#WWW Wednesday – January 24, 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.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co. #5) by Jonathan Stroud and it was a very satisfying conclusion to the series. Sometimes when I had read the previous installments, I didn’t really get why the characters were doing things or going to certain places, but everything drew together very nicely at the end.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what Stroud comes up with next. I posted my review on Monday.

 

What are you currently reading?

I have started reading Every Breath by Ellie Marney. Ellie Marney was one of the instigators of the #LoveOzYA movement, so I’ve been keen to check out this series for a while. I am only in chapter 2 at time of writing so it’s very early days, but based on the couple of chapters and the blurbs for all three books (I picked up all three from the library at the same time), it might be one of those YA series that could either go very, very right or very, very wrong.

I am still going with The Hospital by the River by Catherine Hamlin on audio but I have made some good progress and I think I’m at about the 80% mark now.

What do you think you’ll read next?

As it was last week, I’m not quite sure. I would like to knock one more book off my Jan-Feb TBR before the end of January, as then I’ll be halfway through it. I also need to look at some of my ARCs pretty soon.

~ Emily

Advertisements

““This is what the Problem means. This is the effect it has. Lives lost, loved ones taken before their time.” // Review of “The Empty Grave” by Jonathan Stroud

Title: The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co. #5)
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Genre: YA/urban fantasy
Date Read: 11/01/2018 – 21/01/2018
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

There’s always a sense of bittersweet when you come to the end of a series you’ve enjoyed. While the fourth installment of Lockwood and Co left me underwhelmed, everything from the previous four books came together in this one to give a really satisfyinng conclusion.

I have to admit that this wasn’t as scary as the other books. I think this was because Lockwood & Co. didn’t actually deal with that many ghosts in this one, and when they did, they dealt with them fairly swiftly. Something I loved about the earlier books was that some of the scenes where Lockwood & Co visited various haunted sites had me staying up late because if I didn’t see the battle out, I knew I wouldn’t sleep that night. Book four didn’t do that, and neither did this one. The conflict in Book 5 was more to do with the origins of the Problem, and the early ghost-hunting agencies.

Still, I loved the team dynamics here. I had often felt a bit uncomfortable with the way George was made fun of, usually due to his weight, so it was nice to see how much it really did affect the rest of the team when something happened to him. The Lockwood/Lucy romance that so many readers were hoping for was hinted at (rather heavily at the end) but never actually detailed. I am torn between thanking the gods for a YA series with no romance and wanting to have seen them get together, or at least admit to some mutual feelings, on the page.

This is the second series by Jonathan Stroud that I have followed and he has been one of my favourite authors ever since I read the Bartimaeus series. I am looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next!


Find me on:
GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

#WWW Wednesday – January 17, 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.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished Everless by Sara Holland and while it was still a little bit tropey, it did subvert other tropes and completely sucked me in! I’ll be looking forward to the next book.

I also read Mr Stink by David Walliams. This is a children’s book very much in the style of Roald Dahl (complete with illustrations by Quentin Blake). I liked it but I wasn’t quite sure what it was trying to say. I’ll have a review up on Friday.

Two reviews this week! My review of Everless went up here and I also reviewed False Awakening, an urban fantasy by Cassandra Page, here.

What are you currently reading?

I haven’t had a lot of time for reading this past week as I’ve been on holidays with a couple of friends, but I have been reading The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co. #5) by Jonathan Stroud. Feeling a bit bittersweet as I have been following this series since it began and this is the last book.  Also, last time I finished a series by Jonathan Stroud, I threw my Kindle across the room (the ending wasn’t bad at all, just gave me a lot of feelings), so I’m a little apprehensive.

I am still going with The Hospital by the River by Catherine Hamlin. I haven’t had much time for audio books but I’ll be getting back to my longer walks tomorrow so I will be able to make some more progress with this one.

What do you think you’ll read next?

So I requested some ARCs from NetGalley that I thought were not going to be published until June and October, only to discover after I was accepted that they were actually published last June and October (and are still available to request?!). And also there was that time on Sunday when I went to the library and accidentally came away with six books. Which is all to say, I really don’t know, but I have plenty to choose from!

What are you reading this week? 

~ Emily

Book Review: “Everless” by Sara Holland

Title: Everless
Author: Sara Holland
Genre:
YA/fantasy
Date Read:
06/01/2018 – 10/01/2018
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

After a little bit of a slow start, this book totally sucked me in! I can’t wait to continue following the characters in this world. It took me a little while to get my head around some of the world-building, but once I did, I really enjoyed where the story took me.

In a world where the currency is literally the years on one’s life, Jules and her father struggle to make ends meet from one day to the next. After her father’s death, Jules goes to work at the Everless estate, home of the wealthy Girling family, where she lived as a child before she and her father were driven away.  But the  more times she spends there, the more secrets she uncovers about her past, and the more questions she finds that need answers.

I really enjoyed the way that Holland subverted some typical YA tropes. What I thought was surely going to be a love triangle turned out to not be. There is still a bit of romance and it does have some eye-roll-worthy moments that are typical of YA, but this is very much not the focal point of the book. Jules actually spends most of the book trying to figure out her past and her abilities, rather than swooning over anyone.

The last third of the book is quite twisty. I had figured out some of the reveals that came along, but certainly not all of them, and I was taken by surprise on more than one occasion. There is a good cast of characters and I really appreciated how many women and girls made up the supporting cast.

I really loved the world-building. The idea of blood-iron did take me a while to understand, but it is pretty well explained.  There is also a lot of mythology and history of the Kingdom of Sempera, which Holland weaves into the story. Sometimes it did get a little info-dumpy, especially earlier on, but this didn’t bother me too much.

The ending is full of drama and leaves a lot for the second book to explore. I’m really excited to see how everythiing pans out.


Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of Everless for review purposes.

Find me on:
GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Save

#aww2018 Book review: “False Awakening” by Cassandra Page

Title: False Awakening
Author: Cassandra Page
Genre: urban fantasy
Dates read: 26/12/17 – 04/01/18
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I reviewed the prequel to this book almost exactly two years ago. I think this book suffered a little from me not remembering all the details of the previous book; however, the dreamscapes of Cassandra Page’s Oneiroi world do make for enjoyable reading.

Dream-therapist Melaina thought that her problems with nightmare spirits and dream blights was over with, but  that’s not the case. Other people around her are still being possessed, the Morpheus himself wants an audience with her, and her cousin has gone msising. All three things seem to be connected, but can Melaina save those she loves?

The dream sequences are definitely what I enjoyed best about this book. Page expands on the world-building she did in the first book, bringing in new Oneiroi characters, setting up more of their laws and customs. Once again the scenes where Melaina fights off the blights in other people’s dreams were also well done. There was a lot of action, and the rules of the magic system were well maintained.

The characters are well-written and I particularly like the contrast between Melaina and her wealthy relatives. I have to admit, though, that with the exception of the climax, I never really felt myself invested in the characters and what was going to happen to them.

also have to admit that I will always simultaneously love reading books set in my adopted city of Canberra and also find it a bit weird recognising all the locations. This is obviously not a criticism of the author; just an observation!


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

Find me on:
GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Save

#WWW Wednesday – January 10, 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.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

I’m still getting back into the swing of things for the new year, so I’ve been a bit slow at reading. I finished reading False Awakening by Cassandra Page.  I enjoyed it but I think it suffered a bit because it had been so long since I had read the first book, so I had trouble remembering some of the details it referred to. My review will be up on Friday all being well.

I have posted three reviews since my last WWW post. Click the titles to read them:

Warcross by Marie Lu (YA sci-fi)
Vicious by V. E. Schwab (sci-fi)
Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian (YA contemporary)

What are you currently reading?

I am reading an ARC – Everless by Sara Holland. I’m really enjoying this! It’s a bit different to the usual YA fantasies that are coming out at the moment (though it does admittedly fall into some typical tropes). I love the idea of time as currency.

I have also just started The Hospital by the River by Catherine Hamlin. Catherine Hamlin is an incredible woman who has done so much for women in Ethiopia. I knew a bit about her but I’m interested to learn more about her in her own words.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I think it needs to be Your One and Only by Adrianne Finlay, a YA sci-fi. I’ve had this ARC for a while now and it publishes in early February, so I want to make sure my review is up in time.

What are you reading this week? 

~ Emily

#aww2018 #LoveOzYA “Own your art. Own your existence.” // Review of “Beautiful Mess” by Claire Christian

Title: Beautiful Mess
Author: Claire Christian
Genre: YA contemporary
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I used to begin reviews like this with something like “I don’t read a lot of contemporary YA but…” as though I needed a disclaimer for any contemporary I enjoyed. I am getting rid of that disclaimer now because I’ve found in the past year that contemporaries have been among my favourites, while YA SFF has often been further down. My attitude used to be “why would I want to read about teenagers and their dramas?” but now I’m realised that these stories have so much to say that transcends one particular age group. This is one such book.

Ava is struggling with depression after the death of her best friend six months ago. Gideon has struggled with anxiety and self-esteem issues all his life. When they meet after both beginning work at the same kebab shop,  they form a bond that could just be the one thing that keeps them both going.

There was nothing especially revolutionary about the plot of this novel. What was fantastic to see, though, was the way Christian subverted so many of the tropes commonly found in YA books that deal with this subject matter. Neither Ava nor Gideon’s parents were absent or uninvolved in their kids’ lives; both kids had good relationships with therapists (in Gideon’s case, the idea of trying out different therapists until you find one that clicks with you is acknowledged) and the characters are not saved throught The Power of  LoveTM.

Both Ava and Gideon are beautifully formed characters. The chapters alternate between their first-person POVs, which I often find irritating, as I often find that in first person, both characters end up sounding much the same. This was not an issue here. Gideon writes poetry and competes in poetry slams and I loved the inclusion of his poems throughout the text.

For a fair chunk of the book, I was hoping that it wouldn’t become a romance, and would instead focus on the strength of friendship. Inevitably, though, the main characters did get involved romantically. For what it was, this was mostly done well, but I did find Gideon behaving in a disappointing fashion towards the end of the book. I felt that the ending left a little bit to be desired, but at the same time, I’m not sure these two characters’ story could have worked out any other way.

Still, as you can tell, I highly recommend this book with its great mental health rep, strong characters and some beautfully-written poetry.


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

Find me on:
GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Save

“All Eli had to do was smile. All Victor had to do was lie. Both proved frighteningly effective.” // Review of “Vicious” by V. E. Schwab

Title: Vicious
Author: V. E. Schwab
Audio book narrator: Noah Michael Levine
Genre: NA/Urban fantasy/superheroes
Date Read:
10/12/2017 – 28/12/2017
Rating: ★★

Review:

All right, all right. I should have known better. I said after not enjoying the final Shades of Magic book  that clearly Schwab’s are not for me. And yet, I was still intrigued enough by Vicious to pick up the audio book when I saw it on a display at my local library.

Thanks to a college science experiment, Victor and Eli develop superhero-like powers, but frmo there, everything goes drastically downhill. Ten years later, Victor escapes from prison with a plan to confront Eli and no one knows who will come out the other side.

As usual, Schwab’s writing is extremely readable. This is something I have always found with her work, even as I haven’t enjoyed the stories themselves. The plot (even though I didn’t like a lot of it) was quite tight in and of itself.

My main issue was that I didn’t really feel invested in either main character, and some of their motivations seemed rather out of the blue to me. A lot of their decisions annoyed me and the thirteen-year-old character, Sidney, seemed to have more sense than either of the two adults most of the time.

Victor’s power to turn pain up or down on a dial, either for himself or for other people,  worked on that trope that if someone can’t feel pain, their injury won’t affect them.This isn’t how pain and injuries work, and it bothered me that it seemed like his own wounds, as well a gun shot wound of Sidney’s, just had the pain turned down and then everything was fine.

I did find some of the worldbuilding intriguing. I liked the idea of near death experiences being the instigator for extraordinary powers and that the power someone developed hinged on what they were thinking as they died. But overall, I had the same reaction to this as several of Schwab’s other books and now I know to stick to my resolution  that she is not an author for me.


Find me on:
GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Save

January-February 2018 TBR

With the new year, comes a new experiment in how I approach my TBRs. Last year, I found that a monthly reading list was a bit too intense, so I adjusted it to a three-monthly list with about 20 titles on it. I think that was a bit ambitious, too, given how prone I am to getting distracted by other books.

This year, I am going to aim for a TBR with 8 titles to work through over a two month period. I usually read between five and ten titles a month, so that should leave me plenty of time for both completing the TBR and other books such as ARCs or challenge titles. I’ll do a wrap-up at the end of the two months, rather than monthly.

So! Here are my 8 titles for January/February. A couple of ARCs, some books that I own, and a bunch that have been sitting on my Kindle for quite a while now.

Everless by Sara Holland

Your One and Only by Adrianne Finlay

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Dollhouse by Anya Allyn

False Awakening by Cassandra Page

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Stay tuned for weekly reading updates, reviews and monthly wrap-ups to see how I’m going with this list and how I feel about these titles, and others.

 

November-December Reading Wrap-up

Past Month’s Reading:

didn’t get much read in November and also didn’t have much time for blogging, so a wrap-up post then went by the wayside. In two months, I ticked a few things off my official TBR, but I ended up getting distracted by a whole bunch of other stuff.

Blood Guilt by Lindy Cameron and The Game You Played by Anni Tayloor ended up being DNFs, and I crossed Mullumbimby (second from the left on the top row) off with the intention of getting to it next year. I did have it from the library for a month and didn’t get to it due to other priorities this time around.

The  things I read and reviewed were:

  • I Am Watching You by Terese Driscoll (4 stars – review)
  • The Grim Grotto (Series of Unfortunate Events #11) by Lemony Snicket (3 stars – not reviewed)
  • Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols (3.5 stars – review)
  • Doctor Who: The Lost Magic by Cavan Scott (3 stars – not reviewed)
  • Nyxia by Scott Reintgen (4 stars – review)
  • Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee (3 stars – review)
  • Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1) by Rachel Caine (4.5 stars – review)
  • Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake #2) by Rachel Caine (4 stars – review)
  • Stay by Jesse Blackadder (3 stars – review)
  • Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy (3.5 stars – review)
  • The Penultimate Peril (Series of Unfortunate Events #12) by Lemony Snicket (3 stars – not reviewed)
  • The End (Series of Unfortunate Events #13) by Lemony Snicket (4 stars – review)
  • What Happens at Christmas by Evonne Wareham (3.5 stars – review)
  • Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber (3.5 stars – review)
  • Warcross  by Marie Lu (3.5 stars – review)
  • Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian (4 stars – review forthcoming)
  • Viscious by V. E. Schwab (2.5 stars – review forthcoming)

Currently reading:

Physical book: False Awakening by Cassandra Page. This is ths sequel to Lucid Dreaming, which I reviewed nearly two years ago. I’m enjoying visiting this world of dreamscapes and dream spirits again.

No audio book on the go at the moment.

Planning to read next:

As we’re heading into a new year, I’m revising the way I approach my TBR. I’ve got about 8 books on my current list which I will aim to read over the course of 2 months. Of course, I’m bound to get distracted by new releases and other books that simply catch my eye, but 8 books over two months isn’t a lot and I’m hoping this will help me to knock off a few more books that I own and that are sitting on my Kindle.

I’ll do a separate post early in January with my TBR.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has had/is having a safe and happy holiday season. I look forward to talking books with you more in 2018.