#WWW Wednesday – April 18, 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

I am back from Nepal! I had a great time, though the trek itself was quite challenging, physically and emotionally. But I had a fantastic group of people supporting me. Those 12 days went way too fast, but I am glad to be home.

What have you recently finished reading? 

I finished Ready Player One by Ernest Cline before I went away.  I… look, there’s an okay YA dystopia in there somewhere, but I couldn’t find much of it. It was my first ever one star review! (Said review is full of spoilers, read at your own risk).

I also read The Sherlockian by Graham Moore prior to that. It was fine, but nothing special. I definitely enjoyed Graham Moore’s other novel more. I reviewed it here.

Remember how I was all  “I’m going to read so many books on the plane and have a super long post for you when I get home!”? Yeah, I read two. And one of them was super-short.

The first was Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. I had never read it before and I’m not sure if perhaps I missed the boat with it? I mean, I enjoyed it, but I think a lot of people probably have a certain amount of nostalgic love for it that comes from reading it when one is the same age as Anne Shirley.

I also picked up and read Folk Tales from Nepal by Kesar Lall at Pokhara airport. The English translation wasn’t brilliant but it was fun reading these stories while I was travelling around the locations where they took place.

What are you currently reading? 

At time of writing, I haven’t actually picked up The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon since the day before I left for Nepal. I wasn’t entirely into it. Coincidentally, one of the women in my group was reading it on the plane and she wasn’t that into it either, but we did both say we would see it through. .

What do you think you will read next?

I want to try and read something else off my March-April TBR before the end of the month. I am leaning towards Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie because I didn’t read that on my Jan-Feb TBR either… but I also have an ARC of Bookworm by Lucy Mangan, so I should probably read that soon… I don’t know. I’ll see what I’m in the mood for.

What are you reading this week?~ Emily

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March-April 2018 TBR

Read my February reading wrap-up here!

I made it through six of the eight titles on my Jan-Feb TBR list, which is not too bad in my book! (Haha, book pun, geddit?) I’ve carried the remaining two over for the next two months, and have finally had an opportunity to use my TBR Jar to pick out my next few reads! Plus I have one ARC that I know of and a couple of others pending at the time of this writing. It’s really great to be putting a hole in both my physical and virtual TBRs!

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Scapegallows by Carol Birch

Treason! Treason! by Josh Langston

Call Me Sasha by Genna Leigh

Daddy Darkest by Ellery Kane

Anne of Green Gables by E. M. Montgomery

A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester

What are you reading this month?

 

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.” // Review of “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Genre:
YA Contemporary
Date Read: 10/02/2018 – 14/02/2018
Rating:
 ★★★★

Review:

This book had been sitting on my Kindle for months, and while I kept i ntending to read it, I kept putting it off because I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be an easy read. There were definitely times when I got angry or frustrated, but for the most part, this was a really accessible account of what it can be like being black in America today.

This book was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and I don’t think I have ever read a book that felt quite so contemporary. Not just the issues presented, but in other ways. This one refers to things like Tumblr and how Black Twitter mobilises in the face of another shooting; this actually made me realise how little social media is utilised in so-called contemporary books (or at least the ones that I’ve read, which admittedly, isn’t a huge number).

The book is written in first person, so the narration, as well as the dialogue, is written in a style appropriate to that of a black American teenage girl. I’ve seen some reviews say the writing is terrible, but I think there’s a difference between “this is terrible writing” and “the author’s deliberate stylistic choice did not work for me”.  I appreciated hearing a different voice in the narration; one YA contemporary does sound very much like another lately, especially those written in first person.

I did like the way the black community was depicted; it was a warts ‘n’ all representation, though to be honest, I did sometimes lose track of who was related to whom and how, and who was working for whom. I also thought the way Starr’s conflict between the different selves she created for herself, depending on whether she was with her black family and friends or her white friends at school was well-depicted. After reading the author’s notes, I realise there is a lot of Angie Thomas in there. The attitudes of the white people around Starr at her school were well-done without being heavy-handed. I expect some white readers may get defensive over the portrayal, but honestly, it was quite realistic.

I did sometimes feel that the pacing was a bit off. Sometimes, something would feel repetitive or like it was being padded out, but then we got barely a glimpse of Starr’s testimony at the Grand Jury later on in the book. This was really the only thing that knocked a star off my rating.

I’ve seen some people say “Should I read this book or Dear Martin?” (another book about contemporary black teens) and even without having read the latter is, “Read both.” This is an important book, but it is only one author’s experience. I hope that the popularity of this particular story will mean that we get to hear of more black authors’ experiences in the near future.


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“It feels like music, like a heartbeat, like magic… Like Beauty.” // Review of “Hunted” by Meagan Spooner

Title: Hunted
Author:  Meagan Spooner
Audio book narrator: Will Damron, Saskia Maarleveld
Genre:
  historical fantasy/fairytale retelling
Dates read: 28/01/18 – 03/02/18
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

Anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows that I am a fan of fairytale retellings. This book has been on my TBR ever since it was released, so when I saw the audio book available through my library’s digital borrowing app, I snapped it up.

With her father’s fortune in ruin, Yeva and her family return to the forest where her father used to hunt. When her father claims a beast is tracking him through the wood and then goes missing, Yeva sets out to find him. When she discovers he is dead, she tries to kill the beast she believes is responsible, but ends up a prisoner in his castle instead, told only that he needs a hunter to kill a quarry for him and break his curse.

The thing I loved about this book was the writing, and I think it was enhanced by two narrators with very soothing voices to carry the rhythm. For a while it bothered me that I wasn’t excited or invested about the characters, but after a while, I sunk into the story itself despite that. The characters are well-written, but not in such a way to get really invested in.

will admit I’m not an expert on Medieval Russia but the historical setting seemed very well formed to me. I loved the wintery atmosphere – all that snow! The descriptions are beautiful. I also really enjoyed the way this was not only a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but also drew on the Russian story The Firebird. I spotted a few indications of the ties between the two stories early on in the book and was rewarded with the pay-off at the end.

If you like fairytale retellings, or atmospheric, character-driven fantasies, I definitely recommend checking this one out.


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“We may have created them, but like all children, they grow up and make their own lives.” // Review of “Your One and Only” by Adrianne Finlay

Title: Your One and Only
Author: Adrianne Finlay
Genre:
YA/sci-fi/romance
Date Read: 29/01/2018 – 02/01/2018
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I was approved for this on NetGalley months and months ago, and for some reason kept putting it off. With the publication date looming, I thought I’d better get onto it, and when I did, it turned out to be a compelling read.

Jack is a human in a world of clones. The clones are suspicious of him because his behaviour doesn’t fall in line with theirs, and he doesn’t understand their ceremonies. Althea-310 can’t help feeling different from her sisters and drawn to Jack. As their world starts to fall apart, they find hope in each other.

This is definite soft sci-fi, and while some of the “science” did make me raise my eyebrows a little, I found the story was engaging enough that I was willing to handwave the world-building that didn’t seem exactly right. It did take me a few chapters to get my head around exactly how the communities of clones had come to be and how they lived and reproduced, but I did get there in the end.

I felt for Jack, who was raised in virtual isolation and disliked by the closest things he had to peers. But I was more interested in Althea. I liked seeing her progression from one of the clones to individual and how she questioned what was happening to her.

It did bother me that the clones isolated Jack in part because he had a tendency towards violence, but they couldn’t recognise that many of their own also had these same tendencies. The clones were supposed to be perfect, and Jack was different. I couldn’t work out whether that was supposed to be their cognitive dissonance, or a case of the world-building/story not quite working the way the author wanted it to.

I wouldn’t say the romance is gradual, but it did feel like it unfolded at a good pace. In terms of content, apart from some kissing, there is the clones’ monthly Pairing Ceremony. Though Pairings are never really described explicitly, the clones do discuss how they are taught what each of the other clones likes, and how to pleasure them. I did like this exploration of a completely new culture’s attitude towards sex.

There were a few occasions where the pacing felt a bit off, including at the end (during and after the climax). There were also a couple of scenes where dialogue went around in circles a bit.

I can’t say sci-fi romance is a sub-genre I’ve read much of, but if this is an example of it, then I feel like I should broaden my horizons.


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

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January-February 2018 TBR

With the new year, comes a new experiment in how I approach my TBRs. Last year, I found that a monthly reading list was a bit too intense, so I adjusted it to a three-monthly list with about 20 titles on it. I think that was a bit ambitious, too, given how prone I am to getting distracted by other books.

This year, I am going to aim for a TBR with 8 titles to work through over a two month period. I usually read between five and ten titles a month, so that should leave me plenty of time for both completing the TBR and other books such as ARCs or challenge titles. I’ll do a wrap-up at the end of the two months, rather than monthly.

So! Here are my 8 titles for January/February. A couple of ARCs, some books that I own, and a bunch that have been sitting on my Kindle for quite a while now.

Everless by Sara Holland

Your One and Only by Adrianne Finlay

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Dollhouse by Anya Allyn

False Awakening by Cassandra Page

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Stay tuned for weekly reading updates, reviews and monthly wrap-ups to see how I’m going with this list and how I feel about these titles, and others.

 

#aww2017 #LoveOzYA “Everything connects, but not everyone hears those connections. ” // Review of “The Foretelling of Georgie Spider” by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Title: The Foretelling of Georgie Spider (The Tribe  #3)
Author: Ambelin Kwaymullina
Genre: YA/dystopian
Date Read: 08/10/2017 – 11/10/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I really wish I could tell you why I wasn’t more into this series. It ticked all the right boxes. Interesting premise, well-developed characters and tight plot, and yet I was never invested. I actually probably found this to be the case with this third instalment most of all.

While Ashala was still a strong narrative voice, I didn’t really connect with Georgie Spider, which made it difficult reading her POV. I liked the theme of the series coming together, that there is one person to look to the past, one to be in the now and one to look to the future, but I found Georgie’s naivety a little too much at times.

The action scenes were really good in this book; as I said, it was tightly-plotted and I loved the way it was structured. That was the one point where I did think Georgie’s POV worked – when she was seeing futures that were only a minute or so ahead of her present and helped the Tribe to be in the right place at the right time to defeat them.

Also, just a ilttle thing, but I loved that this series uses terms like “Detention centre”, terms we’re all too familiar with here in Australia at the moment when it comes to asylum seekers and refugees.

As I said, I think this series suffered from a case of “It’s not you, it’s me” as I was reading it. I would definitely recommend other fans of dystopia checking it out, even if I didn’t have the best run of it.

Reviews to the previous books in this series:

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf

The Disappearance of Ember Crow


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

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“Life is like a musical: it’s here one moment and gone the next.” // Review of Life is Like a Musical by Tim Federle

Title: Life is Like a Musical: How to Live, Love, and Lead Like a Star
Author: Tim Federle
Genre: Non-fiction/memoir/self-help
Date Read: 28/09/2017 – 29/09/2017
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

Tim Federle is my people. If we’d been at school together, we would have been friends because then we would have each had someone to geek out with about musicals when no one else cared. While the advice in this book might be somewhat generic, I really enjoyed the theatre anecdotes that he used to back up his claims, a lot of the time because I could relate, having had a similar experience somewhere in my amateur theatre experiences.

This book is full of lessons Tim learned during his time on Broadway as a dancer, as well as later, writing theatrical material and novels. You can see some of them on the cover: “Let someone else take a bow”, “take the note” (i.e. accept constructive feedback without getting defensive”) and “Dance like everyone’s watching”. He applies these lessons to wider life, careers and relationships.

I really enjoyed some of the anecdotes about being backstage at a theatre. I’ve never performed on Broadway, just at a couple of local theatres in the towns where I’ve lived, but the experiences are much the same. I laughed out loud a lot. I also enjoyed the stories about the big names the Tim worked with on Broadway.

This book probably isn’t for everyone, and I think it probably will particularly appeal to those like me who have a theatre background (even if it’s not a very extensive one). But I laughed out loud several times and related to Tim’s stories so often, so I definitely recommend checking it out.


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

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#aww2016 #LoveOzYA “And whatever you end up discovering – try to think of me kindly. If you can.” // Review of “The Disappearance of Ember Crow” by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Title: The Disappearance of Ember Crow (The Tribe  #2)
Author: Ambelin Kwaymullina
Genre: YA/dystopian
Date Read: 12/09/2017 – 14/09/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

Knowing that I enjoyed the first book in this series, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, well enough but was not blown away by it meant that I went in without expecting to be blown away by this one.  I had pretty much exactly the same reaction to this one: it has a tight, interesting plot and is well-written,  but for some reason, it just didn’t wow me.

Even though it had been over a year since I read the first book, I didn’t have too much trouble getting back into this world, so that was a good sign. This instalment took the world-building of the previous book and expanded on it, and I did enjoy seeing more of the physical setting as well as getting more of the history.

I didn’t find the romance between Ember and Jules interesting at all. They barely knew each other, and there was no chemistry between them. It didn’t really make much sense to me that Jules would go out of his way to help Ember on a few days’ acquaintance.

I did enjoy the climax of the novel. It was exciting and had some good twists. I honestly can’t tell you why I didn’t get more into this book. I think it was just a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”.


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

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#AWW2017 #LoveOzYA “What other beautiful things had fear been hiding from her? ” // Review of “A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares” by Krystal Sutherland

Title: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Genre: contemporary YA/Magical realism
Date Read: 07/09/2017 – 11/09/2017
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

I’m beginning to think that I’m actually a YA contemporary fan, even though I always tend to preface reviews with “I don’t read a lot of contemporary, but…” Some of my favourite reads this year have been YA contemporaries, and this one is added to that list. 

Esther Solar’s family has been cursed by Death, and each family member is going to die from their worst fear. Esther doesn’t know what hers is yet, but when she is reunited with childhood friend, Jonah, they resolve to face each item on her list and see if she can’t get through to the other side.

This book has such a bitteresweet tone, but don’t let the surface fluffiness fool you. This book gets deep. And dark. It does not treat mental illness lightly, but shows how it can tear a family apart. The characters are great, but rather heartbreaking. In addition to mental illness, the book also tackles domestic violence and also pulls no punches there.

I loved the magical realism aspect for the most part. I found Sutherland’s characterisation of Death really fascinating, and the idea of Death being able to fall in love, and die, and be taken by surprise sometimes, I thought was awesome. The fact that it was never clear whether he was really there or whether it was all in Esther’s head worked for the most part, though I might have liked the ending to be a little less ambiguous. There was also a reveal towards the end about Esther’s grandfather’s interactions with Death, which was a reveal to the reader, but not to Esther. Up until that point, though, Esther had been acting as  though she hadn’t been aware of the facts that came to light here, and I felt it was cheating a bit to have her act that way for the sake of narrative convenience.

Still, I found myself getting a little teary at the end and not wanting to let these characters go. They certainly got under my skin.

Trigger warnings: self-harm, suicide, domestic abuse.


(This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017. Click here for more information).

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