#WWW Wednesday – September 20, 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?

Finished two books this week! The first was The Disappearance of Ember Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina. It was kind of text book definition of a 3-star read – there was absolutely nothing wrong with it and I enjoyed it but that was as strong as my reaction got.

I also finished  Frogkisser! by Garth Nix, which was cute and definitely picked up in the last quarter, but I think it is better suited to its middle-grade audience and doesn’t quite transcend that. At least in my opinion.

I also posted my review of  A Semi-Definitive List of Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland over here.

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just started an ARC of A Dangerous Language by Sulari Gentill. It’s actually the eighth book in the Rowland Sinclair mystery series, but I’m hoping they stand alone enough that I won’t have too much trouble following it. I haven’t read anything by this author before, but I did hear her speak at the Canberra Writer’s Festival, so when I saw this ARC available on Netgalley, I thought I would check it out. When I say I’ve just started, I mean I am literally about 2% in or something, so I’ll say more about this one next week.

I am also reading The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells via the Serial Reader app. The aim of this app is to deliver a bite-size portion of a classic book (10-20 minutes of reading) to your device each day. I’m hoping I might read a few classics this way. If I like it I will upgrade to the paid version, which lets you get more than one issue a day if you are keen. Also it has badges and achievements, which I am all about.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I still have The Foretelling of Georgie Spider, also by Ambelin Kwaymullina from the library, and I imagine it will be quite a quick read like the first two books in the series. I also have an ARC of Life is Like a Musical by Tim Federele, which seemed appropriate for a musical theatre nerd like me. That one releases on October 3, so I do need to read it fairly soon, too.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

~ Emily

 

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#AWW2017 #LoveOzYA “What other beautiful things had fear been hiding from her? ” // Review of “A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares” by Krystal Sutherland

Title: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Genre: contemporary YA/Magical realism
Date Read: 07/09/2017 – 11/09/2017
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

I’m beginning to think that I’m actually a YA contemporary fan, even though I always tend to preface reviews with “I don’t read a lot of contemporary, but…” Some of my favourite reads this year have been YA contemporaries, and this one is added to that list. 

Esther Solar’s family has been cursed by Death, and each family member is going to die from their worst fear. Esther doesn’t know what hers is yet, but when she is reunited with childhood friend, Jonah, they resolve to face each item on her list and see if she can’t get through to the other side.

This book has such a bitteresweet tone, but don’t let the surface fluffiness fool you. This book gets deep. And dark. It does not treat mental illness lightly, but shows how it can tear a family apart. The characters are great, but rather heartbreaking. In addition to mental illness, the book also tackles domestic violence and also pulls no punches there.

I loved the magical realism aspect for the most part. I found Sutherland’s characterisation of Death really fascinating, and the idea of Death being able to fall in love, and die, and be taken by surprise sometimes, I thought was awesome. The fact that it was never clear whether he was really there or whether it was all in Esther’s head worked for the most part, though I might have liked the ending to be a little less ambiguous. There was also a reveal towards the end about Esther’s grandfather’s interactions with Death, which was a reveal to the reader, but not to Esther. Up until that point, though, Esther had been acting as  though she hadn’t been aware of the facts that came to light here, and I felt it was cheating a bit to have her act that way for the sake of narrative convenience.

Still, I found myself getting a little teary at the end and not wanting to let these characters go. They certainly got under my skin.

Trigger warnings: self-harm, suicide, domestic abuse.


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

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#WWW Wednesday – September 13, 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 finished A Semi-Definitive List of Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland, and it was adorable, bittersweet and heartbreaking. Don’t let the frothy cover and quirky title fool you; this is a really great look at mental illness and how it can affect a family. My review will go up on Friday.

What are you currently reading?

My main read at the moment is The Disappearance of Ember Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina. I read the first book in this series, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, last year and hadn’t really planned on continuing as I felt the first book wrapped up really nicely, but then this and the third book were sitting on the library shelves the other day when I was in there, so I thought why not?

I am also still reading  Frogkisser! by Garth Nix.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I will follow this up with The Foretelling of Georgie Spider, also by Ambelin Kwaymullina. Apparently there were originally going to be four books in the series, but the author realised when writing this one that it was the conclusion.

After that, I really need to get back to my ARC pile.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

~ Emily

 

#WWW Wednesday – September 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?

I finally finished Miss Muriel Matters by Robert Wainwright! And got the paper written on it, though I checked the course guide again after writing it and I’m not 100% sure I followed the instructions properly. But it’s fine! It’s done! It’s not that it was a terrible book, it’s just I’m not really into biographies. 

I know this will be a bit of an unpopular opinion, but I also DNFed An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir at about 35%. I actually think the narrators of the audio book are partly to blame for this, as they seemed to bring out the characters’ negative aspects more than the positive (Laia was whiny and useless and Elias came across as sleazy) and I just didn’t want to spend another 10 hours with these characters.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Frogkisser! by Garth Nix. It is a cute, somewhat self-aware middle-grade about a Princess who has to go on a Quest. She has to find the ingredients to make a lip balm that she can use to transform her older sister’s ex-boyfriend from a frog back to human. The lip balm renders the true love requirement irrelevant. The writing style is clearly emulating the style of older fairytale books and writers such as Enid Blyton. Like I said, it’s cute at the moment, but has the potential to get annoying.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I posted my prospective until-the-end-of-the-year TBR yesterday. I think my next read will be A Semi-Definitive List of Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland. I attended an author talk about this one last weekend and it sounds really adorable, so I want to get on it stat!

What are you reading this week? 🙂

~ Emily

 

July to … erm, December TBR? Maybe?

So earlier this year, I thought making three-monthly TBRs rather than monthly would be a great idea. It worked pretty well for March – June. Then in July I was mentally exhausted and ended up in a reading slump, and in August I got bogged down with one single book that I needed to read for uni (plus all the other class readings), so this is as much as I managed to tick off this list over the past two months:

… Yikes.

I’ve been debating how much of this to stick with over the next few months. The top row is currently pending ARCs, most of which are publishing in October, so I shouldn’t ignore them. The second row is the titles for the Australian Women Writers challenge that I drew out of my TBR jar. I’ve already met the number of books I aimed for this year, however, I have not yet met my challenge within a challenge to read two books by LGBTI* women and two books by Indigenous Australian authors. Blood Guilt is by an LGBTI author, but I think I should also prioritise another Indigenous author as well in the coming weeks.

The bottom two rows are for the Beat the Backlist challenge, though I’m honestly debating whether or not to actually continue with this, since I haven’t linked up with the challenge at all during the year, and I’m kind of failing dismally at both the goals I set for myself. I think I would like to prioritise books I own (the bottom row) over books that I added to my TBR more than a year ago (second row from the bottom). I’ve also acquired a lot of new books lately that I want to read sooner rather than later.

With that in mind, here is my revised TBR, that I will aim to finish by the end of the year, along with a myriad of other books I am sure I will get distracted by.

Silly ARCs with your inconsistent cover sizes messing up my graphic. Ah well. I know that some of the titles aren’t all that readable in the condensed version, but I’m kind of tired and can’t be bothered listing all of them? I will link to them in my monthly wrap-up posts and you can see more about them as I get to them… or you can ask if you really want to know now! 😛

So there we have it. Twenty books to have read by the end of December. How hard can it be? 😉

#WWW Wednesday – August 30, 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.

Though first, I wrote a blog post about my weekend spent at the Canberra Writer’s Festival, if anyone is interested. There was so much I didn’t get to, but the sessions I did attend were very inspiring.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

It’s been one of those weeks where I have neither finished nor reviewed anything. Blargh. Lots of things going on, very few of them enjoyable. I did DNF Utopia by Lincoln Child on audio… it wasn’t exactly terrible but it was published in 2002 and for something supposed to be set in the near-future, it didn’t date very well. And more interesting audio books became available.

What are you currently reading?

Still trucking along with Miss Muriel Matters by Robert Wainwright. Light at the end of the tunnel! I am within the last 80 pages. It has been fascinating reading about someone at the heart of the women’s suffrage movement in Britain though. In 1908, Muriel Matters and a fellow suffragist chained themselves to the Grille which separated the Ladies’ Gallery from the House of Commons, and in the raucous, Muriel became the first woman to speak in the House.

I have started An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir on audio. I’m about a quarter of the way through and it’s… fine? I’m not entirely sold on it yet, but I’m not disliking it.  It’s distracting that Laia sounds like “liar” so every time someone says her name, it sounds like they’re accusing her of not telling the truth. I thought it was pronounced like “layer” but apparently not.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I honestly have no idea at this point! Probably something easily digestible. Maybe some of my Writer’s Festival purchases. One of those is short stories, and that would be nice and easy to get through.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

~ Emily

 

#WWW Wednesday – August 23, 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?

 finished the audio book of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I really loved how it ended but at the same time, I was reluctant to let go. As I said in my review, there were times throughout where I planned on rating it everything from 3 stars through to 4.5, but I finally went with 4.

I also posted my review of Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh this week. Click here to read it.

What are you currently reading?

I need to pick up my game with Miss Muriel Matters by Robert Wainwright. I just don’t read non-fiction very quickly, but my review of it is due by September 3, which will be here before we know it. And it’s a uni assignment, so I do actually have to have it written by then. There’s just so much other class reading, I’d rather be reading books for my own leisure than also for class!

I have also just started Utopia by Lincoln Child on audio. It has one of the worst covers ever but the story is intriguing. I’m about 10% into it, and so far I have noticed that the author’s ability to describe women and non-white characters leaves a bit to be desired (is “almond-eyed man” really the best you can do? Twice?) but I’m willing to give it a bit longer at this point.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I honestly have no idea at this point! Probably something easily digestible. I have some library books.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

Oooh, also, before I go! Australian readers will be familiar with Book Week, a week sponsored by the Australian Children’s Book Council.  It’s been going for years and one of the features is the annual Book Parade, where kids get to dress up as their favourite book characters. And we got to dress up at work today! I dressed a Offred from  the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I knew there was a reason I kept my bonnet from doing The Crucible tucked away for three years. You can see the photos on the National Library of Australia Facebook page

~ Emily

 


P.S.
If you feel so inclined, head on over to my writing blog, Letting the Voices Out, where I’ve shared an excerpt from my current WIP today.

“When put that way, it sounds rather like magic, doesn’t it?” // Review of “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Audio book narrator:
Jim Hale
Genre:
Historical/magical realism
Date Read: 09/08/2016 – 18/08/2016
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

Back in 2012, I started reading The Night Circus, but I gave up, only about 100 pages in. I think listening to the audio book was the way to go, as it meant sneaking it in when driving or cleaning, all those times when I can’t sit with a physical book in my hands. At times, I thought my final rating was going to be anything from 3 starts to 4.5, but I think the solid 4 probably is the best overall indication of my enjoyment.

There is not a huge amount of plot to this novel – two magicians, Celia and Marco, are pitted against one another by their instructors in a challenge where they can only be one winner. The challenge does not only affect them, though, for the Cirque des Reves is their venue and everyone who relies upon the circus or comes to love it is touched by the challenge. The lack of plot didn’t bother me too much for reasons I’ll get into below, but I did feel the reasoning behind the challenge could have been better (basically all the reason we get is that the two instructors wanted to know whose methods were better). Celia and Marco were asking all the time and there was never any indication of if they were doing well, who was winning, etc… it got frustrating after the first few times.

The plot does jump around in time a lot, which is difficult to keep track of when listening to an audio book. If I had had the print copy, I probably would have been flipping back a few times to check what year it was last time I met these characters.

But depsite all of that, the language is absolutely beautiful. The descriptions are wonderful; I could imagine every single exhibit in the Circus in exquisite detail. At first, I felt that Jime Hale’s voice a little bit too rough and jarring for the sort of prose he was reading, but after a while I got used to it. Read aloud, the descriptions have  a really lilting, poetic quality that was just delightful to listen to.

While I wouldn’t necessarily say I was one of these people myself, I would say this novel is best suited to those whose first loves are description and setting. Many a reader would find that the plot leaves too much to be desired, but I am glad I finally found a way to enjoy this.


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“The entire time she’d watched him … her features had remained serene. A flame in the mist.” // Review of “Flame in the Mist” by Renee Ahdieh

Title: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Date Read: 06/08/2017 – 15/08/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I don’t really know why this book didn’t impress me more. It ticked all my boxes for what makes a great YA fantasy. It was one of my most highly-anticipated releases this year, so there is a chance I just hyped it up too much in my head, or maybe I am actually still in my reading slump a bit. Either way, while this was enjoyable, it didn’t quite live up to expectations.

Mariko is on her way to be united with her betrothed, the son of the Emperor of Wa, when her convoy is attacked and everyone around her murdered. Certain that this is the work of the Black Clan, she infiltrates their ranks disguised as a boy, intent on finding out who sent them to kill her and why. But the more time she spends with them, the more she realises that there is more the Black Clan than their reputation would suggest, and there is also a lot that her sheltered upbringing has kept her blind to…

I did really love the Japanese-inspired world-building, even if I did have to flick to the back to find out what the Japanese words meant. I felt this was the strongest aspect of the novel. I do believe this shouldn’t have been sold as a Mulan-retelling or even as Mulan-inspired. There are plenty of stories about girls dressing up as boys. The resemblances of Flame in the Mist to Mulan were superficial at best. Why not let a story sell on its own merits rather than comparing it.

The characters were where I got stuck. For a start, I didn’t feel like there was a huge difference between Ranmaru and Okami, and even with the helpful prologue to establish a few things, I got lost trying to remember who/whose father betrayed whom.

Mariko was an interesting character in that she is far from the usual kick-ass babe who usually dominates the “strong female character” role. While I appreciated that, her coolness and rational nature actually made it a bit harder to connect to her. Yes, I realise I’m giving Renee Ahdieh a bit of a damned-if-she-does-damned-if-she-doesn’t situation here, but hey, I’m just describing the reading experience for me. I also found her repeated mantras about not being weak and striking when they least expect it quite repetitive and annoying, and I also didn’t buy a lot of the decisions she made. Maybe that’s why I didn’t connect with her.

That being said, I did really like some of her character development. Particularly towards the end, Mariko realises how sheltered she has been and that her family is not as good and honourable as she had always thought. She also realises that they Black Clan is not as evil as it has been depicted. I do like it when a character can come to those realisations.

I felt the romance was full of tell and little show. I’m actually not a fan of romances where one character falls for the other in spite of everything. As far as Mariko knew, Okami had wanted to kill her. Still wants to. She keeps telling herself that he’s her enemy, but hey, he’s sexy, and that can’t be helped or overlooked? I didn’t think there was any chemistry between them, so all their private thoughts about each other didn’t really do much for me.

I did enjoy the explorations of what it means to be a girl/woman, particularly in societies such as this one. Mariko’s experience is contrasted with that of Yumi, a young maiko (geisha), and Mariko realises that just because she aims for something more, does not mean that every woman will, but that it’s the opportunity that’s important.

This was my first experience of Renee Ahdieh’s writing; I’m yet undecided on whether to read The Wrath and the Dawn. While the writing was good, I don’t feel especially compelled to pick up the sequel when it comes out.


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#WWW Wednesday – August 16, 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 finished  Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh last night, and have kind of weird feelings about it. I definitely enjoyed parts of it, but at the same time, I never felt really invested in it. Maybe I’m still slightly in my reading slump, or maybe I hyped it up too much to myself, but I felt it was just missing… something. My review will go up on Friday.

I also posted my review of The Space Between by Rachel Sanderson this week. Click here to read it.

What are you currently reading?

I have just started Miss Muriel Matters by Robert Wainwright today. It’s a biography and I don’t usually read a lot of non-fiction, but I have to write a critical review of a biography for a history course I’m doing this semester. I’m only about 30 pages in so far but it’s really interesting!

I am nearly 3/4 of the way through the audio book of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I think once I got into it and got used to the narrator, the rhythm of the descriptions started really working for me, though every now and then I get frustrated by certain aspects of it (mostly the plot, or lack thereof)

What do you think you’ll read next?

I thought I might go back to The Ship From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig and see if I can get into it enough to finish it. The love story was overpowering the time travel and I wasn’t terribly interested, but I think they were just going off to a mythical country when I put it aside, so maybe it will pick up.

What are you reading this week? 🙂~ Emily

 


P.S.
If you feel so inclined, head on over to my writing blog, Letting the Voices Out, where I’ve shared an excerpt from my current WIP today.