Book Review: The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night

36453128Rating Four Star

Title: The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night

Author: Jen Campbell

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Series? No

Goodreads

Book Depository  //  Dymocks  //  Booktopia


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

As a self-professed lover of fairy tales, their origins, and their reinvention, I was primed to love the whimsical and beautifully written collection of stories. Within these short stories readers will find tales imbued with the ghost of familiar fairy tales, intertwined in with historical facts that are stranger than fiction. The stories within this collection are driven by voices of the outcast, weaving the border between reality and fantasy, yet it remains consistently enchanting due to the beautiful imageries the writing conjures. The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a testament to the enduring power of fairy tales and their ability to withstand the test of time.

The Beginning of the World In the Middle of the Night

I’ll be reviewing some of my favourite stories within the collection below:

ANIMALS

First Lines: “These days, you can find anything you need at the click of a button.

That’s why I bought her heart online.”

The collection is off to a powerful and haunting start with Animals, a story set in a world where fickle and impermanent human hearts can be exchanged for hearts of a different kind – ones made of glass, or hearts which once beat in the chest of another animal. Fixated on finding the perfect heart for his girlfriend, the narrator of this story orders the heart of a swan. What follows is a tale that examines love and possession, intermingled with passages about hearts and animals from both myth and history. It’s fairy tale retelling meets Frankenstein: raw and visceral, dark yet beautiful, filled with human thirst – in short, it’s the perfect way to begin this collection. Continue reading “Book Review: The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night”

Book Review: City of Brass

36475759Rating Five Star

Title: City of Brass

Author: S. A. Chakraborty

Series? Yes, 1 of 3.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Goodreads

Book Depository // Booktopia // Dymocks


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

For me, City of Brass takes the title of Fantasy Debut of the Year. It contains an impressive and expansive world, populated by a cast of diverse and morally-complex characters. This is fantasy at its finest, imaginative and mesmerising, while also offering cutting commentary on the real world. There’s engaging action, compelling palace intrigues, slow burn romance, and everything else I could possibly love in fantasy – get this book into your hands!

City of Brass Continue reading “Book Review: City of Brass”

Book Review: Wild Beauty

33158561Rating Five Star

Title: Wild Beauty

Author: Anna-Marie Mclemore

Series? No

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Goodreads

Book Depository // Booktopia // Dymocks


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

Wild Beauty, like all of Anna-Marie’s Mclemore’s previous books, is filled to the brim with enchantment and beauty. The story contains all of the elements of a fairy tale: forbidden love, a family curse, an enchanted garden – mixed in with heartfelt exploration of sexuality, gender, and socioeconomic divide. Wild Beauty is a tale to be savoured, especially on warm spring days where fresh blooms are in sight and life is brimming with unexplored potential.

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The Nomeovildes women have inhabited La Pradera for more than a century, locked to the place by a dark legacy. With the Nomeovildes’s natural gift, La Pradera flourishes with lush vegetation and fragrant blooms – but should any of the women try to leave La Pradera, they succumb to an agonising end. Even more tragic is a powerful curse which erases any person the Nomeovildes women loves too deeply. They’re not only physically trapped by this otherworldly garden, it also emotionally separates them from the rest of the world. In Wild Beauty, we watch as the youngest generation of Nomeovildes women traverse their savage inheritance.

Wild Beauty is written in Anna-Marie Mclemore’s signature whimsical yet intimate style. I’m continually floored by how she manages to blend magic with heart-rending realism. Although magical realism is a subgenre I absolutely adore, at times I find it difficult to relate to the characters within these stories. This is never the case with Anna-Marie’s books, especially in Wild Beauty. All five of the Nomeovildes ladies have noteworthy characterisation, despite the relatively short length of the novel. Fel and Estrella’s narrative voices are distinctive, yet both manages to retain a lyrical cadence that I found arresting.

Aside from the visual wonders in Wild Beauty, the book is also rich in representation. All five of the Nomeovildes girls are initially in love with Bay, a genderqueer character. The novel portrays the fluidity of sexuality, and throughout the course of the book we witness many different kinds of love. Without giving too much away, Fel’s character arc was also an excellent commentary on race and class. Wild Beauty is brimming with hope and warmth, despite the dark and oppressive atmosphere of its setting.

Speaking of La Pradera, I don’t think any review of Wild Beauty could be complete without mentioning its haunting setting. To the Nomeovildes, La Pradera is a garden, a refuge, a home, but it is also a prison. The land thrives under their ministration and grow rich in beauty, but it also guards these women jealously –  crushing them down whenever they attempt to leave. Within the gardens, the reader will find blooms of every kind, moonlit spring nights, and dozens of mementos from generations of hopeful Nomeovildes girls. The complex relationship between the family and their land is one of the central focus of the novel, and I found the resolution absolutely satisfying.

As a lover of slow-burn romance, I was completely drawn in by the romantic entanglements in Wild Beauty. It felt forbidden yet inevitable, and I loved that it began as a tentative friendship and built upon a foundation of trust.

This is a book I can see myself revisiting time and again. I highly recommend this, along with Anna-Marie’s entire backlist, to everyone who wants to lose themselves in the magic of stories.

Read, Watch, Listen: Halloween 2017 Edition

I’ll be honest, I’ve never celebrated Halloween in earnest. I grew up in the Southern Hemisphere where the end of October is synonymous with sunshine at 7PM and spring flowers, which is completely at odds with thoughts of witching hour and horror movies. I always love an excuse to sink into a dark story, though – so I celebrate Halloween by consuming atmospheric books, scary podcasts, and watching thrillers. Read on if you would like to know what I’ve been checking out this October!

Halloween 2017.png Continue reading “Read, Watch, Listen: Halloween 2017 Edition”

Book Review: The Language of Thorns

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Rating Five Star

Title: The Language of Thorns

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Series? Spin-Off of the Grishaverse

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Book Depository  //  Dymocks  //  Booktopia


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

The Language of Thorns is an enchanting collection of folklores from Leigh Bardugo’s richly embellished Grishaverse. Aside from the pleasure of reading stories your favourite Grishaverse characters would have grown up hearing, the beguiling tales within this collection will captivate readers with their subversive narrative and beautiful composition. In these stories, you will find human truths hidden amongst dangerous beasts and courageous maidens – simply put, this is fairy tales at its finest.

Language of Thorns 01

We have all grown up reading or hearing fairy tales, we know their rhythm as intimately as our own heartbeat. The stories within The Language of Thorns retains that familiar rhythm of a well-loved and oft-told fairy tale, yet they also manage to invent delightful and transformative twists. While Leigh Bardugo never flinches from portraying the cruelty and savagery of the Grishaverse in these tales, she doesn’t shy from infusing the stories with courage and optimism either. The writing throughout this collection is consistently lyrical and gorgeous, it’s one of those book that begs to be savoured on repeat.

I feel each of the six stories within deserve their own mini-review, so here goes. Continue reading “Book Review: The Language of Thorns”

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

Goodreads

Book Depository // Dymocks // Booktopia


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.

little fires everywhere

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: Because You Love to Hate Me

35651100Rating Three Star

Title: Because You Love to Hate Me – 13 Tales of Villainy

Author: Various, all listed below. Edited by Ameriie.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Goodreads

Book Depository // Booktopia // Dymocks


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

I’ve been very curious about this anthology ever since it was announced last year. Generally, the authors in the young adult community have a very strong social media presence, allowing them to interact with readers and bloggers on a daily basis. This collaboration between YA authors and some influential booktubers takes this relationship to a whole new level, and I was excited to see how this partnership would unfold. As with anthologies in general, I found this one a bit of a mixed bag – but it’s centred on villains, and I love to LOVE them. You can find short reviews of each individual story below.

Because You Love to Hate Me

The Blood of Imuriv by Renee Ahdieh, prompt by Christine Riccio

First Line: Everywhere Rhone walked, the nightmares followed.

I’m a fan of Renee Ahdieh’s descriptive writing style, but I felt this story lacked tension and was heavy on info-dump. The short story format does not lend itself well to adequate world-building, and although the story was set in space – the location and period could have changed and I would not have noticed any difference. I also found the story unfolded in a very clunky manner, with the villain’s internal monologue and motivation ringing false, perhaps this due to how restrictive and specific the prompt was. Continue reading “Book Review: Because You Love to Hate Me”

Cover Reveal, Interview, and Giveaway: Brooding YA Hero

BroodingYAHero

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”

Book Review: The Wall of Storms

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Rating Five Star

Title: The Wall of Storms

Author: Ken Liu

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Series? Yes, 2 of 3.

Goodreads

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.

TheWallOfStorms

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”

Best of 2017 So Far

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.

Best of 2017 First Half

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 😉

2017 Top 01

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”