Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockkhart.

Title –  Genuine Fraud
Author – E. Lockhart
How I Got It – From the publisher
Pages – 262 pages
Publication Date – September 6th 2017 by Allen & Unwin
ISBN – 9781760295936
RRP – $22.99 NZD
My Rating – ★★★/5

“Imogen is an heiress, a runaway and a cheat. Jule is a fighter, a chameleon and a liar. 

Imogen is done pretending to be perfect, and Jule refuses to go back to the person she once was. Somewhere between the mansions of Martha’s Vineyard and the shores of Cabo San Lucas, their intense friendship takes a dark turn.”

I received a copy of Genuine Fraud from Allen and Unwin New Zealand to review. DKrj__yUIAAh4f4

This is the second book I’ve read by Lockhart. The first one was We Were Liars. I did like Genuine Fraud more but it was still only three stars for me. I don’t think the reading slump I was in at the time helped but it was also the way the story was told that kind of put me off too. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book told this way, backwards, and from this one experience I don’t want to again. But I’m not going to say anything else because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

The main reason I didn’t put the book down was that I wanted to know what happened to Imogen and Jule. Not because I liked any of the characters because I didn’t but I just want to know what happened and how the book would end.

I will say that there  was a pretty good twist to the story and it came out right at the end of the book. I did click to it before it came out but only just. It wasn’t obvious from the start of the book. Well, for me anyway.

I don’t think Lockhart’s books are for me. Of the two I’ve read I didn’t like any of the characters. I did read We Were Liars a few years ago so I can’t really remember much other than I couldn’t stand Cadence. So I’m not sure I’ll be reading any more of her books. Unless the story really draws me in…

*Thank you Allen and Unwin New Zealand for sending me a copy to review*

– Aimee.

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Gift Ideas for Bookworms.

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I haven’t been posting for a while and I did look into doing Blogmas this year but I just can’t post on here everyday. So I decided to just do a post with some gift ideas for the bookworms in your life. I probably should have done this earlier – like last month maybe? But who doesn’t like last-minute Christmas shopping?

Anyway, I think I came up with five ideas. I wanted to do ten but my brain just wouldn’t work when I was writing all this down. So here’s what I came up with –

1. Your favourite book – 
I think this is a great way to get your bookworm to read your favourite book (if they haven’t already) and then you can talk about it after. You could even mark your favourite parts with post-it notes and make it more personal.

If you don’t read but someone in your life does then you could always see if a movie you love was based on a book and give them the book as a gift. Just check if they haven’t already read the book first. I try to read the book before I see the movie but it doesn’t always happen. 21980908_164475614133088_5213020618559062016_n

2. Bookish candles – 
There are some amazing stores on Etsy that have candles inspired by books. I’ve only bought candles from a few of them because shipping to New Zealand is crazy but I do love Faerie Tales Creations, Flickering Books and Wick and Fable. You can click the links to check them out.

This #CurrentlyReading candle is from Faerie Tales Candles and it smells amazing. There are also little wax melts on the top of the candles which are really cute. This one has little piles of books. They are located in New Zealand so shipping for me is really good. I’m not sure what it costs to other countries. 22280972_725992040929903_5233457172465057792_n

3. Bookmarks – 
Bookworms can never have enough bookmarks. Unless the fold down the corners of the pages… Which I never do.

There are some amazing stores out there that sell bookmarks but I think my favourite shop at the moment is Ink & Wonder. They sell more than just bookmarks too. You can click the link to have a look.

I only have one bookmark from them that came in an OwlCrate but I have my eye on a lot more. They’ll have to wait until after Christmas though. The bookmark in the photo is from Ink & Wonder and I love it! So much that I’ll probably never use it. And this candle Untitledis also from Faerie Tales Creation. It has a Targaryen house crest wax melt.

4. Book sleeves – 
I take a book everywhere with me and I don’t want them getting damaged in my bag. So I bought a book sleeve from Book Sac Boutique on Etsy and received one from Book Beau in an OwlCrate. I love my Alice and Wonderland book sac and use it all the time.

I recently bought one from Flickering Books. This one is a little different – instead of putting the book into the sleeve it goes around a hardback to protect the book while your reading. DPb7tBNV4AEJuKPI’m still in a reading slump so I haven’t used it yet but it does fit my copy of Tower of Dawn. I don’t think it fits bigger books like Queen of Shadows but I can’t remember if I’ve tried to put that in there yet.

5. Subscription box – 
I know these can get expensive depending on where you live with shipping costs and it’s probably too late to buy one now for Christmas anyway but there’s always next year I guess. I have bought a few OwlCrates but I doubt I’ll be getting any next year unless I really like the sound of the box. I’ve also bought one FairyLoot but that was crazy expensive and according to the tracking it hasn’t even left the country it came from so I won’t be getting another one.

If this option doesn’t work for you because of the cost then you can always create your own book box for your bookworm. This way it’s may work out cheaper depending on what you put in the box. And it will definitely be more personalised because you picked everything out yourself. Which I’m sure will mean more to the person you’re gifting it to because you’ll be putting more time and thought into it.

So there’s my five gift ideas for the bookworms in your life. There are also mugs, totes, phone cases etc on Society6. I have never bought anything from there so I didn’t think I should add it to the list. But I have seen some amazing mugs on there.

Happy reading,

– Aimee.

Life Update.

Life-update

Hey. I know it’s been a while since I posted on here and I’ve just been really slack lately with everything. If you’ve been reading my WWW Wednesday posts (which I haven’t done in a few weeks) you’d know I’ve mentioned that I’ve been in a reading slump. Well it’s gotten a lot worse and I haven’t really read much this month at all. I think maybe two books? But I’m not really sure.

So I’ve decided to take a break from reading until I don’t have to force myself to read. Which I have been doing with a few books and it just didn’t end well. I think I gave the last two review books I read 3 stars. Which is when I decided to stop before I ruined more books for myself.

I will post the reviews I’ve written for books I’ve read soon. Hopefully I’ll get out of this slump soon too.

I am still active on my Instagram and Twitter so if you want to follow me there click the links.

Happy reading..

– Aimee.

Review: Tell It to the Moon by Siobhan Curham.

Title – Tell It to the Moon
Series – The Moonlight Dreamers #2
Author – Siobhan Curham
How I Got It – From the publisher
Pages – 304 pages
Publication Date – August 3rd 2017 by Walker Books
ISBN – 9781406366150
My Rating – ★★★★/5

“What happens when a dream is impossible to achieve?”

Amber, Maali, Sky and Rose are members of the Moonlight Dreamers. They’re an unlikely group of friends who give each other the courage to be themselves and go after their dreams.

The Moonlight Dreamers discover life doesn’t always turn out the way you plan. But sometimes the things that are unexpected can be even better.

I received a copy of Tell It to the Moon from Walker Books Australia to review. This is the sequel to The Moonlight Dreamers which I reviewed a couple of months ago. You can DHi274BUAAIOPUIclick the link if you want to check it out.

I love how diverse these books are and how accepting and understanding the Moonlight Dreamers are of each other. Maali’s family are very religious and in Tell It to the Moon, Maali has a crisis of faith (is that the right saying? I’m not really sure…) while her family is going through something difficult. Amber is having a hard time with her writing and figuring out who she is. Sky is juggling high school for the first time and a new relationship and Rose is dealing with new feelings and being open about who she is.

Like all friends, Sky, Rose, Maali and Amber don’t always agree and have arguments or fall out, whatever you want to call it, but at the end of the day these girls are there for each other, no matter what they’re going through. I do wish some of them (or one in particular) were just honest at the start with how they were feeling about something because there would have been less drama. I mean, I thought it was kind of obvious what was going on with Sky before it all came out so it was kind of annoying to me how long Sky dragged it out instead of just telling her friends the truth. I know people handle things differently, some people are open and others choose avoidance, but they were her friends.

Anyway, both The Moonlight Dreamers and Tell It to the Moon have great messages for young women/teens. I’m sure people will take different things from them. They’re diverse and have strong young women too and always comes back to the friendships between Rose, Maali, Sky and Amber. So I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who loves diverse books with great characters and friendship.

Now, I’ve been talking about a giveaway that I’m doing with Walker Books Australia. They will be sending out the books to the winner so if you’re okay with that and live in either New Zealand or Australia head over to my Instagram for the giveaway.

*Thank you Walker Books Australia for sending me a copy to review*

– Aimee.

Siobhan Curham – Q&A

 

Where did the inspiration for Moonlight Dreamers and Tell it to the Moon come from?
I feel really passionately about encouraging other people to dare to believe in themselves9781406365825 and their dreams – especially young people. I know all too well how hard it can be to pursue a dream and how easy it can be to give up. I gave up on my writing dream when I was twenty and dropped out of university. Coming from a poor background, I didn’t think I had what it took to make it in the middle class world of writing and publishing. I ended up in the worst job ever, working for the complaints department of a frozen food company – where all I got to write were grovelling letters of apology! Thankfully, I managed to overcome my self-doubt and fear and make it as a writer in the end. I wrote The Moonlight Dreamers and Tell it to the Moon to try and encourage the reader to chase their own dreams and not give up, like I did. It’s so lovely when I receive emails from readers telling me that it’s worked and reading about the Moonlight Dreamers and their adventures has given them the confidence to dare to dream.

Did you always dream of becoming a writer?
Pretty much – and it’s all down to my evil parents! When I was little my mum and dad had the crazy notion that TV was bad for a kid’s imagination so my siblings and I weren’t allowed to watch any TV – we didn’t even have a television in the house, and this was back in the day before the internet and mobile phones. So I had a choice – I could either learn to love to read, or die of boredom. So, I learned to love to read and out of that came a love for writing. I dreamed of one day having a shelf full of books that I had written. I’m grateful every day that that dream finally came true.

What were the first steps you took to pursue becoming a writer?
Well, first I went to university to study English Literature and Script-writing but sadly I dropped out after my second year. When I started pursuing my dream again a few years later, I decided to approach it like any other business and start small. So I started writing short stories and articles, which felt a lot less intimidating than writing an entire novel. Once I’d had a few of them published it gave me the confidence to go after the bigger dream of writing a book.

What was it like working with Zoe Sugg?
It was great. I love helping other people with their books – celebrities and non-celebrities.

How has working as a motivational speaker and life coach influenced your writing?
It’s influenced it greatly as pretty much every book I write has the same theme as the 9781406366150work I do as a speaker and coach ie; overcoming fear or adversity and creating a life based around the pursuit of your dreams. I feel very lucky to do this work as it’s so rewarding to help other people achieve their goals.

What do you think are the main challenges that teenage girls face?
Oh, where to begin? I think there are so many challenges facing teenage girls today, way more than when I was a teenager. I think a lot of this is down to the internet – there’s a pressure for teens to attain perfection, both in their lives and physically that’s far greater today. And I think this is combined with the current obsession with celebrity – and their perfectly edited lives. The saddest thing about it is that most of the time the ‘perfection’ teen girls are encouraged to achieve isn’t even possible. The images and celebrity lifestyles are all airbrushed, photo-shopped and highly edited, as are most people’s social media accounts. I think there’s way too much pressure at school too – a topic that I highlight in Tell it to the Moon and Sky’s poem Free to Be. Young adults just aren’t free to be their true selves and I think this is a tragedy.

How important are strong friendships in help over these issues?
I think strong friendships are very important as they can help to counteract the pressure. There’s nothing better than having a friend who loves and accepts you for who you are; someone you can be completely authentic with. This is what I try to celebrate in The Moonlight Dreamers and Tell it to the Moon – the empowering nature of female friendship and creating a sisterhood of your own.

Do you think social media is making things like bullying and body image issues worse?
Yes, most definitely, because there’s no escape from it. Bullying has always happened and people have always had body image issues but it’s magnified by social media and this can be so toxic. What is encouraging is that there seems to be a growing trend towards going on an internet detox – taking yourself offline for certain days of the week or hours of the day. I think this can really help, mental health wise. It’s so healthy to take a break from it all.

Did you have a friendship group like the Moonlight Dreamer when you were growing up?
I didn’t have such a close-knit group when I was growing up but I did have a very best friend, who I met when I was eight and we’re still best friends to this day. We’ve been through thick and thin together – growing up on a council estate, dating trials and tribulations, career hiccups, marriages, divorces and single-parenthood – and she’s like a sister to me. I’m lucky to have many very close female friends now. I call them my soul sisters, and they mean everything to me.

Tell us about your best friends.
My life-long best friend is called Tina. She’s the person I can tell anything to and she gives the best advice – even if I don’t always want to hear it! Another amazing friend of mine is called Sara – I also think of her as my writing guardian angel. She was my editor for my very first book deal and she’s been my main cheer-leader ever since. Writing can be a tough business with a lot of ups and downs and she’s always been there for me. My other best friend is my dad. He’s been my rock throughout my life, always encouraging me to chase my dreams and providing me with his own unique brand of gruff, Irish wisdom.

What is your favourite book?
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. She writes so beautifully. It’s like one long poem in novel form and the characters are so colourful and likeable too. She made me want to live in the world of the book.

What authors have influenced your writing?
When I was starting out, and basically teaching myself to write, I was inspired by a writer called Lisa Jewell. I loved the way she made her characters so real – and the settings for her books. They were so rich it was almost as if the location was a character in its own right. This is definitely something I’ve tried to emulate, especially with the settings for The Moonlight Dreamers and Tell it to the Moon. I really wanted the reader to feel as if they were in London or Paris.

Which Moonlight Dreamer is most similar to you?
I think I’m probably a mash-up of Sky and Maali. I’m a writer and a bit of a hippy like Sky, and a hopeless romantic just like Maali! Writing some of her tongue-tied scenes with Ash was like therapy!

Are any of your characters based on real people?
Not really. It’s more like I take interesting elements of real people and mix them up with some fictional traits to create a unique character.

Will there be more books in The Moonlight Dreamers series?
I hope so. I’d love to do one more. But before that, I have another book coming out with Walker next year called Friends Like Us, which tells the story of music-loving teenage carer, Grace, and talented footballer and Syrian refugee, Hafiz. The refugee crisis is something I feel passionately about, ditto the number of young people who are having to care for members of their family. It felt great writing a book which throws a spotlight on these issues – and celebrates the power of friendship, this time between a teen boy and girl.

If you haven’t read The Moonlight Dreamers and like books about friendship, going after your dreams and diverse families then I recommend picking up a copy.

I’ll be reading the sequel, Tell It to the Moon in August and will be holding a giveaway after I’ve read it. So if you live in New Zealand or Australia and are interested in reading these books then keep an eye out for my review of Tell It to the Moon! 🙂

– Aimee.

WWW Wednesday [June 28th 2017] –

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This meme is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. All you have to do is answer the following three questions in a post and then put a link to that post in the Comments over at Taking on a World of Words.

The questions are:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading – 19
Technically I haven’t started Beyond the Wall yet but I’ll be starting it later today. 

I don’t know much about the Roman Empire. Or anything really. Other than some things about the Roman gods. Beyond the wall is set in the Roman Empire and follows a slave, Cassia, as she flees from her master after injuring him in some way.

That’s pretty much all I know about it so far but I’m looking forward to reading it. It sounds good and I’m interested to read about a time I’ve never read before.

Recently Finished – DDH7x1cV0AAMoXt
I finished Flame in the Mist last night and I really enjoyed it. I have enjoyed Renee’s previous two books so I was hoping to like this one too. I’m really glad I did.

I saw this being promoted (not sure that’s the right word??) as a Mulan retelling. I haven’t seen Mulan but from what I do know of it I wouldn’t say Flame in the Mist is a retelling. I think the only things they have in common is the main characters dressing up as boys.

But that’s not the reason I wanted to read this book so I wasn’t disappointed. I’ll be reviewing Flame in the Mist soon so I don’t want to say too much here. I will say that I really enjoyed it and I cannot wait for the next book. That ending!!! 11

I also finished Defy the Stars this week. I’ve wanted to read a good sci-fi for a while now. This didn’t really live up to my expectations but it wasn’t bad. I did like the story and the characters, Noemi and Abel. It just took me awhile to get used to the ‘romance’ or whatever it was between them. Because Abel is a machine… But I’ll get into that more in my review. When I can get my thoughts together.

I did like this and I might check out the next book. I’m not sure yet. The ending of Defy the Stars didn’t leave me in a place where I was like “I need the next book now!” but I do kind of want to know what’ll happen to Genesis

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Reading Next –
I recently received a copy of Midnight Jewel from Penguin Random House New Zealand to review. Which is the sequel to The Glittering Court. I haven’t actually read this yet so I’m planning on reading it next.

I can’t remember what this is about. Something about the main character running away for a marriage or something like that… I guess I’ll find out when I pick it up.

So my reading this week was kind of crap. And by crap I mean I didn’t read much. Not that the books were crap because they weren’t. How was yours?

– Aimee.

 

Q&A with Nevo Zisin – author of Finding Nevo.

Nevo Zisin head shot

I’m posting a Q&A by transgender writer and activist, Nevo Zisin, whose memoir Finding Nevo, is out now through Black Dog Books.

Finding Nevo is an autobiography about gender and all that comes with it. It is Zisin’s powerful and brave account of their journey to transgender, and all the stumbles, victories and life-changing moments along the way.

Finding Nevo touches on themes of family, acceptance, transgender, self-discovery, bullying, weight issues and change. This is an important book that Zisin hopes will not only affect social change.

What do you hope readers will take away from Finding Nevo?
 I hope they will not only take away my story but also their own. I hope people will find similarities or moments they can relate to and connect it to their own narrative and what the implications of that may be. I hope fellow trans people will feel less alone, heard and seen. I hope they realize that there is a future for them and that they are strong and resilient. I hope cis people read this book and feel a responsibility to create safer spaces and a safer world at large for trans people. While also questioning ways they may uphold oppressive standards of gender binaries onto those around them. Though in general I hope this book will inspire people to create change, both within themselves and in society.

 What made you write your autobiography at such a young age?
I was lucky enough to be commissioned to write my autobiography so that was certainly a huge influence. But outside of that I think it’s really vital to be prioritizing young voices. I often hear the phrase, “children are the future”, and I feel like this is so dismissive. What about now? Do we just ignore them until they grow up? I think it’s crucial that young people have young role models, people they can relate to and understand. So even though my life hasn’t been as long as others who write autobiographies, I think I have a lot to say and the demographic I am aiming at aren’t always the most spoken to.

How did you feel writing Finding Nevo? Did you find it liberating, or was it painful Cover Image - Finding Nevoon some parts of the journey?
At the beginning it felt like an impossible task. There was so much to cover and I felt like such an imposter pretending to be an “author”. I had never written a book before, so many people commented on how young I was and so I felt like I wasn’t capable. I wrote out big lists of what I wanted and needed to write. I spent a really long time considering the ethics of writing a memoir: how it would affect me, my family, the trans community and how I could best be representative of all those people. My motivation came in waves and so did the pain. Sometimes it was too hard to look back upon things I wished to forget, sometimes it was crucial in my own personal healing process.

 What role do you think Finding Nevo will have in terms of challenging social norms?
I think that it will make people question the application of such strict gender expectations. I honestly believe that these rigid societal standards are oppressive to everyone. I do not think it is comfortable for anyone to be forced into those boxes. So I hope this will allow people to consider wider worlds of gender aside from the “woman” and “man” categories we have accepted. I am also hoping it will help the friends and families of trans people get into their minds a little bit deeper and begin to try and understand what they might be going through.

Your book is incredibly honest and brave. When so many people struggle to be so vulnerable, where did this honesty come from?
I have always been an open book (pardon the pun). For me, my own truth is the only truth I can be sure of. I have always loved storytelling and have been writing since I was very young. I also began questioning my identity at such a young age that finding my truth became a very important part of my life and I was happy to share that with others along the way. I also think when you’re a member of an oppressed minority, you don’t often have the choice to be honest or not because so many people are asking you questions all the time.

In the book, you write about how those close to you struggled on the two occasions you came out. How has their reaction been to the book release?
Mostly overwhelmingly positive. I was expecting quite a harsh reaction particular from family members who struggled with my transition. I had no intention of slandering them, I understand why they reacted in the ways they did, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t difficult for me and I needed to express my truth. I was really surprised at how most of them took on board what I had said and really understood. It was quite healing for a lot of my relationships within my family.

The book covers themes of family, self-discovery, bullying, and acceptance, and has touched many people who aren’t from the queer community. Are you surprised the book is having such an effect on a broader audience?
Not really to be honest. I think there are a lot of relatable experiences in the book that simply reflect the human condition. I think when looking upon someone whose identity is different from our own we like to create an “us” and “them” narrative but when it truly comes down to it, chances are we have far more in common than not. So I am not surprised that the book has had an effect on a broader audience, though I’m sure that there are people that may be surprised at just how much they connected, even if they weren’t expecting to.

Did you learn anything about yourself when you were writing the book?
Oh yes. I learnt a lot. I learnt a lot about my past, my present and who my future self might be. I learnt about my trauma, my relationships and my family. I learnt how to believe more in myself and my writing and how to begin to call myself an author (that one took a lot longer). I think as much as I was “Finding Nevo”, I was also learning Nevo.

As a youth leader and activist, do you feel Finding Nevo will be a source of comfort for people going through a similar journey?
I really like to think so. I believe if a book like this had been available in the early stages of my transition I would have felt far less alone and distraught. My only goal has only ever been to try to be the kind of person I really needed while I was growing up, and I hope this book can do that for young people.

With the Safe Schools program losing funding in all schools except those in Victoria, what is the best piece of advice you would give to help someone who may be outside the gender binary that society still largely considers to be the “norm”?
I think the Internet is a really great place to start. There are so many resources out there nowadays for young gender diverse folk that weren’t available not that long ago. I think there’s a lot on Tumblr and Instagram. I also think my best advice would be a quote from one of my favourite Melbourne bands, Two Steps on the Water, “If the world don’t love you, then the world is wrong”. If you feel outside of the “norm” perhaps there is something fundamentally flawed with the norm and not who you happen to be.

Finding Nevo will be my next read and I cannot wait to finally start it. After reading this Q&A I hope you go out and find a copy to read as well 🙂

– Aimee