April and May 2022 Reading Wrap-up

An emoji of two books next to each other, with the text "Monthly Reading Wrap-up"

Where’d you go, Emily?” I hear you ask. “I thought you had plans to enliven this blog again!”

Okay, maybe no one is asking that, but I’ll answer anyway. My stated plans to enliven this blog were rather dashed just after Easter when we noticed wet carpet in our living room. Long story short, while the issue could have been fixed (in our humble opinions), we ended up in the very stressful situation of having to find a new rental property instead, in a very short space of time. Let’s just say I don’t have much time for property management after this experience.

Fortunately, we have had very good luck and we are now somewhat settled in a new place, though the living room is still virtually uninhabitable due to being populated by full moving boxes.

I don’t want to jinx it, but I think coming into June, I have finally blasted the reading slump I was in, and I’ll be reading a lot more going forward. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been up to over the past couple of months.

PAST MONTH’S READING:

  1. Doctor Who: Twelve Angels Weeping by Dave Rudden (sci-fi/short stories – 4 stars)
  2. Waking Romeo by Kathryn Barker YA sci-fi/romance – 5 stars)
  3. The Mortal Word (the Invisible Library #5) by Genevieve Cogman (fantasy – 3 stars)
  4. The Secret Chapter (the Invisible Library #6) by Genevieve Cogman (fantasy – 3 stars)
  5. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (fantasy – 4 stars)

BOOKTUBE:

I have a YouTube channel where I promote Australian books using the hashtag #AusReads, and also indulge my compulsion for signing up to readathons. Here are the latest videos:

  1. Jurassic Journey Readathon TBR

BOOKSTAGRAM:

That heading has always said “favourite bookish photo” in the past, but recently I’ve been branching out into Reels rather than photos. So now this section can be for either and I’ll post whatever type of content I’ve enjoyed most during the month.

You can see all my bookish content (plus some RL as well) on my Instagram.

CURRENTLY READING:

Physical book: Nothing right now.

Ebook: The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie. My book club has chosen this as our next read and I am enjoying it thoroughly, though I’m only about 50 pages in so far.

Audio book: I am finally reading Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, and I wish I had listened to Six of Crows as well, as I think I would have enjoyed it more that way. Each POV character has their own voice actor and it really adds to the experience. Having said that, I’m almost at the 70% mark and feeling rather confused about Kaz’s big plan.

PLANNING TO READ NEXT:

After Waking Romeo became my first five star read of the year, I immediately grabbed In the Skin of a Monster by Kathryn Barker from the library. I’m planning to read this one over the weekend and I hope it’s as good as its successor!

What are you reading? πŸ™‚

Down the TBR Hole #6

Down the TBR hole banner
Welcome to the Down The TBR Hole meme. It’s been nearly two years since I last did this, but in the interests of enlivening this blog a bit, I thought it would be fun to return.

The aim behind this game is to whittle your TBR down a little by going through and removing books you’ve lost interest in or aren’t truly likely to pick up.

My TBR is not as out of control as some of yours, but I figure it’s probably still worth trying to get it down a bit. I’d love your comments on any of my decisions.

Here’s how it works, feel free to join in!

    1. Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
    2. Order on ascending date added.
    3. Take the first 5 (or 10 — or even more if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
    4. Read the synopses of the books
    5. Decide: keep it or should it go?

So, without further ado!

arrowsmelissagorzelanczykcover

ArrowsΒ by Melissa Gorzelanczyk

While this sounds like an interesting take on Greek-gods-in-the-modern-world… but the ebook is expensive and my library doesn’t have a copy… I’m not really feeling strongly enough about it to go the effort of obtaining a copy.Β 

~~ Decision: Β GO ~~

dearmryoucover

Dear Mr You by Mary-Louise Parker

Honestly I’m not even sure why this was on my TBR… non-fiction epistolary format? Not really my thing at all. This is an easy decision.

~~ DECISION: Β GO ~~

wearetheantscover
We Are the Ants
by Shaun David Hutchinson

This one sounds intriguing! It might get a bit too literary for me but it has aliens and big decisions and lost loves, so I think I could get into it!

~~ DECISION:Β KEEP ~~

mygrandmotheraskedcover

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s SorryΒ by Fredrik Backman, translated by Henning Koch

This is by the same author who wrote A Man Called Ove and there are quite a few 5-star reviews among my GoodReads friends. That said, I’m not really sure it’s for me.

~~ DECISION: GO ~~

betrayalspotlightcover

Betrayal: the Crisis in the Catholic ChurchΒ by the Boston Globe

There is no doubt this an important book. It’s the story of the Boston Globe journalists who broke the story of the mass cover-ups of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Having said that, I’m much inclined to read non-fiction in the form of articles and blogs, rather than books. I don’t think I’m likely to read the book.

~~DECISION: GO ~~

TODAY: 1 keep, 4 go.

ALL TIME:Β 15 keep, 20 go.

Wow, that was rather ruthless! Do you have any opinions about my choices today? Let me know in the comments!

You can read my previous Down the TBR Hole posts here.

See you next time!

February and March 2022 Reading Wrap-up

An emoji of two books next to each other, with the text "Monthly Reading Wrap-up"

The last few months have been an interesting exercise. As I mentioned in my January wrap-up, my only goal for the year was to make reading more intentional. To read for pleasure and not make it a numbers game.

I’ve been doing pretty well on this front, but as it stands we’re a quarter through the year and I’ve only read 10 books. If I continue at that rate, that’s only 40 books for the year, compared with the 70+ I’ve read for the past several. Even as I tell myself this is totally fine, there’s still a part of me hoping that once daylight savings finishes this weekend, I’ll be more functional and I’ll be able to read faster.

Anyway. I’ll keep working on that. The other thing I’m hoping April might bring is more motivation to write reviews and enliven this blog a bit. In the meantime, here are the seven books I’ve read since my last wrap-up.

PAST MONTH’S READING:

  1. Fireborne by Rosaria Munda (YA fantasy – 4 stars)
  2. The Voyage of the Basilisk (Memoirs of Lady Trent #3) by Marie Brennan (fantasy – 3 stars)
  3. A Users’s Guide to Make-Believe by Jane Alexander (thriller/sci-fi – 2.5 stars)
  4. Doctor Who: Tales of Terror by various authors (sci-fi/short stories – 2.5 stars)
  5. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (crime – 3 stars)
  6. The Lost Plot (the Invisible Library #4) by Genevieve Cogman (fantasy – 3 stars)
  7. Come Join Us by the Fire: Season 2 by various authors (horror/short stories – 4 stars)

BOOKTUBE:

I have a YouTube channel where I promote Australian books using the hashtag #AusReads, and also indulge my compulsion for signing up to readathons. Here are the latest videos:

  1. February Royal Readathon Wrap-up

FAVOURITE BOOKISH PHOTO:

To be honest, over February and March, my Instagram has been taken up by posts about my own writing rather than books I’ve been reading. So I’ll leave you with the cover reveal for my latest release, Enchanted Sleep, which you can buy here.

You can see all my bookish photos (plus some RL as well) on my Instagram.

CURRENTLY READING:

Physical book: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. This is my first ever buddy read! The book is very well written but taking up a hell of a lot of my time! We’re nearly halfway through and things are starting to blow up in the Gentlemen Bastards’ faces. I can only imagine it’s going to get even worse as we go on.

Ebook: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. I started this for one of my book clubs and I’m enjoying it but it’s not my usual type of read, so it’s taking me a while.

Audio book: Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly is downloaded on my phone though I haven’t actually started it yet. I’ve had this author on my radar for a while now and I’m very much looking forward to her fairytale retellings!

PLANNING TO READ NEXT:

I’ve had Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd out from the library for literal months (yay for rolling renewals!) and I’m keen to finally start it. I read this author’s The Madman’s Daughter trilogy back around 2016 and I’m interested to see whether my tastes have changed and how this holds up in comparison.

What are you reading? πŸ™‚

January 2022 Reading Wrap-up

An emoji of two books next to each other, with the text "Monthly Reading Wrap-up"

Happy new year, everyone! Due to life stuff and reading slump stuff, I am just edging back into things like blogging and booktubing now as we enter February.

My only reading goal this year is to be more intentional with my reading. I realised last year how much store I put in reaching my GoodReads goal, so this year I’ve set it to five. I’m halfway through my fifth book now, as I knew I would be, and I love the feeling of no pressure. Yes, I’m still likely to read over 75 books over the course of the year, but I’m not going to worry about it.

Without further ado, here’s what got me started for the year:

PAST MONTH’S READING:

  1. No Limited by Ellie Marney (YA contemporary/crime – 3 stars)
  2. The Burning Page (The Invisible Library #3) by Genevieve Cogman (fantasy – 4 stars)
  3. The Lost Plot (The Invisible Library #4) by Genevieve Cogman (fantasy – 3 stars)

BOOKTUBE:

I have a YouTube channel where I promote Australian books using the hashtag #AusReads, and also indulge my compulsion for signing up to readathons. Here are the latest videos:

  1. Cozathon 2021 – Update
  2. Royal Readathon Feb 22 TBR

FAVOURITE BOOKISH PHOTO:

Dragons are my favourite mythical creatures. Between what I own and what I had from the library at the start of the month, I had a pretty awesome stack of dragon books!

A pile of books with their spines facing out. From top to bottom they are: 
Here there be Dragons by James A. Owen, Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan, Fireborne by Rosaria Munda, Ochre Dragon by V. E. Patton, Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria and Highfire by Eoin Colfer.

You can see all my bookish photos (plus some RL as well) on my Instagram.

CURRENTLY READING:

Physical book: Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen. I’m a bit torn on this one because I’m pretty sure the author is doing something clever, but the clever thing he’s doing is actually what’s making the book fall flat for me. My favourite character is a badger who was only in three chapters. XD

Ebook: None at the moment.

Audio book: A User’s Guide to Make Believe by Jane Alexander. This is one of those near-future “has technology gone too far?” thrillers, though I have to admit my main reason for starting it is that it’s read by Kristen Atherton, who narrates the Invisible Library audio books. While I’m waiting for the next book in that series to be available, I decided to try this one.

PLANNING TO READ NEXT:

I have two Doctor anthologies out from the library at the moment, and I think I’m going to for the horror collection, Tales of Terror. I read a Doctor Who Christmas short story collection last year and absolutely loved it. I felt so nostalgic! So even though these ones will be spooky, maybe even scary, I’m hoping for more of the same!

What are you reading? πŸ™‚

#AWW2021 Book Review: “Eleven Pipers Piping” by Pamela Hart

Title: Eleven Pipers Piping
Author: Pamela Hart
Genre: Historical romance
Intended audience: Adult
Dates Read: 03/12/2021
Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Review:

There is definitely something to be said for historical Christmas romances and their helpfulness in getting me out of reading slumps. While I have purchased this novella separately, I also own the anthology where it was originally published, so I should remember it when I am needing a book that will pull me out of a funk.

This is a sweet little novella, full of misunderstandings and miscommunications, many based on the characters adhering to the expected manners of the time. I liked that the characters were a little bit older, Elizabeth being a widow with a ten-year-old son, rather than a young woman looking for her first husband, as is often the case.

Speaking of which, I loved young Robin!

Given that the story only takes place over the course of a few weeks, some of the character development did seem to happen very quickly, especially when it came to Elizabeth’s grief over the loss of her husband. But I really enjoyed Gavan’s realisation of his feelings for Elizabeth, and also the dynamic between him and Robin.

I wasn’t feeling terribly festive before, and having picked a whole heap of Christmas-y books for the coming month, I was feeling a bit worried. But now I can thank Pamela Hart for getting me in the Christmas spirit!


This review is part of my 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.

Find me on:
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November 2021 Reading Wrap-up

An emoji of two books next to each other, with the text "Monthly Reading Wrap-up"

Ugh… November. I’ve got to admit this was not a fun month. I wasn’t even going to do a wrap-up post, because until yesterday, it looked like I was only going to have finished two books in the whole month. Fortunately a short book and an engaging audio book meant that I was able to bump that to four.

I know I should try not to make reading a numbers game but… I totally make it a numbers game. My reviewing has definitely taken a hit this month as well, with only one posted. Maybe there will be an uptick there soon… I don’t know. Not making any promises, particularly not as we hurdle towards the end of the year.

Anyway, onto the fun stuff.

PAST MONTH’S READING:

The covers of four books: Amazon Decoded by David Gaughran. The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan. And The Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness and The Invisible LIbrary by Genevieve Cogran.
  1. House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland (YA horror – 3.5 stars – review) (read October, reviewed November)
  2. Amazon Decoded by David Gaughran (non-fiction –5 stars – not intending to review)
  3. The Tropic of Serpents (Lady Trent #2) by Marie Brennan (fantasy – 2.5 stars – not intending to review)
  4. And The Ocean Was Our Sky (fantasy/retelling – 3.5 stars – not intending to review)
  5. The Invisible Library (fantasy – 3.5 stars – not intending to review)

BOOKTUBE:

I have a YouTube channel where I promote Australian books using the hashtag #AusReads, and also indulge my compulsion for signing up to readathons. Here are the latest videos:

  1. Cozathon 2021 – TBR

FAVOURITE BOOKISH PHOTO:

Because I’ve been stuck in the reading slump so long, I keep getting books out from the library that I hope will fix it. I didn’t mean to pick up only red and black ones on my most recent trip, but it made for a good photo op.

You can see all my bookish photos (plus some RL as well) on my Instagram.

CURRENTLY READING:

Physical book: Monstrous Little Voices: New Tales from Shakespeare’s Fantasy World by Jonathan Barnes,, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Emma Newman,, Foz Meadows and Kate Heartfield. These five novellas take Shakespeare’s characters and expand on their stories. I’m only part way through the first one so far but I’m loving the direction it’s taking.

Ebook: None at the moment.

Audio book: The Masked City by Genevieve Cognan. This is the second book in the Invisible Library series and I enjoyed the first one enough to download the second one as soon as I finished. Kristin Atherton is a spectacular narrator and she completelhy immerses me in this world. I’m not surprised I got through the audio book where I had previously DNFed the first book in physical form.

PLANNING TO READ NEXT:

I’ll be picking up Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon. While I haven’t been reading much contemporary YA lately, I realised when i picked this up at the library that it actually has a whole bunch of my favourite tropes. I hope it does a good job of them!

What are you reading? πŸ™‚

#AWW2021 β€œMy sisters. My blood. My skin. What a gruesome bond we shared.” // Review of “House of Hollow” by Krystal Sutherland

Title: House of Hollow
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Genre: Magical realism/horror
Intended audience: YA
Dates Read: 22/10/2021 – 24/10/21
Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†

Review:

I recently asked for recommendations for creepy books that wouldn’t completely scare a wimp like me and this was one of the titles that came up. Having previously enjoyed Sutherland’s A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares, I was keen to give this one a look, too.

As I started, I absolutely loved the vibe that Sutherland had going on here. Missing sister, weird smells, strange flowers, a mysterious disappearance many years ago.

But then it started to peter out. It kept saying that things smelled weird, and that there were strange flowers, and if only Iris could remember what had happened that day ten years ago. What started strong was no longer interesting once I’d heard it so many times.

Admittedly in the final third things started to pick up as we started to really learn what was going on. Some new characters appeared and there were some revelations made. Some of those I had already kind of figured out, but there were still a few surprises.

While this definitely didn’t meet the high expectations that I had based on my experience of Worst Nightmares, it’s still a pretty solid read. I think it will have more appeal for those dipping their toe into horror rather than regular readers of the genre who have most likely seen everything in this book before.


This review is part of my 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.

Find me on:
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October 2021 Reading Wrap-up

An emoji of two books next to each other, with the text "Monthly Reading Wrap-up"

I’m usually not already a week into the following month when I write these wrap-ups. The problem is that while October is fine, the start of November has been a bit of a mess. But let’s focus on October, where I read seven books and had a great time participating in the Whodunitathon. I have to admit that I have lost my reviewing mojo somewhat in the last couple of weeks, and am only reviewing books that are part of my Australian Women Writers Challenge. While it would be nice to think I might get around to the others at some point, that seems unlikely.

PAST MONTH’S READING:

A row of seven book covers for the books listed below in the blog post.
  1. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (thriller/mystery – 4 stars – not reviewed)
  2. A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djeli Clark (historical fantasy – 4 stars – not reviewed)
  3. The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix (thriller/horror – 4 stars – review)
  4. The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djeli Clark (historical fantasy – 4 stars – not reviewed)
  5. One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus (YA thriller – 4 stars – not reviewed)
  6. Skalsinger by L. A. Webster (fantasy – 4 stars – review)
  7. House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland (YA horror – 3.5 stars – review forthcoming)

BOOKTUBE:

I have a YouTube channel where I promote Australian books using the hashtag #AusReads, and also indulge my compulsion for signing up to readathons. Here are the latest videos:

  1. Whodunitathon TBR Part 2 – The Investigation and the Resolution

FAVOURITE BOOKISH PHOTO:

L. A. Webster is a writer friend of mine and I was very pleased to read her new release in advance! In the first book in the series, the main character is literally a gardener and her powers are based in nature. While the main character in this second story has quite a different skill, nature still plays a large part and I felt the need to go and sit outside to read it.

A white hand holding up a Kindle. It displays a book cover of Skalsinger by L. A. Webster showing a young woman in front of a cliff and churning ocean. There is lightning in the sky. There is green grass and trees behind the Kindle..

You can see all my bookish photos (plus some RL as well) on my Instagram.

CURRENTLY READING:

The cover of Amazon Decoded by David Gaughran. The text is in black and white and large on a yellow background. There is an emoji-style image of a Kindle with a magnifying glass/search icon hovering over it.

Physical book: Nothing at the moment.

Ebook: Amazon Decoded by David Gaughran. As a self-published author, this is a must-read and to be honest, I’m a bit mad that it’s taken me so long. I’m reading the Kindle version and highlighting the hell out of it.

Audio book: The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan. This is book two in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series, which follows Isabella Camherst, natural historian, on her quest to study dragons whilst wrangling with expectations in a quasi-nineteenth century English society.

PLANNING TO READ NEXT:

I have absolutely no idea! I am in theory doing another readathon this month but none of the books on my TBR for that are appealing to me right now. I think it will probably be something short and light. Maybe some short stories.

What are you reading? πŸ™‚

#AWW2021 Book Review: “Skalsinger” by L. A. Webster

Title: Skalsinger (Chronicles of Algarth #2)
Author: L. A. Webster
Genre: Fantasy
Intended audience: Adult
Dates Read: 16/10/2021 – 22/10/21
Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Review:

I will admit that after reading a couple of high-octane thrillers like One of Us Is Lying and The Final Girl Support Group, Skalsinger was a very big change of pace for me, and it took me a while to settle into it.

Skalsinger, like Greenhaelen before it, has a very classical-style fantasy feel to it. If I didn’t know the author and you’d told me these books were released 40-50 years ago, I’d probably believe you. The prose is wonderfully constructed, with a good sense of pace and rhythm through the story.

The story is very much character-focused. I will admit that I was not as drawn to Cahira, the titular Skalsinger, as I was to some of the others, particularly Niall and Perna. Perna’s growth through the story was a particular highlight for me.

As a fair while has passed between when I read Greenhaelen and this one, it took a little while for me to remember the details of the world of Algarth, but I enjoyed spotting the cameos from some of my favourite characters from the first look, like Sara and Kelan.

I definitely recommend Chronicles of Algarth for any fans of character-driven fantasy. Skalsinger is out on November 1 and you can pre-order now!


This review is part of my 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge. ClickΒ hereΒ for more information.

Thank you to L. A. Webster for providing me with a gratis copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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“I know what happens to those girls. They become women. And they live.” Review of “The Final Girl Support Group” by Grady Hendrix

Title: The Final Girl Support Group
Author: Grady Hendrix
Genre: Horror/thriller
Intended audience: Adult
Dates Read: 11/10/2021
Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Review:

This book came highly recommended and I can see why. Set in a slightly alternate reality where the slasher flicks of the 80s were all based on real massacres with real “final girls” still standing at the end, this book examines why these narratives where a character has only a first name if she’s lucky are so revered and even looked upon with nostalgia.

A lot of this book deals with how women experience violence just for existing (thanks, misogyny!). I have to admit, I was impressed how well the male author nailed this pervading sense of danger that most, if not all, woman have grown up with and have to contend with throughout our lives.

There were only a couple of sections where I thought the plot dragged a little. Other than that, there was one decision the main character made that made absolutely NO SENSE to me, unless you allow for the fact that she was in a very fragile mental state. It made sense narratively for it to happen with what came later, but it made no sense to me why her mind went “This is what I need to do”. But these were my only two quibbles.

I know that most of the references to slasher flicks went over my head, but despite that, I still found the book engaging. I read it in a day, which is not something I’ve done with a 400 page adult novel in a long time, if ever!


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