blog tour, Reviews & Ramblings

Blog Tour: The Year The Maps Changed by Danielle Binks

Published by Hachette Australia. May 2020

The Year the Maps Changed is a wonderful tale of life as Winifred(Fred). A girl of 11, nearly 12, growing up in a blended family and trying to work out what that means. Fred is also trying to understand what it means to be a refugee, with a refugee camp having been opened in her town, she is quickly realising that the world isn’t what it seems.

It is a delight to read from Fred’s point of view, to get lost in her innocence and her intrigue. She is so smart and intuitive, she has been through so much heartache and change, but she can’t seem to grab a foothold in this new family dynamic that she is part of.

This book will make you contemplate life in a new way. Seeing the world from a 12 year olds perspective is amazing, we see Fred go through so much, we watch her grow up and interpret the world around her.

The Year The Maps Changed covers a lot of controversial and complex ground. From refugees and racism, to families, nursing homes and pregnancy. There is so much intertwined that makes this story so great.
So easy to read that the pages fly through your fingers, the writing style is perfect for an 11/12 year old narrator, yet she seems so wise for her 12 years.

Luca is an incredible character. He is the perfect example of a police officer. He is firm but fair, calm, loving, gentle and kind. He has peoples best interests at heart and he wants the best for his family. Luca’s relationship with Winnie is heart warming. His love for her oozes from the pages.

The Year the Maps Changed is a coming of age story that shows how important being yourself is. It shows the power of family, friendship, forgiveness and standing up for those who need it. Throughout, we see Fred turn into Winnie, a brave, bright and courageous young girl. We see her bloom in the face of loss and confusion. This book really tells us a story of wrong and right, a story of people and how they fit in the world.

Thank you so much to AusYaBloggers and Hachette Australia for having me join in on the blog tour for this amazing book.

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

Publication 11th April, 2020. Hachette Australia

From the first page, Fifty Fifty draws you in. It is easy to read, fast paced, meticulously detailed and filled with complex characters. This is a book that will have you teetering on the edge of your seat, trying to piece together the evidence from this chilling murder.

As the book progresses the plot twists keep coming and trust me, you won’t see them coming. Cavanagh writes in such a suspenseful way, you won’t be able to guess what comes next. Even when you turn the last page, you will still be trying to work out how you, Eddie and Kate were blindsided by the Avellino sisters.

I love the female characters in this book. They are strong and confident, powerful and brave. But they are also gentle and concerned and have their own demons to face.

Fifty Fifty is well written, fast paced, well researched and legal savvy. It is rough and gritty and raw. It is a fantastic work of crime fiction and will not be the last Cavanagh book I read. Cavanagh has created a world within the legal system that is engaging and has one foot in the darker side of things. The characters are fantastic and the plot is completely original. This is one crime fiction novel, you do not want to miss.

Thank you to Hachette for sending me out a review copy of this book!

Reviews & Ramblings

Review: Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Published by Hachette. March 3, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & 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: 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