Nemo @ The Moonlight Library
!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
4 Stars
You’ll Weep Following A Dog’s Purpose
A Dog's Purpose - W. Bruce Cameron

Warning: Don’t read this book unless you are prepared for all the feels. I don’t even consider myself a ‘dog’ person and I wept several times through this.

 

SUMMARY

A dog is born. He lives. He dies. He is reborn. Again. And again. Along the way he learns what his true purpose is.

 

PLOT

The dog goes by several names in this book, but he spends the longest as Bailey, so we’ll call him Bailey. First he’s a feral puppy who winds up in an illegal shelter. Then he’s a golden retriever and bonds instantly with ‘his boy’, Ethan, who’s about eight at the time and goes through a whole bunch of adventures with Bailey. Then he’s a German Shepherd rescue bitch called Ellie, who works hard and learns to find and save people. Then he’s a black Labrador, and everything he’s learned in his previous lives leads him back to Ethan, now an old man. Stop crying. I did warn you.

 

CHARACTERS

Bailey/Toby/Ellie/Buddy is our star, the dog who lives four lives and finds meaning and purpose in all of them. Ethan is Bailey’s first real owner, whose love and affection shines through the pages of the book. If there ever was a man/dog BFF ship, it’s those two. Through Bailey’s eyes and limited understanding of the world (and also his ability to interpret everything to be about him, of course) we see Ethan’s parents divorce, find out a neighbourhood bully killed a neighbourhood dog, see couples get married and start families all without Bailey explicitly telling us so.

 

Reborn as Ellie, she has two owners in her time – a depressed widowed police officer who is wounded on the job and a female cop who wants the challenge of working with Ellie but might not be up to it. And Ellie’s an amazing recue dog. I cried when she jumped into a storm drain to rescue a lost kid because I thought yeah, she’s learned her purpose, she’s gonna die now. And then finally as Buddy, Bailey finds his way back to Ethan and puts everything he’s learned in his life to use to make ‘his boy’ happy.

 

WRITING

I couldn’t get over how fantastic the dog’s voice was. Narration by a dog! Not entirely original, no, but the voice and style really blew me away. Of course cats are useless, Bailey. Of course when your owners get married everyone’s really there to watch you walk down the aisle with the rings. You’re the star, the centre of their world. Of course you are, you ridiculous doodle dog. I couldn’t get over the narrative voice. Also, Josh Gad is voicing Bailey in the film. JOSH GAD. You know he’s going to be AMAZING.

 

Some choice quotes:

 

“Dogs have important jobs, like barking when the doorbell rings, but cats have no function in a house whatsoever."

 

“Humans were capable of so many amazing things, but too often they just sat making words, not doing anything.”

 

“This was, I decided, my purpose as a dog, to comfort the boy whenever he needed me.”

 

PACING

It was easy to tell when the dog’s life was winding up and at the end of each death I had to put the book down and have a big, chest-heaving, sobbing, ugly cry. Apart from that the pace was good – often in the early times of Bailey’s life, when he was still a puppy and before he had met his new owners, the pace would drop a bit because of the limited interactions, but apart from that, I found the pace easy going, not breakneck or anything, just a pleasant journey with an old friend.

 

OVERALL

Oh my god just read this book.

Review
4.5 Stars
Behind Chlorr of the Mask: The Lost Abhorsen's Origin Story
Clariel (Abhorsen, #4) - Garth Nix

SUMMARY

Clariel is better known as the centuries-old necromancer and later the Greater Dead creature Chlorr of the Mask in Lirael. This is her early story.

 

PLOT

Clariel wants nothing more than to live as a Borderer in the Great Forest of Estwael. So when she is dragged by her Master Goldsmith mother Jaciel to Belisaire, to marry the Governer’s son Aronzo and forever be trapped in a life she is desperate to escape, Clariel takes steps to ensure her own freedom – even if it comes at a great cost.

This is not your typical origin story. This does not detail how Clariel becomes Chlorr the necromancer – rather, it details the early steps taken by Clariel so that you can understand how someone from the ‘good’ side of magic can become so twisted and corrupted. Clariel is not gifted with strong Charter Magic nor much knowledge of the Abhorsens due to a family feud, but she is gifted with the beserk rage familiar in both Touchstone and Sam, and that is tainted with Free Magic. Through the Free Magic, Clariel works to get what she wants – but doing the wrong thing for the right reason is still the wrong thing, and that’s a lesson I Clariel doesn’t learn, and I suspect still doesn’t learn later in her life and contributes to her downfall as Chlorr.

 

CHARACTERS

Clariel is of course our protagonist. She’s strong-willed and knows exactly what she wants in life, even at only 17. She’s also trapped under her mother’s tyrannical reign. It’s super easy to identify with Clariel’s chafing need to spread her wings and be independent, knowing she will thrive in her chosen career as a Borderer, and feel the helpless obedience that comes with being a dependent child. She’s also asexual, which I think, for some, might be interesting. I couldn’t really tell if it was just used as a minor plot point to keep rejecting certain suitors’ advancements on her. It certainly was easy to feel her horror as news of her arranged marriage came through. She’s not particularly selfish but she is self-absorbed to the point where that’ll the catalyst, she’s abrasive to the horror of other characters and doesn’t want to take part in their charades.

 

We see little of Clariel’s parents, her father who does the admin side of the goldsmithing business despite being a talented smith himself, and Jaciel, who is more obsessed with her work than he own family.

 

Also appearing is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting-in-Waiting, Belariel, or Bel, who is Clariel’s cousin and friend from the Academy. Bel is concerned that the current Abhorsens, in a family of 300 strong, are too busy ceremoniously hunting to face the tasks required of the real Abhosren, so Bel’s been training at night and reading The Book of the Dead in secret.

 

Also popping up for a pretty major role in corrupting Clariel is Moggett, the wiley twisty little feline-bound Free Magic creature who cannot be trusted!

 

WRITING

The biggest issue I had going in was that I was expecting more of clean and cut origin story when really, it sort of hinted at Clariel’s weakness and her eventual downfall to come. Imagine writing a Joker origin story where at the end he’s just getting involved in crime but he doesn’t fall into the vat of chemicals that changes him forever; or a Batman Begins without Bruce Wayne ever making the Batsuit; or a Superman story that is basically Smallville where we never see Supes don the cape, but while that works for Smallville, it took me until actually finishing the book to realise I wasn’t going to get Clariel’s tragic fall into the Joker vat of chemicals after all. We don’t see her become a necromancer – we see her fight the urge. We don’t see her do anything evil, really – she still tries to save lives and even though she does murder people, that can be viewed through a justice or revenge lens.

 

PACING

This book tricks you. It tricks you into thinking it’s got a slower pace than it does. We follow Clariel around the city for the first third before anything of interest really happens, much like following Lirael in the library – it’s all a big set up that you don’t even realise is happening. Then it’s all go-go-go all the time until you’re screaming at yourself to stop reading so fast, it’ll all be over soon.

 

OVERALL

I certainly think Clariel is a book you’ll only get the most enjoyment out of if you’ve read the previous Old Kingdom books.

 

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Video

Dark Horses by Cecily von Ziegesar

"Wild Horses"

 

I like this whole linking videos on my reviews thing, I might keep it up if I can think of the right video.

Review
4 Stars
Dark Horses + Dark Actions = Dark Story
Dark Horses - Cecily Von Ziegesar

SUMMARY

When Merritt walks out of her SATs and goes on a bender, her parents send her to an equine rehabilitation camp called Good Fences where she meets Big Red, a former racing Thoroughbred recovering from injury and with a Big Bad Attitude to match. Red takes a liking to Merritt and claims her as his own, and when the two impress their sponsor and join the professional show circuit, Red won’t let anyone or anything come between him and his human.

PLOT

I really liked the idea of reading alterative points of view from both Merritt, a damaged teen girl, and Big Red, and equally damaged and somewhat unhinged beautiful chestnut Thoroughbred. Merritt had no idea Red was so malicious though, although she loved him, she still only thought of him as a horse whose responsibility she could pass over to someone else. Red and Merritt don’t even start off liking each other and that’s the best kind of relationship I like reading about. Red very soon decided that if he ‘belongs’ to Merritt then he’s going to behave and do his best for her, and that’s when they get pulled into the professional show circuits because let’s face it, someone who walks out of their SAT isn’t exactly going to go to university. Merritt’s parents are largely absent and although she seems to bond with fellow competitor Carvin, he quickly cools off. Instead, the sponsor’s reckless, out of control daughter Beatrice, working as Red’s groom, revolves into Merritt’s life and VERY briefly makes the audience question if there’s going to be a bisexual romance before Big Red takes matters into his own… um… hooves.

It’s Red’s jealousy that I’m torn up over how I should feel. Because 1) I mean come on, he’s a loyal herd animal and he clearly has chosen Merritt as his ‘person’, much the way one of my three cats has chosen me as her ‘person’ and is practically my little shadow an that is seriously one of the best feelings you can get from an animal you love. 2) I know Red knows he does the wrong thing on occasion but he does try to be good for Merritt.

CHARACTERS

I loved Red’s narrative voice. Because playing a radio soothed him, he knew a lot of lyrical references and forever threw them into his own narrative. Even though he doesn’t speak, he sure gave off a lot of feeling and despite his nasty streak I really empathised with him. He was such a great character that even though he does bad things, I’m finding it hard to judge him harshly. He’s smart and loyal and loves Merritt.

Merritt Wenner (whose name I like to think of more like ‘Merit Winner’) doesn’t handle abandonment issues very well, so when people in her life leave her or she just can’t cope, she likes to drink and take random drugs to deal with it, which is what landed her at Good Fences. She’s abrasive and rebellious and the only thing good in her life is basically Red. I didn’t really feel like she had as much of a character arc as the horse did because at the end of the novel she’s in the same place she was at the beginning, and I was really disappointment when she half-heartedly entered a plot to steal Red only to quickly abandon him. Like she almost couldn’t decide whether she loved him or not.

WRITING

The writing was contemporary, not exactly graceful, but fun with Red’s lyrical inputs. I didn’t really have an issue with it, it wasn’t over the top purple or lyrical and it wasn’t gritty and urban it just kind of was the middle of the road. Definite the best thing about the writing was Red’s narrative voice. I really felt like I was looking out of the eyes of a slightly deranged horse. Although it was kind of weird how smart he was… like he knew how much he weighed, for example. I thought that was weird.

PACING

The pace of this book was like that of a Thoroughbred – almost to the point of reckless. It felt rushed, like how quickly Bea’s feelings for Merritt grew and then BAM that’s all over. We completely missed Merritt’s winter training in Florida and went straight to the professional circuit. It seemed like the author was just so keen on getting everything down and telling this somewhat thrilling story that the whole thing seemed rushed and could have done with some padding out. For example, the girls at the Good Fences all jumbled into one, even when one of them was plucked out and promoted to supporting character rather than bit player.

OVERALL

I really enjoyed Dark Horses. Because of the plural in the title I kept expecting another horse to be dark like Red but nope, it was just him. From the first moment I loved the idea of a horse over its rider and this book really delivered pretty much what I expected and what I wanted. I would really recommend it to YA readers who like a bit of a thrill or those readers who enjoy troubled teen stories.

 

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Video

Halloween Bingo | Black Cat | Coraline

 

I was unable to add the film trailer to my review, but then I found this clip about the black cat and thought it was better.

Review
4 Stars
Halloween Bingo | Black Cat | Coraline: A Satisfyingly Creepy Tale
Coraline - Chris Riddell, Neil Gaiman

There was a film adaptation of Coraline released in 2009 that was amazing and will be referenced throughout this review.

 

SUMMARY

Coraline Jones, a bored tween, finds a more interesting life through a magical portal in her new house’s drawing room where her Other Mother wants to love her and keep her forever and replace her eyes with bright, shiny black buttons. Other Mother will do anything to keep Coraline…

coraline-title

 

PLOT

Coraline is a disenchanted, bored tween in a new house before her new school has started and her parents don’t have time to entertain her. The old house they’ve moved into has been split into four apartments, and while strange neighbours live above and below them, the apartment opposite Coraline’s has a strange door in the drawing room that is blocked off with bricks. Determined to find the secret behind the blocked-up door, Coraline’s adventure takes her into another world where a creepy monster known as the beldam imitates her mother and insists on being called her Other Mother. While Other Mother treats Coraline with love and respect, and spoils her with delicious food and interesting entertainment, she’s desperate to hold on to Coraline, and will even take her real parents hostage. Meanwhile, Other Mother has devoured the souls of children like Coraline before, and the three little ghosts beg Coraline to set them free. If Coraline stays in the Other world, she’ll need to let Other Mother sew black buttons on her eyes, and let Other Mother love her and care for her forever (and possibly eat her?). But if she wants to escape, she needs to find her parents and the souls of the three ghost children with the help of a sardonic and somewhat aloof black cat. It’s notable to mention that in comparison to the film, which I adore, there is no Wyborn character. I believe he was created for the film so Coraline wasn’t wandering around muttering to herself all the time.

coraline-bored

 

CHARACTERS

Of course as I was reading this I kept comparing it to the film, which I love. In comparison, Coraline from the book isn’t as spunky as Coraline from the film. Film Coraline is downright rude and even somewhat bratty. Book Coraline is more reserved and less aggressive. Both of them are smart and brave and have a certain amount of un-child-like common sense that allows them to achieve their goals.

Similarly, film Mother seems almost mean compared to book Mother. Film father seems more lively than book Father. Film Beldam seems scarier than Book Beldam, but maybe that’s because they model her so excellently on a spider and the reveal is very slow. Like I said earlier, Wyborn doesn’t exist in the book and neither does his grandmother so that makes a very minor plot point moot. The Misses Fink and Forcible are more lively and far more amusing in the film, as is Mr Bobo and his moues circus. It’s not that the book is bland, it’s just that the film took a really good idea and made it so much better.

 

WRITING

Coraline is super creepy and I think it’s fantastic for a middle grade/young YA book. It never treats its younger readers with anything but respect and expects them to be able to figure out problems alongside or even before Coraline does. I kind of wished that Gaimen had written the early adventures as if they were a dream, like in the film. I also found the book’s climax to be more satisfying than the film, but I recognise, similar to my response to Gaimen’s Stardust, that certain elements work better on the screen. Although Gaimen is wonderful at description and dialogue, they do say that a picture says a thousand words, and so I think the film was more successful in getting its message and meaning across.

other-mother

 

PACING

I didn’t find anything wrong with the pacing. The plot moved quickly enough to keep my attention, even though it’s only a short book and even though I roughly knew what was coming thanks to the film. I was excited to get back to the book when I put it down. There were a couple of subplots that were built into the book but like I said it was a shorter novel so I’m not fussed about missing them.

 

OVERALL

If you’ve seen the film you’d probably really enjoy this book. Even if you haven’t seen the film, (I’ve played the video game based on the film and really enjoyed that, too!) I think it’s a really engaging, thoughtful, creepy story that treats its younger audience members like grown ups. There’s no holding back on the creep, horror or suspense.

 

 

Read by candlelight or flashlight: 'Yuri' from Her Russian Protector by Roxie Rivera.

Magical Realism: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Witches: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone illustrated Edition

Genre Horror: Fat Vampire by Johnny B Truant

Black Cat: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

 

Diverse Authors can be spooky fun: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (currently reading)

Ghost stories and Haunted Houses: Ghost Girl (#1 3rd Freak House) by CJ Archer

Young Adult Horror: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Scary women (authors): Arise (Hereafter #2) by Tara Hudson

Reads with Booklikes friends: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle.

 

Grave or Graveyard: Up From The Grave (Night Huntress #7) by Jeaniene Frost

Genre: mystery: We Were Liars by E Lockhart

Edgar Allen Poe Raven image: Enshadowed (Nevermore #2) by Kelly Creagh

Gothic Seared with Scars (#2 2nd Freak House) by CJ Archer

Creepy Crawlies: Parasite by Mira Grant

 

‘Fall’ into a good book: Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #4) by Maggie Stiefvater

Locked room mystery: Dead Famous by Ben Elton

It was a dark and stormy night: Storm Glass (Glass #1) by Maria V Snyder

Set in New England: Little Vampire Women by Lynn Messina

Full Moon: Fire Spell by Laura Amy Schlitz

 

Vampires vs werewolves: The Vampire Stalker by Allison van Diepen

Supernatural: Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Classic Horror: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Pumpkin: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Set on Halloween: “Ghost Town” by Malinda Lo, short story in Defy The Dark ed by Saundra Mitchell

Review
3 Stars
First read down
Her Russian Protector Boxed Set - Roxie Rivera

I am WAY behind because I was determined to finish some other books before I started on my Halloween Bingo card.

 

Anyway, I finished 'Yuri', book 3 in Her Russian Protector box set by Roxie Rivera, who's a dirty-writing sexy romance/erotica kinda gal whose books I love (also writes under Lolita Lopez). I read the whole box set on my phone when I was unable to sleep, but I didn't start Yuri until after September 1, and it's a book in its own right.

 

I'll just give a quick rundown since I normally only review Young Adult and this review won't even go on my regular blog, youngadultatheart.com:

 

Yuri is a billionaire in love with PR princess Lena Cruz, and when she confronts him over what she mistakenly suspects is shady dealing trying to undermine her club, the two start dating. There's lots of hot sex and lots of talk about feelings and are we moving too fast because it takes place over the course of about one week. Of course there's some gang/mob trouble but nothing a big tough Russian can't handle.

 

I like Roxie Rivera's books because the guys are always huge and alpha male but when they look at their woman they go all dopey and sweet. I love a big man, my husband's seven feet tall, although I could do without the inherent bossiness in Roxie's men and also the women's complete happiness to be bossed around. She tries to make the relationships equal but often fails, but even then I don't really mind, it is fiction after all. I love me a big sexy Russian.

 

I probably won't go on with the series, it just seems to melodramatic and it's always the same thing: the house gets broken into, the woman is threatened, the Russian goes all alpha male.

 

Probably the star of the book is Sasha, the enormous Caucasian shepherd who, obviously, hates everyone but falls in love with Lena at first sight.

 

 

Review
3 Stars
Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

Since a terrible tragedy at school, Morgan’s been unable to leave her house. Her days consist of online school, crappy soap operas, and grilled cheese sandwiches. That is until surfer boy Evan moves in next door, bringing with him the warmth of the sun and the smell of the sea. Connecting with Evan could help Morgan reconnect with the world outside her apartment.

 

I recently read another ‘issues’ YA book about a girl with a debilitating problem that a boy helps her work through. That was called the Things I Didn’t Say, and it was about a girl with Selective Mutism. In contrast to that, Underwater shows how Morgan is actively trying to overcome her issues and she works hard all through the novel and makes progress all through the novel, not just because a cute boy wants to date her. Similarly to the other novel, Underwater’s cute boy tries to understand her problems but loses patience once or twice because our girl’s incapable of being ‘normal’. However, in this novel, Morgan still has a therapist, and Brenda is a cool a psychologist you can get. She’s young and hip and has tattoos and dreadlocks. So as the plot advances, and Morgan makes progress with her issues, we’re also exposed to why she feels so scared even though other kids went through what she went through that fateful day at school, and why her friendships have drifted apart. It’s not a novel big on action, more of a character study.

 

It was interesting reading about agoraphobia from Morgan’s point of view. She used to be a strong swimmer and there’s even a pool at her apartment, but since she shut herself in her body has started to change from lean and tan to rounder and pale. Morgan has a realistically-portrayed 5 year old brother, Ben, whom she adores. Her mother doesn’t quite understand her issue and her dad is absent. Morgan likes repetition because it’s predictable. She needs people to sit on the left side of her so she can see them. Her fears run her life, but she wants to overcome them, and that’s admirable.

 

What I liked about Evan’s portrayal is he never seemed to be to be Morgan’s saviour. It wasn’t because of him that she challenged her fears and stepped outside her front door. Largely it was because of Ben, actually, and Brenda’s calm and patient coaching. It was Morgan who wanted to do it, and not because of Evan. Likewise, Evan wasn’t this wisdomous ball of never-ending patience – quite frankly, he tried to understand Morgan, but didn’t, and lashed out like any normal teenage boy would. On the other hand he did have some moments when he was really sweet, but like Morgan’s mother, I think he never really understood what he problem was.

 

I would have loved to have seen some more scenes with Morgan’s ex-friendship group. There were four of them together and they seemed like a whole bunch of fun, but Morgan cut herself off after the tragedy. Consequently we don’t get a whole lot of info on the ex-BFFS even though Morgan does run into them on occasion. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just something I think could have enhanced the novel even further.

 

I found the writing enjoyable and leisurely. Like I said, it’s not really an action novel, and I was OK with that. I was happy to explore Morgan’s feelings on a whole heap of subjects. It felt like a contemporary, if somewhat smart teen going through a really rough time.

 

Overall I enjoyed Underwater, figuring out what he big secrets were and then cheering Morgan as she faced her challenges and overcame them – not without significant struggle. I’d recommend this book to YA lovers who love a bit of mystery with their contemporary.

 

I received this book for free from Pan MacMillan in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Video

Dan Stevens' "Beast" voice is so utterly perfect I just can't even... and Emma Watson is perfect casting as well.

Review
4 Stars
A Brilliant and Original High Concept Sci-fi
Burning Midnight - Will McIntosh

I received this book for free from Pan MacMillan in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

SUMMARY

Overnight they appeared – spheres that granted enhanced properties like straight teeth, intelligence, and strength when a pair were ‘burned’. Some were rarer than others, and so a business grew around hunting these spheres. And that’s how Sully and Hunter met. But no one know if these mysterious spheres are a gift from God or something far worse – after all, they used to say cigarettes were good for you, right?

 

PLOT

Sully is known as the kid who lost the Cherry Reds – when he sold them to an insidious collector, they didn’t grant powers but simply reseeded the Earth with more spheres. Sully’s $2.5 million vanished and now he’s back to collecting and selling at the flea market. He teams up with a hunter named Hunter who’s figured out likely places people haven’t looked yet. Together they find the rarest of all, a Gold sphere, and its twin, but they’re faced with being murdered for the Golds or burning them with no idea what will happen.

 

CHARACTERS

Sully seemed like a regular kid who just lucked out on the deal of a lifetime. He’s trying to make money buying and selling spheres because he lives alone with his mother who has a crappy job and they might have to move away if they can’t afford rent. Although he’s largely driven by financial motivations, the relationships he develops with Hunter and Mandy, who he met during the novel, and his ongoing relationship with Dom, was really lovely to watch.

Hunter was your typical badass YA female character, ninja-like and almost super-powered, even though she hadn’t burned any spheres. She couldn’t afford to. She was one of those ‘I’m capable and I don’t need a man’ types, which is why I liked it when she fell in love with Sully. Oops. Is that a spoiler? Anyway, it showed her gentle side, but it also re-established that her selfish nature and how when she felt something was for the best she wouldn’t listen to the other characters at all, even though she was supposed to love them. I think this self-reliance was due to her being homeless for a few years and never having anyone to count on.

I loved Dom and Mandy. Dom seemed like a great big brother character and it was cool to see lots of diversity in Mandy, a gay Asian girl who kept her friendship with Sully and Dom despite her distrust of burning spheres. They really were the perfect supporting character, arguing against Sully and Hunter’s more selfish ideas in a realistic way.

 

WRITING

I had no idea this was going to lead to where it led and so I was pleasantly surprised with the massive plot twist. It really came out of nowhere and seemed really imaginative. I liked the writing fair enough, I didn’t really see anything wrong with it.

 

PACING

I did feel like the novel was slow to get going because for a long time we didn’t know if the spheres were bad or good or really what they were or even how they were used. Everything was eventually revealed but it took its sweet time and sometimes I was flipping through the pages for the next part and sometimes I was glad to put the book down at the end of the chapter. I will say I did have a big battle of willpower not to check the final pages to see who survived and what the outcome was, boy that was hard to fight but I’m glad I fought it because all was revealed in time.

 

OVERALL

This novel was just so unexpected. I thought it was going to be about superheroes, not making money looking for the spheres to sell to people for enhanced attributes. I certainly was not expecting where it eventually took us!

This has nothing to do with reading but no one else seems to give a shit and i know you guys will care because I know you care about me.

So last week was my birthday and my husband and I decided to go for a drive. We had a really nice day stopping in at various places and seeing what's changed around the state.

 

I've been sleeping poorly for the last few months, ever since my husband broke our bed and now I'm sleeping on a mattress on the floor which I hate with a passion. I wake up frequently, sometimes choking and gasping for air. I'm constantly tired through the day. Sometimes I've caught myself falling asleep at my desk at work if it's warm and cozy enough.

 

And yes, before you say anything, it is signs of early sleep apnea and I've been to my doctor and he's recommended a sleep specialist to diagnose me officially but basically all that's going to do is try to sell me a thousand-dollar machine we can't afford. I'm just getting older and my body doesn't work the way it used to ten years ago.

 

It was early afternoon when I started feeling weary, so we decided to head home. My husband doesn't drive, which annoys the fuck out of me, so I'm stuck driving all around on my birthday and I feel the need for a nap but I want to get home. I almost drive off the road at one point, but it's in a country area and I gained control of the car quickly. I feel like that scare was enough to keep me awake.

 

Then we hit a downhill highway and before I know what's happening I'm asleep then I'm awake and realising we're about the crash into the barrier coming around a corner downhill, so I twist the wheel and one of the back tires hits the curb and pops and I control the car and move into the emergency lane and call for help to come change my tire. I was pretty calm because I was in shock, it wasn't until later that night when I saw my mother that I burst into tears and told her I almost killed us.

 

TL:DR

I fell asleep while driving and nearly killed my husband and myself and no one on twitter cares and no one who reads my blog cares and I just really wanted everyone to know that I almost died and it was scary as fuck.

Halloween Bingo reading plan

 

I've decided to take part because my ARCs are at an all-time low and I haven't seen anything upcoming I'm desperate to review, so I think I'll have some breathing room over the autumn.

 

For those of you who know me, you might be asking 'But Nemo, it's HORROR themed, why on EARTH would you take part?"

 

Well, because not everything needs to horror or scary. And to prove it, I'm getting organised (because we all know how I love being organised) and posting my book list!

 

Most of the books on my list are YA, the majority of them by women, and almost all of them are owned by me. On occasion, I'm borrowing from my husband, who is a MAJOR horror buff and I asked his advice about filling a few squares.

 

Let's start!


Read by candlelight or flashlight: 'Yuri' from Her Russian Protector by Roxie Rivera. (own, ebook)

Magical Realism: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (own, paperback)

Witches: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone illustrated Edition (own, hardback - reread)

Genre Horror: Fat Vampire by Johnny B Truant (recommended and borrowed from my husband, ebook)

Black Cat: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (own, paperback)

Diverse Authors can be spooky fun: Huntress by Malinda Lo (own, paperback)

Ghost stories and Haunted Houses: Ghost Girl (#1 3rd Freak House) by CJ Archer (own, ebook)

Young Adult Horror: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (own, ebook)

Scary women (authors): Arise (Hereafter #2) by Tara Hudson (own, paperback)

Reads with Booklikes friends: There's a big readalong of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle which I guess I'll take part in if no one wants to do anything YA with me. (own, ebook)

Grave or Graveyard: Up From The Grave (Night Huntress #7) by Jeaniene Frost (own, paperback)

Genre: mystery: We Were Liars by E Lockhart (own, paperback)

Edgar Allen Poe Raven image: Enshadowed (Nevermore #2) by Kelly Creagh (own, hardcover)

Gothic Seared with Scars (#2 2nd Freak House) by CJ Archer (own, ebook)

Creepy Crawlies: Parasite by Mira Grant (recommended and borrowed from husband)

‘Fall’ into a good book: Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #4) by Maggie Stiefvater (own, hardcover)

Locked room mystery: Dead Famous by Ben Elton (own, paperback - reread)

It was a dark and stormy night: Storm Glass (Glass #1) by Maria V Snyder (own, paperback)

Set in New England: Little Vampire Women by Lynn Messina (own, paperback)

Full Moon: Fire Spell by Laura Amy Schlitz (own, paperback)

 Vampires vs werewolves: The Vampire Stalker by Allison van Diepen (own, paperback)

Supernatural: Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (own, paperback)

Classic Horror: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (recommended and borrowed from husband, ebook)

Pumpkin: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (own, paperback - reread)

Set on Halloween: “Ghost Town” by Malinda Lo, short story in Defy The Dark ed by Saundra Mitchell (I'm pretty sure I own this, I need to search my shelves. If not, this will be the only book I purchase for Bingo.)


The Potential

I have three rereads: Harry Potter #1 and #2, and Ben Elton's Dead Famous.

I'm borrowing three recommended books from my husband: Fat Vampire by Johnny B Truant, Parasite by Mira Grant, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

Number of books I've identified written by women: 22

Number of books I've identified written by men: 3

Middle grade books: 2

YA books: 15

Adult books: 8

 

Notes on some obscure references

I've chosen ‘Yuri’ from Her Russian Protector by Roxie Rivera as my 'read by candlelight or flashlight'. I’m actually taking a wide interpretation of 'candlelight and flashlight' and reading this on my phone, which I often use as a torch.

 

I've chosen The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black as my Black Cat square because of Holly's surname.

 

I've chosen Arise (Hereafter #2) by Tara Hudson as my Scary Women (authors) because it's a ghost story.

 

I've chosen Enshadowed (Nevermore #2) by Kelly Creagh as my Edgar Allen Poe Raven image because the Nevermore trilogy is based on/influenced by Edgar Allen Poe.

 

I've chosen Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater as my 'Fall into a good book' because of the title of the series, The Wolves of Mercy Falls.

 

I've chosen Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as my 'pumpkin' because they drink pumpkin juice at Hogwarts.

 

So that's my plan. I don't plan on blacking out every one but I do hope to make some progress into books I've been putting off forever. Books are still subject to change but I like this lot.

I have a theory on pen names in romance and esp self-publishing/indie

Do you think authors using pen names just throw a book out and if it doesn't do OK they abandon the pen name and try again until they have a hit under that particular pen name, and then the fans come and rabidly gobble up anything that pen name produces?

 

How many 'failed' pen names have we seen that the original author is open about?

 

But when an author does well with a pen name, she'll most likely claim it. Sometimes you even get on the cover 'such and such writing as blah blah'.

 

Do you think that might be how it works?

Review
5 Stars
You Need To Be 'Aware' of This Totally Awesome Aussie Fantasy
The Aware - Glenda Larke

SUMMARY

Blaze Halfbreed has been sent on a mission to retrieve the Cirkasian Castlemaid from Gortham Spit, a barely hospital strip of sand where only the lowest of the low and the most desperate congregate. There she discovers the filthy stench of evil dunmagic and realises a great evil has returned to threaten the whole of the Isles of Glory.


PLOT

Blaze Halfbreed is citizenless in an island archipelago where citizenship means everything and there are strict rules on island-interbreeding, leading her to be an unwanted outcast. Gorthan Spit, the desolate land of criminals and unwanteds, is the only place she can legally stay longer than three days. It is also the place where she has tracked a princess from another island who is to play a key role in the Keeper’s plans on taking control of the Isles of Glory. Blaze is ‘Aware’ – she can see sylmagic and dunmagic, and it doesn’t affect her. The Keepers find her useful, and have promised her citizenship after twenty years of service. But if she fails to find the Castlemaid, she won’t get her citizenship. Meanwhile, she befriends a Cirkasian with a secret past who claims she knows where the Castlemaid is – only this beautiful ‘Flame’ is attacked by a powerful dunmagicker. It’s up to Blaze to save the day, multiple times, as she uncovers Keeper secrets, Gorthan Spit secrets, Castlemaid secrets, and secrets about sylmagic and dunmagic that threaten to take over her world.


CHARACTERS

Blaze Halfbred: tall, swordfighter, sassy, fierce, and totally and completely magnificent. She’s a survivor. Not many abandoned halfbreeds make it in a world harsh to the citizenless. Blaze is brave, resourceful, smart, and caring. She’s got loyalty coming out the wazoo for those she loves, and she’ll do anything to save them. Her primary motivation is to earn enough money to live in peace and earn a citizenship for the same reason, and for this she is a sort of bounty hunter for the Keeper sylvs, although she’s also a mercenary who will do what it takes to earn some coin. Although she develops strong bonds with several men in this book, it’s her sudden and very sisterly love for Flame that I adore. Blaze is ‘Aware’ – she can see magic as it’s used, which other magickers and normal folk can’t. Magic doesn’t affect her so she’s the perfect one to send off to assassinate an evil dunmagicker. Her Awareness makes her useful to the sylvs of Keeper island, and she depends on them for work and her eventual citizenship.

Flame is a sylv from Cirkasecastle and as the incredibly beautiful one of the story she’s also somewhat of a damsel in need of rescuing. She’s also brave and loyal and fierce and once she makes a decision she has no time to regret it. She returns Blaze’s love fiercely and she isn’t afraid to step back into a lair of horror she barely escaped the first time just to try to save her friends.

Tor Ryder is a fellow Aware and although he can fight, he’s a man of religion and I wouldn’t exactly call him a warrior like Blaze. He’s gentle and calm and has deep intelligence, and he’s on Gortham Spit babysitting a runaway royal. He and Blaze find a past in common and eventually fall in love although Blaze believes they can’t be together because of her halfbreed status and his religion.


WRITING

I adore this book so much. Although much of it takes place on Gorthan Spit, we get some flashbacks in Blaze’s life. The framing of the novel is that when Blaze is an elderly woman, all magic and the harsh citizenship laws have vanished from the Glory Isles and they are discovered by another race who are studying them, much like in Wuthering Heights Nathan turns up at the house only to be told this incredible story about its previous inhabitants. So Blaze’s story is essential a compilation of a bunch of interviews given to help this new race study them. I think the worldbuilding is phenomenal, I love the characters, I love that even the supposedly ‘good’ sylvs have shades of grey in them because they use their magic to confuddle normal folk. Love how every character has their own motivation and backstory which really enriches the narrative and makes the world so much more believable.


PACING

The pacing is good with this book. Because it’s such an original adult fantasy, there’s a lot of worldbuilding and culture and backstory to tell. I feel like this was always put in at the appropriate moments. While it’s not a break-neck pace, it is steady. Sometimes it slows right down, for example when Blaze has been taken prisoner or is being kept alone for some time. I think the slower pace works well then because you start to feel her helplessness and lonliness.


OVERALL

This is one of my absolute favourite fantasy books of all time. I literally cannot think of a single thing I don’t like about it. I give it ALL THE STARS. But warning - it is an adult book and it does cover subject matters such as rape and forced sterilisation.

The Aware (The Isles of Glory)Actually, I did think of one thing. For some reason Larke decided to republish this with another publishing company instead of self-publishing, and the cover of the new version is AWFUL. DON’T LET THE COVER FOOL YOU THIS IS AN AMAZING ORIGINAL INCREDIBLE PIECE OF ADULT FANTASY.

Review
4 Stars
Desperate to get Across The Wall
Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories - Garth Nix

This is a review of just the novella in this collection, 'Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case'. It is not a review of the complete book.

It’s six months after the combined magic of the Charter defeated the Destoryer, and Nick is back in Ancelstierre, reluctantly attending a house party on behalf of his uncle, the Chief Minister. But what lurks behind the frivolous façade is Department 13, a legal entity for exploring the oddities in the Old Kingdom. There, Nick comes across a terrifying Old Kingdom creature locked in an ancient case. It should be dormant this far from the Wall, but Nick can feel that it’s alive and waiting for something…

That something is Nick’s Charter magic. When Nick is betrayed and his blood fed to the creature, it comes alive and rampages across the house, indiscriminately killing party guests and government employees alike, Nick is the only one who knows where the creature comes from and how he might stop it. But with the Abhorsen so far away in the Old Kingdom, what can Nick do to stop a hyped-up Free Magic creature driven by a madman willing to betray his own kind?

Although this is a novella, it packs a punch. It’s quite scary and thrilling to read, especially because Nick doesn’t have any magical powers or items to help him defeat a monster from across the wall. But Nick really shines in this story, his leadership skills, canny observations, cunning, and quick intelligence able to help him in his desperate quest to stop the creature returning to the Old Kingdom even as he wishes to return there himself. It doesn’t even seem that short because there’s plenty of action and even a bit of humour, but it does give more of a look at Ancelstierrans and especially the upper class who would rather stand around screaming than do something useful to save their own lives, and who don’t even believe in magic and necromancy to begin with.

I haven’t read Goldenhand yet, but I know it stars Nick and Lirael. That ship might very well have started in this novella, so I can’t quite speculate whether this is essential reading for the Old Kingdom series. I think if you can get your hands on it, you’re going to enjoy a clever, scary story about Nick and get more of a look at the so far kind of sidelined Ancelstierrans.

Review
4 Stars
The Heat Is On In 'A Promise Of Fire' by Amanda Bouchet
A Promise of Fire - Amanda Bouchet
This review was originally posted on Young Adult At Heart
For some reason I believed this was a YA book. It’s not. It’s very adult fantasy. But I’m reviewing it anyway because I was granted a review copy.

SUMMARY

Cat, a circus performer, is identified as a powerful magoi and kidnapped by a warlord named Griffin and his band of ultra-sexy warriors, intending to use her power as a soothsayer and truthteller to benefit the rule of his sister’s kingdom. Unfortunately Cat has other ideas, and it’s going to take everything Griffin has to convince her to stay and help.

PLOT

This long-assed novel was largely a travelling story, getting Cat from Point A to Point B with plenty of complaining and escape attempts along the way. Cat is determined to the point of stubbornness that she wants nothing to do with the fine life Griffin is offering her, and even his super-sexy manly charms don’t seem to work on her. She is terrified of being hunted down by an old enemy and remains reluctant for a large part of the novel. The novel largely builds on her growing trust, respect, and even love for Griffin and his ultra-masculine band of barbarians. Griffin comes from a non-magical family and has carved a path through the magical elite to place his sister on the throne, and to keep a non-magical family royal, they are in desperate need of Cat’s help. Because Cat is the Kingmaker, and can do all kinds of magical things like turn invisible, absorb magic from other beings, and even call upon the gods who have favoured her.

CHARACTERS

To see my DREAM CAST, visit https://wp.me/p5jsvI-1SC.

WRITING

One thing that I did find really awesome in the beginning was the sexual tension between Cat and Griffin, but as the novel moved on I quickly grew cold towards it. Griffin had no respect for what Cat wanted and was always kissing her and touching her without consent, and in fact going so far so to do it when she explicitly tells him not to. Like, dude, I don’t care how sexy you are and that you’re possibly the hottest fictional character ever written about and totally remind me of my own husband, just keep your freaking hands to yourself. Equally annoying was Cat’s to-and-fro between her lust for him and her desire for freedom and pretending to hate him. I grew tired of it eventually and I also found it annoying that Cat basically only ended up consenting because the gods told her to.

I really loved the worldbuilding and how the world was based on ancient Greece with heaps of embellishments. I felt like I was walking with Cat and Griffin as they moved through well-described towns and I felt the constant heat from the summer sun irritating the crap out of Cat. This is good because the middle of the novel is largely filler – the group walks, trains for battle, faces some kind of challenge where Cat reveals more about her mysterious background, Griffin kisses her, rinse and repeat. I also found it frustrating that all the hints dropped about Cat’s true identity weren’t wrapped up at the end, either. I was waiting for that conversation between her and Griffin.

I also found the climax totally disappointing. After building up for ages about why Cat continues to say no to Griffin and then finally explaining it, there was no confrontation with Cat’s biggest enemy. I kept reading only to find the novel kind of abruptly stop when there was still 5% left (a preview of the next novel). There was no real climax, just another challenge for Cat to overcome. After all the hype and build up of Cat’s greatest enemies and the threats against Griffin’s kingdom, I was expecting a lot more.

PACING

The pacing was strong in the first third, weak in the middle third, and got a bit better in the final third of the novel. This is because after Cat’s escape attempts cease, the group simply spend a lot of time travelling, and it’s not until they reach their destination that the pace picks up again, even though things like ambushes and fighting dragons and Cat getting high and going for a naked swim happen.

OVERALL

I really want to rate this 5 stars for the complete sexiness of the brooding warrior men and for how awesome, if a bit overpowered, Cat was. But I can’t get over my disappointment at the ending: no climax, no answering questions. And as sexy as Griffin is, he gets a big slap across the wrist for being so grabby all the time. So as much as I’d love to re-read this book, I’d probably only re-read specific sections of it until Cat and Griffin start annoying me again.

I received this book for free from Netgalley/Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My name is Nemo.

By day I work in IT, by night I turn into a vigilante kitten snuggler.

 

"A good book resting unopened in its slot on a shelf, full of majestic potentiality, is the most comforting sort of intellectual wallpaper."

- David Quammen