Yawn – The History of Bees by Maja Lunde

The History of Bees

by Maja Lunde

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Published 2017

Genres: Fiction / Mystery / Crime Fiction

“The little plastic container was full of the gossamer gold, carefully weighed out. I tried to transfer invisible portions lightly out of the container and over into the trees.

Each individual blossom was to be dusted with the tiny brush of hen feathers, from hens scientifically cultivated for precisely this purpose. No feathers of artificial fibers had proven nearly as effective. 

….in my district the tradition of hand pollination was more than a hundred years old. The bees here had disappeared back in the 1980’s, long before The Collapse;..”

 

 Mel says…

This was in my TBR pile for so long and I finally got my hands on a library copy. The History of Bees had such high praise on Goodreads, so I was really looking forward to the concept of 3 intertwining stories, all set in different eras of time.

The story of William, set in the 1800’s was probably my least favourite of the 3. He begins by being bedridden with an unexplained illness and his family try desperately to get him to begin participating in life once more. He is then driven by immense guilt from his children to get back on his feet (literally and figuratively) and develops a brilliant idea to design a new concept of bee hive. Fast forward through his dramas and his story begun to bore me to the point where I skipped the last handful of his chapters, as my care factor was ZERO!

George is a modern day bee keeper who has a struggling honey farm. He fights battles to keep his farm and family together. He is also an ignorant father and angered me to the point I wanted to throttle him with the book. Some of the conversations he held with his son and wife made me wonder how the hell these people managed to put up with him. Such a prat!

Finally we have Tao. Tao lives in China, post “Collapse” and works tirelessly to make ends meet. Her son is struck with a mystery illness and he is taken away for “treatment”, which Tao and her husband then have to struggle to find where their son was taken and what has happened to him. I related the most with Tao, as she demonstrates the lengths a mother will go to for her children. She is a fighter and a bad ass woman, who never gives up hope of finding her son alive.

Overall, The History of Bees had very few subtleties as to how each story related to the next and I found the minor links boring. I am still scratching my head as to how this book has such a high star rating on Goodreads because I unapologetically give it 2 stars.

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Let Down – Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water

by Paula Hawkins

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Published 2017

Genres: Fiction / Mystery / Crime Fiction

“Again! Again!”

The men bind her again. Different this time: left thumb to right toe, right thumb to left. The rope around her waist. This time, they carry her into the water.

“Please,” she starts to beg, because she’s not sure that she can face it, the blackness and the cold…

…She sinks. By the time they drag her out the second time, her lips are the blue of a bruise, and her breath is gone for good.”

 

In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help.

Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind.

But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.

And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool . . .

Mel says…

 

Ugh, whhhhyyyyyyyy!!!???? Why was this book such a let down?? What did Paula Hawkins do that was so different to The Girl on the Train?! Sigh…

It took me roughly 3/4 of the book to finally understand who’s who, without having to read 1-2 pages of their designated chapter and that was my biggest pet peeve. What was with the large amount of characters that the plot followed? Why couldn’t the plot be solely told through the protagonist, who I am still confused as to whether it was Jules or Lena, but either would have been fine.

The plot was interesting and intriguing, but my focused wained due to the confusion from all the different angles and I began resenting this book by page 200.

This was my main holiday read over the Christmas break and I’m somewhat disappointed that I stuck with it.

2/5 stars 😦

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Conflicted – The Scent of You by Maggie Alderson

The Scent of You

by Maggie Alderson

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Published 2017

Genres: Fiction / Chic Lit

“Your glass might be half-empty or half-full, whatever – I’m wearing mine on my head, juggling it, making it into a percussion instrument. It’s not what you’re doing, or where you go, or who you’re with, but what you make it into.”

Polly’s life is great. Her children are away at uni, her glamorous mother – still modelling at eighty-five – is happily settled in a  retirement village, and her perfume blog is taking off. Then her husband announces he needs some space and promptly vanishes.
As Polly grapples with her bewildering situation, she clings to a few new friends to keep her going – Shirlee, the loudmouthed yoga student; Guy, the mysterious, infuriating and hugely talented perfumer; and Edward, an old flame from university.
And while she distracts herself with the heady world of luxury perfume, Polly knows she can’t keep reality at bay forever. Eventually she is forced to confront some difficult truths; about her husband, herself and who she really wants to be.

Mel says…

I really, REALLY wanted to like this book. I fell in love with Maggie Alderson years ago and have collected her novels ever since, but I must sadly say, I am glad I borrowed this one from the library…

The Scent of You is about self love, self worth and discovery, and I was eager to go on this whimsical journey with the protagonist, Polly.  In the beginning, the plot developed well and kept me eager to discover what would happen next. The mystery surrounding Polly’s husbands disappearance was at the forefront of my eagerness to keep turning pages.

By halfway, the story had veered its focus away from the husband’s disappearance and started focusing in on Polly’s relationships with other men and her children. This is when I started to get confused and bored. The anticipation of finding out why the husband had disappeared was losing all appeal and I began to struggle with my reading.

Polly became infuriating to read and I struggled to care about how her life would pan out, purely due to the drawn out conclusion. By the time the big reveal took place, I was disappointed and glad it was almost over.

It is hard to put my finger on exactly what this book was lacking, but one thing is for certain, it required more soul.

I struggled through the second half of this book and the only reason I stuck with it to the end was out of love for Maggie Alderson. This was a miss for me and it breaks my heart to say it, but don’t waste your time.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Chilling – The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry

by Jane Harper

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Published 2016

Genres: Fiction / Crime Fiction

“The body in the clearing was the freshest. It took the flies slightly longer to discover the two in the farmhouse, despite the front door swinging open like an invitation. Those that ventured beyond the initial offering in the hallway were rewarded with another, this time in the bedroom. This one was smaller, but less engulfed by competition.

First on the scene, the flies swarmed contentedly in the heat as the blood pooled black over tiles and carpet. Outside, washing hung still on the rotary line, bone dry and stiff from the sun. A child’s scooter lay abandoned on the stepping stone path. Just one human heart beat within a kilometre radius of the farm.
So nothing reacted when deep inside the house, the baby started crying. “

Australia is in the grip of its worst drought in a century, and it hasn’t rained in the small country town of Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past bubble to the surface as he investigates the truth of his friend’s crime.

Mel says…

This is the debut novel for Jane Harper and what a debut it is! Jane Harper has arrived on the scene people and I for one, will be divulging all of her material, if the standard remains this good!

Just reading the synopsis had me intrigued and eager to get my hands on a copy and rather than patiently waiting, (or not so patiently as it would seem), for the 20-odd eager readers in line for library copies to divulge ahead of me, I bought my own copy and swiftly began to explore this twisted world that Harper so cleverly lays out.

The small Aussie town is one that any Australian could have passed through, at some point in their lives. A handful of shops scattered up the “main street” and mass farm land laid out, as far as the eye can see. The landscape is so relatable and easy to picture, so as the story moves through the small town of Kiewarra, it is easy to imagine exactly what it looks like.

It took me 4 days to complete this book and I would have read it quicker, but you know, life…!  Right from the prologue, I had shivers down my spine. The detail that Harper uses to describe such a horrific scene sends chills down my spine. More than once, I had to put the book down and take a breather. There is so much intensity and emotion that was brought out in various chapters, I found that I was wincing and at one point, gasping. It was a true roller coaster of a novel.

From page 1 through to 339, I was hooked. The characters were relatable and people you would typically meet in any rural town and I think that is why it was so brilliant and shocking. If you enjoy books with more than one twist and smack in the face, raw writing that brings you crashing down to Earth with emotion, then I can’t recommend The Dry highly enough. I am calling this one very early, but I am going out on a limb and stating that The Dry is my 2017 Book of the Year!

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Raw – Like a Queen by Constance Hall

Like a Queen by Constance Hall

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Published 2016

Genres: Non Fiction/Biographical

“Every time you are expressing kindness, handing over some of your wage to a charity, giving another Queen a compliment, recognising a lonely Queen and taking the time to get to know her, offering to babysit for that single mum at school who’s doing it all on her own, sacrificing your coffee money for that homeless guy who waits at the train station every morning, choose to understand instead of judge.

You are changing the world. Every time that you are connecting yourself to someone else, you are changing the world.

Queens are the change the world needs.

This, Queens,

Is just the beginning.”

Australian “Mummy” blogger, Constance Hall’s, first book. A must read for all ‘Queens’.


Mel says…

Before I read Like a Queen, I had only read exerpts of Con’s writing on Facebook and my only memory of her was from a series of Australian Big Brother, many many years ago. So let’s just say that my opinion of her was fairly iffy, at best. But as my girlfriends and fellow Mum’s started raving about this book, I just had to give it a read.

I’ll start with the negatives first; for one, Con is up front with her lack of grammar and punctuation in her blog but I must admit, publishing a book should come with an editor, right? So I don’t think it is too much to ask for someone to have proofread and corrected the use of the words ‘woman’ and women’ in their correct context. It is minor, but something that ALWAYS irritates me. Secondly, I did get a tad irritated with how much Con used the word ‘Queen’ throughout. I know, I know, the book is titled Like a QUEEN for crying out loud, but to use it up to 5-6 times in one paragraph just irked me.
By the last 50 or so pages, I was kind of over the whole book, but I do appreciate the messages that were coming across.

Ok, I have gotten the negatives off my chest, so on to the positives. This book literally had me LOL’ing many times, once in a busy cafe with other patrons staring awkwardly at me. Con tells it like it is and when it comes to early motherhood, it was pretty bloody accurate. As a new mother myself, a lot of the stories that were told resonated with me, as they were so fresh in my memory from my own personal experiences.

From poop to sex and everything in between, this book made me cringe, laugh and hold back tears. I did enjoy reading about Constance’s life in general however, as I was not an avid fan of hers before reading her book, I wasn’t all that interested in those chapters. The chapters that were in relation to mothering and motherhood are what kept me intrigued, but I did struggle to finish it.

Overall, this is a book for women but in particular, Mum’s. New Mum’s, old Mum’s, Grandmothers and step-mothers. I think we can all relate to a lot of the stories and learn from the generous heart that belongs to the original “Queeny’ herself, Constance.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Peculiarly Perfect – Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Series by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Series

by Ransom Riggs

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Published 2011-2015

Genres: Fiction/Fantasy/Young Adult

 A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

‘Peculiars – The hidden branch of any species, human or animal, that is blessed – and cursed – with supernatural traits. Respected in ancient times, feared and persecuted more recently, peculiars are outcasts who live in the shadows…’


Mel says…

It has been a long time, well since Harry Potter, that I have found a book series that captured my attention so quickly. Enter ‘Miss Peregrine’s’. I read the first book over 6 months ago, just before the birth of my first baby and I really enjoyed it, rating the first book 4 stars on Goodreads.

It was several months until I was able to get my hands on book two, Hollow City and I must admit, the plot just got better. The characters are so loveable and it is hard not to get attached to each and every one of the Peculiar Children as time goes on. The second book of the series picks up immediately where book one left off and it gets straight down to business. I loved the second book enough to give it a rare Five stars. It built perfectly on book one and just grew from strength to strength, with the introduction of further Peculiar’s and the great land that I now know as ‘Peculiardom’.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end and that is how I felt while reading ‘Library of Souls’. It is hard to complete a series that has such complexities as Miss Peregrine’s, with so many dimensions to characters and landscapes, but Riggs has done a perfect job in tying up loose ends. Although it took me a while to complete the third instalment, this was due to life and not a reflection on the story itself. Trust me, I was not impressed at being stalled from devouring this gem, at all!

Overall, the Miss Peregrine series is a must read for fans of YA and fantasy. I LOVED the concept of storytelling through the use of old photographs, which is not something I have yet come across, but found that as the series went on, fewer photographs were used to depict events and characters, but that isn’t to say that this was a bad thing.

Ransom Riggs has created a world full of peculairities (pun intended) and I for one am a HUGE fan. I look forward to seeing the movies however, I hope that they stay true to the books.

Overall SERIES rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Flat – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses

by Sarah J. Maas

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Published 2015

Genres: Fiction/Fantasy/Young Adult

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal but Tamlin – one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As Feyre dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility to a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it…or doom Tamlin – and his world – forever.


Mel says…

When I first decided to read this book, I didn’t really know much about it except that images of the cover were all over Instagram and blog posts, so I knew it had a lot of fans. I’m not usually into too much fantasy, but was excited to give this a read nonetheless.

My first impressions were pretty good. I devoured the first quarter of this book fairly quickly, but then I started to get bored of it. Too much of the characteristics of the protagonist, Feyre (pronounced, Fay-ruh) reminded me of The Hunger Games protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. For one, her family was poor and living in starvation – same as Katniss. Two, she had to hunt to feed her family – same as Katniss. Three, she was described as being a tomboy, yet beautiful – same as Katniss. The similarities between ACoTR and The Hunger Games didn’t stop there, but you get the picture.

The main focus of this story centres around Feyre and Tamlin’s relationship. It is described as ‘burning passion’, so you know it is going to be juicy. I found the relationship between them to actually be pretty boring. It seemed like it went from pure hatred on day 1 to passion and sex on day 4. Maybe not in that exact timeline, but it was that quick of a shift, that you get the point. I found it confusing, but I also found that some of the plot and descriptive writing fell flat. I struggled to picture a fair few of the characters as the descriptions weren’t written well.

This is one of those books where I found the main character so irritating, that I struggled to keep reading at times. For whatever reason, Maas kept jamming down our throats that Feyre was a painter. With every description of scenery, Feyre would think ‘if only I could paint this’, or ‘I tried to store every line of his face in my memory, so I could paint him later’. This happened all. the. TIME! We get it, she likes to paint. Moving on…

I know I have slammed this book with my above comments, but in the end, I finished it with the intent of seeking out the second book in the series. I’m in no hurry to read the second book, but I will eventually, when I need a bit of a ‘nothing’ book to fill some time. Seeing as this book took me a month to read, when the text is actually quite large and I didn’t really engage with many of the characters, I can’t give it anymore than 2-stars. Sorry!

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Finality – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

by JK Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

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Published 2016

Genres: Fiction/Young Adult

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-aged children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth; sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

The eighth story.
Nineteen years later.

Mel says…

Bringing out another Harry Potter book, even as a screenplay, was always a risky move. Potterheads around the world are very passionate about the stories and speaking for myself, I was so nervous about this book. It was either going to be amazing, or ruin everything JK has created.

I am sure by now, you have realised that I am a huge Potterhead. My bio picture is of me with my nose in the first Harry Potter book, so you can assume that yes, I am obsessed!

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This was the first series of novels that I fell head over heels in love with. I still remember the Christmas I received the first four books from my parents, as well as the awesome day  of reading I spent with my sister (Janelle) when the final book was released. Many laughs and tears have been shed over these characters, so let me begin my honest review, with that in mind.

It was important to me to read this with an open mind and to remember that this is not meant to be read like a normal novel. For starters, it is the rehearsal edition script for The Cursed Child play, currently being held in London. This did not bother me. I found it quite easy to navigate the dialogue of each character and create the pictures in my head from the little scene setting paragraph at the beginning of each scene and act.

The original characters still play a large role within this story, but to be honest, that annoyed me. I don’t really understand why, either. I think it may be because rehashing the original main characters when they are middle aged, takes away from the magic we are so familiar with, when they were written as children in the book series.

Focusing the main story around Harry’s son Albus and Draco’s son Scorpius, was a likeable decision. I felt emotion towards Albus, as I could imagine how he would feel intimidated by having to grow up in his father’s shadow and Scorpius Malfoy was, shockingly, like another version of Ron Weasley; very likeable.

The story itself, (and I won’t go into too much detail as I don’t want to spoil too much of the plot for everyone), was in my opinion, disappointing. I was hoping for so much more and that could be due to the enormity of the Harry Potter franchise in prior years, but with JK Rowling’s as only a co-author, I felt that this impacted on the story and you could really sense the disconnection between this screenplay and the original series.

I was really wanting to rate this as amazing, purely for the Harry Potter title, but in my honest opinion, I give it 3 stars. Will I read it again? Maybe. Will I see the play if it ever hits Aussie shores? Definitely. Do I recommend other Potterheads give this a read? Let me put it this way, I am glad JK stated that this is the final adventure for Harry, Ron and Hermione. The decision to overwrite the previous ending given to the series is completely up to you! Do I still love Harry Potter? Always…

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Inspiring – Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

Wildflower

by Drew Barrymore

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Published 2015

Genres: Non-fiction/Memoir

Out there in the world of chaos
All the concrete and fumes
People with determination behind the wheel
The soles of their feet wiser
Some faces with souls of routine
Others with high hope of their destination
Among all the human and industrial invention
My eyes find a tiny wildflower
With pretty yellow petals
And a brown button nose
Reminding me that there is beauty everywhere
A compass of nature
A second of stillness in my mind
As my heart races to the rhythms
Of it swaying in the wind
You are that Flower,
Reminding me of what is real

 

 

Mel says…

Before reading this book, I already admired and loved Drew for her movies. So when I saw she had released a collection of life stories, I was excited to learn more about her and her private life.

I should also note that at the start of the year, I set myself the simple New Year’s resolution of learning to appreciate and enjoy the smaller things in life. From the sound of rain, to the smell of freshly cut grass and the first moments I get to spend with my newborn daughter. This book spoke to me, through all of this wisdom.

Wildflower is written in a way that is typical of Drew’s character; free flowing. Each short story is about a different part of her life journey and that is exactly how I felt whilst reading this book, like I was on a journey. She is inspiring and truthful in all that she writes.

There is no dive into her dark childhood, like most would expect from a celebrity biography, nor is there any “dishing of the dirt” on other celebrities, so if you are looking for a juicy gossip read, this is not the book for you! Instead, this book is a journey through many of Drew’s life epiphany’s. From her young childhood years, through the teens and right up to her 40th birthday, she discusses her emancipation that forced her to grow up and fast, acting, charity work and her most important role, motherhood.

Once I closed this book, I couldn’t wait to go out and buy my own copy. I feel inspired to be creative, loving and appreciative of all the small things I have been gifted throughout my life. She has spoken to me on so many levels and I encourage all women to give this a read!

I thought I couldn’t love Drew Barrymore anymore than I already did, but I was wrong!

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Mysterious – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

by Ransom Riggs

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Published 2011

Genres: Fiction / Young Adult

 

“There’s no time,” he whispered. Then he raised his head off the ground, trembling with the effort, and breathed into my ear: “Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man’s grave. September third, 1940.” I nodded, but he could see that I didn’t understand. With his last bit of strength, he added, “Emerson – the letter. Tell them what happened, Yakob.”
With that he sank back, spent and fading. I told him I loved him. And then he seemed to disappear into himself, his gaze drifting past me to the sky, bristling with no stars.

A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very peculiar photographs.

Mel says…

Right from the start, I was drawn into the world of Miss Peregrine. I had only heard little snippets of feedback about this book and it was all mysterious, which intrigued me even more.

The protagonist, Jacob, is enthralled in his Grandfather’s strange behaviour and stories about a world he knows nothing about. After a family tragedy, Jacob begins to question what his Grandfather’s life was really about and decides to make a trip back to where it all began. As answers unfold, I found the pages were turning more quickly, as I was becoming more and more excited to know where this story would lead.

The photographs throughout the book add an extra air of mystery and add some reality to the stories of individual characters in the book. This is something we rarely see in fiction, but I would love to see more of as it worked so well to add that little extra oomph to the story. If you decide to read Miss Peregrine’s, please ensure you read the book and don’t go for the audio version, which I almost made the mistake of doing. The photographs are worth your reading time alone!

This is the first book of the series and I can safely say I will be continuing the series to see where it leads. I was also excited to find out that Tim Burton is bringing this book to life in a movie, due to come out late 2016, so if you are wanting to read this book, do so before the movie is released! It is worth the hype!

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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