Book Reviews

Top Ten Reads of 2019

40275288._SY475_The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

At over 800 pages long, this is the big epic fantasy book I have always dreamed of. It has everything including kick-ass female characters, magic, epic battles and most importantly, dragons! The writing was beautiful to read, the world building was well thought out and researched, and the story was gripping. This is what Game of Thrones should have been.

What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume

The perfect summer beach read. This summer romance is typically Australian (family

9781760559120Christmas holiday) and features some very relatable elements (at 30, I still get my Dad to peel my prawns for me). One of the biggest points is that this book looks at body image positivity and promotes loving yourself and who you are at any size or shape. Written in diary format it is humourous and emotional and chock full of pop culture references. This is the book I wish had been around when I was sixteen years old.

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Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I listened to this book as an audiobook, and I think that was the ideal format for this story. Told through a series of interviews with band members looking back on their time when they were one of the biggest bands of the 1970s, this book charts the rise and fall of the band with often-conflicting views on what happened. You leave the book wishing the songs and albums talked about were real. There is a small twist at the end, which is both heart breaking and surprising, but ultimately adds an extra layer to the story you didn’t even know was there. The audiobook features a full voice cast and that made it such a joy to listen to.

Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff9780008180089

The Nevernight saga is one of my favourite book trilogies’ and the final book did not disappoint. So much is packed in to this book that you feel like you need to read every word and every line just to take it all in. Getting attached to characters in a Kristoff book is always fraught with danger, and Darkdawn is no exception, and no matter how hard you try not to, you will get attached to them. The body count is high in this final book, and many reader tears will be shed, but ‘byss and blood, is it ever worth it!

the-toll-9781481497060_lgThe Toll by Neal Shusterman

Another fabulous last book in another brilliant trilogy. The Toll rounds off the Arc of a Scythe series and answers all of those questions the reader has been dying to have answered. The moral and ethical dilemmas faced in the first two books are still very much a part of this final chapter. These books are dystopian fiction at its finest. Prepare for tears but ultimately triumph.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

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I absolutely loved The Hate U Give, and it was always going to be a hard act to follow on from such a brilliant and successful debut. But On The Come Up is just as amazing as Thomas’ first book, cementing her as one of my auto-buy authors. This book is also set in Garden Heights and the main character Bri holds her own just as much as Starr did. The rap battles and lyrics were my favourite parts of this book, and I can’t wait to see what Angie Thomas writes next!

9780143793533The Place on Dalhousie by Melina Marchetta

I have a confession. The only Melina Marchetta book I ever read as a teen was Looking for Alibrandi, and I only ever read it once. So I was a bit nervous to read her latest offering, as it re-introduces many characters that have appeared in some of her other novels. I needn’t have worried because this book was a beautiful and emotional standalone read which carries just as much impact for readers who may not be familiar with Marchetta’s backlist. The writing is lyrical and the characters, always the strongest part of a Melina Marchetta novel, were real and flawed and relatable.

The Nancys by RWR McDonald9781760527334

I have never read a book quite like this one. The best way to describe it is, if Taika Waititi were to pen a mystery novel, it would look a lot like The Nancys. Although the main character of Tippy is eleven years old, this is definitely NOT a kid’s book. This book made me laugh many times over, with my favourite element being the cast of weird, wonderful and kooky supporting characters that we meet along the way. This is a wonderful mystery novel that will make you nostalgic for Nancy Drew books.

9781760295738Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

The Illuminae files by Kaufman and Kristoff was the trilogy that really got me into sci-fi stories, so I was very excited when I heard they would be co-writing another sci-fi trilogy together. As is typical of a Kaufman/Kristoff novel, there is so much more going on than the main storyline we are initially presented with. The characters are brilliant and relatable, the action sequences are heart stopping and the stakes are as high as ever. And if none of that has sold you on this book, then maybe the promise of a sexy space elf will.

Troll Hunting by Ginger Gormantroll-229x350

I’m not a big non-fiction reader, so for a non-fiction title to make it into my top ten list is a pretty big deal. This book documents Gorman’s investigation into online trolling is so well researched, to the point of it personally impacting Gorman and her life and well being. The facts presented are mind-boggling and the stories of some of the victims of trolling are harrowing. No matter how much or how little you know about online trolling, this book is absolutely eye opening as to how harmful it can be, little law enforcement does about it, and how crucial it is for our legal system to play catch up with it. This book should be required reading for anyone who has any kind of an online presence (so, everyone).

Book Reviews

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

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A former soldier turned PI tries to help the fantasy creatures whose lives he ruined in a world that’s lost its magic in a compelling urban fantasy by Black Sails actor Luke Arnold.

I’m Fetch Phillips, just like it says on the window. There are a few things you should know before you hire me:
1. Sobriety costs extra.
2. My services are confidential – the cops can never make me talk.
3. I don’t work for humans.

It’s nothing personal – I’m human myself. But after what happened, Humans don’t need my help. Not like every other creature who had the magic ripped out of them when the Coda came…
I just want one real case. One chance to do something good.
Because it’s my fault the magic is never coming back.

This book is Arnold’s debut novel and the first book in a new contemporary/urban fantasy series.

I’m going to be honest; the first chapter did not grab me. In fact, it left me rather underwhelmed and it read like someone new to writing wrote it. It took me about two chapters to get my head around the world this novel is set in, and there is a lot of instances of information dumping, especially early on in the book.

However, the further into the book I got, the more I found myself swept up in the story and enjoying it immensely. I have hopes that as this series goes on, the books will reveal more of the larger story, and give us some great minor plot lines, and that the writing will continue to improve with experience. This first book is my no means perfect, but it shows a lot of promise for the series to get better and better.

Despite the info dumping, I actually really did reading about the back history to the world, and the creation stories of all the different magical creatures, but I’m a bit of a history nerd like that. This book has the feel of a cross between Rivers of London and a hard boiled detective/crime fiction novel. If you enjoy the work of Ben Aaronovitch, then this book is definitely worth checking out.

Rating: 4/5

Australian Publication Date: 28th January 2020