Book Review: Nevernight & Recap Of The Melbourne Book Launch

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4-star

Title: Nevernight

Author: Jay Kristoff

Series? Yes. 1 of 3.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Goodreads

Book Depository // Amazon // Dymocks // Booktopia


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Harper Voyager Australia in exchange for an honest review.

I posted a list of ‘5 Reasons You Should Preorder Nevernight’ a couple of months back, so it should come as no surprise that I absolutely adored the book. Nevernight has just the right blend of nostalgia and fresh, original elements. It dares to go dark places, but is also never afraid to poke fun at itself and its genre, making it one of the best fantasy I’ve read this year.

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The book starts off with a bang, seamlessly mixing sex and death in a memorable opening sequence. It’s a hint of things to come, as Nevernight is filled to the brim with both lust and love, violence and despair, and ceaseless heartstopping action. Within the book itself, Jay Kristoff also employs a myriad of different story telling techniques, from occasional changes in point of views and narration, to the use of those clever little footnotes. Like the story, the craft employed within this book is unpredictable and ever-changing. Despite employing all of these narrative techniques, the book never becomes confusing, and the narrative voice is usually a perfect fit for a the scene at hand. Continue reading “Book Review: Nevernight & Recap Of The Melbourne Book Launch”

Potterhead July: Tales of Beedle the Bard and the Power of Stories

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First of all, I would like to thank you to every single person who has contributed a post or commented on a Potterhead July post – you’ve made July truly magical. We have less than a week left until the release of The Cursed Child, and I hope we will all love it as much as we loved the adventures of Harry Potter.

Here’s my own entry for the Potterhead July festival, admittedly several weeks late because I am horribly disorganized and got consumed by Pokemon GO. I also wanted to chance to finish rereading The Tales of Beedle the Bard before I completed this post because I wanted it to be a truly informed and comprehensive discussion on the function of fictional works – both within our real lives and within the world of Harry Potter.

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I remember my initial excitement over The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and how it made me felt closer to Harry Potter’s fantastical world. It felt right that young witches and wizards would also fall asleep to bedtime stories, and that these repeated stories should be more powerful than they seem. After all, isn’t this exactly what happens in real life? I have always loved books about stories, especially the ones that hid truths in plain sight or became more powerful with each telling. The Tale of the Three Brothers will eventually go on to become a fine example of this fact.

The wizarding’s world lack of fictional books prior to the reveal of Beedle the Bard have always struck me as odd. Here was a group of people living amongst the magic we Muggles could only dream of, yet they seemed utterly devoid of fictional imagination. Where was their equivalent for Tolkien, or Jane Austen, or J. K. Rowling? Entire generations of children grew up to be obsessed over Quidditch and love potion, where people poured over gossips penned by Rita Skeeter, yet where were the people in love with fictional universes? Hermione Granger, our resident bookworm, mentions only non-fictional biography or textbooks. Even Gilderoy Lockhart’s wildly fictitious accounts were based on the real life and works of other witches and wizards.

Naturally, the lack of fictional works in the world of Harry Potter had a very obvious explanation: it’s a gap in JKR’s immense world-building. To an avid fantasy reader like myself (and like most readers of Harry Potter), it’s an absence that made the wizarding world less believable – simply because I think a civilisation cannot exist in the absence of stories. Do wizarding folks simply not need fantasy because their life is literally magic? Do they not need grand legend and tales because, for them, Merlin and the philosopher’s stone are real? Somehow, I doubted this. When Tales of Beedle the Bard arrived, it saved me from a wizarding world identity crisis. It’s OK, everyone, they also grew up with stories, they also know of their power. Continue reading “Potterhead July: Tales of Beedle the Bard and the Power of Stories”

#ReadThemAllThon TBR Pile

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For more info on the Pokemon Indigo League #ReadThemAllThon reading challenge, read my Info/Sign Up post here. This post just includes the titles I will be tackling during the challenge period.

Chosen Pokemon

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A 2-stage evolution Pokemon is no good for points, but I just really love Vulpix & Ninetails, OK? May change it to a Togepi or Mareep if I get point hungry later on. Continue reading “#ReadThemAllThon TBR Pile”

Pokemon Indigo League #ReadThemAllThon Sign Up

Hi all, I am back with another reading challenge inspired by Pokemon Go. I have recently become quite obsessed with read-a-thons as a way to tackle my TBR, so combining these two things is the natural progression of things.

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Disclaimer: Pokemon belongs to Nintendo. I make 0 monetary profit from my blog, please don’t sue me!

What Is It?

The Pokemon Indigo League #ReadThemAllThon is a 3 weeks long reading challenge based on the Kanto’s Indigo League. Long-time fans of the series would recognise this as the first set of gyms Ash Ketchum had to conquer in his quest to become the Pokemon Master. Now you, my friends, will also embark on a journey to become the very best. Instead of fighting gym battles, you’ll be reading books instead!


When Is It?

The read-a-thon will run for 3 weeks between Sunday 14th August to Sunday 4th September.

You can sign up anytime between now and the end of the read-a-thon.


How Do I Join?

Create a sign-up post on your own blog/booktube/booklr/etc with the books you will read for the challenge below and title it #ReadThemAllThon TBR or something similar. Then add your link to the link widget below. Please add a link back to this post! Continue reading “Pokemon Indigo League #ReadThemAllThon Sign Up”

Pokemon Go Book Tag

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Disclaimer:  Pokemon Go belongs to Niantic and Nintendo, please don’t sue me.

By the time I post this, you’re probably already well aware of the global sensation that is Pokemon Go. This blog and other parts of my life have been 100% neglected in the name of catching them all. I thought I should combine my two loves of books and Pokemon in this one tag, and I want you to join me in spreading this across the lands!

Rules:

  • NIL. Link back to my blog is appreciated but optional. Feel free to use my graphics. Tag people, don’t tag people, whatever. Just have fun!

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Starter Pokemons have such great nostalgic values. I love all three of the original, but I chose Bulbasaur when I started this game (WHY?! I have not even seen a single Charmander so far, I am CRUSHED!)

For the bookish equivalent, some of my first English language books were by Roald Dahl, I especially love Matilda. I also loved R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps series! The first book I ever read on my own, though, was the Vietnamese edition of Dragon Ball volume one 😉 Continue reading “Pokemon Go Book Tag”

Book Review: Smoke by Dan Vyleta

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2stars

Title: Smoke

Author: Dan Vyleta

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Series? Yes. 1 of 3.

Book Depository // Amazon // Dymocks // Bookworld


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review.

We all know that feeling when a brilliant premise is bogged down by it execution. The ideas and worldbuilding behind Smoke were excellent concepts. However, the book lost its footing a quarter way through – making the bulk of the novel a sedated, plodding read.

Smoke

There is no more hateful smell in the world than the smell of Smoke.

The book begins at a private boarding school in an alternate Oxford, where all sins are made corporeal in the form of thick, black smoke. Humans are literally stained by their sin in this world. In London, smoke is especially widespread amongst the lower-class. It purportedly clouds judgement, making people of low socioeconomic groups become more susceptible to crime. On the other hand, the upper echelon of society seems to be untouched by sins and the taint of smoke. Our protagonists are Thomas and Charlie, a pair of friends who starts to question Smoke and the foundation of the world they inhabit.

Smoke was off to a riveting start, I loved the dynamics between the boys at the boarding school. Julius, one of the school’s prefects, exacts his cruel brand of justice on students who are susceptible to sins. His own unstained track records are one of the first hints of the corruption within the system of smoke. I also immensely enjoyed the relationship between Thomas and Charlie. I found their friendship genuine and complex – fraught with the tension of class divide.

The laws of Smoke are complex. Not every lie will trigger it. A fleeting thought of evil may pass unseen; a fib, an excuse, a piece of flattery.

Much of Smoke’s successes and downfall lies in the fact that it’s ultimately a mystery. Readers are pulled into the enigma of Smoke and the mechanisms behind it. The hints we get are tantalising and kept me turning the pages for the first third of the book. However, the information we obtain quickly becomes repetitive. While I appreciated Smoke making a commentary on societal divide and prejudice, I also felt that the book was too heavy-handed in its delivery of this theme and would have preferred a more subtle touch. Many of the scenes were Smoke were discussed quickly became uninteresting because of repetition. I was never fully satisfied with the way the mystery resolved (or rather, didn’t resolve) itself.

The other thing I had an issue with were the characters that were introduced in Part 2 of the novel. Initially, it excited me to see two interesting ladies introduced into the mix of an otherwise male-dominated cast. Yet, the book handled their characters poorly. Livia, despite her iron-will and opinionated mind, was quickly relegated to being the third side in an unnecessary love triangle (I have to say though, I really liked how the triangle was resolved). Lady Naylor had the makings of an excellent character: a lady scientist with hidden motives. However, we did not get to see enough of her, and I disliked her characterization later on in the novel.

I also found the pacing of Smoke uneven and especially painful towards the second half of the novel. The endless wandering and walking in Smoke gave me painful flashbacks to the very worst parts of Deathly Hallows – it seemed pointless and bleak. Unfortunately, unlike Harry Potter, it also largely went nowhere at the end. That’s my whole issue with this book, no payoff.

Regardless of my issues with the latter parts of Smoke, I still found the worldbuilding commendable in both its scope and details. Dan Vyleta has obviously given this world great considerations, and I love the questions that he managed to pose with this concept. The motivations and historical reasons behind the conception of Smoke were intriguing, I am disappointed it was not explored in more details. Instead, we got an endless litany of morality lessons, along with some truly bewildering character arcs.


What do you prefer? A great premise with poor execution, or an unoriginal premise with good execution? Of course, we would love to have both, but if I had to pick, I’d pick the second in a heartbeat.

Midnight Designs: A Court of Wallpapers

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If you follow me on any form of social media, you’ll know that I am pretty much obsessed with A Court of Mist and Fury. Many of my fellow fans have been asking for some wallpapers based off the series. To quote Rhysand, here’s to the dreams that are answered.

  • Free for personal use only.
  • Do not redistribute.
  • Series and quotes belong to the incredible Sarah J Maas.
  • Resolution is for iPhone 6 but should fit onto all phones.

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DROPBOX LINK.

A Court of Thorns and RosesIs anyone surprised I used a Rhysand quote in both these wallpapers? For this, I picked rose motifs for call-back to the Spring Court/Beauty and the Beast, some neat little arrows as a reminder of Feyre’s humble beginning as a huntress, and those masks the Spring Court denizens were stuck wearing. I totally mentally edited out the masks while I was reading the book, though.

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DROPBOX LINK.

A Court of Mist and Fury: Like the rest of the fandom, this is my favourite quotes from one of my favourite scenes. Team Night Court forever. I used motifs of constellations and stars for obvious reasons. I thought it looked like she was winnowing with the feathers (use your imagination and humour me a little here). Let’s not look too closely at her hair/Illyrian leathers in this one though, guys. My redrawing needs work.


If you’re after more Sarah J Maas related wallpapers, I posted some of the Throne of Glass series a while back here. I also started making the wallpapers for Assassin’s Blade and Empire of Storm tonight, but they didn’t really fit into the look of this post so I’ll save them for another day. Follow the blog for update as soon as they’re up!

My other wallpapers for other series can be found here.

If you love my stuff and want to commission me for a blog redesign, subscription box products, or any other graphics reason, please contact me here. I also have a Society 6 Store filled with bookish goodies.

FIND ME ON: Twitter // Instagram // Bloglovin

Book Review: When Michael Met Mina

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Title: When Michael Met Mina

Author: Randa Abdel-Fattah

Series? No.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Goodreads // Book Depository // Dymocks // Bookworld


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan Australia in exchange for an honest review.

When Michael Met Mina is a courageous, unwavering and relevant portrayal of Australia, as well as global social climate. The book looks at Islamphobia right in the eyes are challenges it. It also comes with a cast of flawed yet endearing characters.

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One of the things I loved most about When Michael Met Mina is the pure Aussie feel to it all. For a book that challenges the status quo in this country, the text also shows a lot of pride in this nation.

Like Mina, when I first moved to Australia, I lived in West Sydney. Admittedly, we are in different life stages and I was only there for one year – but in that time-frame I have faced the same stigma that seems to plague residents of the wrong side of the harbour bridge. I love that the book acknowledges the ugly, deep-rooted bigotry – but it also takes pride in the multicultural landscape of Australia. The book and its familiar settings also reminded me why it’s so important to have books telling stories you can immediately resonate with, and why we should fight to protect Australian stories.

Amongst the deeper ruminations on the status of refugees and immigrants in Australia, the book also delved into personal challenges and triumphs of the characters. We have Mina, who’s attempting to assimilate to life in North Sydney and at her prestigious new school. The story also follows Michael, who’s parents ‘Aussie Values’ oppose everything Mina stands and her family stands for. Their personal struggle parallels the larger story Randa Abdel-Fattah is telling and cautions that politics and the wider social climates have intrinsic ties to our day-to-day life. It’s a call to be more active and engaged, whether it’s against prejudice, against preconceived ideas the media feeds us, or even against the opinions of those people we love most.

I love the portrayal of the individual characters. The book fulfils all my needs for a strong, at times abrasive and unapologetic female protagonist. I found Mina very easy to love. I also adored the friendship that she cultivates with Paula. In fact, I love these two ladies so much, I kind of thought ‘Michael who?’ – I would read volumes of just these two completely slaying the patriarchy and racists together. The sense of family and community in this book was also incredibly richly drawn, making Mina and her family feel like fully-fleshed out characters.

For a book with very serious themes, it’s not without its moment of light-heartedness and humour. I loved that Randa Abdel-Fattah reminds us of the hope and joy that can be found, even in the darkest situation – and that people do not have to wear their misery on their sleeves to validate anyone’s opinions. This entire book is filled with quotable phrases, of both the sassy and insightful kind.

The book never feels preachy or forces any opinion on its readers. Instead, it presents the quiet fear and anger that fans within Mina, or the conflicts which Michael feels – and let us draw our own conclusions without hand holding. It’s an important novel and I am ready to push this book upon everyone of all ages and background. It’s more than a love story, it’s a relevant snapshot of the issues of our current world.

I did feel that the book floundered a little bit in terms of plot direction, it felt very slice-of-life. A lot of the book was Mina or Michael’s day at school and their extracurricular event – which is authentic and true to life, but made the book felt repetitive towards the midway point. As such, the concluding chapters of the book felt anticlimactic. Despite this relative lack of dramatic tension in its ending, the book remains a thought-provoking and recommended read!


Have you read any Australian stories lately? Which are your favourites?