads as something he wrote when he was younger, and it focuses on a more realistic situation, as opposed to his horror books.

Book #4 in my Stephen King Project

Friday, 8 August 2014

Bookish Birthday Manicure

Today is my birthday and I'm celebrating by attending two book events! Tonight I'm going to the launch of Claire Zorn's amazing new novel, The Protected. Tomorrow I'm attending a high tea featuring the three Moriarty sisters, Jaclyn, Liane, and Nicola. I thought I'd combine a birthday manicure with a bookish manicure in celebration!

On my thumb I did a nail for The Protected. I've already done a full manicure for this book, you can check it out here, but I also wanted to have one nail done like the cover for the launch. I started with 2 coats of Ulta3 Bright Me and when that was dry I used acrylic paint and a fine brush to paint Hannah's silhouette.

On my index nail I did the cover for Liane's new novel, Big Little Lies. I started with 2 coats of China Glaze First Mate. I sponged on China Glaze White Out, followed by an unnamed blue by L.A Colors, and then I used acrylic paint and a fine brush to paint the moon and the waves.

On my middle nail I did the cover for Jaclyn's book, I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes. I started with 2 coats of Illamasqua Load, then I used acrylic paint and a fine brush to paint the hot air balloon (balloon = birthday, right?)

On my ring nail I did the cover for Liane's novel, The Husband's Secret. I started with 2 coats of Ulta2 Lucky Bamboo. Then I sponged on China Glaze White Out, Orly Jealous, Much?, Ulta3 Tahitian Lime, BYS Baby Let's Cruise, and then used acrylic paint and a fine brush to paint the balloon (very birthday-y!)

And finally on my ring nail I did the cover for Nicola's novel, Free-Falling. I began with 2 coats of China Glaze White Out. Then I sponged on Australis Blue Tiger, Mode Cosmetics Hook Me Up, Ulta3 Soft Hydrangea, BYS Baby Let's Cruise, and BYS Steal the Limelight. I used acrylic paint and a fine brush to add the leaves.

Done! I used a lot of different polish and it took a fair while, but I really enjoyed the process.

Also, excuse the photos with my tablet - I don't own any of Liane or Nicola's books yet (I'll remedy that at the event tomorrow!), so I used images from online and the glare on the screen makes it quite difficult to see the covers - I might take new pics once I buy the physical copies.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Trouble by Non Pratt

This post contains a review and a bookish manicure

Trouble by Non Pratt
Published February 20, 2014 by Walker Books
Source: the publisher
Rating: 5 stars
From the blurb: Hannah is smart and funny. She’s also fifteen and pregnant. Aaron is the new boy at school. He doesn’t want to attract attention. So why does Aaron offer to be the pretend dad to Hannah’s unborn baby?
I really like how short and succinct the blurb is for Trouble by Non Pratt. It sums up the basic plot of the book without giving too much away. But, there is a lot more to this story and I wholeheartedly adored it!

Trouble is written in a first person dual narration making it easy to get to know fifteen year olds Hannah Sheppard and Aaron Tyler immediately. Hannah lives with her mum, step-father, and younger sister, Lola. Her older step-brother, Jay, recently left home to attend university. Hannah is a fantastic sister to Lola, she also has a wonderful relationship with her Gran, who lives at Cedarfields. Aaron and his parents recently moved nearby so that his dad could take up a new teaching position at Kingsway and Aaron could attend the same school as a student. He volunteers at Cedarfields and befriends a resident, Neville. It’s clear Aaron is volunteering as penance for something that occurred at his previous school.

Trouble covers a lot of topics: teen pregnancy, family, friends, bullying, and death, just to name a few, and it does it so honestly. Both Aaron and Hannah sounded so authentically teenaged and it was great to read their thoughts on the dynamics of high school friendships, dating, sex, and families.

There’s a bit of mystery surrounding Hannah’s pregnancy and Aaron’s past. I found Hannah’s story easy to figure out and guessed the father immediately, but Aaron’s story was more intricate, and so sad, too. I loved both main characters, but Aaron really shone as a good guy. He was so protective of Hannah, but not in that stereotypical aggressive way, instead he was clever, thoughtful, and kind.

Trouble is a story perfect for teens and adults alike, it takes a close look at subjects relevant to teens today and does so in a believable and moving way. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and I especially loved how English it sounded – good UKYA fiction shares the same qualities that make me love AussieYA fiction so much.

Thank you to Walker Books for my review copy.

I LOVE this cover. I loved it from the minute I saw it and knew I would have to do nails to match, how could I pass up a chance to paint sperm on my nails? Ha!

I started with 2 coats of L.A Colors Sea Foam which is a perfect match for the cover.

Once dry I used acrylic paint and a fine brush to paint the O (or the egg) and the sperm.

This one was really quick to do and so fun. The US cover is really different but I really love it too, it has quite a vintage look to it: