Two Weeks MIA

I’m going to keep this short and sweet. I know you all may have noticed that after a relatively steady posting schedule through April I have dropped off the map. There is a good reason for this which I won’t go into the full details because it’s long and personal, but even with all the Covid drama around, apparently I still felt the need to create some different drama for myself.

All intentions of writing my mass backlog of reviews for May has failed and as I’m still in a wonky kinda state within myself I hope I can get to these eventually. I am still reading a lot, audiobooks are a godsend, Animal Crossing New Horizons is a godsend, and doing them both together is fabulous when you can’t do much else.

I still plan to honour my announcement on my Facebook page about offering a giveaway for my followers there so if you’ve ever thought about liking my page now’s the time to do it. I only need to find the energy to create it and away we go.

I’m still reading, multiple books per day sometimes which is amazing, flying through some great books, rushing through some not so great ones. I miss being able to sit down and type out my thoughts immediately after but I have got many notes at the ready for when I am able to sit at my computer and get a proper post organised so hopefully that’s enough. In the meantime, if you’re after some more recommendations, feel free to browse the tags or categories and maybe you’ll find a new book to love from an old review.

As for next month, I hope to see you here in June. I am looking at dedicating the entire month to Pride and various LGBTQIA books I have read in the past and plan to discover. I have been looking forward to this since last year so I am really hoping I’ll be up for the challenge.

Until then, you can follow me on Goodreads to see what I have been reading or let me know what you’ve been reading in the comments. If you want to vent about isolation go for it, if you want to talk about Animal Crossing I’m up for that as well. As always I’m up for recommendations, at the moment if there’s an audio version I’ll be super grateful but if not, it may find a place on my growing TBR pile.

Putting my best foot forward and reminding myself this is only temporary, I will see you all on the other side.

Top Five of 2019

I will be the first to admit this is long overdue. Overdue in that I normally publish this in early January and it is now May, but since this year’s been A Challenge already it kept getting put off by various natural disasters in the area and pandemics, briefly forgotten about, then put off again. Now I am making myself put it up because the completionist in me needs it up, but also it is a great chance to revisit the books I loved last year and hope to share my enthusiasm for them at the same time.

After the success of adding books through the year I felt were contenders, I ended my list with 11:  6 books and 5 picture books. This means my honourable mentions is quite light with only one but after thinking I could scrap it entirely, I changed my mind because I really enjoyed the extra book. It was a toss-up between which one I would switch out but I think I’ve made the right choice.

The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin

43709211This was the first book I put on the list at the start of 2019. It wasn’t the most amazing book I had read in terms of emotions or how it moved me, but I loved it so much because it is a story that is so cleverly told it is hard not to be constantly amazed at Capin’s skill. The reflections with historical events and reimaginings of historical people is divine and each time I realised a reference, a moment, or a character portrayal I fell even further in love. This is Tudor England set in a US high school and honestly those two things are perfectly fitting with a class system, drama, and chaos. I love that era and seeing it play out in the modern era was an absolute joy.

 

 

30619981How to Fight A Dragon’s Fury by Cressida Cowell

Honestly this whole series could be on this list so please start at book one if you pick this up. The reason I chose book twelve though, the final in the series, was because this book in particular was incredible. I loved every one of these books and inhaled them one after the other but this book in particular broke my heart. After the journey I had been on with the other eleven books, this was the perfect ending that brings the whole life of Hiccup and his adventure together. It had no right to make me cry through the majority of it and while each of these books will move you and break your heart a little, this one throws everything at you and it’s simply perfect.

 

 

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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This book, oh my gosh. It took me a couple goes to start but then I was in and was not leaving. It is heart wrenching, fascinating, and the world is so incredibly built that the fact not everything about the society and world was explained didn’t matter because it was established and functional and the focus is on the characters and their reactions to it. It is deep and impactful and brilliantly told.

 

 

 

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

39893545Book two of the Truly Devious series and it does not disappoint. It is filled with answers, new questions, a deeper descent into the mystery of this school and this kidnapping and as Johnson plays it out you can’t help but be enraptured.

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited by Clint McElroy

41812788Pretty sure these graphic novels will be on here every single year if they continue with their publishing schedule. From the A-MA-ZING podcast Clint has once again transferred it brilliantly into written form. The illustrations are fantastic, the humour is fantastic, and the story is wrapped up but there’s an ongoing arc to keep your interest piqued.

 

 

 

Honourable Mention

His Hideous Heart by Dahlia Adler

 

Top Five Picture Books

Giraffe Problems by Jory John

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Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman

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Little Puggle’s Song by Vicki Conley

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The Rough Patch by Brian Lies

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I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

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Before You Forget by Julia Lawrinson

Published: 30th January 2017 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Penguin Random House Australia
Pages: 235
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Year Twelve is not off to a good start for Amelia. Art is her world, but her art teacher hates everything she does; her best friend has stopped talking to her; her mother and father may as well be living in separate houses; and her father is slowly forgetting everything. Even Amelia.

Lawrinson has written an incredibly sweet story about love and mental health and about having a family member experience something that you will never understand completely but something that will affect you in so many ways. There are some really beautiful moments and Lawrinson does an excellent job expressing the confusion Amelia has about her dad. Her yearning for him to see her, to understand her and to her watch their connection come and go as she struggles to understand what he is going through and what she will do when he’s gone.

As a character Amelia was unique and I loved her curiosities. I love how she expresses herself with her art, it was a great way to explore her emotions and who she is. Her obsession with September 11 footage and videos was intriguing too and it shows a side of her character that was different and enlightening. Lawrinson provides great insight into why she watches and rewatches them and it was a fascinating and unexpected character trait but one that I think worked well.

The relationship between Amelia and Eleanor was a curious one, the teenager/adult friendship felt strange but I did understand, I think, why Amelia is drawn to her. What I definitely wanted though was more about Poppy. I loved her character and needed to see more of her. Lawrinson mentions that Amelia and Poppy become close friends and go to each other’s houses, but we know almost nothing about her. She is a side character, one that barely get any depth. We know more about her mother Eleanor than we do Poppy which was such a shame. It felt like she was meant to be a more fleshed out character, she is mentioned a lot, but the friendship with Amelia never comes across on the page.

The focus is on Amelia’s experiences so many characters get mentioned in passing but eventually the focus comes around and we get a bit more exploration of their characters but nothing overly substantial. The narrative covers a range of mental health issues, how they affect those around them as much as how they affect those suffering from them. Not only is Alzheimer’s a key plot point but so is anorexia and alcoholism. For a quick read is has a lot of heart to it. Some parts could have been fleshed out more but I enjoyed what story we had and found the sweetness and the emotion in what was on the page.

You can purchase Before You Forget via the following

BooktopiaDymocks | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Frogkisser! by Garth Nix

Published: 26th February 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Scholastic
Pages: 372
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

The last thing she needs is a prince. The first thing she needs is some magic.

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land—and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

This is a fairytale through and through. There are talking dogs, princesses and a kingdom to defend and it has so many fabulous and magical moments it is pure delight. I loved how Nix causally throws in comments and lines as if they are perfectly normal sentences when they are not. It is makes reading a lot of fun and adds another layer of humour to enjoy. It is part of the fairytale trope or style I suppose that these things just happen but it was also great having this matter of fact, ‘what are you going to do about it?’ approach as well.

Anya is a great kid, she is thirteen which is hard to remember at times because of the things she achieves, but it is also a great reminder when she is doing these great deeds that she is only a child. There are moments where Anya realises how sheltered her life has been and you see her grow as she comes to understand the imbalance in the world and learn about kindness and the danger of too much power. It is a nice message that works well in the narrative and put in a way kids can appreciate without it being too heavy handed.

The story is filled with small moments and epic Quest moments which balance wonderfully. The individual characters are unique and help make this story feel like a classic fairy tale as well as a new type of story that brings the whole world to life. It is fun and filled with magic, friendships and Nix has established a vivid world that feels new while still cementing itself as a clear fairytale story with a villain, a goal, and a hero.

This is easily an adult or kid book and I think both audiences will have different things to take away from it. Even young kids will love this, it is filled with adventure and Quests, it’s funny but not silly, and Nix knows all the right moves to pull to make a great fairytale story new and exciting whilst also relying on the old and beloved.

You can purchase Frogkisser! via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

DymocksAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Beverly, Right Here (#3) by Kate DiCamillo

Published: 24th September 2019 (print)/24th September 2019 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Candlewick Press/Listening Library
Pages: 241/4 hrs and 8 mins
Narrator: Jorjeana Marie
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★ – 3 Stars

Beverly put her foot down on the gas. They went faster still.
This was what Beverly wanted — what she always wanted. To get away. To get away as fast as she could. To stay away.

Beverly Tapinski has run away from home plenty of times, but that was when she was just a kid. By now, she figures, it’s not running away. It’s leaving. Determined to make it on her own, Beverly finds a job and a place to live and tries to forget about her dog, Buddy, now buried underneath the orange trees back home; her friend Raymie, whom she left without a word; and her mom, Rhonda, who has never cared about anyone but herself. Beverly doesn’t want to depend on anyone, and she definitely doesn’t want anyone to depend on her. But despite her best efforts, she can’t help forming connections with the people around her — and gradually, she learns to see herself through their eyes. 

This is the third book in the Three Rancheros series but it isn’t crucial to have read them in any order, each story stands on its own. The main characters in this series all come from imperfect homes: their relatives are missing, have abandoned them, or have neglected them in some way. The central idea of going out and discovering who you are, where your place is in the world and your role within it can be found in each of these stories. This time we get to know Beverly, a girl whose friends are in different parts of the country and she is starting her own adventure. She is fourteen, on her own, and she is trying to work out who she is and what she wants to do.

Elmer and Beverly’s unorthodox friendship is a delight to read about. The runaway who doesn’t want help but still finds a way to accept it and have compassion for others is gorgeous. The way Elmer and Beverly use one another to improve each other’s lives while never quite admitting it to themselves is charming and adds humour to the story. I love the notion of found families and being surrounded by people who aren’t blood related but are family all the same. For Beverly to come to this town, stand on her own two feet and fight for herself is wonderful but DiCamillo never forgets that she is still a child who wants stability and support and is in need of love as well.

Marie does a great job at narrating. Her accents and voices for each character suit them and her voice keeps you in the timeless world of DiCamillo’s writing. Hearing the voices brings each fierce and proud statement from Beverly to life and the inflections and tones she gives to Elmer and other characters brings out their personalities and intentions really well. It is a quick listen, but with a full story packed into the short time.

Despite being set in the late 70s, the magical tone of DiCamillo’s writing makes the story feel timeless and there is a lovely southern charm that DiCamillo infuses this series with. Louisiana had it and now Beverly does too. The slow, profound stories are filled with heart and love and find your place in the wider world. You hear about their old lives but the new discovery they are on is the focus of the story. I’ve yet to read Raymie’s story that started this friendship but if it is anything like the other two I know I’m in for something special.

You can purchase Beverly, Right Here via the following

 Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Wordery

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

 

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