Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings Hadamar: The House of Shudders by Jason Foster

Before I start, I want to say a huge thank you to Aus Ya Bloggers and Big Sky Publishing for organising this blog tour and providing me with a review copy.

Lets begin.

“When the truth of what happened within the asylums walls became known, the people of Hadamar gave the institution a nickname. They called it the house of shudders.”

I love how they are using traditional language to describe the Nazi officers and that there is a glossary in the back to refer to. It adds to the authenticity of the book.

I can’t imagine what life must have been like for Ingrid. The colour of her skin betraying her at every stage of her life, being told she was stupid and disgusting and simple, because her mother married a man of colour. It breaks my heart to see how far people went, based on a horribly wrongly perpetuated belief. Ingrid was assaulted, steralized, tormented, taunted and even raped, because of the colour of her skin.

“You have been brought here to decide whether you are a candidate for sterilization” p 16. Ingrid was only 14.

Hadamar, is one of the best books I have read, that focuses on a rarely discussed element of The Holocaust. Yes, it is confronting and emotionally jarring. But it is done in such a way that it is almost gently written, so you can fully grasp what is happening without in depth, detailed explanations.

Ingrid is a fascinating character. She is strong, honest, intellegent and not afraid to ask questions, which, for a woman in her position is incredible. The things that she was forced to do, to stay alive, the horrors that she witnessed and yet she kept going. She kept working and serving and cleaning, focusing on her future, of leaving Hadamar and finally having a dream life.

Hadamar is incredibly well written, the words flow smoothly across the page, easing you in to some of the more confronting moments. Perfectly paced, fast enough to keep the pages turning, but slow enough that the power of the meaning and experiences behind the words, aren’t lost.

I have mixed feelings about the saving of Hadamar, about how the war came to an end and what it meant for those people living in camps. It is such a happy thing, to see hundreds of thousands of people liberated from their horrors. But then you realise, what do they have to go back to? Do they have any family still alive? Is their home still standing? Then the questions about their lives roll in, how will they function in society after living through that horror? Will they be able to love, to make a new family? Or will they be so, incredibly effected by what they lived through, that this freedom is scarier than they imagined.

Foster has written scenes which touch on my above thoughts perfectly. He shows us the towns, the destruction, the almost hopping nature of bombs, destroying some homes but not others. And how sometimes there is that glimmer of hope, that someone from their family survived.

I am so happy that Ingrid made it through her experience at Hadamar. Obviously we knew she did, as this is her story, but there were times there, that I honestly thought she had given up. And who could blame her.

Her input into the war crimes trials would have been instrumental in persecuting the staff from Hadamar. Ingrid was so incredibly brave to speak up, to look those monsters in the eye and call them out for their lies.

Hadamar: The House of Shudders, is one of the most moving, original and honest depictions of the Second World War, that I have read. And I’ve read a lot. This is also the first one I have come across that the view point is from a person of colour. Giving the reader a fresh take on the horiffic time in history.

I really enjoyed how Foster made sure we saw Ingrids story through. The inclusion of the War Crimes Trials really added a layer of transparency, of a deeper connection to the history of the war and how it didn’t really end, after its official end.

Fosted wrapped up this book in such a respectful way, there was no cliche happy ending, there was no forced relationships or extraordinary lives. Just honesty and the notion that surviving something like that changes who you are.

Incredibly well written, Hadamar: The House of Shudders is a book that everyone should read. It is moving, confronting, shocking and horrific. But it also shows the strength of humanity, the power that believing in something gives you.

I am honoured that I got to be a part of the Aus YA Bloggers Blog Tour for this book. It wouldn’t have popped up on my radar otherwise, which would have been a tragic loss for me. So thank you, for the opportunity.

I sincerely hope that if you have read my review, or seen a photo of this book somewhere, that you pick it up. Read it. Inform yourself of the world’s history. The more we know, the less likely it is to happen again.

Happy Reading!

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

 

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Rules For Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Wow, what a ride this book is! I started getting teasers from Walker Books Australia, with links to files, physical files, transcripts from the book and from those teasers, I was hooked.

IMG_20190925_080642_513.jpg
Photo taken by @Bookish.Intoxication

This review is spoiler free, so feel free to read through if you haven’t read Rules for Vanishing yet!

Blurb: In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes the campfire story of a missing girl, a vengeful ghost, and the girl who is determined to find her sister–at all costs.

Once a year, the path appears in the forest and Lucy Gallows beckons. Who is brave enough to find her–and who won’t make it out of the woods?

It’s been exactly one year since Sara’s sister, Becca, disappeared, and high school life has far from settled back to normal. With her sister gone, Sara doesn’t know whether her former friends no longer like her…or are scared of her, and the days of eating alone at lunch have started to blend together. When a mysterious text message invites Sara and her estranged friends to “play the game” and find local ghost legend Lucy Gallows, Sara is sure this is the only way to find Becca–before she’s lost forever. And even though she’s hardly spoken with them for a year, Sara finds herself deep in the darkness of the forest, her friends–and their cameras–following her down the path. Together, they will have to draw on all of their strengths to survive. The road is rarely forgiving, and no one will be the same on the other side.

thumbnail_IMG_20190913_074034_499
Photo by @Bookish.Intoxication

 

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Published September 24th, 2019 by Walker Books.

GoodReads

For this reader, this book was a 4 Star Read.

 

 

 

 

‘Little Lucy, dressed in white

Gave her mother such a fright

Walked into the woods one day

Where she went no one can say

Down a road that no one found

Or are her bones sunk in the ground?

How many steps did Lucy take?

One, two, three, four…’

 

If that doesn’t pique your interest in this book, I’m not sure what will.

Rules for Vanishing is unique, not only in Marshall’s way of creating incredible folklore, characters and plot twists, you won’t see coming, but also in the way it is written. It is delivered in interviews, audio transcriptions, text messages and video transcriptions. It makes the book read much faster than a traditional style and keeps you interested.

This book was a creep-fest, I did expect maybe a little more on the scary side, but the descriptions, the worlds and the spirits/elemental feel to the book, made the overall creepiness rise to a whole new level, some of you may not want to read this after dark.

We originally meet Sara, who is an outcast, we see her as a sad teen who is desperate to believe that her sister is still alive, after she went missing a year prior. Sara is strong, witty, honest and raw, she is the character you will come to love and respect. That being said, this book is filled with characters that are relate-able in one way or another. Strong female characters fill this book to the brim, which I love. I also love how even though Jeremy is clearly the jerky jock, he doesn’t mind being called on it and adjusts his level of cocky jerk, accordingly.

I think what gives this book it’s creepiness is that ‘The Road’ exists within the real world. It is somewhere that you could accidentally stumble across and never return from. It is also creepy because it is all folklore, based on a nursery rhyme-sounding, children’s rhyming game. How many of us sang and danced to ‘Ring around-a-Rosie’, without knowing its origins? This feels the same as that, like an innocent children’s game turned sinister.

‘ShE DIeD BEcAuSE OF YoU’ p256

The level of psychological drama woven into the pages of this book is incredible, there are so many twists and turns you struggle to trust the narrator, struggle to believe what is real and what is purely fictional. Which only makes this book so much better. The plot twists are so hard to see coming, the plot itself is so unique, I haven’t read anything like it before.

The ending for me seemed a little rushed, and like the entirety of the book, we don’t really get any closure, yes, some ends are tied, but it definitely gives off the vibes that this book could be part of a duology or series. I have questions and  I need answers! That doesn’t mean I didn’t love the book, because I did. I love how unique and chilling it is.

Rules for Vanishing, will take you on an adventure you didn’t know you needed, if you can, hold off reading this book until it is Halloween, or add it to your October TBR, this book is perfect for that. It throws Halloween vibes, like it is nobodies business.

Well written and captivating from the first page, this is a book that will keep you on your toes and your mind racing to sort through the imagery within. The unique style in which this book is put together will keep pages flying through your fingers, it is so easy to read. Characters who are well rounded, yet have such normal flaws, there is a representation for everyone within these characters, which I think is fantastic, some are a little stereo-typical, but it doesn’t take away from the book itself.

An amazing read and I am so greatful to Walker Books, for sending me out a review copy. I have seen Rules for Vanishing all over Bookstagram, it is getting incredible reviews and I am so excited that I could be a part of that process!

 

Thank you for reading!

Julie

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Rabmlings: The Liars by Jennifer Mathieu

This book gave me all of the Summer beach vibes, made me long for the soft sand and crashing of waves, but it didn’t make me long for Joaquin and Elena’s lives.

9781444946062

 

The Liars by Jennifer Mathieu

3/5 Stars

Published 5th September 2019 by Hachette Childrens Group

GoodReads

 

 

Blurb: It’s the summer of 1986. Joaquin and Elena, two teenage siblings live in a toxic environment with their alcoholic mother on an island off the Texas Gulf Coast.
Elena falls for a new boy who has just arrived from California. Joaquin must wrestle with his decision to stay on Mariposa Island to protect his sister or flee from his mother’s abuse.
As both teenagers struggle to figure out who they are and want to be, they are caught in a web of family dysfunction and secrets from their mother’s past.

images

I was sent a review copy of this book by the amazing team at Hachette. I was surprised to receive it, I did request it, but being the author of the popular title, Moxie, I was sure that I would miss out on this one. I am greatful for the chance to read this book.

“The Liars’, was a three star read for me. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, I really did, but because I couldn’t escape the feeling that there was so much missing from the story.

Elena and Joaquin are siblings that are as close as two people can be, they need each other for their own survival. But it becomes clear, early in the book that living like that is only pushing eachother into separate directions. Elena and Joaquin, although they live under the same roof, live dramatically different lives. Joaquin is afforded some sense of freedom, freedom to leave the house, to get a job, to drive a car, to speak up for his beliefs. Whereas Elena, is house bound, forced to keep her opinions to herself, unable to get a job, have friends or to be a teenager. These differences alone, put their lives on completely different tragectories. Joaquin can leave, he can escape the tyrant style life that his mother Carrie is offering, but Elena, is likely to suffer long into adulthood, if not longer.

As you can probably tell from the title, this book is based upon lies, on top of lies. Some subtle, others blatantly obvious, but lies is what makes the world of Mariposa Island turn. Without spoiling this book, I want to say that one lie, the biggest of them all, is so complex and detailed, that it seems impossible for it to keep working, but it does, so much so that everyone, in the end, believes that it is true.  They are so comfortable with lies that when it is revealed that Carrie has been lying to her children, Elena is comfortable with it. As though the lie was necessary, something that was easy to accept. But for Joaquin it was the last straw.

Mathieu has written strong characters, characters that are deep, traumatic and real. They react with a realness that allows the reader to relate to them, no matter the readers gender. There is something in this book for everyone. The writing style will draw you in and not let you go, the pacing is perfect for the setting, when we are on Mariposa Island, it is slower, adjusted to the slow and sunny lifestyle of living in a beach-front town, but when we dart back into Carrie’s history, it speeds up, as though we are having the flashbacks as Carrie would.

The Liars, has all the makings of a fantastic book, but I feel that too much was left out for it to wrap up comfortably as a stand-alone title. There are too many loose ends surrounding Carrie’s history, her current state, what it is that is making her so controlling. Is there more than her need to have people to love and depend on her? We also don’t find out what happens to Elena. Elena is the first character we meet, the first character we really get to know and she is left hanging at the end, with no real positive prospects, just a long school year looming over her, trapped within the confines of her home. I, as a reader, just wish there was more information provided. But I still really enjoyed this title.

As I wrap up, I feel the need to mention that this book touches on issues such as psychological trauma, substance and physical abuse, neglect and bombing.

Is this on your TBR? Have you read it? Comment your thoughts below!

Thanks for reading,

Julie

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Tim & Tigon by Tim Cope

9781760554293.jpg

Tim & Tigon by Tim Cope

4/5 Stars

Publishes 10 September by PanMacmillan Australia

GoodReads

Book Depository

 

 

 

 

 

Tim & Tigon, is not my usual type of read. When I read non-fiction, I tend to go for crime or historical types, but I am so glad that the team at Macmillan sent me a review copy. Not only did I devour it, but it was amazing to see another part of the world, that doesn’t get a lot of coverage.

Tim & Tigon is the tale of a man and his dog, trekking from Mongolia thorugh to Hungary. I believe it has been adapted to suit younger readers, and Tim’s full, adult targeted novel On the Trail of Genghis Kahn, can be found HERE. That being said, I cannot reccommend this book, highly enough. Even though it is aimed for younger readers, the story remains inspiring and in some parts, down-right terrifying.

Armed with “only two shirts, two pairs of trousers and a couple of pairs of underwear”, Tim set out for his three year long, journey. We see Tim go from a young boy seeking adventure, inexperienced in horse riding, in survival skills and didn’t know the language, into a nomad, fluent in the language of horses and the locals. We see him form amazing bonds with his animals, especially Tigon and the incouragable Ogonyok.

This book, for me, is not just about the journey, it is about the relationships that Tim made along the way. About the people that he got to meet, living in the secluded parts of the world. The customs and cultures he got to partake in, as a travellign nomad. These amazing, isolated people would take him in, feed him and his animals, when they, themselves would have hardly enough food for their families. It shows the quality of them as a people, of what is important.

I am struggling writing this review, not becaue I didn’t enjoy it, but because it is a non-fiction, recount of someones life experience, and who am I to descern if that is worth reading or not? But what I will say is that, Tim & Tigon is written so well that you want to keep reading. The words flow fluently, as well as being an experienced traveller, Tim Cope is also a fantastic author. You are immediately immersed into the world of Mongolia and through to Hungary, Cope doesn’t fail to show you the world as he sees it. From the scenery to the people, to the animals. Nothing is left out. This book carries an incredible sense of authenticity, it makes you feel  like you are there too.

I remember my heart breaking for Tim, many times while he was on his journey, I don’t know how he found the strength to say goodbye to his horses, to know he had to trade them to make sure he survived. To having to camp on his own in the middle of nowhere, often getting no sleep in order to protect himself and his animals. Tim shows tremendous courage and bravery, something I could never do on my own. This book shows just what humans are capeable of doing, if they set their mind to it.

If you are an adventurer, or someone who wishes they could travel, then this is the book for you. It is filled with so much culture and forgotten customs that you will be amazed at how different, isolated parts of the worl work. An incredible tale of friendship, loyalty and discovering yourself.

Finally, I just want to say, Thank you so much to Clare, and the amazing team at PanMacMillan Australia, for sending me a review copy of this amazing book. I am always so humbled when I receive a review copy and am so incredibly greatful for the opportunity.