The Glory Days are long gone. But some people still remember them…
I always love the post-apocalyptic feeling of Isobelle Carmody’s writing. There is just something so poignant about it all. And she always points out the things that are horribly wrong with our society. And honestly, this short story was no exception.
Ultimately, I finished this short story with a hurt-heart feeling. It was just… intense. There is something about looking at our society and reflecting that can really and seriously pull on the heart strings.
The key words that jumped out at me with this story – sorrow, anguish, betrayal, pain and love…
Title: The Belles Author: Dhonielle Clayton Series: The Belles #1 Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect) My Bookshelves:Dystopia, Fantasy, Magic, Young adult Dates read: 8th – 10th October 2020 Pace: Fast Format: Novel Publisher: Gollancz Year: 2018 5th sentence, 74th page: She touches the textured pattern of my gown.
I am a Belle. I control Beauty.
In the opulent world of Orléans, the people are born grey and damned, and only a Belle’s powers can make them beautiful.
Camellia Beauregard wants to be the favourite Belle – the one chosen by the queen to tend to the royal family.
But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favourite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that her powers may be far greater – and far darker – than she ever imagined.
When the queen asks Camellia to break the rules she lives by to save the ailing princess, she faces an impossible decision: protect herself and the way of the Belles, or risk her own life, and change the world forever.
I read this as part of a “underrated book” prompt for a reading challenge. It’s just one of those books that has been sitting on my shelf for a little while, and I figured I’d eventually get to it. And then I did… and WOW. This was really good. And fun. And just… wow. Most DEFINITELY underrated. One of the best young adult books I feel I’ve read in a while… there was just something wonderful, intense and seriously positive about this whole experience.
One of the aspects of this book that I absolutely loved was show much it really made you stop and think about how we define beauty. And, ultimately, the emphasis that we place upon it. The risks that some people take, and the lengths that people will go to be the “most beautiful”. Every moment of horror in this story are completely recognisable and it ultimately comes down to the premium that is placed on looks. There is also the whole idea that beauty is just “skin deep”. It’s when you start drilling down to the person underneath… that, well, in this story makes you seriously shudder in revulsion to be completely frank.
I didn’t pick the villain of this story at first (which was AWESOME). In fact, it took a little while to click as to just who the villain was and what their drivers were. To be fair, I’m still not completely confident on the motivations… I’ve put it all down to “that bitch is crazy”. But she was an amazing villain. Subtle, secretive and with a lot of power. These are the kinds of villains that I find truly terrifying, because it’s hard to imagine how anyone could beat them. I suppose I’ll just have to pick up the next Belle book to find out…
There are a multitude of unexpected twists and turns throughout this novel. They are captivating, make your heart skip a beat, and just downright pluck all of your emotions. It turned this book into not only a fantastic idea with beautiful and poignant themes, but also one which I seriously couldn’t look away from and forget about. It’s going to take all of my self control (again) to finish some of my currently reading books before diving into the sequel…
Title: Ink and Bone Author:Rachel Caine Series: The Great Library #1 Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!) My Bookshelves:Dystopia, Historical fiction, Steampunk Dates read: 19th August – 5th September 2020 Pace: Medium Format: Novel Publisher: Allison & Busby Year: 2015 5th sentence, 74th page: You’d do well to spot the danger quickly.
Knowledge is power. Power corrupts.
In a world where the ancient Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed, knowledge now rules the world: freely available, but strictly controlled. Owning private books is a crime.
Jess Brightwell is the son of a black market book smuggler, sent to the Library to compete for a position as a scholar . . . but even as he forms friendships and finds his true gifts, he begins to unearth the dark secrets of the greatest, most revered institution in the world.
Those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn. . . .
I absolutely loved the foundational idea of this story – that knowledge is power. But, it takes it that little bit further – power always corrupts. So, in the instance of the world of The Great Library, knowledge and books = power = corruption. It’s a fantastic idea for a series and an idea which drew me in from the very beginning of the story. It was powerful, brilliant and just all around wonderful.
I didn’t connect to Jess as a lead character immediately, which sometimes happens when I read a book series. But I did eventually get there. And then all I could do was hope for the best for him. And I spent the whole time trying to figure out who was going to do the poor boy the most damage – his family, the library, his mentors, his peers…. The whole story was filled with potential pitfalls and warrens for Jess and once I felt a little in love with him, I was completely immersed in making sure he didn’t fall flat on his face.
I love how each chapter had a short excerpt from letters or correspondences written – it added a whole heap of context to the story that I would have missed otherwise. Not only with the corruption and secrets, but these excerpts helped me see into Wolfe’s history. It’s amazing, complex and beautifully intense. I absolutely adored that not only are you constantly worried about Jess, but you are also wondering what is happening with Wolfe and who is out to get him too… it was a wonderful and beautiful way to tell a story that has so many glorious twists and turns…
The plight of the Obscurists and Morgan completely broke my heart. It was seriously twisted and tragic. And this, more than anything else, makes me want to read the next book in the series as soon as I feasibly can. (Feasibly here means as soon as I have money). I loved this novel and can’t wait to read the rest of the series.
Title: Tomorrow, When the War Began Author: John Marsden Series: Tomorrow #1 Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!) My Bookshelves:Australian authors, Dystopia, War Dates read: 6th – 11th August 2020 Pace: Fast Format: Novel Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia Year: 1993 5th sentence, 74th page: We agreed on total silence, and we left Kevin’s old corgi, Flip, chained up at the Mackenzies’.
TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN: The astonishing adventure begins
Ellie and her friends leave home one quiet morning, wave goodbye to their parents, and head up into the hills to camp out for a while; seven teenagers filling in time during school holidays.
The world is about to change forever. Their lives will never be the same again.
Would you fight? Would you give up everything? Would you sacrifice even life itself?
Tomorrow, When the War Began asks the biggest questions you will ever have to answer.
I first read this book when I was about ten years old. My mum probably didn’t quite realise what an intense story she was buying me. But it was certainly a great read, even back then. But, now? As an adult? Wow. I had actually forgotten just how damn good this book actually is! It’s brilliantly written, has a seriously intense storyline, manages to somehow be relatable in unrelatable circumstances, and, the part that I probably like the most… it has a great and strong character development / arc that makes you want to pick up the next book immediately and without reservation.
As with my first reading through of this when I was younger – it makes me incredibly grateful for the life I lead. Especially with the global climate right now. It just makes me more and more grateful for what I have in my own life. It’s definitely charmed living in Australia, and I just can’t imagine my life being torn apart in one moment as it is in this novel. It’s so lovely to read a book that highlights the good things in our lives by showing just how quickly things can go drastically wrong.
As I mentioned in my first paragraph, one of my favourite things about this novel is the way in which Ellie evolves as a person. At the beginning she’s a fairly typical teenager. Worried about boys, her friends and slightly rebelling against her parents. Even the first moments of the war are a little disjointed to her. But, as the story evolves, so does she. Quite drastically, but in a way that is entirely plausible. I love that her self-awareness and understanding of her own motives grows as she becomes a stronger, more independent woman. It means that I can’t wait to see how she further evolves as things get darker and darker…
I love novels that, when you’ve turned that final page, you constantly think about them. Either because of the emotions that they impart, or, as is the case with this book – a question that you ask yourself. In this case, I am constantly wondering what I would have done / would do in this situation. And whether I would even survive (I strongly suspect I wouldn’t… but it’s an interesting thought exercise). Now I have to weigh up the pros and cons of whether or not I want to read the next book just now… and whether my heart can bear the intensity of the storyline…
Title: Stormlines Author: Alison Evans In: Kindred (Michael Earp) Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!) My Bookshelves:Dystopia, LGBTQI Dates read: 29th June 2020 Pace: Slow Format: Short story Publisher: Walker Books Year: 2019 5th sentence, 74th page: New touches my arm.
Marling has been swept way, way, way out to see. To a mangrove forest where New lives and life is completely different to what they expected.
I really loved the use of gender-neutral language used throughout this story. It’s interesting, because I constantly wondered what gender both Marling and New identified as. Yet, it really isn’t important. It had absolutely no bearing on the story and had no interest points for the greater storyline. Yet, that use of gender-neutral language was something that both drew me in and completely intrigued me. It was an interesting point that was made.
There was a great post-apocalyptic feel to this story. Unlike many of the other stories I’ve read which feature a nuclear apocalypse, or disease, or even magic, as the vector to the end of the world as we know it… this one used the rising waters and climate change. Something that is, scarily, not completely out of bounds of imagination. Yet, somehow, this world was really pretty and somehow intriguing.
I love that even though this is set in a post-apocalyptic world, it is still set in Australia. In a bit of a round-about way. The use of the coast of Queensland and Mangroves helped to make this even more familiar and eerie. In the most beautiful of ways. All in all, I really have no words for how fun and enjoyable I found this story.
Kate Daniels has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of a paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord, and has made an uneasy truce with her father, Roland. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to ignore.
The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she has no choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies.
She knows betrayal is inevitable and survival uncertain, but she has to try.
For her child.
For the world.
I have been putting off and putting off reading this. Simply because it is the last book in the series, and I really, really didn’t want the Kate Daniels adventure to be over! After all, this has been one of my favourite series since I first picked it up a few years ago and it’s one that I have absolutely adored. That final read is so bittersweet… and I really dreaded knowing what the ending was going to be like.
Sometimes when a series ends, one of two things happens. The first, the series doesn’t really end, and it just drags on and on until you kind of lose interest. Or two, it ties things up in a neat bow and just doesn’t really work with the rest of the storyline. This story was one of the rare third option – a closing of novel that is both brilliantly tying up ends, but leaving the future open-ended. There will be more battles and monsters in the future, but the great challenge of Roland that has been building up throughout this entire series… that is solved. It leaves future stories open, but you don’t need to know them. Because there is this great sense of completion to the whole storyline.
The whole way through this novel, I had my heart in my throat. I think partly because I knew that this was the conclusion to the series. But, there was also no gradual build up like all of the other books in the series. This started at a crest and just kept on rising. I almost didn’t talk to my partner for a twenty-four hour period because I was so desperate just to finish off this book. There are NO GOOD places to put this down and take a breath. No crests and troughs, just rise after rise after rise. It’s not the kind of novel I always want to read… but when it’s the conclusion to such an amazing series… yeah, that’s the kind of novel I want to finish everything off.
After finishing this novel, I got straight onto the phone to my sister to tell her how much she needed to read this. Now, I’m hoping that she catches up soon so we can discuss it… in depth. Not only did I feel the mad need to discuss this with everyone and anyone… I also now have an insane urge to go right back to the beginning and reread all of the books in this series. Regardless of the fact that I have a TBR pile that towers over my head…
No day is ordinary in a world where Technology and Magic compete for supremacy… But no matter which force is winning, in the apocalypse, a sword will always work.
Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming. Fast.
Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she’s trapped between magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky intoa war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself – and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify.
Hugh needs a base. Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies?
As the propher says: “It is better to marry than to burn.”
Hugh and Elara may do both.
I have a really horrible habit of putting aside the series that I really love so that I don’t get too hooked into the books. Mostly when I have a lot of other work that I need to keep on top of. Which is why it’s taken me so long to get to this book. And it’s probably still a good way to go about things – because once I opened this up, I couldn’t keep my nose out of it! Or my mind away from it. And I’ve literally had to bury Magic Triumphs in a pile of books so I can’t quite pick that up quite yet.
Iron and Magic is a fantastic story. It’s one of those tales in which you suddenly see the other side of the story. Or, in this case, you finally understand even more about Hugh D’Ambray. And, for me, who kind of hated him in the rest of the Kate Daniels books, I came to absolutely adore him. I love the backstory and the reasons behind the horrors he commits. He’s not exactly a good guy, but at least I finally managed to begin to understand his actions and decision making.
Hugh is a fantastic male lead in this story. But, for me, as normally happens, Elara stole the show. She’s strong, independent and terrifyingly powerful. She’s also got this great sense of mystery about her past and her motives. It’s a great approach and adventure. Elara is so much more graceful and put together than any of the other women in this series. she might not be my favourite, but the whole “White Lady”, prayers mystery that springs up around her. The powerful people she surrounds herself with out of love and loyalty… it all works beautifully. And I still can’t stop thinking about what an amazing character this woman is.
This is an amazing story. I love the action, I love the drama. But most of all, I love the relationship between Hugh and Elara. Even when it takes on a more serious overtone, one of real emotion, they have this great, witty banter with each other. I love that there is this sense of rivalry and war between them. A power struggle that had me laughing out loud again and again and again.
Title: Terra Nullius Author: Claire G. Coleman Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again) My Bookshelves:Adventure, Dystopia, Indigenous Australians, Science fiction Dates read: 17th February – 1st March 2020 Pace: Medium Format: Novel Publisher: Hachette Australia Year: 2017 5th sentence, 74th page: If only they would stay put – stay in the camp they had established for utterly mysterious reasons of their own – he would find it easy to beat a path around them and back to the road.
‘Jacky was running. There was no thought in his head, only an intense drive to run. There was no sense he was getting anywhere, no plan, no destination, no future. All he had was a sense of what was behind, what he was running from. Jacky was running.’
The Natives of the Colony are restless. The Settlers are eager to ahve a nation of peace, and to bring the savages into line. Families are torn apart, re-education is enforced. This rich land will provide for all.
This is not Australia as we know it. This is not the Australia of our history, This TERRA NULLIUS is something new, but all too familiar.
This is an incredible debut from a striking new Australian Aboriginal voice.
I figured this would be a pretty good and intense book – it’s apparently won quite a few awards. Plus, Coleman is an Indigenous Australian woman. So she was probably going to write about things and topics which I am constantly trying to find out more about being a white Australian woman and all… I DID NOT realise how intense this was going to be… or how unforgettable. And well, kind of life changing.
For the first half of this book, I didn’t really get how this was a science fiction story. It honestly just felt like a retelling of the horrors that Europeans enacted upon Indigenous Australians. There were the Natives and the Settlers and everything they did was exactly what the first settlers did to our First Nation Peoples. There was nothing really fantastical about that. Mostly, it just gave a face and a personality to some really horrendous acts. But then you get to the halfway point… and everything changes.
I love that the beginning of this story feels very human, very typical and very expected. But then you reach that turning point, when the quotes start to talk about alien life forms, future dates and interplanetary colonisation. Suddenly the horrors are inflicted upon all humans. Racism seems incredibly stupid when the entire human race is fighting for survival – our differences apparently just aren’t so bad.
This is a book that everyone should read. It has a potent message, and a great storyline. It is especially important for Australians – we need to acknowledge and accept our past, so that we can find a way to begin to heal the wrongs of the past. It isn’t the kind of book that you will read through insanely quickly. At least, it wasn’t for me. Rather, it is the sort of book that you will mull over and consider as you digest it. Giving yourself time to absorb and understand the intensity of what Coleman is trying to say.
Title: Love and Sex Among the Invertebrates Author: Pat Murphy In: Alien Sex (Ellen Datlow) Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect) My Bookshelves:Dystopia, Insects Dates read: 29th December 2019 Pace: Medium Format: Short story Publisher: ROC Year: 1990 5th sentence, 74th page: The warmth of sunlight will cause the creature to extend his sail and gather electrical energy to recharge his batteries.
Animal sex is entirely unique. But what if it’s the invertebrates which are the next evolutionary step? Not us humans?
At the end of the world, one scientist fights to create something that will last. It’s a nice idea, except for the fact that you know… she’s dying. And it’s a quite tragic ending to a very uncomfortable collection. But also a brilliant story. Though that might be because I have an obsession with bugs, and there is a lot of talking about weird animal sex.
I love that this story investigates evolution. There is such an assumption that we are the pinnacle of evolution and the end of the evolutionary train. But, that’s probably not actually the case. One day we’re likely to die out. In a pretty intense way, this short story questions those assumptions and makes you really think about the future. Which was awesome. And then I had to read something happy and light, because I don’t want to think about the world in that much depth.
This was a perfect story to end on for the Alien Sex collection. It was bittersweet and thoughtful. Still uncomfortable, but not one that leaves a really bad taste in your mouth at the end of it. Just one that is a intense.
Title: Company Town Author: Madeline Ashby Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again) My Bookshelves:Dystopia, Science fiction, Strong women Dates read: 14th October – 18th November 2019 Pace: Fast Format: Novel Publisher: Tor Year: 2016 5th sentence, 74th page: He was moving in the other direction.
As one of the few people without bioengineered genetic enhancements, Go Jung-hwa has always had to scrape together a living in New Arcadia, the city-size oil rig floating in the Canadian Maritimes.
At the end of the world – life must go on.
After lynch Ltd., a technological tycoon dynasty, purchases the entire rig, Hwa’s talents and lack of any sort of altering attract their attention.
The opportunity of a lifetime… if she can manage to stay alive.
And when one of her former client’s – and friend’s – dismembered body is found floating in the North Atlantic, Hwa finds her loyalties split between her past and future. And it looks as if the future has come to collect in the present…
This story is absolutely brilliant and completely unforgettable! I’m hoping to find many, many, many more tales by Ashbyto fill up my shelves… I just can’t seem to get the awesomeness of this story out of my head. Although, since it’s fieldwork season and I’m insanely busy, I basically had to stop reading it early on since I could already tell how hooked I was going to get…
As much as I loved this story, I did find it a little
intense. It’s definitely the kind of tale that you have to concentrate on when
reading. Although, I tend to feel that way about most SciFis. There is just
something a little more complex and intense than most of the fantasies that I
pick up…although the commentary on the world that we live in is also so much m
ore poignant and beautifully intense than the run of the mill fantasies as
well. There is just something so much more… extreme about a SciFi, and a
well-written one like this… definitely a rave!
Hwa has to be one of my favourite heroines that I’ve read in
a while. Not only does she have this amazing strength, as the story unfolds and
you find out more and more about her life beforehand, you truly begin to
understand how damn strong this woman is. As I said, completely unforgettable. Not
the book that I want to put down at any point soon and not one that I’ll
forget. I also love that Hwa is never in any way, shape or form described as
beautiful. I get a little over women who have everything, and Hwa definitely
doesn’t – which makes me want to be her when I grow up.
I don’t think I’ve read any books that actually feature the
society of sex workers. Especially not the power of women in this industry. It
turns such a taboo subject into something far more approachable. And the
unionisation of the industry? Brilliant – something that I still think would be
a brilliant idea, but that’s a political debate for another day…