Review: Raelia

Raelia
Raelia by Lynette Noni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have enjoyed this second instalment of The Medoran Chronicles much better. I think this is due to the fact that I’m rather over the “Harry Potter X Narnia X X-Men” comparison and so, was not trying to actually do any comparisons! I felt more relaxed and was able to appreciate this tale on its own merit.

Alexandra Jennings continued to live up to her sassy attitude though really she’s a very loving and caring personality. Yet again, she can’t help being talented at things she’d rather not and plunging into troubles when she’s rather avoid them. Nevertheless, her courage, perseverance, and faith in her friends carried her through. The hint of romance, of course, is not misplaced! I am awaiting Draekora with bated breath!

An epic-ly FUN read guaranteed, whether you’re sunbathing at the pool or on the commute to work facing a dreary day. It will lighten up your day and bring a bit of magic to your outlook for the day.

Thanks to Pantera Press for copy eARC via NetGalley in exchange of honest review

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Review: My Career Goes Bung

My Career Goes Bung
My Career Goes Bung by Miles Franklin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read My Brilliant Career a while ago and was happy to leave Sybylla Melvyn where she was (though I was informed the movie ending differs! I’ve still yet to watch it). There has not been many encouraging reviews for My Career Goes Bung either so I did not actually put the book on my tbr list. However, I’ve recently read Miles Franklin biography, Stella Miles Fraklin: A Biography and my curiosity was piqued. Both books were meant to be fiction but were apparently close enough to her own life that it was rather like an autobiography though it was denied as such by the author herself. From, her biography, I found that Miles Franklin to be an admirable woman of strength who formed her own opinions and stuck true to herself. There were, of course, some decisions which sounded strange but she was a rather unique personality.

Despite the not-so-good reviews for this particular book, I have actually enjoyed it. I had to keep in mind that this book was written immediately after My Brilliant Career was published though it was not published until 1946 (the foreword in my edition noted; “The spectre of libel actions loomed too large and Robertson [publisher] at that time had no choice but to refuse publication.”) so it was still a very young Miles Franklin who wrote this book. The thoughts on women and their places in society were the reflection of a young intelligent woman rather than a bitter unmarried lady (she seemed a little bitter later on in her biography). It was glaringly obvious that Sybylla was seeking to be her own self and to enjoy her writing without having to oblige to society’s demand of marriage. She was also capably independent though somewhat naive so there were some chuckles over her encounters with men.

I don’t particularly understand any woman’s wish to stay unmarried but that is a matter of personal preferences and we each differ in so many ways. I do, however, understand that repressiveness portrayed by Sybylla Melvyn of being shackled by society’s expectation of a woman and her wish to dislodge these old conceptions. She, like Miles Franklin herself, is a modern woman alive in the cusp of old-to-new age and was born to fight so we women can be where we are today.

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Review: The Other Side of Summer

The Other Side of Summer
The Other Side of Summer by Emily Gale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I seem to encounter a lot of grief in my YA readings the past month. I am wondering whether I am being particularly sensitive as I didn’t really notice this much grief previously. I’m not struggling with it myself at the present so I’m not quite sure what’s really going on! Maybe the universe is telling me to brace up or something…

This is one of the books included in the goodie bag from TeenCon 2016 (Sydney Writer’s Festival) in the form of an Uncorrected Proof which did have some corrections to be done. From the title and cover alone, I did not pick this as a tragedy driven sort of book. It looked kind of ‘summery’ to me but Summer is actually the name of the girl. I guess it could’ve described who she really was before tragedy struck and grief rent everything asunder.

Her parents are struggling with their own sadness though her mother seemed to have drowned and unable to help the rest of the family. Her father is doing his best and by this, he is transplanting them to a new place on the far side of the world. Things went quite awry and Summer felt her old self buried deeper inside of her. There was someone else who needed her help though… but he was a mystery she needed to solve with help from an unlikely corner.

Summer is about 12-13 years old in this story so this book is suitable for the younger audience. There was a particular bit about Wren which I found totally curious in being inserted in this story and which parents may wish to be aware of in case it sparks some interesting questions aside from the grief theme. Otherwise, I found the book to be completely satisfying, sad and a bit angry but also sweet.

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Review: A Decline in Prophets

A Decline in Prophets
A Decline in Prophets by Sulari Gentill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I seem to be entrenched in 1930s Australia! It began, of course, with the first book of the Rowland Sinclair series, A Few Right Thinking Men, For Love of Country, The Big Smoke, then Razor: Tilly Devine, Kate Leigh and the Razor Gangs and now, this book! I was excited though to see a couple of the Razor gangs crims showing up in A Decline in Prophets -it was within the right setting, of course, time and location wise. I guess I was a lot more excited because I’ve just finished the book, Razor, so they are very familiar historical personages.

This review is in relation of the second book in the Rowland Sinclair series but there won’t be any spoilers from book 1

This novel opens with the return journey of Rowland Sinclair and his friends from abroad. They have been away for 8 months and are keen to return home to Sydney. This journey over the seas, though filled with interesting characters, was fraught with danger especially to Rowland. He found himself, yet again & again, implicated in matters that blacken his family name; to the displeasure of his older brother.

My first impression of this series was that it could’ve been a mix between Lord Peter Wimsey and Phryne Fisher. This series is set roughly around the same era (1930s) though in Sydney and there are familiar traits in characters etc however whilst Miss Fisher styled herself as an investigator, Rowland Sinclair just happened to have the knack of being at the wrong place at the wrong time at a criminal rate. He is rather an amateur sleuth which, at times, rather frustrated me as a reader. And being rather conservative myself, I’m leaning towards his brother and at times, just do not understand their chosen lifestyles which made it harder to sympathise with these characters. I am not judging anybody their chosen lifestyles as I’m sure you’ll wonder at my chosen lifestyle. However, I just want to be clear that this is the reason I like rather than love this novel, in that I found it hard to put myself in their perspectives.

A most pleasant surprise, however, is the humour. I actually chuckled out loud a couple of times and this rarely ever happens with my reading. I don’t recall the first book being this humorous. I think there were probably real historical personages in book 1 too except that I wasn’t that familiar with political characters… but these 2 factors are what I enjoyed most so far in the series, the historical personages popping in and the humorous interaction between Rowland and his friends.

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Review: Winter Journey

Winter Journey
Winter Journey by Diane Armstrong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A reading challenge addict – that’s ME! These days I try to fit books from my insurmountable TBR into reading challenges but this time, I wanted to fit an Australian author into a non-Australian setting. That was a terrible exercise as it means I’ve added at least a dozen books to my TBR! However, it has also led to some amazing discovery which included this book, Winter Journey.

It was slow to begin as the first 20% of the audiobook had to set up a lot of background for the main character, Halina Shore. Then, there were Sydney cases she was involved in and certain incidents to happen before she was rather driven to go overseas. However, once she reached Poland, I couldn’t stop listening (even to my son’s complaints in the car, I did not stop the audiobook). It wasn’t that it was a hard mystery to solve but I have rather enjoyed the story telling (good narrator helps) and couldn’t wait for the discovery by the character.

I had to take away a star because of some sexual content… not because the content itself but I just thought it was rather gratuitous and took away from the punch of the horrifying events. If the concern was to take away some bitterness, I felt that this could have been done in another way. Also, there seems to be the confusing issue about the character’s age; supposedly in her 40s but according to time settings etc, she really should be in her 60s? (I’m not the only one to notice this either, review

I was a fan of Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta and Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan so the mention of a forensic dentist appealed to me as I’m a mystery buff. Combined with a historical forensic investigation and a self-discovery journey, this book was powerful & heartbreaking! It did not shy away from the terrible things of the Holocaust and I didn’t expect this part of it; this really shook me.

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Review: The Storyteller’s Muse

The Storyteller's Muse
The Storyteller’s Muse by Traci Harding
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am having a bit of trouble sorting of what I think about this novel. Traci Harding has been on the top of my fave Aussie author since the late ‘90s when I first discovered The Ancient Future which I’ve re-read many times. Most of her works are serial (she’s written a handful of trilogies) and rather more New-Age feel to them (as opposed to ghostly / gothic). The haunting premise of this novel (plus the Gorgeous Cover) is really promising a good ghost story.

The novel began quite well with an interaction between the main character, Peter, nurse & aspiring writer, with Penelope, elderly & well-known author. This first encounter wasn’t well in itself but it established a rocky beginning of a student-teacher relationship. I love Penelope; her crabby attitude is a protective shell of a creative and nurturing mind. Of course, I also love (as a reader) her meddling in the young ‘un’s business. I, however, neither liked nor disliked Peter. He was a nice guy but I don’t feel for him, at all.

The ghost story or the mystery behind this ghost story started quite well and I was quite intrigued at the beginning. Unfortunately, I’ve guessed the secret too early on in the piece which disturb my enjoyment of the whole mysterious air. In a way, this has a slight gothic feel but it was very hard to me in imagining a dark gothic air in the Australian sunshine… This might make me sound strange but maybe I should have saved this reading for late nights only!

I did enjoy the references to books & writing though. This made me feel like I was invited into a writers’ lair and being let in into some secrets (not really!). There were some funny parts, romantic parts (quite a few awkwardness on Peter’s side), and a bit of tension. The Storyteller’s Muse was an easy and fairly enjoyable read. And if you don’t like ghost story, it’s not that scary at all…

Thanks to HarperCollins Publishers Australia for copy eARC via NetGalley in exchange of honest review

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Review: Black Rock White City

Black Rock White City
Black Rock White City by A.S. Patric
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating Mystery.

Mesmerising Prose.

Admirable characters; flawed & broken but they are Survivors! Things that happened to them could easily break a person (and a relationship) but though they have been changed and hardened & life continues to flow around and through them, the future dim, they are alive and have hung on to each other, for better for worse.

A comment on the cover which I thought were a close-up shot of a beautiful white flower but which according to the note inside the book is Furious Angels by Smitty B from the series “Failing the Rorschach Test” and made me think, what does this say about me? In any case, it was just an interesting point to me… What do YOU think of the cover?

Note to self: never judge a person by their jobs!

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