Author Archives: Tien

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Review: Dyschronia by Jennifer Mills


Dyschronia
by Jennifer Mills

An electrifying novel about an oracle. A small town. And the end of the world as we know it…

One morning, the residents of a small coastal town somewhere in Australia wake to discover the sea has disappeared. One among them has been plagued by troubling visions of this cataclysm for years. Is she a prophet? Does she have a disorder that skews her perception of time? Or is she a gifted and compulsive liar?

Oscillating between the future and the past, Dyschronia is a novel that tantalises and dazzles, as one woman’s pescient nightmares become entangled with her town’s uncertain fate. Blazing with questions of consciousness, trust, and destiny, this is a wildly imaginative and extraordinary novel from award-winning author Jennifer Mills.

My Blurb

Baffled.

Hence my star rating of 2 probably doesn’t worth much. I loved the cover and I was intrigued by the blurb, “One morning, the residents of a small coastal town somewhere in Australia wake to discover the sea has disappeared.” I, therefore, expected some sort of post-apocalyptic sort of novel and while it was in a way ‘post-apocalyptic’, it wasn’t… not really.

I struggled by the time shifts; I can’t even tell you how many there were supposed to be… There were the future (in visions?), the present, and the past; I know these for certain but there were time strands for each time anyway and there’s no particular warning, they can change within a chapter, a space or an asterix to indicate end of a section does not particularly help. Thankfully, there were only 2 perspectives: Sam’s (though she’s the one having visions so that didn’t help in anyway) and the town people’s (using the royal ‘We’).

I think I understood that the book’s themes revolve around the environment, climate, and corporate scams that in the end, only the plebeians suffer the consequences. I’m just not sure whether getting your point across despite the baffled reader is enough. I do have now an appreciation of the cuttlefish… not enough not to eat them (not that I eat them all the time). I am just so sorry that I could not love the book!

Source: I borrowed this book from my local library

About the author

Jennifer Mills is the author of the novels Gone (UQP, 2011) and The Diamond Anchor (UQP, 2009) and a collection of short stories, The Rest is Weight (UQP, 2012). The Rest is Weight. Mills’ fiction, non-fiction and poetry have been widely published, appearing in Meanjin, Hecate, Overland, Heat, Island, the Lifted Brow, the Griffith Review, Best Australian Stories, New Australian Stories, and the Review of Australian Fiction, as well as being broadcast, recorded and performed from Adelaide to Berlin. She is a regular writer for Overland literary journal and has contributed criticism to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Wheeler Centre, and the Sydney Review of Books. She is currently the fiction editor at Overland.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  |  twitter

 

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Blog Tour: Differently Normal by Tammy Robinson

Differently Normal by Tammy Robinson

Heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure, DIFFERENTLY NORMAL is about first love and the sacrifices you’ll make for the ones you hold close. For fans of Nicholas Sparks and Jojo Moyes.

For Maddy, life is all about routine. It has to be, to keep her autistic sister happy and healthy. With just Maddy and her mother as Bee’s full-time carers, there’s no time in Maddy’s life for complications like friends, let alone a boyfriend. So when Bee joins a new Riding for the Disabled stable and they meet Albert, the last thing on Maddy’s mind is falling in love.

Some things, she’s about to learn, are outside of our control. Albert has resigned himself to always being a disappointment to his strict father. When he meets Maddy, he gets a glimpse of what being part of a family can be like, and of the tremendous sacrifices that people will make for the ones that they love.

DIFFERENTLY NORMAL is a heart-wrenching tale of love and loss, because sometimes it takes letting someone else in to discover who you really are . . .

‘A funny and poignant tale about first love. Tammy Robinson is a natural storyteller.’ Nicky Pellegrino

Purchase links:  booktopia (AU)  | Dymocks (AU)  whitcoulls (NZ)  | Kobo  | iBooks  | Google Play

My Blurb (3.5/5 stars)

What really piqued my interest in this book is the New Zealand author & setting. I’ve not read many of those; I could probably count them on 1 hand. The next factor of interest is the main character’s responsibility as a carer for her autistic sister. She sounds amazingly strong, generous, and loving. I’m not sure if I could be like that…

Unless someone has someone else who is so dependent on them for everything like my sister is on me, they can’t understand. They might think they do, but they don’t. Everything I do, every single decision I make, has to be weighed up carefully to decide how it will affect my sister. I have to consider things we may encounter that will upset her….There are a million things that will either make sister happy or upset, and only two people in this whole world who know what those things are. It’s a heavy responsibility.

There are 2 perspectives in this novel; Maddy’s & Albert’s. Both of their families are dysfunctional in different ways and whilst Maddy is too busy for love, Albert never thought he’d ever recover from his heartbreak. And then, they met. It was touch & go but they were obviously made for each other. Albert’s dreams of his future takes him far from home whilst Maddy’s commitment to her sister meant she might never leave home. Some sacrifices are needed, a compromise required; will they be able to work this out?

Differently Normal is such a cute heart-warming read. The romance is pretty goofy especially at the beginning and I loved it to bits. I’m pretty embarrassed that I’ve probably snorted a bit on my train commute and kept finding myself grinning at Albert’s & Maddy’s antics. It’s a beautiful romance! Of course, a spanner was then thrown into the works and I am rather upset at this turnaround in the story. I feel that there needs to be a ‘spanner in the works’ but I don’t feel that this is the one; I just feel that the story’s sparkle dimmed and the weave loosened to become a rather frayed ending.

Nevertheless, Differently Normal turns out to be a comfort read; a light humour with a bit of teary mess near the end. It’s perfect for me-time at the end of a very long & hard day as spending time with this adorable couple will definitely loosen you up.

Thanks to Hachette Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review. 

 

About the author

Tammy Robinson is a contemporary women’s fiction author from the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. After years spent working her way round the world, Tammy settled back in New Zealand with her husband, their two girls and a newborn baby boy. She has published six novels through Amazon, and DIFFERENTLY NORMAL was her first novel with Hachette New Zealand. She is currently working on PHOTOS OF YOU, which Hachette will publish in 2019.

Find her on: goodreads  |  twitter  | facebook  | instagram

Review: Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1) by Jessica Townsend

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Born on an unlucky day, she is blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks – and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on Eventide.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It’s there that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organisation: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart. Except for Morrigan, who doesn’t seem to have any special talent at all.

To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests – or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

My Blurb (5 stars)

I bought this book as a gift for my 8yo. I don’t particularly know what an advance reader is for his age but he’s in the top reading group in his class so I thought this might be readable for him. Nevertheless, he was intimidated by all the words and NO illustrations which makes it a monster of a book for him. I wanted to read it too so we read it together aloud. Honestly, I would probably inhale this book in a single sitting (or two) because it was really so much fun! A light-hearted read filled with incredible characters and magical world, Nevermoor is an absolute gem of a book.

I love that nothing is as it seems in Nevermoor just like there is always 2 sides to every story. And there is all sorts of creatures too; a talking giant cat, a vampire, a dwarf, zombies, dragons, unicorns… you name it! The funny bits and the magic especially excite us. Nevermoor is the bright star at the end of our day.

We took the whole of February to read this aloud. He has to read 4-5 pages per night and I read 20ish… My voicebox is feeling a little overused atm. It has been a pretty good month though because the promise of reading this book helps him get ready for bed without too much nagging/shouting from me! That’s a smasher of a praise for this book, I tell you. It’s been amazing and now I’ve got to find another with, hopefully, the same impact on him.

He says: (4.5/5 stars)

The book is actually pretty good. I rate 4 and a half at the because at the end its sort of scary. But the rest of the book is awesome my favourite character is Fenestra and my least favourite character is Ezra squall. My favourite place in Nevermore is the Gossamer Line because you can travel to a different place and you are sort of like a ghost.

About the author

JESSICA TOWNSEND lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. She was a copywriter for eight years, and was once the editor of a children’s wildlife magazine for Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow is her first novel.

Find her on: goodreads  |  twitter  | instagram

 

Blog Tour: Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard + Giveaway

Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard

When I was wild, you were steady . . .
Now you are wild – what am I?

Eden McKinley knows she can’t count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight-A best friend. So it’s a bit of a surprise when Bonnie runs away with the boyfriend Eden knows nothing about five days before the start of their GCSEs. Especially when the police arrive on her doorstep and Eden finds out that the boyfriend is actually their music teacher, Mr Cohn.

Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty, only Eden knows Bonnie’s location, and that’s the way it has to stay. There’s no way she’s betraying her best friend. Not even when she’s faced with police questioning, suspicious parents and her own growing doubts.

As the days pass and things begin to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her best friend and herself.

My Blurb (4 stars)

Did I have a crush on a teacher? Sure, I did. I’ve probably done some silly things too, not that I can remember any of them now but knowing my naivety, I probably would have had though it would be nothing sexual. It’s incumbent on the teachers to act the adult and respect boundaries (enforce it, even). But what’s the right thing to do when it’s your best friend who’s embroiled in this? Do you keep your loyalties to her or spill the beans to the adults as surely it’s better for your friend?

There is never an easy answer. I value loyalty as highly as Eden did in this book so despite my adult common sense clamouring for Eden just spill the beans, my heart approved of her sense of loyalty. I know I’m ready contemporary YA and not any espionage thriller novel but still… didn’t they think that their phone will be tracked and/or tapped? Errr… that part sort of didn’t gel with me. There wasn’t even a hint of such thought going through Eden’s or Bonnie’s minds whilst that was one of the first things I thought of.

As a mother, I do worry that my sons may become involved in this issue one day so I’m glad that there is a book I can get them to read! This is a very pertinent issue that we all need to be aware of and the reasons why they are wrong and illegal. I believe this book is empowering, not only in its subject matter, but also just in being a teen. Eden is an admirably balanced & mature girl despite or is it in spite of her troubles.

Goodbye, Perfect is very easy on the eyes and can be read fairly quickly. It’s a great discussion starter and I’d recommend for the mums & daughters to take the chance and read together.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review. 

GIVEAWAY

Courtesy of Pan Macmillan Australia, 1 paperback copy of Goodbye, Perfect is up for grabs! To enter, simple leave a comment with what book you are currently reading and include a random sentence/short paragraph from it. I will draw the winner on the evening of Sunday, 4th March.

Please note this giveaway is limited to ANZ residents only.

About the author

Sara lives in Brighton and does all her best writing on trains. She loves books, book people and book things. She has been writing ever since she was too small to reach the “on” switch on the family Amstrad computer. She gets her love of words from her dad, who made sure she always had books to read and introduced her to the wonders of secondhand book shops at a young age.

Sara is trying to visit every country in Europe, and has managed to reach 13 with her best friend. She has also lived in Canada and worked in India.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter

Review: If I Tell You by Alicia Tuckerman

If I Tell You by Alicia Tuckerman

‘The second our eyes lock in the dark is all the time I need to know that whatever happens next, my life will never be the same.’

Life and love don’t wait until you’re ready, but what if finding yourself means losing everything you’ve ever known?

Seventeen-year-old Alex Summers lives with a secret and the constant fear someone will find out. But when a new family moves to town, they bring with them their teenage daughter Phoenix Stone. When Alex falls for Phoenix, there is no warning. In a small town with small minds, girls don’t go out with other girls, even if they want to.

In fear there is bravery – you can either cling to the edge or have the courage to jump. But what do you do when you’re left spiralling through the freefall?

This is a heart-wrenching story of love in an unloving Australian landscape.

My Blurb (5 stars)

Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I don’t read many LGBT books though not because I purposely avoid them but more that they’re not particularly books I usually come across without having to research or specifically look for. I’ve done a lot of reading challenges so it’s come up a few times and I would usually have to really look for them. In addition, If I Tell You, is geared towards young adult… there are even less LGBT/YA books.

Alex Summers is an easily likeable character. She has dreams and wishes for her wedding day though there is one particular details which would differ from what her mother would’ve dreamed or planned. This is a secret Alex has kept from everyone. When Phoenix Stone arrived in town though, she was a temptation Alex cannot resist.

If I Tell You is told solely from Alex’s perspective and from it, I must say that it’s a pretty UN-likeable town (and I’m being nice here!) despite her supportive friends (I adore Lin!). I think Lin is the bright shining star in this book for me and that’s because I could identify with her better being Asian in ancestry. Which makes me think that Alex may be the bright shining star for those who have been and/or are experiencing the same sort of situation. How can you be happy when you can’t be yourself?

I was caught by story from the very first sentence. And I just couldn’t put the book down. I love that it’s very Aussie in setting & feel though I don’t know if I actually want to visit this town; it’s more of a homey sort of feeling that I’m sure we can all identify with. I cannot condone the behaviours of some of the people especially the mother. As a mother of 2 young children, I feel conflicted; I wanted to know further the reason for her reaction as I can think of dozens!

Writing this review is very hard for me. I feel like I am also treading a fine line as I may accidentally have written something which sounded okay to me in my head but due to missing the nuances of spoken words, they may be misconstrued. So, I’m just going to wrap it up by saying explicitly that I loved this book for its potential in the LGBTQIA+ community but also for the wider audience. I loved this book for all the feels; the giddiness of first love to the heartbreak of loss. If I Tell You is a compelling coming-of-age tale and all of you should jump into it.

Thanks to Pantera Press for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

 

Alicia Tuckerman is a driving force for young LGBT voices within Australia. Raised in rural NSW before she left home at the age of sixteen, she accepted a position to study at the Hunter School of Performing Arts.

Described as having an overactive imagination as a child, she recalls writing stories her entire life. Alicia attributes surviving her teenage years to the comfort, release and escape writing offered and she hopes to inspire the next generation of readers and writers to embrace their true passions.

Alicia was inspired to write If I Tell You after finding a lack of YA novels featuring two central lesbian characters. She draws on her life experiences to explore the joys, triumphs and cruelties of modern day adolescence and considers there is no fantasy world she could create that is more terrifyingly beautiful than the one we’re expected to live in.

Alicia is a Law Clerk and now lives in the Swan Valley region of Perth with her wife and two children, where she does most of her writing in the small hours before the kids wake up, or on her daily commute to the office!

Find Alicia on: goodreads  |  instagram  | twitter  |  facebook

Review: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Bestselling author Tamora Pierce crafts a richly realised world in the highly anticipated first installment of The Numair Chronicles – a gripping fantasy series for young adults.

THREE STUDENT MAGES, BOUND BY FATE . . . FATED FOR DANGER

Arram Draper is on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness – and for attracting trouble. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the ‘leftover prince’ with secret ambitions.

Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. But as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram realizes that soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

My Blurb (4 stars)

Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series is one of my favourite ever. I first read it in school (that would’ve been over 2 decades ago) and have re-read it many times (I don’t even know how many now). And it is probably the reason why I love the girl-dressed-as-boy trope so very very much. Needless to say, I was very excited to see a new book by a beloved author set in the same universe as my favourite series ever!

The protagonist of Tempests & Slaughter is a teenage boy named Arram Draper and we first met him as he’s supposedly enjoying some bonding time with his father and grandfather at the Arena. What they didn’t know was that Arram dreaded seeing these bloody fights everyone is excited for. Still, he was determined to have a good time but then of course, the first accident happened.

Arram was an easily likeable protagonist though there was some time when he was a little obsessed with his ‘member’ that it was feeling a bit awkward to me… The number of times ‘his member’ (yes, that’s how it’s being referred to in the book) started to annoy me to no end but then again, maybe that’s how it is with teen boys? I don’t know… I was never a teen boy… Thankfully, we got through that phase just as I started to get really annoyed.

Reading Tempests & Slaughter is almost like putting on a much-loved-very-well-fitted glove. It fits me so very comfortably that I have really loved the whole book. When I try to step back and review it as a new reader though, I’m not sure if that may be the case for others. Despite the number of accidents Arram had with his gifts, he seems to be getting on too well. He seems to be a very well balanced character (which seems to not be what’s ‘in’ at the moment with all the antiheros happening). In any case, it did feel like nothing happened much. I also feel like Prince Ozorne may prove to be a much more interesting character. I am very much looking forward to get to know him better next time 😉

If you’ve never read Tamora Pierce previously, Tempests & Slaughter is really a new series and even though is set in a universe of earlier series, you can definitely pick this up without missing too much. You may want to pick them up to tide them over until book 2 is published though so bewarned! If you need anymore persuasion: magic school, Ancient Rome feels, & an old cranky crocodile (my most fave character in this book!).

If you’re a Tamora Pierce’s fan, you will NOT be disappointed. If you’re anything like me, this is a comfort read & an addition to your treasured collection.

Thanks to Hachette Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Tamora Pierce is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over eighteen novels set in the fantasy realm of Tortall. She is the winner of the Romantic Times Book Reviews Career Achievement Award, the Skylark Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, and the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her ‘significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature’.

Pierce lives in Syracuse, New York, with her husband, Tim, and their cats, birds, and occasional rescued wildlife.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  | facebook  |  instagram  

 

Kim Lock: Q&A

Thank you, Kim, for your time and for sharing a bit about yourself & your writing.

Quick Qs
Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate? Milk

Coffee or Tea? Definitely tea.

Dog-ear or whatever else as bookmark? I have approximately 1000 bookmarks. There is always one lying around.

Plot or Character? Both! Also voice.

HEA or unexpected twist? Anything that suits the story, and is well executed.

Q: How long have you been writing and/or reading? Have the written words always been a big part of your life?
A: I’ve been reading (and writing) for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was a child I have
always had a book with me; I grew up with The Baby-Sitters Club, The Gymnasts and Nancy Drew.
My first ‘novels’ were written on a typewriter, cut down into little pages and stapled into books. I
still have them! They have intriguing titles such as, ‘I Want Some Cake’ and ‘The Mushroom Ring at the Bottom of My Garden’.

Q: Could you please share with us your publication journey?
A: After spending several years working on a manuscript alone, my debut novel was picked up from the ‘slush pile’ of an independent press, which gave me great insights into revision and editing as well as invaluable industry experience. My second novel was selected to participate in the QWC/Hachette Australia Manuscript Development Program in 2013, and it was after this that I signed with my agent and was offered a two-book contract with Pan Macmillan Australia – those books are Like I Can Love and The Three of Us.

Q: So far, ‘motherhood’ seems to play a big part in your novels… is there any particular scene that was actually a real life incident? Could you also share with us your motherhood journey so far? How are you finding juggling kids and writing?
A: Though no scenes (so far!) are based on any of my own real life experiences, I certainly draw on my own feelings when writing characters’ ‘motherhoods’. When my first baby was born, one of the particular challenges, for me, was trying to reconcile the disparity between how I thought I was supposed to feel (in love, tender, deferential) and how I actually did feel – which was often
bewildered and lonely! The biologically female act of childbearing isn’t always easy in a male-centric world. So I think there are lots of conversations to be had there.
To answer your question about kids and writing – I write when I can! I have to be flexible. Some days I’m able to write a lot, and some days I’m not able to write at all. I spend a lot of time mulling stories over in my head and jotting down notes.

Q: How do you write? Are you a planner? Do you chart a plot before you start writing? Do you listen to music while writing? Just for fun, could you share a picture of your workspace with us (especially if you mainly write at home)
A: That’s a great question! Each book has been slightly different, but I’m definitely not a planner. I begin with a basic idea, a character’s name, and perhaps a rough idea of setting. Then I just start writing, keep writing, and see what comes up. I’m pretty linear – I write from the beginning to the end, with only the occasional deviation if something strikes. My first drafts are awful things, terribly rough, and there are usually tens of thousands of words that get dumped and rewritten within the first few drafts. It’s usually around draft three or four when I’ll write something of a scene map. I can be several drafts in and still adding or subtracting or fixing major storylines. (Luckily for me, I thoroughly enjoy editing.) I’m one of those writers who needs quiet – I find music too distracting. It’s why I also can’t write in cafes or public libraries. I write in my home office with the door closed, or when I’m home alone, or sometimes in the car.

 

My desk is a complete mess! There’s always a rotation of books coming and going, trinkets and pieces of craft that the kids bring me, notebooks and draft manuscripts piling up. My pride and joy is a beautiful Orée keyboard, a treat that I bought myself with a book advance. Please don’t mind the grotty window …

Q: I see you also work as freelance graphic designer, did you design your own covers and/or how much say do you have with your covers?
A: My first novel was published by a small press, and I had the unique experience of being able to design my own cover (with a brief from the publisher, of course!). With my next two books, I was able to enjoy the experience of taking my designer hat off, and just being the author. Which I have loved!

Q: Congratulations on the publication of your Third book (fifth baby?) What’s next for you, Kim?
A: Thank you, Tien! It’s been an amazing three years in the making, this one. I have another book in the works, but this one seems to be coming through a little slower. But I’m taking plenty of notes, and daydreaming…

Q: Please share with us: your top 5 reads in 2017 and your 5 most anticipated releases in 2018

Oh, it’s always hard to narrow it down! A non-exhaustive selection of books that I read last year and loved (not necessarily published in 2017): Plane Tree Drive by Lynette Washington; Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman; I Am, I Am, I Am, by Maggie O’Farrell; Whisky Charlie Foxtrot by Annabel Smith, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.
And no doubt 2018 will deliver plenty of excellent books, but here’s just a few I’m looking forward to: The Passengers by Eleanor Limprecht (March); Trick of the Light by Laura Elvery (March); You Wish by Lia Weston (April); and, later in the year, new books from Sarah Ridout and Les Zig.

 

 

You can check out my thoughts on Kim’s books by clicking on these links: Peace, Love, and Khaki Socks, Like I Can Love, The Three of Us

About the author

Kim Lock was born in 1981. She is the author of two previous novels Like I can Love and Peace, Love and Khaki Socks. Her non-fiction has appeared in the Guardian, Daily Life, and the Sydney Morning Herald onlineShe lives in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, with her partner and their children, a dog and a couple of cats.

Find Kim on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook