Wednesday 4 December 2013

2013 Australian Women Writers Challenge Completed

After discovering the AWW Challenge only halfway through last year, I was excited to have a whole year to participate in the 2013 challenge. As this was one of three reading challenges I signed up for this year, I decided to set myself an attainable goal - read one book a month.

I also decided to read across a range of genres and I certainly enjoyed immersing myself in the wonderful worlds created by authors who were new to me. I've definitely discovered some authors I will be sticking with in the future.

I read YA paranormal, speculative, romantic suspense, romance, short stories, urban fantasy, literary, memoir, contemporary, historical, and humour. A great list!   

The twelve books I read for the 2013 AWW Challenge were ...

Shadows by Paula Weston

And All the Stars by Andrea K. Host

As Darkness Falls by Bronwyn Parry

The Paler Shade of Autumn by Jacquie Underdown

Inherited by Amanda Curtin

Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur

A New Map of the Universe by Annabel Smith

In My Skin by Kate Holden

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

The Heaven I Swallowed by Rachel Hennessey

What Women Want by Nelly Thomas

Haze by Paula Weston

You can find my reviews here.

2013 Eclectic Reader Challenge Completed

I'm very grateful for Shelleyrae at Book'd Out and her Eclectic Reader Challenge because this year I have discovered a variety of new authors and genres that I otherwise would never have read. It's been a fun ride! :-) Some of the genres were not to my taste, but others have grabbed my attention enough to ensure I'll be returning to them again.

The twelve books I read for the challenge were...

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (translated fiction)

Slayer of Gods by Lynda S. Robinson (historical mystery)

As Darkness Falls by Bronwyn Parry (romantic suspense)

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (made into a movie)

The Edge of Never by J.A Redmerski (new adult)

Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur (urban fantasy)

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (dystopian)

In My Skin by Kate Holden (memoir)

Letters Never Sent by Sandra Moran (LGBT)

The Hunt for Atlantis by Andy McDermott (action adventure)

What Women Want by Nelly Thomas (humour)

Haze by Paula Weston (published 2013)

You can read my reviews here.

Monday 2 December 2013

Book Review: Haze by Paula Weston

Gaby Winters' nightmares have stopped but she still can't remember her old life. Still can't quite believe she is one of the Rephaim - the wingless half-angels who can shift from place to place, country to country, in the blink of an eye. That she was once the Rephaim's best fighter. That demons exist. That Rafa has stayed.

But most of all, she can't quite believe that her twin brother, Jude, might be alive.

And Gaby can't explain the hesitancy that sidetracks the search for him, infuriates Rafa, and sends them, again, into the darkest danger.

Haze is the second book in Paula Weston's 'Rephaim Series' and I have been eagerly awaiting its release all year. I bought the book when it came out in October, but held off reading it until this month so I could round out the 2013 Australian Women Writers Challenge with a book I was guaranteed to love. Also I thought it was quite fitting that I began and ended this year's challenge with the same author! :-) 

Reading Haze in December also allowed me to complete another of my 2013 challenges - the Eclectic Reader Challenge, which called for a novel 'published in 2013'. So a win-win :-) 

I devoured Haze in one day. I was up until 1am to finish it. It is that good! Weston is a pro when it comes to creating tension on the page. I couldn't get enough of Gaby and Rafa's blossoming romance alongside the rapid action of demon-slaying and Fallen Angel intrigue. I believe this is the secret to Weston's successful novels - they are the right amount of love and action. The heat between Gaby and Rafa certainly takes a back seat to the real story of the Angels, and yet it is still there lingering on every page. All this leads to a powerful cliffhanger that sent me straight onto Weston's website to find out when the third book - Shimmer - is released. Oh, if only I could read it now! I'm desperate to find out what happens next. Alas, I'll have to wait until mid 2014.

What I loved the most when I read Shadows back in January was Gaby's strength. It was great to read a female character who could hold her own amongst demons and yet remain relatable to we mere mortals. In Haze, more of Gaby's strengths and weaknesses are revealed and we slowly learn more about this fantastic character and the past she has forgotten. Weston writes Gaby so well that I feel I know her personally. Likewise with Rafa, who despite his many secrets, is a character that I feel very invested in. I can't wait to discover what will become of them both.

Haze picks up right where Shadows left off and follows Gaby as she deals with the fallout of the fights she had in the first book, and as she searches for her twin brother Jude. Mainly taking place in the great Aussie setting of Pan Beach, this sequel definitely creates more questions than it answers, but that's what I loved about it. And it's a brilliant strategy by Weston - get the reader hooked, but don't reveal too much. It's a sure-fire way of getting the reader to return to the series again and again. It worked for me - I'll be counting the days until I can read the next installment of this gripping series.