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.

Nose to Tail by Louise Harding

Published: 30th November 2017
Goodreads badgePublisher: Ocean Reeve Publishing
Pages: 207
Format: Book
Genre: Non-Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Note: I received a copy of this book for review

Do you dream of owning a loving, obedient, well-mannered dog? Do you find yourself overwhelmed by your dog’s bad behaviour? Do you want to train your dog and don’t know where to start? Now there is a book for you. Champion trainer Louise Harding will be your own personal expert, coaching you and your dog. 

Imagine if you could unlock the secrets of a master trainer and make training easier and fun for you and your dog. This book will show you how and help you communicate and nurture a strong life-long bond with your dog.

What I liked about this book was that it went beyond being a simple training guide for your dog. Harding also provides really helpful information about matching up the right kind of dog with the right owner. She includes some great information about different breeds of dogs and their bred capabilities and personalities and informs readers that there is more to buying a dog than just finding it cute when it’s a puppy.

The book starts before a dog is even bought as Harding asks the reader to think about why they want a dog, is it the right suit for their home or lifestyle. She then progresses through the stages of helping you find which dog would suit your needs and finding one with a compatible personality. There are personal stories and examples, and Harding includes an interesting history of the different breeding groups of dogs and what they have been bred to do through history.

This is the holistic approach to dog training Harding intended. She makes readers understand that any dog can be trained, but so much of their behaviour connects with their instincts, their breed, and the environment they live in just as much as how often you ask them to sit, stay, or heel. As she says, you can’t change the breed characteristics, but you can control what you want them to do.

This book reinforced and reassured me that I’d trained my dog correctly, which is always a comfort, but I was also interested in the histories and the personality checklists to understand the kind of dog I had (food fiend and a busybody, no real surprises there). This is a very helpful book whether you have a new puppy, or have brought home an older dog. Harding covers everything from first dogs, second dogs, or even how to manage a rescue dog that may be having trouble adjusting. There’re guides to sleeping arrangements and toilet training, plus step by step instructions on teaching the sit, stay, come etc commands, with advice on how to get your dog to pull them off successfully. Harding mimics what the trainer said when I took my own puppy to training class; you need to set your dog up for success. Put them in environments where they will succeed and don’t make things harder for them with distractions or confusing commands. If you do that you will be on the way to a well-trained dog.

There are also wonderful resources that can help with your research into the best breed for you, there are also questions to ask breeders or shelters about the dogs they’re selling, as well as guides to picking the best dog walking service or kennel if you should need to use them. Harding insists it’s never a bad thing to ask questions of a seller because it’s all about making sure you get the best for your dog and for you.

This book is not all about just buying the right breed and correct training procedures; Harding includes all the fun stuff as well like giving treats, playing with toys, and taking dogs out to explore the big wide world. If you’re looking at getting a dog or need help reining in one you already have, this is a great book to help guide you. It’s easy to understand, simple and with clear instructions but also covers a range of topics and scenarios you will encounter when you own a dog.

You can purchase Nose to Tail via the following

Nose to Tail website | A&R Bookworld

Amazon | Amazon Aust

The 26-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Published: 3rd September 2012 (print)/28 September 2012 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Pan Macmillan Australia /Bolinda Audio
Pages: 348/1 Disc
Narrator: Stig Wemyss
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

If you’re like most readers, you’re probably wondering just how Andy and Terry met. Well, it’s a long story, but a pretty exciting one, and it’s mostly true! Come on up, choose a hammock, and they’ll tell you all about it (just don’t go in the maze they’re still ironing out a few bugs…). 

I read the 13-Storey Treehouse as an ebook and discovered this is a very text and picture supportive book. When I realised this I couldn’t fathom how this would possibly work as an audiobook but it works really well. I might have to listen to the rest as audiobooks, it was like a wonderful audio drama. The pictures aren’t explained, but there is a change in tone and style that does end up giving a little side comment that accompanies what Andy is telling us about. It also goes one step extra by adding sound effects and musical accompaniment to the narrative. There are some bits when you know you’re missing out on a great and detailed picture, but honestly, that’s the same with any audiobook, especially junior ones. With these additions I quite liked the audiobook experience, maybe a bit more than reading the book. Stig Wemyss does a great job in conveying tone and the adventure and humour of the book, but I think it’s also that the story is much better than the one in The 13 Storey Treehouse.

This time around we’ve added 13 new storeys and the boys are still writing their books and having fun in their grand treehouse. This time Andy wants to tell us how he met Terry but one thing leads to another and we’re thrown into a great pirate adventure. Griffiths links together this seemingly silly story and while it seems like it jumps all over the place it doesn’t really. Everything connects to one another and builds up a great narrative. Overall it’s quirky and absurd but it’s also delightful without being too silly. There are some great jokes in there, 78 flavours of ice creams, Jill’s numerous animals, and Andy and Terry’s numerous inventions. If you haven’t yet picked up Griffith’s Treehouse series you definitely should.

You can purchase The 26-Storey Treehouse via the following

QBD | Dymocks | Book Depository

Booktopia | Bookworld | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Wordery | Publisher

Bro by Helen Chebatte

Published: 1st February 2016 (print)/1st June 2016 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Hardie Grant Egmont/ABC Audio
Pages: 240/MP3
Narrator: Julian Maroun
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

What happens when you mix teenage boys, a fight club, and ethnic rivalries? 

You get war.

Romeo Makhlouf knows the rules.

Stick with your own kind. Don’t dob on your mates or even on your enemies. Respect the family.

But even unwritten rules are made for breaking.

I wasn’t sure I was going to like Bro but Chebatte definitely surprised me. It isn’t a long book but it one that is important as it talks about trying to fit in when people class you as different on both sides, and the pressure of being loyal to your family roots, all with a delightfully Australian feel.

This is Boys ‘R’ Us meets Hate is Such a Strong Word  in all the best ways. It is, I’ll admit, very Australian. One could say too Australian, but I have heard teenage boys speak to one another and aside from the lack of swearing, it sounds like this for the most part (so many bros!). It takes some getting used to but I quite liked the tone of voice Chebatte used, especially how Julian Maroun narrated, it felt very real; you really get the sense of these teenage boys who are trying to be cooler and tougher than they actually are and the tired effort the adults are going to to try and help them

Chebatte uses the male point of view quite well, demonstrating the conflicts between the races at school, girl trouble, and trying to find where you belong, something which reminded me of Ayoub’s Hate is Such a Strong Word for the female perspective. I liked Romeo as a narrator, I also liked that Chebatte balanced him but not too evenly. He has some sensibilities but he is still a young boy with wild ideas and a feeling of invincibility. You clearly understand his conflict about who he is and whether he is Lebanese or Australian, and how even though he was born here he still doesn’t feel like he belongs. This conflict drives his decisions and affects the decisions he makes, right or wrong they may be.

There are many aspects I recall from my own high school days in here, just the scenes Chebatte has set up about classes, canteen lines, and group dynamics, even though my experience wasn’t the same as Romeo’s school in a lot of ways, it still feels familiar. The plot can be criticised as childish and absurd, but in the way that most teenage conflicts are, they are petty and ridiculous and fought for nothing, and yet at the time, it’s the fight you are willing to stand for no matter the consequences.

I was apprehensive about this book, I genuinely thought I wouldn’t like it but I’m glad I read it. It tells the story of the danger of boys and their masculinity, peer pressure, “national pride”, racism, and trying to belong. It’s a book people should read about feeling different, and the consequences of male pride.

You can purchase Bro via the following

Dymocks | QBD

Booktopia | BookWorld

Amazon | Amazon Aust

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The Saddler Boys by Fiona Palmer

Published:  23rd September 2015 (print)/11th August 2016 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Penguin Australia/Wavesound
Pages: 371/9 discs
Narrator: Danielle Baynes
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Rural Fiction
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Schoolteacher Natalie has always been a city girl. She has a handsome boyfriend and a family who give her only the best. But she craves her own space, and her own classroom, before settling down into the life she is expected to lead.

 When Nat takes up a posting at a tiny school in remote Western Australia, it proves quite the culture shock, but she is soon welcomed by the swarm of inquisitive locals, particularly young student Billy and his intriguing single father, Drew. 

 As Nat’s school comes under threat of closure, and Billy’s estranged mother turns up out of the blue, Nat finds herself fighting for the township and battling with her heart. Torn between her life in Perth and the new community that needs her, Nat must risk losing it all to find out what she’s really made of – and where she truly belongs. 

A big reason why I had a hard time enjoying this was the narrator of the audiobook; she made Natalie sound like a constantly cheery childish girl which was annoying. I know she was meant to be 22, but it changed my perspective of her when she sounded so innocent and naive all the time even when she wasn’t meant to. I had read the first few chapters in a physical book and was really engaged, I think switching to audio changed my enjoyment in part.

There were good parts that I enjoyed, Palmer portrays the country lifestyle well and the characters were interesting. Some parts were predictable but I was surprised by other parts. It was a nice wholesome story that touched on some more serious topics. Even when it did that it didn’t feel as serious though, maybe that was because of how it was read too, I don’t know.

Palmer includes a few different dramas, a few I felt had to be there because it gave Natalie more justification for her decisions rather than a believable character choice. I think a different approach would have been better. But for the most part, I enjoyed the different dynamics, young single father, a child with a few special needs, interesting supporting characters. It worked well on that front.

I was surprised by the ending, I was waiting for a sudden change but Palmer followed through which was impressive. Overall it’s not the best rural story I have read, but it wasn’t too bad either. I’m almost tempted to reread it as a book just to see if I enjoy it more…almost.

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You can purchase The Saddler Boys via the following

Dymocks | Booktopia

Book Depository | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust

BookWorldQBD

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