Moth Girls – Anne Cassidy

moth girls

Helplessly drawn like moths to the light, two girls go missing in an evocative and gripping tale . . .

They called them the Moth Girls because they were attracted to the house. They were drawn to it. Or at least that is what is written in the newspapers that Mandy reads on the anniversary of when her two best friends went missing. Five years have passed since Petra and Tina were determined to explore the dilapidated house on Princess Street. But what started off as a dare ended with the two girls vanishing. As Mandy’s memories of the disappearance of her two friends are ignited once again, disturbing details will resurface in her mind.

I was given this book by Tori from The YA Circle because she is a generally fab person. As such, I feel honour bound to actually post a review of it! Also, I had totally forgotten I had a book blog for a while there and was mostly using Tumblr and Instagram. Whoops!

Moth Girls is set in London and swaps between present day and five years earlier when Petra and Tina went missing. The two periods are narrated by Mandy (present) and Petra (past) respectively. I have to say I enjoyed Petra’s sections a lot more. I felt they were a lot more compelling than what Mandy was getting up to five years later (mostly guilt and boy problems). It’s not all that surprising since Petra’s sections is where the actual events leading up to the disappearance occur. I spent a lot of time trying to preempt what was going to happen and was pleasantly surprised when I didn’t figure it all out.

The characterisations of the three girls and their families are really well done as well. Mandy, Tina and Petra are all very different girls and well developed characters. How they interact with each other is very believable which I loved. Even though we don’t get to see any of the events through Tina’s perspective she still stands up as well as Mandy and Petra.

Overall it was a solid book and I enjoyed it but it’s not likely to be one I’ll reread. I don’t read a lot of contemporary YA since I prefer fantasy/dystopia/sci fi etc but if that’s more your style you may love this.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Similar Reads: Risk by Fleur Ferris, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

Moth Girls was published in 2016 by Hot Key Books. ISBN: 9781471405112.

The Most Important Part of Moving House (aka Organising My Bookshelves)

TBR YAFinally getting my bookcases sorted out after moving! Usually I like to have my books sorted by genre and then alphabetically by author but since moving in with Jade I’ve lost some shelf space. I’ve also acquired a lot of books from some friends recently. As a consequence, most of my shelves are now double stacked.

I was trying to work out how I was going to organise everything for ages but I think I’ve finally hit on the best solution! I’m still sorting everything by genre and alphabetically but I’ve decided to split my collections so all the books I haven’t read yet (which there are a lot of… >.<) are all at the front.

The picture is my new, shiny, organised YA collection! (Click to enlarge if you like to stalk bookcases like me!) I had figured that my YA collection was split about 50/50 with books I had and hadn’t read so I was pleasantly surprised to see I actually had just over a shelf of extra space on the unread side of things. I’m pretty sure I won’t have a heap of space left over on my other genre bookcases.

I’ve been told I need to get a move on and read Earth Girl and The 5th Wave. I’m also really looking forward to Matched, Quiver and City of a Thousand Dolls. Anything you’ve read and loved on these shelves? Or hated? Let me know in the comments!

These Broken Stars – Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets to the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder – would they be better off staying in this place forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

I wasn’t going to get a copy of this book initially – I’d glanced at the blurb in my local bookstore a couple of times but sounded too similar to Beth Revis’s Across the Universe for my liking. Last week I had an hour to kill at my library volunteer job and a shiny Nexus tablet to play with. These Broken Stars was promoted in Google Play so I downloaded a sample and was sucked in by Tarver and Lilac almost immediately and bought a hard copy in my lunch break!

This is a story about survival, courage, love and fighting for what you want. I really liked the way Tarver and Lilac’s relationship developed over the narrative. When Lilac and Tarver first meet they are clearly attracted to each other but there is no instalove. Instead they are set against each other, initially because of their wildly differing positions in society and later by their own pride. As Lilac and Tarver begin to work together they each gain the other’s respect and THEN fall in love.

With that blurb you’d be forgiven for thinking that Lilac spends the whole time rocking a damsel in distress thing (and that does happen for a little while after the crash landing) but Tarver and Lilac both have strengths and weaknesses which round them out well as the novel progresses. Love me some developed protagonists! They both want to protect the other one but from different threats and it manifests in different ways in both of them.

Another bonus: Australian author! Well, Amie Kaufman specifically. She’s a Melbourne native but I can forgive her for that. 😉 I love learning that books I love are written by locals!

This probably would have been a 4.5 or 5 star rating if it hadn’t been for the ending. Explanation will be a little vague here to avoid spoilers so I’m sorry about that! I wasn’t a real fan of the last few chapters, particularly the planet’s inhabitants and how the final problem Lilac and Tarver face on the planet is solved. It’s a little bit rushed and doesn’t really make a lot of sense with the rest of what the reader knows about the world. I also wasn’t entirely happy with the Icarus crash in the first place – the book never really gives us a reason for it. I can come up with a few guesses but, again, spoilers! Wish my friends would read this so I had someone to discuss it with! Haha.

Kaufman and Spooner have a trilogy in the works for this world but it looks like they’ll be companion novels rather than direct sequels. You can check out the info on the upcoming novel This Shattered World here. It introduces two new characters: Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac and is due in November.

Rating: 4 stars

Similar Reads: Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.

These Broken Stars was published in 2013 by Allen & Unwin. ISBN: 978-1-74331-852-2.

New Books March/April 2014

These are some of the books added to my ever increasing To Be Read pile over the last couple of months. (Less of a pile now and more a collection of shelves! Whoops!) Most are second or third books in series but there are a couple of standalones/first books in there!

I’m particularly looking forward to starting Stormdancer, While We Run and Parasite. I really need to finish reading the Vampire Academy series first, though that hasn’t stopped me from knocking another couple of books off first.

Anything here you’ve read or would like to? What did you think?

YA Movie Adaptations

I feel like there’s been a definite increase of YA film adaptations appearing in the last few years since the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises made bank and The Hunger Games proved it wasn’t a fluke. Some have been good and some have been… less than good. With Divergent appearing in cinemas next week (for Australia anyway) I wanted to talk about my reactions to some of the more recent releases.

VAMPIRE ACADEMY

About a month ago I won free tickets to see the Vampire Academy movie, based on Richelle Mead’s novel of the same title. I had never read the books (with friends who have being completely divided about whether they were fantastic or terrible) but the preview looked pretty cool. I finally went to see it last week with my younger sister.

As far as movies go, it wasn’t a masterpiece but it was definitely enjoyable. I loved Rose’s sass and quick comebacks and the chemistry between her and Dimitri was great. I found the introduction to the world and the Moroi, Strogoi and Dhampir to be kind of hamhanded and confusing, and the first two acts of the movie were fragmented as far as plot progression and conflict went. Vampire Academy pulled it together for the last act of the movie though which I loved – plenty of action, reveals and swoon. I’m not holding my breath for a sequel but I did go home and buy a bundle of all six novels as ebooks, so I’d call that a win over all for the adaptation.

As an aside, having read the first book now I can see why this series divided my friends so much. I’m not sure I would have kept reading if I hadn’t first seen the movie. That said, I’m about two chapters into the second book Frost Bite right now and it’s off to a pretty good start!

 

CATCHING FIRE

I love these books and it’s probably the series that I judge all YA dystopia by so I had some pretty high expectations when the first movie came out. Despite the rediculous amount of shaky cam used, it’s probably one of my favourite movie adaptations.

Catching Fire kind of blew it out the water though! I mean, a lot of why I loved the most recent offering in the Hunger Games franchise is that it expands the world, builds on the characters and raises the stakes really well, which is something the book does anyway. You get a deeper view of all the major characters, as well as a bunch of awesome, complex new ones joining the ranks.

One thing I think the film does a better job of than the books is the depiction of the Capitol and the people who live there. You get a much better idea of the gargantuan gap between the haves and the have nots in Panem simply due to the imagery and costuming used. I also really loved the way President Snow uses the media and how they depicted the Games and the Victors but that’s probably thanks to my university major in communication and culture. So much material for essays! There are a lot of things that can be done better simply thanks to the medium of film and I think Catching Fire really showed off those strengths.

You could tell pretty easily who had read the books beforehand when I went to see this at the cinema. As the credits started to scroll a group of three girls sitting down the front shrieked when they realised the ending was a massive cliffhanger and the rest of the cinema cracked up laughing. Pretty sure they would have picked up a copy of Mockingjay not long after!

 

CITY OF BONES

The Mortal Instruments series had been on my ‘Maybe I’ll Read This Sometime in the Future’ list for ages. The only reason it was ever really on my radar, despite its popularity, was that Sarah Rees Brennan, one of my all time favourite authors, was friends with Cassie Clare. But when the announcement went out about the movie I figured I should probably put in the time and read the first book.

I really didn’t enjoy it that much. I found it to be really, really long and Clary’s almost irrational instant dislike of Isabelle was grating. With a quarter of the book to go I realised I knew how it ended. Somewhere on the Internet I had been spoiled without remembering. Needless to say, it put a dampener on the whole experience of reading the book for me and I was less enthusiastic about the movie.

But then the casting and the trailer hit and it was obvious they had spent a lot of money making this movie. I figured that the narrative was less likely to drag on in the movie, given the short span of time to tell the story and decided to give it a go. I’m so glad I did. Not only is it a super pretty movie to watch but it’s also fun. City of Bones is now pretty high on my ‘Movies to watch after a long day with a bottle of wine to relax’ list. Unfortunately it didn’t do as well at the Box Office as they were expecting. Word is the second book in the series, City of Ashes, will still get a movie but when it might happen is up in the air.

 

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES

The Beautiful Creatures adaptation was basically the complete opposite of City of Bones for me. The trailer looked pretty cool so I made sure I read the first book beforehand. I loved the book. I really liked the magic system Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl created and the idea of the curse on Lena’s family. My friends Jade and Mel also read the books beforehand and so we were all pretty stoked for the movie release.

But when we watched it… oh my. The movie is another one that looks quite pretty but the relationship that develops on screen between Ethan and Lena felt forced and awkward. The mise on scene and visual metaphors used in the film are less than subtle, culminating in a hilariously over the top scene involving Ridley and Link before the final climax. We get the point from the dialogue guys, we don’t need to have it driven home by a semitrailer of rediculous visual metaphors, speeding towards our faces with no brakes.

Add to this the fact the screenwriters basically rewrote the entire second half of the book for the film adaptation. I understand the needs of film to tell the narrative in a highly condensed form but this was just excessive. All in all, when it comes to Beautiful Creatures, I think I’ll stick to the books.

 

What are your favourite (and least favourite) movie adaptations?

University Reading

So my academic year kicked back in full last Monday which is fun but doesn’t leave as much time as I would like for reading outside of the course materials. It’s also the last semester of my Children’s Literature sub-major which makes me a little bit sad. The best thing about uni by far has been these courses.

I’m finishing up with a whole course on fantasy, probably my favourite genre. Given that my lecturer’s tastes run similar to my own, I wasn’t expecting the reading list to be full with books I don’t own but, since I love having new books to read, it’s hardly a problem. In particular I was surprised at the lack of Tamora Pierce work on the list given the number of conversations we’ve had about how awesome she is. (SPOILERS: Tamora Pierce is totally awesome.)

Anyway, this is what my next 14 weeks are looking like at the moment:

The Princess and the Goblin – George MacDonald
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
Skulduggery Pleasant – Derek Landy and The Red Pyramid – Rick Riordan (Couldn’t decide between these two so I got both.)
Blaze of Glory – Michael Pryor
Foundling – D.M. Cornish (A hometown author!)
The Giver – Lois Lowry
Dragonkeeper – Carole Wilkinson
His Dark Materials trilogy – Philip Pullman
Truckers – Terry Pratchett
The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

I’m cheating a little as I’ve read almost half of the books on this list already but it’s always interesting to go back and read them from a new perspective. I reread The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton last year with much trepidation since I loathed it in high school but I really enjoyed it the second time around. I think it helped that University Mhairi has a lot more understanding of the 1960s than Year 9 Mhairi did.