All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Mini Reviews {7} – What I’ve Been Reading Lately

on October 16, 2019

It’s time for another instalment of Mini Reviews, where I basically cheat and put a bunch of reviews into the same post because either a) I’m too lazy to write individual posts for each of them b) they’re too similar to warrant their own posts c) I don’t have enough to say about them to give them their own posts or d) all of the above. In this case they’re all the same series so it just makes sense to give them a post together where I can say a little about each one.

Now (Once #3)
Morris Gleitzman
Puffin Books
2010, 176p
Purchased personal copy

Now is set in the present day (the present day being 2009 in this case) and focuses around Black Saturday on 7th February 2009. It’s about Felix’s granddaughter Zelda, named for the Zelda that was so important to him during those war years, a girl who has shaped his life and his existence. Zelda’s parents are off being doctors in Africa or something, so Zelda is living with her elderly grandfather (himself a retired surgeon) whilst they are away.

This was originally supposed to be the finale and end what was going to be a trilogy. It’s now 6 books deep with the seventh (and supposedly final now) book to be released next year. This would’ve been published at a very important time and I think it would give middle grade readers the chance to experience, process and realise what happens during incredibly destructive fires. My son has read this (he’s 11, he was six months old during Black Saturday but he’s heard it referenced a lot) and he found it very confronting but also really interesting and like it gave him an understanding of that day that he wouldn’t really get just from hearing us talk about it to him. I really enjoyed this one, I quite liked the skip forward to see that Felix is living in Australia although he certainly even now, still has some PTSD issues after the war.

8/10

Book #150 of 2019

After (Once #4)
Morris Gleitzman
Puffin Books
2012, 209p
Purchased personal copy

In the 4th instalment of this series, we return to Europe and where we left Felix at the end of the second book, basically hiding in Gabriek’s barn. It’s been two years and he’s spent nearly all that time down there, which has resulted in muscle wastage and his legs not growing correctly. In this book, Felix gets involved with the Polish resistance and we journey through them trying to take something back from the Nazis as well as experience the “end” of World War II.

This for me, was the most heartbreaking of all the books so far (and that’s probably saying something). They’ve all been quite distressing in various ways – Felix has lost so much and he keeps finding hope and then suffering terrible grief. This was the absolute epitome of that for me. Felix finds something so precious, something that he thought was lost to him, but only briefly. And I spent that part of the book pretty much sobbing because it was so traumatic and at the same time, it was so heartbreakingly lovely in a way, that he was able to get something in the way of closure from one of the people that loved him the most.

Goddamn.

9/10

Book #152 of 2019

Soon (Once #5)
Morris Gleitzman
Puffin Books
2015, 208p
Purchased personal copy

The war is over, but that doesn’t mean that there’s peace or anything close to it. Sometimes it’s easy to think that the end of actual fighting and Nazis putting Jewish people in death camps means that everything will go back to ‘normal’. But for a lot of Europe, there is no longer a normal. Instead the Nazis might have been defeated but that doesn’t mean that they’re all gone. It doesn’t meant that there aren’t still people out there that believe in that way still and it definitely doesn’t mean that anyone is safe. Poland is a fractured land, there’s a thriving black market and there’s danger at every turn. Felix draws some ire from several different directions because let’s face it, it’s Felix and the kid seems to have a knack for finding trouble.

There’s more connections for Felix to make here and also more heartbreak. Felix keeps on keeping on but it’s getting harder to read the cycle of him suffering these losses. I know these books probably aren’t supposed to be read so close together and perhaps they feel a bit samey because I’ve done that. The previous one was so good, even though it was so sad but this one didn’t reach those heights for me. It was good but seemed a bit meandering. I understand I think, what Gleitzman is trying to show – that the end of the war doesn’t make things ‘better’ in a lot of ways and these countries are so damaged that they can’t just go back to normal life and especially not to the life they had before the war. It just didn’t have the same impact on me.

8/10

Book #161 of 2019

Maybe (Once #6)
Morris Gleitzman
Puffin Books
2017, 240p
Copy courtesy Penguin Books AUS

This is the 6th and most recent novel of the series and how I was introduced to it. I was sent a copy for review two years ago but I never got around to reading it because it was 6 in a series and I hadn’t read the others. So I kept it on a shelf and I’m glad I did, considering that my son has jumped right into the series and it was just one less we had to purchase.

But oy. This was a sharp dip in quality for me. And I’m not sure how much is because of what I talked about in my review of the previous book, about how I’m reading them quite close together. But I definitely did not feel that this book had the powerful impact nor the strong storyline of most of its predecessors. In fact some parts were downright ridiculous (not going to spoil I’ll say 7 months pregnant person + parachute and that should be enough). Felix makes his way to Australia and pretty much every person he meets in Australia is a complete idiot. Look we have as many idiots as the next country but did he have to meet so many of them all in a row? Also people keep wanting to kill him and it’s just starting to feel all a bit over the top. I want to learn about Felix getting his medical degree and forging his career but….unfortunately this book did quiet a bit to dim my enthusiasm of the series.

6/10

Book #163 of 2019


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