Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Who We Were by B.M. Carroll

Published April 2020 by Viper Books

Right off the bat, Who We Were is engaging and thought provoking. We are immediately thrown into Annabel’s busy life and are shown the first instance of our creepy antagonist.

The chapters are short and punchy, we aren’t locked into a single characters point of view for too long, which keeps the book moving. I love the multiple points of view, it gives the reader more information and back story and gives more chance for an unreliable narrator, which is always an interesting turn of events.

Who We Were encapsulates high school perfectly. How much we, as teenagers ignore our better judgement and go along with things we know we shouldn’t. I’m enjoying meeting the different characters and learning how different they are from their past selves. But some aren’t as different as they think.

The first half of the book allows us to really get to know the characters and their families. Learn about their lives and their secrets, which paves the way for the second half of the book, where our antagonist really comes out to play.

The overarching takeaway from this book is that teenagers are so impressionable, what happens to and around us in those formative years, impacts who we grow up to be. Who We Were encapsulates that so well, shows how as adults, all of these people are still deeply effected by what happened at highschool. And looking back, can any of us say that we weren’t.

The other strong takeaway from this book is the strength of family. That when it comes down to it, they are always there for you. Sometimes in ways like Nick was and sometimes in ways like Izzy was. Family is what makes us strong, gives us a sense of belonging and often shows us where we stand in the world. Carroll has explored these aspects brilliantly in Who We Were.

I enjoyed this almost light, psychological thriller, throughout the book, there was no way to pick who the antagonist was. No real clues, only the characters suspicions, which was refreshingly different to many other adult fiction novels on the market.

Who We Were is fast paced and filled with interesting characters. This book will keep you guessing until the final twenty pages and you won’t be dissappointed. Carroll has written a book about how lives intertwine, how the connections you make growing up can stay with you, long into adulthood. Well written and easy to read, Who We Were is unique and captivating.

Thank you to the publicity team at Allen & Unwin for sending me out a review copy. All thoughts are my own.

Reviews & Ramblings

Review: The Origin of Me by Bernard Gallate

Published 19th March, 2020 by Penguin Books Australia.

The Origin of Me, is a quirky and unique, almost memior of fifteen year old Lincoln Locke. We are taken on a journey, visiting all aspects of Lincolns life, dealing with his parents separation, a new school and the struggles that come with being a teenager in Australia.

The Australian-ness of this book is fantastic. The slang, suburbs, land marks and buildings all make it a book that you can relate to, as it is set somewhere that the reader can physically go. It definitely adds to my relationship with he book.

Lincoln is a great narrator. His voice is honest and funny. That being said, as character, I find him rather annoying and a little naive. Especially when it comes to “The nub”. I realise it would be embarrassing, I thought everything was the end of the world when I was fifteen, but it is a health issue. And by halfway through the book, I was sick of hearing about it. That being said, it does hold significance throughout the book.

The idea of having the protagonist be working his way through a book and providing exerpts from the book is a unique way to add some dimension. The parallels between the ancient book and Lincoln’s life are intriguing and draw you in to the mystery of it.

The Origin of Me, is filled, cover to cover with interesting characters, each with their own stories to tell. That being said, each character neatly fits a stereotype, the bully, the nerd, the jock, the absentee parent, the hypochondriac. But they all meld together in Lincoln’s world, to create his point of view.

The pacing is slower than I would have liked and is consistent throughout the book. It did make the title feel longer than its 350+ pages as there was no real turning point to amp up the pacing. That can also be said for the story line itself. I felt that The Origin of Me, read more like a diary or memior, rather than a work of fiction and so there was no clear storyline or climactic event. We are just along for the ride as Lincoln does life.

In the end we see Lincoln slowly accept himself for who he is, “nub” and all. We see him patch together his broken family and be brave enough to battle his own fears. After finishing this book, it is clear to see that it is about finding yourself, about wading through the endless input of others and from society, of the pressures and stressors and coming out of it, a person who you are happy to be.

The Origin of Me is quirky and unique, it is easy to read and has multiple characters that you will find yourself attached to. I did struggle with the pacing and he lack of a defined plot, it felt like we were constantly reading and learning new things, but nothing eventuated from those new things. Essentially, this book allows you to lose yourself in someone elses life for the duration of the book. And that isn’t always a bad thing.

Thank you to Penguin Teen Australia for providing me with a review copy of this title.

Reviews & Ramblings

Review Post: My Survival: A Girl on Schindler’s List by Rena Finder

One person with courage to stand up for the innocent can make a big difference.” P3

A Girl on Schindler’s List, is written plainly which not only makes it incredibly easy to read, but it makes it easy to understand the depth of what is happening. In some instances, it makes the horrors of what Rena suffered, so much clearer. But it also gives the reader time to process and to see what it was like for so many people.

The pacing is perfect, it doesn’t rush or lag. It allows the reader to proceed at their own pace, to lose themselves in Rena’s story. What really makes this memoir stand out, other than its amazing adaptation to a middle grade work. Is the way that Finder has explained what is happening, why it’s happening, what things are called and how politics plays a part in what happened. Even though we are reading a memoir, it reads as fiction, which makes it easy to read, but when Finder tells us something factual, the stark reminder that this is truth hits you like a tonn of bricks.

From the first page, the overall feel of this book is heavy and heart breaking. As we keep up with Rena and her horrors, she keeps us updated as to how old he is. To watch people you love, being taken away to be murdered is horrific, let alone when you are a thirteen year old child. The sadness that pours from these pages is unpalpable. This is such an honest and raw memoir.

My only gripe is that this book isn’t longer. I got swept up in Rena’s memoirs and before I knew it, the 111 page book was finished and I was wanting more. I understand why it is short and not highly detailed, but if Rena ever wanted to do a more in depth memoir, I would be lining up for a copy!

Fantastically well written, the simple language used makes it so easy to understand and process, and Rena is such an amazing woman who was one of the lucky few to make it onto Schindler’s List.
This is an amazing read, impactful, simplistic and powerful.

Thank you so much to the team at Scholastic Australia for providing me with a review copy of this title.

Reviews & Ramblings

Review: Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Published by Hachette. March 3, 2020

Right from the first page, you can tell that this book is going to be light, funny and have amazing characters.
Gonzales has done an amazing job of combining moving to a new city, family illness and starting a new school and not making it heavy. Yes these are sad, nerve wracking, emotionally laden topics, but somehow Gonzales has made it easy to read and not focussed solely on the hard stuff.

I am living for the Grease parallels. Even though this is definitely its own story, the parallels are fantastic. Will is definitely a Danny and Lara is mosy definitely a Rizzo. I can’t wait to read on and find more similarities throughout.

Our protagonist is such a gentle and kind figure. He babysits so his Aunt can have her treatments at the hospital, he gives up his senior year at his old school, without argument, to save his mum any additional stress. He is so selfless and wants, so much, for others to be happy. To a fault. He will lose himself if he isn’t careful.

Will and Ollie are so cute. They complement each other perfectly, yes they have their obstacles, but I am solidly in their corner. Will is slowly opening up and showing us who he is. I do find his story to be incredibly cliche, but that aside, I really enjoyed watching his character grow and evolve abd become the best version of himself. Staying true to himself and following his own dreams.

To piggyback off the above thoughts, I am so proud of Ollie. He stood up for himself and for his beliefs. He realised his self worth and refuses to be treated any less than he deserves. It is such a powerful message to any reader, that it isn’t okay for people to make you feek crappy about yourself, to make you feel anything negatively. You go, Ollie!

Only Mostly Devastated, is a book that deals with multiple, hard to deal with issues that so many people come into contact with, in their everyday lives. But Gonzales writes them, in such a way that they are easy to digest. They are easy to read and to be a part of, through her characters. Yes someone passing is horribly sad, no matter how it is written, but Gonzales writes her characters reactions with such care, kindness and authenticity, that it makes it easy to read, even if you are shedding a tear with Ollie.

The ending of this book is so sweet, it has its bitter moments, but overall such a sweet ending that makes you smile. It was the kind of ending that gives you warm and fuzzies yet promotes acceptance and tolerance of other people.

Only Mostly Devasated is fast paced, so, so easy to read and so relevent in today’s teen society. It reads easily and the pages practically turn themselves. The chatacters are deep and their progression feels natural, their growth doesn’t feel forced or faked. Ollie is a fantastic protagonist. He owns that he has flaws, he owns who he is and he isn’t apologising for either. He is the protagonist we didn’t know we needed.

Thank you so much to Hachette AUS for sending me out a review copy of this title. It is such a unique and fun read.

Only Mostly Devastated, is out NOW. You need this book on your TBR!

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Weapon by Lynette Noni

45880884._UY2457_SS2457_Weapon by Lynette Noni

5/5 Stars

Published November 4th 2019 by Pantera Press

Goodreads

 

 

 

 

What an incredible wrap up to this duology.

I absoutley powered through Weapon, after a super-quick reread of Whisper, my review can be found HERE on GoodReads.

Weapon starts where Whisper left off, leading us into the unkown world of the Remnants. And then it all starts.

I have never read a book with so many well crafted and executed plot twists, this book has lie on top of lie on top of lie, followed by so many twists that you won’t know who to trust and who to hate. Noni has created such a fantastic blurring of the lines, you won’t see the end coming until it is upon you.

Noni is a master story teller, she shows this through her ability to create worlds inside of our own. The way she integrates a whole ‘other’ type of people, living along side humans and makes it feel as though it could be real. She makes us wish that we were Speakers too, that we could join in on the magic, the fun and saving the world.

I love how intricate this book is, I am trying so hard to not spoil anytthing, but there are so many people that over lap, that are fighting for the same thing, for the same people, that are connected in so many ways that it blows my mind. Yet, it isn’t too much, there are no un-necessary characters, there are no un-necessary scenes or conversations. It is all perfectly compiled.

The pacing is incredible, you won’t have a chance to draw breath while reading this book. From page one, it is go, go go. Even in the more meaningful scenes, the pace dips barely, just enough for you to slow to feel all the feels, then it whisks you back away, into the action again. I haven’t encountered such a powerfully written, fast paced novel!

The characters are incredible, they are complex, multi-dimensional and so real and easy to relate to. They feel like real people and that makes them so easy to love. And to hate. I love how we see Alyssa grow into someone, so sure of herself, so aware of who she is and what she is capeable of, yet not wanting to use her incredible ability for personal or selfish reasons. She is so pure, of heart, she just wants to see the world shine and the people in it, be happy and accepted.

Cami and Ward, are too good for this world. Cami is a ball of sunshine and I will fight anyone who tells me otherwise. She is the perfect side charactee. Her ability is so important and limited that she is needed in every high-action scene, but her intent and path never strays from family or from Alyssa. She is honest and caring and calm. She is the kind of best friend you can only dream of having. Her brother is not far off of being as amazing as his sister. At the end of Whisper, I still hated him for what he put Alyssa through, gaining her trust and then changing into someone else, someone cruel and harsh. But by the end of this book, I was definitely Team Ward again. He is gentle, caring and wants to sit there next to Alyssa and see the world succeed and grow.

While I am on the Ward and Alyssa train of thought. I am so glad that this book didn’t have their relationship as a major focal point. Yes, it was mentioned, yes, it was used as a way to lure Alyssa away, but the plot could have held up without it. It was so refreshing to read a YA book, that didn’t have the love interest as the pivotal situation in the book. I think it is so important to have more books like this, to show young female readers that there is more to life than relying on, focusing solely on a man, let alone needing one to function. They are important, but not important enough to need to take minds away from the actual plot taking place.

I am sad that this duology is over, but I am so extremely glad that I got to read it, that I got to see an Australian author shine in such an incredible way. With a book that is about more than you realise on the outside. It teaches us the value of our words, that they can cut deeper than we know and shouldn’t be thrown away. Don’t say things for the sake of it, think of how it may impact others. You have a voice, don’t be stupid with it.

As I wrap up, I want to say a huge thank you to Panterra Press Australia, for sending me a review copy of this book. It was so hard to keep it quiet! I genuinely loved working with you on this one, supporting Aussie talent!

If you haven’t read this Duology, what are you waiting for? Go and get it!

Thanks for reading.

Julie