#AWW2019 // Book Review: “Finding Aurora” by Rebecca Langham

Title: Finding Aurora
Author: Rebecca Langham
Genre: Fantasy
Target audience: YA/Adult? (I’m honestly not sure)
Date Read: 02/02/18
Rating:
★★☆

Review:

This will be a fairly short review, as the story itself was also quite short! It was originally published in the anthology Once Upon a Rainbow (Volume 2). I wasn’t aware of that until after, so I did get a bit of a surprise when I got through it so quickly.

And that was my main thing about this book. I wanted more! I wanted to know about Amir and Talia growing up together, and more about how Talia first met Red, and more about the legend of the Sleeping Princess.

I know. I’m greedy.

None of this is to say that I didn’t enjoy the story. It’s a well done Sleeping Beauty re-telling, without a lot of the questionable bits from the original story. And it even addresses the fact that it’s weird to kiss a sleeping stranger (don’t worry – there is actually consent in this version). I already knew from following the author on Twitter than this had at least a bisexual character and an asexual character, and I loved how this tied in with the story and the character dynamics.

I did predict the twist but I don’t think that it is an issue of predictability. I think it rounded out the story nicely.


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

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#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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#StepBoldly #aww2018 “The point is—as far as the Society is concerned—if you are not honest, and determined, and brave, then it doesn’t matter how talented you are.” // Review of “Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow” by Jessica Townsend

Title: Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1)
Author: Jessica Townsend
Genre: Fantasy
Target audience: Middle-grade
Date Read: 11/09/18 – 17/09/18
Rating: 
★★★

Review:

Well, this was just delightful. I knew that Nevermoor won a whole slew of awards when it came out, but all the “it’s the next Harry Potter” proclamations still made me wary. But actually, I think this is one time when those comparisons are actually justified. 

Nevermoor is a whimsical, charming world where inhabitants ride the Brolly Rail (a version of London’s Tube where riders hook onto the system with the handles of their umbrellas) and it is perfectly normal for a hotel housekeeper to be a giant cat. The descriptions of Christmas were so lovely that I was able to ignore the fact that Christmas has no reason to exist in a fantasy land. Everything was just a little bit fairytale. 

The characters also all had a fairytale quality about them. There was a bit of David Tennant’s 10th Doctor in Jupiter North, and a bit of Alice in Morrigan Crow. But as well as the whimsy there’s also a real depth to them. 

I do admit the book felt a little long at times, but I would also be hard-pressed to tell you which parts I would cut out. It is a bit like the fourth Harry Potter book in that there was training, then an event, then training for the next event, then the next event happens… but I always wanted to know what happened next. And I think because the characters were engaging and the writing was so lovely, I was able to forgive it. The only thing I worry about is that the size of the book may be intimidating to readers of the target age. But I think any avid reader will be hooked immediately and push through regardless.


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

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#aww2018 #LoveOzYA “You thought your community was gone? Think again, babe.” // Review of “White Night” by Ellie Marney

Title: White Night
Author: Ellie Marney
Genre: Contemporary/romance
Target audience: YA
Date Read: 05/09/18 – 10/09/18
Rating:
★★★☆

Review:

This book  totally found its way under my skin. I was thinking about it all the time when I wasn’t reading, and I had ideas about where the story was going and was supremely worried for the characters.

Bo has a lot on his mind, between footy, the end of high school and crisis in his family that his parents aren’t talking about. When Rory, a girl from the local off-the-grid commune, begins attending his high school and he finds himself drawn into her way of life.

One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve started reading Ellie Marney’s books this year is that she has the ability to really capture the Australian experience of being a young adult. These aren’t just teenagers that could be lifted out of her book and transplanted somewhere else. These are very definitely Australian teenagers. This is an Australian small town. There’s just something about the descriptions and the way the characters speak that wouldn’t work anywhere else.

I loved Bo’s character development and Rory’s. Their romance is affected by things like Rory not having access to a phone, and it was interesting to see that explored. Bo’s wider friendship circle is also great; everyone felt real. Sprog in particular has a great arc that’s central to the plot.

The off-the-grid community was also well-written. I liked that it wasn’t presented as a crazy cult from the get-go, and that the majority of people living there genuinely wanted to do something good for the world. A sense of unease begins to develop and by the last fifty pages, I couldn’t have put the book down even if I had wanted to. The only reason I knocked off half a star was because I did feel that sometimes the speeches given by Ray, the sort-of-head of the commune, were often a bit info-dumpy. They served a purpose but I did find myself skimming them a bit.


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

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#aww2018 #LoveOzYA “I’m improvising, but I’ve been doing that my whole life.” // Review of “Unearthed” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Title: Unearthed (Unearthed #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Genre: Sci-fi
Target Age Group: YA
Dates read: 20/06/2018 – 26/06/2018
Rating: ★★★

Review:

This book was marketed as “Indiana Jones in space” and while I can see that somewhat… I feel like that ended up giving me expectations for something this book wasn’t. So while I enjoyed it for what it was, I was disappointed it wasn’t what I was expecting.

So what was I expecting? Okay, so I love doing escape rooms, right? My partner finds them a little stressful but he humours me because in return I go to karaoke with him on wekeends. I was expecting this book to be some kind of epic scale escape room in book form, lots of solving puzzles and boobie-trapped rooms and such. And there was a bit of that. But there was really only one interesting puzzle (a musical one which was quite clever). The characters are out of the temple by about halfway to two-thirds of the way through the book and it becomes something completely different.

I liked Jules and Amelia, though I don’t think first person narration works when you have two POV characters. They sound much the same. Yes, they have different personalities and quirks, but I feel like probably everyone sounds fairly similar inside their head. It is different when you can hear different voices, but on the page, there’s not much to differentiate. I couldn’t get too engaged in the romance, as the action takes place over only a few days, maybe a week. I am more of a fan of a slow-burn over “we’re high on adrenaline and running for our lives and I’m gonig to kiss you now”.

Still, the action in the last quarter ramped right up, and the cliffhanger at the end was intriguing enough that I kind want to check out the next book when it’s released just to see where they go with that.


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

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#aww2018 #LoveOzYA “The house was always empty. Even when it wasn’t.” // Review of “I Had Such Friends” by Meg Gatland-Veness

Title: I Had Such Friends
Author: Meg Gatland-Veness
Genre: Contemporary
Target age group: YA
Dates read: 29/06/2018 – 30/06/2018
Rating: ★★

Review:

I feel like this book could have been good but it tried to tackle too many big issues in a short amount of space and ended up not doing them the justice they deserved.

There was also the issue that for probably 75-80% of the book, I just couldn’t stand the main character. He had basically no redeemable qualities, though he did finally get his act together towards the end. He is awful to his so-called best friend (and for someone who calls himself a nerd, he sure was judgey about cosplay and video games and anime). He’s pretty sexist, judging all the girls at school except the one he’s friends with because of course, she’s not like those other girls. And he’s so terrified of sounding like a girl or coming across as sissy, like that’s the worst thing you could possibly be perceived as.

One could argue that this is a fairly typical representation of a lot of country boys, and you’d probably be right… but I can’t stand when this stuff is unchallenged within a text. And highlighting it with the occasional “I know it made me a bad person to think that” doesn’t really make him any better. ve

Oof. That was a bit of a rant. Sorry. Hamish just really bugged me.

The story tries to tackle sexuality, grief, domestic violence, and coming of age issues, and sometimes it nearly hits the mark. But I just never felt any kind of emotional pull while reading, and I predicted the outcome, too. It just never really felt true enough. A lot of this is probably because I didn’t like Hamish enough to care, but I think also the writing style was a bit detached and disjointed, making it hard to really get drawn in.

I do think Gatland-Veness shows promise as a writer. This one just didn’t work for me.


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

Thank you to Pantera Press and NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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#WWW Wednesday – May 30, 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’ve finished  The Owl Service  by Alan Garner… I have to be honest, I didn’t really get it. I had no idea what was going on for most of it, and only finished it because I wanted to be able to discuss it with the people at work who recommended it.

No reviews this week because I am behind schedule.

What are you currently reading? 

I am about 40% of the way through Uprooted by Naomi Novik now. I am really loving it, though I do wish the Dragon would stop calling Agnieszka an idiot and an imbecile quite so much. They have really good chemistry otherwise, but that is quite off-putting.

I have started Purple Threads by Jeanine Leane. I am not very far through it yet, but I can tell it’s going to have a really strong narrative voice and some great women characters.

I’m also reading Bookworm: a Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan. I don’t feel like I’m loving it quite as much as everyone else, but she did quote a line from Where the Wild Things Are and I suddenly felt myself getting teary, so there are certainly bits that appeal to me. But it does seem for every book I’ve heard of, she talks about three others I haven’t, which makes it less of a nostalgia trip and more of a literary history lesson.

What do you think you will read next?

I have three books out from one library, two books out from another library, and the majority of my May-June TBR still to read. So who knows?

What are you reading this week?~ Emily

#WWW Wednesday – May 23, 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.

wwwwednesdayWhat have you recently finished reading? 

I‘ve had so much going on the last couple of weeks and I also fell into a bit of a reading slump. With that combination, it took me a full three weeks to finish Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton. It was… fine, and I was interested enough in the outcome that I wanted to stick it out, but I can’t say I was terribly invested in the characters. I can’t be bothered writing a full review but you can read my thoughts on GoodReads here.

I finished The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel on audio and this one was a lot more enjoyable. I have recently signed up for an Audible subscription, and while I didn’t pick up the second book immediately, I think it might be next month’s choice. I’ll have my review of this one up this week.

I posted by review of Lessons in Letting Go: Confessions of a Hoarder by Corinne Grant this week. You can read it here.

What are you currently reading? 

I have started the audio book of Uprooted by Naomi Novik at the recommendation of a friend. I am really enjoying this so far. The prose has a really fairytale-like quality, and the narrator’s voice is really suited to that. I’m not entirely sold on the Dragon, but I am hoping he’ll improve.

I’m also reading The Owl Service by Alan Garner. A few people at work read it and I wanted to get in on the action. I’m not quite sold on it yet, but I think I know where it’s going and it sounds like it could get interesting. Opinion at work is divided, so it’ll be interesting to see where I fall.

What do you think you will read next?

I have Purple Threads by Jeanine Leane and After the Party by Jesse Blackadder out from the library. Neither of these is what I would normally read but they are for my Australian Women Writers Challenge, in particular, my own diversity challenge-within-a-challenge.

What are you reading this week?~ Emily

#WWW Wednesday – May 09, 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 Lessons in Letting Go: Confessions of a Hoarder by Corinne Grant. To be honest, at first I wasn’t sure if I would finish it, as the chapters about where her hoarding began and how it affected her life were quite depressing. But once she got onto how she faced the problem once she recognised it, I became much more engaged. Review will be up next week.

I am finally reviewing again! I posted my reviews of Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie and Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery this week. Click the titles to read them.

What are you currently reading? 

I am still going with Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton. I haven’t had much of a chance to make a dent in it. So far, though, I feel like it maintaining the standard of the previous two books.

I am also listening to The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel. This is a great historical mystery and if you enjoy audio books, I definitely recommend this one. The narrator is great. The conflict between the two leads, London gentleman Ian Frey and his new boss, rough-around-the-edges Scotsman Adolpho McGrey, is a lot of fun.

What do you think you will read next?

I have borrowed a copy of Blackwing by Ed McDonald from a friend. This friend is as picky, if not more picky, than I am about fantasy, and he thought it was great, so I’m hoping I feel the same way.

What are you reading this week?~ Emily

#WWW Wednesday – May 02, 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 Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie in two days and really loved it… I was a little weirded out by the very last page or two and what goes down then… but I won’t say too much here  because I don’t want to spoil things.

Galax-Arena by Gillian Rubinstein. This was… quite strange. One of those books that seemed to have some interesting ideas but didn’t do enough with them. Also it was really obvious it was written in  the early 90s.

I didn’t review at all in April but I have some reviews scheduled to  go up in the coming days, and I should be back to my usual schedule of Monday and Friday review posts.

What are you currently reading? 

I am listening to the audio bookk Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood. This is a cozy mystery set in Melbourne and the main character owns a bakery… I like it enough so far, though the baker is a bit judgey and like Galax-Arena, I can kind of sense this book’s age from some of the language used.

My reading at home book is Lessons in Letting Go: Confessions of a Hoarder by Corinne Grant. Corinne is a well-known Australian comedian and while I haven’t read much of this yet, I already really like her writing style. It’s interesting hearing about a more vulnerable side to her, too.

And my reading at work book is Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton, which is the final book in the Rebel of the Sands trilogy. I only started it today, and I’m only up to about page 10. I appreciated the cast of characters list at the beginning, since it’s been over a year since I read the last book. That really helped to jog my memory.

What do you think you will read next?

Despite avoiding it for ages because I’m about 90% sure it’s not going to be my thing, I picked up Nevernight by Jay Kristoff when I saw it on display at the library the other day. So I might try that. Or I might pick up either Greythorne or The Iron Line by L. M. Merrington. I went along to her book talk the other day and bought both and they are both currently sitting on a table near my TV tempting me.

What are you reading this week?~ Emily