I absolutely loved this. Read it even though I was super tired and went to bed early but then couldn't put it down to actually go to sleep. It's actioI absolutely loved this. Read it even though I was super tired and went to bed early but then couldn't put it down to actually go to sleep. It's action-packed and tensely suspenseful. I didn't find a SINGLE THING about the plot believable, not one bit (even though it's very well written and APPEARS believable) BUT I DIDN'T CARE because the relationships in this book make everything else irrelevant. Mycroft and Watts are utterly gorgeous and the way Marney writes the chemistry between them is perfect. And it's not just them. The friendships Rachel has with her brother and also Alicia (and their own relationship too -- so sweet!) are also completely real and leap off the page. So the fact I don't think a 17 year old could book a flight to London at four hours notice and the fact it's unlikely the situation they go to London in would actually ever exist mean nothing to me -- I was still white-knuckled with anticipation at the twists of the plot and I am so in love with these characters that I don't care.
I absolutely loved the novella "Crown of Rowan: A Tale of Thyrsland", set in this world, which appeared in Legends of Australian Fantasy back in 2010,I absolutely loved the novella "Crown of Rowan: A Tale of Thyrsland", set in this world, which appeared in Legends of Australian Fantasy back in 2010, and have been eagerly awaiting the series since then. It was worth the wait – this is one of the best books I've read in ages! The worldbuilding is beautifully done – Wilkins has avoided the trap of overburdening the reader with too much information, but cleverly seeds details throughout the book, which increased the richness of the reading experience overall. The plot itself is actually quite contained, essentially distilling to the story of Bluebell's efforts to save her father, with other elements woven into and branching out from this task, but it works very well over the course of the novel.
And Bluebell! Bluebell is such a fantastic character – her strength and formidable personality are wonderful, but that's not even the most interesting thing about her. Bluebell's love and loyalty to her family take what could easily be a woman warrior cutout and give her so much more depth. Wonderful! Although I have to say, I think Ash is my favourite character, and Rose, despite her self-centred nature, is also thoroughly interesting – seeing the women grow and change (Ivy and Willow too, and even the character of Yldra, to an extent), is probably my favourite aspect of the book.
The ending is definitely worth a mention too – I know this book is intended to be a series, though it's not jacketed as such, and I was impressed by the way Wilkins manages to both draw everything together to create a hugely satisfying, self-contained story, while at the same time giving play to enough threads that a very fine sequel could be woven from them. I can't wait to see what that looks like!
There is a lot to enjoy about this book, and I particularly like the ghosts, but I felt a little let down overall. For me, the pacing was a bit off, aThere is a lot to enjoy about this book, and I particularly like the ghosts, but I felt a little let down overall. For me, the pacing was a bit off, and some of the characterisation wasn't completely consistent in my eyes. In the end though, I simply wondered what the purpose of the story was. Not every novel needs to end happily, not every novel needs to end with a bang, but for me, this one kind of went out with a whimper, and I was a little disappointed in the payoff. I also had a bit of a problem with the emphasis on Kelpie's age (and her lack of knowledge of it for much of the book), especially as the first two instances it's mentioned are at odds with each other, which knocked me out of the reading experience (yes, it's supposed to be a contested issue, but the first time it's mentioned is very difficult to reconcile with the second - doesn't make sense!).
That said, I still gave it four stars, because it is still a highly readable, engaging book. Yes, I can be disappointed on one level and still enjoy the story on another. Kelpie was a really interesting point-of-view character, and her unfolding story drew me in. Probably my favourite character was Jimmy, and I was fascinated by his emerging story as well.
In all, I'd be reluctant to classify it as a YA book, which we're used to seeing from Larbalestier, but it's an interesting insight into the Australian urban issues of the period. ...more
Wow. I just read this in an afternoon, much of which was in a very crowded doctors' surgery, and it had me in tears, as well as at times with a big stWow. I just read this in an afternoon, much of which was in a very crowded doctors' surgery, and it had me in tears, as well as at times with a big stupid grin on my face, and at others so angry I couldn't unclench my jaw. If you go into this novel expecting anything like Zorn's first novel The Sky So Heavy, you will be left wanting in only one way: there is not near future apocalypse here. Well, except for the apocalypse of a small family, torn apart by grief. But oh my, if one of the things you loved best about The Sky So Heavy was the immaculately paced tension on the writing, and the powerful emotional punch Zorn packs, well, you will not be disappointed. This is an amazing, powerful, heartbreaking and yet ultimately hopeful book and I cannot recommend it highly enough!...more
Look, it wasn't that this book wasn't well written. It was. But it is absolutely NOT what the cover and blurb and tagline try to make it out to be. ThLook, it wasn't that this book wasn't well written. It was. But it is absolutely NOT what the cover and blurb and tagline try to make it out to be. This is grim, realistic fiction - go into it expecting that, and you'll probably enjoy the reading experience much more than I did....more
This was a challenging yet somehow gentle and thoughtful journey, a story about family, difference and confrontation that manages to both inform and eThis was a challenging yet somehow gentle and thoughtful journey, a story about family, difference and confrontation that manages to both inform and engage without preaching or pandering.
Justine hasn't had the easiest time. Her mum dumped them when she was young, her twin brother has a brain condition, and now her dad has died from cancer. While I'm often frustrated by books (particularly YA books) that hit the protagonist with all the "issues", this one manages to strike just the right balance. Despite (or perhaps partly because of) the curve-balls life has thrown her, Justine is smart, pretty well-adjusted, and holds a maturity beyond her years. And now she and her brother Perry are off on an adventure, to explore and, perhaps, to say goodbye.
Groth weaves a skillful narrative here, drawing together threads from the past and present in a direct manner that offers an amazing insight into the world of not only Justine, but her brother as well. As readers, we are offered the opportunity to understand Perry and his disability, as well as Justine and the responsibility she shoulders. The writing had me in tears at times, but smiling at others, as Justine's fears and frustrations leapt off the page.
Highly recommended for readers young and old, and particularly for those seeking to explore and understand difference, grief, and the love of a family.
Thank you to the publisher for this review copy....more
I adored Cooper Bartholomew the character, and I'm so glad we got to know him, though that made the book all the**spoiler alert** SPOILERS! (sort of)
I adored Cooper Bartholomew the character, and I'm so glad we got to know him, though that made the book all the more sad for me, because I genuinely LIKED him! I kept hoping that the title was a trick, that there was going to be a big reveal about some huge conspiracy that Cooper was in on to uncover the past and find bring it all to light. Sadly, that was not the case, but I was honestly kept guessing both on this, and on the outcome of the mystery, for the entire book. That's a rare thing! I asked the author on Twitter if she had, ala Lost or Dallas (or the Simpsons…), written the book with several alternate endings in mind, then gone with just one, because I genuinely couldn't pick it (though I did pick one of the other twists relatively early, so that was okay!). But wouldn't a Choose-your-own-adventure version of this be cool?!
Anyway, I've blathered on, but really, all I want to say is READ THIS BOOK! It's a little bit funny and sad and heartbreaking but clever and the characters are genuine and the premise interesting – recommended!
Thank you to the publisher for my advance review copy....more
Kaleidoscope is one of the best anthologies I have read for a very long time. It's not just the concept, which is both necessary and overdue; it's notKaleidoscope is one of the best anthologies I have read for a very long time. It's not just the concept, which is both necessary and overdue; it's not just the stories, which are engaging and beautiful and thoughtful and brilliant; it's not just the way the authors explore science fiction and fantasy from perspectives all too frequently unseen in fiction; it's all of these things, and that it seems so natural. In this anthology, every story takes a character (or two or three) who is often "othered" in fiction (and life), and makes their differences a part of the story. Readers will see themselves, they will see their friends, they will see their families, their cultures, their religious beliefs, their sexuality, their physical and mental states and they will see them as normal, as okay, as special. Not othered. Important and relevant and very very good, Kaleidoscope offers a powerful message to our society about difference, and about what we, as readers, want (and need) to see in our stories.
Some pieces, such as Tansy Rayner Roberts' "Cookie Cutter Superhero", offer a biting commentary on popular culture, couched in humour and teen spirit; others, such as "Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon" by Ken Liu, take a gentler approach, examining first love with a fantasical twist. Some stories shade darker, as with "The Legend Trap" by Sean Williams (set in his Twinmaker universe, an added bonus for fans) and "Kiss and Kiss and Kiss and Tell" by E.C. Myers; still others take a familiar trope and turn it sideways, like Faith Mudge's "Signature" and "The Lovely Duckling" by Tim Susman. Some of my favourite works in the book were those that embedded the story in the protagonist's nature, like the magic of Jim C. Hines' "Chupacabra's Song" and Karen Healey's astonishingly good "Careful Magic". There are so many wonderful stories in the pages of Kaleidoscope that every reader will find a favourite (or two or three), and every reader, teen or adult, will find at least one that speaks to them in deeper ways.
Thank you to the publisher for my review copy of the book. Kaleidoscope will launch on August 5, 2014 and can be preordered here....more
Perfectly readable, full of action, and while I had some concerns about the worldbuilding, by the end I was happy with that too. Look forward to seeinPerfectly readable, full of action, and while I had some concerns about the worldbuilding, by the end I was happy with that too. Look forward to seeing what happens next....more
Keep your tissues handy for this one. Murphy has an astonishing skill with language and carving out emotion from her elegant verse. Make no mistake, tKeep your tissues handy for this one. Murphy has an astonishing skill with language and carving out emotion from her elegant verse. Make no mistake, this is definitely another verse novel, just as wonderful as Pearl versus the world and Toppling. Heartbreaking from the first pages, but ultimately hopeful and beautiful, with an insightful view into family life and the mind of a child. Murphy's gift for understanding children and how they see the world is writ large in the character of Amber and her responses to what is happening around her. A stunning book that examines a scarcely covered topic with compassion and wonder. I cannot praise this highly enough, and I fully expect to see it featuring on 2014 Awards lists all over. ...more
I think Glenda Larke's biggest strength as a writer is her ability to surprise. The originality of her creations (worlds, characters and plots all) neI think Glenda Larke's biggest strength as a writer is her ability to surprise. The originality of her creations (worlds, characters and plots all) never cease to astonish me, and The Lascar's Dagger is no exception....more
I first encountered Peacemaker protagonist Virgin Jackson in de Pierres' story "Gin Jackson: Neophyte Ranger" (first published in the Agog! Smashing SI first encountered Peacemaker protagonist Virgin Jackson in de Pierres' story "Gin Jackson: Neophyte Ranger" (first published in the Agog! Smashing Stories anthology in 2004, and reprinted in FableCroft's Australis Imaginarium in 2010). I was delighted to read Peacemaker in graphic version in 2011, and was a bit sad when that format was unable to continue, so it was with huge anticipation I started on the novel version! And I have not been disappointed.
Virgin Jackson is a senior ranger in a themed conservation park; odd things have started to happen to her, and not just finding herself saddled with a US Marshall who is himself just a little strange. When she first finds a dead body where it's almost impossible for anyone to be, she is essentially accused of the murder, and then is attacked in her home. Not one to stand idly by and let things happen, Virgin starts to investigate for herself, with the help of friends in useful places, and the odd Marshall Sixkiller. What she finds is not at all what she expects…
There are several changes that have occurred from the original short story to the novel-length edition. Focus is by necessity shifted for the longer form, and while the book is still (in my eyes) very Australian, I can also see where some elements have been altered to give the story a more international tone, and that both works very well on a plot level as well as being a sensible move in terms of audience.
In another incarnation, de Pierres writes crime fiction, and her experience in both a science fictional setting and a mystery one offer a deftness of touch here. Peacemaker rollicks along at a cracking pace, and I found myself holding my breath in anticipation at times, which is always a good sign! The character of Virgin is vivid and wonderfully acerbic, and I found both she and the supporting cast so well realised they really bounced off the page. With that combination, I got to the end of the book and flipped the last page in disappointment, because while the story ended well (albeit definitely set up for the next volume), I simply didn't want it to stop. Bring on the next instalment!...more