Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Firstly I want to say a big Thank you to Walker Books Australia, for sending me a review copy of this book. I am so humbled each and every time I am sent a book to review. Thank you so much!

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Malamander – Thomas Taylor

4/5 Stars

Published May 2nd 2019 by Walker Books

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If you haven’t read this book, I would reccommend popping to my GoodReads HERE for a spoiler-free review. This review isn’t too spoiler-y but I don’t want you to have even the tiniest bit spoiled for you!

First impressions of this book had me thinking that this was going to be a fun read. The cover is bright and eye-catching, for a middle-grade book, that is what you want, to draw your reader in. The blurb sounds so exciting and fast paced.

I am thirty pages into this book, and I am hooked. I love the writing style, it is fast paced and flows smoothly. It is funny, quirky and I already love the characters and their depth of who they are. I can’t wait to read more! I am also intrigued by the Malamander. What is it? Why is it? I am loving this book so far!

I am absolutely devouring this book. I love how everything connects, how every little tid-bit of information has purpose and meaning. This is such a fun read.

At the heart of this fast-paced, middle-aged book, is a young girl with a broken heart, searching for her lost parents, but each clue she turns over, sends her one step closer to the infamous and legendary Malamander. The half man, half fish beast, who patrols the beaches, searching for its egg.

I love the relationship between Herbie and Vi, he is quiet and introverted, happy to stay in his cellar of lost things, whereas Vi, wants to be out adventuring, finding clues and getting answers. They are the perfect pairing for this book. Herbie has the knowledge of the area and Vi has the cunning and courage to lead him into trouble!

The way that family is centred in this book makes it feel even more special, even though, by rights, both Herbie and Vi are orphans, this book shows the importance of making your own family, each person that we meet, has a story to tell about Herbie, or knows something about Vi’s family. They are all connected in some way.

I am still intrigued by the Malamander, I think there is going to be a twist somewhere along the line, it feels too grumpy and too visible for it to be just a legend brought to life, there must be more to its story!

What a gorgeous read, I was fully engrossed in this book from start to finish, so much so, that I devoured it in one day. It is full of laughter, friendship and courage. But you can’t avoid the notes of loss, sadness and fright. This book is about so much more than a monster, it is about people and what people hold in their hearts, about what is truly important to them and what they will do, or won’t do, to achieve what is important.

The ending to this book was more than perfect, everything was set back to how it was meant to be, no one was lonely or sad or hurt. It makes a nice change, from the other books I have been reading.

This book is aimed at a middle-grade audience, but older readers will appreciate its simplistic writing style and the feeling of sentimentality that washes over you whilst reading. Fast paced, so much so that pages will be turning and before you know it, you will have finished the final page. The writing style allows the reader to truly get lost in the world of the Malamander.

I highly reccommend this book!

As always, thanks for reading!

Julie

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Hive by A. J Betts

I want to say a big thank you to both MacMillan Australia and Aus YA Bloggers, for sending me out a review copy of this book! I have been wanting to read it for a long time, and I am so grateful for having this beauty sent out for me to read!

 

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Hive by A.J Betts

3/5 Star Read

Published June 26th 2018 by Pan MacMillan Australia

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STOP! If you haven’t read this book, here is your warning. This review, contains SPOILERS! So stop reading and head to my GoodReads HERE for a spoiler free review!

 

First impressions are that this may be a little cringey for me, not because of the content, but because bees… I am not a fan of things flying around my head, so any of that and I turn into a shoulders affixed to my ears type of person. That aside… What a stunning cover, that draws you in immediately, the gold foiling is stunning and the midnight blue background creates a striking contrast! This book is shorter than I would usually go for, I didn’t realise that it was only 262 pages. This length I can devour in under 3 hours, so it is a nice little snack sized read! I am looking forward to diving in!

This book was a little slow to start, and didn’t really pique my interest until page 50. This being said, what a curious world, this book is set in. One where these people never see natural light, or animals other than bees. Their days are timed with the changing colours of ‘growlamps’. I am so intrigued! The fact that they are such devout Christians, worries me. Not because I am not for religion, but because it has such a profound cult-ish feel, it is giving me the heebie-jeebies.

I am starting to enjoy the writing style also. It took a little bit to get into the flow of the futuristic language and the fact that so many words aren’t known to the people that I’m reading about. It blows my mind that some words have been completely erased from this world. Like they never existed.

I also want to know more about this ‘madness’ to me it sounds like having creativity, having an active imagination? That it is being awakened with minor headaches, a thing that has been suppressed for generations. Apparently, creativity and individuality is frowned upon. But I want to know more, to know why this is such a bad thing?

I came across something that makes me sad…

                “Solitude wasn’t a sin, but to desire it was a cause for suspicion.” Page 92

This makes me so incredibly sad, and scared. Solitude is something we all, as human beings, at some point or other, seek. We all need time to charge our batteries, away from other people. From the looks of it, there is no part of Hayley’s life, that she will spend on her own. Perhaps that is where her “head pains” are coming from? Needing solitude.

I am getting a sense of DNA alteration from this book. Like there have been certain personality, physical and mental traits that have been ‘bred out’ if you will. Like there has been some selection of perfect people then those people have babies and the cycle continues. This vibe hit me as soon as The Judge mentioned that there hadn’t been anyone allergic to bee stings for years… That maybe allergies have been bred out of the population…

Okay, so this book was weird. I enjoyed the last 50 pages, more than I enjoyed the book as a whole. I loved seeing Will find his way back to Hayley, after she was deemed ‘mad’. Which I was right (partially) about, by the way. She asked too many questions, was a free and radical thinker, therefore, she posed a problem and boom, deemed mad. Anyway, I digress, I loved seeing them discover the outside world. How their world was created in order to save the population, as a place to hide and repopulate before returning to the outside world. But communication was lost and the people that knew how to use the technologies all died. The old ways were stopped being taught to the next generations and soon the cycle continued.

I enjoyed the writing style and the pacing was great, it was slow in times of lots of technical parts, parts that were created for this book, specifically, yet it sped up in action scenes, which really elevated this book as a whole. I do feel a little bit ‘what did I just read’, though, as I feel the whole book, up until the last 50 pages, were just for nothing? I understand why we got to see how this world works and how it is all intertwined and how their society and culture work, but it feels unnecessary now I have finished the book.

I did enjoy it, but I definitely need the next book, Rogue, in order to have some ends tied and some closure. Is there another world? What happened to Will? What is Hayley going to find and what is she going to do with this information? Why is the Judge and the Priest hiding everything from their people?

 

So many questions left unanswered!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Julie

 

 

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James

I received a copy of this book from the amazing team at Walker Books Australia. Thank you so  much for sending me a review copy! I am so grateful for each and every book I am sent to review!

I tried so hard to keep this review spoiler free, but it just couldn’t be done, there was too much going on for me to stay quiet on the spoiler front. So, this is your warning, if you haven’t read this book and are planning to please head to my GoodReads HERE for a spoiler free review.

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The Quiet At The End of The World

4/5 Stars

Published March 7th 2019 by Walker Books

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Firstly, this book is written amazingly well, it jumps straight into the plot, no lead up, just straight into action and I love it! The protagonists are great, I can already see that they are deep and motivated and I want to learn more about them.

How amazing is this world that they are living in? The future sounds incredible, you know, other than the population being sterile and these are the last two kids left alive on earth… But how the technology advanced, how robots became a part of every day life and how although they survive pretty normally without them, they replaced people like chefs, life guards, shop tellers and supermarket attendants. I also find it rather thought inducing, to think that they are using social media accounts to get a feel for the past. The past that is our current reality. It makes you think about what kind of legacy you are leaving, what kind of footprint are you leaving for future generations to see and remember you by?

Already I am so into this book, I want to know more about this virus, about where it came from, who made it and why? I love books like this, with some kind of chemical warfare that changes the world. Dystopias are my favourite, as long as there is no love triangle…

Okay, so wow, this book is really good. But what I like the most about it, is that it is so thought provoking. The reader is constantly being reminded that these two kids, Lowrie and Shen are the last two people on earth… yes they have families at the moment, but when they die, they will be the last two people, and if for some reason they are able to conceive a child or two, then those children will be the last ones ever… scary thought!

It is heartbreaking to watch Lowrie and Shen come to the realisation that they are going to watch all the people that they know and care about die, just vanish from the world and leave them alone with the robots. I can’t imagine what that would be like.

What. Hang on. Hold the bus. Lowrie’s last name is Mountbatten-Windsor Lowrie is a gosh darn royal! What the heck! No wonder she lives in such a fancy house with so many servant bots and an incredibly rich family!

The way social media is used in this book is scary. I think I touched on this earlier, but Lowrie and Shen are using it as historical research, to see what the world was like before the sterility. It is terrifying to think that, that may happen to our current social media accounts. Is what we are sharing with the world today, what future generations will find and think that it is a perfect representation of how we lived?

I am just over halfway now, and things are starting to get rough… I am almost too scared to read on, I don’t think I am ready to see these teens suffer from the pain of losing their parents. I just hope that it doesn’t happen like this..

What the actual heck is going on here? The parents all have electrical boards in their heads… I was trying to write this review, spoiler free, but I just can’t. Too much is happening and I need to rant!

So Lowrie and Shen have just deiscovered that their parents are all robots, all with electronic boards in their heads, where their brains should be… but that isn’t the creepiest bit. The creepiest bit is that we have been reading updates from a person called Maya, and her partner Rizz, through old social media updates and we have been seeing a new app called Baby Grow. A simulation baby application, it started out innocently enough, but now there are baby dolls being made, to sync with the app, they move and make sounds like reall babies… but the extra scary thing is that their ‘bodies’ can be upgraded as they age… Are you with me?

Lowrie and Shen’s parents are Baby Grow robots, grown up, and somehow they have gotten their hands on two real-life human children. This is all speculation, but I really feel like I am on the right, slightly creepy (very) track… Wow, not the direction I expected this book in taking at all! Mind blown.

Ughh, you know what, I just wish Lowrie would man up and tell Shen how she feels, he clearly feels the same way for her! Also I want to know what the heck is going on with the whole Mountbatten-Windsor thing. Did the queen make a baby grow baby to keep her blood-line going? I need answers!

Wow, I just finished this masterpiece, I can honestly say, that this book exceeded my expectations. I was expecting something futuristic, a little sci-fi and dystopian, but it is so much more than that. I love the way that robots were integrated into the world, it is a little scary to think that they were able to make them so human though. But at the same time, how amazing is that technology! Lowrie and Shen had no idea that their parents were robots and they grew up with them, they also grew up with Robots… But I digress, I just really enjoyed the fact that people were suddenly sterile, we never find out what caused this to happen, btw. But yes, they were sterile from a disease like the flu, and in desperation to have children, they created the Baby Grows and the rest is history.

I am a little disappointed we never got filled in on Lowries royal lineage, other than her being a clone from someone living in the past. Maybe the surname was a little dig? I like it anyway, I am a bit of a Elizabeth II fan, so any nod to her makes me happy.

This book is so well written, it captivated me from the first page, I was unable to put it down. The writing style is fantastic, so modern and easy to read.  The story flows from one page to the next and the pacing is so perfectly set that you will keep turning pages much faster than you would like.  The characters are so perfectly human, each with their worries, goals, flaws and feelings, they feel like real people, the last two people on earth.

You will find yourself loving all of the characters in this book and hard pressed to find one that you don’t like. There is no clean-cut villain in this book and I love that, it makes the novel feel like there is more to the world than goodies fighting baddies. I also love that there is no gosh darn love triangle. That would have completely ruined this book for me.

I feel like this book has a deeper message, just than these two teens have saved the world and now they are enabling robots to inherit the earth. This book is incredibly thought provoking around just what we, as a society are leaving behind, as well as the power of social media.

Have you read this book? What did it make you think about while you were reading?

As always, thanks for reading!

 

Julie

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary

I received this book from the amazing team at Hachette in exchange for an honest review! Thank you, Hachette for sending me a copy of this book! It sounds hilarious and I can’t wait to get into it!

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The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary

4/5 Stars

Published 24th April 2019 by Hachette Australia

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Wow is this book funny, I have picked it up and can’t out it down! I love this flat-share idea. Poor Leon is stuck between a rock and a hard place, with his girlfriend Kay and trying to pay for his brothers’ lawyer, but the comes Tiffy and all of his problems are solved… sort of.

How adorable are they, speaking through post-it notes! I love that this is how they interact, I can just see them all over the house, on the fridge, toilet, couch, on books they are reading. It just seems like such a sweet way to communicate, to get to know someone properly without meeting them. A way to be truly yourself without worrying with appearances.

Which is  why I think Leon is so scared to finally meet Tiffy. He is worried that how they look may affect the situation that they have going, and he likes it the way that it is. But come on Leon, Tiffy is a million times better than Kay!

I love how this book is written! It is fun and flirty, it is laugh-out-loud funny but also so real, you could swear it was you or one of your friends going through Tiffy’s breakups and going to the pub with friends. I love that about this book, it is so relatable and the characters are so likeable it is just a true, down to earth book. I am loving the change of pace from what I usually read.

I have under 100 pages left to go and wow am I invested in this relationship. I am loving Leon and Tiffy! They have such a sweet and genuine relationship, I want them to be happy. I also want Justin to go and play in traffic!

Justin, wow. He is such a fantastic character. And I mean that in the way that his type of villain is so underplayed in the writing community, we don’t see enough emotional and psychological abuse type scenarios like this one. It may sound weird, but it is so important for women to see situations like Tiffy is in, to understand that there is help for them, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Justin is psychopathic, he is controlling and manipulative. He has such charismatic presence that he can make Tiffy believe what ever he wants her to, down to making her think she threw out clothes that really he hid, that she forgot to invite him to a party, when really she did and much worse things as well. He is a mastermind at stalking and creating situations that fall in his favour. He is a complete nut-job. It has been a pleasure watching Tiffy get strong enough to turn him down and stand up for herself.

Now, back to Tiffy and Leon. I love how Tiffy complements Leon, so perfectly. He is so introverted, doesn’t let a word out that isn’t necessary and is pretty shy, but Tiffy is the complete opposite, loud, outgoing, brazen and spontaneous. They are the perfect pairing. I also love how wholeheartedly Tiffy invests in Leon’s life, with his brother, his work, his cooking and finding JW. She just takes up his life as though it is hers and he is so blind, that he doesn’t see it until she points it out. They have been in love since the first post-it-note. Little cuties!

But love may be wonderful, but it is also blind. And that is where I am at with this book at the moment. Leon is so blinded by his feelings about Richie’s court case and about how he feels about the shock of what happened with Tiffy and Justin (No spoilers here! Shock I know!) that he forgets that what he has seen and heard may not be the truth. Emotions are polarising, sometimes they push you in the right direction, other times, they force you to be blind to everything other than yourself. I’m hoping Leon can patch things with Tiffy, they have to! This is the feel-good book of 2019!! I need a happy ending!

Well I have just finished The Flatshare! What a fantastic read. It is feel-good, makes you laugh and cry, it also makes you want to jump into the pages and throttle Justin!

I love how Tiffy and Leon overcome so much through their journey. I especially love how quickly Tiffy adopts Leons family as her own, even before they were a couple. Leon’s brother was important to Leon, so he became important to Tiffy. That is just the type of person she is, kind, caring and loving. To a fault.

This book is well written and flows from one page to the next, leaving the reader feeling satisfied from beginning to end. The writing style is fun and relevant, perfect for readers looking for something witty, flirty and fun. The pacing is perfect, mostly it is fast paced, but O’Leary has mastered the slow down in scenes that take more digesting. A perfect book for the end of Summer!

 

As always, thanks for reading!

Julie

 

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: The Price Guide to the Occult By Leslye Walton

Before I start, I want to thank Walker Books Australia for sending me out a review copy of this book! I am so grateful for the opportunity to read and review and work with Australian companies!

This HERE is your disclaimer, telling you that this review does, indeed, contain SPOILERS. So, if you haven’t read this book and are planning to, please stop reading now. Why not head to my GoodReads account and read my spoiler free review, HERE!

 

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The Price Guide To The Occult by Leslye Walton

4/5 Stars

Published September 6th 2018 by Walker Books

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This book is dark and gritty, something that I love in a novel. I love that the magical lore in this book is different to that of any other I have read too, although I would love some more back story.

I particularly like how the Blackburn family has been on the island forever, for eight generations, that their magic bestows ‘burdens’ upon each daughter, suited to their personalities. But what gets me the most is that poor Nor, she thinks she is evil, that she is darkness and all things black magic, because she is the first one since Rona, to possess more than one ‘burden’. Or so she first thought.

I love Nor’s ‘burden’ I wish I had it! The ability to hear the thoughts of animals and plants!? Amazing! I have always been drawn to flora and fauna, finding their company preferable to that of people, so that particular magic, would suit me just fine! We have also seen Nor being able to heal, which is kind of a kick in the guts for her, because she, herself has so many scars that need healing and she can’t heal herself.

This book was particularly slow to start, it took me 90 pages, to really be invested in the plot. I think because the pacing is quite slow at the beginning of the book, it makes it feel like a chore to read, but I’m glad I kept with it, it is picking up now.

I am a little scared about what is going to happen next. The animals and tourists are fleeing the island, and usually that means something bad is going to happen. Something of a massive magnitude. I am also scared because this book seems to have a lot of blood magic in it, so this bad that is coming, must have something to do with blood magic. Everything I have read about blood magic is never good.

I hope we learn more about Gage as the book continues, his family definitely knows something about Nor, more than Nor does and I want to know what it is!

I also want to know what the heck is with these light green fern tattoos!? I realise that they are to do with Nor’s mother, Fern. But why is she doing this, reaching out and influencing them, making them follow her wholeheartedly. What does she have planned?

So, it turns out that Nor is a kick ass, powerful witch! With the powers from the original Blackburn witch herself. It only took most of the townsfolk to be killed, her friends to be maimed, the wild life to flee the island and her to be involved in a love triangle, for her to see it, but hey. Amazing!

The bit that gets me is, that it was love that saved her. Her mother was going on and on and on about being the thing that darkness itself feared, but she couldn’t have been more wrong. Darkness fears light, it fears love, so when Nor came along, against her mother, she was willing to sacrifice herself for her friends, her family and the island, she realised that the darkness feared her. She realised that death and she were long lost pals and that no darkness could be deeper and darker than that living inside her own skin. So, in the end Nor one out.

That being said, it was a rather underwhelming demise to Fern. The all-powerful witch… I was expecting more? I understand that in her lust for power, the blood letting and murder she had taken part in, finally destroyed her from the inside out, the black magic being too much for her human body to handle, so by the time she came to be facing Nor, she was a shadow of her former self. But she just blew away in the wind? Her whole life and story line were surrounded in blood and darkness and she just blew away, piece by piece, in the wind? I’m sorry, but no. That is not how a powerful dark witch dies…

I also feel the need to touch on mentioning the love triangle, that I knew was coming. Apparently, all YA titles need a love triangle, and it kills me! Poor Reed is going to miss out, I have a feeling that Gage will be the winner in the fight for Nor’s heart… I do hope it is Reed though. Not that I have a ‘team’ but I just think that for once, the good guy should get some luck? Maybe Nor will stay with Reed, but have the Blackburn curse, make her spend three days with Gage to create the next Blackburn daughter. Wouldn’t that be a turn of events!

Anyway, I have 11 pages left to go, so I shall return once I’m done!

I knew it! Poor Reed gets shafted because the danger of Nor’s life is too much. Poor Reed, boys in this situation rarely get to make their mind up about whether they think the risk is too much, they just get told, heartbroken and left. Ugh, I knew she would end up with Gage… Also not complaining, but I am complaining… Gage and Nor do have an undeniable chemistry and witty banter, something that Reed and Nor didn’t have. I think Reed and Nor was bred out of their need to be wanted, to be seen. To have someone believe solely in them, to be in their corner. Reed gave Nor her own strength, he gave her courage and love; the one thing that Nor hadn’t received from a boy/man before.

What!? I am shook! Nor doesn’t end up with either of her love interests! Leslye Walton, I am impressed at your ruthlessness!

Well, the ending wasn’t at all like I was expecting, in fact it was open ended in a way that I hope there isn’t another book? I enjoyed this one, but it is perfect as a stand alone, another book isn’t needed.

In the end we see witches in general being hunted and interrogated by the police because of Fern’s fame and misfortune. Because of the terrors that Fern created, the witches, tarot readers, mystics and healers of the world are now under scrutiny and attack. This isn’t how I thought this book would end, naturally I thought something may come of it, but I thought Nor would revamp the shop and give tarot readings or be a physical lie detector, you know? Make a honest living from her talents, but that dream wasn’t to be. Instead she now has to live in fear of the thing that makes her and her family who they are…

This book is well written, although slow paced, it did manage to hook me within the first three chapters. It is slow to start, but it is worth hanging in there, to learn about this magical island and it’s witches.