#WWW Wednesday – November 08, 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 didn’t get anywhere near the amount of reading done on my holiday as I intended! 😒 But I have finished two books in the last week.

I started I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll while I was waiting to pick up a friend, andI ended up finishing it the next day, despite the fact that I was supposed to be finished a final paper (the paper, while not my best work, got handed in on time, so it’s all good). i had a couple of issues with this, but it was a very engaging thriller. One of the better ones I’ve read lately.

And then I read book 11 of the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, which was The Grim Grotto. I know I read this one back in the day because I remembered wasabi having significance somewheere in the series, but I feel certain that this was the last one I read, so the last two will be new territory. I liked a lot of the themes in this one, but I felt it was a bit long.

And I have literally just decided while writing this post that it’s time to call  Blood Guilt by Lindy Cameron a DNF. It is just too slow for me. Clearly my love for TV police procedurals does not extend to the written word. I think I’ll stick to thrillers for my mystery fix.

Reviews of The Bromancers by Tansey Rayner Roberts and I Am Watching You went up this past week. Click the titles to go read them.

What are you currently reading?

I started another library book, Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols. I would probably say it is mostly a romance, but the twist is that one of the characters has been tossed into our world from his parallel universe and is trying to get home. It’s striking a good balance between the sci-fi and the romance and I’m enjoying it, despite a few quibbles.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Since I started Now That You’re Here rather than  Nyxia by Scott Reintgen, which had been my original plan, that will be next. I’ve also got the last two Series of Unfortunate Events books on hand.

The paper I mentioned earlier was my last one for the year, so I should have a lot more time for reading now. Here’s to some good reading weeks between now and the end of the year!

What are you reading this week? 🙂~ Emily

 

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Book Review: “I Am Watching You” by Teresa Driscoll

Title: I Am Watchinig You
Author: Teresa Driscoll
Genre:
Thriller
Date Read: 01/11/2017 – 02/11/2017
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

This was not a good choice of book to read when I had a final paper to write! I started reading it on my phone when I had 20 minutes or so to kill while waiting for a friend, and then ended up reading the whole thing in a couple of days because I got so drawn in. I’m writing this review while it’s still fresh in my mind, thus further delaying the writing of the essay.

I have a bit of a fascination with missing persons stories. I have not known anyone who went missing for more than a few hours, but the thought of not knowing what happened to a loved one, and possibly never knowing, makese my stomach churn. So obviously I read lots of books about it and evoke that feeling in myself. That seems sensible.

This book looks at the case of missing girl, Anna Bollard, from four different perspectives. There’s her father, who has his own secrets; the friend who should have been looking out for her, who has not been entirely forthcoming about what happened that night; the witness who feels she could have prevented everything; and the private investigator hired on a related matter who has just become a father and is only now beginning to understand how a missing child can affect the parents. I felt these four characters were all quite well-developed, even if I didn’t necessarily like all of them.

Some of the characters held attitudes that I really didn’t agree with, and while I reminded myself that characters can believe certain things without that being a reflection of the author’s beliefs, these attitudes weren’t really challenged within the text,  so it sort of felt like the author was supporting them. And there was a husband that really gave me an off vibe; he was suppoesdly protective but to me it seemed overly controlling, so that bothered me, too.

The mystery itself had a number of red herrings, and I wasn’t sure that there were quite enough clues as to the actual villain’s identity throughout. It felt a bit out of the blue when it was revealed at about the 85% mark. Still, as I said, this book had me completely engaged, so I definitely recommend for any fans of the thriller genre.


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#aww2017 Book Review: The Bromancers by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Title: The Bromancers (Belladonna University #3)
Author: Tansy Rayner Roberts
Genre: Urban fantasy
Date Read: 27/10/17 – 29/10/17
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

This series continues to be a huge amount of fun! This instalment sees Hebe Hallow trying to manage the members of Fake Geek Girl at a music festival, only to have her plans messed up the arrival of various signifiant others, including her own, and a body swap spell that sees two of the band members out for the count.

I really enjoyed seeing the world expanded beyond the university campus. Roberts managed to convey the crowded, messy, but buzzing atmosphere of a music festival, and added a magical twist.

Roberts still maintains distinct voices for each of her characters. I especially loved that Juniper got to play a bigger role in this one. She’s so delightful. I’m hoping that there might be future stories about these characters in which she might get to do something about her massive crush on Holly.

The Belladonna U stories are short and a lot of fun, particularly if you come from a geek culture background and get a lot of the references. Definitely recommended!


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

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#WWW Wednesday – November 01, 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?

Despite being busy getting the final papers for the semester written, I have managed to read three books this week!

First was Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology. I really enjoyed a number of these, and I definitely need to check out some of the featured authors.

Next I read The Bromancers by Tansy Rayner Roberts, which is the third book in the Belladonna University series, and sees the characters dealing with the unexpected appearances of significant others and body-swap hexes at a music festival.

Finally, I read Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee, which I saw on a list of books with good queer representation and then spotted at the library that same day. It’s full of diverse characters (there are diverse races, sexualities and gender identities), though the writing style did leave a bit to be desired. I’m still going to read the sequel, though.

Click the titles for reviews of See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt and Rise of the Sparrows by Sarina Langer, which went up this week.

What are you currently reading?

I only finished Not Your Sidekick this morning and I haven’t started anything new yet. I’m still in the middle of Blood Guilt by Lindy Cameron but didn’t read any of it this week. It’s going to be my plane reading on Friday.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I plan to start Nyxia by Scott Reintgen next. I’m not the biggest fan of outer space books but I have seen some good reviews for this since it was released a few months ago. I saw it just sitting there on the shelf at the library, so I decided to check it out.

I also posted my October Reading Wrap-Up and November Reading List yesterday for anyone who might be interested.

What are you reading this week? 🙂~ Emily

 

October Reading Wrap-up and November Reading List

Past Month’s Reading:

October felt like a return to regular reading habits , even though other things fell off the wagon with the end of semester and associated pressures looming. I managed to tick a whole five books off my official TBR, as well as cram in a few other things not listed.

^^ I’ll get it all ticked off by the end of the year, right?

The  things I read and reviewed were:

Currently reading:

Physical book: Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee. This is really diverse superhero story. The diversity gets a 5/5 , though the writing style is more 3.5/5. Still, I am really enjoying it and unless it does something to really disappoint me in the second half, will probably grab the sequel when I can.

Audio book: The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley. I’m about a quarter of the way through this, and going slowly, since I’m really only listening to it when I’m driving on my own, and that’s not all that often at the moment. And sometimes I listen to music instead. It is cute enough for me to want to keep going, but it does have some pacing issues and the main character is naive to the next level. But she has purchased the titular teashop now, so I’m hoping things will start moving forward properly.

Planning to read next:

On Friday, I am going on holidays for a few days, and I intend to read quite a lot… though I am also doing an escape room and going to markets and doing some hiking… but still. I am planning to take the last three Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket and finally see that series through. I also have three other books from the library, and Nyxia by Scott Reintgen will be the first of those that I read.

Then it’s back to the books on the above TBR graphic, though I haven’t quite worked out which order I’ll read those in.

Book Review: “The Rise of the Sparrows” by Sarina Langer

Title: The Rise of the Sparrows (The Relics of Ar’zac #1)
Author: Sarina Langer
Genre: YA/fantasy
Date Read: 17/10/2017 – 19/10/2017
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

I’ve had this on my Kindle for so long, probably since it came out! It’s one of those books I wished I got to sooner, because I ended up really enjoying it.

I think one of the bes things about this book was the fact that Rachael, the main character, was no special snowflake when it came to saving the world. Yes, she is a Chosen One, but she struggles to develop her magic and it is acknowledged that prophecies are vague and that things may not work out the way anyone expects.

I also really enjoyed the character development of Cephy, a young girl Rachael befriends after Cephy is kicked out of home due to her magical abilities.

The other characters were also well-developed. I particularly liked Cale, the leader of the group of rebels known as The Sparrows, and Aeron, the witch who seeks to disrupt the rebellion and put a child of her own on the throne, was suitably nasty.

I did feel that there were times when characters judtified the deaths they caused a bit too easily. There are some pretty shocking death scenes, too; not so much from a violence perspective (the level of violence is pretty standard fantasy fare) but the fact that they happen suddenly and caught me by surprise on a few occasions.

The world-building is simple but effective. There is no drowning the reader in unnecessary description. New locations are described as needed, and the history of the world is explained over a few conversations between Rachael and more knowledgable characters.

Overall, this is a strong series opener and I’ve been hearing good things about the sequel. I’m looking forward to continuing this series when I have the chance.


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#AWW2017 “How far a woman could travel if she really put her mind to it. And I put my mind to it.” // Review of “See What I Have Done” by Sarah Schmidt

Title: The Natural Way of Things
Author: Charlotte Wood
Genre: Thriller
Date Read: 19/10/2017 – 24/10/2017
Rating: ★★

Review:

Well, damn. This was one of my most anticipated reads this year.  I think it failed for me for a lot of reasons. 

  1. I think I over-hyped it in my head.
  2. I think I assumed it was going to be things that it never promised it would be.
  3. It turned out to have a literary fiction vibe, which is perfectly fine, but not my thing.

See What I Have Done is a fictionalised account of the murders of Andrew and Abbie Borden in 1892. It is told from the points of view of sisters Lizzie and Emma Borden, their maid, Bridget Sullivan and an mysterious outsider, Benjamin.

I expected this book to be thrilling and tense, and for me to never quite know what was going on. I didn’t know what was going on, but that was more because no one really knows what happened that day, not because I felt Sarah Schmidt was making me ask any new questions about the case. With the exception of a bit of getting into the characters’ heads, there was very little here that I hadn’t already learned by reading the Lizzie Borden Wikipedia entry.

What Sarah Schmidt did do well was the claustrophobic, tense atmosphere of the Borden house. There were times when I had to stop reading because the descriptions of someone throwing up or the smell of the three-day-old mutton heating on the stove made me feel sick. But after a while, even that stopped having an effect on me. As I said, I think this was more in the literary fiction vein than I was expecting, and so a lot of the language use and other techniques that would impress fans of that genre, but they just don’t do it for me.


This review forms part of the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge for 2017. Click here for more information.

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#WWW Wednesday – October 25, 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 breezed through Rise of the Sparrows by Sarina Langer, due to having some car trouble and having nothing to do but sit in the car and read for a couple of hours while I waited for roadside assistance. So that was pretty great. I will have a review of this up this week. I enjoyed it a lot!

I also finished the ebook See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt. This is a fictional of the Borden murders and Lizzie Borden’s trial. This was a hugely anticipated read for me but in the end it didn’t really work for me. I read a review that said it didn’t really add anything new to all the theories and stories surrounding the Borden murders and that was exactly how I ended up feeling.

I also DNFed The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones, which I was listening to. It couldn’t seem to decide what tone it wanted to take. Sometimes it was quite funny (a bit of a Discworld vibe), then suddenly it’d be really violent and someone would be nearly dying, or a group of side characters would be leery and gross towards a female character.

I’m a bit behind on my reviews at the moment. Only one posted this week, for The Asylum by Johan Theorin. Click here to read it.

What are you currently reading?

I am over halfway through Blood Guilt by Lindy Cameron. This is a slow read, but I am going to renew it from the library and take it on holidays with me in a couple of weeks, where I can knuckle down and enjoy it. Because I am enjoying it, it’s just taking a while to get through.

I’ve also started reading Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology. I don’t read a lot of anthologies but I am definitely enjoying the writing in this one. It features a lot of new-to-me authors whom I will definitely be looking into further, along with authors I’ve known of and loved for a long time. The LoveOzYA movement is about foregrounding Australian YA authors, and I’m all down for that. I saw three of the authors speak at the Canberra Writers Festival and it was very inspiring.

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

I don’t really know at the moment! I’m not feeling drawn towards much at all on my official TBR. I might not have much time for reading in the near future as I have two 3000-word papers due at the end of next week. Then I’m going on holidays for five days, and I want to take the last three Series of Unfortunate Events books with me. So that’s really the only plan I have for now.

What are you reading this week? 🙂~ Emily

 

 

 

Book Review: The Asylum by Johan Theorin

Title: The Asylum
Author: Johan Theorin
Audio book narrator: Thomas Judd
Genre: Thriller
Date Read: 28/09/2017 – 13/10/2017
Rating: ★★

Review:

Heh. For a thriller, I did not find this book especially thrilling. I think some of that may have been due to a clunky translation from Swedish, but I think also it required more willing suspension of disbelief than I was willing to give it.

Jan Hauger takes a position at The Dell, a pre-school attached to St Patricia’s Psychiatric Hospital for the children of the patients’ parents. Jan wants to make contact with a person in his past who he believes is inside, and the other staff of the Dell have their own secrets and connections to the asylum as well.

Disclaimer: it’s possible the next paragraph won’t make much sense. I’ll try to be as coherent as possible.

This is the type of thriller where certain facts have to be revealed at certain times. They are things the characters already know, or even events in the characters’ past that he was present for, but if the reader knows about them, it ruins the suspense. As a result, the character sometime acts as though they aren’t aware of these things they lived through until it’s revealed to the reader. It annoys me when this happens. It’s poor writing.

Jan was an incredibly naive character and learning more about his past in the last third of the book didn’t really justify a lot of his choices to me. I just kept thinking “Well, you brought this upon yourself with all your stupid decisions, didn’t you?” I think the very ending was supposed to make me go “Oh no! After everything he’d been through!” but I just though, “Really? That’s the final punchline?”

It also didn’t make a lot of sense to me that a whole pre-school would be established next to a psych hospital when the children were only meeting with their parents one a week for an hour. The idea of having the passage between the hospital and the school seemed a lot of effort when they could probably just come with their foster parents to the front door.

Having said all that, there were a few honestly creepy moments. Mostly when Jan was creeping through the underground passage from the pre-school into the hospital. And one particularly claustrophobic chapter in Jan’s flashbacks. So it wasn’t all bad. Just mostly not really one I could get behind.


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#WWW Wednesday – October 18, 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?

In print, I finished The Foretelling of Georgie Spider by Ambelin Kwaymullina, which means I have actually completed reading a series. It didn’t quite work for me (all three books got 3 stars in the end) but I still recommend it as a very good example of YA dystopian fiction.

I also completed The Asylum by Johan Theorin on audio. I have a review scheduled for this one but in short, the plot required a bit too much suspension of disbelief for me to really enjoy it. I also think the translation from Swedish was a bit clunky?

Reviews of Fake Geek Girl by Tansy Rayner Roberts and  Georgie Spider are posted here and here respectively.

What are you currently reading?

I am about a quarter of the way through Blood Guilt by Lindy Cameron. I’m usually more into thrillers than straight crime fiction but I am enjoying this one. PI Kit O’Malley is a good lead character.

‘I have also started Rise of the Sparrows by Sarina Langer, because the crime fiction is pretty straightforward and while I am enjoying it, I need something to get a bit more invested in. But at time of writing, I have literally read half the prologue, so it’s far too early to make any comments.

On audio I am listening to The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones. I’ve always found DWJ’s books a bit of a mixed bag:  I loved Howl’s Moving Castle but A Tale of Time City and Hexwood didn’t work for me. This one is leaning more towards the latter two, but I’m moving through it pretty quickly so we’ll see how it turns out.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I am feeling drawn to See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt next. This is a fictional of the Borden murders and Lizzie Borden’s trial. I’ve had this on my radar nearly all year, but I wanted to read it even more after seeing Sarah Schmidt talk at the Canberra Writer’s Festival. Though that was back in August and it’s still taken me this long to get to it. Though when I went to the GR page to get the link, I see the reviews are very mixed. I really want to love this one, though!

What are you reading this week? 🙂~ Emily