My top 5 and 5 least favourite books of 2016

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Ok, so who’s ready for one of the most controversial posts in the book review community? The silence is overwhelming. I’m a bit late here, but to coincide with my last post, here are my top 5 and top 5 of 2016.

I’m going to be doing this slightly differently.

For my top 5 I wont be giving a small review on why I liked them; I want others- if they are inspired to- to read them for themselves and come up with their own opinions. Or if you, dear reader, have read one, please give me your review in the comments. That will certainly mix these things up. I will however include some links to the good reads page and if I managed to review it last year, there will be a link to my review. (Don’t worry my reviews tend to be spoiler free)

For my least favourite books, I will write only one line. In that one line I will say in summary, why I didn’t like it.

Cool? Cool.

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Goodreads

Why: Story with good idea executed very poorly with weak characters.
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Review: Da Vinci’s Tiger by L.M Elliott

Why: Bad history re-tellings and teenage angst don’t make good bedfellows.
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Why: A bad case of second book syndrome and a book that was nothing like the first.
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Why: It made me saliva vomit constantly.
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Goodreads

Why: It was ok… but just ok…and a bit of a pipe dream.

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January 2017 Wrap Up

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So January kicked off a bit sluggishly for me this year and I made a very impressive dent in my 2017 Goodreads Challenge (Which is 50 again this year. I couldn’t quite get there last year but I’m determined to this time). I read 7 books in January. And boy did I read some crackers.

I’ve not done a monthly wrap up before but I think it might be a nice change this year.

  1. Drums of Autumn – Diana Gabaldon 

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… Ok, so I technically read 70% of this book in December 2016, but I finished it in the new year so i’m counting it. Man oh man was this book good. Without giving too much away of the previous three books, the fourth book shifts location and offers Gabaldon’s unique view of history for a totally different country. Gabaldon has such a fantastic way with words and her characters are so real and human, its hard to reconcile that they’re fictional. While two of the rising stars- Briana and Roger have been known to us previously, Gabaldon ensures we’ve fallen totally in love with both of them. A stellar fourth book; so good in fact, that I actually would have been satisfied if the series had ended here…. BUT I’M SO DESPERATE FOR BOOK 5 IT’S INSANE.

2. An Ember in the Ashes-  Sabaa Tahir

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So I waited to read this book for a very long time. I found out about it when the advanced readers were singing it’s praises and eagerly awaited it’s release. I was unable though to get my hands on it after it came out so I was left waiting listlessly for it. OMG this book is SO worth the hype. This book was not what I expected at all but I bloody love it. The summary is so misleading but in a good way; the characters are strong, determined and each powerful in their own rights. A corrupt government, a filthy, irredeemable villain and notorious rebels, make for a complex and rich plot. It’s a diverse novel that just works. I was on the edge of my seat the entire book.

3. A Thousand Nights – E. K. Johnston

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I was really worried this book would be too much like ‘The Wrath and the Dawn’ which I read last year and adored. I need not have feared though, this book was SO different. Worlds apart. With a fresh style that’s unlike any I’ve read, Johnston weaves a lush story. Johnston’s story is pretty faithful to the original folk tale, but diverges about half way through. Lo-Melkhiin is hideous and i’m glad Johnston didn’t try to romantasize him. I loved that the main character was left really ambiguous; with a nice trick at the end I didn’t see coming. You can tell Johnston knows her stuff; the way she described the land was so authentic and genuine- it was obvious she drew inspiration from real life. A fantastic interpretation of a classic.

4. Divergent- Veronica Roth

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I’m sure you’ve noticed a trend;- I tend to be super late to the party for most over-hyped teen franchises. When Divergent came out, I religiously avoided it; some part of me shied away from what I thought would be a dull and under-cooked book. I’d seen the movie but hadn’t felt a great tug towards it. I listened to this as an audiobook; summer radio in Australia is impossibly dull, and a 30 minute commute each way needed some filling. I got so into it, I used to listen to it in the afternoons when I got home from work. I was so pleasantly surprised by this book. I got so sucked up in the story, I forgot I was listening to a story. Is it worth all the hype, nah probably not. But I still quite enjoyed it. It’s an awfully dark tale for a teen audience, but I think it holds an extremely relevant commentary for current world affairs.

5. Passenger- Alexandra Bracken

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This was another one of those books that I’d meant to read for a very long time. I loved Alexandra Bracken’s work on the Darkest Minds series and I’ll honestly go for anything she publishes, she’s got that much skill and command. But time travel? Sign me the heck up! This book delivers. It’s certainly not what I thought it was- I was definitely lead down the wrong tunnel when listening to people’s book reviews. While the romance in there was cheesy at times and a little bit cringy, the time travel aspects were very well done. The sense of urgency is really well conveyed without rushing the plot. The side characters were well thought out, and Bracken spends the time to remind the reader how dangerous time travel is. Definitely for the Doctor Who fans- this book is original and fresh.

6. Illuminae – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Sci-fi -especially Sci-fi aimed at Young adults- always tends to be under-baked and totally unrealistic. This was one of the most god-damn interesting books I’ve read in a really long time. Holy Shmooze balls is this book GOOD. This has to be one of the most original ways to tell a story that I’ve come across; told via case-files, audio transcripts and instant message logs, this is fantastic. Kaufman and Kristoff have poured so much hard work to create texture and life into each and every page. Each page is an image- scribbles, black sections from sensors, memo style backgrounds, logos the works. No expense has been spared. The story is fantastic- it’s gritty, it’s complex, thought provoking and dynamic. The scary thing is, it’s really not that hard to put aside your disbelief; this honestly feels like it could happen. The book cleverly taps into everyone’s deep dark fears; Multi-national corporations, Artificial Intelligence, the deep- unexplored dark nothingness of space and war. It’s bloody brilliant and everyone needs to read it. Also can we please just appreciate some Aussie excellence (YEAH KAUFMAN AND KRISTOFF!!! REPRESENT!!)

7. Adulthood is a Myth- Sarah Anderson

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Funny story; I pre-ordered this book on the Book Depository 3 months before it came out last year and they cancelled my pre-order without notice or warning a few weeks out from publication… yeah it’s not actually that funny… I was pretty devastated to be honest. This book was so worth the wait though. I found Sarah and her work in 2015 and absolutely fell in love with her. Like literally, her comics are so real and so cute I just cant even. Anyway, I eventually got my hands on this book (it was a case of post-Christmas “treat yo self”) and I savoured every last page. Its only a relatively small book of comics, but I treated every last page like royalty. Anderson is a genius- her work is funny, well executed and so god-damn relatable. This is literally the perfect pick me up; after a long day of pretending to be an adult, the comics go down as nice as a cold glass of Chardonnay on a Friday arvo. 10/10 would recommend.

 

 

So there you have it… what a month. Can honestly say I didn’t read a bad/meh book in January. This is surely a good sign for the reading year ahead. Leave a comment below with any recommendations for me this year and if you have a reading challenge. I’d love to see what everyone’s goals are for the year.

 

Stay golden!

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Review: Ms Marvel Vol. 2. – Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and Jacob Wyatt

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Ms Marvel Vol. 2; Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and Jacob Wyatt

or: YES! GO KAMALA!

Goodreads  ||  The Book Depository

Synopsis: Who is the Inventor, and what does he want with the all-new Ms. Marvel and all her friends? Maybe Wolverine can help! If Kamala can stop fan-girling out about meeting her favorite super hero, that is. Then, Kamala crosses paths with Inhumanity — by meeting the royal dog, Lockjaw! But why is Lockjaw really with Kamala? As Ms. Marvel discovers more about her past, the Inventor continues to threaten her future. Kamala bands together with some unlikely heroes to stop the maniacal villain before he does real damage, but has she taken on more than she can handle? And how much longer can Ms. Marvel’s life take over Kamala Khan’s? Kamala Khan continues to prove why she’s the best (and most adorable) new super hero there is!

When I first read Vol. 1 of Ms Marvel, I knew I was going to love this series. But oh my stars, did I adore this second installation! All that rich, lovely world building that Wilson and Co did in the first one was kicked into full throttle by the excellence of plot of vol.2. As if I could love Kamala any more!

This book is a wild ride from start to finish as we see Kamala finding her feet and trying to work out this whole superhero business. Struggling to keep a balance between school, home and her extra curricular crime fighting activities, Kamala becomes even more human and that’s what Kamala’s appeal is. Kamala is cute, funny and so much fun to follow.

The Inventor was a bit of a shock but I pissed myself laughing for a good chunk of his dialogue scenes. I don’t know if that’s what Wilson wanted, but I found the whole premise hilarious. Honestly, now with some time to think on it, I don’t know who else would have possibly shown off Kamala’s strengths as a character more.

And oh my goodness that Wolverine Cameo though! Just all normal, fighting some crime and then BOOM Wolverine comes bursting through. His lines, contribution to the plot and quick bow out were perfect and I loved every second of their interaction. Please Wilson bring Wolverine back in the future!

This comic isn’t strictly action, Wilson also dedicates the necessary time to strengthen the world building and further strengthens the comic as a whole. That’s the beauty about this series; Wilson anticipates his audience and puts on a lavish spread for them, giving them exactly what they need and then some. This is one of those comics that could easily take on the big guns and I really want this comic to pick up more followers because it deserves a heck tonne of fame.

The Third Volume in this series is on my to-buy list and as soon as my TBR piles down, this baby is coming home with me. Definitely a series that is still growing, now is definitely the time to join the Kamala fan club if you haven’t already. With Volume 5 coming out some time in 2016, there’s a lot to look forward to.

This second volume was definitely going to be a make or break, and Wilson and Co. delivered. A big hearty high-five needs to go their way. They’ve killed it.

This Book was read in 2015 and was apart of my 2015 Reading Challenge.

Review: The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1. Faust Act

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The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1 The Faust Act by  Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie (Illustrations), Matt Wilson (Colorist),Clayton Cowles

Or: …. Wait What Just Happened?

Goodreads   ||     The Book Depository

Synopsis: Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever

I really wanted to read this Comic. The illustrations looked gorgeous and the plot made me so excited I couldn’t sit still. I ignored the comments on goodreads and the booktube reviews, because I just had to have this comic. In hindsight, I should have listened to the reviews

Unfortunately, while the illustrations were as every bit as beautiful as I had hoped, I was left feeling very underwhelmed.

This was a very confusing comic. Honestly, I’m not sure exactly what happened. The dialogue was beautiful but seemed to jump between different subjects and it felt like there were whole chunks and sections of this story missing, like people had left pages out when putting it together. There was also a lot of internal dramatic monologue from the main character which seemed to serve little purpose. I wish they had spent some of that monologue space making things a bit more clear.

The beginning wasn’t even clear; it begins with an old woman staring at a house fire and this doesn’t make sense until right at the end of the comic. There’s zero explanation, or world building and the reader’s just sort of dumped in the story and left to shakily piece the narrative together with no help from the authors.

The characters were all really interesting and engaging, but, yet again, confusing as to how they fit in within the story. I loved Lucy. She was excellent if confusing. I wish there was more time to flesh her out. She was one of the few characters that was actually given a back story that made some sense.

I think, in the effort to be mysterious and to tease their audience, Gillen and Co sacrificed more than they realised. The comic feels like a crazy pipe dream put to paper and probably makes total sense to the creators. Gillen and Co have accidentally alienated their audience, which is definitely the wrong thing to do. The quality of Comics in 2015 was so great that this one really sticks out as a “miss”. Which is a shame, because like I said earlier, the art is beautiful and so is the concept.

I don’t think I can bring myself to pick up the next comic in this series if there is one. I’m not the only one that feels this way- Goodreads is split and I definitely fall within a strong faction. It’s almost tempting to let myself be enchanted by the gorgeous cover/art and forget about it’s inconsistencies but my brain can’t ignore them. This looks like it’s going to be a big series with many more volumes to come which is good for the comic’s fans.

Some people may really like this book, I just didn’t. Maybe I’m still too new to comics to really appreciate one this arty-farty. Who Knows.

This Book was read in 2015 and was apart of my 2015 Reading Challenge.

Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

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Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

or: AHHH ITS SO CUTE AND BAD ASS AND AWESOME

Goodreads  ||  The Book Depository

Synopsis:The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it “a deadpan epic.” Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones. Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are. But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

So… I’ve decided…. When I grow up, I want to be an Evil Villain. NO MUM THIS IS NOT A PHASE! THIS IS WHO I REALLY AM.

*clears throat* sorry about that… got a bit carried away.

In my recent quest to try graphic novels and comic books, I finally purchased Nimona, a story that I had been eyeing off for quite some time. The whole premise of the story really interested me, plus by buying it, I would be investing in Stevenson who had started the story as a web comic series. I love when people from the internet can break out and do their own thing. I try and support them where possible because they deserve all the luck  in the world.

Nimona had a lot of hype surrounding it, and for a good reason. This graphic novel is excellent. Coming from someone who had never bought into the graphic novel world before, this is extremely high praise. I prefer stories based on words, as that is more in tune to how my mind works. I adored this book though. I loved Stevenson’s style of story telling. I loved the story and characters. I ADORED the artwork.

Stevenson presents an amazing story with Nimona, and the story is as beautiful as it is interesting. Centering around a villain and his unusual sidekick Nimona, the story goes in directions you’ll never expect and it’s nice to empathize with a classic villain archetype without removing his villainy at all. We are given the reasons behind Blackheart’s vendetta and his hatred of the “hero” without the story or his character becoming cheap and down played. Stevenson’s skill in presenting all her characters is admirable, but her shinning lights in this series are Blackheart and of course, the titular character Nimona.

Nimona is one of those beautiful ambiguous characters that you rarely find in stories. From the beginning you know she’s strange and keeping secrets, but you can’t help but become attached to her. We never solve the mystery of Nimona in this novel, something that only adds to the complexity and the beauty of the story. This may bug some people, but I love the fact that we never really know Nimona. I like Nimona’s salty humor and her innocent bumbling. Nimona is truly a reflective character of the modern age, with the reader able to see part of themselves in Nimona, enough to truly unsettle them.

I honestly recommend this story to everyone. It’s a chunky book but a super quick read (I read it- stopped and started- within 2 1/2 hours). Even if you don’t often read books of this style, I still really recommend this book. It’s an absolute blast to read and there’s something in this story for absolutely everyone. It’s one of those rare books that caters to an extremely wide audience; everyone can read and enjoy this no matter their age, sex, religion or orientation.

I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye on Stevenson, and will follow whatever she does next faithfully. Her work truly won my heart.

Read: Paperback 

Review: Ms Marvel vol. 1 No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

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Ms Mavel Vol. 1 No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

or: HELL.YES

Goodreads   ||    The Book Depository

Synopsis: Marvel Comics presents the new Ms. Marvel, the groundbreaking heroine that has become an international sensation! Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey!

I LOVED this comic.

As someone who has been very hesitant to begin reading comics, I decided to make this comic my first and it truly was, I think, the best decision.

It however, has started a new trend that may not be good for my wallet.

For a while I’ve been trying to conciously look into more diverse books, whether its reading books by diverse authors to reading books with diverse main characters to the whole range. I was initally drawn to this comic for the main character; a mulism teenage superhero? Awesome! I’d heard about it through a book blogger who was singing it’s praises and decided, why the hell not.

This comic not only has a strong female as its main character, but also has a strong ethnic leader as its main character. We need more comics like this one. Hell, can someone make this a movie/tv show already? The world needs more heroes like Kamala!

Kamala is adorable, and so realistic it’s hard not to imagine bumping into her as you walk down the street. Kamala deserves world wide attention, but seems not to be getting all that much attention from the comic book community beside the fact that it’s new work by Wilson and Alphona. Which is a shame. This book should be in comic stores everywhere (it’s not in my local store which gives me the poos).

Comicbooks, once a dying art, have recently experienced a resurgence of popularity as many new stories and editions were put out to ride the wave of Marvel hype brought about by the new Marvel superhero movies. As an avid Marvel movie goer, I was keen to invest in the company, as are a lot of new fans these movies have brought. A lot of older marvel fans are getting cranky with the influx of new, previously not interested, groups of fans, which if anything, goes directly against what superhero stories are supposed to stand for.

This new series and new adaption of Ms Marvel, is clearly an attempt to break down old barriers in the comic community and appeal to a very new and diverse audience. For a lot of young girls, Kamala is a shining beacon of hope; hello, please give it up for one of the only good representations of young Muslim girls in the fictional community?!  Kamala may not be what this cruel world deserves, but she is desperately what the world needs. I hope that there are girls out there who now suddenly feel strong and included, because even the idea of Kamala is bound to make a large difference.

Not only is the character of Kamala excellent, but also the story is as well. Wilson and Alphona have created a marvelous (ha- get it?) and believable story line that holds promise of great things to come. Vol. 1 is literally the perfect  origin story; it’s got the right amount of heart, a love-able and good character, the tantalising introduction of an evil force working in the background, and a interesting explanation of how an ExtraOrdinary got their powers. None of the story feels forced, and the story is as complex as Kamala is.

Its hard to judge what direction that Wilson and Alphona will take this story in, but the promise for ground work they have laid is amazing.

I’m excited as heck to read the next edition into this series. I bet it packs a lot of punch (Heh. Sorry I had to).

Read: Paperback Vol. 1 Bindup