April 2021 Reading Wrap-up

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

March was definitely an improvement on January and February in terms of reading, even if things did slow down in the second half of the month. I finished seven books, so nearly twice as many as I have in past two months. This included two audio books. I’ve finally acknowledged that the one I was stuck on was not working for me, and I’m going to get a physical copy from the library to continue.

PAST MONTH’S READING:

Four book covers for the following: Damsel by Elana K. Arnold, Amulet #1: The Stonekeeper and Amulet #2: The Stonekeeper's Curse by Kazu Kibuishi, Lifted by Water by Celine Jeanjean
  1. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (YA contemporary/Own Voices – 2 stars – review) (read March, reviewed April)

  2. Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta (YA contemporary – 4 stars – review) (read March, reviewed April)
  3. Damsel by Elana K. Arnold (dark fantasy – 4 stars – not intending to review
  4. Amulet #1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi (graphic novel/fantasy – 3 stars – not intending to review)
  5. Amulet #2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi (graphic novel/fantasy – 3 stars – not intending to review)
  6. Lifted By Water by Celine Jeanjean (urban fantasy – 3 stars –review forthcoming)
  7. Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis (fantasy/classic – 3 stars – not intending to review)
  8. The Ghost Writer by Ross Mueller (play script – no star rating – not intending to review)
  9. Hollowpox by Jessica Townsend (MG fantasy – 4 stars – review forthcoming)
  10. Jane In Love by Rachel Givney (historical/contemporary fiction – 4 stars – review)
The book covers of the following: Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis, The Ghost Writer by Ross Mueller, Hollowpox by Jessica Townsend, Jane in Love by Rachel Givney

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. March Trope-ical Readathon Wrao-up
  2. My New Personal Reading Challenge

FAVOURITE BOOKISH PHOTO:

I enjoyed Jane In Love so much that I ended up alternating between the audio book and paperback in order to focus on it more and read it faster. While I could take or leave the love story, I was really invested in the outcome.

A paperback of the novel Jane In Love by Rachel Givney. On top of it, at an angle, sits a grey phone with the audiobook of the same book open on the play screen.

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

CURRENTLY READING:

Physical book: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte. This isn’t really doing it for me but I bought it with birthday money so I feel determined to get all the way through it.

Ebook: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. This was our April book club pick (and given how most of us are going, it will probably just cover May, too 😂) and I was a bit apprehensive because there’s just So. Much. Hype. surrounding this series. I’m about 20% of the way in and haven’t been wowed, but I’m still getting to the main crux of the story so it’s got plenty of time to impress me yet.

Audio book: Nothing at the moment.

PLANNING TO READ NEXT:

I’m not really sure. I’ve been flitting between a few different books lately and I want to try to settle and finish those. The first will probably be Vigil by Angela Slatter, an Australian urban fantasy set in Brisbane. After that, I’ll probably try for Mud and Glass by Laura E. Goodin. I’ve also got a few library books I’ll have to fit in there somewhere.

What are you reading? 🙂

#AWW2021 “What happens when the words don’t come?” “You grit your teeth and grip the pen and keep going.” // Review of “Jane in Love” by Rachel Givney

Title: Jane In Love
Author: Rachel Givney
Audio book narrator: Amber McMahon
Genre: Romance
Intended audience: Adult
Date Read: 18/04/2021 – 23/04/2021
Rating: 
★★★★

Review: 

I was immediately intrigued when I read the premise of this book: Jane Austen travels to the twenty-first century, where she falls in love, and has to choose between love and her literary legacy. I first borrowed it in paperback from the library, then when I thought I wouldn’t get to the book, started the library’s digital audio copy. By the end I was invested enough that I put aside the other physical book I was reading and was going between paperback when I could and audio when I driving, speeding through it a lot faster than I expected.

To be honest, the love story was actually the weakest part of the book for me. Perhaps it’s because I am a hardened cynic and I can never quite bring myself to believe people can be so deeply in love after a short time. Don’t get me wrong, Jane and Fred definitely have their sweet moments, and I was definitely hanging out for them to kiss as much as anyone during a scene where Fred saves Jane from drowning. But I just never quite got into it overall.

I was much more interested in the friendship between Jane and Fred’s movie star sister, Sofia. It helped that due to a few circumstances, Jane was able to convince Sofia that she truly was Jane Austen quite early on, so there was less beating around the bush, trying to come up with convincing lies. And by paralleling Jane’s storyline of aspiring woman writer in the nineteenth century with Sofia’s of aging film star in 2020, Givney was able to show how much women’s roles are a case of “the more things change, the more things stay the same.” While perhaps some of the chapters relating to Sofia and not Jane were not entirely necessary, I really enjoyed Sofia’s arc as a character. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that the end of the final chapter focused on Sofia made me tear up enough I had to stop reading for a minute.

I really enjoyed Jane’s observations on 21st century life, and the way she navigated this new time. It struck the right balance between curiosity and amazement, without bogging down the story or turning Jane into a terrified, traumatised mess. The time travel logic was kept to a minimum, which I appreciated, leaving the reader to fill in the gaps however they liked. It was a bit of a Back to the Future style of time travel, with things yet to have happened merely fading out of existence when the time travel started to prevent them from having happened. Only those closest to Jane remember her books as they literally blink out of existence.

Amber McMahon was a brilliant narrator of the audio book, giving each character a unique voice appropriate to their time and place. I didn’t even realise she was Australian until I got to the acknowledgements at the end, her accents were that good!

I have seen a few comments in other reviews saying that this is not a book for Austen purists. I wouldn’t know, since I have only read Emma in full and know the contents of the other five books because of BBC period dramas and other movies. But I can see how that would be the case. So while I recommend this book, that definitely does come as a caveat.


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

Find me on:
GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Book Review: “Firekeeper’s Daughter” by Angeline Boulley

Title: Firekeeper’s Daughter
Author: Angeline Boulley
Genre: Contemporary/thriller
Intended audience: YA
Dates Read: 24/03/2020 – 31/03/21
Rating: ★★

Review:

I really struggled with this one and I’m so disappointed. Apparently this is being touted as a thriller, but there is a crime/investigation element to it, I didn’t find it thrilling at all. For the most part, I was bored.

Let’s start with what I did like. Check out that incredible cover! It’s stunning.

I also really loved the descriptions of the Ojibwe traditions. I will confess that while I know there are others out there, this is the first Own Voices book I have read by a Native American author. I really appreciate Boulley being willing to allow the rest of us in. I did have to guess at the meanings of some of the words used, but most I was able to figure out from context.

But the rest? The drug ring investigation? The romance? I just didn’t feel anything. It was a hard slog to get through, and I think it was just too long. It did pick up in the last 20% but overall it was too little too late to really get me engaged.

Also on the romance: a) it came pretty much out of nowhere. I didn’t really feel like the characters had any chemistry. And b) was incredibly inappropriate. Admittedly, another character did call it out as such, but I just… felt pretty squicked by it. I could understand why Jamie would connect with Daunis as he did, but still…

The other thing that kept throwing me off was that it was set in 2004 for no reason that I could really figure out (though some reviews I’ve read say that 2004 was around the time crystal meth was really starting to take off, so I wondered if that was it). Apart from the absence of social media and the occasional reference to a now-outdated phone, there was very little to place it there, so whenever a specific reference was made (such as “class of 2004” or a mention of Janet Jackson’s infamous Superbowl wardrobe malfunction) it always threw me for a second.

I am obviously in the minority with this view – the current GoodReads average is 4.55/5 from over 1700 ratings. I wish I could have been one of the 5 star reviews but not this time.


Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Find me on:
GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

March 2021 Reading Wrap-up

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

March was definitely an improvement on January and February in terms of reading, even if things did slow down in the second half of the month. I finished seven books, so nearly twice as many as I have in past two months. This included two audio books. I’ve finally acknowledged that the one I was stuck on was not working for me, and I’m going to get a physical copy from the library to continue.

PAST MONTH’S READING:

Book covers: the Girl in the Sunflower Dress by Katie Montinaro, Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta, the Christmas Hirelings by E. M. Braddon and Bound in Silver by Celine Jeanjean
  1. Rebel Rose by Emma Theriault (historical fantasy/retelling – 4 stars – review) (read February, reviewed March)

  2. Touched By Magic by Celine Jeanjean (urban fantasy – 3 stars – review) (read February, reviewed March)

  3. The Girl in the Sunflower Dress by Katie Montinaro (YA contemporary – 4 stars – review)

  4. Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta (YA contemporary – 4 stars – review forthcoming)

  5. The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (classic – 4 stars – not intending to review)

  6. Bound By Silver by Celine Jeanjean (urban fantasy – 4 stars – review)

  7. The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor (MG historical fiction/magical realism– 4 stars – review)

  8. The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis (fantasy – 3 stars – not intending to review)

  9. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (YA contemporary/Own Voices – 2 stars – review forthcoming)

Book covers: The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor, The horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis and Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley

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. March 2021 Trope-ical Readathon TBR

FAVOURITE BOOKISH PHOTO:

We attended the local tri-annual book fair in March and while I didn’t find some of the recent YA books I was hoping for, there were plenty of classics that I’d been trying to track down.

A pile of 9 books. Vigil by Angela Slatter is on the bottom, followed by five Paddington Bear boks and three volumes of Mary Stewart’s Merlin Chronicles.

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

CURRENTLY READING:

Physical book: Damsel by Elana K. Arnold. I thought this was YA, but it’s actually adult. But I only started it on the bus to work today and have already read 100 pages, so it’s going to be a very quick read and I expect I’ll finish it over the Easter weekend.

Ebook: No ebooks on the go right now.

Audio book: I am continuing through the Chronicles of Narnia and am currently listening to Prince Caspian.

PLANNING TO READ NEXT:

I am absolutely determined to read Hollowpox by Jessica Townsend this month! It’s been too long already! I can’t wait to dive into Nevermoor again! I just hope there will be more Jupiter North this time around!

What are you reading? 🙂

February 2021 Reading Wrap-up

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

February was another slow reading month and I was lucky to get through four books. I went through a two week reading slump where I DNFed a few things and didn’t feel like reading anything. Fortunately, I feel that I have pulled out of that now. GoodReads is telling me I’m four books behind schedule on my goal (75 books for the year) but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to catch up in March.

PAST MONTH’S READING:

  1. A Whole New World (Twisted Tales #1) by Liz Braswell (YA fairy tale retelling/fantasy – 3 stars – review) (read December 2020, reviewed February 2021)

  2. A Wild Winter Song by Gregory Maguire (magical realism/historical fantasy – 2.5 stars – review) (read January, reviewed February)

  3. Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed (YA contemporary/historical – 4 stars – review) (read January, reviewed February)

  4. Hard Time (Time Police #2) by Jodi Taylor (YA sci-fi- 3 stars – review) (read January, reviewed February)

  5. Axiom’s End (Noumena #1) by Lindsay Ellis (sci-fi – 4 stars – review)

  6. Everless by Sara Holland (YA fantasy – 3 stars – reread, no review)

  7. Rebel Rose by Emma Theriault (historical fantasy/retelling – 4 stars – review forthcoming)

  8. Touched By Magic by Celine Jeanjean (urban fantasy – 3 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. March 2021 Trope-ical Readathon TBR

FAVOURITE BOOKISH PHOTO:

This was the library haul I ended up with very early on in the year. Usually I have a decent amount of self-restraint when I go to the library but it failed me a few times in a row .

Teo books standing side-by-side. They are The Binding by Bridget Collins and sligthly taller, The Betrayals, also by Bridget Collins.

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

CURRENTLY READING:

Physical book: I have started Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta as my first Trope-ical Readathon book. The prompt is a book written pre-2000; it was published in 1992.

Ebook: I am a couple of chapters into my ARC of The Girl in the Sunflower Dress by Katie Montinaro. I met Katie on a self-publishing course last year and we connected on social media afterwards. I was excited to get a copy of her debut and give her that support.

Audio book: I will soon be starting The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. This is under 4 hours long and I’m using it for the audio book for Trope-ical Readathon.

PLANNING TO READ NEXT:

In the interests of keeping the reading slump at bay, I am planning to keep reading fairly light books. I’ve been meaning to read Geekerella by Ashley Poston for a while, so I think that will be my next read.

What are you reading? 🙂

January 2021 Reading Wrap-up

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

January has been a bit slow for reading and even slower for reviewing. I never really felt settled into a new 2021 routine before I took a week’s holiday to go visit my parents. I feel like I’m finding my groove now but I do think it’s a bit rude that my GoodReads challenge is already saying I’m two books beh

So without further ado:

PAST MONTH’S READING:

  1. A Wild Winter Song by Gregory Maguire (magical realism/historical fantasy – 3 stars – not intending to review)

  2. The Rising Rooks by Celine Jeanjean (fantasy/steampunk – 5 stars – review)

  3. Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed (YA contemporary/historical – 4 stars – review forthcoming

  4. Hard Time by Jodi Taylor (YA sci-fi- 3 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. How I nearly completed a readathon for once in 2020 – #AusReads and #Musicalathon Wrap-up
  2. December Library Haul – What I’ll be reading over the holidays

FAVOURITE BOOKISH PHOTO:

This was the library haul I ended up with very early on in the year. Usually I have a decent amount of self-restraint when I go to the library but it failed me a few times in a row .

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

CURRENTLY READING:

Physical book: I have returned to Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis. I am really enjoying this, but I can understand why some people would find it slow or tedious.

Ebook: Nothing at the moment.

Audio book: While in theory I have an audio book in progress, it’s very much on hold at the moment as I really haven’t been in the mood for audio books.

PLANNING TO READ NEXT:

I think next will be Everless and Evermore by Sara Holland. I gave Everless five stars when I read it as an ARC a few years ago, but I never got around to reading the sequel. So I may just skim Everless and then dive into Evermore properly. Or I might get totally sucked in. I can’t remember much so I probably will. Hopefully I enjoy it just as much the second time around!

What are you reading? 🙂

December 2020 Reading Wrap-up

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

December was not only a good reading month, but I managed to get back into reviewing regularly! Apparently having an accountability thread on Twitter can work wonders! I’ve still got two books to review, but those will be coming in the next few days. So without further ado:

PAST MONTH’S READING:

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles, Strange Planet by Nathan W. Pyle, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Stranger Planet by Nathan W. Pyle, The Binding by Bridget Collins
  1. The Binding by Bridget Collins (fantasy – 4 stars – review)

  2. Strange Planet by Nathan W. Pyle (comic – 5 stars – not intending to review)

  3. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (YA contemporary – 3 stars – review

  4. Stranger Planet by Nathan W. Pyle (comic – 5 stars – not intending to review)

  5. Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles (YA fantasy – 4 stars – review

  6. The Iron Line by L. M. Merrington (historical fiction – 3.5 stars – review

  7. A Very Krampy Christmas (Gretchens [Mis]Adventures #8) by P. A. Mason (fantasy/humour – 4 stars – review

  8. She’s Having a Laugh, edited by George McInroe (creative non-fiction – 3 stars – review

  9. Universal Love: Stories by Alexander Weinstein (short stories/sci-fi – 4 stars – review forthcoming

  10. A Whole New World by Liz Braswell (fantasy/fairytale retelling – 3 stars – review forthcoming

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell, Universal Love: Stories by Alexander Weinstein, She’s Having A Laugh, edited George McInroe, A Very Krampy Christmas by P. A. Mason, The Iron Line by L. M. Merrington

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. How I nearly completed a readathon for once in 2020 – #AusReads and #Musicalathon Wrap-up
  2. December Library Haul – What I’ll be reading over the holidays

FAVOURITE BOOKISH PHOTO:

Whoops, I didn’t post a single bookish photo throughout December. (In my defence, I spent the month feeling exhausted). Here’s one I just posted yesterday, an aesthetic for my circus fantasy, Facing the Music, which I’m hoping to finish writing this year.

a 3-by-3 grid with nine images. The images are as follows: 

top-left: a man in a red shirt tosses a hat in the air. 
top-centre: a couple kiss in the sunshine - in sillhouette
top-right: a woman plays the violin surrounded by golden magical swirls
middle-left: a long-distance shot of a circus ring with cast members parading around with lots of coloured lights. 
centre: a roll of tickets saying "Admit one" .
middle-right: a ticket booth with a circus tent in the background
bottom-left: a woman in a pink leotard hangs upsidedown from a trapeze. 
bottom-centre: four acrobats stacked in a pyramid. They are mostly doubled over backwards, but the person on top     is doing a handstand and has their legs in the splits. 
bottom-right: a woman twirling flaming torches. She is also on fire, but she is smiling. It's a bit magical.

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

CURRENTLY READING:

The cover of "A Wild Winter Swan" by Gregory Maguire. The background is grey paintstrokes. The title and author's name are at the top, above a hand holding a snow globe that depicts the New York City skyline.

Physical book: A Wild Winter Swan by Gregory Maguire. I’m reading this for the Swell Publications book club, but I have to be honest, I’m not really into it. It’s a bit too literary/magical realism for my tastes.

The cover of "The Rising Rooks" by Celine Jeanjean. An armoured, mechanical hand sticks out of a hole surrounded by cogs and clockwork on a blue background.

Ebook: The Rising Rooks by Celine Jeanjean. This is the last book in the Viper and the Urchin series and I can’t believe it’s coming to an end. This is an ARC and the book comes out on January 9, so I geuss I’d better get a wriggle on!

The cover of "Hench" by Natalie Zina Walshots. The title is in mint green all caps. A red sillhouette stands near a wall at the back of the image. Her shadow is taller than her and also wears a cape.

Audio book: Hench by Natalie Zina Walshots. This is a really interesting deconstruction of the superhero genre. While superheroes aren’t generally my cup of tea, this one was highly recommended by Seanan McGuire and so far I am liking it.

PLANNING TO READ NEXT:

The cover of "Plain Bad Heroines" by Emily M. Danforth. The title is white on a black background, the first two words in a plain font, the word "heroines" in a more gothic font. Around the edge are red line drawings of various flowers. It looks ominous.

I have a huge pile of library books all due back on January 16, so it’ll need to be one of those. I’m not 100% sure which yet, though Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth is fairly high up on the list.

What are you reading? 🙂

Top Books of 2020

At the time of writing this post, I have read 72 books this year. I might just make it to 73 if I knuckle down on my current read.

Throughout the year, I’ve been keeping a list of my favourite book each month and now that we’ve reached the end, it’s time to share those! Here goes!

JANUARY:

The cover of Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith. Each word of the title is a speech bubble, like it's a text message screen. There is a teenage girl with headphones on one side, and a boy looking his phone on the other.

Don’t Read The Comments by Eric Smith. Diversity! Kick-ass ladies! A sensitive depiction of the aftermath of sexual assault. Non-toxic masculinity. A realistic depiction of online streaming, particularly as a woman, and the trolling one receives. The cutest online romance you will ever read. I didn’t expect this book to keep me up late at night… but it absolutely did.

FEBRUARY:

The covers of The Thornthwaite Inheritance and The Thornthwaite Betrayal by Gareth P. Jones. In the first, a boy saws off the bottom of a ladder that a girl is sitting at the top of. Meanwhile the girl is about to cut a rope attached to a large rock hanging over the boys head. In the second, the boy and girl are seated at a table. There is a cake between them with dynmamite sticking out the top. There are knives everywhere and a chandelier looks like it is about to fall on them.

The Thornthwaite Inheritance and The Thornthwaite Betrayal by Gareth P. Jones. I’m a little bit biased on this one, as I was reading these books in preparation for auditioning for a musical based on the first one (and read it again after being cast). Book two came at just the right time. I’d had a rough week at work and I read it in one sitting on a Friday night. These books are a weird Addams Family/Series of Unfortunate Events mishmash and I loved every moment.

MARCH:

I was in a massive reading slump for the whole of March and only finished one book, which I didn’t like, so let’s not even talk about March.

APRIL:

The cover of Peta Lyre's Rating Normal by Anna Whateley. It shows a teenage girl against a snowy backdrop, rendered mostly in blue and white. Her ski mask has a rainbow across it.

Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal by Anna Whateley. I wanted to hug this book. Such a wonderful, honest, authentic depiction of someone living with ASD/ADHD/SPD, and all the messiness that comes with falling in love for the first time.

MAY:

The cover of Greythorne by L. M. Merrington. The cover is in very dark tones, with large ominious house. The moon shines on it, but there are clouds all around.

And this isn’t just because I know the author! I really enjoyed the Gothic atmosphere and claustrophobic, isolated setting that L. M. Merrington created in Greythorne. She played with the Mad Scientist trope really well. For a while, it seemed to be going straight down a Frankenstein route and I was little skeptical, but there was a unexpected twist on that aspect that I really enjoyed.

JUNE:

The cover of Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer.

I’ll admit there’s a lot of nostalgia involved with me choosing Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer for this month. I first read it back in 2001/2002 when it was originally released, and followed the series until the end. It was such a trip to revisit this world, even if some of it does feel a bit dated now (Wow, Artemis bought a camera over the Internet!). I re-read this in preparation for the movie finally releasing, and… I would have to say it’s one of the worst book-to-movie adaptations I’ve ever watched. I was so disappointed. I’d been waiting 18 years!

JULY:

Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina. This was a reread and my first time reading in print a book I’d already listened to on audio. I enjoyed it so much better in this format! I hadn’t realised until I looked at the print book how much of the text is written in poetry form – that didn’t come through for me in the audio version. There are so many themes of storytelling in the book and how the words are presented really helped to solidify those themes.

AUGUST:

None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney. I was so excited to win a copy of this! Ellie is my favourite Australian YA author and so I was really looking forward to her new release. I’m also a fan of serial killer fiction in general. Ellie did not disappoint. This was a rocking good read.

SEPTEMBER:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This was a re-read for Swell Publications Book Club and while I still have some issues with certain aspects of the story, I do love the setting and the imagery and writing is beautiful.

OCTOBER:

Where to even start with It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake by Claire Christian. This was not only my favourite book for October, I’d say it was probably my favourite book of the year. I nearly read it in one sitting. It was affirming and inspiring and I want to go on my own Pleasure Quest. I’m trying to be like Noni and follow my own desires rather than looking after other people at the expense of myself.

NOVEMBER:

A Pocketful of Eyes by Lili Wilkinson. This wasn’t anything too deep but it was one of those books that I picked up exactly the right time and it really hit the spot. It was a fun mystery with enjoyable characters and a fun setting.

DECEMBER:

Universal Love – Stories by Alexander Weinstein. This was a collection of thought-provoking short stories examining the ways that technology may affect our relationships and how we love one another going into the future. I’m trying to read more short stories and I feel like this collection is kind of what I would like to emulate in my own short story writing.

Honestly, I read a lot of good books this year, and you can see them all on my 2020 GoodReads reading challenge page here. Some months, the stand-out was obvious but other months it was really hard to pick just one!

Let me know your favourite 2020 reads!

November 2020 Reading Wrap-up

November was a much better reading month than the past couple, I’m glad to say.

SEPTEMBER READING:

Cosi by Louis Nowra, Ripper by Angela Slatter, Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque, Breaking the Surface by RebeccaLangham, Who Could That Be At This Hour? by Lemony Snicket
  1. Cosi by Louis Nowra (play script – 3 stars – not intending to review)

  2. Ripper by Angela Slatter (historical fantasy – 4 stars – review)

  3. Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque (non-fiction – 5 stars – not intending to review)

  4. Breaking the Surface (Outsiders Project #2) by Rebecca Langham (sci-fi/LGBTI – 4 stars – review)

  5. Who Could That Be At This Hour? (All the Wrong Questions #1) by Lemony Snicket (MG humour – 3 stars – not intending to review)

  6. A Pocketful of Eyes by Lili Wilkinson (YA contemporary/mystery- 4 stars – review)

  7. Doing Time (Time Police #1) by Jodi Taylor (YA sci-fi – 3 stars – not intending to review)

  8. The Lefthanded Booksellers of London (YA historical fantasy – 2 stars – not intending to review)

A Pocketful of Eyes by Lili Wilkinson, Doing Time by Jodi Taylor, The Left-handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

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. #AusReads #Musicalathon November TBR

FAVOURITE BOOKISH PHOTO:

The book “The Binding” by Bridget Collins sits on a wooden table at an angle. There is a latte in a tall glass next to it. .

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

CURRENTLY READING:

Physical book: The Binding by Bridget Collins. I’m reading this for one of my book clubs. It’s a slow burn, definitely. And there are a few world-building things that are bothering me. But other than that, I’m enjoying it.

Ebook: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand. At this point, I’m not sure if I’m going to see this through. The worldbuilding is incredibly flimsy and the main character is kind of awful… but some reviewers and friends whose bookish opinions I respect a lot say it is surprisingly touching and fun, so I’m trying to give it a chance.

Audio book: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles. This was one of my most anticipated 2020 releases and so far it’s living up to expectations. Steve West is also one of the narrators and I loved his performances of the Strange the Dreamer books; it’s really great to be hearing his voice again.

PLANNING TO READ NEXT:

I’m really looking forward to Hollowpox (Nevermoor #3) by Jessica Townsend! Even if the Hollowpox is a mysterious illness affecting Wunimals. I wonder if that aspect of the plot was part of the reason for delaying the original early-2020 release. Anyway, I need to read three more books to complete my 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge and this is definitely high on the list.

What are you reading? 🙂

#LoveOzYA #AWW2020 Book Review: “A Pocketful of Eyes” by Lili Wilkinson

Title: A Pocketful of Eyes
Author: Lili Wilkinson
Genre: Mystery/contemporary 
Audience: YA
Date Read: 15/11/2020
Rating: 
★★★★

Review:

I read this book over the course of one afternoon. I had to suspend my disbelief quite often, but gosh darn it, it was fun!

Bee has a summer job working for a taxidermist called Gus, and she’s enjoying the routine they’ve built up. Then suddenly a new guy called Toby is also in the office. And Gus is behaving strangely, just before he winds up dead. The police rule it a suicide, but Bee isn’t so sure. Drawing on her lifelong obsession with Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden, Bee is determined to solve the mystery of who killed her mentor.

I had to wonder whether Bee was supposed to autistic, or perhaps ADHD. She definitely displayed traits of both, though it is never mentioned on the page. I’ve seen this before where authors give themselves an out in case they get it ‘wrong’ – “what, no, I didn’t write them as autistic! I never mentioned anything about that!” Perhaps it’s just that Bee is very observant and logical and just likes routine, and gets very focused on things to the point of basically ignoring all else. But I did have to wonder.

I really enjoyed lots of the details of taxidermy and that it included a lot of details about the behind-the-scenes of a museum. I work in the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, museums) sector, so a lot of it was stuff I already knew, but I liked that it was included. There were a few times where I picked up on things that probably weren’t quite right, but most readers aren’t going to notice that.

The mystery was a bit convoluted but it actually all makes a lot of sense. I probably didn’t pick up on all the clues at the time, but they were all there. It does rely on the police being a bit useless at their job in order for the teenagers to come in with the big reveal at the end (was there no autopsy?), but look, it’s a YA mystery. Just roll with it.

I enjoyed the romance aspect as well. Toby is such a nerd! (Though I sometimes wondered if he was a nerd so that Lili Wilkinson had an excuse to just dump random animal mating facts into the dialogue – there didn’t seem a whole lot of point to it happening so often). There were times when I was like “Guys, you have each other’s numbers, why are you not just picking up the phone!” I appreciated that Toby cooled off when Bee came out and accused him of murder [would have been weird if he’d been so in love with her to not do that!], but that it all worked out.

I recommend this one when you need something light and fun, with an unusual setting and quirky characters. Spend your Sunday afternoon on it!


This review is part of my 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.

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