Resonance by Celine Kiernan

This was another advanced review copy I have received in exchange for an honest review.

I found this book weird. It was quite unusual, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I wasn’t impressed by it. The beginning seemed quite promising, it was set in the late 1800s-early 1900s, and was showing the mean streets of Dublin, and the lives of a carriage driver and seamstress for a theatre. It was interesting. And then things started going downhill as things became bizarre. The end did improve, but it did too little to save the book.

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Metro Winds

This is Isobelle Carmody’s second short story anthology, the first being Green Monkey Dreams.
Overall it was a great collection of short stories, not as thought provoking as Green Monkey Dreams, but some very interesting and varied tales, and some beautiful stories.

The title story: Metro Winds

A lovely story about a girl who belongs in the country who is moved to the city and just can’t find her place. The contrast between the girl’s mother, and her aunty who lives in the city is quite striking. The Metro Winds – the winds from the underground network, help the girl find her place. Well, actually her wings, as she is engorged by this beast and transformed.

The Dove Game

Just like in Metro Winds you can get a feeling that Isobelle has a little contempt for cities, and how oppressive, and disconnecting they are.

“Cities smothered the land, he reckoned, stopping it communicating with the people who lived on it, though maybe it was more that cities reflected people’s desire not to hear the land.”

“…[H]is father had said sadly that cities were as confused as the people who lived in them, and that you needed maps for dealing with the people as much as for finding your way around the streets”

It certainly was an interesting story, to see how this young man’s life was changed because of a dying man’s wish. And just how he was lost, and found himself in a foreign city, where he is so disconnected compared to before when he was in the outback. Of course the story of the dying man, and the person he was supposed to meet is also very interesting and mysterious, and turns out to be very haunting and sad.

The Girl Who Could See the Wind

Instead of leaving Australia, this time we have a story where a family comes to Australia, seeking the end of the world. Well really an escape from a promise the mother made to a witch, that promise being her first born daughter in exchange for the man she loved, who died. Certainly was interesting to see Willow see things others just couldn’t, and then the contrast of Rose who saw people more clearly than anyone else. Is Isobelle trying to say there are two (or perhaps three if they are blind to both) people in the world, those who see other people clearly, and those who see the world clearly?

But the story thickens as Rose disappears and their mother is found dead in the winter park, which only Willow and her mother seem aware about – because it’s magical. Eventually Willow goes into the park with her policeman friend to try to find Rose, they end up meeting the witch, who explains the deal, and how her mother had Rose to try and trick the witch and take her instead. And we find that Rose is up in a tower awaiting her rescue by the prince, who is actually her half-brother, who has been through some trials to get there. At the end of it all, the prince is turned into a cat, and he can either leave and be a man, or stay and be with Rose. He chooses to leave, and then immediately regrets it and goes back just before the way closes. While Willow also gets a happily ever after as she and the policeman fall in love also.

I always love how Isobelle can twist old fairytales and stories and come up with something original.

The Stranger

I know from Isobelle’s blog that she has been to Santorini, and I think I can really see her personal experience shine through here. She talks of the smell of the eucalyptus trees, and the feeling of a long flight from Australia, and of Santorini so vividly. For a very long time it was a bit of guessing game to see how this story would be ‘fantasy’, which I liked. Because fantasy doesn’t need to be full on all the time, and in fact this story could nearly end without the fantasy ending, which involved vampires, who once a century find one person to join them to ensure they remain in touch with humanity.

The Wolf Prince

A very complicated story with lots of flash backs and flash backs within memories, but really engrossing. Definitely get the sense of fairytales being woven in, with curses turning men into beasts, only saved by princesses, and the hunt for these princesses which is very complicated. Then the huge mattresses, for a second I thought there was going to be a pea involved, but there wasn’t.

But again, of course given it is the title, we have the theme of cities, and how they hide something more sometimes. Like the passages to the faerie world, this time though it seemed to be Venice which Isobelle was talking about with its canals, but it doesn’t have to be a real place at all.

The Man Who Lost His Shadow

Again another journey to a foreign place, searching. This time for the man’s shadow, which he noticed disappeared not long after his retirement, but the question is how long did he simply not notice? I do like that he went to doctors and the like about not having a shadow and how they just couldn’t comprehend it. Instead he heads to Transylvania?? or somewhere where darkness is strong, after some random interaction with someone who led him there. He gets kidnapped by some criminals for a little while, before being allowed to go on his way, and he ends up having an encounter with a roadside prostitute who is able to give him his shadow back because it’s in her breasts. Yeah, a bit weird.

A Feast For Crows

I was reading this book over my period of SWOTVAC and exams, and gosh it was a good escape from study. I’m just constantly impressed by this series. I basically have no complaints about it. Except of course the fact that this is half a book! Martin points this out at the end, that it was either half of the story or follow half the characters, and he chose the latter. Which I think is a very interesting decision. I’m quite used to a story being cut into chunks known as books, but I don’t recall of a book following one set of characters and then another (though I guess you could argue the first two books of Heroes of Olympus do that, actually yes you could argue that – but not quite the same scale).

But that was quite frustrating, because we have no idea what Jon and Stannis were doing at the wall, what Bran was doing over the wall (like seriously what’s going on there), what Tyrion is doing, what happened to the Onion Knight (apart from he could be dead), how Daenerys is doing trying to rule that town, and whether or not damn Theon is even alive (we heard he was dead, but I don’t believe that). And then what’s worse, is that if we follow them in the next book, then we have to wait until Martin finishes the next book to find out what happens next with all that has happened in this one, and there were some very shocking things going on. But the fact that I am annoyed just goes to show how good a series it is because, it means I am desperate (like everyone else) to find out what is happening next. Let’s just get on and talk about this book. Many a spoiler below.

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A Storm of Swords – George R R Martin

This was a big book with so much going on and yet I remained captivated and it was a breeze to read. I got my hands on the full book three instead of 3.1 and 3.2 which seems to be what Australian publishers opted for (the book is intimidating, and two books mean twice the profit). Before I go too much further a massive warning for spoilers here I’m discussing it all so look away if you don’t want to know. In addition I have yet to see the third and fourth seasons of the TV show, so I’d prefer those left unmentioned in the comments for now. There are just so many twists and turns, and shocks, and deaths (which were so much more powerful and shocking this time around) and everything. Just so good.

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

This was a very easy read, I finished it off in two days, in a few hours total. Of course the diminutive size of about 180 pages helps (it looks tiny compared to the copy of A Storm of Swords I have waiting beside it), but it also flowed quite well. I wasn’t expecting what I got, though I should have been considering this is Gaiman. It’s almost subtle fantasy, wrapped up in childhood reminiscence. I did really like the story, and came away feeling good, almost warm and fuzzy.

The story starts by us being introduced to a man who has left a funeral in his old home town (presumably his last surviving parent), and is supposed to be going to his sister’s for the wake. Instead he ends up heading to his old home, and then down the lane to the Hempstock Farm, where he finds Mrs Hempstock, and sits in front of their pond, and recalls a story from his childhood.

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Reticulum by Marta Salek Review

Update: you can now buy the book here!

Magic. This is a book about magic, and much more than magic. As I mentioned yesterday (with a giveaway and an interview with the author here) this is a debut novel by Australian Marta Salek. I was quite excited about the book because full disclosure I know the author, and read a snippet of it over a year ago I think while it was still being written, and I really liked it at the time. (I’ll say now that I received this book as an ebook ARC (advance review copy) in exchange for promoting/reviewing this book as part of the blog tour. My review is still my own opinion and honest, and I have not been asked or paid to say nice things about it.) Apart from that snippet I didn’t know too much more about the book, so I think it’s understandable I was excited to see the completed product.

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Reticulum by Marta Salek – Interview and Giveaway

I recently got the chance to read and review (coming tomorrow) a debut novel by Australian author Marta Salek. It is a New Adult Fantasy novel to be released in a few days (25th) by Zharmae Publishing Press. I really enjoyed the book and found it to be very imaginative. This interview and giveaway was run by Danielle at Coffee and Characters! Update: You can now buy the book here!Reticulum by Marta Salek Front Cover

Here’s a little synopsis:

Matthew’s life has one focus: magic. Pleasure, for him, is achieving the unachievable, learning that which has never been understood before. The Reticulum is a dream come true—a magic that promises him everything. With it whispering in his mind, what other companion does he need?

Andrea is determined to take on the world and her talent is such that she might just succeed. But an apprenticeship with an unscrupulous wizard shatters her self-confidence, leaving her friendless and alone.

When the two meet, they learn that isolation is not inevitable, after all. That being able to break the laws of the universe means little if there’s no one to break them for. That when you allow yourself to need, and trust, and love, you can take on anything.

Continue reading Reticulum by Marta Salek – Interview and Giveaway