Sunday, 19 May 2019

Review: The Rabbits by John Marsden & Shaun Tan

The Rabbits is a rarity--a picture book for teenagers. And unsurprisingly, it is about rabbits. Or more specifically, it is about a group of rabbits who decided to come and live in a specific place. They don't know the rules of their new land, so they bring with them their own rules and their own ways. It causes some friction between the land's original inhabitants, eventually there is a fight to be had and the rabbits conquer the land. This story though, is the story of the side that lost, and indeed, just how much they lost, from a way of life to the natural environment that was so fundamental to who they were.

It's heartbreaking, and it's deeply metaphorical. And the illustrations are so very haunting.

Initially, I wondered if The Rabbits was a way of explaining the European invasion of Australia, but then I realised that the story could just as easily be talking about many other parts of the world that have been invaded by one group or another at various times. We could just as easily apply the story to the British Colonisation of America or, indeed any point in history where a country has been invaded. It's also a story of a clash of cultures, of differing beliefs about technology and leaves some pretty big questions about what happens to the local environment when we seek to conquer and change it.

Recommended.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2019

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Review: DC Comic Bombshells Volume 1 Enlisted by Marguerite Bennett

Based of a series of collectorables, DC Bombshells re-imagines some of DC comics greatest female superheroes--Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Supergirl and Stargirl--and DCs famous anti-hero Harley Quinn, as they join an elite team to fight the war effort. (Well, okay, there wasn't that much re-imaging going on with Wonder Woman.) This graphic novel tells the revised origin stories of each of the characters and ends with each of them joining the war effort. And the whole thing is quite visually impressive and entertaining.

I enjoyed reading this one, though reading about some of the characters personal relationships became tiresome after a while. I've noticed with DC that there often seems to be a real emphasis on female characters who have intimate relationships with other female characters, to the point where it feels less about exploring interpersonal relationships and more like creating wank fodder for a proportion of the male audience. 

Still, it's a solid story, most of it is told well and the writers and artists expertly juggle a huge cast of characters. 

Friday, 17 May 2019

Friday Funnies: Jeeves Disapproves


Thursday, 16 May 2019

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

My only regret with this book is that it took me so long to read it. Seven years, in fact. The good news, though, is that the whole seven book series has been released and I can read the books at my leisure instead of having to read it at a rate of one book per year. Anyway, this is an enjoyable fantasy read.

The novel opens with eighteen-year-old Celaena, who is serving a life sentence in the salt mines of Endovier, a country ruled by a king bent of power and the destruction of other neighbouring countries. Her crime? She's a highly skilled assassin. So skilled, in fact, that she's managed to survive a year in the salt mines where the luckiest and strongest prisoners last just a few months. And now the Crown Prince and his assistant, Captain Westfall have come to the salt mine to offer her a deal. She can compete in a to the death tournament, filled with thieves and other assassins. If she wins, she will serve the king for four years and then be granted her freedom. Losing is not an option and there may just be a lot more than Celaena's freedom at stake. And she's not the only competitor who wants to win at all costs.

This was an entertaining page-turn with a sassy heroine and some surprising characters and situations. The love triangle is underplayed and consequently, other elements in the story are far more entertaining for it. There is a lot in the story about destiny, one which I imagine will be played out through the course of the series.

Lots of fun. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Review: Under the Midnight Sky by Anna Romer

Australian author Anna Romer is in fine form with her latest release Under the Midnight Sky. A romantic tale with a mystery at its core and some fine gothic elements, it tells the story of Abby, a journalist, who is haunted by the abduction and murder of her childhood friend many years before. Returning to the small town where she grew up, she finds an injured young woman on the side of the road, but when she summons help, the girl disappears. Was it in her imagination, or is it possible that there is something darker afoot? Abby barely has time to digest the idea when chance leads her to Ravenswood, an old country house and its new owner, Tom, a reclusive man who has carved out a career writing crime novels. When Abby discovers a hidden room in Ravenswood and a page of a diary written by a young woman who went missing with her sister many years before, she realises that there may be something much darker afoot. And what is the connection between the two sisters who vanished in the 1940s and the many young women who have vanished from the area since.

I know I said this about Romer's previous novel, Beyond the Orchard, but I do think that this is the authors best work yet. (In other words, this one is even better than Beyond the Orchard.) The mystery is quite intriguing and reminded me of two of my favourite gothic novels, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews, though the author most certainly puts her own spin on things. There is also a lot of romance in there, and a lovely depiction of small town Australian life. The novel itself is written in a way that is pleasing and easy to read and I found myself getting lost in this story on several occasions. 

Highly recommended.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2019

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Review: Not That Bad, Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay

Not that bad is an important, but heartbreaking conversation for our time. Filled with first-person autobiographical essays, it gives a voice to those who have been sexually assaulted, harassed, raped or sexually abused. Many of the victims downplay their experiences, yet each of the narratives show just how much trauma that every one of them has been through. This isn't about what happened to these people nearly as much as it is about the impact it had on their lives.

And it is utterly, gut wrenchingly heartbreaking.

But important.

So very, very important.