Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Ursa by Tina Shaw

Firstly, I want to say thank-you to Walker Books Australia, for sending me a review copy, in exchange for an honest review. I truly appreciate the opportunity!

As always, here is your disclaimer that this review may contain spoilers, If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend avoiding the spoilers by reading my spoiler-free review on GoodReads HERE.

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Ursa – Tina Shaw

Published April 1st 2019 by Walker Books Australia

3-Stars

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This book is slow to start, I’m about 60 pages in and finding the language to be quite stiff and the pacing, on the slow side. That being said, I am interested to see what happens and where the story Is heading. It does feel familiar, typical dystopian, ‘us’ being ruled by ‘them’, but I’m sensing a twist may be starting to take place.

Noting much is happening. You can tell that there is going to be some kind of a revolt and that Jorzy, is going to be involved somehow, but I wish it would speed up a little bit.                     I’m assuming the friendship with Emee, is going to have an important part to play at some point? I am intrigued and will definitely keep reading, but it really feels like something is missing, like something isn’t quite gelling together.

I feel like we need to know more about Leho’s mum. That would be an interesting story! Why is she so hates? Why are the people she talks to suddenly assaulted brutally in the street? What did she plan that was so bad, she got blinded then locked herself away? I need answers!

Woah, hang on, on top of being starving, living in ghettos and treated as a lesser people (hello Holocaust connotations), there is also a rape. I was not prepared for there to be rape and quite frankly it doesn’t really fit with the story. I understand it is there to show the brutality of the Travestors, to show how the Cerels are the lesser people and that they can be treated as though they aren’t people. But I also feel it was pointless in this case. I don’t think it needed to be Leho’s sister, it could have been a rumour, heard by the kids, not someone so close to Leho, unless there is a plot line for it. I just hope it wasn’t rape, for the sake of rape, it didn’t really have a big ‘wow’ or shock-factor, so I am interested to see where this line goes.

I have under 100 pages left and still, very little has happened. This is going to be one of those books, where everything happens in the last 50 pages, and although I am looking forward to the action finally happening, I am also tired of nothing happening.

I think it was way too easy for Leho to get a job, working in the directors’ garden. Firstly, he lied to get the job, there were no checks, people just accepted that he was there and who he said he was. It felt too easy, too convenient.

I am slowly losing patience with this book. I am eagre to lean what Leho will do, how far he will go to impress his brother, or will he choose to try to save his family. I just hope, whatever he does, he does it soon.

I think I have just hit the turning point. Emee’s world is starting to turn. Of course, the Travestors had no idea that Cerel men were being forced against their will, into work camps. I wonder what Emee does with this new information, or if she will ignore it.

It is hard not to compare this book to the Holocaust. The Cerels are the ‘lesser’ peoples, forced to live in ghettos, not having access to enough food, or any health care. They are excluded from entering certain shops, with signs plastered to walls telling them where they can and can’t shop. The Black Masks, showing such random brutality towards any Cerel on the street and the most similar is the removal of all men and their placement into work camps. I’m not sure if it was the intent of the author for the similarities, but I can’t un-notice them.

Okay, allow me to get back on the Marina and her rape, rant train. As I mentioned above, I completely understand the reason that Shaw wrote in a rape, the brutality of the Black Masks, had to be shown to be completely brutal and horrific, but there was no real plot for this horror. As it happened to a pretty significant character, I expected there to be something more. We know that Cerels are banned from having children, which leads to Marina having to leave to hide her pregnancy, but that is all we got, following up the horror. I am crabby about the use of rape when it didn’t add to the story line and it didn’t have any follow ups. I think it could have been hinted at in different ways.

All of the action took place within the last 20 pages. Yet, I still am questioning Leho’s motives. It really feels like he just wanted to impress his brother, not make a change to the horrific world that he lives in.                                                                                                              This book was written well, in a style that kept the pages turning. It was interesting to see this world, two classes of people, one of poverty and one of privilege.  Can’t help but draw similarities to the Holocaust, to the horror that people had to face. Yes, Ursa is a horrific place to live if you are a Cerel, but it feels a little like something was missing, like we weren’t given enough information.

The book finishes on a revolution and a funeral, yet nothing is truly resolved, and I don’t think there is another book coming. It all feels rather pointless.  Leho’s character felt very naïve, I realise that he is quite young, but he has to live through such horrors and to literally fight to put food on the table. But he throws good things away to impress his brother, not because he, himself wants change.

This was a 3-star read for me. It had its moments of wonderful writing and snippets of information that really lifted the plot, but I just think that there were too many things missing for it to be truly enjoyable. I think we needed more back story, more information on the Government and on Leho’s parents. If there had been more information provided, instead of following Leho around the countryside (for most of the book), I think it would have taken this book to another level. A good read, just something was missing for me.

 

If you are still here, thanks’ for sticking around!

Have you read Ursa? What did you think?

 

Julie.

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Cloud Boy by Marcia William

Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to Walker Books Australia, Georgie, specifically. I have read so many amazing titles from this fantastic company this year, and I am so greatful for the opportunity to be able to read some fantastic Aussie fiction.

This review does contain spoilers, if you haven’t read it (and you really should), please click THIS link, and read my spoiler-free Good review!

 

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Cloud Boy by Marcia Williams

Published  April 4th 2019 by Walker Books

GoodReads

This bloggers star rating: 4/5 Stars

 

 

 

 

Let me begin with what an engaging cover! The shorter length of this book is inviting especially as this is a middle-grade book. It sounds incredibly moving and thought provoking. I can’t wait to start!

The second you open the cover of this book, everything is super-cute and fun. I love the cloud illustrations on the title page, giving you the names and shapes of different clouds.

Okay, this is awesome! It is presented as Angies diary! What a wonderful touch, it gives the reader a feeling of being closer to the protagonist, as though we were her trusted friend. I am smiling so much already and I haven’t even started reading yet!

Cloud Boy, is magical. It has so many facets that go deeper than two friends, loving their new treehouse. I am scared, there is already talk of Harry’s headaches and I am not prepared for the sadness of it.

The element of Grandma Gertie is amazing. What a great way to incorporate a touch of history into a middle-grade title! It softly shows the reader about being a Prisoner of War (POW) as a child and how scary it was to live through it. The letters to Grandma Gerties Kitten are a gorgeous touch, making it seem more real and relateable.

I love how this book is written, Angie has such a tremendous energy, her words leap off the page, daring you to read on.

P.S I am so jealous of their treehouse.

This book is breaking my heart. It is so innocent. The emotions you feel while reading about children reacting to and interpreting hospitals, operations and parents is surprising. Reading Angie’s point-of-view is incredibly moving and sad. All she wants is to make sure her friend is okay, she even shaved her head to match Harry, but she feels duped and rejected because the adults in her life won’t allow her to see him…. On that note, I truly hope that Harry is okay, that his parents aren’t hiding him because he isn’t recovering well.

I am really enjoying reading about Grandma Gertie’s letters and her courage during the war. I am a huge history buff, so this kind of thing really gets my happy place, buzzing! I think it really pushes what this book is all about. Courage and friendship, being strong and supporting your loved ones, when things get scary and hard.

I’m even learning about clouds, who knew there were so many different types!

I adore how this book captures the impulsivity and fluidity of childood friendship. How tiny things can cause you to be unfriended but all is forgiven aftger a good night’s sleep.

This book is going to break your heart, just as it has broken mine. I didn’t expect that Harry wouldn’t get better. But for him to pass away, at home, surrounded by his loved ones is a gift that not many people receive. Angie knew at the end. She hid under her bed, hiding from the reality that her best friend wouldn’t be around much longer. Avoiding going to see him. I am almost too scared to read the last twenty-ish pages. My heart can’t take anymore sadness.

Oh… that’s why Grandma Gertie held off on giving Harry the quilt! I don’t think I  have mentioned it, but when Grandma Gertie was a girl, stuck in the POW camp, her and the other girl guides made a quilt using scraps of material and cotton from the hems of their clothing, for their friend, for Christmas. It ended up being quite a famous quilt and it inspired Angie to make one, detailing her and Harry’s frienship, to make Harry feel better. But Grandma Gertie, kept saying it wouldn’t be ready for Harry for Christmas, and I think I know why. She knew that Angie would need the quilt more than Harry would. That Angie would need to be able to look back on all of the wonderful times that she spent with Harry, and their cloud watching in Artcloud (treehouse).

Reading about Angie’s greif is heartbreaking. Not oly is she trying to deal with her own pain, she has to deal with evertone elses as awell. Her greif is manifesting in anger, she is in full destruction mode and can’t help what is in her path. She didn’t mean to destroy Harry’s cloud journals, but they made her feel too much, they made her upset and angry and she couldn’t look at them anymore. But once she destroyed them, she regretted it and she lost the respect and friendship of Harry mum. Which is the very last thing that Angie needed at that stage in her greif.

What a heartwarming ending. Even though she is dealing with her own greif, Angie still has the strength to do something for other people, for Harry’s memory.

I am blown away that the historical element of Grandma Gertie’s quilt was actually based on fact. Just another amazing quality that this book has!

This book is such a fantastic way to teach younger readers about sickess hope, courage and loss. It shows how greif affects people differently and how families cope in different ways. It shows the importance of spending time with people, of facing them, even when you are scared, because you know it will make them feel better.

Angie’s character is incredible. She is a spitfire, filled with life and vigour. I have no doubt that she will grow up to be a glider pilot. Her character is so important because it shows every aspect of slowly losing your best friend, your way of life, and growing to accept it. Angie is smart, strong and emotional and that is what makes her so special.

Cloud Boy will draw you in with a writing style that won’t let you go. It is written as though it is Angie’s diart, which makes it easy to read, but also so easy to fall into the story and really feel what Angie is feeling. The pacing is perfect, at a solid mid-pace. Angie seems to talk/write very quickly though, so the latter sections add a slowness that the tale really needs.

A captivating tale that shows us an earth-moving friendship and the courage it takes to truly love another person.

I can’t reccommend this book enough. It is middle-grade, so you will find it easy to read, but it is amazing and you need it in your life.

 

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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Book Depository

 

 

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