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Review: All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue

Publication February 2021

All Our Hidden Gifts, sparked my interest from the first page. Our protagonist is vibrant and her enthusiasm oozes from the pages. However I was surprised to learn that she is 16, she reads much younger than that, through her actions. That being said, she is growing as the book progresses, which gives it an overall, more authentic feel.

The magical element to this book is wonderful. Learning about Tarot, eradicating the cliche beliefs around them and showing them for the powerhouse celestial items that they are.

This book is so incredibly easy to read. The writing style is fluid allowing the reader to flow through the book easily.  It does feel quite simple though, it is easy to predict what is going to happen with the characters, even if the world they are in is mystically unpredictable.

Filled to the brim with diverse characters, from different backgrounds, religions and sexual orientation. All Our Hidden Gifts has something for everyone. It is confontational and creates conversations around sexuality and beliefs, both huge and important aspects.

The last 40 pages of this book are a whirlwind pf magic, friendship, acceptance and growth. Above all else, this book screams at the reader to be more accepting, be more aware that everyone has their own burdens, that life isn’t as simple as it appears.

Well written and easy to read, All Our Hidden Gifts was a lovely read. I may be a bit older than its intended audience, as I did find it quite simple and juvenile in places. But it was still enjoyable and I can definitely see it being a popular read upon its publication!

Thank you to Walker Books Australia for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Reviews & Ramblings

Review: The Ever After by Amanda Hocking

Publishing January 2020

The Ever After is an action packed concluding book to the Omte Origins Trilogy.

The book picks up where book two ends. It is easy to get into after having a long gap between book 2 and 3, all the back story is provided early on and allows the reader to be enveloped in the story once again.

It feels like such a rich folklore and magic system within the Trylle world. Amanda Hocking has a way of describing elements and creating a magic system that is enchanting.

The short chapter length keeps the book feeling punchy and fast paced. There is so much happening that the faster pace is really keeping the ball rolling. This element is crucial for The Ever After, as there is so much travelling within the pages that if the chapters were longer or the pacing slower, it would detract from the overall feel of the book.

I love how Pan and Ulla have come together finally, their relationship is sweet and honest and they complement eachother so well. That being said, their intimate scene felt awkward and uncomfortable. I don’t think they needed to have a sex scene, It didn’t feel necessary to the plot or their relationship. It felt like an afterthought addition.

The multiple points of view towards the end of the book are fantastic. They come at the height of the adventure and battle and allow the reader to get a better idea of what is happening. As well as the different perspectives of key characters at this crucial and final time in the trilogy.

The Ever After wraps up in such a wonderful way. Yes there are some losses that are truly heartbreaking, but it is wonderful to see Ulla finally starting her own life.

Written eloquently, with characters that we have gotten to see grow throughout the trilogy, The Ever After is the perfect final book for the Omte Origins Trilogy.

Thankyou to PanMacmillan for sending me a review copyn of this title. All thoughts and opinions are my own

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Who We Were by B.M. Carroll

Published April 2020 by Viper Books

Right off the bat, Who We Were is engaging and thought provoking. We are immediately thrown into Annabel’s busy life and are shown the first instance of our creepy antagonist.

The chapters are short and punchy, we aren’t locked into a single characters point of view for too long, which keeps the book moving. I love the multiple points of view, it gives the reader more information and back story and gives more chance for an unreliable narrator, which is always an interesting turn of events.

Who We Were encapsulates high school perfectly. How much we, as teenagers ignore our better judgement and go along with things we know we shouldn’t. I’m enjoying meeting the different characters and learning how different they are from their past selves. But some aren’t as different as they think.

The first half of the book allows us to really get to know the characters and their families. Learn about their lives and their secrets, which paves the way for the second half of the book, where our antagonist really comes out to play.

The overarching takeaway from this book is that teenagers are so impressionable, what happens to and around us in those formative years, impacts who we grow up to be. Who We Were encapsulates that so well, shows how as adults, all of these people are still deeply effected by what happened at highschool. And looking back, can any of us say that we weren’t.

The other strong takeaway from this book is the strength of family. That when it comes down to it, they are always there for you. Sometimes in ways like Nick was and sometimes in ways like Izzy was. Family is what makes us strong, gives us a sense of belonging and often shows us where we stand in the world. Carroll has explored these aspects brilliantly in Who We Were.

I enjoyed this almost light, psychological thriller, throughout the book, there was no way to pick who the antagonist was. No real clues, only the characters suspicions, which was refreshingly different to many other adult fiction novels on the market.

Who We Were is fast paced and filled with interesting characters. This book will keep you guessing until the final twenty pages and you won’t be dissappointed. Carroll has written a book about how lives intertwine, how the connections you make growing up can stay with you, long into adulthood. Well written and easy to read, Who We Were is unique and captivating.

Thank you to the publicity team at Allen & Unwin for sending me out a review copy. All thoughts are my own.

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: Tender is the Flesh by Augustina Bazterrica

From the first page, the intensity of this book is palpable. We are thrown into the conflicted mind of our protagonist. And his conflict is understandable. He kills people for meat. All of the meat animals have been infected with a virus that is deadly to humans, so the Government has implemented a way to grow humans for meat.

Tender is the Flesh, is thought provoking. It tempts images into your mind and makes you question what you would do in that situation. It throws your consience into inner turmoil, it is confronting and raw. A conversation starter.

This book is incredibly detailed, it is obvious that Bazterrica has done her research when it comes to abbatoir processing. It is chilling to read these same practices put to use on humans. But what is more chilling is how the workers adjusted to it, how they are able to kill humans or ‘heads’ and cut them up for food, without seeing them as people.

Tender is the Flesh, is not for the faint hearted or those with a weak stomach. You will be shown in vivid detail what happens at the breeding facility, the abbatoir and the butchers. You will be shown what happens to each section of the body from head to toes. This book is like seeing a car crash, horriffic, but you can’t look away.

Sadness eminates so strongly from Marcos, his world is crumbling around him, he is stuck in a job that he hates, just so he can support his father. He has lost everything he cares about and to top it off , he believes the Government is lying. But what else is sad is the lack of animals in this world. No pets, no farm animals, no birds. They are deadly, or thats what the population have been told. Marcos longs for some companionship in a human eat human world. For someone to share his views and beliefs. For a pet, like the two dogs he had to destroy because of the fear mongering from his Government.

I am really struggling with what Marcos creates for himself with his gifted ‘head’ It is hard to work out if he has given her freedom or if he is taking advantage of someone who doesn’t understand. The humans bred for meat have no vocal chords, are raised in isolation, are shown no niceties. They don’t learn to socialise, to be humans. They are raised as animals. Its hard to workout if what he has done is wrong, or an act of freedom. It feels wrong to me. Like the woman didn’t have a choice.

The second half of the book, we start to see Marcos for who he really is. His slow turn into someone who will do anything to get what he wants, even if it is going down an illegal path to get there.

Shockingly easy to read, considering the content and it flows from page to page, some phrases are quite jarring but overall it is fascinating to read something so unique and confronting. Tender is the Flesh will leave you shocked and with questions, it is consciously jarring, it makes you question values and morals. It shows you anothet side of humanity. It also shows what animals go through, what their lives mean and stand for, when it comes to providing food for human consumption.

Tender is the Flesh is fast paced, confronting and fascinatingly original. Not for the faint hearted, an overall unique read.

Thank you to the team at Allen and Unwin Australia for sending me out a review copy of this title. All thoughts and opinions are my own.