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.

 

blog tour, Reviews & Ramblings

Blog Tour Review. Snow by Ondine Sherman.

Before we begin, This is the second book in this series and if you are interested in reading my review for Sky, the first book, click this LINK to go to my GoodReads.

Thank you so much to Aus YA Bloggers and Pantera Press for organising this blog tour.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it!

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Snow by Ondine Sherman

3/5 Stars

Published July 15th 2019 by Pantera Press

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Snow starts where Sky finished, almost to the day. Which makes it extremely easy to follow. Sherman has also taken time to fill in the blanks from the previous book, so if you haven’t read the first book, you could comfortably read this one and not feel as though you were missing out on any major plot points.

In Snow, we see Sky turn sixteen, we see her struggle with learning truths about her father, struggle with friendships, new family ties and working out who she is and what she stands for. A big part of this book is Sky, truly finding herself and what is important to her.

That being said, I did struggle with Sky, as a character. I still feel that she doesn’t act, think or react as a fifteen/sixteen year old would. She feels much younger than the age that we are told. Some of her actions seem a little far-fetched also. Without getting too spoilery, she seems, for the most part to be a little conservative, yet suddenly she has the confidence to hitch-hike and lie and deceive. Actions that don’t feel true to her character.

I also found issue with her as a character in that she speaks of sticking to her beliefs and speaking up for animal rights, yet she isn’t very educated about the animals that she is trying to save. She goes out of her way to endanger herself, where guns are involved and showed very little remorse or accountability for her actions. Although this happens in real life, this is a book aimed at younger readers, so for me this seemed like a scene that may influence negatively.

My last dig at Sky is that she is hypocritical. She constantly is upset by her father not telling her the truth about his job, it gets brought up throughout the book, that him hiding the truth from her was horrible and how can she trust him now? Then we see Sky, herself, doing the same thing to her Boyfriend, Oliver, hiding all traces of Jaxon from him. Which in the end has the exact effect you would expect.

I know it seems I wasn’t a fan of this book, but I did enjoy it. Maybe I am too old to fully enjoy this book, but there were aspects of Sky’s personality that just didn’t sit well with me, as a reader. I can see how she will be relate-able for younger readers though.

Snow, like Sky, is incredibly easy to read, the pages turn so quickly, you blink and the book is finished. Sherman writes scenes that flow with such ease, as well as capturing the beauty of the Alaskan scenery and the depth of the characters emotions.

This book speaks to the child in all of us, holding on to the innocence of animals, the strength of family and the hard decisions that lead us to doing the right thing. I believe that under all the twists and turns, at the heart of this series, is family. We see Sky, struggle so much in this book, yet by the end of it, she realises just what she is willing to do, to forgive, to overlook, if it means she gets to be a part of her family again. That just because she doesn’t agree with someone else’s life choices, doesn’t make it okay to cut them out of her life completely.

I am looking forward to seeing what happens when she returns to Australia in book three, Star coming out in February, 2020.

 

As always, thank you for reading!

 

Julie.

 

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: Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Firstly I want to say a big Thank you to Walker Books Australia, for sending me a review copy of this book. I am so humbled each and every time I am sent a book to review. Thank you so much!

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Malamander – Thomas Taylor

4/5 Stars

Published May 2nd 2019 by Walker Books

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If you haven’t read this book, I would reccommend popping to my GoodReads HERE for a spoiler-free review. This review isn’t too spoiler-y but I don’t want you to have even the tiniest bit spoiled for you!

First impressions of this book had me thinking that this was going to be a fun read. The cover is bright and eye-catching, for a middle-grade book, that is what you want, to draw your reader in. The blurb sounds so exciting and fast paced.

I am thirty pages into this book, and I am hooked. I love the writing style, it is fast paced and flows smoothly. It is funny, quirky and I already love the characters and their depth of who they are. I can’t wait to read more! I am also intrigued by the Malamander. What is it? Why is it? I am loving this book so far!

I am absolutely devouring this book. I love how everything connects, how every little tid-bit of information has purpose and meaning. This is such a fun read.

At the heart of this fast-paced, middle-aged book, is a young girl with a broken heart, searching for her lost parents, but each clue she turns over, sends her one step closer to the infamous and legendary Malamander. The half man, half fish beast, who patrols the beaches, searching for its egg.

I love the relationship between Herbie and Vi, he is quiet and introverted, happy to stay in his cellar of lost things, whereas Vi, wants to be out adventuring, finding clues and getting answers. They are the perfect pairing for this book. Herbie has the knowledge of the area and Vi has the cunning and courage to lead him into trouble!

The way that family is centred in this book makes it feel even more special, even though, by rights, both Herbie and Vi are orphans, this book shows the importance of making your own family, each person that we meet, has a story to tell about Herbie, or knows something about Vi’s family. They are all connected in some way.

I am still intrigued by the Malamander, I think there is going to be a twist somewhere along the line, it feels too grumpy and too visible for it to be just a legend brought to life, there must be more to its story!

What a gorgeous read, I was fully engrossed in this book from start to finish, so much so, that I devoured it in one day. It is full of laughter, friendship and courage. But you can’t avoid the notes of loss, sadness and fright. This book is about so much more than a monster, it is about people and what people hold in their hearts, about what is truly important to them and what they will do, or won’t do, to achieve what is important.

The ending to this book was more than perfect, everything was set back to how it was meant to be, no one was lonely or sad or hurt. It makes a nice change, from the other books I have been reading.

This book is aimed at a middle-grade audience, but older readers will appreciate its simplistic writing style and the feeling of sentimentality that washes over you whilst reading. Fast paced, so much so that pages will be turning and before you know it, you will have finished the final page. The writing style allows the reader to truly get lost in the world of the Malamander.

I highly reccommend this book!

As always, thanks for reading!

Julie

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James

I received a copy of this book from the amazing team at Walker Books Australia. Thank you so  much for sending me a review copy! I am so grateful for each and every book I am sent to review!

I tried so hard to keep this review spoiler free, but it just couldn’t be done, there was too much going on for me to stay quiet on the spoiler front. So, this is your warning, if you haven’t read this book and are planning to please head to my GoodReads HERE for a spoiler free review.

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The Quiet At The End of The World

4/5 Stars

Published March 7th 2019 by Walker Books

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Firstly, this book is written amazingly well, it jumps straight into the plot, no lead up, just straight into action and I love it! The protagonists are great, I can already see that they are deep and motivated and I want to learn more about them.

How amazing is this world that they are living in? The future sounds incredible, you know, other than the population being sterile and these are the last two kids left alive on earth… But how the technology advanced, how robots became a part of every day life and how although they survive pretty normally without them, they replaced people like chefs, life guards, shop tellers and supermarket attendants. I also find it rather thought inducing, to think that they are using social media accounts to get a feel for the past. The past that is our current reality. It makes you think about what kind of legacy you are leaving, what kind of footprint are you leaving for future generations to see and remember you by?

Already I am so into this book, I want to know more about this virus, about where it came from, who made it and why? I love books like this, with some kind of chemical warfare that changes the world. Dystopias are my favourite, as long as there is no love triangle…

Okay, so wow, this book is really good. But what I like the most about it, is that it is so thought provoking. The reader is constantly being reminded that these two kids, Lowrie and Shen are the last two people on earth… yes they have families at the moment, but when they die, they will be the last two people, and if for some reason they are able to conceive a child or two, then those children will be the last ones ever… scary thought!

It is heartbreaking to watch Lowrie and Shen come to the realisation that they are going to watch all the people that they know and care about die, just vanish from the world and leave them alone with the robots. I can’t imagine what that would be like.

What. Hang on. Hold the bus. Lowrie’s last name is Mountbatten-Windsor Lowrie is a gosh darn royal! What the heck! No wonder she lives in such a fancy house with so many servant bots and an incredibly rich family!

The way social media is used in this book is scary. I think I touched on this earlier, but Lowrie and Shen are using it as historical research, to see what the world was like before the sterility. It is terrifying to think that, that may happen to our current social media accounts. Is what we are sharing with the world today, what future generations will find and think that it is a perfect representation of how we lived?

I am just over halfway now, and things are starting to get rough… I am almost too scared to read on, I don’t think I am ready to see these teens suffer from the pain of losing their parents. I just hope that it doesn’t happen like this..

What the actual heck is going on here? The parents all have electrical boards in their heads… I was trying to write this review, spoiler free, but I just can’t. Too much is happening and I need to rant!

So Lowrie and Shen have just deiscovered that their parents are all robots, all with electronic boards in their heads, where their brains should be… but that isn’t the creepiest bit. The creepiest bit is that we have been reading updates from a person called Maya, and her partner Rizz, through old social media updates and we have been seeing a new app called Baby Grow. A simulation baby application, it started out innocently enough, but now there are baby dolls being made, to sync with the app, they move and make sounds like reall babies… but the extra scary thing is that their ‘bodies’ can be upgraded as they age… Are you with me?

Lowrie and Shen’s parents are Baby Grow robots, grown up, and somehow they have gotten their hands on two real-life human children. This is all speculation, but I really feel like I am on the right, slightly creepy (very) track… Wow, not the direction I expected this book in taking at all! Mind blown.

Ughh, you know what, I just wish Lowrie would man up and tell Shen how she feels, he clearly feels the same way for her! Also I want to know what the heck is going on with the whole Mountbatten-Windsor thing. Did the queen make a baby grow baby to keep her blood-line going? I need answers!

Wow, I just finished this masterpiece, I can honestly say, that this book exceeded my expectations. I was expecting something futuristic, a little sci-fi and dystopian, but it is so much more than that. I love the way that robots were integrated into the world, it is a little scary to think that they were able to make them so human though. But at the same time, how amazing is that technology! Lowrie and Shen had no idea that their parents were robots and they grew up with them, they also grew up with Robots… But I digress, I just really enjoyed the fact that people were suddenly sterile, we never find out what caused this to happen, btw. But yes, they were sterile from a disease like the flu, and in desperation to have children, they created the Baby Grows and the rest is history.

I am a little disappointed we never got filled in on Lowries royal lineage, other than her being a clone from someone living in the past. Maybe the surname was a little dig? I like it anyway, I am a bit of a Elizabeth II fan, so any nod to her makes me happy.

This book is so well written, it captivated me from the first page, I was unable to put it down. The writing style is fantastic, so modern and easy to read.  The story flows from one page to the next and the pacing is so perfectly set that you will keep turning pages much faster than you would like.  The characters are so perfectly human, each with their worries, goals, flaws and feelings, they feel like real people, the last two people on earth.

You will find yourself loving all of the characters in this book and hard pressed to find one that you don’t like. There is no clean-cut villain in this book and I love that, it makes the novel feel like there is more to the world than goodies fighting baddies. I also love that there is no gosh darn love triangle. That would have completely ruined this book for me.

I feel like this book has a deeper message, just than these two teens have saved the world and now they are enabling robots to inherit the earth. This book is incredibly thought provoking around just what we, as a society are leaving behind, as well as the power of social media.

Have you read this book? What did it make you think about while you were reading?

As always, thanks for reading!

 

Julie