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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.

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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

 

 

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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