Sunday, 29 March 2020

Jessica Townsend Continues To Shine With "Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow"

Title: Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow
Series: Nevermoor #2
Author: Jessica Townsend
Publication Date: October 30th 2018
Morrigan Crow may have defeated her deadly curse, passed the dangerous trials and joined the Wundrous Society, but her journey into Nevermoor and all its secrets has only just begun. And she is fast learning that not all magic is used for good.

Morrigan Crow has been invited to join the prestigious Wundrous Society, a place that promised her friendship, protection and belonging for life. She's hoping for an education full of wunder, imagination and discovery - but all the Society want to teach her is how evil Wundersmiths are. And someone is blackmailing Morrigan's unit, turning her last few loyal friends against her. Has Morrigan escaped from being the cursed child of Wintersea only to become the most hated figure in Nevermoor?

Worst of all, people have started to go missing. The fantastical city of Nevermoor, once a place of magic and safety, is now riddled with fear and suspicion. 


It has been some time between reading The Trials of Morrigan Crow and Wundersmith, but I found that, much like other great fantasy novels, it was easy to slip back into the magical world of Nevermoor and be reunited with the unpredictable and adventurous journeys of Morrigan Crow.

In my previous review of the first instalment, I listed 3 reasons as to why I loved reading it and true to the nature of this series, those 3 things are consistent in Wundersmith. To put it briefly, I complimented the wonderful world of Nevermoor, the fact that the plot is simple yet, exciting and buildable and how Townsend exists to be a writer. All these still ring true. 

Wundersmith continues on with Morrigan’s new-found life in Nevermoor at the Wundrous Society. However, much like most of Morrigan’s life, there's always some form of obstacle that arises to challenge her existence. These obstacles are found in both Morrigan's school life and her wider community, which allowed for me to discover new magical skills and areas within the world that I found added to the depth of the world-building. Beyond adding adventure to the plot, Townsend is also able to utilise the different challenges Morrigan has to grapple with to explore the important notions of friendship, loyalty, discrimination and acceptance. I liked that whilst it was written for a younger readers, Townsend still managed to address these topics in an impactful way that resonated with me, who is much older than her target audience.

What I didn't touch on much during The Trials of Morrigan Crow's review is the characters. It's actually hard not to love, or at least enjoy, all the characters in this series. Each character has a unique quirk, something that makes them memorable, whether a major or minor character. There were new characters that added to the world-building, including Morrigan's classmates and teachers/staff members. It really came down to the way that Townsend writes her characters - the physical descriptions, personality and character arc - which makes it so enjoyable to learn about them.

I am so excited to get my hands on the 3rd instalment that’s due to come out in August this year. Middle grade will always have a huge part in my heart and it’s series like this that make it so. If you enjoy the likes of The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland and yes Harry Potter I am positive you will enjoy joining Morrigan on her adventures in Nevermoor.  

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Wednesday, 25 March 2020

2020 Is Here But It Sure As Hell Was Not How I (or we) Imagined It To Be

The last time I checked in with everyone was February 2019. Also, ironically, it was to discuss what I had discovered around Melbourne and actually enjoying what our city has to offer. 

Lo and behold, a year later, we are all being confined to our homes in the wake of this unexpected pandemic. 

Honestly, it’s kind of hard to remember what I did get up to in the last year with our lives now being consumed by this virus and the uncertainty that it brings. In saying that, I definitely don’t want to focus on how chaotic life has become for everyone. I don’t want to add to the anxiety and stress many are experiencing now with a lot of the media reports being quite negative. 

So what did my life look like pre-COVID-19?

I went through a pretty tumultuous time during the first half of 2019, with something happening that really changed my life. I probably won’t touch on it much now but will address it sometime soon. 

Ever since then, I’ve focused a lot more on myself. It’s been a great self-discovery journey (I know, super cliché and slightly cringe) and if anything I find I am more in tune with my emotions, responses and perception of life. I’m constantly learning how to be kind to myself and find ways to heal. 

I started a new job! I swear I feel like every time I do end up writing a Talking Personal I always announce that I’ve changed jobs again. This time I joined the AFL industry, which I am a huge fan of but never thought I’d be involved in. If anything, it was a bit surreal because I actually also graduated with my Master of Criminology by June of last year, but wasn’t utilising it in this new job. It didn’t bother me that much. I think now I’ve come to realise that I wasn’t mentally ready to dive into the Criminology field, and as such, didn’t feel it fair to subject any organisations and its clients to my personal struggles. Whilst I didn’t see myself working in this industry, I have enjoyed every moment of it. The culture, the role itself and the goals we were achieving as a team all made the job exciting to go to every day. 

I spent a lot of time reconnecting with friends and family, which really lifted my spirits. In challenging times, a strong network of people are most needed, and I appreciated every person who made time for me and just made my day that bit better by building memories with me and making me laugh. I definitely did let loose a little too much over the holiday period, which meant I went into January committed to and successfully completing ‘Dry January’. My body was super thankful for that. 

About a month ago, my family and I took a trip to Vietnam to visit relatives. We really did get our family holiday in at the right time because we got back during mid-february and since then flights have been banned in and out of the country. It’s been 4 years since my last trip so it was great to see my relatives again and just appreciate the beauty of the motherland. The highlight of the trip was spending a weekend in Phu Quoc, an island just off Vietnam. We stayed at the JW Marriot Resort and it was breathtaking. 

Currently, work has been called off and I am just sitting at home these days trying to do my part in this social-distancing/lockdown phase. I’m not going to say it’s been fun, but we have the privilege of staying at home and feeling bored whilst many others are at the forefront of combatting this pandemic. I don’t think we can thank our healthcare workers who do go to work so that we can stay at home enough. I hope that everyone is taking care of themselves, staying healthy and happy. We will get through this together. 

I would love to know what you everyone is up to during this time. Please feel free to send through comments, find me on Twitter and slide into my DMs, or even send me an email at 

Self-isolation can be lonely if we are not staying connected with people so I am all ears for anyone who wants to chat!

Take care and stay healthy!

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Wednesday, 11 March 2020

My Attempt At Explaining How Impressed I Was With 'Joe Cinque's Consolation' by Helen Garner

Title: Joe Cinque's Consolation: A True Story of Death, Grief and the Law 
Author: Helen Garner
Publication Date: 1st January, 2004
Add to Goodreads
In October 1997, a clever young law student at ANU made a bizarre plan to murder her devoted boyfriend after a dinner party at their house. Some of the dinner guests - most of them university students - had heard rumours of the plan. Nobody warned Joe Cinque. He died one Sunday, in his own bed, of a massive dose of Rohypnol and heroin. His girlfriend and her best friend were charged with murder.

Helen Garner followed the trials in the ACT Supreme Court. Compassionate but unflinching, this is a book about how and why Joe Cinque died. It probes the gap between ethics and the law; examines the helplessness of the courts in the face of what we think of as "evil"; and explores conscience, culpability, and the battered ideal of duty of care.


I thought it would’ve been easier to review and rate a Helen Garner novel considering I’ve already read some of her works. I was wrong.

I’m struggling to really put into words, and have been for say the past year now, how I really felt or thought about Joe Cinque’s Consolation. That’s not to say this was a bad read, far from it actually. It is just difficult, at least for me, to review/rate a book that is a blend of facts and personal recounts because I never want to tread on someone else’s personal perspective in a negative manner.

In saying that, Garner has presented a bizarre and horrifying case in her own way, opening not only the case itself but also her writing to invitation for thought, judgement and debate. Garner's strong point is her ability to weave personal anecdotes, relatable to the everyday reader, into the crime narrative. It allows people to better understand the case. It does require patience though, as Garner's writing pace is slow and methodic. It feels as though every sentence that Garner writes has been thought over for many hours, each point intentional. I really like that from Garner, the fact that, as she is mulling over her own thoughts and decisions, she is also bringing us along on that journey. Carefully, peeling back the covers to reveal to us an image we would not have seen beyond just what is being reported about the trial, the victim and the perpetrator. However, there is no forcefulness. She is just nudging us, not in a direction that she deems correct per se, but more so so that we start thinking. At least, for me, I was thinking, and thinking hard. I was thinking about the context of the crime, the participants to and of the crime and the consequences of it all.

It is easy to categorise things as black and white - the law does that. Yet, Garner makes us see the various shades between the black and white. She does this by not just recounting the facts of the case, but by drawing on family and friends personal stories and experiences with Anu and Joe. She conducts research on their background, their personalities and overall paints a story for us to better understand them as people - not just perpetrator and victim. What I really liked about Joe Cinque's Consolation is that in her journey to find out who Joe and Anu was, Garner discovers and builds a bond with those involved - especially Joe's family. She doesn't let that become a bias in her narrative, but rather, Garner explores the idea that in any crime it is not just the perpetrator and victim involved. It is not only the victim that is affected and the perpetrator held responsible for their actions. There are people who suffer pain and loss as a consequence, whilst other are indirectly blamed and held accountable despite not committing the crime.

In short, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Joe Cinque's Consolation. Whether it's because, as any other person, I am drawn towards stories of crime - the more bizarre and terrifying, the more fascinated we (or maybe just I) am. Or the fact that Garner covered the case in a thorough and engrossing manner, Joe Cinque's Consolation remains a memorable and thought-provoking read.

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Wednesday, 26 February 2020

My 2020 Reading List! (Finally)

I am well aware it’s the end of February and only now have I really decided on what books I want to read for 2020. 

Two months down and I haven’t read any on this list but hey, a girl can dream right?

I’ve tried to select a broad range of novels, from ones that have sat on my shelf forever to non-fiction books that I wouldn’t normally ever read. 

1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery

I've always wanted to read this but bought it 3 years ago and then keep putting it off because I was worried my intellectual capacity would not be enough to fully understand it. Well self-doubt is no longer a thing and I am so excited to read this.

3. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I tried to start this last year but never got around to finishing it, but really want to so I can watch the movie. 

6. The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

7. Lethal White (Cormoran Strike #4) by Robert Galbraith
In 2018 I was obsessed with this series and was so happy to hear the fourth instalment was released. Hopefully it sucks me in as much as its predecessors. 

8. The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton 
Kate Morton is one of my favourite authors so I will read anything, ANYTHING, she releases.

Your girl is trying to change her financial life in 2020 and you bet I jumped onto this craze. Here's to being in control and secure of my finances.

10. The Way Through the Woods by Jocelyn Koehler
This is a story about mushrooms. I'm being serious. And I am super excited for it.

11. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

13. Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton
This was more of a recent purchase but I want to support Australian authors and have heard so much about how amazing this is. 

All of these books I currently own, and I chose these deliberately, because I find that I forget about ones I’ve purchased awhile ago and they just sit and collect dust. For instance, I’ve had Anne of Green Gables for at least 6 to 7 years now and haven’t opened it once. 

I’m currently almost half-way through The Clockmaker’s Daughter but have been sidetracked by another book (that is not on this list oops) and I think The Barefoot Investor is going to be a year-long project, but I’m okay with that. 

I’m actually super excited to tackle this list for 2020! I only chose 13 because I didn’t want to be overambitious and also wanted to make sure I was reading some quality books. 

You can find my 2020 Reading List Shelf on Goodreads here.

Good luck to me! 

What Are You Reading This Year?

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Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Favourite Books of the Decade

I'm not going to lie, I ended the decade terribly when it came to my blog. The posts really fizzled out and the reading became non-existent. In saying that, it is 2020 and that means that despite it being a new year, it's also an entirely NEW decade!

Instead of fixating on how slack I became towards the end of the decade, I wanted to celebrate how much I really did and am learning to love reading again, by sharing with you all my favourite books of the decade. In no particular order, these are the books that have stayed with me throughout the years. 

Favourite Books of the Decade

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan 
Honestly, this is one of my favourite books to read in general - I would say top five! It was one of the first LGBTQIA novels I've read that not only explores ideas of sexuality but also identity, loyalty and friendship during high school life. I absolutely adore this story. 
Review here.

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
I didn't think I would love this as much as I did when I read it.  A super fun and creative read, and the hype around it is well earned. 
Review here.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
A middle grade novel that explores family bonds, loss and grief. A touching and memorable read.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor
This was my favourite YA fantasy series in the decade and I am definitely planning a re-read soon!
Review here.

I fell back in love with Middle Grade after reading this. Also Catherynne M. Valente has magical writing skills.

It probably is a really big claim to say this was my favourite book of the decade but in all honesty, I still cannot get over this story. Do not come @ me about this.
Review here.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I feel like this is really self-explanatory.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
If anyone asks me for a recommendation on what to read, this will be one of them, because of how beautiful the story is. It's one of the rare books I've read that focuses on a platonic friendship and how strong the bond is between two best friends. 
Review here.

Atonement by Ian McEwan
This might be one of those cliche favourite reads, but Ian McEwan writes in such a poetic manner and the story has stayed with me despite reading it just ONCE. 
Or maybe twice ...

Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Need a recommendation for thriller/crime novels? THIS. IS. IT. It is so creepy and enthralling at the same time.
Review here.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
This might not be the read for everyone, but the fact that I zoomed through a 900 and something page book and implore people to give it a go says something.
Review here.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
A classic that I think everyone should read, at least once, in their life. 
Review here.

Neil Gaiman is a creative genius and if you were to read any of his masterpieces, this short story is well-worth your time.
Review here.

The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett
I truly did not expect 1. for this plot to go in the direction it did and 2. to love it so much because I was shocked by it. A story of family and finding love that explodes into one about belief and creation. 
Review here.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
I really don't know what to say about this that gives it justice. Safran Foer delivers a powerful story set post 9/11.
Review here.

This is definitely a long list, but I couldn't narrow it down anymore than I already have. Hopefully, if you haven't gotten around to reading any of these, at least one will get added onto your 2020 reading list!

What was your favourite read for the decade?

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