Note: I received a copy of Corpselight from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Angela Slatter’s works are a perfect fit for my reading tastes, she specialises in distinctive female characters and dark re-imaginings of familiar folklore and mythology. With the Verity Fassbinder duology, she breathes new life into the Urban Fantasy genre. If you enjoyed American Gods for reinterpreting numerous cultural mythologies and their place in America, you’ll love this Australian exploration of supernatural beings. If you loved the Dresden Files butthought there were not nearly enough females taking charge, Verity is the answer to all your woes.
Here’s a list of reasons why you should get into this series immediately:
- The Aussie Setting: There are countless of paranormal fantasy unfolding in the streets of New York or the underbelly of London, they have begun to blur together in my mind. Vigil and Corpselight are set in an alternate Brisbane, affectionately nicknamed Brisneyland. Within these books, I can delight in recognising landmarks such as the stunning Mount Coot-tha, yet still be enthralled by the presence of supernatural mysteries about winged-women and shapeshifters.
- The Dry and Sarcastic Humour: Verity is such an entertaining narrator, partly because she knows how to make me laugh (especially when it comes to the Fassbinder’s Law of Handbag, I can 110% relate). She’s witty and pragmatic, and I love her banter with all of the characters she comes across.
- Well-Balanced Romantic Relationship: While most of the books are concerned with supernatural investigations, there is a sweet love story developing in the background of both books. I find many of the alpha-male characters we often come across in the Urban Fantasy genre off-putting. Verity’s love interest, with his earnest and golden-hearted nature, is a welcomed change of pace. I love the reversal of gender roles in their relationship.
- The Distinctive Worldbuilding: Although there are plenty of books about the hidden supernatural world, Angela Slatter manages to create something unique with the Weyrd of Brisneyland. You won’t find just the regular vampires and werewolves amongst the denizens of Verity’s world. The creatures and beings within the Weyrd community are born of the belief of the multicultural mix within Australia. There are various mythologies from all around the world being used to create a complex and vivid urban fantasy landscape.
- The Intriguing Mysteries: Like the next reader, I adore a good whodunnit mystery – and these books combine the mystery elements deftly with the supernatural ones. If you’re a fan of paranormal investigators such as Harry Dresden, you’ll love the company of Verity Fassbinder and her team. There are twists and turns throughout the novels, and I was kept guessing until the very end with both books.
- A Heroine Who Defies Categorisation: Aside from the aforementioned sarcastic and witty sense of humour, I also love how complex Verity’s characterisation is. She is strong and independent, resourceful and clever, but she’s also riddled with insecurities and prone to rash impulses. She’s perceptive of human nature, yet she also judges people too quickly. In short, she’s flawed and lovable, and I adore how human she remains despite the constant fantastical happenings within her world.
Continue reading “Blog Tour: Corpselight by Angela Slatter”
I’m sure anyone with a passing knowledge of the online YA community would be familiar with the brilliant and hilarious @broodingYAhero! Broody is my favourite parody account on twitter, walking that perfect line between sass and social commentary. Seeing a tweet by Broody on my timeline never fails to cheer up my day.
As you may know, Broody is getting his own novel – Brooding YA Hero: Becoming A Main Character (Almost) As Awesome As Me. I have the gorgeous new cover for you all to see later on in the post. We have the marvellous Carrie DiRisio, mastermind behind the twitter account and the book, with us here today. Joining her is the extremely talented book illustrator, Linnea Gear! Thank you both for this opportunity!
You’ll find many things within this post, so stay tuned until the very end for the following:
- Interview with Carrie and Linnea
- New Cover Reveal
- International Giveaway for a Preorder of Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) As Awesome As Me.
Continue reading “Cover Reveal, Interview, and Giveaway: Brooding YA Hero”
Title: The Wall of Storms
Author: Ken Liu
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Series? Yes, 2 of 3.
Book Depository || Booktopia || Dymocks
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Harper Voyager Australia in exchange for an honest review.
NOTE: The following review will contain some spoilers for The Grace of Kings, the first novel within this series.
After reading The Grace of Kings, I knew that Ken Liu has changed the game for epic fantasy. With The Wall of Storms, he continues to push on the boundaries of expectations and raised the bar even higher.
The Dandelion Dynasty was established within the first novel, with the text raising some tough questions about the philosophy of governance in times of war. In The Wall of Storms, the book take these ideas one step further by discussing economic and infrastructural development in the time of peace. While that may all sound like cumbersome and tedious reading, The Wall of Storms manages to be a page-turner despite its hefty length and ambitious themes. It’s no secret that I adore Ken Liu’s writing, and The Wall of Storms has become my favourite of his published books. Continue reading “Book Review: The Wall of Storms”
2017 has been a decent reading year so far, but I felt that while I read a lot of good books – I haven’t read as many exceptional books this year. All of the books that ended up on this list are very special and memorable to me.
The list also came a bit later than usual because my reading life skyrocketed with a couple of excellent reads in June – so I had to wait until I finished them to complete the post. It’s still missing a couple of books I started in June, but completed in July – but you’ll find out all about them at the end of this year 😉
Hurricane Heels by Isabel Yap: I read this novella at the turning of the new year, and it touched me on such a personal level. Magical Girls is one of the tropes I grew up consuming and loving, and in Hurricane Heels it gets such a visceral and modern treatment. The book is filled with complicated friendships between girls trying to juggle their momentous destiny with daily life. Continue reading “Best of 2017 So Far”
Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Narrator: Christian Coulson
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Series? Yes, companion novel on the way!
Book Depository || Amazon || Booktopia || Dymocks || Audible
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (hereby referred to as GGTVV) is a swashbuckling adventure exploring love and loss. The book exuberates an energy that will leave its readers breathless and delighted, as well as itching for a road-trip through 17th Europe of their own. While GGTVV is filled with hilarious escapades and heart-warming romance, it never shies away from critically examining the bigotry inherent within the book’s setting. The internet is hyping this one up to be one of 2017’s Required Readings, and I am in 100% agreement.
From page one, I was completely arrested with the voices of the characters within GGTVV, especially its protagonist – Monty. Monty is a complete rascal, but one that I could not help but love. He’s privileged and self-centred, with Felicity and Percy acting as his voices of reason and challenging him at every turn. What makes Monty endearing rather than infuriating is his capacity for growth and compassion, despites his numerous character flaws. It also helps that he has razor-sharp wit and one of the most entertaining narrative voices I’ve had the pleasure of reading. This is one of those rare books that literally makes me laugh-out-loud, even if it ends up putting my heart through the wringer with the very next scene. Continue reading “Audiobook Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue”
Title: Song of the Current
Author: Sarah Tolcser
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Book Depository | Amazon | Dymocks | Booktopia
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury Australia in exchange for an honest review.
Song of the Current is a beautiful dedication to the miracles of small things, the magic of voyages, and the infinite potential out on the open ocean. The writing conveys beautiful and vivid imageries, and I loved the interplay between swashbuckling privateer action and the subtle influences of magic.
Caro dreams of one day hearing the whispers of the god at the bottom of the river, an event that will seal her fate as the next captain of Cormorant – the Oresteia family’s wherry. The river god speaks in the language of tides and reeds, and his words remain elusive to Caro. Events at the start of the book incapacitates Caro’s father, and forces her to embark on a new adventure and find destiny among the river currents and beyond. Continue reading “Book Review: Song of the Current”
Title: The Waking Land
Author: Callie Bates
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Book Depository || Amazon || Dymocks || Booktopia
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Waking Land offset the wonders of magic with human imperfections through the journey of the book’s complicated heroine, Elanna Valtai. Raised by a king who branded her father a traitor to the realm, Elanna grew up believing that her people are ignorant and unworthy. The Waking Land has a lot of potential, but falters at times with its portrayal of Elanna’s characterisation, and with maintaining a consistent pacing. For me, the book ended up being a compelling but unmemorable read.
One of the largest underlying conflict in The Waking Land is the oppression of the Caerisians by the new ruling class. I am always cautious when I see fantasy races used as a tool to commentate on racism, as when not done in a respectful manner, it can be quite hurtful to marginalised readers. However, The Waking Land takes care to constantly challenge Elanna’s thoughts and the institutionalised racism around her – the text constantly questions the prejudices that drives royalty and noblewomen of Laon to jeer at Elanna’s skin colour and Caerisian parentage. Continue reading “Book Review: The Waking Land”
Author: Cora Carmack
Rating: 1/5 Stars
Eagle-eyed blog readers may note that the usual purchase links to online retailers is missing from this post. This was entirely intentional because I think every dollar that goes towards Roar is a dollar wasted. I went in expecting an entertaining fantasy, filled with storm magic and a princess discovering her destiny. While the book partially delivered on these expectations, it also came with a significant amount of toxic masculinity, two domineering and possessive love interests, a romance that perpetuates rape culture, and a woman of colour thrown under the bus to further the heroine’s own storyline.
I’ll get the lone positive out of the way first. The world building in Roar was compelling, set in a world haunted by tempestuous storms where gifted humans employ magic to control them. Since the internet has no shortage of glowing reviews about the magic system in Roar, I’ll leave it at that. I have a lot more to say about the toxic romance in Roar as, it is an example of how dangerous it is for harmful tropes to reign unchecked and unchallenged. This post will contain spoilers for the romantic plot within Roar. This is the book that ruins itself, so I am just helping it along.
Note: The protagonist in this book goes by three different names – Aurora, Rora, and Roar – I will use the name Roar for the sake of clarity.
Trigger warning for romanticised abuse.
My main issue with Roar is the very problematic romanticisation of male sexual aggression and possessiveness. Unlike many YA novels where the narration primarily takes place from the heroine’s point of view, Roar is also written from Cassius and Locke’s perspective – and their thoughts on Roar were disturbing and frightening, especially because the text largely presented them as romantic. Continue reading “Book Review: Roar”
This week marks the release of Cindy Pon’s latest novel, Want. To celebrate, I’ve compiled a wallpaper post based on the cover of Want, along with a couple from her previous series, Serpentine.
Although the publishing world is getting better every year in terms of representation, it’s still rare to see an Asian face grace the cover of any YA books. I’ve been loving the covers of Cindy’s more recent novels, gorgeously illustrated by Zachary Schoenbaum (for Serpentine) and Jason Chan (for Want).
Cindy’s debut, Silver Phoenix, was also the first YA fantasy novel I read with a Chinese protagonist – I remember cherishing it for telling me a story that was at once fresh and nostalgic. Being able to see yourself is a powerful thing, and it was Cindy’s book that propelled me to begin my first (but very short-lived) book blog. I just celebrated my 2nd year of blogging on Read at Midnight yesterday, and I am glad to share my blog birthday with Cindy’s latest novel!
As always, a couple of house rules:
- The wallpapers are set for iPhone 6S, but should work across a range of smart phones. They’re free for personal use.
- All characters belong to Cindy Pon. Illustrations of the characters are by Zachary Schoenbaum (for Serpentine) and Jason Chan (for Want).
- Please do not edit, repost, redistribute the images, or claim them as your own.
- Find more information on Serpentine, Sacrifice, and Want on Goodreads!
- If you enjoyed my work, please consider buying me a cuppa or two via Ko-fi! All donations will go towards image licensing for my next shareable graphics project, so we will all benefit ❤
- Find more of my free book-related designs here.
- If you enjoyed these free graphics and want to support me, you can find me on Society 6.
- Alternatively, you can commission me for your custom graphics by contacting me.
- Finally, you can grab me a cuppa via Ko-fi here.
FIND ME ON: Twitter // Instagram
Title: The Grace of Kings
Author: Ken Liu
Series? Yes, 1 of 3
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Book Depository // Amazon // Dymocks // Booktopia
In a genre inundated with tall-tales of reluctant white heroes fulfilling their Destiny, Ken Liu’s voice unabashedly stands apart. He is a constant innovator, whether it’s with his short fiction, full length novel, or translated work. At the same time, he also showcase the roots of his identity via the incorporation of Chinese history and mythology in all his writing. The Grace of Kings embodies Ken Liu’s style completely, fusing his unique voice with an ambitious saga about war, governance, and people who defy destiny.
The Grace of Kings is told via a series of interconnected chapters, each giving the reader an insight to the many characters that populate this vast world. The character featured may only fleet in and out of the narrative, or reappear numerous times to emerge as a central figure to the tale – but each of their story felt crucial to the overarching epic.Ken Liu’s mastery over short fiction is evident by his previous works such as The Paper Menagerie, and I loved seeing these skills applied on a grander scale to create the rich tapestry of The Dandelion Dynasty. Although each chapters felt episodic, there was a constant sense of momentum and urgency throughout the text, making this a constantly engaging read despite its hefty length. Continue reading “Book Review: The Grace of Kings”