April Wrap Up…

Welcome to my April Wrap Up. I had a great reading month, finishing 11 books (unfortunately only 2 from my TBR). I really enjoyed all the books I read this month, So im looking forward to talking about them in this wrap up.

I have reviews up or coming up for most of these books so as usual this is just going to be a brief run down on each book I read.

Without further ado, let’s get into my April Wrap Up…

Being 14 by Madonna King: This amazing book is an inside look at the strange creature that is the 14-year-old girl. Madonna King interviewed 200 14-year-old girls as well as parents, teachers, doctors and police and the results are on display in this amazing book. This book is a must read for all parents of young or teenage girls.

The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke: This deeply moving book is a snap shot of author of Maxine Clarke’s upbringing in Western Sydney. This book will definatly pull on you heartstrings and make you look at yourself in the mirror. This heartbreakingly beautiful memoir is not to be missed.

The Song Of Us by J.D. Barrett: I absolutely adored this book. Zoe is a harpist who spends her days playing for the dying. After losing a client Zoe decides its time for her to start living. Filled with love, happiness and truly tender moments, This is definitely a book that I am going to read many many times in the future. I don’t have a bad word to say about J.D. Barrett’s The Song Of Us. This book is a must read, I promise It will stay with you long after the final page.

I Was Only Nineteen by John Schumann: This beautiful book, illustrates the deeply moving lyrics of John Schumann’s powerful song about the Vietnam War. Craig Smith’s illustrations capture the heartbreaking story being told by John’s words. This book is perfect for parents to use as an introduction to the subject of war for their children.

I Need A Hug by Susie Linn: This beautiful children’s book follows Boo the bush baby as he travels around the Zoo looking for a hug before he goes to bed. This book is so sweet it will make your teeth ache. A must have for all parents.

One Thing by Lauren Child: A wonderful book for kids, filled with great illustration and a story that is over flowing with numbers. This book is great not just for helping kids learn to read but to help with learning numbers. A great fun book that is also an amazing learning tool.

Butterfly, We’re Expecting You by Libby Hathorn: I can’t even describe how wonderful this book is. An amazingly beautiful children’s book that takes a journey through a backyard discovering birds, bees and of course a butterfly. Reading this book made me wish I had children to share it will. If you have a child in your life, you absolutely have to get them this book.

And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda: This book is an illustration of Eric Bogle’s iconic song about Gallipoli. Bruce Whatley’s heartbreaking illustrations expertly bring to life Eric Bogle’s haunting lyrics about the futility of war. The extremely moving book is a must have for all Australian’s.

The Turners: Fully Doomed by Mick Elliott: The third and final book in The Turners series and Mick Elliott took us out on a high. Following Leo and Abbie as they travel the world in order to save all Turners. This book was fantastic. Funny, Fast Paced and brilliantly Freaking. If you have yet read the turners series by Mick Elliott, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR.

The Girl In The Blue Coat by Monica Hesse: This book was heartbreakingly beautiful. Set in Amsterdam in 1943, It follows an 18 Year old girl as she navigates the new normal of Nazi occupation. I truly loved this book. I picked this book up randomly not knowing anything about it, and now I can’t stop talking about it. If you havent yet read it, do yourself a favour and find a copy now.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: This book blew my mind. I wasnt sure about this book when I picked it up, but it was clear to me after a few dozen pages that I was hooked. I finished the entire book in less than 24 hours and am planing to read it again next weekend. The plot, the characters and the fantastically awesome style and layout of this book make for a captivating read. Do no miss out of this mind-blowing reading experience.

That’s it for my April Wrap Up. Let me know what you guys read this month. Until my May Wrap Up…

Happy Reading…

❤ Gem

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Being 14 by Madonna King

Being 14 gives a voice to the 14-year-old girls of Australia. Madonna King interviewed 200 14-year-old girls from around Australia, as well as Teachers, Principles, Psychologists, Police and Neuroscientists, to unravel the social, psychological and physical challenges facing 14-year-old girls today. Answering the many questions surrounding the mysterious species that is the 14-year-old girl, this book will help you understand and give you some insights to help you help her navigate the tricky teen years.

I really enjoyed this book.

I was really impressed by the way Madonna King was able to put this book together. The interviews she conducted were impressive and respectful yet completely enlightening.

I can remember the struggles of being 14, I look back at that time of my life and cringe. As someone who doesn’t have children and is way past the awful teen years, I was not only deeply moved by these stories but also completely shocked by some of the situations these girls are dealing with.

While reading this book I was so glad that I didn’t have to grow up in the world that these girls are navigating.

Madonna King has gifted parents with this amazing book. I definitely learned a lot whilst reading Being 14, so I can only imagine how helpful this book is going to be for anyone with a 14-year-old girl.

Madonna King’s writing is so beautiful, her openness and warm-ness radiate off the pages and really captures the message that the girls she spoke to wanted to express.

Being 14 was a definite eye opener that I have recommended to many people already.

If you have a 14-year-old girl in your life than this book is a must have. Go and buy it now, you can thank Madonna King later.

 

A to Z Bookish Survey…

Welcome to my A to Z Booking Survey… Really looking forward to this one so lets jump in…

Author you’ve read the most books from:

Well this is an easy one. J.K. Rowling.

Best Sequel Ever:

Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling.

Currently Reading:

Hunted by Meagan Spooner.

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Water all the way. I don’t Drink Tea or Coffee.

Ereader or Physical Book?

Physical book. I don’t have an E-Reader.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Sodapop Curtis from the Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

Hidden Gem Book:

The Beekeeper’s Secret by Josephine Moon. I didn’t know what to expect going into it but I ended up falling in love with this book.

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

Becoming a reviewer and blogger.

Just Finished:

The Land Of Stories: An Author’s Odyssey by Chris Colfer.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

Political Biographies or Autobiographies.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

Les Miserable by Victor Hugo. (approximately 1500 pages).

 

Major book hangover because of:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This book killed me. Perfect ending to a perfect series.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

5.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Preferred Place To Read:

My Bed…

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light – Albus Dumbledore (J.K. Rowling)

Reading Regret:

The Vampire Diaries by E.L Smith. I just didn’t enjoy these books. I ended up not finishing the series.

Series You Started And Need To Finish (All books in the series have been released):

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

Well im not going to say Harry Potter again so let’s go with…

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak.

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

HARRY POTTER… Surprise Surprise Surprise…

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

The Land Of Stories: World’s Collide by Chris Colfer.

Worst Bookish Habit:

Starting multiple books at the same time.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling.

Your latest book purchase:

Marge and the Pirate Baby by Isla Fisher.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up late):

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows… I stayed up all night and read it in one sitting…

Well that’s my A to Z done. I really enjoyed doing this post, I hope you enjoy reading it. Let me know if you have any of the same ABC’s as me or what your favourite answer is.

Happy Reading

❤ Gem

I Was Only 19/And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

‘I Was Only Nineteen’ by John Schumann and ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ by Eric Bogle are two very famous Australian War songs. These two amazing songs have been turned into illustrated children’s books in recent times.

Being that it is ANZAC Day, I thought it would be appropriate for this particular double review.

I Was Only Nineteen by John Schumann, illustrated by Craig Smith: This beautiful book, illustrates the deeply moving lyrics of John Schumann’s powerful song about the Vietnam War. A haunting subject that needs to be remembered, has been expertly illustrated to do just that. Craig Smith’s illustrations capture the heartbreaking story being told by John’s words. This book is perfect for parents to use as an introduction to the subject of war for their children. This book truly affected me. The lyrics and illustrations are perfectly complimented and left me with the need to read this book multiple times. An amazing book that all Australian’s need to read.

And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda by Eric Bogle, illustrated by Bruce Whatley: This book is an illustration of Eric Bogle’s iconic song about Gallipoli. Bruce Whatley’s heartbreaking illustrations expertly bring to life Eric Bogle’s haunting lyrics about the futility of war. The horror, heartbreak and despair that Eric Bogle’s lyrics demonstrate are perfectly captured by Bruce Whatley’s deeply emotive illustrations. The extremely moving book is a must have for all Australian’s.

In the case of both of these books, the iconic songs and heartbreaking illustrations are perfectly matched to create an extremely emotional reading and learning experience. I was overwhelmed by the emotion captured by combining these songs to illustrations. I honestly believe these books should be a staple in Australian primary schools, especially around ANZAC Day.

‘I Was Only Nineteen and ‘And The Band Played On’ are stories that need to be persevered for future generations.

The Song Of Us by J.D. Barrett

Five years ago, Zoe Wylde, a successful harpist left London and her promising career in the London Symphony to return to her Bondi home. Zoe still loves music and still makes a living playing the harp, only now her performances are a more intimate affair. Zoe spends her days surrounded by the dying and they make her realise that she has to start living. With her married boyfriend, her newly in love best friend and her girl crazy brother to contend with, Zoe is quite happy hiding behind her complicated life. After losing a client, Zoe decides its time to make a change, but does she have the courage to follow the music in heart and reach for her dreams.

I absolutely adored this book. I have now read both of J.D. Barrett’s books and I am officially in love.

J.D. Barrett’s writing is emotive and tender yet extremely cinematic. The amazing and relatable characters in this book really help you to connect and invest in this story. I found the characters in The Song Of Us so human, they were your sister, your neighbour, maybe even yourself.

I loved the connection between music and life and death in this book. Music is a language everyone understands and J.D. Barrett has done a beautiful job using music and the memories that it evokes to add and extra layer to this amazing story.

Death does play quite a large part in this book and I found the scenes and situations surrounding death to be deeply moving yet strangely uplifting.

Zoe is such an amazing well-rounded character to get to know. Her passions, humanity and faults make her a wonderful lead character. Her relationships with her family and friends and the situations these bonds create were highly entertaining to read about.

This is definatly a book that I am going to read many many times in the future. I don’t have a bad word to say about J.D. Barrett’s The Song Of Us. If you havent read this book, do it now. It will stay with you long after the final page.

 

Hunter by Meagan Spooner

When Yeva’s father loses his fortunes, he moves Yeva and her sisters to his lodge on the outskirts of town. Yeva, who never really belonged in the city is relieved to be back in the forest. When Yeva’s father goes missing in the woods Yeva journeys into the heart of the forest to find him. ignoring her sisters protests, Yeva goes off to hunt the mysterious Beast her father has been tracking. After getting herself captured, Yeva awakes in a ruined castle, in a cursed valley, in a world that Yeva has only heard about in fairy tales. With her own salvation and the safety of her sisters on the line, who will ultimately win in this situation? The Beauty or the Beast?

With the live action Beauty and the Beast movie on my mind, I decided to jump into a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Boy am I glad I did. This book was awesome.

I will admit I found this book a bit slow at the start. I really didn’t get into it untill Yeva and her family had moved to the forest. After the family settled into the cabin the story really picked up its pace and I became quite enthralled by it.

As a retelling the core of this book is predictable, which wasnt surprising but the way Meagan Spooner crafted her story around this core was fantastic.

I loved that Yeva was a strong hunter, a protector, a fighter. Her character was so interesting, I could really relate to her, especially her not feeling like she fitted in.

The Beauty and the Beast is my favourite fairy tale, so I was excited reading this book because it didn’t mimic or change it at all. It was a completely new and interesting story that just happened to have a similar plot.

I think the addition of the Beasts point of view, added at the end of each chapter was a fantastic idea. It broke up the book and really helped to strengthen the character of the Beast and his dilemma throughout the story.

Meagan Spooner’s writing was beautiful, it was really easy to follow and her descriptions were absolutely fantastic, borderline cinematic. As a reader going into a retelling can be a very predictable ready experience, but Meagan’s ability to crafted a new tale around an old story and keep it fresh and entertaining is something to be applauded.

Hunted by Meagan Spooner is a definite winner, Its captivating, mesmerizing and a truly enjoyable reading experience. Go and get yourself a copy of Hunter this instant.

 

 

Seven Deadly Sins…

Today I am going to explore the 7 deadly sins. Once again this post is pretty self-explanatory so  I’m just gonna jump right in…

Greed: Most Expensive book and least expensive book I own? I own the complete collection of the Brother’s Grimm fairy tales in a beautiful bound edition, that s by far the most expensive book I own. As for the least expensive, I have a lot of books I reviewed as review copies, free of charge so they would be the least expensive. Off the top of my head I will go with Hunter by Meagan Spooner.

Gluttony: Book I have shamelessly devoured many times? Well this was an easy one for me, Harry Potter. If I had to pick just one book from the series I would probably pick The prisoner of Azkaban.

Wrath: Author I have a love/hate relationship with? After much deliberation I have thought of two Authors. S.E. Hinton and John Steinbeck. These two Author’s wrote some of my favourite books and as well as some of my least favourite books.

Sloth: Book or series I have neglected out of laziness? This unfortunately is also a pretty easy one, The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I have to first book and have been meaning to get into this series I just havent had to energy to start a new series.

Pride: Book I bring up when I want to sound like an intellectual reader? Well I usually bring up some sort of classic. My go to is Les Miserable by Victor Hugo.

Lust: Attractive attributes in a male character? Strong, Loyal, Protective, Kind, Open Minded. Characters like Remus Lupin, Dimitri Belikov and Jasper Hale.

Envy: Book or series I would love to receive as a gift? I love Harry Potter, so any of the box sets of the Harry Potter series would be an awesome gift for me.

Well that’s it from me. Let me know your 7 deadly sins.

Happy Reading

❤ Gem

The Land Of Stories: An Author’s Odyssey by Chris Colfer 

Book 5 in The Land Of Stories series.

The Masked Man is reeking havoc across The Land Of Stories. With the help of his new army and the Wicked Witch of the West, Captain Hook and The Queen of Hearts, he has captured the royal families an is eager to publicly destroy them so he can take his place as emperor of The Land Of Stories. Alex, Conner and their friends know they are no match against the Masked Man and his villains, so they decide to use the portal potion to delve into Conner;s stories and recruit an army of their own. With Pirates, Mummies, Superheros and Cyborgs, can they all band together for an ultimate show down and end the Masked Mans plans for good.

The Land Of Stories books just keep getting better.

Chris Colfer has upped the ante in this book. Keeping with the plot he created in the last book, he has taken his readers on an absolutely crazy yet terrifically awesome adventure.

Getting to see more of the classic book characters such as Hook, Peter Pan and the Queen of Hearts was awesome. I also loved the fact that we get to travel into Conner’s stories. Getting to see strange yet familiar versions of the characters we have grown to know and love was a fantastic addition to this already amazing series.

Like its predecessor, The Land Of Stories: An Author’s Odyssey has quite a lot of heartwarming moments. I loved the interactions between Alex and Conner and Conner and his Mother as they journeyed in and out of his stories.

I couldn’t put this book down and I was sad when it came to the end, especially given the cliffhanger. Now I am counting down the days until I can get my hands on book 6.

If you havent yet discovered Chris Colfer’s magical Land Of Stories series you should get your hands on them now. Dont miss out on these amazing books.

Bring on The Land Of Stories: World’s Collide.

The Land Of Stories: Beyond The Kingdoms by Chris Colfer 

Book 4 in The Land Of Stories series.

With the dangerous Masked Man on the loose and Alex exiled from the Fairy Council, the twins must bring together their rag-tag group of friends to search for and stop Masked Man. After discovering the Masked Man has a powerful potion that can turn any book into a magic portal, Alex, Conner and Co are in a race against time to stop him from recruiting an army of villains from different worlds. As the group travel through Oz, Neverland and Wonderland, they seem to always be one step behind. Can Alex and Conner stop the Masked Man before its to late?

I Love Love Loved this book.

Chris Colfer has weaved his magic one again. The Land Of Stories: Beyond The Kingdoms is his best offering yet. Combining The Land Of Stories world and characters he has created in his pervious books with the classic worlds of Oz, Neverland and Wonderland is an absolute masterstroke.

I loved seeing a different side to some of the character throughout this book; Alex;s instability, Conner’s brotherly concern and Jack and Goldie’s love and understanding bring a really emotional core to this book.

Getting to see Peter Pan, The Queen of Hearts and the Wicked Witch of the West appear in this book made for such and amazing reading experience.

I am truly blown away by Chris Colfer’s ability to create such amazing stories and characters. I could only dream of being this creative.

I cant wait to see where he takes us next.

The Land Of Stories: Beyond The Kingdoms is beyond brilliant.

The Land Of Stories: A Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer

Book 3 in The Land Of Stories series.

Taking place in two dimensions; Conner is living his life in the Otherworld with his mother and step father, thinking that his fairytale adventures are behind him. While his twin sister Alex is living in the fairytale world training to be the next fairy godmother. While on a school trip Conner discovers a mysterious clue left by the Brother’s Grimm and sets off on a mission across Europe with his classmate Bree to decode a 200-year-old clue. In the fairytale world, Alex is having trouble granting wishes and wonders if she will ever be ready to become the fairy godmother and lead the fairy council. When the twins worlds collide they realise they must once again work together and recruit their friends and enemies to save the fairytale world once again.

I will admit that this is my least favourite book in The Land Of Stories series. Having the twins apart throughout the book just didn’t work for me. I loved seeing Conner in the Otherworld and I loved the introduction of the new characters throughout his adventures, but I just couldn’t connect with Alex in the fairytale world without Conner there.

The plot of this book was great, having the added element of the Brother’s Grimm and the mystery surrounding their introduction was a fantastic idea.

Chris Colfer’s growth as a writer was on show once again. His ability to recreate these much-loved fairytale characters and worlds while keeping the realism of emotion and angst is amazing. I look forward to seeing where he takes us in his next installment.

I am really excited to see what role the new characters will play in the future of this series. I just hope Alex and Conner stay together in the future, as I feel much more connect to them as a team.