Halloween 2016: Diverse Horror

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A post recommending short stories is the closest I will ever come to celebrating Halloween. The holiday just seems so incongruous with the Australian summer, and I did not even know of its existence while growing up in Vietnam.

On the other hand, I am someone who’s always been morbidly fascinated by ghost stories and grisly horror. I am particularly invested if there’s a cultural or human element to the story, my faint heart vastly prefers a solid story of human tragedy to an all-out gore fest. This short recommendation list will include a couple of short stories I read throughout the week leading up to Halloween, they all feature diverse author and/or characters.

Trigger Warning for most of the stories for blood and violence. Continue reading “Halloween 2016: Diverse Horror”

Blog Tour: A Diabolically Good Playlist

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I am honoured to host the first stop in the Australian The Diabolic Blog Tour. Today, S. J. Kincaid will be sharing with us her Diabolically awesome playlist.  I love listening to music that inspired or aid the author in the creation of their book, it makes for such a visceral and immersive experience reading experience.

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When I was conceiving Nemesis’s character, expanding on that girl I’d written only a single page about and wanted to know more, I was listening to this song and suddenly had this image of an immensely powerful, athletic woman charging down a hallway. That helped me figure out just what Nemesis would be, and what a Diabolic would be.

(Aentee’s notes: I love this song, it’s totally my summer anthem. The lines ‘Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame. Where there is a flame, someone’s bound to get burned’ captures one of the pivotal relationships in this book so perfectly!) Continue reading “Blog Tour: A Diabolically Good Playlist”

Pre-Release Thoughts: The Bear and the Nightingale

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The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden is not released until January 2017, but I already know that it will be amongst my top ten list of next year. I adore immersive, dark, and atmospheric folklore retelling. This book dishes all of these elements up and more, here’s a sneak peek as to why you should pre-order this beautiful book.

Summary: In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift – a precious jewel on a delicate chain, intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, Pytor hides the gift away and Vasya grows up a wild, willful girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay.

Preorder Via: Book Depository ||  Amazon  ||  Booktopia  ||  Bookworld Continue reading “Pre-Release Thoughts: The Bear and the Nightingale”

Book Review: A Closed and Common Orbit

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Title: A Closed and Common Orbit

Author: Becky Chambers

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Series? Companion Novel to The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet

Goodreads

Book Depository // Amazon // Dymocks // Booktopia


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

Note: This review will contain spoilers for the prequel The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet. Common Orbit can be read as a standalone, although you will be spoiled for part of Small Angry Planet’s ending.

I read Small Angry Planet earlier on this year and it catapulted into my all time favourite list, it’s a scifi bursting with heart and soul. Needless to say, I have been anticipating the release of Common Orbit ever since.

Companion novels are a mixed beast for me, although I love revisiting the world, I am always afraid I won’t love it as much as the original if the characters I grew to love are no longer around. My fears were quickly dispelled as Common Orbit prove to retain all the heart that made me love Small Angry Planet. It also stood on its own two feet as an excellent, thought provoking novel that examines the meaning of family and identity.

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Continue reading “Book Review: A Closed and Common Orbit”

Book Review: All The Ugly And Wonderful Things

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Title: All The Ugly And Wonderful Things

Author: Bryn Greenwood

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Series? No

Goodreads

Book Depository // Amazon // Booktopia


All The Ugly and Wonderful Things is a book that hooks you in, creeps under your skin, and refuses to let go. Written with a poetic and quiet intensity, the characters of this novel will haunt your thoughts long after the last pages are turned. The book effortlessly provokes a reaction: whether it’s one of disgust or of sympathy. Yet, the emotions never feel manufactured or disingenuous despite the controversial nature of the book’s themes.

“I liked learning things. How numbers worked together to explain the stars. How molecules made the world. All the ugly and wonderful things people had done in the last two thousand years.”

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“That’s not the only thing love means. You just got your mind in the gutter.”

Wavy is a girl who grew up without love, told by her own mother that she’s dirty and repulsive. At the beginning of the book, we meet Wavy at the tender age of five, already irreversibly damaged by her psychological and physical abuse. She does not speak, does not allow people to touch her, and is physically unable to eat in front of others. As expected, Wavy has an inherent distrust for the adults she encounters – until she meets Kellen. Kellen, despite being a con man and labelled a ‘fat slob’, is the exception. He’s able to get through her walls and connect with Wavy in a way even her younger brother and grandmother (the other two significant people in Wavy’s life) could not.

“Odd couple that they were, they had a real connection. Then he tugged her boot off and kissed the bottom of her bare foot. I could see him doing that kind of thing to his own kid, but she wasn’t. She was somebody else’s little girl.”

The plot is classic lonely girl meets lonely boy – yet it’s turned on its head by the huge age gap between the two characters. Wavy meets 24 years-old Kellen when she is just 8 years-old.  It’s a gap that seems morally unbreakable, although Kellen signifies safety and belonging to Wavy, two concepts that were completely alien to both of them prior to their meeting. Their relationship is a way for them to find their own comfort and identity in the midst of their awful world. Yet, physically, Wavy and Kellen could not be more mismatched: the text reminds us time and again of Wavy’s waif-like appearance, in contrast to Kellen’s huge form and beer belly. Wavy and Kellen’s bond is no fairy tale romance– it’s messy, fraught with emotional baggage and trauma from their environment.

This book is a remarkable example of the classic writing advice: ‘show, don’t tell’. The reader is never left with a biased viewpoint of our protagonists. Instead, we view Wavy and Kellen’s relationship from a multitude of characters – some recurring, some present for barely half a chapter. The book never presume to tell its audience how to feel about the relationship between Wavy and Kellen. I was allowed to be disturbed as much as I was allowed to be moved. To the very end, I still cannot condone all of Kellen’s actions, both he and Wavy remains extremely flawed. There’s no glorifying of tragedy or romanticising of any circumstances. Bryn Greenwood’s writing unflinchingly explores the ugly places, whether it’s base desires or unpleasant physical descriptors. It’s uncomfortable, it’s confronting, and it will make you question your own moral compass and societal values a thousand times over.

“You can look up the word keening in the dictionary, but you don’t know what it means until you hear somebody having her heart ripped out.”

I can’t quite believe this is Bryn Greenwood’s debut novel, her writing is polished yet evocative. Despite the limited vocabulary of some of her point of view characters, she manages to write some achingly beautiful paragraphs – which just goes to show that SAT words are not everything. The book is captivating, it absorbed and wholly absorbed me until the very end. Although I have only read this one book, I can already tell her stuff will go onto my auto-buy list because this sort of writing is what I live for.

As promised by the title of the novel, the story within is features events that will trigger revulsion – but not necessarily in the manner you would expect. Personally, it was the society around Wavy and Kellen that made me feel the most disgust. It’s a novel completely removed from the white fence, suburban homes – hence, it’s a story that’s completely distant from my own experiences. Its content are at once brutal and beautiful, and it will leave me reflecting and conflicted on the nature of humanity for a long while.

This book does come with a long list of triggers, so please note these before deciding whether you want to read it. Trigger Warnings: child abuse, domestic abuse, implied sexual abuse, drug use, alcoholism, eating disorder.


I am very curious on the thoughts everyone will have upon completing this book, so if you have read it, please come discuss it with me below!

#CritYourFaves Master Post

Thank you so much to everyone who signed up to #CritYourFaves! The list of all the participating blogs and their respective discussion topics are included here. I will be updating this list all throughout October.CritYourFaves Masterpost.png

There are no set posting schedules, those participating can post at any time as long as it’s within October! Remember to use the #CritYourFaves hashtag when crossposting on social media so I can make sure to help you promote your post 🙂 If you can manage it, please also leave a link to your post in the comments below when you have published it!

Name Blog Name Topic
Regina The Bibliotheque Unhealthy Romance in Fiction/Cooleen Hoover’s Books
Daisy Feminists Read Love Tamora Pierce: From Childhood Fave to Problematic Fave
Jenna Reading With Jenna To Be Decided
Dev A Writer is a World Trapped in a Person Whitewashing in Book-to-Movie Adaptations
Kelly Diva Booknerd Toxic Romances
Helia Rose Quartz Read The Issue With Killing Off Minority Characters
Monica Tomes Project Lack of Diverse Representation in Harry Potter
Bianca The Ultimate Fangirl ABC’s of Contemporary Cliches or Fantasy VS. Contemporary Male Leads
Fadwa Word Wonders Lack of Diversity in the Harry Potter World
Laura Blue Eye Books The Young Elites Discussion
Kate Between the Sky and Me Discussion of Harmful Tropes
Grace Ashen Reads Lack of Representation in Cassandra Clare’s series
Monica She Might Be Monica Lack of diversity & toxic relationships in the Throne of Glass series
Liz Bitchy Fantasy The Taming of the Bad Boy (e.g. ACOMAF)
Natalia A Court of Tales Discussion of Throne of Glass and its problematic elements
Mishma Chasing Faerytales To Be Decided
Patricia Alferez Patti’s Book Blog Problematic Faves and How To Deal With It
Dani St Clair Romancing the Social Sciences Harmful tropes/Problematic faves/Representation of POC (Representation, the White Saviour and the Other in Meredith Duran’s The Duke of Shadows)
Zoe If The Book Will Be Too Difficult Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small quartet
Miriam Miriam Reads Books Obsidian Mountain Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey
Haley Been There, Read That Queerbaiting in Cursed Child
Puput Sparkling Letters Paper Princess: An Addictive Read Despite Its Problematic Tropes
Jess The Bookaholic Life Discuss a series you love and what issues you had with it
Nemo Young Adult at Heart The Romance That Is Not Romantic in Wuthering Heights
Anushka Going Through Books Discuss a series you love and what issues you had with it
Alin Ace Readss The Raven Cycle and the fear of the word bisexual
Guinevere Twinja Book Reviews Discussing the Percy Jackson books, where they fail in diversity/inclusivity despite being well written stories.
Aimal Bookshelves & Paperbacks Lack of Diversity/Post Series Additions in the Harry Potter Series & Supernatural
Booknuts101 21st Century Once Upon A Times Unhealthy romance in fiction
Victoria Addlepates and Book Nerds Is bad representation better than no representation?
Tessa Crazy for YA Looking back on my first favorite YA series
Wendy Falconer’s Library Ethnicity in Eleanor & Park. Responsibility as a white reader.
Jeann Happy Indulgence Why Throne of Glass is Problematic…But I Still Love It
Blika Armchair Adventures Sexuality, Gender & Diversity
Chris Lovely Black Ink Unhealthy romance in fiction
Lynette Charmingly Simple Harry Potter: Why Snape’s a Git and Dumbledore is an Asshole.
Morgane Bookworms Eat Brains Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke