Friday, 29 August 2014

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Claire


Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Claire is book one in the prequel series the Infernal Devices based before the Mortal Instruments series began. 

Magic is dangerous; but love is more dangerous still ~



When 16 year old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to England in hope of finding her brother. The time is the reign of Queen Victoria and something terrifying is awaiting for her in the London’s downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gas-lit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, Nephilim warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, in order to keep the peace among the human world. 
When she arrives in London, she is kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, who are members of a secret organisation called the Pandemonium Club; Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability. The ability to transform at will, into another person. The Magister, the shadowy figure that runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.
Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her new found power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by and torn between two best friends; Jem, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arms length… everyone, that is, but Tessa. 
As their search draws them deep into the heart of an evil dark plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world... and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

This book is spectacular, with everything I'd wanted in the TMI series and more. The magic and mysteries are compelling and Victorian London is a fantastic backdrop to this steam-punk tale about a girl who discovers she has incredible powers...and an incredible past. Tessa is a vibrant, fascinating heroine and all the secondary characters, including Will and Jem and Charlotte, are engaging and sympathetic. I thought this book was much more mature than the TMI series, so I'm very much looking forward to reading the next two Infernal Devices instalments.


- S.Rose (Narre Work Experience Student)

Monday, 25 August 2014

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

 by Benjamin Alire Saenz has won a number of American awards and commendations including the Printz Honor Book, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and Kirkus Reviews best Teen Book of the Year.

Fifteen year old Aristotle is not sure who he is. He has few if any friends. He does, however, enjoy bantering with his mother.

'What are you going to do today?' she asks him.
'I'm going to join a gang' he says.
'That's not funny' she responds.
'I'm Mexican. Isn't that what we do?'
'Not funny' she says.
'Not funny' agrees Aristotle.


Whilst Aristotle is at the local pool, he befriends a teenage boy called Dante and they form an intense bond.
Over time, Dante, an artistic teenager, is able to break down barriers that Aristotle has built around himself.

The reader slowly discovers that Dante is gay. What happens next is a journey for both young men that involves inner strength and bravery.

There are many things to admire about this novel and the relationship that both boys have with their parents is one factor.
The writing is clever and honest, depicting the lives and challenges of American/Mexican families.

Highly recommended reading.

-Ann

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Wonder by R.J Palacio





Wonder by R.J Palacio
I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a severe facial deformity and this book follows his story as he attends mainstream school for the first time. The story is told from the point of view of Auggie, as well as the people in his life. Being the 'new kid' at any school is always hard, Auggie must learn to make new friends, interact with teachers and navigate new rules. Auggie has to deal with all of the usual emotions on top of his fears about how people will react when they see his face.

We, the reader, are never offered a detailed description of Auggie's face, but as the story goes on and we hear from other characters, we begin to create a picture of what we think Auggie must look like. What I found most striking about this novel was that sometimes, because Auggie's voice sounds like the voice of any regular 5th grader, I would sometimes forget about his deformity and get sucked in to the relationships and conflicts in the story.

August's down to earth attitude and bravery is inspiring. This particular quote is an example of his perspective on things:

It’s okay, I know I’m weird-looking, take a look, I don’t bite. Hey, the truth is, if a wookie started going to school all of a sudden, I’d be curious, I’d probably stare a bit! And if I was walking with Jack or Summer, I’d probably whisper to them: Hey, there’s the wookie. And if the wookie caught me saying that, he’d know I wasn’t trying to be mean. I was just pointing out the fact that he’s a wookie.

Despite Auggie's attitude and resilience, there are some awful scenes which make the book an emotional and heart breaking read. However, these scenes are balanced by moments of inspiring kindness and friendship that leave you feeling whimsical and uplifted. Ultimately positive, this book was a compassionate story, realistic and warm. I would recommend it for readers of all ages.

Jess from Endeavour Hills

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

This Is Not a Test


This Is Not a Test-  Courtney Summers

I’m so over books about zombies and vampires, angels and demons. The un-dead in any form. There are so many out there….so if you have to write one, make it good.

This is good. Although in reality the zombies, or in this case the ‘infected’ are merely a tool to throw six teenagers together.  Yes it is the end of the world and the six students are sheltering in their High School, while the dead pound on the doors and wait for them to come out. But this novel is much more.

Main character Sloane waits for the doors to open, for her world to end. In fact she feels her life ended when her older sister Lily ran away from home. Leaving her alone with their abusive father. Sloane finds no reason to keep on living, wants to give up. Has her suicide note already written. But hiding in the school with others that are fighting for survival, means she has to think of others. Not just herself.

Like a lot of readers, this novel in some way reminds me of The Breakfast Club. Teenagers thrown together, who would never become friends in normal circumstances, begin to see each other in a new light. As time inches by, tensions build, personalities war.

Then it’s time to leave, to take their chances out in the streets. Try to find a way to survive, to make it to Rayford and the shelter it promises.  I won’t give too much away, but the ending is one that I really didn't expect. Not after the fact that the group had survived so much.

Recommend read
Vicki @ Pakenham


Monday, 11 August 2014

Hidden Gems of YA




Courtney :)

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Pygmalion

Pygmalion - A Play by George Bernard Shaw

Not many people in their teen years have heard of the play Pygmalion.  I mean most of us don’t even read plays! I read this for a school assignment but for me it became so much more. As an avid fan of the movie My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison, I was extremely excited to hear that this play is what the movie was based off.
Set in the early 1900's under Edwardian rule, this play is about a teacher of phonetics, the science of speech, and Eliza Doolittle a poor flower girl trying to get by on the little amount of money she makes. Higgins meets Eliza in not the best of situations with her convinced he's a cop and thinks she was ‘coming onto’ an older gentlemen. She is absolutely horrified to say the least. You can imagine the noises she makes with her horrid cockney accent when she’s in a rush! As the play progresses Higgins decides to take Eliza on as a bet of a sort with a friend of his,  Colonel Pickering a fellow linguist (scientist of speech if you will) that he could transform Eliza and even pass her off as the queen of Sheba within 13 months. A the bet progresses and Eliza is taught how to speak and act like a proper elegant and well-dressed lady, more problems, feeling, and characters come to light. The real question is will Eliza ever be able to pull it off and what will happen to her now if she doesn’t?

As a play it is very different from a book in how you read it and how to understand what exactly is happening so I’ll give you some tips. All stage directions will be in italics and [brackets], it gives actors directions for movement and expression. At the beginning of each act, think of them as chapters if you will, there will always be a very detailed setting so that you know exactly of your surroundings because that is how it was meant to be done on stage. When one character is speaking to the other it may come up with them speaking their name and then saying something aimed to them and them alone. One thing that I found to be a great help was if you completely had no clue what a word meant just have a dictionary on your lap or on a laptop. By the end of the book your vocabulary will clearly be so resplendently refined that you will be able to baffle all whom you meet just like Eliza does.

If you happen to enjoy the movie that was based of this play then I recommend you read this too as it opens your eyes so much to all of these other ideas and things that were meant to happen and coincide with each other, I for one find it absolutely fascinating.
I see now that I have rambled on quite a bit about this play probably because for me I’ve always wondered if more happened beyond the movie because as they say all of the best movies are based off books.
As far as I know this doesn’t have any prizes behind it like many others of the time but it does have a string of performances and a movie featuring some of the most brilliant actors and singers alike starring in it.

L.E Simpkin (Work Experience Student)
Age 15

Note: I can add that My Fair Lady won many awards in 1965 - including Best Picture Oscar, Best Actor in a Leading Role Rex Harrison , Best Director George Cukor, Best Cinematography,  Best Costume Design, and Best  Music. Here's a clip about the making of the movie from the play. Cen




Monday, 14 July 2014

Calypso Summer

It is thirty-nine degrees, his boss hasn't paid him, and he is too broke to fix his 'piece of shit ten-speed.' So begins 'Calypso Summer' by Jared Thomas.

Calypso (real name Kyle) Summer is viewed with suspicion by many people with whom he comes into contact. Not because of his near waist-length dreadlocks, but because he is an Aborigine.

Calypso is trying to make good decisions in his life since leaving school. However, Calypso's old life is never far behind him with his bad-influence ganja smoking cousin Run also living in the flat that Calypso rents.
After months of unemployment, Calypso finally scores a job with Gary who runs a DVD store. Gary then branches out in to a health food outlet. He has big plans for the new store-plans that involve Calypso and traditional bush medicines and remedies.

But Gary can by mysterious. Are Gary's intentions good or will he exploit Calypso and his newly found bush relations for his own ends?

'Calypso Summer' depicts young Aboriginal people in a contemporary setting and raises issues of Aboriginal heritage and connections as well as urban life, family and romance.

There are laugh-out loud moments when, for instance, Calypso is tricked into thinking he has been given a relaxing natural bush product for his bath, or when we find out how 'Run' was given his name.

I really enjoyed this book, which was the State Library of Queensland black and write prize winner for 2013.

-Ann

 
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