Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: HeartStream by Tom Pollock

Firstly, I want to thank Walker Books Australia, for sending me an advanced reading copy of this title. It was just the book I needed to get out of a slump and I am eternally grateful for any opportunities I receive to work with publishers. Thank you!

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Heartstream by Tom Pollock

3/5 Stars.

Published September 1st 2019 by Walker Books

Goodreads

Goodreads Review

I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, when I started reading this book. I expected some psychological elements, a lot of technology and some drama, but what I got, was so much more.

I was immediately drawn to Amy’s character, her chapters were filled with loss, pain and technologies that we can only dream of. Her voice is one that I can hear in my life, as though she is a friend.

I found Cat to be a little on the annoying side, she was too eagre to please everyone else, she wanted people to like her, and in the end, that is what she criticises others for doing. Yes, I recognise that she was incredibly wronged and it is disgusting what happened to her, but she feels hypocritical. In the beginning, it was as though she wasn’t her own person, as though she would rather be the person that people expected her to be, than be herself for the fear that people wouldn’t like her. Which is sad in itself.

At first, I wasn’t sure what I was reading, with this book. I couldn’t pick the path of where it was going. It did dawn on me that this book could be read as a precautionary tale about the dangers of the internet. As our lives are getting broadcasted more and more onto the internet, we are sharing more about our lives, our homes, our friends and family, the more ammunition we give people to tear us down. This book can be seen as a warning, most of what these women went through was a direct response from their lives in the public eye, having thousands and millions of followers on their social media accounts, for Cat it resulted in horrific physical damage to not only herself, but her family and home. I am not, by any means saying ‘stay off socials’, or ‘the internet is bad’, what I’m saying is, that you could read this book as a warning, that sometimes giving too much of yourself to your followers can result in losing yourself.

I also think that Cat is a creation of her generation. She was encouraged to believe that the more followers she had, the more likes and retweets or re-blogs she received, the more popular she was. The more important she was. Her whole selfworth was created by having millions of people think that she was special.

I wish that there was more about Heartstream, the app, in this book. It sounds like an incredible piece of technology, creepy, but incredible. The ability to share your feelings with others, not though telling them, but showing them. Allowing them to feel exactly as you are feeling in any given moment. I think there was room for more information on the topic. I would have loved some backstory maybe?

The way that these two women are connected is mind blowing, I have seen this situation play out in different ways before, but I didn’t see it coming in this book (No spoilers, don’t panic). From the beginning, it was obvious to me that they were going to be connected in some way, I guess it was poetic in the end.

Tom Pollock has created a dark and twisty novel that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Your head will twist in circles trying to work out the connections, what is important and what is put there to make you think you’re on the right track, but you aren’t. The pacing in this book is fantastic, it reads as the characters think, Cat’s chapters read erratically, they speed up to a pace that you can imagine her thoughts are travelling at. Whereas Amy’s chapters start out slow, her sadness saturating the flow of her thoughts and actions, then they increase as her situation escalates.

A great read, if you are looking for something to make you think. I did have a sense of unsatisfaction when I finished though. The ending felt a little open ended, wahich I can understand considering the intensity of the novel, but I wish there was a little more closure.

This title is intense from the first page and will keep you guessing until the very end.

Thanks for reading.

Julie.

Reviews & Ramblings

Review and Ramblings – Genine Fraud by e. lockhart

I have had this book on my shelf for longer than I would care to admit, so when I saw it on the shelf at the library, I had to have it, and read it… Yes I am one of those people who like to keep my books perfect and not looking like they have been read, so the library is my best friend. Anyway, as usual, this review and ramblings will be totally spoiler filled, so look away now if you haven’t read this book. My non-spoiler filled GoodReads review can be found HERE.

Also this is a TRIGGER WARNING, this book  and hence this review contains mentions of murder, shootings, suicide through multiple ways. If any of these things are triggers for you, then this review and ramblings is probably something I would give a miss xx

Also before I begin, a little note. I write these Reviews and Ramblings as I am reading. They are like a diary of notes I take as I am reading the novel. If something happens, I write my reactions, thoughts, ideas and personal opinions. I love this aspect of reviewing a book and I find it makes them more honest. The reviews, I post on GoodReads, I condense from these ramblings. Lets begin!

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Genuine Fraud by e. lockhart

Published September 5th 2017 by Delacorte Press

4/5 Stars

 

 

 

 

Well, once again Lockhart has created something with such a relaxed writing style. It Is easy to read, even though it feels like the story isn’t going anywhere. I am feeling like I am being told snippets of Jule’s life, but none of them match up, so to speak? I am 60 pages in, well past my cut off for intrigue, and I am interested to see what happens, but It is feeling like nothing is happening and we are stuck in a pattern of reliving the past.

 

I’m not sure about Jule, I can’t tell if she is truthful or if she is an unreliable narrator. Her life seems rather enchanted for someone who was raised with nothing. I have this dreadful feeling that she was the one who murdered Imogen too, for her money, so she could seek revenge for her own parents lives.

 

Woah, this book has gone from zero to one hundred in like 40 pages. I knew Jule was crazy, but I didn’t realise she was a murderer! But she is so incredibly smart too! She knew exactly how to trap Brooke, how to get her to go hiking, how to kill her, push her over the edge and then leave her car, dispose of the evidence. She didn’t even look back, she killed her then forgot about it, until Paolo mentioned that they had found her body. I am almost positive, now that she killed Imogen, to assume her identity. But who is Jule anyway? She keeps mentioning how there is no record of her, no fingerprints in the system. She changes her identity and hair colour and bank accounts regularly. Who is this girl!? I am halfway through now and I need to know more. A tiny part of me feels like I am being played? Like maybe we have an unreliable narrator here, spinning tales?

 

This book is psychologically thrilling! The whole way through I am in a state of constant confusion, trying to piece together Jule’s chapters, to work out what is real and what is fake. I’m not going to lie I have had several WTF moments, where I have had to re-read a chapter several times, to make sense of it. I’m loving the pacing, the writing style and the shorter sub-chapters. It keeps the story flowing, the characters active and the mind completely confused.

The backwards orientation of the plot is slightly off putting, but I think that may be the point? Like I am so used to reading a book and having the character progress and learn things and grow, but we are seeing Jule, regress into a murdering, identity stealing, psycho.  I am finding, I am going back the start of a chapter and checking the month and year, then flicking back to the start of the book to see where I am up to, in relation to the beginning of the book. It is getting progressively creepier as we regress into Jule’s past. And it is a recent past, I think that is what makes it so creepy. It starts off as not too creepy, but you can tell something is off, and now it is just all out crazy town.  I am devouring this book, I am sure I’ll finish it one sitting, it is the kid of read, that is kind of like a car crash, the whole you know something is horrible and feels wrong, but you can’t look away? Yeah well that is me with this book. I know it is creepy and that something horrible is coming, more horrible than what I have already discovered, but I can’t stop reading. I need to know what happens next!

I knew it! I effing knew it! She killed Imogen! Page 173! Imogen called her on her stores that made no sense, on her dressing like her, admiring her, and Jule couldn’t take it and wacked her over the head with an oar! I knew it! But some tiny part of me wants to know more about Jule, about her past, why, other than seeing her parents dead on the street, is she they way she is? Clinging to any kind of human interaction like it is air, and then turning into a murderer when things start to go south. What happened to her to make her that way? But seriously, I wrote this paragraph to gloat. I knew it! It may have taken me the first 100 pages to nut it out. But yay! Julie -1 Genuine Fraud – 0!

 

Well there is one lie down Jule! Your parents weren’t brutally murdered in front of you! Your mum died of an illness and your father couldn’t live without her so he slit his wrists in the bath. I just realised that I sound quite callous, this is not my intention, but I literally have 30 pages left in this book and any small truth reveal is a victory at this point. I feel like we are slowly learning about Jule and what makes her tick. As well as why she lies, but woah I was not expecting her stalker-ish love of Imogen, I thought maybe their friendship naturally happened and it grew into something more, but not that Jule stalked Imogen and placed herself in front of her, hoping that Imogen would take an interest.

We are also learning about Imogen, how she has the need to surround herself with people, and that these people have to be alternated every few weeks. She needs to be the centre of the earth, be with people that value her, that need her. She wants to be wanted and needs to be needed. Until she doesn’t. In this way, she is using people. Taking all of the love and energy that they have to give, then casting them aside for a new source of this love and adoration.

Woah hello page 233-34! I was so wrong about Jule! She didn’t stalk Imogen. Imogen’s parents, her sweet, over caring, super loving parents hired her to go and see if she was okay. To look for her and let them know that she was alright… Their hearts were in the right place but honestly, they gave her thousands of dollars in gift cards, flights to get to the Vineyard and basically told her to make their daughter trust her and report back to them. This story is wrong on so many levels! Little did they know that they were sending a girl with murderous tendencies after their daughter!

 

Well the last few pages are getting mighty dull. This conversation with a pimp who wants to employ here feels like forced backstory, it is all coming out at once. However I don’t know how much of it is truth after all of the lies I’ve been told by Jule… It feels like fluff that we need to be told to fill plot gaps. I do appreciate it, but I didn’t think there needed to be a focus on her accents, yes I picked up through the story that she changes her accents, but for there to be a whole chapter about the way she learned them and how many she can do, seems a little over kill.  I get that it lead up to her running away to New York and ultimately meeting Imogen’s mother while working a catering job, but it felt like a lot of back-fill in one tiny chapter.

Ooh finally a time jump back to the present day! I’ve been waiting for this! WHAAAAAAT!!?? No! The detective is investigating the disappearance of Jule’s! She thinks that Jule’s is Imogen for reals! This book man. I am dead. I sooo expected this to go a different way! I thought Jule’s was about to be arrested for all of those bloody murders she had committed! No WAY! Woah this is some crazy shit! Now Imogen, who is really Jule, is getting investigated for faking her own death and then murdering Jule and stealing her identity… what the heck is happeniiinnngggggg!

What a cold hearted bitch! She just dropped her identity, got rid of everything that tied her to Imogen and now is moving on to someone else, to live her life in a different place, as someone else. After the whole book being about Jule and Imogen and it wasn’t even about them at all, Imogen was just a way for Jule to make some money, an identity to assume until its perks ran out!?

I love e. lockharts writing style and her ability to create characters that are incredibly deep and rich with emotion and a rawness that you don’t often see in YA fiction. I did enjoy the ride this book took me on. I was constantly on the edge of my seat and second guessing every conversation, every action and every thought that these characters were having. This book is psychologically thrilling and really makes you think about what is actually going on.

These characters – Imogen and Jule – are so complex in themselves, that the settings they are in around the world and the other people in their lives hardly matter. They are incredible characters. There is so much you can read into each of them and this is what makes this book such a good and confusing read. The ending blew my mind! Honestly, who would have expected that plot twist! I had Jule all wrong! I had her pegged as a stalker, as a needy, I’ll kill you if you don’t love me kind of stalker. I was soooo wrong. She is tough, she doesn’t need anyone and she is more than capable of being on her own. She uses people until she has no need for them, then leaves, taking their identity, their accent and their money with her. She is such a strong character!

This book was different from a lot of the current YA fiction books I have been reading lately. There was hardly any romance involved from the Protagonist’s point of view, which was so refreshing. I love that this book didn’t need a love interest to keep the ball rolling. I also feel the way it was set out, reverse chronologically gave it an edge. Yes it confused me to begin with, but after reading the whole thing it made total sense! This is one I definitely will be keeping on my shelves to read again, when I next need me some phycological thrilling!

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Julie

 

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review and Ramblings: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

As always, here is your spoiler warning, loud and clear. This review will go into detail about everything that happens in this book, from page 1 to page 407. HERE is your spoiler free GoodReads Review. If by chance you haven’t read this book, I suggest you pop on the above link and save yourself from ruining this amazing book.

 

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The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater

Published October 18th 2011 by Scholastic Press

5/5 Stars

 

 

Wow, why did it take me so long to read this book? I went into this book knowing only that it was about horses in some way, and woah was I surprised with that I found! I love Stiefvaters writing style, it draws you in and doesn’t let you go until the last page has been read.

I am loving Puck and I think her nick-name fits her perfectly, she is plucky. Brave, smart and full of energy, she loves her family, her horse and wants to better herself and her chances in life.  In saying that, I also Love Sean, and by love I mean love. He is the book boyfriend type, good with horses, a man of few words, and has the power of the sea in his suggestions. He is also quietly confident in himself, he knows his abilities, knows that people’s safety and ultimately, their lives rely on him and his abilities. A lot for a 19-year-old to deal with.

I need to know how Sean got his ability, to whisper with the power of the ocean and have his intentions heard and heeded. Was this his wish that was granted from the Horse Goddess and the Riders Festival? Or was he born with a connection to the ocean that he uses to assist his talents with horses. I think that there is something we aren’t being told surrounding this question. We are being told that he gets another wish, which hints that the first was his ability to speak to horses on a level that they understand. Also How did he learn all of the hints and tricks with the Capalls? With the stones, berries and tracing clockwise circles on their veins.  Was it his father who taught him, or did he just come to know it all through his work with them? Or is it also  an aspect of his gift?

 

My heart is actually breaking for Sean, he gambles everything and lost it all, his income, his job, his place to live, and his soul. By losing Corr, he has ultimately lost his soul. He has spent 7 years working with Corr (I know, 7 years!! Makes him incredibly young when he started) and now he has lost the one thing that makes him who he is. Or so he thinks. Corr to me is Sean’s comfort, his security, he feel that as long has he has Corr, he will be okay, he will have something to aspire to, to care for and be cared for in return.

The connection Sean has with Corr is incredible, we already knew that from the first half of the book, but now I am into the second half  and see Sean and Corr save the lives of countless men and horses, all due to their connection and Sean’sability to whisper his intentions and have them heard and heeded. We see in all of the other Capall Uisce, that they are damaging, violent, wild things, but Corr wants to please Sean, he wants to look after him, to let him teach him new things. He loves Sean, as Sean loves Him.

The Water horses are mesmerising… or they would be if we were given images to look at. Just the descriptions of them are incredible. Part of me wishes they were real. The folk-lore surrounding them is fantastic, they are these sentient beings, swimming through the ocean, targeting drowning sailors or swimming children, mostly content until November when the oceans get wilder and the rains come, drawing them up onto the beach in inland seeking food. The fact that they are almost impossible to hear coming, that they eat meat and that they are as fast as the wind, are all just chilling factors that make them even more appealing to me!

Time after time the people of Thisby rely on Sean Kendrick to save them. He is who they go to when something happens with a water horse, the one who drops everything to help them, to save them and the horse. Yet he is the outcast, the person no one likes or wants to be around. They all depend on him, yet no one shows him an ounce of kindness. I guess it is true what they say, ‘It is lonely at the top’.

Sean offering Puck a ride on Corr is like him offering her a piece of his soul. Like he so wants her to see the real him through Corr. He wants to be near her, to have that companionship, but he wants to make sure she will respect and care for the one thing in his entire world that means more to him than his own life. Sean and Puck, they make sense, they complement each other and they also challenge each other. Their strength and passion for horses draws them together, but they are both too stubborn and set in their ways to act on their feelings. In a way I am glad for this, this book is amazing as it is without a romantic spin, it doesn’t need it to make the story better, but I would like to see Sean happy. He deserves it.

Omg yes finally a kiss! But it is so much more than a kiss, it is a proclamation, a directive that they are a team, that they are in this thing together and will fight for each other.

George Holly… what an interesting character. He encourages Sean to be his best self, to realise his self-worth, he is also investing in Seans advice, in his knowledge, but he also pushed him. He pushes Sean, he pushes Malvern and he seems to do so in a quite manipulative fashion. What is this guys deal? Is he friend or foe?  I think he may be a friend, after all, he has stuck around for Sean and helped him discover what it is that he really wants from life. He is almost a father figure towards the end of the book. Holly hits the nail on the head when he tells Sean, and I am paraphrasing, that his dream is to return to Thisby and purchase the colt from the pairing of his brood mare and Seans Stallion Corr, that he will find Puck in Seans bed and a paddock full of horses in his yard. I think that Sean is also starting to realise that this is his dream. To be recognised properly for all of his hard work. To have someone to believe in him is turning him into a man, just as quickly as finding the woman who will fight with him, and stand by his side.

Mutt Malvern, what a disgusting excuse for a human being. He is malicious, callous and cares for nothing and no one who isn’t himself. The way he can destroy an innocent horse’s life, just to stab Sean in the heart, because of something his father said, is absolutely horrific. This character is definitely the villain of our story. He isn’t even the tiniest bit likeable. I feel pity if anything for him, that his father regards him as a bastard, that he isn’t good enough to be trusted to catch, break and train his own capall uisce. He is cowardly, he makes his decisions based on hate, then doesn’t follow through once he has been confronted. When he took Corr to the beach, he did so because he wanted to show up Sean, not because he thought he could control the horse. He is full of spite and hate and cowardice.

Heck yes Puck Connoly, you did it! You faces the odds, the hundreds of people who doubted you and you won. Your island horse out ran the Capall uisce, she fought hard and bravely and you held her to the finish line! What an achievement. Yes, your achievement is bitter-sweet, poor Sean, poor Corr, but the beauty of Corr being Sean’s is that now he can use him as a breeding stallion to set up that future he never thought he would have access to. Any other owner would simply put him down, but not Sean, if he can get him from Malvern, he will rest him, heal him and together they will build a future.

 

I’m not crying, you’re crying! What an ending! What an amazing horse, what an amazing read. The strength it took for Sean to let Corr go, to where he could heal and be free, and Corr couldn’t go without Sean. He cried and keened for him to follow, and when Sean didn’t enter the ocean, Corr came back. Needing Sean just as much as Sean needed him.

This book was something else, something special. Showing that love truly does conquer all. That there is strength in friends, in the people you choose to surround yourself with. The character development we see within this book is incredible. We see Puck go from a slightly outspoken child to a brave, strong woman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind and go after what she wants in life. We see Sean taking advice from someone he never expected to walk into his life, an ally he didn’t know he needed. We see him realising what it is that truly makes him happy, that breaking horses for Malvern isn’t all he needs or wants from life. We see him grow from a boy to a man.

What I love the most about Puck and Sean’s relationship is that there is no obvious sex orientated scenes, like we see in so many young adult novels. They share one kiss throughout the entire book, they barely touch and yet their connection is so strong, it leaps from the pages. That is the kind of relationship I want more of. Which brings me to needing another book. Come on Maggie, tell me more about Sean, more about his and Puck’s future. More about Corr and Holly. There is so much more to be told and experienced.

 

“I will not be you’re weakness, Sean Kendrick”

“It’s late for that, Puck”

 

I’ll leave you with that

Julie

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Crime Fiction – Passing love or a lifetime commitment?

Crime Fiction, a genre that I fell totally and completely in love with during my teenage years. Mainly, I think due to the show Bones – Inspired by the Bones books by Kathy Reichs. And let me tell you a thing.. I have the entire collection of Kathy’s books…

image_17520.jpgall of which  have their own shelf on my book case. I had to have them brand new, in hard covers. My collection needed to match, they had to be the same height and be in order of their release date. And in all honesty, I didn’t even read them, and still to this day, I haven’t read them all. My obsession told me I needed them. because I loved the TV show so much.

When I did get around to reading them, I discovered something, that I wasn’t all that surprised about, about myself. I love the science surrounding crime-fiction. The forensics, the anthropology, the criminology, all of it, attracts me like flies to a bad smell. And when I started, I needed more. So of course I started reading Val Mcdermid and Alex Kava, both who have incredibly cheap books at the local book stores, often in the $5.00 bin near the counter (this doesn’t mean they are bad reads, it means they are mass-produced). So obviously, I had to have them all… and so my obsession with collecting all of the crime fiction books continued.

But, I never read any of them, not until recently, they just sat on my shelf, and I called myself a crime-fiction fan, simply because I had them. I think that says a lot about bookworms in general, we read a few books from a certain genre and suddenly that genre is life and we need to have all the things pertaining to that genre. Just recently, I went through my books and decided that I didn’t want to have shelves full of books that I bought, didn’t like or read, but kept because, you know… books. So guess what was the first to go? You guessed it, most of the crime-fiction. Not because I don’t enjoy it, I actually think, I enjoy it now, more than I did when I was younger, but because it isn’t my favourite genre and I don’t think it ever was.

I guess the point I am trying to make with this post, is that crime-fiction is a genre that will last the test of time, it will have fads where it is the top of the genre food chain, and then it will drop off again for a few years. Why you ask? Because humans are obsessed with death, with criminology, with understanding about dying, murder and the science behind it. We are morbid, creatures of habit, who need to be told what horror can look like, so we can confirm that we are okay, that we have good and safe lives.

Crime-fiction will always be one of those genres that people read, want to read, hate to read, etc. It will always be talked about and discussed, it is reality turned into fiction and that speaks to us as humans on a ‘hits too close to home’ level, but isn’t that the entire point? To be scared, to be psychologically thrilled?

Crime-fiction, for me will always be a large part of my bookworm growth, it showed me that just because you love one author from one genre, doesn’t mean you will love them all. It also showed me that just because you are into a specific genre ‘now’, doesn’t mean you always will be. For me, Crime-Fiction was definitely a passing love.

How do you feel about Crime-Fiction? Passing love or lifetime commitment?

 

Julie