A Soldier, A Dog, and a Boy by Libby Hathorn

Published: 22nd March 2016
Goodreads badgePublisher: Lothian
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
Genre: Children
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

A moving story, told completely in dialogue, about a young Australian soldier in the battle of the Somme. Walking through the fields away from the front, he finds what he thinks is a stray dog, and decides to adopt it as a mascot for his company. Then he meets Jacques, the homeless orphan boy who owns the dog. The soldier realises that Jacques needs the dog more – and perhaps needs his help as well.

With stunning illustrations from Phil Lesnie, this is a deeply moving celebration of friendship in times of war.

Look, who doesn’t love a good cry at a picture book. I am usually so worried when there’s a ‘serious’ style picture book with dogs because it’s always going to make me sad and this was no exception, but it was also so beautiful.

I loved this story, and as a note in the back tells you, it’s based off a picture and Hathorn’s own family history. I was so worried when one combines dogs and ANZACs, but Hathorn has told a beautiful story that makes you emotional and feel all the feelings while not being too sad.

Hathorn tells the story about the ANZACs and war without being too detailed for younger audiences. She mentions the ruined towns and orphaned children, but the words are so lyrical and so lovely that it’s almost like a dream reading them. The story follows a soldier who finds a lost dog and who then tells him about coming back to camp, how he’ll make him their mascot and protect his ears from the fireworks at night. Along with the dog he also finds a young boy and their conversations are some of the most beautiful things I’ve read.

I don’t want to ruin the story because it’s so so wonderful and heartwarming, but it is a beautiful tale to read and one that will delight children and adults alike. With so many ANZAC stories out there I think this is one of my favourites. It’s lyrical and honest and beautiful. It brings out the emotional content with respect and with restraint and with joy. A must read.

You can purchase A Soldier, A Dog, and A Boy via the following

Booktopia | Hachette

Kinokuniya | QBD

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson’s Bookworld

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Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford

Published: 28th September 2016 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Allen & Unwin
Pages: 294
Format: Paperback
Genre: Non-Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Online sensation, fearless feminist heroine and scourge of trolls and misogynists everywhere, Clementine Ford is a beacon of hope and inspiration to thousands of Australian women and girls. Her incendiary debut Fight Like A Girl is an essential manifesto for feminists new, old and soon-to-be, and exposes just how unequal the world continues to be for women. Crucially, it is a call to arms for all women to rediscover the fury that has been suppressed by a society that still considers feminism a threat.

Fight Like A Girl will make you laugh, cry and scream. But above all it will make you demand and fight for a world in which women have real equality and not merely the illusion of it.

I had been hearing so much about this book when it was published and I was eager to get my hands on it and experience it for myself. Reading it was all I hoped it would be and more, I filled its pages with Post It’s marking of important and wonderful quotes. I also got to meet Ford at the Newcastle Writers’ Festival which was amazing, as was listening to her in her sessions.

Fight Like A Girl is a book that everyone should read, every girl and every woman, but also every man. So many of my own experiences are laid out in this book. The fact that I can agree with so much of Ford’s words should be worrying, but it’s not. They’re a comfort because it reminds me that I’m not being paranoid or silly when I hold me keys in my fingers walking back to my car late at night, it reminds me I’m not overreacting when I feel uncomfortable having a stranger talk to me at the bus stop when he’s a little drunk, worried what he’ll say and what I’m safe to respond with. It makes me think of all the times I’ve placated a thought to save hurting a man’s feelings and not stood up for something out of fear of personal verbal attack. It’s reminded me that the passion and the fight I feel inside me is one that many women out there are feeling and that it’s ok to feel this way.

Ford addresses many issues and “societal norms” I suppose we could call them through her chapters and she is unapologetic in her words and opinions. Mixed in with her own experiences it’s actually a humorous and enlightening book at times that looks at how society has been constructed to see women as the lesser and the weaker, the one in need of defending and the one who is not only walked over and shut down by the patriarchy, but happy to have it happen.

It’s not all agreement and scoffs at how men are and how childish they can be when their ways of life are challenged. Parts of this book made me sick to my stomach and it makes me angry and sad, but more importantly, it flames the fire I’ve been stoking for the past few years. The feminist I’ve been since my second year of uni and the one who’s gradually doing a little more than fuming internally and sharing Tumblr posts, cheering in the tags.

This is a book for everyone. To quote Ford, it “is a love letter to the girls”. There are some tough topics being discussed in here, but they’re important, and this book is important because if someone doesn’t want to listen to (or believe) a women’s experience from her own mouth, you can always throw this book at them instead.

You can purchase Fight Like A Girl via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Amazon | Dymocks | Allen & Unwin

Angus and Robinson’s Bookworld | Fishpond

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AWW 2017 Update 1

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This was supposed to be my three-month update, which has turned into my four-month update because Things. I was actually worried at the start of this year because unlike last year, I hadn’t read any Aussie women yet. I’m not sure what happened but all the books I was reading weren’t Australian women. I have since made up for that and have read 14 books. I am on a roll now with my Aussie gals so I am hoping my next update will be another jump. One of the delays of my update was because I hadn’t finished my reviews yet for these books but I am going to post anyway and update my post when the links are live.

 

AWW17 BOOKS Jan-Apr

The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer

Faking It by Gabrielle Tozer

Before You Forget by Julia Lawrinson – Review

The Wrong Girl by Zoe Foster

Good News, Bad News by Maggie GroffReview

The Shadow Thief by Alexandra AdornettoReview

The Lampo Circus by Alexandra AdornettoReview

The Golden Child by Wendy JamesReview

A Soldier, a Dog and a Boy by Libby Hathorn – Review

The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex by Gabrielle Williams

Lucy’s Book by Natalie Jane Prior

Little Humpty by Margaret Wild

Sam’s Sunday Dad by Margaret Wild 

Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford – Review

 

AWW17 TOTAL

Read: 14/25

Reviewed: 5/15

 

The Lampo Circus (#2) by Alexandra Adornetto

Published: 1st March 2008 (print)/March 28 2011 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
HarperCollins Australia/Bolinda Audio
Pages: 400 pages/6 discs
Narrator: Alexandra Adornetto
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

The arrival of Federico Lampo and his travelling circus brings a new threat to Drabville when the children are kidnapped and transported to the grim world of the Conjuors’ Realm. Lord Aldor, assisted by Ringmaster Lampo and the vicious Contessa Bombasta, is plotting to conquer the fairy province of Mirth. . 

The children embark on a quest to warn the Queen of Mirth, encountering some fearsome obstacles, not least the ferocious Grin Bandits and their tooth–extracting apparatus.

As the day of battle draws near, Milli and Ernest realise that if Lord Aldor defeats them, theirs won’t be the only lives at stake…

Having had Milly and Ernest grow on me after book one, it was only natural I dove into book two. Also I listened to it on audio book again and it was great to hear Adornetto’s narration again, excellent continuity which is often not the case with audio book series I’ve realised.

After the events of The Shadow Thief, Milly and Ernest’s town of Drabville is settling into their new lives, being lively, and trying to think of a new town name. Their relief at being joyful and carefree means their guards are lowered when villainy threatens the town once more. The arrival of the Lampo Circus seems innocent enough, but there is a sinister nature about it that no one seems to notice.

Initially I didn’t love this story as much as the first one. It was an odd premise; it didn’t grab me as quickly as the other one did. Adornetto retains her wonderful language, her style, her narration and absurdness, so that was a comfort when they story itself was a bit odd and hard to engage with.

When the story eventually gets going, which was quite a bit of a way in I thought, but it gets to settle into the adventurous style Milly and Ernest do best. There were a few great surprises this time which made the adventure more fun. While there was adventure and suspense in the first book, I feel this had more the journey/adventure style where there a greater chance of the unknown.

There is a great moral tone which Adornetto doesn’t wave in your face, but works incredibly well in the context (no spoilers). I loved the surprises and I loved the magical element that is the crux and climax of the story. It balanced out the strangeness from the beginning and worked really well.

I would have loved a better ending. Not the conclusion per se, but the actually ending of the story. I feel like it was a tad unresolved, I still had questions that needed answering, but judging by what Adornetto has done with this second book regarding events in book one, I feel more answers will be provided in book three. As the continuing adventures of Milly and Ernest go, this was a great addition.

You can purchase The Lampo Circus via the following

Booktopia | Angus and Robinson

Kobo | Amazon

QBD | Audible | HarperCollins

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The Shadow Thief (#1) by Alexandra Adornetto

Published: July 1st 2007 (print)/28 January 2011  (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 HarperCollins Australia/Bolinda Audio
Pages: 288 pages/5 discs
Narrator: Alexandra Adornetto
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Millipop Klompet and Ernest Perriclof live in the uneventful town of Drabville, where the cautious Ernest spends his time enlarging his rock collection and Milli dreams of adventure. When the pair are kidnapped from their homes and brought to live in the gothic mansion known as Hog House, they are adopted by the madcap Mr and Mrs Mayor and a series of bizarre encounters follows. Things do not add up and the children find that sinister plans are beginning to emerge. Why has the notorious Lord Aldor stolen the shadows of all of the town’s residents and where are they being held? Assisted by a band of prisoners, the children must venture into the Taboo Territories, and battle the perils dished out by the Lurid Lagoon, in order to outwit Lord Aldor and prevent him from executing his secret master plan.

From very early on I compared this book to Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s actually a lot better than that in my opinion. Though, not being a huge fan of Snicket’s famed series I’m not sure what that means.

But if you are a fan of Snicket’s work then I suggest you read this series. Adornetto uses the same whimsical tone and storytelling style that addresses the reader, gives us facts about the characters, bemoans when things unfortunate happen to them, and states matter of factly when things aren’t going their way. I listened to this as an audio book and Adornetto was the narrator which worked really well. Adornetto’s storytelling ability is entertaining and while she doesn’t vary voices that noticably, you really don’t need it and her narration is wonderful.

One thing I absolutely ADORED in this book was Adornetto’s language. She uses big, wonderful, words that are so eloquent, and ones that give the story such a wonderful tone. It suits the strange surreal, British nature of this book (despite Adornetto being Australian) that is absurd and outlandish, that of course there will be beautiful and clever words in it as well.

The story is delightful and innocent, but with the cheekiness that kids love. As I said, very much like Lemony Snicket but with a bit less intense unfortunatenesses and more daring adventures with Milly at the helm and Ernest trailing reluctantly behind her.

Milly is a wonderfully brave and rebellious girl who doesn’t let the rules of Drabville hold back her adventures. When she gets caught breaking these town rules she and her best friend Ernest are imprisoned and discover a whole other world they knew nothing about. She is clever, resourceful, filled with gusto and enthusiasm for adventure and doing the right thing. Ernest is less enthusiastic but he does follow Milly into adventure and while he is wary he does embrace what he finds and loves to work with Milly in thinking up solutions to their problems.

The supernatural element of the story is quite creative, the evil Lord Aldor has stolen shadows off the residents of Drabville and is using them for nefarious purposes. The premise is clever and quite interesting, Adornetto keeps it filled with action and suspense, along with daring characters and wily plans of escape and rescue.

This book (as subsequent series) is classed as young adult at times, but I’d put it in the primary school range, maybe the lower teens. With Milly and Ernest being twelve years old it may not appeal that well to older readers. Having said that, I did love it, so there’s that.

You can purchase The Shadow Thief via the following

Booktopia | Angus and Robinson

Kobo | Amazon

QBD | Audible | HarperCollins

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