#aww2017 Book Review: “Stay” by Jesse Blackadder

Title: Stay
Author: Jesse Blackadder
Genre: Children’s fiction
Date Read: 25/11/2017 – 27/11/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

This was a sweet book, though to be honest, nothing stand-out, at least to me. I think it’s one of those ones that kids would really loove, but that don’t really transcend the target demographic. Which there’s nothing wrong with, really, just that it affected my enjoyment.

Stay is a fibreglass fundraising labrador, supposed to be raising money for the Royal Guide Dogs outside a supermarket in Hobart. In  1991, she was dognapped and taken to Antarctica by scientists disappointed huskies would no longer be used on the ice continent. Through Stay’s eyes, we learn what life was like for the scientists in Antarctica before the days of mobile phones and the Internet, and about the kinds of work they went down there to do every season.

I did actually like the way Jesse Blackadder turned Stay into a character in the story. Stay is able to communicate through her thoughts, sending out vibes to the humans around her. In return, they compete to have her nearby during their season down south. While some of the lengths gone to for Stay seemed a bit excessive, it did help to add tension to the plot. Blackadder weaves information  about the day-to-day life of the scientists into the plot in a way that I feel would not have felt like info-dumping to a child reader, though with adult eyes, I could see the parts that were obviously intended to be educational.

I think young readers interested in exploration or the Antarctic woould definitely get something out of this book. The writing style would make for a good read-aloud-before-bed type of book.


(This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017. Click here for more information).

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#WWW Wednesday – December 06, 2017

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

Ayeesh, from a week where I finished four books to a week where I didn’t finish anything.

It hurts my heart to say it but after taking a week to reach page 200, I decided to DNF Renegades by Marissa Meyer. I just felt that it way way too long, and nothing had happened at that 200-page point for me to really care about. But I also think maybe superheroes are just not my jam, since I thought Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee was just okay and I didn’t even reach page 100 in Not Your Villain.

I did manage to post my review of Killman Creek by Rachel Caine. Click the title to read it.

What are you currently reading?

I have started The Game You Played by Anni Taylor but I’m taking it slowly because unfortunately, the reviews that mentioned poor editing are correct. I can’t even blame that on it being self-published, so I don’t know what’s going on there. I think this is also going to be a bit of a slow read and I’m possibly comparing it to Stillhouse Lake/Killman Creek, which is probably not fair.

My main read at the moment is The Penultimate Peril, the second-to-last book in the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. I had never read this one or the last one when I was younger, so this is a new experience. I was torn between finishing this series before the end of the year, or ticking off more books on my monthly TBR. I decided finishing this in 2017 would be more satisfying.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I will definitely read The End by Lemony Snicket and see the series through. Knowing I’m so close to the end of this series is giving me a bittersweet feeling, but I think I might check out some of the other books set in the same universe.

What are you reading this week? 

~ Emily

“If I’m already dead to the people I love, I might as well die for them.” // Review of “Killman Creek” by Rachel Caine

Title: Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake #2)
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre:
Thriller
Date Read: 23/11/2017 – 24/11/2017
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

After completely devouring the first book in this series, I was very excited to find the second as  Read Now book on NetGalley. I could get straight onto it!

I won’t do much a summary here to avoid spoilers for the previous book, but rest assured that this instalment in the Stillhouse Lake series is just as gripping and nasty as the last. It delves into the world of the darknet, corporate greed, and the way a single seed of doubt can be sown so easily. I will say this: this book is not for the faint-hearted. If you have a weak constitution, you might want to find another book to read. By the time I reached the end, I needed to go seek comfort in a beloved childhood book for a while.

Unlike the first book, which is all from Gwen’s POV, this one also has chapters from Sam Cade’s, as well as the two Proctor kids, Lanny and Connor. At first I was a bit wary, as I’m often not a fan of mulitple perspectives, especially in first person, where they can all start to sound the same. I needn’t have worried, though; the way the narrative unfolded made perfect sense.

The first quarter or so of the book felt a bit road-trippy, with nothing really happening. But then as things started to be revealed, as wires got crossed and characters’ loyalties to each other were tested, I found myself just as hooked as I had been on the first book. I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know what had happened to the characters, and whether or not they were telling the truth (it wasn’t always easy to tell, even when I thought I knew them).

The book wraps up this particular story, though there was the slight suggestion of other things to come. If this series does continue, I’ll definitey be checking it out, but I was definitely left feeling satisfied at the end of this one.


Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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#WWW Wednesday – November 29, 2017

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

I had a great reading week this week, finishing no less than four books!

I finished Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine after posting on Wednesday night, then found the sequel, Killman Creek available to read straight away on NetGalley. These were intense! But if you like thrillers, I definitely recommend. I reviewed Stillhouse Lake on Monday and my review of Killman Creek is scheduled for Friday.

After that, I read Stay: the Last Dog in Antarctica by Jesse Blackadder. This is a middle-grade book based on a true story of a fibreglass Guide Dog (these are outside supermarkets all over Australia and you can put money in them that goes to Guide Dogs Australia) who was smuggled to Antarctica in 1991 and has lived there ever since. This was a sweet little book, and the last one I needed to fulfil my Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2017.

Last but not least, I listened to Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy on audio. I think this was supposed to be YA thriller, but it was more just a drama. It’s about a girl who has been released from prison after killing her best friend when they were ten. She is trying to start a new life under a new name, but the press interest makes it hard. I enjoyed it, though her boyfriend really bothered me because he was a controlling jerk and that was never addressed. :\

I also finally got around to reviewing Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee. You can read that review here.

What are you currently reading?

I have just started Renegades by Marissa Meyer and I’m keen to see her take on superheroes. So far I love the idea of the Puppeteer villain. At time of writing, I’m only at Chapter 4, so apart from that, I don’t have much of an opinion just yet.

I’ve also just started the sequel to Looking for JJ, Finding Jennifer Jones. It has a different narrator, though, which is mildly annoying.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’ve said it the last couple of weeks and it might still be The Game You Played by Anni Taylor. Another thriller but I seem in the mood for those right now. Though there are a lot of reviews for this one that say it is overlong, so I’m a bit wary.

What are you reading this week? 

~ Emily

“In the morning, there’s another girl floating dead in the lake.” // Review of “Stillhouse Lake” by Rachel Caine

Title: Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1)
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre:
Thriller
Date Read: 21/11/2017 – 22/11/2017
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

I love a good serial killer book, even if it does make me start looking over my shoulder when I go out alone for a couple of days afterwards. This book certainly delivered not only on that front, but also on showing the dark side of the Internet, and how innocent people can be in danger from  the mob just be virtue of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When a car accident reveals Melvin Royal’s seceret life as a serial killer, his wife Gina is tried as an accessory, and even after being acquitted, is still dogged by those on the Internet who think she escaped justice, or who want revenge on behalf of the victims. Fearful for her own safety, as well as her own children, she establishes a new life under a false name in the quaint town of Stillhouse Lake. But when a body is discovered in the lake baring her husband’s MO, she realises that maybe she has never been out of danger.

Stillhouse Lake is fast-paced and intense. I read most of it in one sitting because I knew if I didn’t get the closure of the ending, I wouldn’t sleep that night. While Melvin Royal is not present on the page all that often, when he is, he is slimy and horrifying. Gina’s reinvented persona, Gwen, is strong and fiercely protective of her children. I was filled with dread whenever it transpired that the alarm on their home hadn’t been set, or when one of the kids disappeared.

I did guess a couple of the twists throughout the story, but the overall villain remained a mystery to me, and there were several twists I didn’t see coming at all, but which made a whole lot of sense once I knew them. Knowing there was a second book, I had figured that something like what happens right at the end would take place, but I was able to get my hands on a copy of the sequel straight away, so it didn’t bother me.  It is pretty cliffhanger-y, though, and I know some people don’t like cliffhangers, so fair warning for that.

This has been a good year for thrillers, and this is  another one to add to the list. Gripping, suspensful, with a great climax. Stay tuned for my review of book 2!

“Jess is too big for her skin, as if she might float away in the exhilarating possibility of the moment.” // Review of “Not Your Sidekick” by C. B. Lee

Title: Not Your Sidekick (Sidekick Squad #1)
Author: C. B. Lee
Genre:
YA/sci-fi/romance
Date Read: 28/11/2017 – 31/11/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I really wanted to love this book for everything it was doing. Sadly, I didn’t feel the writing was quite good enough for to do anything more than mildly enjoy it.

Since it seems she is not going to manifest any kind of superpower like those of her parents and sister, Jess Tran begins applying for internships which might help her at least find a good college program. When she begins working for the town’s biggest supervillain, along with her longtime crush, Abby, she begins to question the superhero culture of the United States, and wonders whether the Heroes League of Heroes may have something to hide.

If I were just rating this book on its diversity, it would get five stars. In fact, it would probably get ten stars out of five. Jess is Asian-American and bisexual, and the romance between her and Abby is cute.  And a slow-burn, which is how I like my romances. There’s no insta-love here. One of Jess’ best friends, Bells, is a black trans guy and the other, Emma, has two mums. It’s so nice to see this sort of thing in a book that doesn’t focus on it. It’s just incidental in how these people live their lives.

The world-building was fairly basic but fine, but I just found myself not that impressed with the writing. A lot of the plot was fairly predicatable, and there was something stopping me from getting truly invested in the characters. The plot did pick up a bit more in the last quarter or maybe third, and I actually think that maybe things will improve in the second book (which I have started recently). While it may not have been my favourite book, I can totally appreciate the love it is getting from people who identify with the different aspects of Jess and her friends, and I want to support that so that perhaps more of these types of books will get published.

#WWW Wednesday – November 22, 2017

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

This week I finished Nyxia by Scott Reintgen and I really enjoyed it. Some of the world-building annoyed me, but the characters and decent writing made up for it. I think that’s a series I will continue to follow. I posted a review here.

What are you currently reading?

I started reading Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine last night, and I am now at work feeling tired because I stayed up past my bedtime. I’m about a third of the way through it at the moment and I’m really enjoying the themes it’s bringing up about trying to stay on the down-low in the age of social media and how being on the run can affect a family.

I’m also reading Not Your Villain by C. B. Lee but I’m not really into it. A lot of the reviews do say it starts off slow because it covers the events of the previous book from another character’s POV, but that it picks up once it gets into its own story. I want to signal boost this series because of the diversity, but while I read an entire third of Stillhouse Lake last night, it’s taken me a week to read a quarter of this one. :\

What do you think you’ll read next?

 I’m not sure yet. Maybe another thriller? The Game You Played by Anni Taylor is on my until-the-end-of-the-year TBR along with Stillhouse Lake. I haven’t read many books from that list in November, so if I can power through a few easy and/or gripping ones before the end of the month, I’ll be pleased.

What are you reading this week? 

~ Emily

“You get in there and fight, Emmett. Be worthy. Not in their eyes, but in yours.” // Review of “Nyxia” by Scott Reintgen

Title: Nyxia (The Nxyia Triad #1)
Author: Scott Reintgen
Genre: YA/sci-fi
Date Read: 11/11/2017 – 16/11/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I’m generally more of a fantasy fan than straight science-fiction, bu I have to say that while some of the world-building in this book bothered me, the characters and writing certainly made up for it.

Emmett is one of ten young adults chosen to travel to the planet Eden to mine a new element called Nyxia. While ten have been chosen, only eight will make it through the gruelling training and receive the enormous pay-out. But the company they are working for, Babel, has secrets and Emmett is not sure the company they have entrusted themselves to can be trusted.

For a book with such a large cast, Reintgen does a fantastic job of creating individual characters. The cast is also diverse, with characters from all over the world chosen by Babel. There were only a couple of occasions where i got them confused; otherwise, they were always distinct.

As I said, the world-building was where I tripped up every now and then. For a start, while it is obviously set in the future, I could  never work out exactly how far. There was one reference to Babel swallowing Google in 2036, but that was the only indication. Some of the technology was cmopletely out of this world, but then the characters still signed their contracts with a pen on paper. Emmett’s music tastes were early-twenty-first century and earlier, and there was one scene where the characters spent the night watching old Disney cartoons. .There was no invented future popular culture, which I found a bit lazy.

Still, the writing was solid and the book had a great pace, which meant I was keen to keep reading and see how everything panned out. Despite my frustrations, I’m definitely keen to see where this series goes.


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#WWW Wednesday – November 15, 2017

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

I followed up a good reading week with a not-so-good one, I’m afraid. It’s mostly my fault; I’ve spent an awful lot of tiee playing escape room apps on my tablet when I could have been reading. It’s been that kind of week. But now I’m annoyed at myself because I was hoping to get to 100 books read this year and it’s unlikely.

Anyway.

To answer the question, I finished Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols.  I did enjoy this quite a lot, though the romance overpowerd the sci-fi a bit too much in the end. But I really liked the themes it raised. I wrote a review over here.

I also finished one of the written-for-audio Doctor Who stories, The Lost Magic by Cavan Scott. It was only an hour long and it occupied me while I went on a long walk on Monday but it was nothing to write home about.

What are you currently reading?

I’m about halfway through Nyxia by Scott Reintgen and really enjoying it. Though I am getting nit-picky about some of the science. Like, if all the characters speak their native languages and the Nyxian masks they wear translate everything, how come all the puns the non-English-speakers make work in English? (It just occured to me this could also be asked of Doctor Who. Oh, dear, now I’m  going to start nit-picking the science behind the TARDIS).

What do you think you’ll read next?

Not sure yet. I have Not Your Villain by C. B. Lee (which reminds me, I still need to  review Not Your Sidekick) and Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko from the library. Or I might start an ebook. I’m thinking about starting something else before finishing Nyxia. Who knows! Not me!

What are you reading this week? 🙂~ Emily

 

Book Review: “Now That You’re Here” by Amy K. Nichols

Title: Now That You’re Here (Duplexity #1)
Author: Amy K. Nichols
Genre:
YA/sci-fi/romance
Date Read: 02/11/2017 – 09/11/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I picked this book up on a whim at the library because I find parallel universes really interesting. I thought that the story started strong, though towards the end, the romance got a bit overpowering.

After an explosion, Danny wakes up in a different body in a different universe. He meets Eevee, a girl he had briefly met in his own world, but in this one, she is a science geek, not an artist, and along with her best friend, wants to help Danny get home. But as that possibility becomes surer and surer, Danny is not so sure he wants to leave, and Eevee realises she doesn’t want to lose him.

The world that Danny finds himself in is our own world, and I really liked the divergence between it and the one he came from. The major point of difference is the outcome of the Cold War; in Danny’s world, it never really ended, and the US is full of invasive surveillance and run by a totalitarian government.

Now, I’m not a science geek. I like my sci-fi to be “soft sci-fi”. I think this book does a good job of that. There are some moments where the science talk started going over my head, but for the most part, I didn’t feel too overwhelmed by it. It helped that Danny was there to go “Huh?” whenever the other characters started babbling at each other. I really appreciated that Eevee is a science geek without it being “quirky”, which is often the case with nerdy/geeky female characters. Though there were a couple of occasions early on in the book where she seemed to have a bit of an “I’m not like other girls” attitude, this didn’t play too much of a part, so I let it slide.

As I said, in the last third, the romance did start to play more of a part. It became one of those all-consuming teen romances, and look, I know that’s what it feels like when you’re a teenager, but as an older reader, it still makes me roll my eyes a bit. I understand Eevee rebelling against her parents’ strict regime (they’re the types of parents who have her life planned out for her), but I don’t like it when this rebellion strays past the realms of sensible.

The ending felt a bit rushed and inconclusive. The official attempts to send Danny back to his own world don’t work, but then just suddenly he gets sucked back there while they’re working on alternate theories. I know there’s a second book in the series where we get to see what our world’s Danny is doing in the parallel universe while his counterpart is here; I don’t know if there was supposed to be a third book where things got tied up? Still, this was an enjoyable read, and if this is your sort of genre, I recommend picking it up.


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