Nemo @ The Moonlight Library
Review
5 Stars
The Hypnotic City by Andrea Berthot
The Hypnotic City (The Gold and Gaslight Chronicles Book 2) - Andrea Berthot

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

 

Disclaimer: Andrea and I are Goodreads friends. This is because I read a review copy of The Heartless City, fell in love with it, and decided Andrea should be my new BFF, so I friend requested her (also to keep tabs on when her new books are coming out). My online ‘friendship’ with the author has absolutely no bearing on my rating of the book and the following review is my tree and honest feelings.

 

Philomena and Jennie have made it from London to New York, just as Phil always knew she would. Now she just has to bide her time and work her butt off until someone spots her enormous talent and turns her into the star she is destined to be!

 

I really loved The Hypnotic City, so much that it’s got a place on my six-stars shelf. I loved the plot, the characters, the writing, the pacing, the romance, that general feeling of unease Berthot managed to weave in there. I loved to hate the villain and I cheered when a specific gang of people showed up and I pretty much fell head over heels for this book. Philomena is a phenomenal, fiery young woman with more determination and ambition in her little finger than most people have in their whole lives. She’s destined to be a star, and when she finally starts listening to that powerful voice in her head that tells not to put with shit from anyone, her small act at a music hall leads to a lead role in a new musical by a young and powerful writer/producer called Tom. Meanwhile, Phil develops a very sweet relationship with a stage manager called Jamie, but Tom’s watching from the wings…

 

I love how even though The Hypnotic City was about this huge mystery and this huge consipiracy but it was also about the concept of the ‘nice guy’, and the study into the character who fits that shoe. He showers Philomena with everything she desires and expects her to return his affection ‘just because’ he’s done everything for her. It was so creepy watching this develop, and in fact I largely read on in denial even though I had a little voice in the back of my head going ‘be careful!’ because I’m generally a positive person and it took me a while to suspect that the Nice Guy had an ulterior motive. Well, so did Phil, so I guess we’re even.

 

Phil’s supporting cast mainly revolved around Jamie, her friend Jenny who quickly leaves the story due to her own romance, and two chorus girls Bonnie and Flo who, although were different to each other, I like to imagine as twins. The romance is a big part of the book but so is Phil’s hard work in the theatre. I might have liked to have seen more of rehearsals in the lead up to the big show but I know that’s not the point, especially when everyone was gushing about how great Phil was. I liked how Phil was smart enough to figure out her dilemma, and try to work out ways to escape. She certainly wasn’t willing to put up with any shit until she literally had no choice in the matter, and I loved that about her.

 

 

I tried to read the novel slowly and limited myself how much I read each day because otherwise I would have just devoured the whole thing. Every time I put it own, I ached to pick it back up. The pacing was incredible, every moment just ratcheting to the next and making everything bigger and better until the Worse Possible Thing happened, and then I confess I kind of wanted to put the book down again because I didn’t possibly see how Phil could get out of this problem all by herself. Luckily there were cameos of the characters I loved in the previous novel and that made everything better.

 

Overall I don’t want you to read this book because IT’S MINE ALL MINE.

 

No, I’m kidding. I don’t know if I have a particular ‘thing’ for YA Urban Historical Fantasy with this whole ‘science gone wrong’ thing or what, it seemed like the book was written just for me. Maybe you’ll find that, too, when you read it, because I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone.

Review
4 Stars
When Michael Met Mina by Randa Abdel-Fattah
When Michael Met Mina - Randa Abdel-Fattah

SUMMARY

Follows the interactions between an Afghani refugee and the son of the leaders of a burgeoning political party against immigration ‘queue jumpers.’

PLOT

Michael meets Mina at a protest and later realises they share classes as school. As they clash, Michael learns that he doesn’t have to believe what his parents teach him, and that Mina faces certain persecutions just by being a non-Australian. To be honest, the book is quite light on plot, it’s mostly dedicated to the romance the two share, and Michael’s character arc. For some unknown reason they keep their relationship a secret.

CHARACTERS

There’s not much to say about Mina. She doesn’t really have a character arc. She’s mostly there to be the sympathetic boat person who teaches Michael that he can have independent thought. She’s smart and competitive enough for a scholarship to a prestigious college and her life is filtered through her experiences as a refugee, arriving in Australia by boat and spending time in detention before granted a refugee visa. She’s a very sympathetic character.

Michael is the other protagonist, and he starts out uncertain if he supports his parents beliefs in ‘Aussie Values’. Unfortunately his parents have quite a skewed world view and believe, for example, that if Mina attends Victoria College, her parents must be rich, when in reality they aren’t and Mina attends on a scholarship. Michael learns not to jump to these same conclusions, such as if a refugee can afford passage on an illegal boat, they can’t be that poor and shouldn’t be trying to leave their own country. I really would have liked the argument raised against Michael’s parents view that most illegal immigrants are Westerners (from the UK/US etc) overstaying their visas, not asylum seekers looking to ‘jump the queue’, but this didn’t happen. Instead it mostly tried to dispel the belief that refugees jump some kind of imaginary queue.

WRITING

I did have a bit of trouble differentiating between both the characters’ voices. They sounded almost identical. I kept having to flip back to the start of the chapter to check the name.

One of my favourite things was watching how the media loved to hype everything up and then not declare a side. Journalistic integrity is something of the past. The media fuelled the hate more than the political organisation did.

One issue I had with the book was right at the end, Mina says about Michael, "He's taught me to never give up on anybody.” I found it hugely hypocritical that Terrence didn’t get the same treatment, especially since he and Michael started out at the same place, although Terrence was vilified throughout the whole novel and Michael wasn’t. Everyone ended up giving up on Terrence, even his long-time crush.

PACING

The pacing was pretty good – at least, I enjoyed the book a lot, thought about it when I wasn’t reading it, and was dead keen to get back to reading it. Despite its lack of real plot, the conflicts moved the narrative forward and I felt like the pace was kept high – I never knew what was around the corner and I was eager to find out.

OVERALL

Although light on plot, this book explores a very serious and timely conflict for Australians and other people living in privileged parts of the world. I never felt like I was being preached to by either side of the debate, although it was obvious whose side we were meant to be on, and I found Michael’s parents and their organisation to be more of an excuse for the more radical characters to act out. Although Mina didn’t change all that much, Michael had a fantastic character arc coming to terms with his own beliefs. I really enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it to other contemporary YA lovers.

 

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.

Review
3 Stars
The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle
The Sound of Us - Julie Hammerle

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

TV nerd Kiki is off to a summer camp for an opera singing scholarship, where she jams contemporary pieces in the basement with a hot nerdy drummer at the camp for a golf scholarship. When her teachers forbid any kind of singing outside of opera, Kiki has to figure out if she will follow her heart or the rigid choices she seems to have locked herself into.

 

PLOT

Cicero (kee-ke-roh) ‘Kiki’ has decided to follow in her big sister Tina’s footsteps and study opera at university, even though Tina spent most of her study time partying and most of her post-graduate time being unemployed, even though the camp costs tens of thousands of dollars and her parents are convinced she’s not even going to ‘stick with it’. I was particularly excited to read this book because when I was Kiki’s age becoming an opera singer was on my very short list of things I’d quite like to get paid doing as an adult but I quickly learned I didn’t have what it takes (ie a soprano range – there are very few good roles written for mezzo-sopranos in operas, and tenors get all the most beautiful arias), so I was somewhat disappointed to find Kiki spent most of her time practicing alone. Without anyone teaching her how to use her voice. Opera singers have a very specific sound they are trying to create, and it’s hard and takes years of training by a competent teacher. And her voice teachers were more interested in kicking them out of class if they weren’t perfect through a first run than actually teaching them anything. So the overall aspect of a ‘opera camp’ was a bit disappointing.

 

The other main plot was Kiki’s love of TV, specifically this show called Project Earth, and her bonding with the other campers because of it, specifically Jack the hot nerdy drummer who grows quite close to Kiki despite carrying a secret that would break her heart. Kiki herself makes friends outside of Twitter and even kisses a couple of dudes but in amongst this there’s a mole watching the students for any kind of rule-breaking. There’s only seven scholarships to go around and too many students, so some will do whatever it takes to get rid of the competition. This especially sucks because Kiki, for some reason, doesn’t seem to give a shit half the time about the rules, and encourages the other kids at the camp to drink and break curfew then, when her parents threaten to send her to a non-music university, she backflips, suddenly gets much better, and is determined to win a scholarship.

 

CHARACTERS

Kiki isn’t actually sure if she wants to be an opera singer. That’s the thing that annoyed me most. Opera singing isn’t easy, it takes a lot of work, and Kiki would rather jam doing contemporary songs, and writing her own songs. She got her parents to fork out thousands of dollars for a future she’s not even sure about when she’s seen her big sister fail in the same industry. She’d rather talk about TV on Twitter all day which hello, I totally get, but it’s like she’s using the camp itself to experience university life without being a university student. I do like how she can bond with other people when they have Project Earth in common, and I like how eventually she finds her own voice (so to speak), I just don’t like that even from the beginning she wasn’t sure if the camp was something she wanted to do and only auditioned because her BFF (soon to be ex-BFF) did. It’s not exactly like opera singing is a fall-back career, but that’s how Kiki’s treating it. I liked Kiki’s narrative voice and her entire character arc even if it was a conclusion I was a little disappointed with.

 

The other characters are mostly forgettable except for Brie the bitch who turns out isn’t such a bitch and Jack the hot drummer whose connection to Kiki is instantaneous but whose romance definitely could not be described as ‘insta-love’, if you could even call it a romance.

 

WRITING

While I liked the inclusion of Tweets at the start of every chapter, I was thoroughly annoyed that for a novel supposed to be about student singers, there was no teaching going on whatsoever. The teachers at Kiki’s camp were horrible and I would be demanding my money back. Kiki didn’t learn anything except that she didn’t really want to be an opera singer. I liked the fictional TV show Project Earth and all of its backstory mixed with songs and bands Kiki actually names so I could look them up on Youtube.

 

PACING

The pacing was fine. I was enjoying the book a lot as I was reading it and it seemed to me to be a quick read. It didn’t really stop and dwell on any ‘filler’ bits and in fact what could have been a long drawn-out romance between Kiki and Jack had its stops put in it pretty quickly due to some regular teenage drama. The camp was only six weeks long so there was a lot to jam in there and to me it didn’t really seem to drag or lose the pace at all.

 

OVERALL

There are very clearly some good things about The Sound of Us and also some things I didn’t enjoy. Overall I think it was a good reading experience even if it didn’t quite deliver what I was hoping it would.

Review
3.5 Stars
A Novel's Worth of Unsaid Things

A Novel’s Worth Of Unsaid Things: ‘The Things I Didn’t Say’ by Kylie FornasierI received this book for free from Penguin Random House Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

SUMMARY

After a disastrous romantic betrayal, Piper Rhodes, suffering from Selective Mutism, changes schools and falls into a romance with the local high school hero.

 

PLOT

Piper has lost her best friend due to a romantic blunder, so in changing schools she’s hoping for a fresh start where everyone doesn’t know her as the girl who doesn’t speak. As soon as she meets West, local high school captain, soccer star and all-around hero, they tumble into a relationship and fall in love all without Piper speaking a word to him. The problem is, none of their parents approve, and Piper’s Selective Mutism becomes an issue for West, even though he tries to understand.

 

CHARACTERS

Piper’s social anxiety seemed to be the stem for her Selective Mutism but I was happy to see it didn’t prevent her from making friends. It really broke my heart when people in everyday situations showed a lack of understanding that overwhelmed Piper. I loved her pre-digital photography hobby, because after all, isn’t there a saying that says ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’?. Imagine all the words Piper doesn’t need to say just by showing one photograph. I really enjoyed her warmth and caring nature, especially towards her youngest sister who was struggling with her own identity and wanting to be silent like her big sister, and I liked the little touches where Piper acknowledged how the behaviour of people around her, like her family, changed to accommodate her lack of speaking.

West seemed like a pretty perfect YA lov interest, to be honest. One of those ‘poor little rich boys’ whose parents were pushing him to follow in the family business (law) and all he wanted to do was open a restaurant. I loved his individuality that Piper helped him recognise and although I thought it was unfair that he put certain pressures on Piper to use her voice, I can understand in a way where he was coming from. He seemed like a pretty well-rounded character and was a joy to read about.

 

WRITING

I thought it would be a struggle to portray someone who barely speaks in a novel, but I really liked how Piper was written. Her lack of voice didn’t mean a lack of conveying meaning. Her thoughts were there, and she tried to convey meaning through body language as well as through handwriting. I loved the respect for which Piper’s illness was treated although I’m not sure how I feel about the ending when things just seemed to suddenly turn out OK without Piper really returning to psychology or doing much active work on her own. It kind of felt like she had an epiphany and that was it.

I really liked how Australian the book was as well, although I suspect bits of it were ‘Americanised’ up like cafeteria lunches, and other things references to school that I can’t think of right now.

 

PACING

For such a gentle romance, this book actually had a pretty good pace. After I read the first few pages and had to put it down for other review books, when I picked it back up I ended up reading it in a weekend. The words and plot flowed smoothly and I was always eager to find out what would happen next, especially with the constant challenge of Piper’s Selective Mutism.

 

OVERALL

I think this was a lovely ‘issues’ romance book for YA and I’d totally recommend it to anyone who likes sweet romances and uncommon teen issues in their YA.

Review
4 Stars
Models Have Such Dramatic Lives: You Before Anyone Else
You Before Anyone Else - Mark Perini, Julie Cross
SUMMARY

Model Finley needs to shed her ‘good girl’ image, so she takes in mysterious newcomer Eddie for a one night stand. But the two can’t seem to stay away from each other, and as their relationship grows, Eddie’s secrets threaten to tear them apart.

PLOT

This book straddles the line between YA and NA. The characters are eighteen but are facing some Very Grown Up Problems as well as some regular teen issues such as work and family. Finley’s trying to change her image, so she keeps dismissing Eddie – mostly as shallow and arrogant, although she later admits he’s never displayed either of those properties. Eddie just keeps surprising her, latching on to her tragedy-laced family and bonding with her adorable twin brothers. Finley may be a model but her first love is dance, and she I slowly reintroduced to that world through her modelling work. Eddie, meanwhile, has to deal with a family that has disowned him for a mistake he made before the book started.

CHARACTERS

I quite liked both Finley and Eddie. I vaguely remember Finley from the Eve and Adam’s story where she did a shoot with Adam. It was nice to see this whole developed backstory for her and I loved her love of dance and how her uniqueness in being a model and the daughter of a dancer really made her shine when the lights were fixed on her just so. I loved her developing friendship with Eve and her strong family ties.
Despite Finley trying to frame Eddie as a useless lump of a boy, I quickly grew to like him as he ingratiated his way into Finley’s life. I liked how he stood up for her brothers and even developed a bond with her dad. I didn’t expect the twist that I won’t spoil – I thought the actions he was making up for were something else, so I was pleasantly surprised at his actions throughout the book. I will just say that I didn’t like that he fought so hard for his beliefs throughout the book only to end up compromising them at the end. While it seems Finley may have also compromised on her goals, I think hers made more sense.

WRITING

I liked the shifting points of view. It was nice to see both characters from each other’s perspectives. The writing was quite contemporary and I liked the kind of behind-the-scenes stuff of the modelling world, too. I think my favourite part was when Eve was photographing Finlay and Eddie. It’s not easy to use words to describe the beauty in professional photography, but I got very strong mental images of the photographs and I’d really love to see someone recreate them.

PACING

The pacing was really good, I felt like I reached halfway almost without noticing. It dropped off a little in the second half of the book once we found out Eddie’s secret, and to be honest it didn’t quite pick back up to its original pace. I found the climax a little underwhelming and I’ve already mentioned I wasn’t satisfied with Eddie’s final decision.

OVERALL

Similar to Anything to Have You by Paige Harbison, I don’t quite get the reference of the title. You Before Anyone Else – neither Finley nor Eddie make this promise to anyone: they don’t put each other first, and they don’t put their families first. They really do what is best for themselves, with little sacrifice. However, I love these modelling books! So long as Cross and Perini keep writing them, I’ll keep reading them.
 
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Review
5 Stars
Abhorsen has used Saraneth to bind me into loving this series
Abhorsen  - Garth Nix

Despite their new destinies, Lirael and Sam continue their plan to recue Nick and stop whatever he is unearthing. Slowly the pair come to discover what it is: Lirael embraces her destiny as not only the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, but a Remembrancer as well, someone who can See the past like her Clayr sisters can See the future. Sam, relieved he no longer has to deal directly with Death, embraces his destiny as a royal Wallmaker – his hobby of inventing and his powerful skill as a Charter Mage really pays off.

Although this book is a little higher on action than Lirael, I actually forgot how much of it involves travelling and discovering and planning and then action. The action really ramps up in the final third to lead to what I think is possibly my most favourite climax in any book I’ve ever read.

Lirael has really come a very long way from being the shy Sightless Second Assistant Librarian locked away in the Clayr’s Glacier – now she’s a tough warrior who slays the dead, who walks into Death itself to save the world. She’s really quite amazing.

Every time I moved back to Sam’s point of view I could almost feel the relief he felt at no longer being responsible for putting down the Dead. I’m so glad his love of inventing magical trinkets paid off in the end. I felt really sorry for Nick, the poor guy was just overwhelmed with evil power. You have to admire his willpower and intelligence though. I’m really looking forward to reading more about him and Lirael in Goldenhand. I was glad to see Mogget actually have a character arc in this besides being snide and sneaky. Although I’ve read this book before I completely forgot what happened at the end and had to have a cry when I realised who wasn’t coming back.

Nix’s writing is as always perfectly elegant, giving this novel a feel of a classic high fantasy that will last through the ages. Every time I took a moment to catch my breath we moved on through motivations of the main characters which propelled the narrative forward with ease. It’s not a fast-paced novel all the way through, it’s more like a locomotive that gently picks up speed until you’re suddenly in the third act and there’s no way you can possibly stop because you just have to know what’s going to happen next, and when all else seems lost you wonder how are our beloved characters going to get out of this unscathed?

Once more, like Sabriel, this was supposed to be the end of the story. I am so glad Nix can’t keep his mind off the Old Kingdom and went on to produce a few novellas (Across the Wall and To Hold The Bridge, reviewed here), then Clariel and now Goldenhand after this. I love this world, as terrifying as it is, I love the characters, and I love the challenges they have to overcome. I can’t wait for Goldenhand to see more of Lirael and Nick!

Review
2 Stars
Zelah Green: Queen of Clean and Not Much Else
Zelah Green - Vanessa Curtis

 This is a review of the audiobook.

 

SUMMARY/PLOT

Zelah’s stepmother can’t handle her OCD, so she tries to ship her off to a mental hospital. Zelah ends up in Forest Road House under the care and guidance of a lovely female doctor with some other misfits – an anorexic, a cutter, and a mute. There she learns to face her OCD and her abandonment issues with her father. This is a review of the audiobook.

CHARACTERS

Zelah is, from what I can gather, bi-racial. Her father is white and it is hinted her mother is black. Zelah has out of control frizzy curly black hair and needs to wash her hands and face 31 times, and jump over 100 times at the top and bottom of each staircase she uses. She is also a germaphobe and won’t touch anything without the assistance of a tissue. The doctor helps her overcome some of the more powerful ‘rituals’, although she’s not ‘cured’ by the time she leaves the house.

WRITING

The writing was decent, nothing particularly wrong with it. I enjoyed Zelah’s narrative voice. There was nothing really to stand out about it either. I liked the respectful way the author approached not only Zelah’s mental illness but the other kids at the house as well. I liked how it turned from Zelah having ‘rituals’ to admitting her OCD and trying to get it under control.

PACING

I took a while to get through this audiobook. I had to renew it twice. I think it might have been the pacing, because there wasn’t really anything big or exciting happening to make me want to return to the book. It didn’t feel like a chore to end it, and I did want to know how it ended up finishing, but I simply wasn’t in a hurry to get back to listening to it.

OVERALL

I think Zelah Green is a really good novel for a young adult audience looking to explore an ‘issues’ novel about mental illness, specifically OCD. I didn’t enjoy it a huge amount but like I said, there was nothing particularly awesome about it. It was kind of blah, but I think other readers could enjoy it.

Question for ARC reviewers (esp Aussie)

I review both physical copies that publishers send me and e-ARCs I request from Netgalley and Edelweiss.

 

From what I can gather, the physical copies aren't allowed to be reviewed before their release date ('embargo date'). I get them the month of or just after release.

 

Sometimes the e-ARC publishers request a timeframe ie no more than two weeks before or after, but more commonly I don't see any restrictions on when I can review them. I can receive these books months in advance.

 

I was under the impression that early reading copies were supposed to help build hype and awareness. Therefore I can review them as early as I want.

 

I'm a little confused as to why the big five wouldn't want any early reviews.

 

Is anyone else facing this issue?

On Not (really) Reading Male Authors

Over the weekend I bought two new books and gushed to the bookseller about how awesome RUINED by Amy Tintera was, "You know those fantasy-lite books where the assassin doesn't actually kill anyone? Doesn't happen in Ruined!"

 

The bookseller, finding out I'm an ARC reader, mentioned a new adult fantasy by a male author coming out soon that she recommended based on the strength of the female lead.

 

I made the mistake of saying, "I don't really read male authors."

 

She pulled a face at me.

 

Rushing to defend myself I added, "Well, there are just so many of them. I prefer to support women and prefer the kinds of stories they write."

 

I'm not sure I convinced her.

 

It would be wrong of a man to say he doesn't really read female authors.

 

It's not that I think men are inept writers, it's just that the market is over saturated with men writing male stories about men, often with quite poor female representation, and I prefer to read YA (finding them usually stories for females by females), which is majority written by women.

 

Was I wrong to say I don't really read male authors? It's not that I actively avoid them, I'm reading a Garth Nix book right now. It's just that the market I prefer is YA, and I prefer stories about women, which tend to be often written by women.

Review
5 Stars
Mysteries And Conspiracies in the Heartless City of London
The Heartless City - Andrea Berthot

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

 

SUMMARY

London has been in quarantine for 13 years thanks to the Hydes, monstrous-like heart-eating beings that shift from ordinary infected humans who have taken the Hyde drug. Elliot, the son of the physician looking for a cure, who in the search for a weapon against the Hydes accidentally made himself an empath, and Iris, a strange American girl who has no fear, aim to discover the secret of the Hyde drug and uncover the conspiracy around it that could lead all the way to the top through Elliot’s best friend Cambrien – the son of the Lord Mayor of London, who will do anything to stay in power.

 

PLOT

Elliot and his eventual Scooby Gang try to discover the awful secrets hidden in this alternate London while still living their lives – enjoying contraband, going to music halls, official dinners to please the Lord Mayor, a brutish and terrifying figure. Now that I take a step back and think about it, it’s not a plot-driven novel. It’s very character driven, and very emotional. Elliot is grieving over the death of his mother, his changed relationship with his father, his new power that he doesn’t want and can’t control, and the guilt of being responsible for a friend’s death.

 

CHARACTERS

I mentioned there’s a Scooby Gang! I don’t know what else to call it. There’s this ‘team’ that forms of teen friendships, led by Cambrien, the Lord Mayor’s son. His best friend Elliot is involved, Iris is brought in, and they are joined by Philomena, a fiery debutante-to-be, and Andrew, the brother of the boy Elliot feels guilty over. I love this gang. I love them hanging out, enjoying the contraband, I love their love for each other, I love their secrets and different relationships to each other. It’s so cool to see an actual gang of friends in an alternate-history-paranormal book. Another character to be aware of is the scarily efficient Lord Mayor of London, who is an awful person and an even worse father to Cambrien. I would be genuinely afraid to meet this man.

 

WRITING

So this isn’t exactly a retelling of Dr Jekyll and My Hyde, it takes its inspiration from it and twists it into something entirely new. I loved Berthot’s writing, she really managed to get to the heart of every single scene. I loved how the period setting affected the characters and how Elliot came to realise due to his emotions a lot of the propaganda young men are still taught today – that women don’t feel lust, for example. I loved how spot-on all of the emotions Elliot was feeling were described, especially those of other people whose motivation we might not yet have discovered. It definitely made the book re-readable. The whole thing was easily digestible – not exactly light and fluffy, because there are definitely trigger issues in there, but it flowed smoothly and was easy to follow. In fact, I pretty much guessed the big reveal pretty early on but there were enough twists to keep me guessing the results and fallout of other issues.

 

PACING

Spot on. I had to stop reading due to another review book being due but I was always eager to come back to this story while at the same time I tried to read it slower than usual because I didn’t want it to end. It felt high-stakes all the way through and the slower moments were a chance to catch my breath and reflect on what I’d learned and try to predict what might come next – which I often didn’t. I will mention the inevitable romance – it did seem, like most YA, a little on the fast side, but taking into account the fact that Elliot can feel what others feel and Iris can control what she feels, it’s understandable the two should fall in love with such intensity, and I didn’t have an issue with it at all.

 

OVERALL

I am completely and totally blown away by this book. I absolutely loved it. It’s not one that I would normally pick up looking at the (admittedly pretty, but dark) cover and (admittedly bland until you know what it’s referencing) title, but I am so so glad I did because I had a really great time reading it, falling in love with the characters and becoming invested in their story and outcomes. I am totally up for reading the second book, which from what I gather follows Philomena as she trots off to Manhattan to become a Broadway star.

 

Note: Andrea Berthot and I started mutually following each other after I started reading this book. I’m pretty sure I’m going to make her be my friend (my precious), but I don’t want anyone getting any ideas about me rating ‘my friend’s book’ 5 stars. It’s not being friends with Andrea that made me love her book: it’s the other way around.

Worst Weekend Ever

I have had absolutely the worst weekend and would appreciate all the love and support my fellow Booklikers can give.

Video

Beauty and the Beast is my favourite Disney Princess movie. I'm so excited for the live action version.

Review
5 Stars
The Glittering Court: Not So Much Court, Not So Much Glitter
The Glittering Court - Richelle Mead

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

 

SUMMARY

To escape an arranged marriage, a countess impersonates her housemaid and joins the Glittering Court, an exclusive finishing school for lower class girls, teaching them to be worthy wives for the new nobility of Adoria, a new settlement across the sea. But Adelaide’s subterfuge is detected by the handsome Cedric Thorn, son of the owner of the Glittering Court, and they fall madly in love. How can Adelaide marry for luxury when her heart belongs to someone else?

 

PLOT

I was mistaken about two things with this book. Firstly, even though I’d read the blurb a few times, I still thought it was about girls going to an actual court, as in royalty, so I was a little disappointed that never happened. It doesn’t mention it in the blurb, but calling it The Glittering Court and with my love of princesses, I had some kind of reading comprehension fail. The other thing that surprised me was the training the girls underwent in the Glittering Court only lasted 100 pages in a 400 page novel. I seriously thought there was going to be 400 pages of training! The rest of the 300 pages was about travelling to Adoria, and potential suitors, and Adelaide’s problem, and then the solution to that problem, which I all thought was very well done. So it really was nothing like what I expected, but I found it hugely enjoyable nonetheless.

I just want to point out that a lot of people think Adelaide ran away from an arranged marriage to an arranged marriage, but the whole point of the Glittering Court is that the girl gets a say in who she marries. It’s like with the Companions in Firefly: A companion chooses her clients, and the girls from the Glittering Court get to choose their husbands from the men who make an offer on her.

 

CHARACTERS

Adelaide was really a wonderful character to read about. She’s sassy and smart and speaks her mind. She started off as a countess and went through so much learning about life outside the nobility and eventually became a hard manual labourer, ruining her hands and skin. It was really cool to see her come to terms with her new life and also make realisations of those around her who weren’t in her same sphere of privilege. She adjusted remarkably well to her whole world being turned on its head not once, but twice. She went from denying her title to working in the very hardest of jobs that isn’t slave labour, full circle to return to claim her title. Her character growth seemed slow in the first half of the book where she was pretending to be an average ‘jewel’ in the Glittering Court, but it really ramped up once she was out of that environment.

 

Her love interest, sweet-natured Cedric, was a red-head, which I don’t think is very common, but I found it alluring, and he was a genuinely good guy who only wanted the best for the girls at the Glittering Court, which I found refreshingly charming as an antidote to hostile and rude love interest who treat girls like dirt. This led him to taking on some girls who might not find it so easy to attract a suitor, such as Mira, a dark-skinned but stunningly beautiful refugee, and Adelaide’s friend. Tamsin, the other girl who makes up this trio of girl power, was fun to watch as she clearly stated her ambitions and didn’t much care who she needed to walk over to get there. I have no idea how this series is going to continue but I really hope we get a book each from Tamsin and Mira’s point of view (I just looked it up on Goodreads and apparently that’s exactly what we’re getting!). They are both still pretty mysterious to me, and it’s OK that they had secrets because Adelaide had the biggest secret of all, and that’s why she was so good at everything at the Glittering Court.

 

WRITING

I do still have some questions left unanswered such as where did Mira keep sneaking out to and what was Tamsin’s big secret? But apart from those little threads left unwrapped and hopefully addressed in future books by the girls’ point of view, I had no issues with Mead’s writing. It’s smooth, easily digestible, and I loved the descriptions of the beautifully lavish dresses and even the not-so-lovely ones. I really enjoyed looking at the extravagance of the not just the upper-class but the minor nobility and found it more entertaining and enveloping than most of the princess novels I’ve read.

 

The romance was sweet and fluffy and nicely developed through friendship and mutually admiration. There was no real love triangle even though Adelaide had several marriage prospects she kind of seemed resigned to, and the villain was uncomfortably charming. I loved the fluffiness of the Glittering Court world and the grittiness of Adelaide’s new reality. Although I did get a bit of a shock to find the world so misogynistic in its treatment of women that I did at first wonder if this was a dystopian! But no, it’s a clever mix of alternate reality, historical and fantasy. I mean, I know women are resources and such but this took it to the extreme, where there was such a priority on ‘virtue’ that if a woman slept with a man she was considered spoiled goods and a free-for-all for all the men.

 

And I have to mention the setting, wow, I’ve never been interested in historical fiction books about settling the Wild West but this was pretty much what Adoria was, and it reminded me both of the depictions of the Wild West and early Australian settlers (not the convicts but the people who came over for the gold rush). I really felt like I was immersed in the world and could feel the oppressive heat of the sun as they panned for gold (GOLD PANNING LIKE YOU CAN DO IN HISTORICAL AUSSIE TOWNS) and the despair as Adelaide realised the floor in her shabby lean-to of a house was hard-packed dirt. And the natives wore tartan kilts and woad and had red or blonde hair, so that was cool.

 

PACING

It kept me up reading until 1am when I had work the next day, so I guess you could say the pacing was spot on. By now Richelle Mead knows all the tricks to get a reader to turn the page and ‘just one more chapter’ and ‘I’m almost near the end, I gotta find out what happens’ even though the book isn’t going anywhere, Nemo, you can totally just finish it tomorrow, BUT NO you have to finish it NOW because it’s so good!

 

OVERALL

Wow, most of my friends hated this book, or at least didn’t really enjoy it. Me? I love pretty dresses (maybe it comes from being six feet tall and never really feeling ‘girly’ in my life that I enjoy reading about these kinds of things?) and strong noble women who disguise themselves as something else only to realise their real power is in their nobility, and the frontier stuff really made me feel like I was ready about early settled Australia. I know as a white Australian I’m supposed to feel guilty for what my ‘ancestors’ did when they settled but the truth is, all my grandparents were immigrants, dude, and not even all of them were white. The book appears to be pro-colony but I suspect something interesting is going to happen with the natives in future books to turn this around, especially since most of the Osfridian ‘gentlemen’ just seemed to be beasts. I really enjoyed the novel, found the world-building just right, the characters enjoyable to read about, and I look forward to the next book.

 

Ten Bookish Questions (meme)

Found by Bookloving Writer (see original post here)

Originally from a Swedish book blog.

 

1. What book is on your nightstand now?


My Kindle and a just-started Aussie YA book called The Things I Didn't Say by Kylie Fornasier, thanks to Penguin Random House Australia.

2. What was the last truly great book that you read?

 

I've had a really good run with high-rated books recently, including The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead, Frayed by Kara Terzis, Ruined by Amy Tintera, and a re-read of Lirael by Garth Nix, but the last book I put on my six-star, can't-live-without, omg-was-this-written-specifically-for-me, ugly cried like tired hungry baby shelf was Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard. A powerful story about female teenage friendship and how it can go wrong. Just splendid.


 3. If you could meet any writer – dead or alive – who would it be? And what would you want to know?

 

I would love to hang out with Lauren DeStefano for a day and chill and knit and play with her cats and just generally have a really cool time. 


4. What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

 

I promote myself and my blog as almost exclusively YA but you'd be surprised to find a hidden Shakespeare or Bronte tome or two on my shelves. I studied the Classics at university.

5. How do you organize your personal library?

 

All of my read books go away into storage and all my to-read books live on my bookshelves. It's supposed to be alphabetically by author surname (then by series name/number) but since my shelf is chockers I've started stacking horizontally in order of what I've bought. I need to do another organising session.

6. What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to yet? Anything you feel embarrased never to have read?

 

Pride and Prejudice. I feel like I've seen enough adaptations to know the story pretty well, so I kind of think reading it might be a waste of my time, but I am embarassed that I claim to love the Bronte sisters and other Austen works while not having read her most famous. Also, I tried to read Sense and Sensability once and got about four pages in before I literally died of boredom. Also, that happened with Brave New World, too. Basically I'm super-picky about the classics I do read.

 
7. Disappointing, overrated, just not good: what book did you feel you were supposed to like but didnt? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?

 

I felt like I was supposed to like The Fault in Our Stars, but didn't. The last book I DNFd was Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Reese Brennan, a kind of urban fantasy retelling of A Tale of Two Cities.

8. What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you stay clear of?

 

I'm drawn to stories about young women mostly by women, because women are marginalised throughout history and only in romance and YA do we have a strong representation. I try to stay clear of books by men starring men and their boring-assed stories where women are little more than token or chattel and don't pass the Bechdel test.

9. If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?

I'm pretty sure the president is well-read but the one book I think absolutely everyone should read is Black Beauty by Anna Sewell because it recognises the plight of animals under cruelty and it really taught me to treat animals with kindness and empathy.

10. What do you plan to read next?

 

 After I've finished The Things I Didn't Say and the other 2 books I'm reading/listening to, The Heartless City by Andrea Berthot (which is AMAZING) and Zelah Green by Vanessa Curtis (so-so), I'm probably going to continue my The Old Kingdom re-read by picking up Abhorsen by Garth Nix.

Reblogged
Reblogging: Why I’m suggesting you should NOT buy these books by Em Petrova

This is shameful! Publishing companies that cheat authors out... 

 

 

Why I’m suggesting you should NOT buy these books

 

Book store

photo purchased from Depositphotos

 

 

 

 

You might be gasping at the title of this blog post, and it almost makes me cringe to even type it. Because I’m suggesting that you do NOT to buy some of my books.

 

 

 

Here’s a little story:

 

 

There once was a young, naive author who signed contracts with not one publisher but two who have screwed her out of money and rights. Unfortunately this author didn’t know what the future held. With publisher #1, at least she got recognition and a name. It was a chance at being published that others hadn’t taken on her.

 

 

But publisher #2 was a good publisher (at the time). They were at the top of their game, doing every conference and book function in the industry. Some huge names were published there, so this stupid author signed a CONTRACT FOR FOREVER RIGHTS. Yes, you read that right–rights will never be reverted (except under a weird little clause, which I’ll tell you about later.)

 

 

This publisher has cheated hundreds of authors. Their big ship was the Titanic with a huge gouge in the side but unlike the Titanic, this motherfucker won’t sink. They keep floating along–how is anybody’s guess. They’re wanted for thousands in back taxes and they’ve been attacked on Dear Author and many other prominent blogs. Still, they’re still kicking. Ain’t no Raid bug spray that takes this vermin out.

 

 

They’ve gone from paying monthly to quarterly, but for some authors, they stopped paying them altogether. In case you haven’t guessed, I’m one of these authors. The last check I got was in December 2015 and it was for books sold around March 2015. Now, in this industry, this is complete and total bullshit, folks. Holding onto funds is not right.

 

 

Say you work at McDonalds and one day you stop getting a paycheck. They say you’re getting paid ASAP. That day never comes. YET THEY TELL YOU THAT YOU CAN’T QUIT UNLESS YOU GET YOURSELF AN ATTORNEY AND FIGHT THEM FOR IT.

 

Yep, that’s what I was told. You can’t have your books back. You can’t get paid either, so here’s the big fat middle finger. Sit and spin, Em. I told them they’d breached contract by failing to pay quarterly as per their terms. Their response was, and I quote:

 

 

Breach of clause 16 regarding royalties payments (or any other contract clause) does not void the contract nor revert book rights to you. When a contract is breached, the party claiming breach has the option of waiting for the other party to correct the situation or may pursue legal action to gain correction of the situation. In such case, the court would typically set a deadline by which time the situation must be corrected (“cured”), and if not corrected the court would decide on further action.

The only conditions set forth in the contract for reversion of rights are in clause 1.1. If your book qualifies (meets all the conditions listed), you may send a request for reversion of rights, stating it is based on clause 1.1.

Therefore your request for reversion of rights is not granted. Ellora’s Cave  Evil Publisher continues to hold all publishing rights to the contracted books. The author has no rights to distribute or sell these books in any format or channels.

 

 

 

So basically, they’re saying:

 

 

Nananananana! Get a fucking lawyer. Pay for it out of the grocery fund that feeds your 4 kids, Em. And good fucking luck to you, because chances are, you’ll be wrapped up in a legal mess forever. And we still won’t pay you. Oh yeah, we won’t give your books back either.

 

 

 

Oh, and Evil Publisher has also sold our rights back to us in many cases. Authors were mortgaging their fucking houses to get enough money to buy their own books back! I asked the price of my own books and was quoted $25,000 for my fireman series and $10,000 for each of the other titles.

 

 

 

Can I get a big FUCK NO?

 

 

Fans: Fans Boo a Play on the Field

 

 

 

Okay, here’s the real meaning behind my post today. If I get no sales on these titles, I can have rights back. I’ll let you make up your minds whether or not to buy these:

 

 

 

 

 

 

If it were me, I’d see these titles, close my eyes and flick on past them. Because buying them is equivalent to knowing little Asian toddlers are sewing your underwear 12 hours a day and losing fingers in the sewing machines.

 

 

With poor sales, I have a CHANCE at getting the rights back. Evil Publisher will return rights for poor sales (after they scratch their asses for undetermined amounts of time).

 

 

I feel like I’ve been silent long enough. Many other authors have come out about this bullshit, and it’s my turn. I’ve been waiting for the right moment when I could be heard and make a difference. If not to other authors, then dammit, to my own livelihood. As a single mom of 4 I want the money I’m owed. And if they won’t pay me, then I want these books back in my control so I can earn from them.

 

 

Instead of me asking you to help me shoot a book to the top of the charts, I’d like to see these rankings drop to 200 squillion on Amazon. WHEN I get these rights back (yeah, I’m gonna fight till the end of my days–or likely theirs), I promise to offer them all #FREE just because I can!

 

 

As for Publisher #1, they aren’t a concern to me. They gave me a start when nobody else did. To me, it’s like saying I got 5 beautiful kids out of my shitty marriage. What concerns me right now is a publisher who can say screw you, get a lawyer, we won’t help you at all.

 

 

I hope you’ll continue to buy my MANY other titles. You can see them all on my website.

 

 

Thanks for listening to my rant and for following me and my books. Each and every fan is important to me, just as every author should be important to publishers. Overall, the publishers I’ve worked with have been amazing and gone above and beyond for me. I will continue to write for several publishers as well as indie publish. Don’t worry–I’m not lying down and waiting for the experience to end me.

 

 

 

Em Petrova

 

 

Website

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Amazon Author Page

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Reblogged from JoRead
Video

The new trailer for the BFG. Looks amazing! And much scarier than the cartoon.

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