Thursday, February 25, 2016

Review: Firstlife (Everlife #1) by Gena Showalter

Firstly, thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia for this review copy <3


Date Read: January 5-12 2016
Date Released: March 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Teen Australia
Product Page:
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Sci-fi/fantasy
My Rating:



Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live—after she dies.

There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t home to the boy she’s falling for? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…"


What is it about pretty covers that draw me in every time? Especially ones with cities and skylines. As soon as I saw the cover of Firstlife I was like “OOOH GIMME DA PRETTY”. Then I read the synopsis and I knew I needed it in my life. For what it’s worth, the cover perfectly reflects the story and the blurb was accurate. Sadly no pretty cover could save the way Firstlife went downhill. Or should I say it just dropped into an abyss?

The premise for Firstlife is fantastic. In the growing trend of parallel worlds/alternate universes, Showalter takes the concept and adds a twist with the idea of afterlife. What if there is life after death and you can choose where to go? Our protagonist Tenley has been forced into an asylum to make her choose a realm. Essentially this book is about choices and the consequences of each person’s decision. I find this is so cool.

I really liked Ten in the beginning. She’s been toughened up by the asylum and the torture she goes through but at the same time she has a really big heart. Ten is driven by compassion and the need to help others. We’re not given much information on her personality pre-Prynne but I get the impression that her compassion has deepened due to the effects of the asylum and seeing what it’s like when people give you only hard choices. Her snarky voice added humour to the sometimes bleak story. Her obsession with numbers and facts related to them added to her character as it was her coping mechanism. By the end of the book though, I felt that a lot of her choices started becoming really selfish. She was being stubborn with a lot of decisions, and I hated that she kept passing the blame onto a particular person. What really turned this book upside down was the way her decisions were basically 100% driven by her romantic interests by the end and how, in a life or death situation, she’s thinking how hot this guy is. NO.

Ten is accompanied throughout the book by two male companions – Archer and Killian. I’ll save you the guessing and tell you that this book has NO love triangle. And I cannot believe I’m saying this but I wish there was because I HATE the love interest and the other guy is so much better for her. What killed me about this was that while both companions were clearly helping her, she kept lumping the blame onto one while constantly forgiving the other. And why? Well it seemed to me it was because of his hot looks. I will say that both companions clearly care for her but after seeing their back stories, WHY she still defends the ‘hotter’ guy (because obviously they both have to be exorbitantly handsome) is beyond me. It just pissed the hell out of me the way it so quickly went beyond attraction. It really felt like insta-love.

The romance was 100% NOT believable and I don’t ship it I don’t feel it NONONO. It’s wrong. From the beginning it’s clear he’s seducing her; she knows it, she lets him. This guy has like ruined other girls just out of spite and Ten thinks that SHE is an exception? That SHE could be any different? Please. For a girl who seems quite smart I don’t understand how she could be so delusional. There is only a hint of doubt on Ten’s part and it’s all quickly washed away by his closeness and scent and oh oh he’s so beautiful I’M GAGGING. Excuse me.

The plot itself is definitely well-thought out. And it would have been better had it not been so overdosed and driven by the romance. The realms have secrets and there’s this place called Many Ends that raises lots of questions about the idea of choosing a realm. What I thought was great about Firstlife was that Showalter shows glimpses of the realms so you know they’re real and everybody knows they’re real. But as Ten discovers, there’s so much more going on behind the scenes and how the realms were shaped. Showalter has created a great concept that can be built on for the sequels. The world-building is great – the realms and descriptions of creepy places and the torture. It’s still YA “friendly” per se but there’s just enough pain that you know Ten is tortured and she feels it. Towards the end though, I got the feeling that the realms are loosely based off afterlife realms we’re all quite familiar with...

I mean looking back this could have been great. The concept of an Everlife by choosing realms, each realm’s separate beliefs, the funny voice/writing with descriptive world-building, lots of secrets unfolding and a strong-willed protagonist. That was all shattered by the unnecessary and unbelievable focus on romance. Y u do dis? So obviously this wasn’t for me but that’s because I can’t deal with romances that move quickly. I like ‘em slow burn. Slow and steady wins the race yeh? No not really idek. ANYWAY. If you can overlook the romance then this is a very interesting book with a concept not widely explored so mebbeh you enjoy dis and you tell Jaz? Yes? Yes.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Love-A-Thon 2016: Invitation to Tea

Here's to spreading love and positivity! The 2016 Love-a-Thon is hosted by Alexa, Cee, Hazel and Mel.

Looks like it's tea time! I'm about to have a tea party and I'm inviting Kell (from the Shades of Magic series by VE Schwab) as my fictional character, Cee from the Novel Hermit as my blogger, and Brandon Sanderson as my author. We're going to be talking about imaginary worlds! 

I wanted to expand my horizons and sit down with a blogger I haven't met in real life, an author I really want to meet (I've already met Sarah haha) and characters I don't usually rave about.

With all the world hopping that Kell does, I'd love to see him in conversation with Brandon who is a master creator of worlds. Can you imagine Kell going through the Cosmere? So cool! I'd love to ask Brandon about how he comes up with all these beautiful worlds and the magic systems within. I've recently been getting to know Cee a lot more (I only recently started following her, I thought I was for years but turns out I thought she was someone else... anyway story for another day but basically I am the biggest derp) and I've found we have so much in common. She's my go to person for comic recs these days and we flail a lot together about the most random things (e.g. we were having an all caps Twitter DM convo about bookstagram photos with food). I know she loves fantasy but is only halfway through the Mistborn trilogy so I think this is the perfect opportunity to convince her to get into Sanderson more ahahaha. We'd all chat about these worlds beyond what we know, what powers we'd have in each of these worlds and Kell would obviously tell us his personal experiences with it all. IT'S ONE COOL TEA PARTY GUYS. I bet we'd give the Mad Hatter a run for his money (see what I did there?).

LET'S EAAAAAATTTTT AND DRINK AND BE MERRY.... Ahem in a classy way because it's tea of course.

Love-A-Thon 2016: Book Spine Poetry

Here's to spreading love and positivity! The 2016 Love-a-Thon is hosted by Alexa, Cee, Hazel and Mel.

Setting the scene -
Two people who used to be friends, face off in a battle to the death. They draw their blades...

The assassin's blade splintered,
When we collided.
A thousand pieces of you linger,
Until we meet again -
Under the never sky.
My shoddy attempt at a shattering blade lel. Original image from Sword Art Online

Saturday, February 20, 2016

2016 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon

Here's to spreading love and positivity! The 2016 Love-a-Thon is hosted by Alexa, Cee, Hazel and Mel.


1. What’s your name? 
Jaz, short for Jasmine. Jasmine is too long to type so yeah. Why so serious?

2. Where in the world are you blogging from? 
Sydney, Straya!

3. How did you get into blogging in the first place? 
I got back into reading when I went back to full-time uni (no internship) so I had all this time to also write my thoughts after reading. My friend Mariam introduced me to the blogosphere.

4, How did you come up with your blog name? 
Ok my URL 'pixelski' I thought it sounded cool because I like gaming so 'pixels' and I tapped on 'ki' onto the end because it had a nice ring. It's pronounced pixel-ski (skiing).

Then my blog name 'Fiction in Fiction in Fiction' comes from my favourite Korean song Fiction by B2ST. The song is a wonderful story about someone who can't get over their love. They keep re-writing their story because they can't understand how it could've ended. It is so bittersweet.

5. What genre do you read and review the most on your blog? 
My blog is young adult but I occasionally have the adult review. Within YA I review a lot of fantasy, dystopian and contemporary.

6. What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews?  
I try to do weekly and monthly wrap-ups, blog tours with guest posts/author interviews, the rare discussion post.

7. Best blogging experience so far?
Having Sarah J. Maas on the blog in an interview for the ACOTAR blog tour AND THEN MEETING HER IRL LAST YEAR.

8. Favorite thing about the blogging community? 
How friendly and welcoming/accepting everybody is

9. Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2016!
Throne of Glass 5 and A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas; A Gathering of Shadows by VE Schwab; Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff; The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

10. Name the 5 books you want to read this 2016 that you didn’t get to in previous years! 
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (actually just finished it!); The Martian by Andy Weir; The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson; A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller; All Fall Down by Ally Carter

11. What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read? 
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman - how does this book only have 2.2k ratings on Goodreads? It's such a great Western and vengeance is real!

12. Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF? 
Celaena Sardothien (Throne of Glass). I want a kick-ass assassin as my bestie!

13. Which book boy or girl would be your book boyfriend/girlfriend?
Ok in a fantasy world Jem Carstairs from The Infernal Devices (I know you all thought Chaol Westfall but he's for Celaena I SHIP IT FOREVER) he is the biggest sweetheart and so constant.

However, in reality guys like that don't exist (crrryyy) so CONNOR COBALT from the Calloway Sisters by KB Ritchie.

Hands down James Carstairs though <3 THIS BOY OMG.

14. Who would you recruit for your apocalypse squad (5 characters max) 
Celaena Sardothien (Throne of Glass) because I need a sassy assassin princess on my side.
Rose Hathaway (Vampire Academy) for her sass and quick thinking.
Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) to keep everybody level headed with her logic and brains.
Aiden St. Delphi (Covenant) for the eye candy. Oh yeh and his fire power.

15. Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests? 
Gaming! I love Final Fantasy (X and X-2) and Kingdom Hearts.
Listening to music - K-pop is my love and I go to as many concerts as I can.
I like to watch anime, read manga/graphic novels and going to see ballets.
Also food. Exploring new cafes for brunch. I'm also on a mission to try as many of the hatted restaurants in Sydney as I can. Especially the 3 hat ones.
Why are all my hobbies so expensive?

16. Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for? 
Clothes/handbags (omg the monies), makeup, home decor (cushions and bed sheets), stationery and mugs.

17. At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing? 
Something to dance to aye? YeY by B2ST :D 
Oh no K-pop you say? One Last Time by Ariana Grande.

18. Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book. 
I would love to see Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy in movie form. And done properly like Lord of the Rings style!

19. What would your dream library look like?
Beast's library from Beauty and the Beast


20. Author you want to meet and sit down to tea with?
JK Rowling

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Review: Bro by Helen Chebatte

Firstly, thanks to Hardie Grant Egmont for this review copy <3


Date Read: February 11-14
Date Released: February 01 2016
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:

"Romeo knows the rules.
Stick with your own kind. Don’t dob on your mates, or even your enemies.
But even unwritten rules are made for breaking.
Fight Clubs, first loves and family ties are pushed to their limit in Helen Chebatte’s explosive debut novel."


I’m a bit conflicted on how I feel about Bro. On one hand I thought it could be an accurate depiction of teenage high school life and the racial issues we are STILL dealing with in Australia. On the other hand I felt it was really stupid to be so largely centred on a fight club.

At first glance, main character Romeo “Romes” Makhlouf has no trouble with cultural identity. He sees himself as Leb (Lebanese) because he eats Lebanese food, has a Lebanese family and hangs out with his ‘bros’ who are all Lebanese. But his mother was Australian (of Anglo-Celtic descent I assume) and as the book progresses I could see how he’s raised the question before of what it means to be Australian. He got on well with everybody and is the type of person that doesn’t want to cause trouble. Poor kid gets stuck in a lot of dilemmas – do the right thing or defend his bros? It’s a hard decision to make and for teenagers who are at that stage in life where they feel they have a reputation to uphold at school, stupid things will ensue. I definitely felt bad for him because he gets dragged into so much shit by his friends, the other racial groups at school, and even runs into girl problems. But Romes my man, get a spine and learn to speak up for yourself. Yeah I get it – high school equals peer pressure. Which is a serious problem and it sucks.

Secondary characters wise I loved Romeo’s best friend Diz. Diz is this really chill kid who’s always there for Romeo. He always manages to say the right thing for the situation, has a smile or a joke for you and is the kind of best friend I wish I had. Diz is also obsessed with Oprah. LOVE. HIM. Not that I watch Oprah but I think it’s cool that he gives no fucks because he likes what he likes. He’s probably my fav in the story. Then there are all the guys who fit into the racial groups (mainly Lebs, ‘Ozzies’ and ‘Fobs’) and are the epitome of high school idiocy with their need to be manly and tough. These sort of guys pissed the hell out of me and I’ll be honest, they’re the kind I’d stay away from when I was in high school. They’re freaking teens and they’re getting into punch ups and attacking each other after school. What the actual eff? Maybe I’m too far removed from high school now to understand. The relationship I really appreciated was the one between Romeo and his grandmother. I liked that he respected her and it’s ingrained into their culture. If he ever snapped at her he apologised and I could just see that he really loved her - no need to hide it. As someone who respects my elders as that’s how I was brought up, I really like to read about other kids brought up this way.

Sooooo the romance. It was cute. Kind of. Romes gets pretty whipped though *cracks whip* I wasn’t too pleased with the love interest. She was indecisive (again is this me being too old to understand high school drama?) and basically is the cause of a fight. I didn’t see her try to do anything about it except text Romeo if he’s ok. She doesn’t tell the other guy off. I just… Wow cannot even. I really needed more character development and dimension on her part. I think overall there was a lack of character development – so many people I couldn’t keep track with lots of surface mentions and not enough detail.

Anyway there’s a fight club. That's the main plot. It’s stupid. The whole idea of a fight club is stupid but these guys have race against race. Like a Leb versus an Ozzie. Or Fob versus Leb. If that didn’t drive the already tense racial issues, then I don’t know what does. And the guys glorify it. Does this really happen in schools? It probably does sadly. I’m not sure how I feel about using this a plot device. Racial tension was enough to be honest. On the topic of that it was sad to see how high school kids still separate themselves. What I’m assuming to be the ones of British decent were the Ozzies (true Australians? Please) and everybody else was categorised according by their culture/background. Nononono. As one of the characters so correctly put it “You’re all Australian. You put each other down for having different backgrounds but your different backgrounds are what make Australia today.”

The teachers don’t help either. There’s this one teacher in the book who actually seems to pick on Romeo a lot and is a poor teacher in general – the kind that just reads from a textbook, makes you copy stuff from overhead projectors and doesn’t explain. The reality is that teachers like that do exist. She totally disregards that Romeo is half-Anglo and assumes he knows how to read Arabic. How is she a teacher again? Yay more school issues, as if the students weren’t enough of a problem.

Well this was a mess of a review and it shows all my jumbled thoughts about this book. Chebatte gives us a glimpse of the male high school life - an MC who’s struggling with typical teen issues and cultural identity, egged on by increasing racial tensions at school, a lot of side characters and a stupid fight club that has everything going down in shit. Welcome to Australia?