blog tour, Reviews & Ramblings

Blog Tour: The Year The Maps Changed by Danielle Binks

Published by Hachette Australia. May 2020

The Year the Maps Changed is a wonderful tale of life as Winifred(Fred). A girl of 11, nearly 12, growing up in a blended family and trying to work out what that means. Fred is also trying to understand what it means to be a refugee, with a refugee camp having been opened in her town, she is quickly realising that the world isn’t what it seems.

It is a delight to read from Fred’s point of view, to get lost in her innocence and her intrigue. She is so smart and intuitive, she has been through so much heartache and change, but she can’t seem to grab a foothold in this new family dynamic that she is part of.

This book will make you contemplate life in a new way. Seeing the world from a 12 year olds perspective is amazing, we see Fred go through so much, we watch her grow up and interpret the world around her.

The Year The Maps Changed covers a lot of controversial and complex ground. From refugees and racism, to families, nursing homes and pregnancy. There is so much intertwined that makes this story so great.
So easy to read that the pages fly through your fingers, the writing style is perfect for an 11/12 year old narrator, yet she seems so wise for her 12 years.

Luca is an incredible character. He is the perfect example of a police officer. He is firm but fair, calm, loving, gentle and kind. He has peoples best interests at heart and he wants the best for his family. Luca’s relationship with Winnie is heart warming. His love for her oozes from the pages.

The Year the Maps Changed is a coming of age story that shows how important being yourself is. It shows the power of family, friendship, forgiveness and standing up for those who need it. Throughout, we see Fred turn into Winnie, a brave, bright and courageous young girl. We see her bloom in the face of loss and confusion. This book really tells us a story of wrong and right, a story of people and how they fit in the world.

Thank you so much to AusYaBloggers and Hachette Australia for having me join in on the blog tour for this amazing book.

blog tour, Reviews & Ramblings

Blog Tour: Taking Down Evelyn Tait by Poppy Nwosu

Taking Down Evelyn Tait. Set to publish, 1 April 2020

From the first page, this book is so easy to read. Nwosu’s use of modern language and its integration into characters with thoughts and emotions that we can all relate to, really make this book stand out.

30 pages in and the first plot twist hits, I definitely didn’t see it coming. But I love it. I am already Lottie’s biggest fan, she is hilarious, unapologetically herself and yet also, so vulnerable and angry and sad.
The more we get to learn about Evelyn is that she is just as vulnerable and angry as Lottie. Her life hasn’t been easy or in some cases, she hasn’t been given the life that she thought she would have. These girls are so similar and I think that is why they clash so much.

I love the Australian-ness of this book. It really gives it an added layer to relate to. We have all been to the local pub with our family, for dinner and a milkshake. It makes it easier to get lost in the story.

Watching Jude and Lottie’s relationship grow is so sweet to be part of. They complement each other, Jude shows restraint and thought where Lottie shows impulsivity and not thinking part the current moment. Jude centres Lottie and she makes him brave.

I can’t stress enough, how raw and honest this book is. The emotion that flows from the pages feels so real, it wraps you up in it. Poppy is a story teller of epic proportions. Not only has she written incredibly real and deep characters, she has also written them into a landscape and onto paths that are easy to relate to. That you have lived or seen friends and family live through. It is authentic and it is fantastic.

Jude breaks my heart, he is kind and gentle and soft, yet he lives in a world where he needs to be tough to survive. Then there is Lottie. A girl who has been so caught up in her own head and what image she wants to portray that she has lost sight of the people in front of her.

It has been a joy to watch Lottie’s charactet grow into someone that she is proud of. Into someone who is deep and seeks connection and understanding with the people in her life. What I love the most about Lottie is that she is real. I knew girls like Lottie growing up, a lot of us were girls like Lottie and that really makes this book something special.

The ending is perfect for this fast paced book. You know that everything isn’t resolved, but the ground work is being done to get those issues resolved. It is sweet and warm and the character growth is incredible.

Taking Down Evelyn Tait, is a book about finding yourself, about seeing more than what is immediately in front of you and adapting to the circumstances you find yourself in. It is about family and friendship and love.
Incredibly well written, with a writing style that makes the pages turn all on their own. Perfectly paced, to keep you on the edge of your seat, but also to give you time to slow down and really think about where Lottie and Evelyn are coming from and what they are dealing with personally. This is a book you do not want to miss out on.

Thank you so much to Aus Ya Bloggers, Poppy Nwosu and Wakefield Press, for having me on the blog tour for this amazing book!

blog tour

Blog Tour: Aim by P.R Castle

The Subjects: Aim by P. R. Castle

I am so greatful to Aus YA Bloggers for letting me join the blog tour for this book. I love any opportunity to read books by Aussie authors!

Review:

Aim is incredibly easy to read, from the first page you are thrown into this futuristic, whitewashed, technologically advanced, laboratory where you meet A and B.

To say this book is intense is an understatement, for the first half of the book, the twins are living in such a heightened state of awareness that it leaps from the page and drags you in to it too.

I did struggle with the amount of nothing that went on in the first half of the book. I understand it is important to build the plot and lay a foundation for the climax, but half the book is a little excessive. I am also struggling with the sisters as characters. I am finding them hard to relate to and quite empty. I realise they haven’t seen any other people or the real world before, and they havent had the opportunity to develop ‘real’ personalities, but they seem to be walking shells. One is Angry and the other is asleep or out to it in pain for the majority of the book.

Towards the end, I found the plot to be filled with cliches and highly predictable. I also found myself losing the ability to care for A and B. I think the problem is that there are so many scenes where nothing is happening, nothing is being added to the story, they are just sitting, stagnant, using dialogue to fill the gaps.

I will say, this book held my interest from the first page, It does have a unique spin on traditional YA Sci-fi. Filled with slight twists and turns that will force you to start connecting dots and an easy to read writing style.

Yes, Aim, is receiving mixed reviews, but if the blurb interests you, don’t let the reviews stop you from making up your own mind about A and B.

Thanks for reading!

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

GoodReads

Pantera Press

 

 

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.