Nemo @ Young Adult At Heart
4 Stars
Review of partial review copy, not full book
Goldenhand - Garth Nix

First of all, I had absolutely NO IDEA that the ebook I was given to review from Edelweiss was only a partial copy of the book. There was no warning anywhere – I had to stumble over an announcement made on Goodreads from Nix himself saying it was only a partial review copy before the rage in me simmered down from what I believed was a cliffhanger ending and an unwrapped up plot. I was HOPPING MAD that Nix could betray a trusted reader like that, and I am so glad I was wrong, but it still colours my review of this book because I didn’t get to read all of it.

What I did read was very good, but I was aware that as we moved along at a greater pace than I expected, that the protagonists weren’t going to achieve whatever it was they needed to by the time the climax was supposed to come around.

So basically the plot follows Lirael as we see her side of the story from Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case and what happens directly after that – getting Nick to the Clayr’s Glacier where he will have better healing and Lirael can research the combination of Free Magic and Charter Magic inside him – and also be the prodigal daughter returning home no longer part of the Clayr but part of the royal family and the Abhorsen-in-Waiting to boot. The other half of the plot follows a new character called Ferin as she travels from the far north to deliver a message to the Clayr from Lirael’s biological mother, now long dead, and the struggles she overcomes as she is hunted by powerful magical tribes from the north.

As always, I loved Nix’s writing. The set up seems slow but by the time you realise you’re knee-deep into the story it’s barrelling along and all you can do is hold on tight and trust Nix not to crash us. Which in this case, unfortunately I did crash but only because my copy was literally missing the ending few chapters that would have wrapped everything up.

I’m adding the physical copy of this book to my collection anyway, so I’ll get to read the proper ending. As such I have to withhold judgement on whether or not I recommend the book for others – I’ll certainly enjoy it, but as I’m not reviewing the full copy, I simply can’t say.

I received this book for free from HarperCollins Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Read by candlelight or flashlight: 'Yuri' from Her Russian Protector by Roxie Rivera.


Black Cat: Coraline by Neil Gaiman


Diverse Authors can be spooky fun: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake


Supernatural: Goldenhand by Garth Nix

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
4 Stars
A Spoiler Filled Review of Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Three Dark Crowns - Kendare Blake

I don’t normally write really spoiler-filled reviews so take note, THIS REVIEW IS DARK AND FULL OF SPOILERS.








Three girl triplets are born to every generation, three queens who one day must battle to kill each other with the victor crowned queen of the island.



Each triplet born is supposed to be gifted with a magical power, one of possibly five. The three most common are poisoner, the ability to ingest any poison and live; naturalist, the ability to control plants and bond with a special animal ally known as a familiar – the fiercer the better; the elemental, able to conjure and control storms and the elements. The lesser powers are the war mages, gifted with some kind of battle magic, and I think, from what I remember, there’s another power, one of precognition, that is so feared the babies are drowned at birth rather than grow up and go mad from visions. The mother supposedly knows which triplet is gifted with which power.


So once the mother gives birth she races off the island as fast as she possibly can with her king-consort and leaves these baby triplets to live together and be raised (can’t remember by whom, there are three factions on the island) until they are six years old. Then they’re separated and raised by foster families, the leaders of the factions, until they turn sixteen. Then there’s this massive ceremony and all this traditional stuff like meeting possible suitors, who each have to meet every queen and guess which one is going to live and woo that one, despite the fact that only one of them is going to live, and the queens must perform and show off their powers in front of everyone at this massive gathering of all the factions, and this is all supposed to happen without the queens meeting one another. And only then, after all this ceremony, the queens are given one year to murder each other and the victor given the throne until she gives birth and races off the island to leave behind three tiny babies. This didn’t make much sense to me. Why is there even a ruling queen when it’s clearly the queen’s faction that runs the island? And how can the religious priestesses decide whom they want to be queen when they’re not even part of a faction? And why is everyone convinced Mirabella, the elemental queen, is going to be the victorious one? And if it’s because the other two sisters haven’t shown much of a gift yet, why isn’t it officially a Sacrificial Year, where there is one strong sister and two powerless ones? And how come the priestesses feel they have the right to murder the young queens at any time even though it’s supposed to be done by the sisters themselves?






I actually liked all of the queens and I couldn’t pick a favourite. I loved Mirabella’s compassion, despite the fact that everyone was expecting her to murder her sisters. I loved Katharine’s (the poisoner queen) defiance and will to survive, although I do wish she fought back against the nasty abusive character. And I loved Arsinoe’s resilience and fierceness even after all the tragedies that had befallen her. I loved how Mirabella and Arsinoe each had best friends, and I even liked Katharine’s little ‘teach me how to seduce a boy’ romance with Pietyr.


What I didn’t like was Joseph. I know his actions were due to Arsinoe’s desperate use of low magic, but I couldn’t stand how he and Mirabella just shagged on the beach after knowing each other for all of five minutes, unprotected and without even hesitation like they were both grown ups with plenty of experience and no feelings  rather than virgins who didn’t know what they were doing and driven by hormones they don’t understand.

Feed Your Fiction Addiction wrote this wonderful blog article about how the YA community was so jumping on the anti-slut-shaming bandwagon that casual sex was on the rise and even being encouraged, and I tend to agree. In the rush to make our heroines sexually liberated and free from being abused because of that, the casualness of sexual encounters is becoming so numerous it’s confronting.

“I kind of feel like, in our mad rush to avoid slut shaming, a lot of books have swung in the other direction, and the message is being portrayed that sex really should be casual – that it’s more fun or somehow better that way. That waiting to have sex until you’re really sure of your feelings about someone is a bit passé – you shouldn’t have to be sure of your feelings because feelings aren’t necessary for sex (which is obviously true in some ways), and (girls especially) should own their sexuality in this new way by not really worrying too much about that.”

Is Celibacy Shaming A Thing? Let’s Discuss! by Feed Your Fiction Addiction


The casual sex was way too casual, between strangers, unprotected, it involved a guy cheating on the girl he loved and a girl taking advantage of an obviously delirious guy, and the whole thing made me feel kinda icky. And worse than that, once Joseph knew what he’d done he continued to do it, and continued to proclaim his love for Jules while having it off with Mirabella every chance he got. And then, when Jules was finally ready to forgive him and consummate their love, he just wanted to hold her. I just… argh. I found him very frustrating.


And then what the fuck was up with Pietyr? Who the fuck was he working for? Does he really want Katharine dead and if so, why didn’t he let the priestesses do it? And how come no one stopped the priestesses importing all those crates of knives anyway? And how come, once the priestesses decided to kill Arsinoe, they let her get away and didn’t try to kill her again?






Sometimes I was just downright confused. Sometimes the writing was really jerky. I didn’t particularly care for the present tense narration either, I don’t think it quite worked. I think it was supposed to help create the element of tension and fast pacing but to me it kind of felt more like I was being told the story rather than shown it. “And then the characters do this, and then they do that, and they go here, and this happens.” The concept was awesome, but the worldbuilding was confusing. If the queens only have ruling power over some magical island that appears in a mist every so often, and only for about ten years before they give birth, why are the mainlanders so invested in the outcome? What’s so special about this island?



I liked how the book started out, with each chapter dedicated to each queen preparing for her birthday. I liked less how as the book went on the chapters got shorter and shorter, sometimes only two pages long, in an attempt to make the book’s pace appear faster in light of so much structured ritual for the narrative to follow.



Look, I did really like Three Dark Crowns due to the sheer originality of the worldbuilding, and I think it’s a series I’d love to follow to the end, but it did have issues with getting the fantastic concept onto the page in a satisfying way and of course the main goal of the narrative, the murder (or redemption) of two sisters until there is only one queen standing obviously didn’t happen in this first book, even though I felt like it could have very easily been a stand-alone and wrapped everything up within one novel.


I received this book for free from Pan MacMillan in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.



Read by candlelight or flashlight: 'Yuri' from Her Russian Protector by Roxie Rivera.


Black Cat: Coraline by Neil Gaiman


Diverse Authors can be spooky fun: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Scholastic mail!
Scholastic mail!

Husband texted me saying I had a package from Scholastic. A 'big' package. I asked for a picture.


A Dog's Purpose by W Bruce Cameron




I suspect the film will have significant differences because it’s translating a written medium into an audio/visual medium. That being said, the book was wonderful and I suspect the film will be too, based on the beautiful trailer.

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
4 Stars
You’ll Weep Following A Dog’s Purpose
A Dog's Purpose - W. Bruce Cameron

Warning: Don’t read this book unless you are prepared for all the feels. I don’t even consider myself a ‘dog’ person and I wept several times through this.



A dog is born. He lives. He dies. He is reborn. Again. And again. Along the way he learns what his true purpose is.



The dog goes by several names in this book, but he spends the longest as Bailey, so we’ll call him Bailey. First he’s a feral puppy who winds up in an illegal shelter. Then he’s a golden retriever and bonds instantly with ‘his boy’, Ethan, who’s about eight at the time and goes through a whole bunch of adventures with Bailey. Then he’s a German Shepherd rescue bitch called Ellie, who works hard and learns to find and save people. Then he’s a black Labrador, and everything he’s learned in his previous lives leads him back to Ethan, now an old man. Stop crying. I did warn you.



Bailey/Toby/Ellie/Buddy is our star, the dog who lives four lives and finds meaning and purpose in all of them. Ethan is Bailey’s first real owner, whose love and affection shines through the pages of the book. If there ever was a man/dog BFF ship, it’s those two. Through Bailey’s eyes and limited understanding of the world (and also his ability to interpret everything to be about him, of course) we see Ethan’s parents divorce, find out a neighbourhood bully killed a neighbourhood dog, see couples get married and start families all without Bailey explicitly telling us so.


Reborn as Ellie, she has two owners in her time – a depressed widowed police officer who is wounded on the job and a female cop who wants the challenge of working with Ellie but might not be up to it. And Ellie’s an amazing recue dog. I cried when she jumped into a storm drain to rescue a lost kid because I thought yeah, she’s learned her purpose, she’s gonna die now. And then finally as Buddy, Bailey finds his way back to Ethan and puts everything he’s learned in his life to use to make ‘his boy’ happy.



I couldn’t get over how fantastic the dog’s voice was. Narration by a dog! Not entirely original, no, but the voice and style really blew me away. Of course cats are useless, Bailey. Of course when your owners get married everyone’s really there to watch you walk down the aisle with the rings. You’re the star, the centre of their world. Of course you are, you ridiculous doodle dog. I couldn’t get over the narrative voice. Also, Josh Gad is voicing Bailey in the film. JOSH GAD. You know he’s going to be AMAZING.


Some choice quotes:


“Dogs have important jobs, like barking when the doorbell rings, but cats have no function in a house whatsoever."


“Humans were capable of so many amazing things, but too often they just sat making words, not doing anything.”


“This was, I decided, my purpose as a dog, to comfort the boy whenever he needed me.”



It was easy to tell when the dog’s life was winding up and at the end of each death I had to put the book down and have a big, chest-heaving, sobbing, ugly cry. Apart from that the pace was good – often in the early times of Bailey’s life, when he was still a puppy and before he had met his new owners, the pace would drop a bit because of the limited interactions, but apart from that, I found the pace easy going, not breakneck or anything, just a pleasant journey with an old friend.



Oh my god just read this book.

4.5 Stars
Behind Chlorr of the Mask: The Lost Abhorsen's Origin Story
Clariel (Abhorsen, #4) - Garth Nix


Clariel is better known as the centuries-old necromancer and later the Greater Dead creature Chlorr of the Mask in Lirael. This is her early story.



Clariel wants nothing more than to live as a Borderer in the Great Forest of Estwael. So when she is dragged by her Master Goldsmith mother Jaciel to Belisaire, to marry the Governer’s son Aronzo and forever be trapped in a life she is desperate to escape, Clariel takes steps to ensure her own freedom – even if it comes at a great cost.

This is not your typical origin story. This does not detail how Clariel becomes Chlorr the necromancer – rather, it details the early steps taken by Clariel so that you can understand how someone from the ‘good’ side of magic can become so twisted and corrupted. Clariel is not gifted with strong Charter Magic nor much knowledge of the Abhorsens due to a family feud, but she is gifted with the beserk rage familiar in both Touchstone and Sam, and that is tainted with Free Magic. Through the Free Magic, Clariel works to get what she wants – but doing the wrong thing for the right reason is still the wrong thing, and that’s a lesson I Clariel doesn’t learn, and I suspect still doesn’t learn later in her life and contributes to her downfall as Chlorr.



Clariel is of course our protagonist. She’s strong-willed and knows exactly what she wants in life, even at only 17. She’s also trapped under her mother’s tyrannical reign. It’s super easy to identify with Clariel’s chafing need to spread her wings and be independent, knowing she will thrive in her chosen career as a Borderer, and feel the helpless obedience that comes with being a dependent child. She’s also asexual, which I think, for some, might be interesting. I couldn’t really tell if it was just used as a minor plot point to keep rejecting certain suitors’ advancements on her. It certainly was easy to feel her horror as news of her arranged marriage came through. She’s not particularly selfish but she is self-absorbed to the point where that’ll the catalyst, she’s abrasive to the horror of other characters and doesn’t want to take part in their charades.


We see little of Clariel’s parents, her father who does the admin side of the goldsmithing business despite being a talented smith himself, and Jaciel, who is more obsessed with her work than he own family.


Also appearing is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting-in-Waiting, Belariel, or Bel, who is Clariel’s cousin and friend from the Academy. Bel is concerned that the current Abhorsens, in a family of 300 strong, are too busy ceremoniously hunting to face the tasks required of the real Abhosren, so Bel’s been training at night and reading The Book of the Dead in secret.


Also popping up for a pretty major role in corrupting Clariel is Moggett, the wiley twisty little feline-bound Free Magic creature who cannot be trusted!



The biggest issue I had going in was that I was expecting more of clean and cut origin story when really, it sort of hinted at Clariel’s weakness and her eventual downfall to come. Imagine writing a Joker origin story where at the end he’s just getting involved in crime but he doesn’t fall into the vat of chemicals that changes him forever; or a Batman Begins without Bruce Wayne ever making the Batsuit; or a Superman story that is basically Smallville where we never see Supes don the cape, but while that works for Smallville, it took me until actually finishing the book to realise I wasn’t going to get Clariel’s tragic fall into the Joker vat of chemicals after all. We don’t see her become a necromancer – we see her fight the urge. We don’t see her do anything evil, really – she still tries to save lives and even though she does murder people, that can be viewed through a justice or revenge lens.



This book tricks you. It tricks you into thinking it’s got a slower pace than it does. We follow Clariel around the city for the first third before anything of interest really happens, much like following Lirael in the library – it’s all a big set up that you don’t even realise is happening. Then it’s all go-go-go all the time until you’re screaming at yourself to stop reading so fast, it’ll all be over soon.



I certainly think Clariel is a book you’ll only get the most enjoyment out of if you’ve read the previous Old Kingdom books.


I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Dark Horses by Cecily von Ziegesar

"Wild Horses"


I like this whole linking videos on my reviews thing, I might keep it up if I can think of the right video.

4 Stars
Dark Horses + Dark Actions = Dark Story
Dark Horses - Cecily Von Ziegesar


When Merritt walks out of her SATs and goes on a bender, her parents send her to an equine rehabilitation camp called Good Fences where she meets Big Red, a former racing Thoroughbred recovering from injury and with a Big Bad Attitude to match. Red takes a liking to Merritt and claims her as his own, and when the two impress their sponsor and join the professional show circuit, Red won’t let anyone or anything come between him and his human.


I really liked the idea of reading alterative points of view from both Merritt, a damaged teen girl, and Big Red, and equally damaged and somewhat unhinged beautiful chestnut Thoroughbred. Merritt had no idea Red was so malicious though, although she loved him, she still only thought of him as a horse whose responsibility she could pass over to someone else. Red and Merritt don’t even start off liking each other and that’s the best kind of relationship I like reading about. Red very soon decided that if he ‘belongs’ to Merritt then he’s going to behave and do his best for her, and that’s when they get pulled into the professional show circuits because let’s face it, someone who walks out of their SAT isn’t exactly going to go to university. Merritt’s parents are largely absent and although she seems to bond with fellow competitor Carvin, he quickly cools off. Instead, the sponsor’s reckless, out of control daughter Beatrice, working as Red’s groom, revolves into Merritt’s life and VERY briefly makes the audience question if there’s going to be a bisexual romance before Big Red takes matters into his own… um… hooves.

It’s Red’s jealousy that I’m torn up over how I should feel. Because 1) I mean come on, he’s a loyal herd animal and he clearly has chosen Merritt as his ‘person’, much the way one of my three cats has chosen me as her ‘person’ and is practically my little shadow an that is seriously one of the best feelings you can get from an animal you love. 2) I know Red knows he does the wrong thing on occasion but he does try to be good for Merritt.


I loved Red’s narrative voice. Because playing a radio soothed him, he knew a lot of lyrical references and forever threw them into his own narrative. Even though he doesn’t speak, he sure gave off a lot of feeling and despite his nasty streak I really empathised with him. He was such a great character that even though he does bad things, I’m finding it hard to judge him harshly. He’s smart and loyal and loves Merritt.

Merritt Wenner (whose name I like to think of more like ‘Merit Winner’) doesn’t handle abandonment issues very well, so when people in her life leave her or she just can’t cope, she likes to drink and take random drugs to deal with it, which is what landed her at Good Fences. She’s abrasive and rebellious and the only thing good in her life is basically Red. I didn’t really feel like she had as much of a character arc as the horse did because at the end of the novel she’s in the same place she was at the beginning, and I was really disappointment when she half-heartedly entered a plot to steal Red only to quickly abandon him. Like she almost couldn’t decide whether she loved him or not.


The writing was contemporary, not exactly graceful, but fun with Red’s lyrical inputs. I didn’t really have an issue with it, it wasn’t over the top purple or lyrical and it wasn’t gritty and urban it just kind of was the middle of the road. Definite the best thing about the writing was Red’s narrative voice. I really felt like I was looking out of the eyes of a slightly deranged horse. Although it was kind of weird how smart he was… like he knew how much he weighed, for example. I thought that was weird.


The pace of this book was like that of a Thoroughbred – almost to the point of reckless. It felt rushed, like how quickly Bea’s feelings for Merritt grew and then BAM that’s all over. We completely missed Merritt’s winter training in Florida and went straight to the professional circuit. It seemed like the author was just so keen on getting everything down and telling this somewhat thrilling story that the whole thing seemed rushed and could have done with some padding out. For example, the girls at the Good Fences all jumbled into one, even when one of them was plucked out and promoted to supporting character rather than bit player.


I really enjoyed Dark Horses. Because of the plural in the title I kept expecting another horse to be dark like Red but nope, it was just him. From the first moment I loved the idea of a horse over its rider and this book really delivered pretty much what I expected and what I wanted. I would really recommend it to YA readers who like a bit of a thrill or those readers who enjoy troubled teen stories.


I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Halloween Bingo | Black Cat | Coraline


I was unable to add the film trailer to my review, but then I found this clip about the black cat and thought it was better.

4 Stars
Halloween Bingo | Black Cat | Coraline: A Satisfyingly Creepy Tale
Coraline - Chris Riddell, Neil Gaiman

There was a film adaptation of Coraline released in 2009 that was amazing and will be referenced throughout this review.



Coraline Jones, a bored tween, finds a more interesting life through a magical portal in her new house’s drawing room where her Other Mother wants to love her and keep her forever and replace her eyes with bright, shiny black buttons. Other Mother will do anything to keep Coraline…




Coraline is a disenchanted, bored tween in a new house before her new school has started and her parents don’t have time to entertain her. The old house they’ve moved into has been split into four apartments, and while strange neighbours live above and below them, the apartment opposite Coraline’s has a strange door in the drawing room that is blocked off with bricks. Determined to find the secret behind the blocked-up door, Coraline’s adventure takes her into another world where a creepy monster known as the beldam imitates her mother and insists on being called her Other Mother. While Other Mother treats Coraline with love and respect, and spoils her with delicious food and interesting entertainment, she’s desperate to hold on to Coraline, and will even take her real parents hostage. Meanwhile, Other Mother has devoured the souls of children like Coraline before, and the three little ghosts beg Coraline to set them free. If Coraline stays in the Other world, she’ll need to let Other Mother sew black buttons on her eyes, and let Other Mother love her and care for her forever (and possibly eat her?). But if she wants to escape, she needs to find her parents and the souls of the three ghost children with the help of a sardonic and somewhat aloof black cat. It’s notable to mention that in comparison to the film, which I adore, there is no Wyborn character. I believe he was created for the film so Coraline wasn’t wandering around muttering to herself all the time.




Of course as I was reading this I kept comparing it to the film, which I love. In comparison, Coraline from the book isn’t as spunky as Coraline from the film. Film Coraline is downright rude and even somewhat bratty. Book Coraline is more reserved and less aggressive. Both of them are smart and brave and have a certain amount of un-child-like common sense that allows them to achieve their goals.

Similarly, film Mother seems almost mean compared to book Mother. Film father seems more lively than book Father. Film Beldam seems scarier than Book Beldam, but maybe that’s because they model her so excellently on a spider and the reveal is very slow. Like I said earlier, Wyborn doesn’t exist in the book and neither does his grandmother so that makes a very minor plot point moot. The Misses Fink and Forcible are more lively and far more amusing in the film, as is Mr Bobo and his moues circus. It’s not that the book is bland, it’s just that the film took a really good idea and made it so much better.



Coraline is super creepy and I think it’s fantastic for a middle grade/young YA book. It never treats its younger readers with anything but respect and expects them to be able to figure out problems alongside or even before Coraline does. I kind of wished that Gaimen had written the early adventures as if they were a dream, like in the film. I also found the book’s climax to be more satisfying than the film, but I recognise, similar to my response to Gaimen’s Stardust, that certain elements work better on the screen. Although Gaimen is wonderful at description and dialogue, they do say that a picture says a thousand words, and so I think the film was more successful in getting its message and meaning across.




I didn’t find anything wrong with the pacing. The plot moved quickly enough to keep my attention, even though it’s only a short book and even though I roughly knew what was coming thanks to the film. I was excited to get back to the book when I put it down. There were a couple of subplots that were built into the book but like I said it was a shorter novel so I’m not fussed about missing them.



If you’ve seen the film you’d probably really enjoy this book. Even if you haven’t seen the film, (I’ve played the video game based on the film and really enjoyed that, too!) I think it’s a really engaging, thoughtful, creepy story that treats its younger audience members like grown ups. There’s no holding back on the creep, horror or suspense.



Read by candlelight or flashlight: 'Yuri' from Her Russian Protector by Roxie Rivera.

Magical Realism: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Witches: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone illustrated Edition

Genre Horror: Fat Vampire by Johnny B Truant

Black Cat: Coraline by Neil Gaiman


Diverse Authors can be spooky fun: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (currently reading)

Ghost stories and Haunted Houses: Ghost Girl (#1 3rd Freak House) by CJ Archer

Young Adult Horror: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Scary women (authors): Arise (Hereafter #2) by Tara Hudson

Reads with Booklikes friends: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle.


Grave or Graveyard: Up From The Grave (Night Huntress #7) by Jeaniene Frost

Genre: mystery: We Were Liars by E Lockhart

Edgar Allen Poe Raven image: Enshadowed (Nevermore #2) by Kelly Creagh

Gothic Seared with Scars (#2 2nd Freak House) by CJ Archer

Creepy Crawlies: Parasite by Mira Grant


‘Fall’ into a good book: Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #4) by Maggie Stiefvater

Locked room mystery: Dead Famous by Ben Elton

It was a dark and stormy night: Storm Glass (Glass #1) by Maria V Snyder

Set in New England: Little Vampire Women by Lynn Messina

Full Moon: Fire Spell by Laura Amy Schlitz


Vampires vs werewolves: The Vampire Stalker by Allison van Diepen

Supernatural: Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Classic Horror: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Pumpkin: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Set on Halloween: “Ghost Town” by Malinda Lo, short story in Defy The Dark ed by Saundra Mitchell

3 Stars
First read down
Her Russian Protector Boxed Set - Roxie Rivera

I am WAY behind because I was determined to finish some other books before I started on my Halloween Bingo card.


Anyway, I finished 'Yuri', book 3 in Her Russian Protector box set by Roxie Rivera, who's a dirty-writing sexy romance/erotica kinda gal whose books I love (also writes under Lolita Lopez). I read the whole box set on my phone when I was unable to sleep, but I didn't start Yuri until after September 1, and it's a book in its own right.


I'll just give a quick rundown since I normally only review Young Adult and this review won't even go on my regular blog,


Yuri is a billionaire in love with PR princess Lena Cruz, and when she confronts him over what she mistakenly suspects is shady dealing trying to undermine her club, the two start dating. There's lots of hot sex and lots of talk about feelings and are we moving too fast because it takes place over the course of about one week. Of course there's some gang/mob trouble but nothing a big tough Russian can't handle.


I like Roxie Rivera's books because the guys are always huge and alpha male but when they look at their woman they go all dopey and sweet. I love a big man, my husband's seven feet tall, although I could do without the inherent bossiness in Roxie's men and also the women's complete happiness to be bossed around. She tries to make the relationships equal but often fails, but even then I don't really mind, it is fiction after all. I love me a big sexy Russian.


I probably won't go on with the series, it just seems to melodramatic and it's always the same thing: the house gets broken into, the woman is threatened, the Russian goes all alpha male.


Probably the star of the book is Sasha, the enormous Caucasian shepherd who, obviously, hates everyone but falls in love with Lena at first sight.



3 Stars
Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

Since a terrible tragedy at school, Morgan’s been unable to leave her house. Her days consist of online school, crappy soap operas, and grilled cheese sandwiches. That is until surfer boy Evan moves in next door, bringing with him the warmth of the sun and the smell of the sea. Connecting with Evan could help Morgan reconnect with the world outside her apartment.


I recently read another ‘issues’ YA book about a girl with a debilitating problem that a boy helps her work through. That was called the Things I Didn’t Say, and it was about a girl with Selective Mutism. In contrast to that, Underwater shows how Morgan is actively trying to overcome her issues and she works hard all through the novel and makes progress all through the novel, not just because a cute boy wants to date her. Similarly to the other novel, Underwater’s cute boy tries to understand her problems but loses patience once or twice because our girl’s incapable of being ‘normal’. However, in this novel, Morgan still has a therapist, and Brenda is a cool a psychologist you can get. She’s young and hip and has tattoos and dreadlocks. So as the plot advances, and Morgan makes progress with her issues, we’re also exposed to why she feels so scared even though other kids went through what she went through that fateful day at school, and why her friendships have drifted apart. It’s not a novel big on action, more of a character study.


It was interesting reading about agoraphobia from Morgan’s point of view. She used to be a strong swimmer and there’s even a pool at her apartment, but since she shut herself in her body has started to change from lean and tan to rounder and pale. Morgan has a realistically-portrayed 5 year old brother, Ben, whom she adores. Her mother doesn’t quite understand her issue and her dad is absent. Morgan likes repetition because it’s predictable. She needs people to sit on the left side of her so she can see them. Her fears run her life, but she wants to overcome them, and that’s admirable.


What I liked about Evan’s portrayal is he never seemed to be to be Morgan’s saviour. It wasn’t because of him that she challenged her fears and stepped outside her front door. Largely it was because of Ben, actually, and Brenda’s calm and patient coaching. It was Morgan who wanted to do it, and not because of Evan. Likewise, Evan wasn’t this wisdomous ball of never-ending patience – quite frankly, he tried to understand Morgan, but didn’t, and lashed out like any normal teenage boy would. On the other hand he did have some moments when he was really sweet, but like Morgan’s mother, I think he never really understood what he problem was.


I would have loved to have seen some more scenes with Morgan’s ex-friendship group. There were four of them together and they seemed like a whole bunch of fun, but Morgan cut herself off after the tragedy. Consequently we don’t get a whole lot of info on the ex-BFFS even though Morgan does run into them on occasion. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just something I think could have enhanced the novel even further.


I found the writing enjoyable and leisurely. Like I said, it’s not really an action novel, and I was OK with that. I was happy to explore Morgan’s feelings on a whole heap of subjects. It felt like a contemporary, if somewhat smart teen going through a really rough time.


Overall I enjoyed Underwater, figuring out what he big secrets were and then cheering Morgan as she faced her challenges and overcame them – not without significant struggle. I’d recommend this book to YA lovers who love a bit of mystery with their contemporary.


I received this book for free from Pan MacMillan in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Dan Stevens' "Beast" voice is so utterly perfect I just can't even... and Emma Watson is perfect casting as well.

4 Stars
A Brilliant and Original High Concept Sci-fi
Burning Midnight - Will McIntosh

I received this book for free from Pan MacMillan in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.



Overnight they appeared – spheres that granted enhanced properties like straight teeth, intelligence, and strength when a pair were ‘burned’. Some were rarer than others, and so a business grew around hunting these spheres. And that’s how Sully and Hunter met. But no one know if these mysterious spheres are a gift from God or something far worse – after all, they used to say cigarettes were good for you, right?



Sully is known as the kid who lost the Cherry Reds – when he sold them to an insidious collector, they didn’t grant powers but simply reseeded the Earth with more spheres. Sully’s $2.5 million vanished and now he’s back to collecting and selling at the flea market. He teams up with a hunter named Hunter who’s figured out likely places people haven’t looked yet. Together they find the rarest of all, a Gold sphere, and its twin, but they’re faced with being murdered for the Golds or burning them with no idea what will happen.



Sully seemed like a regular kid who just lucked out on the deal of a lifetime. He’s trying to make money buying and selling spheres because he lives alone with his mother who has a crappy job and they might have to move away if they can’t afford rent. Although he’s largely driven by financial motivations, the relationships he develops with Hunter and Mandy, who he met during the novel, and his ongoing relationship with Dom, was really lovely to watch.

Hunter was your typical badass YA female character, ninja-like and almost super-powered, even though she hadn’t burned any spheres. She couldn’t afford to. She was one of those ‘I’m capable and I don’t need a man’ types, which is why I liked it when she fell in love with Sully. Oops. Is that a spoiler? Anyway, it showed her gentle side, but it also re-established that her selfish nature and how when she felt something was for the best she wouldn’t listen to the other characters at all, even though she was supposed to love them. I think this self-reliance was due to her being homeless for a few years and never having anyone to count on.

I loved Dom and Mandy. Dom seemed like a great big brother character and it was cool to see lots of diversity in Mandy, a gay Asian girl who kept her friendship with Sully and Dom despite her distrust of burning spheres. They really were the perfect supporting character, arguing against Sully and Hunter’s more selfish ideas in a realistic way.



I had no idea this was going to lead to where it led and so I was pleasantly surprised with the massive plot twist. It really came out of nowhere and seemed really imaginative. I liked the writing fair enough, I didn’t really see anything wrong with it.



I did feel like the novel was slow to get going because for a long time we didn’t know if the spheres were bad or good or really what they were or even how they were used. Everything was eventually revealed but it took its sweet time and sometimes I was flipping through the pages for the next part and sometimes I was glad to put the book down at the end of the chapter. I will say I did have a big battle of willpower not to check the final pages to see who survived and what the outcome was, boy that was hard to fight but I’m glad I fought it because all was revealed in time.



This novel was just so unexpected. I thought it was going to be about superheroes, not making money looking for the spheres to sell to people for enhanced attributes. I certainly was not expecting where it eventually took us!

This has nothing to do with reading but no one else seems to give a shit and i know you guys will care because I know you care about me.

So last week was my birthday and my husband and I decided to go for a drive. We had a really nice day stopping in at various places and seeing what's changed around the state.


I've been sleeping poorly for the last few months, ever since my husband broke our bed and now I'm sleeping on a mattress on the floor which I hate with a passion. I wake up frequently, sometimes choking and gasping for air. I'm constantly tired through the day. Sometimes I've caught myself falling asleep at my desk at work if it's warm and cozy enough.


And yes, before you say anything, it is signs of early sleep apnea and I've been to my doctor and he's recommended a sleep specialist to diagnose me officially but basically all that's going to do is try to sell me a thousand-dollar machine we can't afford. I'm just getting older and my body doesn't work the way it used to ten years ago.


It was early afternoon when I started feeling weary, so we decided to head home. My husband doesn't drive, which annoys the fuck out of me, so I'm stuck driving all around on my birthday and I feel the need for a nap but I want to get home. I almost drive off the road at one point, but it's in a country area and I gained control of the car quickly. I feel like that scare was enough to keep me awake.


Then we hit a downhill highway and before I know what's happening I'm asleep then I'm awake and realising we're about the crash into the barrier coming around a corner downhill, so I twist the wheel and one of the back tires hits the curb and pops and I control the car and move into the emergency lane and call for help to come change my tire. I was pretty calm because I was in shock, it wasn't until later that night when I saw my mother that I burst into tears and told her I almost killed us.



I fell asleep while driving and nearly killed my husband and myself and no one on twitter cares and no one who reads my blog cares and I just really wanted everyone to know that I almost died and it was scary as fuck.

Halloween Bingo reading plan


I've decided to take part because my ARCs are at an all-time low and I haven't seen anything upcoming I'm desperate to review, so I think I'll have some breathing room over the autumn.


For those of you who know me, you might be asking 'But Nemo, it's HORROR themed, why on EARTH would you take part?"


Well, because not everything needs to horror or scary. And to prove it, I'm getting organised (because we all know how I love being organised) and posting my book list!


Most of the books on my list are YA, the majority of them by women, and almost all of them are owned by me. On occasion, I'm borrowing from my husband, who is a MAJOR horror buff and I asked his advice about filling a few squares.


Let's start!

Read by candlelight or flashlight: 'Yuri' from Her Russian Protector by Roxie Rivera. (own, ebook)

Magical Realism: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (own, paperback)

Witches: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone illustrated Edition (own, hardback - reread)

Genre Horror: Fat Vampire by Johnny B Truant (recommended and borrowed from my husband, ebook)

Black Cat: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (own, paperback)

Diverse Authors can be spooky fun: Huntress by Malinda Lo (own, paperback)

Ghost stories and Haunted Houses: Ghost Girl (#1 3rd Freak House) by CJ Archer (own, ebook)

Young Adult Horror: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (own, ebook)

Scary women (authors): Arise (Hereafter #2) by Tara Hudson (own, paperback)

Reads with Booklikes friends: There's a big readalong of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle which I guess I'll take part in if no one wants to do anything YA with me. (own, ebook)

Grave or Graveyard: Up From The Grave (Night Huntress #7) by Jeaniene Frost (own, paperback)

Genre: mystery: We Were Liars by E Lockhart (own, paperback)

Edgar Allen Poe Raven image: Enshadowed (Nevermore #2) by Kelly Creagh (own, hardcover)

Gothic Seared with Scars (#2 2nd Freak House) by CJ Archer (own, ebook)

Creepy Crawlies: Parasite by Mira Grant (recommended and borrowed from husband)

‘Fall’ into a good book: Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #4) by Maggie Stiefvater (own, hardcover)

Locked room mystery: Dead Famous by Ben Elton (own, paperback - reread)

It was a dark and stormy night: Storm Glass (Glass #1) by Maria V Snyder (own, paperback)

Set in New England: Little Vampire Women by Lynn Messina (own, paperback)

Full Moon: Fire Spell by Laura Amy Schlitz (own, paperback)

 Vampires vs werewolves: The Vampire Stalker by Allison van Diepen (own, paperback)

Supernatural: Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (own, paperback)

Classic Horror: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (recommended and borrowed from husband, ebook)

Pumpkin: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (own, paperback - reread)

Set on Halloween: “Ghost Town” by Malinda Lo, short story in Defy The Dark ed by Saundra Mitchell (I'm pretty sure I own this, I need to search my shelves. If not, this will be the only book I purchase for Bingo.)

The Potential

I have three rereads: Harry Potter #1 and #2, and Ben Elton's Dead Famous.

I'm borrowing three recommended books from my husband: Fat Vampire by Johnny B Truant, Parasite by Mira Grant, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

Number of books I've identified written by women: 22

Number of books I've identified written by men: 3

Middle grade books: 2

YA books: 15

Adult books: 8


Notes on some obscure references

I've chosen ‘Yuri’ from Her Russian Protector by Roxie Rivera as my 'read by candlelight or flashlight'. I’m actually taking a wide interpretation of 'candlelight and flashlight' and reading this on my phone, which I often use as a torch.


I've chosen The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black as my Black Cat square because of Holly's surname.


I've chosen Arise (Hereafter #2) by Tara Hudson as my Scary Women (authors) because it's a ghost story.


I've chosen Enshadowed (Nevermore #2) by Kelly Creagh as my Edgar Allen Poe Raven image because the Nevermore trilogy is based on/influenced by Edgar Allen Poe.


I've chosen Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater as my 'Fall into a good book' because of the title of the series, The Wolves of Mercy Falls.


I've chosen Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as my 'pumpkin' because they drink pumpkin juice at Hogwarts.


So that's my plan. I don't plan on blacking out every one but I do hope to make some progress into books I've been putting off forever. Books are still subject to change but I like this lot.

My name is Nemo.

By day I work in IT, by night I turn into a vigilante kitten snuggler.

This blog used to be called The Moonlight Library.


"A good book resting unopened in its slot on a shelf, full of majestic potentiality, is the most comforting sort of intellectual wallpaper."

- David Quammen