A New Home…

5 Jan

Maree’s Musings has transformed into The Unfinished Bookshelf! I’ll still be blogging about the same things (books, Beatles etc.) but decided it was time for a change.

Thank you to everyone who has supported and commented on this blog. Everything has been transferred to the new website, and I hope you’ll continue to join in the bookish fun!

The Unfinished Bookshelf

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

26 Nov

Goodreads Synopsis:

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

Review:

I never got around to reviewing The Raven Boys, but I absolutely loved it. The characters were totally loveable and the storyline was brilliant, a fantastic mix of mystery and magic which kept me hooked from the very first page. I really liked that this didn’t overpower the characters, with each of their stories being developed throughout. I also absolutely adored Stiefvater’s lovely lyrical writing style which was beautiful to read, but not overpowering. Overall, I think it’s pretty obvious I thought The Raven Boys was pretty damn good. That’s why it pains me to say that I felt pretty meh  about the second book in the series, The Dream Thieves.

Unfortunately, I felt there was just something missing for me from The Dream Thieves. The beautiful writing was still there and so were the characters I’d loved in the first book, but there was this spark missing and I felt disconnected from the story and the characters. To be honest, I really didn’t care that much for most of the book and I was kinda glad when I’d finished.

The only explanation I can think of for my disconnect is that the storyline just didn’t seem as strong, as urgent, as it had in book one. It just seemed to been made up of a series of events which felt like they were going nowhere, achieving nothing. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s the only way I can articulate exactly why I didn’t enjoy this that much.

In saying all that, it was another beautifully written novel and the majority fans seem to be finding it a fantastic addition to the series. I loved learning more about Ronan’s ability and getting more of an insight into his life before his father’s death. It’s hard to pick a favourite character in this series, but after The Dream Thieves I think it might be Ronan (I’ll probably change my mind again after the next book!). Overall, I really am intrigued by the series storyline and excited to see where the next book takes us. I’m a little sad that I couldn’t find the excitement for The Dream Thieves. I hope the next book makes me fall in love with this series and these boys again.

Rating:

3/5 Stars

Event recap: Meet Matthew Reilly

24 Nov

I’ve been so slack with review writing lately thanks to a completely hectic uni assignment load, but last night I had the pleasure of meeting one of my favourite authors in Brisbane. The Meet Matthew Reilly event was hosted by Brisbane City Council in the newly restored City Hall. So far I’ve only read the Jack West Jr series, but I am eagerly anticipating The Tournament. Unfortunately I forgot my notebook (again!) so this will be a very short recap of what was a brilliant speech!

Matthew’s talk was fantastic, spanning all his published books as well as discussing his habits as a writer. He explained that the ideas for The Tournament had been adding up in his mind for many years before he got the spark of inspiration which tied them together, emphasising how important this research is for any writer. While The Tournament is, on the surface, a very different type of ‘Matthew Reilly’ book, it still contains all the elements fans love (including a super fast pace and “gravitational” pull). He also talked about asking ‘what if’ questions about crazy story lines. His other writing tips were that books should start with the hero heading straight into the action, and begin at a point where the natural order of things has been totally disrupted.

The audience asked some great questions during the Q&A including when/if we would be seeing more of Jack West Jr. Matthew said that was one of the most frequently asked questions on the current tour, so considering fan interest he will be writing the ‘Four-something-somthings’ in the future. He said he has ideas, but needs the inspiration to pull them together. He also didn’t completely rule out the possibility that Jack West Jr and Shane Schofield’s worlds may one day cross paths. He also advised writers to stick to the stories they’re passionate about, because it will be easy to spot a fake if you try to write something you’re not totally into.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to bring my Jack West Jr. books to the event, but I did get my brand spanking new copy of The Tournament signed. My cousin and I were delighted to meet Matthew (although I totally forgot to mention how much I loved the Jack West Jr. series). It was a wonderful evening all-round and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into The Tournament!

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Note: Any inaccuracies are mine – I really need to start remembering my notebook!

The Booby Trap and other Bits and Boobs edited by Dawn O’Porter

25 Oct

Goodreads Synopsis:

Knockers, baps, bazoomas and hooters – big ones, small ones, man boobs, boob jobs and lopsided lady lumps – every boob tells a story.

From teenage diaries that will make you laugh out loud and squirm with embarrassment, to heart-breaking first-hand celebrity confessions, journalist and author Dawn O’Porter is joined by celebrities such as Caitlin Moran, Chris O’Dowd, Jameela Jamil and Sarah Millican in a big book of all things booby. Bestselling authors also contribute with writing from Maureen Johnson, Marian Keyes, Patrick Ness, Laura Dockrill, James Dawson, Will Hill, Maude Apatow and Benjamin Zephaniah. This is a full-frontal insight into breasts, nips, pecs and all the other bits and boobs.

Review:

So, in case you hadn’t already guessed this book is about boobs. Yes, BOOBS. I’ll be honest, I never really though about mine much before I read this. I just stuff them into a bra on a daily basis and get on with life, but when you think about boobs in general you realise they’re kinda amazing. Well, I did anyway. And nothing compares to the feeling of taking your bra off at the end of the day.  Anyway, back to the book! This is a lovely little collection of stories, confessions and poems about boobs, edited by Dawn O’Porter (author of Paper Aeroplanes). The best thing is that money raised from the sale of this book goes towards three breast cancer charities.

Compilation books are always hard to review, so I’ve decided to list my favourite pieces:

Pillow Talk by Chris O’Dowd

Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others by Sarra Manning

Mooby Trap by Patrick Ness

Uplifted by Matt Whyman

Beauty and the B(r)easts by Holly Baxter

The Booby Trap by Dawn O’Porter

While those were my favourite pieces, I did enjoy all the contributions in this book. They were funny, poignant, thoughtful, honest and, most of all, heartfelt. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read and one which I definitely recommend to all women. However, there was a very important message behind it: get to know your boobs because early detection is key when it comes to breast cancer.

Rating: 

4.5/5 Stars

Thank you to The Five Mile Press/Hot Key Books for providing a copy of the book for review.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

22 Oct

Goodreads Synopsis:

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

Review:

I’m one of those people who doesn’t read blurbs. Most of the time when I pick up a book I only have a vague impression of what it’s actually about. I knew two things going into The Diviners. The first, and perhaps one of the main reasons I wanted to read it, was the 1920’s New York setting. The second was that it involved some sort of paranormal element. Although I knew it would be good, I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. Especially as there were times it scared the pants off me!

Firstly, this book is long, at about 570 pages. Personally, the length didn’t bother me because I enjoyed being able to savour it. I think the story benefited from being told from all angles with such a large cast of characters. This is the first in a series and I think Bray did a wonderful job of setting up a connection with characters and issues which will no doubt play a major role down the track. I know a lot of people will disagree with me about this, but I loved the depth of this novel.

I absolutely adored the 1920’s setting. Bray does an outstanding job of transporting audiences to New York’s glitzy, glamourous and pos-i-tute-ly roaring Gatsby-esque parties as well as exposing the seedy, occult underbelly of the city. Bray’s exquisite prose made the setting so strong and present throughout that it became a character in its own right.

The Diviners follows several bright young things through the streets of the thriving city as their stories are slowly drawn closer. Although there was a cast of fabulous, compelling characters, the focus of The Diviners was on Evie. I loved her bold, brash character and the verve with which she faced the Naughty John mystery. In this respect she reminded me a lot of a young Phryne Fisher. I also liked that Bray didn’t shy away from exposing the weaknesses and fears of her characters. I can’t wait to find out even more about each of their stories in the next book.

Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on. Cuts your throat and takes your bones, sells ‘em off for a coupla stones.

Naughty John is actually one of the most chilling characters I’ve ever come across – although this may be because I am not one for scary (or, let’s be honest, even mildly creepy) movies . However, what made the ‘creepiness’ of The Diviners different from that of Raven’s Gate (my only other ‘scary’ book review) was that it came in bursts. Reading Raven’s Gate, I was constantly fearful of what was to come and I must say I was pleased there were some shiny distractions in The Diviners. Yes, I’ll admit there were a few times I had to stop reading this at night, but on the whole I felt the ‘scare factor’ was measured and never too overwhelming.

The Diviners is a book you should indulge in. Yes, it’s long, but holy smokes is it worth it! Bray has crafted a stunning picture of New York in the roaring 20’s with a superb cast of characters and a bone-chilling mystery. This unique and pos-i-tute-ly divine novel is certainly one of my favourite reads this year.

“Hey,” the cabbie yelled. “How’s about a tip?” 

“You bet-ski,” Evie said, heading toward the old Victorian mansion, her long silk scarf trailing behind her. “Don’t kiss strange men in Penn Station.” 

And what would this review be without music to match?

Rating:

5/5 Stars

This book was read as part of the judging of the 2013 Inky Awards.

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