Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Published: 4th February 4th 2020
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six: The band’s album Aurora came to define the rock ‘n’ roll era of the late seventies, and an entire generation of girls wanted to grow up to be Daisy. But no one knows the reason behind the group’s split on the night of their final concert at Chicago Stadium on July 12, 1979 . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ‘n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road. Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend. 

I was caught up in the story from the beginning as it moves from introducing these famous rock figures years after their initial success to their lives in the band and the highs and lows of the music lifestyle. The use of the interview format was not only clever, but it is streamlined so succinctly and seamlessly I could see these characters sitting down being interviewed which Reid should be commended for. It really goes beyond an interview transcript – I could see this playing out before me in my mind.

There are twists and surprises and it felt like a rock and roll story. The pain and anguish these characters go through feels real and through the whole thing you were connected to their lives. Every experience, triumph and downfall comes through with Reid’s amazing storytelling. This is a fictional account of a fictional band (but based on a real band) but I have never wanted a fake band to be so real. The way the characters discuss music and lyrics, the creation and reaction to songs I wanted to hear them, I wanted to listen to the final edits. There are lyrics included at the end of the book which was a great surprise and a great chance to see how all that talk of words and meanings came together in the end. Though, I feel this would also ruing the magic a bit. Actually hearing the music probably would take away how I imagine is playing and how Reid has masterfully described it being played.

The change of view between band members, producers, managers and others shows how the same event is experienced differently from person to person, and how someone might perceive themselves isn’t how the world is actually seeing them. Reid’s creation of these characters make them own people and they are fully fledged and formed, but when you look at it as a fictional account based off a real band then it’s even more captivating because while so much is manufactured, there are true elements as jumping off points and it’s what makes this such a great read.

This is a story that takes place in the 1970s rock and roll scene so there are characters drinking and doing a lot of drugs. This topic is dealt with in a few ways with excess and abuse but also attempts at redemption and getting clean. There is a lot more to this story than the rock and roll lifestyle. Through the interviews we hear about the character’s hopes and dreams, their pain and their joys that are deep, personal and bittersweet.

Every time I picked this book up I was drawn back into these musicians and their lives and with each new chapter, each reveal, twist and surprise I became more invested. Even if this had no basis on any real band this reads like a real account of real lives and the power Reid has in her words to create such a response from a reader and world creation is impressive.

You can purchase Daisy Jones & The Six via the following

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Green Lizards and Red Rectangles and the Blue Ball by Steve Antony

Published: 02 Mar 2021Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Hodder and Stoughton
Illustrator: Steve Antony
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

The green lizards and the red rectangles have finally learned to live in harmony together … but what happens when a blue ball appears from nowhere?

A timely story about celebrating diversity and learning to get along, told with style and simplicity.

Antony shows us the world is greater than red rectangles and green lizards with the arrival of a blue ball to the now peaceful society. The blue ball is an outsider to the harmonious society created by the red rectangles and green lizards and therefore is an enemy and must be banished. A literal wall is built to keep it out – once again raising questions about the red rectangles sentience – separating the blue ball from the others.

I love Antony’s use of colours because they are bright and bold, and solid so there is only red, green and blue to work with. Also making the objects and animals sentient they are “alive” and can tell a story and have a message without needing a complex world or storyline behind them.

Once again the illustrations help raise the story as the blue ball’s imposing size on the red rectangles and green lizards shows difference and fear of the unknown. Another strong point is there are no reasoning behind the prejudice. It isn’t mentioned that the ball’s size, shape or colour are what make it exiled, it’s just different so it must go. This simplifies the story to its main points and brings the message home that it isn’t one reason that the rectangles and lizards object to.

Like in the previous book, Antony shows us that it sometimes only takes a couple of individuals to make a stand and change things for the better – the loudest voices of hate can be drowned out by the majority of people standing up for what’s right. This is a great story about how different isn’t always bad and how growing and accepting can be beneficial for everyone.

You can purchase Green Lizards and Red Rectangles and the Blue Ball via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Long Lost Review: The Midnight Watch by David Dyer

Long Lost Reviews is a monthly meme created by Ally over at Ally’s Appraisals which is posted on the second Thursday of every month. The aim is to start tackling your review backlog. Whether it’s an in-depth analysis of how it affected your life, one sentence stating that you only remember the ending, or that you have no recollection of reading the book at all. 

Published: 5th April 2016 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 323
Format: Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
★   ★  ★  ★ ★ – 5 Stars

As the Titanic and her passengers sank slowly into the Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg late in the evening of April 14, 1912, a nearby ship looked on. Second Officer Herbert Stone, in charge of the midnight watch on the SS Californian sitting idly a few miles north, saw the distress rockets that the Titanic fired. He alerted the captain, Stanley Lord, who was sleeping in the chartroom below, but Lord did not come to the bridge. Eight rockets were fired during the dark hours of the midnight watch, and eight rockets were ignored. The next morning, the Titanic was at the bottom of the sea and more than 1,500 people were dead. When they learned of the extent of the tragedy, Lord and Stone did everything they could to hide their role in the disaster, but pursued by newspapermen, lawyers, and political leaders in America and England, their terrible secret was eventually revealed. The Midnight Watch is a fictional telling of what may have occurred that night on the SS Californian, and the resulting desperation of Officer Stone and Captain Lord in the aftermath of their inaction.

Told not only from the perspective of the SS Californian crew, but also through the eyes of a family of third-class passengers who perished in the disaster, the narrative is drawn together by Steadman, a tenacious Boston journalist who does not rest until the truth is found. The Midnight Watch is a powerful and dramatic debut novel–the result of many years of research in Liverpool, London, New York, and Boston, and informed by the author’s own experiences as a ship’s officer and a lawyer.

As soon as I saw this book was being published I put it on my list because I love things about the Titanic and this story sounded incredible. The small decisions and indecisions and multitude of factors that contributed to the Titanic disaster is amazing and this book shows how a series of events outside of the Titanic’s control also contributed to the rescue effort and the aftermath.

Dyer does an absolutely fantastic job placing us there on the night with the SS Californian. We get the perspectives of multiple people on multiple ships, those in charge and those in board and honestly the fictional story Dyer has woven about these people’s lives and their hopes, dreams, and families is incredible. I became invested with these passengers and their experiences, I was there with Stone as he reports what he sees and the doubt, anger and injustices of the events in the time afterwards. The alternating points of view, even if brief, give another sliver of detail and evidence about what happened that night and seeing it play out as you read, when you know the outcome, is actually quite hard because seeing the failures, even in a piece of fiction, is heartbreaking.

I often find myself getting angry when I learn something new about the failures that led to the sinking of Titanic and how much of it was human error as well as natural circumstances. I get angry at those who put class above survival, I get angry at empty lifeboats, I get angry that no one responded in time to the distress signals. This book ignited my passion again and it was fascinating to see a perspective I’d never seen before.

The research Dyer has done is evident and even the fictionalised passengers felt like they came from a real place. They were alive on the page which honestly made reading their story even more heartbreaking because essentially these were real people. These are their stories and the stories of the hundreds of others who perished on that night.

When things get this much attention and you dive deeper into the causes you realise there is more than one person responsible for such a tragedy, but it also makes you realise that if one person had gone a different path, made a different decision, done their job properly, then you realise how close everything came to being completely different and with one different decision hundreds of lives could have been saved.

The exploration of human nature, the flaws, the failings and the clear evidence that when put in a corner humans can often be their own worst selves if it means survival and self-preservation will captivate and anger you as you read. I was fascinated and ashamed and amazed by every page and every moment and Dyer has gone into such detail that I believed and mourned for their characters and their circumstances whether they were on the ship or not.

There is so much more to the story of Titanic and this is another brilliant tale about those on the outside looking in and how it isn’t just those on the Titanic that are responsible, but those around her as well. This story is a fascinating look at the aftermath as well as the night itself in how the press, public and those involved reacted and coped after the fact and the quest for finding justice for the lives lost that night.

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Published: 4th May 2021Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Text Publishing
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Two sisters. An unputdownable story.

Cee woke up on the shores of an abandoned island three years ago with no idea how she got there. Now eighteen, she lives in a shack with an ageing android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and she has to escape to find her.

From the safety of the eco-city floating above Earth, now decimated by natural disasters, sixteen-year-old Kasey mourns Cee whom she’s sure is dead. She too wants to escape: the eco-city is meant to be a sanctuary for people who want to save the planet, but its inhabitants are willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Is Kasey ready to use technology to help Earth, even though it failed her sister?

Cee and Kasey think that what they know about each other and their world is true. Both are wrong. If you loved We Were Liars or Black Mirror, you’ll love The Ones We’re Meant to Find, a clever, inspirational scifi thriller with a dash of Studio Ghibli.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher

Having not seen Black Mirror my only hint about this story going in was We Were Liars which I loved so I entered this knowing it was dystopian and there will be The Unexpected. I’m pleased to say He delivered on both fronts. Even the Studio Ghibli reference made sense in the end, I’d even throw in a little Wall-E. The story told is one about love, hope, technology, and humanity – both its failures and its hopefulness.

The futuristic dystopian world is well constructed; it is rich and detailed and despite there being a lot to process and uncover it makes sense and there is depth and history that gets explored through the plot. As we follow Kasey we gain an understanding of the past, the present and the system and failures that led humanity to their current lives.

The story is full of surprises and suspense, and there is a great mystery throughout that branches out into so many other plot points and I loved how He brought this all together. The alternating chapters offers two side by side storylines that reveal so much and so little. The tiny revelations throughout add more to the mystery but as we start to piece it all together He stops us in our tracks by throwing to a different POV and forcing us to interact with another experience and delay finding answer to cliff hangers and huge revelations. It is masterfully well done and beautifully frustrating.

Kasey’s life of trying to recover from her sister’s disappearance and also bear witness to the destruction of humanity is a powerful perspective to read. Through her eyes we experience the present and how society is full of technologies that help day to day life, but at the same time the literal world crumbles around them or poisons them if they aren’t privy to the securities other have. The merit based class system was an interesting concept and it was fascinating to see how humanity shifted from rising sea levels to a city in the sky and the different rights people are afforded.

Cee on the other hand, is trapped on her island with no memory and only one thought of finding her sister. I loved her chapters because while Kasey’s gave us the wider story, Cee’s experiences were individual and her challenges and growth was enough to capture my curiosity and set my mind working about what was happening and where she was. As the story goes on, Cee offers more in way of plot but the stark contrast between a dying world and a tranquil deserted island was amazing and watching them blend together was fascinating.

The two different points of view are superb contrasts and the tiny details and minor references have huge meaning behind them. It’s through these that you try and piece together this world He has created. The little details could mean something or nothing, my own theories ran through my head trying to conjure up scenarios for What It All Means.

Overall this is a fantastic story. It’s complicated and important, and it has a message but manages to not be preachy about it. The creativity and the intricacies of the story are divine and He has told a beautiful story about human capabilities and the lengths they’ll go to with the right motivation.

You can purchase The Ones We’re Meant to Find via the following

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Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Green Lizards vs. Red Rectangles by Steve Antony

Published: 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Hodder Children’s Books
Illustrator: Steve Anthony
Pages: 28
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

The Green Lizards wanted to defeat the Red Rectangles.

The Red Rectangles wanted to defeat the Green Lizards.

They were at war!

Who will win, the green lizards or the red rectangles?

I love the absolute absurd nonsense that this book contains. I love that there’s no explanation whatsoever, and I love that there’s chaos and a lack of logic everywhere you turn. The battle rages through the pages as the green lizards make ground but then on the next page the red rectangles surge forward. A few solo voices try to speak up but are silenced and the battle rages on.

Anthony never explains why the green lizards and the red rectangles are fighting, but the reasons why are irrelevant as the story is fantastic. The illustrations are great and add another level to the story because Anthony uses the whole page with bright, solid colours but also keeps it minimalistic, and seeing the various distinctions between the myriad of lizards was quite enjoyable.

You really can’t think about it too much because the sentience of the red rectangles raises a few questions but it is a funny and clever story about nonsense battles and how working together can be a lot more rewarding.

You can purchase Green Lizards vs Red Rectangles via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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