A Letter From Italy by Pamela Hart

Inspired by the life of the world’s first female war correspondent, Australian Louise Mack.

Australian journalist Rebecca Quinn has left her life in Sydney behind to join her journalist husband on the front lines of the war. As an educated woman and a daughter of a suffragette, Rebecca is all too familiar with men’s opinions of how women should behave. With a supportive husband and family, 1917 Italy and its treatment of her still comes as a bit of a shock. Desperate to prove herself, Rebecca reluctantly teams up with Italian-American photographer Sandro and a surprising partnership is born.

I absolutely loved this book. I couldn’t put it down.

Pamela Hart has done a fantastic job with this book. The characters are flawed and relatable given the 1917 setting, Both Rebecca and Sandro radiate emotion and strength. With a great array of diverse minor characters there is someone for everyone in this book. Not only do you fall in love with these character but you grow with them. As you journey through this book you learn more and more about these amazing character, what makes them tick, what makes them laugh. There was not information dump at the beginning of the story, it was a natural progression throughout the entire novel.

The WWI setting was a perfect backdrop for this story. The honesty and urgency of war was so brilliantly captured, giving an extra dimension to the plot and characters. 1917 war-torn Italy through Pamela Hart’s eyes gives you genuinely funny moments and truly heartbreaking situations.

Pamela Hart is a brilliant writer. Her descriptions are fantastic, they have an almost cinematic quality about them. Her ability to fill each sentence with emotion is absolutely remarkable. Her characters draw you in, Her descriptions put you in the story and Her impactful, emotive plot keeps you turning the pages and leaves you wanting more.

This is one of those books that will stay with me for a very long time. I’m already talking people’s ears off about it. This is a must read for everyone.

A Letter From Italy by Pamela Hart is available 14/3/17. Go and pre-order it now, believe me you want to get your hands on this book the moment it is released.

The Muddle-Headed Wombat by Ruth Park

A classic Australian children’s book; The Muddle-Headed Wombat follows Wombat and his two best friends Mouse and Tabby on their many adventures on holiday, at school and in the treetops.

Written by Ruth Park and illustrated by Noela Young, this edition contains four tales; The Muddle-Headed Wombat (1962), The Muddle-Headed Wombat on Holiday (1964), The Muddle-Headed Wombat in the Treetops (1965), and The Muddle-Headed Wombat at School (1966).

I absolutely love The Muddle-Headed Wombat. I grew up with these stories and reading them again as an adult was an absolute joy.

Sweet, kind-hearted Wombat, caring, practical Mouse and vain, neurotic Tabby are such wonderful characters helping to make Ruth Park’s stories timeless classics. The addition of Noela Yong’s illustrations really enhanced this book. The illustrations perfectly compliment the story.

I really only have one issue with this book. The writing purposely misspelled words and confused sayings, this is because Wombat is a young Wombat who isn’t very bright. Whilst I loved this feature as a child, it got on my nerves as an adult. Apart from this one thing, I can’t fault this book.

I will forever love the stories of Wombat, Mouse and Tabby, and I highly recommend this book to everyone. Adults and kids alike.

The Muddle-Headed Wombat is a great Australian children’s book that should be read and adored by all.

House-Elves by Jody Revenson/Twelfth Night by Timothy Knapman 

Once again it time for a double review. This double review is of two completely different books. Whilst I loved both of these books, there just really wasn’t enough to warrant separate reviews.

House-Elves: A Behind The Scenes Look At The House-Elves Of The Harry Potter Films written by Jody Revenson and published by Incredibuilds.

This is my third Incredibuilds purchase and my new favourite. House-Elves, like all Incredibuilds came with a build your own model. This particular model was of course Dobby.

Building Dobby completely made my day. The Incredibuilds models are easy to build. With pieces that just slide together and easy to follow instructions, they are really great fun.

The book was filled with awesome information and great images, showing how Dobby and the other House-Elves were brought to life in the Harry Potter films. Getting to see the work that went into the House-Elves was amazing. The images were perfect and the information was really interesting.

I am now recommending Incredibuilds; especially the Harry Potter ones to everyone I know. So if you haven’t yet, jump on board the Incredibuilds band wagon.

Tales From Shakespeare: Twelfth Night by Timothy Knapman with illustrations by Yaniv Shimony.

This illustrated book is a modern English re telling of Twelfth Night. It was a fast and thoroughly enjoyable read. The illustrations complemented the writing perfectly.

Another great addition to this book was the inclusion of important and sentimental quotes from the original Shakespearian version.

I really enjoyed this book, Timothy Knapman has done a marvellous job keeping true to the story while updating its writing.

This book would be a great edition to help get young people interested in Shakespeare.

A definite keeper.

The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay

The Magic Pudding follows the adventures of a young Koala; Bunyip Bluegum. On his journeys Bunyip Bluegum makes friends with sailor Bill Barnacle and penguin Sam Sawnoff and becomes part owner of a pudding. Not just any pudding, a magic pudding. On their travels the three friends and Albert the magic pudding must continually out wit the pudding thieves Possum and Wombat.

Written and illustrated by Norman Lindsay, The Magic Pudding: The Adventures of Bunyip Bluegum and his friends Bill Barnacle and Sam Sawnoff is an Australian children’s classic.

I grew up with the story of the magic pudding. Reading it or being read it as a child was a fun and magical experience. The great characters, great plot and humour were a massive draw card for me as a kid.

I was really excited to get my hands on this book as an adult. My hope was to be transported back to my childhood through this book. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed.

Re reading this book as an adult just didn’t have the same impact. I feel the story lost some of its magic and became repetitive and boring. The first few chapters were great, I was excited and couldn’t wait for the next page. By the half way mark, I was over it. The plot slowed down and became predictable. By the end, I was ready to move on.

I understand that this is a book for children, I loved it as a child, but as an adult it just wasn’t the same. I still love the story and will happily recommend it to kids (well parents of kids).

I think there is a definite reason The Magic Pudding is a classic Australian children’s story, but for me I just kinda wish I had left it as a wonderful childhood memory.

The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall

Blinky Bill the naughty Koala is one of the most well-loved characters in Australian Children’s fiction. There is never a dull moment for Mrs Koala having Blinky as her cup. Traveling with Blinky on his adventures through the bush as he meets new friends and has many funny adventures and misadventures is an Australian rite of passage.

As an Australian I grew up reading Blinky Bill, so I was really looking forward to re reading this book and seeing Blinky through adult eyes. Reading this book transported me back to my childhood. It is easy to see why Blinky Bill has captured the hearts of young readers for so many years.

Dorothy Wall’s amazing writing is perfectly complimented by her beautiful illustrations. Reading about not only Blinky, but the huge array of Australian bush creatures featured in these stories makes me proud to be an Australian.

Dorothy Wall has created the perfect stories. Her amazing characters and great plot make for a truly enjoyable reading experience. This classic Australian children’s book is a favourite for young readers and it will continue to be for a very long time.

If you haven’t yet met Blinky Bill now is as good a time as any to go and get yourself a copy of The complete adventures of Blinky Bill.

I look forward to the day when I will be reading my children the stories of Blinky Bill and his bush friends.

The Western Front by Peter Cochrane

This beautiful hard cover book documents Australian soldiers on the Western Front (1916-1918) during Would War 1. The Western Front was the single greatest wartime tragedy, more Australians lost their lives in one or two battles on the Western Front than the entire Gallipoli Campaign.

Using photographs taken by official war photographers and soldiers alike, The Western Front looks at major battles, soldiers living conditions and other unbelievable war-time situations.

The collection of photographs featured in this book is fantastic. Many of the photos in this book were taken by soldiers; even though personal photography was strictly forbidden during World War 1. These soldier photographs give a whole different dimension to the war than the official War photographs from the Western Front.

Peter Cochrane has done a fantastic job with this book. The arrangement of the photographs, the background information on the pictured situations and the photographers really enhance this book.

My only negative on this book is with some of the written information; the diary entries and letters home were difficult to read due to the font they were printed in. The other written information was printed in a different font and was easy to read and really interesting.

On a whole this book is a haunting and heartbreaking snap shot of Australians on The Western Front. The images will definitely stay with me.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Australian History, war or photography.

The Western Front by Peter Cochrane is a must read and a definite keeper.

Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets: Illustrated Edition 

Written by J K. Rowling, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets: Illustrated Edition is the second Harry Potter book illustrated by Jim Kay.

Harry is in his second year at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry and trouble is once again lurking on the horizon. As Harry, Ron and Hermione adjust to their second year at Hogwarts they find themselves dealing with bullies, a useless Professor and life or death situations. One wrong turn could spell the end.

With Gilderoy Lockhart, Dobby the house elf and moaning Myrtle just some of the new characters introduced in this book, there is something or someone for everyone in Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets.

J K. Rowling is the master. Her books are phenomenal. Chamber of Secrets has everything a reader could possibly need; a great plot, lots of twists and turns, loveable characters, magic and mystery, and of course friendship.

I have never and will never say a bad word about the Harry Potter series.

Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets: Illustrated Edition is to die for.

Jim Kay’s illustrations partner perfectly will the story J K. Rowling created.

Underneath the dust jacket the hard cover book is bound in bright orange with green writing on the spine. The pages are thick with a glossy coat and the story has NOT been altered or condensed in any way.

Jim Kay’s illustrations are inspiring, whether they are full or double page, decorative, chapter introductions or are merged with or under the text, you can’t help but be blown away by them.

The combination of J K. Rowling’s writing and Jim Kay’s illustrations is a winning potion making Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets: Illustrated Edition a must have for every Harry Potter fan.

Long Live Harry Potter…

Heartless by Marissa Meyer 

Ever wondered how the Queen of Hearts became so horrible? Well wonder no more; Heartless by Marissa Meyer answers all of you question in this amazing prequel to Alice in Wonderland.

Long before she was the Queen of Hearts; Catherine just wanted to fall in love and open her very own bakery. Catherine and her best friend Mary-Anne have grand plans for their bakery, their only obstacle; Catherine’s mother, who has a very different idea of how her daughters future will unfold. Follow Catherine on her journey from sweet dreamer, to the terror of Wonderland.

I loved this book. Absolutely loved it.

Marissa Meyer has done a marvellous job with this book; she was able to bring the story of Catherine and her decline into the Queen of Hearts to life whilst keeping true to the essence of Wonderland. Heartless is a magical story that you won’t want to end.

Filled with much-loved characters from Alice in Wonderland; The Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, The Cheshire Cat and caterpillar to name a few. With the introduction of new or different characters to fall in love with.

Heartless is a joy to behold.

Marissa Meyer’s descriptive writing and amazing storytelling was captivating. I felt like I was right there in hearts. I really loved the fact that so many great quotes from Alice in Wonderland were woven into this story; (why is a Raven like a writing desk?), and of course no story about the Queen of Hearts would be complete without at least one ‘off with his head’.

The only negative I have about this book is that it was a little slow at the start, but once the characters were established and the story was underway I couldn’t put it down.

I have read a few prequels in the past, But Heartless is by far the best. I went into this story knowing that Catherine was going to become the Queen of Hearts, yet I still found myself wishing it wasn’t going to happen. The anticipation kept me on the edge of my seat, which I loved. I got so invested in these wonderful characters that I forget that I knew the end result.

Marissa Meyer is an amazing writer and her ability to keep the magic of Wonderland alive throughout this book, whilst telling a completely original story is mind-blowing.

Heartless By Marissa Meyer is a must read for all Alice fans. NO!!! It is a must read for everyone.

January TBR…

It’s that time again… TBR…

I didn’t do too bad with my December TBR so I have high hopes for January. I have added more books than usual to January’s TBR due to the fact that I’m heading on holidays, three weeks at the beach should do wonders for my reading… So without further ado here is January’s TBR:

Never Tear Us Apart by Quinn Brockton

Pendulum by Adam Hamdy

Alice In Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Through The Zombie Glass by Gena Showalter

The Queen Of Zombie Hearts by Gena Showalter

A Mad Zombie Party by Gena Showalter

The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay

The Muddleheaded Wombat by Ruth Park

The Complete Adventures Of Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall

Left For Dead by Beck Weathers

The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman

The Crossroads by Pamela Cook

Two Decades Naked by Leigh Hopkinson

The Wardrobe Girl by Jennifer Smart

Paper Hearts And Summer Kisses by Carole Matthews

The Dark Circle by Linda Grant

Meet Me At Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell

Ok that’s it I think. Seeing it listed out like this is actually pretty intimidating. I’m counting on my holiday to get me over the line this month. Wish me luck.

I guess we will see how I did in January’s Wrap up. I hope you all have a great reading month, keep your eye out for reviews.

❤ Gem

Hopes for 2017…

After a great 2016 I am really looking forward to 2017. I have decided to set some new goals and list a few things im most excited about.

Goals:

Read 100 books. I will set his as my reading challenge on Goodreads, you can follow me if you would like to keep up to dat with my progress.

50 Book reviews. I am hoping to write 50 or more reviews for my blog this year so keep an eye out.

100 Followers. I set a goal of 50 followers for 2016 and I was so excited to reach it, so for 2017 I am hoping to double it.

1000 Readers/Views. Once again I am hoping to double on 2016’s goal of 500 readers/views.

Bookmas 2017. I hope to participate in bookmas again in 2017. With twelve days of book reviews.

I plan on keeping up with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts throughout the year. So feel free to follow me on one of these platforms if your interested.

I of course am looking forward to reading some fantastic books in 2017.

That’s it from me for now, I will keep you up dated with TBR’S, Wrap Up and of course reviews. I love hearing your opinions so please feel free to contact me with any ideas and suggestions to help me better my blog.

Good luck with all of your goals for 2017.

❤ Gem