Saturday, 31 October 2015

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2) by Libba Bray
Published: August 2015 by Allen & Unwin
Source: the publisher
Rating: 5 stars

From the blurb: After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O'Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to 'read' objects, and therefore the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title 'America's Sweetheart Seer'. There's just one downside - a sham engagement to the irritatingly handsome Sam Lloyd.
But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners' abilities… and across town, a mysterious sleeping sickness is spreading through Chinatown, leaving dead dreamers in its wake.
Can the Diviners descend into the slumberland and catch a killer?

Two years ago I spent the Easter long weekend reading The Diviners and loved it to pieces. Going into Lair of Dreams I thought I might not remember who everyone was or what had happened, but I needn't have worried because Libba is a spectacular writer and I found myself diving back into the world of 1920s New York City seamlessly. It was wonderful to be back with the original gang; Evie, Mablel, Theta, Jericho, Memphis, Henry, and even Sam, but also to be introduced to new characters like Ling Chan. There's also a new paranormal element haunting the subway system of New York, it was perfectly creepy and mysterious.

The plotting is spot on, I never found myself hurrying to think ahead, instead I enjoyed the situations as they happened and found the plot just as compelling as The Diviners. I adored the evolving friendship between Henry and Ling, and I found Henry to be hilarious. I'm also torn between Evie's love interests; I've always liked Jericho but Sam has grown on me.

If there's another three year gap between publication dates that is a-ok with me, because I know it'll be pos-i-tute-ly worth the wait.

Thank you to the publisher for my review copy.

I did nails for the cover of The Diviners, so I figured I would do nails for Lair of Dreams as well. I kept this one quite simple, and I think it makes a nice, subtle Halloween manicure.

I used 2 coats of Ulta3 Black Satin for the base, and acrylic paint for the detailing.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Talk Under Water by Kathryn Lomer

Talk Under Water by Kathryn Lomer
Published July 2015 by UQP
Source: the publisher
Rating: 5 stars

From the blurb: Will and Summer meet online and strike up a friendship based on coincidence. Summer lives in Will's old hometown, Kettering, a small Tasmanian coastal community. Summer isn't telling the whole truth about herself, but figures it doesn't matter if they never see each other in person, right? 
When Will returns to Kettering, the two finally meet and Summer can no longer hide her secret – she is deaf. Can Summer and Will find a way to be friends in person even though they speak a completely different language?

I've always wanted to read Kathryn Lomer's books, I've had What Now, Tilda B? on my shelf for a while now, but still haven't read it. So I was thrilled to see her new release, Talk Under Water. Will and his dad left Keft the small town of Kettering, Tasmania after his mum left them. They sailed to Sydney on their yacht and Will has been home schooled by his dad. He and Summer strike up a conversation online, and soon Will and his dad are heading home so he can return to high school, and so his dad can start a new job in his field of marine biology.

What Summer decided not to to share is the face that she is deaf and has been since birth. Her father taught her sign language and how to read from an early age, but he died a couple of years ago. Summer tried out high school but after being bullied, returned to being home schooled by her mother.

At first Will is angry that Summer hid this aspect of her life from him, but eventually they become friends. This sparks an interest in sign language, he enrols in a course and starts teaching himself by watching videos online. The relationship that develops between the two teens is beautiful, and Summer conveys this development in letters that she writes to her deceased father.

I loved how instructional and descriptive the narrative was when it came to sign language, I could easily picture the conversations Summer and Will had. I have a cousin who is deaf and I think when she first visited us during my primary school years, I found sign language fascinating and there was a period where my group of friends sign-spelled everything to each other. Looking at the Auslan alphabet now I can see our signs were very similar, but I never took it further.

Talk Under Water is a beautiful story of friendship and first love and would be a great read for teens and adults as a great conversation starter on acceptance and tolerance.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.

I love this quirky cover and decided to do a fishy manicure to match.

I used 2 coats of Ulta3 Black Satin for the base and acrylic paint for the fish.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

One by Sarah Crossan

One by Sarah Crossan
Published August 25, 2015 by Bloomsbury
Source: the publisher
Rating: 5 stars

From the blurb: Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.
And their lives are about to change.
No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?
But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined…
One follows the story of sixteen year old ischiopagus tripus conjoined twins, Grace and Tippi. Written in verse, something Crossan excels at, this was told in a beautiful and compelling way. Grace instantly let's us into her world and I immediately felt protective of her. She struggles to maintain a separate life from Tippi, and often feels guilt over the inconvenience and cost they cause to their family. After being home schooled, they are now venturing into the world of a conventional high school and this brings challenges for them, as well as their deteriorating health and the possibility of separation surgery in the future.

I don't think anyone who is not a conjoined twin could understand the sort of bond these girls share, but this book gives a good idea of what it might be like, and in doing so was utterly heartbreaking. I always enjoy Crossan's novels and this has been added to my list of favourites. It's sad, hopeful, and thought-provoking, and I loved it.

A note on the editing: knowing that Crossan is originally from Ireland, I read this as if it was a UKYA title not American, even though the story is set in Rhode Island and the mother is referred to as Mom. The fact that words typically used in the UK were included (Tipp-Ex, pushchair, jot) also increased the feeling that this a UK book, not American. I'm not sure if it was changed to suit an American audience or if it was always intended to be set in the USA, but it seemed odd to me.

Thank you to Bloomsbury for my review copy.

I love both covers for One (here's the UK version), but in particular I love this version.

I've also done nails to match another of Sarah's books, The Weight of Water.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Frankie and Joely by Nova Weetman

Frankie and Joely by Nova Weetman
Published July 2015 by UQP
Source: the publisher
Rating: 5 stars

From the blurb: Frankie and Joely are best friends. They love each other like no one else can. It's summer and, together, the girls are escaping the city and their mums for a week of freedom in the country. But when Joely introduces Frankie to her country cousins, Thommo and Mack, it soon becomes clear that something other than the heat is getting under their skin. As the temperature rises, local boy Rory stirs things up even more and secrets start to blister. Will they still be ‘Frankie and Joely’ by the end of their holiday?

I adored Nova Weetman's debut novel, The Haunting of Lily Frost, so I was really excited to read her second book, Frankie and Joely.

Frankie and Joely are two teenage girls living in Melbourne. They've been best friends for two years and are going to spend the summer in the fictional rural town of Payne. Joely extended family lives there and at first she was keen to bring her friend along, but the simmering tension and secrets between them has her wondering if she's made a mistake.

This story really highlights the complexity of female friendships, particularly how difficult communication can be for teenage girls. Both Frankie and Joely have issues they want to talk about, but each of them feels embarrassment, shame, or fear, and so a lot of things go unsaid.

I was completely drawn into their story from the very beginning, there is such an energy throughout the book, and the multiple perspectives helped to show how differently each character felt.
The heat of the country summer was also easy to feel through the vivid descriptions of the town, I really felt as though I were in Payne with the girls.

Frankie and Joely is a beautiful, touching story filled with complex yet lovable characters that readers will easily relate to and empathise with. I loved this book and know it will be well-received by readers of all ages.

Thank you to UQP for my review copy.

No nails for this one, but the nails I did for Nova's debut novel are still one of my favourites!