Stuff Happens: Sean by Will Kostakis

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Published: 27th August 2014Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Penguin Australia
Pages: 120
Format: Paperback
Genre: Junior Fictions
★   ★  ★  ★  – 4 Stars

 

4 boys, 4 stories, 4 great Australian writers in an important new series.

Stuff happens sometimes.

Everyday stuff.

At school, at home, with sport, with mates.

For Ned it happened with a new teacher.

For Sean it happened starting at a new school.

For Michael it happened when he thought he was disappointing his parents.

For Jack it happened when a game at recess went wrong.

This is such a sweet story. It is a quick read and part of the wider series but there is a wonderful message in there about being a friend and finding your place in a new school. Despite the length the narrative is quite complicated which I was surprised about. Kostakis covers feeling scared of a new school and trying to make new friends. But he also explores how leaving one place doesn’t make the love of your old home go away. There are lessons about being helpful and making grown up decisions when you are scared of the consequences.

There are morals and messages but they are not obvious as they develop naturally around the characters and their actions. Kostakis doesn’t make it overly complicated either, Sean’s feelings and thoughts help tell the story as well as his feelings and the inclusion of the emotion chart at the bottom of some pages was a clever way to indicate how Sean was feeling.

I read this because it was a Will Kostakis book, now I might need to track down the others in the series as well to get the full scope of this fascinating set of books.

You can purchase Stuff Happens: Sean via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Long Lost Review: The Wrong Girl by Zoe Foster

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: 26th February 2014Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Penguin Australia
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Genre: Romance
★   ★  ★  ★ – 4 Stars

Lily is a producer on a successful cooking segment for a daily morning show. The new chef has just arrived on set and he is drop dead gorgeous. And despite everything – the sabbatical that Lily and her flatmate Simone are taking from men, the fact that Jack is a work colleague – Lily falls head over heels for him.

And while Lily battles her feelings, her flatmate Simone breaks their pact and starts dating some guy from her wholefoods shop. That guy turns out to be Jack. Up close, Lily bravely watches on as romance blossoms between Simone and Jack. Or does it? They don’t seem to have much in common, apart from their striking good looks. And Lily and Jack just seem to get each other. Is that the same thing as falling in love? And could she ever dream of betraying a friendship? Lily has to make some difficult decisions about work and home, and realises that if she doesn’t take life by the scruff of the neck, she is the one who’ll be picked up, shaken and dumped. 

I really loved this book. I had it sitting on my shelf for years and I finally got around to reading it in 2017 and I have to say I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It was made into a TV show but I can’t bring myself to watch it because based on a cursory glance at the first few episode summaries it clearly changes a few things I absolutely loved about the book so I haven’t watched it. I’m sure it is still good in its own right but I want to preserve my book memories.

The blurb makes the story sound more like unrequited love than I believe it initially to be. Naturally, after having sworn off men, the perfect one walks into Lily’s life, but what I loved was that Lily and Jack’s relationship doesn’t start off perfectly. She takes a while to warm up to him and their friendship and work/life banter is much more enjoyable than having them get together. Yes Lily starts to get a crush on Jack, but it doesn’t consume her or become to focus of the novel, her determination to further her career is the focus of her days and Foster balances her work and her downtime really well so Lily’s whole life is encapsulated without having every tiny detail and event laid out.

I loved that Foster didn’t go the jealous friend/unrequited love route she could have done. Yes it is there in the tiniest instance, but Lily is so in denial over her feelings for Jack initially she never pines over Jack being with someone else, nor does she obsess over him like a lovesick puppy. It was really refreshing and I loved the different approach to having her feelings be the be all and her job and life be brushed over while she spent her time thinking about him.

So much of everything is done wonderfully in this. The right balance of fun, seriousness, and romance. I love Lily as a character, she is young but growing up, she knows what she wants and has a goal in mind, but she also has a little fun as well. I definitely think a reread of this is in order because I remember it being such a wonderful read filled with the surprises and delights to entertain while also feeling real and having an emotional impact.

My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg

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Published: 1 February 2013Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Allen & Unwin
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★  ★  – 3 Stars

 

This isn’t just about me. It’s also about the other people in my life – my mother, my father, my dead sister Sky, my penpal Denille, Rich Uncle Brian, Earth-Pig Fish and Douglas Benson From Another Dimension. These are people [with the exception of Earth-Pig Fish, who is a fish] who have shaped me, made me what I am. I cannot recount my life without recounting elements of theirs. This is a big task, but I am confident I am up to it.

Introducing Candice Phee: twelve years old, hilariously honest and a little … odd. But she has a big heart, the very best of intentions and an unwavering determination to ensure everyone is happy. So she sets about trying to ‘fix’ all the problems of all the people [and pets] in her life.

Jonsberg captures Candice’s uniqueness remarkably well. With her voice and actions we get an insight into who she is and the kind of life she leads. She has a unique way of thinking and acting, but while she is odd in some people’s eyes, her heart has good intentions.

The premise of detailing her story through the A-Z school assignment is a clever solution as it allows Candice’s story to be told in full and you can see the interconnecting actions. Jonsberg explores her family situation and the complex history naturally and in due course, we also get to see her interactions with those around her like her friends and fellow classmates.

Underneath the humour and the quirkiness there is a powerful story about family and forgiveness, and the healing nature of love. Candice is a powerful force in her own right and it is cringe-worthy at times when you read about what she is doing, but understanding she is twelve years old, with her own way of thinking, sometimes that is just what is called for.

You can purchase My Life as an Alphabet via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey

Published: 1st February 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Scholastic Australia
Illustrator: Aaron Blabey
Pages: 28
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Thelma is an ordinary pony who longs to be more. Thelma dreams of being a glamorous unicorn. Then in a rare pink and glitter-filled moment of fate, Thelma’s wish comes true. I am special now, she cried out loud. And so, a star was born…

This is a fun story about fame and living your dreams but also about being yourself. Thelma dreams of being a unicorn and through a few fortunate actions her wish is granted. I loved how there’s a wonderful unintended explanation for Thelma becoming a unicorn. A fortunate accident which springboards her fame that is both plausible and silly.

There are many great parts to this story; Otis being supportive of Thelma when she is just a pony, her own realisation that fame may not be all it is cracked up to be, and the fact that she might be happier just being herself is a positive lesson.

This writing has a wonderful rhythm and as you read you get caught up in the creative rhymes and it pushes you along. The text is simple and has a few styled words for emphasis, and it moves around the page to work with the illustrations a little better.

Blabey’s illustrations are quite fun. They are realistic but have a quirkiness to them, helped along by the silly nature of the story. I liked the design of Thelma, it played into her feeling plain, and she doesn’t start out as a standard looking horse but a simple looking pony.

There’s a wonderful message about the troubles and downside of fame which is important, and it shows readers that getting what you want isn’t always the best thing. Blabey doesn’t press the message though, the fun story of Thelma is the focus and the emphasis is on what she learns about herself and her own life.

You can purchase Thelma the Unicorn via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

 

AWW Update Jul-Sep

Third update of the year and I have exceeded my goal! While this is exciting I feel I have been a tad slack these last few months. I am hoping to gain some more ground for the final leg, especially since this will overlap with other challenges I am doing which should hopefully boost my numbers.

I’ve added reviews to previous posts when they went live and I will so the same again here when they go up in a few weeks. I read some great books this time. A few anthologies, a few junior fictions and some fascinating genres. It is always interesting to see what is swept up under the AWW banner each time and I actually almost forgot to add the anthologies but of course they have to be included because there are some wonderful authors in there which can’t be forgotten about.

I’m looking forward to seeing where I end up in December. As I say, I already know of a few I can add to my next update. I may increase my goal to reading 40 and reviewing 35, only because I am feeling bold and on top of things. Let’s see how long that lasts.

 

AWW19 BOOKS Jul-Sep

And All the Stars by Andrea K Host – Review

The Book That Made Me ed. by Judith Ridge – Review

Blossom Possum by Gina Newton – Review

The Tales of Mr Walker by Jess Black – Review

The Accusation by Wendy James

The Pirate Treasure by Zander Bingham – Review

The Haunted Lighthouse by Zander Bingham – Review

The Lost Temple by Zander Bingham – Review

Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories ed. by Michael Earp – Review

The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty

Upside Down by N. R Walker – Review

 

AWW19 TOTAL

Read: 33/30

Reviewed: 28/20

 

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