#AWW2018 // Book Review: “Olmec Obituary” by L. J. M. Owen

Title: Olmec Obituary
Author:
L. J. M. Owen
Genre: Mystery
Target audience: Adult
Date Read: 2/12/18 – 7/12/18
Rating:
★★

Review:

I have to admit my main reason for wanting to read this book was because it contained a fictionalised version of my own workplace. And reading those sections was pretty awesome because I was all like, “Hee! I understand that reference!” But once that novelty wore off, I found myself a bit flummoxed by how much the author was trying to squeeze into one book.

Between complicated family dynamics, a new job for the main character, shady academic behaviour and flashbacks to the figures in the historical mystery, there was a lot to take in. I’m not entirely sure it worked.

Sometimes the historical scenes felt a bit more like filler. It was interesting to see a bit about the lives of those whose skeletons Elizabeth was analysing, but at the same time, that wasn’t something Elizabeth would ever be able to know from her work, so there was no real connection between the two timelines.

I also felt that a lot of the character development felt forced rather than natural. Someone would be generally coming across as a decent person, then they would out-of-the-blue say something rude or mean for what seemed like no other reason than to establish them as an adversary.

Having said that, overall, the writing style is quite readable and accessible. There were some info dumps regarding ancient history, archaeology and linguistics, but they were interesting enough that they didn’t feel too info-dumpy. I am always a bit hesitant about things like eidetic memory and dreams to help a character solve a mystery (both things that happen in this book) – they both make it a bit too easy in my opinion, but that is a matter of personal preference.

At this stage, I don’t feel like I’m going to go on to the subsequent books in the series, though I haven’t entirely written them off yet. I just don’t think it’s the kind of thing where I can read all of it back to back.


This review is part of my 2018 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.

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#WWW Wednesday – 12 December 2018

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.

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished Olmec Obituary by L.  J. M. Owen. While it was amusing seeing all the references to the National Library (that’s where I work, and the main character’s workplace is based on it), I felt there was a bit much going on for one book and that it suffered for it. My review will be up on Friday.

I posted my review of The Midnight Watch by David Dyer and some thoughts about Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (I realised I’d left it too long and couldn’t remember enough for a proper review, so that link just goes to my GoodReads review).

What are you currently reading?

Sixty Seconds by Jesse Blackadder is an exploration of a family’s grief after the youngest son drowns in the backyard pool. It also deals with social media and shady journalism in the light of such a tragedy. I’m really enjoying this… actually, “enjoy” probably isn’t the right word but it’s very gripping.

I’m also listening to Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson. This is about a Wiccan teenager who accidentally brings not only her best friend but two of the most popular students in her school back to life in an attempt to find out who killed them. I was expecting it to be a bit silly but it’s actually dealing with the main character’s grief in quite a realistic way. It does still have a sense of humour, though.

What do you think you will read next?

I’m not completely sure that it will be my thing, or that I’m in a fantasy mood right now, but since I have it from the library, I will pick up City of Lies by Sam Hawke. It’s due back on the 19th, so hopefully it will be gripping and I tear through it and don’t end up with any fines.

What are you reading this week?

“Everyone knows what rockets at sea mean.” // Review of “The Midnight Watch” by David Dyer

Title: The Midnight Watch
Author: David Dyer
Audio book narrator: Robert Fass
Genre: Historical fiction
Intended audience: Adult
Date Read: 14/11/18 – 03/12/18
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

This book took a while to get into. For some time, I found I had to be in the right mood for it. But by the end, I found myself so fascinated by the events it described that I was waiting for opportunities to hear more.

The Midnight Watch tells the strange, true story of the officers of the SS Californian, a ship that may have been as close as five miles to the Titanic on the night she sank in April 1912, and witnessed her distress rockets, and yet did nothing to help. In the ensuing inquiries, it was determined that had the Californian responded, “many, if not all, lives may have been saved”.

Much of the content of this book is taken from the testimonies given during the inquiries into the sinking of the Titanic. While one of the central POV characters, John Steadman, is an invention, the other characters and events are real. I think this makes them even more compelling, knowing that so much of the dialogue really took place. It is interesting in that it is very much the Californian’s story – the Titanic and even the voices of its survivors are more on the periphery as Steadman tries desperately to get answers from Captain Stanley Lord and Second Officer Herbert Stone, the officer who was on the titular midnight watch and reported white rockets to the captain.

David Dyer is a self-confessed Titanic obsessive and he has been thorough in his research into what became known as “the Californian incident”. He attempts to answer the question of why the Californian never responded to the Titanic’s rockets. There is something of a conclusion on that front in the final pages of the book, but it is nothing definitive, and I don’t think the author would claim to have any real answers.

Definitely a good one for Titanic enthusiasts and historical fiction fans alike.


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#WWW Wednesday – 05 December 2018

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.

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished Truly , Devious by Maureen Johnson on Thursday. This took a little while to get into – not much happens for the first half – but I ended up interested in the mystery.

I also finished The Midnight Watch by David Dyer and I’m really glad I stuck it out. I actually ended up going and reading everything on David Dyer’s website and then watching simulations of the Titanic’s sinking on YouTube. It really is bizarre that the SS Californian saw all 8 distress rockets fired by the Titanic and yet did nothing to help.

haven’t had a chance to write reviews for either of these as I was busy with uni work all weekend, so they’ll be up this coming week.

What are you currently reading?

I have started Olmec Obituary by L.  J. M. Owen this week. It’s always a bit strange reading books set in Canberra. This one is even stranger as the Mahony Griffin Library, where the main character works, is based on the National Library, which is where I work. I kept giggling at things that weren’t remotely funny simply because I got the reference.

For the third week in a row, still going with Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend but this is mostly because I haven’t actually been reading it at all, not because it’s terrible or anything. I’m re-gifting this to my niece for Christmas, so I’m not carrying it around in my work bag, where it’s likely to get damaged. I need a book sleeve.

What do you think you will read next?

I’ve got to be honest: even though I’ve got the two books that follow Olmec Obituary out from the library, I don’t think I’m going to be interested enough to follow on with them. Not back-to-back anyway.

I’m probably going to read Sixty Seconds by Jesse Blackadder, a drama about the aftermath of a small boy drowning in a backyard pool. I have read one of this author’s children’s books before this is my first adult read by her.

What are you reading this week?

November 2018 Reading Wrap-up

Past Month’s Reading

This has been a month of light and easy reads. Most of the month was taken up with uni work, so I didn’t read as much as I might have, but still got a few good titles in there. 

Here’s what I reviewed and read:

Favourite Bookish Photo: 

I didn’t post many photos this month, but this one of my haul of books by Canberra authors picked up at the library was my favourite. You can see all my bookish photos on my Instagram

Currently Reading:

Physical book: 

Truly Devious by Marueen Johnson. This is the first in a YA thriller series and while I think it suffers a bit for being protracted into a series rather than being one tightly-written volume, I have got more into it in the second half.  I will probably finish this tonight.

Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend. This has taken me quite a while to get through but I am on the downhill run with it. While I still love the characters and world, I feel this one is longer  than it needed to be.

Audio book: .

The Midnight Watch by David Dyer. This reminds me a little of the Station Eleven audio book in terms of narration and style. While it took me a while to get into,  I am now interested enough that I am putting it on every time I am driving alone. A good one for historical fiction fans, or those interested in a lesser-known aspect of the Titanic disaster.

Planning to read next:

.I have Sixty Seconds by Jesse Blackadder from the library, and this will be my final Australian Women Writer’s Challenge title for the year. After that, it’s a case of deciding whether to read library books, Christmas books, or some ARCs that I’m excited about.

What are you reading? 🙂

#WWW Wednesday – 28 November 2018

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.

What have you recently finished reading?

Only one book finished  this week: Girl Reporter by Tansy Rayner Roberts. This is a superhero series and this book is from the perspective of a YouTuber/journalist, Friday Valentina, whoses mother broke the first story of superheroes in Australia back in the 80s. It was cute but I think I liked this author’s other stories more. Here’s my review.

I also reviewed All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill. Click here to read that one.

I ended up DNFing Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi. The anachronisms were bothering me and I hadn’t connected to the characters after about 30% of the book, so I decided it was time.

What are you currently reading?

I started Truly , Devious by Maureen Johnson a couple of days ago. This is a YA murder mystery with parallel storylines in the present day and the 1930s. So far it’s just fine. I’ll get through it pretty quickly but I am not expecting to be wowed by it.

Still going with Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend and I hate to say it, but I think it’s going on a bit too long! I’m over 250 pages in and still have 200 pages to go and not much has really happened! But I still love the world of Nevermoor and a lot of the characters. I wish Jupiter was around a bit more, though.

I’m also still listening to The Midnight Watch by David Dyer. I was considering DNFing this one today, though I decided against it in the end. I am not a fan of one of the POV characters, and the pacing is very slow. I won’t DNF but I am thinking I might put it on hold for a while and listen to something else. 

What do you think you will read next?

This hasn’t changed from last week. I’m still planning to pick up Olmec Obituary by L.  J. M. Owen next. Cozy historical mystery!

What are you reading this week?

#AWW2018 // Book Review: “Girl Reporter” by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Title: Girl Reporter
Author:
 Tansy Rayner Roberts
Genre: Sci-fi (superheroes)
Intended audience: New adult
Date Read: 22/11/18 – 25/11/18
Rating:
★★

Review:

I was really torn about what to rate this. There are some really well done sections, but I was kind of put off by a main character who didn’t take anything seriously, so it made it hard to feel like the stakes were ever very high. This was the same issue I had with The Martian: he’s stuck on a different planet and may well never get home and he’s making jokes about Aquaman and disco music.

This book did have some really good conversations about representation in media and whose voices should be privileged when it comes to particular stories. It handles racial tensions, sexuality crises and disability awareness really well.

I didn’t mind Friday’s quirkiness at first, in fact, I quoted a few lines in my GoodReads status updates that amused me a lot. But when it kept up, it got a bit old. There was also no build-up to the romance – literally the superhero she has been crushing on says “Hey, we’re going to be here a while, wanna make out?” and then they did. And then they were a couple. I need a bit of build-up!

The plot is a bit of a satire of the superhero genre, but I think the fact that I am not that into superhero books to begin with (I know, I know, I should just stop reading them if that is the case. I know, and yet I keep doing it!) made it all feel a little bit too OTT.

All in all, while this was… fine, I guess, I much prefer Roberts’ Fake Geek Girl series. The characters and world-building in that series just worked better for me.


This review is part of my 2018 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.

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“Time travel isn’t a wonder; it’s an abomination.” // Review of “All Our Yesterdays” by Cristin Terrill

Title: All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
Audio book narrator: Jessica Almasy
Genre: Sci-fi
Target audience: YA
Date Read: 30/10/18 – 11/11/18
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

Time travel books can be really tricky, but I think this book pulled it off quite well. It stuck to its own rules and never made things too complicated. But it told a good story, which is the main thing. I did predict a few things before they happened, but that doesn’t necessarily make a book bad.

It was really interesting reading a book where you saw both the past and future selves of various characters. Terrill was very  successful in showing the progression from one version to the other, particularly in light  of a “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” scenario.

The book does throw you in at the deep end a bit, and it doesn’t always explain things up-front. In particular, the identity of “documents” that the main characters are imprisoned over doesn’t get explained until right towards the end. Even the characters’ connections  to one another are obscured for a while, though I was abe to figure some of them out before they were explained.

I thought Jessica Almasay did quite a good job of subtly  differentiating between the narrations from Em’s perspective and those from Marina’s. I wonder if the two voices would feel as different if one was reading the print book.

This is another one of those books where I only  realised how attached I’d become to the characters when I found myself getting teary at the end. While I had predicted some of the broader parts of the climax and resolution, the little things got me. This is a tightly written debut novel, and I’m going to check out what the author has published since this one.


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#WWW Wednesday – 21 November 2018

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.

I can’t believe November is two-thirds gone! Septemberand October seemed so long to me, but this month has flown past! I’m well on my way to completing the ARCs I have due by the end of the year, as well as finishing up my Australian Women Writer’s Challenge. So yay all around!

What have you recently finished reading?

I read ‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas by Jacqueline Frost, and it was so fun! I actually wasn’t expecting to be able to take it too seriously, but I got quite invested! You can read my review here. I have the first book in the series still to read (this one was an ARC and the release date is this Friday, hence my reading it first), so I plan to read it over the holidays.

What are you currently reading?

This answer hasn’t changed much from last week!

I am about a quarter of the way through Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi. So far overall it’s okay but there are little things bothering me, like the fact that this is based in Greek mythology, but keeps referring to Greece, as though the country existed at that time. And I’m not really getting much of a sense of the Greek mythology aspect coming through. You could replace the names and this could be any fantasy. But we’ll see if it picks up.

Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend continues to be delightful. I feel like everyone needs a Jupiter North in their life, who goes on grand expeditions to prove to you that you are more than you think you are.

On audio, I am still listening to The Midnight Watch by David Dyer. I’m finding I have to be in the right mood for it, but it is  still quite interesting. I’m finding the character of Captain Lord of the Californian quite interesting. I don’t know if the historical figure was like this, but in the book he’s basically blackmailing his subordinates into lying about them seeing the Titanic’s distress rockets.

What do you think you will read next?

I have owned a copy of Olmec Obituary by L.  J. M. Owen for ages, and so I picked up the two sequels when I saw them at the library today in the hopes I  will then read all three and tick that off my TBR. The fact that I already had the cover uploaded to this blog suggests I have planned to read it at some earlier stage and never got around to it, so it will be good to finally make a start. Owens is a local author and one of the locations in the book is apparently slightly based on my workplace, so it’ll be fun trying to spot those references!

What are you reading this week?

Book Review: “‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas” by Jacqueline Frost

Title: ‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #2)
Author:
Jacqueline Frost
Genre: Cozy mystery
Target audience: Adult
Date Read: 14/11/18 – 17/11/18
Rating:
★★★

Review:

Okay, I have to be honest, I went into this book not expecting too much. I thought the story would be a bit OTT, and that I wouldn’t be abe to take it too seriously, but that I wouldn’t mind, because it’s a Christmas story and you can get away with that in Christmas stories.I didn’t expect to get really invested!

When Holly’s best friend, Caroline, is accused of the murder of Derek Waggoner, whose body is found in a giant bowl of mints at the town’s annual Christmas Lights ceremony, Holly sets out to prove her innocence. But doing so attracts the attention of the killer, putting Holly in danger for the second Christmas in a row.

While this is the second in a series, it stood alone well enough. The book filled me in on the details I needed to know from the previous book, and most of the focus was on the events of this one.

As i said, I got quite invested in Holly and her friends. I wanted Caroline to get out of jail. I wanted to know why Sherriff Gray seemed to have pushed Holly away after kissing her quite publicly and dramatically last Christmas (I actually really loved Sherriff Gray a lot just in general). Even the minor characters had really distinct personalites and I really enjoyed getting to know them.

I was a bit annoyed that when the murderer is finally revealed, they have a big villain monologue while they train a gun on Holly. I did raise my eyebrows a little bit at the suggestion that the real Santa did have something to do with  Holly getting out alive, as well as a few other Christmas miracles. But hey, didn’t I say you can get away with a lot in a Christmas book?

I do have the first book  in this series on my Kindle and I intend to read it closer to Christmas (when I am hopefully through my ARCs and have finished my 2018 challenges). I’m definitely looking forward to revisiting Mistletoe, Maine, even if I am doing it in the wrong order.


(Thank you to the Publishers and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a review)

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