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Review & Ramblings: Tim & Tigon by Tim Cope

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Tim & Tigon by Tim Cope

4/5 Stars

Publishes 10 September by PanMacmillan Australia

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Tim & Tigon, is not my usual type of read. When I read non-fiction, I tend to go for crime or historical types, but I am so glad that the team at Macmillan sent me a review copy. Not only did I devour it, but it was amazing to see another part of the world, that doesn’t get a lot of coverage.

Tim & Tigon is the tale of a man and his dog, trekking from Mongolia thorugh to Hungary. I believe it has been adapted to suit younger readers, and Tim’s full, adult targeted novel On the Trail of Genghis Kahn, can be found HERE. That being said, I cannot reccommend this book, highly enough. Even though it is aimed for younger readers, the story remains inspiring and in some parts, down-right terrifying.

Armed with “only two shirts, two pairs of trousers and a couple of pairs of underwear”, Tim set out for his three year long, journey. We see Tim go from a young boy seeking adventure, inexperienced in horse riding, in survival skills and didn’t know the language, into a nomad, fluent in the language of horses and the locals. We see him form amazing bonds with his animals, especially Tigon and the incouragable Ogonyok.

This book, for me, is not just about the journey, it is about the relationships that Tim made along the way. About the people that he got to meet, living in the secluded parts of the world. The customs and cultures he got to partake in, as a travellign nomad. These amazing, isolated people would take him in, feed him and his animals, when they, themselves would have hardly enough food for their families. It shows the quality of them as a people, of what is important.

I am struggling writing this review, not becaue I didn’t enjoy it, but because it is a non-fiction, recount of someones life experience, and who am I to descern if that is worth reading or not? But what I will say is that, Tim & Tigon is written so well that you want to keep reading. The words flow fluently, as well as being an experienced traveller, Tim Cope is also a fantastic author. You are immediately immersed into the world of Mongolia and through to Hungary, Cope doesn’t fail to show you the world as he sees it. From the scenery to the people, to the animals. Nothing is left out. This book carries an incredible sense of authenticity, it makes you feel  like you are there too.

I remember my heart breaking for Tim, many times while he was on his journey, I don’t know how he found the strength to say goodbye to his horses, to know he had to trade them to make sure he survived. To having to camp on his own in the middle of nowhere, often getting no sleep in order to protect himself and his animals. Tim shows tremendous courage and bravery, something I could never do on my own. This book shows just what humans are capeable of doing, if they set their mind to it.

If you are an adventurer, or someone who wishes they could travel, then this is the book for you. It is filled with so much culture and forgotten customs that you will be amazed at how different, isolated parts of the worl work. An incredible tale of friendship, loyalty and discovering yourself.

Finally, I just want to say, Thank you so much to Clare, and the amazing team at PanMacMillan Australia, for sending me a review copy of this amazing book. I am always so humbled when I receive a review copy and am so incredibly greatful for the opportunity.

 

blog tour, Reviews & Ramblings

Blog Tour Review. Snow by Ondine Sherman.

Before we begin, This is the second book in this series and if you are interested in reading my review for Sky, the first book, click this LINK to go to my GoodReads.

Thank you so much to Aus YA Bloggers and Pantera Press for organising this blog tour.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it!

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Snow by Ondine Sherman

3/5 Stars

Published July 15th 2019 by Pantera Press

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Snow starts where Sky finished, almost to the day. Which makes it extremely easy to follow. Sherman has also taken time to fill in the blanks from the previous book, so if you haven’t read the first book, you could comfortably read this one and not feel as though you were missing out on any major plot points.

In Snow, we see Sky turn sixteen, we see her struggle with learning truths about her father, struggle with friendships, new family ties and working out who she is and what she stands for. A big part of this book is Sky, truly finding herself and what is important to her.

That being said, I did struggle with Sky, as a character. I still feel that she doesn’t act, think or react as a fifteen/sixteen year old would. She feels much younger than the age that we are told. Some of her actions seem a little far-fetched also. Without getting too spoilery, she seems, for the most part to be a little conservative, yet suddenly she has the confidence to hitch-hike and lie and deceive. Actions that don’t feel true to her character.

I also found issue with her as a character in that she speaks of sticking to her beliefs and speaking up for animal rights, yet she isn’t very educated about the animals that she is trying to save. She goes out of her way to endanger herself, where guns are involved and showed very little remorse or accountability for her actions. Although this happens in real life, this is a book aimed at younger readers, so for me this seemed like a scene that may influence negatively.

My last dig at Sky is that she is hypocritical. She constantly is upset by her father not telling her the truth about his job, it gets brought up throughout the book, that him hiding the truth from her was horrible and how can she trust him now? Then we see Sky, herself, doing the same thing to her Boyfriend, Oliver, hiding all traces of Jaxon from him. Which in the end has the exact effect you would expect.

I know it seems I wasn’t a fan of this book, but I did enjoy it. Maybe I am too old to fully enjoy this book, but there were aspects of Sky’s personality that just didn’t sit well with me, as a reader. I can see how she will be relate-able for younger readers though.

Snow, like Sky, is incredibly easy to read, the pages turn so quickly, you blink and the book is finished. Sherman writes scenes that flow with such ease, as well as capturing the beauty of the Alaskan scenery and the depth of the characters emotions.

This book speaks to the child in all of us, holding on to the innocence of animals, the strength of family and the hard decisions that lead us to doing the right thing. I believe that under all the twists and turns, at the heart of this series, is family. We see Sky, struggle so much in this book, yet by the end of it, she realises just what she is willing to do, to forgive, to overlook, if it means she gets to be a part of her family again. That just because she doesn’t agree with someone else’s life choices, doesn’t make it okay to cut them out of her life completely.

I am looking forward to seeing what happens when she returns to Australia in book three, Star coming out in February, 2020.

 

As always, thank you for reading!

 

Julie.

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: HeartStream by Tom Pollock

Firstly, I want to thank Walker Books Australia, for sending me an advanced reading copy of this title. It was just the book I needed to get out of a slump and I am eternally grateful for any opportunities I receive to work with publishers. Thank you!

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Heartstream by Tom Pollock

3/5 Stars.

Published September 1st 2019 by Walker Books

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Goodreads Review

I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, when I started reading this book. I expected some psychological elements, a lot of technology and some drama, but what I got, was so much more.

I was immediately drawn to Amy’s character, her chapters were filled with loss, pain and technologies that we can only dream of. Her voice is one that I can hear in my life, as though she is a friend.

I found Cat to be a little on the annoying side, she was too eagre to please everyone else, she wanted people to like her, and in the end, that is what she criticises others for doing. Yes, I recognise that she was incredibly wronged and it is disgusting what happened to her, but she feels hypocritical. In the beginning, it was as though she wasn’t her own person, as though she would rather be the person that people expected her to be, than be herself for the fear that people wouldn’t like her. Which is sad in itself.

At first, I wasn’t sure what I was reading, with this book. I couldn’t pick the path of where it was going. It did dawn on me that this book could be read as a precautionary tale about the dangers of the internet. As our lives are getting broadcasted more and more onto the internet, we are sharing more about our lives, our homes, our friends and family, the more ammunition we give people to tear us down. This book can be seen as a warning, most of what these women went through was a direct response from their lives in the public eye, having thousands and millions of followers on their social media accounts, for Cat it resulted in horrific physical damage to not only herself, but her family and home. I am not, by any means saying ‘stay off socials’, or ‘the internet is bad’, what I’m saying is, that you could read this book as a warning, that sometimes giving too much of yourself to your followers can result in losing yourself.

I also think that Cat is a creation of her generation. She was encouraged to believe that the more followers she had, the more likes and retweets or re-blogs she received, the more popular she was. The more important she was. Her whole selfworth was created by having millions of people think that she was special.

I wish that there was more about Heartstream, the app, in this book. It sounds like an incredible piece of technology, creepy, but incredible. The ability to share your feelings with others, not though telling them, but showing them. Allowing them to feel exactly as you are feeling in any given moment. I think there was room for more information on the topic. I would have loved some backstory maybe?

The way that these two women are connected is mind blowing, I have seen this situation play out in different ways before, but I didn’t see it coming in this book (No spoilers, don’t panic). From the beginning, it was obvious to me that they were going to be connected in some way, I guess it was poetic in the end.

Tom Pollock has created a dark and twisty novel that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Your head will twist in circles trying to work out the connections, what is important and what is put there to make you think you’re on the right track, but you aren’t. The pacing in this book is fantastic, it reads as the characters think, Cat’s chapters read erratically, they speed up to a pace that you can imagine her thoughts are travelling at. Whereas Amy’s chapters start out slow, her sadness saturating the flow of her thoughts and actions, then they increase as her situation escalates.

A great read, if you are looking for something to make you think. I did have a sense of unsatisfaction when I finished though. The ending felt a little open ended, wahich I can understand considering the intensity of the novel, but I wish there was a little more closure.

This title is intense from the first page and will keep you guessing until the very end.

Thanks for reading.

Julie.

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: The Astrid Notes by Taryn Bashford

Firstly, I want to say thank you to MacMillan Australia, for sending me a review copy of this title and inviting me to be a part of a release tour. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this title and am greatful for the opportunity!

This review is a little spoilery, if you haven’t read The Astrid Notes yet I reccommend popping over to my spoiler free, GoodReads review HERE.

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The Astrid Notes by Taryn Bashfordd

4/5 Stars

Published  July 23rd 2019 by Pan Australia

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Initially, I am blown away by the cover, it immediately draws you in, it is inviting yet full of mystery and intensity.

From the first page, you are thrown into the thick of it. I am enjoying the pacing and the way that Bashford is giving us all of the information we need, without dumping it all. I definitely fee, as though I am in the hotel room with the band.

Is it okay to be crying for characters you have only just met. Page 5, I am looking at you. What an abrupt, shocking thing, I feel for Jacob, this is going to have a lasting impression and I only hope he makes it through.

I am loving that this book is set in Australia. I knew that the author Taryn Bashford, was Australian, but for some reason I wasn’t expecting the book to be set in Australia too. It was an awesome surprise! I am loving all of the amazing Aussie titles being released lately!

I can’t help but to feel sorry for Astrid. All she wants is answers about her mum and to be seen as her own person. To be able to step out from behind her mothers shadow, for her dad to see her as Astrid, not Veronika. I can’t imagine what that must be like, but I’d say it would be exhausting, pretending to love something for the benefit of someone else.

Astrid gave up everything so that her father could teach her to sing. She is home-schooled, has no friends and no desire to sing opera anymore. I truly hope that she gets her truth and can finally break free of her cage.

I am loving the almost lyrical way that this book is written, it flows from one scene to the next with such fluidity. The characters interact so genuinely, they feel like people you know, not characters in a book. That human quality is what makes this book so much more amazing.

Astrid and Jacob complement each other so perfectly. Not just in their lives, both having experienced tremendous loss, but also in their home lives and musical aspirations. There is a gorgeous symmetry to their differences.

Musically I can only imagine the perfection that they would sound like together, I wish there were recordings I could listen to as I read, but my imagination is doing a pretty good job so far.

The writing style in this book is incredible. It has a way of captivating you, making you emotionally invest in it’s characters, it takes hold and refuses to let go.

I am hoping for a happy ending for them both, I don’t think either one can take another loss or heartbreak, each is sitting on the edge of their breaking point.

What a life changing revelation. Poor Astrid’s life is about to turn upside down. Everything that she thought she knew is wrong. Her father has been lying to her, her entire life, letting her believe that she killed her mother. I don’t know how Astrid is going to come back from this one.

I  admire the strength that Jacob gives to Astrid. Astrid is already so full of courage and honesty, but she lacks the bravery to speak up, this is where Jacob influences her, gives her the courage that she needs to be able to voice her opinion, worries and desires.

 

The Astrid Notes is a book that comes along every so often, a book that takes you by the hand and makes its way into your heart. It pairs beautifully broken characters with a writing style that will have you head over heels in an instant. Bashford has created a setting, so perfectly matched for these characters, it is so easy for the reader to be transported into the world of opera singing, training, short drives to the beach and studio-come-apartments.

Bashford writes with such honesty, her characters feel real and sincere. As though they have lain their truths bare on the page for us to feel with them. This title focuses on so many issues, some more common, other not, but there will be something in here that each and every reader can relate to.

 

Have you read The Astrid Notes? Thoughts?

Sincerely,

Julie

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: I am Change by Suzy Zail

Firstly, I want to say a HUGE Thank-You to Walker Books for sending me a review copy of this fantastic title. As soon as I saw it in the catalogue of titles to be released, I knew I needed to read it.  I knew it was going to be important, not only for cultural awareness, but also for women, for girls to realise just how important and special they really are. I wasn’t let down. I so, so appreciate the opportunity to spread awareness for this novel. I want to shout it from the rooftops, if you haven’t read this book, you need to.

This review only contains one spoiler, about a graphic scene towards the end of the book, if you don’t want to be spoiled, may I suggest clicking HERE to read my spoiler free review on GoodReads.

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Photo taken by @bookish.intoxication

I Am Change by Suzy Zail

5/5 Stars

Published August 1st 2019 by Black Dog

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From the minute you open the cover of this book, you will be hooked, mesmerised by the sheer different world that Lilian and her family live in. Zail has written a masterpiece, inspired by women who have lived through similar situations and have found their own voices to share their stories with the world.

Suzy Zail is a master story teller, one that will have you so entranced in this tale of change that you won’t know what day or time it is, when you finish reading. Zail has a way of writing with such honesty and sincerity, that you believe every word Lilian says or writes, that you feel her emotion leaping from the page, that you live through her horrors with her. The pacing is perfect throughout the title, it flows with the soft cadence of a stream, it allows you to indulge in the lilt of the language used and fully process it as you read.

I Am Change, is the book that we needed, the book we knew we needed, but weren’t really sure when it was going to come. It is passionate, honest, raw and gritty. It will make you cry and make you laugh, make you sigh and shout in frustration. It is a conversation starter, it will make you want to talk about women’s rights, about the things that women in Western worlds take for granted and what you can do to help those who don’t have the opportunity or chances to make a better life for themselves.

I can’t imagine the pain that Lilian must suffer through for the sake of her mothers’ traditional beliefs. I don’t want to go into too much detail, as the scene itself is heart-wrenchingly graphic. But In Lilian’s mother’s clan, the Sabiny, it is common practice, for the girls to be ‘cut’ when they reach a certain age. The cutting isn’t the labia, as most people are aware of, but of the clitoris. What makes this procedure so much more horrific is that most girls have no idea what is about to happen to them or why, just that it is something that they are expected to live through silently. For Lilian, it was worse again, because she knew about the process, about that part of her and she knew that she should have had a choice. That it was her body and she should have been able to have some say over it. It shows us that we are incredibly lucky to live the way that we do, with choice over our bodies and the right to say no.

“It was only the kintir. It is a stubborn thing and only gets you in trouble. It is my job to tame you” p277

But all through the pain and the psychological anguish, Lillian kept bargaining for her right to go to school. She knew it was the only way that she would ever get out of this place, away from the traditions, to stop the next generation of girls from going through what she, herself, went through.

I am so proud of Lillian for standing up for herself, especially in a culture where women are expected to do whatever their husband, father, brother, or any other male, says. She wasn’t ready to lose her virginity, to lose all of her freedom, to lose her voice, and she spoke up, unafraid of what it would cost her, because she knew, the knew that she was worth more than that.

“It was her body and she;d decide what to do with it” p292

 

I am Change, has me experiencing all the feminist feels, in a way that I didn’t expect. It really drives home the importance of girls and young women being educated about their bodies, how they work and why they change. About their self worth, about why it is so important to speak up if you are uncomfortable. This book is going to start so many conversations that need to be started, that needed to be started years ago.

It is one heart break after another, to be a girl, growing up in Uganda. You can’t love a boy, because love leads to kissing and kissing alone can give you a bad reputation so you aren’t worth much when you are sold for marriage. You can’t get a full education after the age of 16 because then you are too old to be worth much, when you are sold to be married. Are you picking up a common theme here? I am devastated for Lillian, again she is being ripped away from the one thing that is giving her purpose, that makes her soul sing. I am so angry that this is how girls are treated, yes I am aware that this is a work of fiction, but this fiction is inspired by real tales from girls growing up in this way. I wish those souls hadn’t had to suffer.

With each chapter, I am prouder of Lilian, she is sparking so much change in the women around her, just by being herself, by sharing her dreams of having a better life, of women being equal to men. I knew something had sparked in Amara, something that would come to help Lilian in some way, and it has. Women helping, inspiring and saving other women is something that we don’t see enough of, in todays society, we are all about being better than, having more followers than, being more popular than, and it is horrible. Ladies, build each other up, not tear each other down!

 

I Am Change is such a thought provoking and eye-opening book. One that will have you on the edge of your seat, laughing and crying along side these amazingly multi-faceted characters. I think what makes this book so much more relatable, shocking and intense, is that Zail, as she mentions in her Author Notes and Acknowledgements, travelled to Uganda and met thirty girls all living a life like Lilian. Zail, went to their villages, their homes, their schools, experienced the lives that they lived. Saw what it was like to be a woman, living like a second-rate citizen, because men are valued more than women. The fact that this author felt like she needed to do something for these women, to get their stories out there, is inspiring.

I think at the heart of this book, the message is that women hold more value than we realise. That we are so used to competing with each other, to trying to be what magazines tell us we should be, to pleasing and being what men want us to be, that we forget, we are people too. People who deserve to have rights, to be seen, to have an education and to have dreams. I think this book is going to unite people, to spark conversations and to be the change that women around the world need.

This is an amazing read, if you get the opportunity to read it, you definitely need to pick it up.

P.S.

If you are inspired, like I am after reading this book and want to do something, follow the links below for more information. Any tiny donation can make a world of difference.

Help Girls Learn: Uganda:  https://www.mycause.com.au/page/106767/help-girls-learn-uganda

One Girl: https://donate.onegirl.org.au/Donate/MakeADonation

Girl Child Network: http://gcnuganda.org.

 

Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

Julie