Book Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Side Effects May Vary

Title: Side Effects May Vary
Author: Julie Murphy
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Cancer, Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 26th March 2014
Pages: 335
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Written from the perspectives of both Harvey and Alice, in Side Effects May Vary, Julie Murphy weaves a compelling story of friendship, relationships and love, with a little bit of death thrown in for good measure; at least for a while.

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs. So she convinces her best friend Harvey, who’s loved her forever, to help with compiling a crazy just-dying-to-do bucket list, that’s as much about revenge as it is about redemption. But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission. Now she must face the consequences of all she’s said and done and discover just what happens when we say our ‘final’ words, only to find that life isn’t through with us yet.

Sharp, witty and poignant – this is a book written for all ages.

My Review:

Alice has been battling leukaemia for over a year but she’s getting weaker all the time. She’s sure that her time is coming to an end and as a result enlists her oldest friend, Harvey, to help her complete her unfinished business.  But this is a bucket list with a difference. Alice wants to get revenge on those who have wronged her before it’s too late. Harvey knows that what Alice is doing is wrong but he’s loved her since before he knew what love was and can deny her nothing. When Alice gets the news that she is in remission it should be a happy time but now she has to deal with the fall out of her actions.

I loved reading this debut novel by Julie Murphy. I started reading it thinking that I’d read a few chapters before bed and before I knew it – I was finished the book and only a few hours until I was supposed to wake up.

Alice isn’t like a lot of characters I’ve read before. She’s angry and mean but I felt like she was a very honest character. Life has wronged her and she wants to get her own back. She’s bitter what life has thrown at her. Having cancer hasn’t changed her – she hasn’t all of a sudden become a better person. I loved reading about her. There were times when I wanted to shout at her (What are you doing Alice?!) but as much as her actions didn’t always make sense to me – it made sense for her. They felt authentic for the girl I had gotten to know over the course of this novel.

Harvey is Alice’s partner in crime as she completes her revenge list. He was a character I wasn’t a fan of for a huge part of the novel. He’s a bit of a doormat and whilst that is good for Alice’s plan – I wanted him to stand up for himself. For him to be worthy of loving and to stand up and be someone Alice couldn’t walk over and ignore. That said, he did grow and change over the course of the book and by the end he started to be a character I enjoyed reading.

This is a book about life. About being hurt and surviving. Alice has a lot going on in her life. There is parents drama, the fickleness of friendship, relationship problems and her medical crisis. And whilst I don’t approve of how she dealt with it all – she did manage to cope and come though it all. Her actions all had consequences and no matter what she had been though – she didn’t get an easy out. I admire how Julie Murphy handled the situations she put her characters though and loved this different view of a teenage cancer story.

Side Effects May Vary was one of my most anticipated reads of this year and it did not disappoint. It’s not just a romance but a touching and compelling story about a girl coming to grips with what life throws at her – and the consequences of getting even.

Thanks to Penguin Australia and NetGalley for the review copy. 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Nymph by Tonya Alexandra

Nymph (The Love Oracles #1)

Title: Nymph (The Love Oracles #1)
Author: Tonya Alexandra
Genre: Mythology, Romance, Young Adult
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Publication Date: 1st February 2014
Pages: 432
Rating: 3 stars

Please feel free to check out my interview with Tonya as a part of the Nymph blog tour hosted by Walker Books Australia!

Synopsis (from goodreads):
An idyllic Greek island. Obsessed demigods. A fallen nymph. A mortal boy. Merope, a beautiful but faded star nymph, is banished to Earth for displeasing the gods. She tries to fit in, go to school and live a normal “human” life. And then she meets Lukas … but relationships between men and goddesses are forbidden. Will their love grow? Or will Merope and Lukas feel the wrath of the gods?

My Review:

Merope has lived for thousands of years as a star nymph in the land of gods, Olympus. But life isn’t always easy for the faded star nymph. She’s been exiled to Earth and has had to leave her sisters behind. Living like a mortal is worlds apart from her other life but Merope is starting to see that there might be benefits to a human existence. One of which is the gorgeous and kind Lukas, a farm boy with exquisite imperfections. Romantic relation between a goddess and a mortal are forbidden but the way Merope feels is like nothing she’s felt before in all her immortal existence. Is a chance at forbidden romance worth the punishment the gods met out?

I’ve read quite a few modern takes on classic myths but never before have I read one about star nymphs. I was intrigued by the idea and the romance angle drew me in. Merope is ancient in comparison to mortals but rather naive about so many things. She’s lived in the shadow of her sisters her entire life and would prefer to hide in corners than take centre stage. But she has some spark to her. Rejecting a god who has been after her for centuries and then living with the consequences of her actions. For a nymph who has only ever called Olympus home, being exiled to modern-day Greece is such a shock but Merope does try to make the most of things. She enrols in a local school to learn as much as she can about humans. She makes some friends and she even goes as far as trying to embrace technology.

And then there’s Lukas. He’s hideous perfection in Merope’s eyes. The son of a local farmer with whom Merope falls for at first sight. I’m not usually one for instalove. But their initial chemistry works for me because if I can suspend belief and believe in mythological gods on Earth wearing Nike and driving sports cars, then I can believe in love at first sight within the world this book exists in. I would have liked to see rationale behind their fierce feelings been built on throughout the book (some kind of moments where despite already being in love, have causation behind falling deeper) but they do have some tender scenes and I can barrack for them as a couple.

Along for the ride on Earth – we get to see other Greek heroes experience life the mortal way. Merope’s Uncle Pro (Prometheus) is helping her adapt in the foreign place and I liked his presence in her life. Merope’s mother is an interesting character who I do hope we get to see more of in the series but the character I wanted to read about most was Hercules. Herc isn’t anything like the hero Disney made him out to be. He’s arrogant and conceited and has a proclivity for nymphs but he’s so entertaining. Gorgeous and vain, he is everything Lukas isn’t – and he knows it. A hero in the legends of old, his presence in the mortal world shakes things up a bit. I love reading his interactions with the modern world and how Merope reacts to him. He brings the a fierceness out in her and made her a little more real to read.

Nymph, the first book in the Love Oracles series, is an entertaining read. It’s surprisingly funny in parts and the romance is sweet and pure. There’s friendship and the pressures of family all coexisting in a lovely re-imagining of ancient Greek mythology. An easy read, this book is suited for younger teens and older readers who enjoy stories about true love and soul mates.

Thanks to Walker Books Australia for the review copy. 

Purchase the novel from:

Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Moving to fictionalthoughts.com!

I did it!

Finally I bought a domain name and some hosting.

 

So whYAnot will be no more and I’m moving over to fictionalthoughts.com

Why the move?

I’ve had this blog for 2 years in a few weeks and to be honest I didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I do. I want to now be able to see what I can do with it by trying new things.

Why the name change?

A few reasons. My dad has trouble completely understanding why I decided to go with whYAnot. He doesn’t quite get it and I don’t want to confuse my followers. Also – I feel with the name Fictional Thoughts I can branch out a little more. Do the occasional non-YA review or review other media under the fictional realm of things.

 

What does this mean?

If you’re a follower – I’ll be transferring all my followers from whYAnot to Fictional Thoughts and you don’t need to do a thing :D
I’ve been able to change my twitter and goodreads to my new username of @FictThoughts so you won’t miss anything during this time of change.

I’ve moved all 400+ posts from this blog over and until the 1st of April 2014 I will be dual posting on both blogs. After that all new content will only be available on Fictional Thoughts.

 

Thank you all so much for the support over the past two years. I’m very excited about the move and hope to see you over at my new blog!

 

Blog Tour: Q&A with Tonya Alexandra, Author of The Love Oracles: Nymph

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I am delighted to be sharing with you my post for part of The Love Oracles: Nymph blog tour. I was lucky enough to get to ask the author, Tonya Alexandra, some questions about her debut novel as well as about writing and life in general.

For those of you unfamiliar with this novel, Nymph tells the story of Merope. She’s a star nymph, beautiful beyond mortal comprehension, who finds herself cast out of Olympus and forced to live on Earth for a while. Merope tries to make the most of her situation by learning as much about the humans as she can but complications arise when she finds herself falling in love with Lukas. Relations between goddesses and mortals are forbidden but the way Merope feels towards Lukas is unlike anything she’s experienced in her thousands of years of being immortal.

There’s a great cast of characters with immortals mixing with modern-day Grecians and a beautiful romance between star-crossed lovers, Merope and Lukas.

Q&A with Tonya Alexandra

  • Have you always been interested in Greek Mythology?

It seeped into my subconscious through my grandparents. When I was small they told me Greek myths while pointing out the stars. I completely forgot about this until I read Jeanette Winterson’s book Weight, which is about the titan Atlas. It was like something awoke in me and I felt compelled to research Atlas, which is where I encountered the Pleiades and Merope.

  • Nymph is about Merope, faded Star Nymph who has been banished to Earth. There are not a lot of novels about Nymphs. I loved getting to read about something a little bit different. What made you decide to write about nymphs – Merope in particular?

The myth about Merope is that her star is the faded one in the Pleiades constellation because she is ashamed of marrying a mortal. When I read this it just seemed obvious that it was her tale I needed to tell. Nobody should be ashamed of who they fall in love with – even if it does enrage the gods (or your mum!)

  • Are there any similarities between you and Merope?

Merope is the youngest sister as am I. It is a strange position, you idolise and adore your elder siblings and yet you get pushed around by them. It’s a rocky combination.

I am also a bit shy and unsure of myself. And I went to high school in the country so I’ve had some major crushes on farm boys!

  • One of my favourite things about your novel was getting to see ancient beings experiencing Modern Day Grecian technology and vernacular. Was it hard getting into your characters heads and imagining how they would cope in the mortal world today?

Not at all because I am a bit of a Luddite myself. I am a pen and paper lass. I’ve had friends pushing me to use facebook and twitter – and I admit, I’m coming around. Especially this new Instagram account I’ve started from Merope’s POV. I’m taking images of any mortal madness I come across – which is everywhere! I’d love for readers to join in and post things they think are mad. Instagram/MeropeOnEarth or #nymph #loveoracles

  • Many authors are categorized as being either plotters (having plotted their novels out in advance) or pantsers (writing by the seat of their pants). Would you consider yourself to be a plotter, a pantser or a little of both?

I have a general idea of what should happen in a chapter, then I just let the characters talk it out. For example, I had the idea that Herc and Con should go shopping, but that was it. I put them on the pier and they wandered off and into town and things just happened; the credit card incident, the coming across the Nike shoes, it just wrote itself.

(The scene Tonya is talking about is one of my favourite in the book! Herc is a brilliant character and I couldn’t believe half the stuff he came out with!)

  •  You have been a writer for a while however Nymph is your first novel. Did you always want to write fiction?

Yes, because I love imagination – the world would not progress without it. The thing that amazes me about fiction is that anything is possible. Anything. Reality doesn’t do much for me – but just the thought ‘imagine if …’ gives me chills.

  • What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to sit with my three boys and draw. We can do it for hours, it’s very special. I also love taking my puppy Lola to the beach and watching her joyous face as she rushes about in the waves.

  • What are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished Patrick Ness, More Than This. Which had me going ‘where the hell is he!?’ on every page. Next up, Ambelin Kwaymullina’s, Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, which I am very excited to start.

  • The second book in the Love Oracles series, Heavenly Longing, is coming soon. In a few words, would you be able to tell us a little of what to expect?

Loads more love – but the book is set on Mount Olympus so I got to imagine what Olympian society was like. (Expect more misbehaving gods.) Merope is causing trouble, questioning her role as a docile nymph. Lukas becomes a hero in his own right as he attempts to rescue her.  

  •  Do you have anything specific you would like to say to your readers?

I just want them to enjoy the read. It would be great if they got inspired to learn more about Greek Mythology, but it really doesn’t matter. Reading is fun, it doesn’t need to be more than that. And I would love to hear from them! www.facebook.com/loveoracles twitter.com/Tonya_Alexandra

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I loved reading Nymph and can’t wait to see what’s next for Merope and Lukas!

Thanks Kate. I enjoyed answering your questions. 

 

Doesn’t Tonya sound lovely? I appreciate her taking time out from her busy life to answer my questions. And The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is a fantastic book. We’re pretty lucky to have so many great Aussie authors writing fascinating and unique stories.

If you’re interested in Nymph, be sure to check out some of the others stops on the tour.

Monday 17th March
Jeann @ Happy Indulgence Books

Tuesday 18th March
Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books

Wednesday 19th March
Alishia @ Treasured Tales for Young Adults

Thursday 20th March
Joy @ Thoughts by J

Friday 21st March
Kate @ whYAnot Reviews (That’s me!)

Saturday 22nd March
Rochelle @ rlsharpe

Sunday 23rd March
Kelly @ Diva Book Nerd

Monday 24th March
Mandy @ The Bookish Manicurist

Title: Nymph (The Love Oracles #1) Link to GoodreadsNymph (The Love Oracles #1)
Author: Tonya Alexandra
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Mythology, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 432

Be sure to come back tomorrow to read my review for Nymph :)

 

 

Book Review: The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty

Cracks in the Kingdom (The Colours of Madeleine #2)

Title: The Cracks in the Kingdom (The Colours of Madeline #2)
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Genre: Fantasy, Contemporary, Magic, Young Adult
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: February 2014
Pages: 544
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Time slides around the world so strangely …

It’s not easy being Princess Ko. Her family is missing, taken to the World through cracks in the Kingdom, which were then sealed tightly behind them.

Now Princess Ko is running the Kingdom, and war is looming.

To help her find her family, she gathers a special group of teens, including Elliot Baranski of the Farms. He’s been writing secret letters to a Girl-in-the World named Madeleine Tully – and now the Kingdom needs her help.

Madeleine and Elliot must locate the missing royals, convince them of their true identities, and figure out how to unlock the dangerous cracks between the Kingdom and the World.

All before their enemies can stop them.

My Review:

One of the best things that has happened to me in the past two years of blogging is discovering Jaclyn Moriarty’s books. She has a beautiful way of telling stories and this second book in the Colours of Madeline series did not disappoint.

Elliot Baranski, a boy who lives on a farm in a Kingdom named Cello, and Madeline Tully, a girl from the world we know in a city called Cambridge, are still communicating though a crack between the Kingdoms. A broken TV turned art installation and a malfunctioning parking meter allow the two to pass messages to and fro from Cello to Cambridge. Madeline is still not completely sure she believes the boy is real and the tales he tells about colours harming and seasons with minds of their own – but she lets best friends Belle and Jack in on the secret. Elliot is entrusted by the Princess to try to work out how to use the crack to bring her family back… that is if they are even there to begin with.

I love the characters in this series. They’re as vibrant as the colours which wreak havoc in the realm of Cello. Madeline is inquisitive and unwilling to take things on faith. She needs to find things out for herself and disbelieves things – even things in front of her very eyes – without some kind of scientific proof. Elliot is almost her opposite. He gives his all for everything he does and doesn’t do anything half-hearted. His belief in his family and himself is strong and he would do anything, sacrifice anything, for his loved ones. Where Madeline is theoretically based, Elliot is physical and spontaneous. They work well off each other despite being worlds apart – both physically and metaphorically.

This book is a great addition to the series. Elliot being inducted into the Royal Youth Alliance causes much drama. He has to covertly carry out secret missions for the Princess whilst at the same time pretending just to be there for the sake of uniting the Kingdom. His liaisons with Madeline grow strained under the pressures of the missions but throughout it all they are there for each other. Getting to experience what the different parts of the kingdom of Cello have to offer though Elliot’s eyes was interesting and I loved the trip to the Lake of Spells. Cello is a world that is full of magic and yet it feels believable because of how similar it is to the World Madeline inhabits.

At over 500 pages, this is a long book but it never felt that way. I couldn’t wait to find out what was next for Elliot and Madeline and their friends. The plot took me places I wasn’t expecting and I enjoyed the journey. There are surprises and a lot of questions still to be answered. What happened to the Royal Family? Will they come back? Why are the cracks between the worlds? What’s the deal with the rebels? And whilst many of these questions were not either fully or partially answered – I felt so involved in the story that I didn’t mind not knowing.

The ending was one I wasn’t anticipating but perfect. That said – I’m incredibly eager to find out what Jaclyn Moriarty has next install for Elliot, Madeline and the people of the two Worlds they come from. I enjoyed every step in this novel and recommend the series for fans of well written and exciting young adult literature.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan for the review copy. 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Also by Jaclyn Moriarty:

A Corner of White (The Colours of Madeleine, #1)

A Corner of White (The Colours of Madeline #1)

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Autumn To-Be-Read List

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week’s topic is: Top Ten Books On My Spring 2014 TBR List (to be read list)

I’m enjoying the start of Autumn down here in Australia. The weather is starting to cool off slightly so going outside is almost bearable! :P

Autumn 2014 Releases I Can’t Wait To Read:

Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #3) The Geography of You and Me Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends, #1)

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (April 17th, 2014) - I love this series and can’t wait to find out what happens next. It’s beautifully written and a series I recommend to adult sand young adults alike.

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E Smith (April 10th, 2014 ) - This is What Happy Looks Like and The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight were both lovely reads and I’m looking forward to this next book by Jennifer E Smith

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong (April 8th, 2014 ) - I’ve been on a bit of a Kelley Armstrong kick lately. It might because Bitten was turned into a TV show or it might just be that I discovered my Women of the Otherworld books in a box a few months ago… but she’s a great writer and I enjoy the worlds and characters she creates.

 

Books On My Bedside Table

These are the books I have gotten for review that I’m reading in the next few weeks.

YA

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The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J Maas A set of short stories which show just how Celaena Sardothien became the legend assassin that we’ve come to know and love from the Throne of Glass series. This book can be read without prior knowledge of the series.

Emnity by CJ Andrews - A new dystopia novel by a debut New Zealand author.

Dangerous by Shannon Hale - A teen goes off to space camp and finds herself changed in ways she never expected.

Unnatural Creatures by Neil Gaiman – This is a book of short stories selected by Neil Gaiman. It’s lovely. Before each story, Neil gives a little introduction as to why he selected the story and it makes the compliation that extra special.

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M Valante – A lovely middle grade book about a girl named September and her journeys to Fairyland

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavendar by Leslye Walton – This book is gorgeous. I love the cover and it sounds equal parts emotional and beautiful.

Adult (Non-YA)

Reviews for these books will be posted on my goodreads and The Reading Room accounts but not on this blog.

The Word Exchange & The Tea Chest

 

The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon – This is a dystopian along the same lines of 1984. It’s not set in a post apocalyptic world but the world is changing. People over reliant on their smartphone type accessories are losing words and books are becoming extinct. There’s a mystery involving a missing person and secret society. Sounds incredible.

The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon – This is a story about a woman who gets inherited a unique tea store and along with others, she has to try to keep it afloat whilst maintaining her own life.

 

Forever and Always on my TBR List

Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Randbecause I’ve been trying to finish this book for over ten years… and that alone makes me feel old :P

I can’t wait to see what books everyone else plans on reading in the next few months. And I have no doubt that I’ll be finding all sorts of brilliant sounding books and adding them to my own TBR list!

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Book Review + Giveaway: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Today I get to share with you all my review for the third and final book in the Juliette Chronicles, Ignite Me. Allen & Unwin have generously offered on copy for me to giveaway (open to residents of Australia and New Zealand) so please be sure to check out the end of this post for more information on how to win. 

Title: Ignite Me (The Juliette Chronicles #3)Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3)
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genre: Dystopia, Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: 1st March 2014
Pages: 416
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The exciting and chilling conclusion to the internationally successful Juliette Chronicles series. With Omega Point destroyed,
Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for
all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. He
promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world … but that’s not all he wants with her

My Review:

Juliette is more determined than ever to stop the Reestablishment. Her friends are missing and she presumes them to be dead. Her only ally is Warner – the same man who imprisoned her and caused her no end of psychological trauma only a few months ago. But with his military resources and belief in her, Juliette is stronger than she has been before. And her resolve to bring down the Supreme is as strong and determined as her powers.

I think enjoyment from this book comes down to expectations. I have read both the full length novels in this series (Shatter Me and Unravel Me) and I liked them. Juliette as a character has grown so much. She was fragile and let the world trample on her but now she is strong and holds all the power. Nothing can hurt her unless she lets it. I thought it was great to see her grow and evolve throughout the series and I liked how the writing itself displayed her development. No more things she wishes she was brave enough to say aloud any more. She is in control.

But I was expecting more than a romance. And for most of this book – that’s what I got. Juliette finds herself in a situation where she finds she has feelings for her former tormentor, Warner. The same man who kept her against her will and forced her to unwilling harm a little boy. While all the bad things he does are explained and despite Juliette being able to forgive him – I couldn’t. But I also couldn’t quite correlate the behaviour of Adam Kent from previous books to now. Whilst I liked that this book is different. It’s not just the first boy she sees is her one and only, the progression didn’t feel right to me. It was a little convenient that the Adam of Shatter Me had disappeared completely just when Juliette found herself having feelings for Warner.

Action wise, I was a little disappointed too. There is a lot of build up. Lots of training and getting things in place. But when everything finally kicks off in the last fifty pages or so, it is a little anticlimactic. I was expecting a lot and felt it didn’t live up to my expectations. So much more could have happened and I felt a little let down by the execution of the ending.

Whilst this book didn’t live up to my expectations – I can see why others would enjoy where Mafi takes the story. There’s romance and character development and some great comic relief in Kenji. Ignite Me is well written and creative.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

GIVEAWAY!

Thanks to Allen & Unwin

I have

1 print edition of Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi to giveaway

**Open to  Australian and New Zealand Residents only**

Please leave a comment on this post to enter and then

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Entries Close 24th March, 2014

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