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.

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The Liars by Jennifer Mathieu

3/5 Stars

Published 5th September 2019 by Hachette Childrens Group

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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.

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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

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Tim & Tigon by Tim Cope

4/5 Stars

Publishes 10 September by PanMacmillan Australia

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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.

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: The Runaways by Ulf Stark

I requested this book from the amazing team at Walker books, because it sounded heart-warming and emotionally charged. I have been loving middle-grade fiction lately. I love the way that it broaches tough and controversial subjects with a gentleness that younger readers can appreciate, to be able to understand and process. I am also enjoying the change from the hustle and bustle of Young Adult (YA) fiction. Although, I do sense this book has an underlying sadness, we don’t yet know why Grandpa is in hospital, I sense some tears in my future.

As always, here is your disclaimer, this review may contain spoilers, if you haven’t read this book and are planning to, please head to my spoiler-free, GoodReads review HERE.

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The Runaways by Ulf Stark. Illustrated by Kitty Crowther

4/5 Stars.

Published  April 2nd 2019 by Gecko Press

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The illustrations are gorgeous, the colours are so emotive, the scenes jump out at you, off the page. I am ready to dive in!

Gottfried Junior, the boy in this story, is a fire cracker! I love his enthusiasm and his devotion to his grandpa, especially his attitude towards his grandpa’s grumpiness. Gottfried Junior believes it makes his grandpa interesting, while everyone else thinks it is horrible.

Gottfried Junior has this whole town wrapped around his little finger! But hit enthusiasm is infectious, so it is no wonder everyone wants to help him. Just a boy, with so much love for his grandpa, it makes you want to join his cause.

Grandpa is hilarious, he reminds me of my pop in so many ways, the sense of humour mostly. He represents the whole group of people born in his era, represents all of the grandpas. He is honest and a little rude, but that is okay when you’re a grandpa. I am sensing some underlying sadness though.

Poor grandpa, he misses his wife. This book is hitting me a little too close to home, having a similar thing happen to my family recently. My heart is breaking as I read about this strong old man, wanting to make a jar of jam last the rest of his life because his late wife made it. When we think of loved ones were lost it is funny the little things that you hold on to.

I am so glad that they made it back to Grandpa’s house. But I hate to think of the trouble that they will be in when they return and when Gottfried’s parents learn of his trickery!

The Runaways, is a short and sweet tale of a boy and his grandpa. It shows the power of love, of belief and the importance of family. It is written in such a light-hearted style that really allows the reader to lose themselves in the innocence of the tale. It is fast paced and touching.

The sad element I was sensing, didn’t really come. It was written gently, how grandma was waiting for Grandpa at their house, it was more of a joyous coming home, rather than a sad death, which I think is so important for young readers to see. It may help them with their own loss or losing of a grandparent.

The Runaways was a fast read, the pacing kept pages flipping through my fingers, but not before I had the chance to admire the stunning illustrations. It is written innocently, in such a way that people from all ages will appreciate it.

 

Do you like Middle-Grade fiction? If so, tell me your favourite MG read in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Julie.

 

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: The French Photographer by Natasha Lester

I was lucky enough to be contacted by Hachette, to read, review and be a part of the blog tour, for this books’ release! I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with Hachette and to read fantastic Australian authors!

This review and ramblings post is a little different to my usual posts, there will be absolutely NO spoilers! Shocking, I know!

Let’s get started!

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The French Photographer by Natasha Lester

Publishing on  March 26th 2019 by Hachette Australia

4/5 Stars!

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Immediately, I love the writing style, the almost lyrical way Lester describes the environment which her characters are in. It flows and really allows the reader to picture it in their mind.

Lester has creatively and beautifully captured what I must have been like to be a war correspondent, a war time photographer, not to mention, being a female one. Depicted perfectly is the way that women in this time were treated, not with admiration, but contempt, sexualisation, and the overwhelming belief that they weren’t capable of doing the job. Out Protagonist Jess, soon showed, not only us as readers, but also the men in this tale, what it means to be passionate about what you are doing, to be compassionate towards other humans on the other side of the world, no matter the horrors that you may see and experience.

This book is set in two eras, in 2005 and 1942, it is amazing to see the connections made between the times, between the women and between the photographs that become so important in the ‘modern’ era. It felt so real, the way that photographs can connect so many people, in the way that the horrors captured were actual people, fighting for their lives.

The more I read, the more I wanted to see these areas that Jess travelled to, to visualise the places she was visiting. Google was my friend! I am a huge history buff anyway, so many of these places are familiar to me, but being able to look at a visual while reading this book, added to the overall emotion of the book.

D’Arcy Hallworth, our 2005 protagonist, is a curator, someone who looks in at history on a daily basis, someone who knows the significance of a well taken photograph taken at a horrific moment in history. D’Arcy is strong, intellegent and unafraid to express her knowledge, whit and prowesse. She is inspirational and knows exactly what she is talking about when it comes to photography.

This book knows no bounds when it comes to strong, brave and independent women. It shows that if you are truly passionate about something, you do you. You hang on to that passion, that fire, because one day it may mean more to someone else than it did to you. It may give someone else hope, or shine a light on something terrible. The women in this book are incredible. In the face of adversity, they carry on, heads held high, doing what they love. Making a difference.

Lee Miller, the inspiration behind the characters in this book is such an interesting person from History. When I started this book, I had no idea that the characters were influenced by a real person. The author notes in the back of this book were what alerted me to Lee’s prowess. If you are into history and especially the female element during war time, I highly recommend you jump onto your search engine and have a look at Lee Miller.

This book is something that I wouldn’t usually pick up, but when I was contacted, I jumped at the chance to read something that is outside of my comfort zone. I found it to be both uplifting and incredibly confronting, but it really struck a chord with me, with the realness presented when we saw Jess come home from the war front. How it took her time to readjust to life in a safe zone. We hear it about soldiers, about men who battled and came home and couldn’t find their feet in a world where they didn’t need to be on alert all the time. But to see it from a woman who was over there, showing the world what was actually happening, is heart breaking. The way she is constantly expecting to see people covered in blood or riddled with abrasions, and when she doesn’t she thinks she is dreaming, or in some kind of trance. I can’t imagine what that would be like.

Incredibly moving, emotionally loaded and a novel that will leave you thinking, long after you have turned the final page. This is definitely something that you should read!

 

Thanks for reading!

Julie

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January TBR

Welcome to 2019! I am finding that as I get older, years tend to go much quicker. Which makes me feel as though there isn’t enough reading time. EVER.

I am currently on holidays from work, and although that sounds like it will be filled with book reading, reviewing and blogging, you’re wrong my friend. I signed up for an online professional development course, which I am loving, but it is feeling a little like work. So I decided that this would be the perfect brain break!

I am strapped for time, for this post so my reasonings aren’t as long as usual. But I still wanted to share my goals for January!

This month, I’d like to read 5 books, starting with:

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Fire And Blood by George R R Martin

Yes, I am a Song of Ice and Fire girl, I’ve read all of the books so this one, as much as I am excited and NEEED to read it, is also a bit of a kick in the guts. I say this because Old Mate George can write a whole history of the Targaryen’s but he can’t finish Winds of Winter!?

 

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What The Woods Keep by Katya Da Becerra

I loved the look of this book, and it was on my December TBR, but it just didn’t get read. So It is back this month, so hopefully I can get to it!

 

 

 

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Calm The F**k Down by Sarah Knight

I requested this beauty from Hachette and they kindle sent it to me! I am so excited to read it, it is about controlling anxiety, hitting it head on. But the thing I like the most about it, is that it is written in a way that anyone can understand. It has hand written styled pages and pages with dot points. It doesn’t read as a self-help book, which makes it so much more appealing.

 

 

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King of the Seven Lakes by A. B. Endacott

I have read the first book in this amazing series by Alice, and I NEEED to finish it! Her writing style is so easy to read, and I need to know what happens for Gidyon and Ellen-ai next!

 

 

 

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The Ruthless Land by A.B. Endacott

This is the third book in the series by the lovely A. B. Endacott and like I said above, I need to finish them! I want to get back into this incredibly complex world!

 

 

 

I also want to tackle as many of my NetGalley ARCS as possible. I have fallen back into the old habits of requesting and not reading immediately when they are accepted. I even wrote a blog post on how to keep on top of your NetGalley ARCS, yet here I am, falling into bad habits! The Post is HERE if you want to have a look see!

As always,

Thanks for reading!

Julie