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January Wrap-Up

How is it February? Where did January go! I swear I say that every month, but it is never a false statement, it always takes me by surprise, especially now that it being February means that I have to go back to work next week! I am not ready for that at all! But what I am ready to do, is share my January Wrap-Up with you all! This month I read 6 books! I think I read 2 off of my January TBR which can be found HERE if you are interested!

Lets get started! Books are listed in order of reading, not in order of how much I liked them or anything like that.

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Freshmen by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

Published June 12th 2018 by Delacorte Press

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3/5 Stars

 

This book jumped out at me, from the library shelves. It was just what I was looking for. A bit of light-hearted fluff. The book itself is well written and laugh out loud funny.
The characters didn’t really have much of a progression, they didn’t grow as people or learn any lessons. Up until the ending. You go Phoebe!

All in all, well written, funny and current. Perfect if you are looking for something light, with a sarcastic edge. But don’t go looking to this book for any real substance, it is purely something light hearted and easy to read.

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Within These Walls by Robyn Bavati

Published April 1st 2016 by Scholastic Australia

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3/5 Stars

 

I picked this book up at the library, on a whim.
I have always been drawn to books that have the WWII content matter. I can’t tell you why, other than I tend to find them, even in the biggest stacks of books.

This book is well written and easy to read, which is fantastic considering its target audience is middle-school aged children. And although it talks about dead bodies and starvation and people being executed, I think it is a pretty tame interpretation of the time.

I also feel that up until the last few chapters, there is a disconnect between the characters and what is happening around them. Maybe they had to be objective and ignore the horrors to be able to live, but it just felt stiff and emotionless.

I did enjoy the plot, how it went from life as normal, to living in fear of Germans, to the invasion, to the Ghettos, to the Ghettos being boarded up and then the Russian invasion and saving.
The way it travels through each aspect is fantastic.

I knew it was a younger reader book before I borrowed it, but I still found it a little monotonous to read and a little beige for me. Hence the low star rating. However, I think it is a great way to show younger readers what The Holocaust was like for children their age. In a safe and not so confronting way.

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Calm The F**k Down by Sarah Knight

Published December 31st 2018 by Quercus

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5/5 Stars

 

I was so kindly sent a finished copy of this book, by Hachette Australia. I requested it from them because, not only does it combine dealing with anxiety and stress, something that we all can relate to, but it also sounds hilarious, which, according to me, is also what you need when reading a book about anxiety and how to deal with it.
Firstly, I was a little weary about reading and reviewing a self-help book. But honesty time here, I have suffered from my fair share of stress and anxiety, last year alone, I had eight weeks off of work because of it. So I think I am one of those people who, this book fell into their lap for a reason. So off I go…
This book starts off by asking you three questions, three questions that you have to be honest about before you can continue, and like me, I am sure so many people answered Yes to all of them. It is hard hitting this book, it makes you realise that you aren’t alone. That just because you are going though your own patch of anxious misery, there are people who are going through a similar thing, with some of the same thoughts as you. It is both confronting and comforting.
Everything Is A Tarantula – this chapter speaks to me on a deep, deeeeep level. Not only because I am particularly adverse to spiders. But Knight has so perfectly summed up the feeling of how anxiety builds. When you first see the spider you go into good ole, flight or fright, then the heart rate speeds up, sweat sets in and finally the inner monologue begins. I love this comparison, and when, in my life, my tarantulas pop up, I’ll know how to deal with them better.
I am loving this book, I didn’t expect to, but I am, it is giving me so many more coping mechanisms than I expected and it is keeping it light-hearted. The last thing I want, as a stress headed anxiety sufferer, is a heavy, scientific word loaded, text book. So this book is perfect. I can’t say it enough, It is such a good read.
I also love that this book has an index, got a particular problem? Look it up and read about it. Address your problem and deal with it. This book covers everything, from going over embarrassing conversations in your head until you have blown them up, out of proportion to acting out what you are going to say to people, while you are in the shower… knowing full well, you would never be as brave as you are in your personal pantomime.
I also love the Choose Your Own Adventure section in the back of the book. It gives you senarios and you choose which emotion you feel and it tells you which chapters to read, to overcome that anxiety, sadness, stress, anger or whatever other feeling you may be experiencing. I think this is a great way to assess just what emotion you are feeling, as sometimes, this is the hardest part, identifying how exactly you are feeling and why.

This book is a fantastic read, read it in its entirety, or read chapters as you need them, it is perfectly designed for both choices. It is easy to read, easy to understand and it is fun. It doesn’t make you feel like an idiot for reading a self-help book, it makes you feel light-hearted and gives you so many ideas and things to try, when you are having a hard day. I think that this is a book that everyone should have on their bookshelf, even if you only pick it up a handful of times throughout your year, that is enough. I guarantee it will help you each time you pick it up and flip through is sweary and helpful pages.

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You by Caroline Kepnes

Published September 30th 2014 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

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4/5 Stars

 

I picked up this book purely because I sw it on Netflix and knew I had to read the book before I watched the adaptation. And wow, am I glad that I did. What a read!

I really enjoyed this book, it has a completely unique way of telling the story, which I love. It is raw and gritty and crazy. It makes you see the world from how a serial killer/stalker sees the world. It lets us in, lets us see how Joe justifies his actions, his stalking, his collecting. And that in it’s own way is so psychologically thrilling, let alone the addition of the plot.

I loved Joe’s character, crazy I know, but there was something intriguing and almost romantisized about him, I wanted him to be happy, to get the love and happy ending that he was after. Carolone Kepnes has written the perfect anti-hero. We know he is the bad guy, a murderer, a stalker, but we want him to be happy. It is such a strange feeling. I think I was more in Joe’s corner, because I didn’t like Beck from the get go, I found her manipulative, easily lead, shallow and extremely vain. But I think her chacter needed to have personality traits that people wouldn’t like, so that Joe would be seen. And he is definitely seen!

Well written and engaging from the first page, this book has been a thrill to read.

My full, spoiler filled review can be found HERE… But only if you have already read the book!

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What The Woods Keep by Katya De Becerra

Published September 18th 2018 by Imprint Macmillan

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3/5 Stars

 

 

Well, honestly, I am a little dissappointed.
This book was so easy to read, it has a fantastic premise, a wonderfully spooky feel and all the makings for a creepy, current YA novel. But the entire book felt like it was building up to something… and then nothing really happened.. Yes, I will give it credit, that the last few chapters were more intense than the rest of the book, but I just felt the build up was bigger than the big reveal, so to speak.
As I mentioned before, it is well written, the characters are well rounded, even if the whole way through the book I was highly suspicious of Dell, because who is that cool and calm with being thrown into a supernatural war? I also found the love interest to be suspicious too. The writing style was fantastic, scenes flowed well, there was no choppy-ness to the transitions.

It just wasn’t for me unfortunately. The best part of it was buddy reading it with the lovely Rose (Seventyeight.Sundays).

For my full, spoiler filled review click HERE. If this is one of your favourite books, probably don’t click the link…

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Only A Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

Published January 22nd 2019 by Tor Teen

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4/5 Stars

 

I was granted an e-copy of this novel from NetGalley and the Author in exchange for an honest review.

Sooo I may have devoured this book in one day. I didn’t plan to, but it is just so easy to read!
McGarry has an incredible writing style, it flows with ease and even with the intense subjects that this book deals with, it is still free-flowing, not forced and easy to read. It definitly doesn’t feel like a chore.

I love the magical intentions throught this book. The connection that Jesse has with the land, the way that Glory can keep Jesse and his family connected through her psychic abilites. And the way that Scarlett intwines with both Jesse and Glory within the realms of their individual magical connections with land and spirit.

I feel as though this book was a much darker novel from McGarry than usual, and I think it is important to say that if you have your own demons surrounding familial and/or spousal abuse, physical and psychological, then this book isn’t one for you. Scarlett has an incredibly controlling father, who doesn’t have limits when it comes to enforcing his control and rule. It is incredibly intense and at times it is hard to read. So be prepared for that.

I loved this book up until the last 10%. Something happens and I can’t say much about it without spoiling it (if you want to know how I feel about it and what happens, pop to my spoiler filled review which can be found HERE), so all I am going to say is that something happens that I don’t think needed to happen. It didn’t really take the book anywhere, other than giving Jesse a little more farming experience. Which is important to the storyline, but I feel that it could have been done in a different way?
So after that situation, the sweet ending, for me, wasn’t as sweet and as final as it could have been.

I did enjoy this book, the semi-ending did force my enjoyment down, hence only 4 stars. But all in all it was a fantastic read, it was so refreshing to read about a couple who each have their own demons. There was no kight in shining armour. They saved eachother.

 

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Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes

Published January 3rd 2019 by Penguin Random House Children’s UK

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3/5 Stars

 

 

 

I won this book in a Giveaway from Penguin Random House and from the author, thank you so much!

I found this book to be something so completely different from what I have read before. I struggled with the language style, the cadence of it also, but the writing style was fantastic, keeping me on track and keeping the pages turning. I also loved the shorter chapters. They were just long enough to give you what you wanted, but short enough to not overwhelm you.

Being overwhelmed happens easily within this book. You can tell from the first few pages that something isn’t quite right and your mind just keeps spinning to work out what it is.

I also found that this book didn’t really take off until the last fourty pages. Once MILD SPOILER ALERT Ele escaped from the Inside, nothing really happened until the final few chapters. It felt empty and hollow. But Maybe that was the point, to show us how differently Ele would see the world.

This book is well written and engaging, it does take a little while for anything of interest to start, and is incredibly strange, until you get used to the theme and the language use. I did enjoy it and I am so greatful for the chance to have won it. My Full spoiler filled review can be found HERE

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So that brings my January Wrap-Up to an end. Obviously there were some clear winners this month, and I also got through a lot of the ARC’s and Galleys sent to me, which I am super excited about!

Usually I would do a post about books that let me down, but this month, it was really only What The Woods Keep, that made that list, if you follow the link above to my Review and Ramblings post, you will learn why.

Thank you all for reading, did you read one of these books? What did you think?

Julie

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Only A Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

I was lucky enough to be approved for an ARC of this title, from both the amazing author Katie McGarry and NetGalley. I accepted the ARC in exchange for an honest review, which is what you are reading now! As always, here is the disclaimer, this post contains spoilers. If you haven’t read the book, I suggest looking away now, or head over to my GoodReads HERE for a look at my spoiler-free review!

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Only A Breath Apart – Katie McGarry

Published January 22nd 2019 by Tor Teen

4/5 Stars

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I wasn’t sure that I would like this book, after reading the first chapter, but that is because they are written from the points of view of the main characters, when they were seven and eight years old. They were hard to read, not because of the content, but because of the characters age. But once I got into chapter 3, Scarlett’s chapter, I was immediately reminded of how amazing Katie McGarry’s writing is and I became captivated.

I am intrigued by the idea of ‘the land’ and how it protects people, how it allows them to see things, to talk with angels. I can’t wait to learn more about that aspect of this book.

I feel that before I get too far into this post, I need to say that this book deals with some rather intense things. These things are physical and psychological abuse, victimization, all within the family setting. So if you have any issues relating to the above aspects, I would advise not continuing on with reading this post or with reading the book. The father in this book is quite intense and it can be uncomfortable to read.

I am about 30% in and I am enjoying it. I feel that this book may be a little more intense than McGarry’s previous works. The intensity of Scarlett’s father is incredible. To the point where it is hard to read the scenes where they are interacting. The tension between them fills the air like water, making it hard to breathe and to read. He is such an intense man, in general. I can sort of understand where his controlling obsession comes from, losing his sister when she went off to college has driven him crazy with worry that something will happen to his daughter, if he doesn’t keep her safe, only he is killing her, smothering her with each demand he makes, with each verbal attack.

He put a tracking app on her phone without her knowing, he won’t let her go to the college that offers the course she wants to do because he can’t control her if she is in Kentucky. He won’t allow her to gt a job, because he wants her to focus on school, even though she is a straight a student, set to graduate early. And he sure as heck doesn’t want her spending time with Jesse. He never has. This relationship is so toxic, not just Scarlett and her father, but her mother and father as well. This is where I feel the most uneasy within this story. Watching her mother take the abuse, verbal and physical and justify it, making it seem okay, when it clearly isn’t. I totally understand that McGarry is trying to shed some light on family violence, but I wasn’t ready for the magnitude of it within this book.

Let’s talk about Jesse. What an interesting young man. Finally we get some insight into why he pushed Scarlett away. It wasn’t because of anything she had said or done, it was because of the family curse. There is folklore that Lachlins are cursed, the people that they love will all die around them, and it has been happening all of Jesse’s life. So rather than risk Scarlett’s life, he pushes her away. It is so easy to see how much he cares for her, no matter how horrible she is to him, he just wants to help her. To see her happy and to succeed.

Jesse is in a bit of a pickle though. I can’t imagine being 17, having no family left and wanting to take over a farm. Taking on the responsibility of the farm as well as finishing school, and all of the growing up that comes with being 17. It is actually hard to see him as being that young. He comes off as being much older, more like 25. But I think that is the point, for us to see him as mature, as wise and knowledgeable about the choices he is making. And it all goes back to how his mum told him to never leave the land. Jesse even talks of how he can’t breathe, but walking on his land takes the pain away. I am still waiting to learn more about the folklore and magic of the land.

I am worried that Jesse and Scarlett are going to fix their friendship… relationship? And then Scarlett is going to think that Jesse only started working to patch things up because he needs her to vote for him to keep the farm. And even though in the start, I think that is exactly the reason that he started talking to her again, he loves her.

Crisis averted, he told her about needing her vote and Scarlett took it in her stride, she didn’t flinch. She knows as much as he does that he belongs on that land. It is as much a part of him as he is of it.

So finally, Jesse and Scarlett have finally kissed, it just felt like it was meant to be, it felt right for the story too. He gives her a strength that she needed to make it through her home life. He lets her be her true self, no judgement, no pressures, just kindness, honesty and love. I love their connection with the land, how they can feel it breathing, feel its movements and its power. I’m also enjoying the spiritual element, I was hoping that there was a little more of it throughout the book, but it is cool that there is a psychic element included with the talk of curses and magic in the earth.

I am about 70% in and I am so worried that something terrible is coming. This is because, nothing remotely chaotic has happened yet. It has all been back story and context building, it has been amazing. And all amazing things must come to an end, in fiction anyway. I am so scared that something other than Jesse and Scarlett is going to pull them apart, that Jesse will lose the farm and Scarlett may lose her family.

Okay wow. This guy is an arsehole. He is actually charging Jesse with kidnapping… what the heck. He can’t even stop for a second to listen to his daughter long enough to see how she is feeling or what she wants, because he is so obsessed with control that he can’t imagine that she would do something like, get in a car with a boy, of her own free will. This man is scary. I am sitting here, almost too scared to read the next few chapters, I can’t see how this will play out. I do feel like it was a little cliché having the policeman find Jesse and Scarlett kissing in his truck, with their tops off. It did have a feel of every other teenage movie or book, but seriously, leave Scarlett to have one tiny piece of happiness that is her own!

Holy horse apples, it isn’t Scarlett who has a vote on the tribunal for Jesse’s land. It is her arsehole father! The same abusive man who got Jesse locked up for ‘kidnapping’ Scarlett, the same man who refuses Scarlett to have a life outside of what he can control. My hopes for Jesse to get his dreams are fading. I can only hope for some form of miracle turnaround. But I don’t like the chances.

Glory is such an underrated character. She is the glue that is holding the town together. She knows everyone’s secrets, she knows everyone’s truths, but all she wants it for justice and happiness to prevail. She is honest, clever, witty and smart. She is mystic, untamable and just as wanting of love and acceptance as Scarlett is. I wish we had more time with Glory, or even better yet, a whole book about her, growing up and finding herself. That is something I’d be into!

Sooo Jesse definitely isn’t going to be keeping his land, unless he wants to break Scarlett’s heart, there is no way for him to stay on it. But maybe change is what he needs. A push in a new direction?

It is so close to being the end of this book and it is so unlike so many other books I’ve read lately. Even though ends are starting to tie up, they are also messy and sewn up with a thread that catches and leaves gaping holes in the fabric. It isn’t one of those stories that everything is neat and tidy, and I really like that about it. The whole story has been intense and messy, so if it had a traditional YA ending, I think it would have felt fake and made the whole story seem less than it really is.

I feel a little thwarted by Jesse leaving now. After all of that trauma and hassle with Scarlett and her family, overcoming their differences and their own traumas, he just decides to up and leave her, when she needs him the most, when they can finally start their own life together. I understand that everyone needs time for personal growth, but this is one that I am not for. Boo Jesse. You suck mate. Ughh and he is saying the ageless excuse, I am doing this for us. Mate, I was in your corner, until now. I can’t put my finger on what exactly is irking me the most about this, can I call it a plot twist? It just feels wrong, Jesse is explaining it so well, but it feels wrong on so many levels. I just can’t work it out in my head. Yes I get he needs to leave, to see what life is like away from the land, but I assumed he would just move to Kentucky with Scarlett and maybe take some classes at the college while he was there? Not leave.

Okay so of course my anger was pre-mature apparently. Jesse somehow got into the University of Ketucky fo the agriculture programme… So now it is all happily ever after for Jesse and Scarlett.. I get Jesse had to go away to work on a farm and to learn how to do things with the councils and stuff, but it was a rather dramatic side-step. I feel like it was unnecessary. He could have gotten some help from somewhere else? I feel like their magical fairy tale ending is slightly tainted now. Him leaving just put a sour taste in my mouth?

I did love this book though. It is different to so many other YA titles out there at the moment. Their story is deep, traumatic and filled with the desire to be wanted, accepted and loved. I forgot how easy McGarry’s writing style is to read, the scenes are free-flowing, they stream from one moment into the next, there is no choppy change-overs. The characters are all complementary and add something to the book. There are no characters that are there for useless filling, they all give something to the story. I think my favourite element to this book is the inclusion of the connection to the land that Jesse has. The way that he has a deep, natural connection, to know what is wrong with it and how to fix it. The way he is in tune with the earth.

I knew nothing about this book, going in. Katie McGarry is an auto-buy author for me, so I just knew I had to read it. I do wish I had read the synopsis before reading, I wasn’t prepared for the intensity of the book, but it is a fantastic read. As always McGarry has created characters that feel as though you have known them, your whole life. They are deep, multi-dimensional and feel real. They make you feel for them, want the best for them. Even if you can see that their motives may not be pure.

I ended up devouring this book in one day, in one sitting. It takes over and doesn’t let you go until you have read all that there is to read!

Definitely pop a comment below if you have read this book! Let’s chat!

Thanks for reading!

Julie

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: YOU by Caroline Kepnes

I decided to start reading this book because I saw it had a Netflix adaptation. Also because Penn Badgely was tweeting about how people are romanticising his character and they were fools to do so. So naturally I needed to read it.

As always, friends, here is your disclaimer stating, if you haven’t read this book or watched the Netflix adaptation, look away now, or head to my spoiler free review on GoodReads HERE

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YOU – Caroline Kepnes

Published September 30th 2014 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

4/5 Stars.

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Woah, this book is the ultimate creepfest, but I am loving it. I love how it is written from the point of view of the stalker, how he knows exactly how he may look to people on the street, to the girl he is stalking and to us, the readers, he is constantly aware of every move he makes, calculating their impact and risk.  I also love how we see all the different channels and paths that Joe takes to find Beck, to discover everything about her life and slowly just implants himself into her world. He makes it seem so easy, a little too easy for comfort. Especially in todays technological society where everything is online for people to see!

I am about halfway in, and I think the dynamic is finally changing. Before, every chapter started with YOU, now they are starting to start with I’M or ME or something singular, relating to Joe. I also can see Joe starting to resent Beck. Starting to see her inconsistency as an attack, personally on him. How she keeps choosing Peach over him, how she lied about her father being dead, about how she wants to be a writer, but spends all of her time drinking and watching movies with Peach. The feel of the book is taking a deadly turn. Which is ironic because Joe has already killed someone, and it wasn’t climactic or brutal. He just got rid of him, to make his life easier.

I have a feeling that Joe may kill Beck in the end. I can see his obsession with her growing from love, to something a whole lot more sinister. I am intrigued though, will he kill her before he gets to sleep with her? He seems to covet sleeping with her at the moment, more than he does, wanting to be with her. It is fascinating to see his motives change as a direct reaction of what she is doing or saying.

I am so fascinated by this book. I haven’t read anything like it before, I have read plenty of crime fiction, thrillers, psychological thrillers, but they have all been from the ‘victim’s’ point of view. Never from the stalkers, and honestly, it is so refreshing. I think that is what makes this book so much better than the others. It is raw, gritty and creepy as all heck.

Joe is super intelligent, he thinks out his actions before he performs them, he never worries about getting caught because he as played all of the scenarios in his head and knows he is safe. But everyone looks down on him, because he didn’t go to college, he works in a book store, he is a recluse of sorts, not the norm in society. Yet he fits in, in high-class parties, can hold conversations with intellectuals and has read more books that Beck’s professors. He is an intellectual himself, and that paired with his obsession is what makes him truly dangerous.

Beck is an interesting character all of her own. I tend to push her into the back of my mind, her story doesn’t feel as important as Joe’s. But she is sloppy and unmotivated, cares too much what the world thinks of her, yet leaves her windows and curtains open whilst masturbating or having sex, in order to exhibit her private life. She craves attention, she needs to tell the world what she is doing in order to feel validated. I think her relationship with Peach is another of her needs, a life long friend who has money, influence and power is always helpful for an attention seeking, aspiring writer (no offence to aspiring authors out there). I find her character to be rather boring, a base-model if you will. She has all the makings of a deep and interesting character, but at the moment, we are only seeing what Joe wants us to see, as he is the narrator. I wonder if my impression of Beck would be different if there were alternate chapters for each of the characters…

So the last 100 or so pages have been rather dull. Just glimpses of Joe being Joe, doing life, seeing a psychologist, Becks psychologist, seeing someone new. It is boring, get me to the juicy bits now please!

Joe, she knows! You finally got the girl and you were sloppy! You left her old phone in your clothes at her house and she found it and knows you have been stalking her, reading her e-mails and drafts… Of course I don’t actually know this, but I know it!! Why else would there be no e-mails for a week, why else would she be starting to push him away and freeze him out!? She knows! That can mean only bad news for poor Beck!

I feel myself feeling for Joe? Like I want him to be happy? What the heck Julie, he is a psychotic murderer! Good on you Caroline Kepnes for writing such a likeable villain! But at the same time, I can see his crazy coming out. His constant need to know what Beck is doing, where she is, who she is with, what she is wearing or thinking. He can’t function without knowing what she is doing, or knowing that she is still interested in him.

I have just under 90 pages left, and as I mentioned above, I am pretty sure that she has just found him out, so I’m guessing it is only a matter of time before he kills her. He killed his last girlfriend, that he stalked, when she tried to leave him. He drowned her in the ocean… So I hate to see what happens to Beck when she does the same thing!

Wow, I didn’t see that one coming! I just thought she found Joe out and was pulling away from him so she could leave his stalkerish arse! But no! It turns out she was having an affair with the psychologist Nicky! The one person that Joe didn’t kill! Oh the irony!

Okay, so she did find him out, she found ‘The book of Beck’, where he printed out all of her e-mails, her used tampons, her underwear, sunglasses and year book. And honestly, she had every right to freak out, what the heck Joe! Keeping a used tampon!? Gross! And yep, okay, he is definitely going to kill her, he just put her in the cage.

You know, for a minute there, I thought everything would be okay, she seemed to be confessing all of her sins (so to speak) and telling the truth and they seemed to be working their problems out, maybe a little Stockholm Syndrome-ish but I thought Joe was going to let her live. But then she double crossed him, damn it Beck, you literally signed your death warrant.

10 pages to go and I am eagre to see what Joe does now he has killed Beck, I know we learnt about his previous love interest and he killed her also, but I wonder how killing another person he ‘loves’ is going to affect him in the end.

Okay, totally not how I imagined it ending, but somehow it is also the perfect ending? The ending is so incredibly Joe, he is mourning the loss of Beck, but then a new girl enters his world, Amy is the perfect distraction she may not be ‘you’ but she is here now. And I quote ‘you are gone forever, and she is here now’.

I really enjoyed this book, it has a completely unique way of telling the story, which I love. It is raw and gritty and crazy. It makes you see the world from how a serial killer/stalker sees the world. It lets us in, lets us see how Joe justifies his actions, his stalking, his collecting. And that in it’s own way is so psychologically thrilling, let alone the addition of the plot.

Well written and engaging from the first page, this book has been a thrill to read.

Thanks again for reading!

Julie

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Calm The F**k Down by Sarah Knight

Before we begin, this is usually where the spoiler disclaimer would be, but there isn’t one for this post. I think this is a book that needs to be shared, you need to hear snippets and see just how amazingly helpful and uplifting this book is. So without further adeu, here is my review and ramblings for Calm The F**k Down by Sarah Knight

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Calm The F**k Down – Sarah Knight

Published December 31st 2018 by Quercus

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I was so kindly sent a finished copy of this book, by Hachette Australia. I requested it from them because, not only does it combine dealing with anxiety and stress, something that we all can relate to, but it also sounds hilarious, which, in my opinion, is also what you need when reading a book about anxiety and how to deal with it.

Firstly, I was a little wary about reading and reviewing a self-help book. But honesty time here, I have suffered from my fair share of stress and anxiety, last year alone, I had eight weeks off of work because of it. So I think I am one of those people who, this book fell into their lap for a reason. So off I go…

This book starts off by asking you three questions, three questions that you have to be honest about before you can continue, and like me, I am sure so many people answered Yes to all of them. It is hard hitting this book, it makes you realise that you aren’t alone. That just because you are going though your own patch of anxious misery, there are people who are going through a similar thing, with some of the same thoughts as you. It is both confronting and comforting.

Everything Is A Tarantula – this chapter speaks to me on a deep, deeeeep level. Not only because I am particularly adverse to spiders. But Knight has so perfectly summed up the feeling of how anxiety builds. When you first see the spider you go into good ole, flight or fright, then the heart rate speeds up, sweat sets in and finally the inner monologue begins. I love this comparison, and when, in my life, my tarantulas pop up, I’ll know how to deal with them better.

I am loving this book, I didn’t expect to, but I am, it is giving me so many more coping mechanisms than I expected and it is keeping it light-hearted. The last thing I want, as a stress headed anxiety sufferer, is a heavy, scientific word loaded, text book. So this book is perfect. I can’t say it enough, It is such a good read.

I also love that this book has an index, got a particular problem? Look it up and read about it. Address your problem and deal with it. This book covers everything, from going over embarrassing conversations in your head until you have blown them up, out of proportion to acting out what you are going to say to people, while you are in the shower… knowing full well, you would never be as brave as you are in your personal pantomime.

I also love the Choose Your Own Adventure section in the back of the book. It gives you scenarios and you choose which emotion you feel and it tells you which chapters to read, to overcome that anxiety, sadness, stress, anger or whatever other feeling you may be experiencing. I think this is a great way to access just what emotion you are feeling, as sometimes, this is the hardest part, identifying how exactly you are feeling and why.

This book is a fantastic read, read it in its entirety, or read chapters as you need them, it is perfectly designed for both choices. It is easy to read, easy to understand and it is fun. It doesn’t make you feel like an idiot for reading a self-help book, it makes you feel light-hearted and gives you so many ideas and things to try, when you are having a hard day. I think that this is a book that everyone should have on their bookshelf, even if you only pick it up a handful of times throughout your year, that is enough. I guarantee it will help you each time you pick it up and flip through is sweary and helpful pages.

So yes, this is my shorter than usual, review and ramblings wrap up for this fantastic book. It is a must read, even if you think you don’t suffer from anxiety, this book will have something in here that will help you out.

Thanks for reading!

Julie

Reviews & Ramblings

Reviews and Ramblings – Nyxia & Nyxia: Unleashed by Scott Reintgen

Before I start, please be aware that this is going to be super spoilery! This is my review of both Nyxia and Nyxia: Unleashed. This post will have links to my original GoodReads reviews if you are interested in those, as well as my ramblings about these books, along the way.

So without further adieu.. lets get started!

Nyxia – Scott Reintgen

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Published 2017 by Crown Books for Young Readers.

The link to My GoodReads review is here if you are interested in my original review.

 

Wow, this book was such a different look at an inter-stellar universe. It had been on my TBR since it came out and I finally got around to reading it.

What originally drew me in, was that the reason these kids get drawn together is because this massive company, known as ‘Babel’ targets them because they come from low socio-economic places. They are kids who were raised in poverty, with nothing, with severe illnesses, kids that have always worked for everything they have, but what they had was never enough. Then this huge company swoops in and offers them millions of dollars, for participating in training for a space adventure.. and what 16-year-old with nothing, would turn that down?

Then things start getting weird. The training that these kids are put through is incredibly specific. Targeted training for what life is like on Eden, for swimming in rough oceans, for running on any and all terrain, for space travel and boat travel. And most importantly, manipulating Nyxia, the substance they are being sent there to mine.

What gets me, it that Babel is definitely untrustworthy, from the moment we learn how these kids are being trained, I had this feeling that they were using them, turning them into soldiers for some purpose other than mining. Why else would they have them fighting each other, to the death, if there were no ulterior motive.. They are pitting these children against each other, scoring them, ranking them and making sure they are constantly battling against each other, in all aspects of their lives aboard the ship.

Then bam… when everything has settled down, they introduce another Genesis team and the battles continue and get harder. But the worst thing is, this second team, Genesis 12, has been trained as exactly that, a team, which leaves Genesis 11 battling against a well oiled machine, when they are still conditioned to be working as individuals.

Babel’s deceptions are so ingrained into the culture of the ship that it is hard to tell deception from truth, but when Emmett and Kaya find an Adamite in the ships hull, things begin to get messy. Everything that the kids knew or thought they knew gets turned three-hundred and sixty degrees, completely confusing them before the biggest moment of their young lives.

Babel well and truly brain washes these kids, they turn them into soldiers, in every sense of the word, then send them up into space… But oh, no, it isn’t that simple. Right before they launch into the atmosphere for the decent into Eden, they are ambushed by past genesis applicants who didn’t make the cut, and are forced to fight to the death for a spot on  Eden. What the actual heck!

This book was fantastic, fast paced, emotionally charged. Well written and engaging. I was constantly asking myself, what the heck is going on? It is a fantastic representation of what big companies can do, that their reach is so great that they have more power than the president or prime-minister. They have their hands in so many pies and have so much financial backing, that the world is literally their oyster. I immediately went and bought Nyxia: Unleashed, I have to know what happens once they reach Eden!

Nyxia: Unleashed

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Published: 2018 by Crown Books for Young Readers.

My review on GoodReads is here if you are interested in my review as well as my ramblings! Extremely spoilery down here, not as much re-telling the story, just my thoughts as I was reading the book.

 

 

Firstly I knew it! I knew Babel were trading Nyxia for babies! This company is so manipulative and have no idea what it is like to be truly human. The fact that they were willing to train up and convince a group of teenagers that they were going to a new planet to be miners and become millionaires, when in reality they were being sent to be miners and population savers. Off you go kids,  go make us millions of dollars while being used to re-populate a dying alien race!

The Imago (Not Adamite’s like Babel calls them) seem like, honest people. A little too into playing games but they seem to genuinely want what is best for their people. That being said, the way they treat their returned soldiers and poor people leaves little to be desired.

Speaker – this guy is a champion. I am a little worried he might double cross the gang at some point, because he just seems too good to be true, but fingers crossed he remains the overall good guy we are shown so far. He is like the Imago father figure that Emmett so desperately needed, a male figure who was in his court, to remind him of who he is.

Morning and Emmett – come on, as if you don’t ship them!? Yes Emmett and Kaya were super cute too but without Emmett losing Kaya, he wouldn’t be on the path he is now. He also wouldn’t have developed as a character, mentally he has grown intuitively into who he needs to be to protect his new family. Morning makes Emmett who he is, she gives him the courage to accept that others rely on him, that he is a leading figure. She makes him able to come to terms with the horror that they have been thrown into, she makes him strong, and in some ways he makes her weak.

This book shows us, in incredible fictional ways, that life isn’t always what you expect it to be. Even the most obvious agreements can have underlying falsehoods. We learn that people will always do what they need to, to survive. That desperate people will kill others to get ahead. I guess this is human nature, all fiction is based on these elements because we see it in real life, on the news every day.

What I love about this book is the raw honesty. It is gritty and vivid and doesn’t shy away from confronting imagery or controversial subjects. I also enjoy how Morning can have a male best friend and Emmett doesn’t lose his mind over it. Why is that kids? Because he trusts Morning. Boom. Minds blown. I know right. Who would have thought (apologies for my sarcasm… but not really though).

What an impossible position it is to put 16-year-old children in. Train them to be combat ready soldiers and dump them in a new planet… I do keep forgetting that they are so young. In my mind they are all in their early to mid 20s. The expectation Babel has that they will mine Nyxia, battle and kill Imagos and repopulate the planet is an incredibly difficult pill to swallow.

Finally, our Genesis crew make a deal with the Imago, to destroy Babel before they destroy the Imago and their planet. It all sounds amazing, the plan sounds fool proof and like finally the good guys are going to get a win, and bam, Babel is there for an ambush. How did they know where the Genesis and Imago would be!? Who is the traitor? We will have to wait for the third book to find out!

I loved the final chapter, mostly because Reintgen worked out what his readers needed, we needed to know that Genesis team was okay on Magnia (Eden), but he knew we also needed a win, even if it was a tiny one. And taking us back up to the Babel ship and showing us that Anton and Erone were kicking some serious but was just what I needed to lift the heavy sense of dread and death after the battle on Magnia.

This book was just as incredible as the first, I am literally dying because there is such a long wait until the third book comes out, and I need it now.. actually I needed it yesterday, so I could be reading it now… Well written with a writing style that makes you want to read on, incredibly diverse and interesting characters, each with their own back story, flaws and personalities that you grow to love (even the ones you think you hate).

I can’t wait to see how this trilogy (or Triad), wraps up. And finally, a little quote from my boy Emmett, who definitely sums up my feels for the final novel….

“Babel will burn: – Emmett Atwater.

 

Thanks

Julie