I decided to do a Goodreads challenge this year, and set myself the challenge of reading 50 books. Apparently it sends you updates to let you know if you’re on track, and that’s the kind of thing I need. Anyway, the first book I read in 2015 was The Seventh Miss Hatfield, by Anna Caltabiano, which I picked up last year at this book swap. Rather than write two reviews, I’m going to embed my reviews from Goodreads and then there will be spoilers on the blog.
The Seventh Miss Hatfield by Anna Caltabiano
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I picked The Seventh Miss Hatfield up at a book swap last August and only just got around to reading it. It looked intriguing, and I don’t know anyone who has heard of it. This book was okay. As the blurb says, it’s about a young girl who is tricked into becoming immortal, and is able to travel through time. Time travel is one of my favourite genre tropes, and I was happy that Caltabiano used it in a way that I hadn’t seen before in any of the vast time travel stories I’ve seen and read. This book is largely a time travel romance with some adventure in it, and I felt that it focused on some elements more than others. I liked that it explored the problems with immortality, but I found that the romance storyline was predictable, and figured out the big twist at the end less than 100 pages into the book. It was only a couple of days ago that I discovered Caltabiano wrote this when she was 17, which gives me hope. There were elements of this book that were promising, and I’m interested to see her grow as a writer, and I’m glad that the Hatfield story will be a series. It’s the sort of series that doesn’t have to pick up where the previous one left off, but work more like Bridie’s Fire. While I didn’t love this book, there’s enough good in it to make me want to read the rest of the series, and I hope that Anna Caltabiano grows as a writer, because she shows promise.
(I gave this book 2 stars, but I follow the Goodreads suggestions and “it was okay” is how I feel about it.)
View all my reviews
I first heard about Zeroes when I signed up for Goodreads earlier this year. The most surprising thing about that sentence is that I didn’t already have a Goodreads account. The book showed up on my suggested reads list, and I bought it a couple of months ago and didn’t read it until this week, which is my normal book reading behaviour right now. Zeroes is a collaboration from three Sydney-based authors, Scott Westerfeld (who is also a New Yorker, and is married to Justine Larbalestier who hails from Sydney), Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti. I’m always fascinated by collaborative books, because aside from having an editor and an agent, writing a novel – at least before you manage to sell it – seems like such a solitary process.
Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl won the Silver Inky Award last week, which means it’s Australian teenagers’ favourite Young Adult book written by a non-Australian author in 2014. I’m not sure of the exact rules, but a lot of things happen even before voting begins. There are some great things that have happened over the past decade or so – one of them is that fandom isn’t looked at as something strange. Sure, people who aren’t fannish don’t get why I’m so obsessed with things: when I was in primary school it was Pokemon, Harry Potter and Sailor Moon. Then I went to an all girls high school, and it was the era of the Harry Potter phenomenon, so I was allowed to like that, but I dropped the other two things. Then when I went to uni, it was okay to be weird again. It wasn’t all good, I no longer had the structure and close friendship group I did at school, and I became more introverted. I was Cath from Fangirl. Spoilers ahead for Fangirl, Carry On, and Harry Potter, if you haven’t read that for some reason or another. You’ve been warned.
The Inky Awards is a celebration of Young Adult literature, where the shortlist and the winners are all chosen by teenagers. It’s hosted by the organisation Inside a Dog, which is the Centre for Youth Literature run by the Victorian State library. The Gold Inky goes to an Australian author, and the Silver Inky goes to an author from overseas. The Inky Awards will celebrate its tenth birthday next year, and I remember voting for them when I was a teenager, and I remember voting for Looking for Alaska in the very first Inky Awards. Since then, the quality and overall amount of Young Adult literature has skyrocketed (my YA reviews on this blog are easily some of the most popular). I had no idea I could have applied to be a judge for these awards (although I was in Year 12 in 2008, and my performance anxiety was through the roof, so it wouldn’t have been a great idea), and now I really wish I had.
I recently joined Goodreads, and today I discovered that I can embed my reviews from there into my blog, so I’m going to experiment. I don’t really write much on that space, usually just a spoiler-free paragraph, so I’m going to embed them here, and then below the cut I’ll have some spoiler-specific thoughts if I think they’re necessary.
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I was really looking forward to this book, as I devoured the first three Throne of Glass novels in May earlier this year. I feel like I would enjoy these books much more if they completely cut out the romance aspect. I know it’s a small part of the story, but it reminded me of A Court of Thorns and Roses, which I didn’t like at all. The character development was uneven – I loved what happened with Lysandra and Manon, but everyone else just seemed flat.
I don’t actually have anything else to say at the moment, but I might update it during the week. I’m really happy with how good that looks embedded, so I’ll leave it like that for now.
The Revenge of Seven is one of the four books I got at the YA Book Swap at the Melbourne Writers Festival on Sunday. The Lorien Legacies, by the pseudonymous author Pittacus Lore (who is not as much a character in the series as Lemony Snickett), is a series that is entertaining even if it isn’t necessarily well written. It’s not quite Zoo (I’ve become a really strong advocate for that show), but the dialogue is terrible, the characters are barely characters, and it prioritises plot. I bought the first book in the series, I am Number Four on my Kindle, and The Power of Six not long after. They’re page turners in the vein of Dan Brown but for Young Adults, and they have a place in the world. The problem with these books is that they’re good for a reading marathon, but I don’t really care about them when I’m not reading them. The third and fourth books continued the plot of getting the remaining Legacies together, which became a slight drag, but The Revenge of Seven finally moves the story along.
The Melbourne Writers Festival is one of my favourite Melbourne things. I bought a 5 event pass for this year’s festival, which I’m using to see events with television writers, but there are also some great free events for people who don’t have money. This year, the Melbourne Writers Festival partnered with Signal, a City of Melbourne Youth Centre with a focus on the creative arts. All day they had a number of free events, including one on fanfiction which I didn’t get to, as well as a Young Adult Book Swap, which was supported by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. The idea is pretty simple: bring along a book or seven, and swap them for something you haven’t read. I took A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas, because I didn’t like it very much, even though the Throne of Glass series is quite good. I ended up getting four books to take home!
Because there were so many books available, they let us take home as many as we wanted, and I ended up with four. Jessica Shirvington’s Disruption was a book that was donated by either the author or publisher because there were several copies. I’ve never even heard of The Seventh Miss Hatfield, but it looks interesting. I met the girl who donated How to be Bad, and I’ve been meaning to read some E. Lockhart for a while. I like the Pittacus Lore books while recognising that they’re not very good (the history of their publication is quite interesting and kind of horrible), and I had considered buying The Revenge of Seven earlier today at the bookshop. It was a good thing I waited. Anyway, I have four new(ish) books, and I paid with one book, so that’s pretty great.