Monday, 16 March 2015

The Ghost's Child by Sonya Hartnett

The Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett
Published 2009 by Penguin AU
Source: purchased
Rating: 4 stars

From the blurb: 'The sky was pitch, and gashed by lightning; loutish waves rose and slumped heavily as mudslides. At a moment when she was filled with desperation, Maddy opened her mouth and yelled for Feather. And half-expected him to appear, because she wanted him to so much.'

Maddy yearns for her life to be mystifying, to be as magical as a fairy story. And then one day, on the beach she meets the strangest young man she has ever seen.

The Ghost's Child is an enchanting fable about the worth of life, and the power of love.

Maddy yearns for her life to be mystifying, to be as magical as a fairy story. And then one day, on the beach she meets the strangest young man she has ever seen.
The Ghost's Child is an enchanting fable about the worth of life, and the power of love.
Matilda, better known as Maddy, discovers a young boy in her home one evening and proceeds to recount the story of her life. As a young girl she returned home from a round-the-world trip with her father and met a wild boy on a local beach. She named him Feather and fell in love.

I picked this Aussie gem of a book up at a book fair a while ago and I’m so glad I did. I’ve read two of Sonya’s other books and each left me feeling sad (one more so than the other), but this had a different tone to it. The story is whimsical, magical, beautiful,and filled with love and longing. It was a delight to read, with a bittersweet ending.

International readers: The Ghost's Child has been published overseas, so keep an eye out for it.

I love this cover so much, it’s so intricate and beautiful, and I knew I wanted the design on my nails. 

I started with a base of American Apparel Peacock.

Then I used a fine brush, a dotting tool, and acrylic paint for the detailing.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

This post contains a review and a bookish manicure.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Published by Hachette AU
Source: the publisher
Rating: 4 stars

From the blurb: Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn't expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .
Is that what she’s supposed to do?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
A very short review as I read this in Nov-Dec last year:

Fangirl was the first book by Rainbow that I read and I was in the minority when it came to my feelings on it because I really did not enjoy it (though I adore the cover and did nails to match!) So, when Landline showed up unexpectedly, I wasn't sure if I should give it a go but I am really glad I did.

Right from the start it was a fun read, the dialogue was snappy and reminded me so much of Gilmore Girls, I imagined the characters all as fast-talking people and found it very, very entertaining. I especially liked the tv writer aspect as I'm always impressed with how they can make a plot/show/series come together.

I don't read a lot of adult fic, mostly because I'm not interested in reading about marriage problems, babies, divorce etc, but this story was engaging and I truly cared for Georgie and her family. I was also pleased that Rainbow didn't choose to include a love triangle, and instead focused on how complicated a marriage can be.

Another thing I loved about this story were the pop cultural references - Home Improvement, The Beatles, Rainbow Brite, and Violet Beauregarde.

I'd suggest giving Landline a go even if you're like me and you tend to ignore adult fiction. It's a fun, heartwarming read.

Thank you to Hachette AU for my review copy.

I love the simplicity of this cover as well as the grey-toned green so I had to capture it in manicure form.

I used Orly Jealous Much? for the base, it was a perfect match.

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

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Sandy Feet by Nikki Buick

The moment I saw the cover for Sandy Feet by Nikki Buick, I knew I had to do nails to match. I have a thing for palm trees and things with a summer-y vibe and this cover captures that perfectly.

I started with a base of Ulta3 Frangipani, a lovely bright yellow.

For the design I used a very fine brush and acrylic paint.

Sandy Feet by Nikki Buick
Published September 24, 2014 by UQP
Source: the publisher
Rating: 2 stars/DNF

No review for this one as I didn't end up finishing it. As most readers know, I love Aussie YA, but I could not connect with the MC and eventually gave up on him and his story. I even tried to give it another go recently hoping my feelings had changed but found I still could not invest in his story and decided not to push it. I'd still recommend this to all fans of contemporary YA fiction.

Thank you to UQP for my review copy.

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.

Monday, 1 December 2014

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Matthieu

This post contains a review and a bookish manicure.

Hey there! It's been three moths since my last post, in that time I've completed my nail technician course and I'm looking forward to getting my business going! I've also been working on other projects so I found I had little time to blog and my reading rate really dropped. Most of the time the idea of reading made me tired, so I just stopped reading for a while. I've been getting back into reading now that I have some more spare time, and it seemed appropriate to get back into blogging starting December 1. I have a bunch of reviews that I never got around to posting, so I'll share those in the weeks to come.

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Published June 1, 2014
Source: the publisher
Rating: 5 stars

From the blurb: There are a lot of rumours about Alice Franklin, and it's stopped mattering whether any of them are true. 
It all started at a party, when Alice was supposedly with two guys in one night. Soon everyone at Healy High has picked a side in this game of he said/she said. Do they believe Brandon Fitzsimmons, the most popular guy at school and the football hero of Healy? Or do they believe Alice, the girl who wears too-tight T-shirts and was caught kissing Brandon in a closet a couple years before? When Brandon dies in a car crash, there are serious allegations that his death was Alice's fault. As the rumour mill spins into overdrive, Alice's small town becomes suffocating. And when the truth becomes a matter of opinion, something's got to give.

Set in Healy, Texas, The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Matthieu, is a story that revolves around a group of teens, with a strong focus on a girl named Alice Franklin. Alice’s life changed after a rumour spread that she’d slept with two boys in one night, and things only got worse when one boy, Brandon, died in a car accident.

This story is told via four narratives: Elaine O’Dea is a popular girl at Healy High, via her perspective we learn that she’s had it in for Alice because she’s afraid Brandon really likes her. Kelsie Sanders moved to Healy from Michegan a couple of years ago and she and Alice were best friends, until the rumour started and then Kelsie started ignoring Alice so she could stay cool with the popular girls. Josj Waverly was Brandon’s best mate, they played football together, hung out together, and Josh was in the car with him when the accident occurred. Kurt Morelli is considered a loner at their school, but he’s okay with that. He’s had a thing for Alice for a while, and he’s the only one to try and help her when the rest of their town wants to shame her.

I really enjoyed the four different perspectives, each sounded unique and very teen-like. I had my favourites: Kelsie and Kurt, but by the end I also felt for Elaine and Josh. Kelsie’s story made me sad, I was really angry with her mum, but Kelsie’s chapters also made me laugh, plus she loves Grease 2, so I adored her for that. Kurt was so sweet, I was so happy to see someone step up and be there for Alice, plus he knew the truth about the rumour and didn’t know what to do about it. Elaine annoyed me because of her mean girl mentality but she also had issues with her mum and eventually she won me over. Josh was interesting, it was easy to see what was going on for him, but also really sad after the truth regarding the accident is revealed.

What happens to Alice is awful, and it really makes you think about the power of words. These days we all use words without really knowing their meaning and it’s definitely something to focus on. I’ve read some really excellent books on bullying this year, including Carrie, Tease, and now The Truth About Alice. They are all really powerful and thought provoking, and so relevant these days, to both teens and adults.

Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont for my review copy.

I really love the Aussie version of the cover, it's so pretty and intricate.

I started by painting my nails with 2 coats of Mode Cosmetics Luv-A-Lot.

I sponged on some Wet N Wild On a Trip for the purple gradient.

I used acrylic paint to outline the face and to paint the flowers, vines, and leaves.

I love how this turned out, blue on purple is a great combination and I definitely want to do more nails like this in the future.

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.