Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst & Paula Garner

Firstly, I want to say a huge, Thank you, to Walker Books Australia. I am so grateful for each title I have been sent to review. Walker Books is such a fantastic Australian company, so friendly and accommodating. So, Thank you, so much for giving me the chance to read such diverse books, review them and to promote your company in the process.

This review may get a little spoilery, so here is your warning. If you haven’t read this book, please don’t keep reading, click THIS link, to my GoodReads, where you will find a spoiler free review.

 

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Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst & Paula Garner

Published April 16th 2019 by Candlewick Press

4/5 Stars

GoodReads

Book Depository

 

My first impressions of this book is that the cover is stunning, it is a book that feels inviting, no matter your age or genre preference. The colours are soothing and the galaxy and title suggest something to do with the stars, maybe space themed?

I found this book a little slow to start, I struggled with the writing style and the language feels clunky. Teens using large and complex words doesn’t seem to fit. But the more you read, the more you grow accustomed to the writing style and it starts to flow.

I’m really starting to connect with Sam and Zoe, they are such complex characters, each with their own burdons. You instantly feel a connection with them when you start to see their friendship bloom. They are the perfect companions for eachother, both knowing what it is like to give yourself 100% over to the care of another person, to avoid truly being you, in order for that other person to thrive. To give up so much, so that you can focus on helping someone else get better. These girls are so strong.

I am in awe of Zoe. So much. Zoe looks after her disabled brother with so much passion and love. She looks after him day after day and yes, she gets tired, but she never complains, she comes home from school early to make sure she is there to help. She knows what he likes, which songs, which food, what his sounds and gestures mean. I work with children with learning disabilities, I know the drain it can have physically and mentally, and to see Zoe, so utterly passionate, each and every day, about caring for her brother, fills me with admiration and respect.

Starworld and Startalk, finally, we see what the title is all about! I am a little weirded out by it, I;m not going to lie. But I understand its importance.

I think that, as much as their Startalk is a way for them to escape their too-hard lives, it will eventually implode. There is too much riding on it, staying the same, staying as something fun and carefree, almost as though there is no room for a real friendship outside of the world that they are creating. Se wee this in that Zoe is pushing for a normal friendship, normal texting but Sam constantly reverts back to the Startalk, it is almost as if she is afraid Zoe won’t like her outside of their special world.

Wow, Zoe has some judgemental friends. Yes, we as humans can be very judgy, but to put down people, things, food etc, that makes yout friends happy, is just spiteful. Putting down others, to make yourself feel better, is never okay. It is no wonder that Cammie is the only one of Zoe’s friends who know, truly, what is going on in her life. Cammie, seems the most sincere and caring of Zoe’s friends.

Oh, it happened. I knew it would happen and now my heart is breaking for Sam. Somehow, Zoe’s friends have seen their Startalk, their dreamy world and they are teasing Sam about it. I don’t know if Zoe showed them or what happened, but they know and Sam is devastated. It may seem small, but this will completely break Sam, I doubt that she will trust Zoe again, or anyone else for that matter. She put so much faith and trust in Zoe, in their private little world and now it is out in the open for everyone to see and judge. Just what Sam couldn’t bear to happen.

A kiss.  I wasn’t entirely expecting a kiss. There has been gentle sub-text hinting towards Sam being attracted to females, but I didn’t think it would escalate into a kiss, when Sam, herself doesn’t really seem like she is ready for it. But oh wow, I can only imagine the devastation Sam will be feeling, The rejection alone, or more imajined rejection is going to debilitate her. I hope this isn’t the end of Zoe and Sam. The end of Starworld.

This situation with Sam’s feelings for Zoe, growing at such a rate of knots, is, although took me by surprise, it was also what I was afraid of. Yes Starworld, for Sam was the same as it was for Zoe. An escape from their real lives, somewhere where they made up the rules, they could change what was happening, it was fun and an adventure, a ‘safe haven’ is what Zoe calls it. But I think for Sam, it was a little more than that. It gave her  the chance to impress, she almost saw Zoe as a damsel in distress and painted her in that light, within Starworld, in order to be able to save her.

I can see so much of Sam’s mum, in Sam. I mean her disorder, Sam is slowly picking up her mum’s ticks and habits, which makes OCD so much more scary. I think we all write it off as someone who needs to be clean and neat all of the time, not someone who is controlled by fear that if they don’t do certain things, a certain number of times or a certain way, that the world will end. Literally. I love that we get to see how Sam is learning or inheriting, her mum’s ways, that OCD can be a learned behaviour, even though you think you are supporting someone who is living with it, you could be enabling or making it worse.

While we are on the subject of mothers, I want to touch on Zoe’s. She is such a selfless woman. She is going through so much of her own, cancer in partial remission, isn’t a walk in the park. But does she dwell on it? No, she takes it in her stride and motivates herself to give more to her children. All of her energies are put into helping Zoe and Jonah, not once does she complain. She even goes as far as supporting Zoe to find her birth parents, because if the cancer takes her, she wants Zoe to be able to find more family to support her through her mothers’ loss. This woman is a saint and we don’t deserve her!

Zoe has such a huge influence on Sam’s life. On giving her the confidence to grow, to speak up and to be who she is. Without Zoe, I don’t think Sam would have gone to London, or flirted with the barmaid, or faced her mother about her illness. Zoe have her courage to be herself, to recognise that she, as a person, is enough, that she matters.

Even through their friendship doesn’t end on the warmest of notes, the residual, mutual benefit from their friendship is incredible. You can feel it in the way that they are always thinking of each other in key times in their lives away at college, how each one has imprinted a part of themselves, onto the other.

 

This book is filled with complex and strong women. There is such a powerful feeling of women supporting women, and I think that is so important in YA fiction. It covers so many different subjects that are so rarely touched on in Young Adult fiction. From OCD through to Divorce, there is something that each and every reader can relate to. This book is a mine-field of emotional attacks and you will feel each and every blast. This book has presented readers with a world filled with emotion, friendship, bravery and strength. A world of imagination and believing in yourself.  Colthurst and Garner have written incredible characters, characters that I know, will stick with me for a long time.

The ending gives me hope that maybe, one day,  when the girls are in their twenties, Zoe and Sam, might revisit Starworld and their friendship. At the moment in their lives, they are content, learning and growing. But there is always room for one more adventure.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

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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Books That Let Me Down This December

I always hope that this list is short, but I never feel guilty if it grows above 3 books. I have the belief that life is too short to read books that you aren’t enjoying. There are too many amazing books out there to be read and if you waste your time on books that you aren’t enjoying then all of those other books are missing out on your time!

Also, any review or opinion of a book, is good publicity. We are starting a conversation about an authors work. If you love or hate it, start the conversation. Someone may change your mind.

Let’s get started

Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff

I am so disappointed that this has made my December list. I received an ARC from my lovely friend Tamara from Booked For The Weekend, which I have only just gotten around to reading (oops). I so wanted to love this book. It sounded perfect, robots, humans, Jay’s writing style and quirk. But when I started it, it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. I found it clunky and hard to get into. I couldn’t work out the protagonist, and when I say work out, I mean I couldn’t work out if I liked her or not. I’m planning on giving this book another shot in the new year, but for me, today, it really didn’t keep me intrigued or interested.

 

Shadow of The Fox by Julie Kagawa

This is another book that I am so upset that I didn’t enjoy. I received a copy of this book in an OwlCrate, and as much as It looked amazing, the cover is stunning people! And as much as my Bookstagram friends are all raving about it, I just couldn’t get into it. At the 50 page, decision making mark, I felt as though I had been immersed in a culture that I knew nothing about and I was drowning. I also found the writing style a little stiff and hard to read. This one just isn’t for me.

 

New World: Ashes by Jennifer Wilson

Yes I am aware that I finished this book (review can be found HERE). But it let me down. After New World: Rising, I was expecting something big, but 290 of the precious pages were about torture, electro-shock therapy, mental and physical conditioning and abuse. It was hard to read, but I kept going because I wanted to see how it would end. I am glad I did, because the last 40 pages were fantastic. But up until then, the pacing was off, the protagonist was abused and tortured, we were constantly reminded of death, the scene changes were choppy. It just left me rather unsatisfied. If the whole book was like the last 40 pages, this book wouldn’t be anywhere near this list..

 

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

So this book was never on my radar, it always seemed a little young to me, even when I was the perfect age to enjoy it. But now it has been made into a Netflix movie, naturally I wanted to read the book before I watched the movie. But it turns out, I’ll just be watching the movie…. I find the writing style to be stiff and choppy and the language used to be quite young, like it is designed for a younger reader. Which is fine, I probably would have enjoyed it more when I was 16, not 26… I found it hard to get through the first 20 pages. This is one of those instances where I am most likely going to be saying the movie was better… I think the hype let me down, more than the book. I had it built up to be this sweet yet funny, coming of age tale with a hilarious yet unfortunate mis-hap. But that isn’t how I found the book to be at all…

 

I’m a little terrified to write this next one…

 

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas….

I hadn’t picked up this book or series previously, purely because so many people love it, and it is so hyped. I tend to not enjoy books that are overly hyped and well loved by nearly everyone. And it turns out this book is no exception to that rule. I found Maas’s writing style to feel stiff and forced. Her sensory descriptions fell flat and felt too much like she was forcing us to see what she wanted us to. Then there is Celaena. Why write such an unlikeable protagonist? I get that she is only 18, but how the heck did she become the worlds most feared assassin in 8 or so years then end up in prison? Yes I probably would have found that out if I had of finished the book, but I just couldn’t do it. It felt too much like work to continue reading. I’m sorry if you are among the majority that love this book and this series, but it just does nothing for me. Maybe I should try the ACOTAR series instead? I am a little dubious that I’ll like that either, but hey, a girl’s gotta try!… Right?

 

Is there a book that you loved on this list? Comment below and tell me why you loved it, maybe I’ll give it another chance!

Thanks!

Julie

P.s You can find my previous list of books that let me down in November HERE.

Personal Experiences

My Favourite Summer Reading Spot

Today’s post is one that is close to my heart, and although it may not seem like much of a big deal to start with, by the end I hope you will have a feel for its importance to me and for me. This post is dedicated to my favourite spots to read, focusing on one in particular…

Now that it is Summer here in Aus, it is also time for the Christmas holidays, my favourite time of the year. This is partly because it means it is the end of the School year and I get six glorious weeks off, to read and blog and watch tv shows to binge-worthy standards. But it also means I get to spend my time reading outside in my favourite spot. I also get to read inside in my favourite spots as well. But there is something magical about reading outside on a warm summers day.

I know us as readers are creatures of habit when it comes to our ‘spots’ for reading. I always tend to frequent the same places in my house, on my bed, on the far left end of the couch, at my desk in my candle dungeon. Always the same spots. But now the weather has warmed up, it opens up so many new possibilities! And one in particular I am super excited for!

And here it is, my ultimate favourite outdoor reading spot.

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Now let me tell you why it is my favourite place!

Other than it being rather picturesque, it just feels like home. I remember when we planted the apple tree, with my mum, pop and gran, we all dug the dirt, watered the tree, tended to it and now it is established, I still feel that family connection. I think that connection is what draws me to it each summer.

I love laying down on the soft, clover filled grass. Feeling the breeze on my skin, the warm sun on my shoulders and losing myself in the pages of a good book.

When the day gets too hot, I move into the shade of the apple tree and roll onto my back, looking up through the foliage and glimpse the bright blue of the summer sky, between page turns.

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The sounds of birds calling, the horses walking through the paddocks and the sound of cattle grazing on the hill. The leaves gently brushing against one another as a slow breeze blows through the garden.

If I look to my left, I can see the rest of my garden, the tomato plants starting to produce fruit, the raspberry canes in full bloom, with buzzing honey bees collecting and distributing pollen to the flowers. The potatoes with their deep green leaves quietly doing their thing away from prying eyes.

If I look to my right, I can see the gate that my pop made for me to go out into the horse paddock. I can see the yearlings playing in the long summer grass, their neighs to each other echoing around the hills. I see my pop’s house up on the hill, surrounded by his garden that he and my gran made from clay filled soil into a booming native filled oasis, with birds of every kind calling from the trees.

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Yes, this is my ultimate favourite place to read. It is not only doing something that I love, but it is doing something that I love, in a place that makes me feel entirely grounded, entirely at peace with the world. It is somewhere that will always feel like home.

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I want to hear about your favourite place in the whole entire world, that you like to read.

Comment below or write your own blog post, but make sure to use the tag #BookishIntoxicationWrites so that I can see it! I want to hear all about your reading spots and hopefully see them too!

As always,

Thank you for reading!

 

Julie xx

 

 

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New Laptop Apsirations

Yet again, here I am, writing about nothing in particular other than something new happened in my life, but I’m excited about it and I want to share it with you!

Recently I got a new laptop! Now, I know what you may be thinking, boriiiinnggg… Everyone has a laptop these days, what is so special about this one? Well, honestly nothing, but let me tell you why it is so significant to me.

I’m going to start with telling you about my new little buddy! I purchased a HP Stream , it has an eleven (11) inch screen and it is white and tiny. Super light weight and looks like this:resize.jpg

Great, you say? Great indeed! It is a cheap little thing and nothing like what I would usually go for. My previous, and still kicking, laptop has a fifteen (15) inch screen, a separate numerical keyboard and it is all metal. My desktop, is a ridiculously large, all in one unit. So I guess the point I am trying to make is that I usually go for the larger items, basically because I watch a lot of Netflix… Which is what makes this little fellow so exciting. I bought this little guy for writing!

*Insert groaning everywhere*… yes like, so many other bloggers, bookstagrammers and influencers (not that I think of myself as that), I am an aspiring novelist. At the moment I am content, working my way back into writing through this blog, but I would love to finish my manuscript. I started a manuscript waaay back in college, one that I got a lot of excitement for at the time, and one that I am still inspired to write. It isn’t the genre that I read anymore, but the story is still in me, yearning to be told. This is where my new little laptop comes in to play.

I am one of those people who finds it difficult to write in one space, wether it be blogging, essays, e-mails or novels. I need change in my writing space and I wasn’t able to do that with my previous laptop. This is mainly due to it weighing 3 kilos and not having any battery life at all… Anyway, I want to be able to take my computer, loaded with my manuscript and all of my notes, anywhere I want. I want to be able to throw it in my bag and if I feel inspired to write or to blog, then I’m able to.

Writing has always been a huge part of my life, ever since I can remember, I have had my nose stuck in a book and dreamed of being a published author. I have always studied English and find the language itself fascinating and frustrating. I have also recently discovered that I am incredibly comfortable in my own skin, that I don’t mind if people know about my blog, bookstagram or my writing ambitions. It has taken me the better part of a decade to reach this confidence and I hope it stays!

Now, the bit you are probably waiting for, the laptop review (so far).

Over-all this little laptop is fantastic. It is light-weight, easy to use and the key board isn’t squishy at all, like you find in smaller sized units. It is my first HP, so I am still adjusting to some of the system differences, but I am really enjoying it! The only thing I have to complain about is the lag and sensitivity of the mousepad, and the fact that there is no way to customise these settings. Other than that, this is a fantastic unit and I highly recommend it. Yes, it has a tiny memory, but that is what an external hard drive or OneDrive is for.

I am so excited to continue on with my writing journey and gaining experience in all aspects of my writing. Who knows, I may even get brave enough to post a chapter on here!

 

Thanks for reading,

Julie