#AWW2018 // Book Review: “Ruby Moonlight by” by Ali Cobby Eckermann

Title: Ruby Moonlight
Author:
  Ali Cobby Eckermann
Genre: Historical fiction/verse
Target audience: Adult
Date Read: 30/10/18
Rating:

Review:

Every time I read a book of poetry, I start my review with “so I don’t read a lot of poetry…” and I want to give that disclaimer again. Going by the other reviews of this book, people who read poetry regularly liked it a lot more than I do, so their reviews probably have more standing than mine. But I still wanted to express my thoughts.

For a start, at 70 pages, this is a very short book, and the poems rarely take up the whole page. I found it hard to truly connect to the characters as there wasn’t a huge amount of detail. I would have liked to see more of Ruby’s interaction with the spirit that was watching over her, and more of a development of the relationship between Ruby and Jack. There were also sections where I wasn’t entirely sure whose side I was supposed to be on, or how I should feel, and I was left feeling conflicted and unsatisfied.

And… well, this is possibly the controversial bit. It didn’t feel like poetry? It just felt like the author had written sentences and then added random line breaks. Like I said, I don’t read a lot of it, but I always felt there should be a bit more to it than that. I tried reading parts out loud to try to grasp the flow but even then I didn’t really get it. Maybe I just don’t get it overall?


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

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#AWW2018 // Book Review: “Terra Nullius” by Claire G. Coleman

Title: Terra Nullius
Author:
Claire G. Coleman
Genre: SF (Dystopia)
Target audience: Adult
Date Read: 22/09/18 – 29/10/18
Rating:
★★★

Review:

I have to start this review by saying if Terra Nullius gets recommended to you as a particular type of book, and you read the first few chapters and think “This is not what I was told it would be”, just keep going. About a third of the way through, there is a shift in the storytelling, and after that, everything changes, even though nothing has actually changed. If that makes sense.

It’s hard to say too much without giving away vital spoilers, but I will try.

This story is told from multiple perspectives.  At first, they are disparate, but as the story goes on, they begin to converge until the majority of characters are present at the climax.

The characters are all very well constructed. I sympathised with some, questioned others and outright hated a few more. And the thing is, people like these characters have existed, and continue to exist. This might be science-fiction, but it is relevant to Australia’s history, and its future. The social commentary is always underlying, never exactly outright, but it is clear the comment Coleman is making on our past and future.

The writing style may feel a little dry to some, but I thought it worked for  the story being told. At first I was a little worried it will be “literary” than I usually like (in quotes because I am always iffy about that word to describe a particular writing style but I never know what to replace it with) but once I got into it, that didn’t bother me.


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

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#WWW Wednesday – May 30, 2018

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

wwwwednesday
What have you recently finished reading? 

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

No reviews this week because I am behind schedule.

What are you currently reading? 

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

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

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

What do you think you will read next?

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

What are you reading this week?~ Emily

#aww2017 #LoveOzYA “Everything connects, but not everyone hears those connections. ” // Review of “The Foretelling of Georgie Spider” by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Title: The Foretelling of Georgie Spider (The Tribe  #3)
Author: Ambelin Kwaymullina
Genre: YA/dystopian
Date Read: 08/10/2017 – 11/10/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I really wish I could tell you why I wasn’t more into this series. It ticked all the right boxes. Interesting premise, well-developed characters and tight plot, and yet I was never invested. I actually probably found this to be the case with this third instalment most of all.

While Ashala was still a strong narrative voice, I didn’t really connect with Georgie Spider, which made it difficult reading her POV. I liked the theme of the series coming together, that there is one person to look to the past, one to be in the now and one to look to the future, but I found Georgie’s naivety a little too much at times.

The action scenes were really good in this book; as I said, it was tightly-plotted and I loved the way it was structured. That was the one point where I did think Georgie’s POV worked – when she was seeing futures that were only a minute or so ahead of her present and helped the Tribe to be in the right place at the right time to defeat them.

Also, just a ilttle thing, but I loved that this series uses terms like “Detention centre”, terms we’re all too familiar with here in Australia at the moment when it comes to asylum seekers and refugees.

As I said, I think this series suffered from a case of “It’s not you, it’s me” as I was reading it. I would definitely recommend other fans of dystopia checking it out, even if I didn’t have the best run of it.

Reviews to the previous books in this series:

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf

The Disappearance of Ember Crow


(This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2016. Click here for more information).

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#aww2016 #LoveOzYA “And whatever you end up discovering – try to think of me kindly. If you can.” // Review of “The Disappearance of Ember Crow” by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Title: The Disappearance of Ember Crow (The Tribe  #2)
Author: Ambelin Kwaymullina
Genre: YA/dystopian
Date Read: 12/09/2017 – 14/09/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

Knowing that I enjoyed the first book in this series, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, well enough but was not blown away by it meant that I went in without expecting to be blown away by this one.  I had pretty much exactly the same reaction to this one: it has a tight, interesting plot and is well-written,  but for some reason, it just didn’t wow me.

Even though it had been over a year since I read the first book, I didn’t have too much trouble getting back into this world, so that was a good sign. This instalment took the world-building of the previous book and expanded on it, and I did enjoy seeing more of the physical setting as well as getting more of the history.

I didn’t find the romance between Ember and Jules interesting at all. They barely knew each other, and there was no chemistry between them. It didn’t really make much sense to me that Jules would go out of his way to help Ember on a few days’ acquaintance.

I did enjoy the climax of the novel. It was exciting and had some good twists. I honestly can’t tell you why I didn’t get more into this book. I think it was just a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”.


(This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2016. Click here for more information).

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“What will this experiment hold for her?” // Review of “Heat and Light” by Ellen van Neerven #aww2016

Title: Heat and Light
Author: ellen van Neerven
Genre: Literary fiction/queer fiction
Date Read:
28/11/2016 – 30/11/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

This is quite an interesting book, split into three sections. The first two, I really enjoyed, though I have to admit, I didn’t quite “get” the third one. Still, the writing is gorgeous and this is a fabulous debut novel.

In Heat, we meet several generations of the Kresinger family, and see the effects of the matriarch, Pearl, on her descendents. In Water, we see a dystopian Australian future, where an ancient spirit still thrives, and in Water, we see the effects of familial ties on a struggle for identity.

In these stories, aboriginality, sexuality, and womanhood all intersect. These three themes are not usually dealt with all at once and it was really interesting seeing them explored together. Water was my favourite of the three stories, perhaps because it took the form of a genre I prefer over the other two, which were more literary and contemporary.  It also dealt with issues of displacement and race, using a metaphor that was , while fairly obviousk still nuanced and never heavy-handed. Water was also more linear in its storytelling, while the other two parts are more fragmented, jumping between characters and between time periods.

The characters in all three stories read as genuinely Australian, and genuinely aboriginal (from my, admittedly limited, experience). The writing style is really beautiful; it flows really naturally and never feels like it is trying too hard (apart from maybe that fragmented style). As I said earlier, I didn’t really get the third part quite as much. It did seem more disjointed than the other two pieces. I read in some other reviews that this part actually tied in with the first, but if that is the case, I missed the connection.

Ellen van Neerven is definitely an author to keep an eye on. She has a great way with words and a way of exploring complex issues without feeling too pretentious or over-the-top.


This review forms part of the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge for 2016. Click here for more information.

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“I walk among my enemies, but I carry my friends with me.” // Review of “The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf” by Ambelin Kwaymullina #aww2016

Title: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf
Author: Ambelin Kwaymullina
Genre: YA/dystopian
Date Read: 26/06/2016 – 01/08/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I had high hopes for this book, and while it didn’t quite meet them, I really appreciated the fact that it didn’t rely ono so many tired tropes that are prevalent in the YA dystopian genre.

Ashala Wolf is an Illegal, someone with an ability that allegedly causes a disruption to the Balance. She has been taken prisoner by Neville Rose, the Chief Administrator of Detention Centre 3, and is subjected to The Machine, which can harvest memories from a person’s  mind. All the while, Justin Connor, her betrayer stands by… but all is not as it seems, including Ashala’s of her Tribe and her capture…

First of all, there is no love triangle in this book! I know! And on top of that, the dysoptia is not constructed around a regression to bygone sexist and racist ages. Anyone can be born with an Ability (Ashala’s is sleepwalking, and being able to do whatever she wants in her dreamstate; others can cause fires or earthquakes, heal others or alter memories),  and there are people of all races and genders in Ashala’s Tribe. The same is true of Enforcers, Adminstrators and Citizens. So this book gets major props for that, because goodness me, I tired of those awful tropes.

There is a romance, but it was a bit ploddy, and never convinced me entirely. I think part of this is due to the structure of the book. Ashala believes things to be one way for a significant portion fo the story, but a revelation part way through completely changes the way she, and the reader, sees things, meaning a lot of her past is restructured as she comes to terms with it. While I liked this structural arrangement in terms of plot, it did mean the relationships between some of the characters got a little confused.

(^^ I hope that makes sense. I’m trying to be spoiler-free).

The world-building was mostly good; there was definitely enough to go on, and things were explained as they needed to be throughout. However, I think I was hoping for a bit more evidence of inspiration taken from the author’s Palyku (an Australian First Nation) culture. There is a serpent character who is rather reminicent of the Rainbow Serpent, and certainly the idea of the Illegals could be taken as an allegory for the Stolen Generations (up until the 1970s, Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from the families and raised with white people so as to better “assimilate” into “proper” Australian culture), but I was hoping for something more in this vein.

The story actually concludes rather nicely, making me wonder whether Kwaymullina actually intended it to be a series from the outset. Since it feels wrapped up, I don’t feel the need to rush out and get the second book straight away, but the synopsis of the second book is intriguing, so I might still give it a go at some point.


(This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2016. Click here for more information).

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