Down The TBR Hole #3

Down the TBR hole banner

Welcome to the Down The TBR Hole meme. I have stolen this idea off Sofii at A Book. A Thought. because it seemed like a great way to get my TBR down. Mine isn’t as out of control as some of yours 😋but it is probably still worth trying to get it down a bit. I’d love your comments on any of my decisions.

I actually have my GoodReads TBRs sorted into standalones and series, with another separate shelf for books I plan to read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge. For purposes of these posts, I’m going to start with the standalones shelf (which is effectively the want-to-read shelf on GoodReads).

Here’s how it works, feel free to join in!

    1. Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
    2. Order on ascending date added.
    3. Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
    4. Read the synopses of the books
    5. Decide: keep it or should it go?

So, without further ado!

Em & Em by Linda Budzinski

Pros: it’s pretty short, the blurb makes it sound like there’s some interesting suspense going on.

Cons: on GoodReads it is mostly shelved as romance and the publisher is a romance imprint as well, which means the romance might actually overshadow the things that sound interesting. It also sounds like maybe it gets a bit preachy?

~~ Decision:  GO ~~

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

While I’m not 100% sure that I would enjoy this book, I think I have to keep it on my list. I love fractured fairytales and the idea of a boy propelled into a fairytale world that reflects the fact that he is in mourning for his mother, sounds really intriguing. The reviews are mixed, but I want to make up my own mind.

~~ DECISION:  KEEP ~~


We Were Liars
by E. Lockhart

This book has really mixed reviews, but I think this is another case of wanting to find out for myself what the book is like. The blurb gives very little away, but it sounds like it’s  YA psychological thriller? And I like those! Also sounds like it might be a bit literary, which I am less into. But I think I’ll keep this one just so I can eventually find out what everyone is talking about.

~~ DECISION: KEEP ~~

The Last of the Spirits by Chris Priestley

So I enjoy a spin an old story as much as the next person, and this version of A Christmas Carol from the perspective of two street urchins pushed aside by Scrooge sounds quite intriguing. It’s also only a short book and my library has a copy, but… I just don’t find myself pulled in by the description.

~~ DECISION: GO ~~

Time Storm by Steve Harrison

Ehh… time travel isn’t my favourite and the idea of a boatload of eighteenth or nineteenth century convicts figuring out twenty-first century Sydney honestly doesn’t appeal to me… even if the main character’s name is Kit, which is one of my favourite names, and even if he is a gentleman.

~~DECISION: GO ~~

TODAY: 2 keep, 3 go.

ALL TIME: 6 keep, 9 go.

What do you think of these choices? Have you read any of these titles? Would you have chosen differently?

See you next time!

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Down The TBR Hole #2

Down the TBR hole banner

Welcome to the Down The TBR Hole meme. I have stolen this idea off Sofii at A Book. A Thought. because it seemed like a great way to get my TBR down. Mine isn’t as out of control as some of yours 😋but it is probably still worth trying to get it down a bit. I’d love your comments on any of my decisions.

I actually have my GoodReads TBRs sorted into standalones and series, with another separate shelf for books I plan to read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge. For purposes of these posts, I’m going to start with the standalones shelf (which is effectively the want-to-read shelf on GoodReads).

Here’s how it works, feel free to join in!

    1. Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
    2. Order on ascending date added.
    3. Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
    4. Read the synopses of the books
    5. Decide: keep it or should it go?

So, without further ado!

A Curious Tale of the In Between by Lauren DeStefano

Just looking at the cover, I was nearly ready to get rid of this one, but then I re-read the synopsis, and it has ghooooosts! (Probably should have figured that from the reflection with no figure above the water). I love ghosts! And going by the reviews, it is a really charming but emotional MG read. So I’m going to keep this one.

~~ Decision: KEEP ~~

Ash by Malinda  Lo

On revisiting, this one… just doesn’t sound that interesting. My friends’ reviews seem to suggest that while the writing is very good, the plot meanders a bit.  And fairytale retellings are so popular now that if I want to find a lesbian Cinderella, there’s probably another one to  choose.

~~ Decision: GO~~

Mortal Musings by Arai Glazki

Aghh, that cover is so cute. But I feel like I’ve read things very similar to this since I first added it to my TBR. While I have enjoyed modern day stories with characters from Greek mythology in the past, I’m not sure it’s really my thing anymore. Also I think there’s probably more sexy times in this one than I generally prefer. So I’m going to let this one. go.

~~ Decision: GO ~~

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry

I don’t think this is quite my thing. I’m not terribly into Victorain comedy-style stuff and the blurb gives me vibes of Gail Carriger’s Soulless, which was not one of my favourites. There are many other Victorian murder mysteries waiting in the wings that I would rather pick up.

~~ DECISION: Go ~~

The Fantastic Fable of Peter Able by Natalie Grigson

Oh man. I’d love to keep this. It sounds very clever – the story of what a fictional character does once his series has wrapped up and he is no longer bound by a plotline… but the reviews aren’t great and when I checked the preview, I wasn’t impressed (it was all EXPOSITION!!!). Also I often miss allusions to other works of literature, and the author says in her own review that there are lot of those.

~~ DECISION: Go ~~

TODAY: 1 keep, 4 go.

(I was rather ruthless today, wasn’t I?)

ALL TIME: 4 keep, 6 go.

What do you think of these choices? Would you have chosen differently?

See you next time!

“I have a story I was meant to live. And not even you can unwrite it.” // Review of “Romanov” by Nadine Brandes

Title: Romanov
Author: Nadine Brandes
Genre:
Historical fantasy
Target audience: YA
Date Read: 17/04/2019 – 19/04/2019
Rating: ★★★

Review:

Ah man. I was approved for this ARC back in November 2018 and I’d been really looking forward to it. I’d hyped it up a lot in my head. So imagine my disappointment when I re-read the blurb when I was about 20% into the book and realised that I had totally misread it the first time, and the reason it wasn’t quite meeting my expectations was beceause I was stupidly expecting something that was never promised to me.

For some reason I got into my head that the execution of the Romanov family would happen fairly early on, and that the book would be about Anastasia being on the run through the Russian wilderness.

There is far less adventuring than that. A good half of the book takes place before the execution, and depicts the exile of the Romanov family in Impatiev House. Apart from the occasional mention of spells, this first half felt like it was straight historical fiction. The fantasy is barely there. Then in the second half, the pacing speeds up the nth degree and everything is about spells and spellwork. It is almost two different books, and it was a little jarring.

In terms of characters, I really enjoyed the close-knit family dynamic of the Romanovs. I enjoyed the cheeky Alexei, and I actually was pretty into the forbidden romance between Grand Duchess Maria and Bolshevick soldier Ivan, which I learned after reading is actually historically accurate.

But apart from that, the characters all felt.. superficial, I guess. A bit shallow. I didn’t really buy the romance between Anastasia and Zash at all, except for one or two moments. And even I with my limited knowledge know that Tsar Nikolai II was not the loving, kind, beneficient ruler devoted to the Russian people that he is presented as here. I want to give benefit of the doubt, because it is from Anastasia’s first person perspective and she may well have viewed her father that way, but it would have been good to see her delve into the whys and wherefores of the revolution a bit more.

Still, I read the vast majority of it in one day, so take from that what you will. I have a copy of Fawkes, Nadine Brandes’ other historical fantasy, which I still intend to check out.


Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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Down The TBR Hole #1

Down the TBR hole banner

Welcome to my first Down The TBR Hole post. I have stolen this idea off Sofii at A Book. A Thought. because  it seemed like a great way to get my TBR down. Maybe. Mine isn’t as out of control as some of yours 😋but it is probably still worth trying to get it down a bit. I don’t know how often I’ll have a chance to post these, but I’d love your comments on any of my decisions.

I actually have my GoodReads TBRs sorted into standalones and series, with another separate shelf for books I plan to read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge. For purposes of these posts, I’m going to start with the standalones shelf (which is effectively the want-to-read shelf on GoodReads).

Here’s how it works, feel free to join in!

    1. Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
    2. Order on ascending date added.
    3. Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
    4. Read the synopses of the books
    5. Decide: keep it or should it go?

So, without further ado!

Treason, Treason! by Josh Langston

This is an alternate history where the United States never existed and North America is still under British rule. In 2012, two scientists have invented time travel and go back to the War of Independence in the hopes of finding George Washington and helping him secure a better future.  I’ve had it on my TBR since 2014! And I actually do have the ebook already, and I’ve read the first chapter or two and enjoyed it.

~~ Decision: KEEP ~~

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas

I already own a copy of this one, too! And it was highly recommended to me by some friends. I’m not sure that it will be exactly my cup of tea (I suspect it might get a little too deep and philosopohical), but I am definitely interested enough to keep it on my TBR.

~~ Decision: KEEP ~~

The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi

I read John Scalzi’s “Red Shirts” a few years back and wasn’t a big fan, but I always said I wanted to try another of his books. Having said that, the way the blurb of this one is written on GoodReads, it sounds like the humour is similar, and that’s one of the things I didn’t really click with in Red Shirts. I don’t think I’ll worry about this one.

~~ Decision: GO ~~

Mademoiselle Chanel by C. W. Gortner

I was interested in this book as a fictionalised version of Coco Chanel’s rise through the fashion world. But to be honest, I don’t actually have that much of an interest in fashion or in Chanel personally so I’m not really sure why I sought this out. I can’t see myself being terribly interested in this.

~~ Decision: GO ~~

None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio

This is a book about a girl who discovers she was born intersex, a fact that gets around her whole school before she is able to properly process this herself. There are very few books that depict this experience and I try to read about diverse experiences, so this is on is staying on my TBR.

~~ Decision: KEEP ~~

I was going to do ten, but I’ve already had this post in draft form for a week and I want to get it posted, dammit! Haha. I guess 3 keeps and two goes is not too bad! I’ll keep whittling away at it through these posts whenever I get the chance.

See you next time!

Book Review: “Wolfhunter River” by Rachel Caine

Title: Wolfhunter River (Stillhouse Lake #3)
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre:
Thriller
Target audience: Adult
Date Read: 11/04/2019 – 17/04/2019
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

Back in 2017, I devoured books one and two in this series in four days. I absolutely loved them, so I was really looking forward to the long-awaited third instalment. It didn’t quite deliver on the fronts I hoped it would, but it was still a good read overall.

At the heart of the novel is the Proctor family, along wtih Sam Cade, trying to move on with their lives post-Melvin Royal. Their pasts still haunt them in ways they could never imagine, and there are betrayals lurking around every corner. I enjoyed this character-driven stuff even as I was a bit disappointed that the suspense was lacking.

The crime story and the suspense really picked up in the last third. Up until the 60% mark, I was thinking that not much had really been happening plot-wise, but there was enough in that last third to make up for the rest. It did get a bit complicated and I had to remember who a lot of different people were. A few different sub-plots all came together, so there was a lot to keep track of.

I suspect that this is something of a bridging book between the original Melvin Royal duology and future crime-solving instalments. I am definitely interested to see if/how this series continues.


Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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Friday Five: 5 Bookish Snacks

Hello everyone! Welcome to my first Friday Five post. I’m joining Molly from Molly’s Madness in this meme. I’ve seen various iterations of Friday Five around the Internet, but this one is book-themed.

This week’s topic: Top five reading snacks

This was a tricky topic as I tend not to allow myself too many snacks while doing things like reading. My problem is I graze mindlessly and next thing I know I’ve polished off an entire block of chocolate or something. But these are the things I would choose if that wasn’t an issue.

5. Pretzels

If you’re looking for something savoury but don’t want anything greasy that will get fingerprints all over your book, pretzels are a good alternative to crisps. I could easily polish off a whole packet though I’m supposed to watch my salt intake, so I’d have to just pour myself a small bowl and ration it over my reading session.

4 . Cheese and crackers

This can be anything from Jatz and Homeband Tasty to fancy fruit and nut crackers with Brie or Camembert. Probably a good match with some character-driven literary fiction. Hey, now there’s an idea for a blog series: matching snacks to books as you do meals with wine.

3. Chocolate

I mean, duh. Bonus if it’s the ones with different flavoured cremes in the middle. I don’t know why, but Cadbury Roses is the vibe I’m getting when I think books + chocolate.  Though in googling that link I discovered they’ve changed a bunch of flavours and the wrappers, so it’s possible this reading experience would be wholly disappointing now.

2. Fresh fruit

Things like grapes or strawberries are particularly good because you can have a bowl full of them and just grab some whenever you need. Plus, it’s totally healthy! (Shhh, sugar? What sugar?)

1. Hot beverage

I usually do actually have a cuppa of some sort with my while I’m reading. I’m mostly a coffee in the morning, tea for the rest of the day type of person. I used to drink a lot more hot chocolate but I think maybe the combination of milk and it being very sweet makes it kind of hard on my stomach nowadays.

“The melody conjured the taste of caramel sugar; laughter on a spring day; ice skates scraping on a frozen pond.” // Review of “The Enchanted Sonata” by Heather Dixon Wallwork

Title: The Enchanted Sonata
Author: Heather Dixon Walllwork
Genre:
Fantasy
Intended audience: Middle-grade/lower YA
Date Read: 14/12/2018 – 28/12/2018
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

This is the kind of book I may not have loved as much as I did if I had read it in another time and place. However, I was reading it around Christmas, and I got swept up in the descriptions of gingerbread and snow and music and it was lovely.

This is a retelling of The Nutcracker, with a bit of  The Pied Piper and The Phantom of the Opera thrown in. The writing has  a fairy-tale feel about it. Even when the stakes are high, there’s a feeling of whimsy to it and the language is beautifully crafted. Music is the form of magic used in this story and you feel a bit like you’re listening to music as you read.

It took me a little while to get interested in the romance between Clara and the Nutcracker because… well, it’s a bit weird because he’s a nutcracker the whole time she knows him, and also they’ve known each other for a day or maybe two, but their banter was sweet, and by the end I was totally squeeing over them.  Also the Nutcracker (aka Prince Nikolai) is super-awkward and insecure but also really comes into his own and proves himself when given a chance and I like that in a leading man. Also, there’s no toxic masculinity to be seen.

Clara’s character growth took a bit longer. For a long time she was in denial about any feelings for Nutcracker, or her growing fondness for the kingdom or the other friends she is making there. However, once she got the proverbial knock on the upside of the head and realised a few things about herself, I was able to get behind her a bit more.

I mentioned Phantom of the Opera earlier and I want to talk about that because it seems I was the only one who noticed this? The villian a musical genius called Erik who has a tragic backstory and lives at least part of his life underneath the city’s enormous music hall. People hear him playing and don’t know where the music is coming from and assume he’s a ghost. If that’s not Phantom of the Opera, I don’t know what is!

Definitely recommend this one if you are in the mood for a whimsical, magical fairytale. It will make you smile.


Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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Book Review: “Sugar Spells” by Lola Dodge

Title: Sugar Spells (Spellwork Syndicate #2)
Author: Lola Dodge
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Target audience: NA (upper YA?)
Date Read: 30/10/18 – 06/11/18
Rating: ★★★

I have a pretty terrible memory for the details of books, and I read the first one back in March. But I’m pretty sure I liked this one even more than the first!

Lola Dodge’s culinary descriptions continued to make me drool and once again, the cover is really stunning. The way Anise’s magic is infused with the baking was also described in detail and Dodge was able to expand on the magic system she established in book one. We also got to see more of Blair’s necromancy and Gabi’s cryptoid veterinary clinic, both of which were enjoyable.

Character-wise, my favourite part was the burgeoning friendship between Anise and her bodyguard, Wynn. I love begrudging friendships! And this was definitely begrudging on Wynn’s part. We also got to learn how he ended up in his contract as Anise’s bodyguard and what that meant for him. I loved Anise’s attempts to help him and how he opened up as he realised she was genuine about it.

I never saw the twist coming, but in hindsight, I should have known something was up. And those are the best sorts of twists, I think. The different sub-plots of the story all wove together into the climax, and I ended up taking a longer lunch break than I should have to finish the book. From the sounds of it, it looks like book three in the series follows pretty closely from the events of this one, and I can’t wait until March to read it!


(Thank you to the Publishers and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a review)

WWW Wednesday – 7 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.

It does not feel like Wednesday for me today! I worked on Saturday, saw a musical on Sunday and had Monday off, so it still only feels like Tuesday. 

But anyway, on with the questions! 

What did you recently finish reading? 

I finished Sugar Spells by Lola Dodge and it was delightful! I totally recommend this series for anyone looking for fun and cozy urban fantasy. My review will be up on Friday. 

I probably wasted enough time playing Super Mario Bros. 3 that I could have finished another book, but there it is. 

I posted reviews of Legendary by Stephanie Garber and Ruby Moonlight by Ali Cobby Eckermann this week. Click the titles to read them. 

What are you currently reading?

Circus Hearts: All Aces by Ellie Marney. At the time of writing this post, I’m about 15% in and it’s taking me a bit longer to get into than the other two books in the series. I think that might be because I’m really still in the mood for fantasy, but I do need to get this ARC read. And I’m pretty sure once the romantic tension really starts to build (it’s already there a little bit), I’ll get into it properly. 

I’ve also been listening to All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, which is a very well done time travel book that asks some big questions about the ethics of time travel. I’m using my Audible membership to start books I have had on my TBR for a long time. This one has been there since 2015.

What will you read next? 

Next I’ll be reading Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost, because the sequel is a Read Now on Netgalley and I can’t resist a punny title (the sequel is called “‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas”). 

“I stood looking over my damaged home and tried to forget the sweetness of life on Earth.” // Review of “Station Eleven” by Emily St John Mandel

Title: Station Eleven
Author:
Emiy St John Mandel
Audio book narrator: Jack Hawkins
Genre:LIterary fiction/dystopia
Target audience:
Adult
Date Read: 27/06/18 – 09/08/18
Rating:
★★★

Review:

This book took a while to hook me. As you can see from the dates above, it was on hold for a bit while I listened to other audio books, and intiially I only returned to this one because I had used an Audible credit to obtain it and felt an obligation. Somewhere in the second half, I realised I was looking forward to solo car trips so I could continue with it. I wanted to know how all the story threads came together and what happened to the characters.

Most of the dystopia/post-apocalyptic books I have read before have been YA fiction, actaion-packed and fast-paced. There books are often set so far into the future that it’s quite hard to really place them in any part of the world that we recognise; they might as well be set on a different planet. Station Eleven isn’t like that. It’s rooted in today’s world, and really examines how our lives – you and me in the second decade of the twenty-first century – would be affected if civilisation as we know it collapsed. It made me really think.

I will say that I am not usually one for literary fiction and even thinking about it now, some of the writing is flowery, bordering on wanky. I guess I got used to it in this case, but it’s probably not for everybody. The writing style is quite “tell, don’t show” rather than the reverse and perhaps Jack Hawkins’ narration of the audio book enhanced this somewhat. While I wouldn’t say he read in a monotone, there wasn’t a huge amount of expression.

There isn’t a huge amount of plot; this one iis definitely about the characters and how their lives intersect over the years. It almost feels like you’re reading these characters’ back stories half the time, rather then the parts of their lives the author wants you to know about. But somehow, I eventually did get invested enough in them to care anyway.


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