Sunday, 28 November 2010

Review: The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Genre: Contemporary > Polygamists Society
Age Group: 13+ YA/MG
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: 1st December 2010
Format: Paperback, 224 pages
ISBN-13: 9781847389381
RRP: $16.99 AUD
Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing this book in exchange for my honest review.
Cover love? 
It's gorgeous and a little sad, Kyra's hair symbolising her innocence being undone.

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters. That is, without questioning them much - if you don't count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle - who already has six wives - Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

The Chosen One is a dark but truthful story of a girl called Kyra, whose community forces her to become the seventh wife of her 60 year old uncle. It’s not a dystopian or historical novel; it’s a story set in our own time, reflective of the lives of people living in polygamist communities such as these.

Kyra father has three wives, and she has over twenty siblings. They live in trailers on a piece of fenced-in land owned by the Chosen Ones. She doesn’t have the opportunity to go to school, and must help take care of the younger children in her family. But Kyra has secrets. She borrows books from the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels, she despises and curses the dictatorial Prophet Childs in her head, and above all, she’s fallen in love with Joshua Johnson, who is absolutely forbidden to her.

Carol Lynch Williams’ writing is simple and fluid, bringing Kyra’s voice to life, allowing me to be completely immersed in her world. The Chosen One puts the lives of polygamist communities into perspective, and through this book, I’ve gained a greater understanding and sympathy of these “cults”. 

I’ll give you a warning now: the book is not a happy one. It’s sad and a little dark, without the classical happy resolution in most books. Through Kyra, I saw how unfair the society was, I was outraged at the tyrannical force with which Prophet Childs and his Apostles ruled the community, and I was disgusted at what the Prophet forced the girls to do.

And while I didn’t feel satisfied by the poignant ending, I thought it was the right place to finish this chapter of Kyra’s life. Like real life, we don’t know what comes next, salvation does not reach everyone, and there isn’t always a fairy-tale ending. But I don’t think this book could have been ended any other way while still retaining its effect.

Through the eyes of a girl who fights her way to freedom, The Chosen One is story that climbs over the barbed fence and opens our eyes to the truth behind victims of cults. It's beautiful and heartbreaking, definitely a must-read.


Thursday, 25 November 2010

Review: Outside In by Chrissie Keighery

Outside In by Chrissie Keighery
Genre: Contemporary > Teen Issues
Age Group: Young Adult 13+
Release Date: [Already Released] August 2009
Format: Paperback, 208 pages
ISBN-13:  9781921502361
RRP: $16.95 AUD

Cover love? 
At first, I thought little of the cover, until I recognised it's significance in the book! It's a beautiful piece of artwork, and I love the watercolour blending.

The cool group at school is not as luminous as it seems. Sure, they appear to have it all, but there are problems lurking just below the surface.
Beautiful Jordan is struggling to cope because of her newly divorced parents, Meredith covers her past by playing the clown, Cecilia hides her feelings and a shameful secret, Sam is growing up, and Jack is caught off-guard when he falls in love for the first time.
And then there's someone else. She's not part of the group. The others have no idea she's there. But she knows that there are cracks. She watches them from the inside, out. From the outside, in.
A beautiful novella about figuring out who you are and how you fit in.


Outside In is a short and beautiful novella about finding where you belong in the tumultuous, confusing complexity that is teenage life. I read it in one sitting and was stunned by the truth that emanated from this powerful story.

This story describes the friendship dynamics between the "luminous" group at the narrator's school. The narrator is a new girl at the school, never identified until the end, who feels like she is always on the outside, the fringes of society, looking in, but never truly a part of it. The "luminous" group comprises of four outwardly content girls whose lives seem perfectly okay on the surface, but beneath the facade, there is tension as each girl secretly goes through individual trials and tribulations.

The book switches focus between all the characters, but never returning to any one, except the narrator. From her position outside the group, the narrator is able to sense more about the dynamics between the friends than the girls themselves. I liked this choice of structure as it truly is unique, lends a voice to every character, and shows us the troubles beneath the cool surface. However, this left little room for the characters to truly develop.

The writing is not something that stands out to me, but Keighery intelligently explores the themes of appearances versus reality. While each character has their own, very different but innately related, set of problems, they are characters that all could relate to. All social issues explored - divorce, low self-esteem, isolation, hurt, betrayal, friendship, love, eating disorders - are just as serious as each other, because of the immense effect that they have on that person. And I'm sure that at least one of those issues has affected everyone.

Outside In is a powerful story that lights up the darkness in the lives of others, and the raw emotions explored in this novella touched my heart with their truthfulness.


Outside In at Hardie Grant Egmont | Chrissie Keighery's Website 

2011 YA Debut Author I come!

I've decided to participate in the 2011 Debut Author Challenge next year!
Because I'm newish to blogging (but love it so much), I have not yet participated in any of these challenges yet. 

I've always been a participant of the Victorian Premier's Reading Challenge, but I've sadly outgrown that now. Aka, I'm too old to participate. They do give out neat little certificates though. Check out the awesome one this year, on the right:

So, you don't get a certificate... but I really want to enter another reading challenge next year, and this annual one hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren is a fabulous choice. Not only does it promote debut YA/MG authors and their upcoming novels, but there are also monthly prizes, newsletter updates, a gathered list of reviews and such.

It's immensely exciting to be a part of something like this, so pop over to the DAC info page and get signing up!

Rules of the Challenge:
  • Anyone can join the Debut Author Challenge, you don't have to be a blogger.
  • You must read at least 12 Young Adult or Middle Grade book between January 1st 2011 to December 31st 2011.
  • You also have to review the books between those dates.
Now, to the fun bit. I'm really looking forward to these books next year:
  • Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
  • Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  • The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
  • Clarity by Kim Harrington
  • The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker
  • The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder
  • A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
  • Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
  • Hereafter by Tara Hudson 
  • Timeless by Alexandra Monir 
  • XVI by Julie Karr
Those won't be the only books I'll be reading, but they're the ones that immediately come to mind from the list of 2011 debut novels.This is so exciting! Are you participating in the DAC?

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox

The Adoration of Jenna Fox 
by Mary E Pearson
Genre: Sci-Fi > Dystopian
Age Group: 13+
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Release Date: February 2009
Format: Paperback, 264 pages
ISBN-13: 9781741756401

Cover love?
Left- AUS Cover, Right - US Cover
I love both - but the AUS cover perfectly conveys that sense of secrecy, dystopia and questioning identity throughout the book. 

'Why can I remember the details of the French Revolution but I can't remember if I ever had a best friend?'

Jenna Fox wakes from a coma following a devastating accident, her memory a blank. One day she can't walk; the next she can. One day her right eyelid droops; the next day it doesn't. Her parents call her recovery a miracle - but at what cost has it come? What are they hiding from her? And why does her grandmother, Lily, hate her so?

Who is Jenna Fox?

A gripping, utterly engrossing dystopian thriller set in a future that may be closer than we think.


I adore this book. It's one of the most thought-provoking dystopian novels I have ever read, and to my knowledge, it is also a novel taught in schools. I opened this book expecting a story about identity crisis or amnesia, but this book went beyond that, and Mary E Pearson delivered a highly intelligent,  futuristic and thrilling story that I will always remember.

The writing is not very poetic or flowery, nor is it choppy, reely or overly descriptive. The words flows well, and the conversational tone of the narrator, Jenna, draws the reader right into the story, making them feel a part of it. Some sentences are short, but they are used in moderation, and this is effective in making Jenna feel like a real person to the reader.

Jenna is also a great character. The reader shares her journey into discovering what she has become after she wakes up. We feel, through her, the mixed emotions she has towards towards two very different boys, towards her parents and her grandmother. Reading The Adoration of Jenna Fox is a journey in itself.

What stands out most to me is the compelling concept of this book. The plotline is a recipe for success, with a dystopian setting, authentic characters, a touch of romance, and a killer twist that leaves the reader lost for words. I don't want to spoil the dramatic twist, but for me, it came completely unexpected, taking my breath away and fulfilling my thirst for more science and technology in novels.

Endlessly intriguing and thoroughly captivating, The Adoration of Jenna Fox explores ethically ambiguous territory while delivering a heartfelt tale of identity and belonging. It's one of my all-time favourites.


Last Sacrifice News

Last Sacrifice, Out on 7th December 2010!

Who is excited for Last Sacrifice, the sixth and final book in the highly-acclaimed series by Richelle Mead? If you've read Spirit Bound, you'll remember that the book left off on a very interesting cliffhanger....

Rose is on trial for the murder of Queen Tatiana, Lissa might just be in line for the throne if she can find her half-brother, Dimitri has turned back into a dhampir and is ignoring Rose

Richelle Mead's Site | Last Sacrifice at Penguin AUS | Penguin Australia's Channel | Official Vampire Academy Site (Wallpapers!)

Quote Teaser Trailer 1

"...and there isn't much I wouldn't do for you. The stupider the better."
Sounds like something Adrian would say to Rose...

Quote Teaser Trailer 2

"That's why you're doing this? Because Lissa told you to?"
I personally think it might be something Dimitri says to Rose, because it looks like Rose is trying to escape from male hands. On second thoughts, it could also be Rose talking to someone under Lissa's compulsion.

Quote Teaser Trailer 3

"I'm backing down now. I really do love you. That's why I'm doing this."
 I think it's Adrian. I don't really know what team I'm on now. I was completely Team Dimitri until Blood Promise, and was Team Adrian for a short while, but now I'm utterly confused, but dying for Last Sacrifice.

The other teaser trailers that are out on Penguin Australia's Channel are about the identity of the killer. I think it definitely has something to do with the evil git, Victor Dashkov. But then again, Richelle Mead might do a complete one-eighty and make the murderer someone completely unexpected. Here's the thing, will it be a surprise if we're expecting a surprise?

Who do you think murdered the queen?


By the way, I think Ben Barnes would make an awesome Dimitri:

He was Prince Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,  Dorain Gray in Dorian Gray and Young Dunstan in Stardust.

Who would you cast as the characters in VA?

And also, Who said the quotes?

C'mon, Last Sacrifice, hurry up and come out!!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

  Matched by Ally Condie

Series: Book 1 of  3
Genre: Sci-Fi > Dystopian
Age Group:12+ (Young Adult)
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: 3rd of December, 2010
Format: Paperback , 384 pages
ISBN: 9780525423645
Source: Incredible thanks to Erin at Penguin for my cherished review copy.
Cover love? Futuristically simple and gorgeous, definitely one of the best covers out there.

Matched by Ally Carter, the book that publishers fought over, the book that landed an awesome seven figure deal, the book that has the blogosphere buzzing, is coming soon.

Needless to say, Matched is one of the most anticipated YA books of the year. For the last couple of months, there have been whispers and rumours about a new dystopian novel that promises to blow your mind. Five star reviews have been awarded by early readers, Youtube videos have been circulated, and top secret photos of Matched ARCs have been fawned over, gasping at, and Matched is holding first place at the top of many wishlists. Get ready, because…

Paranormal is out.
Dystopia is in.
And Matched is finally here.

In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic.


When an upcoming series has received as much attention as Matched has, the expectations are extremely high. Nowhere near as sky high as the expectations were for Harry Potter 7, or Mockingjay or Last Sacrifice, but still somewhere skywards. But see, the book would never have received so much buzz if the publishers had not thought it worthy of the praise. But did the book deliver for me?

Matched is a dystopian novel, set in a future where the Society has absolute control over their people, and determine their lives - "Who you love. Where you work. When you die." It's a chilling vision of the future, where there's no freedom to love, and posessions are rare. but at it's heart, Matched is a story about the power and courage within each individual to fight for the freedom to be with loved ones.

I love Ally Condie's writing. It's so simple and truthful, and conveys this story perfectly. When you read Ally Condie, you can almost imagine what the Society would be like - stark and white, sinisterly meticulous. Cassia's voice is so, so convincing, and the word imagery is beautiful. The way Cassia's curiosity and desire for more poetry makes me appreciate the written word so much more. Inspiring stuff.

Matched approaches dystopia in a different way. Instead of focusing on rebellion, chaos and restriction (which was astoundingly effective in The Hunger Games), she placed emphasis on the symbolic meaning behind simple things such as poetry, artifacts passed through generations, and the power of love.

Speaking of love, this book centralises on the love triangle between Cassia, her 'perfect Match' and best friend Xander, and Ky, the mysterious boy she begins to love instead. The romance painted here is like a peaceful breeze in the stormy passion we usually read in young adult novels. And while it is refreshing to read a book where the romance is kid-friendly, it is difficult to connect with. The love story is intended to be central to Matched, but so little happens that it just didn't draw me in. I didn't get lost in the whirlwind of emotions, because while Matched was sweet, I didn't feel the relationships.

However, I'm a lover of dystopia and anything sci-fi, so I wanted a dystopia that was rich in history, society, political hierarchy, science and technology. Instead, Matched is more about culture, the arts and poetry. It's not highly futuristic science fiction, or a full-scale rebellion against an oppressive government, but about the power of a girl to resist restrictions and find the courage to be free.

Unexpectedly soulful and beautiful, Matched inspires in me the hope and courage to pursue my dreams, and gives me belief that I can get there.

P.S. Matched is a planned trilogy. All seriousness aside...OH YEAH!!


Thursday, 18 November 2010

I'm Back! Author Interview Question Suggestions?

From We Heart it - not me...but kinda how I felt. :D
If you could hear me now, you'd be hearing a slightly crazy girl whooping, laughing and jumping around the house. Well, I may exaggerate, but there is one ecstatic girl typing away at her keyboard right now...because my EXAMS are finished! And that concludes my school year...literally. I don't have school anymore for the next 9 weeks. How omgtastic is that? (Yes, "omgtastic" is now officially a word.)

I'm kind of dreading Results Day though. I don't feel like I've done all too well on exams, but I hope my parents don't kill me or anything. *gulps*

Anyway, I feel like I haven't been blogging for way too long, though now I think about it, it's only been two weeks. There's been inactivity, I'm horrendously behind on reviews, memes and posting in general. And I've sadly lost a few readers because of that. I'm sorry!

I've also been's really addictive. And going crazy on We Heart It.

Anyway, here's what I've got planned:
  • Book reviews! I sneakily managed to get  a few books read during exam period...shh...
  • Reading. I'm going to settle myself down on the beanbag and read, read, read. So excited!
  • Blog Facelift. I'm attempting to simplify my blog, give it a cleaner, simplistic and nicer feel. Besides, I'm a fickle person. I need change!
  • Book Contest Directory. I've been severly neglecting the BCD and leaving the hardworking Amber to take on the duties, but I'm going to try to get on top of that.
  • Tutorials. Including a drop-down menu! Yay!
  • Author Interviews. I'm going to try and feature some authors here through interviews and etcetera.

So here's what I was wondering. Do you guys have any good ideas for author interviews or questions you want to ask? Please let me know.

Anyway, expect Book Couture to get very busy in the next couple of weeks! And thank you for sticking by and staying tuned.

xx Tina

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Book Couture Buttons

I made some buttons for Book Couture. Please take one and share it around!
Copy and paste this code, and substitute HERE for the image link you like best.

<a href="" title="Visit Book Couture!"><img border="0" height="200" src="HERE" /></a>

Thank you for linking! If you have, please add your blog link and button to the linky below, so I can thank you back!

Amazing Linkers
Add your blog button and link here, so I can thank you!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Tina's Tutorials: "Sharing is" Social Networking Widget

Many of you might have seen the awesome "Sharing is Caring" buttons under many blog posts, including mine. You can see a demo of what it does at the bottom of this post. By clicking on one of the pop-up buttons, people are able to share your post via social networking systems.

This tutorial, part of my series of tutorials, will show you how to get this awesome and handy widget.