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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 & Ramblings: Gargantis by Thomas Taylor

Published by Walker Books 2020

I am so excited to be back at Eerie-on-sea! This follow up title to Malamander draws you in from the first page. We are reminded of Herbert Lemon’s amazing personality. The way he breaks through the page and talks to us directly.

Already the action has started. I do feel for Herbie, he just wants to hide in his cellar with his lost items but having a friend as formidable as Violet Parma means he is always out on an adventure. Wether he likes it or not.

Taylor has a way of writing that captivates you, wraps you up in the world he has created. It really feels as though you are trapped in the storm at Eerie-on-sea, as though you can feel the earth move under your feet.

Obviously Gargantis is aimed towards middle grade readers, but what makes it enjoyable for young adult and adult readers is how aware Herbie is. He makes comments about his situation that makes him reach through the page and seem like he is reading along with you. This awareness makes it so fun to read as an adult reader.

Taylor has written the ultimate follow up adventure. Gargantis is filled to the brim with action, gadgets, mystical creatures and folk lore and it is mesmerizing. This is a book you won’t be able to or want to put down! Written cleverly, it is great for all ages with characters you can’t help but love.

Thank you to Walker Books Australia for sending me a review copy of this amazing read!

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Rules For Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Wow, what a ride this book is! I started getting teasers from Walker Books Australia, with links to files, physical files, transcripts from the book and from those teasers, I was hooked.

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Photo taken by @Bookish.Intoxication

This review is spoiler free, so feel free to read through if you haven’t read Rules for Vanishing yet!

Blurb: In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes the campfire story of a missing girl, a vengeful ghost, and the girl who is determined to find her sister–at all costs.

Once a year, the path appears in the forest and Lucy Gallows beckons. Who is brave enough to find her–and who won’t make it out of the woods?

It’s been exactly one year since Sara’s sister, Becca, disappeared, and high school life has far from settled back to normal. With her sister gone, Sara doesn’t know whether her former friends no longer like her…or are scared of her, and the days of eating alone at lunch have started to blend together. When a mysterious text message invites Sara and her estranged friends to “play the game” and find local ghost legend Lucy Gallows, Sara is sure this is the only way to find Becca–before she’s lost forever. And even though she’s hardly spoken with them for a year, Sara finds herself deep in the darkness of the forest, her friends–and their cameras–following her down the path. Together, they will have to draw on all of their strengths to survive. The road is rarely forgiving, and no one will be the same on the other side.

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Photo by @Bookish.Intoxication

 

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Published September 24th, 2019 by Walker Books.

GoodReads

For this reader, this book was a 4 Star Read.

 

 

 

 

‘Little Lucy, dressed in white

Gave her mother such a fright

Walked into the woods one day

Where she went no one can say

Down a road that no one found

Or are her bones sunk in the ground?

How many steps did Lucy take?

One, two, three, four…’

 

If that doesn’t pique your interest in this book, I’m not sure what will.

Rules for Vanishing is unique, not only in Marshall’s way of creating incredible folklore, characters and plot twists, you won’t see coming, but also in the way it is written. It is delivered in interviews, audio transcriptions, text messages and video transcriptions. It makes the book read much faster than a traditional style and keeps you interested.

This book was a creep-fest, I did expect maybe a little more on the scary side, but the descriptions, the worlds and the spirits/elemental feel to the book, made the overall creepiness rise to a whole new level, some of you may not want to read this after dark.

We originally meet Sara, who is an outcast, we see her as a sad teen who is desperate to believe that her sister is still alive, after she went missing a year prior. Sara is strong, witty, honest and raw, she is the character you will come to love and respect. That being said, this book is filled with characters that are relate-able in one way or another. Strong female characters fill this book to the brim, which I love. I also love how even though Jeremy is clearly the jerky jock, he doesn’t mind being called on it and adjusts his level of cocky jerk, accordingly.

I think what gives this book it’s creepiness is that ‘The Road’ exists within the real world. It is somewhere that you could accidentally stumble across and never return from. It is also creepy because it is all folklore, based on a nursery rhyme-sounding, children’s rhyming game. How many of us sang and danced to ‘Ring around-a-Rosie’, without knowing its origins? This feels the same as that, like an innocent children’s game turned sinister.

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The level of psychological drama woven into the pages of this book is incredible, there are so many twists and turns you struggle to trust the narrator, struggle to believe what is real and what is purely fictional. Which only makes this book so much better. The plot twists are so hard to see coming, the plot itself is so unique, I haven’t read anything like it before.

The ending for me seemed a little rushed, and like the entirety of the book, we don’t really get any closure, yes, some ends are tied, but it definitely gives off the vibes that this book could be part of a duology or series. I have questions and  I need answers! That doesn’t mean I didn’t love the book, because I did. I love how unique and chilling it is.

Rules for Vanishing, will take you on an adventure you didn’t know you needed, if you can, hold off reading this book until it is Halloween, or add it to your October TBR, this book is perfect for that. It throws Halloween vibes, like it is nobodies business.

Well written and captivating from the first page, this is a book that will keep you on your toes and your mind racing to sort through the imagery within. The unique style in which this book is put together will keep pages flying through your fingers, it is so easy to read. Characters who are well rounded, yet have such normal flaws, there is a representation for everyone within these characters, which I think is fantastic, some are a little stereo-typical, but it doesn’t take away from the book itself.

An amazing read and I am so greatful to Walker Books, for sending me out a review copy. I have seen Rules for Vanishing all over Bookstagram, it is getting incredible reviews and I am so excited that I could be a part of that process!

 

Thank you for reading!

Julie

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: HeartStream by Tom Pollock

Firstly, I want to thank Walker Books Australia, for sending me an advanced reading copy of this title. It was just the book I needed to get out of a slump and I am eternally grateful for any opportunities I receive to work with publishers. Thank you!

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Heartstream by Tom Pollock

3/5 Stars.

Published September 1st 2019 by Walker Books

Goodreads

Goodreads Review

I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, when I started reading this book. I expected some psychological elements, a lot of technology and some drama, but what I got, was so much more.

I was immediately drawn to Amy’s character, her chapters were filled with loss, pain and technologies that we can only dream of. Her voice is one that I can hear in my life, as though she is a friend.

I found Cat to be a little on the annoying side, she was too eagre to please everyone else, she wanted people to like her, and in the end, that is what she criticises others for doing. Yes, I recognise that she was incredibly wronged and it is disgusting what happened to her, but she feels hypocritical. In the beginning, it was as though she wasn’t her own person, as though she would rather be the person that people expected her to be, than be herself for the fear that people wouldn’t like her. Which is sad in itself.

At first, I wasn’t sure what I was reading, with this book. I couldn’t pick the path of where it was going. It did dawn on me that this book could be read as a precautionary tale about the dangers of the internet. As our lives are getting broadcasted more and more onto the internet, we are sharing more about our lives, our homes, our friends and family, the more ammunition we give people to tear us down. This book can be seen as a warning, most of what these women went through was a direct response from their lives in the public eye, having thousands and millions of followers on their social media accounts, for Cat it resulted in horrific physical damage to not only herself, but her family and home. I am not, by any means saying ‘stay off socials’, or ‘the internet is bad’, what I’m saying is, that you could read this book as a warning, that sometimes giving too much of yourself to your followers can result in losing yourself.

I also think that Cat is a creation of her generation. She was encouraged to believe that the more followers she had, the more likes and retweets or re-blogs she received, the more popular she was. The more important she was. Her whole selfworth was created by having millions of people think that she was special.

I wish that there was more about Heartstream, the app, in this book. It sounds like an incredible piece of technology, creepy, but incredible. The ability to share your feelings with others, not though telling them, but showing them. Allowing them to feel exactly as you are feeling in any given moment. I think there was room for more information on the topic. I would have loved some backstory maybe?

The way that these two women are connected is mind blowing, I have seen this situation play out in different ways before, but I didn’t see it coming in this book (No spoilers, don’t panic). From the beginning, it was obvious to me that they were going to be connected in some way, I guess it was poetic in the end.

Tom Pollock has created a dark and twisty novel that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Your head will twist in circles trying to work out the connections, what is important and what is put there to make you think you’re on the right track, but you aren’t. The pacing in this book is fantastic, it reads as the characters think, Cat’s chapters read erratically, they speed up to a pace that you can imagine her thoughts are travelling at. Whereas Amy’s chapters start out slow, her sadness saturating the flow of her thoughts and actions, then they increase as her situation escalates.

A great read, if you are looking for something to make you think. I did have a sense of unsatisfaction when I finished though. The ending felt a little open ended, wahich I can understand considering the intensity of the novel, but I wish there was a little more closure.

This title is intense from the first page and will keep you guessing until the very end.

Thanks 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

GoodReads

 

 

 

 

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.