#AusReads #LoveOzYA Book Review: “The Dragon Healer” by Tiani Davids

Title: The Dragon Healer (Chronicles of Eldras #1)
Author: Tiani Davids
Genre: Fantasy
Intended audience: YA
Date Read: 14/11/2022 – 26/11/2022
Rating: 
★★★☆

Review: 

I was following Tiani Davids on Instagram when she made the decision to go indie with this series, so I’ve been looking forward to reading it for quite a while. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, and you all know I’m a sucker for dragons.

The Dragon Healer is a strong series opener with strong characters and interesting world-building. I really enjoyed the history of Eldras, the supposed reasons why the dragons were expelled from there, and the way this history slowly unravelled the more the main characters investigated.

Elinta is a great main character. I liked that her strength is healing, and she consistently demonstrates the knowledge she has learned from her apprenticeship. The dynamic between her and Zhayra, the dragon, is delightful.

Lorrin, the Crown Prince, and Niles, his best friend, are fun characters, though at times they almost border on being a little too perfect. I’m sitting down to write this review a week after reading the book, and I can recall very few instances of conflict with them. Given how much time Elinta spent in the palace and how much of an outsider she was, it might have been interesting to see something come between them.

Apart from this, the main thing that lets the story down a bit is the pacing. The first half moves along quite well, but then things grind almost to a halt once Elinta arrives at the palace. The plot needed a lot of time to pass, but apart from research, there wasn’t a lot for Elinta to do to fill it.

Given the way this book ends, I don’t think this will be such an issue in subsequent instalments in the series. The characters have moved off on their adventure now, and there is lots for them to discover. I look forward to book two!


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#AusReads “You will not recognise me, she thinks, when I find you…” // Review of “The Mother Fault” by Kate Mildenhall

Title: The Mother Fault
Author: Kate Mildenhall
Audio book narrator: Claudia Karvan
Genre: Dystopian/literary fiction
Intended audience: Adult
Date Read: 25/09/22 – 05/11/22
Rating: 
★★

Review: 

Oh man. This book frustrated me to no end. I ended up switching from audio book to physical about halfway through because I was finding it slow-going and I needed to move things along.

I know there’s that whole conversation about how female characters are held to impossible standards and we should all get behind unlikeable female characters because sometimes that’s how the world is (or something… I’m not very eloquent I know). But I just couldn’t stand Mim at all.

I understood that this was supposed to be an examination of the way women can lose parts of their pre-motherhood identities once they have kids. I don’t know if this would hit differently if I was a parent and had shared some of these experiences. As it was, Mim was just awful.

She puts not only herself, but her kids, her wider family and pretty much everyone else she comes into contact with in danger. She gets pissy at people when things go wrong, even though it’s mostly down to her poor judgement that they are in the bad situations to begin with. She feels guilty a lot of the time, but that never quite equates with taking any responsibility.

And the ending? I don’t want to say anything too spoilery, but I felt it basically cancelled out the entire story that came before it. Why did the characters even bother?

So why two stars rather than one, given how cranky I sound in all the above? Well, it was easy to read and despite my issues, I did fly through the pages once I had moved on to the phsyical book. (Was I rage-reading? Maybe I was rage-reading.) I suspect that I might actually enjoy Kate Mildenhall’s first book, which is historical fiction, a lot more.


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#AusReads Book Review: “The Eighth Wonder” by Tania Farrelly

Title: The Eighth Wonder
Author: Tania Farrelly
Audio book narrator: Annabelle Stephenson, Leinad Walker
Genre: Historical fiction
Intended audience: Adult
Date Read: 07/10/22 – 03/11/22
Rating: 
★★★

Review: 

This is one of those books that leaves me wringing my hands a bit as I try to review it. It’s fine. The writing is good. The characters are interesting. The setting is immersive. And yet, for whatever reason, the best I can do is damn it with faint praise and say I guess I enjoyed it.

I think my main problem here was that for so long I couldn’t really tell where the story was going. Things happened to the characters, but there seemed to be little set-up and little payoff later. Things just happened.

The two main character don’t even really meet until more than halfway through (though there had been a couple of encounters prior to that). For a while, I wasn’t sure whether an entirely different character was supposed to be the love interest! (Though he seemed unlikely).

While things did come together somewhat at the end, this wasn’t quite as satisfying as I had hoped.

Like I said, the writing in and of itself is very good, especially for a debut. Farrelly has clearly done her research into Golden Age New York City. I could picture the different parts of the city clearly as the characters travelled around.

I do have to warn for scenes of animal cruelty – one of the main characters adopts animals that have been abused by the entertainment industry, and some scenes of that cruelty are depicted.

I know a lot of my feelings about this book ultimately come down to personal preference. And I know many others have really enjoyed it. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, I would say it’s one to check out.


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#AusReads Book Review: “Witchnapped in Westerham” by Dionne Lister

Title: Witchnapped in Westerham (Paranormal Investigation Bureau #1)
Author: Dionne Lister
Genre: Urban fantasy/cosy mystery
Intended audience: Adult
Date Read: 10/10/2022 – 16/10/2022
Rating: 
★★

Review: 

Honestly? If I hadn’t been reading this for a readathon I’m already behind on, I don’t know that I would have finished it.

I will say one thing – I liked the concept of Lily being able to see the past or the future through her photography. That was cool and I liked that it was tied in with her passion.

The characters were annoying and for so long it felt like little was happening. Some character motivations seemed non-existent – such as Angelica making really snooty, snide comments one moment and then swearing that Lily can trust her the next?

Also I had to go back to the book and look up Angelica’s name because I had entirely forgotten, despite the fact that I finished reading half an hour ago. Oops.

Lily is also pretty self-absorbed. I get that her brother’s missing and she’s worried – but literally risking getting shot because she wants a cup of coffee and instant isn’t good enough? I appreciated she got dressed down for that and then I was kind of annoyed when one of the other characters went and got her a coffee anyway.

The villain was so over the top and so cartoonish – not to mention obvious. It wasn’t even that it was obvious to the reader and not to the characters – Lily had accurately figured it out by the halfway mark – she just needed proof, and apart from a couple of setbacks, gets it pretty easily.

Oof. I didn’t intend to get so ranty in this review. I will say that I didn’t realise how established this series was and I only downloaded the book because it was free. I didn’t enjoy it enough to continue with the rest of the books.


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#AusReads Book Review: “A Remarkable Woman” by Jules van Mil

Title: A Remarkable Woman
Author: Jules van Mil
Genre: Historical fiction
Intended audience: Adult
Date Read: 20/06/22 – 27/06/22
Rating: 
★★★

Review: 

A Remarkable Woman takes us from war-torn Paris to the trendy streets of 1950s Melbourne and the rolling paddocks of far-north Queensland cattle country. We follow aspiring designer Avril Montdidier as she struggles to choose between her dreams of independence and a man she can’t let go of.

If I am honest, I felt that the writing could have been developed further to give the reader a closer connection to the characters. It started strong – I was actually tearing up in the prologue! But as the book went on, I sometimes felt that I was observing from a distance rather than being in the action. Having said that, van Mil has created a memorable cast of characters, from the stoic stockman to the loveable larrikin.

I will admit that the romance was not as interesting to me as the plotline of Avril developing her own clothing line and opening her stores for business, first in Melbourne, then Sydney and Brisbane. I was much more swept up in the excitement of seeing all her plans come to fruition than I was in the relationship between her and Tim Monaghan.

That’s not to say that there was anything wrong with the romance. I think my issue was that because Avril and Tim ultimately spent so much time apart, I didn’t really feel the spark.

I know a lot of my feelings about the book came down to personal preference, and I think those who are fans of the sweeping saga style of historical fiction will really love it.  


Thank you Macmillan Australia and the Australian Book Lovers Podcast for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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WWW Wednesday – 22 May 2019

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 listening to Emily the Strange: the Lost Days by Rob Reger not long after Wednesday’s WWW. It was amusing, but very bizarre. I’m still not sure what it was actually about. Due to my confusion, I’m not planning to write a proper review of this one.

I finished The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty about an hour ago. It was sweet but sort of wore thin after a while… the cutesy, whimsical style didn’t really work when there were nearly 500 pages. I’ll  have a review up soon.

Two reviews this week: His Name Was Walter by Emily Rodda and Enchantee by Gita Trelease.

What are you currently reading?

I started The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale because That. Cover. Some of the reviews are comparing it to The Night Circus and I can see why. I actually started the audio book first but the narrator’s voice was annoying me so I switched to the ebook. But I really like the magical descriptions of Papa Jack’s Emporium so far.

What do you think you will read next?

I don’t really know what I’m in the mood for at the moment, but I just realised that The Red Labyrinth by Meredith Tate comes out on June 4, so I probably need to pick up the ARC pretty soon. Particularly considering I don’t know how much reading time I’m going to have over the next week or so.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

#CBCA2019 #aww2019 Book Review: “His Name Was Walter” by Emily Rodda

Title: His Name Was Walter
Author:
Emily Rodda
Genre: Fantasy/contemporary
Target audience: MG
Date Read: 05/05/19 – 12/05/19
Rating:
★★★

Review:

I was equal parts excited and nervous to read this book. Excited because Emily Rodda’s books were such a staple of my childhood and teen years and I hoped reading her again would live up to my expectations. And nervous because… well, because Emily Rodda’s books were such a staple of my childhood and teen years and I hoped reading her again would live up to my expectations. 

I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely into the story-within-a-story format of the book. Even though I ultimately enjoyed it, I thought there might have been better ways to integrate Walter’s  story with that of the modern-day school children. Walter’s story was often cut off right in the middle of something so we could see how Colin and Tara were faring; it all felt a bit disjointed. I also found that the story felt a bit superficial – I felt I was told how characters were feeling a lot of the time, rather than it being shown.

But at the end, when it was revealed exactly how Walter was connected to the modern-day characters… I’d already figured out some of it, or at least suspected. But I actually really loved this part, and that’s why the book still gets four stars from me. The final lines of the book made me tear up a little.

And look, I know I’m not the book’s target demographic. I think kid readers would make fewer connections between the real world and the fairytale story earlier on. I think they would find the ghostly bits creepy or even terrifying. I’m a grown-up now and I do have to recognise that Emily Rodda is still writing for kids. But the fact that the story moved me at the end is enough to make me feel her writing stands the test of time.


This review is part of my 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.

I am trying to read as many of the books as possible on the 2019 Children’s Book Council of Australia Notables List. Click here to see the titles.

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WWW Wednesday – 15 May 2019

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.

First of all, sorry if I linked you to my writing blog rather than this one last week! I do blog hops on both blogs on a Wednesday and totally wasn’t paying attention to which link was on my clipboard!

What have you recently finished reading?

I finally finished Enchantee by Gita Trelease! My review will be up on Friday. I enjoyed it enough and I thought it tied up really well, but overall it was a three star read. Might have been partly because it took me so long to get through?

I also finished His Name Was Walter by Emily Rodda. I spent the whole book feeling a bit reading slumpy and thinking this would be a three-star read at most, and then things sort of all tied together in the last few chapters and got me right in the feels. To the point I teared up a little. So that was nice.

Only one review posted this week: The Things That Will Not Stand by Michael Gerard Bauer.

What are you currently reading?

I have started reading The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty (yes, sister of Liane for the curious). Jaclyn is an author I keep going back to, even though I don’t always enjoy her books. So far, this one is giving me Nevermoor vibes in that it’s quite lighthearted and whimsical and a bit nonsense (in the best way), but I suspect it will also get me in the feels at some point.

I also started listening to Emily the Strange: the Lost Days by Rob Reger on a whim. It’s rather bizarre, kind of a Lemony Snicket/Welcome to Night Vale mashup. Strange things happen but it’s all delivered with a completely straight face. I think Emily might be a clone or something?

What do you think you will read next?

Not sure what I’m in the mood for. Also Bronte Nettlestone is quite long so there’s a good chance I won’t finish it this week with everything else I’ve got going on. I’ll also finish Emily the Strange pretty soon but I have no idea what I fancy audio book-wise, either.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

Teaser Tuesday – April 02, 2019

Hello, and welcome once to Teaser Tuesday.

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too.

I did this meme for a couple of months back in 2015 when it had an entirely different host. I’ve decided that starting this month, I’m going to try to get more involved in the bookish community, and I’ve got a few memes to participate in.  I look forward to getting to know you all better!

Today’s teaser is from page 13 of Amelia Westlake by Erin Gough. I have only just started this, but the two POV characters have completely distinct voices and are obviously complete opposites, so it’ll be interesting to see how they work together.

“Swearing at Coach Hadley. Why did you do that?” she asks Will and not in the weary, slightly cross way she usually asks questions, but more like she is genuinely interested. Her prescription painkillers must be kicking in.

You can visit The Purple Booker for more Teaser Tuesday posts!

~ Emily