Monday, 14 October 2019

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

Opening shortly after the ending of Throne of Glass, we meet Celaena once again. Having recently done the impossible and won the coveted spot of the Kings Assassin, Celaena is now torn between what may just be her destiny and the expectation that she will kill for the King of Ardalan. It's lucky that this young woman is so strong willed. Unfortunately, she is also about to be sorely tested--who can she trust? And what is she going to do about a love triangle that is developing between her two protectors, a captain and a prince. 

This one starts off slow--by the time I was halfway through, I was fairly convinced that this one was mostly filler, intended to explain what the character did between the first and third books in this series. (That talking door knocker really annoyed me, by the way.) Fortunately, at about the halfway mark, the story gains a lot of momentum and certain themes that were present early on begin to make a lot more sense. As well as a lot of action, there is a very sad moment when a key character is murdered, but the whole thing propels Celaena toward her true destiny. And what a destiny it may be, if the revelation toward the end of the book is anything to go by.

Ultimately, this one is entertaining, but let down by a slow start.

Recommended.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Friday Funnies: Bringing You the Worst (and Occasionally the Best) Material From the Web


Thursday, 10 October 2019

Review: Sensitive by Allayne L Webster

Australian author writes about a young woman with a severe case of eczema with a lot of warmth, empathy and just enough reality to stop the whole thing from going over the top. Samatha is thirteen years old and has just moved to a new town in South Australia with her family. Starting at the local high school, she is keen for her peers not to know of the chronic eczema and other allergies that she suffers from. This is not easy, thanks to an over-protective mother, various doctors who do not always know best, and classmates who have troubles of their own. 

This isn't a book that is so much about finding a miracle cure for an illness that can be quite uncomfortable, especially during the teenage years, as it is about a young woman who learns to cope with her flare ups and journeys toward a place of self-acceptance. It's also a story of how treatments can be mismanaged by so-called experts and others who only want to help. 

An ideal read for those in their early teens and for anyone else who knows and understand the hell that is a skin allergy. Or for anyone who wants to understand, really.

Recommended.

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

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Review: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

A retelling of Shakepeare's The Tempest by Margaret Atwood? How could this one possibly be anything less than brilliant? Then again, I think the bigger question is how come this one turned out to be even better than I had expected?

Set in modern times, Felix is a Canadian based director who has led a rich and varied career, culminating in him directing various Shakespeare plays at a very prestigious festival. This year he plans to put on a showing of The Tempest. Unfortunately, this is also the year that nasty social climber Tony has decided to knife him in the back and take top spot. Disgraced, Felix retreats to a run down and isolated house in a small town, where he talks to his deceased daughter and plots the perfect revenge. 

Hag Seed is easily one of the best Shakespeare adaptions I have ever read (and that is saying something, considering just how much I loved reading New Boy a few weeks ago.) Atwood takes readers on a ride that is both believable, facile and an absolute fitting retelling of the Tempest in every sense of the word. Very few authors could weave the Shakespeare play that they are retelling into the narrative; Atwood makes it fit in a way that appears wholly effortless. As always, Atwood is a little bit devilish with her characters and the narrative works all the better for it.

Highly, highly recommended. 

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Review: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

One of the most raw and brutal young adult novels I have read to date, How I Live Now tells the story of Daisy, a fifteen-year-old American who, when the world is on the cusp of a war that no one quite understands, is packed off to live in England with her aunt and four cousins that she has never met by her spineless father and domineering step-mother. It soon becomes clear that her cousins have some very unusual talents. While Daisy is in England, war breaks out. Separated from the adults, Daisy soon falls in love with her cousin Edmund. Soon though, the pair are separated by circumstances beyond their control--and Daisy will learn a brutal lesson in what it means to love someone.

I am not going to lie. This book is not pleasant reading. Most of the adults in this book are either arseholes or kind but extremely negligent. Nor does it shy away in depicting the brutal reality of war, and the fact that when put to the test, some will not rise and become heroes, while others will carry internal scars that will last a lifetime. The themes of incest are quietly underplayed--after all the characters are young and living in dangerous times. All of that said, there is something compelling about this book, something that will keep readers turning pages and searching to see just how Daisy lives now.

Recommended, though not for the easily offended or faint of heart.