Monday, 26 January 2015

Panic by Lauren Oliver

This post contains a review and a bookish manicure,

I'm back within a week *self hi5*. This is another old review, I read Panic in August last year and did the nails to match then as well.

Panic by Lauren Oliver
Published March 6, 2014 by Hachette AU
Source: the publisher
Rating: 4 stars

From the blurb: PANIC began as so many things do in Carp, a poor town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.It’s a game played only by the desperate – graduating teenagers who enter knowing they are gambling with their lives, but are prepared to risk it all for the life-changing victor’s prize.Heather never thought she would compete. She’s never seen herself as fearless, as one to stand out from the crowd. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.Dodge has never been afraid of PANIC. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game; he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret.Everyone has something to play for.

Lauren Oliver is one of my favourite authors, not only because of the books she writes, but because I saw her a couple of years ago when she visited Sydney, and she was such a captivating and entertaining speaker. Her books share these qualities and her writing always grabs me from the start.

Panic is no different, this was an edge-of-my-seat read! It takes the elements of fear, daring, and courage, that are so prevalent in dystopian YA right now, but showcases them in realistic fiction instead. It’s summer in Carp, NY and that means it’s time for PANIC to begin. Graduating students must jump off a cliff to enter and then will be notified of challenges. There is only one winner, and they will walk away with the prize money, minus the judges’ commission.

Despite being written in third person, I immediately bonded with both narrators, Heather Nill and Dodge Mason. They’ve had quite different lives, but they’re both playing for people they love, and they’re linked by their need to protect Nat. I thought Heather was amazing, she’s such a great older sister to Lily, and I adored her friendship with Bishop Marks, complicated as it was. Dodge on the other hand was a tad intense and a little creepy sometimes, his secret was slow to reveal and his anger and hatred was both shocking and totally understandable.

I loved the small town setting, as well as the element of summer. It was easy to imagine the long hot days, the relief of jumping into the swimming hole, and the sort of boredom that might lead to a game like PANIC. I thought about this book a lot once I’d finished, and really PANIC is quite a selfish and dangerous game, the participants endanger themselves and other people in the town, they also cause damage, and there don’t seem to be many consequences. But the reasons why kids would enter are realistic, and the challenges were so vivid and believable.

I enjoy mysteries and thrillers, and despite figuring out some aspects of this, I was still surprised by so many twists. Take the tigers – Heather starts working for a local lady who runs an unofficial animal sanctuary and she has a pair of tigers, it might seem super obvious as to what will happen to them, but it didn’t play out exactly how I thought it would. Neither did the ending and I’m really happy with how it all turned out, but I wasn’t expecting to be happy once I finished a story like this. There were moments where I was squirming in my seat, sitting on the edge, saying “oh no, oh no, oh no!” And by the end my heart was racing and I felt like I’d been playing PANIC along with Heather and Dodge (sidenote: I don’t think I’d ever be brave enough to enter a game like this.)

Panic is a captivating YA thriller, with a memorable cast of characters, all with different and complicated motives, and all with a need for something more.

Thank you to Hachette for my review copy.

Normally I wouldn't do nails to match a cover that only features a photographic element, but for some reason I wanted to give this cover a go.

I started with a base of 2 coats of Orly Liquid Vinyl.

I used acrylic paint and a fine brush to paint Heather on my ring nail.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett

This post contains a review and a bookish manicure.

Happy New Year! The last time I blogged it had been three months since my last post, and this time it's only been a month and a half - I am improving! I thought of posting a bunch of times but logging in and formatting a post seemed like a Herculean task. Anyway, here I am with a review of a book I read in August last year. It is a wonderful book, I hope you'll give it a read.

Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett
Published 2011 by Hachette
Source: my dad gave me a copy
Rating: 5 stars
From the blurb: Everyone loves Harry. Everyone except his father. Three brothers, Joe, Miles and Harry, are growing up on the remote south coast of Tasmania. The brothers’ lives are shaped by their father’s moods – like the ocean he fishes, he is wild and unpredictable. He is a bitter man, warped by a devastating secret.
Miles tries his best to watch out for Harry, the youngest, but he can’t be there all the time. Often alone, Harry finds joy in the small treasures he discovers, in shark eggs and cuttlefish bones. In a kelpie pup, a big mug of Milo, and a secret friendship with a mysterious neighbour.But sometimes small treasures, or a brother’s love, are not enough.

It’s funny how some authors often go unnoticed in the sea of fiction these days, especially when you have a focus on a particular area, like Aussie YA. In mid-August, before my dad handed me Past the Shallows, I’d never heard of Favel Parrett, and then suddenly her name was everywhere I looked because her second novel was due to be released. I’m so glad he found a copy of her debut novel because it’s an amazing example of Aussie YA fiction.

Past the Shallows is the story of the Curran boys: Joe (nineteen), Miles (approximately thirteen), and Harry (about eight). They live on the south coast of Tasmania with their father, an abalone fisherman. Their mother died not long ago, in a car accident. Their father is a violent, moody alcoholic, and Miles tries to protect Harry as much as possible, especially since Joe moved out. Miles also has to help on the boat, a job he is not fond of due to his father and his co-worker.

The story is told from Harry and Miles’ perspectives, and through them we learn of the mystery of why their father hates Harry so much, and the details of their mother’s death. Both boys sounded older than I first thought, and when I realised just how young they were, I became even sadder. I adored both of them, Harry is so young and innocent, he is pleased by the smallest of things, and is always trying to do nice things for Miles. Miles has so much responsibility for someone so young, I admired the way he cared for Harry.

The writing is beautiful, descriptive, and compelling – I hadn’t planned on reading this when it was given to me, but I glanced at the first page and once I started reading I could not stop. Each scene is so vivid, I could feel the cool, coastal air, and smell the salty sea. The more violent scenes, like the one involving a shark, were horrifying and left me feeling sick.

Because the boys are so young, the truth about their family becomes apparent to the reader before it does to them, but the ending is no less shocking because of it. I finished this book while sitting in my kitchen, with sunlight streaming in, but I still felt chilled to my core, with tears streaming down my face. 

Past the Shallows is a beautifully told story with a powerful impact, perfect for teens and adults. 

** International readers: both of Favel's book have also been published in the USA and the UK!

This book recently got a cover make over so it matches Favel’s second novel, When the Night Comes, both have lovely covers, but I’m still partial to the older cover and wanted to capture it in a manicure.

I started with 2 coats of Orly Smoked Out as the base.

In the top right hand area of each nail I sponged on China Glaze Too Yacht To Handle.

Then I dabbed on two different glitter polishes: Orly Go Deeper and L.A Girl Nostalgic.

On my ring finger nail I painted the seahorse using acrylic paint and a very fine brush.