WWW Wednesday – 31 October 2019

Announcement: On Monday I posted the cover reveal and pre-order link for an anthology I am apart of. It contains 8 Christmas stories set in Australia, where 25 December is in the middle of a summer and quite a different experience from what many of you are used to. I’d love it if you checked it out and threw a pre-order our way.

And now to your regularly scheduled WWW post.

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.

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What have you recently finished reading?

I absolutely loved The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg! There were parts that could have been more fleshed out but it totally hooked me so I didn’t mind. Here’s my review.

Next I read Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin, which was really engaging but I had a lot of questions abuot the world-building. Namely how does literal Christianity exist in a made-up fantasy world? My review goes up on Friday.

After that, I read The White Hornet by Celine Jeanjean. This is the fifth book in the Viper and the Urchin series. Celine has been churning new books out this year but somehow always manages to maintain a high standard. Here’s my review.

And finally, I finished the Antics of Evangeline series by reading Evangeline and the Mysterious Lights by Madeline D’Este. I’ll have my reviews for the series up soon.

I’ve also posted reviews of The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley and Songbird by Ingrid Laguna since my last WWW post. Click the titles to read them.

What are you currently reading?

I’ve started Too Flash by Melissa Lucashenko. This is a YA contemporary and will count towards my 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge, and my challenge-within-a-challenge to read at least two books by Indigenous Australian women.

Except I forgot to take Too Flash with me t o work today, so I started my ARC of A Christmas Wish and a Cranberry Kiss at the Cosy Kettle by Liz Eeles. I enjoyed the last Cosy Kettle book and I couldn’t resist a Christmas title.

I’m also listening to Circe by Madeline Miller on audio. Audible kept reccomending this to me and I wasn’t in the mood for any audio books so I just picked this up on a whim. But it turns out I’m enjoying it quite a lot.

Last but not least I have finally started A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas. To be honest, I wasn’t intending to read this series but a friend whose opinions I trust said she really enjoyed it and that it was quite different to Throne of Glass (which I DNFed and she didn’t enjoy either). I’m about 20% of the way through, and yeah, got to admit it’s pretty readable.

What do you think you will read next?

.I started the audio book of Illumination by Karen Brooks a while ago and I knew it was just too long and I wasn’t going to get through iit before it was due back, so I’ve got the hard copy now. It is a massive tome with tiny print! But I’ll get there, and it will be nice to finally finish the Curse of the Bond Riders series.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

 

 

 

WWW Wednesday – 09 October 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.

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What have you recently finished reading?

I didn’t post last week but this has been a good couple of reading weeks! I can’t believe I’ve already read 5 books in October!

FirstI finished Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power by Sady Doyle, which examines depictions of women in such things as horror movies and true crime fandom. I thought some of the analysis was reaching a bit to draw the conclusions she wanted to, but overall it was interesting. Haven’t quite worked out if I’ll do a full review of this one yet.

Next, I read Monuments by Will Kostakis, which is a fun YA fantasy. It managed to retain a light-hearted tone even as it deals with some pretty heavy issues… I went to the Canberra launch event on Friday night and have to say, I think it’s one of the best book launches I’ve been to. I then finished the book over the next couple of days. I really enjoyed this one. Here’s my full review.

Next was the audio of Scratchman by Tom Baker and James Goss. I am still a bit confused by some parts of it, and the structure is a bit terrible… but it was fine. I gave it 3 stars.

In the last week I have been participating in The Hocus Pocus Readathon and my first book for this challenge was Evangeline and the Spiritualist by Madeleine D’Este, which filled the prompt “read something with a paranormal or supernatural element”. This is my favourite Evangeline book so far. I only have one more to go.

The next prompt was “read a spooky, atmospheric book”. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a Gothic-style haunted house story like The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley. In the end, it was actually neither spooky nor atmospheric but I think that might be because I was too old for it (it was a MG after all, and sometimes I find they just don’t transcend their target age bracket).

After that, I completed the “read a random book on your TBR” prompt by reading Songbird by Ingrid Laguna. This was a totally sweet story about a refugee girl from Iraq trying to fit in at her new school in Sydney. She finally finds a place when she joins a school choir.

Last but not least, I finished the audio book of Vampire Island by Adele Griffin and I have to admit this was weird? I didn’t even know what to rate it because I couldn’t work out what it was trying to do.  Was it making an environmental statement? Was it just trying to be funny? I have no idea, and so I don’t know how I felt about it.

What are you currently reading?

was really excited to start The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg and so far it is living up to expectations! It’s kind of Westworld meets Disneyland. I was reading on my lunch break today and really didn’t want to go back to my desk.

I am also reading Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin, though it’s on hold while The Kingdom takes priority. I hadn’t heard of it until I signed up for the Hocus Pocus Readathon and this was one of the two group reads to choose from. I am 15% in so far and it is quite well-written so I think I’ll enjoy it.

The readathon ends on Saturday and I’m a bit worried I’m not going to quite finish these last two but I’ll do my darnedest!

What do you think you will read next?

Gosh, I don’t even know! Possibly I will read Evangeline and the Mysterious Lights by Madeleine D’Este and thereby finish the Evangeline series. I have actually written myself a list of things to read to finish my Australian Women Writers Challenge for the year, so those will also be at the top of my list.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

 

 

 

WWW Wednesday – 25 September 2019

First of all a quick welcome to everyone who has followed my blog over the last day or so as a result of that Twitter group chat. Hope you enjoy your stay here 🙂 I also have a writing blog where I talk about my own writing if you’re interested in checking that out.

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.

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What have you recently finished reading?

Suicide Club by Rachel Heng was the only thing I finished this week. I really enjoyed this! Though I did have a few quibbles about how much a world that is set at least 200 years in the future resembled our current time in a lot of ways. But it was still a good read!

I have no reviews to share because I’m a bit behind on my review writing, but there are some scheduled for the coming week!

What are you currently reading?

I am still reading Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power by Sady Doyle, which examines depictions of women in such things as horror movies and true crime fandom. I am finding that maybe some of her claims are bit sweeping, but for the most part, I am still enjoying this.

I am still listening to Scratchman by Tom Baker and James Goss. I saw some reviews that said the pacing is strange and now I’m halfway through it, I definitely agree with that. But I still can’t go past it being narrated by Tom Baker himself.

What do you think you will read next?

I will probably return to Madeleine D’Este’s books and read Evangeline and the Spiritualist next.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

 

 

 

#WWW Wednesday – 20 February 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.

First of all, a bit of a plug!

So do you remember in my last WWW post, I mentioned I was contemplating starting a Booktube channel to talk about Australian authors? Well, I didn’t think about it for too long and I started one! I’ve already put up two videos, so check it out if you feel inclined.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled WWW post.

What have you recently finished reading?

Only one thing finished this week: the ARC of Second Star by J. M. Sullivan, which actually ended up frustrating me a lot. It had a strong start but didn’t live upt to it.  My review goes up on Friday.

My review of In Another Life by C. C. Hunter went up on Monday and you can read it here.

What are you currently reading?

I started The Dying Flame by R. L. Sanderson, who is a friend of mine! And I am a terrible friend for taking 18 months to read this. But hey, at least this way, the sequel is already out for me to get straight onto. I have read her YA Contemporaries but this is her first fantasy. It is not disappointing because she is a tremendous writer and you should all read her books.

I’m also reading Out There: A Scientific Guide to Alien Life, Antimatter, and Human Space Travel (For the Cosmically Curious) by  Michael Wall, who is a senior editor at space.com. I’m trying to read more non-fiction and this stuff is interesting, though I don’t find myself engaged… I think because I don’t speed through non-fiction  the way I do through fiction,I get frustrated, but I’m trying to push past that because learning is good.

Okay so Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. Guh. This book. It’s just… there’s just so much… detail. And scope. Like the world just got a million times bigger about halfway through this. A lot of the mythology that’s set up Strange the Dreamer is actually playing a much bigger part here.

Can those of you who said you need to get onto reading this do so soon because I have a feeling I’m going to get to the end and want to talk to people about this. (I’m only sort of joking). I’m also no longer sure this is just a duology because I’m around 70% of the way through and I feel like there’s no way she can satisfyingly tie everything up in 30%. I may be wrong, though.

What do you think you will read next?

As it was last week, this is a very good  question. I’ve very much been mood reading lately. I’ll probably try to find another Australian title.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

#AWW2017 Book Review: “How the Aliens from Alpha Centauri Invaded My Maths Class and Turned Me Into a Writer… and How You Can Be One, Too” by Jackie French

Title: How the Aliens from Alpha Centauri Invaded My Maths Class and Turned Me Into a Writer… and How You Can Be One, Too
Author: Jackie French
Genre: Non-fiction/middle-grade
Date Read: 06/05/2017 – 07/05/2017
Rating: ★★★★

Review:
I read this book years ago,  when I was probably still a member of the target age-group, and there were things in it that I still remember and apply to my writing. When I came across it in my local library while looking for Stephen King’s On Writing, I thought it was time for a re-read.

Jackie French breaks down the writing process into easy-to-understand chunks. There isn’t any jargon; instead, French uses terminology like “make your story fat and then make it skinny again” – meaning, in this case, “write all the words you think your story needs, then go through and cut out all the unnecessary stuff”. It’s all advice that we hear in chunkier writing craft books, just delivered in a perhaps more digestible way.

The fact that it is written for younger writers shouldn’t put you off. Most of the chapters end with writing exercises which I think would be just as beneficial to any adult writer as they would be to a twelve-year-old. We are always learning, and this is a great back to basics book for anyone.


This review forms part of the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge for 2017. Click here for more information.

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“The snowflake never needs to feel responsible for the avalanche” // Review of “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson

Title: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
Author: Jon Ronson
Genre: Non-fiction
Audio book narrator: John Ronson
Date Read: 12/03/2017 – 16/03/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

Anyone who has spent more than five minutes on Twitter has probably witnessed a public shaming – when someone posts something poorly worded and the entire Internet sancitmoniously piles in on them. This is the behaviour Jon Ronson explores in this book, and the devastating effects the shaming can have on the person who is at the heart of the scandal.

Ronson focuses on four main case studies, three fo which I recognised, as well as presenting a more general history of public shaming as well as research about the psychology of the crowd mentality and how this pertained to other issues relating to shame as well.

While the content was interesting, I did feel it often went off-topic, and that it wasn’t structured in the best way. Sometimes I wondered exactly what the story Ronson was telling now had to do with the example he been talking about moment before. There were times when he would introduce one of the case studies he used, then go off talking about the Standford Prison Experiment.

Still, it definitely was interesting, and got me thinking. It also made me rather relieved that all I talk about on the Internet, really, is books, and that I usually delete any tweets I tend to start writing about “controversial” topics before I post them. I would recommend this one for anyone with an interest in psychology or sociology, as it is a good starting exploration of these issues unique to the Internet age.


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“I want to go on living even after my death” // Review of “Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank

Title: Diary of a Young Girl (Definitive Edition)
Author: Anne Frank
Genre:
Memoir/Non-fiction
Date Read:
06/01/2017 to 09/01/2017
Rating: ★★★★

Review: 

It feels a bit odd to be rating and reviewing Anne Frank’s diary, yet here I am. I had seen plenty of the profound quotes from its pages everywhere over the years, but it was a surprise to read the diary in full and realise just how much of a normal teenager Anne was.

This review hardly needs the usual paragraph I do here with a quick synopsis. This is the diary kept by Anne Frank during the years 1942-44, when she and her family and four others hid in the secret Annex at the back of her father’s office building to hide from the Nazis.

Anne was an incredibly insightful 13-year-old, far more than I ever was or many of the people I know. Her circumstances gave her a unique perspective from which to observe people. I am glad I read the definitive edition, as I believe in earlier editions her father edited out a lot of the material relating to Anne’s fraught relationship with her mother. I am glad I read this, as it was what made me feel closest to Anne; I identified a lot with the relationship she described.

Anne’s diary is also incredibly important as a piece of social history. She describes the ways the Secret Annex passed the time while stuck in the tiny space for such a long time, how they obtained food, and how they were helped by their friends still on the outside. While she did still at times come across as a whiny 13-year-old, I was able to forgive her due to the incredible observations about life and human nature that she often made.

This isn’t really my best review but it’s hard to know what else to day. I am not really one for telling people what they “should” read, but I think this is probably an exception.


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“I’m Aboriginal. I’m just not the Aboriginal you expect me to be.” // Review of “Am I Black Enough For You” by Anita Heiss #aww2016

Title: Am I Black Enough For You?
Author: Anita Heiss
Genre: Memoir/Non-fiction
Date Read: 01/08/2016 – 09/08/2016
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

Normally memoirs don’t really get more than three stars from me. It’s not that they’re terrible, just that they’re not a genre I have much interest in, so even if I find the writer interesting, that’s not necessarily the case for the writing itself. Fortunately, I found Anita Heiss’ memoir to be thought-provoking and easy to read, and it helped me to understand how our Aboriginal Australians form their identity.

In 2009, Anita Heiss found herself as one of seventeen successful Aboriginal people targeted by “journalist” (I use that term loosely) Andrew Bolt, who accused them in his nationally-distributed newspaper column, as well as online, of “choosing” to identify as Aboriginal to further their careers. Four of these Aboriginal people took Bolt, and the Herald and Weekly Times to court, arguing that he had breached the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA). They won the case.

In this book, Anita talks both about her experiences growing up as an “Urban aboriginal” (as opposed to that image people have of Australian Aboriginals living in the desert, dancing around a fire in loin cloths and clapping sticks and playing didgeridoos) with an Aboriginal mother and a white father. She also discusses her work in Aboriginal communities around the country, and her writing, where she aims to place Aboriginal characters in similar contexts to those of stock-standard white characters (i.e. characters who work, live in the city, like shopping, etc.) This is interspersed with reflections on her own racial identity and how it is just something that always was, not something that she chose.

This book did challenge me, and I’m glad it did. There were some things that Anita described getting asked, and as soon as I read it, I was equal parts thinking, “Yeah, that’s a dumb thing to say to a person of colour” and “*cringe* I’ve totally wondered that”.

In the days between finishing reading this book and writing this review, it has continued to be on my mind. I thought of it when I saw the Aboriginal flag flying in at least two different places just on my commute to work, and remembered that there are still places across the country that don’t see this acknowledgment of the existence of Aboriginal people as necessary. I thought about it again when I was wandering the Treasures Gallery at the National Library of Australia and saw the contrast of post-colonial artworks of Aboriginal people next to the papers of Eddie Mabo, who spearheaded the Land Rights movement in the 1970s and 80s.

This is a book that makes racial issues accessible. I recommend it, not just to other Australians, but to anyone wondering about race relations, who would like to learn directly from a person of colour.


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

“Representation matters everywhere, not just in fiction, but also in our everyday IRL lives” // Review of “Wonder Women” by Sam Maggs

Title: Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History
Author: Sam Maggs
Genre:
non-fiction
Date Read:
28/06/2016 – 20/07/2016
Rating: ★★★☆

Review:

(Thanks to NetGalley and Quirk Books for a free copy of this book in exchange for a review).

Represenation matters. This is a huge thing. This goes for history class as much as it goes for Hollywood, and it is pretty appalling that the women featured in ths book have been completely ignored by history. So I have to thank Sam Maggs for bringing them to my attention, and I’ll definitely be going back through the book again to make notes of biographies and books written by the featured women to educate myself even more.

This book is divided into five broad chaptesr, Women of Science, Women of Medicine, Women of Espionage, Women of Innovation and Women of Adventure. Within each chapter, there are several longer biographies of five women, followed by shorter ones of several more, and at the end, an interview with a woman in each field. I had heard of very few of them, and hope this book gets a wide audience so that many more can also experience the wide range of incredible work done by these women. I really appreciated also the fact that while there probably were more Americans featured than any other nationalities, the book was not completely US-focused.

The one thing that did bother me was the writing style. In her acknowledgements, Sam Maggs thanks her editor for helping her strike the right balance between textbook and Tumblr, but for me, the writing was much closer to the Tumblr end of the spectrum than textbook. The very, very, very conversational tone was grating a lot of the time, especially given the number of authorial asides that I did not find as funny as I think the author hoped. I do wonder, however, if this is just a case of being the wrong age group for the book; I think it is probably aimed at younger girls, around the age of 15, and maybe it wouldn’t annoy the target audience quite as much.

In conclusion, I think everyone should take a look at this book, or at least take note of the names featured therein. Just be prepared to cringe a little.

Wonder Women will be available October 4th, 2016


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“Our sex need not primarily define who we are, what we are capable of.” // Review of “The Fictional Woman” by Tara Moss #aww2016

Title: The Fictional Woman
Author: Tara Moss
Audio book narrator: Tara Moss
Genre: Memoir/Non-fiction
Date Read: 20/06/2016 – 26/06/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I had been thinking for a while now that I really should be including a bit more non-fiction in my reading, and when I saw Tara Moss’ memoir available through my digital lending library, it seemed like a good place to start. It was a blog post written by Moss on the gender bias in book reviewing in Australia that gave rise to the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, so even when I was getting a little bored with some of the content of this book, I felt I should push through in order to be able to review it properly.

Tara Moss was born in Canada and embarked on an international modelling career at the age of 16. At 25, she quit modelling and published the first in a successful crime series, and has since followed that up with many other novels. Her experiences as a woman have been many and varied, and she discusses both the labels she gives herself and the labels others have imposed upon her over her career. She combines this with social commentary on the ways women are represented in media, and provides stats and significant backup for her arguments.

I found that the strength of this book were Tara’s personal anecdotes. It was both horrifying and fascinating to hear of the ins and outs of the modelling world, the sexism she experienced in different places she was sent to work, and some other entertaining stories that she included along the way. I am fairly sure I could hear her voice breaking as she talked about being raped at age 20, by a friend (as is actually statistically more likely that the narrative of the stranger in a dark alley), and I felt a lump in my own throat as I listened to her talk about the two miscarriages she experienced, and how miscarriage is so much more common than anyone realises.

The data that she also uses in her book is extremely important and is material that should be common knowledge for everyone. If this book leads someone to the startling surprises regarding such issues as pay gaps and other gendered issues, then that is great. But for someone like me, with even a passing interest in feminism already, I found that a lot of it was stuff I already knew, and in the chapters that were more social commentary than memoir, I found myself getting bored, as I was treading familiar ground. There were times when Tara’s points of view and arguments did not entirely line up with my own, and I appreciated the opportunity to consider why I disagreed with what she said. However, this was fairly rare.

Having said that, I realise that change happens very slowly, and that with movements such as feminism, often things have to be repeated over and over before those in power really get it. So from that perspective, I do appreciate and applaud Tara Moss weighing in on this important subject.


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