Book Review: The Tiger’s Daughter

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Rating Four Star

Title: The Tiger’s Daughter

Author: K. Arsenault Rivera

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Tor and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Tiger’s Daughter captured my imagination the moment I heard about it. The summary suggested a sprawling tale of love and lost, where star-crossed lovers are caught in a predestined battle with ancient demons. Shizuka and Shefali’s relationship encompasses everything I seek in a romance –  filled with tragedy and promise, poetry and passion, and a sense of longing that left my heart aching.

The Tiger's Daughter Continue reading “Book Review: The Tiger’s Daughter”

Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere

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Rating Four Star

Title: Little Fires Everywhere

Author: Celeste Ng

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Series? No

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

After reading Everything I Never Told You earlier in the year, Little Fires Everywhere instantaneously became one of my most anticipated releases for the second half of 2017. Little Fires Everywhere has all the elements that made Celeste Ng’s debut novel a triumph: an intimate examination of the relationships between family members, a nuanced portrayal of the various choices we make in life and where they lead us, and a riveting interplay between conformity and those who defies convention.

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Little Fires Everywhere is set in Shaker’s Heights, an idyllic neighbourhood so distinctly confident with its orderly lifestyle that its motto is ‘Most communities just happen; the best are planned.’ Mrs Elena Richardson proudly lives by these words, and following rules have paid off in the form of a secure home in one of Shaker’s Heights more affluent neighbourhood – complete with a loving husband and four healthy teen children. The certainties in the Richardson’s lives are challenged when artist Mia Warren and her teen daughter, Pearl, moves into Shaker’s Heights. The dynamics between the two families create some tantalising conflicts which will unravel mysterious pasts and missed opportunities. Continue reading “Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere”

Book Review: Red Sister

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Title: Red Sister

Author: Mark Lawrence

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Series? Yes, 1 of 3

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

 

From its very first lines, Red Sister had me hooked and wholly invested. It promised warrior nuns, political and religious intrigue, along with a cast filled to the brim with complex ladies. Red Sister delivered on all counts. I especially loved its exploration on relationships between females, from friendship, to mentorship, to rivalry.

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It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent, Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.

The first lines of Red Sister are some of the most captivating I’ve read in several years, and it sets the tone for the entire book. Mark Lawrence’s writing style is meticulous and vivid, his sentences pulse with life and intrigue. In particular, I love the way he writes action scenes – I’ve admitted several times in the past that I am not a particularly visual reader when it comes to fight scenes, but Lawrence’s writing are cinematic even to someone like myself.  Continue reading “Book Review: Red Sister”

Book Review: Wintersong

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4-star

Title: Wintersong

Author: S. J. Jones

Series? Yes!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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Wintersong was deeply inspired by classical music, especially the works of Mozart. Liesl’s ambition and passion as a composer was a significant catalyst for many of the novel’s events. Therefore, I wanted to review Wintersong using musical terminology, and I hope I do it justice – especially because my musical knowledge is non-existent (thank you for my crash course, Google!).

Prelude –
an introductory piece of music.

Like all of the best stories, Wintersong contains breathtaking beauty, but also holds danger and darkness within its intoxicating pages. S. J. Jones is a conductor of words, she weaves her love of gothic fairy tales, Mozart, and Labyrinth to form Liesl’s sensual tale of love, loss, and sacrifice.

Wintersong

Fugue –
a composition characterised by the repetition of a principal theme/subject in simultaneously sounding melodic line.

At the heart of Wintersong is a tale about Liesl’s identity and self-discovery. The prologue begins with a long-forgotten play date between a young Liesl and the Goblin King. where games were wagered and promises were made. Memories of these games were soon hidden by the tolls of life and Liesl’s burgeoning adulthood, until they’re reignited by an encounter at the Goblin Market. Continue reading “Book Review: Wintersong”

Book Review: All The Ugly And Wonderful Things

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5star

Title: All The Ugly And Wonderful Things

Author: Bryn Greenwood

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Series? No

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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!

Book Review: Fudoki by Kij Johnson

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Title: Fudoki

Author: Kij Johnson

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Series? No.

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Book Depository // Amazon 


I was really hesitant about purchasing a physical book, I don’t like the cover and I’m shallow like that. However, the Kindle e-copy costed $20AUD, so I conceded and purchased the hard copy instead. Fortunately, it turned out to be one of my best purchasing decision of this year, because the content of this book is extraordinary in its ability to weave Japanese history with magic. I have never read a book quite like it, at least not in English – and I am eager to go back and explore more of Kij Johnson’s other novels.

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The book is heavily inspired by Japan’s Heian era, specifically by the classic Tales of Genji, and the Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon. Similar to the authors of these archaic text, our narrator is a noblewoman, sequestered behind the gilded screens of her palace for all her life. Continue reading “Book Review: Fudoki by Kij Johnson”

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

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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”

Book Review: Radiance

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4-star

Title: Radiance

Author: Catherynne M. Valente

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Series? No.

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Book Depository / Booktopia / Dymocks


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

I know you’ve heard it before, but I love Catherynne Valente and would gladly devour anything she writes, be it short stories, full-length novels, or daily tweets. I love the way she blends existing myth and folklore to construct sublime new worlds. With Radiance, she brings old Hollywood glamour and the age of silent film into celestial space. The result is an enchanting and dream-like mystery spanning across multiple genres.

“She is dead. Almost certainly dead. Nearly conclusively dead.
She is, at the very least, not answering her telephone.”

Radiance

Continue reading “Book Review: Radiance”

Book Review: The Dead House

The Dead House

4-star

Title: The Dead House

Author: Dawn Kurtagich

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Series? No.

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Book Depository


In the name of getting into the mood for Halloween, I went on a little horror movie and horror books binge last week. Note to self: you’re too much of a chicken to ever attempt this again. I found The Dead House incredibly riveting and engaging – I also adored the epistolary nature of the novel!

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Creative Formatting!

I fancy myself an amateur designer, so I get all excited when I see books that are told through special formatting. At times, this can come across as a little bit gimmicky (*cough Illuminae, I am having some doubts about you*) – I though The Dead House benefited from this form of narration.  We got a mixture of diary entries, video logs, interviews, and police files that patched together a story.  The missing information and the non-linear style of the writing truly elevated what would have otherwise been a mediocre plotline.

It also helped that the writing was stunning in the way it portrayed Kaitlyn/Carly’s slow descent into madness.  The prose was always dark, atmospheric and unpredictable. I didn’t even mind a couple of pages where a single word was just repeated incessantly! In fact, I have a couple of graphics in this post that was inspired by the unique way this story was told.

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Kaitlyn & Her Unreliable Narration

“They think I don’t exist . . . they think I’m like a disease. I’m infecting Carly.”

The main character of this book is Carly Johnson, the primary suspect in the burning of Elmbridge high school in what became known as The Johnson Incident. Carly is referred to by all the reports and professional personnels by her legal name – but the star of the show is actually Kaitlyn, her nocturnal alter ego.

Carly/Kaitlyn was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, with Carly representing all that is warm and light – while Kaitlyn lives on in the darkness and exhibits deviant characteristics. Despite her instability and depedence on her diurnal alter – I found Kaitlyn a very easy protagonist to root for. I loved that as a reader, we had to constantly second guess all the information she is giving us. There’s never a clear answer on whether the voices that haunts her are supernatural or a product of a decaying mind. I also enjoyed the fact that the authority such as Kaitlyn’s psychiatrist do not have all the answers, and may also be implicated in the bigger mystery.

The author definitely excelled in painting a teenage girl who’s looking for acceptance and yet only finding madness. I was kept guessing throughout the book, which is ironic, as I saw the final plot twist from a mile away.

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It’s Creeptastic!

“Hang up.”
“But why? What is it?”
“I can hear someone breathing on the line”

Finally, the book is definitely delivers the scares – which is more than I can ask of it.  While I am very susceptible for TV/Cinematic horror, I find myself a bit more immune to books (perhaps because I admittedly don’t have an active visual imagination, for shame!) However, I still found myself double checking the mirrors and turning on all the lights while reading this book. More than that, the book also made me ponder about the mental illness that Kaitlyn may suffer from – and whether she was mistreated all along. This particular line of thought is even more chilling than any supernatural happenstance.


Overall, I highly recommend this unique book, especially with the spooky season looming near!  If you’ve read it, please share with me your thoughts and let me know whether you were scared?

Book Review: The Accident Season

The Accident Season

5star

Title:  The Accident Season

Author:  Moira Fowley-Doyle

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Series? No

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Book Depository


The Accident Season was a bit of a surprise for me, I didn’t expect it to bowl me over and delight me in EVERY way possible. I eagerly read every beautiful, haunting sentence. I craved its slight dark and off-kilter spin on reality. I laughed, cried, and loved along with all of the main characters. It’s a story about a family curse, with a big fat highlight on the family, identity, and the memories which define us.
Review-The-Accident-Season

It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

Every October, Cara and the rest of her family suffers through the inexplicable accident season. Around every corner, tragedies of every size awaits them: from the little, such as a landslide of hardbacks (being a book worm is, as you are all aware, a deceptively dangerous hobby) – to the large, such as the passing of their beloved uncle, Seth. This year, Cara also discovers that Elsie, a childhood friend she has lost touch with, lurks in the background of all her photos. The mystery that is the Accident Season and Elsie seem intrinsically linked, and this book follow our protagonist as they unravel the truth. Continue reading “Book Review: The Accident Season”