When You Want to Love a Novel but Don’t!

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Author: Jaclyn Moriarty

Publisher: Macmillan Australia

I wanted to love this book. I bought this book and kept it until my Easter break to read because I wanted to read and enjoy it at my leisure without any distractions. Unfortunately, I never connected with this adult novel by Jaclyn Moriarty.

When I saw that Jaclyn Moriarty was releasing an adult book I was so excited. Moriarty is one of my favourite writers. Though, for some reason, I never connected with this book. I am not sure why when every other reviewer seems to have loved this book. Words such as extraordinary, beautiful, astonishing, uplifting and unique have all been used in relation to this book.

The writing is spectacular, as you would expect from Jaclyn Moriarty. At times, I enjoyed Abigail’s internal dialogue, sometimes she would annoy me and I didn’t always find her endearing. Though, nor do I think I should like the main character all the time! For characters to be three dimensional, I feel you should have mixed emotions towards them – like real people. But I also feel that in the end you should be championing for the character and wanting the best for them. In the end, I didn’t care for Abigail and couldn’t have cared less what happens to her.

There were times that I found Abigail’s internal dialogue hilarious, mainly when she made her way to The Retreat to find out more about The Guidebook. Though, don’t get me started on The Guidebook!

A plastic frangipani flower was woven into this woman’s ponytail; I tried not to judge her for this.

Other times I found the internal dialogue quite self-indulgent – which I guess in a way internal dialogue is meant to be (sometimes), but I found Abigail’s internal dialogue more annoying than it was endearing.

I wonder if I wasn’t the target audience for this book.  I don’t believe that Gravity is the Thing was written for childless women. I found Abigail’s child ANNOYING. I think (and I am looking through the book to find the child’s name) Oscar was one of the reasons that I didn’t like this book. I found all the interactions with Oscar tedious and grating. I know I was meant to understand the special bond she had with this child and I do believe that I was expected to fall in love with Oscar. I also can see how mothers would love this part of the book. I am sure there were lots of mothers out there nodding their heads and remembering their own similar instances with their children. BUT I just found Oscar another indulged small child. I didn’t find him funny, adorable or charming.

There was one quote in the book that I loved that was about children and I have probably taken this line entirely out of context!

I mean, they’re a dime a dozen, children.

I often find it interesting that people believe that their children are their most significant achievements. Yes, I imagine raising children is hard but lots of people do it. Lots of people have children – it isn’t really an achievement!

Ultimately, I didn’t connect with the book. I kept on reading hoping that the story and the characters would all fall into place and I would find that magic that everyone else had found from reading this book, but it wasn’t to be.

I do thank Jaclyn Moriarty for shining a light on missing persons. This was a part of the book that my heart did break at, particularly when I read the acknowledgements at the end. It must be truly horrific to have a loved one missing. That never knowing and always wondering and questioning.

I also do love how Moriarty wrote about how life moves on and even though great tragedy has struck your life you can still enjoy life and enjoy the beauty of the world around you.

Later that night, my mother phone and informed me: ‘We are designed to recover.’

‘I mean, I know that not everybody does,’ she added, ‘but that’s the design.’ And she expressed irritation with the number of people who say you never recover from the loss of a child.

‘But often I’m happy,’ she said. ‘You can be happy, Abigail. I myself am happy with my new frangipani tree and Xuang.’

I still love Jaclyn Moriarty and I will still read everything she writes. I am a little heartbroken that I can’t share in the love for this book. I know that  I am in the minority because lots of people loved this book and found great joy and magic within its pages. For me, I didn’t connect with the book and that’s okay. Not all books are for everyone.

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The Slightly Alarming Tale of The Whispering Wars

  • Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
  • Illustrator: Kelly Canby
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin

I was taken by Whisperers at 2pm, so I never pulled the lever for the laundry chute.
That’s what bothered me most. 
This is way ahead in the story, though. A lot happened before that.

The town of Spindrift is frequented by pirates, Shadow Mages and charlatans. It’s also home to the Orphanage School, where Finlay lives with Glim, Taya and Eli. Just outside town is the painfully posh Brathelthwaite Boarding School, home to Honey Bee, Hamish and Victor, Duke of Ainsley. When the two schools compete at the Spindrift Tournament, stakes are high, tensions are higher, and some people are out to win at any cost. Before long, the orphans and the boarding school are in an all-out war.
And then Whispering Wars break out, and Spindrift is thrust onto the front lines. Children are being stolen, Witches, Sirens and a deadly magical flu invade the town, and all attempts to fight back are met with defeat.
Finlay, Honey Bee and their friends must join forces to outwit the encroaching forces of darkness, rescue the stolen children, and turn the tide of the war. But how can one bickering troupe outwit the insidious power of the Whisperers? And who are the two mysterious figures watching them from the shadows?
From the award-winning Jaclyn Moriarty comes a spellbinding tale of unlikely friendship, unexpected magic and competitive athletics.

Though this book shares the same world as Jaclyn Moriarty’s book, The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone, this book is a stand-alone tale with an entirely new story and characters. Both books form part of Moriarty’s new series – A Kingdoms and Empires Book. This book is best read after finishing The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone to appreciate the subtle nod to characters and events that featured in the first book.

Once again, Moriarty has given readers a delightful book full of playful, madcap and unexpected twists, but the greatest enjoyment that comes from this quirky novel is the two narrators – Finlay & Honey Bee. 

Finlay & Honey Bee talk directly to the reader and you feel like you know both these characters because they treat the reader like a friend. They don’t just tell a story, they allow the reader to become a part of the story and their lives. The reader is allowed into their inside jokes, their merciless teasing of each other and their secrets and fears. Both characters are endearing and likeable and make excellent narrators because they make the reader feel invested in their story. Finlay, from the orphanage school, is spirited and cheeky. Honey Bee, from the posh and pretentious boarding school, is quiet and thoughtful. What both narrators share is a wonderful sense of humour that shines through their storytelling.

I enjoyed this book more than The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone and I didn’t think that was possible. Possibly I enjoyed the narration of Finlay and Honey Bee more than Bronte Mettlestone and that’s a big call because Bronte was an exceptional narrator, or maybe it is because Moriarty was only starting to hit her stride with Bronte and she picked up the pace with Finlay and Honey Bee. 

Moriarty unique style of writing shines through in The Slightly Alarming Tale of The Whispering Wars. Like her previous books, it is expressive, eccentric and engaging. Gloriously illustrated, once again, by Kelly Canby, this is a novel chockfull of great adventures and readers will demolish it quickly. Don’t be put off by the size of the book, Moriarty’s writing is addictive and once you start reading, you will find yourself devouring this book. 

What I love most about Moriarty is that she never underestimates her audience. Yes, she is writing for younger readers, but she never talks down to the reader. She gives the reader the respect they deserve and I believe that younger readers will appreciate this about Moriarty’s writing. 

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The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone

 

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone

Author: Jaclyn Moriarty

Illustrator: Kelly Canby

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Bronte Mettlestone’s parents ran away to have adventures when she was a baby, leaving her to be raised by her Aunt Isabelle and the Butler. She’s had a perfectly pleasant childhood of afternoon teas and riding lessons – and no adventures, thank you very much.
But Bronte’s parents have left extremely detailed (and bossy) instructions for Bronte in their will. The instructions must be followed to the letter, or disaster will befall Bronte’s home. She is to travel the kingdoms and empires, perfectly alone, delivering special gifts to her ten other aunts. There is a farmer aunt who owns an orange orchard and a veterinarian aunt who specialises in dragon care, a pair of aunts who captain a cruise ship together and a former rockstar aunt who is now the reigning monarch of a small kingdom.
Now, armed with only her parents’ instructions, a chest full of strange gifts and her own strong will, Bronte must journey forth to face dragons, Chief Detectives and pirates – and the gathering suspicion that there might be something more to her extremely inconvenient quest than meets the eye…
From the award-winning Jaclyn Moriarty comes a fantastic tale of high intrigue, grand adventure and an abundance of aunts.

I fell in love with Jaclyn Moriarty’s writing while reading the Colours of Madeleine series. Oh, how I loved that series. I was in absolute awe of Jaclyn Moriarty and her quirky, unique and imaginative writing, so I was thrilled to see that she had written a series for middle-grade readers.

Jaclyn Moriarty is an inventive, quirky and delightful writer. I am always amazed by her imagination and creativity when reading her books and The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone is no exception. Once you start reading you are captured by Moriarty and she does not let you go and once she has let you go, you want more.

What I love about Moriarty is that she isn’t like any other writer. She is incomparable. While reading this book, I was asked to describe what the book was about – I did my best to explain this book, but I think I failed miserably. You have to read Moriarty’s work to understand her refreshing and original imagination.

Moriarty’s world-building is like no other and it isn’t just her world-building, the way she uses words to immerse you in her story is original and delightful.

‘The Upturned…Ha! You mean the Dishevelled Sofa!’

The Dishevelled Sofa is a cafe in Moriarty’s book. If the name hasn’t captured your attention and made you want to visit, then Moriarty’s description will.

Her attention to detail and vocabulary is incredible. Every word counts. Every chapter counts. All one hundred and nine chapters! This world that Moriarty has created is all hers and her work is complemented by Kelly Canby’s delightful, lively and animated illustrations. The illustrations add to the book.  Moriarty’s writing can easily stand alone but with Canby’s illustrations an extra depth is attached to the book.

Yes, this is a hefty book, but it isn’t an arduous read instead you will find yourself whipping through the pages and loving Moriarty & Canby’s brave, quirky and humorous work. I am delighted that I can introduce Moriarty’s work to middle-grade readers and I know they will love her as much as I do.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I like a book to tell a story. These books did not. They told about things. It’s true that this is what I needed them to do, and yet honestly. Did they have to? ‘Oh, just stop, you insufferable bore!’ I murmured to the authors.

Moriarty is no insufferable bore and when reading her work, I wonder what it must be like to live inside her head. I am sure that Moriarty could make a to-do list funny and creative. You only have to look at the title! It is enormous, like the book, but Moriarty makes it work. She’s a wonder!