Book Review + Giveaway: Bird by Crystal Chan

bird

Today I get to share with you my review of Crystal Chan’s debut novel, Bird. This is a beautiful novel with a gorgeous cover – one of those covers that I like even more after finishing the book because it fits it so perfectly. Text Publishing has generously offered a copy to giveaway (open to Australian and New Zealand residents) so be sure to check out the bottom of this post on how to enter.

Title: BirdChan_Bird
Author: Crystal Chan
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publication Date: 29th January 2014
Pages: 256
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Nothing matters. Only Bird matters. And he flew away.

Jewel never knew her brother Bird, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragedy of their family’s past; they say that Grandpa attracted a malevolent spirit—a duppy—into their home. Grandpa hasn’t spoken a word since. Now Jewel is twelve, and she lives in a house full of secrets.

Jewel is sure that no one will ever love her like they loved Bird, until the night that she meets a mysterious boy in a tree.

Grandpa is convinced that the boy is a duppy, but Jewel knows that he is something more. And that maybe the time has come to break through the stagnant silence of the past.

Entrenched secrets, mysterious spirits, and an astonishing friendship weave together in this extraordinary and haunting debut.

My Review:

The day Jewel was born, her five-year old brother, Bird, tried to fly… but didn’t survive the fall. Her family has been broken ever since. Her grandfather has not spoken a word since that day and is a husk of the man he used to be. Her parents seem to barely notice her and Jewel is still living in the shadow of the brother she never even met. When Jewel meets John, the nephew of a neighbour, the secrets of the past and the things her family won’t talk about come to the surface and force everyone to face reality.

Bird, Crystal Chan’s debut novel, is a heartbreaking read. The main character, Jewel, is the perfect person to narrate this story. She has the bluntness of a child who is on the cusp of becoming a teenager. I found her style to be candid and heartfelt as well as completely believable. She’s hurt and feels alone despite having her family around her. I admired her tenacity and the passion she has for geology. Reading about Jewel’s memories of her relationship with her mother broke my heart and her interactions with her grandpa really made me feel for the young girl.

I loved reading about Jewel’s friendship with John. I don’t believe Jewel does anything half-hearted and her camaraderie with him was beautiful to read. The way the two bonded over their own secrets and problems was authentic and added another layer of realism to this novel. Their passion for astronomy and geology was contagious and the way they spoke about their fields was beautiful. I loved how Jewel described rocks and her eagerness to learn about the stars from John.

The culture of Jewel’s blended family ran strong throughout this novel. The food, music and spiritual beliefs of her father’s Jamaican ancestry and her mother’s Mexican heritage all add to make Jewel’s family different. With Bird’s death still haunting her family, Jewel struggles to make her parents listen to her and support her choices. She has to cope with being unique among the people of Iowa and trying to navigate what she believes. Her father’s strong belief in spirits (or “duppies”) cause Jewel to question certain things in her life and directly contrast her mother’s Catholic beliefs. The spirituality of Jewel’s grandfather and father really drew me in. I found myself questioning Jewel’s reality and eager to discover the existence of duppies at times.

I think Bird is one of the most beautiful written novels I’ve read. The voice of Jewel was a pleasure to read and I adored where Crystal Chan took me on this journey. The characters are all flawed and that adds to their appeal. The story and Jewel’s candid narration was both heart breaking and moving. I adored this book and highly recommend it.

 

Thanks to Text Publishing for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Author Crystal Chan

Author Crystal Chan

Giveaway!

Thanks to Text Publishing

I have

1 print edition of Bird by Crystal Chan 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 February 6th, 2014

Drawn via random.org

Check out other stops on the Bird Blog Tour!

Tuesday 28th January
Extract on Gobblefunked

Wednesday 29th
Review by Mandy and Guest Post by Crystal Chan on veganYAnerds

Friday 31st
Review by Bec at First Impressions

Saturday 01st February
12 Curly Questions on Kids’ Book Review

Sunday 02nd
Review by Kelly at Diva Booknerd

Monday 03rd
Review by Melanie at YA Midnight Reads

Tuesday 04th
Review by Naomi at inkcrush

Wednesday 05th
Review and Q&A with Danielle at ALPHAReader

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Book Review: How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You by Tara Eglington

How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You (Aurora Skye #2)

Title: How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You (Aurora Skye #2)
Author: Tara Eglington
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: November 2013
Pages: 446
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The course of true love never did run smooth. For a girl who shares her name with a princess (a.k.a Aurora from Sleeping Beauty) Aurora Skye’s life seem fathoms away from a fairytale. Sure, she’s landed Hayden Paris, Potential Prince extraordinaire. And she got her wish — one first kiss with all the knee-trembling, butterfly-inducing gloriousness she’d hoped for.
But Aurora’s learning that a kiss is just the beginning of a story.
Instead of being the truly transcendent, utterly epic follow up it should be, her second attempt at kissing has literally landed Hayden Paris in the emergency room. If that’s not mortifying enough, the whole school is now referring to her as ‘Lethal Lips’.
Meanwhile it’s all systems go for her best friend Cassie – she and Potential Prince Scott are totally loved up and can’t stop kissing. Jelena (Jefferson High’s answer to Helen of Troy) has moved on from the heinous betrayal by Bad Boy Alex West and has unleashed her plan to rule the world by running for School Captain. Problem is Alex is running too and Jelena’s pulling out all the stops to prevent him from stealing her rightful place as ruler of Jefferson High – including offering Aurora’s Find a Prince/Princess Program as one of her campaign initiatives.
How is Aurora going to prove her program is foolproof and help Jelena win the election when her matchmaking manoeuvres seem to be throwing all the wrong people together – including the NAD and the hippy-dippy Ms Deforest — and she can’t even convince Hayden to kiss her?

My Review:

Aurora Skye is back and she is finding out that even after you have found your prince charming plenty of things can still go wrong. The magic after her first kiss with nemesis-turned-true-love and boy next door, Hayden Paris, starts to fade after their first date ends with a trip to the emergency room. And Aurora has more to worry about than her own romance. Jelena is running for school captain and she has roped Aurora into launching her Find a Prince/Princess program and finding the perfect match for her classmates. Aurora’s New Age Dad has his own relationship revelations and her flighty mother seems to bring drama wherever she goes. Life has never been busier for the young matchmaker.

This series is adorable. With How To Convince A Boy To Keep Kissing You, Tara Eglington has delivered a lovely read about a teen girl with authentic problems. Okay – so you’re probably not going to find a school in Australia where school captains promise their BFF will find them a prince nor school camps organized (and all permission slips signed and returned) in a day. But Aurora faces issues which are common to many people. Her parents are moving on in their relationships but she’s stuck in the middle of their decisions. Aurora’s friends have their own things going on and despite it all, Aurora is there for them as best as she can. And there’s Hayden. Despite considering herself a love and relationship guru, Aurora is learning that being part of a couple is not quite what she expected.

I like Aurora. She’s not trying to save the world but she is trying to be the best person she can be. With Keats’ “Love is My Religion” as her personal motto, Aurora believes that there is love out there for everyone. She uses the resources at hand to help her friends and family find the person that makes them happy – and somehow manages to keep up to date with school politics too. Her budding romance with Hayden is very sweet however is more in the background of this novel than it was in the first. I missed seeing him around but their scenes together were lovely to read and I love them as a couple.

In this book we get to see more of Aurora’s friends and it was great getting to see how their friendship dynamic evolve as they are all getting older and wiser to the word. Jelena’s plans of total school domination were amusing (if not entirely believable all the time) and I enjoyed how the race for school captain played out. Cassie and Lindsay have nice supporting roles too and I enjoyed reading the new characters that popped up in this novel as well.

Overall, this is a fun book to read. If you’re looking for something that is cute, contemporary with romance as a focus – this series is definitely for you. Although be warned: Reading this book had me reading Keats and watching Bright Star!

Thanks to Harper Collins Australia for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Also by Tara Eglington:

How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You (Aurora Skye #1)

How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You (click here for my review)

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I Would NEVER Want To Trade Places With

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.

The topic for this week is: Top Ten Worlds I’d Never Want To Live In OR Characters I’d Never Want To Trade Places With

Going with the second option – as much as I adore certain characters there is no way I would EVER want to live their lives. I’m not sure I’d handle it anywhere near as well as they do. 

Dystopian Heroines:

These characters are all amazing. They are kick-arse and manage to keep their principles throughout all they have to face. I’m not anywhere near as brave as any of them nor do I have any desire to switch places. They’ve all been though so much and I’m not sure I’d last a day in their shoes.

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1) The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1) Divergent (Divergent, #1) Stormdancer (The Lotus War, #1) The Bone Season (The Bone Season, #1)

The Devastating

These are characters that I remember reading about and getting quite emotional. I would never be able to go though what they did without having an emotional breakdown – or seven. Just reading about their lives and circumstances was devastating – I have no desire to trade places with these people.

Les Misérables The Fault in Our Stars

The Ones I Genuinely Dislike

There are some characters that I truly despise. I would never want to go within a mile of these people and swapping lives with them – absolutely not!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5) Pride and Prejudice (Penguin Classics) Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1) Twilight (Twilight, #1)

Are there any of these characters that you WOULD want to swap with? Any you think I’ve missed? Feel free to leave me a comment. Happy Tuesday to everyone 🙂

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Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)

Title: Allegiant (Divergent #3)
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: October 2013
Pages: 526
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

My Review:

You don’t believe things because they make your life better, you believe them because they’re true.

After the events of Insurgent, Tris needs some answers about the truth behind the faction-based society. Together with Four and others, Tris finds her way behind the fence to see if there is any genuine truth to the revelations about the life she’s always known. What she finds leaves many more questions and some dire decisions to be made.

I’d been anticipating Allegiant since the day I finished reading Insurgent. This trilogy has had its ups and downs with brilliant characters and a plot that I never could have predicted. Tris is a character that I admire greatly – she’s grown up so much since the first book and she is willing to take the hard road if it is for the greater good. The supporting cast is brilliant because they behave like real people each with their own agendas – as a reader we may never know just what they are up to but it’s clear that they have lives of their own and are not just in the story to interact with Tris.

This is a dual point-of-view novel with the narration switching between Tris and Four each chapter. With the first two books being solely being told by Tris this was an interesting decision to switch things up and whilst it did bring a new dynamic to the book I wasn’t the biggest fan. I liked getting to see events from Four’s perspective and find out things that Tris wasn’t privy to however I thought the voices were too similar and there were times when I was not quite sure which character I was reading about.

I enjoyed the action in this book. I am not sure what I was expecting but I know that the events of Allegiant are better than what I was anticipating. There’s a lot of action and a lot of twists and turns. There is more to people who meets the eye and Roth is not afraid to break a few hearts along the way. I’m impressed with how Roth decided to treat her characters and I think it was brave as an author to take the characters where she did.

Allegiant was a satisfying conclusion to a dramatic and exciting dystopian trilogy. If you have read and enjoyed the first two books I think you will be pleased with this instalment. I will definitely be checking out future books by Veronica Roth.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)

Title: Unearthly (Unearthly #1)
Author: Cynthia Hand
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult, Angels
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: January 2011
Pages: 432
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Clara has known she was part-angel ever since she turned fourteen two years ago, but only now is her Purpose – the crucial rite of passage for every part-angel – becoming clear to her. Clara′s Purpose leads her family to Wyoming, where, amidst terrifying scenes of a bush inferno, she finds the boy of her visions, Christian. He is everything she could wish for – so why does she also have feelings for her enigmatic classmate Tucker?

Clara discovers that her Purpose is only a small part of a titanic struggle between angels and their destructive counterparts, the Black Wings. And when the fire of her visions erupts and both Christian and Tucker are in danger, who will she choose to save?

My Review:

So often we only do what we think is expected of us, when we are capable of so much more.

As a part angel, Clara has a predestined mission. She doesn’t quite know what her Purpose is but knows that she must do everything in her power to save the boy in her visions – even if it means her family have to move across the country to a small town in the middle of nowhere. It’s there she finally finds the boy who haunts her – Christian. But despite finding him, her angelic mission is still unclear. As Clara adapts to life in the country, she finds new friends and some more about Angels and her kinds history. Black Wings – angels with a dark intentions, threaten Clara’s loved ones and her attraction for Tucker – a country boy with a lot of charm, endanger her from being able to save Christian and carry our her angelic Purpose.

Unearthly is a promising start to the series. Clara is likeable and independent with enough secrets  to keep things interesting. She has a good relationship with her mother and brother but it isn’t unrealistically perfect. She has disagreements and the occasional moment where she knowingly acts immature but that makes her just that much more authentic as teenager. Her angel ancestry is interesting – the visions, wings and all that go along with being a Quartarius (quarter angel) make for an entertaining read. I liked the way everything progressed as the story unfolded with some mysteries being revealed and more questions brought up.

For me one of the highlights in Unearthly is the romance. Not your average love triangle but Clara does find herself with feelings for two  very different boys. One is associated with her Purpose and the whole reason why she moved to the country and the other – a complete surprise. This is one of the few novels with a triangle where it’s not entirely apparent who the lead is going to pick until it happens.

I will definitely be reading the next book in the series (in fact I already have Hallowed (Unearthly #2) and Boundless (Unearthly #3) in my possession) because there are still many secrets and mysteries left for the reader to discover. I hope that the questions I have will be answered and I am excited to read more about Clara and her relationships with her friends and family.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)

Title: These Broken Stars (The Starbound Trilogy #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: 1st December 2013
Pages: 374
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
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.

The first in a sweeping science fiction trilogy, These Broken Stars is a timeless love story about hope and survival in the face of unthinkable odds.

My Review:

Lilac is the richest girl in the universe. Tarver is a soldier from humble beginnings. Set aboard an enormous luxury ship making its way across the universe, I expected These Broken Stars to be a futuristic Titanic story. But Lilac and Tarver’s story is so much more. Neither of them are just what they appear to be – they are so much more. Lilac, the rich girl in the fancy outfits is brave and willing to do whatever it takes to survive. Tarver, a young war hero who wants none of the fame or prominence that it affords him. When their cruise liner comes into some trouble, quick thinking from the pair helps them avoid immediate catastrophe but that is only the start of their worries.

One of the strengths of this novel is the dual narration. The switching point of view from Lilac to Tarver was fantastic to read. Their interactions were great  and the characters were well-defined. I loved how they viewed the same situations differently but both felt fully justified for feeling the way they did. Both Lilac and Tarver are incredibly strong characters. Lilac is completely out of her comfort zone but refuses to give up and Tarver is patient and refuses to leave a man (or in this case heiress) behind. I felt like they brought out the best and worst in each other and that made the novel realistic despite the futuristic setting.

Plot wise – this book is amazing. I thought I knew what was going to happen and then so much more happened. The journey following Lilac and Tarver is heartbreaking and beautiful. I loved being a part of their adventure and the tragedies they faced. There were many times when I found myself shocked by the events and blind sighted – but despite not expecting these twists they felt natural to the story and not just put in for added drama. The story is beautifully crafted and I loved every minute I spent reading this novel.

I have no idea how two people could come together and write a novel which is as wonderfully put together as These Broken Stars. Lilac and Tarver’s narrations fit together perfectly and the story flows well. There’s suspense, a gorgeous love story and an interesting plot all wrapped together in an otherworldly setting. As the first book in a trilogy – this novel has done a fantastic job. I can not wait to read the next two books and see just what happens next.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Top Ten Tuesday: My Reading Wishlist…

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.

The topic for this week is:  Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist (if you could make authors write about these things you would. Could be a specific type of character, an issue tackled, a time period, a certain plot, etc.)

It’s been two hours and I still don’t have a single thing on my list for this week.

I think that’s possibly because for most things I’m interested in there have been novels written with those characters or setting or whatever.

Here’s what I’ve come up with for this week’s list:

1. A modern retelling of John Keats and Fanny Brawne’s relationship – epistolary fiction preferably.

2. More modern retellings of the Aladdin and the Lamp story.

3. A story about a psychic who can predict how their future relationships will end before they start. Pretty sure that there will be a twist of fate and they don’t see their soul mate coming.

4. Were turkeys. I’ve always love the idea of a person being able to turn into a turkey. I like shapeshifters but they’re often just human to wolf. I want something a little different. Maybe Elephant weres or people who turn into fish.

5. People who have died get the chance to take a pill that will take them back twenty-four hours and it’s up to them how they change the past. I think I’ve read one or two that are somewhat similar to this but not quite.

6. The Loch Ness Monster reveals himself as the King of Atlantis

7. A psychic is haunted by an ex who helps the psychic right all the wrongs they’ve committed in their life.

8. A novel inspired by this picture

9. or this one

10. Or this one 🙂

How did everyone else go with this week’s topic? I can’t wait to go around and read what others had for this week. I have a feeling it’s going to be an interesting read!  Feel free to leave me a comment – I love reading them! 🙂

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