Blog

Reviews & Ramblings, Uncategorized

Review & Ramblings: The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews

I have been waiting for this book to be released ever since I saw that the lovely C. G. Drews had written another title! You see, her first book A Thousand Perfect Notes, is a masterpiece that will destroy you, you HAVE to read it!

The Boy Who Steals Houses struck a chord with me as it has a character who has Austism. This is near and dear to my heart because I work with children with Autism, so to see it being represented by one of m favourite authors is so, so exciting.

I was scrolling through NetGalley and saw this title and requested it in about two seconds. I knew I needed to apply for it, even if my chances were slim. But you know what? I GOT IT! I then posted an incredibly …ahem… interesting video on my Instagram story and the rest is history! I am so excited to be able to read this book! And even more excited to be able to read it before its release!

Okay, even more exciting, I got bookmail from Hachette and guess what!? It was a finished copy of this book! I am dead! Actually dead! This book is so pretty and big and real! I am so excited to add it to my collection!

As always, here is the disclaimer letting you know that this review post does include SPOILERS, so if you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend clicking HERE and reading my spoiler free revire on GoodReads.

Let’s get the pages turning!

 

40170373._UY630_SR1200,630_

The Boy Who Steals Houses by C. G. Drews

5/5 Star Read!

Publishes on April 4th 2019 by Orchard Books

Book Depository

GoodReads

 

I’m not crying, you’re crying! Wow I am only 9% in and I can’t stop the tears. Avery is such a perfect representation of what it is like to live with Autism. I feel so connected to him after only a few pages and want the best for this little man. Sam, is also such a sensitive soul, who only wants a life for his brother and a home for himself. This book is going to wreck me, I can tell.

Oh wow, their dad is a complete arsehole! What the heck, who takes a child with Austism’s special toy away? The one thing that calms them? Any parent of a child with autism should know this… in theory. And then the worst thing that could happen, happens. The father hits the son, the son with autism. Avery. He hits Avery. While Sam watches from the car, tied in by his seatbelt, unable to help. What a traumatic thing, for each of them to live through. Each of them experiencing the same Trauma from different aspects. My heart is bleeding, this book is killing me.

So amazingly written, when I read ‘And he hits him’ tears ran from my eyes and my heart rate sped to a mile a minute. The way C. G. Drews creates her characters and scenes is incredible. The amount of emotion she creates in a single sentence is amazing.

Oh wow, the Delaineys are such a perfect family! I love how they are so welcoming to anyone who enters their house, that they don’t even question who Sam is. Yes, I can see how that can be kind of dangerous, but for Sam, it was a godsend. He wants so desperately to be a part of the family, to have a family like the Delaineys. To have a dad who cares enough about them to give them holiday jobs, to put food on the table and to feed strange kids that appear at his house.

Poor Sammy, he thinks he has blown it with Moxie, but I think she was just angry, I don’t think he has blown it at all. He saved her baby brother, it was just a shock to see him hiding in her dead mothers study… well I think her mum died, no one speaks of her and so far we have only heard about medical bills… but that is neither here nor there. I think Moxie will come around, if only Sam will man up and go back around there, tell the truth and say he needs help.

Avery, wow Avery, what are you doing!? This is the side of adulthood Autism that really scares me. He is so trusting that he is vulnerable. He just wants to please, to be praised for his hard and delicate work. To have people who appreciate his smarts and abilities. To have a pretty girl interested in him. But he is going to have a huge fall, she is stopping him from stimming, she is introducing him to stealing on a much bigger level, to alcohol, to sex. All things that typically, people with Autism struggle with, all things that are gateways to bigger and worse things. I just want Avery to be happy and to live a functional adult life, but I think to do that, he needs Sam.

I am about halfway through this book and my heart is breaking for Sam, not just because he is homeless and has no one in his corner, but because now, he has even lost his brother. Avery is scared of him, scared of Sam and his fists.

Finally, Sam manned up and went and apologised to Moxie. Wow that girl is deep. She is getting called ‘mama’ by her three-year-old brother because she is basically his sole carer. Which is even more heart breaking when you remember that she is only fifteen. That is the bit that hits me the hardest. Both Moxie and Sam are only fifteen and already they are going through so much, so many aspects of life that they shouldn’t have had to deal with yet. They really are the perfect companions and Moxie’s family is the perfect fit for Sam and for Avery. I just hope that there is a happy ending in there somewhere for all of them.

Wow, okay wow. Sammy Lou has some serious demons in his closet, but he knew that already, that’s why he was running. But he found the perfect family, the family who picked him up when he had no where, the family who treated him like he was theirs and who took Avery in with no questions asked. He found his place in the world.

This book ended on such a cliff-hanger! Not in the typical sense, but in the, so much is happening, and then it just ends…. There are so many unanswered questions, so many more tears to fall and so many things I need to know. I need to know more about Avery, about if he stays with the DeLaineys, takes the job with the dad DeLainey, what happens to him when Sam goes to prison. There is so much I NEED to know! I desperately need a second book!

As always this book is amazingly written, it will pull strings you didn’t even know you had. It is moving and emotionally charged and if you don’t tear up at least once, you are a heartless piece of cardboard (okay not really, some people don’t cry.)

I think what made it so much more amazing for me, on a personal level, is that I can so relate to Avery’s character. I work with children with Autism, every day. It is what I am passionate about, helping these incredibly amazing people to be able to function in the world when they become adults. To help them learn in the ways that suits them, in the less upsetting and confronting ways possible. I see so much perfect real-world aspects to Avery that it breaks my heart. He is such a gentle character, a perfect representation of what typical ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) looks like. I love that Drews has written this character, there are so many misconceptions of people with ASD and I am hoping that this book helps to alleviate some of those misconceptions.

Sam, don’t even get me started on the depth of this character…. Wowzers. This boy has seen too much for his fifteen years. He is functioning amazingly, all things considered. But I think what draws me to him, is his protective nature, his need to look after Avery, not only because he is his brother and he needs help, but because it is all he knows. Avery was all Sam ever had in his world, his one constant. He needs Avery just as much as Avery needs him. Two broken boys, both in their own special ways.

In wrapping up, you can already tell that this book was such a highlight of my 2019. I loved this book on a soul-deep level and I will be screaming it from the rooftops until I am red in the face. This is a book that everyone needs to read. It may be targeted towards Young Adult readers, but it is something that everyone will enjoy, something that everyone can relate to. Incredibly well written, a writing style that flows so fluidly that you won’t even notice the pages turning and a story that will pull at strings, you didn’t even know you had. A MUST read for 2019!

As always, thank you so much for reading!

Please comment below if you have read this book and what you thought!

 

Julie!

 

Uncategorized

Top 5 Austalian Authors

This is a list that I could have made go on for ever, but we all know that, that would be horrible to read, so I made it a list of 5! I wanted to write this list purely so I could get some more Aussie Authors out there. I, as a reader, have often struggled with finding books written by an Australian Author, not just because the book industry is flooded with authors from everywhere else, but a long time ago, the books written by Aussies, just had a completely different feel, and the pacing was slower. I guess that reflects our over-all personalities though. But lately I have discovered a whole treasure trove of fantastic Australian Authors, from a wide range of genres. Some I have found recently, others I have been reading for years!  So, without further ado and in no particular order, let’s begin!

#1 – Matthew Reilly,

Do I even need to go on? This man has written some of the best, most action-packed fiction, ever. The Scarecrow series being one of my favourites! He writes with such passion and energy, it is hard to not get swept away by his writing. I was first shown the world of Matthew Reilly by my aunty, she has every book he has ever written and kept telling me about him I foolishly assumed that it was romance or something that I wasn’t interested in at the time (I was 16ish). But eventually I let her force Ice Station on me, and I was hooked. Since then I have slowly been collecting his works in Hard Cover. My latest obsession is the Seven Deadly Wonders series. I love how Reilly combines illustration and text, how he takes you on an adventure that could be highly possible, in each book.

 

#2 Scot Gardner

This man is a little less well known, yet his works are incredibly relevant and raw. Scot writes novels such as White Ute Dreaming and Gravity. Both of which are purely Australian and look as different aspects facing teenagers in the Australian culture. He writes with a rawness that pulls at your heart strings and creates a relationship with the characters within the first page. Scot Writes Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, fiction that will make you feel and instantly be able to relate to the characters or know someone who has gone through what Gardiner’s characters are going through.

I discovered Gardner in high-school and it was the prefect time to find him. His writing is so honest and filled with the knowledge of what it is to be Australian, what it is to live somewhere isolated and not have as many social outlets or channels for progression and growth as those who live in suburban areas. His books are often quite short, around 250 pages, but their content is quite in your face and hits the mark early in the book. Definitely an author you need to try!

 

#3 Jenna Guillaume

I have only just stumbled across Jenna, through her debut novel that was sent to me by MacMillan Australia for reviewing. Her debut novel, What I Like About Me is a coming of age novel about finding yourself and your place in the world. Accepting who you are and learning to love that person. It is an uplifting tale of growing up in Australia, with such typical Aussie characters. Jenna has a way of creating settings and characters that feel incredibly real, that make you feel as though you have been there too. And seeing how it is set in Australia, you probably have!

 

#4 Rachael Treasure

Can you call yourself an Aussie if you haven’t read at least one of Rachael Treasure’s novels? Rachael is near and dear to my heart, as she is a fellow Tasmanian. I have been reading her novels since I was 16 and I lost myself in them. She has written Jillaroo, The Stockman, The Rouseabout, The Farmers Wife and many more, including her own spin on Fifty Shades of Grey called Fifty Bales of Hay. Rachael is an incredible writer who encompasses the true Aussie spirit within her writing, not leaving of the ‘hard stuff’ out of her writing. Her novels are more aimed towards adults, as some of the content may be a little much for the YA audience.

 

#5 Lynette Noni

I couldn’t really get into her first series, The Mendoran Series, however, Whisper, was speaking my language. I feel as though Lynette has a way with words that throw you into the deep end, keep you thinking and then slowly reveal the secrets that she has been keeping. I also love the way she is able to show you exactly what she wants you to see, she doesn’t telly you that the sky is blue, she describes the day, the feelings of the characters and lets you make your own mind up about the colour of the sky.

 

I know there are quite a few that I have missed from this list, but these were the first five, that jumped into my mind when I sat down to write this post. If you haven’t checked out these authors, you seriously need to. Their writing is incredible! If you have any other Aussie Authors that you think I need to pay some reading visits to, please comment below and let me know!

 

Thanks for reading!

Julie

 

 

Uncategorized

February Wrap-Up

Hi lovelies,

 

I apologise for my lack of content lately, I have had a lot going on in my professional life lately, which has been making me feel unable to indulge in reading and writing like I usually do. However, I made some time to talk you you all about my February books! So without further adieu, here is my February Wrap-Up!

This month, this incredibly short month! I read 5 books! In no particular order:

Boy On a Wire by Jon Doust – 2/5 stars – This book wasn’t really for me, it started out strong and then fell flat towards the middle. I found it hard to keep track of what was happening throughout.

The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion – 3/5 Stars. – I was sent a copy of this book from the lovely people at Hachette Publishing. It isn’t my usual type of book, but I was greatful for the change of pace and for the slower style.

The Secret Runners of New York by Matthew Reilly – 5/5 Stars. – I was sent an Advance Reading Copy of this book by MacMillan. I was so, so shocked to receive a copy of this one, and so greatful! I am a huge Matther Reilly fan and this book was no exception! Wonderfully written and action packed! The perfect entry level Reilly novel!

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes. – 3/5 Stars. – This book was a bit of a let down. I wanted to read it becasue it is the sequel to YOU and I absolutely adored YOU. I wanted more dark and twisty Joe Goldberg, but instead I got, slightly creepy Joe…

When The Light Went Out by Bridget Morrissey – 4/5 Stars.  – I was given a review copy of this book from NetGalley, and I stumbled across it on my Kindle and thought, ooh sounds interesting… and it was! The writing style is so easy to read. It definitely had some Pretty Little Liars and Broken Things (Lauren Oliver) vibes, but a good read all the same!

 

Soo that is my February wrap-up! I was so excited when I realised that I had read five books! I thought my number would have been much less due to my busy life and the fact that the month is so short!

Have you read any of the books on my list? If so, what did you think?

 

Thanks for reading!

Julie

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion

I was sent a copy of this novel from the lovely team at Hachette in exchange for an honest review and to take part in the blog tour for it. It isn’t something that I would usually read anymore, funnily enough when I was younger (18-20) I loved books like this, but lately and for the last seven years, Young Adult Fiction has been my poison of choice. So, reading this book feels like a blast from the past.

As always, even though this review is part of a blog tour for this book, this review may contain spoilers, if you haven’t read this book, please head over to my GoodReads for a spoiler free review, you can find it HERE.

9780733636172.jpg

 

The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion

Published February 12th 2019 by Hachette Australia

3/5 Stars

GoodReads

Book Depository

 

 

 

I have just finished the first chapter, and already I can sense so many complex emotions surrounding the house in Cork. I am getting a little confused as the point of view changes without any warning and I often have to go back to the page break and work out who it is, speaking. I also am getting overwhelmed with descriptions and thoughts, this book is very heavy on telling you everything that you might, maybe need to know. I’m sure that some of it will be helpful further in, but for the moment, it is slightly annoying.

I am enjoying it, especially the Australian-isms in Ellen’s chapters. I love that this book is set in Australia and Ireland, it feels like the right combination. I also feel a connection to Ellen, in that we first see her on Anzac Day, paying her respects, then heading straight in to breakfast, that for me hits home in that, that is our tradition too. Anzac Day, Dawn service, followed by breakfast with the family. I love already, how much there is in this book to relate to.

This book is 391 pages long and the book itself is massive, so it feels like this book may take longer to read than usual. Usually I can knock-out a 300 page book in a day, but as the pages of this book are probably a quarter bigger than the smaller sized paperbacks I am used to, I’d say it will take me a bit longer. Not that this will affect my review or my enjoyment of the book, just an observation. I like to be able to sit down with a book and finish it, so I’m not left thinking about what will happen all day at work. Are any of you like that? Or do you like to drag out the books that you are really enjoying? Make them last longer?

I’m getting a lot of back story as I continue my read of this book. I am about 100 pages in and nothing has really happened, other than the introduction of new characters and getting to see the house and starting to understand the characters and their connections to each other. I love Aidan’s character. He feels the most real so far. I also love how it is a man with self esteem and weight issues, not a female character. But I don’t love the way they were brought up, he thought his weight wasn’t noticeable, but people are telling him not to take second helpings, to walk the neighbour’s dog and to so the female population a favour and “lose a few stone”. So I am feeling a little bit for Aidan at the moment.

I’m also with Aidan on the renovation front. Colette wants to completely modernise the 1800’s built farm house (from the title of the book) whereas Aidan wants to renovate, but leave it with its rustic charm, keeping to the original feel of the house. I am so on Aidan’s side. There is so much of history being wiped out through modernisation. It just seems like such a shame to lose another piece of history, just to sell a house. Or as Ellen wants, to rent rooms.

This book is well written, I am slowly starting to engage with the characters and making sense of the developing plot. I am still finding it a little overly wordy, but I can see past that now that the story is developing. I think Ellen and Gerry are a couple? Waiting for Gerry’s Visa to be approved for him to move to Australia? I also can see how Colette and Aidan may end up together, again. They do say opposites attract? Colette brings to the table a whole new level of confidence to Aidan’s shy and quiet demeaner. I just hope that Aidan doesn’t lose himself if they do end up together.

I am trying to work out the pacing, it feels like it is taking a long time to read, but I think that it because not much is happening? Perhaps the pacing is a mid-pace type scenario. It is just fast enough to keep pages turning, but not fast enough to keep things free flowing? I do love me a fast paced book, so the change is a little off putting.

I am around halfway through this book now, at page 200. And things have picked up slightly. For example, Aidan has taken up swimming and has realised that he is indeed, a dog person. Colette has realised that Aidan isn’t just a chubby builder, he is friendly, honest, reliable and has a heart of gold that is the size of a planet. And that she likes him.

Colette is a complex character, she has been through some horrible traumas and has come out the other side of it, surrounded by self-built brick walls that no one gets to see through, let alone knock down. She puts on this cold and hard front, but deep inside, she just wants to be loved and appreciated. To be safe and wanted. And Aidan would give her that in spades. I can’t wait to see how their story pans out.

I am a little confused about why we are getting so much back-story about secondary characters? Is it to gap-fill while we take a break from the main plot? Is it to make the book a little longer? I find myself wanting to skip the paragraphs and sometimes pages of unnecessary back-story of characters that aren’t even main characters. It may just be my opinion, but there is so much being told, that doesn’t need to be, like why Grace decided to stay home when she found out that she was pregnant with twins. Yes she is Colette’s sister, but I didn’t need to know that she stayed to be close to her family, much to the dismay of Ben’s (her husband), family. The pacing is still quite slow, but I am enjoying the change of pace and genre.

I have just finished this title, and woah did the last 60ish chapters blow my mind. There was so much drama and action and pure emotion! I think they were the best 60 pages in the entire book. I do wish that there was more about the house that Aidan and Colette were working on. A little more history about the place, more details on the renovation and interaction around it, as the book is called The House of Second Chances…

As I have said countless times, this book is well written, mid-paced and emotionally charged. It is filled with characters that you can’t help but love and it gives you all of the information and back-story that you could possibly need. It is set between stunning Ireland and Australia and it has an incredibly home like feel about it.

I am so greatful to Hachette for sending me a copy of this book, it was the perfect sea change, so to speak!

Thanks for reading

Julie

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume

This book came to me as a complete surprise from MacMillan Australia, and I am so excited! It is my first book from MacMillan and I can’t wait to jump into it! It does have a blogging review embargo on it so this review, obviously has been posted after the 26th of February, even though I wrote this a while ago.

As always, here is the disclaimer telling you that this post does contain SPOILERS! So if you haven’t read this book and are planning to, I suggest you look away now, click THIS link which takes you to my spoiler-free GoodReads review!

 

download28629

 

What I Like About Me by Jenna Guilaume

Publishes in March 2019 by Pan MacMillan

Book Depository

GoodReads

 

 

Well, firstly let me say, I am so so soooo excited that this book is by an Aussie author and that is it set in Australia and is about Australian people. I can relate to this book on so many levels. This is the book that I wanted to write when I was in high school, written from the point of view and voice of young adults, wanting to be someone that they aren’t, and too scared to be who they really are. I can see this book being a masterpiece of coming of age and accepting who you are, being proud of who you are.

I did find the voice to be quite young, but then again, she is 15/16 so it makes sense. But I am loving the writing style and the voice of Maisie, she is funny and vibrant and brutally honest (with her journal anyway). I’m not too sure about Anna, she seems to want the best for Maisie, as most best friends do, but it feels a little fake? As though she is saying what she thinks she has to say, not what she wants to?

Hello new female character! You are so much fun! I love how free-spirited Leila is! What a breath of fresh air, I think she will be great for Maisie, maybe get some of her inner monologue out, into conversation!

Ooh, so we have just found out that Maisie is a slightly bigger girl, I rarely see size when I am reading, so to be told that Maisie feels insecure about her body as it is on the bigger size is a great piece of information. It makes the book make a little more sense, as to why she is so jealous of Anna and her perfect body and #hotgirl status. I can feel this book becoming a body positivity bible and I am so ready!

Yaaas Maisie! We are 150ish pages in and finally Maisie has turned the corner. She is beautiful, funny and worth people’s time and now that she has realised that, I can’t wait to see what she can achieve!

Also woohoo Maisie and Beamer! I love their fling, It will totally turn into a relationship, it has the feels of Lara-Jean and Peter Kavinsky written all over it. It is so incredibly obvious that Beamer really likes Maisie, and has since the beginning of the book, but Maisie was too blindsided by how she thought she felt for Sebastian and by her own body image that she couldn’t see Beamer. And woah was she missing out, the moment when you can tell there is a shift in Maisie is when she starts to tell us about Beamer, up until the pool party Beamer doesn’t really get a description, he is just a super annoying boy who isn’t Sebastian, but woahh, now we know he is tall, broad and muscular. Why did you not like him Maisie! Who doesn’t like a bit of banter! I can’t wait to see what this blossoms into, I think they are well suited.

Also this whole beauty pageant thing, is giving me Dumplin’ vibes. Body positivity for the win. I understand why Maisie didn’t want to enter, not just because of her own self-image, but to live up to the expectations of her mother and that her sister won it previously, does add some pressure. But I am so proud of her for listening to Leila and entering! I think that there is also much more to her sister and their relationship than meets the eye. I think her sister is also experiencing some image issues, trying to work out who she is but is so used to everyone expecting her to be perfect that she doesn’t really know what to do anymore.

This book deals with so many aspects of family life, of growing up and of finding yourself, it is incredible. We have body image issues, divorce, relationships, gay/queer relationships, friendship dilemmas, family dilemmas, the list could go on. I just love that it is so diverse in its content! That is isn’t completely about the plus size girl, doing things that traditionally, only skinny girls would do.

Okay, so I just finished this book, but before I go into my end of book review, can I just say, yes things tied up neatly and were presented with a bow. Yes Maisie kicked serious pageant butt and eventually realised that she actually did like Beamer. But it was the final page that really stole the show. It was laugh-out-loud funny, just what this book needed to finish with.

This book was great, I am so grateful to MacMillan for sending it to me to review. I had a blast reading it. It is honest and raw and looks at so many different aspects of growing up. It is well written and fast paced, the pages keep turning faster and faster until there are no pages left and you wish there were more. I love that this is an Australian book, I find it makes the characters easier to relate to because they go to places I go to and speak like I speak and use slangs that I use. I loved that about this book, and I think that is what made me like it so much. Yes, this book has some similarities to other popular novels such as Dumplin, but this took on a world of its own. I adore how it was written in diary entries, not only did it give the reader a much clearer sense of how the protagonist was feeling and why she was doing what she was doing, but it made it easier to read. It broke up the intense moments and also intensified the moments that usually would have been overlooked.

So, as you can see, I am definitely a fan of this book. It is both light-hearted but also incredibly thought provoking, one quote in particular stuck with me:

“You don’t think Eva is brave for going to the beach in a bikini do you? Or anyone else? That’s what you wear to the beach. A bikini. The idea of wearing one is a brave act just because you aren’t a stick figure is kind of fucked up.” Bess Page 220

This book is a wakeup call to all of the teenage and twenty something girls out there that have been smacked in the face with tiny models on their tv’s and magazines all of their lives, and think that in order to be respected and to matter, that they need to be skinny and eat certain things and if they don’t fit that mould, then they can’t wear certain clothes or go to certain places. This book is made for girls who feel that way. Love who you are, you are you for a reason! Wear that Bikini, eat that cake, get the hair cut!

This book is a must read for 2019 and sums up the change that the world needs to see!

Thanks for reading.

Julie.

 

Ps. Seriously, read this book…