Monday, 20 March 2017

Unfiltered by Lily Collins: Book Review


In this groundbreaking debut essay collection, featuring never-before-seen photos, actress Lily Collins―star of Mortal Instruments and Rules Don’t Apply―is opening a poignant, honest conversation about the things young women struggle with: body image, self-confidence, relationships, family, dating and so much more. 

For the first time ever, Lily shares her life and her own deepest secrets, proving that every single one of us experiences pain and heartbreak. We all understand what it’s like to live in the light and in the dark. For Lily, it’s about making it through to the other side, where you love what you see in the mirror and where you embrace yourself just as you are. She's learned that all it takes is one person standing up and saying something for everyone else to realise they’re not alone.

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Lily’s honest voice will inspire you to be who you are and say what you feel. It’s time to claim your voice! It’s time to live your life unfiltered.

SPOILER FREE REVIEW
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The very first time I remember seeing Lily Collins on screen was the 2013 release of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and I couldn't help but be enamoured by her performance. I wasn't ever totally obsessed with her like I had previously been at different stages of my life with Avril Lavigne, Miley Cyrus, or Kristen Stewart, but something about her made me strangely intrigued by her unique look and imbued confidence. The second time I started to really find her fascinating as a person was when I realised that she was basically Sasha Alsberg's dopplegänger - Sasha had vlogged her day out to The Mortal Instruments movie cast signing and Lily had pointed her out, noticing their similarities, and asked to take a photo with Sasha. Here is a photo of them together and the video if you would like to watch it:

Anyways, I digress! This book was so good from the first page that I dreaded not just sitting down and finishing it as soon as receiving it! I always have university work to do so therefore it was important to do that first or I won't pass this year! But I basically read half in the first couple of days that I had received it and then waited about a week before devouring the rest. I am honestly so sad that it was so short but it was definitely worth it and not a time waster at all!

I've been planning for a very long time to write my very own memoir so you can probably only imagine how inspired I've become since reading about Lily's life. She is the not-so-typical sweet chick who has had an abundance of confidence ever since she was young and isn't afraid to be who she is and do what she wants. The way she has opened up to her fans in this book shows how grateful she is to the world and the opportunities she has been given in order to live the life that she always wanted. She has explained in rough details how her relationships started to define her life and why we should never let a guy (or girl) make us feel like we don't deserve to be happy. If there is anyone in the world that I feel most inspired by right now, it would have to be the woman of the hour: Lily Collins!

Now I know this may sound a little cliché, but I honestly think that Lily and I could be the best of friends if we had have met, despite the obvious circumstances - her being an international sell-out with her movies and now her already best-selling memoir, and me who is trying to get by in a tiny country where only so many have been able to be recognised by the world (the few including Lorde, Broods, Six 60, K.J. Apa–the guy who plays Archie on Riverdale that used to be on Shortland Street– and Temuera Morrison). But other than that, we share so many similarities! Like our passion for writing about what we love and speak our minds about the topics that matter. Or the fact that we found our love for baking while trying to impress our boyfriends and ended up being somewhat of a therapy to take our minds off of the craziness of life. Lily can be that girl-next-door who knows exactly when you need that hug you've needed all day or the smile that lifts you up when nothing else can improve your mood. If you need a new best friend, then pick up Unfiltered and become inspired like I did!

Because the book was so tiny, I don't want to give too much away - all I'd like to say is that I've never enjoyed a memoir so much in my life and I know that everyone would live the best three hours of their lives if they bought a copy and read it. Lily has managed to write a masterpiece of brilliance, inspiration, and creativity, all while she was still filming many different films in the time frame of a year. Um, hello... it has taken me three years just to get a basic outline and fourteen chapters of my fantasy novel! So with that, I have decided to give Infiltered a five out of five stars for its unique stories and spark of ingenuity that has changed my life for the better. Now if you see my memoir out sooner than later, you can thank Lily for being such a gem for pushing me out of my comfort zone to help others like myself as well. There's nothing better than to feel like you can be just like the celebrity you love.



Thank you Penguin NZ for the review copy!


Like and follow their links here:

Official Website: http://penguin.co.nz/

Go add Unfiltered to your Goodreads list HERE


Go buy it on MightyApe with 1 day delivery in New Zealand HERE

Buy it on Book Depository with free shipping world wide HERE

Buy it on the Penguin Random House NZ website HERE



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Saturday, 25 February 2017

The Severed Land by Maurice Gee: Book Review


This gripping, page-turning fantasy adventure follows a dangerous quest through a divided world.

From the high reaches of a tree, Fliss watches the soldiers attempting yet again to break through the invisible wall. Amid the explosions, a drummer boy tries to escape. As he is about to be shot, Fliss reaches through the wall and pulls him to safety. But Fliss is dismayed to find she has saved an overfed rich boy. She is even more dismayed to learn that she must accompany him back through the wall on a special mission to rescue the Nightingale.

The world they have to travel through is a perilous one, full of predatory thieves, slave masters, beggars, dippers, mudlarks, drain-sliders, spies and wall-men. It is a world where the ruling families are caught up in a lethal power struggle.

Will Fliss and the despised drummer boy learn to trust each other? Who is the Nightingale? And will they all make it back alive?

SPOILER FREE REVIEW
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To read a novel that was clearly young adult but set in a fantasy world based in an olden-day time of slavery was slightly unnerving, if I’m being completely honest. I was absolutely certain that reading this story with the protagonist being considered a slave for the fact that her skin is black would set me in an uncomfortable ease the whole way through; unfortunately that feeling stuck and made it hard for me to really try and see past the discrimination. Maurice Gee is a well-known New Zealand based author who has written titles such as Under The Mountain and the Salt trilogy and has won multiple literary awards for his writing. I have never read his work before this so I had no clue as to what I would be immersing myself in. I received The Severed Land from Penguin Random House as a uniquely wrapped package – the book itself was wrapped within a blown up poster print of the map inside the book, a brief message from the author explaining his writing hiatus, and everything was tied up in a twine bow.

One thing I felt I could relate to was the character of Fliss with her fiery personality and confidence. She has spent three years on the safe side of the wall that divides the land to keep the Families of the south out - the two most powerful being the Despiners and the Morisettes. The northern side of the wall is filled with natives of the land who have never known slavery and the People of the forest who sacrificed their lives to create this wall to keep them safe and out of reach. Fliss had escaped slavery from the south, spending many days and nights scavenging for food and safe places to hide while she fled towards her new home. Fliss has learnt to value herself through love, acceptance, and the knowledge that she is stronger and smarter than anyone may think of her. When she meets this drummer boy, Kirt, who is arrogant and simple-minded, nothing hateful he says seems to offend her and this becomes the starting point of character development between these two characters.

Other than the parts that slightly bothered me, all the grammar, punctuation, and style of writing was absolutely impeccable. This was clearly set in a time where cannons and swords were still being used as a form of attack and defence within their army’s. It definitely felt like a novel that would appeal more to those that take interest in old-fashioned stories or people of an older age – being a YA novel was clearly due to Fliss being of a young age, though considering the opinions of todays readers–specifically in the USA–this novel may not be such a hit with many who have previously felt targeted by skin colour and ethnicity, religion or culture, and mental or physical disabilities. I have seen personally how much of the book community has reacted recently to a few books where authors have only made the mistake of not including or accidentally discriminating against someone for something so obvious and hurtful. As much as it bothers me to say, I don’t think this book would go down well with many readers like myself and therefore would suit maybe an older, more mature audience that might be able to take this story with knowledge and acceptance that times like those have been and gone. For generations of people who have grown up without the old European mentality that being different is wrong, this novel would not exactly fit well within many of our expectations and I personally don’t want to feel like I want to have to bring down a NZ author anymore than I need to. This has not biased me towards Maurice Gee’s other works; I’d still like to check out his other stand-alone novels and series’. All I can say for The Severed Land is that I honestly feel like I cannot promote it anymore than what I feel I should and being a kiwi myself it feels almost wrong to be so brutally honest, but I hate the idea of lying and going against the grain of my community.

I have given this book a two out of five stars because it at least deserves to be noted as a book that has been written by an author who clearly knows his way around literature and art. It truly is a masterpiece of words but not so much considering his targeted audience - he may have had better luck with an older audience, I really hope so.
So without any other random and unnecessary chatter, I will end with this gif and leave this terribly short review to simmer away slowly into the depths of the internet.



Thank you Penguin NZ for the review copy



Like and follow their links here:

Official Website: http://penguin.co.nz/


Go add The Severed Land to your Goodreads list HERE


Go buy it on MightyApe with 1 day delivery in New Zealand HERE

Buy it on Book Depository with free shipping world wide HERE

Buy it on the Penguin Random House NZ website HERE




My Spotify Playlist for


The Severed Land


(This was my small effort - I tried, guys! I really did!)






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Twitter: ellabellabellz


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Monday, 13 February 2017

Carve The Mark by Veronica Roth


Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get this brother out alive — no matter what the cost.
The Akos is thrust into Cyra's world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?
Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth's stunning portrayal of the power of friendship — and love — in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts.


SPOILER FREE REVIEW
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Having waited a whole year since I’d heard about the new highly anticipated novel by Veronica Roth, the author of the Divergent series of which I am definitely a fan, I almost couldn’t believe that it had finally shown up at my doorstep the day of it’s release. My immediate action following was to post a tweet about it and ask all my bookish friends and followers if they had gotten their copy yet as I was thrilled to be a part of something that had already been talked about by many BookTubers like Whitney Atkinson and Sasha Alsberg. However the response I received there wasn’t the desired result and instead made me wonder if I had been filling myself up for months and months with a false hope. One person said they didn’t want to read it and another said they would read it anyway but weren’t too excited for it – all because this book supposedly had a theme of racism. As many might realise, this had guttered me to the point where I literally considered just leaving it and explaining my biased opinion to HarperCollins NZ and the public. But I quickly realised how I’d felt about most things I’d heard about biased opinions towards books or authors recently and decided that I would give it a chance anyway. This is where I tell you that I do not regret that decision one little bit.

In a magical fantasy/sci fi world where everyone harbours a currentgift that represents their inner selves, Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth are nothing alike, yet fate will bring them together in a way that will change the divide forever. From the first chapter I was hooked onto every little word, detail, scene, and twist – I found myself wanting to return to reading it just so I could be a little more satisfied everyday and find out what Cyra Noavek would say next. This novel has been written in a strange way that seems to bring out the best in the outcome of the novel. Cyra is written in first person and Akos is written in third person; I assume this may be because Cyra’s reputation makes her a questionable character so reading in first person would help connect with her and understand her more. Akos is more creditable and comes from the peaceful planet of Thuvhe, which makes it understandable that he would be written in third person. But honestly, it’s probably only because Veronica Roth was trying to state who the main protagonist was and use Cyra as an example for those who may not understand people that suffer through chronic pain (as Roth had mentioned in her acknowledgements at the end). There seemed to be an endless amount of room for interpretation so you never quite know what is going to happen next, although I have to admit that I managed to figure out a few basic things on my own before it happened. I think this was only because when I wasn’t reading Carve The Mark, I was thinking about it – the storyline, the characters, the currentgifts, what the hushflowers and saltfruit would taste like in real life. I guess that says enough about how gripping it was – I wish I could say more!

In terms of the controversy of racism in Carve The Mark, I feel like I can understand how some, or a lot, of people got upset at the thought. However, in my opinion I feel like the accusation may have gone a little too far. Yes, it is based on hostility between two different bloodlines and that the Noavek family, who have darker skin, are said to be brutal and unforgiving. But it honestly did not feel like Veronica Roth was making it a point to do this in a way that was offensive or intended. Maybe she was trying to get at a point but have a turning point at the end of her series where everyone forgives each other for the past and move on with better leaders and more cooperation. Either way I think that it is fair to say that this was indeed an intensely written book with bloodshed, magic, and powerful bonds of love that made it an unforgettable read. I cannot think of a way to explain how shocked I was to find that this novel was almost as good as the Divergent trilogy. Character development is through the roof with A+’s, grammar and punctuation on point, and sentences bloomed with colour and adjectives with every page turned. I felt like I was watching the movie inside my mind with a vivid force and I cannot go another day without knowing that this will definitely be optioned. I’m sure with Veronica’s success in the past, it won’t be long before it’ll happen again. Just please don’t be biased by rumours or opinions you hear on the Internet – everyone is different and it pays to give books a chance. I wouldn’t have become the reader I am today if I had never picked up Twilight. Just saying!


Things I LOVED About Carve The Mark!


·       ‘Carve the mark’ means carving a mark and adding feathergrass for each kill/loss a person has. If there was any more reason to get another tattoo, it would be this novel. In my mind, the idea of having consecutive cuts on the wrists is usually when someone is depressed and has cut their skin for emotional relief. So the way that Veronica has included this in Carve The Mark makes me feel better for those who still have those scars. I hope it inspires them to not be embarrassed or hide them – symbolically they show their strength and that they made it through the bad times. That they survived their ‘fight’.
·       Cyra is a representation of those who suffer through chronic pain. I love when authors make the effort to include a certain character who will represent others in real life that are suffering so that readers will gain an insight as to what they might be going through. If more authors could do this with their protagonists and maybe even the entire cast of their novel, more and more people would become aware of conditions that plague many real people everyday and make them want to do something that could help raise more awareness – spread the word, guys!
·       Hushflowers, iceflowers, saltfruit, feathergrass? Yes please! If there is anything more satisfying while reading a novel, it’s reading about food and plants that are made up but still sound amazing when being used to make a potion or meal that you’ve never tried before. The imagination goes wild when trying to imagine how an imaginary fruit or flower might taste like. Is your mouth watering yet? No? Hmm, try reading Carve The Mark, and then get back to me!
·       Currentgifts are basically like Twilight vampire powers, only cooler! So basically there is the current, which is an invisible power that flows through the currentstream and surrounds all the planets -this gives power to ships, boats, weapons, and even gives the people their currentgifts. The usual time people find out their currentgift power is when they go through puberty – so now I feel ripped off with life and feel like asking God for a refund. Anyway, I think my currentgift would be to feel and change emotions of other people, kind of like Jasper from Twilight. What would yours be? (Comment yours below!)
·       Space travel has never felt more real than when I read this novel! If only it were possible to have space ships like the one the Shotet use for their sojourns, I would absolutely love to go to another planet and immerse myself in their different cultures and languages. If there were anything I would like to know about the universe, it would be to know that we are not alone in this dark abyss. One day in the far future we might be like the Shotet travelling to far away planets and creating alliances with other species like ourselves.
·       This book has a theme that many people still don’t realise: Unity. If I’ve learnt anything in my lifetime living in New Zealand (being such a multicultural/multiracial country), and observing USA from afar (noticing that they are too a multicultural/multiracial country but have a history of slavery and racism), I’ve come to the realisation that the only way that everyone will accept one another is if we all unite and love one another, no matter the skin colour, religion, or gender. I believe that this series will be a development of unity between different races, but it is very much something that many of us still need to work on. History is the past and unity is the future. Start believing that we are all worthy of one another – Cyra and Akos eventually figured it out and we can too.

This has been the first novel to ever make me revel the idea of space travel, made me knowledgeable about the reality of people suffering with chronic pain, and align me with the true importance of unity. Cyra, like myself, finds herself fascinated with things that may not be as appealing to others. Akos finds a thick skin being around Cyra but learns that there is a bigger story behind the ones who withhold their emotions to appear strong. The symbolism in this novel would be enough to touch the hearts of those who don’t think they deserve to feel the reassurance of love and kindness. If you are one of the people who aren’t willing to read Carve The Mark because of what you might have heard or read online, then please hear what I am saying and try to give it a chance. Try to understand that authors aren’t trying to come across as racist or sexist, they are only storytellers trying to fill the imaginations of those who seek fantasy’s refuge.  We as readers of the modern age have become such dictators of the author’s work that they can no longer do their jobs without feeling like they have a target on their back. We have to remember that they are doing what they love and they want to know that you will love it too. Carve The Mark has more important themes and symbolism than anyone may realise and it deserves to be given that chance to be heard. Veronica Roth also deserves a chance to show that she had innocent motives while writing this book. I personally feel like she was trying to be diverse with both race and sexuality (yes, there is a theme of LGBT in here too), which made me feel so much better about my decision to read it. I don’t know what else I can say to convince those who have already made up their minds to DNF it before they had even started, but mostly I just wanted to convince everyone that it isn’t terrible like some people say. The deeper you look into it, the more you will realise how the development of the two races in this novel will astound you. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book!

After giving it much thought, I’ve given this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Don’t get me wrong; I’d love to give it outright 5 stars because I actually loved it a lot! However, there were a few things at the end that I felt weren’t quite wrapped up as well as they could have been. This could just be Veronica angling the storyline towards an action-packed sequel so please forgive me if I made a bad call. I guess the plain fact that I am aching to know what happens next is reason enough to push my followers to pick it up and go for it. I’d be happy to hear everyone’s thoughts on it down below in the comments to see if I have missed anything important or just to read everyone’s opinions

Thank you HarperCollins New Zealand for the review copy of Carve The Mark! Go check out their links here:


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Harpercollinsnz

Website: http://www.harpercollins.co.nz/




Go add Carve The Mark to your Goodreads list HERE


Go buy it on MightyApe with 1 day delivery in New Zealand HERE

Buy it on Book Depository with free shipping world wide HERE

Buy it on the HarperCollins NZ website HERE


My Spotify Playlist for


Carve The Mark








Find more out about me at:






Twitter: ellabellabellz


Instagram: FeathersandFaith


Snapchat: FeathersnFaith