Monday, 17 April 2017

Book Review: Yousuf's Everyday Adventures "Beautifully Different" by Dana Salim

Beautifully Different (Yousuf's Everyday Adventures, #2) 

Beautifully Different by Dana Salim
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautifully Different is the second book in Dana Salim’s Yousuf’s Everyday Adventure series.

The story opens with Yousuf playing with blocks on the floor with his father. He asks his father why people are different. He goes on to say that some children at school are picked on because they are different. His dad suggests they play the imagination game. Yousuf closes his eyes and the game begins. Dad directs the game and his part of the story is in rhyme. He adds in little problems that Yousuf must find solutions to, so it’s not only dad’s imagination but also Yousuf’s that’s directing the story.

Yousuf is in a land of beautiful flowers, all different shapes and colours. The weeds come to scare them away. Yousuf needs to help the flowers unite and chase the weeds away.

I read this story to a 3 and 4 year old. They loved the story and the big bright illustrations and asked straight away for the story again.
Me: How did Yousuf get to the Island?
3yo: The birds took him (she took the story literally)
4yo: In a dream

Me: What was your favourite part of the story?
3yo: The flowers
4yo: chasing the yucky weeds away.

Recommended for 4+ preschool, Kindergarten age when they become more aware of the people around them and better understand the concept of imagination.

Beautifully Different is a book we will definitely be reading again and again.

With my thanks to the author for my copy to read to the children.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Book Review: All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

All the Missing Girls 

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All the Missing Girls is the first in a new series by Megan Miranda who has written several books for Young Adults. This is her first book for adults.

Nic returns home to Cooley Ridge to help her brother ready the family home for sale. Their father is suffering dementia and now in a nursing home. The sale of the house is required to pay mounting bills. Once Nic arrived home it was like never leaving and the memories came flooding back. She’d left the town 10 years ago after her friend Corrine disappeared without a trace. Two weeks on and Annaleise Carter goes missing, swallowed up by the woods, just like Corrine.

The story is told in the first person by Nic, but we can see she is not telling it all, she is always guarded, holding back. (The unreliable narrator is a tried and true formula and Miranda uses it well in this story).
Written in reverse chronological order from day 15 down to day 1 you really need to be paying attention with this twisty, breath-holding mystery which will have you second guessing all the way through.
As the police start investigating the disappearance of Annaleise, Nic is still haunted by the disappearance of best friend Corrine 10 years earlier and goes over the details leading up to the event where personalities are laid bare and long held secrets divulged.

I love a mystery where you are so sure that you have it all worked out and then BAM, you learn you had it all wrong.

All the Missing Girls is a hauntingly compelling story written around the eerie backdrop of the woods of Cooley Ridge.

This is a story you will want to read over again as soon as you’ve finished the last page.

I received a review copy from the publisher.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Book Review: Slow Horses (Slough House #1) by Mick Heron

Slow Horses (Slough House, #1) 

Slow Horses by Mick Herron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Slow Horses is Herron’s first book in the Slough House series, recently re-released in conjunction with the release of book 4, Spook Street.

After a mission gone terribly wrong River Cartwright is sent to Slough House, a place where tasks that didn’t matter were preformed by people that didn’t care. Where alongside a pre-digital overflow of paperwork, a post-useful crew of misfits can be stored and left to gather dust.

The story is told with a wry wit, in metaphors, retrospect and hypotheticals with plenty of laugh out loud moments and dark humour.

Slow Horses is an introduction to the main characters, the cast outs, at Slough House and their boss Jackson Lamb. The characterization is brilliant as Herron brings together a mismatched bunch of has-beens, loners that haven’t quite given up on the hope of one day returning to Regents Park.

Under all the character development is a great plot with backstabbing, twists, conspiracy theories, double crossing and buck passing. It’s compelling and edgy and pulls the story along with a rush of adrenaline as the pace quickens and events spiral out of control.

Wanting to read more of Jackson Lamb and his Slough House crew will be difficult to resist.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Book Review: Jorie and the Magic Stones by A.H. Richardson

Jorie and the Magic Stones 

Jorie and the Magic Stones by A.H. Richardson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jorie and the Magic Stones is the first in a children’s fantasy series by A H Richardson. Nine year old Jorie comes from boarding school to live with her Great Aunt Letitia (Aunt Letty to Jorie). She is a lovely, bright, talkative girl, confident inquisitive and has a vivid imagination.
Rufus lives with his eccentric Grandfather on the property next door. Being the only children close by Jorie and Rufus soon become firm friends.
After finding a book of dragons and magic hidden under the floorboards Jorie soon learns that she is the “child with the hair of fire” that must find the magic stones and save Cabrynthius.

Perfectly written for the target audience of 6 – 12 years with descriptive, straightforward writing, short chapters and a few unusual words thrown in to extend a child’s vocabulary.
The two children make a great pairing with Jorie as the believer, adventurer and a risk taker. Rufus is the logical one, the sceptic, more cautious but comes through and shows true bravery when needed.
The children will encounter both good and evil in their venture and there is danger aplenty. There is a lot to learn about friendship and loyalty, problem solving and decision making. I loved Jorie’s resilience – Rufus calls her a witch and Jorie just laughs it off saying that’s just silly.

The ending gave me a giggle, wrapping book one up well but also leaving an opening for the next adventure.

A delightful story and highly recommended.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Book Review: The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles

The Kingdom of Oceana 

The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Kingdom of Oceana is a Young Adult Fantasy set in Hawaii 500 years in the past when the people and the sea-life lived in harmony. Each respecting and protecting the other. A time when myths rule and magic abounds!
When greed and sibling rivalry divide the islands and a dark magic infects the sea they must unite to fight a common enemy. But will it be in detriment of the whole island or will the rulers see the way before it’s too late.

This is an action packed story full of legend, history, myth, magic, danger, jealousy and a touch of romance.
I’ve rated at 11+ as there is a bit of violence involved although it is not too graphic and good does triumph over evil eventually.

Well plotted and beautifully described the scenes come alive as if watching them on the big screen. An immersive story of destiny that will hold the attention of both adult and child alike.

Suitable for 11 years plus.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Book Review: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency, #1) 

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Finally a young adult book for girls interested in marine life, geography, history and real life adventures. Not a ghost, angel or vampire in sight. Quite refreshing!

Kitty Hawk is a 19 year old adventurer. She has her pilots licence and wants to study the feeding habits and migration patterns of whales off the coast of Alaska. She receives sponsorship from an adventure clothing company and flies from her home in Tofino, Canada to Juneau, Alaska where she will stay with family friends.
As the story progresses the reader learns a lot about whales and the area of Juneau and the history of the Yukon and the gold rush. Kitty’s inquisitive nature gets her into some life and death scrapes.

I’ll start with a couple of things I didn’t like. The story was told in the first person by Kitty and she was at times very annoying. Also that little voice that kept popping into her head drove me crazy. At the start of the story Kitty kept jumping back and forward in time with her narration which was off putting.

The things I liked were Kitty’s sass and humour. I enjoyed all the historical facts of Juneau and the Yukon gold rush. There was plenty of action, danger and a couple of great twists. The little maps showing where Kitty was flying and the area she trekked through were great for someone who knows nothing about the area.
The author has added references at the end of the book for further reading on some of the animals, places and people mentioned in the story.

A fun way for students 10+ years to learn the history of the gold rush.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Book Review: Blame by Nicole Trope


Blame by Nicole Trope

'I am here because they suspect me of something. I am here because I am a suspect. I know that, she knows that. Everyone knows that.' Anna

'It wasn't my fault. None of this is my fault!' Caro

Caro and Anna are best friends... they were best friends. Over a decade, Caro and Anna have bonded while raising their daughters, two little girls the same age but living two very different lives. The women have supported each other as they have shared the joys and trials of motherhood, but now everything has changed.

There's been a terrible car accident, an unimaginable tragedy that leaves both families devastated. Over two days as Caro and Anna each detail their own versions of events, they are forced to reveal hidden truths and closely guarded secrets.

The complicated lives of wives and mothers are laid bare as both women come to realise that even best friends don't tell each other everything. And when hearts are broken, even best friends need someone to blame.

A hard- hitting, provocative and gripping read from the queen of white-knuckle suspense and searing family drama.

My thoughts

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blame centres on how a moment in time can change our life forever. We don’t see that moment coming but we can never undo it.

There has been a tragic accident that involves best friends, Anna and Caro.

They both tell their stories in separate police interviews – not just the night of the accident but their own personal stories. The two stories are very different and have inconsistencies but who is telling the truth?

”I know that what I’m saying is strange, that you can’t understand it, but let me explain, let me keep explaining, and then it will be your job to figure out who is telling the truth – me or Anna.”

So we get two heart-wrenching stories, one from a mother at breaking point the other from an alcoholic. I know that one of them is lying as I pick up inconsistencies in her interview. But is it only her or are they both lying and the other is just better at it?

Both characters are unlikeable to begin with but one I came to warm to as the story evolved.

Although there were no ‘shocking’ surprises this was a great contemporary drama, easy reading and had me glued to the pages until the very end.

With my thanks to Allen & Unwin via Netgalley for my copy to read.

About the author

Nicole Trope went to university to study Law but realised the error of her ways when she did very badly on her first law essay because-as her professor pointed out- ‘It’s not meant to be a story.’ She studied teaching instead and used her holidays to work on her writing career and complete a Masters’ degree in Children’s Literature. After the birth of her first child she stayed home full time to write and raise children, renovate houses and build a business with her husband.
The idea for her first published novel, The Boy under the Table, was so scary that it took a year for her to find the courage to write the emotional story. Her second novel, Three Hours Late, was voted one of Fifty Books you can’t put down in 2013 and her third novel, The Secrets in Silence, was The Australian Woman’s Weekly Book of the month for June 2014.
She lives in Sydney with her husband and three children