Sunday, 7 July 2019

"War of Mist" Was The Finale I Was Waiting For


Title: War of Mist 
Series: The Omerere Chronicles
Author: Helen Scheuerer
Publication Date: July 25th, 2019

War is here. 

Toxic mist drives all life to the brink of destruction and the conquerer queen, Ines, has her talons in the kings of the realm. Bleak, having discovered her true heritage, must now scour the lands for the one thing that might save them all. 

But the search is a treacherous one - and it will push her to the very limits of endurance. Amidst secrets, lies and the intricacies of battle, Bleak and her companions learn just how far they'll go for the ones they love. But will it be enough? 

As deadly forces grapple for power across the continents, families, friends and allies unite to take one final stand.


Review


I received an e-ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Previous reviews:

War of Mist is the finale to The Omerere Chronicles, and I can wholeheartedly say I loved every moment of it. I wasn’t sure how the third novel would turn out after reading the last two and felt as though I enjoyed it but didn’t fall in love with the storyline or all the characters. I surprised myself by flying through War of Mist in 2 days, not wanting to put it down and feeling a little lost having finished it. 

There were so many positives in War of Mist. Unlike another finales to a series, War of Mist is just slightly shorter than its predecessors, but so much more impactful. It didn't waste time dwelling on unnecessary things such as further world building and new characters when the novel just needed to be fast paced and action filled - and that it was. It wasn't hard to predict the ending (in regards to the result of the war) but the how in getting there was still nerve wracking and intense. The events were also really realistic. It wasn't always peaches and cream for the characters. The plot ebbed and flow, giving me only slight moments of relief before being on edge again. 

I also didn't realise how attached I had grown to the characters, I felt like I had gone on the journey with them and I was a part of their party. In the last two books the characters were spread across the realms and I liked reading through certain characters but this time around I really enjoyed the scenes where all, if not most, of the characters were together. IF anything - and this may sound exaggerated - I felt slight separation anxiety when I was reading about some of the characters but not the others. 

Overall, Scheuerer has produced a series that is well worth the read. The plot was well thought out - I liked that it didn't aim to do too much: a heroine, not realising she is a heroine, wanting to just float through life and then taking on the responsibility to save the realm, although not alone. However, as simplistic as that sounds it offers so much more. I went through the motions with the characters, not just what Bleak learns on her self-discovery and self-growth journey. Instead, every character had an important lesson to deliver, that was reliable and valuable. It wasn't all about just having magic and fighting for power, there were lessons of love, loss, honesty, loyalty and trust - the list goes on. It was also great to read a series that wasn't so fixated on romance as a main element to the plot, or it being so simplistic. Emotions are super complex and Scheuerer portrayed that so well in her writing. She conveyed, through her characters, that being in love or love in general, is never just about two people feeling affection for each other and that would equate to everything working out perfectly. It was so refreshing to discover that in The Omerere Chronicles. Sometimes the person you love isn't someone you end up with or should even be with. Moreover, I liked that romance wasn't the driving force for the characters actions but rather friendships and partnerships are as, if not, more important. 

War of Mist was my favourite read of the three in The Omerere Chronicles. I'm actually so glad I started Heart of Mist and kept reading through to the end because it was well worth waiting for the finale. I was anticipating how Scheuerer would wrap everything up and am deeply satisfied, albeit feeling a whole other range of emotions whilst reading the finale. 


Overall Series


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Thursday, 4 July 2019

The Pilot Episode of Euphoria Isn't Very Euphoric (But That Doesn't Mean It's Not Good)

The Pilot Episode of Euphoria Isn't Very Euphoric (But That Doesn't Mean It's Not Good)


Euphoria is HBO’s latest show, starring Zendaya as 17-year-old Rue Bennett, returning to her family after being admitted to rehab. Despite the title implying joy and ecstasy,  the show is far from out.

According to HBO, “Euphoria follows a group of high school students as they navigate love and friendships in a world of drugs, sex, trauma, and social media.”  The description provided is very much a downplayed version of the show itself, or the pilot episode at least, that recently aired. Sure, the description introduces all the themes explored in the episode, but it doesn’t prepare you for the imagery and scenes that assist in exploring these aspects. 

There are definitely a variety of other shows out there that cover the same topics. So why am I writing about this? Euphoria has stood out to me. It’s brought to the table something that I think is significant and needs to be addressed - navigating life as an adolescent, in high school specifically, with a vast range of external factors that can influence you whilst learning about your own self. 

The first episode alone introduced issues that many would find relevant, but have become taboo topics, such as:
  • Mental health
  • Substance abuse
  • Healthy/unhealthy relationships
  • Sex and intimacy
  • Self-esteem and body image
  • Digital age - including use of social media, dating apps and pornography
It also explores more familiar themes such as family ties, love, trust, morality and loss. 

Euphoria is hard to watch. It’s confronting and shocking, and initially I found it to be the reason why I like this show. It didn't shy away from showcasing issues that many would rather pretend didn't exist and that ignoring it could make it go away. Generally, mass media representations of any of these topics are quite negative and promote the need for further control and prohibition. Instead, Euphoria addresses the why. Why do adolescents resort to substance abuse? Why do they commit to relationships that produce more harm than happiness? Why do they submit to peer pressure? And on, and on, and on. The show tries to address these questions because no one else ever seems to want to.  Most of the time we align kids, teenagers, young adults who are "troubled" as "deviant" and require punishment rather than trying to understand what has reduced them to being identified as just their actions. Understanding the why can provide answers to how - how to intervene and help.

The show does feel like it bundles together all these topics, put them under a microscopic lens and enhances them. It feels sensationalised for the sake of entertainment, but despite the first episode covering a variety of issues, it's not as far fetched as many other drama shows tend to be. Real life people do have the same experiences as the characters on the show. It’s absolutely terrifying to even consider let alone acknowledge but the problems are there. Rather than ignoring them, as a community, we should be encouraging younger people to speak up about these real life topics.

My only criticism though, and why I might reconsider watching every episode in detail, is that, despite being about teenagers in high school, I'm not sure the show is suited for teenagers. There is a lot of nudity, drug and alcohol taking, sex scenes and other scenes that may trigger trauma in individuals. I felt super uncomfortable 30 seconds to 1 minute into the second episode with the amount of nudity involved.

Euphoria is attempting to be different. It's attempting to stir reactions and create some noise amongst the heavy proliferation of images and videos of drugs, sex and violence in the media that young people have to navigate through. I appreciate its effort, I really do. There are 3 episodes out already and I will mull over as to whether I will continue to watch the show, for the sake of seeing how successful the show is at raising awareness and addressing these important themes. The website does offer support resources, which I love to see with any show that wants to create social justice change.

You can stream Euphoria on HBO for free or through Foxtel Showcase (in Australia).

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Sunday, 16 June 2019

"Where The Captain Goes" Took Me On A Journey


Title: Where The Captain Goes
Author: Sean Carney
Publication Date: April, 2017
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When her daughter is bitten by a vampire, a desperate mother seeks the aid of an old, disgraced ship captain to sail them across the border and into the mountains towards their only hope of a cure. But will they find what they seek? Or something else?



Review



Where the Captain Goes wouldn’t necessarily be something I would’ve picked up for myself had it not be for the fact that Sean Carney is, yes, someone I know but also that I’ve been looking to read more from local Melbourne authors. Carney originally wrote a play based upon Dracula before deciding to write a sequel to the play in form of this novella. He does state in his preface that there is no need to watch the play to understand what happens in this story and thankfully that is the case as I have yet to see the play myself.

The novella is short. I zoomed through it in about 45 minutes, during a train ride. Yet, for how short it was I was captivated by the plot. What I loved most about Where the Captain Goes is that it knows it has one story to tell and no more. It doesn’t try to do more than what it promises and instead, I set sail with the Captain and Mary feeling as though rather than being a pair we are a trio. This came down to Carney’s vivid writing, managing to transport me into the Gothic world in which Dracula and other vampires supposedly exist. If anything I was glad the train ride was long as I was emotionally involved and wanted to reach the end as I had spent the entire time wishing for some sort of happy ending. Carney delivered on the tone as well - grim and sinister.

I did find (and I’m not sure if I was reading too much into it) that it also explored the lengths to which humans - or we - will go to achieve what we truly want. It follows that up by questioning whether actions can be justified by the intentions behind them, which gave me much to think about. 

Where the Captain Goes is a great, short read and was a unique experience for me. I couldn’t a find fault because of its length but also in that I found it to be very well written and enjoyable. If you are a fan of gothic, horror stories and want something to read one night definitely give this a go!


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Monday, 10 June 2019

Review: Reign of Mist (The Omerere Trilogy #2) by Helen Scheuerer


Title: Reign of Mist 
Series: The Omerere Trilogy
Author: Helen Scheuerer 
Publication Date: September 13th, 2018
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The realm's darkest secret is out. 

The cruelty of the capital and the power-hungry King Arden have scattered Bleak and her companions across the continents. 

On the run in a foreign land, Bleak finds herself tied to some unexpected strangers. When the answers she yearns for are finally within reach, she must face the hard truths of her past, and take her fate into her own hands before it's too late.

Meanwhile, secrets and magic unravel as a dark power corrupts the realm. Bleak's friends are forced to decided where their loyalties lie, and who, if anyone, they can trust.

But one thing is certain: war is coming, and they must all be ready when it does.

Review


I received an e-ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review


Reign of Mist is the second instalment to The Omerere Trilogy and it’s the book that brings most of the answers for the questions I, and the characters, had in the first book but also builds up towards a finale that I am so ready to get my hands on and find out how everything wraps up! 

Scheuerer’s strength is in her writing, more specifically in her world building. The world has expanded further, following on from Heart of Mist, with each city and its landscape written in such vivid and magical way. Yes, I did use the word magical, but it’s so true! It was so easy for me to imagine the expansive, wintery land of Havenesse with its mountainous ranges coated in thick layers of snow. I easily fell in love with how pretty the land was but also how, not just Havenesse but the other lands in the realm, had specific areas that made them unique. 

I also really liked that there was no dawdling at the beginning of the book - the plot picked up from where it left and didn’t take its time to try and explain what happened previously or who each of the characters were. Scheuerer chooses instead to bring up what happened in the first book in different forms of conversations with other characters or having characters reflect on how far they’ve come, which I thought was smart. There was a lot of action in Reign of Mist. A lot. The storyline included a huge number of on-edge, intense moments that did keep me flicking the pages. However, by the final third I felt like I had already gone through so much and still wasn’t over yet, and I was suspecting that there was more action to come. It felt like Scheuerer wanted the characters to do everything and anything to keep the plot interesting but also put the characters through testing moments to show their character development and strengths/weaknesses. At times, I felt like some moments weren’t necessary or could’ve played out at a different time further along or before it actually happened in the book.

Surprisingly, or maybe not considering I did say I was anticipating this in my last review, I grew to really like Bleak. I wanted to read from her perspective more and would’ve felt content following Bleak through half of the book. There was a lot of jumping around between characters, the same characters as Heart of Mist, but some perspectives I didn’t care for as much. For instance, I loved Dash’s storyline in the first book but in Reign of Mist I wouldn’t have noticed if there was less of him only because  it felt like he added nothing as a character to the plot. There are new characters to learn about and love. Queen Eydis is an absolute GIRL BOSS so keep an eye out for her.

Overall, I enjoyed the direction of the plot in this series and the character revelations. I got to the cliffhanger and was caught by surprised and think Reign of Mist was a great read on its own, adds to the intrigue of the overall storyline and builds up to what I’m expecting to be a great finale. There was a palpable energy that I picked up in the last 100 pages and I’m super excited! 


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Wednesday, 5 June 2019

The Waiting List: June 2019 Releases

The Waiting List is a feature hosted by PrintedWordsAnd, where I list some upcoming releases for the month that I'm most excited about!

June 2019 Releases



I'll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie - June 1st
Five siblings return home after their parents pass away to determine what to do with the Estate. However, before they can make a decision they need to solve the mysterious death of Amanda Holmes 20 years ago.

Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian - June 4th
Young Adult, LGBTIQA/Diversity read that deals with not only reconciling with the characters' identity but also with key issues regarding AIDs.

Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett - June 4th
This is one of those novels that I didn't think I'd pick up but that's also why I'm really intrigued to read it. Jessa-Lynn Morton finds her dad dead after he suicides. After that she has to step up to support her family as well as trying to balance her relationship between her brother and his wife, who she is in love with as well. 

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong - June 4th
Not only has On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous has received a lot of love so far, it's piqued my interest because of the context behind it. I come from a refugee family, with my dad's family escaping Vietnam during the war. Despite that I haven't read a lot of stories regarding this era and I am really excited to get to this.

The Forgotten Sister by Caroline Bond - June 6th
17-year-old Cassie sets out to find her birth mother, but she might not have been ready to discover what is really the truth behind her adoption.


Storm and Fury (The Harbringer #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout - June 11th
Latest series from a well-known author, Storm and Fury is the latest YA paranormal read.

Mrs Everything by Jennifer Weiner - June 11th
Weiner sets her story in a historical context, following 2 sisters with different dreams and pathways, but ultimately attempting to navigate how to be a women in their era.

One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase - June 18th
June and her fiancé Ollie head to his family lake house 7 years after they visited last time with Ollie's then girlfriend and June's then best friend Leah, who disappeared. I'm sorry what?! Did she steal her best friend's boyfriend, what is going on? Yeah that was legitimately my initial reaction.

The Stationary Shop by Marjan Kamali - June 18th
A romance tale where two people felt destined to be together and reunite 60 years later to answer questions on why it didn't work out between them in the past.

The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson - June 18th
(Trigger warnings for sexual/child assault, trauma and substance abuse)
Sibson takes this YA contemporary novel, The Art of Breaking Things, to explore family responsibilities and relationships and dealing with trauma. I do think this will be super confrontational but know that I'll gain something out of it.

What Are You Looking Forward To In June?


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