Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion

I was sent a copy of this novel from the lovely team at Hachette in exchange for an honest review and to take part in the blog tour for it. It isn’t something that I would usually read anymore, funnily enough when I was younger (18-20) I loved books like this, but lately and for the last seven years, Young Adult Fiction has been my poison of choice. So, reading this book feels like a blast from the past.

As always, even though this review is part of a blog tour for this book, this review may contain spoilers, if you haven’t read this book, please head over to my GoodReads for a spoiler free review, you can find it HERE.

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The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion

Published February 12th 2019 by Hachette Australia

3/5 Stars

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I have just finished the first chapter, and already I can sense so many complex emotions surrounding the house in Cork. I am getting a little confused as the point of view changes without any warning and I often have to go back to the page break and work out who it is, speaking. I also am getting overwhelmed with descriptions and thoughts, this book is very heavy on telling you everything that you might, maybe need to know. I’m sure that some of it will be helpful further in, but for the moment, it is slightly annoying.

I am enjoying it, especially the Australian-isms in Ellen’s chapters. I love that this book is set in Australia and Ireland, it feels like the right combination. I also feel a connection to Ellen, in that we first see her on Anzac Day, paying her respects, then heading straight in to breakfast, that for me hits home in that, that is our tradition too. Anzac Day, Dawn service, followed by breakfast with the family. I love already, how much there is in this book to relate to.

This book is 391 pages long and the book itself is massive, so it feels like this book may take longer to read than usual. Usually I can knock-out a 300 page book in a day, but as the pages of this book are probably a quarter bigger than the smaller sized paperbacks I am used to, I’d say it will take me a bit longer. Not that this will affect my review or my enjoyment of the book, just an observation. I like to be able to sit down with a book and finish it, so I’m not left thinking about what will happen all day at work. Are any of you like that? Or do you like to drag out the books that you are really enjoying? Make them last longer?

I’m getting a lot of back story as I continue my read of this book. I am about 100 pages in and nothing has really happened, other than the introduction of new characters and getting to see the house and starting to understand the characters and their connections to each other. I love Aidan’s character. He feels the most real so far. I also love how it is a man with self esteem and weight issues, not a female character. But I don’t love the way they were brought up, he thought his weight wasn’t noticeable, but people are telling him not to take second helpings, to walk the neighbour’s dog and to so the female population a favour and “lose a few stone”. So I am feeling a little bit for Aidan at the moment.

I’m also with Aidan on the renovation front. Colette wants to completely modernise the 1800’s built farm house (from the title of the book) whereas Aidan wants to renovate, but leave it with its rustic charm, keeping to the original feel of the house. I am so on Aidan’s side. There is so much of history being wiped out through modernisation. It just seems like such a shame to lose another piece of history, just to sell a house. Or as Ellen wants, to rent rooms.

This book is well written, I am slowly starting to engage with the characters and making sense of the developing plot. I am still finding it a little overly wordy, but I can see past that now that the story is developing. I think Ellen and Gerry are a couple? Waiting for Gerry’s Visa to be approved for him to move to Australia? I also can see how Colette and Aidan may end up together, again. They do say opposites attract? Colette brings to the table a whole new level of confidence to Aidan’s shy and quiet demeaner. I just hope that Aidan doesn’t lose himself if they do end up together.

I am trying to work out the pacing, it feels like it is taking a long time to read, but I think that it because not much is happening? Perhaps the pacing is a mid-pace type scenario. It is just fast enough to keep pages turning, but not fast enough to keep things free flowing? I do love me a fast paced book, so the change is a little off putting.

I am around halfway through this book now, at page 200. And things have picked up slightly. For example, Aidan has taken up swimming and has realised that he is indeed, a dog person. Colette has realised that Aidan isn’t just a chubby builder, he is friendly, honest, reliable and has a heart of gold that is the size of a planet. And that she likes him.

Colette is a complex character, she has been through some horrible traumas and has come out the other side of it, surrounded by self-built brick walls that no one gets to see through, let alone knock down. She puts on this cold and hard front, but deep inside, she just wants to be loved and appreciated. To be safe and wanted. And Aidan would give her that in spades. I can’t wait to see how their story pans out.

I am a little confused about why we are getting so much back-story about secondary characters? Is it to gap-fill while we take a break from the main plot? Is it to make the book a little longer? I find myself wanting to skip the paragraphs and sometimes pages of unnecessary back-story of characters that aren’t even main characters. It may just be my opinion, but there is so much being told, that doesn’t need to be, like why Grace decided to stay home when she found out that she was pregnant with twins. Yes she is Colette’s sister, but I didn’t need to know that she stayed to be close to her family, much to the dismay of Ben’s (her husband), family. The pacing is still quite slow, but I am enjoying the change of pace and genre.

I have just finished this title, and woah did the last 60ish chapters blow my mind. There was so much drama and action and pure emotion! I think they were the best 60 pages in the entire book. I do wish that there was more about the house that Aidan and Colette were working on. A little more history about the place, more details on the renovation and interaction around it, as the book is called The House of Second Chances…

As I have said countless times, this book is well written, mid-paced and emotionally charged. It is filled with characters that you can’t help but love and it gives you all of the information and back-story that you could possibly need. It is set between stunning Ireland and Australia and it has an incredibly home like feel about it.

I am so greatful to Hachette for sending me a copy of this book, it was the perfect sea change, so to speak!

Thanks for reading

Julie

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume

This book came to me as a complete surprise from MacMillan Australia, and I am so excited! It is my first book from MacMillan and I can’t wait to jump into it! It does have a blogging review embargo on it so this review, obviously has been posted after the 26th of February, even though I wrote this a while ago.

As always, here is the disclaimer telling you that this post does contain SPOILERS! So if you haven’t read this book and are planning to, I suggest you look away now, click THIS link which takes you to my spoiler-free GoodReads review!

 

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What I Like About Me by Jenna Guilaume

Publishes in March 2019 by Pan MacMillan

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Well, firstly let me say, I am so so soooo excited that this book is by an Aussie author and that is it set in Australia and is about Australian people. I can relate to this book on so many levels. This is the book that I wanted to write when I was in high school, written from the point of view and voice of young adults, wanting to be someone that they aren’t, and too scared to be who they really are. I can see this book being a masterpiece of coming of age and accepting who you are, being proud of who you are.

I did find the voice to be quite young, but then again, she is 15/16 so it makes sense. But I am loving the writing style and the voice of Maisie, she is funny and vibrant and brutally honest (with her journal anyway). I’m not too sure about Anna, she seems to want the best for Maisie, as most best friends do, but it feels a little fake? As though she is saying what she thinks she has to say, not what she wants to?

Hello new female character! You are so much fun! I love how free-spirited Leila is! What a breath of fresh air, I think she will be great for Maisie, maybe get some of her inner monologue out, into conversation!

Ooh, so we have just found out that Maisie is a slightly bigger girl, I rarely see size when I am reading, so to be told that Maisie feels insecure about her body as it is on the bigger size is a great piece of information. It makes the book make a little more sense, as to why she is so jealous of Anna and her perfect body and #hotgirl status. I can feel this book becoming a body positivity bible and I am so ready!

Yaaas Maisie! We are 150ish pages in and finally Maisie has turned the corner. She is beautiful, funny and worth people’s time and now that she has realised that, I can’t wait to see what she can achieve!

Also woohoo Maisie and Beamer! I love their fling, It will totally turn into a relationship, it has the feels of Lara-Jean and Peter Kavinsky written all over it. It is so incredibly obvious that Beamer really likes Maisie, and has since the beginning of the book, but Maisie was too blindsided by how she thought she felt for Sebastian and by her own body image that she couldn’t see Beamer. And woah was she missing out, the moment when you can tell there is a shift in Maisie is when she starts to tell us about Beamer, up until the pool party Beamer doesn’t really get a description, he is just a super annoying boy who isn’t Sebastian, but woahh, now we know he is tall, broad and muscular. Why did you not like him Maisie! Who doesn’t like a bit of banter! I can’t wait to see what this blossoms into, I think they are well suited.

Also this whole beauty pageant thing, is giving me Dumplin’ vibes. Body positivity for the win. I understand why Maisie didn’t want to enter, not just because of her own self-image, but to live up to the expectations of her mother and that her sister won it previously, does add some pressure. But I am so proud of her for listening to Leila and entering! I think that there is also much more to her sister and their relationship than meets the eye. I think her sister is also experiencing some image issues, trying to work out who she is but is so used to everyone expecting her to be perfect that she doesn’t really know what to do anymore.

This book deals with so many aspects of family life, of growing up and of finding yourself, it is incredible. We have body image issues, divorce, relationships, gay/queer relationships, friendship dilemmas, family dilemmas, the list could go on. I just love that it is so diverse in its content! That is isn’t completely about the plus size girl, doing things that traditionally, only skinny girls would do.

Okay, so I just finished this book, but before I go into my end of book review, can I just say, yes things tied up neatly and were presented with a bow. Yes Maisie kicked serious pageant butt and eventually realised that she actually did like Beamer. But it was the final page that really stole the show. It was laugh-out-loud funny, just what this book needed to finish with.

This book was great, I am so grateful to MacMillan for sending it to me to review. I had a blast reading it. It is honest and raw and looks at so many different aspects of growing up. It is well written and fast paced, the pages keep turning faster and faster until there are no pages left and you wish there were more. I love that this is an Australian book, I find it makes the characters easier to relate to because they go to places I go to and speak like I speak and use slangs that I use. I loved that about this book, and I think that is what made me like it so much. Yes, this book has some similarities to other popular novels such as Dumplin, but this took on a world of its own. I adore how it was written in diary entries, not only did it give the reader a much clearer sense of how the protagonist was feeling and why she was doing what she was doing, but it made it easier to read. It broke up the intense moments and also intensified the moments that usually would have been overlooked.

So, as you can see, I am definitely a fan of this book. It is both light-hearted but also incredibly thought provoking, one quote in particular stuck with me:

“You don’t think Eva is brave for going to the beach in a bikini do you? Or anyone else? That’s what you wear to the beach. A bikini. The idea of wearing one is a brave act just because you aren’t a stick figure is kind of fucked up.” Bess Page 220

This book is a wakeup call to all of the teenage and twenty something girls out there that have been smacked in the face with tiny models on their tv’s and magazines all of their lives, and think that in order to be respected and to matter, that they need to be skinny and eat certain things and if they don’t fit that mould, then they can’t wear certain clothes or go to certain places. This book is made for girls who feel that way. Love who you are, you are you for a reason! Wear that Bikini, eat that cake, get the hair cut!

This book is a must read for 2019 and sums up the change that the world needs to see!

Thanks for reading.

Julie.

 

Ps. Seriously, read this book…

 

 

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

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December Wrap Up

Well, what a busy month this has been, and honestly, I read more than I thought I would get time for! Before we get started, I just want to say that I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you a safe and happy New Year! Now, let’s get to it!

 

9780545224901_mresThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater

5/5 Stars!

If you have seen any of my previous blog posts about this book, you will already know that I fell head over heels for it. Lock, stock and barrel, I am obsessed with it. There is something magical about an island in the middle of nowhere, with mythical horses born of the sea. A young man, wiser than his years, with a knowledge and passion for said horses. A young woman who is filled to the top of her head with courage and a need to prove herself for her family. This book is amazing and is definitely up there as one of the best books I’ve ever read.

 

 

27268998New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson

3/5 Stars

This book had been on my radar for a long time, I had seen it all over Bookstagram and lots of positive reviews on GoodReads. When it was sent out in an OwlCrate box, I figured it was time that I read it! However, I did have a few issues with this title, more to do with the pacing, the writing style and the un-likability of the protagonist. That being said, it is a good read and I will be reading the next book to see what happens, purely because the last 50 pages really lifted the entire feel of the book.

 

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Genuine Fraud by e. lockhart

4/5 Stars

This book intrigued me, as this year there have been a lot of releases about lying, fraudulent activity, hiding who you really are, etc. So naturally this title demanded to be read. In true e. lockhart fashion, this book was incredibly well written, engaging and fast paced. However it was hard to keep up with the constant change of perspective, with the murdering and the no consequences of any illegal actions. But I think that is the point. It is designed to be entertaining and take you on a ride. I did enjoy it, but there was a point near the end where I said to myself, ‘what the heck have I read?’.

 

51JcHGZ6ERL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_New World: Ashes by Jennifer Wilson

3/5 Stars

Well, I don’t really know where to start with this one..This book actually made it onto two lists! It also features on my Books That Let Me Down This December Post! Click HERE to read!

If you haven’t read my post that I mentioned in the above sentence, it let me down. 290 pages were literally us watching as Phoenix is tortured, forced to fight children, forced into electro-shock therapy, conditioning, you name it, she went through it. It was hard to read, and it left me feeling traumatized and stressed because of it. That being said, the last 40 pages were amazing. It picked up the pace, the characters grew, the dialogue got interesting. And then the book ended. So I’m going into New World: Inferno with no expectations, I just hope that the torture aspects are gone..

 

38464193More Than We Can Tell By Brigid Kemmerer

5/5 Stars

This book was amazing. It was refreshing as well, within YA fiction these days, books tend to overlook the issues that seem common place, and go for the out there things. This book embraces ‘common’ issues for teens. It is modern, moving into the outlook that girls can be gamers, that they can be coders and that they can create games that hundreds of people can play. This book looks at adoption and foster homes in a whole new way. We see Rev in a loving home, we know he is adopted, but that fact only comes into it when we need to hear about his biological father. Which is another aspect that is so incredibly moving. Once again Kemmerer has created a masterpiece. Her writing style is so easy to read, the pacing is always perfect and her works are always about something current and the content always hits you on a deeper level.

 

So that was my December in books! I am pretty happy with this Wrap Up, not only because of how I enjoyed the book I read, but because I read two of the books I had on my December TBR, usually I write a TBR and then read nothing on it, I tend to choose books based on how I’m feeling. I also feel a little bad, because I have a stack of NetGalley ARCS that I was hoping to get to, and didn’t. So after I finish my current read, look out ARCS!

Have you read one of the books in my Wrap Up? Comment below and tell me what you thought!

 

Thanks again!

Julie

 

 

Personal Experiences

My Favourite Summer Reading Spot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always,

Thank you for reading!

 

Julie xx