Reviews & Ramblings

Review: The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

Published by Simon & Schuster Australia.

After reading the blurb of The Black Kids, I knew I had to read it. It feels so current, so powerful and important.

Hammonds Reed has a way with words. From the first page you are transported to 1992, to a group of friends who know that one of them is different and who aren’t afraid to make sure she knows her difference is what gets them in trouble. That her difference is a bad thing. But her difference is something that she is proud of, its her heritage and her culture. It’s her skin.

The overall feel of this book is intense, it has your heart racing and you sitting on the edge of your seat. This book will make you feel and make you think. It is written so eloquently, in such a clever way, that it shows you how in ways easy to process, how people of colour are treated as more dangerous, as lesser, as wrong.

The Black Kids, opened my eyes and it will open yours too. Filled with amazing characters, as well as some not so amazing ones, all of which feel so real and fleshed out.

The Black Kids ending feels so bitter-sweet. As though things are finally looking up for our group of characters, but at the same time they have had to deal with so much loss and violence. Their lives won’t ever be the same and they know that.

Poetically written and gritty as heck, The Black Kids is a must read for 2020.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me out a review copy. All thoughts are my own.

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Dark Blue Rising by Teri Terry

Published July, 2020 by Hachette Australia

Synopsis:

Tabby’s life is turned upside down, ripped away from the woman she called her mother. She finds solace in the ocean, but there’s something wrong. What is the symbol of interlocking circles that follows her everywhere? To learn the truth, Tabby must uncover the terrible lies about her past. And the secret is hidden in her DNA

My Review:

Dark Blue Rising is fast paced from the get go. We are thrown into what feels like an incredibly small town, with tyrannical teenagers and our mysterious protagonist.
As always Terry has a way of making you want to learn more, she writes so well that you lose yourself in her words.

Tabby is such a complex character. Everything she knows is a lie, her world is shattering around her, it is heart breaking. She is pure and innocent and lonely and the loss of Cate and her own identity is adding salt to the wound. You genuinely feel terrible for her, and want everything to be okay.

Tabbys‘ call to the ocean is something that resonates with me. There is something about the ocean that is calming and invigorating all at the same time. But for Tabby, it feels like the ocean is her home, like she is meant to be there and I can’t help but feel like there is a somewhat supernatural link for her.

When we are first told about the Penrose Clinic I knew something was up. Abnormal blood tests, the ocean calling, monthly check ups, it all felt off. And slowly we are shown the extent of what The Penrose Clinic is doing and what they are trying to achieve.

From the first to last page, Dark Blue Rising is intense and captivating. It is unique and in true Terry style, written beautifully. Our protagonist Tabby goes through so much in these 390 pages. More than anyone should have to deal with in a life time. Yet she is still brave and strong at the end.

I need the next book. I need to know what happens, what Tabby is, what the Penrose Clinic has been doing and about the dolphins.
Dark Blue Rising is a fascinating read, one that will leave you guessing, long after you read the final page.

Thank you to Hachette Australia for sending me out a review copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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: 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: 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

GoodReads

 

 

 

 

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.