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Challenge your-shelf with the Comfort Zone Reading Challenge.

Thursday, 26 January 2017
My biggest flaw as a reader is that I am a very lazy one. I rarely try out new genres and I stick to my comfort zone like a champ. Truth is things that are not easy are just hard. This might seem obvious but if you think about it... It couldn't be simpler. At least in my case the simple thought of getting out of my reading comfort zone and challenge myself sends a shiver down my spine. Ah the hassle. Would it be worth it? Would I like it? Why change if this works for me? It's scary, but I think it's about time to grow some lady ba... courage and do it. Are you with me?

We can very well state that this is a new year's resolution thing, yes. I am sure there are more of you out there that want to redeem themselves this year by challenging their-shelves - I am not even sorry for the pun. Well, this is for us.

What is the Comfort Zone?

The comfort zone includes those genres you feel more comfortable reading. Those that are your to-go genres and those that you have gotten used to read because you feel at ease by doing so. For instance, my comfort zone comprises YA and NA.

The reading comfort zone is like those sweatpants you wear at home because damn, are they comfy and why should I not wear them if I know I'm in paradise. Or like that grilled cheese sandwich you eat every time you are hungry and don't know what to cook? Why bother trying a fancy sandwich with crackling-topped pork, coleslaw and wilted silverbeet? What if I don't like it and what the hell is silverbeet?

What is The Comfort Zone Reading Challenge?

Easy, is a reading challenge to challenge your-shelf - still not sorry for the pun - during 2017. You just need to read books that belong to genres that are out of your comfort zone. For instance, I will read books that fall into genres such as thriller, non fiction, memoirs, adult fiction, classics or horror.

In oder words… The reading comfort zone is like those sweatpants you wear at home because damn, are they comfy and why should I not wear them if I know I’m in paradise. Or like that grilled cheese sandwich you eat every time you are hungry and don’t know what to cook. Why bother trying a fancy sandwich with crackling-topped pork, coleslaw and wilted silverbeet? What if I don’t like it? How is it going to be better than grilled cheese? and what the hell is silverbeet?

What do I have to do in order to take part in the Challenge?

You just need to read 17 books that fall into genres out of your comfort zone during the year 2017.

Spice things up, loose the sweatpants and try something out of that comfortable grilled cheese sandwich. For the ones confused, please re-read "What is the Comfort Zone" section.

But 17 are too many... It's more than 1 book per month!

Cool your jets. You can pick 7 books, or 10. Or 13 if you also want to challenge your luck. What matters here is that you pick up books that you would usually don't dedicate a second thought. Pick as many books as you'd like.

Can I read 17 books from just 1 genre?

Yes! As long as it's out of your comfort zone, you are good to go.

What do I accomplish with this? Is there a prize?

Well, you will have my forever gratitude for taking part, and what's more important, by the end of the year you will have challenged your-shelf. You will probably discover new genres that you thought were not worth the try, or maybe you will be sure you don't like certain ones. Either way, it's a win-win situation.

As for the prize, it depends on how many of you want to take part :) If there's people, I will host a giveaway for those who took part.

The giveaway will not include sandwiches or sweatpants. For the ones confused, please re-read "What is the Comfort Zone" section.

How do I sign up for this?

It doesn't matter whether you have a blog, instagram, twitter or you are just a booklover. Just head out to the bibliotheque and check fill out the form!

Caraval: A Medicore Trip

Monday, 23 January 2017

Release Date: 31st Janurary 2017
Publisher: Hachette
Page Count: 402
Format: AUS ARC Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
RRP: $19.99
Source: Hachette
Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father. When the sisters' long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show's mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

Caraval promised so much from it's synopsis. I was expecting a wonderful and enchanting game with twists of magical realism from the text. Instead what I read was rushed and something I can only describe as a watered down attempt at magical realism. "Nothing is quite as it seems" was one of the pitches for the book, but everything seemed pretty clear to me, plot wise, from the beginning. We're also constantly reminded to "Remember it's all just a game" and seeing the main character ignore this the whole time was tiresome. Plus, the 'game' was a bore and just so mundane, nothing interesting to take away from it as most of the 'twists' were obvious. Plus the ending was unsatisfying due to the events that occurred.

In the very first pages we're introduced to the world through letters. I found this quite intriguing and just wonderful to be able to read parts of the book in this particular letter format. Right after the letters we meet Scarlett, her sister Donatella, Julian and Scarlett's father. All the scenes that include Scarletts father are very graphic so be aware of that. He's abusive, very controlling and manipulative. It's disgusting the way he treats his daughters.

The premise of the book is unique, and nothing I've ever read, but it felt like it could have been better. The entire time whilst reading the book it felt as if I only recieved surface value to what Stephanie wanted to portray through the imagery in her book.

There is indeed so much hype behind this book and now after finishing it, I must admit that Caraval is mediocre... or less than that if I don't sugar coat it. I finished the ARC thinking, "What did I just read?". The ending wasn't that great and felt like a cop out. The last pages felt as if they were rushed just for the sake of ending the story.

The writing wasn't consistent for me either. At times it'd draw you in and then other times it'd leave you in this void of 'not knowing' and never giving you more information to piece together what the scene meant (i.e. How the bridge 'turned' around in the book or how the rooms the characters stayed in worked). It was confusing majority of the time but the idea behind Stephanie's writing lured me back in to continue reading. Overall, the writing had so much potential. At times Stephanie would describe something poetically, for example

"She imagined loving him would feel like falling in love with darkness, frightening and consuming yet utterly beautiful when the stars came out"

and then you were let down when it wasn't met with more beautiful phrasing and magic. Caraval would hit the right places and then it died down, missing the marks of the wow factor.

Also, I briefly mention it before but nothing is explained. We get a short introduction of everything and then we're expected to roll with it. There's a point in the book where Scarlett crosses a bridge and then the bridge changes... what do you mean? It was hard to follow most of the descriptions and the 'magic' in the book. It was just hard to understand and to just accept some of the weak explanations of multiple things.

The characters in Caraval weren't that great as well. They all felt one-dimensional and nothing really intrigued me. Sure Scarlett, our main character was very protective of her sister because of the wrong doings of their father, but it never really felt like the two had a genuine connection. It was more just Scarlett repeating herself and definitely a one sided kind of love. More attention was on the romance than the actual development on the sister bond. I think in book two the sister's bond with one another should be invested in and explored more. On that note Tella was such an unlikeable character. From the very beginning she came off as selfish and tended to deflect all of Scarletts worrying and love.

I also want to state that I originally thought Scarlett was a woman of colour, but after a discussion, her 'olive' skin is pretty ambiguous (but I still do think she's a WoC). Julian was interesting and deserved better character development. Julian was also described as a man of colour so I obviously became protective of him throughout the book. It honestly felt like Julian was just a character created to serve solely as a love interest, so we never actually get to know him. He disappears and reappears randomly. It's truly disheartening to have the only (confirmed) PoC apart of the main cast not as fleshed out as our main character. I mean he's apart of the romance, don't you think we should flesh his character out?

In the end, the book is just another basic fantasy with no real depth character and plotline wise. I was convinced from promos and sneak-peaks that this book was indeed a book about a carnival/circus game, but it really wasn't. The world building didn't hit the mark I had whilst going in. Caraval has been on the receiving end of so my hype and I really think other books deserve it more than this one.

I'd only recommend Caraval for lovers of those of Alice in Wonderland. It was just very mediocre and nothing really stood out for me from the whole book. There wasn't a moment in the book that I really loved, it was just pages and pages of mediocrity. Sure the book was enjoyable but overall the hype it's getting seems unjustifiable to me.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT! Meet one of The Aus. Library's co-bloggers!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Hey everyone! In recent months, I've been trying to expand The Aus. Library, trying to include more diverse & marginalised voices. One of those ways I thought I could expand on our community was to create The Squad. Now I have also been looking for more co-bloggers.

As you all know I'm currently a student and last semester I really enjoyed one of my classes for Sociology. It was was in this class that I met a great person and friend, Sophie. Then we also found out that we have a mutual love for books and I thought, why the hell not ask this wonderful human being to be apart of The Aus. Library. So guess what!? She said yes! So in addition to looking for more co-bloggers, I've actually been hiding Sophie away from you all wanting to announce her being apart of the blog when I found the rest of my co-bloggers. But, I couldn't deny you guys meeting such an awesome person, so here she is! Everyone meet Sophie. 

My name is Sophie and I'm super excited to be co-blogging for the Aus. Library. There aren't many nicknames for Sophie other than 'Soph' - but if you can come up with one feel free to send it my way. Most important thing you need to know is that I'm here, I'm queer and I'm ready to talk about books!

First things first, I should tell you a bit about me. I'm 20 (or as I like to refer to it, two decades old) and I live in Australia. Below you can see a picture of my face. Although it isn't an accurate representation of my hair, as it tends to change every month. Right now it's purple!

I have loved books my whole life. Ever since my mother first read to me the riveting and heart-wrenching tale of 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'. However, it was at the tender age of 12 when I picked up Carol Wilkinson's 'Dragon Keeper' that my love affair with fiction truly began.

I've been writing book reviews for about as long as I've been reading them. I have little blogging experience. However, I have plenty of writing experience so I'm sure I can make up for it.

As for favorites... I fancy myself a good book parent who loves all her children equally. 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' however, has always had a special place in my heart.

I keep this battered old copy close by at all times.

I will also not object to reading absolutely anything written by either Maggie Stiefvater or Neil Gaiman. I love fantasy and mystery, but I'm open to reading anything from horror to biographical stories (which if you're some celebrities, might be considered the same thing).

I tend to be drawn towards stories with strong female heroines and characters of the LGBTQI community - just the result of the gay little heart that beats within my chest. In all honesty though, if it has a good story, sympathetic characters and can make me cry, chances are I'll like it.

I enjoy drawing and Meleika has been kind enough to suggest that I incorporate that into my blogging. To that I say "Yes, of course! Why didn't I think of that?" So as a running idea I'm planning on doing an ink art inspired by every book I read and posting it along with my review. Sound like a good idea? Well we'll find out. You should be able to find some of my previous ink art below.

More on my instagram @the_cat_curiosity_killed

Now for some randoms facts about me:

  • I can play the ukulele and sing. 
  • I am studying a bachelor of professional and creative writing (pretty appropriate huh?)
  • I am a vegan, but I love bad vegan jokes. Here is one of my personal favorites: 
I have never eaten a stick before, but I admit it does look rather appetizing with mustard. 

Well, that's it for me!
I'm pretty keen to get started so I'll say goodbye for now.
Feel free to aggressively (or timidly) talk bookish to me.

Dear YA, I Am Not A Savage

This article was hand written first. I wrote down everything I wanted to say. It was a great moment to self reflect and well talk to myself. Which also describes how I've felt in specific situations. Talking to myself. No one actually listening. Like that one friend in a group who's talking but no one is listening because they're all paying attention to someone else who's also talking to the whole group. It honestly feels like it's just me and a collection of letters forming words that belong to a foreign language I was made to speak 'properly' in Primary School.

Before I go any further, I have a couple of things I need to share about myself. I am primarily Tongan and Torres Strait Islander. If I were to describe myself to you I'd say I'm a strong Black Polynesian teenage woman, who is very queer, living with chronic pain and loves she/her and they/them pronouns. I'd also say that I love to write a lot, and actively participate in my community through activism or volunteering. I'd continue on and tell people how I've been travelling around Australia, meeting more of my people, gaining more brothers and sisters. I'd tell you about the connection I have to land and sea, to country. The connection to stories told by my people, through music or wise words, as we sit around in a circle. I'd have so much to say about myself, so much to share, so much to discover and yet, I would never, ever, describe myself as a Savage.

The word Savage is a loaded gun, ready to fire. It is clearly linked to oppression and colonialism. Savage also has so many negative connotations and was a term used specifically for Indigenous/Native people. It was used to describe African, Polynesian & Indigenous people.

Labelling Indigenous Australians as savages was a way to dehumanise us, to put us in a different category other than humans. Savage literally means, uncivilised, ferocious, untamed, barbarous, enraged,  unpolished and rude; if used to describe people. As a noun, savage means an uncivilized human being, a fierce, brutal, or cruel person, a rude, boorish person or a member of a preliterate society. These definitions and meanings do not describe me, so why use it to describe and insult people of colour (PoC), especially Indigenous characters?

Savage was also used in association with primitive too. As if we were not capable of thinking, or learning, or doing anything as great or greater than the white man. Charles Darwin, a scientist with several publications to his name and someone you've definitely heard of in high school, had claimed that Indigenous Australians were part of a savage race. This was published in his name, these are his words, these are words belonging to a white man. We were compared to apes and were basically described as 'ape like'. We weren't considered human beings, we were seen as animals. In the embedded document below, it was believed that Aboriginal people were "primitive savages little removed from the apes". How much more detail does one need to know that we weren't human to our colonisers. We were massacred, labelled savages, were widely thought to be descendants of apes and so much more.

We have a traumatising history that begins over 200 years ago, from the beginning of the colonisation of our country. The trauma from everything we've suffered through still affects us, both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Indigenous people were seen as animals, as savages, we didn't get treated like human beings. We were part of the flora and fauna until the 1967 referendum. It was in 1967 we were granted Australian citizenship, the right to vote in federal elections and the right to be included into the Census. However we weren't considered as equal beings until the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act. When authors and people in general use savage as an insult or a descriptor for people of colour (PoC) , I am reminded of how far my people have come in our country that has been westernised and structured to never benefit them. I am reminded how we were treated as animals and weren't even considered Australian citizens on the country we have existed on for hundreds of thousands of years.

Due to being seen as savages and well, sub-humans, the Australian government had decided to get rid of us. They had declared we were a dying race and to quicken this process they decided to take children away who weren't "full blood Aboriginal". Half-caste was used to described children who were 'half Aboriginal'. If you were half-caste you were taken away and put onto a mission where you had to deal with mistreatment and sexual abuse. The stealing of children was a policy in Australia until 1970. How sickening is it to know that we were treated so much like animals that our children were literally taken away from us to assimilate into white society. I talk about the term half-caste and the Stolen Generations in length in Anjulie's Nevernight Article. If you want to learn a little more about the Stolen Generations, feel free to check out these clips here. These clips are from a documentary that I highly recommend, so feel free to buy it and watch it in full to get more context on the short clips.

I am so sick of my people being depicted as savages, being seen as lesser human beings and not given the respect we deserve. We are still suffering from colonisation. We're over-represented in prisons (we occupy 3% of the country but have 28% in prison), 95% of us are affected by suicide in our communities, 60% of Indigenous kids are behind non-Indigenous kids in Education, our mortality rates a ridiculously low and so much more. The continued colonisation of Australia still affects us to this day. We still experience the trauma. We still have to fight to protect OUR OWN COUNTRY, OUR OWN LAND. A perfect example of this is the Federal and Queensland government supporting the construction of the Carmichael mine on Aboriginal lands. I wrote an article about it (here). The government has given a mining company permission to build on Aboriginal lands. This is not okay, it will never be okay. This situation just reminds me that we will never be seen as equals, never be treated with respect and it will always be brought back to the fact that we are seen as savages. It hurts, how can it be 2017 and yet we aren't seen as equals? We are still treated as outsiders in our own country. How are we still treated as essentially like savages?

If you've read this whole article, thank you. Thank you for not making me feel like someone who's talking to themselves, but to an actual community who are keen to understand how hurtful savages is. Thanks for letting me know that my voice is important. Thank you for boosting it, thank you for sharing it, thank you for telling the world that we aren't here anymore for books that degrade PoC with "savages". I am not a savage, you aren't either.

I'm tired of non-Indigenous and NBPoC saying they don't find Carve the Mark or The Continent racist. That's cool, good for you. But why don't you use your platform to boost voices who are directly affected by these tropes and slurs. Carve the Mark is anti-Indigenous, stating that it isn't racist in your non-Indigenous opinion doesn't make it not racist. Just means you weren't affected by it. Not seeing how degrading 'Savages' is, is ignorant and racist in itself. Just listen friends, see how much this affects us. See how much pain we have suffered and see how it is racist. Not showing compassion and empathy with those affected just shows your true character and what truly matters to you.

So Dear YA, I am not a Savage. I am not your token black girl either. You do not get to use savage without challenging and unpacking it. I will not sit down and be silent. I refuse to be silent. I also refuse to only be 'heard' and 'seen' and applauded for my voice when it comforts white people and then get dismissed or "well actually'd" by white people and non-Indigenous people when I critique their work. I will not waste #blackgirlmagic on people, especially white people, who refuse to listen. My #blackgirlmagic isn't for educating people. I'm not going to assimilate, I'm going to resist. I will always resist. If you're not with me, then where do you stand? Will you stand by and watch as we get degraded as savages? or will you rise with me, and challenge it?

Thanks for reading you mob, stay black, stay deadly.

In Anticipation for The Crown's Fate Here Are Some Famous Russian Fairytales

Hey everyone! To celebrate the upcoming release of The Crown's Fate we thought we'd make a post about a few Russian fairy tales that take place both in the world of The Crown's Game and that takes place in our world. Some you might recognize and some you might not but but overall all of them are very interesting and worth checking out.

  • In Russian folklore Baba Yaga is said to be a fearsome witch with iron teeth. (her appearance is skeleton-like and very thin)
  • Although she creates a huge gust of wind and lots of noise when she appears she also likes to get rid of any trace of herself by sweeping it away with her broom and then flying away.
  • She lives in a hidden hut that likes to move on large chicken feet whenever it feels like (almost like it has a mind of its own)
  • While she is mostly seen as an evil and harmful witch she can also be portrayed as a wise helper.
  • She might give out advice and tips to heroes or the pure of heart, that's one of the reasons that she is also called the Goddess of Wisdom.

One of the many illustrations of Baba Yaga

  • Vodyanoy is said to be a male water spirit who appears as an old man with a frog-like face covered in algae, seaweed, fish scales, and other muck from the water
  • Instead of fingers he has webbed paws and long green hair and beard
  • He rides along his river on a half-sunk log, making loud splashes and drowning people that have the misfortune of encountering him
  • If angered, Vodyanoy breaks dams, mills, drowns people, and takes some to be his underwater slave
  • Many people give him offerings so that he can be calmed and not due the aforementioned things


  • There once lived a very poor couple in a small village near the forest
  • One day they had no food and the wife had to scrape flour out from the flour box to make them some bread
  • Shaping the dough into a ball she baked it and set it down near the window to cool
  • The dough ball came to life and rolled away to the forest where he convinced every animal that wanted to eat him not to eat him by singing
  • That is until he met a red fox who tricked him into singing on his nose (saying that his hearing was bad) before getting tossed into the air and eaten

Source Mountain of Gems Animation Channel

  • Kikimore is an evil spirit that can appear in two forms
  • She either appears as the Bog Hag who is married to a hobgoblin or as the House Hag who is a house spirit
  • The Bog Hag appears as a very ugly woman who wanders through marshes, scares people, and steals children
  • The House Hag is a quiet spirit who stays by herself in her house and doesn't show herself to anyone


Want to check out more Russian fairytales and folklore click here!