Book Haul: January 2017

january17haul

I was pretty good this month and didn’t buy too many books. This is probably due to my intense planner sticker addiction. I spent way too much money on stickers from etsy stores and that left less money for books haha.

BOOK DEPOSITORY

january17_bookdepository

I was pretty restrained when it came to Book Depository this month. Wayfarer and Windwitch were both preorders so I didn’t technically buy them this month haha. I picked up The One Memory of Flora Banks and Furthermore because I noticed that they were both really inexpensive when I went through my wishlist.

KINOKUNIYA

january17_kinokuniya

You might be wondering why I bought new copies of Blood for Blood and The Walled City when I already own copies of them. Well, the reason is because Ryan Graudin visited Australia and left signed copies in many of the major cities. I went to Kinokuniya and grabbed copies of them ASAP. I also wanted to get Wolf by Wolf as well but it was a shorter paperback that didn’t match Blood for Blood so I decided to check out Dymocks to see if they had signed copies of the tall paperback. I also bought copies of Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound, both of which I’ve read and reviewed.

DYMOCKS

january17_dymocks

I went to Dymocks to search for a signed copy of Wolf by Wolf in the tall paperback edition but they didn’t have any in stock either. I ended up picking up a copy anyway. On a separate trip, I fell in love with the cover of Lisette’s Paris Notebook and picked up a copy.

RECEIVED

january17_received

I requested three books in recent months and received them in January. Thank you to Harper Collins Australia for Lady Helen and the Dark Days Pact. I’m super excited to see how the story continues with Lady Helen and Lord Carlston. Thanks to Allen and Unwin for Beware that Girl. I loved Teresa Toten’s The Unlikely Hero of 13B so I’m super keen to check it out. And thanks to Harlequin Teen for Four Weeks, Five People. I don’t know much about it but it kinda sounds right up my alley!

PTA SHOWCASE

january17_pta

I attended Penguin Teen Australia’s PTA Showcase in mid-January and had the most wonderful time. I’ve written a full recap on Happy Indulgence. But long story short, we all received a Super Proof on the night, but I won that stunning boxset of new/upcoming releases! On the night, there were books for sale and I picked up copies of Valentine and Before You Forget. Jodi McAlister, author of Valentine, was present on the night and I got my copy signed.


Did you pick up any exciting books in January?

Blog Tour: Freeks by Amanda Hocking

freeksPublisher: Pan Australia
Release date: January 31, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 336
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The Carnival is all she’s ever known – but an old terror could tear it down.

In the spring of 1982, the carnival comes to small-town Cauldry, Louisiana. Then events take a dangerous turn. For Mara Besnick, the carnival is home. It’s also a place of secrets, hidden powers and a buried past – making it hard to connect with outsiders. However, sparks fly when she meets local boy Gabe Alvarado. As they become inseparable, Mara realises Gabe is hiding his own secrets. And his family legacy could destroy Mara’s world.

They find the word ‘freeks’ sprayed on trailers, as carnival employees start disappearing. Then workers wind up dead, killed in disturbing ways by someone or something. Mara is determined to unlock the mystery, with Gabe’s help. But can they really halt this campaign of fear?

MY THOUGHTS

35 stars

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour! Let’s start with my thoughts on the novel before jumping into a brief Q&A with the author!

Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I’m not the biggest reader of the paranormal fantasy genre but I really enjoyed reading Freeks by Amanda Hocking. It was a fast-paced and slightly eerie standalone novel and I especially loved the carnival setting

The novel begins with Mara and the carnival travelling to a small town in Louisiana. They are desperately low on money and were offered a large sum of money to set up in Cauldry. However, as soon as they set up camp, strange things begin to happen. Carnival employees are attacked every night by a mysterious creature and there’s a sinister energy in the area that’s causing their supernatural abilities to be weakened. As it gets more and more dangerous and carnival members begin to gradually leave, it’s up to Mara to try to figure out what’s happening. I really liked the concept of the book and thought that it had a really great build up to the climax. However, I was a bit disappointed with the last section of the book. I felt that everything happened very quickly and was revealed very quickly. There was a lot of build up and it all ended a bit too quickly for my liking. I also found that it was slightly predictable and the ending was just a bit lacklustre for me. However, I really liked the first three-quarters of the book and enjoyed how fast-paced it was.

I also enjoyed most of the characters, though I did find Mara to be a bit frustrating at times. She ignored or dismissed her instincts about a hundred times throughout the book and I wanted to yell at her from annoyance because it was so blatantly clear what was going on. Other than that, I thought she was a good main character. I didn’t find her to be extremely interesting but she wasn’t too frustrating to read about and I enjoyed her moments of courage and bravery. I also enjoyed some of the other characters from the carnival, especially Roxie, who I found to be sassy and snarky but also had a softer side to her. I loved Gideon, who was the head of the carnival and I also really loved Luka because of his self-healing powers. I also liked Gabe, the love interest, but I didn’t find him to be a standout character. There is a bit of diversity in this book – Mara has Egyptian ancestry but I can’t comment on the accuracy of the representation. There was also an LGBTQ+ relationship in the book.

When it came to the romance between Mara and Gabe, I wasn’t a huge fan. There was a little bit of insta-love and the relationship definitely moved very quickly. At times, I felt like the romance overtook the whole plot of the book and I wished there was less focus on it and more time spent developing the plot. I liked Mara and Gabe together but their romance definitely felt a bit tropey and generic at times.

Overall, I enjoyed the reading experience and thought that Freeks was a really easy read. It was fast-paced and engaging but I wished the ending hadn’t been so rushed. The romance was nice but overshadowed the story and the plot a little so ultimately, Freeks left me feeling like it hadn’t reached its full potential.


Q&A with Amanda Hocking

How did you decide on the travelling carnival premise? Are you a fan of carnivals?

I was actually watching an old X-Files episode where Mulder and Scully investigate a carnival, which features real life sideshow performers from the Jim Rose Circus. I thought it seemed really cool and interesting, and I did some research about Jim Rose and his performers, and that’s where the idea for the carnival started.

What do you love most about being a writer?

Escaping into a new world. The freedom to just go and hide away with made up friends on exciting adventures is definitely the best part.

Can you give us a glimpse into what we can expect from you next?

I have a duology coming out sometime next year, I believe. I’m still working on the second book, and I haven’t come up with a good description for it yet. It’s YA and paranormal and gritty, and I’m very excited about it.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

amanda-hockingAmanda Hocking is twenty-six years old, lives in Minnesota and had never sold a single book before 15 April 2010. She will shortly sell her millionth. Her books have been a self-publishing phenomenon – according to the Observer, Amanda is “the most spectacular example of an author striking gold through ebooks”. In her own words, Amanda is an Obsessive Tweeter. John Hughes mourner. Unicorn enthusiast. Red Bull addict. Muppets activist. Fraggin Aardvarks guitarist. Author of the USA Today bestselling books the Trylle Trilogy.

Goodreads || Twitter || Website

Wrap Up: January 2017

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I didn’t really have a great start to the year in terms of reading. I was feeling a bit burnt out after reading 22 books in December to finish off my Goodreads reading challenge. I just needed a bit of a break and as a result didn’t really read as many books as I usually do. But I still managed to read 11 books and I’m happy with that for now.

My Goodreads reading goal for this year is currently set at 100. I’m anticipating that I’ll read more than that but we’ll see how I go for now.

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Reading summary header

1. Every Last Word – Tamara Ireland Stone  4 stars

This novel features a character with OCD and I had some issues with the OCD elements in this book. My full review is linked if you’re interested in my thoughts on that. However, I thought the rest of the book was beautifully written and really sweet and, ultimately, I enjoyed the reading experience.

2. Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates  4 stars

I really, really liked this non-fiction book. It’s a collection of essays written in the form of a letter from Ta-Nehisi Coates to his son, detailing the struggles of growing up and living as a black person in America. It’s a great book about race and violence and I found it to be impactful and poignant.

3. An Improper Ever After – Nadia Lee  4 stars

This is the third part and conclusion to Elliot and Annabelle’s story that started with An Improper Bride and continued with An Improper Ever After. While I enjoyed this third installment and liked how their story ended, I’m still very disappointed with the author’s choice to split one story into three sections. I’ve said this about Nadia Lee’s recent books many times before, but it just feels like she’s trying to profit more from splitting what could be one book, into three. And this also ruins the reading experience for many readers because of the cliffhangers at the end of Books 1 and 2. Not sure that I’m going to continue to read her books if she continues to do this.

4. Wayfarer – Alexandra Bracken  4 stars

Wayfarer is the sequel to Passenger and I absolutely loved it. I loved being reunited with Nicholas and Etta, and learning about new characters as well. I did have a bit of confusion as I was reading the book but I loved how the duology wrapped up and thought it was a great novel.

5. Windwitch – Susan Dennard  4 stars

Windwitch is the sequel to Truthwitch and I liked them both equally. Windwitch is a little bit less action-packed and is more character-driven, which I didn’t really mind. At times, I wished there was a bit more plot but the character development that we saw in this sequel was absolutely brilliant.

6. Us – Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy  4 stars

Us is a sequel to Him, but could probably be read as a standalone. I really loved Him and didn’t think Us was as good, but I still really enjoyed my read of the novel and being reunited with the characters again.

7. Freeks – Amanda Hocking  35 stars

I am part of the blog tour for this novel and my post, along with a short Q&A will be up on the blog on Sunday. It’s a slightly creepy and eerie carnival story and I thought it was a fast-paced and thrilling read. There were some parts that I wasn’t a big fan of, especially the way that the book ended, but I still thought it was a great read.

8. Cruel Beauty – Rosamund Hodge  3 stars

This is a Beauty and the Beast-inspired story and I found it to be kind of disappointing. I found a lot of it to be very confusing and lacking in plot and I was not a fan of the main character. There was also a strange love triangle going on in the book that I found to be frustrating and, as a whole, I just wasn’t very impressed with Cruel Beauty.

9. Crimson Bound – Rosamund Hodge  35 stars

Crimson Bound is a standalone novel that is loosely inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, and I enjoyed it slightly more than Cruel Beauty. However, most of the problems that I had with Cruel Beauty, I also had with this book. The story felt very dragged out and I absolutely hated the love triangle in this book. I did like the main character but found her to be frustrating at times too.

10. The Billionaire’s Holiday Bride – Nadia Lee  4 stars

This is a novella that should be read after five books in The Pryce Family series. It allows readers to be reunited with the five couples from the books in the series, but also develops the backstory and romance of a different couple from the series at the same time. I really enjoyed it and it brought a smile to my face.

11. Lisette’s Paris Notebook – Catherine Bateson  2 stars

I was not very impressed with this contemporary novel at all. It sounded like a really cute and fluffy story but I found it to be extremely dull and it lacked substance and plot. The main character was frustrating to read about and I found the characters and the writing to be lacklustre.

Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

crimson-boundPublisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: May 5, 2015
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 464
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When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village. But she was also reckless—straying from the forest path in pursuit of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in a vain effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her hunt for the legendary sword that might save their world. Together, they navigate the opulent world of the courtly elite, where beauty and power reign and no one can be trusted. And as they become unexpected allies, they discover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. Within a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

MY THOUGHTS

35 stars

If you read my Cruel Beauty review, you’ll know that I wasn’t very impressed with Rosamund Hodge’s debut novel. I have to say that I felt similarly about Crimson Bound, though I did think that it was significantly better executed than Cruel Beauty.

Crimson Bound is a very loose Little Red Riding Hood retelling. The Little Red Riding Hood elements are present in the novel but Rosamund Hodge takes it to a new level and makes the story original and her own. As far as taking someone else’s story and making it her own goes, Hodge gets top marks for her efforts. However, I was not really a fan of the plot or the story. As intriguing and intense as the synopsis sounds, I found the novel to be only a fraction as exciting as what was advertised. I couldn’t connect with what was happening and found the plot to be too slow in pacing. Much like Cruel Beauty, there wasn’t a lot that happened in the book and I felt that it dragged on and on. I couldn’t really get into the book until well past the halfway mark and even then, I was a bit apathetic about everything. There were some twists and turns in the book that I appreciated and I also thought that the novel had a much clearer story/plot progression than Cruel Beauty did. However, the pacing of it and some of the confusion that I felt made for a subpar reading experience.

I also was not a fan of the romance in the book. There is a strange love triangle that I was not a fan of, especially considering there was a weird love triangle in Cruel Beauty as well. But love triangle aside, I didn’t really feel any chemistry between the main character and her love interests. It all felt extremely clinical to me and came across as forced. I was looking forward to the enemies to lovers aspect of it because that’s one of my favourite romance tropes and the novel didn’t really deliver on that front. One of my biggest criticisms when it came to the romance was that the romance seemed to come out of nowhere. One minute the characters were trotting along like normal, and then the next they were realizing and proclaiming their love for each other? Not a fan.

However, Rachelle’s character saved the book for me. I loved the complexities of her character and that she wasn’t really like any other character that I had read before. I liked her good and her evil sides and her strength was really appealing to me. I loved learning about her backstory and it made me appreciate her even more.

Overall, while I did end up liking the book, I haven’t been too impressed with the two Rosamund Hodge books that I’ve read. Needless to say, I won’t be trying out any of her other releases.

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

cruel-beautyPublisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: April 7, 2015 (originally January 28, 2014)
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 368
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The romance of Beauty and the Beast meets the adventure of Graceling in a dazzling fantasy novel about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

For fans of bestselling An Ember in the Ashes and A Court of Thorns and Roses, this gorgeously written debut infuses the classic fairy tale with glittering magic, a feisty heroine, and a romance sure to take your breath away.

Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known that her fate was to marry him, kill him, and free her people from his tyranny. But on her seventeenth birthday when she moves into his castle high on the kingdom’s mountaintop, nothing is what she expected—particularly her charming and beguiling new husband. Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can’t resist the pull of her sworn enemy—who’s gotten in her way by stealing her heart.

MY THOUGHTS

3 stars

Cruel Beauty started off on a really high note but started going downhill pretty quickly for me, unfortunately. I found a lot of the book to be confusing and I wasn’t into the plot or some of the romance elements too much either.

I really loved the concept of the book but like some other reviewers, I thought the execution could have been better. I really liked the first 75 pages of the book and was really keen to see where the story was going to go but it quickly started to become kind of disappointing. There’s actually not a lot that happens in this book and I felt like I was just waiting and waiting for something to happen. There was a bit too much explanation about not much at all and I just wanted more plot. I also felt like there were some things that were kind of repetitive and I was just disappointed with how slow-moving the book was. I wasn’t a big fan of the ending and I was confused about some of the explanations, so I finished the book without really feeling like I fully understood everything. I did like that the story incorporated Greek mythology and magic into it and it was nice to be able to recognise and understand some of the references. However, I felt like there was a bit too much of it and it started to get confusing because of how much information was being thrown at me.

However, I did like the characters for the most part. I enjoyed Nyx as the main character and thought she was really interesting. I loved that she had a darker side to her and wasn’t the typical pure and kindhearted heroine, especially given that this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I liked her bitterness at her situation that her family have put her in and that she wasn’t afraid to show her feistiness. And I really enjoyed her relationship with Ignifex. I found myself shipping them for most of the book and I really liked the scenes that they had together. However, I can’t say that I was a big fan of how the romance played out. I didn’t like the weird love triangle situation and there was also insta-love that I didn’t really appreciate.

As a whole, the book wasn’t very enjoyable to read. It was very wordy and long-winded for what actually happened and I was disappointed with the lack of plot and the execution of what I thought was a great concept. There were too many elements that I didn’t really like and it ruined the reading experience for me even though I did power through the novel.

Review: Windwitch by Susan Dennard

windwitchPublisher: Tor UK
Release date: January 10, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 382
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Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…

After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Windwitch is the sequel to Truthwitch, which means that this review may contain spoilers for the first book.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Windwitch was a fantastic sequel to Truthwitch. There was a lot of character development and I really enjoyed how much more we got to learn about the characters and the world. In this second installment, we follow the four main characters on their separate journeys. We have Safi who is now travelling with the Empress of Marstok, Vaness. Their ship is attacked and during their escape, they are captured by the scary Hell-bards. Prince Merik has also found himself the victim of an attack and after losing his ship and most of his crew, he roams his lands searching for the one who’s responsible for his disfigured face. Along the way he discovers a dark secret that could change everything. Iseult is on a mission to find her Threadsister, Safi, but runs into Aeduan, who has been tasked with the job of capturing Iseult. The two strike up a deal and end up travelling together but they both find out more about themselves and each other during their journey.

I loved everything that went down in this book but I did feel that it was a bit of a filler book. I didn’t really have a good idea of where the book was going and how everything fit together until close to the end of the novel. There isn’t a lot that actually happens besides a lot of walking around, escape and survival. It was definitely more of a character-driven book than a plot-driven book, and because of this, it took me a while to get through it because I was unsure of what was happening and where the series was going. The last 100 pages of the book, however, makes things a lot more clear and by the end of the novel, I could see a clear direction of where the series was going. I also didn’t really mind that it was a character-driven book because the characters were extremely interesting to me.

I highly enjoyed how much the characters developed in this book, and I loved seeing the relationships between them deepen. The dynamic between Safi and Vaness was a really interesting one and I enjoyed seeing the respect that grew between them. I also really enjoyed Safi’s interactions with the Hell-bards and how the group dynamic changed throughout the book. I enjoyed seeing the complexities of Merik and his sister, Vivia’s relationship. I really appreciated being able to follow Vivia’s perspective throughout Windwitch too because I thought she was a fantastic character and I’m glad that we got to see so much of her. But most of all, I enjoyed Aeduan and Iseult’s budding relationship that evolved from animosity to respect to companionship. I just ship them so hard! I can’t wait to see how all these relationships unfold in Bloodwitch.

Overall, I thought this was a really strong sequel, despite not being able to latch on to the plot. I highly enjoyed all of the characters and I’m really excited to see how everything plays out in the next installment.

Review: Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

wayfarerPublisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release date: January 3, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 532
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All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Wayfarer is the sequel to Passenger, which means that this review may contain spoilers for the first book. Check out my review for Passenger instead, if you haven’t read it yet.

I really enjoyed Passenger when I read it last year and was really looking forward to Wayfarer. It wasn’t really what I expected but I definitely wasn’t disappointed by it either. I did have some issues with the book but those were probably issues that I had because it had been a whole year since I had read Passenger and it took me a while to get used to the world again.

My main issue with the book was that I found the plot to be confusing. I don’t know if it’s because I’d forgotten a lot about the world and the time travel rules, but I had a hard time following what was going on, especially in the first 50 pages. I reread the ending of Passenger to familiarise myself with what had gone down in the first book and that helped a little bit but I still found it difficult to understand some of the time travel logic and the world at the start of the book. This book talks about many different timelines and I found myself really confused for the first 20% of the novel and couldn’t really follow along. It did get better as I progressed through the book though.

The other problem that I had with the plot was that I had no idea where the book was going for the majority of it. We follow Etta and Nicholas through two separate story arcs and I didn’t quite know what to believe because we were being led to believe two different things. The motives of the side characters and key players of the book were unclear and we were deliberately made to be suspicious of everything, which just added to my confusion as to what was happening. It also didn’t help that there were a lot of different parties with vastly different motives and goals. I couldn’t really keep track of who wanted to do what and I just felt a bit overwhelmed and found it to be too much at times. Ultimately, I just went with the flow and decided not to think about it too much and I ended up really enjoying everything that happened and how the story played out anyway.

We are, all of us, on our own journeys…

I loved all of the characters in this book. The characters were all very complex and multidimensional and I really enjoyed that there wasn’t a single one who was purely evil or purely good. I enjoyed reading about each character’s motivations as well as about some of their origins. I loved the new characters that we got to meet in this book, like Julian Ironwood and Henry Hemlock, as well as the old characters that we got to revisit. The character development in this book was also great and I learnt so much about some of the characters that I didn’t really like in Passenger. The character relationships in this book were spectacular and I loved the friendships that were forged in this book as well as the reunion of family. As a huge Etta and Nicholas shipper, I was a bit disappointed that the two characters spent so much of the book apart, but I was pretty happy with how their reunion played out.

I really enjoyed this duology. I’d love to reread the books again because I think it’ll help me understand Wayfarer a little bit better. Despite the confusion and how overwhelmed I felt while reading this book, I highly enjoyed it. It was action-packed and I loved all of the places that the characters time travelled to. It was so much fun and I loved the characters so, so much!

Blog Tour & Aus Giveaway: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

a-quiet-kind-of-thunderPublisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Release date: January 10, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
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Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn’t a lightning strike, it’s the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things comes a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Welcome to my stop on the A Quiet Kind of Thunder blog tour! I’ll be doing a short review of the book and including some questions that Sara Barnard was kind enough to answer, before ending with a giveaway for a finished copy of the book.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have to admit that I wasn’t a fan of Sara Barnard’s debut novel, Beautiful Broken Things. But I felt the exact opposite about A Quiet Kind of Thunder. It was a beautifully diverse novel that explored selective mutism and deafness really well.

The novel follows Steffi who suffers from severe anxiety that causes her to be selectively mute. She has a hard time making friends at school and it’s been especially tough now that her best friend has left to go to college. But she’s introduced to Rhys, who is deaf and new to the school and the two form a strong friendship that later blossoms into a romantic relationship. I’ve only read one other book about selective mutism, which was The Things I Didn’t Say by Kylie Fornasier, but this one takes it to the next level with a non-hearing male protagonist. It was interesting seeing the two main characters interact with each other in their own special mix of British Sign Language, lip reading and instant messaging. I thought the book gave me really good insight into what selective mutism was through plot points and Steffi’s explanations to Rhys. I did feel that there were some sections that were a bit info-dumpy and I would’ve liked it to have been incorporated in a more sophisticated way. Having said that, I thought it was done well and I got a good sense of the difficulties that come with being selectively mute. My only other slight bit of criticism was that we were told what the difficulties were and we didn’t really get to see them in the story. It was like seeing her struggle without really seeing her struggle.

I also enjoyed Rhys in the novel a lot and got a really great sense of the difficulties that he faces everyday. It was extremely interesting to see what he goes through and to see his insecurities even though he’s such a confident and easy-going character. The novel included a lot of great information about being deaf and special education and I felt that my awareness definitely increased after reading this novel.

I really loved the themes in this book. It had strong friendship and family elements, as well as a fantastic relationship between Steffi and Rhys. I really enjoyed the slow development of Steffi and Rhys’s relationship and how they were able to find support from each other. It was really great to see how comfortable Steffi felt around Rhys and how she found her own special language and way of communication that worked for her. I thought the family dynamics in the book were really interesting and I appreciated that there were differences between the families and how they handled Steffi and Rhys’s conditions.

Overall, I thought A Quiet Kind of Thunder beautifully explores selective mutism and deafness and does a great job of increasing awareness and knowledge of these conditions.


Q&A with Sara Barnard

Do you have any rituals or requirements that you need to do/have before writing?

To be honest, no – I just have to sit down and do it. That’s hard enough without adding rituals!

What do you believe were the most important moments in A Quiet Kind of Thunder?

I think Steffi meeting Rhys’s family was a turning point for her and their relationship, and also when she goes to the Halloween party with Tem and actually manages to enjoy herself. And of course the Thing That Happens near the end is very important!

About the author

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Sara Barnard lives in Brighton and does all her best writing on trains. She loves books, book people and book things. She has been writing ever since she was too small to reach the ‘on’ switch on the family Amstrad computer. She gets her love of words from her dad, who made sure she always had books to read and introduced her to the wonders of second-hand book shops at a young age.

Sara is trying to visit every country in Europe, and has managed to reach thirteen with her best friend. She has also lived in Canada and worked in India.

Website || Goodreads || Twitter || Instagram


GIVEAWAY!

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia, I am giving away a copy of A Quiet Kind of Thunder. The giveaway is open to Australians only.

Rules:
  • This giveaway is only open to Australian residents
  • Giveaway will end on Sunday 22nd January 2017 at 11:59pm. One winner will be randomly drawn and contacted through email. If I don’t receive a reply within 48 hours, I will choose a new winner.
  • You will be required to provide me with a shipping address. If you are under 18, please make sure you have parental permission to share your address.
  • I will be checking all entries so no cheating please.
To enter, click here or the image below to enter through Rafflecopter! 

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Book Haul: December 2016

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I was actually more restrained this month when it came to buying books. I still acquired a sizeable stack but it was much better than other months when I had absolutely no self-control.

BOOK DEPOSITORY

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All of these were actually books that I ordered in November but didn’t receive until the first few days of December. I own paperback editions of The Smell of Other People’s Houses and Second Chance Summer but I loved them so much that I wanted the hardcover editions too. The rest are books that I’ve wanted to read for a really long time.

KINOKUNIYA

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I picked up Freedom Swimmer to read for the #DAReadathon so hopefully I can get to it soon. I couldn’t resist the cover and the rose gold foiling and rose gold painted pages on New York: Through a Fashion Eye so I snapped it up immediately. It was also signed by Megan Hess. On Boxing Day, Kinokuniya had a 20% off sale so I picked up the special hardcover edition of A Monster Calls and also the paperback boxset of The Gentleman Bastard Sequence, which I’ve wanted to read for a while.

DYMOCKS

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I only picked up two books from Dymocks in December and I got them during the same shopping trip. I’d been lusting after the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay since it first came out. I was in North America at the time and didn’t want to lug it back home so I wanted until I was back to pick it up. I was also in the mood for a festive book so I bought The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily.

RECEIVED

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I received a bunch of books from Pan Macmillan Australia in December. I’m part of the blog tours for A Quiet Kind of Thunder (January 8) and Freeks (February 5) so keep an eye out for my posts on those. I also requested Windwitch and they kindly sent me a copy. And I received A Girl Called Owl unsolicited. My coblogger Jeann @ Happy Indulgence sent me An Illustrated History of Notable Shadowhunters and Denizens of Downworld as a Christmas gift because she knew I really wanted it and omg the book is stunning!!


What exciting books did you pick up or receive during the holidays?

Wrap Up: December 2016

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I had a massive month of reading in December. At the start of December, I was 22 books away from finishing my Goodreads challenge… so I decided to challenge myself and read 22 books. And I’m happy to say that I managed to get across the finish line. Except now I’m really sick of reading and don’t think I could ever read another book again haha.

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Reading summary header

1. Breathing Under Water – Sophie Hardcastle  3 stars

This is an Aussie YA release that features that themes of grief and friendship. I wasn’t a big fan of the plot of the book but I appreciated what the author was trying to do with this novel.

2. Tapping the Billionaire – Max Monroe  35 stars

I’ve seen reviews of this adult romance series on various blogs and thought I’d give the book a go. To be honest, after reading 22 books this month, my impressions of this book and even what it was about has completely flown out of my mind.

3. Once Was a Time – Leila Sales  35 stars

This is a middle grade novel that involves time travel. I really loved the story of this book and how much it featured friendship. I thought it was a lovely story about a girl from 1940s London who time travels to modern day USA.

4. Children of Eden – Joey Graceffa & Laura L. Sullivan  3 stars

This dystopian novel had a very interesting premise and I thought it was a good debut attempt. The book had great worldbuilding but that was about it. The plot was a little bit predictable and not that original and I had problems with the main character.

5. To Have and To Hold – Lauren Layne  4 stars

This is the first book in a companion adult romance series. I thought it was a delightful book about a wedding planner who falls in love with the brother of one of her brides. It was a really cute story and I’m keen to read more from this series.

6. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Screenplay – J. K. Rowling  5 stars

The film was amazing and reading this screenplay took me back to all the wonderful moments in the movie. I loved it.

7. Frogkisser! – Garth Nix  4 stars

Frogkisser! is an upcoming release from Garth Nix. It’s a really fun and light-hearted adventure story about a princess who goes on a journey to save her kingdom. It was exciting and action-packed and I really enjoyed all the fairytale reimaginings.

8. Mistletoe and Mr Right – Lyla Payne  35 stars

This is a bindup of two Christmas novellas and I read them because I was feeling festive. I didn’t really enjoy the first novella, Mistletoe and Mr Right, but I really liked the second novella, Sleigh Bells and Second Chances.

9. This Adventure Ends – Emma Mills  45 stars

I loved this contemporary novel sooooo much! It was a lovely book about friendship and there wasn’t very much that I didn’t like about it. Emma Mills’ writing is getting better and better and I’m keen to see what she writes next.

10. The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily – Rachel Cohn & David Levithan  4 stars

This is the sequel to Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares and I enjoyed it just as much as the first one. It was again very festive and I loved revisiting Dash and Lily and seeing where they are now.

11. Showa: A History of Japan 1926-1939 – Shigeru Mizuki  4 stars

This is a graphic novel and I believe it’s the first volume out of three. It’s about the history of the Showa period in Japan and goes into lots and lots of detail, as well as including little vignettes from Shigeru Mizuki’s life. I particularly liked that I learnt a lot about Chinese history through here, as I do have a Chinese background.

12. Graffiti Moon – Cath Crowley  4 stars

This is another Aussie YA release and I’d heard countless amazing things about it. It definitely didn’t disappoint and I loved the romance in this book. It was a second chance story and was absolutely captivating.

13. Starflight – Melissa Landers  45 stars

Aila @ One Way or an Author has been recommending this book to me for a whole year and I finally picked it up this month. And I was definitely disappointed in myself for not picking it up earlier. It was action-packed and exciting and I loved the romance in the book as well.

14. The Nest – Kenneth Oppel  35 stars

This is a middle grade novel that was a little bit confusing and hard to understand. It’s a beautifully written story with a lovely message but it takes a little while to get into it and understand the complete picture. I ended up really enjoying it though.

15. We Come Apart – Sarah Crossan & Brian Conaghan  5 stars

This is an upcoming release that explores some important themes. It’s a novel written in free verse about racism, immigrants and bullying. I connected with the story immensely and found it to be really emotional. I will have a full review up in late February, closer to release date!

16. An Illustrated History of Notable Shadowhunters and Denizens of Downworld – Cassandra Clare  5 stars

This was probably my favourite read of the month because I’m a massive fan of the Shadowhunter Chronicles. It included lots of stunning illustrations of major and side characters in all of the Shadowhunter series. There was also interesting facts about each of the characters.

17. Summer Days and Summer Nights – Stephanie Perkins  4 stars

This is an anthology of short stories and I really enjoyed them. I gave the majority of the stories 4-5 stars but there were a few that I wasn’t really a fan of. Overall, I thought it was a summery and romantic collection of stories by some pretty well-known authors.

18. Open Road Summer – Emery Lord  4 stars

This is probably my favourite Emery Lord novel. It was summery and fun, and had a good balance of friendship, family and romance elements. If you’re looking for a quick contemporary read, I highly recommend this one.

19. A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard  4 stars

This is another upcoming release and features a girl with selective mutism and a boy who is deaf. I thought the book showcased these two conditions and the daily difficulties associated with them really well. I’m a part of the blog tour for A Quiet Kind of Thunder, so keep an eye out for that on January 8!

20. Confess – Colleen Hoover  35 stars

I’m probably not going to bother reading any more Colleen Hoover books. While I gave this one 3.5 stars, I wasn’t really that impressed with it. I liked the art elements of the book but I started to hate the plot more and more as I progressed. I’m not a fan of the tropes that she uses and I’m definitely quitting her books.

21. It Looks Like This – Rafi Mittlefehldt  4 stars

I’d heard some mixed things about this novel but I ended up really, really enjoying it and it made me ugly cry. I thought it was a beautiful LGBTQ+ book and a great debut novel. I will have a full review on Happy Indulgence later this week.

22. The One Hundred Nights of Hero – Isabel Greenberg  5 stars

I absolutely loved Isabel Greenberg’s The Encyclopedia of Early Earth and this one was just as, if not more, enjoyable. It’s a graphic novel and I really loved the art style. The novel focuses on strong females who won’t take any bullshit from people who look down on them!


How did you do on your Goodreads challenge?