Double Review | Withering-By-Sea & Wormwood Mire by Judith Rossell

Withering-y-Sea Paige's PagesAUTHOR: Judith Rossell
SERIES: A Stella Montgomery Intrigue
PUBLISHER: ABC Books
RELEASE DATE
: November, 2014 & October, 2016
GENRE
: Middle-Grade Historical Fiction; Victorian Mystery; Fantasy
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Orphan and adventurer-at-heart, Stella is tragically misunderstood by her three horrible aunts. When a mysterious villain brings death and destruction to the Hotel Majestic, Stella is flung headfirst into a perilous adventure that makes her question everything she thought she knew about magic and her past.

Wormwood Mire Book Review Paige's Pages

I believe this series gets stronger as it progresses! From the first pages of Withering-By-Sea, I surrendered to the heady atmosphere of the Victorian era. I love that there is a fantasy element, but it’s subtle enough that the historical setting is the shining feature. All the fantasy touches are so creative and original, which I appreciated since so many books simply reimagine the same old tropes over and over. As I await the third and final installation of the series, I have so many questions I need answered.

Two things got on my nerves, however. Firstly, I noticed that Judith Rossell repeatedly uses short sentences without much variation. This made both books feel like they had a young reading age, that contradicted the vocabulary she uses. Secondly, we get very little insight into what goes through Stella’s mind. Even after reading two books, I feel like I hardly know what makes her point of view unique. That said, the series so far is entertaining and fascinating.

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3 Mini Reviews of Recent YA Reads

I’ve read a lot of thought-provoking books recently, so I decided to sum up my thoughts quickly for you! If you’ve read any of these titles I would love to hear your opinion in the comments. 

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Take Three Girls

Take Three Girls Review Paige's PagesAUTHORS: Cath Crowley, Fiona Wood, Simmone Howell
PUBLISHER: Pan Australia
RELEASE DATE
: August 29, 2017
GENRE
: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
PAGE COUNT
: 439
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Told from the alternating points of view of three Melbourne private school girls – each written by a different author – this book looks at the impacts of cyber bullying and the true meaning of friendship. Although cyber bullying is a dark topic, the overall vibe of this book is shiningly positive. I love how each of our narrators, Clem, Ady, and Kate, has a distinct voice and their own emotional journey. Continue reading

Why I Love Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Nevermoor Book Review Paige's Pages.pngPUBLISHER: Hachette Australia
RELEASE DATE: 
October 10, 2017
GENRE: 
Junior Fantasy
PAGE COUNT:
 451
MY RATING: ★★★★
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Blurb: Morrigan Crow is cursed. Born on an unlucky day, she is blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks – and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on Eventide.  But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away to a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.  To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to pass four difficult and dangerous trials – or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate. Continue reading

Book Review | This Is Shyness by Leanne Hall

This is Shyness Paige's PagesTITLE: This is Shyness
SERIES: This is Shyness #1
AUTHOR
: Leanne Hall
PUBLISHER
: Text
RELEASE DATE
: August 2, 2010
GENRE
: Young Adult, Magical Realism
PAGE COUNT
: 272


In the magical realist town of Shyness where the sun never rises, strangers Wolfboy and Wildgirl share a dangerous night of self-discovery and unexpected kinship.  While Shyness is a vivid and interesting setting for this YA adventure story, I struggled to connect to the characters or the sense of stakes.

Wolfboy is a Shyness local.  Wildgirl is on a mission to forget.  When their eyes meet across the room at the Diabetic Hotel, they join forces and decide to see where the night takes them.  As their backstories gradually unravel, their bond deepens, and the adventure heats up. Continue reading

#IWD2017 Double Review | The Fictional Woman / Speaking Out: A 21st-Century Handbook for Women and Girls by Tara Moss

Using her wealth of experience as an international model, bestselling crime novelist, human rights activist, and mother, Tara Moss equips readers to confront gender inequality in every aspect of society.  If The Fictional Woman is the ultimate “beginner’s guide” to gender inequality, then Speaking Out is your “travelling companion”.  Through immersive research and intimate wisdom, this dynamic duo will educate and empower.  

I listened to The Fictional Woman and Speaking Out as audio books, and now have a HUGE crush on Tara Moss’s voice.  As a strong and confident speaker, her warmth and wisdom bursts through her rich tone.  Hearing the author read her own work is intimate, and sometimes unearthed my own pain.  Although I plan to buy all my female friends and family members these books for Christmas, I know I’ll be returning to the audio versions.

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Book Review | Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East by Benjamin Law

gaysia-review-paiges-pageTITLE: Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East
AUTHOR: Benjamin Law
PUBLISHER: Black Inc.
RELEASE DATE: January 1, 2012
GENRE: Nonfiction, LGBTQI+, Own Voices
PAGE COUNT: 288


Who better to talk about LGBTQI+ life in Asia than Benjamin Law?  Openly gay and born in Australia to Chinese immigrant parents, he approaches Gaysia with concern and respect… not to mention the perfect dose of comedy.  

Gaysia is a journalistic adventure into the LGBTQI+ nerve centre of Asia, from “clothing optional” gay resorts in Bali, to the homes of Chinese gays and lesbians who fake heternormative marriages to keep their identities secret.  Law opened my eyes to a diverse range of socio-political landscapes, all posing unique challenges to the LGBTQI+ community.

Continue reading

Graphic Novel Review | Hidden by Mirranda Burton

hidden-by-mirranda-burton-book-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Hidden
AUTHOR & ARTIST: Mirranda Burton
PUBLISHER: Black Pepper Publishing
RELEASE DATE: 2011
GENRE: Adult Graphic Novel, Short Memoir
PAGE COUNT: 96


Hidden is a powerful introduction to disability narratives.  As the first book I’ve read representing adult intellectual disability, it lays the foundation for me to engage with the topic with better understanding and compassion.  Importantly, it opened my eyes to the key issues surrounding adult intellectual disability. Continue reading

Book Review | Elizabeth and Zenobia by Jessica Miller

elizabeth-and-zenobia-book-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Elizabeth and Zenobia
AUTHOR: Jessia Miller
PUBLISHER: Text Publishing
RELEASE DATE: August 29, 2016
GENRE: Junior Fiction, Fantasy
PAGE COUNT: 232


Elizabeth and Zenobia is Aussie author, Jessica Miller’s wickedly clever debut.  Although it nods to familiar fantasy tropes, it forges its own unique vision.

Elizabeth and her imaginary friend Zenobia are moving to Witheringe Green, her father’s childhood home.  But there is much more to this old house than meets the eye.  When family secrets lead to even stranger mysteries, Elizabeth must face her fears and save her family from otherworldly danger.

Elizabeth is our first person narrator.  Unlike the fearless Zenobia, she is scared of almost everything, including but not limited to Continue reading

Book Review | Springtime: A Ghost Story by Michelle de Kretser

Springtime a Ghost Story Paige's PagesTITLE: Springtime: A Ghost Story
AUTHOR: Michelle de Kretser
PUBLISHER: Allen & Unwin
RELEASE DATE: October 22, 2014
GENRE: Short Fiction, Adult Fiction
PAGE COUNT: 92


Despite its name, Springtime: A Ghost Story is not actually a ghost story.  This book thoughtfully explores a young Australian woman’s “ghosts” to show how the past is not easily left behind when trying to forge a new future.   

Frances and her partner, Charlie, have chips on their shoulders.  They both want a life separate from the ways of their parents, but now share many of their parents’ idiosyncrasies.  When Frances spies a ghostly woman in her neighbour’s garden, it puts her relationships and past into a new perspective. Continue reading

Review | The Last Magician by Janette Turner Hospital

The Last Magician is a wild trip through the tangled layers of a corrupt society.  This confronting novel by Australian-born author, Janette Turner Hospital, examines the interconnected pasts of five Sydneysiders.  All of them have pain they want to forget and a lost friend they hope to find.  

617560A childhood tragedy connects Charlie, Catherine, Robbie, and Cat.  They each have different ways of dealing with the trauma – amnesia, silence, and obsession.

Model student turned prostitute, Lucy, is our first person narrator.  A generation younger than the other characters, she is an outsider to the novel’s main events.  However, her unique vantage point as an invisible member of Sydney’s lowest class makes her the best eyes through which to view the story.  Lucy and her lover, Robbie’s son Gabriel, are desperate to uncover the truth of their friends’ pasts.

Humankind cannot bear very much lack of meaning.  If we have to experience horror, there has to be a point.  There has to be.  In fact, it is not the horror itself that torments us so much as the need to understand.  We have to get to the heart of the labyrinth where the minotaur lurks.  We want to know that the labyrinth is mappable, that there is a minotaur, there there is at least something at the core of things which is responsible for all this dread, and we want to reassure ourselves that if we trail Ariadne’s thread behind us we can find a way out again – page 332

Truth and meaning are the prevailing themes.  The exact nature of the childhood trauma and the chronology of events are cloaked in mystery for much of the novel.  The actual premise took until part two to come into full focus.  Many details are ambiguous, leaving the reader to connect the intricate threads on their own.  Lucy is a fitting narrator since she – like us readers – must gradually gather information to form an interpretation.  The variety of points of view and quantity of introspection make this a layered and complex narrative.

The passing on of secrets, I think, is like the passing of time in the rainforest, strangler figs on dead hosts putting forth their new shoots, the smell of decay and the smell of yeast always there – page 383

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 2.23.36 pmTurner Hospital’s writing is one of a kind.  Despite being exceptionally beautiful, her abstract and heady style requires enormous mental effort to read.  That said, if you have the brain power to muscle your way through her web of words, her metaphors and images will haunt you forever – not least of all because confronting accounts of rape, murder, drugs, and sexual obsession pepper this painful story.  The density and polished quality gave me the impressive this book should have taken a lifetime to write.

The Last Magician unpicks the seams of human psyche and examines it from every angle, before stitching it carefully back together.  I have no experience as a reader I can compare to reading this book.  

Photo credits: http://www.goodreads.com / http://www.middlemiss.org