BA Features: Reach for the Dream by Anne McCullagh Rennie

Welcome to BA’s Book Features showcasing a small collection of books to be released this week, or showcasing a special feature as part of a blog tour and promotion event. If you’d like to have your book featured on Bookish Ardour please send an enquiry.

Author Anne McCullagh Rennie and her newest release Reach for the Dream

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Review: The Local Wildlife by Robert Drewe

The Local WildlifeWelcome to the Northern Rivers, where the ‘local wildlife’ can refer to more than just the exotic native fauna.  After a decade spent in this picturesque corner of Australia, home of chocolate-coated women, pythons in the ceiling, online Russian brides, deadly paralysis ticks, and the mysterious Mullumbimby Monster, Robert Drewe wiped the green zinc cream from his face and set down some of the unusual wildlife experiences that the far north coast of New South Wales – home of the world’s greatest variety of ants – has to offer.

Drewe’s trademark gentle wit, acute observational powers and mastery of the English language are all on display in this collection of sketches and anecdotes based on the quirkiness of daily life.  His sharp eye for human foibles – including his own – is tempered with a generosity of spirit.

Tall tales from Australia’s master of the short story – but this time these short, short stories are true.

‘Excuse me, mate,’ he asked the fluorescently green, bespectacled, half-submerged man, who was trying to put pen to paper while sitting in water, flicking ants off his work, and wincing as he shifted his buttock position.  ‘Is that how writers do writing?’

‘Yep.’ I frowned verdantly over my glasses.  ‘It’s a very complicated job.’


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Review: Florence by Ciye Cho

Florence by Ciye ChoSeventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is out of her depth. Literally. Kidnapped and taken below the waves to the mer world of Niemela, she is the ultimate gift for merman Prince Kiren: a human familiar tied to his side. But nothing is what it seems amid the beauty and danger of a dark ocean.

Every Niemelan has a role to play, from the mermaids who weave towers out of kelp to the warriors who fight sea monsters. But in trying to survive, Florence will end up in the middle of a war between the mer and the Darkness. A conflict that will push her between two brothers: Kiren, the charmer inexplicably drawn to both her and the monsters; and Rolan, the loner who has been pushing her away since the day they met. But in order to take a stand–and find out where she belongs–Florence will have to risk it all: her life, her heart… and her very soul.


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Review: Cabbage, Strudel, and Trams by Ivana Hrubá

Cabbage, Strudel & Trams is a story of a young girl’s turbulent journey from childhood to adulthood, of adolescence begun behind the Iron Curtain, continued in a West German refugee camp and coming to a glorious end in the land Down Under.

Narrated by Franta, an ancient wise wizard inhabiting the inner world of our young heroine Vendula, this satirical coming-of-age story depicts the trials and tribulations of an ordinary Czech family living in a small mining town in communist Czechoslovakia in the early 1980s, their escape to West Germany and their resettlement in Australia.


What grabs me, keeps me reading, in Cabbage, Strudel, and Trams is the use of language (follow the link to read an excerpt and see some of the illustrations I mention further down). It’s the language, the descriptions, the play with words, and that Ivana Hrubá not only tells a story in a unique way, but also has fun with what could otherwise be a morose tale in the reading. Continue reading

Review: Chasers by James Phelan

Four teenagers. One destroyed city. Thousand of infected predators.
Jesse is on a UN Youth Ambassadors camp in New York when his subway carriage is rocked by an explosion. Jesse and his three friends, Dave, Anna and Mini, crawl out from the wreckage to discover a city in chaos. Streets are deserted. Buildings are in ruins. Worse, the only other survivors seem to be infected with a virus that turns them into horrifying predators…

I have just finished reading Chasers by James Phelan (Alone #1) after starting it yesterday and it is my new favourite. It’s one of those books where I want to go tell everyone about it straight after I have read it and persuade everyone to read it. I’m so happy I read this book (I was meant to be reading Hunger by Michael Grant and then the book for my book club, but felt like reading something a little smaller over the weekend). I now have to hunt down all the other novels this author has written and read them all.

At first it was a bit disappointing because this author is Australian and the book is set in Manhattan, but at the same time it was quite refreshing. Yes it is set in America, but it has a definite Aussie edge to it, and it is relatable regardless of where it is set and who has written it.

I also see the attraction of the story being set in Manhattan. It really is a suitable place for a story like this because they’re so cut off. In Australia you can be cut off, but it’s a different isolation so I really do think the setting suited the story quite well.

Another thing was that there’s a prologue where speech marks are used and then after that for the rest of the story there aren’t any at all. I thought that was very interesting and it didn’t bother me at all. It suited the story and eventually it made sense so I wasn’t left questioning it all the time. I was at first, but luckily the story is so engrossing that eventually you don’t even notice it.

I think the characters are well written and diverse, not like some novels where the writer tries to diversify, but they all end up melding. They all react differently to their plight, they all have their own personalities which show, and there’s also a sense of humour there as well when it’s appropriate.

What I think I really love about this book though is the main character and the ending. I love a book that sucks you in and makes you question what is going on even if it’s a small amount only to have you go ‘wow’ or ‘no way’ like I did. I really did not see that ending coming which makes  me respect the writer’s talent far more then when I was reading the story as a whole. I can really appreciate the characters and what he did, but of course I’m not giving away spoilers so if you want to know what I’m on about I highly recommend reading it.

The only regret I have with reading this novel now is the next one isn’t out till next year. How fortunate that I have so much to read in the meantime.

  • Demographic: Young adult, but definitely suitable for an older audience.
  • Genre: Supernatural, Suspense, Post-Apocalyptic
  • Reminds Me Of: A cross between 28 Days Later, Cloverfield, and I Am Legend.
  • Rating Out of Five: 5
  • Challenges: Aussie Author Challenge, RIP V Challenge

Review: Tomorrow, When The War Began – The Movie

I went and saw Tomorrow, When The War Began yesterday, the Australian filmed based on the novel by John Marsden. I first read TWTWB when I was back in high school and then again more recently so the details and story are still fresh in my mind.

I think as an adaptation it was done really well. No book is ever going to be perfectly adapted to film, I know that, and yes there were changes, but in all it was really well done and I enjoyed it.

There were small things and big things they changed, but it worked for the movie and the story. The changes didn’t detract from the viewing and I didn’t find myself protesting in outrage.  However I was upset that they didn’t have the Hermit from Hell in there at all. He wasn’t even mentioned which I think is a shame because that’s one of the elements of the story I really enjoy, but on the other hand does that really make such an impact on the story if it’s cut out? No I don’t think it does. Yet if they continue on it makes me wonder how they’ll work the story in the next movie without the Hermit.

Another thing they did was not cut out a scene, but merge two which I think would have pissed me off 8-10 years ago when I was aghast at major changes to stories I loved, but on the whole I can see why they did it and that it also worked for the film. Honestly none of the changes left you wondering what was going on like in some adaptations where it can feel disjointed. It was a smooth film and all the elements worked together with it. As for the merging of the scenes; I think perhaps that could have been because of the time limit with movies and maybe even budget (of course I’m just speculating because how could I know that for sure?).

The only problem I had with the merging was what it means for one particular character, but rather then leaving me pissed off, it has made me curious to see how that character develops if they make another film.

I believe  some of the changes they made were a great way to relate to a generation today because TWTWB was written in a time before the world seemed to be so technologically crazy and everyone had a mobile phone. Rather then having Ellie relate the story via pen and paper, she used a video camera. They also included certain pop culture that is very relevant today and all had mobile phones, but in the end mobile phones and pop culture isn’t going to help much when your country has been invaded and you’re isolated like that. However the changes to make it more relevant today and relatable to a current generation doesn’t give it a timeless quality which bothers me a small bit.

I really hope they do make another film and continue on with the franchise for several reasons. One being that I think Australia needs a film series for a younger generation because we are being saturated by American and British series. There’s nothing really wrong with that, but it’s still nice to be able to have movies to relate to when it comes to background and environment.

That and I really did enjoy it. There is dark content, but there is also a lot of humour in this movie. The characters are fun and it makes you want to cheer them on and hang out with them (I particularly love Fi, Homer, and Ellie especially because Ellie corrects people’s grammar). I got some laughs out if it and plenty of people were laughing throughout in the cinema. I had also heard the acting was horrid, but I can tell you now that it is way better then a lot of the actors in the Twilight Saga (sorry Twihards – I watch the movies too, I even enjoyed the books, but most of those actors can not act). They were believable and delivered their lines really well. There was even a scene in the movie which is one of my favourites – Ellie and Corrie discussing a book and how books are usually better then the movies.

If you’re a rating lover then for you I rate this a 4/5, otherwise it is an enjoyable movie and I do recommend it.

Review: Tomorrow When The War Began

I read this as part of the Aussie Author Challenge, I’m only reading three books in the challenge and this is my second one.

Ellie and her friends leave home one quiet morning, wave goodbye to their parents, and head up into the hills to camp out for a while; seven teenagers filling in time during school holidays.

The world is about to change forever. Their lives will never be the same again.
Would you fight? Would you give up everything? Would you sacrifice even life itself?

I first read Tomorrow, When The War Began by Australian author John Marsden back in high school and it’s odd to me because I remember the premise, but have forgotten so much of the story itself that the second time round it’s like reading it anew for me. I even thought I had not read the rest of the series at all, but discovered that I actually have. The point is it was like reading it for the first time so that’s how I’m going to be reviewing it.

I finished it last night after reading for only a couple of days. John Marsden has a way of writing that is very engaging and absorbing, but I don’t know how much of that is his writing story and how much of that is the character Ellie who is the narrator of the tale. Either it is really well written and easy to relate to even when you haven’t been in that situation. I love how the characters, unlike in a lot of survival novels, go through a realistic set of emotions in a realistic amount of time and that they’re all so well written that they come across as individuals.

Tomorrow had a chance of being frustrating being told in the first person because of information you could possibly miss out on, but Marsden has found ways to introduce that information so it doesn’t matter that it’s not in third person. This is something I was grateful for, but at the same time found it a little bit too convenient and I did have a problem with characters feeling certain emotions so quickly (I won’t say what to avoid spoilers), but that’s something I can’t stand in most stories. Other than those parts it’s a great novel, raises some very interesting moral and ethical questions, and it’s definitely a young adult novel that I can actually recommend to young adults.

I’m also really excited to see this at the movies when it comes out (which is one reason why I have re-read the book), I just hope they actually do it justice even though I can already see slight changes in the trailer. I recommend not watching the trailer unless you’ve read the book or plan on not reading it.

  • Demographic: Young Adult, but suitable for an older generation as well.
  • Genre: War
  • Reminds Me Of: Nothing actually springs to mind that I’ve read as I don’t read that many war novels or watch war flicks that have to do with young adults.
  • Rating Out of Five: 4
  • Challenges: Aussie Author Challenge