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Review & Ramblings: The French Photographer by Natasha Lester

I was lucky enough to be contacted by Hachette, to read, review and be a part of the blog tour, for this books’ release! I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with Hachette and to read fantastic Australian authors!

This review and ramblings post is a little different to my usual posts, there will be absolutely NO spoilers! Shocking, I know!

Let’s get started!

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The French Photographer by Natasha Lester

Publishing on  March 26th 2019 by Hachette Australia

4/5 Stars!

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Immediately, I love the writing style, the almost lyrical way Lester describes the environment which her characters are in. It flows and really allows the reader to picture it in their mind.

Lester has creatively and beautifully captured what I must have been like to be a war correspondent, a war time photographer, not to mention, being a female one. Depicted perfectly is the way that women in this time were treated, not with admiration, but contempt, sexualisation, and the overwhelming belief that they weren’t capable of doing the job. Out Protagonist Jess, soon showed, not only us as readers, but also the men in this tale, what it means to be passionate about what you are doing, to be compassionate towards other humans on the other side of the world, no matter the horrors that you may see and experience.

This book is set in two eras, in 2005 and 1942, it is amazing to see the connections made between the times, between the women and between the photographs that become so important in the ‘modern’ era. It felt so real, the way that photographs can connect so many people, in the way that the horrors captured were actual people, fighting for their lives.

The more I read, the more I wanted to see these areas that Jess travelled to, to visualise the places she was visiting. Google was my friend! I am a huge history buff anyway, so many of these places are familiar to me, but being able to look at a visual while reading this book, added to the overall emotion of the book.

D’Arcy Hallworth, our 2005 protagonist, is a curator, someone who looks in at history on a daily basis, someone who knows the significance of a well taken photograph taken at a horrific moment in history. D’Arcy is strong, intellegent and unafraid to express her knowledge, whit and prowesse. She is inspirational and knows exactly what she is talking about when it comes to photography.

This book knows no bounds when it comes to strong, brave and independent women. It shows that if you are truly passionate about something, you do you. You hang on to that passion, that fire, because one day it may mean more to someone else than it did to you. It may give someone else hope, or shine a light on something terrible. The women in this book are incredible. In the face of adversity, they carry on, heads held high, doing what they love. Making a difference.

Lee Miller, the inspiration behind the characters in this book is such an interesting person from History. When I started this book, I had no idea that the characters were influenced by a real person. The author notes in the back of this book were what alerted me to Lee’s prowess. If you are into history and especially the female element during war time, I highly recommend you jump onto your search engine and have a look at Lee Miller.

This book is something that I wouldn’t usually pick up, but when I was contacted, I jumped at the chance to read something that is outside of my comfort zone. I found it to be both uplifting and incredibly confronting, but it really struck a chord with me, with the realness presented when we saw Jess come home from the war front. How it took her time to readjust to life in a safe zone. We hear it about soldiers, about men who battled and came home and couldn’t find their feet in a world where they didn’t need to be on alert all the time. But to see it from a woman who was over there, showing the world what was actually happening, is heart breaking. The way she is constantly expecting to see people covered in blood or riddled with abrasions, and when she doesn’t she thinks she is dreaming, or in some kind of trance. I can’t imagine what that would be like.

Incredibly moving, emotionally loaded and a novel that will leave you thinking, long after you have turned the final page. This is definitely something that you should read!

 

Thanks for reading!

Julie

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary

I received this book from the amazing team at Hachette in exchange for an honest review! Thank you, Hachette for sending me a copy of this book! It sounds hilarious and I can’t wait to get into it!

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The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary

4/5 Stars

Published 24th April 2019 by Hachette Australia

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Wow is this book funny, I have picked it up and can’t out it down! I love this flat-share idea. Poor Leon is stuck between a rock and a hard place, with his girlfriend Kay and trying to pay for his brothers’ lawyer, but the comes Tiffy and all of his problems are solved… sort of.

How adorable are they, speaking through post-it notes! I love that this is how they interact, I can just see them all over the house, on the fridge, toilet, couch, on books they are reading. It just seems like such a sweet way to communicate, to get to know someone properly without meeting them. A way to be truly yourself without worrying with appearances.

Which is  why I think Leon is so scared to finally meet Tiffy. He is worried that how they look may affect the situation that they have going, and he likes it the way that it is. But come on Leon, Tiffy is a million times better than Kay!

I love how this book is written! It is fun and flirty, it is laugh-out-loud funny but also so real, you could swear it was you or one of your friends going through Tiffy’s breakups and going to the pub with friends. I love that about this book, it is so relatable and the characters are so likeable it is just a true, down to earth book. I am loving the change of pace from what I usually read.

I have under 100 pages left to go and wow am I invested in this relationship. I am loving Leon and Tiffy! They have such a sweet and genuine relationship, I want them to be happy. I also want Justin to go and play in traffic!

Justin, wow. He is such a fantastic character. And I mean that in the way that his type of villain is so underplayed in the writing community, we don’t see enough emotional and psychological abuse type scenarios like this one. It may sound weird, but it is so important for women to see situations like Tiffy is in, to understand that there is help for them, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Justin is psychopathic, he is controlling and manipulative. He has such charismatic presence that he can make Tiffy believe what ever he wants her to, down to making her think she threw out clothes that really he hid, that she forgot to invite him to a party, when really she did and much worse things as well. He is a mastermind at stalking and creating situations that fall in his favour. He is a complete nut-job. It has been a pleasure watching Tiffy get strong enough to turn him down and stand up for herself.

Now, back to Tiffy and Leon. I love how Tiffy complements Leon, so perfectly. He is so introverted, doesn’t let a word out that isn’t necessary and is pretty shy, but Tiffy is the complete opposite, loud, outgoing, brazen and spontaneous. They are the perfect pairing. I also love how wholeheartedly Tiffy invests in Leon’s life, with his brother, his work, his cooking and finding JW. She just takes up his life as though it is hers and he is so blind, that he doesn’t see it until she points it out. They have been in love since the first post-it-note. Little cuties!

But love may be wonderful, but it is also blind. And that is where I am at with this book at the moment. Leon is so blinded by his feelings about Richie’s court case and about how he feels about the shock of what happened with Tiffy and Justin (No spoilers here! Shock I know!) that he forgets that what he has seen and heard may not be the truth. Emotions are polarising, sometimes they push you in the right direction, other times, they force you to be blind to everything other than yourself. I’m hoping Leon can patch things with Tiffy, they have to! This is the feel-good book of 2019!! I need a happy ending!

Well I have just finished The Flatshare! What a fantastic read. It is feel-good, makes you laugh and cry, it also makes you want to jump into the pages and throttle Justin!

I love how Tiffy and Leon overcome so much through their journey. I especially love how quickly Tiffy adopts Leons family as her own, even before they were a couple. Leon’s brother was important to Leon, so he became important to Tiffy. That is just the type of person she is, kind, caring and loving. To a fault.

This book is well written and flows from one page to the next, leaving the reader feeling satisfied from beginning to end. The writing style is fun and relevant, perfect for readers looking for something witty, flirty and fun. The pacing is perfect, mostly it is fast paced, but O’Leary has mastered the slow down in scenes that take more digesting. A perfect book for the end of Summer!

 

As always, thanks for reading!

Julie

 

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: The Price Guide to the Occult By Leslye Walton

Before I start, I want to thank Walker Books Australia for sending me out a review copy of this book! I am so grateful for the opportunity to read and review and work with Australian companies!

This HERE is your disclaimer, telling you that this review does, indeed, contain SPOILERS. So, if you haven’t read this book and are planning to, please stop reading now. Why not head to my GoodReads account and read my spoiler free review, HERE!

 

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The Price Guide To The Occult by Leslye Walton

4/5 Stars

Published September 6th 2018 by Walker Books

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This book is dark and gritty, something that I love in a novel. I love that the magical lore in this book is different to that of any other I have read too, although I would love some more back story.

I particularly like how the Blackburn family has been on the island forever, for eight generations, that their magic bestows ‘burdens’ upon each daughter, suited to their personalities. But what gets me the most is that poor Nor, she thinks she is evil, that she is darkness and all things black magic, because she is the first one since Rona, to possess more than one ‘burden’. Or so she first thought.

I love Nor’s ‘burden’ I wish I had it! The ability to hear the thoughts of animals and plants!? Amazing! I have always been drawn to flora and fauna, finding their company preferable to that of people, so that particular magic, would suit me just fine! We have also seen Nor being able to heal, which is kind of a kick in the guts for her, because she, herself has so many scars that need healing and she can’t heal herself.

This book was particularly slow to start, it took me 90 pages, to really be invested in the plot. I think because the pacing is quite slow at the beginning of the book, it makes it feel like a chore to read, but I’m glad I kept with it, it is picking up now.

I am a little scared about what is going to happen next. The animals and tourists are fleeing the island, and usually that means something bad is going to happen. Something of a massive magnitude. I am also scared because this book seems to have a lot of blood magic in it, so this bad that is coming, must have something to do with blood magic. Everything I have read about blood magic is never good.

I hope we learn more about Gage as the book continues, his family definitely knows something about Nor, more than Nor does and I want to know what it is!

I also want to know what the heck is with these light green fern tattoos!? I realise that they are to do with Nor’s mother, Fern. But why is she doing this, reaching out and influencing them, making them follow her wholeheartedly. What does she have planned?

So, it turns out that Nor is a kick ass, powerful witch! With the powers from the original Blackburn witch herself. It only took most of the townsfolk to be killed, her friends to be maimed, the wild life to flee the island and her to be involved in a love triangle, for her to see it, but hey. Amazing!

The bit that gets me is, that it was love that saved her. Her mother was going on and on and on about being the thing that darkness itself feared, but she couldn’t have been more wrong. Darkness fears light, it fears love, so when Nor came along, against her mother, she was willing to sacrifice herself for her friends, her family and the island, she realised that the darkness feared her. She realised that death and she were long lost pals and that no darkness could be deeper and darker than that living inside her own skin. So, in the end Nor one out.

That being said, it was a rather underwhelming demise to Fern. The all-powerful witch… I was expecting more? I understand that in her lust for power, the blood letting and murder she had taken part in, finally destroyed her from the inside out, the black magic being too much for her human body to handle, so by the time she came to be facing Nor, she was a shadow of her former self. But she just blew away in the wind? Her whole life and story line were surrounded in blood and darkness and she just blew away, piece by piece, in the wind? I’m sorry, but no. That is not how a powerful dark witch dies…

I also feel the need to touch on mentioning the love triangle, that I knew was coming. Apparently, all YA titles need a love triangle, and it kills me! Poor Reed is going to miss out, I have a feeling that Gage will be the winner in the fight for Nor’s heart… I do hope it is Reed though. Not that I have a ‘team’ but I just think that for once, the good guy should get some luck? Maybe Nor will stay with Reed, but have the Blackburn curse, make her spend three days with Gage to create the next Blackburn daughter. Wouldn’t that be a turn of events!

Anyway, I have 11 pages left to go, so I shall return once I’m done!

I knew it! Poor Reed gets shafted because the danger of Nor’s life is too much. Poor Reed, boys in this situation rarely get to make their mind up about whether they think the risk is too much, they just get told, heartbroken and left. Ugh, I knew she would end up with Gage… Also not complaining, but I am complaining… Gage and Nor do have an undeniable chemistry and witty banter, something that Reed and Nor didn’t have. I think Reed and Nor was bred out of their need to be wanted, to be seen. To have someone believe solely in them, to be in their corner. Reed gave Nor her own strength, he gave her courage and love; the one thing that Nor hadn’t received from a boy/man before.

What!? I am shook! Nor doesn’t end up with either of her love interests! Leslye Walton, I am impressed at your ruthlessness!

Well, the ending wasn’t at all like I was expecting, in fact it was open ended in a way that I hope there isn’t another book? I enjoyed this one, but it is perfect as a stand alone, another book isn’t needed.

In the end we see witches in general being hunted and interrogated by the police because of Fern’s fame and misfortune. Because of the terrors that Fern created, the witches, tarot readers, mystics and healers of the world are now under scrutiny and attack. This isn’t how I thought this book would end, naturally I thought something may come of it, but I thought Nor would revamp the shop and give tarot readings or be a physical lie detector, you know? Make a honest living from her talents, but that dream wasn’t to be. Instead she now has to live in fear of the thing that makes her and her family who they are…

This book is well written, although slow paced, it did manage to hook me within the first three chapters. It is slow to start, but it is worth hanging in there, to learn about this magical island and it’s witches.

 

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Firstly, I want to thank MacMillan Australia for sending me a review copy of this amazing book, this was a five-star read for me and I am so incredibly greatful for the chance to read it!

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Sadie by Courney Summers

5/5 Stars

This Edition Published March 26 2019 by Macmillan

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Where do I even begin with this book. I was a little skeptical before I began, usually with books that are this hyped, I don’t enjoy them, or can’t get into them. But this book was different. From the first page, learning about how the book was written, I was hooked.

This book is so incredibly sad, it is honest and raw and keeps you on your toes. It is the kind of book that you NEED to keep reading, even though you know, when you turn the page, your heart is going to shatter into a million tiny pieces.

Sadie is such an incredible character, she shows such strength and is wise beyond her years, but that comes from her upbrigning, she never had a chance to be a child, she was born and thrust into adulthood, then parenthood, caring for her younger sister, Mattie. Then her world was rocked, when Mattie was mysteriously murdered. 

Sadie as a character, in the beginning, I wasn’t a fan, I felt that, as in most YA novels, her average-ness was over-played, making her seem like the perfect, imperfect character. But the more I read, and the more I got to know Sadie, the more I realised that her imperfection was her perfection. Her stutter, although appearing to make her weak in others eyes, gave her strength, it was like a secret weapon. People would constantly underestimate her, when really they should have been worried or cautious. Her sense of humour is amazing, dry and sarcastic, just like mine. I think Sadie and I would have gotten on well.

What breaks my heart the most about Sadie is that she blames herself for Matties murder. Not just becuase she knew what  happened to her, as a child was her fault, but also because she was the one who pushed her over the edge, so to speak. She was the last straw, Mattie was looking for a sister, but Sadie was so used to wearing the role of Mother, that she couldn’t revert to being her friend, anymore than Mattie could really expect her to.

We first meet Sadie early in the book, and a quote from this meeting has sat with me, throughout the whole book, I want to share it with you now:

“I live in a place that’s only good for leaving.” Sadie – Page 11

That has sat with me because from the moment we meet Sadie, we know she is going. We know that she won’t be where we think she is. That she has left for good. 

This book is so incredibly well written, even though some of the content is incredibly difficult to read, to process and to think about, it is written in a way that breaks it down, into manageable portions. I absolutely love the way that a radio show or podcast has been written into this book. It modernises it, it makes it exciting to read and it really makes the pace pick up. This books pages turn so quickly, that it is over, and you are sobbing and can’t work out why there are no pages left to read.

I do think it is necessary for me to note that this book deals with some incredibly confronting topics. So let this be a warning for you, this book contains Physical and psychological abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, drug addiction and abuse, alcoholism, and violence. Just to name a few.

These things, although hard to read about, are what makes this book so amazing. Now, don’t take that sentence the wrong way. I don’t like reading about childhood sexual abuse, but what I do like is, how this book creates a conversation about it. It opens the doors for someone to start talking. That is why this book is so important.

If you haven’t read this amazing book, you seriously need to. It will blow your mind. If you are finding it hard to get into, stick with it. It is emotionally charged, a book that you won’t forget and something that is so important, especially in today’s society.

Read the book.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

Julie.

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Fated by Teri Terry

I was over the moon excited when I received this book from the amazing team at Hachette! I absolutely LOVED the Slated series and when I saw that there was a prequel, I knew that I had to read it. I am incredibly grateful to Hachette for sending me an Advance Reader Copy of this title and I can’t wait to get into it!

As usual, here is your disclaimer, letting you know that this review post will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read this book and you ARE planning to, I suggest popping over to GoodReads and reading my spoiler free review, the link is HERE, if you are interested.

Let’s get started!

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Fated by Teri Terry

4/5 Stars

Published March 7th 2019 by Hachette Children’s Group

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Wow, page 1, line 1. I am hooked. I nearly forgot how amazing Terry’s writing style is!

I am over halfway through this amazing book now. I haven’t had time to put it down and come and write my thoughts, it won’t let me step out of the world that Terry has created! I am loving this prequel to the Slated series. I loved Slated, it was the right mix of dystopia, character driven plot and political intrigue and Fated, is no different.

I am really enjoying seeing how the characters that we see in Slated, such as Astrid Conner, how they started out, how they weasled their way into power and then made their law, the ultimate law. It is a little bit scary actually, how it isn’t unreasonable to think that something along those lines could happen today.

Sam, is your typical protagonist, yes she is well rounded, multi-faceted and full of character, but she feels like a copy of Kyla from Slated… Maybe there is a reason for that? Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying her humour and her courage. Her strength and smarts, but I just wish she had a little bit more going on?

Ava is an interesting character, she comes from nothing and is no stranger to hard work. Her life is turned upside down, from the second that she meets Sam. But does she complain? No, not once, she changes and adapts to what ever the situation calls for. She loses her dad in a A4A raid, and does she completely lose it? No, she takes a few days to grieve and then starts up again, researching and studying and being the best friend to Sam that she can be. But what gets me the most is how Sam’s mum and house staff, completely overlook the friendship that Sam and Ava have, and orchestrate a way to get Ava out of the house. To send her to the boarding quarters at the school. I do feel for Ava, she is totally alone in the world and then she is forced to board somewhere, totally alone, for the remainder of her school life.

There was a tiny mention of perhaps Ava feels more than friendship for Sam, it was the tiniest comment, easily overlooked, about her feelings. Part of me is all for it, but this book is so full of action, emotion and deceit, that maybe an additional love interest may be too much? Sam’s initial love interest Lucas has hit the back burner, other than him being the catalyst to Sam’s political uprising… I just feel in this book, at the moment, there is no room for it. Life must come first!

I’m not what you would call a political person, I try to stay out of conversations about it and keep my views private, but this book has me thinking on a larger scale about the politics in my country, and in others around the world. This book has come out at the perfect time. The London in Fated is going through something similar to both Brexit and Trump’s wall. It is a great way to get Young Adult readers more interested in politics. To take a look at the world around them, to decide on their own, if what is happening is right or wrong.

I have just hit the climactic point in the book, Part 3, and I can’t wait to read on to see what happens at the peak of the Armstrong leadership. I think I know what is going to happen, considering that Astrid Conner is standing behind the Prime Minister, but I am interested in seeing how the whole Slated situation comes to fruition. Sam has already mentioned how they will have to build more prisons, so maybe it comes from not having enough room to house all of the new-found criminals under Armstrong’s lead? We shall see!

Wow, this book was so much more than I was ever expecting. I have just finished it, and so many things have been brought to light. It all makes sense now!

For starters, Ava is Doctor Lysander… That just screams ‘right’ to me, it feels right, that she would go through all of that loss and heartbreak, through being completely alone in the world, then work to make others lives better.. My mind is a little blank on about what happens to Sam eventually, but I know Astrid is a piece of work. I think I may need to plan a re-read!

This book, as I probably have mentioned a million times, is much more political, than I would usually like or go for, but because it is a prequel to one of my favourite series, I had to have it and I had to read it. I am so, so grateful to Hachette for sending me this copy! Even though this book was essentially based on politics, manipulation and Government policy, it was amazing. It was the back story to how the Lorders came to power, to how the Government we see in Slated, came to be.

In the hanging scene, you know the one I mean, I felt it was a little lack-lustre. I knew immediately that Sam couldn’t have been hung, there was no intensity, no emotion. They walked up to the gallows, the ropes went on and then bang, they were hung… There was no nothing really…

The poetic justice of Nicky or Nico, killing President Armstrong five years after his brother died, fighting for peace is great. Not the killing, killing is never great, but in this case it makes sense? It fits with the theme of the book and really brings it home, how much the Government truly controls peoples lives.

As always, Terry has written a masterpiece, something that is so current, yet feels fictional. Which I guess is the entire point. Perfectly paced, the pages kept turning, faster than I wanted them to. The characters were outstanding and the way thy drove the plot was amazing. I actually want another book now. I need to know more about this world! Maybe one from Astrid’s point of view!

Anyway, If you haven’t read the Slated series, you NEED to so that, so off you pop, go to the book store or the Library and get those bad boys, then when you are done, head out and get this book. It is a series that will make you think!

 

Thanks for reading!

Julie