#WWW Wednesday – January 17, 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 Everless by Sara Holland and while it was still a little bit tropey, it did subvert other tropes and completely sucked me in! I’ll be looking forward to the next book.

I also read Mr Stink by David Walliams. This is a children’s book very much in the style of Roald Dahl (complete with illustrations by Quentin Blake). I liked it but I wasn’t quite sure what it was trying to say. I’ll have a review up on Friday.

Two reviews this week! My review of Everless went up here and I also reviewed False Awakening, an urban fantasy by Cassandra Page, here.

What are you currently reading?

I haven’t had a lot of time for reading this past week as I’ve been on holidays with a couple of friends, but I have been reading The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co. #5) by Jonathan Stroud. Feeling a bit bittersweet as I have been following this series since it began and this is the last book.  Also, last time I finished a series by Jonathan Stroud, I threw my Kindle across the room (the ending wasn’t bad at all, just gave me a lot of feelings), so I’m a little apprehensive.

I am still going with The Hospital by the River by Catherine Hamlin. I haven’t had much time for audio books but I’ll be getting back to my longer walks tomorrow so I will be able to make some more progress with this one.

What do you think you’ll read next?

So I requested some ARCs from NetGalley that I thought were not going to be published until June and October, only to discover after I was accepted that they were actually published last June and October (and are still available to request?!). And also there was that time on Sunday when I went to the library and accidentally came away with six books. Which is all to say, I really don’t know, but I have plenty to choose from!

What are you reading this week? 

~ Emily

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Book Review: “Everless” by Sara Holland

Title: Everless
Author: Sara Holland
Genre:
YA/fantasy
Date Read:
06/01/2018 – 10/01/2018
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

After a little bit of a slow start, this book totally sucked me in! I can’t wait to continue following the characters in this world. It took me a little while to get my head around some of the world-building, but once I did, I really enjoyed where the story took me.

In a world where the currency is literally the years on one’s life, Jules and her father struggle to make ends meet from one day to the next. After her father’s death, Jules goes to work at the Everless estate, home of the wealthy Girling family, where she lived as a child before she and her father were driven away.  But the  more times she spends there, the more secrets she uncovers about her past, and the more questions she finds that need answers.

I really enjoyed the way that Holland subverted some typical YA tropes. What I thought was surely going to be a love triangle turned out to not be. There is still a bit of romance and it does have some eye-roll-worthy moments that are typical of YA, but this is very much not the focal point of the book. Jules actually spends most of the book trying to figure out her past and her abilities, rather than swooning over anyone.

The last third of the book is quite twisty. I had figured out some of the reveals that came along, but certainly not all of them, and I was taken by surprise on more than one occasion. There is a good cast of characters and I really appreciated how many women and girls made up the supporting cast.

I really loved the world-building. The idea of blood-iron did take me a while to understand, but it is pretty well explained.  There is also a lot of mythology and history of the Kingdom of Sempera, which Holland weaves into the story. Sometimes it did get a little info-dumpy, especially earlier on, but this didn’t bother me too much.

The ending is full of drama and leaves a lot for the second book to explore. I’m really excited to see how everythiing pans out.


Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of Everless for review purposes.

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#WWW Wednesday – January 10, 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’m still getting back into the swing of things for the new year, so I’ve been a bit slow at reading. I finished reading False Awakening by Cassandra Page.  I enjoyed it but I think it suffered a bit because it had been so long since I had read the first book, so I had trouble remembering some of the details it referred to. My review will be up on Friday all being well.

I have posted three reviews since my last WWW post. Click the titles to read them:

Warcross by Marie Lu (YA sci-fi)
Vicious by V. E. Schwab (sci-fi)
Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian (YA contemporary)

What are you currently reading?

I am reading an ARC – Everless by Sara Holland. I’m really enjoying this! It’s a bit different to the usual YA fantasies that are coming out at the moment (though it does admittedly fall into some typical tropes). I love the idea of time as currency.

I have also just started The Hospital by the River by Catherine Hamlin. Catherine Hamlin is an incredible woman who has done so much for women in Ethiopia. I knew a bit about her but I’m interested to learn more about her in her own words.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I think it needs to be Your One and Only by Adrianne Finlay, a YA sci-fi. I’ve had this ARC for a while now and it publishes in early February, so I want to make sure my review is up in time.

What are you reading this week? 

~ Emily

#aww2018 #LoveOzYA “Own your art. Own your existence.” // Review of “Beautiful Mess” by Claire Christian

Title: Beautiful Mess
Author: Claire Christian
Genre: YA contemporary
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I used to begin reviews like this with something like “I don’t read a lot of contemporary YA but…” as though I needed a disclaimer for any contemporary I enjoyed. I am getting rid of that disclaimer now because I’ve found in the past year that contemporaries have been among my favourites, while YA SFF has often been further down. My attitude used to be “why would I want to read about teenagers and their dramas?” but now I’m realised that these stories have so much to say that transcends one particular age group. This is one such book.

Ava is struggling with depression after the death of her best friend six months ago. Gideon has struggled with anxiety and self-esteem issues all his life. When they meet after both beginning work at the same kebab shop,  they form a bond that could just be the one thing that keeps them both going.

There was nothing especially revolutionary about the plot of this novel. What was fantastic to see, though, was the way Christian subverted so many of the tropes commonly found in YA books that deal with this subject matter. Neither Ava nor Gideon’s parents were absent or uninvolved in their kids’ lives; both kids had good relationships with therapists (in Gideon’s case, the idea of trying out different therapists until you find one that clicks with you is acknowledged) and the characters are not saved throught The Power of  LoveTM.

Both Ava and Gideon are beautifully formed characters. The chapters alternate between their first-person POVs, which I often find irritating, as I often find that in first person, both characters end up sounding much the same. This was not an issue here. Gideon writes poetry and competes in poetry slams and I loved the inclusion of his poems throughout the text.

For a fair chunk of the book, I was hoping that it wouldn’t become a romance, and would instead focus on the strength of friendship. Inevitably, though, the main characters did get involved romantically. For what it was, this was mostly done well, but I did find Gideon behaving in a disappointing fashion towards the end of the book. I felt that the ending left a little bit to be desired, but at the same time, I’m not sure these two characters’ story could have worked out any other way.

Still, as you can tell, I highly recommend this book with its great mental health rep, strong characters and some beautfully-written poetry.


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

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“Tonight, I can join in with everyone else, put on my glasses, and watch magic happen.” // Review of “Warcross” by Marie Lu

Title: Warcross (Warcross #1)
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: YA/sci-fi
Date Read:
11/12/2017 – 23/12/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

This was a fun series opener. While a lot of it was setting up the world and the conflict for the next book, it still made me want to read on with these characters.

When Emika Chen takes a risk and hacks into the opening of the live Warcross championships, only to be caught, she assumes she’ll got to gaol. To her surprise, she is instead flown to Tokyo on the private jet of the game’s creator, and asked to be one of several bounty hunters trying to solve a security issue within the game. But the more Emika investiages, the more sinister the plot becomes.

I really liked Emika. She’s had a rough few years, and this was well done without going overboard. I liked the way her situation was juxtaposed with that of Hideo Takeda, who has billions to spare and can pay Emika’s rent for the next year without batting an eyelash. Hideo was an interesting character, though the romance that developed between him and Emika seemed unlikely from his perspective. Of course Emika would fall right into it, he’s her idol. But it seemed weird that he fell for her quite so quickly.

I also really liked the fact that the inventor of the greatest virtual reality game and hardware ever produced was Japanese, and that the book mostly took place in Japan. That just felt far more realistic to me.

The world-building was a lot of fun. Since Warcross is a game with hundreds of different worlds, Lu could do something different every time her characters entered the virtual reality game. This way we get dragons, ice worlds, and underwater caves. These scenes are action-packed and very visual. I loved it.

There are two twists towards the end which give some nice set-up for the next book. One of them I predicted fairly early on (but doing so didn’t affect my enjoyment). The other one I didn’t see coming at all, though in hindsight, hints were being dropped throughout the book. This series is a duology, not a trilogy, thankfully, as I can’t see there being enough plot to really power two more books. I am definitely looking forward to  reading the conclusion, though.


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#WWW Wednesday – December 27, 2017

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

I totally thought I posted last week, then I found last week’s post sitting in my drafts a few days later, which explained why no one had interacted with it. So there is the last two weeks of my reading.

What have you recently finished reading?

I accidentally powered through my Christmas books and forgot to save them for reading over Christmas! I finished both What Happens at Christmas by Evonne Wareham and Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber and I enjoyed them both quite a lot.  My reviews are here and here respectively.

Warcross by Marie Lu was next. This was fun, though it did feel a bit like a series opener. I predicted one of the twists but not the other one, and even though I called it, it didn’t actually affect my enjoyment. I’ll definitely continue with the series as it comes out.

After that, I read Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian. This was a great YA contemporary about two teens dealing with mental illness and helping each other through it. The ending was maybe not the greatest, but it was really good mental health representation (along with supportive parents and a healthy attitude towards medication, amongst other things).

On audio, I finished Vicious by V. E. Schwab. I honestly have no idea how I felt about it. I mean, it was kind of an addictive read but I didn’t agree with anything the characters did so I was constantly cranky at them… the thirteen-year-old showed more sense than any of the adults…

My reviews of The End by Lemony Snicket and Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy also went up since my last post. Click the titles to read them.

What are you currently reading?

I just started False Awakening by Cassandra Page. This is the sequel to  Lucid Dreaming which I read last year. I have only read the first chapter at the time of writing this, but I do enjoy Cassandra Page’s writing style, so I think I will enjoy it.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m not sure yet. I have a couple of ARCs that release fairly early in the new year so I should probably get onto  those. Not sure what I’m  in the mood for at the moment, though.

What are you reading this week? 

~ Emily

Book Review: “Looking for JJ” by Anne Cassidy

Title: Looking for JJ (Jennifer Jones #1)
Author: Anne Cassidy
Audio book narrator: Shirley Barthelmie
Genre:
YA/drama/thriller
Date Read: 25/11/2017 – 28/11/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I think this book was supposed to be a thriller but I didn’t really find especially thrilling. Still, I did enjoy it as a straight drama, apart from a few quibbles.

Jennifer Jones has been in juvenile detention for six years after killing a girl when she was just eleven years old. Now seventeen, she’s been released under the name Alice Tully, and is trying to resume a normal life. But with press interest looming, it’s only a matter of time before this carefully constructed new life begins to crumble. And Alice begins to wonder if a person really can change.

I really liked the character of Jennifer/Alice. I felt for her as she tried to navigate her new life, and even more so in the second section of the book, where we learn of the circumstances leading up to the death of her friend. I also really liked her case worker, Rosie, who is staunchly in Alice’s court when the media starts to catch up with her.

My main issue in terms of characters was Alice’s boyfriend, Freddie. He was controlling and often seemed to be pressuring her into things she wasn’t ready for. And yet, Alice always went on about how romantic he was and how much she loved him. He then flipped to the opposite extreme once he found out that Alice was a virgin, going on about how the first time should be special and how he didn’t know if he was up to the task (or something). Both attitudes were kind of gross in their own way.

The writing itself was very good, though I felt the structure could have been a bit better. There are flashbacks during Part 1, then Part 2 centres solely on young Jennifer and the events leading up to the death of her friend. Part 3 then returns to Alice’s POV. I think the story would have been stronger if the whole back story had been woven in with the present story.

There is a sequel to the book, but I didn’t find myself compelled to seek it out. I felt that the story wrapped up in a satisfactory way and I was happy to leave these characters where they were. The sequel sounds like quite a different kind of plot, so it might be something I seek out when I’m in the mood for a more introspective kind of read.


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#WWW Wednesday – December 13 2017

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 The Penultimate Peril  and The End by Lemony Snicket, the final two books in A Series of Unfortunate Events. I actually really liked the way the series wrapped up, though I can see how some people were disappointed. I plan to read Lemony Snicket’s other series, All The Wrong Questions, which is set in the same world as ASOEU but follows adventures of the young Lemony Snicket.

I finally got my review of Stay by Jesse Blackadder posted last week. Click here to read it.

What are you currently reading?

I picked up Warcross by Marie Lu from the library last week and I have finally got around to starting it. I haven’t had a chance to read too much of it yet and I’m still getting my head around some of it but it’s promising so far.

I also started the audio book of Vicious by V. E. Schwab. After not loving the second two books in the Shades of Magic trilogy, nor being impressed by Our Savage Song, I had pretty much given up on Schwab, but since listening to it as an audio book means not taking away from reading other physical reads, that was okay. I’m at about 80% but I honestly can’t tell you whether I’m enjoying it or not. I think it’s one of those books where “enjoy” is not quite the right word.

Still sort of slowly working on The Game You Played by Anni Taylor when I have nothing else to read.

What do you think you’ll read next?

While I had one Christmas book on hold at the library, I decided I needed another, and I knew from talking to others that there is no short supply of Christmas reads on Netgalley. I looked through a few but chose What Happens at Christmas by Evonne Wareham, because I liked the sound of a mystery set at Christmas. I should probably read that before the library copy of Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber (which I heard about thanks to Laurel-Rain Snow).

What are you reading this week? 

~ Emily

#WWW Wednesday – December 06, 2017

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?

Ayeesh, from a week where I finished four books to a week where I didn’t finish anything.

It hurts my heart to say it but after taking a week to reach page 200, I decided to DNF Renegades by Marissa Meyer. I just felt that it way way too long, and nothing had happened at that 200-page point for me to really care about. But I also think maybe superheroes are just not my jam, since I thought Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee was just okay and I didn’t even reach page 100 in Not Your Villain.

I did manage to post my review of Killman Creek by Rachel Caine. Click the title to read it.

What are you currently reading?

I have started The Game You Played by Anni Taylor but I’m taking it slowly because unfortunately, the reviews that mentioned poor editing are correct. I can’t even blame that on it being self-published, so I don’t know what’s going on there. I think this is also going to be a bit of a slow read and I’m possibly comparing it to Stillhouse Lake/Killman Creek, which is probably not fair.

My main read at the moment is The Penultimate Peril, the second-to-last book in the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. I had never read this one or the last one when I was younger, so this is a new experience. I was torn between finishing this series before the end of the year, or ticking off more books on my monthly TBR. I decided finishing this in 2017 would be more satisfying.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I will definitely read The End by Lemony Snicket and see the series through. Knowing I’m so close to the end of this series is giving me a bittersweet feeling, but I think I might check out some of the other books set in the same universe.

What are you reading this week? 

~ Emily

#WWW Wednesday – November 29, 2017

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 had a great reading week this week, finishing no less than four books!

I finished Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine after posting on Wednesday night, then found the sequel, Killman Creek available to read straight away on NetGalley. These were intense! But if you like thrillers, I definitely recommend. I reviewed Stillhouse Lake on Monday and my review of Killman Creek is scheduled for Friday.

After that, I read Stay: the Last Dog in Antarctica by Jesse Blackadder. This is a middle-grade book based on a true story of a fibreglass Guide Dog (these are outside supermarkets all over Australia and you can put money in them that goes to Guide Dogs Australia) who was smuggled to Antarctica in 1991 and has lived there ever since. This was a sweet little book, and the last one I needed to fulfil my Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2017.

Last but not least, I listened to Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy on audio. I think this was supposed to be YA thriller, but it was more just a drama. It’s about a girl who has been released from prison after killing her best friend when they were ten. She is trying to start a new life under a new name, but the press interest makes it hard. I enjoyed it, though her boyfriend really bothered me because he was a controlling jerk and that was never addressed. :\

I also finally got around to reviewing Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee. You can read that review here.

What are you currently reading?

I have just started Renegades by Marissa Meyer and I’m keen to see her take on superheroes. So far I love the idea of the Puppeteer villain. At time of writing, I’m only at Chapter 4, so apart from that, I don’t have much of an opinion just yet.

I’ve also just started the sequel to Looking for JJ, Finding Jennifer Jones. It has a different narrator, though, which is mildly annoying.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’ve said it the last couple of weeks and it might still be The Game You Played by Anni Taylor. Another thriller but I seem in the mood for those right now. Though there are a lot of reviews for this one that say it is overlong, so I’m a bit wary.

What are you reading this week? 

~ Emily