Bloom (The Order #1) by Nikki Rae

Published: 28th FebruaryGoodreads badge
Publisher:
 Self Published
Pages: 290
Format: ebook
Genre: Dark contemporary romance
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Given to The Grimm Order as an infant, Fawn was raised in a world shaped by the rich and powerful. When she was sold at the age of nine to a Suitor, Fawn believed he would protect her from the “Mainworld”, where those who know nothing about the Order live. Living with the cruel man who bought her freedom, she finds just what the Order is about: money, control, and status for the Owner and humiliation and abuse for those they own. 

Unwilling to accept the expectations of being Owned, Fawn goes from golden girl to maid, content to live in the shadows of the Order as long as she isn’t Owned again.

It’s been ten years since she disgraced her former Owner’s name, and now the brooding Frenchman Elliot Lyon wants her. Master Lyon is kind, smart, and unlike any man she’s met. She doesn’t want to admit it to herself, but Fawn is drawn to him despite constantly planning her next escape. 

Even the prettiest flowers have thorns, and Master Lyon is hiding secrets that will uproot everything she thinks she knows about him.

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book by the author for review.

Once again, Nikki Rae has delivered. I will admit I was wary when I first began reading. It’s different, it’s certainly uncomfortable and dark at times, but nevertheless, it is everything that makes Rae’s books wonderful.

There were some scenes that made my stomach turn, which is interesting because this is not Rae’s first dark, sinisterly book. Nor the first with such a dark subject. It wasn’t the concept though, nor the overall situation, just a few scenes that made me feel uneasy as I read. Which I guess was the point. It made my stomach turn but I couldn’t stop reading. My own heart was pounding alongside Fawn’s. My own heart was thudding in my chest because I wanted to know what was going to happen because clearly anything could. I was engrossed, I stayed up late to read, I had to drag myself away at the end of lunch hours, trying to read another sentence, another paragraph.

Rae gets us inside Fawn’s head as we plan, assess, and discover all there is to her new world and her new situation. We discover things about her past life and her experiences with seamless transitions and carefully placed words. I felt the touch of fairytale in there and I loved the society and its secrets hidden in the modern world. Rae brings us into this dark world and the grand forbidden estate. We’re drawn into Fawn’s new life and feel her uncertainty and her defiance, her trepidation but admire the inner fire that keeps her going. An important thing to note is that while it is of a darker sexual nature, it isn’t too terrible, but there are also a few scenes of descriptive violence. In context and in the world in which Rae has created it makes sense, but certain scenes were hard to read.

I finished the final chapter very late at night and immediately wanted to leap into the next book. Rae takes you on an emotional journey with secrets you may or may not guess, and moments wrought with suspense and suppression. Everything you think you know or guess will get turned on its head on a whim. By the end you wish you knew what to expect but are delighted and scared when the story changes direction and you cannot fathom just where this story will take you.

You can purchase Bloom via the following

Amazon

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The Name of the Star (#1) by Maureen Johnson

Published: 29th September 2011
Goodreads badgePublisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 372
Format: Book
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Jack the Ripper is back, and he’s coming for Rory next….

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him – the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target…unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables.

Upon finishing this book I was experiencing a myriad of emotions and feelings that the first draft of this review was, for the majority, unhelpful gushing and exuberant praise. I was on a high of delight and amazement at what I had just read. Nothing wrong with that, but rather unhelpful for a review.

I cannot ignore though that a full 330 words were devoted entirely to going on about just how wonderful this book was. I experienced so many feelings and emotions throughout this book, especially during the final chapters, that I was on the edge of my seat and unsure where it could possibly lead, excited and impatient and nervous of what was going to happen.

I have been a long time fan of Johnson through her guest vlogging, her books, and following her hilarity on Twitter, but only recently have I been able to snag a copy of her Shades of London series which I have been dying to read for years. And can I just say I am so glad I finally got to read this because it is the greatest book ever! It is such a Maureen Johnson book as well. Her personality and own quirkiness shine off the pages and through her characters.

I strongly recommend you read this book, it really is all kinds of amazing. It’s a Jack the Ripper story like no other and it sucks you in and holds you while it simultaneously messes with your mind and makes you amazed and wide-eyed at the cleverness of it all.

The story follows Rory, a girl from southern USA who is sent to boarding school in London. She soon becomes embroiled in a series of murders eerily similar to that of Jack the Ripper. From there it becomes a story about murder and mystery, with a unique and clever paranormal element as well. Johnson’s writing is light and funny but also manages to be delightfully creepy in all the best ways.

The characters are unique and have their own stories to tell. I liked Rory’s charm in that she was a bit odd but she was who she was and wasn’t ashamed. I loved the differences between the UK and the US and the cultural clashes that are evident. I also loved that the story was slowly revealed. I revelled in the shocks, the surprises, and the delights. I made so many gasps and various other noises while I read this I’m sure people nearby were looking at me weird.

Other characters like Jerome and Stephen are wonderful. Jerome, in particular, is all kinds of adorable and while it took some time to warm to Rory, I loved Jerome immediately. I liked each character’s quirky nature and that they brought their own strengths to any situation. There is a wonderful sense of UK boarding school culture as well as a nice look at the streets of London through the eyes of a newcomer as well as its citizens. You get a taste of the culture and the mystery the old city has to offer and it is easy to fall under the spell through Rory and her own fascination.

When you read this book I suggest you keep the second in the series nearby because the moment you finish that last page you will want to dive into the next book right away. It is a wonderful story and it is a ghost story like no other.

You can purchase The Name of the Star via the following

Wordery | Book Depository | Fishpond

Dymocks | Amazon USA | Author Website

Barnes and Noble | Readings | Amazon Aust

The Internet is Like A Puddle by Shona Innes

Published: January 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Five Mile Press
Illustrator: Irisz Agocs
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

The Internet is Like a Puddle attends to the wonderful aspects of electronic communication as well as gently discusses some of the possible pitfalls of sharing, chatting and using data. There is a need to be mindful of those who are naive to the potential problems without denying them the wonderful opportunities. The Internet is Like a Puddle describes ways to stay safe and enjoy learning and chatting time on the Internet and to keep life balanced.

In an age where toddlers can be more proficient navigating the internet than a lot of 40-year-olds, this book is a great introduction to the joys and pitfalls of using the internet. Innes looks at how the internet lets us do great things and we can access these things in many different ways whether it is on the computer or on phones. She compares the internet it to a puddle, fun to play in, can be used to play games and have fun, but puddle can be deceptive and tricky. This is a great analogy which works in teaching about water safety as a side benefit.

It’s a great educational book that clearly and simply explains how it’s easy to get in too deep when using the internet and how the deeper we go the more dangerous it can become. Innes always compares it back to stepping in puddles, and how that too can be dangerous without an adult there with help and guidance.

Agocs illustrations are cute animals playing in nature and with technology, with pictures matching with words for easy comprehension. This is a nonfiction book that reads like a story. It’s a great book for kids teaching them about using the internet for fun and in moderation. Innes never wants to deter children from playing on the internet, it’s impossible to avoid and can have many benefits; instead, she is trying to teach about safety in terms kids can understand. This is a must-read for all parents in this day and age where children have such easy access to the internet and when it’s so easy to get into trouble.

You can purchase The Internet is a Puddle via the following

Booktopia |  Amazon

Book Depository

She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton

Published: 30th May 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Philomel Books
Illustrator: Alexandra Boiger
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Throughout American history, there have always been women who have spoken out for what’s right, even when they have to fight to be heard. In early 2017, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to be silenced in the Senate inspired a spontaneous celebration of women who persevered in the face of adversity. In this book, Chelsea Clinton celebrates thirteen American women who helped shape our country through their tenacity, sometimes through speaking out, sometimes by staying seated, sometimes by captivating an audience. They all certainly persisted.

She Persisted is for everyone who has ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who has ever tried to reach for the stars but was told to sit down, and for everyone who has ever been made to feel unworthy or unimportant or small.

When I first heard of this book I knew I needed to read it. I will also happily admit that I started tearing up when I was reminded of these important American women. I knew some of their stories, but some I hadn’t heard of. Clinton has told the story of these women in simple but important terms and includes one of their famous quotes.

She Persisted is an important story because it points out how these women persisted through their struggles, often when men told them they couldn’t, or when society tried to stop them. Clinton had written this in a way that not only highlights the great work that these women did through history, but she points out that when they were blocked (typically by men let’s admit it) they kept going, despite the hardship. I think that is an important lesson too, not just that these women did these remarkable things, but they ignored those who told them no.

One of the best inclusions is Claudette Colvin, an African American who refused to get up for a white woman on the bus. Clinton mentions this inspires Rosa Parkes, a few months later, but recognises Colvin was the first. There are thirteen remarkable women in this book: Harriett Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief’s, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey and Sonia Sotomayor. All who changed the world by never giving up on their dreams and doing what they felt was the right thing.

These stories of important historical women cover all kinds of professions of trailblazers and women who wouldn’t let other people tell them what they could and could not do. They persisted, and Clinton has made this book an important resource in teaching girls (and everyone) that no matter what they want to do, they shouldn’t let anyone tell them they can’t.

You can purchase She Persisted via the following

Wordery | BookWorld

Dymocks | QBD

Book Depository | Booktopia

The Nile | Fishpond

The Elephant by Peter Carnavas

Published: 3rd July 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
University of Queensland Press
Pages: 180
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Olive’s father has a sadness so big that she imagines it as an enormous elephant following him around. Every day Olive sees the elephant, and every day she wishes it would go.

With the help of Grandad and her best friend, Arthur, Olive sets out to chase the elephant away.

Just reading the blurb of this book made me instantly want to start reading it. It’s the story of a girl called Olive who lives with her dad and the elephant that follows him around. Olive is tired of seeing the looming elephant near her father, she is tired of seeing how it affects him and how it makes him forget about her.

I loved seeing how Carnavas explores Olive’s different relationships. I loved seeing her interact with her grandad, how he treats her and takes her on special adventures. I also actually really loved when Olive tries to be with her father. She’s always hopeful, always trying to get him to see her through the elephant.

There was one part that I thought really summed up the experience of depression and grief very well: “[Olive] longed to share it all…In the end, she said nothing because her father would never listen – really listen – with the elephant beside him.” I felt that this part portrayed the relationship Olive and her dad have. He doesn’t ignore her; he just can’t be there in his entirety for her because his sadness is too great, it overwhelms him.

This book is ideal for kids who need help understanding depression or how grief can affect the people around them. This isn’t a book that explains what depression or grief is or how it is treated, it doesn’t explicitly try to be either, but it is a story about a girl who lives with a dad who is sad all the time and can’t always be there for her.

There are some beautiful moments in this story and there’s a lot of wonderful surprises as well. I love Olive’s imagination and her creative mind, and I love Carnavas’ illustrations that fill this special book.

You can purchase The Elephant via the following

Dymocks | Booktopia | Publisher

Amazon | Fishpond

Book Depository | QBD | BookWorld

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