What the Heck Did I Read in September?

Welcome back to another one of my monthly wrap ups where I give tiny rants or gush over the books I read this month. 

September was a fabulous reading month, and I hope October is just as good.

Let’s get right into these heckin’ reviews.   

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker: A retelling of the Illiad from the perspective of Breisis, the woman prized to Achilles. A powerful exploration of war, the treatment of women, and the simmering anger beneath the skin all from the female gaze.

What the Woods Keep by Katya de Beccera: A dark and twisted fantasy featuring witches, white ravens and cyrptic messages. Full review here. 

Sadie by Courtney Summers: A nail-biting thriller told through a podcast as a detective tries to find Sadie, who disappeared after her sister’s murder. I finished this with a deep breath of anger and amazement. Absolutely excellent and addictive as an audiobook with multiple cast members.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco: An immersive dark fantasy where the dead can be risen again, but for a price. The setting is gorgeous, the worldbuilding is great, and Tea is such a poignant protagonist it’s hard not to fall in love with her. Plot is rather slow and almost non-existent, but the beauty of this book makes up for it. 

There was a lot of rage in my books this month.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. ABSOLUTELY. GORGEOUS. I WANT TO READ THIS AGAIN. 

Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D Barker: The reimagined prequel to Dracula as the mysterious cure behind Bram Stoker’s childhood ailment may have come from their nanny Ellen, a woman who doesn’t eat and leaves in the middle of the night for the woods. A chilling and page-turning tale. Perfect for Halloween!

Reign of Mist by Helen Scheuerer: Yes, I re-read this. I don’t regret it.

The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles: A psychological thriller told from the perspective of a young boy named Smauel whose mother has been missing for 113 days and has been under the care of the housekeeper, Ruth. Except now Samuel is beginning is suspect Ruth of murdering his mother. Set in England in the 1960s, the almost gothic nature of this tale only adds to the whodunit. While somewhat anti-climatic and convoluted, it was an enjoyable read.   

What did you read in Sepetmber? Let me know your favs in the comments!

Until next time, 

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Author Interview and Review | What The Woods Keep by Katya De Becerra

29748448What The Woods Keep by Katya De Becerra

Publisher: Allen & Unwin 

Pub Date: 18 September 2018

Genre: Young Adult/Speculative Fiction

Synopsis: On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.

Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.

GOODREADS | BOOKTOPIA | BOOK DEPO

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What the Heck Did I Read in August?

This is late and I have no excuse other than I’m late so. 

Please excuse me and let’s get into this month’s heckin’ fantastic wrap up. 

The Lucky Ones by Ashley Chegwyn 

Thank you Ashley for the review copy of your book. The Lucky Ones explores a young relationship where one suffers from mental illness. It addresses a common factor in young relationships and deals with the anxieties of being young, in love, and unwell. While this is simply one interpretation of what it means to be mentally unwell and in love, Ashley writes Emery and Colton’s voices in an authentic manner that will resonate with young adults. This is a sweet and contemporary story I would recommend for a weekend read.

Clean by Juno Dawson

A snarky and witty young adult story about Lexi and her battle to kick her heroin addiction. Filled with crass humour, a mismatched crew of patients, and an authentic representation of therapy and recovery, Clean is, for lack of a better word, an addictive pageturner that handles very real issues that young adults may face.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Picked as the August book for Name of the Book club. This is a wonderfully immersive and atmospheric loose fairytale retelling of Rumpelstilskin. Featuring a wide range of perspectives and interweaving plot lines, Novik is excellent at crafting something quite magical from rather ordinary things. The pacing is very slow, yet I liked this for a change, and the female characters, especially Miryem and Irina, are brilliant. Might not reread for a while though. 

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

I listened to this on Audible and oh my Lord, Shannon Purser is the best Leah Burke. I think the audiobook is so much better just because of her. She really brings Leah to life as she tries to figure out her final year of high school, her conflicting feelings for Abby Suso, and her own place in between everything. It’s a heartwarming and witty coming-of-age tale with brilliant bisexual representation, healthy relationships, and friendships to die for.

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

A psychological dystopia where three young women have grown up on a deserted island with Mother and Father. They’re taught that women’s bodies are to be purged of the toxins of the world and men are dangerous to them. Lyrical, visercial and haunting

Reign of Mist by Helen Scheuerer

The sequel to one of my favourite YA fantasy series The Oremere Chronicles. It didn’t disappoint. You can read my full review and author interview here, but honestly, just read this series. Just do it. 

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

A brilliant and well-crafted collection of reaccounting the Norse myths by one of the best writers around. A very nice and easy read on audio while commuting to work. Gaiman does a great job at narrating and I loved how intimately you got to know the Norse Gods. 

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K Rowling

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K Rowling

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And that’s it for me! What was August like for you? Let me know some of your favourite reads from August below.

Until next time,

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Author Interview and Review | Reign of Mist by Helen Scheuerer

About the Book

Book cover (Reign of Mist)

TitleReign of Mist

Author: Helen Scheuerer

Publisher: Talem Press

Release date: 13 September 2018

Synopsis: The realm’s darkest secret is out.

The cruelty of the capital and the power-hungry King Arden have scattered Bleak and her companions across the continents.

On the run in a foreign land, Bleak finds herself tied to some unexpected strangers. When the answers she yearns for are finally within reach, she must face the hard truths of her past, and take her fate into her own hands before it’s too late.

Meanwhile, secrets and magic unravel as a dark power corrupts the realm. Bleak’s friends are forced to decide where their loyalties lie, and who, if anyone, they can trust.

But one thing is certain: war is coming, and they must all be ready when it does.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | HELEN’S WEBSITE

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Review | Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

What is this? A book review? Has hell frozen over and the souls of the damned come to take me home? 

No, I just managed to find some time to review a new favourite of 2018. 

First off, thank you Hachette Australia for the review copy. In no way does it impact my opinion! 

Let’s get into this review. Also, happy book birthday to this beauty!


From the glittering court filled with Graces to the gritty and turbulent landscape of an all-female prison on a volcano, (yes, a volcano), Grace & Fury exceeded my expectations. It promised me a blend of The Handmaid’s Tale (which is an all-time favourite) and The Hunger Games (a teen Sofia’s favourite) – and it’s safe to say it delivered. 

At its core, Grace & Fury is a sister story.

It’s told from the perspectives of Serina and Nomi; Serina has been raised to be a Grace, revered for her beauty to become a token, a possession of the King, while Nomi has been trained to be Serina’s handmaiden. Both are thrown into unexpected situations and what I loved about them was they both refused to stay beaten. They fought against the boundaries placed upon them, and it made this story so much more intriguing. And ultimately, despite their circumstances, they wanted to make sure the other is safe, and that’s honestly just goals. 

This is a tale focused on the empowerment of complex women. 

In this society, women are stripped of their rights to choose their own lives (they can’t even read without being punished). From the beginning the reader is bombarded with how wrong this world is and you immediately question why. What I loved about this book is how complex the female characters are. They’re cunning, they’re soft, they’re intelligent, they’re filled with schemes and secrets. From the head Grace to the starving prisoners, every single one has a story adds something to this tale, and every single one plays a role in lifting women up.

The twists were unexpected and scheming and I loved it.

While there were a couple of plot issues, the overarching story is one surprise to the next. It keeps you on your toes and desperate for more. I want more from these two sisters now please. 

Rating

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Have you read Grace & Fury? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

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Mini reviews, the winter blues, and where I have been

Soooooo it’s been a while since I’ve posted something on here and it’s safe to say I’m alive and well. Winter in Australia is nowhere near as cold as other countries, but I’m still a baby and I hate it so send me some warm vibes, friends!

EXCITING NEWS!! As some of you might already know, I’ve recently started a job in publicity with Penguin Random House Australia. I’m super excited about this, yet that means I have a smaller amount of time to blog, review, and take photos. Despite this, I love my job and I can’t wait to see where it takes me. 

With that being said, I’ve got some steaming hot mini reviews for you.

Jade City by Fonda Lee 

This is literally one of the best fantasy books I have read in forever. In the city of Kekon, jade rules everything. It’s the most precious substance you can aquire, and the struggle for power rests in the hands of two clans. It’s about honour, blood and jade. Jade City is bloody ambitious, has a very distinct urban fantasy atmosphere, and blends together the law and gangster drama with a touch of wuxia. It’s politically charged, gritty, damn emotional and incredibly written. Fonda is killing me, folks.  

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Lee delivers a superhero MG novel where Sky High meets post-WW3. In the city of Andover, Jessica is struggling to cope with the fact she doesn’t have powers – not even C-grade, which is a minute as changing your hair colour. Her parents are superheroes, her sister is in the League of Heroes, and her brother is science genius. She’s living the medicore life But the plot takes an interesting turn when she ends up working for her parents’ rivals at their tech company, and she discovers some things that were meant to stay hidden. This novel explores themes such as family, friendship, what it means to be a hero, and has some authentic representation of bisexuality and meaningful relationships. 

Found by Fleur Ferris

Thank you Penguin Random House for the review copy. 

Fleur always writes something that will have your heart racing. In her latest work, Beth is living the quiet life in a small town in NSW. But as she’s about to break the news to her dad she has a boyfriend, he disappears before her eyes. This moment plumments Beth into a life-changing race against time to rescue her dad, come to terms with her hidden past, and figure out how to live knowing everything was a lie. The dual perspectives of Jonah, her boyfriend, and Beth herself, provided a unique approach to a thrilling tale of revenge, family and love. The whole book read like a movie, and it was an enjoyable ride. 

 

 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang 

Step aside, Callum. I have a new boyfriend and his name is Michael Larsen. I haven’t read a contemprary romance in so long, and Helen really just set the bar for me. To summarise such a swoonworthy book, Stella Lane is an economist with Asperger’s  struggling to figure out love. She thinks French kissing feels like a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. She’s quirky and adorable, and she hires Michael, an escort, to teach her how to be a better lover and girlfriend. Michael, who has secrets of his own, agrees and it’s safe to say this book executes the fake relationship trope perfectly. The romance is adorable, the plot is lovely, and the consent is A+ I also listened to this on the train without realising it would get a little hot and heavy, and I made eye contact with someone and I almost died. I love this book a lot and I cannot wait for the rest of the series.  

Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi

I flew through the first three books in this series once I’d known there would be three more. It’d been on my TBR for ages, yet I didn’t see the appeal until recently. Restore Me is a strong continuation of the series, picking up right where Ignite Me left off. Juliette is struggling to come to terms with her new position of power and how to move forward with her revolution. She has a lot of growth in this book, much more than I expected, which I really enjoyed. However, Warner’s development was the most interesting as he suffers from PTSD and a ton of guilt from the previous books. A lot happens in this rather short book, and I’m excited to see where Mafi takes us with these beloved characters. 

Want by Cindy Pon

I’d like to thank my Audible fam for introducing me to my new fav. This urban fantasy weaves together the consequences of pollution, global warming, and population density into a YA story that follows a young man named Jason, who is trying to topple over the corrupt regime of the elite in Taipei. The elite where special suits that clean the air they breathe, whereas the less fortunate are left to suffer in the polluted smog that covers the city. The polarisation of wealth in the city plays a large role in character development and world building, particularly when Jason’s plans become complicated when the daughter of the corporation he’s trying to destroy finds her way into his life. This fast-paced YA tackles a lot of environmental issues as well as the morality of the rich. I loved it – go read it! 

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Also, before I disappear for another five years, I am open to commissions for editing and sensitivity reading. The things I do include: 

  • Manuscripts – YA, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi
  • Short stories
  • Essays
  • Theses – this is a time sensitive commission, so the sooner the better
  • Feature articles 

Shoot me an email if you’re interested! Until next time!

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Book Review: ‘All Of This Is True’ Will Make You Second Guess Everything

35068735All Of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Synopsis: Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . .

GOODREADS | BOOKTOPIA| AMAZON

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Book Review: ‘Circe’ Breathes Life and Love into a Forgotten Witch

9781408890080Circe by Madeline Miller 

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Synopsis: In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

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LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff is a whirlwind urban sci-fi adventure 

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LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Synopsis: On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried. 

GOODREADS | BOOKTOPIA | AMAZON

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My Top Picks for SWF’s All Day YA

If you don’t know what Sydney Writers’ Festival is, it’s this amazing literary festival that happens every year in the heart of Sydney. Recently relocated to Carriageworks, the festival is simply an incredible place to be. They also feature the amazing All Day YA program at Riverside Parramatta.

This will be my second year attending All Day YA, with my first being the initial moment I stepped out of the house and realised there was an entire day dedicated to YA loving bookworms. If there’s one thing I know about Sydney Writers’ Festival is it gets better and better every year.

All taking place at Riverside Parramatta on Saturday 5th of May, the lineup for this year’s All Day YA program is brilliant and here are my top picks!

From the Sidelines (10am – 11am)

This is possibly one of my most anticipated events! This panel will be answering these questions: Is it enough to include diverse voices if their only role is to prop up the hero? Why does the quiet kid always need to be saved by a cool romantic interest? I need to know.

Youth Curator Rameen Hayat will be chatting to Tamar Chnorhokian, Sarah Ayoub, Michael Mohammed Ahmad and Patrick Ness about diversity and tokenism in YA fiction and I cannot wait!

Burn The Book: Real Girls in YA (11:30am – 12:30pm)

This is right up my alley. This panel asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be a ‘real’ girl?

Chatting with Youth Curator Kellie Phan, Alicia Tuckerman, Rebecca Lim, Jenna Guillaume, and Tara Eglington will be exploring about all those experiences we have as young females: from friendships to frenemies to first loves. Breaking stereotypes and kicking ass – that’s what I love about realistic female characters and this panel sounds like a blast!

Architects of New Worlds (1:30pm – 2:30pm)

If that title of this panel doesn’t interest you, we’re gonna have a problem. I adore world building, especially in sci-fi and fantasy. Reading about post-apocoalyptic worlds, catastrophes or tyrannical regimes are aalways so fascinating. This panel sounds perfect for those who want to know what it’s like creating dystopian worlds that ignite the imagination, and forcing us as readers to reflect on our world.

Adele Walsh discovers how real-life concerns have influenced Jesse Andrews, an acclaimed novelist and screenwriter; Cally Black, who writes genre-smashing YA sci-fi; Claire G. Coleman, whose debut novel explores a future Australia that is colonised again; and Jay Kristoff, a bestselling fantasy and sci-fi author.

Bringing Imaginary Worlds to Life (3pm – 4pm)

This is almost like a companion panel to Architects of New Worlds, except we get to hear about MAPS! We all love maps. Right? Illustrators have their time in the spotlight as This panel discusses how they draw a fantasy-world map and show examples of their previous work. Expand your imagination with author and illustrator Chris Riddell, Oscar–winning animator Shaun Tan, award–winning children’s illustrator Nicki Greenberg and A Song of Ice & Fire illustrator Levi Pinfold.

The Future of Writing (4:30pm – 5:30pm)

I’m a writer. Sometimes I think I’m a terrible writer, but the other day I found an old manuscript and literally wanted to toss it out because I realised how much I’ve evolved as a writer. This panel simply speaks to me.

The panel features author Anna Todd, whose success with fan-fiction favourite After has resulted in publishing houses increasingly looking to online self-publishing for new stories with a built-in fan base. The panel will explore digital platforms, author freedom and technology in modern publishing. Three incredible writers – Tonya Alexandra, Alison Croggon and Jay Kristoff – sit down with YA author and Twitter famous Jenna Guillaume to chat about how technology is reshaping writers’ lives and how it has influenced their careers.

I don’t know about you, but I’m gearing up for May 5th. Come down, hang out with fellow bookworms, and have fun. You’ll also see me there so don’t hesitate to say hi!