Category Archives: Reading

Four books I can’t wait to read (by Charity Bradford, Su Williams, Rachel Morgan & Lauren Oliver)

I thought I’d get a lot more reading done on maternity leave than what I am. I guess I assumed I’d have a baby that would sleep longer than 20-40 minutes at a time during the day! Little Mackenzie definitely keeps me busy, that’s for sure. Here’s a recent photo of my little dictator. 😉

12 weeks old

Mackenzie, 12 weeks old

There are a heap of books that I’m looking forward to reading, but these four are at the top of the list.

The Magic Wakes by Charity Bradford 

16052411Since childhood, scientist Talia Zaryn has been haunted by recurring dreams, visions of an alien attack on her planet Sendek. Each time it ends abruptly with Talia’s death in the capital city Joharadin, a city that she has spent her life desperately avoiding. Talia keeps these dreams a secret, hoping they are nothing more than childish nightmares. But when she is unexpectedly transferred to Joharadin she is convinced that the conflict, and her own death, is at hand.

As Talia’s nightmares occur with increasing frequency, they reveal the imminent invasion of a half-dragon, half-human race called Dragumon, bent on the annihilation of her world.

In Sendek, magic is dead and science rules, forcing Talia to keep another secret, one that could cost her everything if it were known. Now, in order to save her planet, Talia must awaken the powers within her and rely at last on the magic that is her true inheritance.

Those of you who know my reading tastes well would know this book isn’t my usual cup of tea. I usually steer clear of fantasies set on other planets, especially those than involve dragons. But I’ve read so much about ‘the making of’ this book (on the author’s blog) and I think it’s going to be the exception. Who knows, maybe it will even open the door to a newfound love of fantasy? Time will tell!

Dream Weaver by Su Williams

17205213Dream Weaver is a novel of mind benders and breakers. Are your memories your own?

I wasn’t asking for a past. Not even a future. Just a few less painful memories to make surviving the present a bit more bearable.

Seventeen year old Emari Sweet has a world of choices before her. Her parents are real estate investors that dote on their beloved daughter. Her only true worries are bullying cheerleaders and cookie cutter kids that harass her for her dark and different, emo ways and the cryptic messages in her music. So when her parents are killed in a car crash, Emari’s whole world implodes around her. Night terrors stalk her sleep and haunt her through each day. And only the dream of a dark-eyed stranger can draw out the poison of the chimera.

Just as she’s recovering from the toxic dreams, treading water to stay afloat, the violent nudge of a predator reawakens the terrors. He promises her two things; pain and fear. And on a snowy December night he makes good on his promises. Emari plunges head first into her personal hell and begins to feel there is no choice left to her but death–if only to escape the torture of grief.
As the nightmares once again shred her life, Emari’s dark-eyed angel returns. With the touch of his hand, he chases away her dreams and weaves magic that quiets the roiling terror within her.

But is this a real angel or something more sinister? Is he simply a figment of her distorted imagination? How does he capture her nightmares and soothe her aching heart? Why does he whisper a single word, ‘forget’, and evanesce into the cool grey mist of morning? And how is he entering her home that’s protected by a state-of-the-art alarm system?

This book sounds full on. Dark, mysterious, and – hopefully – gripping. The possibility of your memories not being your own – that’s what grabs me most about this book. Plus, the author has been a loyal follower of my blog for a while now and I’m really happy to see her taking the self publishing plunge!

The Faerie Prince (Creepy Hollow 2) by Rachel Morgan

[Warning: the blurb below contains minor spoilers of the first book in the series.]

THE FAERIE PRINCE (Creepy Hollow 2)Guardian trainee Violet Fairdale is just weeks away from one of the most important occasions of her life: graduation. After messing up big time by bringing a human into the fae realm, Vi needs to step up her game and forget about Nate if she hopes to graduate as the top guardian of her year. Everything would be fine if she wasn’t forced to partner with Ryn, her ex-friend, ex-enemy, current ‘sort of friend’. They might be trying to patch up their relationship, but does she really want to spend a week undercover with him for their final assignment? On top of that, the possibly-insane Unseelie Prince is still on the loose, free to ‘collect’ as many specially talented faeries as he can find—and Vi is still at the top of his list. Add in faerie queens, enchanted storms, complicated not-just-friends feelings, and a murder within the Guild itself, and graduation is about to become the least of Vi’s problems.

I really enjoyed The Faerie Guardian, the first in the Creepy Hollow series, and will probably re-read it before I dive into The Faerie Prince so that the story is fresh in my mind. The blurb above makes me really excited to see where Part 2 takes the story, although I’ll be gutted if Vi falls for Ryn! The Faerie Prince is released 30 May so I have a bit of time to get through my other to-reads first!

Requiem (Delirium 3) by Lauren Oliver

Requiem cover

[Warning: the blurb below contains spoilers of the first two books in the series.]

Battling against a society in which love has been declared a disease, Lena now finds herself at the centre of a fierce revolution. But the Wilds are no longer the haven they once were as the government seeks to stamp out the rebels. And Lena’s emotions are in turmoil following the dramatic return of someone she thought was lost forever…

Told from the alternating viewpoints of Lena and her best friend Hana, Requiem brings the Delirium trilogy to an exhilarating end and showcases Lauren Oliver at the height of her writing powers – emotionally powerful and utterly enthralling.

I recently re-read Delirium and I’m halfway through re-reading Pandemonium so that I’m back up to speed with this series before I jump into the third and final instalment, Requiem. And now I know that the book alternates between Lena and Hana as narrators, I’m even more excited to read it as Hana is one of my favourite characters in the series. I have some predictions about what will happen in this book so I’ll be interested to see if they come true (like they did in Pandemonium), or whether the author completely surprises me (like she did with Delirium).

How about you?

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? If not, do they take your fancy? What’s at the top of your to-read list?

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Book review: Easy by Tamara Webber

Book blurb

I'm glad I had an e-book without a cover because my version of Lucas is so much hotter!

I’m glad I had an e-book without a cover because the Lucas my mind created is so much hotter than the one depicted here!

When Jacqueline follows her long-term boyfriend to college, the last thing she expects is a breakup. After two weeks in shock she wakes up to her new reality: she’s single, ignored by former friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life.

Leaving a party alone, she is assaulted. Rescued by a stranger in the right place at the right time, she just wants to forget that night. But when her attacker turns stalker she has to make a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Her savior proves protective and intriguing, but he’s hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly, knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

My thoughts

I literally just finished this book, which could be a bad thing because my emotions might get the better of me and I might gush. Quite simply, I loved this story. I kept reading it when I should have been catching up on much-needed shut-eye (with an eight-week-old baby, sleep is an elusive commodity), but I just had to read on. The story was that addictive.

Jacqueline and Lucas are beautifully crafted characters. I felt like I got to know them both intimately throughout the book, and my heart ached as their stories unfolded. I’m sure the author would be thrilled to know that I now want to take self defence classes because she’s shown me how empowering (and necessary) they can be.

Jacqueline is a brilliant main character, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching her grow and learn. There were times when I was disappointed with her decisions, but they just made her all-the-more real.

And Lucas. Wow. What can I say? There are so many layers to Lucas that I never tired in reading about him. The connections that developed between him and Jacqueline felt so real and organic – I really admire Webber’s ability to develop authentic connections and not just rely on superficial interests as some books do.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys realistic, gritty stories in a college/university setting. The plot deals with some pretty heavy topics so if you’re up for a light read, this may not be the book for you. But if you’d like to read a novel that introduces you to flawed, vulnerable-but-beautiful individuals, get your hands on a copy of Easy!

PS If you’ve read Easy and would like to read another gritty novel set at college/university, try my novel, The Big Smoke! 😀 (couldn’t help adding that plug in there!)

My rating: 5 stars

 My 1-5 scale (updated)

1: Terrible.
2: It was okay.
3: I liked it.
4: I really liked it.
5: I loved it. 

Your turn

Have you read Easy? If so, what did you think? If not, is it on your to-read list?

3 Comments

Filed under Book review, New Adult fiction, Reading, Writing

Green by Nick Earls and NA Alley’s New Adult Online Book Club

Green by Nick Earls

I’ve got two super-cool things to tell you about this evening. The first is Green, a newly released collection of fiction by one of my favourite authors, Nick Earls. Green includes a short story Nick wrote in 1995, a few more short stories in 1999, a novel he wrote in 2001 (called World of Chickens), and a brand new short story written earlier this year.

What’s the link between the stories? They all feature the same two main characters, the always-hilarious Phil and Frank, who start off as newbie med students at Qld Uni in the first short story and end up as 50-year-olds in the final one. Apart from the stories themselves, there are two awesome facts about Green.

Awesome Fact 1: Nick took a risk with the last short story, and it kind of bit him in the butt. He explains in his latest blog post:

“I figured Frank would be prone to a big mid-life gesture and, in May this year [when Nick was writing the last short story], I decided it would be, of all things, the 2012 New York Marathon. Okay, so it was slightly in the future but, in its more than 40 years, nothing had cancelled the New York Marathon, right?…

Then along came Hurricane Sandy, causing damage and loss of life in the Caribbean and eastern US. The New York marathon, which around now should be a litter of Gatorade cups on New York streets, was cancelled.

So I’ve got myself a brand new 7500-word Frank and Phil story that can only exist in a parallel universe, where the weather was November average and the only chaos affected my two characters…”

BAHAHAHA! Is it evil of me that I find that hilarious? 😀

Anyway… moving on to Green Awesome Fact 2:

Nick and his publisher are donating every cent that comes in from sales of Green to the New York Mayor’s Fund, to help the city recover from the hurricane. At the moment, Green is only available outside of Australia and New Zealand (BAH!), but I know that suits many of my wonderful followers who hail from America and other parts of the globe. If you’re interested, you can read more about Green over at Nick’s blog (but not until you’ve read the rest of this post!).

NA Alley’s New Adult Online Book Club

Remember how, at the beginning of the post, I said there were two super-cool things I wanted to tell you about? Well, this is the second one. Today, Bailey Kelsey announced a new feature on the NA Alley blog. It’s called Alley Reads, and it’s a New Adult Online Book Club. In Bailey’s words, “Alley Reads is designed to be a leisurely book club, giving all of us a chance (and the motive) to tackle that NA reading list while still managing other life priorities.”

A new New Adult book will be announced every seven weeks. People will have plenty of time to read the book, and then, at the end of the seven-week period, Bailey will host a live blog discussion about the book in question.

Now, as if that wasn’t cool enough, guess which book is first cab off the rank? Yes, that’s right. It’s THE BIG SMOKE!!! How exciting is that?! I am so looking forward to it!! I strongly encourage you all to get involved and make this book club a success (and my encouragement has nothing to do with the fact that you have to buy my book to participate! Okay, maybe a little. But I’d be encouraging you to participate even if it was another NA book, I promise!).

If you’d like to find out more about Alley Reads, head on over to NA Alley!

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Filed under New Adult fiction, Nick Earls, Reading, The Big Smoke

Weighted (book launch) and Weighty (bump-date)

Weighted

Firstly, OMG! Have you seen the cover for Ciara Knight’s newest book, Weighted? If not, it’s on the right!

Here’s the blurb…

The Great War of 2185 is over, but my nightmare has just begun. I am being held captive in the Queen’s ship awaiting interrogation. My only possible ally is the princess, but I’m unsure if she is really my friend or a trap set by the Queen to fool me into sharing the secret of my gift. A gift I keep hidden even from myself. It swirls inside my body begging for release, but it is the one thing the Queen can never discover. Will I have the strength to keep the secret? I’ll know the answer soon. If the stories are true about the interrogators, I’ll either be dead or a traitor to my people by morning.

How awesome does that sound? Can’t wait to read it! If you’d like to know more, you can read an excerpt or just go right ahead and buy it from Amazon for $2.99!

Weighty

Yesterday was a very exciting day. I had my 19-week scan and learnt that the bub in my belly is a little girl. I can’t wait to meet her! Well, actually, as she’s only 300 grams (less than a pound) right now, I’d probably prefer that she cooks for a bit longer first! Want to see some photos of her? Of course you do!

      

And here’s some photos of my growing bump…

In my natural habitat

Dodgy selfy!

Your turn

Do you plan to read Weighted? Anything exciting happening in your world? Feel free to tell me how gorgeous you think my baby is! 😀

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Filed under Personal, Reading, Writing

Book review – Build a Man by Talli Roland

Blurb (from Good Reads)

The perfect man is out there . . . he just needs a little work.

Slave to the rich, rude and deluded, cosmetic surgery receptionist Serenity Holland longs for the day she’s a high-flying tabloid reporter. Unfortunately, every pitch she sends out disappears like her clients’ liposuctioned fat, never to be seen again. Then she meets Jeremy Ritchie — the hang-dog man determined to be Britain’s Most Eligible Bachelor by making himself over from head to toe and everything in between — giving Serenity a story no editor could resist.

With London’s biggest tabloid on board and her very own column tracking Jeremy’s progress from dud to dude, Serenity is determined to be a success, even going undercover to gain intimate access to Jeremy’s life. But when Jeremy’s surgery goes drastically wrong and Serenity is ordered to cover all the car-crash goriness, she must decide how far she really will go for her dream job.

My thoughts

I’ve been a follower of Talli Roland’s blog since I joined the blogosphere, and her books have been on my to-read list for quite some time. I expected Build a Man to be a light read with liberal doses of romance and humour throughout, and my expectations were pretty much on the money.

However, I wasn’t expecting to be quite so irritated by the main character, Serenity. She makes so many selfish decisions and her justifications are more transparent than glass. Honestly, I just wanted to reach inside the book, shake her and say, ‘Wake up to yourself, woman!’ Thankfully, the plot did that for me. I won’t say any more so I don’t spoil the story, but I was pleased to see Serenity being forced to wake up to herself. In saying that, I thought Serenity’s character growth was a little too easy, kind of like flipping a switch.

But, overall, I still enjoyed Build a Man.  There’s great variety in the personalities of the support cast, and some of the scenes at the cosmetic surgery clinic had me giggling and raising my (non-botoxed) eyebrows. The descriptions of London were really well crafted and made me feel like I was right there on the street or in the pub beside Serenity.˜ I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Construct a Couple, and hopefully seeing some of my favourite plot lines from Build a Man develop further.

(On the subject of reviews, Andrew Leon of Strange Pegs has written some thought-provoking posts on the importance of honest reviews – including negative ones – for self published books, called “Is It Better To Be “Nice” Or Honest?”. Have a read and let me know what you think. I agree with him, to a point…)

My rating of Build a Man

3.5-stars

3.5 stars

What’s your opinion?

Have you read Build a Man? If so, what did you think? If not, do you plan to?

My 1-5 scale
1: Terrible. I couldn’t finish it.
2: Dissatisfying.
3: Good but not great.
3.5: A solid, enjoyable read but still some elements not working for me.
4: Really enjoyable with very few flaws OR flawed, but I loved it anyway.
4.5: Unputdownable. Close to perfect. I’ll rave about it to anyone who listens.
5: Perfection (i.e. pretty much unattainable).

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Filed under Book review, Reading, YA fiction

Book review – The Reformed Vampires Support Group by Catherine Jinks

Blurb

Click to see Good Reads page

Nina Harrison became a vampire in 1973, when she was fifteen, and she hasn’t aged a day since then. But she hasn’t had any fun, either; she still lives with her mum, and the highlight of her sickly, couchbound life is probably her Tuesday-night group meeting, which she spends with a miserable bunch of fellow sufferers, being lectured at.

But then one of the group is mysteriously turned to ashes . . . and suddenly they’re all under threat. That’s when Nina decides to prove that every vampire on earth isn’t a weak, pathetic loser. Along with her friend Dave, she hunts down the culprit ─ and soon finds herself up against some gun-toting werewolf traffickers who’ll stop at nothing.

Can a bunch of feeble couch potatoes win a fight like this? Is there more to your average vampire than meets the eye?

My thoughts

This book is heaps of fun. It’s definitely not your normal vampire tale (as you can tell by the blurb) and that’s what attracted me to it. I enjoy vampire stories (yes, I’m a twi-hard) and I was keen to see how Jinks put a new spin on this age-old myth. I also chose it as part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge, in which I committed to read six books by Australian women authors and review at least three of them this year. This is the third book I’ve read but the first I’ve reviewed.

Anyway, back to The Reformed Vampires Support Group! Nina and her friends are a sorry bunch. I’m glad that I (as a reader) didn’t have to sit through a normal support group meeting, because they sound deadly dull (pardon the pun). Instead, I was taken on a crazy, pot-holed journey as the group of vampires and Father Ramon, their long-suffering priest friend, tried to work out how to deal with the vampire slayer in their midst. As you can imagine, when you’re weak, lethargic and likely to hallucinate if you go without your daily Guinea Pig, a vampire slayer is really bad news. But the way Nina and her friends try to handle the situation just makes things worse and soon they’ve got some homicidal werewolf traffickers wanting to kill them too. Oops!

TRVSP is told in first person, and for the most part, I really enjoyed Nina’s voice. She’s dry, sarcastic and somehow simultaneously down-trodden and light-hearted. Her scathing opinions of the other vampires in her group (and vampires in general) often brought a smile to my face, and I found her character arc both interesting and believable.

However, I felt that the narrative could have been a lot tighter (with many redundant sentences removed), and a narrative device used twice in the book (described by the narrator herself as ‘cheating’) broke me out of Jinks’ world and smacked of ‘the easy way out’. The multitude of dialogue tags drove me slightly nuts – murmured, ‘wanted to know’, nagged, advised, inquired, exclaimed, whined, mused, growled, demanded, added, chided, remonstrated, announced, protested, pointed out, squawked – and that’s just in the first chapter. I find colourful dialogue tags quite distracting, and I’ve read a few writing books that strongly advise against them. (To be honest, I’m not sure whether creative tags used to annoy me before all of the writing books brought them to my attention, but that’s another issue!) They probably would’ve annoyed me a lot more if this had’ve been a serious book, but I’ve got to admit they did suit the tongue-in-cheek tone.

The story lagged in some parts as the vampires spent pages upon pages deciding what to do next, but on the whole I was kept entertained and enjoyed getting to know the saddest bunch of vampires that ever lived existed. I’m looking forward to catching up with the characters again in the Abused Werewolf Support Group.

I recommend TRVSG to anyone who enjoys comical paranormal teen fiction. Avid fans of spine-chilling stories with sexy, violent vampires might want to choose a different book!

My rating

3.5-stars

3.5 stars

What’s your opinion?

Have you read The Reformed Vampires Support Group? If so, what did you think? If not, do you plan to?

My 1-5 scale
1: Terrible. I couldn’t finish it.
2: Dissatisfying.
3: Good but not great.
3.5: A solid, enjoyable read but still some elements not working for me.
4: Really enjoyable with very few flaws OR flawed, but I loved it anyway.
4.5: Unputdownable. Close to perfect. I’ll rave about it to anyone who listens.
5: Perfection (i.e. pretty much unattainable).

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Filed under Book review, Reading, YA fiction

Book review – The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Plot summary

The Shadow of the Wind coverIt is 1945 and Barcelona is enduring the long aftermath of civil war when Daniel Sempere’s bookseller father decides Daniel is old enough to visit the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books – a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again.

Daniel’s father encourages him to choose a book from the spiralling labyrinth of shelves, so Daniel selects at random The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. He loves the novel so much that he sets out to find the rest of Carax’s work. But to his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last of Carax’s books in existence.

Before Daniel knows it, his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, madness, deceit and doomed love. Despite the danger Daniel finds himself in, he is determined to uncover the mystery behind who is destroying Carax’s books once and for all.

My thoughts

This is not a book I would have selected for myself. It was a birthday present from a close relative who enjoyed it so much she wanted to share it with me – and I’m glad she did. I’m also glad that I waited until the holidays to read it, because I’m not sure I would’ve followed the book’s complex, multi-layered plot very well if I’d read it in spits and spurts. As it happened, I read the entire 500+ pages in 72 hours while on a camping trip, burning through the pages of lyrical prose, as desperate as Daniel to unravel the mysteries of The Shadow of the Wind.

Zafon paints a rich portrait of Barcelona after the civil war, bringing to life a city and an era that I previously knew nothing about. I fell in love with many of the book’s characters, particularly the eternally optimistic, slightly naive protagonist Daniel; the enigmatic subject of Daniel’s fascination, Julian Carax; and Daniel’s slightly crazy, lewd-but-loveable older friend Fermin.  

The plot contains two overarching stories – Daniel’s and Julian’s – which mirror each other and become increasingly intertwined as the book progresses. The cast of characters is quite huge, but each character plays an important part in the story. For me, The Shadow of the Wind is very much about loneliness, regret and the darker side of human nature, but is also laced with romance, kindness and love.

It is also a book for book lovers. It captures the powerful relationship between a book and its reader beautifully, with passages such as:

‘Under the warm light cast by the reading lamp, I was submerged into a new world of images and sensations peopled by characters who seemed as real to me as my surroundings. Page after page I let the spell of the story and its world take me over, until the breath of dawn touched my window and my tired eyes slid over the last page. I lay in the bluish half-light with the book on my chest and listened to the murmur of the sleeping city. My eyes began to close, but I resisted. I did not want to lose the story’s spell or bid farewell to its characters just yet.’

Oh, that wonderful feeling of having finished a good book. Show me a book lover who can’t relate to that passage!

But although I adored this book, I also found it immensely frustrating. I had a love/hate relationship with its descriptive prose, because for every heartbreakingly beautiful passage, there were countless others that (in my opinion) could have benefited from a good prune.

My main issue with this book, though, relates to the narrative. Although the story is predominantly told in first person from Daniel’s perspective, there are large chunks that involve others recounting their memory of past events to Daniel. These memories add depth and further the plot, however they contain insights that are impossible for the person recounting the memory to have. For example, if I was telling you a story about a man I met years ago and hadn’t been in contact with since, it would seem odd if I told you exactly what he was doing and precisely what he was thinking months after our last meeting. The Shadow of the Wind was riddled with point-of-view errors of this nature, and they marred an otherwise amazing reading experience for me. Zafon is obviously a masterful story teller, so I don’t understand why he couldn’t have applied his skills to provide us with these insights through other means.

My rating

My rating: 4 stars

My rating: 4 stars (flawed, but I loved it anyway)

Despite the issues I’ve highlighted, The Shadow of the Wind is definitely a powerful, worthwhile read. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys multi-layered gothic fiction or stories that explore the darker side of human nature.

What’s your opinion? 

Have you read The Shadow of the Wind? If so, what did you think? If not, do you plan to?

My 1-5 scale
1: Terrible. I couldn’t finish it.
2: Dissatisfying.
3: Good but not great.
3.5: A solid, enjoyable read but still some elements not working for me.
4: Really enjoyable with very few flaws OR flawed, but I loved it anyway.
4.5: Unputdownable. Close to perfect. I’ll rave about it to anyone who listens.
5: Perfection (i.e. pretty much unattainable).

10 Comments

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Book review – The Ottoman Motel

The Ottoman MotelThe Ottoman Motel by Christopher Currie 
(Australian author on debut)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Back cover blurb

When Simon and his parents arrive in the small town of Reception and check in to the Ottoman Motel, things between them are tense but normal. Then, while Simon is asleep, his mother and father disappear.

Are they lost? Has something terrible happened to them? Have they simply driven away and left him? All Simon knows is that he is alone in a strange town.

Madaline, the local police constable, is kind. Ned Gale and his kids give Simon a place to stay. In the bar down at the Ottoman, Jack Tarden and the other locals are sympathetic. But why does it seem as if no one is trying to find Simon’s parents?

My thoughts

The Ottoman Motel paints a bleak, haunting picture of a small seaside town and the secrets that are eating it away from the inside out. Simon’s fear and confusion at the loss of his parents is eloquently portrayed, and the desire to find out whether this mystery would be solved kept me engaged and invested.

In saying that, I found the first few chapters after Simon’s parents had disappeared a bit of a slog. A myriad of characters are introduced and many of these characters’ actions are hard to understand or decipher. Instead of being intriguing, I found this frustrating and off putting. I think it’s important to mention that my reading preference is for novels written in first person, told from the perspective of one or two characters. This novel is told in third person, from the perspective of many different characters, which means it takes longer to understand any of the characters fully. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that approach, it’s just not my preference, so naturally it will take me longer to warm to a story told in that format.

But warm to it I did. As the story progressed, I got to know Madaline the police officer, Ned the hotel owner and his peculiar children, Pony the boy from the wrong side of the tracks, Jack Tarden, Kuiper, Ivy and the list goes on… As I found out more about these characters, their actions began to make sense, and the complexity of the story drew me in. By about halfway, I was so intrigued that I read the rest of the book in the space of a few hours, sitting on the lawn in a lovely patch of winter sun.

When I finished the final page, I had that delightfully bittersweet feeling – happy to have reached the end, sad there was no more. Although the ending left some threads unresolved, I felt satisfied, because I could imagine for myself how those elements would be resolved. And sometimes, that’s even more enjoyable than being told.

The writing

Currie’s style is evocative and, at times, almost lyrical. Some of his narrative made me shiver, that’s how enjoyable it was. Here’s one of my favourites lines: ‘Kuiper’s voice slid down Simon’s back like cold water.’ – Can’t you just feel his discomfort?

At other times, I found the writing almost too poetic. While these passages were beautifully written, they drew my attention to the style of writing and away from the story itself.

Characters

If I gave my thoughts on each of the characters in The Ottoman Motel, this post would end up novel-sized itself. So I’ll just focus on my favourites – Simon and Tarden.

Simon was 100% real to me. I could feel his fear, his confusion, his frustration, his anger, and most of all, his desire to have things back ‘the way they were’. Currie has done a brilliant job depicting an eleven-year-old boy in the midst of the most traumatic event of his life, and the further I got into the story, the more affection I felt for this naieve, terrified, yet courageous child.

Now onto Jack Tarden. Saying that Tarden was one of my favourite characters might give the wrong impression. He’s not exactly a likeable guy, but I found him the most intriguing and complex character of them all, and the more I found out about him, the more I wanted to know. I’d elaborate, but for fear of including spoilers, I think I’d best leave it at that.

Would I recommend this book?

Most definitely. If you find it slow-going to begin with, perservere. It’s well worth it. One word of caution – although the protagonist is a child, this is definitely adult fiction. It contains themes and language unsuitable for children and younger teens.

What’s your opinion? 

Have you read The Ottoman Motel? If so, what did you think? I love talking about books and hearing people’s different points of view, so please share!

Oh! And…

Make sure you read the acknowledgements at the end of this book. Author Christopher Currie caused a major global sensation by proposing to his girlfriend in the very last sentence!

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Filed under Book review, Reading

New Adult fiction – the missing genre?

Have you ever read a book that didn’t seem to fit squarely in either Young Adult (YA) or Adult fiction? It might have been about someone who has just moved out of home to go to uni. Or someone who’s just finished uni and is now trying to prove himself in his first professional job.

The protagonists in these books are too mature to be considered YA protagonists, but they’re not worldly enough to be considered Adult protagonists. So where do they fit?

According to St Martin’s Press, they fit in a new, previously-unidentified genre called ‘New Adult’. JJ from St Martin’s Press explains that, ‘New Adult [fiction] is about young adulthood, when you are an adult but have not established your life as one (career, family, what-have-you)’.

Kristin Hoffman elaborates further, explaining that New Adult fiction is, ‘…about transition. The transformation from child to adult doesn’t happen overnight—just ask as anyone who is or has been (or is a parent to) a teenager. But the transition from teen to adult doesn’t happen overnight either. There’s a period of time where adulthood feels like a new pair of shoes. The expectations of independence and self-sufficiency are still new, still being broken in. New Adults are the people who have just begun to walk in those shoes; New Adult fiction is about their blisters and aches.

Kristin goes on to explain that New Adult protagonists are mostly likely in the range of 18 to 26 years old. ‘College, first jobs, first relationships, or marriage… There’s a lot that can happen when you’re 18-26, but the fact is, those same events feel very different at that age than they do at 12 or at 40. Because kids and teens focus on the present, while adults draw on their past experience to inform their present and future decisions. New Adults are somewhere in between…. That distinction might seem subtle, but it comes through loud and clear in the voice of New Adult fiction.’

I’ve been overjoyed to discover this new genre of fiction. Why? Because I’ve always described Tangled (my novel-in-progress) as Young Adult, but that categorisation has never sat comfortably with me. Now I know why. Now I have a genre that fits. Tangled – which follows the journey of two country teenagers as they try to survive living away from home to attend an inner city university –  is well and truly New Adult. It describes many of those New Adult blisters and aches Kristin talked about, including struggling to get along with flatmates and trying to deal with changing relationships with close friends.

A number of my favourite books could be classified as New Adult, including:

Queen Kat, Carmel and St Jude Get a Life and Somebody’s Crying by Maureen McCarthy

World of Chickens and Bachelor Kisses by Nick Earls

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Book covers of new adult fiction

So, what do you think? Do you agree there should be a New Adult genre? Or do you think it’s splitting hairs and the Young Adult and Adult genres are sufficient? Are there any books you’d classify as New Adult fiction? Do tell!

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Filed under Authors, Maureen McCarthy, New Adult fiction, Nick Earls, Reading, Tangled, Tracy Chevalier, Writing, Writing style, YA fiction

Who is Saint Giovanni?

Who is Saint Giovanni?Last night, via Rach Writes, I learnt about a very cool YA paranormal romance that debuted this week — sort of.

Say what?

Let me explain.  The author, Rane Anderson, is giving away her novel, Who is Saint Giovanni? in weekly instalments (which include beautiful illustrations) until the entire book is available online, for free.

I’ve read the first chapter and will definitely be going back each week to keep reading and find out — who is Saint Giovanni?

Head on over to The Lit Express and check it out for yourself!

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Filed under Authors, Rane Anderson, Reading, Writers, Writing