#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 01 February, 2017

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop 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?

unspokenlynburncoverI finished Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, which at first I thought was going to be my first 5* read for the year. But then as I went on, my feelings became a bit more mixed. It started off with tropes and characters I really liked, but then it veered off not necessarily bad things, but things I am less fond of and less likely to flail and squee over. Review will be along soon.

Idarkunwindingcover also finished The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron. It’s definitely not a standalone and I do want to read the second book, but I am going to have to buy the ebook, as neither my public library nor digital library has it. So it will wait for a bit. My review went up on Monday and you can read it here.

I also posted my review of The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co.) here this week.

What are you currently reading?

traitortothethronecoverI was approved for an ARC of Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton, which is released later this week. I’m hoping to finish it in time to get a review up on Friday, though if I need to leave it until Monday, that’s okay. It took a little while but I’m getting into it now.

beautyqueenscoverI also started listening to Beauty Queens by Libba Bray on audio. I went looking for one of her other books, and found this one. It’s a very black YA comedy. I’m enjoying it so far. And she is a great audio performer as well.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I actually posted a February TBR post yesterday, as I’ve got quite a few to choose from. I already have The Reptile Room (Series of Unfortuate Events #2) and Untold from the library, and I have two other pending ARCs to read as well.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

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The
other blog hop for this week is WIPpet Wednesday. If you’re a writer, you are very welcome to join us in this one by posting an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date. You can click the blue guy on the right of this blog to be taken to the link up. I’ve got three paragraphs today, for 01/02. Max has been reunited with some of his Aligarian Mage colleagues, but Clara is missing, and they’ve just told him that some of the Mages not loyal to Clara are also hunting for her here. Reminder that Clara has an entirely different set of memories at the moment.

Max felt his stomach knot up. “We need to get back to my Aunt. Clara – the Queen – has run off somewhere. Just now. I didn’t think she was that far ahead of me, but there’s no trace of her.”

“You’re that familiar with her?” Derek asked. “Calling her by her name like that?”

“She’s not the Queen here,” Max reminded them. “And she has no concept of being a Queen, either. We’re just her friends here.”

If anyone is interested, I’ve decided to participate in Faith Rivens‘ February challenge, Fictional Flashback February. My first post is here, introducing Clara in more detail.

That’s it from me this week. Toodles!

~ Emily

“Everything is splendid, everything is just so!” // Review of “The Dark Unwinding” by Sharon Cameron

Title: The Dark Unwinding
Author: Sharon Cameron
Audio Book Narrator: Fiona Hardinham
Genre:
Historical fiction/steampunk(?)/YA
Date Read: 17/01/2017 – 26/01/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

A wonderful piece of historical fiction, with plenty of fabulous characters to get attached to. I will say at the outset though, that while it sells itself as steampunk, I wouldn’t put it in that category. Yes, clocks and clockwork automata play a role, but the aesthetic that comes with steampunk is absent. If anything, I’d call it a gothic mystery.

When her cruel aunt feels that her son’s inheritance is in peril, she sends Katherine Tulman to her uncle’s (the aunt’s brother-in-law) estate to see if he can’t be committed to an asylum, ensuring the safety of the family fortune. As Katharine depends on her aunt and cousin to survive, she is willing to all she can. That is, until she arrives at Stranwyne Keep and discovers that her uncle is a brilliant eccentric who employs 900 people on the estate who would otherwise be trapped in workhouses their whole working lives. And the more time she spends there, the more torn she becomes between protecting the people she comes to care for and protecting her only means of a future.

Let’s talk about Uncle Tully first. While the word is never mentioned – and would be anachronistic if it were, given the time period – it’s fairly clear that Uncle Tully is autistic. As far as I can tell (my experience is limited, admittedly), it is a very tender representation, too; from the moment you meet him, you curse Aunt Alice for wanting him anywhere near an asylum.  His excitement about his clockwork figures is so endearing, and you just know that there is the brain of a genius hidden in there, even if it isn’t always on show.

Katharine is also a well-constructed character. Her evolution from simply wanting to get the unpleasant business over and done with to caring deeply for those at Stranwyne and the torture of knowing that the truth will come out eventually, even if she lies for them, is well done.

My other favourite character was Lane Moreau, Mr Tully’s closest servant (more friend/family than servant, really) and also Katharine’s eventual love interest. Unlike a lot of male love interests in YA, he actually had a reason to be dark and brooding when Katharine first arrived, namely, he thought she was going to betray them all. I’m a sucker for the hate-to-love trope and it’s done wonderfully here. Lane comes to care for Katharine, too, especially after seeing how quickly Mr Tully takes to her. And the banter! There was so much banter, they were so playful when they were pretending they weren’t supposed to be on opposite sides of the situation. It was wonderful!

There are other great side characters as well. The ensemble cast is very colourful, but we would be here all night if I mentioned everyone. I also don’t want to mention certain other characters and give things away. .

The plot moves slowly, particularly in the first half of the book. The characters really are the focus, and the setting of Stranwyne Keep is also really well developed and described after Katherine’s original arrival. The lay of the land is quite important in the climax of the novel, so pay attention to all of that! Sometimes  I did find the descriptions of all the tunnels and secret doors and rooms a little confusing, probably not helped by the fact that I was listening to the audio book, so couldn’t just duck back a couple of pages or chapters to check things.

The climax itself is very exciting, though I did think the resolution of the situation with Aunt Alice and Cousin Robert was a little bit deus-ex-machina-y. Still, I was glad how things panned out. The book is definitely not a standalone, while many loose ends are tied up, some are not, and we are definitely left with questions. i plan to get to the sequel sometime in the very near future and revisit all these characters that I also came to really love.


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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 25 January, 2017

Oh, look, it’s, um… Thursday. In this part of the word. However, it’s only 8am on Thursday here, which means it’s still Wednesday in pretty much every part of the world where this blog has readers. I did have plans of writing this post last night before bed, except then I fell asleep on the couch. Oops.

Anyway. Let’s just pretend it’s still Wednesday and start off with WWW Wednesday, 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?

Jcreepingshadowcoverust one finished this week – The Creeping Shadow, which is book 4 in the Lockwood and Co. series by Jonathan Stroud. I actually ended up being a bit disappointed in it, but it’s the 7th Stroud book I’ve read and the first one to let me down, so I can’t really complain. My review will be up on Friday.

I posted reviews for Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket this week. Click the titles to read them.

What are you currently reading?

darkunwindingcoverI’ve got about two hours left on the audio of The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron. This is a very character-driven book but I’ve ended up really enjoying it. And at risk of sounding like a teenager on Tumblr, pretty sure I found my first book boyfriend of 2017 in Lane Moreau.

unspokenlynburncoverI started Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan yesterday. It is the first in the Lynburn Legacy series. I wasn’t supposed to be getting anything else from the library but I’ve had this on  my TBR forever and when I saw it on the shelf I figured why not.

What do you think you’ll read next?

heartofbrasscoverI don’t know why I keep answering this question, since I have not once this year gone on to actually read the book I’ve mentioned under this heading. I think I will probably return to Heart of Brass by Felicity Hall, which is sitting on my currently reading shelf with only 60-odd pages read. I also have no idea what audio I’ll pick up; I will have to go on a hunt for one.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

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The
other blog hop for this week is WIPpet Wednesday. If you’re a writer, you are very welcome to join us in this one by posting an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date. You can click the blue guy on the right of this blog to be taken to the link up.

In this scene, Clara’s been chased down the street and grabbed by some strangers in purple robes. She’s stopped struggling because they seem willing to tell her some things about herself that her so-called friends so far have not, but she’s still not entirely buying it. Also, quick reminder because it’s been a while since he showed up in a WIPpet, General Bauer is the bad guy. He’s not really worried about her. Seven paragraphs beacuse 2+5 =  7.

She stopped struggling against her pursuer’s grip. Seeing that she was following his instructions, the man lowered his hand from Clara’s mouth. Three other figures stepped into Clara’s line of sight. They were all wearing dark purple robes and looked like they must be melting. Even after dark, the heat was still oppressive.

“Your Majesty,” said one of them, a woman. “General Bauer has been extremely worried about you these past six months. Come back to Thelidon with us. He looks forward to doing great things for the Kingdom, with you by his side.”

Clara bit her lip. “Look, um, it’s not that I don’t believe you about this, okay? Because some weird stuff has been happening to me lately, and at this point I’m willing to believe I’m the Queen of some far off country I’ve never heard of. But you’re going to have to explain things to me very slowly, because I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

The three people in front of Clara glanced at each other, as well as at the fourth person over her shoulder.

“You don’t remember Thelidon at all?” asked another woman.

Clara racked her brain. There was something about that word. And the robes these four were wearing. It was like a scrap of memory waving in the wind at the back of her mind, but when she tried to reach out to it, it was gone. She shook her head.

“Sorry.”

That’s it from me this week. As I’m late to the party now, and also since it’s a public holiday so I can spend my morning doing what I want, I shall visit your blogs straight away. Toodles!
~ Emily

#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 18 January, 2017

It’s time for WWW Wednesday, hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

 

What have you recently finished reading?

rebirthofrapunzelcoverI finished The Rebirth of Rapunzel: A Mythic Biography of the Maiden in the Tower by Kate Forsyth. I found her research quite interesting, though the articles in the third section got a bit repetitive. More info in my review.

badbeginningcoverOn Monday night, I read The Bad Beginning, the first in the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. When I read the first half of this series back at age twelve or so, I did not realise just how dark the book is! Proper, full-blown child abuse by page 30 or so! But it’s written in such a black comedy, deadpan kind of way that he gets away with it. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t like it as an adult, but that fear was not necessary! I actually gave it five stars at first, but one I’d had a bit of time to consider, changed my rating to four.

Incidentally, the reason I’m finally reading this series again is because of the Netflix series, which so far I am really enjoying (I’ve only watched te first two episodes so far), though it is something that risks getting repetitive quickly.

My review for The Mother of Dreams edited by Majoto Ueda also finally got posted.

What are you currently reading?

creepingshadowcoverCurrently mostly invested in The Creeping Shadow, which is book 4 in the Lockwood and Co. series by Jonathan Stroud. So far it is not disappointing me. Stroud rarely does.

Aheartofbrasscoverlso technically reading Heart of Brass by Felicity Hall. I attended the book launch during the Canberra Writers’ Festival last year and it was a lot of fun, so I was hoping I would enjoy the book, too, but it’s taking me a while to get into at the moment.

darkunwindingcoverLast but not least is The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron, which I found on audio this morning, and then discovered I actually already had on my TBR. It sells itself as steampunk, but the reviews say that it’s more like straight historical fiction. Since I have a love-hate relationship with steampunk, that actually suits me just fine. I’m about an hour and a half into it at the moment, and will hopefully get a chunk listened to tomorrow on my day off.

What do you think you’ll read next?

For the third week running, I’m answering this question with The Devil’s Prayer by Luke Gracias. I probably will actually get to it this time! Though a colleague did just today bring entire Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carringer for me so…

What are you reading this week? 🙂

wednesdaybannerThe other blog hop for this week is WIPpet Wednesday. If you’re a writer, you are very welcome to join us in this one by posting an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date. You can click the blue guy on the right of this blog to be taken to the link up.

I haven’t written much over the past week, as first I was preparing for my mother to visit, then she was here, then I found myself feeling stuck once she left, so I got around the stuckness by brainstorming and subsequently planning the contemporary Wizard of Oz plot bunny I mentioned last week. Maybe next week I’ll be sharing something from that with you.  With that in mind, I just have a single paragraph for you. This is from Max’s POV, and you’ll hopefully be able to work out the context.

“Clara?” he called out. The path ahead looked deserted, but he was sure she had come this way. The music from the carols service was still quite loud, so  he kept moving, keeping an eye out for any movement up ahead. He started feeling nervous. As he continued to walk, the music faded, until the nighttime surroundings took on an eerie quality. He jumped as a bush rustled, only for a stray cat to fly out from the foliage and streak past him.

That’s it from me this week. I have the day off work tomorrow so I’ll be catching your posts first thing. See you then!

~ Emily