Two Tough Teddies by Kilmeny Niland

Published: 29th June 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Puffin
Illustrator: Kilmeny Niland
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

When two teddies, Tilly and Gruffy, are abandoned in a box of unwanted toys, they decide to face the world and find someone else to love them. Kilmeny Niland’s warm, affectionate story explores a theme familiar to all—sometimes we get what we want only when we stop trying so hard.

The saddest and sweetest and most beautiful book ever!

This is a book that sends you on an emotional roller coaster. Two darling teddies are abandoned in a park and on the hunt for someone to love them. They try to be loud so people can hear them, and try to be brave despite their scruffy appearance. This is the kind of situation that got me bawling in Toy Story 2 and 3 and I think having it in book form is just as heartbreaking.

“They can see us and hear us but still no one wants us.”

Just crush my heart, Niland. Crush. My. Heart.

They realise they do have someone to love them because they have each other and that was the end of me because that was the sweetest thing possible and my heart broke for these teddies. I wanted to love them. I wanted to take them home because it was so adorable that they were trying so hard to be tough and brave for people but that scared them away instead.

What makes it sweeter/sadder is that Niland’s illustrations portray these teddies in a way that you can’t help but love them. They are scruffy but they also look lost and unsure. They try their hardest and seeing their crestfallen faces only adds to the narrative. The illustrations are both full page colour and single images on a blank background, both of which help express how big a world the teddies have become lost in, and how out of their depth they are. Niland also cleverly uses the teddies perspective in the use of angles and point of view regarding the nature that surrounds them and the animals they attempt to interact with.

There is a happy ending so it isn’t all bad news, and Niland reinflates my heart and by soul because there is a beautiful ending and goes to show you can be loved even if you aren’t always brave and loud and tough.

You can purchase Two Tough Teddies via the following

Book Depository | Amazon

Amazon Aust | Wordery

Fishpond | QBD | Dymocks

More Than Friends by Liv Devereaux

Published: 5th September 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Self Published
Pages: 47
Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult/Short Story
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Dana and Hope used to be best friends in elementary school. When they got to high school they lost touch. Dana got busy with soccer and Hope found a boyfriend. When they are paired up together for a project, Dana and Hope get the chance to get to know each other all over again. They’ll realize that both girls have changed in the last three years of high school. 

I picked this not looking at the page length, rather by the summary. I could easily see this as a full novel though, Devereaux easily could expand this into something longer, the bones are there. As is it is sweet, a bit rushed and easily solved, but at 47 pages you can’t expect anything but happy coincidences and easy solutions.

Despite this, it was a nice story, and even though it was short it felt established and rounded and a satisfactory read. Dana and Hope were good characters, the dual narration offers two perspectives and two stories, a great chance for readers to see the misunderstandings and hidden secrets which make young romance so lovely.

I would read this again if Devereaux expanded this into a full novel, but for the time being it was a lovely story about young love and repairing friendships.

You can purchase More Than Friends via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Truly Devious (#1) by Maureen Johnson

Published: 16th January 2018 (print)/16th January 2018 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Harper Collins/Harper Audio
Pages: 416/10 hours 12 minutes
Narrator: Kate Rudd
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult / Mystery
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

I finished reading this book and immediately wanted to read it again. I don’t mind waiting for the next one, I will live on the excellent cliff-hanger for a year if I have to, it will give me a chance to go back and relive the wonderful clues because even that cliff-hanger had clues once I thought about it. It’s divine.

Johnson knows how to write a good mystery and is great at writing a mystery that doesn’t feel too intense or overly complicated. She balances the mystery and the regular story wonderfully but blends them together marvellously.

There are the red herrings, plus my CSI brain went over the top and I already have a suspect for the 1930s case, not so much for the current one. I love that nothing is what it seems and what might just be a shy or reclusive character is now a suspect. Having a mystery around a bunch of teenagers is a great premise and in a grand old school with grounds and hidden tunnels is a prime location.

Johnson is new to writing these kinds of mysteries but she already a master at creating a fascinating and captivating mystery filled with unique characters that have quirks and fantastic personalities. Stevie is a great character, she is passionate and a tad obsessive about the Ellingham mystery. Stevie loves true crime podcasts and detective books which drive her passion and thinking processes. But I also love that she has her own flaws; she has anxiety, she isn’t the friendliest and she is often lost in her own world. It was refreshing to read about a character like her, driven and focused and perplexed by other people.

One thing I adored was listening to it as an audiobook. Rudd does a fantastic job and the tone and voice of Stevie is natural and flows seamlessly. As with all of Johnson’s books there is so much of herself in these words. The story is written the way she speaks and tweets which was a delight, plus Rudd’s voice sounded like Johnson’s which, for me, was like having Johnson herself in my ear which made it even more wonderful.

You can purchase Truly Devious via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository Audible

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Wordery

Angus & Robertson | Dymocks

 Fishpond | QBD

 

There’s a Monster in Your Book by Tom Fletcher

Published: 29th June 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Puffin
Illustrator: Greg Abbott
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

A mischievous monster has invaded the pages of your book!

This read-aloud, interactive picture book treat invites children to make magic happen page by page, tilting, spinning and shaking the book, and then seeing the funny results when each page is turned. A fantastic celebration of all the fun that can be had with a book, with a wonderful wind-down bedtime ending!

I love Fletcher’s books, they are funny and clever, not to mention adorable. Kids will love this book because it is an interactive experience. They can tilt the book, blow on the page and try a range of fun things to try and make the monster leave the book.

The sentences are simple and easy to understand, and I love how the monster, the story, and the illustrations all work together to create the story. Pages that give the illusion of being torn, as well as having the monster ‘peeking through’ make this a brilliant book that plays with the format and the expectations of a picture book.

The monster itself is adorable, Abbot has done a great job because it looks like an identifiable monster and not too scary, more cheeky than anything, something that kids could keep locked in a book and not mind. Abbot’s illustrations reflect Fletcher’s words and as the reader either blows on the page or tilts it per instruction, Abbot’s matched this consequence brilliantly making the monster react accordingly.

This is a fun read that certainly could be read over and over, and enjoyed every time. I think both adults and children will get delight from reading it and every read has the potential to be slightly different depending on how each instruction is interpreted.

You can purchase There’s a Monster in Your Book via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Wordery

Angus & Robertson | Fishpond | QBD

Long Lost Review: Paycheque by Fiona McCallum

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: 1st April 2011 (print)/1st November 2012 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Mira/Bolinda Audio
Pages: 416/11 hours 4 minutes
Narrator: Jennifer Vuletic
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Romance
★  – 1 Star

Claire had almost forgotten her country roots. She is a city girl with an adoring husband, a chic townhouse and a high-flying corporate career. But when the police knock on her door one night with tragic news, her world is thrown into turmoil and she heads back to her family’s farm.

There, in the rugged beauty of the Adelaide Hills, Claire starts to rebuild her life with her friends, her father and his beloved racehorses, including a promising colt called Paycheque. But just as she starts to find happiness, and perhaps even love, she is faced with a life-changing decision… 

This probably doesn’t qualify for a long lost review because I couldn’t actually finish it. I listened to one and a half discs of the audiobook and gave in. I couldn’t get into the story, I thought the language was cliche and overly descriptive and flowery at times. I tried to imagine it as I was reading it whether it was the audio part I didn’t like, but I’ve been able to look past a bad narrator (and this one was tolerable) and I couldn’t get past the story. I try very hard not to give up on books so I feel bad about this but I couldn’t make myself keep going. Even after all this time I don’t feel compelled to try it again so I may have to give this one up as  abandoned.

It had an interesting enough premise, typical country born girl goes home and gets caught back up in the small town life she left. Even the promise of racehorses couldn’t keep me going, I don’t even think I got to the point where she actually goes back to the farm. I don’t think this will turn me off Fiona McCallum’s books, but it was the one that made me realise I don’t have to sit through boring books because there’s a lot more great things to read out there.

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries