Feb 3, 2015 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: THE GIFT OF CHARMS by Julia Suzuki

I received a teaser copy of The Gift of Charms, consisting of the first 3 chapters. This is the first book in the Land of Dragor series, and follows Yoshiko as he begins dragon school.

I know this is a children’s story and probably not best suited to my tastes, but I couldn’t quite get into it. It has a rather interesting plot, but I didn’t feel any connection to the characters, the pacing felt a bit off, and if I’m being absolutely honest, the writing style reminded me of a short story I wrote in high school (I’ve yet to decide whether this is good or bad!).

I found that the story was a bit rushed, especially once Yoshiko reaches school and finds himself face to face with a bully. The escalation from initial meeting to hatred was quite rapid, and seemed a little out of proportion.

If I had a copy of the whole book, I don’t doubt I would read the whole thing, but based on what I have read, I’m not in a hurry to finish it, or read the rest of the series. If you know someone in the 8-12 age range, they might enjoy it, but there are plenty of other books I’d recommend over this one.

Purchase: Amazon

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Feb 1, 2015 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOTT

I first encountered Kate Elliott’s work as a wee splotch, when her Crown of Stars series was being written. They were a huge part of my first foray into “grown up fantasy”, and I loved every book. So, you can imagine how excited I was to see this book being released, especially as it had been quite some time since I’d read any of her work.

The Very Best of Kate Elliott is a collection of short stories and a couple of essays. Some of the stories are set in the same worlds as her other series, others are completely separate. All are brilliant, and I found the essays to be really interesting.

One of my favourite things about her work has always been the variety in her characters – especially the female ones. They so often form the core of her stories, and as much as it shouldn’t be a remarkable thing, it is. It’s really nice to pick up a book and find women that aren’t there just to pad out the story for the men, and to find a main character that I can truly relate to. The range of women in this collection is just brilliant, and the exploration of the various forms their strength and bravery can take is fantastic.

It’s hard to pick a favourite, I really enjoyed each story. If I had to choose a standout though, it would be The Gates of Jorium. This one really tugged my heartstrings, and I couldn’t help but cheer aloud when I reached the end.

Finally, the essays. There are three, and it was The Omniscient Breast that I enjoyed the most – while I was aware of the difference between the male and female gazes, the way each is used, and the narrative choices made by writers (both male and female) were things I hadn’t stopped to think about, and that is definitely something that will be changing from now on.

Basically, this book is a great introduction for new readers wanting to know more about Kate’s work before committing to a whole series, a delightful read for older fans wanting to reminisce, and a must-read for anyone who likes their women badass and their fantasy epic.

Purchase: Booktopia | Book Depository
Release date: 10th February 2015

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Jan 31, 2015 - Weekend Wrap Up    No Comments

Weekend Wrap Up

Currently Reading:

Completed:

New Books:

New ARC:

Reviews:

Jan 27, 2015 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: GEARS OF BRASS

I have been searching for great steampunk for a long time now, so I was very excited to come across this anthology, wherein eleven different authors give us their steam-powered versions of fairy tales.

I really enjoyed the basic plot of several of the stories, especially A Clockwork Dollhouse, Clockwork Wolf and The Key Girl.

That’s about where I run out of positive things to say. Almost every story ends very abruptly with little to no resolution. The first couple of times this happened, I wrote it off as word count constraints. By the end of the book, I was rather frustrated. In many of the stories, it didn’t even feel like it was halfway through before it was all over.

The Key Girl was a notable exception to this – the main premise of its section was resolved, but ended in such a way as to not be much of an ending. If Grant Eagar isn’t fleshing this out into a full novel, I’m going to be sorely disappointed.

I was very surprised to see the amount of grammar and spelling errors found throughout the book, especially in the last few stories. I’m far from perfect, but I firmly believe that this book is in desperate need of a new editor. Seeing a character “chocked” and losing “conscience” is a bit much.

Ultimately, it was a very disappointing read, and I will continue my hunt for great steampunkery elsewhere.

Purchase: Book Depository | Amazon

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Jan 25, 2015 - Book Reviews    1 Comment

Book Review: I WAS HERE by Gayle Forman

I have a confession. I had no idea what this book was about before agreeing to review it, all I knew was that Gayle Forman was doing great things, and that I hadn’t read any of her work yet. I was quite startled to find that it’s primarily about the aftermath of suicide, but I put my big girl pants on and charged in anyway.

And I am so glad that I did.

This book isn’t about suicide, not really. Yes, a character’s death is a central part to the story, and there’s a lot of time discussing the how’s and why’s of it happening, but it’s about so much more than that. Really, it’s about family, friendship and inner strength. It’s about discovering that there’s more to other people – both good and bad – if you  look past the surface.

Writing about suicide and depression in any form is going to be a touchy subject, but it’s handled very well in this case. A lot of time is spent on the “how”, and there’s quite a bit of introspection and “what if”, but there’s no glorification.

I found Cody to be really interesting, even if I do think she made some questionable decisions. I enjoyed watching her grow throughout the story, and seeing how her relationship with her mother develop was really well done.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance aspect, it did seem a bit cliched and inevitable, but as that seems to be a given with just about every YA/NA novel, it’s something I’m just going to have to live with.

All in all, this was a great book and I do recommend it – just be aware of your own triggers around suicide, depression and mental health.

Purchase: Book Depository | Booktopia | Amazon

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Jan 13, 2015 - Top 10 Tuesdays    No Comments

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Releases I meant to read but didn’t get to

I have to admit, there are a few on this list that I didn’t know about until way too late in the year, but they’re all now high priorities for this year!

  1. The Lascar’s Dagger by Glenda Larke
  2. The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller (I have started this, but it’s been such a halfhearted effort that I might as well have not)
  3. Troll Mountain by Matthew Reilly
  4. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
  5. The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
  6. Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb
  7. Thief’s Magic by Trudi Canavan
  8. The Collected Works of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
  9. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
  10. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson