The Farmer’s Wife (#2) by Rachael Treasure

Published: 1st April 2013Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Bolinda Audio
Narrator: Miranda Nation
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Rural Romance
★  – 1 Star

She got her fairytale ending — but life had other plans …

The Deniliquin Ute Muster had always been on Rebecca’s wish list, but with the farm and babies, she’d never managed to make it. Tonight, she decided to reclaim herself.

After ten years being married to larrikin Charlie Lewis and living on her beloved property, Waters Meeting, Rebecca is confronted by a wife’s biggest fear, a mother’s worst nightmare and a farm business that’s bleeding to death.

Can Rebecca find the inner strength she once had as a young jillaroo, to save everything she cherishes? Or is life about to teach her the hardest lesson: that sometimes you simply have to let go.

I leapt into The Farmer’s Wife after reading Jillaroo and I am so sorry that I did because it ruined everything that made Jillaroo wonderful. I listened to the audio book while I was driving which was great because I think I would have thrown the book at a wall more often than turning the pages.

I was aware that Treasure changes the personality of Charlie, does a complete 180 on him, but after finishing this book it was more than a 180, it was a completely new person. It was disgusting, really, having to listen to what he does and what he says, when he is nothing like the person in book one. In the beginning I could see where Treasure was coming from, I still can in a way, but even knowing where she was coming from does little to stop the sickening feeling in my stomach as I listened. I get it, the life with Rebecca isn’t the life Charlie wanted, but as the book goes on, he goes from being a scumbag, angry and rude, to being dangerous and abusive, pretty much a psychopath. It was horrible. I understood the ten year difference, life, kids, a farm, all could take their toll, but the direction I thought Treasure would take was nothing to what she does do.

It wasn’t just Charlie that was the problem, Rebecca had issues as well. She tries to cling onto the life she had, she makes some smart decisions and does the best she can for her kids, but I wasn’t a fan of some of her other decisions. The whole thing seems to go off the rails. I felt Rebecca lost who she was; she wasn’t the fighter she once was, she gives up too easy, and every time you think she is going to fight and pull herself together she doesn’t. The strong woman I fell in love with in Jillaroo becomes this uncertain, lost girl, granted with fleeting moments of strength but other than that, she too was a different person. Ten years on and both of them are unrecognisable as the people I knew in Jillaroo.

It was disgusting at times to listen to, and it was an appalling story. Nothing seemed to fit these characters and I felt there were so many cop outs and explanations and justifications that didn’t sit right. It was such a disappointment, to not even see the same values really that they once had.

Away from characters Treasure uses the book to teach us about the benefits of holistic farming, in detail, something I didn’t actually really mind because I found it interesting, but I can see how that would be annoying, it only kind of worked into the story, more telling than showing I think. This takes over Rebecca’s storyline in a way and you start to root for her again before she lets you down once more.

I liked some parts and put up with other bits, and as I say, felt sick for a lot of it and was confused about who these characters were. I get Treasure wants to show us the Cinderella story isn’t always a dream, but could we maybe have more tension and fights instead of abusive husbands and magic crystals? If you loved Jillaroo like I did. If you loved Charlie and Rebecca together, their story, her story, then don’t read the sequel. Or if you do, be warned, yes it does show you that the Cinderella story does settle into reality, but what Treasure does is so far from I think what’s believable in terms of these established characters, it is too much at times.

If Treasure wanted conflict there was plenty to work without destroying the relationship and characters she had built up so beautifully in Jillaroo. I may just have to reread that story and pretend this one never happened.

 

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The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub

Published: 1st March 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 HarperCollins Australia
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.

The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?

The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends …

The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.

The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?

The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.

Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?

I knew a Melina Marchetta recommendation wouldn’t let me down and a reading binge until 4am proves me right. The Yearbook Committee is a beautiful story that encapsulates how people from different situations can come together (albeit unwilling), and can have their lives changed forever.

The story is told through five character perspectives, across nine months of the school year, and reveals the ups and down of teenage life and the experiences of living in contemporary Australia. The joy of reading Aussie books is recognising the locations and references, and Ayoub captures that Aussie feeling, our language and our culture, making this story feel natural and familiar.

The layout revolves around the monthly yearbook meetings and the school terms, and Ayoub’s creative in getting information without needing it to be told in detail. Using character’s traits and personalities to her advantage, Ayoub provides the ideal amount of information keeping it feeling natural with the story at hand. The focus is centred on the yearbook and character personal lives, and though things are mentioned within this space, Ayoub never makes us feel like we need to see them play out.

Being a book about modern teenagers, there’s naturally a lot of social media to include and Ayoub integrates technology and texting seamlessly and creatively. Each character shift is broken up with a Facebook style post and it sets the tone for not only the coming chapter, but it fits into the overall and arching story. Ayoub also ends each chapter with a hanging question, a moment, or thought that can be profound or concerning. Each character is contemplating or observing and it’s a great tactic; it finalises their chapter and can have such an impact on what has happened or what is going to happen.

There are characters you like immediately and certainly those you don’t like for the entire novel. Then there are the few that grow on you as you read. The more Ayoub reveals about them and the more you get to know them your feelings shift until you grow to respect each one for who they are. Again, not everyone, some of them you want to kick in the face, those feelings don’t change. There were times when I wanted to reach into the pages and hug these people, even now having finished it I still want to give them all a massive hug. One part that I loved was that so many characters connect with each other and overlap and they don’t always know it. Friends of friends and relatives of others know one another and when you notice you realise how connected everyone is.

Getting to see each committee member’s point of view is a powerful tool. You feel sorry for them all in varying degrees and certainly for various reasons. Their life outside of school is opened up and the different struggles and conflicts they face are laid bare, making you realise everyone has something to hide and problems of their own. The Tolstoy quote Gillian posts is a perfect example: All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Each of these characters is unhappy in their own way and sometimes these unhappinesses can break your heart.

Ayoub doesn’t placate you with idealistic and fake endings; she offers you solutions and results, consequences and outcomes. And yet, there is also a delightful ambiguity remaining, taunting you with things left open and unanswered. Nothing that says there will be a happily ever after which is why, in those final emotional chapters when you can’t stand it anymore but have to keep reading, Ayoub delivers a realistic and perfect conclusion, one that suits these characters you’ve grown to love, one that feels real, one that crushes your heart and is feels just right, even when you’re trying not to cry.

My only criticism with this story (a minor personal desire), is that I wish that we could have seen the final yearbook layout. It would have been a bittersweet inclusion and if possible I would happily donate to a fund that gets this put into production. Until such time, I am content with this important, beautiful, and divine story that will open your eyes and move your soul.

You can purchase The Yearbook Committee via the following

Booktopia | Amazon Aust

Book Depository | QBD

AmazonDymocks

Readings | Publisher

A&R Bookworld| Boomerang Books

AWW16

Book Launch: The Reluctant Jillaroo by Kaz Delaney

Yesterday I attended the wonderful book launch for Kaz Delaney’s new young adult novel, The Reluctant Jillaroo. Delayed from its release in January the day finally arrived to celebrate this fantastic book at Cardiff Library.

20160305_143559Kaz and her wonderful team and support put on a great event; there were delicious nibblies (an excellent brownie or three) and punch to enjoy, and there were games and prizes to be won as well. With a solid pink and rural theme there were games and fun to be had by all. There was a horseshoe toss, props to dress up in, a lucky door prize up for grabs, even a Guess the Number of Lolly Snakes game.

 

 

 

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The Reluctant Jillaroo is a fantastic book (review to come tomorrow) and seeing Kaz celebrate it with so much support was well deserved. Fellow author Susan Whelan launched the book and spoke of Kaz’s great friendship and work ethic, then Kaz spoke about the journey and long road to getting The Reluctant Jillaroo on the shelves. Broken armed but filled with high spirits she spoke about the trials of launching and the joys of celebrating things that are worth celebrating. With two years worth of work behind her, celebrations were most definitely in order. But not, as she said, to celebrate herself for having written the book, instead it was to celebrate having written the book and coming out the other side with her friends and those who helped her.
 

Kaz told us the origins of The Reluctant Jillaroo, first ideas, drafts, and rewrites. From wild fantasies about Jillaroo and Jackaroo camps to the rule it needed a snake in it. Not to mention the extreme research that went into it and all the skills Kaz had to learn (she is a theoretical master at so many things now). All that worked paid off, in her words she is older, wiser, and more grey under the blonde now but it was a lot of fun to write and I assure you it’s a lot of fun to read as well.

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I loved Kaz’s adopted philosophy from an old colleague about celebrating the little things, and while publishing a book is not a little thing, it was a fun afternoon of celebration. I think little things need to be celebrated more often and while the negatives can take up so much of our thoughts, and big things get a lot of accolades; occasionally the little things need a glass of champagne of their own.
 

20160305_150930Kaz, as always, was such a sweetie, she laughed at the hassles of getting the launch off the ground, the kept going despite breaking her arm literally the day before, and with a smile on her face she made the event as heartfelt and inviting as any of her previous events. I may not have walked away with a lucky door prize, though a few numbers came frustratingly close to my own, I had a ball. I caught up with a bunch of book friends and met new faces, and came away glad I got to share the experience with so many enthusiastic people.

 

If you would like to learn more about the book or about Kaz check out the links below.

 

All Your Bits & Pieces Needs

Goodreads

Kaz’s Website

Kaz’s Twitter

Kaz’s Facebook

Aussie Books State by State

With Australia Day behind us and the Aussie Blog Hop over, you may be on the hunt for even more great Aussie reads. Booksellers Angus and Robinson have offered up a selection of books as part of their ‘Australia in Focus’, and provided some great books that are set in Australia’s states and territories. For those looking to read something set in their state, or to read about other states and territories, it’s a great starting place. Angus and Robinson have compiled this selection and it is in no way complete but it’s filled with great Aussie names and titles. They have also compiled a great image that highlights the great Australian classics state by state which you can find here along with a few additional titles or you can click on the image below. And apologies, ACT, you don’t seem to have any, surely not all your books are about politicians…

Oz books

NEW SOUTH WALES

QUEENSLAND

VICTORIA

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

TASMANIA

NORTHERN TERRITORY

 

Happy Australia Day!

Australia DayAustralia Day has arrived! The sun is trying to shine, rain has stayed away, and we can all have a day off, eat lamingtons, and celebrate Australia.

After blog-hopping around so many amazing blogs for the Australia Day Giveaway I’ve become inspired about all things Aussie. Today’s post is going to be about things I love about Australia. Not just the Tim Tams or the weather, but the little things like our laid back approach to things, our animals, and even just the fact that we have a language all of our own that is nearly impossible to understand by anyone else. Of course one must realise this isn’t 1970s anymore and while a few things remain, we don’t all walk around sounding like Alf Stewart, Mick Dundee, or say half the things on those ‘Understanding Aussie Slang’ cheat cards. I know this is a slightly unconventional list of favourite Aussie things than just listing things like Tim Tam Slams or Home and Away, but I think it’s nice to remember we are actually more than just the stereotypes we may seem to be, but on the other hand we are also sometimes exactly like that so it’s hard to win!

The first thing is Vegemite. I love vegemite. I know it sounds so stereotypical but I do love it. I once made an awesome vegemite and red wine gravy, it was so delicious. I have also been asked whether I would like some toast with my vegemite because I apparently put too much on. I do draw the line at vegemite chocolate because that’s a big no no.

Another stereotypical answer is the landscape. I love the harbour, I love the outback, but I love the bush more. I love the trees and the different shades of green. It isn’t fluoro green or dark shades of green, it’s like a pale green, bits of brown, bits of yellow. It’s beautiful.

I love that people are scared of our animals despite the fact we haven’t got any bears, lions, tigers, or massive constricting snakes. We have tiny spiders and snakes that stay out of your way 99% of the time unless you are in the middle of nowhere where they all live under the toilet seat.

I love the fact we have an unspoken rule about convincing foreigners to believe things about our country. Not just drop bears (they of course are real and very dangerous), but trying to convince them with a straight face we say certain phrases, or do certain things. Even not just making things up, I love seeing people freak out over actual Aussie animals like the Cassowary or the Numbat. Or see them trying to work out what a servo is, an arvo is, or what a u-ey is and why we’re chucking it. It’s wonderful innocent fun.

I love our summer Christmases, I cannot imagine any other way that sitting in the sun with Christmas music playing (as odd as it is to sing about snow in 35 degree heat). Ham and prawns and pressies, it’s fantastic.

I love our food, and I love that it’s so different than anywhere else. We have lamingtons and fairy bread, Fantails and Ice Vo-vos, Milo and Malteasers. How could we have gone on as a country without having that to spur us on? I also love you can’t talk about most of these things without getting strange looks from other people like you are saying a bunch of gibberish words.

I also love that we have this culture and common understanding practically ingrained in us. We understand when someone says ‘Not happy, Jan’, or ‘Look at moi’. We know the Happy Little Vegemite song practically from birth, as well as the Aeroplane Jelly song and Louie the Fly despite the fact they probably haven’t been on TV in years. We know about the Boxing Day arguments over whether to watch the cricket or the sailing. We can finish the line ‘Have you ever, ever felt like this’, and we had a favourite Play School window. It’s amazing how much shared knowledge and experience we actually have, it’s awesome.

So that’s my list! My strange collections of things I love about being an Aussie and wouldn’t give up for the world. I know everyone has different things they love, are any the same? Totally different? Whatever you love about Australia Day I hope you’re having a fantastic time celebrating wherever you are and however you are choosing to enjoy it. I myself am going to have my second lamington of the day (no doubt not my last) before having a sausage sandwich and supervise the making of ANZAC bikkies. I think that’s as Australian as I will get today luckily.

I hope the sun keeps shining on all your merriments and that in between the barbeque and backyard cricket games you get to read something spectacular, or maybe even pop over to enter a giveaway or two on the blog-hop *wink wink*.

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