24in48 Readathon Challenge

The 24in48 Readathon Challenge is essentially a crazy reading challenge where readers, bloggers and booktubers challenge themselves to read for a full 24 hours across a designated 48 hour time period. Books can be of any genre, format and length, as the goal is simple to read for a total of 24 hours across the weekend.

It really is as simple as that.

The challenge is hosted by American bloggers Rachel, Kerry and Kristen over at the official 24in48 Readathon Challenge blog, but it’s open international to readers from all over the world. They offer prizes and run a variety of social media support, and all-in-all it looks like a lot of crazy fun.

For those that have been following this blog for a while, I’ve never attempted anything this ambitious, nor have I ever attempted a readathon before. That said, I’ve been looking into a variety of ways to challenge myself and this blog lately and this seemed like a kind of cool, but extremely daunting challenge to try. I’m not entirely sure I will succeed if I’m being 100% honest, especially as I’m battling the flu at the moment and have bookclub on Sunday, but I’m determined to give it my best shot regardless.

I haven’t really given what I will be reading throughout the challenge any thought yet … I know, poor planing Jess! … I’ll be trying to update you via here, facebook, instagram and twitter across the weekend with how I’m tracking and what I’m reading. So make sure you are following me across all platforms to see how I’m tracking and what I’m reading.

I have however downloaded a copy of Little Book Owl‘s Readathon Tracker; you can watch her explanation video and download your own copy here.

Technically the readathon starts at 12.01am on Saturday 20th July EDT time and finishes at 11.59pm on Sunday 21st July EDT time. If I’ve done my conversions right (please let me have done so), it falls within my working week weekend here in Australia, as the challenge starts here at 2.01pm AEST on Saturday 20th July and thus finishes at 1.59pm on Monday 21st July.

It should be a lot of fun.

Are you attempting the 24in48 hours Readathon Challenge this year? Have you attempted a readathon before? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

 

 

 

Waiting On Wednesday: ‘Styx & Stones’ by Carmen Jenner

 

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are excited for.

Is it September yet? This new book from Carmen Jenner is going to be epic and I can’t wait to get stuck into it … with a box of tissues, chocolates and perhaps some alcohol on hand of course!

 

Published by: Self Published

Expected Publication: 3rd September 2019

Cancer sucks … and then you die.

Alaska Stone is a walking wet dream.

My wet dream.

For years, I’ve watched her in the halls, wanted her, but she never knew I existed.

Not until she walked into my chemo session.

For me, it was love at first sight.

For her? It might take a little longer.

But hey, it’s not like we’re on a deadline or anything.

 

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46351246-s-s

 

REVIEW: The Jacket by Sue-Ellen Pashley and Illustrated by Thea Baker

Published: 1st May 2019

Publisher: Black Dog Books, Imprint of Walker Books Australia

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback Picture book (Purchased)

RRP: $25

5/5 Stars

A lovely picture book for every child who has outgrown a favourite toy or piece of clothing.

The jacket was no ordinary jacket. It was soft, like dandelion fluff. It was warm, like the afternoon sun. It was comforting, like a hug from your favourite teddy.

In The Jacket, a child’s favourite piece of clothing, which she outgrows, passes on to her little sister and then is repurposed for a new life. This is a heartwarming story about growing up and learning to let go of the things you become attached to in childhood.
 

The Jacket by Sue-Ellen Pashley and illustrated by Thea Baker is the most superb little picture book.  It’s like a comforting hug just before bedtime.

The Jacket is a story about a much loved colourful coat that is passed from Amelia to Lily, to Lilly’s dolls, the cat with her kittens and finally breathed new life in to once more as the worlds most fabulous teddy bear for Lilly’s younger brother.  It’s a story about adventures, sentimental value and the emotional connections we make with much-loved clothes and treasured toys.

The Jacket is truly one of the most heartfelt and beautiful picture books I’ve held in a long time. Featuring a mix of stunning illustrations, clever collages and the layering of images, Thea Baker has done an outstanding job of bringing Sue-Ellen Pashley’s story to life. Featuring double-page illustrations, full of patterns, colours and layered detail this book’s illustrations are hard to adequately describe, except to say they are lifelike and literally jump off the page. On more than one occassion I found myself running my fingertips across the page half expecting to be able to feature the texture of the backgrounds and jumper; it was just all so real!

Sue-Ellen Pashely’s story is heartfelt and beautifully presented through simplistic styling. Featuring mainly short, one-line sentences, Pashley’s narrative takes us on a journey of love, creation, adventure and new life. It allows the reader to re-live their own memories and remember that item that we all hold near and dear to our heart. I loved seeing the personal journeys the jacket took with each new owner, the comfort it gave and the warmth it brought into their life. It’s a simple, but elaborately beautiful piece of clothing that keeps on giving – emotionally, mentally and physically.

The Jacket by Sue-Ellen Pashley and illustrated by Thea Baker is a delightful picture book that is sure to warm your heart and fill your bookshelves with love. It’s a picture book that will keep on giving and is a great educational tool as well (for the value of items, the need to pass it on and the way we can repurpose items that we no longer need or use).  It’s clever, artistically beautiful, narratively brilliant and just a fantastic book to behold.

 

To learn more about Sue-Ellen Pashley, visit the following social media pages:

Sue-Ellen’s Website | Facebook 

 

To learn more about Thea Baker, visit the following social media pages:

Thea Baker’s Website | Facebook  | Twitter | Instagram

To purchase a copy of The Jacket, visit the following online retailers:

Walker Books Australia | Amazon AUS | Amazon US | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Book depository | Dymocks | QBD |

REVIEW: Pig the Tourist by Aaron Blabey

Published: 1st July 2019

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Pages: 24

Format: hardback picture book (purchased)

RRP: $17.99

5/5 Stars

Pig the Pug is causing havoc and hilarity as he travels around the world.
Pig was a Pug
and I’m sorry to say,
when he went on vacation
he’d cause great dismay.

Everywhere he goes around the globe, Pig the Pug offends the locals and causes destruction and devastation. However, in the end, Pig’s rudeness comes back to bite him…

Rich with author-illustrator Aaron Blabey’s signature rhyming text and unforgettable illustrations, Pig the Tourist is a laugh-out-loud story that follows the six previous books in the series (Pig the Pug, Pig the Winner, Pig the Elf, Pig the Star, Pig the Fibber, and Pig the Stinker).

Pig the Pug is back and dare I say it, better than ever.

Everybody’s favourite little destroyer, Pig the Pug is continuing his adventures in this latest release from bestselling author Aaron Blabey. This time Pig and his family are headed overseas and around the world on what is meant to be the most epic of holidays … but Pig, being Pig, things never turn out the way they are intended.

I love everything about Pig the Tourist. From Blabey’s adorably quirky illustrations to his highly entertaining rhyming narrative. As an adult, I find this book has the most hilarious little innuendos and metaphors making it the perfect book for an adult to read to a child over and over again. There is just so much going on, kids and adults of all ages are going to love it!

The fun starts right with the endpapers this time as we learn that Pig has defaced poor Trevour the Dachshund’s international passport. Keen-eyed readers will also note the Piranha from Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas featured on the title page instead of Pig and Trevour. Right from the get-go, this caught my attention and made me smile. Blabey was up to something, and it didn’t disappoint!

As usual Blabey’s illustrations are comedic, colourful and larger than life. Featuring a mix of double-page illustrations with white and full-colour backgrounds, his images capture your attention and make it incredibly hard to look away from the chaos that Pig leaves in his wake.

When the book opens, Pig has escaped his cage and is causing all sorts of mischief as Trevour looks on bewildered from the safety of his own cage. Over the course of the book, we see the most amusing holiday ‘snapshots’ as Pig causes havoc everywhere from stealing the  hotdog stand in New York, to writing his name in pee on a polar bear in Antartica, to destroying ancient wonders of the world in Eygpt, to upsetting the locals in Japan, China, Australia, France, Italy and England. He makes international headlines when he bawls over the Queen of England and topples the leaning tower of Pisa before finally getting his comeuppance in the murky waters of the Amazon with the Prihana’s.

Although I’m extremely biased here my favourite pages have to include the Australian page where Pig has doughnuts for ears and is wearing an ‘I’m a Koala’ sign around his neck. I laughed out loud at this one for longer than I am willing to admit. A close second being the African stampede …

Blabey’s text is suitably humorous, educational and just damn smart. He never breaks his rhyme even when subtly explaining to readers of all ages the need to be respectful of other cultures, customs and places of interest.

Best selling author, Aaron Blabey keeps getting better with each and every book, and it’s no surprise that this book is selling out quicker than you can say Pig the Tourist! His characters, settings, and story are spot on and I can’t wait to see what Pig gets up to next time.

Pig the Tourist is an absolute hoot for readers young and old; I highly recommend this book!

  

To learn more about Aaron Blabey, visit the following social media pages:

AARON BLABEY WEBSITEFACEBOOK

To purchase a copy of Pig The Tourist, visit the following online retailers:

Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks

LL REVIEW: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Long lost Reviews (LLR) is a  monthly featured hosted by Ally @ Ally’s Appraisals where bloggers are encouraged to tackle their review backlog with book reviews that have been sitting there for a long time. Reviews can range from in-depth analyses to one sentence statements with no pressure applied. To learn more and see participating blogs visit Ally’s blog here.

Published: 6th November 2018

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

Pages: 464 or 19 hours (audio)

Format: Audiobook purchased via Audible

RRP: $53.17 for the audible audiobook without a subscription. $16.45 with the subscription

1.5/5 Stars

Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out…

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

I’ve been umming and ahhing about posting this review for the longest time. Every time I sat down to write it, I would immediately stand back up and walk away from the computer… but here we are.  Reviewing Nine Perfect Strangers for Long Lost Reviews is probably a bit of a cop-out, as the book is not even twelve months old yet, but it did release in November of 2018, so I’m running with it.

Nine Perfect Strangers is the story of … well, nine strangers (I know how odd), who meet for the first time at a very exclusive and upmarket wellness retreat, Tranquillum House. They are expecting two weeks (I think) of remote, unique experiences that will enlighten and enrich their lives spirituality, mentality and physically. Instead, the nine strangers find themselves walking into the most bizarre and unpredictable situation, that I’m sure if they were real, would give you nightmares for the rest of your life.

Before I jump into an extremely long review, I’m going to preface this review by saying Nine Perfect Strangers is a book that readers either love or hate. There is no middle ground. I’ve seen people gush over it and people tear it to shreds. As it turns out, this book was not for me.

I’ve been reading Liane Moriarty’s books all my adult (and even a bit of my teen) reading life. I read her books in high school and new when this one was announced that I had to purchase it straight away because it would be glorious. What I wasn’t expecting was a gigantic brick (nothing against long books in general, but this book is BIG)) coming in at 454 pages. The book sat on my nightstand for months as I balanced ARC’s and life, so I purchased the audiobook from Audible as well thinking well I’d get to experience the book quicker …  I should have stuck with the physical copy.

The audiobook for this book is a whopping nineteen hours long and it’s narrated by Caroline Lee.  And this is where things start to get bad for me. I’m a religious book finisher (not sure if that’s a thing, but I’m making it a thing). To date, there have only ever been two books I have not DNF’ed (did not finish); sometimes this means I will stick with a book for months, or even years until its read (meanwhile reading a host of other things in between). Which brings me to my point, I struggled to finish Nine Perfect Strangers. I stuck with it, and have read the entire book, but I went weeks, borderline months without listening to it … because I was bored.

Moriarty has gone to great lengths to create an eccentric mix of characters from all walks of life in Nine Perfect Strangers. There is Frances – struggling author whose just been catfished by her online lover; Jessica and Ben – a couple who won the lottery but effectively destroyed their relationship; Heather, Napoleon and Zoe – a family with dark secrets, grieving the loss of their son/brother; Tony – ex sport star with ill health; Carmel – a divorced mother, corporate ladder figure who has lost her way; Lars – a seedy lawyer type who offers everyone his services; Yao – an ex-paramedic and now the ‘medical guru’ of Tanquillam House; Marsha – a Russian divorcee, ex-corporate ladder head whose lifestyle almost killed her and the owner and creative founder of Tranquilliam House. But none felt as polished or well-rounded/developed as some of her previous characters.  Each character was a bit lukewarm, almost wary of their own reception

I didn’t connect with any of them.

Because of this, Nine Perfect Strangers was a book that dragged for me. I didn’t initially like Frances at all – I found her rude, self-centred and over the top –  which is most unfortunate as the majority of the book is told from her point of view. Most importantly, however, for the first 3/4 quarters of the book, nothing happened! The characters woke up, drank their suspect smoothies (I have so many unanswered questions), didn’t talk to each other (they were under a vow of silence), did yoga, went to bed and started the day over.  Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

In the final quarter of the book, Moriarty introduced some suspense and mystery elements to the plot, that had me sit up and pay attention. I started to connect with the characters a tiny bit. To the point that I wanted to know what happened! In hindsight, the ending is over the top dramatic and kind of crazy out of the blue given the books pacing, but at the time, I just remember thinking FINALLY. Then the story wrapped up super quick, there was an epilogue of sorts which tied together ‘everything’ with a nice big bow and the book simply ended. Just like that. My head was left reeling it happened so fast. What’s worse is that a lot of my questions weren’t answered!

Moriarty’s writing has always been highly entertaining and delightful to me in the past. Which leads me to wonder if the form that I ‘read’ this book in partially contributed to my experience. Caroline Lee’s delivery of the book isn’t bad, but perhaps the book itself doesn’t lend itself to the audio form as much as other books do? What’s more, I wonder if it was a case of the wrong book, wrong time? Every time we open a book, our own personal state of mind, preferences and experience affect the way we read and receive the text. While its true I wasn’t going through any negative or traumatic experiences at the time, perhaps my state of being wasn’t prime time reading either? Perhaps this just wasn’t a book for me, personally. We will never know.

What I do know is, when Liane Moriarty’s future books release, I will continue to buy them ASAP. Years of loyal readership and respect does not simply vanish because of one mediocre book. I’m excited to see what she comes out with next and where her writing career is heading, with everything happening in Hollywood with Big Little Lies and her other books being optioned, the world is Moriarty’s oyster and she can only go up from here.

Nine Perfect Strangers is clearly not my favourite Liane Moriarty book by far. So if this was the first of her books you picked up or were thinking of picking up, I would strongly advise you to perhaps try your hand at one of her other books first.

Have you read Nine Perfect Strangers? Did you love it? Hate it? I loved to hear your thoughts, because honestly, so many months later I’m still so conflicted by this book…

To learn more about Liane Moriarty, visit the following social media sites:

Liane Moriarty Website | Facebook | Goodreads

To purchase a copy of Nine Perfect Strangers, visit the following online retailers:

Pan Macmillian Australia | Amazon AUS | Amazon US | Angus & Robertson | Audible | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks |

 

 

Waiting On Wednesday: The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon

 

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are excited for.

 

Published by: 47th North

Expected Publication: 20th August 2019

From ​the New York Times bestselling author comes a breathtaking fantasy of a cursed kingdom, warring clans, and unexpected salvation.

Bayr of Saylok, bastard son of a powerful and jealous chieftain, is haunted by the curse once leveled by his dying mother. Bartered, abandoned, and rarely loved, she plagued the land with her words: From this day forward, there will be no daughters in Saylok.

Raised among the Keepers at Temple Hill, Bayr is gifted with inhuman strength. But he’s also blessed with an all-too-human heart that beats with one purpose: to protect Alba, the first girl child born in nearly two decades and the salvation for a country at risk.

Now the fate of Saylok lies with Alba and Bayr, whose bond grows deeper with every whisper of coming chaos. Charged with battling the enemies of their people, both within and without, Bayr is fueled further by the love of a girl who has defied the scourge of Saylok.

What Bayr and Alba don’t know is that they each threaten the king, a greedy man who built his throne on lies, murder, and betrayal. There is only one way to defend their land from the corruption that has overtaken it. By breaking the curse, they could defeat the king…but they could also destroy themselves.

WORLD MEERKAT DAY SPECIAL EDITION REVIEW: ‘Meerkat Splash’ by Aura Parker

Published: 2nd July 2019

Publisher: Puffin Books

Pages: 32

Format: Hardcover Picture Book (Received from the publisher for review)

RRP: $19.99

4/5 Stars

Meerkats cleaning, washing. Woooo! Slipping, sliding, swimming too.

Follow Meerkat Red into the burrow and join all the colourful meerkat friends for one big crazy bathtime! But who makes the biggest MEERKAT SPLASH?

 

 

When I opened my mail to find this delightful picture from Puffin Books (Penguin Random House Australia) I kid you not, I lost my mind. For as long as I can remember, Meerkats have been somewhat of a family favourite; there is just something about their quirky personalities that is overwhelmingly endearing and entrancing. I can’t believe I had no idea this book was even coming out until it turned up in my mailbox.

Meerkat Splash by Aura Parker is an adorable picture book celebrating family, acceptance, individuality, uniqueness, and of course … Meerkats! Deep within the Meerkat burrows, a family of energetic Meerkats are celebrating the end of the day with a bath that gets quite out of hand. With twelve Meerkats in one admittedly large bathtub, mischief and mayhem is sure to ensue.

Aura Parker is an Australian author and illustrator.  Her illustrations are bright, quirky and vibrant as they breathe the very essence of life on to every page. With double-page illustrations, featuring mostly white backgrounds and bold colour-themed illustrations (each Meerkat is given a colour description), the images really speak for themselves as they lift off the stark white page. Accompanied by simple, rhyming text, the overall presentation is clean and inviting, allowing the cheeky story to take centre stage.

While the cover is definitely eye-catching, it is only the start of what is a superb little book with the perfect blend of playfulness, imagination, humour and story. In fact, I particularly love the endpapers that reveal the entire Meerkat burrow, the hub of the family life as each character goes about their business. Despite having read this book multiple times now, each time I go back to read it again, I notice something new so the story feels fresh and invigorating every single time. A point, I think parents of young children are going to particularly love.

Meerkat Splash is a fantastic picture book for young children( especially for those that might need a bit more coaching to get in the tub) and the young at heart. It’s playful, cute, and just a really good feel-good read.

 

To purchase a copy of Meerkat Splash, visit the following online retailers:

Penguin Random House Australia | Amazon AUS | Angus & RobertsonBooktopiaDymocks | QBD |

 

To learn more Aura Parker, visit the following social media sites:

Aura Parker’s WebsiteGoodreads | Instagram | Twitter 

 

To learn more about World Meerkat Day, visiting the following websites:

World Meerkat Facebook Page