Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

Published: 24th June 2014 (print)/11 September 2015 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Harper Perennial /Bolinda Audio
Pages: 356/1 Disc (13 hours 50 minutes)
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★   ★  – 2 Stars

Lyn, Cat, and Gemma Kettle, beautiful thirty-three-year-old triplets, seem to attract attention everywhere they go. Whenever they’re together, laughter, drama, and mayhem seem to follow. But apart, each is very much her own woman, dealing with her own share of ups and downs. Lyn has organized her life into one big checklist, juggling the many balls of work, marriage, and motherhood with expert precision, but is she as together as her datebook would have her seem? Cat has just learned a startling secret about her marriage — can she bring another life into her very precarious world? And can free-spirited Gemma, who bolts every time a relationship hits the six-month mark, ever hope to find lasting love? In this wise, witty, hilarious new novel, we follow the Kettle sisters through their thirty-third-year, as they struggle to survive their divorced parents’ dating each other, their technologically savvy grandmother, a cheating husband, champagne hangovers, and the fabulous, frustrating 

I was trying to decide whether I disliked this book because it was Moriarty’s first and she hadn’t honed her craft yet, or whether it just didn’t gel with me. I’m going with the latter because as I’ve said in previous reviews, my enjoyment of her books is often a coin toss so there is no way to tell which way I’ll go come the end of it.

I didn’t sit through it hating it, I didn’t get bored in it or think it was unrealistic or too idealistic. I’m not entirely sure what it was. I liked some parts, I understood the story Moriarty was trying to tell, and yet I got to the end of it and felt unsatisfied.

I think one key reason was that when we finally get to Moriarty’s Reveal™, I recall thinking “is that it?” It was so anticlimactic that I think if it hadn’t have been built up to be such a big deal it would have been ok, but the way the story builds this Event to be I felt the payout should have been better.

Maybe I am not getting into the emotional journey and tribulations of these characters. I read it, I understood it, but I wasn’t quite so moved by it to the extent I was meant to be. I think I was meant to be more shocked, or more surprised by this surprise because of the journey Moriarty’s been taking me on so far. And yet, no. It was obvious in a way, once I recovered from my anticlimactic disappointment. I did feel empathy for the characters, what they go through individually is terrible and I can see how it affects them, but in terms of this coinciding with other events in the novel I think it doesn’t quite land.

Separately, each of the triplet’s story was well told. Moriarty explores their emotional story and their inner thoughts so we can understand where they’re coming from and who they are as people. One thing Moriarty does well is give her characters a distinguishing voice and there is a great honesty to them. Each of these girls had their own voice, one which reflected who they are and Moriarty makes them real. This was enhanced by the audio because Lee did a great job expressing each character in a believable way.

The random Nanna Kettle story felt out of place. I don’t know why it was included, I thought maybe it would end up linking to Kat,  but when it didn’t I still don’t know why it was included. It wasn’t like we were really that invested in Nanna Kettle, she had such a minor part to play she almost didn’t need to be there. One thing I did enjoy was the way Moriarty included the small anecdotes from outsiders on the Kettle family and their lives. It gave a nice side view of them without it needing to be included in the main narration. Each observation suits the moment in the story perfectly, and there’s even a few that break your heart a little.

There are few big subjects in this book but within the structure of Moriarty’s writing they are impactful, but not overwhelming. Each of these women have such different lives, but when they come together they collapse into the sibling mentality which was done well. Gemma somehow manages to have the baby sister vibe, despite them all being the same age. I think it is her lack of emotional maturity that brings this across, and Lyn is very much the big sister.

There is humour and a few surprises that Moriarty works with, and the depth she gives to all of her characters adds to their believability. Side characters have complicated stories and entwined together with the main cast. It rings true like a Moriarty story but it was one that just didn’t wow me.

You can purchase Three Wishes via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository Audible

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Wordery

Angus & Robertson | Dymocks

 Fishpond | QBD

I Don’t Believe in Dragons by Anna Walker

Published: 18th October 2010Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Scholastic
Illustrator: Anna Walker
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★  – 2 Stars

When kindergarten teacher Miss May tells her children she sees a dragon, the children react if different ways. Some are intrigued, some surprised, some scared. But Jack says he doesn’t believe in dragons. When Emma wonders where the dragon is, Jack reminds her there isn’t any such thing. When Ned finds a feather and asks if dragons can fly, Jack assures him it’s a bird’s feather – nothing to do with a dragon. And what about that snoring sound? Not a dragon, insists Jack. So do dragons really exist?

I picked this one up because the cover was adorable, and while the story didn’t quite hold up to the same standard, it was a nice story all the same.

In a reverse Pete’s Dragon situation, everyone believes in the dragon that teacher Miss May can see, everyone except Jack. It is a sweet story as the children theorise about what the dragon likes to do and eat, accompanied by Walker’s illustrations. The illustrations are quite cute and are the part I liked the most. The dragon is drawn simply, as are all the illustrations, in a colourful, rough design. I’m not sure what appeals to me about the dragon but I really enjoyed the design, it does remind me of the Pokémon Dragonite just more beige.

I liked Walker’s creativity with the illustrations, she manages to create pictures that allude to a child’s imagination but also have the possibility of being real. The colours are soft and the lines are rough but that only adds to the gentle nature and the magic of having a dragon hanging out at your school.

I ended up admiring the drawings because while the story starts with promise, it falls flat after a while. The story isn’t too engaging, but it’s cute so I’m sure kids can enjoy it all the same. With a few more pages there could have been a conclusion or any kind of recognition about what seeing the dragon actually meant and how Jack who’s been a buzzkill to everyone else about their belief, has a change of heart and finally learns to believe.

You can purchase I Don’t Believe in Dragons via the following

Fishpond | Amazon Aust

A Walk in the Bush by Gwyn Perkins

Published: 1st March 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Affirm Press
Illustrator: Gwyn Perkins
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Little Iggy doesn’t want to leave the house, but Grandad insists – they always have fun together. What follows is a wonderful journey in the great Australian outdoors with singing birds, wallaby surprises, secret caterpillar messages and oodles of grandad humour. Here is a story about the wonders of nature, the funny side of life and spending time with the ones we love.

This is a sweet book that has a beautiful story. I can see why this won the CBCA award; it’s an appreciation of the Australian environment and the possibilities to escape into nature. I will also admit is a bit adorable. Perkins’ illustrations reminded me at first of those in a comic strip, they are simple and the background is both simple and wonderfully colourful as the story goes on.

I have an affection for Iggy the cat though. His owner hunts around looking for him then dresses him up with a hat and sunscreen to go out on a walk. I love Iggy’s reluctance and shame at being made to wear a hat, and I love how interested he looks as his owner explains the surrounding bush to him.

This is definitely a book that is meant to be read slowly. There are few words on each page and the words invite you to study the pictures, to look at the images themselves and relate them back to the narrative. As the man stops and tells his cat about all about the different aspects of nature it invites the reader to study the picture and see what he is talking about.

Initially I thought it was too simple, too much of a pat on Australia’s back and that was why it won, but on my second read through a few days later I came to understand why it might have won. It is a beautiful story and one that does show off the Australian bush, but it is a lovely story and who doesn’t want to stop and just look at the wonderful scenery.

You can purchase A Walk in the Bush via the following

QBD | Book Depository

Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

Fishpond | Dymocks


I Just Ate My Friend by Heidi McKinnon

Published: August 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Illustrator: Heidi McKinnon
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

The search for a true friend is something everyone can relate to – from the very young to the very old.

“I just ate my friend. He was a good friend. But now he is gone. Would you be my friend?”

A hilarious story about the search for friendship and belonging… and maybe a little bit about the importance of impulse control… 

I was intrigued by the title and by the end of the book I was intrigued by the story as well. With no explanation for why or how the friend was eaten, the story follows the creature as he tries to find a new friend, not sure he will ever find another. What if he truly had eaten his only friend?

I liked the illustrations. The dark pages against the single large, colourful characters, it worked to its advantage and gave a sense of being in space or at least somewhere on another planet. This is unconfirmed, but it is logical based on the illustrations to think of the creature as an alien or space creature of some kind. McKinnon has done a great job with her illustrations. I found this book because it was on the 2018 CBCA Shortlist and shortlisted for the Crichton Award for New Illustrators. McKinnon didn’t win but for a new illustrator she has done a great job.

There is not a lot to unpack here. The creature goes around to everyone he can find and asks them if he will be his friend. Some of the responses are quite funny and the straightforwardness works to the story’s advantage. For a story that is not that complicated it managed to surprise me and delight me. It’s a little absurd and nothing makes sense and there is no reason but that is what makes it great. I don’t need an answer I just like a clever story and this is a clever story.

You can purchase I Just Ate My Friend via the following

QBD | Book Depository

Booktopia | Angus and Robertson | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Wordery

Image result for cbca shortlist logo

AWW 2018 August Update

In a small miracle I’ve managed to exceed my 25 book goal. I lapsed a tad in my Aussie books, especially the women, after my first update so I haven’t exceeded it by much, but I will take these small victories. I hope to try a bit harder for the next update and focus a bit more on the Aussie books and try and see how many I can read before my next update. I got too caught up in all the other books I found, the problem is there’s so many good ones that come across my path I get lured into their delightfulness. Another miracle is that all of these books have reviews coming and I will update this post with links when they go live.

 

 

AWW18 BOOKS Apr-Aug

 

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green – Review

Beauty in Thorns by Kate Forsyth – Review

Heart Beat by Belinda Williams – Review

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – Review

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty – Review

Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah – Review

Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody – Review

A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G Drews – Review

Chasing Odysseus by S. D. Gentill – Review

A Walk in the Bush by Gwyn Perkins – Review

The Great Rabbit Chase by Freya Blackwood – Review

 

AWW18 TOTAL

Read: 26/25

Reviewed: 18/15

 

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