“Potentially evil. Potentially good, too, I suppose. Just this huge powerful potentiality waiting to be shaped.” // Review of “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

Title: Good Omens
Author: Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Genre: Urban fantasy
Intended audience: Adult
Date Read: 04/08/19 – 11/08/19
Rating: ★★★

Review:

Well, this is a bit awkward. From what everyone’s been saying, I was expecting this to be a 5 star read. And it definitely started off that way. But after a while, I just wished I was reading a Discworld book instead.

There is definitely a fascinating premise here: what happens if the child destined to bring about Armageddon, rather than being evil, is just… basically a good kid?

I think my main issue was that there were a lot of characters, and most of them could have been done without, and the same story still told. I often felt like characters were being introduced just to give the authors a chance to be funny, such as with the Other Four Horsemen. There were pages devoted their conversations and they didn’t even make it to Armageddon.

I honestly feel you could have just had the Crowley and Aziraphale scenes and the Adam and Them scenes, and had roughly the same story. Everyone else I found a bit superfluous.

I do wonder if some of this comes from the fact that I have never clicked with Neil Gaiman’s writing. While it is not written in such a way that you can point to certain parts and say “Gaiman wrote that bit” or “Pratchett wrote that section”, perhaps the Gaiman influence is what put me off? I have always enjoyed Discworld and as I said, reading Good Omens made me wish I was reading a Discworld I haven’t read yet (and there are stll a lot of those).


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WWW Wednesday – 21 August 2019

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

Due to illness, other commitments and then a three-week overseas holiday, it’s been over a month since I last did a WWW post. July wasn’t much of a reading month but I’ve been making up for that in August so here is everything I’ve read since mid-July.

What have you recently finished reading?

Cupid’s Match by Lauren Palphreyman, which did take some rather large liberties with Greek and Roman mythology (what has Pandora got to do with the Seven Deadly Sins, a Christian construct, for example?) but it was kind of fun regardless.I gave it three stars and reviewed it here.

Mother Tongue by Julie Mayhew took me a while to get through. It’s written in a very disconnected style and it didn’t really go anywhere? Here’s my review.

I stood in a second-hand shop in New York City and read The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak. My partner had told me about it before so I was interested to finally see it. It was quite funny. I can imagine kids loving it.

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden was next. It took me a while to get through. It’s a MG and I guess I wasn’t the target audience really. I was hoping I would find it creepier than I did. I did find the narrator’s voice a bit grating, which didn’t help.

I finished Cleaning House by Jeanne G’fellers the following day. I loved the basis in Appalachian folklore but I found the narrative itself a little too repetitive. But if you like quiet, character-driven folklore-y/witchy stories, then this is definitely for you. Here’s my review.

Next I read Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and… wasn’t that impressed? I mean, I gave it three stars. But the way everyone talks about it, I was expecting to give it five. And I honestly thought at the start that I would, because the start is great. But then it got to dragging. Anyway, I have a full review scheduled, so keep an eye out for that.

For something completely different, I followed that with Women of Wasps and War by Madeleine D’Este, which was un-put-down-able gritty feminist fantasy and my favourite book so far this month.

Finally, I finished A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle, which was okay, but I was definitely skimming by the end. I know a lot of people love it but I think a lot of those same people read this as children, which I think would make the difference.

I also posted reviews of Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray and The Nowhere Emporium by Ross McKenzie since my last post.

What are you currently reading?

I only just finished A Wrinkle In Time this evening, so I haven’t started a new book yet.

What do you think you will read next?

I have The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis audio book  to put on my phone. And I really want to start Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Morena-Garcia. I’m getting behind on my Australian Women Writers Challenge, though, so that also needs to be a priority.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

 

 

 

Book Review: “The Nowhere Emporium” by Ross McKenzie

Title: The Nowhere Emporium
Author: Ross McKenzie
Audio Book Narrator: Monty d’Inverno
Genre: Fantasy
Intended audience:
MG
Date Read: 06/07/19 – 09/07/19
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

This book reminded me a lot of The Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern and going by the reviews, I’m not the only one. Obviously, this is for much younger readers, and it has its differences. I still enjoyed the idea of a magical shop with infinite rooms containing Wonders drawn directly from imgination.

Daniel Holmes lives in present-day Glasgow, but when he comes across a mysterious  shop where the owner doesn’t expect him to remember his time inside, he is taken on as an apprentice to Mr Silver of the Nowhere Emporium. But Mr Silver has a long and sad past, and his sworn enemy is still looking for him. Daniel finds himself in the middle of this fued, and in a race to save the Emporium and the staff he’s come to love.

There are some really wonderful rooms described throughout the Emporium. Many of them were whimsical and delightful and made me feel nostalgic for childhood. And I’m all for a tragic backstory, so the fact that that was at the heart of the conflict was really enjoyable for me, too.

I did think that some of the running around to try to stop Vindictus Sharpe from destroying the Emporium did get a bit tedious, especially when it was a case of “Go to this room – no, that didn’t work at all” followed by the same again. It seemed only to serve to throw some more backstory in, because some of these rooms turned out to be no use at all.

Still, I did appreciate how the challenges that Sharpe and Daniel set each other at the end played into fears and biases that had been set up for each of the characters earlier on, and they had to face them in the only way they knew how. The ending may have been a little rush, but I still felt that it was satisfying. I got through this is only a few days and really appreciated a simply, whimsical story with a lot of heart.


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“For dreams, too, are ghosts, desires chased in sleep, gone by morning.” // Review of “Lair of Dreams” by Libba Bray

Title: Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2)
Author: Libba Bray
Audio book narrator: January LaVoy
Genre: Historical fantasy/horror
Intended audience: YA
Date Read: 09/06/19 – 06/07/19
Rating: ★★★

Review:

This book had a lot to live up to after I enjoyed the first one so much. I’ve got to be honest, there were times when I was just plain bored, and as you can see from the dates above, it took me nigh on a full month to get through. But it did pick up in the final quarter, and that’s why it still gets the rating it does from me.

There are a number of different threads through this book. First, Henry and his new friend, Ling Chan, are both dreamwalkers, and they meet as a mysterious sleeping sickness is taking over New York. So much of this storyline was devoted to character back stories and world building. I sometimes felt these parts were very, very slow.

Evie, Sam and Jericho are still about. Evie has become a sensation with her own radio show, The Sweetheart Seer, but to be honest, I found her a bit irritating in this book. In the first book, she was superficial but you could see what she was using that superficiality to mask. But there was less of that hidden vulnerability here, and she got a bit tiresome. The fact that there is a love triangle developing between her, Sam and Jericho also made me a bit weary.

Having said that, part of this aspect of the story is the search for Sam’s mother, which is hinted at, at the end of book one. I did find this stuff intriguing, and the extra information we got about Project Buffalo. I’m still not sure where the oft-mentioned King of Crows comes into that, but I suppose that will be revealed later in the series.

I guess the main reason I struggled more with this book than the first is that the pacing is entirely different. In the first book, there is a race to find the killer before he attacks again. There is no such time pressure in this book. So many scenes are devoted to dream walking, but the dreamscape is the same each time. And the characters aren’t really doing much, just hanging out and chatting. No one actually knows how to fix the sleeping sickness, so they just sort of generally worry about it.

Libba Bray does do a very good job representing true realities of life in the 1920s, and the gap between the privileged and the marginalised. I loved that Ling is a disabled character, and that forms part of her identity but isn’t her whole story. She is also part-Chinese and the book doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the anti-Chinese sentiments that were alive and well at that time.

There are some characters I haven’t mentioned, such as Theta, Memphis and Isaiah, and that’s because while they’re there, I didn’t really feel their scenes/chapters added much to this particular story. As I said, there’s a lot of character and background stuff, and I’m sure some of things we learned about the characters in this book will play out in the next installments but… it made it long.


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WWW Wednesday – 03 July 2019

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

What have you recently finished reading?

After taking a month to get through one audio book, I finished two this week! First was Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray. I didn’t love it as much as the first book but it definitely had its moments. Haven’t decided whether to continue the series on audio or grab the paperback of Book 3.

Next, I listened to The Nowhere Emporium by Ross McKenzie, which was a sort of middle-grade version of The Night Circus. I tend to enjoy anything that’s full of whimsical magic rooms, so I enjoyed this one.

No physical books finished this week but I did post my review for Beau and Bett by Kathryn Berla. Click the title to read it.

What are you currently reading?

I am about halfway through the ARC of Mother Tongue by Julie Mayhew. It’s well-written but not the easiest read so I am taking a bit of a break from it.

In the meantime, I am reading Cupid’s Match by Lauren Palphreyman, which… I mean. I can see why mythology purists are upset about it. But I’m just enjoying it for what it is. I’m not even sure I’m really seeing it as a mythological-characters-in-the-modern-day story so much as a general urban fantasy. It’s fun.

What do you think you will read next?

After promising last week that I would finally continue with The Chronicles of Narnia, I have The Horse and His Boy audio book from the library and ready to be copied onto my phone. Just need to get around to it.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

 

 

 

P. S. If you’re keen to read an excerpt of my current WIP, come on over to my writing blog to see what I’m working on.

“If you were lucky in love, you sure as hell were lucky in life.” // Review of “Beau and Bett” by Kathryn Berla

Title: Beau and Bett
Author: Kathryn Berla
Genre: Contemporary
Target audience: YA
Date Read: 27/06/19 – 29/06/19
Rating:
★★☆

Review:

This was a really hard book to rate and review. I found it readable enough. I liked some of the characters. But I just couldn’t work out what the book was trying to do. I had no particular investment in any of the characters and I wasn’t particularly concerned about the outcome.

Now that I’ve lambasted the book with that opening paragraph, I should say that there were certain things I liked. I liked Beau’s part-Cajun family and their dynamics. I liked that Beau was kind of the oddball in the family. I really liked the descriptions of the Diaz ranch. That is something I haven’t really come across in a YA book before, and i liked that Bettina wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. She wasn’t going to leave the ranch either – she saw herself staying there and running it eventually. But all the characters ever did was build a fence. Like, every time Beau went over there. Sometimes Bettina would make them a beautiful lunch in the middle of the day, then they’d go back to the fence.

I guess part of my issue was that the links to Beauty and the Beast were pretty tenuous.. I didn’t really buy the romance at all. I think part of the reason for that is that Beau is interested in another girl for at least the first half. And the lie that Beau catches Bett in, according to the blurb… I mean, I got why it bothered him. But I was expecting something a bit bigger.

Additionally, the reasons for Bett being called Bett the Beast at school were kind of flat, and everything around that suddenly seemed resolved at the end. It felt like perhaps the author was trying to do something with the whole #metoo movement and make a comment on rape culture, but it just wasn’t explored enough.

It’s possible that without the claim that it was a retelling, I could have enjoyed this a bit more. As it was, I really looking for parallels with the fairytale, and not really finding them, so ultimately I was disappointed.


(Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for a free copy of this book  in exchange for an honest review)

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WWW Wednesday – 03 July 2019

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

What have you recently finished reading?

Better results this week than my last couple of WWW posts.

 I finished Beau and Bett by Kathryn Berla and… I don’t even know what I felt. It wasn’t a bad book. It was readable. But it was just sort of… there. I didn’t really feel like it did anything particularly interesting or different. So I have to really think about this one before I review it. Maybe I won’t give it a rating? That might help.

While I’ve been staying with my parents this week, I finally read The Lion, the WItch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis for the first time. I watched the BBC series a lot as a kid but never got into the books at that point. I intended to read the whole series ago and never got any further than the Magician’s Nephew. Maybe now I’ll finally get back to it properly.

What are you currently reading?

Iam reading an ARC of Mother Tongue by Julie Mayhew, a YA novel set around the events of the Beslan School Siege in 2004 (look it up). So far it seems it’s more about the personal effects on a family, rather than the wider political situation, which I appreciate.

I am still going with Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray on audio. I haven’t actually listened to it much at all this week because I’ve been staying with my parents and being sociable. 😉

What do you think you will read next?

All right, you lot! Hold me to The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis. I will finish the Chroncles of Narnia before the end of the year!

What are you reading this week? 🙂

 

 

 

P. S. If you’re keen to read an excerpt of my current WIP, come on over to my writing blog to see what I’m working on.

June 2019 Reading Wrap-up

This is a bit of a sparse post compared to  previous monthly wrap-ups. I was doing a musical, then I got sick, and work has been busy. So not only did I not get much reading done, but I also didn’t do much of anything else (Youtube, #bookstagram…)

Past Month’s Reading:

A bit of a slow reading month this month for a  variety of reasons, most of which can be summed up under the umbrella of “life got in the way”. Still, five books is better than no books.

    1. The Diviners by Libba Bray (YA historical fantasy/horror – 4 stars – review)
    2. The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder (playscript/comedy – unrated – not intending to review)
    3. Get the Girl Out by Lucy Bloom (memoir – 4 stars – review)
    4. A Summer Escape and Strawberry Cake at the Cosy Kettle (romance – 3.5 stars – review)
    5. Beau & Bett by Kathryn Berla (YA contemporary – 2.5 stars – review forthcoming)

 

Booktube:

I have a BookTube Channel where I talk about Australian books. I only got one video posted this month, though I intend to get a bit more on top of it in the coming weeks. Sadly, I didn’t post a single video this month! I really need to get back to that! (I do have two in progress, so you can expect better things come July!)

Favourite Bookish Photo:

Erm… and again, nothing to see here! I posted one photo to Insta all month and it wasn’t bookish.

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

Currently Reading:

Physical book: I am part of the way through The Women In Black by Madeleine St John. This book is considered a bit of a modern classic in Australia, and I am enjoying it so far.

Ebook: I am reading an ARC of Mother Tongue by Julie Mayhew, a YA novel set around the  Beslan School Siege in 2004. I have a feeling this one is going to be herat-rending.

Audio book: I am well on the way to finishing Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray, the second in the Diviners series.

Planning to read next:

I’m honestly not sure! Mother Tongue is the last of my ARCs that are due before I got to America in a couple of weeks. Guess I’ll see where the mood takes me!

What are you reading? 🙂

WWW Wednesday – 26 June 2019

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

What have you recently finished reading?

This last couple of weeks have been really slow reading weeks. I can’t believe I’ve once again only got two books finished when there have been two weeks between posts.

I finished Get The Girls Out by Lucy Bloom, which is quite an inspiring memoir. Lucy goes against the grain and she isn’t ashamed to say it. I really enjoyed this one. Here’s my review.

Next I finished A Summer Escape and Strawberry Cake at the Cosy Kettle by Liz Eeles. The book was a sweet contemporary romance set in an English village. I reviewed it here.

Click to read my review of The Diviners by Libba Bray, which also went live since my last post.

I also ended up DNFing a book I had hoped I’d really love – David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa. This is an #ownvoices Nigerian urban fantasy, but I just couldn’t get into it. I didn’t engage with the characters and the various magic systems were confusing me.

What are you currently reading?

I am still going with Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray on audio. This is a lot more character driven than The Diviners. There is a mystery but there isn’t a race to solve it the same way there is in the first book. While I’m not enjoying it as much as the first book, I’m still over halfway through.

I am also reading an Australian modern classic, The Women In Black by Madeleine St John, which tells the story of several women working in the women’s clothing section of a department store in 1950s Sydney. This is sweet, but kind of on hold at the moment because ARCs.

What do you think you will read next?

I am going to start Beau and Bett by Kathryn Berla. This is a contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I am not familiar with this author so I have no idea what to expect. We’ll see how it goes.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

Book Review: “A Summer Escape and Strawberry Cake at the Cosy Kettle” by Liz Eeles

Title: A Summer Escape and Strawberry Cake at the Cosy Kettle
Author: Liz Eeles
Genre: Contemporary romance
Target audience: Adult
Date Read: 14/06/19 – 16/06/19
Rating:
★★☆

Review:

This book was sweet and cosy, just like the title suggests. This was exactly what

When Flora discovers her restauranteur husband in a passionate embrace with one of his waitresses, her world starts to fall apart. She turns to the bookshop and cafe she manages in the village of Honeyford, including a New Age eccentric called Luna, and Luna’s son Daniel and grandson, Caleb. At first, things seem to be getting off on the wrong foot, but soon Flora finds that she is discovering sides to herself that she never knew existed.

This did take a little while to get going. For the first third of the book, the conflict was all a bit superficial. Malcolm, Flora’s husband, showed up a few times and made things awkward or difficult, and quite a lot of the conflict in the book was “Oh, I don’t know whether to leave Malcolm for good or not!” which became a bit repetitive after a while.

There is a bookish mystery going on through a lot of the book as well (again, this got a little repetitive, particularly as I had predicted the outcome pretty early on). I have to say I did find this whole plotline a little unlikely – the idea that a self-published book that seemingly was just thrown onto the Internet in its first draft form could be so perfect and universally adored by every woman in town… hmm.

Some of the characters did seem a bit over-the-top, such as Stanely, who at 80 has decided to live life to the fullest, and embrace extreme sports. But I did like some of the other characters, such as Luna. Yes, she aws a bit of a hippy, but she meant well and really looked after Flora.

I enjoyed how Flora came to care for Caleb, despite not being a kids person. I thought the misunderstandings between her and Daniel, particularly when it came to Caleb, were quite well done. She didn’t know what she was doing and made some mistakes, but Daniel was able to see that Caleb did care for Flora as well. I have to admit I didn’t really feel like there were ever sparks flying between Flora and Daniel. Obviously, I could see the direction the book was going to take, but their feelings developed maybe a little too slowly/subtly.

Still, this story of finding love and finding yourself in a small town community was a fun read, and sometimes that’s just what you need.


(Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for a free copy of this book  in exchange for an honest review)

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