Category Archives: Reviews

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  

 

Review: The Three of Us by Kim Lock

The Three of Us by Kim Lock

A life lived in the shadows. A love that should never have been hidden.

In the small town of Gawler, South Australia, the tang of cut grass and eucalyptus mingles on the warm air. The neat houses perched under the big gum trees on Church Street have been home to many over the years. Years of sprinklers stuttering over clipped lawns, children playing behind low brick walls. Family barbecues. Gossipy neighbours. Arguments. Accidents. Births, deaths, marriages. This ordinary street has seen it all.

Until the arrival of newlyweds Thomas and Elsie Mullet. And when one day Elsie spies a face in the window of the silent house next door, nothing will ever be ordinary again…

In Kim Lock’s third novel of what really goes on behind closed doors, she weaves the tale of three people with one big secret; a story of fifty years of friendship, betrayal, loss and laughter in a heartwarming depiction of love against the odds.

My Blurb (5 stars)

The one sure thing I know I’ll come across in this novel is a female character giving birth. Well, okay, maybe I don’t actually know for sure but that’s 3 out of 3! It’s not the focus of this particular novel but it’s there… I remember my reading experience of Lock’s novel (Peace, Love, and Khaki Socks) and I could never forget that birthing scene and it will always forever colour my view of Kim Lock’s novels. She’s just gone from strength to strength!

The Three of Us opens with Thomas Mullet, a 70+ year old man, at his first appointment with a counselor. He’s there because he’s running out of time and needed guidance on what to do before time’s up. And within 5 pages, the first bomb was dropped. And it was a pretty big one…

There isn’t much I could say about the book without giving hints which may spoil it for you. Whatever your first expectation is… that’s not it. What I can say, however, was that it’s a love story; there is heartbreak and there is happiness. This book spans about 50 years of these characters’ lives. It began in the 60s when Thomas & Elsie just begun their lives as husband & wife. When brides are to give up their fulfilling jobs and maintain an efficient sparkling household. It ended in more recent times when wives and/or mothers are expected to work full time and maintain an efficient sparkling household. But still… in the span of half a century, society has not change all that much

‘Society is more tolerant?’

Thomas gave a wry laugh. ‘We like to think so, don’t we? But I reckon it’s just different versions of the same intolerance. There’s still criticism – horrible things still happen because of narrow minds.’

It was a very uncomfortable read for the first third of the book. Mainly because I have an aversion towards a certain trope and I was very anxious for it not to be employed here. By the end of the first third, the second bomb detonated. A little relief with the way the plot is taking but it was still a rather uncomfortable read. Uncomfortable because we do not speak of these things; we do not expect it in our mundane daily life (as an aside, I actually do know one household and… whatever works for them to be happy, you know).

This is the best of Kim Lock to date even though I still preferred her first work (being lighter in mood). However, The Three of Us is a novel we currently need in the world. The world does not change by itself. We change it. And sometimes, we need a prompt, a push, a nudge, a shove, to change it. In The Three of Us, you will find a love story like no other. I would highly recommend it for a bookclub read. I can guarantee you a very lively discussion! Some wine and chocolates are warranted to chill things a little.

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

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

Come back tomorrow for Q&A with Kim! 😀