Saturday, 27 February 2016

A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty

A Tangle of Gold (The Colours of Madeleine #3) by Jaclyn Moriarty
Published Feb 23, 2016 by PanMacmillan Australia
Source: an ARC from the publisher, then purchased a final copy
Rating: 5 stars

From the blurb: The Kingdom of Cello is in crisis. Princess Ko's deception has been revealed and the Elite have taken control, placing the Princess, Samuel and Sergio under arrest and ordering their execution. Elliot is being held captive by the Hostiles and Colour storms are raging through the land. The Cello Wind has been silent for months.Plans are in place to bring the remaining Royals home from the World but then all communication between Cello and the World will cease. That means Madeleine will lose Elliot, forever.Madeleine and Elliot must solve the mystery of Cello before it is too late.

I'm extremely sad and happy to be writing about the third and final book in The Colours of Madeline series by Australian author, Jaclyn Moriarty. I have loved this series from the beginning and was sure that would also be the case with this book.

It's so easy to slip back into the world of Cello, to catch up with Elliot and Madeleine and to find out what they're up to now. I was tempted to re-read books one and two to refresh my memory but didn't need to because everything came back so easily, the characters, the places, the events.

In this book, Eliott has joined a group of Hostiles and so we get to see another part of this world and learn more about the colours. Back in the real world Madeleine is dealing with visions of the past, and she's worried that her mother, Holly, is sick again.

This book is so beautifully worded, it's whimsical yet full of thought and meaning. The subtle humour made me laugh, especially when it came from Holly - I really adore her.

I don't know what else to say about A Tangle of Gold other than I could not have asked for a more perfect end to this wonderful, colourful, brilliant series.

Thank you to PanMacmillan for my review copy.

I did a very simple manicure for A Corner of White three years ago, and I did nails to match The Cracks in the Kingdom two years ago, so of course I had to nails to match the final book.

I started with a base of white polish and used acrylic paint for the rest.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

This Raging Light by Estelle Laure
Published January 14, 2016 by Orchard Books
Source: the publisher
Rating: 4 stars

From the blurb: Lucille has bigger problems than falling for her best friend's unavailable brother. Her mom has gone, leaving her to look after her sister, Wren. With bills mounting up and appearances to keep, Lucille is raging against her life but holding it together - just.

This Raging Light is Estelle Laure's debut novel. Seventeen year old Lucille Bennett lives in Cherryville, New Jersey with her nine year old sister, Wren. A couple of months ago their dad assaulted their mum, something Lu witnessed, and he was sent to an institution. Fourteen days ago their mum left, saying she needed a break. Lu was sure she'd return for the first day of school but when she doesn't, Lu knows she needs to make sure no one suspects a thing so she and Wren aren't separated.

This is the second book I've read in a week that involves an older sibling bearing all the responsibility for their little sister -  it's such a sad situation for a teenager to be in.  Lu is a complex character, so determined and strong, but also extremely confused and anxious. She tries so hard to hold everything together and to protect Wren, but doesn't realise Wren knows more than she lets on.

It also doesn't help that Lu has fallen in love with her best friend's twin brother, Digby. This poses a problem for Lu, she wants to keep it a secret because Digby has a girlfriend, and she isn't sure what it means for them or her future.

Lu also has to deal with her father, they reconnect and she finds herself angry and upset at him leaving, a totally understandable reaction to being abandoned, but she also has to think of their welfare, particularly Wren's.

This Raging Light is a complicated, sad, and realistic story. It was heartbreaking and touching at the same time, as well as beautifully written.

Thank you to Hachette for my review copy.

I decided to do nails for the US version of This Raging Light as there's a bit more going on with the cover.

I sponged on a gradient using the following polishes: Ulta3 Honolulu, Nail It! Papaya, Ulta3 Tahiti, LA Girl Heatwave, Pop Beauty Pinkest, Sinful Colors Dream On, Nail It! Jellybean, Zoya Pinta.

I used acrylic paint for the details in white.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Almost three years ago I painted nails to match To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and when I heard of her passing yesterday I decided to do a new version.

On the tree nails I used Ulta3 Corsican Rose and Australis Citrus.

For the stripes and the tree I used acrylic paint.

Friday, 19 February 2016

The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and his Ex by Gabrielle Williams

The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex by Gabrielle Williams
Published April 2015 by Allen & Unwin
Source: purchased
Rating: 5 stars

From the blurb: A rock chick.An artist with attitude.A girl with a past.A party animal.Four lives collide when one of the world's most famous paintings is stolen. It's a mystery that has the nation talking, but while Picasso's Weeping Woman might be absent from the walls of the National Gallery, in other parts of Melbourne the controversial painting's presence is being felt by Guy, Rafi, Luke and Penny for four very different reasons.

The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex by Aussie author Gabrielle Williams, is set in Melbourne during August 1986. It revolves around a true story: Picasso's painting, Weeping Woman, was stolen by the Australian Cultural Terrorists and ransomed for better funding for the arts. It was later returned but there has always been some question as to it's authenticity.

This was an event I'd never heard of, but it made a great starting point for this novel, giving our four main characters a place to intersect. Guy is in his last year of school and is in a bind because he faked his last school report, hoping he'd improve before anyone found out, only that didn't pan out. Rafi and her mother live about her uncle's bistro, they moved here from Bolivia, after her younger brother drowned. Her mother is haunted by La Llorona, a horse-headed ghost that drowns children. Luke is a popular artist, who takes part in the theft, and Penny is his ex-girlfriend and a new mother to their son, Joshie.

I'm always a fan of stories that manage to weave together so many characters and plot lines well, and that is definitely the case here. Each character had a unique story and I felt like I got a peak into their respective worlds. It was really clever how their live eventually connected, it was also quite sad, especially for Rafi and Penny. I

Keeping this set in the eighties was a treat too, it was hilarious to read about how easy it was to steal a painting from a national gallery back in the day, and all I could think about how hard it would be now, unless you're Neal Caffrey.

The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex is a bittersweet story of family, love, and art. and after you've read it, you'll probably never look at a famous artwork the same way again.

I knew I had to have a go at forging painting this wonderful cover. I started with a base coat of white polish and then used acrylic paint for the characters and the empty frame.

Monday, 15 February 2016

More Than This by Patrick Ness

More Than This by Patrick Ness
Published 2014 by Walker Books
Source: the publisher
Rating: 3 stars
From the blurb: A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies.Then he wakes, naked and bruised and thirsty, but alive.How can this be? And what is this strange deserted place?As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?

More Than This is the story of Seth Wearing, an English boy who moved to Portland after an incident involving his younger brother. We find him at the beach on a wintry day where he drowns and dies, only to wake up back in England, in the suburb he grew up in. He is naked apart from some bandages and finds his old town completely deserted. Via flashbacks to his life we gain insight into the events that led to the relocation to America and to his suicide.

Hmm! I feel like this is a book I probably didn't quite get, but it was definitely thought provoking and interesting. It was like a survival story, only with no one else around, and I found I had no idea where the story was going to go, which was great as it kept me in the moment and not racing ahead to figure it all out.

I enjoyed the flashbacks a lot, it's what hooked me because I wanted to know why and how and who, but I found Seth's present situation sometimes dragged, but possibly that was a good indication of what it really would have felt like, being on your own in an abandoned suburb, with no idea of the time or date.

This was definitely unique and I know Ness-fans loved it, so I'd still recommend it to all YA readers.

Thank you Walker Books for my review copy.

For this manicure I started with 2 coats of Ulta3 Black Satin and used acrylic paint for the lines and the door.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Every Move by Ellie Marney

Every Move (Every #3) by Ellie Marney
Published March 1, 2015 by Allen & Unwin
Source: purchased
Rating: 4 stars

From the blurb: Rachel Watts is suffering from recurring nightmares about her near-death experience in London. She just wants to forget the whole ordeal, but her boyfriend, James Mycroft, is obsessed with piecing the puzzle together and anticipating the next move of the mysterious Mr Wild - his own personal Moriarty.So when Rachel's brother, Mike, suggests a trip back to their old home in Five Mile, Rachel can't wait to get away. Unfortunately it's not the quiet weekend she was hoping for with the unexpected company of Mike's old school buddy, the wildly unreliable Harris Derwent.Things get worse for Rachel when Harris returns to Melbourne with them - but could Harris be the only person who can help her move forward? Then a series of murders suggests that Mr Wild is still hot on their tails and that Mycroft has something Wild wants - something Wild is prepared to kill for.Can Watts and Mycroft stay one step ahead of the smartest of all criminal masterminds? The stage is set for a showdown of legendary proportions... 

Every Move is the third and final book in the Every series by Australian author Ellie Marney. It's been over a month since they returned from London, Rachel still nursing injuries and Mycroft hellbent on continuing on the investigation. They soon realise that the mastermind behind the events in London has followed them home and now they and their families are in danger.

It's been two years since I read the second book, Every Word, but I fell back into the world of Rachel and Mycroft easily. Rachel's brother Mike invites an old friend from Five Mile to stay with them, Harris Derwent. Rachel's never been fond of him but she slowly realises there's more to him than she first thought. He's the only one to figure out she's having nightmares and offers to train her in self defense, something he turned to after being beaten by his alcoholic father.

Rachel and Mycroft's relationship has been weakened by what they went through, Rachel can't stand to be touched and Mycroft doesn't seem to notice her at all, let alone her issues. Realistically they would have been undergoing trauma therapy (coincidentally something I've been reading about lately), but the self defense training helped Rachel to a  degree, and Mycroft's love for Rachel woke him up to the danger they're in.

Mai and Gus play a small role in this book, but it was nice to see them again. I also liked the focus on the relationships between Rachel, Mike, and her mum. I thought Harris provided a good contrast to the regular cast, and he ended up playing a big role in the final showdown between with Mr Wild.

Every Move is a clever and satisfying end to the Every series, great for fans of crime, mystery, and romance.

I've done manicures to match Every Breath and Every Word so I had to do a final manicure for this series.

I used 2 coats of Nail It! Papaya and sponged on Ulta3 Black Satin.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier
Published January 27, 2016 by Allen & Unwin
Source: the publisher
Rating: 4 stars

From the blurb: Che Taylor has four items on his list: 1. He wants to spar, not just train in the boxing gym. 2. He wants a girlfriend. 3. He wants to go home. 4. He wants to keep Rosa under control.Che's little sister Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and so good at deception that Che's convinced she must be a psychopath. She hasn't hurt anyone yet, but he's certain it's just a matter of time. And when their parents move them to New York City, Che longs to return to Sydney and his three best friends. But his first duty is to his sister Rosa, who is playing increasingly complex and disturbing games. Can he protect Rosa from the world - and the world from Rosa?

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier is set in New York City. Seventeen year old Che Taylor has just moved there with his parents, and his ten year old sister, Rosa. It's been two years since he's been home to Sydney, and five years since they've lived anywhere permanently. Che just wants to go home, hang out with his friends, spar, and find a girlfriend. Unfortunately looking after Rosa keeps him busy. His anxiety about what she'll do next d only increases when they meet the McBrunight family and Rosa sets her sights on the twins, Seimone and Maya.

The characters in this book were so well done, I immediately felt for Che, I could feel the weight of responsibility he shouldered for Rosa. His parents are aware of some of her issues; she was a slow developer, she would tell lies in public to get them in trouble, and she's seen many doctors, but each time Rosa figures out how she should react and her parents believe she's cured. Che holds back so many unspoken words whether it comes to Rosa's actions or his boxing. He really struggles because he loves his sister and wants to believe she can change.

I liked that Che had a hobby that kept him busy, and that he maintained contact with his friends in Sydney via text. He also develops a love interest that brings out his insecurities and shows how kind and caring he is. These aspects made him seem all the more real.

Despite being on his side, there were enough clues that made me wonder if Che was going to turn out to be an unreliable narrator, I started looking for twists and turns, sure that everything I presumed would be wrong. The ending was interesting, but it was not wholly surprising and I think I was expecting a bit more, something bigger and more sinister.

My Sister Rosa is a clever, creepy, and thought-provoking YA thriller.

Thank you to Allen & Unwin for my review copy.

I loved the faded tone of this cover and thought I'd give matching nails a go. I decided to skip the hands and just paint the sparrow.

I started with a white base coat and then sponged on Nail It! Matte Grey. On the top of each nail I sponged on a small amount of China Glaze Elephant Walk.

I used a fine brush and acrylic paint for the sparrow.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham
Pubished October 2015 by Scholastic
Source: the publisher
Rating: 5 stars

From the blurb: Three women - three secrets - one heart-stopping story. Katie, seventeen, in love with someone whose identity she can't reveal. Her mother Caroline, uptight, worn out and about to find the past catching up with her. Katie's grandmother, Mary, back with the family after years of mysterious absence and 'capable of anything', despite suffering from Alzheimers. As Katie cares for an elderly woman who brings daily chaos to her life, she finds herself drawn to her. Rules get broken as allegiances shift. Is Mary contagious? Is 'badness' genetic? In confronting the past, Katie is forced to seize the present. As Mary slowly unravels and family secrets are revealed, Katie learns to live and finally dares to love.

Unbecoming is Jenny Downham's third novel. Set in the town of Bisham, we meet seventeen year old Katie, her mother Caroline, and her younger brother Chris. She's never met her maternal grandmother but Mary has come to live with them after her mother was called as the emergency contact. Mary has dementia but despite this Caroline does not want her to live with them. It's a subject that she chooses not to discuss, but she was abandoned by Mary at a young age and brought up by her aunt. Katie on the other hand finds Mary delightful and the two instantly bond. Katie sets about writing down the stories Mary tells her and keeps them in a book to use as a way to remind Mary of who she is.

I assumed because there were three women in this story, that there would be three perspectives, but there are only two, Katie's and Mary's. I think it was a clever way to approach the story as Caroline is not a likeable character on first meeting her, but she's also in the dark about a lot of her early childhood and as she learns about it so does the reader, this bring us closer and allows us to have more empathy towards her.

I adored Katie, she's a wonderful girl but she feels trapped by her mother's rules and by her secret - she thinks she's a lesbian and is terrified of her mother finding out. Already she's being teased at school by her former best friend, but having Mary in her life allows her to grow and discover who she doesn't want to be.

Mary was lovely and her story was so sad. She's confused about who she is, why she's come to stay with her daughter and grandchildren, but takes pleasure in telling Katie stories of her younger years.

Jenny Downham really knows how to write an emotional story, and Unbecoming is no exception, I felt so much for this family and really loved the time spent reading about their lives. The ending was beautiful, full of hope yet tinged with sadness too.

This is a YA book that could easily be enjoyed by adults as well, it's a realistic coming of age story combined with historical fiction.

Thank you to Scholastic Australia for my review copy.

The three women in this story have varying shades of red hair and I love how this is represented here (the cover of the new edition also has a great design).

I started with 2 coats of BYS Kung Fu Blue.

I used a fine brush and acrylic paint for the hair.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar

Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar
Published January 27, 2016 by Allen & Unwin
Source: purchased
Rating: 5 stars

From the blurb: Jess Gordon is out for revenge. Last year the jocks from Knights College tried to shame her best friend. This year she and a hand-picked college girl gang are going to get even.The lesson: don't mess with Unity girls.The target: Blondie, a typical Knights stud, arrogant, cold . . . and smart enough to keep up with Jess.A neo-riot grrl with a penchant for fanning the flames meets a rugby-playing sexist pig - sworn enemies or two people who happen to find each other when they're at their most vulnerable?It's all Girl meets Boy, Girl steals from Boy, seduces Boy, ties Boy to a chair and burns Boy's stuff. Just your typical love story.

Summer Skin is the fourth novel by Aussie author, Kirsty Eagar. Set in Brisbane at a college called Unity, we meet Jess Gordon, economics student, and her friends Farren, Leanne, and Allie. Unity is a co-ed college and the girls all live on campus. Their rivals have and always will be the boys from Knights College, and an event last year only made them more keen to teach them a lesson. The girls have come up with a event to shame the boys, and it's in preparation for this when Jess meets a Knights boy, she nicknames him Blondie, later finding out his name is Mitch.

From the beginning the dynamic between Jess and Mitch is tense yet fluid, each of them sure they know what to expect, only to find out their assumptions are wrong. Jess has never really been in love and has rules about what she will and won't do with a guy. Mitch has an interesting past, more complicated and not as predictable as I was expecting.

Their experiences at college and their tentative relationship felt so real, something Eagar always excels at writing about, she captured their lives perfectly and I know other readers will connect with it, whether a student now, or looking back on their years at uni.

Summer Skin is a perfect YA read for teens and adults, spanning a year of a girl's life in which she discovers who she wants to be.

I love the brightness of this cover and thought I'd do a simple manicure to match.

I started with 2 coats of Ulta3 Fruit Tingle.

I used acrylic paint for the stripes on my middle and ring finger.