Book Review: Rebel Rose by Emma Theriault

Title: Rebel Rose (The Queen’s Council #1)
Author: Emma Theriault
Genre: Historical fantasy/fairytale continuation
Intended audience: YA
Dates Read: 17/02/21 – 21/02/21
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

I know a lot of people didn’t like this book and honestly I can see why. This continuation of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was at times hard to reconcile with the original cartoon movie. But I still enjoyed it for what it was, perhaps because in this version it was far enough away from the movie for me to treat as something separate.

One of the main complaints I saw about the book is that the character of Belle is so far removed from the vivacious, outspoken character we know from the movie. While this is true, I could accept that while Belle was outspoken within her village, that now trying to fit into royal society and not knowing her way around, she became a little more subdued.

Some of it was a bit predictable and I knew who the villain was from chapter one or two. Having said that, I had assumed his motivations were the complete opposite of what they turned out to be, and I felt what I had expected would have made more sense than what transpired.

Once I got used to the idea of Disney characters set against real world events, I enjoyed the historical setting. It does make things a bit grittier, but I thought it worked. I did wish we got to see a bit more of the side characters – Lumiere, Cogsworth and Mrs Potts all make appearances, but I would have liked more.

Despite those niggles, I found the writing quite engaging. Maybe that was because this was the kind of story I needed to pull me out of a two-week reading slump. Whatever the reason, I found myself ignoring chores and staying up a bit late to finish this one. Now knowing how the series is intended to tie together, I’m interested to see how the other Disney properties are tied into this one.


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Book Review: “Hard Time” by Jodi Taylor

Title: Hard Time (Time Police #2)
Author: Jodi Taylor
Genre: Sci-fi/humour
Intended audience: YA
Dates Read: 17/01/2021 – 25/01/21
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I didn’t review the first book in this series here on the blog, but in my Goodreads review, I specifically said, “I don’t think I’ll be reading [the second book].” But let’s face it, I’m easily swayed by an attractive cover on a shiny new paperback on prominent display at the library. This series is fun, and I did find myself once again reasonably attached to Team Weird.

I summed up the vibe of this series to someone at work by saying “Imagine those low-budget BBC kids shows from the 90s, but in a book.” She got exactly what i was trying to say. I hope you do, too.

But I just find the world-building and some of the plotting so strange. I can never get a real sense of time and place. Society is much the same as it is now, except there is time travel, and some of the TP’s weapons are a bit futuristic. The pop culture references are all contemporary. But in the first book, the twentieth century was this weird awful time in the far past, or so it seemed.

There are also two characters with the same first name, which just seemed like such a strange choice to make. It was fine when one of them was only being referred to as “Major Ellis”. But now Ellis and North are on first-name terms, it was jarring to hear her calling him Matthew when one of the central three characters is also Matthew. Of course it’s a common name, but that doesn’t mean you confuse your reader by reflecting that aspect of real life in your novel.

The author has a weird thing about fat people. In the first book, there was a whole thing focused on one overweight family, and there’s another character in this one treated the same way. The motivations of the villains of this piece didn’t really make a lot of sense, to be honest; their decisions seemed based on narrative convenience more than anything else.

But for all that, I have to admit that I enjoyed seeing Jane and Luke undercover, and seeing Jane uncover Luke’s hidden depths. Matthew is not quite as interesting to me, and I feel that maybe his existence is mostly so that the St Mary’s characters can keep making cameo appearances. Having not read the St Mary’s books, these feel a bit in-jokey.

Still, I’ve marked book three as “to read” on GoodReads because I might as well admit that I’m going to read it.


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“But she knew better than to trust the false hope of the holidays.” // Review of “A Wild Winter Swan” by Gregory Maguire

Title: A Wild Winter Swan
Author: Gregory Maguire
Genre: Historical fiction/magical realism
Intended audience: Adult
Dates Read: 28/12/20 – 04/01/21
Rating: ★★☆

Review:

This was supposed to be a December book club book, but life got in the way in December and January and we never ended up meeting to discuss it.

I was interested to see if I liked this book. I tried to read Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by the same author, around the time I discovered the musical based on it. I was not a fan. I wondered if perhaps not having prior knowledge of the tale being retold would help me be more into this story. I’d never heard of Andersen’s The Wild Swans before.

Alas, this one didn’t really do it for me, either. Partially, I think it was a case of mistaken expectations. I expect a certain amount of lightness or whimsy in fairy tale retellings, and that’s increased when it’s set around Christmas.

But this is grittier, set firmly in the real life of a poor family in the 1960s, and mostly things are not great for any of the characters. It is told in a kind of detached style that I could never get into. It examines issues of class and privilege, which are worthy issues, but at the end of the day, I didn’t really see what Maguire was trying to say. I didn’t get it, and maybe that’s on me, not the book.


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“An invisible hand squeezes my heart for the nameless women history brushed aside.” // Review of “Mad, Bad and Dangerous To Know” by Samira Ahmed

Title: Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know
Author: Samira Ahmed
Genre: Contemporary/mystery/historical
Intended audience: YA
Dates Read: 09/01/2021 – 1/01/21
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

Who doesn’t want to read a book bringing to life the story of a woman history forgot in favour of the men around her? Or at least, presenting a fictional possibility of such a woman. I certainly do!

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know presents dual stories of Khayyam, a modern-day budding art historian, and Leyla, who might be the inspiration for heroine of the famous Byron poem, The Giaour.

I admit I found the historical parts more interesting than the modern-day parts. Leyla’s story is incredibly sad, but also a story about a woman making her own way against all odds.

Khayyam spends quite a lot of time mooning over boys. Having said that, part of that is integral to her overall arc of finding her voice and her identity as a French-American, Indian-American and Muslim-American young woman, and the scene where she finally put herself first was awesome.

For most of the book, I felt it was a 3-star read. I wasn’t overly invested and was reading more to find out the mystery than because I was rooting for the characters. But the ending was very powerful, to the point I even got a little teary, and for that, I bumped it up to four.


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July to … erm, December TBR? Maybe?

So earlier this year, I thought making three-monthly TBRs rather than monthly would be a great idea. It worked pretty well for March – June. Then in July I was mentally exhausted and ended up in a reading slump, and in August I got bogged down with one single book that I needed to read for uni (plus all the other class readings), so this is as much as I managed to tick off this list over the past two months:

… Yikes.

I’ve been debating how much of this to stick with over the next few months. The top row is currently pending ARCs, most of which are publishing in October, so I shouldn’t ignore them. The second row is the titles for the Australian Women Writers challenge that I drew out of my TBR jar. I’ve already met the number of books I aimed for this year, however, I have not yet met my challenge within a challenge to read two books by LGBTI* women and two books by Indigenous Australian authors. Blood Guilt is by an LGBTI author, but I think I should also prioritise another Indigenous author as well in the coming weeks.

The bottom two rows are for the Beat the Backlist challenge, though I’m honestly debating whether or not to actually continue with this, since I haven’t linked up with the challenge at all during the year, and I’m kind of failing dismally at both the goals I set for myself. I think I would like to prioritise books I own (the bottom row) over books that I added to my TBR more than a year ago (second row from the bottom). I’ve also acquired a lot of new books lately that I want to read sooner rather than later.

With that in mind, here is my revised TBR, that I will aim to finish by the end of the year, along with a myriad of other books I am sure I will get distracted by.

Silly ARCs with your inconsistent cover sizes messing up my graphic. Ah well. I know that some of the titles aren’t all that readable in the condensed version, but I’m kind of tired and can’t be bothered listing all of them? I will link to them in my monthly wrap-up posts and you can see more about them as I get to them… or you can ask if you really want to know now! 😛

So there we have it. Twenty books to have read by the end of December. How hard can it be? 😉

Book Tag: How I Read

how-i-read-book-tag

Pinching this from Claire Huston, who posted this yesterday or the day before. I’ve been thinking I wanted to do more book tags, but I’m kind of looking for ones that are more recent. I’m sure no one would care, but I feel weird doing older ones, so I’m keeping my eye out for ones that pop up soon. Now without further ado, here are the questions for the How I Read Book Tag.

  • How do you find out about new books to read?

Generally through blogs, and GoodReads. I spend way too much time on GoodReads. Also from a friend of mine, with whom I discuss a lot of books.

  • Has your taste in books changed as you go older?

The-forests-of-silenceNot really, no. I’m much more discerning and fussy in regards to the quality of writing, but the types of books I read has stayed much the same. My two genre staples are sci-fi/fantasy and mystery/thriller. One of my favourite authors growing up was Emily Rodda, who writes in both genres (her Deltora Quest series is a great example of the fantasy, while her Teen Power Inc. series was full of fun, suspenseful mysteries).

Now I think about it, I have lost the patience I used to have for high fantasy though. I read a lot more urban now. Most of the time, I no longer have the attention span for the dense world-building that requires.

  • How often do you buy books?

Not that often, actually. I have very little room for new books, but I make use of my local library a lot. I do have a Kindle, but I’m also picky about spending more than about $5 on ebooks, unless it’s something I really want, like the next installment in a series I’m already into.

  • How did you get into book reviewing?

deadisleI remember a couple of other bloggers I was following at the time had started reviewing and I am nothing if not a bandwagon jumper. Also, I read The Dead Isle by Sam Starbuck while I was in London and it was amazing and I wanted everyone to know it. For two years, I only posted a review every second Friday, but in the last while, my reading speed has really increased, so I’m posting reviews every week now. I only hope I can keep it up. Last year I only read three books in January and had a total of 75 at the end of the year. This year, it’s January 21 and I’ve already read seven.

  • How do you react when you don’t like the ending of a book?

… I did once throw my Kindle across the room. Though in that case, it wasn’t that I didn’t like the ending as such (it was actually an incredible ending), just that it took me completely by surprise in the final paragraphs. The book was Ptolemy’s Gate, the third in the Bartimaeus series by Jonathan Stroud for those keeping score.  Usually I rant at my partner, who very rarely cares, or at one of my friends, who is just as bookish as me, and will at least sympathise, even if she hasn’t read it.

  • How often do you sneak peak at the ending to see if there is a happy ending?

Um. Well. Not often. But I do usually flip to the back to see how many pages there are, and sometimes there is the temptation to read a few lines on the final page, too. It’s usually literally the last paragraphs at the most, though, and I’ve never completely spoiled myself by doing it.

I’m not really one for tagging people on this sort of thing, even though I know that is the general idea. If you would like to do it, consider yourself tagged! 🙂