““You are the most vexing and endearing box of contradictions I have ever seen. You fascinate me, Wendy.”” // Review of “Second Star” by J. M. Sullivan

Title: Second Star (Neverland Transmissions #1)
Author: J. M. Sullivan
Genre: Sci-fi
Intended audience: YA
Date Read: 10/02/19 – 15/02/19
Rating: ★★


I was totally on board with this book for probably the first half. I had a few quibbles up until then, but I was willing to overlook them. Unfortunately, the second half got confusing and frustrated me to the point where I was just waiting for the book to be over.

This is a Peter Pan re-telling set in the far future. I really enjoyed the little references to the original story. It was fun to spot them  all.

But while the characters are jumping through hyperspace and hanging out on foreign planets, the language they used and the society established felt woefully outdated. Even the main  insult several of the characters used – “codfish” – feels like something out of Dickens rather than Doctor Who. It actually felt like it could have been turned into a good steampunk quasi-historical story, but it didn’t go that way.

The characters also make Harry Potter references and one of them listens to Bob Marley… okay, maybe we will still be reading HP in 400 years  and maybe Bob gets to stick around as a master of the classical music of this period… but it didn’t immerse me in the time period.

I also assumed that  as the book went on, we would learn exactly why Hooke was the bad guy, rather than just having to take  Peter’s word for it… and we did, technically, but it never rang true to me. This might be because some of the worldbuilding about the Second Star and the ultimate Big Bad actually left me feeling a bit flummoxed, so Hooke’s place in the overall plan didn’t feel fully fleshed out.

The line I used in the title of this post is something Peter says to Wendy, and it’s lovely and romantic… but he has literally known her an afternoon when he says it. Maybe a full day. Good ol’ instalove. Wendy is nearly ready to sacrifice other members of her crew for Peter after only knowing him a couple of days.

There are more books to come in this series but I don’t feel inclined to follow the story any further. The one instalment was enough for me.

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

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#WWW Wednesday – 13 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?

This was a good reading week!

I finished The Slave City, the third Viper and the Urchin book by Celine Jeanjean. I enjoyed seeing the world of the first two books expanded as the characters travelled to a new country. I reviewed it here.

After that, I read my ARC of In Another Life by C. C. Hunter, which comes out at the end of March.  This is a YA contemporary about an adopted girl who finds out that her adoption may not have been strictly legal…

Then I read Finding Aurora by Rebecca Langham, which is queer retelling of Sleeping Beauty.  This was really good except I didn’t realise it was a novella, so it was really short! I reviewed it here.

Lastly, I read The Zigzag Effect by Lili Wilkinson. This is a YA contemporary about a teen who gets a summer job working for a magician and I had hoped to really love it. It was enjoyable but not my favourite.

I’ve got to get a few reviews written but I also posted my review of Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor here.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading an ARC of Second Star by J. M. Sullivan, which is a sci-fi retelling of Peter Pan. It has some really strong aspects and some… not so. Like Harry Potter references in the very far future? Except some of the character dynamics feel more like they are from the time period of the original story… so. Still, I am enjoying it. I’m about 40% of the way through and at the moment it’s feeling like a solid 4 star read.

I think I went at least a week without listening to Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor, but I’ve started up again with it this week. Minya was frustrating me for a while but we are now getting to know her a bit more, which is good. But at the same time, as with the first book, I can tell the different story threads will intersect at some point and I kind of wish they’d hurry up about it!

What do you think you will read next?

I should probably start focusing on my Australian Women Writers Challenge, since I upped my goal to twenty for this year (the previous few years I’ve only offficially aimed for twelve) and I’ve only read two. It’d be good to get ahead in case i start lagging around uni and travel times later in the year.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

“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
Intended audience: Middle-grade/lower YA
Date Read: 14/12/2018 – 28/12/2018
Rating: ★★★★


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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