Month: June 2016

Review: Breathing Under Water

Breathing Under Water
Breathing Under Water by Sophie Hardcastle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is beautifully written, the surfing scenes give the great Tim Winton a run for his money, gorgeous and evocative. The grief is so exquisitely written, Ben and Gracie had become important to me, and then, the disaster happened. This author has nailed the way that teenagers behave after a terrible death, the risk taking, the loneliness, the isolation. This is beautiful and lovely book. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.

I’m imagining that some people will have real issues with risky behaviour in the book, and some school librarians will avoid it, Gracie and Jake really do push the limits, but in the context of what is happening to them, I think it is totally understandable and is vital to the ‘realness’ of the story. Don’t avoid buying it for school libraries, grief needs to be spoken of, teenagers behaving normally need to be read about by their peers in my opinion.

Thanks to Netgalley for an advance copy of this lovely book.

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Review: Thanks for the Trouble

Thanks for the Trouble
Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a thoroughly likable book. Clever concept and great, if somewhat unreliable characters. Tommy Wallach’s first book We All Looked Up was one of my hits of last year and this one is a more mature book in some ways I think. We have Parker Sante (great name), who doesn’t speak. He hasn’t spoken since his Dad died five years ago, he communicates via a journal. He is funny and quirky and streetsmart. He meets the silver haired but only 17 year old Zelda while he is wagging school and sitting in the foyer of a hotel, planning to steal stuff from the rich guests. Cool concept. Zelda has a huge wad of cash which Parker steals. Thus begins their relationship. They are both unreliable characters and that is what makes this so quirky. You never quite know who is lying to whom, particularly Zelda who has quite a back story.

This was a great break from dystopia. It has a bit of swearing and the love scenes are written really well, nothing that any kid hasn’t seen on a video I’m sure. Much less drug taking and risky teenage behaviour in this one, but certainly enough to drive the action along and to engage your average 14 year old. There are a couple of weirdnesses in the story, but for me that was part of the charm. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy the fun.

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Review: The Sealed Letter

The Sealed Letter
The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been emersed in the world of The Sealed Letter for about a week, all victorian dresses, clandestine romance and nasty gossip. It also has that clever Emma Donoghue trick of taking real life newspaper headlines from the past and building a fantastic reality based fiction around it. I was interested in the story of Helen and Fido, Helen the passionate and, for the times, free loving and unfaithful wife. Fido the campaigner for women’s rights who believes blindly in Helen and worships her unwaveringly until the end.
The story made me think about how many changes there have been to the role of women in society, the laws of divorce, for one thing, divorce was very new at the time and the awful treatment of the ‘fallen woman’ was really rather horrific compared to today’s standards.
The story moves quite slowly at times but was always enjoyable, I liked all the characters but most particularly Fido as she struggles to deal with her manipulative friend and finds out truths about herself. I particularly smiled that her cure for asthma was smoking, as recommended by her doctor.

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Review: Blood Wedding

Blood Wedding
Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit straight up that I’m a recent fan if this writer, I’m delighted to have found a new French crime writer to indulge in. This is a twisted story in lots of ways. Sophie feels that she is losing her mind, losing things, her keys, her car, her i.d. and maybe her mind. She feels rubbish. Sophie appears to have murdered a small child she was taking care of, she has no memory of doing this but his small dead body is what she encounters when she awakes. And she runs. Disappears and assumes false identities and lives her life in hiding.

Then half way through the book we meet Frantz and from the beginning it is clear that he is the person who has been tormenting Sophie. We hear his story, how he has been stalking Sophie and making her life a misery. But why? What is all this about?

An excellent crime mystery. Lots of twisty turns and the pace is great. It flicks back and forward in time depending on whose journal it is following, Sophie’s or Franz’s. Highly recommended for those who like dark interesting stories which differ from the usual police procedurals. A great mystery.

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me access to a galley of this book.

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Review: Good Muslim Boy

Good Muslim Boy
Good Muslim Boy by Osamah Sami
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The life that this guy has had. Having to deal with his dad’s death in a pretty much foreign country in a mire of bureaucracy at a very tender age. I admired the courage, tenacity and wonderful sense of fun that flows all throughout this memoir. I loved the stories of Osama navigating the Australian version of English as a teenager new to a culture and country. Also a great look at what the young people raised in Muslim culture experience in non-Muslim cultures. Hilarious misadventures and misunderstandings. This guy is so great. It is an interesting look into what people from other cultures experience as newcomers on foreign soil. Lovely book.

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Stuff no one told me

This is just so wise, so sweet, so moving and so lovely.  Saw it on Facebook today and went hunting for more information about the artist and his work.  Here is his blog.  I think, that really the thing to do, is just to watch this lovely video, then go and stalk the blog.  Tell me this doesn’t move you and then I will tell you that you are cold, made of ice… frozen.