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: The Origin of Me by Bernard Gallate

Published 19th March, 2020 by Penguin Books Australia.

The Origin of Me, is a quirky and unique, almost memior of fifteen year old Lincoln Locke. We are taken on a journey, visiting all aspects of Lincolns life, dealing with his parents separation, a new school and the struggles that come with being a teenager in Australia.

The Australian-ness of this book is fantastic. The slang, suburbs, land marks and buildings all make it a book that you can relate to, as it is set somewhere that the reader can physically go. It definitely adds to my relationship with he book.

Lincoln is a great narrator. His voice is honest and funny. That being said, as character, I find him rather annoying and a little naive. Especially when it comes to “The nub”. I realise it would be embarrassing, I thought everything was the end of the world when I was fifteen, but it is a health issue. And by halfway through the book, I was sick of hearing about it. That being said, it does hold significance throughout the book.

The idea of having the protagonist be working his way through a book and providing exerpts from the book is a unique way to add some dimension. The parallels between the ancient book and Lincoln’s life are intriguing and draw you in to the mystery of it.

The Origin of Me, is filled, cover to cover with interesting characters, each with their own stories to tell. That being said, each character neatly fits a stereotype, the bully, the nerd, the jock, the absentee parent, the hypochondriac. But they all meld together in Lincoln’s world, to create his point of view.

The pacing is slower than I would have liked and is consistent throughout the book. It did make the title feel longer than its 350+ pages as there was no real turning point to amp up the pacing. That can also be said for the story line itself. I felt that The Origin of Me, read more like a diary or memior, rather than a work of fiction and so there was no clear storyline or climactic event. We are just along for the ride as Lincoln does life.

In the end we see Lincoln slowly accept himself for who he is, “nub” and all. We see him patch together his broken family and be brave enough to battle his own fears. After finishing this book, it is clear to see that it is about finding yourself, about wading through the endless input of others and from society, of the pressures and stressors and coming out of it, a person who you are happy to be.

The Origin of Me is quirky and unique, it is easy to read and has multiple characters that you will find yourself attached to. I did struggle with the pacing and he lack of a defined plot, it felt like we were constantly reading and learning new things, but nothing eventuated from those new things. Essentially, this book allows you to lose yourself in someone elses life for the duration of the book. And that isn’t always a bad thing.

Thank you to Penguin Teen Australia for providing me with a review copy of this title.

Reviews & Ramblings

Review: Riverdale: Get Out Of Town by Micol Ostow

Published 2019 by Scholastic Australia

Riverdale: Get Out Of Town, is quite a bit darker than the first book in this series. It is my belief that it is set after the events of season one of the Netflix series. And, to my knowledge, it flows quite freely, following the series end.

In this book, we have a lot more points of view, and although I enjoy this for the most part, I think there may be too many, it seems to make the book lag a little, compared to the first book. I do love how the book is delivered using different mediums, diary entries and text messages, give the tale a more authentic feel. Like it is a true tale about a group of friends.

Once again, Ostow has written a book that ties in with the Netflix series. It takes our favourite characters and shows a side story that lets us in, a little bit closer.
That being said, I feel like nothing really happened in this book, there was such a build up, just for nothing to happen in the end. All we learned is that Hiram Lodge’s rage knows no bounds. Which, really, isn’t all that surprising.

Even though not a great deal happened, it was still an enjoyable book. Perfect for fans of the show and a great way to wasye some time, solving mysteries with this crew of oddities. Riverdale: Get Out Of Town is well written, action packed and will keep your mind racing, trying to solve the many plot twists and deceptions we are given. The characters feel like the ones we know and love from the show and it is so easy to read.

Thank you so much to Camila and Scholastic for sending me out a review copy of this title. And for sending me the next one in the series. I can’t wait to read what happens next!

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 & Ramblings Hadamar: The House of Shudders by Jason Foster

Before I start, I want to say a huge thank you to Aus Ya Bloggers and Big Sky Publishing for organising this blog tour and providing me with a review copy.

Lets begin.

“When the truth of what happened within the asylums walls became known, the people of Hadamar gave the institution a nickname. They called it the house of shudders.”

I love how they are using traditional language to describe the Nazi officers and that there is a glossary in the back to refer to. It adds to the authenticity of the book.

I can’t imagine what life must have been like for Ingrid. The colour of her skin betraying her at every stage of her life, being told she was stupid and disgusting and simple, because her mother married a man of colour. It breaks my heart to see how far people went, based on a horribly wrongly perpetuated belief. Ingrid was assaulted, steralized, tormented, taunted and even raped, because of the colour of her skin.

“You have been brought here to decide whether you are a candidate for sterilization” p 16. Ingrid was only 14.

Hadamar, is one of the best books I have read, that focuses on a rarely discussed element of The Holocaust. Yes, it is confronting and emotionally jarring. But it is done in such a way that it is almost gently written, so you can fully grasp what is happening without in depth, detailed explanations.

Ingrid is a fascinating character. She is strong, honest, intellegent and not afraid to ask questions, which, for a woman in her position is incredible. The things that she was forced to do, to stay alive, the horrors that she witnessed and yet she kept going. She kept working and serving and cleaning, focusing on her future, of leaving Hadamar and finally having a dream life.

Hadamar is incredibly well written, the words flow smoothly across the page, easing you in to some of the more confronting moments. Perfectly paced, fast enough to keep the pages turning, but slow enough that the power of the meaning and experiences behind the words, aren’t lost.

I have mixed feelings about the saving of Hadamar, about how the war came to an end and what it meant for those people living in camps. It is such a happy thing, to see hundreds of thousands of people liberated from their horrors. But then you realise, what do they have to go back to? Do they have any family still alive? Is their home still standing? Then the questions about their lives roll in, how will they function in society after living through that horror? Will they be able to love, to make a new family? Or will they be so, incredibly effected by what they lived through, that this freedom is scarier than they imagined.

Foster has written scenes which touch on my above thoughts perfectly. He shows us the towns, the destruction, the almost hopping nature of bombs, destroying some homes but not others. And how sometimes there is that glimmer of hope, that someone from their family survived.

I am so happy that Ingrid made it through her experience at Hadamar. Obviously we knew she did, as this is her story, but there were times there, that I honestly thought she had given up. And who could blame her.

Her input into the war crimes trials would have been instrumental in persecuting the staff from Hadamar. Ingrid was so incredibly brave to speak up, to look those monsters in the eye and call them out for their lies.

Hadamar: The House of Shudders, is one of the most moving, original and honest depictions of the Second World War, that I have read. And I’ve read a lot. This is also the first one I have come across that the view point is from a person of colour. Giving the reader a fresh take on the horiffic time in history.

I really enjoyed how Foster made sure we saw Ingrids story through. The inclusion of the War Crimes Trials really added a layer of transparency, of a deeper connection to the history of the war and how it didn’t really end, after its official end.

Fosted wrapped up this book in such a respectful way, there was no cliche happy ending, there was no forced relationships or extraordinary lives. Just honesty and the notion that surviving something like that changes who you are.

Incredibly well written, Hadamar: The House of Shudders is a book that everyone should read. It is moving, confronting, shocking and horrific. But it also shows the strength of humanity, the power that believing in something gives you.

I am honoured that I got to be a part of the Aus YA Bloggers Blog Tour for this book. It wouldn’t have popped up on my radar otherwise, which would have been a tragic loss for me. So thank you, for the opportunity.

I sincerely hope that if you have read my review, or seen a photo of this book somewhere, that you pick it up. Read it. Inform yourself of the world’s history. The more we know, the less likely it is to happen again.

Happy Reading!