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Review Post: Reflection by Elizabeth Lim

Published 2018 by Scholastic Aus

I love how we are thrown straight into the midst of the fighting, a scene we are familiar with from Disney’s Mulan. It brings the reader into the right mindset to get into this new, twisted tale.

The writing style is so easy to read, but it still has that feeling of a traditional style.
The scenes throughout this book are so richly detailed, it is so easy to imagine the levels of Diyu, because Lim is a wizard with descriptive writing.

Reflection is so action packed, there is never a dull moment. But the real action picks up when we encounter Mulan’s ancestors and her credibility as Ping, starts to come into question.

This book is such a fun addition to the Mulan franchise. I, personally am choosing to believe that this is actually what happened because it shows a gentle and vulnerable side to Shang and even more of Mulan’s loyalty and perseverance.

I did find Reflection to be a little lengthy, probably longer than it needs to be, to get the point across, but Lim’s descriptive writing makes it a beautiful read. I have loved diving back into the world of Mulan and saving China. This was a wonderful, deeper glimpse into the characters we know and love, as well as meeting fantastic new characters such as ShiShi.

The ending was perfect, it leads the reader perfectly into he end of the movie. What I especially loved was that even though we know Shang is Mulan’s love interest, the romance side of things is never pushed. It is there, gently being suggested, but it isn’t the main focus. I think that really shows not only respect for culture but also for the fact that this is a middle grade title.

Thank you so much to Scholastic for sending me a review copy of this title. It was a lovely dip back into Mulan’s world.

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Review: The Evolution of Claire by Tess Sharpe

Published by Scholastic Australia

Before we get started, let the record show that I am a huge Jurassic Park/World fan and the minute I saw this book, I knew I had to have it. And I have quite high expectations going in. So lets get started!

This book has captivated me from the first page. Sharpe has a way with words in that you are learning as you read, but it feels like fiction. All of the historical facts and dinosaur facts woven into this book are incredible and add to the over all authenticity of it.

Arriving on Isla Nublar is incredible. I feel as though I am an intern taking my first steps on the island. The joy and curiosity is infectious and written so well. I find myself smiling and being genuinely excited as they uncover new things. Sharpe has such a way of deacribing what is happening, showing the reader what this new world is like. And the way she explains what each intern is doing, their physical responses, gestures, makes it so much easier to read their emotions and feelings on a situation.

I love how you don’t need to have seen any of the Jurassic Park/World movies to enjoy this book. It is easy to follow, quick to pick up and the perfect introduction to the movies, for younger readers. Or, if you’re like me and are obsessed with the films, this book is a fantastic adaptation that gives you, what feels like a backstage pass.

The respect I have for Sharpe is immense. The amount of research she would have had to do for this book is crazy. Yes, she had the movies to go to for visuals, but tje science, the plant names, the animal names themselves. It would have been a huge task. Not only does her research add so much authenticity to this book, it shows her passion for her content. And wow, is the content fantastic.

There are so many different characters, from different backgrounds, with different interests and it makes this book feel so diverse and real. Like a real internship program. Sharpe has taken the initiative to show readers it doesn’t matter how different you or your interests are to others, you are amazing and can do amazing things. The varied scientific skills that are shown, the media skills, the political and social skills. All of these are showing readers that your chosen skill set can get you places. It is inspiring and I hope it gets young readers more interested in the sciences.

This book is a rollercoaster. There are mysteries, plot twists, characte twists. Happiness and laughter followed by extreme sadness. This book has everything a reader wants, or needs, rather. The dinosaurs are just an added bonus!

It is chilling to see the events that changed the sweet, funny Claire we see in ‘The Evolution of Claire’ that turn her into the woman we first meet in Jurassic World. The elements of her personality that she loses through her trauma. I think she sums it up perfectly. She survived. And that alone changes a person. But this change has made her stronger, made her want to make Jurassic World be the best it could possibly be. Make it as safe as possible. And this is where we meet the Claire we love from the films.

What a fantastic read. Fast paced, jam packed full of action, science, friendship and loss. It is fun, and it takes a deeper step into what goes on in the park behind the scenes. Well written and so, so easy to read. This book is perfect for lovers of the films, of dinosaurs, or for younger girls looking for a positive, strong female scientific mind, to look up to. I love the amount of female scientists in this book. It is showing young girls that it is okay to want to know the answers to the big questions. To want to know how things work and why they work.

Thank you so much to Camila and the team at Scholastic Australia, for providing me with a review copy of this book. I am so grateful for the opportunity!

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Havenfall by Sara Holland : Review.

Publishes March 3, 2020. By Bloomsbury Australia

Havenfall was at the top of my list of anticipated reads for 2020, and after reading the first 20 pages, I am reassured that the excitement over it, is very real. As usual, Holland’s writing style is lyrical and mesmerizing. She has a way of writing and world building that makes you believe everything she is creating. That the worlds she is showing you, are completely real and have always exhisted.

I love the concept of this book. Of having worlds linked to earth via portals. It makes the story feel more accessible, like there may be alternate worlds just a hidden cave away. The Havenfall Inn is somewhere I wish I could go. Where people from all walks of life and from all worlds meet once a year, to share stories and gorge themselves on fancy food and drink.

I am so intrigued by the other worlds we see in this book. How Holland has created them to be so different yet so complementary. And what of Solaria, is it a place full of brutal murderers, like Maddie’s history suggests?

Maddie is such a fantastic character. She is strong and confident in herself and who she is. She knows her limits and her abilities. She knows what is expected of her. Even when she is thrust into a position that she wasn’t expecting for a number of years, she takes the bull by the horns and embraces it.

Wow, this book is keeping me on the edge of my seat. There is a feeling of impeding doom, of something big going to happen and from the sounds of the creatures from Solaria, I can only assume the doom is going to be incredible. It is hard to discern who trust within the walls of the Havenfall Inn. Everyone has their own agenda and plan for how to solve the problems they are facing. But who has the treaty’s best interests at heart.

Havenfall is a fast paced whirlwind. Filled with drama, danger and the sense of doing what is right, not for yourself, but for the greater good. From the first page you won’t be able to put this book down. Holland has a way of world building that draws you in. Her characters are so rounded and multi faceted. They leap from the page, wanting you to be part of the tale they are living.

Havenfall is a book that will leave you smiling. It is rich in character, detail, incredible worlds and strong people. Fast paced and pages that fly through your fingers. Sara Holland has written a fantastic piece of fantasy fiction.

Thank you so much to the team at Bloomsbury Australia for sending me an advanced reader copy of this book. I am already in dire need of the next book!

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Review & Ramblings: The Good Hawk by Joseph Elliott

Published February 1, 2020. By Walker Books.

Already I am enjoying the simplicity of the language, it fits the feel of the book so well. Agatha speaks as an 11 year old girl fast and full of tangents and short sentences. It feels authentic, not like an adult trying to write as a child would speak.

I’m excited to learn more about how the Island of Skye works, how the children are sorted into their work details, how the clans work. But most of all, I want to know more about Agatha, about the way she was born, about her amazing affinity with animals. She seems like such a fantastic character already.

The alternating points of view are easy to read and are great for giving a fuller perspective of life on Skye. I love how with the change of perspective, the speakers voice changes too. The pacing changes, the way they talk changes. It makes it a joy to read.

Straight away, we are thrown into action and this battle is brutal. I am getting some viking vibes from this book, it feels like that type of setting in time. I am for it, it is brutal, laced with folklore and endless beliefs. But it also has the addition of fantasy worked in to it as well, of nomadic cattle tribes, of spirits and shadows.

The brutality in this book is enhanced when you remember that the protagonists are children. That the youngest is nine and the eldest, fifteen. What they have to endure and do to survive is unfathomable these days. They are strong and smart and quick thinkers.

Agatha’s innocence breaks my heart. No one wants her around, her help, her frienship. But at the centre of her being, she just wants to be doing something important, to help.

The Good Hawk is so easy to read, the pages almost turn themselves. I absolutely adore Agatha, she is so special, not because she has some kind of disability, but because she doesn’t let it define her or stop her from doing what she wants to do. She is so strong and has an amazing gift, a gift I wish I had too. She is brave and courageous and as she will tell you, has pretty hair.

The Good Hawk sees it’s motley crew of farmers, anglers, fighters and hawks, crossing oceans and continents. It is a surreal and incredible journey, not only in the travel itself, but for our characters. We slowly see them accepting Agatha for who she is, seeing that she isn’t weak or stupid or a child. That she just needs things explaining in a different way, that it takes her a little longer to understand what is happening. And the fact that they are recognizing her abilities and seeing past her condition, is heart warming.

There is something about Agatha that makes everyone around her, trust her. She is the glue holding this crew together, giving them purpose and drive. Yes, Jaime wants to save his family, but it is Agatha who is reminding him just what that family is worth.

The ending to this epic journey is bittersweet. The loss of a dear friend takes away from the joy of being reunited with family. But it adds a layer of emotion to the way that the journey ended. There are still so many questions that need answers, I am so glad that there are more books coming!

The Good Hawk is such a special book. It shows us the power of being true to yourself, of standing up for what you believe in and of friendship. It is well written, so much so, that the pages turn so fast that the book is finished before you realise it. The character’s are phenomenal, I can’t wait to see what Agatha does now she has the respect she deserves. But I am also instrigued by Aileen. I hope there is more of her in the next book.

Thank you so much to Walker Books Australia, for sending me out a review copy. This book was a joy to read and I can’t wait for the next installment, The Broken Raven!

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Review & Ramblings: The Night Country by Melissa Albert.

Published January 7th 2020

This book takes off right where The Hazel Wood ends. From the first page, it is intense, complex and deeply wound into the folklore and tales of The Hinterland characters. As always, Albert’s writing is lyrical and has a magical feel to it, as she weaves fairy tales into the real world.

The Night Country, reads quickly, but if you read it at the pace it is asking for, you miss so many things, change of phrase that alters the entire context of a scene, a change in eye colour which means so much for Alice, or the subtle sign of a person from The Hinterland. It is written so well, that it feels like you are investigating as well as reading about Alice. It feels more than just a book.

I was worried that this book wouldn’t have the magic and folklore feel that the first book had. And to a degree I was right. There is no magical forest settings or familial mysteries or houses to explore. This tale feels different, with the same magic systems binding it with the first.

I really enjoyed how, in this book, we are seeing how the magic of the stories, actually works. How they began to destruct and were able to escape The Hinterland. How a blight took hold once a story went off track, how it all started and who it started with.

It is beginning to make more sense now, the second point of view has been revealed. And what that second point of view is searching for. It sounds like such a terrible but wonderful place.

The creation of a magical world is amazing, but woah, are the steps to its creation horrific. The ceremony is the creepiest thing I have read in a long, long time. Singing tongues, blood rites and ancient magic. Sends a shiver down my spine. This is the level of creepiness I was waiting to continue on from The Hazel Wood. It is a shame it came so late in the book.

As much as I enjoyed The Night Country, I do feel like a lot of it was just story spinning, as though nothing was truly happening, that the plot spanned out ovet years rather than weeks. The pacing seems to have slowed quite a bit towards the middle, so perhaps that had an effect on the overall sense of time.

The ending was perfect. Altbough I still am not quite sure of how or what the total impact of destroying a world had on the city, I found that part wasn’t explained all that well. But the ending itself was gentle in a world of death and hardship, it was filled with hope and a genuine want for a future.

The Night Country, was a great follow up novel to The Hazel Wood, but it wasn’t as dreamy, as creepy, as intense. It felt like something else, with the same characters trying to make sense of a world that they don’t belong in.
It is well written, it flows with ease, as most fairy tales do. The character’s are diverse, they are flawed, they aren’t real. But the way Albert writes, makes their stories and their lives feel like they have taken hold.

I am so greatful to Penguin Teen Australia, for sending me out a copy of this book to review. I have enjoyed the ride it has taken me on.