Blog Tour (Q&A and Review): The Disappearance of Ember Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Firstwood

Today I’m delighted to be a part of the blog tour for Ambelin Kaymullina’s novel, The Disappearance of Ember Crow. I am loving the Tribe series so far and was very excited to be given the opportunity to ask Ambelin a few questions.

Q&A with Ambelin Kwaymullina

  •  What inspired you to write The Tribe series?

Ashala Wolf herself, and the rest of The Tribe. I can her voice so clearly, and see around me the towering trees of the Firstwood.

It was autumn the last time I was there. I stood just outside the wolf den, my feet sinking into the sodden earth, and inhaled the sharp tang of eucalyptus from the leaves of the tuarts. And I thought, I have missed you.

If I didn’t write, when would I go home?

  •  Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you have other dream careers in mind?

I always knew. Although I’m not sure ‘career’ is the right description – obsession, maybe. Necessity of life, like air or water or food. The thing that I do not give up, that I hold onto tightly even when all else is taken. Writing is the love of my life.

  • What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Work at my day job. Read. Watch sci fi dvds. Hang out with my dogs. Although the truth is that there is always a part of my mind that is lost in a story. Sometimes it is a large part – leaving me susceptible to walking in front of traffic, into light poles and three blocks further than I wanted to go.

  • What books do you think have influenced your life and your writing the most?

Not books but a story. An ancient tale, of blue sky and purple hills and the travels of generations of feet across red earth. The story of my people, the Palyku, my Ancestors, and my Country.

  • What are you currently reading?

Nothing right now – because I’m writing and I don’t read when I write, I simply don’t have the time.

  • Are you working on anything now?

The next book in the Tribe series, The Foretelling of Georgie Spider.

  • Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

You matter. You matter to me – you have taken the time to read my story, and that is a gift. You matter to Ashala and the Tribe – you have walked in their world, following Ash through the hallways of the detention centre and along the trails of the Firstwood. And you matter to this world too. Never believe that your thoughts or feelings lack meaning or significance. There are mistakes enough to be made, in this existence; don’t make the one of assuming that you cannot change your own or someone else’s reality for the better.

Thank you so much Ambelin for taking the time to answer my questions.

My Review

Title: The Disappearance of Ember Crow (The Tribe #2)The Disappearance of Ember Crow (The Tribe #2)
Author: Ambelin Kwaymillina
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult,
Publisher: Walker Books
Date Published: November 2013
Pages: 443
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
“However this ends, you’re probably going to find out some things about me, and they’re not nice things. But, Ash, even after you know, do you think you could remember the good? And whatever you end up discovering – try to think of me kindly. If you can.”

Ember Crow is missing. To find her friend, Ashala Wolf must control her increasingly erratic and dangerous Sleepwalking ability and leave the Firstwood. But Ashala doesn’t realise that Ember is harbouring terrible secrets and is trying to shield the Tribe and all Illegals from a devastating new threat – her own past

My Review:

All is not well with the Tribe. They may have had a triumph at Detention Centre 3 but life is far from peaceful for the residents in the Firstwood. Ashala Wolf has gone and embraced her wolf and is running with the pack. Ember Crow went to Gull City months ago and never returned – leaving Ashala only a dog and a memory to reassure her that Ember is okay. Not one to stand back when her tribe family are in danger, Ashala starts digging into Ember’s disappearance to try and find her best friend. Things come out that make Ember’s cryptic leaving and parting message seem even more complicated and dangerous than Ashala ever considered.

Starting a few months after the end of The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, this second book of the Tribe series has Ashala still feeling the effects from her actions at the end of the first book. She can’t trust her dreams, her ability or her feelings for her loved ones. Feeling it’s safer to run with the Pack Master, Ashala abandons her human self and becomes the wolf to protect the Tribe – from herself. Her relationship with Connor is on edge after Ashala doesn’t believe that she is good for him.

Ashala’s grandfather, the Serpent, who lives beneath the lake, is full of obscure and confusing advice wanting Ashala to “beware the angels“.Nothing is making sense and Ashala’s need to keep her tribe safe may be conflicting with what’s best for them.

I enjoy Ambelin’s writing. She’s brutal on her characters – we get to see the best and worst from them and I like them more for it. Ashala is flawed and doesn’t always know what’s best for everyone but she’s a good leader because she accepts her faults and learns from her mistakes. She loves fiercely with her whole being and is unapologetic about always thinking the best of her tribe and family. Ember is someone I was fascinated by after the first book and it was great to see more about her and her ability through this book. There are some incredible new characters introduced in this novel (like Jules!) and many familiar faces popping up again.

Whereas the first book took place over a few days – not including memories – The Disappearance of Ember Crow is setting the series up for the long game. Months pass and we get to see a lot of character development. People are growing and changing as the world takes its toll and as relationships mature. The Firstwood is a character in itself with the beauty and majesty of the forest evident throughout the novel.

This series is quickly becoming a favourite of mine and both The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf and The Disappearance of Ember Crow have been some of my favourite reads this year. The writing is vivid and beautiful, the story is creative and brilliantly executed. I love that the romance is there but not distracting from the plot nor is it too intense. I will definitely be continuing this series when the third book, The Foretelling of Georgia Spider, is released in the future.

Purchase the novel from:

Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Author Bio

Ambelin Kwaymullina

Ambelin Kwaymullina loves reading sci-fi/fantasy books, and has wanted to write a novel since she was six years old. She comes from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. When not writing or reading she works in cultural heritage, illustrates picture books, and hangs out with her dogs. She has written a number of children’s books, both alone and with other members of her family. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is her first novel.
Thanks for visiting my stop on the Disappearance of Ember Crow blog tour. Feel free to stop by Aussie Reviews for the next stop on the tour!

Book Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days, #1)

Title: Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1)
Author: Susan Ee
Genre: Angels. Dystopia, Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: May 2013 (first published May 2011)
Pages: 325
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
It’s been six weeks since the angels of the apocalypse destroyed the world as we know it. Only pockets of humanity remain.

Savage street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night.

When angels fly away with a helpless girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back…

My Review:

Angels have descended down to earth but they’re not the heavenly creatures people may have expected. Ruthless and lacking any trace of humanity, the Angels are ruling the world and treating humans no better than animals. When an angel takes her little sister Paige, Penryn plans to do the unthinkable. She wants to go into the Angels’ aerie – their home base – to save her. With an injured angel, Raffe, as her guide, Penryn tempts fate to save Paige and bring what’s left of her family back together.

I can understand why this book was an Internet phenomenon. Penryn is such a strong character. The angels have ruined the world. Millions are dead, modern civilisation all but demolished but there are still a few humans left struggling to exist in this new angel ruled world. In a post-apocalypse California, Penryn has been learning how to survive and taking over the parent role in her family. Her mother can not be relied upon for anything and has some strange ideas. But Paige keeps Penryn from getting too serious. Paige, although in a wheelchair after an incident when she was younger, would give up everything she had to help someone else. Penryn needs her little sister and when she’s taken, Penryn risks life and a fate worse than death to bring Paige back.

This is a book with a quest, deadly angels, magical weapons and characters I adored. Penryn is intelligent and focused – if not a little too single mindedly obsessed – with getting her sister back. The angels are ruthless and I loved how different they were from how I usually imagine angels. These angels are beautiful and breathtakingly formidable. They murder humans and think nothing of it. But they’re not invincible. They have politics of their own and a hierarchy that may not be as stable as the humans may believe. I liked Raffe the angel. He’s every bit as intimidating as his fellow angels but due to circumstances beyond his control he finds himself having to rely on a human. The dynamic of Penryn and Raffe was great to read and I enjoyed the lack of an overt romantic relationship between the two.

I really enjoyed this book and for me it lived up to the hype. The gorgeous cover, brilliant take on angels and a heroine who I wanted to read more about. The second book in the series, World After, was released a few weeks ago and I can’t wait to immerse myself once more in Penryn’s world.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon| Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Discussion: To Be Read Piles

TBR

As long as I can remember I’ve had a TBR. A list of books that I want to read – a sort of To-Do list for books. And until September 2010 my list was fairly manageable. But then I joined goodreads and my list exploded.

bookshelves

My Goodreads Bookshelves

I love finding new authors and books I’ve not heard of to read – and as a result my Goodreads to-read list has more books on it than books I’ve read. Lately I’ve been seeing people talking about their TBRs and how they need
to ‘prune’ them as they’re getting out of hand. But to be honest I don’t mind my list having close to a thousand books on it. I’d rather be drowning in the abundance of reading possibilities than living in a drought with nothing to read.

For my Goodreads list I do have a few rules.

  • I try to only add one book from a series to my TBR. If I’ve not started a series then I only add the first book even if I intend on reading the whole series.
  • Every few months I go through the books I’ve added and see if I’m still interested. I tend to go through phases and add a lot of a certain kind of book but later on reflection I realize that I’m not as interested as I was when I added them.
  • If I’ve started a book from my TBR but not finished it for whatever reason I move it to another shelf called “Put on Hold” with the intention of some day getting back and finishing it. I also have a “Did Not Finish” shelf that has books I’m never intending on finishing. That shelf is currently only at 2 books (Outlander and Atlas Shrugged – they hold a special place in my heart but not for the best reason).
  • There can never be too many books on the list. I know some people who don’t let their TBRs get over a hundred but that’s clearly not the case with mine.

In addition to my goodreads list I have a lot of physical books that I already own and plan to read. I don’t read to a strict schedule but I do like to plan out what I’m going to read in a loose sense. The books that I’m planning on reading in the next few months are in a cardboard box that sits underneath my coffee table. Easy access but mostly it’s because I currently need to buy some more shelving. I’ll probably have finished reading these books by February – but never fear. Christmas is near giving me opportunity to buy more books and get some as gifts to fill up another box.

My Current To Be Read pile

My Current To Be Read pile – Very excited to read Stormdancer and The Hobbit

Lately I’ve been rather good at reading the books already in my possession but every now and then I can’t help but buy a new book or I come home from the library with half a dozen books that I read first. There are times when emotion dictates what I want to read next (I occasionally get in a mood where I must read a certain genre) or I read a review and then simply have to read a particular book (like a few weeks ago when I decided enough was enough and bought a certain Melina Marchetta book).

Feel free to leave me a comment about TBRs or even just reading in general. I love all comments and will visit back.

How do you maintain control of your TBR and do you have any suggestions? Does your TBR ever intimidate you? What book from your TBR do you plan on reading next? 

Book Review: Covert Assignment by Missy Marciassa

CovertAssignmentTourBanner

Title: Covert AssignmentCovert Assignment
Author: Missy Marciassa
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Suspence
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: December 2013
Pages: 234
Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Covert Assignment is a New Adult, Coming of Age Novel with a strong romantic element. Elle is ready for graduation and full-fledged adulthood: no more living like the leftover of her parent’s divorce. She’s about to graduate with her degree in Information Science (the 21st century term for Library Science) and has a ten-year plan as well-designed as any model for analyzing metadata: earn her JD/MBA, enjoy a couple of years as a single professional, then marry her college sweetheart, Adam, and start her own family.

Yet Elle feels like she returned to an alternate universe her final semester. There are pictures of Adam with a classmate who must be surgically enhanced, but he insists he wants Elle. CIA recruiters show up on campus, and they aren’t just interested in recruiting Elle for future employment: turns out she’s already working for them since they’re funding her thesis. Hot operative Preston Raddick is tasked to work with her. Preston isn’t just hot: he’s hot for Elle, but is he offering happy ever after or happy for right now? A fling with Preston could be the beginning of a new life plan, which is exciting and scary, especially with espionage thrown in. Elle needs a predictive model to tell her which decisions have the greater likelihood for happiness…

My Review:

One semester from leaving her university in her past and preparing for adult life, Elle has it all worked out. Go to her father’s alma mater and double in law and business, marry her college sweetheart Adam and then settle down and start a family by the time Elle and Adam are in their early thirties. Sounds perfect, right? Spanner is thrown into the works when Elle returns from Christmas break to find intimate photos of Adam and someone who very definitely isn’t Elle.

Determined not to let Adam’s cheating ways ruin her final semester, Elle tries to work out if she wants to salvage that relationship whilst still working on her thesis project. A project that – unknown to Elle – is funded by the CIA. Working closely with a field operative, Preston Raddick, Elle manages to somehow prepare for adult life whilst making the most of her time in college.

I love the concept of this novel. It reminded me of the tv show, Chuck – with top-secret agencies cherry picking graduating classes for their newest recruits. Elle is apparently very logical and methodical which would make her a great analyst. However, I didn’t see very much of her analytical nature when it came to dealing with her personal life. Elle came across as incredibly judgemental and (especially with regards to the Adam situation) needed her friends to make her decisions for her. I think her reaction and actions to Adam’s betrayal were slightly hollow with Elle never talking about how she felt about the whole situation. It made me like her less as a character because I perceived her to be more upset about her future plans being ruined rather than having anything to do with feelings or heartbreak.

Spy wise – I like where this book was heading. Elle got a taste of exactly what life as an operative might entail. There’s drama and slight suspense although it only really occurred in the tail end of the book. Elle’s friends were a little over the top but fiercely loyal and Elle definitely needed that. I had some issues with some of the things that occurred in this book (like what was with Elle’s family at the end. That felt so completely out of character) but overall it was an entertaining read and a new adult novel that focused on the bridge between college and adulthood.

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

Book Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: February 2013 (first published March 2005)
Pages: 272
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

My Review:

“If people were rain I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”

Miles Halter seeks to find his “Great Perhaps”. Deciding that he isn’t going to find it in Florida, he makes the decision to leave his family home and go to Culver Creek Boarding School, his dad’s alma mater, in Alabama. It’s there that Miles finds a nickname, a prank master room-mate and a girl named Alaska Young. She’s wonderful and terrible, together and yet falling apart and Miles can’t help but fall in love with her. Before Culver Creek everything was boring and mundane but that was before Alaska.

This is one of those books that I’ve heard a lot about and because of that I was a little intimidated but I quickly found myself engrossed in Miles’ story. I enjoy reading John Green’s style. His characters are quirky and enjoyable. Miles, the narrator, is bland in comparison to his new friends but has some eccentricities of his own. Reading biographies of famous authors but never reading their novels himself – I loved that. I found myself able to relate to him on many levels and liked his commentary about life at Culver Creek.

Alaska Young is a great love interest – especially considering she is not the typical leading lady. She’s bold and impulsive with a boyfriend she’s in love with and wouldn’t cheat on. Her enthusiasm for pranks and getting Miles a girlfriend is contagious. Her relationships with The Colonel, Miles. Takumi and Lara contrasted with each other nicely and by the end of the book I felt like I knew her well and not at all both at the same time.

I love books set in boarding schools and I did like the antics of the Weekday Warriors and other boarders at Culver Creek. Pranks, sports and contraband are all a part of day-to-day life at the school and they were all highlighted in a way that made me feel at home with them and made Miles’ experience at Culver Creek feel authentic.  The pacing was great with each section being preceded with days preceding and after. Taking place over Miles’ junior year of high school, it was spaced out and managed to include all those important American high school things – like midterms and Thanksgiving.

Looking for Alaska is a great read however it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Amazing characters – this is definitely a book that I liked for characters first, plot second and I had a great time living in Miles’ world with him whilst he searched for his “Great Perhaps”.

My Favourite Quotes:

“It always shocked me when I realized that I wasn’t the only person in the world who thought and felt such strange and awful things.” 

“Sometimes you lose a battle. But mischief always wins the war” 

“I just did some calculations and I’ve been able to determine that you’re full of shit.” 

“We were kissing.
I thought: This is good.
I thought: I am not bad at this kissing. Not bad at all.
I thought: I am clearly the greatest kisser in the history of the universe.
Suddenly she laughed and pulled away from me. She wiggled a hand out of her sleeping bag and wiped her face. “You slobbered on my nose,” she said, and laughed” 

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Releases I’m Dying to Read!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

The topic for this week is: Top Ten 2014 Releases I’m Dying to Read! 

For this week’s list I’ve tried to list books that aren’t in the series I’ve talked about on the blog before – because otherwise my list would just be a repeat of sequels I can’t wait to read (and yes – I’m still oh-so excited for Cress, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, Secret, The One, Silver Shadows and The Forever Song).

Here are some books that I can’t wait to be released that I’ve not talked about before.

Debut Authors:

Tape by Steven Camden – Two people, twenty years apart, connected by a story on a tape. One recorded it, one is listening to it and this novel is their story. I think it sounds interesting and lets face it – cassette tapes are so very cool…. I might be biased because I have one in my car and no CD player but it appeals to me regardless. The author is a spoken word poet and you can find him talking about tape: here  (January 30th, 2014)

The Break Up Artist by Phillip Siegel – Becca isn’t a matchmaker. In fact she’s the opposite. For a fee she’ll do whatever it takes to break up a couple – and she does it all anonymously. I have a bit of a soft spot for matchmaking stories and the idea of someone trying to break couples up on purpose really appeals to me. It’s one of those stories that you know is going to get pretty dirty for the break up artist in question. (April 29, 2014)

Wish You Were Italian by Kristen Rae – I adore contemporary novels set in Italy and this one sounds adorable. The Italian sun, gorgeous ruins and some romantic drama to cap it all off.  (May 6th, 2014)

Sekret by Lindsay Smith – Psychic spies, the KGB and powerful mind erasers working for the CIA: need I say more? This book looks dramatic and suspenseful! (April 1st, 2014)

The Fire Wish by Amber Lought – I adore genies and djinn and jinni. Whatever you want to call them I have loved them since I was 7 and watched Disney’s Aladdin for the first time and recently wrote my own novel about them (although my story is only really fit for the recycling bin). I’m always glad to see new stories about the wish granters and Amber Lought’s debut looks delightful. Unwilling brides, Eastern princes and not one but two magic lamps? This book is definitely on my wish list. (July 22nd, 2014)

Tape The Break-Up Artist Wish You Were Italian Sekret (Sekret, #1)

Authors I love with New Series / Standalones

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E Smith – I love this author as she writes lovely and fun contemporary novels which aren’t just fluff. There’s substance and more to them than you might expect. Two strangers being stuck in an elevator is one of those concepts that I love to read and I’m sure this novel will live up to my expectations! (April 15th, 2014)

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – Books about letters are another one of those things that I really enjoy reading about. Having a box of letters written to exes but never intending for them to read them but having them sent out? Sounds like some great contemporary drama to be had! (April 22nd, 2014)

Panic by Lauren Oliver – Panic is a game played among graduating seniors with prize money that could set you up perfectly for college. Only catch it the game is illegal and it’s not unheard of that people get seriously hurt or even die. How great is this idea? I may not have finished Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series but Panic sounds like my kind of story. (March 4th, 2014)

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong – I’m an autobuyer of anything Kelley Armstrong writes and I’m interested in this upcoming series. Sisters tasked with keeping the souls of the damned quiet. It sounds a little more high fantasy than her other books and I’m looking forward to reading this one. (April 8th, 2014)

After the End by Amy Plum – I was a huge fan of the Reverants series and because of that, I’m interested to see what Amy Plum’s next series will deliver. Post World War III and its set in Alaska, my favourite of the US states! After the End looks like a great new dystopian novel! (May 6th, 2014)

The Geography of You and Me To All the Boys I've Loved Before Panic Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends, #1) After the End (After the End, #1)

These are all books I’m very excited for. I was growing a little sad the other day when I realized just how close we are to the end of the year but with this many books to look forward to, 2014 is looking bright. Which books are you excited for? Any I should add to my to-read list? Feel free to leave me a comment – I love reading them! 🙂

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Book Review: Pawn by Aimee Carter

Pawn

Title: Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1)
Author: Aimee Carter
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult, 
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: December 2013
Pages: 352
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand

My Review:

At seventeen, everyone has to take a test which determines their entire lives. Kitty Doe gets marked as a III – cleaning sewage pipes in a far off state is going to be her life. But she gets the chance to change everything. The chance to be a VII, a rank reserved only for the ruling family, and she only has a minute to think about it.

I loved Pawn. I had read Aimee Carter’s The Goddess Test series and enjoyed it but found the romance a tad overwhelming at times. I was excited to read her new series and I thought the first book in the Blackcoat Rebellion was amazing! The world she has created is an interesting one. There’s a lot of political upheaval, dysfunctional family antics, passionate characters and an interesting class system.

Kitty is an intelligent young woman but because she is unable to read, she ends up in one of the bottom classes in society. She’s desperate and feels like she has no choice. She loves her boyfriend, Benjy, but doesn’t want to drag him along with her. Kitty is one of those characters that I didn’t like very much to start with. I felt like as the smart person she’s described as she could have come up with some better options and not been so rash however I do understand that she was stuck in a very difficult and somewhat unexpected situation. As the novel went on, Kitty grew on me. Her intelligence came out and you could see that Kitty is a force to be reckoned with. Her interactions with Knox, Grayson and Benjy were my favourites to read but the relationships she’s developing – and not necessarily good ones – with Daxton, Augusta and Celia are also great to read.

The First Family (the Harts) are so messed up. I love them. There’s so much I want to say about them but one of my favourite things about this novel was how much I loved not knowing what was going to happen next. I don’t want to spill any of the fantastic plot developments that I enjoyed so much.

Pawn is a great dystopian novel with a lot going on. There’s romance, murderous rebels, feuding families, and so much more. I can not wait for the next book in this series and see what happens next for Kitty and  the Harts.

 

Thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld