Saturday, 9 July 2016

Discussion: Bookish Betrayal or Branching Out?

Let me start off by saying that YA will always be close to my bookish heart, and it's something which I can still see myself reading a lot of in the future. 


However...

It's no longer my ONLY "absolute-supreme-one-and-only-group-of-beloved-books-I-will-want-to-rush-to-and-read"


Last year, aside from the books I read as 'prescribed texts' for study, I didn't tend to read much outside of young-adult, which was fine - but now that school's over and I started working in a bookstore I've found that I want to be more diverse in my reading by looking at more adult literary fiction and scifi/fantasy as well. 



Have my reading tastes totally changed? I probably wouldn't go that far, but I can tell that they've evolved somewhat. YES, YA will always be special to me and I still love books from it - but I want to experience more. There's so much out there, so many classics to read, so many more authors whose work is just waiting to be discovered. 

For a few examples, here are some books in other genres I've loved this year and would recommend: 

Adult Fiction Recommendations






















The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Girls by Emma Cline
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The One Who Got Away by Caroline Overington
The Dry by Jane Harper
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

And some that are still on my list to read...



Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Six Bedrooms by Tegan Bennett Daylight
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
Hot Little Hands by Abigail Ulman
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

So this is not goodbye to young-adult, and certainly not a break-up of any sort. It's just the story of 
one reader's journey as she tries new things. Isn't that the beauty of reading itself?

There's no doubt that YA is and continues to be such a broad category of books where truly great works have emerged which have moved me and changed my outlook on life. There are some pompous readers who may see it as 'substandard' or not as 'highbrow' as other books that are written in different styles, targeted at other audiences, and tackle a myriad of other topics. Whilst everyone is entitled to their own literary opinions, I don't want to be one of those people. 

Just because I may be wanting a greater variety of books to read doesn't mean I'm going to disregard those that I've loved, or not be willing to try other YA that comes my way. I still get excited when an adult comes into the store and comes in for YA recommendations, and vice versa when teens are looking for something outside of their comfort zone. This diversity in tastes and the crossover between what adults and teens are reading is a nascent trend I think will become increasingly common, and one that should be embraced. 


Here on the blog, I will continue to champion YA, and strive to get those authors the recognition they deserve for the books they create which touch the lives of many; providing times for laughter, tears, and overall appreciation for writing that page-turner we've been waiting for. In the mix now and then, you just might see a review for a few titles in different genres, and that should be okay too. Genie In A Book is bound to transform and grow as I do, to reflect my passion for books and reading that has been there from the start, even if it now will manifest itself in a variety of forms - be it through YA or otherwise.

In any case, a book is a book, and reading in any form should be encouraged. I believe we should all have the choice to read widely, traverse the territory of genres not yet fully indulged in, and come back to old favourites when we want to. After all, no matter what genre you read from or prefer, there's always going to be something undeniably magical about being transported from our own lives into another realm entirely. 


Have you noticed your reading preferences changing/expanding over time? If so, what do you think was the cause?
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Friday, 8 July 2016

Cover Reveal: The Estate (The Industry #2) - A long awaited #LoveOzYA sequel!

Do you ever get that super excited feeling when a book that you LOVED (and ended on a cliffhanger) finally has it's sequel coming out soon?


Well this is what's happened to me - and the fact that it's a #LoveOzYA title makes it even better.

Australian author Rose Foster's first novel The Industry definitely hit all the right notes for me when I first read it back in 2013 - punchy, gritty and with huge twists that keep you hooked from beginning to end, it really did impress. Though it has been a long wait for the sequel due to the author's completely understandable personal circumstances, I have no doubt that The Estate will be sure to impress if it's anything like its fantastic predecessor. So, without further ado, here's the cover!



Releasing as an ebook on 22nd July 2016

In case you haven't read The Industry yet, here's a little more about it...think computer-hacking-teen-techno-thriller-with-all-the-amazingness. (or, to put it more eloquently, here's the blurb):

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Kirra Hayward is an ordinary sixteen year old - smarter than most, but otherwise completely anonymous. When she stumbles across an unusual puzzle on the internet and manages to solve it, she has no idea of what she's letting herself in for. 

Kidnapped by a shadowy organisation known only as The Industry, Kirra soon discovers how valuable her code-breaking skills are. And when she stubbornly refuses to help them, they decide to break her ... by any means at their disposal.

 Kirra knows that to protect herself, she must trust no one, not even her fellow prisoner, Milo. But as time goes by she realises he might be the only person she can rely on ... 


What are some of your favourite #LoveOzYA thrillers?

Thursday, 7 July 2016

{Blog Tour} Review & Author Interview: The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander
Released: 1st April 2016
Published by: Usborne Publishing
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Pages: 382
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads | QBD | Book Depository
One minute Eddie was there. And the next he was gone.

Five years on, and it’s Elsie who’s lost. All she knows is the pain she feels. Pain that her twin Eddie’s body has never been found after that day on the beach. Then she meets Tay; confident, cool and addicted to free-diving.

He says it’s too dangerous for her to join; it’s too dark, too scary, too deep. But what does he know? He doesn’t know that being underwater is the only time Elsie doesn’t ache for her brother. That diving gives her flashbacks. And that uncovering the secrets of that day is the only way for Elsie to start breathing again.
Thank you to HarperCollins Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review


Sometimes I feel invisible, like a wisp of air that tickles the back of someone's neck before they close the window to block the draught.

The pain of losing a twin and the repercussions of a tragedy on the family is central to this broody and emotive story of one girl's quest to seek some sort of closure and retribution for what happened on the water those five years ago. With a series of twists that unfurl gradually in the murky depths of this family's past, The Art of Not Breathing is a novel which is both moving and memorable.

I tell myself that one day I'll have a new boat and I'll be off exploring. I don't yet know where I want to explore but maybe there are some undiscovered islands in the North Sea. maybe I'll find another place like the black isle, with beaches, otters and a boathouse. the difference will be that no one will know who I am.

The intricacies of the family dynamics in this story are what create the majority of the drama in the story, and definitely piqued my curiosity. After all, there must be some dark secrets at play when the details of Eddie's drowning still lie somewhere at the bottom of the ocean. There can be a trend in YA where the parents are mostly absent in the plotline, so it was good to see in this novel that they were actually present - although of course, not the image of 'perfect'. The loss of a child had clearly affected them in different ways, and the same for Elsie's older brother Dillon as well who is struggling with his own wellbeing. So many of the characters are intertwined in complex ways, from the immediate family, to others like Tay and the people he's associated with. They all have their own links to this tragic event - and unraveling just what those are is what kept me turning the pages.

These last few weeks I've imagined that Eddie might have been at peace in his last moments; the bright colours, the sense of freedom, the lightness. But the water here is cold, dark and creepy. He would have been terrified...For the first time, Eddie's death is starting to feel real to me. 

Two other aspects which made this book stand out to me are definitely the setting and unique focus on freediving. I haven't read many books set in Scotland (outside of Outlander that is), and so to have The Art of Not Breathing do this made for an extra intriguing angle. Looking more into freediving and how it helped Elsie come to remember more about that fateful day certainly worked as a narrative device, plus you could tell that the author had definitely done her research into the area. The cold water, and the stillness of being submerged in a totally different world set the tone perfectly for the mystery to play out. The best thing was seeing how Elsie developed as a character to hopefully reach the catharsis she was looking for.


I am turning into water, fluid and ever-changing. I am not a visitor to the ocean, I am part of it.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Through the cold, murky depths of its setting to the clarity of its end, I can certainly say that The Art of Not Breathing is a page-turner you won't want to miss.



Author Interview with Sarah Alexander

1. The idea of that special bond between twins is explored really interestingly in this novel. How did you come to the idea of looking into these family dynamics for Elsie especially dealing with a loss?

I’ve always been interested in twin and sibling relationships, but I find the differences between twins, and siblings in general, even more fascinating than the similarities. Originally, Elsie and Dillon were twins but as the story developed this changed naturally. I wanted to explore the long term effects of a tragedy on all the family relationships, and look at the different ways in which they cope.

2. The Scottish setting seemed to bring the whole story together really well and add an extra level of atmosphere. What were some of the reasons for setting it there?

I have family in Scotland so I’ve spent a lot of time there and I love the ruggedness and beauty of the landscape. I visited the Black Isle one summer and fell in love with everything about it – the long, atmospheric twilights, the dolphins, the beautiful harbour and the lighthouse.

3. Did you have a favourite character who originally inspired the story?

Elsie and her mum came to me first. They arrived together and I knew as soon as I met them that they's suffered a devastating loss – one that brought them together but also tore them apart. When I think about the book, it’s these two characters I picture first. I was desperate for them to be OK.

4. The focus on freediving was a fascinating one, and I love how the water and forces of nature played a role in the book. When did you decide that it would be featured in the novel?

It happened quite organically. Water was always going to be a major part of the book but I had imagined it as the setting rather than where the action took place, and then as I started writing I couldn’t keep my characters away from it. Every time I started a new scene, my characters wandered off the page down to the beach. The breath- holding and the depth worked perfectly with all the main themes in the novel, so I just went with it.

5. What are the most important things you want readers to take away from 'The Art of Not Breathing'?

1. Not all the answers are at the bottom of the sea (some of them are).
2. Your past shapes you but doesn’t have to define you.
3. Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting.
4. It’s OK to be different. You will still be loved and liked.

6. Do you have any advice for other aspiring authors out there?

It’s a good idea to make a timeline so you don’t get lost. Although, sometimes you discover the best things when you're lost.

7. After an impressive first novel, could you give us a hint at what to expect from you next?

Ah thanks! I’m working on another standalone YA novel that deals with fear and anxiety. I'm working on a few ideas, actually, so watch this space!

Saturday, 28 May 2016

ARC Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

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The Girls by Emma Cline
Released: 14th June 2016
Published by: Random House
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 368
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Girls—their vulnerability, strength, and passion to belong—are at the heart of this stunning first novel for readers of Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad.

 Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon.

Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

 Emma Cline’s remarkable debut novel is gorgeously written and spellbinding, with razor-sharp precision and startling psychological insight. The Girls is a brilliant work of fiction—and an indelible portrait of girls, and of the women they become.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Emma Cline has such a way with words, and there's no denying that this is a book which will draw you into its depths before jolting you back to reality once you reach its end. Melodically written yet with a distinctly sinister undercurrent, this is a story which builds subtly towards a violent crescendo. Set int the summer of 1969, the then fourteen year old protagonist Evie Boyd is inexorably drawn towards a group of older girls, tantalised by their own dreamlike world - which is more dangerous than she could have ever imagined; yet intoxicating nonetheless.

Her makeup looked terrible, but it was more of a symbol, I suppose. I could see she was nervous with my eyes on her. I understood the worry. When I was that age, I was uncertain of how to move, whether I was walking too fast, whether others could see the discomfort and stiffness in me.


As he talked, I hugged myself with my arms. It all started making sense to me, what Russell was saying, in the drippy way things could make sense. How drugs patchworked simple, banal thoughts into phrases that seemed filled with importance. My twitchy adolescent brain was desperate for causalities, for conspiracies that drenched every word, every gesture, with meaning. I wanted Russell to be a genius.

If there's one distinct feature of this novel, it's the winding prose which is hypnotic in itself. Each page is saturated with imagery and a deft turn of phrase that encapsulates what it feels like to be a teenage girl coming of age. That pressing insecurity, the dichotomy between autonomy and autocracy, and a yearning for acceptance are all experienced by Evie, until she is lured by Suzanne and her clique into Russel's twisted enclave. I've read that this story is loosely based on what actually happened surrounding Charles Manson, which makes it even more disturbing. It's clear in the first pages where Evie is looking back on her younger years just how terribly wrong the whole situation was - though the question us readers are dying to know is what sequence of events led to such a terrible fate? This question is answered by the conclusion, and the path there is one which is deceptively lulling, with just the right amount of dissonance to maintain suspense.


Sidenote- reading this book reminded me a lot of Lana del Rey's song 'Freak' - if you watch the music video you'll see what I mean.

Suzanne and the other girls had stopped being able to make certain judgments, the unused muscle of their ego growing slack and useless. It had been so long since any of them had occupied a world where right and wrong existed in any real way. Whatever instincts they’d ever had—the weak twinge in the gut, a gnaw of concern—had become inaudible. If those instincts had ever been detectable at all.


Though the abundance of purple prose may not appeal to everyone, it's the actual plausibility of the story and shock factor which make it so indelible. The 1960's was a time when the disillusioned youth turned towards radical ideas, perhaps a doomed relationship just for the sake of it, or finding a group of people just like them to share in the general melancholia of adolescence. Emma Cline's insights such as these in The Girls are scathing, bringing to light the moral dilemmas and hedonism which characterised the era and influenced teens within it. It is the young women like Suzanne and  Evie which were the most vulnerable to the charms of a man with big ideas, and what appeared as a utopia in the midst of an increasingly unsettled age.

Even possessing that small amount of money tindered an obsessive need in me, a desire to see how much I was worth. The equation excited me. You could be pretty, you could be wanted, and that could make you valuable. I appreciated the tidy commerce. And maybe it was something I already perceived in relationships with men—that creep of discomfort, of being tricked. At least this way the arrangement was put toward some use.

Cline has also shown her skill in developing each of her characters with a unique voice and charisma. While 'the girls' flounder at the ranch, aching for attention and simply wanting to be seen and desired, Russel is something else entirely. He's a character who is both aberrant and coldly calculating - possessing a power over his followers that is omnipotent. It was definitely interesting to see how the group dealt with people from the outside of their inner circle, and how malicious decisions eventually dictated their downfall.

The man held up his hands and boomed out a greeting: the group surged and twitched like a Greek chorus. At moments like that, I could believe Russell was already famous. He seemed to swim through a denser atmosphere than the rest of us. He walked among the group, giving benedictions: a hand on a shoulder, a word whispered in an ear. The party was still going, but everyone was now aimed at him, their faces turned expectantly, as if following the arc of the sun.

My one qualm with The Girls was the ending - it just seemed a bit too rushed and tidy. Though the last chapter is undeniably perturbing, I think that Evie may have gotten away from the drama too easily, with too few external repercussions. However, I think this can be forgiven since the rest of the story is so gripping.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Girls is a story where a loss of innocence is punctuated by one girl's experience in a microcosmic world of misplaced trust and blind faith. Emma Cline has proved herself to be a talented young writer with a bright future, if this brooding novel is anything to go by.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I feel differently about since then



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by bloggers at The Broke and the BookishThis week I've  picked the top ten books I've changed my opinions about over time...

1. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer


Twilight (Twilight, #1)

It was the 'cool' thing to read back in 2008-2009 when I first got into this series. Did I love it at the time? (admittedly) Yes. Strangely enough, I never came around to reading Breaking Dawn, because by that time these books had lost their shimmer to me. Now the melodrama of it all just annoys me.

2. Being Here by Bary Jonsberg


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I don't think I have this book enough of a chance when I first read it about eight years ago now, probably because I just wasn't mature enough to understand it. I think the initial 2 stars was a bit harsh, so I hope to come back to it one day.

3. The Museum of Mary Child by Cassandra Golds


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This is a middle-grade novel which was brilliantly written, atmospheric, and just creepy enough to keep me on my toes. I'd be interested to see if it still holds that same magic for me today..

4. The Red Shoe by Ursula Dubosarksy


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This is a book I'd definitely rate higher in hindsight. It provides a glimpse into life in Sydney in the 1950's and the effects of the some of the Cold War tensions which made their way onto Australian shores. This is a MG novel with more depth than what meets the eye.

5. The Reluctant Hallelujah by Gabrielle Williams

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Looking back onto my last goodreds status for this, I wrote 'DNF - got too weird'. I honestly can't remember why - but now I'm curious and want to find out!

6.  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


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This may be an unpopular opinion, but I don't think I would give Fangirl the same 5 stars I did at the time if I were to read it again now. Whether it was a case of getting caught up in the hype of it all or otherwise, I think it may now be closer to a 3.5 compared to some of the other contemporaries I've really loved. 

7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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I'm becoming more interested in classics, especially in the realm of scifi/dystopias and so I want to give this book another chance (without the pressure of having to write an essay on it). 

8. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys


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This is another one of those 3-star reads which I would be likely to give more to now. I'm usually a big fan of historical fiction so want to revisit Between Shades of Gray soon. 

9. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

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I'm surprised to look back and see that I didn't really enjoy this one - now I think the satire of it all has grown on me. 

10. This is Shyness by Leanne Hall


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It was a unique read which didn't quite resonate with me the first time around, but I'd be willing to give it another try for sure.

What books have you come to reconsider?