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Presented by State Library Victoria

A Recap (II)

Hello, again Blinkies and Blogdogs! I’ve been away on holiday for a bit (thank goodness we Melbournians can right now) and been otherwise quite busy so I haven’t had time to write! HOWEVER, I did have time to read and thank goodness for that 🙂

Here’s a few of my recent reads that I thought would be interesting to discuss:

Harry Potter: A History of Magic by The British Library

(I won’t include here the Goodreads blurb because its VERY long)

It’s basically a companion to the exhibition which was shown in England and America (but sadly not here in Australia), and as a way for those, like me, who didn’t get to see the exhibition to discover what it’s all about.

I thought this was really interesting. I have read the Potter books many times over and this worked as a really nice companion to them, explaining a lot of the roots of some of J.K Rowling’s ideas and also discussing some of her earlier notes and drafts that were very revealing about the phases that the books (and her ideas) went through. If you’re not interested in Harry Potter, it’s still got lots of information about mythology and other magical things in history like alchemy and spells that perhaps you wouldnt find out otherwise. As I listened to this in audiobook form, I don’t know what the physical book for ebook are like, although I imagine they would include photographs of some of the discussed manuscripts and artifacts which would be very cool to look at. I really recommend the audio experience anyway, as it was very well put together.

 

The Erasure Initiative by Lili Wilkinson

The rumble of tyres on bitumen, and the hiss of air conditioning. The murmur of voices. The smell of air freshener. The cool vibration of glass against my forehead.

A girl wakes up on a self-driving bus. She has no memory of how she got there or who she is. Her nametag reads CECILY. The six other people on the bus are just like her: no memories, only nametags. There’s a screen on each seatback that gives them instructions. A series of tests begin, with simulations projected onto the front window of the bus. The passengers must each choose an outcome; majority wins. But as the testing progresses, deadly secrets are revealed, and the stakes get higher and higher. Soon Cecily is no longer just fighting for her freedom – she’s fighting for her life.

(Blurb from Goodreads)

I read the first half of this on NYE and before bed which left me feeling a bit freaked out in the dark, so I lay very still and hoped that the flapping noises in my room was loose papers being lifted by the fan’s breeze rather than something more creepy…

I really got into this thriller. I’d never read anything by Lili Wilkinson before but had heard high praise which I 100% agree with. I read this in only a few sittings and left with that weird feeling you get when you immerse yourself in a story for perhaps too long – if that’s possible! The Characters, I thought, were complex and the drip-feeding (as my year seven teacher would say) of information about them kept me hungering for more. While I perhaps didn’t like the characters as people, their backstories and motivations were great and what, I think, made me like this book so much.

 

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Here is a thing everyone wants: A miracle.

Here is a thing everyone fears: What it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

(Blurb from Goodreads)

I’ve been slowly reading (or listening, actually) through Maggie Stiefvater’s books and, for most of them, loving the experience. All the Crooked Saints is no exception. I don’t quite know what made me like this one so much but the simple story (in a way – there were minimal settings but the characters were intricate) was light as well as heavy – it was happy in some points but others were a bit sad. Character arcs were everywhere, after all, that is what a “miracle” in this book basically is. I did love this one and would definitely recommend this to anyone. (Also, a sidenote: I’m usually quite bored by romance as a subplot, but here is was just perfect for the story and unusually I really liked it.)

 

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

(Blurb from Goodreads)

Man, I really liked this one. It’s written in verse, and I (yet again) listened to this in audiobook form, so that took a bit of getting used to but once I had got the rhythm for it I loved it. The story is very raw and I feel that Elizabeth Acevedo had written from her own experience, or else that of someone close to her. I didn’t know much of Dominican culture at all, and still don’t really, as it’s a story rather than a non-fiction book! I still really liked learning what it was like for Camino and I think it’s always important to see what other people’s lives are like, as hers is so different from mine! It was very emotional and the complex relationships between sisters, parents, friends and others were very realistic and made this book really great.

 

Hive by A.J Betts

All I can tell you is what I remember, in the words that I have.

Hayley tends to her bees and follows the rules in the only world she has ever known.

Until she witnesses the impossible: a drip from the ceiling.

A drip? It doesn’t make sense.

Yet she hears it, catches it. Tastes it.

Curiosity is a hook.

What starts as a drip leads to a lie, a death, a boy, a beast, and too many awful questions.

(Blurb from Goodreads)

This wasn’t shortlisted for a Gold Inky for nothing. I’d been complaining to mum about how there were barely any Australian books set in Australia in genres that I read for a while before putting on my headphones and listening to this one. Yes, another audiobook. I really do like them. This one was both of those things and additionally read by someone – yes you guessed it – from Australia!! Yay!!! The whole running of the community – or the world, as Hayley knows it – was so different from the current Earth and really made me think. Hayley’s discovery that not is all as it seems (perhaps a cliche, but a good one) kept me wanting MORE so after I (quickly – it’s not a long book so give it a try even if you’re not sure) finished the first one I went and borrowed Rogue, the equally stunning sequel, as an ebook. I can’t say much of what I liked in the plot without spoiling the book, so I won’t – but really, read it.

I mean, if you want to.*

 

So there’s a couple I really liked from the past couple of months! I’m curious what others thought so if you’ve read any let me know!

Happy holidays people and stay safe,

Sekhmet

 

*No actually, that’s an order 😉

4 comments

inky State Library Victoria

Great work!

25th Jan, 21
sekhmet

Thanks!

28th Jan, 21
queenzai

wow! these books sound awesome! Especially the book called Clap When You Land! I want to read it now.

27th Jan, 21
sekhmet

You definitely should! I really enjoyed it.

28th Jan, 21