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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Sunday, 2 June 2019

Talking Personal: Favourite Bits of 2019 So Far

The last time I wrote a Talking Personal it was in December, 2017. 2017?! The whole point of the post was to say that I'm getting right back into blogging but also that I would catch up with you guys after New Years 2018. L O L. Who I was kidding? Anyways, hi, I'm here, I'm alive. Let's get right into it!

2018 was a complete dud of a year in terms of posting. To be fair though, I blogged about my Europe trip and that comes pretty close to a Talking Personal doesn't it? I also wrote a wrap up to 2018 so we're going to dive straight into 2019!

Not much has happened if I'm going to be completely honest. I decided this year isn't the year to travel, so instead I've been looking into local events. I haven't done a lot exploring around Melbourne considering I live here so it's been pretty fun and exciting. It's also great that I get to recommend the different things that I've done to people I know!

Summer Highlights


  • Celebrating New Years Eve/New Years with a great bunch of people 
  • Seeing the Sciencework's moon installation - I hadn't been back to Sciencework's since 2006 
  • Going to an Australia Day event at Riva St Kilda - I'm not a huge music festival person, but this was so fun! 
  • Seeing Jorja Smith was incredible, she is amazing live.
  • The AFL season started again and that will ALWAYS be a highlight for any year.
  • I went to Moomba for the first time and actually really liked it. The layout around Birrarung Marr coupled with how nice the weather was that night made for such a great end to the summer.


 

  • The "Sunset Safari" at Werribee Zoo, which involved an African drumming workshop, the opportunity to see the animals after closing time and an African banquet that was delicious. The Werribee Zoo has a number of events popping up that's worth looking at.
  • I went to two different trance/hardstyle events, which, if I was honest, I would not expect to see myself there. The first one was "It's A Fine Night" and the second one "Paradigm". I did go to see two artists that I really like - Vini Vici and Mandragora
  • I also made it a mission to get to as many beaches as I could during the summer and I'd have to say it was a success
Other than those events, I had my last week of classes ever in my Masters this week and am en route to graduating if I manage to get all my final assessments in, so huge fingers crossed situation going on right now.

That's what my first 6 months for the year has been like! I had a great summer, exploring my home. Winter has kicked in, or more like fly kicked me in the face, because of how cold it's quickly become. I'm not 100% sure what the next 6 months will bring, but I guess that's part of life, being completed unexpected. Hopefully the next time I get to writing one of these I'll have a lot to talk about as well.

How has the first half of 2019 been for you?


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Monday, 27 May 2019

"A Good Month for Murder" is More Than Just a Good Read


Title: A Good Month for Murder: The Inside Story of a Homicide Squad
Author: Del Quentin Wilber
Publication Date: June 7th, 2016
Twelve homicides, three police-involved shootings and the furious hunt for an especially brutal killer - February 2013 was a good month for murder in suburban Washington D.C. 

After gaining unparalleled access to the homicide unit in Prince George's County, which borders the nation's capital, Del Quentin Wilber begins shadowing the talented, often quirky detectives who get the call when a body falls. After a quiet couple of months, all hell breaks loose: suddenly every detective in the squad is scrambling to solve one shooting and stabbing after another. Meanwhile, the entire unit is obsessed with a stone-cold "red ball", a high-profile case involving a seventeen-year-old honor student attacked by a gunman who kicked down the door to her house and shot her in her bed.



Review


I was expecting A Good Month for Murder to read almost like mainstream crime shows - fast-paced, gruesome and nail biting. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by the way Del Quinton Wilber narrated the different cases. 

My favourite part about AGMM is that it didn’t need to dramatise or sensationalise each case to grab my attention. Wilber kept his narration at an objective level, detailing each case as it happened. The murders and care real life, there’s no doubting these killings happen, but he also includes the context behind them. The deaths occur in low-socio economic areas, mostly by minority groups, but instead of fixating on the usual discourse of minority youths or groups having “deviant” natures and drawn to crime, Wilber’s narrative outlines the background of the individuals and the circumstances that could have led them to committing the crime or becoming a victim. It conveys further issues that lack addressing in most Western societies, such as drug abuse, lack of job opportunities and lack of support or resources available for residents in disadvantage areas. 

I also liked that the voices of the detectives were included. Wilber showcased each detective involved not only to relay the hard work each officer contributed but to also make them personable and relatable. It’s hard, especially in a US context, to really like police officers following news reports of police abuse and miscarriage of justice. The media coverage on police shootings have negatively impacted the image of police squads and their ability to deliver justice and safety. However, police officers in this recount, though not always perfect, attempt to treat each case with respect and the impact it has on them at a professional and personal level. Homicide cases are not easily solvable, as crime dramas seem to portray, as so I found AGMM to be realistic in that sense as well.

The book is structured so that the recounts are not chronological. I’m moving in and out of the 12 cases, which keeps me engaged but also wanting to know more. I flew through AGMM, reading it in a day and a half. Not once was I ever confused about which case I was reading, and despite finishing this at the end of 2018, I can still recollect details of some of the cases. Wilber was thorough in his description and never fluffed about. It was easy to visualise and recall the events of each case. 

If you want to get into true crime or are already a fan, definitely give this a go!


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