Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Interview + Giveaway: The YA Chronicles

Hello friends. Today I have something very special on the blog!

Y’all would have seen book subscription boxes popping up everywhere and the awesome that comes inside. Well today on the blog I have our very own team behind The YA Chronicles answering a few questions. For those of you who don’t know, TYAC is an Aussie YA book subscription box. Each month, the themed box includes a book (Aussie edition of course!), a YA Chronicles bookmark for that month, and 2-5 bookish items.

March box: Australia Made

So let's get to know Rebecca and Alison!

Jaz: You guys are the first YA subscription box in Australia and I’m so grateful that you guys took the initiative to do this while we all watched in envy of the bookish boxes internationally.

About the Box

Q1. Can you tell me about what it was like starting up TYAC? Did you have a business model in mind, planning revenue streams, breakeven point (all that business-y stuff) or were you guys like, ok let’s just do it!
Rebecca: To be perfectly honest, I still have no clue what a planning revenue stream is haha.

Alison: So, basically, no, we just kind of went, “let’s do it!” That said, dealing with the business side of everything is very important and we both hate it.

Rebecca: It’s been a learning curve that’s for sure, but we had no other choice than to figure it all out.

Alison: Our business model: send people books.

Q2. How do you pick your theme and book for each month? You mention in your FAQ, reading review copies, but is there an ultimate decider if you love all the books?
Rebecca: It’s the Hunger Games. We throw our favourite picks into the pit and make them fight to the death.

Alison: …or we discuss them thoroughly and figure out which one would make the strongest box theme-wise, and the best book, and go from there. Themes always come from the core features of the book we pick.

Q3. And where do you look to source the extra goodies you include?
Rebecca: The majority of what we find comes from Etsy, there are so many great products out there.  Also from people who email us about their bookish Aussie businesses.

Alison: That said, we love supporting small Aussie businesses! So if you have a bookish business and think you’d make a good fit for a TYAC box, email us at info@theyachronicles.com.au or message us on any of our social media platforms to let us know!

Rebecca: While we do prefer working with Australian businesses, we are definitely open to working to businesses from other countries so don’t be afraid to hit us up.

Q4. So you’ve picked the theme and book, decided on which goodies you want to include – what’s the rest of the process like? How long does it take to put it all together and get that box out there? I know you guys pack each box by hand at Ali’s house! 
Rebecca: A lot of stressing about items actually arriving on time for us to pack and get the boxes sent by our deadline.

Alison: On top of stressing, I emboss all of the books with the “TYAC Approved” embosser and then go through all of the invoices and organise them, make sure everything is in order and attach extra bookmarks. Then we bribe whichever friends are available to come keep us company and help us pack by offering to get their boxes earlier than everyone else (:

Q5. What’s your favourite part of The YA Chronicles?
Rebecca: I love how it’s actually a thing ahaha. How despite all the headaches it gave us to get it off the ground, and the headaches we still get, we’ve built this business that so many people seem to really enjoy.

Alison: Seeing everyone unbox their packages and seeing how happy it makes them. Makes my month every month!

About the Creators

Currently reading?
Rebecca: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye.

Alison: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows.

Favourite book this year?
Rebecca: Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, ok so out of the books we’ve used my favourite book was Rebel of the Sands. Of the books I’ve read that haven’t been for TYAC, Night Study by Maria V. Snyder…and wait also Far From You by Tess Sharpe. I CAN’T CHOOSE ONE JAZ.

Alison: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas was PERFECTION. But then A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab and Kings Rising by C. S. Pacat also came out this year and they’re both close seconds. I mean I also read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, but how many favourites can you really have?

Rebecca: A lot.

OTP?
Rebecca: I honestly don’t know if I have any book OTPs. I mean Yelena x Valek of course.

Alison: Aelin x the Throne.

Book you’re most looking forward to this year?
Rebecca: THE MIDNIGHT STAR BY MARIE LU OMG ADELINA MY LOVE I MUST KNOW. Also, Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff, and Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.

Alison: It’s a tie between Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas, Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, and Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff…I think she meant bookS.

Rebecca: Yeah that was definitely a typo.

*Jaz regrets not threatening them with Gong of Choice*


What you do when you’ve not got your head stuck in a book or putting together TYAC boxes?
Rebecca: Crying over TV shows. Reading too much fanfiction.

Alison: Working, uni stuff, replying to emails or TYAC social medias haha.


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Thank you so much to Bec and Ali for their time! I hope you enjoyed that little sneak peek into TYAC and the creative minds behind it.

You can find them at the follow places:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Now I have MORE special for you - GIVEAWAY TIME.

Aussies and New Zealanders (sorry international peeps, the shipping on this one is too stronk) this is your chance to see what The YA Chronicles box is like.
So yes I am giving away a ONE month subscription to TYAC - the winner will be receiving the July box which has the freaking awesome theme of Ladies Who Slay. You're welcome I know I'm so generous and fab.

Terms and Conditions:
  • The prize is for the July box only 
  • No giveaway or spam account - these entries will instantly be removed
  • Entrants must be AUSTRALIA or NEW ZEALAND only (like I said, shipping costs yo)
  • Winner must provide mailing address within 48h of being notified otherwise a new winner will be selected
  • Winner must be old enough to provide a mailing address
  • Winner MUST and I stress MUST provide a street address for mailing purposes (no PO Boxes as per TYAC T&Cs)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Review: The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Firstly, thanks to Allen & Unwin for this review copy <3

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Date Read: May 22-30 2016
Date Released: May 2016
Publisher: Allen & Unwin/Hot Key Books
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Sci-fi/time travel
My Rating:

Note this review may contain some spoilery ranting.

Synopsis:
"Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times - although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix's father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix's existence rather dangerously in question...

Nix has grown used to her father's obsession, but only because she's convinced it can't work. But then a map falls into her father's lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it's that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever."

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You guys it happened again *cries*. I got sucked in by a pretty cover and lost. The Girl from Everywhere started so strong, in seven short chapters we’d travelled to three different countries and centuries. And after that it all went downhill.

I found that the blurb didn’t explain the book properly. It did not meet my expectations and sadly I felt misled. What I was expecting: a mad race across eras and countries in search of this map to find Nix’s mother (the blurb on my edition didn’t even explain this, all it says is the MC is in danger), something along the lines of Passenger. What I got: 75% of the book spent in Hawaii planning a lame and stupid heist.

The premise goes like this, Nix and her father can time travel through maps (I felt this wasn't properly explained, I felt jipped). And her father’s whole life has been spent trying to get back to Hawaii in the late 19th century to go back to Nix’s mother. The book could have been an action-packed wild goose chase, instead it was a steady bore with them docked in Hawaii for the most part.

Nix was so bland ugh. She’s spent time in the 21st century so she’s got the qualities of a modern teen which is fine. But she’s also meant to have spent just as much time in the 18th – 20th centuries… So when they’re in the 19th century she’s all like “oh I need to act like the Victorian era otherwise ppl will be sus” but she doesn’t? Like what I thought you were meant to have lots of travelling experience how have you not learnt to assimilate into cultures? You could say she’s rebellious but when it comes the time to be rebellious and brave she backs out. Girl get your priorities in order. Pretty sure 90% of the book is her sulking that her dad wants to find her mum and not for one moment does she wonder what it would be like to meet her mum.

Which brings me to the next point. There’s heaps of characters and they all have stories and yet the relationships between these characters are not explored. Father and daughter seemed so fake, no idea how the crew members joined the ship, no inkling of Slate’s (her dad) relationships and feelings towards anybody else except his obsession with Lin (momma Song). And also no mention of whether mother cared for daughter at any point. Where were the connections? The feelings and emotions?

Oh wait! They were too busy being concentrated on the attempt at not-a-love-triangle-but-it-really-is GAGGGG. This was absolutely terrible. Heilig was trying oh so very hard (or maybe not so hard) to make the romance not a love triangle but it 100% was (I’m not sure why I keep using percentages in this review LOL). I was completely on board with one guy but the other guy was completely unbelievable. She was saying how she had feelings for him and I was like no you don’t, you totally like the other guy. AND APPARENTLY THERE’S A SEQUEL SO?

As I mentioned in the beginning, my biggest gripe was with the plot. I felt very misled because there was barely any time travel and it wasn’t some dangerous adventure at all. Ok it sort of was but I was so bored I didn’t feel it. And unfortunately that’s the word I’d use to describe this book: boring. Chapters 1-7 are pretty interesting time travel, then 8 onwards is spent in Hawaii where nothing happens. There’s supposed plotting and schemes but it was all happening extremely slowly. And then Heilig chucks in this random place near the end like no that does not make it better *yawns*.

At first I thought the world-building was good and the writing decent. Then I was speaking with another blogger and she was saying how the Mandarin was wrong and the Hawaiian research was actually not properly done and I was even more disappointed because at this point the book is beyond saving.

Then I got to the end and I was like ARE YOU JOKING ALL OF THAT FOR WHAT? I can’t imagine what the sequel could be about because this story is way finished. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Review: The Square Root of Summer

Firstly, thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this review copy <3

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Date Read: May 18-22 2016
Date Released: May 5th 2016
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary/Sci-fi
My Rating:

Note this review contains ranty spoilers.

Synopsis:
"Last summer, Gottie's life fell apart. Her beloved grandfather Grey died and Jason left her - the boy to whom she lost her virginity (and her heart) - and he wouldn't even hold her hand at the funeral! This summer, still reeling from twin heartbreaks, Gottie is lost and alone and burying herself in equations. Until, after five years absence, Thomas comes home: former boy next door. Former best friend. Former everything. And as life turns upside down again she starts to experience strange blips in time - back to last summer, back to what she should have seen then . . .

During one long, hazy summer, Gottie navigates grief, world-stopping kisses and rips in the space-time continuum, as she tries to reconcile her first heartbreak with her last."

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Here’s a question that doesn’t require a physics degree to answer: what do you get when you combine space time theory with teenage romance? A recipe for disaster that’s what. The Square Root of Summer was one of the biggest jumbled messes I’ve ever read. Complete and utter chaos.

The premise is easy enough to understand – it’s the beginning of summer vacation for Gottie and everything is falling apart. The boy she had a fling with the previous summer is back, add that to the grief she’s still suffering from her grandfather, Grey’s, death and Grots is a bit all over the shop. Everything reminds her of last summer, and it’s grief and happiness colliding. Then her childhood friend returns to England and she’s got her anger at his returning to deal with too. What wasn’t necessary was the amount of science/maths used to drive the plot. Rather than memories, Gottie’s actually travelling back in time through wormholes. What the.

I liked Gottie’s character. She’s a mess of feelings and was very relatable. The father figure and person she looked up to in life has passed away and she doesn’t know what to do with herself. Little bits and pieces of her life before her grandfather’s death keep popping up and these are constant reminders of a much happier time and place. They drag her down and I could really feel how depressed she got. With the way she got lost in her thoughts I could tell she was spaced out a lot and this added to her character. I’m not sure of her character growth in terms of her awareness about the people around her, but she grows as a person in terms of understanding death and letting go.

The romance is cute. The love interest so obviously likes her and he does all these little things to please Gottie but she doesn’t realise it (as I said, she’s got her head in the clouds most of the time). I loved that he cooks and loves baking! I too would like a boyfriend who makes me delicious food (y’all know I love my food, especially desserts. I mean have you seen my Instagram? Ahem). He’s a bit geeky and very caring and observant. I totally shipped this. My only issue was that Gottie seemed so damn indecisive it was like she was giving him signals, stringing him along but didn’t realise it. I attribute that to her being so clueless!

My goodness the secondary characters were all so well layered and developed. Delightful people! Through Gottie’s ‘time leaps’(?) I could tell her grandfather was the life of the party. He was this totally hippie, new age dude who everybody loved. Then there’s Gottie’s brother Ned who’s in a band and comes home at dawn to puke in the grass and then fall asleep on the spot. Their seemingly absent-minded father who disappears into his own world a lot. Sof, Jason and Meg, the friends/ex-friends from a summer ago. Everybody was so different but take one character and put them with another and they’d have something in common – and Grey sort of brought everybody together too. Despite the, at times, messy relationships I liked that there were no real villains. There wasn’t the beautiful bitch or a really horrible guy. There were just a lot of misunderstandings and ok I do admit Jason was a bit of a prick. I liked that all the characters were there, Gottie just had to open her eyes.

By this point you’re probably wondering how bad the wormholes could have been to warrant this rating, given I liked Gottie, her feelings were portrayed realistically, I adored all the characters, and I thought the writing was beautiful and flowed nicely.

Oh my god the execution of the plot using quantum physics. Worst. Thing. Ever. I appreciate the effort Hapgood used to draw the diagrams to help the reader understand the theories. I’m also going to assume that the science behind it all is correct because it certainly sounded very scientific. And that’s where the problem lay. The way the science was used to drive the plot did not mesh well. It was a physics class one moment and then the next moment emotions and romance that didn’t connect with the physics. A lot of the book is Gottie going back to moments last summer and coming back to current time to realise hours have passed. But then she visits alternate realities and there’s like GAPS in the space around her. Like there’s an area in the sky that’s missing blue and in its place is outer space. WHAAAAT. I didn’t know what to believe, it was so disjointed. The going back and forth through the wormholes, then the idea of altering events in time. Thinking back, there was this moment in the book where it all happens and I was so confused, it’s like that part in Interstellar with the sand and the lines like what was even going on. I don’t know what she was doing, how she was changing stuff and how she was returning. And if you say quantum physics I will give you a blank look. The story really could have been better off without all the science. It would have been a perfectly swoony summer read with memories zzzzz. Then the ending happened and I was mega confused, like did she fix everything? Did anything need fixing? Was it just her feelings? It seemed like it. I DON'T KNOW lelelel.

Tl;dr I did not understand the plot and how we got to the end and thus I did not feel like I read a complete book ha.

Did this review make sense? Are you as confused as I am? Well that’s how I felt reading this book. Send help. Actually, send me a brain. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t enjoy this.