Review: Revenants – The Odyssey Home by Scott Kauffman

Revenants: The Odyssey HomeRevenants: The Odyessey Home
Written by Scott Kauffman
Pages: 275
Appropriate for ages 16+
Available in paperback & kindle

***I received a free copy from the author in return for an honest review.

After finishing this book, I have a better understanding of the title.

Summary: It seems odd to say that there is so much life in this book, when it’s about a young girl working through the grief of losing her brother in the war and uncovering the journey one of the vets went through to get home. There’s a couple of layers and I can’t find the right words to mingle the stories together, like the book does. There is so much depth. The story will definitely stay with me.

Characters, Locale & Story: It starts off from Betsy’s teenage perspective. I thought she was going to be a character I really despised. A cheerleader, one of the popular girls. I don’t think I’ve read a book yet that starred the popular kid. It’s always the outsider. But circumstances lead Betsy to be a candy striper at the local veteran hospital. That’s where she carves out a space in my heart.

The hospital is located on the outskirts of town, and the locals choose to ignore it. It’s like they put our returned servicemen in the too hard basket. Betsy even says it after her first day, “They’re awful to look at. Perfectly awful.” They don’t want them ruining their perfect little town of Hanna.

I really enjoyed the band of misfits at the hospital. They are exactly how one would imagine war vets to be, characters.

Grumbles: I had a few niggly moments towards the beginning. I found it hard to keep up with who was telling the story, just within the first 50 or so pages. They each have their own voice and it becomes easier to differentiate between them.

And I wasn’t too sure about the jump back in time in the second chapter. I’m so used to reading YA or childrens fiction where the jumps/voices are clearly labelled in the chapter titles.

There was a sentence which I had to laugh at. Did they really say BOSS in ’84? I think that’s cool if they did!

“Nathan’s boxes were just so boss, but I always worried they might not make it.”

Language: In terms of the language though, I think the author wrote that time period very well. Just as an example and this isn’t the best, but this made me giggle. Betsy was blackmail her brother, “Not if you’re serving time in the kiddie slammer swinging a shovel it won’t.”

But my favourite phrase, I was wondering if it was quoted from somewhere, is

“For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were our fathers; our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.”

Recommendation: I don’t want to give too much away. I’ve never been great at writing spoiler free reviews. I would definitely recommend this if you’re into historical fiction, war, and mystery.

My rating: 4 out of 5

4 Leaf

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Review: Rāhui by Chris Szekely

Szekely, C. (2011). Rāhui. Wellington, New Zealand: Huia Publishers.

Rahui by Chris Szekely (bookcover)

Format: Hardcover
Length: 38 pages
Illustrator: Malcolm Ross

I read the Te Reo Māori version at the library today. Although I have read the English version when the book was first published. I remember distinctly not liking the line ‘He drowned.’ or something so abrupt like that. In the reo māori translation, it’s less of a kick in the guts, like ‘We lost our friend. We thought he had gone back home.’

I have not seen or read a children’s books that tackles a heavy topic like death in such a beautiful way. It describes what rāhui means for a small community. It is a short story, using easy to understand language. The illustrations are darker, but they use vivid greens and oranges throughout, which, in my opinion, lighten the heavy load.

The story is about family, summer holidays and an unfortunate accident. Although there aren’t a lot of words to a page, they have a lot of depth. As an adult reading this children’s story, I’m reading between the lines and feel the loss. Although I would imagine for a child, they could probably feel the sadness.

And this is all without going into the actual topic of rāhui, the restriction of access to the sea and its resources until the rāhui has been lifted. That’s probably more words than what the book uses to describe rāhui.

This book is timeless. The topic, although a māori concept, is one that will need explaining to each new generation. Rāhui has quality writing and the illustrations are sombre and suits the tone of the book. It’s so easy to read and understand.

I would definitely read this book to my future children.

My Rating: 5/5

5 Leaf

Review: The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Green, J. (2012). The fault in our stars. Melbourne, Australia: Penguin Books

Written by John Green
313 pages
Appropriate for ages 13+ years
Available in hardcover, paperback, ebook and audiobook

Sixteen year old, Hazel Grace Lancaster, lives her life attached to an oxygen tank, but the real story begins when she meets Augustus Waters. At a cancer kids support group, with one glance at Augustus, Hazel’s life changes. He is tall, good looking and in remission. Hazel doesn’t like her odds of living a long life. Augustus lives with more optimism. But to Hazel, what’s the point in hurting someone when you don’t have to?

This book deals with cancer, dying and losing a loved one. Death is unavoidable. John Green does not shy away from this, and Hazel’s story is heart-breaking. Everyone knows someone that has died from cancer. It’s what makes this book relatable. It’s sad and equally, so full of life.

Hazel and Augustus are well rounded characters. She’s cautious. He’s in too deep. They teach you that life isn’t fair. But live it to the fullest while you can.

John Green knows the English language well. This book is filled with dialogue and clever banter. He doesn’t downplay the situation by using easier language.

The Fault in our Stars is a love story like no other. It’s beautifully written. The plot is believable. The characters will become your friends. This book will make you laugh and cry. Everyone should read this book! If you get dust in your eye at the end, know that every tear was worth it.

Review: I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora

Acampora, P. (2014). I kill the mockingbird. New York, NY: Roaring Brook Press

Written by Paul Acampora
176 pages
Appropriate for ages 10-12 years
Available in hardcover, paperback and ebook

Three young kids decide to honour the death of their recently departed teacher, Mr Nowak, better known as “Fat Bob”. On their final day of middle school, Lucy and her best friends, Elena and Michael, were given a summer reading list. Lucy’s favourite is on the list. She also knows it was one of Fat Bob’s favourites. What transpires is an elaborate conspiracy to get all the kids reading To Kill a Mockingbird. But their plans gets a little carried away. It ends up on the local news and all over social media. Before they know it, people from all around the world are joining in #iKilltheMockingbird.

I Kill the Mockingbird is quick, funny and smart. The story is about friendship, first crushes and having a little adventure. It’s filled with witty dialogue, you’ll be laughing out loud at their antics. The chapter titles are strange, like ‘The Queen of England is in our bathroom’, that you’ll keep reading just to discover what it means. Going viral is so common that the attention from their use of social media is very realistic.

There author writes some really mature child-to-adult conversations, that touch on death, cancer, and christianity. But this book is about encouraging people to read, and to really think about what it is you’re reading.

This passion behind literature in this book is inspiring. I Kill the Mockingbird could be just the book to becoming an avid reader.

Review: Ten Eggs in a Nest by Marilyn Sadler

Sadler, M. (2014). Ten eggs in a nest. New York, NY: Random House Children’s Books

cover-ten-eggs-in-a-nest-picturebook

Written by Marilyn Sadler
Illustrated by Michael Fleming
48 pages
Appropriate for ages 3-6 years
Available in Hardback or Kindle

Gwen the Hen has a secret! She has laid eggs but won’t tell Red the Rooster just how many. Red has to wait for the eggs to hatch. When one chick hatches, Red goes to buy a worm from the market. To his surprise, there are two more chicks when he returns. So Red rushes back to the market to buy more worms. Can you guess what happens next?

Our young readers will be captured by this fast paced and lovable story. It’s filled with fun rhymes, that’ll keep you on your toes as you go back and forth to the market with Red the Rooster. The book has clean and simple illustrations that are brought to life through bold colours. The pictures will keep you focused on the page. There is emphasis on the numbers to help your child read along with you. There are simple additions, your child won’t realise they are learning math.

With this warm story and these adorable animals, Ten Eggs in a Nest will become your family’s favourite. Your little one reading on their own in no time!


 

This book is part of a series ‘Bright and Early Books for Beginning Beginners‘. If you liked the sound of Ten Eggs in a Nest, then click on Cat in the Hat to find more great books.