The 52-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Published: 1st September 2014 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Macmillan Australia
Pages: 330
Format: ebook 
Genre:
 Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Andy and Terry’s incredible, ever-expanding treehouse has 13 new storeys, including a watermelon-smashing level, a wave machine, a life-size snakes and ladders game (with real ladders and real snakes), a rocket-powered carrot-launcher, a Ninja Snail Training Academy and a high-tech detective agency with all the latest high-tech detective technology, which is lucky because they have a BIG mystery to solve – where is Mr Big Nose???

The 52-Storey Treehouse brings mystery and adventure. Numerous things have gone missing from the Treehouse: Mr Big Nose, Jill, and the flying beetroots. This sets Andy and Terry off with a mission to find out where all these missing things have gone, discovering a very hungry caterpillar and a vegetable vendetta on their way.

I liked this story, not as much as the pirate story in the 26-Storey Treehouse, but it was fun. I liked the mystery element and I liked that it kept the silliness of Andy and Terry we’ve come to expect without going overboard.

Jill returns as well. Any story is better with Jill in it; she balances out the boys, and brings some reason to their antics while also having her own silliness. There’s also a lot of references to their past books and adventures in this story. Which, if you’ve read the other books is a nice reminder, but if not you aren’t really missing out but may be a bit confused.

Again, the illustrations are as much a part of these books as the text, the animals in the treehouse are great, there’re even some great nods to other books: I spotted a hobbit on an eagle in one picture. Denton puts in a lot of fun detail and comments that are a fun story in themself. This frivolity has always been transported into the audiobook with Wemyss’s voices so the effects are still there, but looking at the detail of Denton’s treehouse and the numerous characters in it can be simple but quite elaborate at the same time.

I liked the multiple components of this story, it wasn’t one big story, but multiple things that all connected. Just when you thought the adventure was over there was another one. I look forward to more Jill appearances and whatever awaits in another 13-storeys.

You can purchase The 52-Storey Treehouse via the following

QBD | Dymocks | Book Depository

Booktopia | Bookworld | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Wordery | Publisher

Advertisements

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Published: 29th July 2014 (print)/1st August 2014 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Berkley /Bolinda Audio
Pages: 460/1 discs
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbours secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

As I’ve been making way back through Moriarty’s back catalogue I had been leaving this one until later. After being disappointed with a few of her earlier ones I had been told her later books were better. I have to admit this was a great book. I listened to it on audiobook and it really suited the format. Caroline Lee does a wonderful job bringing the characters to life and with Moriarty’s style of jumping back and forth in time and scenes it is a style suited to this kind of story.

Lee is a great narrator; she makes each of the key women unique in their voices and every character’s personality shine through with her voices and inflections. She definitely captured the School Mum hierarchy and pushy parents, which added to the experience.

As per Moriarty style, we begin with a mystery. Something has happened and we’re not going to be told what until 3/4 of the way through. I have grown to like this style of hers, especially when she does it well and succinctly. This, like Truly Madly Guilty, benefited from this because there are a host of characters to introduce and explore. In that case this drawn out mystery is beneficial and never feels like it drags on.

There are numerous clues and possibilities as to what it is that has happened and who it is that had been affected. But it’s not just this Event that is mysterious; Moriarty weaves numerous seemingly innocent events together to create a plot filled with secrets, gossip, rumours, and schoolyard politics that snowball into a dramatic and destructive force. Numerous clues are given and enough details are provided about the three main women that you can easily convince yourself that The Event is about each of them, keeping you on your toes as to who will be affected.

I loved the mixture of the interviews and the different perspectives and I loved the variety of school mums and their relationships. There are so many complicated things happening that you really are not sure which way the story could go.

When the reveal comes it is divine, and then it morphs into something else entirely. Moriarty has finally mastered a good reveal that actually means something and changes everything. My suspicions were confirmed, but I was also pleasantly surprised. Something I haven’t really had with a Moriarty book before.

You can purchase Big Little Lies via the following

Dymocks | Booktopia | Wordery

Book Depository | KoboFishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | QBD

The Younger Man by Zoe Foster

Published: February 2012 (print)/1 February 2017 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Penguin Australia /Wavesound Audio
Pages: 304/8 Discs
Narrator: Helen Atkinson
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Abby runs her own agency, providing beautiful girls for promotional events. She needs a new website and when she calls in the web contractors, none other than the gorgeous, sexy, young Marcus turns up. Abby had met Marcus at a party a few weeks earlier and they had an amazing one-night stand. Abby is not unhappy to see him again. He is rather divine, after all. It’s just that she’s 33 and he’s 22, so how can she ever expect anything to come of this relationship. But Marcus is determined and sets out to prove to Abby that he is wise beyond his years and knows what he wants. Abby is not so sure and when she escapes to Italy and meets someone else, she must decide whether to follow her head or her heart.

I quite liked this book. I don’t think I liked it as much as I liked The Wrong Girl, but I did enjoy it. Helen Atkinson did a great job narrating the audiobook, she added emotions and emphasis to Foster’s words that add another level to each of the characters.

Abby is a woman in her mid-30s, accomplished, self-employed and not looking for a relationship. Naturally, this idea is challenged when she meets Marcus, a guy of 22 who was only meant to be a one night fling. I liked the dynamic between these two, Foster plays them off one another and as they clash and blend it’s a great read.

I liked that Marcus was mature and serious, but knew how to have fun as well. He reflected back against Abby’s insecurities and her constant doubts and it made the reader see Abby’s failings. The story wasn’t predictable to the point of fault; it was more like you knew where it was meant to go if only Abby could get her act together. She was the one that needed to learn and grow up ironically. But seeing her turmoil and the journey they go on is rewarding as well. The story isn’t will they/won’t they, it’s how long and what will we have to sit through before Abby gets herself together. Which was different, it didn’t have the usual climax and drama, I was almost starting to think it wasn’t going to have one to be honest.

Foster could have added more to the story but in a way I think it works, even with the abrupt ending she’s gone with. There could have been extra pages that wrap things up nicely, that give more details, hope, happy endings, but it works without it. Foster wraps things up in stages so there are a few mini conclusions before the book ends which until the end you don’t realise were mini conclusions. It was a surprise but when I thought it through it works quite well.

You can purchase The Younger Man via the following

Publisher | Amazon Aust

Booktopia | Book Depository

Fishpond | QBD | Audible

The 26-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Published: 3rd September 2012 (print)/28 September 2012 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Pan Macmillan Australia /Bolinda Audio
Pages: 348/1 Disc
Narrator: Stig Wemyss
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

If you’re like most readers, you’re probably wondering just how Andy and Terry met. Well, it’s a long story, but a pretty exciting one, and it’s mostly true! Come on up, choose a hammock, and they’ll tell you all about it (just don’t go in the maze they’re still ironing out a few bugs…). 

I read the 13-Storey Treehouse as an ebook and discovered this is a very text and picture supportive book. When I realised this I couldn’t fathom how this would possibly work as an audiobook but it works really well. I might have to listen to the rest as audiobooks, it was like a wonderful audio drama. The pictures aren’t explained, but there is a change in tone and style that does end up giving a little side comment that accompanies what Andy is telling us about. It also goes one step extra by adding sound effects and musical accompaniment to the narrative. There are some bits when you know you’re missing out on a great and detailed picture, but honestly, that’s the same with any audiobook, especially junior ones. With these additions I quite liked the audiobook experience, maybe a bit more than reading the book. Stig Wemyss does a great job in conveying tone and the adventure and humour of the book, but I think it’s also that the story is much better than the one in The 13 Storey Treehouse.

This time around we’ve added 13 new storeys and the boys are still writing their books and having fun in their grand treehouse. This time Andy wants to tell us how he met Terry but one thing leads to another and we’re thrown into a great pirate adventure. Griffiths links together this seemingly silly story and while it seems like it jumps all over the place it doesn’t really. Everything connects to one another and builds up a great narrative. Overall it’s quirky and absurd but it’s also delightful without being too silly. There are some great jokes in there, 78 flavours of ice creams, Jill’s numerous animals, and Andy and Terry’s numerous inventions. If you haven’t yet picked up Griffith’s Treehouse series you definitely should.

You can purchase The 26-Storey Treehouse via the following

QBD | Dymocks | Book Depository

Booktopia | Bookworld | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Wordery | Publisher

Bro by Helen Chebatte

Published: 1st February 2016 (print)/1st June 2016 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Hardie Grant Egmont/ABC Audio
Pages: 240/MP3
Narrator: Julian Maroun
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

What happens when you mix teenage boys, a fight club, and ethnic rivalries? 

You get war.

Romeo Makhlouf knows the rules.

Stick with your own kind. Don’t dob on your mates or even on your enemies. Respect the family.

But even unwritten rules are made for breaking.

I wasn’t sure I was going to like Bro but Chebatte definitely surprised me. It isn’t a long book but it one that is important as it talks about trying to fit in when people class you as different on both sides, and the pressure of being loyal to your family roots, all with a delightfully Australian feel.

This is Boys ‘R’ Us meets Hate is Such a Strong Word  in all the best ways. It is, I’ll admit, very Australian. One could say too Australian, but I have heard teenage boys speak to one another and aside from the lack of swearing, it sounds like this for the most part (so many bros!). It takes some getting used to but I quite liked the tone of voice Chebatte used, especially how Julian Maroun narrated, it felt very real; you really get the sense of these teenage boys who are trying to be cooler and tougher than they actually are and the tired effort the adults are going to to try and help them

Chebatte uses the male point of view quite well, demonstrating the conflicts between the races at school, girl trouble, and trying to find where you belong, something which reminded me of Ayoub’s Hate is Such a Strong Word for the female perspective. I liked Romeo as a narrator, I also liked that Chebatte balanced him but not too evenly. He has some sensibilities but he is still a young boy with wild ideas and a feeling of invincibility. You clearly understand his conflict about who he is and whether he is Lebanese or Australian, and how even though he was born here he still doesn’t feel like he belongs. This conflict drives his decisions and affects the decisions he makes, right or wrong they may be.

There are many aspects I recall from my own high school days in here, just the scenes Chebatte has set up about classes, canteen lines, and group dynamics, even though my experience wasn’t the same as Romeo’s school in a lot of ways, it still feels familiar. The plot can be criticised as childish and absurd, but in the way that most teenage conflicts are, they are petty and ridiculous and fought for nothing, and yet at the time, it’s the fight you are willing to stand for no matter the consequences.

I was apprehensive about this book, I genuinely thought I wouldn’t like it but I’m glad I read it. It tells the story of the danger of boys and their masculinity, peer pressure, “national pride”, racism, and trying to belong. It’s a book people should read about feeling different, and the consequences of male pride.

You can purchase Bro via the following

Dymocks | QBD

Booktopia | BookWorld

Amazon | Amazon Aust

aww2017-badge

Previous Older Entries