“I don’t expect to need rescuing. I’m not that sort of Princess.” // Review of “Frogkisser!” by Garth Nix

Title: Frogkisser!
Author: Garth Nix
Genre:
MG/fantasy
Date Read: 03/09/2017 – 19/09/2017
Rating: ★★

Review:

This book started off rather well. There were a few moments where I honestly laughed out loud. However, by the end of it, the style had worn a bit thin and I ended up having to force myself thruogh to the end. I think I would have loved this a lot more if I had read it as a child, and it’s just a shame that it’s not one of those children’s books that transcends its target age group.

When Princess Anya makes a ‘sister promise’ to her sister Morven to ensure that Morven’s boyfriend, Prince Denholm, is  turned back from a frog to a human, she has no idea that it will be the start of Quest to bring peace back  to her kingdom and defeat her disloyal stepstepfather. Along the road, she meets other people who have been transformed by Duke Rikard, along with a Good Wizard, Snow White (not the Snow White you think, though), a band of “good” robbers and a host of other vivid characters that help her to recognise the sheltered upbringing she has had.

The writing style in this book emulates older fairytale-type stories and writers. It had a very quaint aspect to it. This was clearly what Nix was going for and I am sure some people will love it, but it didn’t really work for me, especially as I felt it clashed with some of the more modern aspects of the story, like the fact that Anya needed to find the ingredients for a lip balm. I suspect that the writing style also contributed a lot to me not feeling much of a connection with any of the characters.

The quest nature of the story didn’t really do much for me either; it felt a bit “they went here, got this and then went on to the next thing.”

Still, there were some things I liked. There were several occasions where Nix took a common fantasy trope and then turned it on its head. The story was often quite self-aware about that, and I enjoyed the way he played with those. The story did pick up in the last quarter, and the climax was quite entertaining, and the resolution was satisfactory. It was just that the journey there wasn’t quite my cup of tea.


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#WWW Wednesday – September 20, 2017

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?

Finished two books this week! The first was The Disappearance of Ember Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina. It was kind of text book definition of a 3-star read – there was absolutely nothing wrong with it and I enjoyed it but that was as strong as my reaction got.

I also finished  Frogkisser! by Garth Nix, which was cute and definitely picked up in the last quarter, but I think it is better suited to its middle-grade audience and doesn’t quite transcend that. At least in my opinion.

I also posted my review of  A Semi-Definitive List of Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland over here.

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just started an ARC of A Dangerous Language by Sulari Gentill. It’s actually the eighth book in the Rowland Sinclair mystery series, but I’m hoping they stand alone enough that I won’t have too much trouble following it. I haven’t read anything by this author before, but I did hear her speak at the Canberra Writer’s Festival, so when I saw this ARC available on Netgalley, I thought I would check it out. When I say I’ve just started, I mean I am literally about 2% in or something, so I’ll say more about this one next week.

I am also reading The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells via the Serial Reader app. The aim of this app is to deliver a bite-size portion of a classic book (10-20 minutes of reading) to your device each day. I’m hoping I might read a few classics this way. If I like it I will upgrade to the paid version, which lets you get more than one issue a day if you are keen. Also it has badges and achievements, which I am all about.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I still have The Foretelling of Georgie Spider, also by Ambelin Kwaymullina from the library, and I imagine it will be quite a quick read like the first two books in the series. I also have an ARC of Life is Like a Musical by Tim Federele, which seemed appropriate for a musical theatre nerd like me. That one releases on October 3, so I do need to read it fairly soon, too.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

~ Emily

 

#WWW Wednesday – September 13, 2017

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 finished A Semi-Definitive List of Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland, and it was adorable, bittersweet and heartbreaking. Don’t let the frothy cover and quirky title fool you; this is a really great look at mental illness and how it can affect a family. My review will go up on Friday.

What are you currently reading?

My main read at the moment is The Disappearance of Ember Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina. I read the first book in this series, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, last year and hadn’t really planned on continuing as I felt the first book wrapped up really nicely, but then this and the third book were sitting on the library shelves the other day when I was in there, so I thought why not?

I am also still reading  Frogkisser! by Garth Nix.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I will follow this up with The Foretelling of Georgie Spider, also by Ambelin Kwaymullina. Apparently there were originally going to be four books in the series, but the author realised when writing this one that it was the conclusion.

After that, I really need to get back to my ARC pile.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

~ Emily

 

#WWW Wednesday – September 06, 2017

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 finally finished Miss Muriel Matters by Robert Wainwright! And got the paper written on it, though I checked the course guide again after writing it and I’m not 100% sure I followed the instructions properly. But it’s fine! It’s done! It’s not that it was a terrible book, it’s just I’m not really into biographies. 

I know this will be a bit of an unpopular opinion, but I also DNFed An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir at about 35%. I actually think the narrators of the audio book are partly to blame for this, as they seemed to bring out the characters’ negative aspects more than the positive (Laia was whiny and useless and Elias came across as sleazy) and I just didn’t want to spend another 10 hours with these characters.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Frogkisser! by Garth Nix. It is a cute, somewhat self-aware middle-grade about a Princess who has to go on a Quest. She has to find the ingredients to make a lip balm that she can use to transform her older sister’s ex-boyfriend from a frog back to human. The lip balm renders the true love requirement irrelevant. The writing style is clearly emulating the style of older fairytale books and writers such as Enid Blyton. Like I said, it’s cute at the moment, but has the potential to get annoying.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I posted my prospective until-the-end-of-the-year TBR yesterday. I think my next read will be A Semi-Definitive List of Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland. I attended an author talk about this one last weekend and it sounds really adorable, so I want to get on it stat!

What are you reading this week? 🙂

~ Emily

 

“Like so many unfortunate events in life, just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it isn’t so.” // Review of “The Bad Beginning” by Lemony Snicket

Title: The Bad Beginning (Series of Unfortunate Events #1)
Author: Lemony Snicket
Genre:
Middle-grade
Date Read: 16/01/2017
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

badbeginningcoverMy goodness. I remember reading the first several books in this series back when I was about twelve, but I had no idea they were as dark as they are! Fortunately, that does mean that as an adult, I’m still able to get a huge amount of enjoyment out of them.

When the Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire’s parents perish in a terrible fire, they are sent to live with an alleged relative, Count Olaf, who treats them with contempt, forces them to live in squalor and do unnecessary chores, and who from the outset is clearly after their fortune. Unfortunately, the adults that should be supporting them are blind to the dangers and so it is up to the three children to foil the Count’s plot.

Snicket has a very particular writing style that I expect would not be everyone’s cup of tea. The tone is very dry and dispassionate, and he constantly defines words in the middle of sentences, which I know some readers find quite patronising. This didn’t bother me though, perhaps because I remembered it from my younger, less-discerning reading days, and so I knew what I was in for. The tone is one that I love, as it is just my sense of humour. The setting is a weird, gothic America, with no distinct time period or location. This also fits the mood perfectly.

The three characters are all very uniquely drawn. I particularly like that Snicket chose to make Violet the inventor and Klaus the bookworm. Many authors would have chosen to make the female character the quiet, nerdy one and the male character the one good with tools, so I applaud the choice to mix it up a bit. Sunny may only be a baby in this volume, but she has her own unique personality already.

Count Olaf is despicable, as are his cronies, but as the book points out, he is also very clever, and very ruthless. While he may sometimes come across as a bit of a campy villain, there are other times when he is chilling. I wanted to shake some of the other adult characters for being so clueless, but when they are not necessarily seeing the treatment the orphans are receiving, you can sometimes concede the points they make when arguing with the Baudelaires.

All in all, this was surprisingly entertaining, and I’m really looking forward to continuing the series.


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Book Review: Artie and the Grime Wave by Richard Roxburgh

Title: Artie and the Grime Wave
Author: Richard Roxburgh
Genre: Middle-grade/adventure
Date Read: 18/10/2016 – 08/11/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

artiegrimewavecoverIf I’m honest, I really only bought this book because I like Richard Roxburgh’s acting work and he was doing an author event at my workplace and I wanted his autograph for that. This book was okay, but having said that, had I been twelve when I read it, I think I would have really enjoyed it.

Artie lives with his terminally angry sister, Lola, and their mother, who has been stricken with grief and barely left the house since Artie’s father died some years ago. But when he and his best friend Bumshoe discover a Cave Of Possibly Stolen Goods, it’s the beginning of an adventure that leads to an organised crime racket that goes all the way to the Mayor.

The characters were definitely the strength of this book. Roxburgh has created a vibrant, diverse community. Many are over-the-top, with a lot of influence from authors like Roald Dahl, but that adds a vibrancy that will appeal to younger readers. Roxburgh’s own illustrations were larger-than-life and added additional colour.

I did find that the writing sometimes told rather than showed, and didn’t always flow as smoothly as it might have. There were also some authorial interjections, which have always annoyed me, though to be fair, that is a personal preference. While I hate this term, I have to admit that it did feel like a “boy’s book” – there were few female characters, and they were largely outlandish. The main two boys had a bit more realism to them.

Having said all that, this is a strong first novel and I am sure that the follow-up will smooth over some of these debut-novel hiccups.