#AWW2021 #LoveOzYA“We begin as we end; we end as we begin. It’s the middle we must hold onto ” // Review of “The Vanishing Deep” by Astrid Scholte

Title: The Vanishing Deep
Author: Astrid Sholte
Genre: Dystopia
Intended audience: YA
Date Read: 27/04/2021 – 02/05/2021
Rating: 
★★

Review: 

Please be warned, this review may be a bit spoilery at the end.

Last year, I tried reading Astrid Scholte’s Four Dead Queens but decided to DNF it. At the time I though it was a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, but now I’m thinking maybe me and Astrid Scholte’s writing just don’t mix.

Some of it is personal preference, like the dual first person narratives, something I am never a fan of. At first, I didn’t even realise I’d switched to another character’s POV and was very confused.

I never particularly warmed to the two main characters, which made it really hard to be invested in the book at all. I really didn’t care for their romance, which I was supposed to believe took place in a single 24-hour period. I can understand being attracted to someone immediately, but the whole “I can’t get her out of my head” and “she’s so beautiful”… eh.

I especially had trouble with Lor, his one bit of angst got so repetitive! And the twist about him at the end wasn’t a surprise to him, so it felt odd that everything had been told to me in just such a fashion to not point me in that direction.

At least with Tempest, I could at least admire her devotion to her sister and family, even if I didn’t really like her.

The other problem I had was the world-building. None of it really made much sense (this was the same issue I had with Four Dead Queens). I could buy that the resurrected person was linked to their Warden via the Warden’s heartbeat, but given that the whole issue was the dead person’s heart was weakened and they could only be revived once, it didn’t make any sense that just stopping the Warden’s heartbeat instead would mean that the resurrected person could go on living after their twenty-four hours. And I had other issues, too, but that was the main one.

On top of all this, the ending felt quite flat with a unimpressive villain who disappeared without a word at the end. I wanted to really like this one but there were too many things that didn’t work for me.


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

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#AWW2021 #LoveOzYA“Only need a spark,” she said with a shrug. “Small sparks make big fires.” // Review of “Hollowpox” by Jessica Townsend

Title: Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #3)
Author: Jessica Townsend
Genre: Fantasy
Intended audience: MG/YA
Date Read: 08/04/2021 – 18/04/2021
Rating: 
★★★★

Review: 

I had forgotten just how much I love the world of Nevermoor. It had been quite a while since I read Wundersmith, so it took me a little while to remember who was who, but soon I was on board for the glorious ride.

I can see why the publishers made the decision to delay the release of this one, which was due out in the middle of the initial COVID-19 lockdown period. A virus that leads to certain parts of the population having to isolate themselves, all the while, bigoted other parts of the population are using the illness to vilify those who are sick? Jessica Townsend nails the way this plays out and it was going to hit a bit too close to home for a lot of people in the first half of 2020. At times, it even felt a bit unnerving reading it in April 2021.

But I loved the expansion of the world and its history. We got to see how Nevermoor and the wider Free States’s relationship with the Wintersea Republic in more detail, and learn more about how magic has been dealt with there (no wonder poor Morrigan was considered cursed because of her abilities).

Not only do we have the political and social implications of the Hollowpox turning Nevermoor’s Wunimals into Unimals, but Morrigan’s personal arc also continues. She begins to be trained in the Wundrous Arts, using Ghostly Hours to witness magical lessons from ages past to learn what Wundersmiths who have gone before her also learned. The way Morrigan became obsessed with seeing more and more of these, to the detriment of her friendships, was well done. I wanted to shake her at times for some of her decisions, and I was relieved when she finally realised the effects this was having.

I’m excited to see how the decisions she has made at the end of this book play out in subsequent instalments. A lot of people aren’t going to be happy with her and I think she’s going to face a lot of backlash, despite the best of her intentions. And also I just want the next book because this world is so rich and whimsical and I can’t wait to be back there again!


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

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#AWW2018 // Book Review: “Wundersmith” by Jessica Townsend

Title: Wundersmith: the Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #2)
Author: Jessica Townsend
Genre: Fantasy
Target audience: MG/early YA
Date Read: 10/11/18 – 21/12/18
Rating:
★★

Review:

For a while I thought this book was only going to be a 2-star read for me and I was SO DISAPPOINTED after how much I loved the first book. Fortunately, it picked up enough in the second half for me to bump it up to “I liked it” level, even if it wasn’t quite as good as the first.

Townsend expands on the world of Nevermoor that she established in the first book. Nevermoor really is a wonderful, whimsical fantasy world. We meet more interesting characters, while the core ffavourites from the previous ones are still around.

While a few interesting things happen in the first half of the book, I didn’t feel it really got going until the  second half… this may have been because this was when I sat down to give it my undivided attention, rather than reading in bits and pieces, which is how I read the first 250-odd pages. So that could also have contributed. There were a few challenge items I had to finish as well as some ARCs and library bookks, so as a book that I owned, I did keep putting it aside. I did have a theory about one of the main plotlines which turned out to be correct and was a little bit predictable.

Still, I am giving these books to my 12-year-old niece for Christmas and I expect that the issues I had with this book are not ones that she will have. And it’s cetainly not enough to put me off the series. I’ll be pre-ordering the next one along with everyone else.


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

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#WWW Wednesday – 05 December 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.

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished Truly , Devious by Maureen Johnson on Thursday. This took a little while to get into – not much happens for the first half – but I ended up interested in the mystery.

I also finished The Midnight Watch by David Dyer and I’m really glad I stuck it out. I actually ended up going and reading everything on David Dyer’s website and then watching simulations of the Titanic’s sinking on YouTube. It really is bizarre that the SS Californian saw all 8 distress rockets fired by the Titanic and yet did nothing to help.

haven’t had a chance to write reviews for either of these as I was busy with uni work all weekend, so they’ll be up this coming week.

What are you currently reading?

I have started Olmec Obituary by L.  J. M. Owen this week. It’s always a bit strange reading books set in Canberra. This one is even stranger as the Mahony Griffin Library, where the main character works, is based on the National Library, which is where I work. I kept giggling at things that weren’t remotely funny simply because I got the reference.

For the third week in a row, still going with Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend but this is mostly because I haven’t actually been reading it at all, not because it’s terrible or anything. I’m re-gifting this to my niece for Christmas, so I’m not carrying it around in my work bag, where it’s likely to get damaged. I need a book sleeve.

What do you think you will read next?

I’ve got to be honest: even though I’ve got the two books that follow Olmec Obituary out from the library, I don’t think I’m going to be interested enough to follow on with them. Not back-to-back anyway.

I’m probably going to read Sixty Seconds by Jesse Blackadder, a drama about the aftermath of a small boy drowning in a backyard pool. I have read one of this author’s children’s books before this is my first adult read by her.

What are you reading this week?

#WWW Wednesday – 28 November 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.

What have you recently finished reading?

Only one book finished  this week: Girl Reporter by Tansy Rayner Roberts. This is a superhero series and this book is from the perspective of a YouTuber/journalist, Friday Valentina, whoses mother broke the first story of superheroes in Australia back in the 80s. It was cute but I think I liked this author’s other stories more. Here’s my review.

I also reviewed All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill. Click here to read that one.

I ended up DNFing Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi. The anachronisms were bothering me and I hadn’t connected to the characters after about 30% of the book, so I decided it was time.

What are you currently reading?

I started Truly , Devious by Maureen Johnson a couple of days ago. This is a YA murder mystery with parallel storylines in the present day and the 1930s. So far it’s just fine. I’ll get through it pretty quickly but I am not expecting to be wowed by it.

Still going with Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend and I hate to say it, but I think it’s going on a bit too long! I’m over 250 pages in and still have 200 pages to go and not much has really happened! But I still love the world of Nevermoor and a lot of the characters. I wish Jupiter was around a bit more, though.

I’m also still listening to The Midnight Watch by David Dyer. I was considering DNFing this one today, though I decided against it in the end. I am not a fan of one of the POV characters, and the pacing is very slow. I won’t DNF but I am thinking I might put it on hold for a while and listen to something else. 

What do you think you will read next?

This hasn’t changed from last week. I’m still planning to pick up Olmec Obituary by L.  J. M. Owen next. Cozy historical mystery!

What are you reading this week?

#WWW Wednesday – 21 November 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.

I can’t believe November is two-thirds gone! Septemberand October seemed so long to me, but this month has flown past! I’m well on my way to completing the ARCs I have due by the end of the year, as well as finishing up my Australian Women Writer’s Challenge. So yay all around!

What have you recently finished reading?

I read ‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas by Jacqueline Frost, and it was so fun! I actually wasn’t expecting to be able to take it too seriously, but I got quite invested! You can read my review here. I have the first book in the series still to read (this one was an ARC and the release date is this Friday, hence my reading it first), so I plan to read it over the holidays.

What are you currently reading?

This answer hasn’t changed much from last week!

I am about a quarter of the way through Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi. So far overall it’s okay but there are little things bothering me, like the fact that this is based in Greek mythology, but keeps referring to Greece, as though the country existed at that time. And I’m not really getting much of a sense of the Greek mythology aspect coming through. You could replace the names and this could be any fantasy. But we’ll see if it picks up.

Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend continues to be delightful. I feel like everyone needs a Jupiter North in their life, who goes on grand expeditions to prove to you that you are more than you think you are.

On audio, I am still listening to The Midnight Watch by David Dyer. I’m finding I have to be in the right mood for it, but it is  still quite interesting. I’m finding the character of Captain Lord of the Californian quite interesting. I don’t know if the historical figure was like this, but in the book he’s basically blackmailing his subordinates into lying about them seeing the Titanic’s distress rockets.

What do you think you will read next?

I have owned a copy of Olmec Obituary by L.  J. M. Owen for ages, and so I picked up the two sequels when I saw them at the library today in the hopes I  will then read all three and tick that off my TBR. The fact that I already had the cover uploaded to this blog suggests I have planned to read it at some earlier stage and never got around to it, so it will be good to finally make a start. Owens is a local author and one of the locations in the book is apparently slightly based on my workplace, so it’ll be fun trying to spot those references!

What are you reading this week?

#WWW Wednesday – September 26, 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.

What have you recently finished reading?

This is the last two weeks’ of reading for me as I didn’t post last week.

I finished Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend, which was charming, but maybe a bit long. I persuaded someone at work to order a copy so fingers crossed she’ll read it soon and I’ll have someone to talk to about it. I reviewed it on Monday.

Then I finished Dear Martin by Nic Stone. I actually thought I had downloaded the audio book, but when it ended up being the ebook, I read it in a day. It was very engaging. Like The Hate U Give, it is partially inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement but it presents the issues in a different way. I posted my review on Monday.

After that was Caraval by Stephanie Garber. This was… fine. It had a lot of potential that I don’t think it truly lived up to. Everything was just a bit underdeveloped. But I still kind of want to read the next book? I’ll have a review up on Friday.

I picked up The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide because it was on display at the library. It was fine but it was very US-centric for something claiming to be “worldwide” and it also was very literature-heavy. There was a bit of genre fiction and some childhood classics but it was very heavy on the James Joyce and Dostoevsky types.

Last but not least, this morning I finished My Whole Truth by Mischa Thrace. This was a good depiction of dealing with sexual assault and other related trauma but I did feel like it went around in circles a bit and there wasn’t a huge amount of character development. I’ll get my review up next week.

What are you currently reading? 

circusheartsallfalldowncoverI’m still in the first chapter of All Fall Down, the second in Ellie Marney’s Circus Hearts series because I only started it today. Say what you like about self-publishing, I love that I only have to wait a month between each book in this series rather than a year.

onlyhumancoverI have to be honest that Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel is a let down after the first two books in this series. It’s just one big lecture. I have a long drive tomorrow and will probably finish it during that, but it won’t rate as highly as the other two.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Since I’m in the middle of reading various ARCs, the next one I need to get through is Unwritten by Tara Gilboy. This is a middle-grade fantasy and sounds a bit like Nevermoor, which I read recently. So I’m looking forward to it.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

#StepBoldly #aww2018 “The point is—as far as the Society is concerned—if you are not honest, and determined, and brave, then it doesn’t matter how talented you are.” // Review of “Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow” by Jessica Townsend

Title: Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1)
Author: Jessica Townsend
Genre: Fantasy
Target audience: Middle-grade
Date Read: 11/09/18 – 17/09/18
Rating: 
★★★

Review:

Well, this was just delightful. I knew that Nevermoor won a whole slew of awards when it came out, but all the “it’s the next Harry Potter” proclamations still made me wary. But actually, I think this is one time when those comparisons are actually justified. 

Nevermoor is a whimsical, charming world where inhabitants ride the Brolly Rail (a version of London’s Tube where riders hook onto the system with the handles of their umbrellas) and it is perfectly normal for a hotel housekeeper to be a giant cat. The descriptions of Christmas were so lovely that I was able to ignore the fact that Christmas has no reason to exist in a fantasy land. Everything was just a little bit fairytale. 

The characters also all had a fairytale quality about them. There was a bit of David Tennant’s 10th Doctor in Jupiter North, and a bit of Alice in Morrigan Crow. But as well as the whimsy there’s also a real depth to them. 

I do admit the book felt a little long at times, but I would also be hard-pressed to tell you which parts I would cut out. It is a bit like the fourth Harry Potter book in that there was training, then an event, then training for the next event, then the next event happens… but I always wanted to know what happened next. And I think because the characters were engaging and the writing was so lovely, I was able to forgive it. The only thing I worry about is that the size of the book may be intimidating to readers of the target age. But I think any avid reader will be hooked immediately and push through regardless.


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

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#WWW Wednesday – September 12, 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 finished White Night by Ellie Marney and totally loved it (I am two for two with 5 star reads from this author now). I used to say “Oh, I don’t read much contemporary YA” but I realised I actually read a lot of it, and this one gave such a good sense of growing up in a country town and trying to work out your place in life as you finish school and it was also so Australian. Review will be up Friday.

I only ended up reading maybe six of the stories in Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy edited by Amerie. It wasn’t really doing it for me.

I also posted two reviews this week: Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel and Blackwing by Ed McDonald.

What are you currently reading?

finally put Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel onto my phone this morning, so I’m actually starting to get into it properly. Vincent is definitely my favourite character of this series, giving me all the feels. I am a bit annoyed that they appear to have changed some of the voice actors, though? Eva now just has an American accent, where she had a Puerto Rican one in Book 2. I could understand her losing her accent in the time between the events of the two books, but there are flashbacks, dammit!

I have also started Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend today and I’m only 57 pages in but if it stays this delightful the whole way through, then the hype is totally justified. The cover describes it as Harry Potter meets Alice in Wonderland and it basically is that. It’s not nonsensical like Alice in Wonderland but it is whimsical. Also there’s a character I suspect is based at least in part on David Tennant’s Doctor.

What do you think you will read next?

It was going to be Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman, but after Nevermoor, I don’t know if I’ll be in quite the right mood for hard-hitting dystopia. I picked up Caraval by Stephanie Garber from the library this morning, and I might read it instead.  It has mixed reviews among my GoodReads friends but I am still in a circus mood so hopefully that will help.

What are you reading this week? 🙂~ Emily

 

 

P.S. If you’re interested, head on over to my writing blog to read an excerpt from my current WIP.