Saturday, 18 July 2015

Audiobook Review: The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer, Narrated by Julian Rhind-Tutt


The fact that Georgette Heyer wrote The Black Moth at 17 is pretty astonishing. It's such a delightful book which, while perhaps not as polished as her later works, firmly establishes the charm and humour she would display throughout her career.

Heyer apparently first invented the story to tell to her sick younger brother, and it contains all the classic elements you'd expect from such an origin - an engaging hero who flirts with danger but actually has a heart of gold, a beautiful heroine who captures said heart, a ~dastardly~ villain you love to hate, lots of action, scandal and intrigue, plus a bit of bromance on top of all that.

I really enjoyed the characters, especially Jack and his best friend Miles, and I even empathised with the tiresome Lady Lavinia. One of my favourite things about Heyer's writing is not the lavish period descriptions or even the melodrama (though they're great too), but the connections between the characters. Whether it's sibling bonds (or lack thereof), enemies, friends, married couples or people just falling in love, the relationships always feel so very real and universal, enhanced by the witty and engaging dialogue.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Julian Rhind-Tutt and he does an excellent job. The voices he gives to each character are strong - the male characters in particular - and his pacing and delivery are good.

The story was a little uneven and frankly quite baffling in places (the reason Jack had to leave the country seemed weak, for instance, though maybe I'm imposing too modern a judgement), but overall The Black Moth was a fun read and a great way to start my quest to consume all of Heyer's romances.

Rating: 3.5/5

Fine Print
Published: 2013 (Originally 1921)
Get It: Audible

Monday, 16 March 2015

The Movie Was Better: The DUFF

I read The DUFF a few years ago and I thought it was OK - I think the hype around it meant my expectations were high and sadly not met. But when I heard they were making a movie based on the book, I was intrigued by exactly how they'd pull off the story of a pair of teenage fuck buddies on the big screen. When the first trailers came out I realised they weren't actually trying to do that, and had instead turned it into yet another hot-guy-makes-over-schlumpy-but-actually-really-hot-girl movie.

I was kinda mad about it because, despite not LOVING the book, the honest portrayal of Bianca's sexuality was one of the things I found refreshing and appealing about it. And, like, been there, done She's All That. The more trailers and snippets I saw, the more I thought that, frankly, the movie was going to be terrible.

So, unlike the book, I had low expectations going in to the movie. And I am glad to say they were NOT met - because I was pleasantly surprised. The DUFF was fun and adorable and delightful. The characters were quite endearing, and Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell as leads Bianca and Wesley had great comic timing and pretty hot chemistry. Obviously Mae Whitman is by no means "ugly" or "fat" but they put her in overalls so that automatically signalled she's a beast. J/K - it's actually more about how she sees herself, and how she's got to love herself despite being surrounded by jerks who judge her for not being ~conventionally~ beautiful. The "DUFF" thing could have turned into an offensive trainwreck, and while there are a couple of iffy moments, overall it's pretty well-handled, with a nice message of loving yourself and not caring about what others think

The dialogue itself is cringey at times - particularly whenever technology is mentioned, with a serious reek of trying too hard - but there's also some really funny moments. And it's cheesy, but in a way that makes you pull the heart eyes emoji face IRL.

So yes, I went in expecting to feel bored at best and ragey at worst, but I walked out with a big grin on my face. I'm already keen to watch it again. It's obviously not for everyone and it's by no means perfect, but I'm a sucker for a good teen rom com, and The Duff is definitely one of them.

And I'm just gonna leave this here, for... reasons...

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Bye 2014, Hi 2015


2014 went by so fast and in the latter half of the year in particular I fell into a bit of a reading/blogging funk. But I'm still pretty happy with how I went on my challenges, the only one I didn't reach was the Australian Women Writers Challenge (bummer!):

Aussie Author Challenge, hosted by Booklover Book Reviews
Aim: "Kangaroo" level. Read and review 12 titles written by Australian Authors.
Achieved: 15 books.

Aim: I want to read 20 books by Australian women this year. 
Achieved: 15 books.

Aim: "Stenographer" level. Listen to 10-15 audiobooks.
Achieved: 35 books.

New Release Challenge (a personal challenge)
Aim: Read at least one new release a month, a total of 12 books published in 2014.
Achieved: 18 books.

Goodreads Challenge
Aim: Read 75 books.
Achieved: 89 books.

As for 2015 - I've decided I'm not going to sign up for any challenges, I'm just going to read what I feel like and see how I go. I've been umming and ahhing over what to do about my blog and I've come to the decision that I'm only going to blog if I feel like it. No pressure. That means no challenges. Well, except the Goodreads Challenge - which I've set to 100 books this year! But that doesn't necessarily require a review for every book, so hopefully it won't be stressful (although I am a little nervous about the number tbh). I plan to keep track of my reading on Goodreads still and will probably note down thoughts on each book there, but I don't know if I will aim to do full reviews for every one as I have tried (and failed) to do in the past. The goal is to do what I feel like, what makes me happy. It's all about having fun, after all. We'll see what happens! That said, I do have a couple of reading goals I will probably (hopefully) blog about regularly:

-The Heyer Project. I want to read through all of Georgette Heyer's Regency novels in chronological order. It will probably be mostly through audiobooks.

-V.C. Andrews Recaps. I started this last year but got distracted by other things - but I'd like to continue doing it this year, starting (again) with Flowers in the Attic.

So that's my plan for the year. Low key and hopefully fun. 

Happy 2015!

Top Ten Books I Read In 2014

Not counting rereads (which I happily did a lot more of than in previous years), and in no particular order, these are the books I really loved in 2014...

1. Beauty by Robin McKinley. A gorgeous rendering of Beauty and the Beast, made all the more captivating in audiobook form.

2. Enchanted by Alethea Kontis. A retelling of the Frog Prince (mashed up with other fairy tales), this was a really fun and lovely audiobook.

3. Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness. I'm cheating by including the whole series here, but it is really AMAZING and everyone should GO READ IT NOW.

4. False Colours by Georgette Heyer. I love, love, loved this story of twins switching places in Regency England - Heyer is a happy place kind of read, and it was extra fun in audiobook.

5. You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning. Another fantastic audiobook (I'm sensing a pattern here), I related to Neve and her story so much it was scary.

6. Zombies Vs Unicorns, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier. The literary equivalent of a dance off, the short stories featuring - you guessed it - zombies and unicorns in this book are by turns delightful, hilarious and touching.

7. About a Boy by Nick Hornby. I had low expectations due to hating the only other Hornby book I've tried (High Fidelity), but I ended up loving this darkly humorous story - and I listened to it in a fabulous audiobook of course.

8. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. This. Book. It was utterly heartbreaking but completely worth it.

9. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling. I read this at the very beginning of the year and it instantly became one of my all-time faves.

10. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. I actually listened to a bunch of Wilde's plays performed via audiobook and they were all great, but I loved this one the most.