Sunday, 29 December 2013

More Than This by Patrick Ness

I have something terrible to confess. I didn't actually like the Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness. Everyone thought it was brilliant (the blurb of his current book, More Than This tells us that he has won every major prize in children's fiction, including the Carnegie Medal twice), but it didn't grab me. I kept trying his books though, because surely, SURELY at some point I was going to get what everyone was carrying on about.

And it finally happened. With More Than This. It's very  hard to review this book without giving things away, and the delight of this book is that it is so very unpredictable and I don't want to take that away from you. Suffice to say it starts with a death, and then gets weirder from then on in.

The More Than This of the title refers to the idea of an afterlife - that there must be 'more than this', more than life, more than our physical bodies, that something else must exist. Whether or not you subscribe to this belief, the concept itself is intriguing, and in the hands of Ness, horrible and beautiful at the same time.

What would your hell look like? Your heaven? Are we punished for our sins on this earth? Is there anything out there, or are we bound by the confines of our brains - our imaginations? Written as a kind of thriller this book kept me turning pages, holding important plot points back, only to release them at the perfect time to drag you in again.

A warning for those who like a neat and tidy ending. You wont get one. Ness warns us throughout the book that he would not provide one, but I didn't stop hoping! It is an ending or sorts, but does not answer all the questions we have. But sometimes I think that is what makes a truly good ending. Ness knows well enough when to leave things open.

One of the very few disappointments I felt with this book was a plot twist that appeared to mirror a very popular movie from a few years ago. I'm not going to spoil it, but I did feel a little cheated. He explores the concept in a slightly new way, however, so I got over it.

On the whole, a great book. Patrick Ness, I finally get you.


- Celia

Thursday, 19 December 2013

The Fault in Our Stars Poster

The Fault in Our Stars movie poster has just been released.  I can't wait for the film to be released in June 2014.  What do you think of the poster and its tagline "One sick love story"?
Cen

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Case of the Pistol-Packing Widows

Once I had  The Case of the Pistol-Packing Widows by Caroline Lawrence in my hands I could not put it down!
A western-style adventure set in America in the 1860's, this novel makes a very welcome change to the current young adult genres and themes on bookshelves.
The main character in the story is PK Pinkerton, a Private Detective. PK is a little over 12 years old, is half-Sioux, and has a very tragic past.
Non-stop drama, danger and high jinks befall PK at every turn. The opening page sees PK caught in a blizzard in the Nevada desert, facing an almost certain death. Then we discover the whole chain of events that led to the blizzard situation.
Leading up to the blizzard situation Pk is kidnapped and thrown into the back of a turnip wagon. An oriental woman awaits PK with a request - to spy on the gentleman who she suspects of 'Playing her False.' PK sighs. Another 'Romantic Job.' But to make matters even more tricky, the gentleman is one of PK's friends.
PK rises to the challenge with an amazing array of disguises, and is also perfecting the cunning trick of hiding in plain sight.
The plot becomes more and more complicated, involving confederates and corporation bills and road toll franchises. PK darts from undercover operation to undercover operation with the assistance of an ever growing band of allies.
Very funny, very poignant and highly recommended.
-Ann

Friday, 29 November 2013

Never Fade: Alexandra Bracken


The world is no longer black and white;
Greens have higher intelligence
Yellows control electricity
Blues have telekinesis
Reds control fire and…
Oranges can mind control.
The world is a colourful and dangerous place….


Ruby never asked to be special, she never asked to be Orange , to have the power to control, but she is and
she can so now she must deal with it if she has any hope of saving the ones she loves. In order to do so Ruby has sacrificed herself to the dangers of the Children’s League, a sinister organisation intent on using Ruby and those like her, to further their own cause. In Never Fade Ruby is entrusted with a dangerous and life altering secret; Liam, the boy she loved but who now would not even recognise her, has unexpectedly come into possession of information that could turn the tide of the Children’s league and perhaps the fate of all those affected by IAAN. Ruby will find herself facing her past, testing her loyalty and harnessing the ‘monster’ within.  The truth and the secret to the salvation of all the IAAN children is out there and it means dangerous times, impossible choices and heartbreaking moments are ahead not just for Ruby but for the ones she loves as well. Will Ruby let her loyalties trump her promise and just who can she and should she trust? The world is no longer black and white, in fact its full of colour, just how will Ruby break free of the deceptively cunning web of lies she is entangled in and how much of herself can she give in order to get everything she wants. It's darks days ahead for Ruby, just where she goes from here not even Ruby knows.

Sequels are always difficult territory especially when the first was so brilliant, as was the case with The darkest minds, but Never Fade doesn’t just match the brilliance of its predecessor it exceeds it in the most dramatic fashion. This book is no TDM 2.0, it is an outstanding novel in its own right; the plot is more action packed and fast paced, the characters are more complex and the atmosphere is darker and more sinister. In Never Fade gone is the scared little girl of the Darkest minds and welcomed in is the the new confident, tough and don’t mess with her Ruby who isn’t afraid to use her abilities. The girl has become a young woman intent on making a difference to the world rather than withdraw from it. While at times I didn’t like Ruby because of this and her self-deprecation, I can understand that it is all a part of growing up and this is really what Ruby is doing; finally growing up.  Liam also returns as a former shadow of himself, still heartbreakingly sweet yet in Never Fade we get to witness the nastier and darker side to his personality. I couldn’t help but mourn for the innocent girl and boy of The darkest minds. Spoiler alert the Ruby and Liam reunion is heartbreaking, gone is the innocence and freedom of their early relationship now betrayal and heartache dominate. That being said Bracken should be applauded for not letting the characters become static, far too often authors become fearful of maturing or changing the characters the readers have grown so attached to but Bracken has no such qualms and it adds to the authenticity of the characters and the overall story. New characters such as Vida are a brilliant addition to the ensemble; in contrast to Ruby Vida is a takes no prisoner kind of girl yet similarly fiercely protective of those she loves; it wonderful to watch the interaction between two girls who on the surface are vastly different yet at their very core similar. The future world Bracken delivers is also further constructed in this tale, as a reader we learn more about the Children’s League, IAAN, the government and Bracken alludes to even more being revealed.


Never Fade is  a classic YA story; it’s about coming of age, finding your identity and falling in love, yet unique in terms of the level of violence, harsh conditions and depth of character Bracken exhibits. Furthermore as a writer Bracken demonstrates the cleverness, humour and forethought to pen an intelligent tale, as well as three dimensional characters with hearts and souls that the reader cannot help but care about. Never Fade is a book of shades; Bracken explores typical themes such as right vs. wrong, motivation, choices and how behaviour is dictated by circumstance. These characters face everyday troubles in extreme circumstances and it is their struggle to make the tough call that endears them to the reader. As with its predecessor this story is full of betrayal in all forms, which forces the reader to join the character in questioning everything, from each characters motivations and choices. Additionally I loved how Bracken put on display the full spectrum of humanity, from the selfless acts of kindness to horrendous acts born out of fear and desperation. It’s a reminder that humans are their own worst enemy and yet each others best friend. The ending is as painfully fraught and cliff-hangery as the first, so sorry you may need the tissues again. This story has some of the best twist imaginable, the appearance of Lee’s brother in particular was fantastic and I loved the contradictory interaction between the pair; as with most siblings there seems to be a fine line between love and hate. I love a book with unpredictable characters and even more unpredictable storylines and Never Fade is one of those. This is YA fiction at its finest, its clever, imaginative, dramatic and intense read. Read, Read, Read….PLEASE J, you won’t be disappointed.


Courtney :)

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Inky Award Winners

The Inky Awards have been announced for 2013.

The Inky Awards are for the best teen literature, voted for online by the readers of http://www.insideadog.com.au/,  and named after the site's wonder-dog, Inky

There are two awards: the Gold Inky for an Australian book, and the Silver Inky for an international book.

2013 Gold Inky Award
My Life is An Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg

and

 2013 Silver Inky Award
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater








Monday, 25 November 2013

New Guinea Moon

'New Guinea Moon' is the latest novel by Australian author, Kate Constable.
Kate grew up in Papua New Guinea and the observations she makes in this novel give the reader a brilliant insight into a country on the brink of independence, in 1975.
From the opening pages where teenage Julie arrives in Port Moresby to stay with the father she has never really known, the reader is immersed in a different world - a strange environment, intense humidity and a world where 'expats' (expatriates) band together and form a tightly knit group.
This largely white expat group consists of business people, those who wish to bring religion to the country, and those seeking to improve the lives of the indigenous people through health and education.
The often complex dillemmas that arise are conveyed to the reader. For instance, Julie asks her missionary neighbour if imposing Christianity on New Guinean people is leading to the annihilation of their culture. Her neighbour responds by saying that before they arrived tribal fighting, cannibalism and wife-beating were commonplace events.
There are two young men in Julie's life - she and Ryan drift into a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship though she is intrigued by another young man called Simon who is classed as 'mixed race' and whose father owns a coffee plantation.
Initially Julie allows herself to be led to some extent, though she then begins to make her own decisions and form her own opinions.
There is a tragedy in this story and there is also a mystery, which brings Julie's growing decision making to the fore.
I thoroughly enjoyed 'New Guinea Moon' and recommend this novel to teen readers.

-Ann

Monday, 11 November 2013

Crown of Midnight

An assassin's loyalties are always in doubt.
But her heart never wavers...




Throne of Glass- Book One
Book three coming soon...


Courtney :)

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The Beginners Guide to Living

:The Beginner's Guide to Living  by Lia Hills 


 The book centres around seventeen year old Will, whose life falls apart after the sudden death of his mother. His father copes as best he can with the grief by going back to work and drinking and his older brother Adam is distant and often absent. Will becomes increasingly isolated and angry as he struggles to find a purpose in his mother's death. He befriends a girl he saw at his mothers funeral and falls in love for the first time. Will must deal with the conflicting emotion of how he can feel so happy and sad at the same time. He begins to document his grief using his mothers camera and embarks on a spiritual journey to find an idea for which he can live and die for. As if this wasn't all enough, he has his final exams looming. It's a moving book about those moments in your life that change you forever. 

Jenny

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Every Breath

'Every Breath' is Ellie Marney's first novel for young adults.
Teenage Rachel and her family have moved to the city from rural Victoria.
It is a radical lifestyle change for the family and Rachel is finding the move very difficult.
Living in the same street as Rachel is James Mycroft - or simply 'Mycroft' as Rachel refers to him - a rebellious and enigmatic teenager who becomes Rachel's friend.
From the offset there is strong chemistry between the two and on virtually every page there is reference to the sizzling and ongoing tension and sense of anticipation between them.
Mycroft and Rachel's friends are believable and likeable personalities, and their family circumstances ring true to adolescents who are treading a balance between dependence and independence.
Mycroft and Rachel stumble on a murder scene and join forces to try and find out who was responsible.
With Mycroft and Rachel's investigative powers and interest in forensics they are soon hot on the trail of the murder investigation and find themselves in deep danger.
As for Mycroft and Rachel's 'will they won't they' relationship - well, you'll have to read the book to find out what happens.
My lips are sealed!
Recommended fiction for teens - part mystery, part family/friends/relationships.
I look forward to the next novel by Ellie Marney called 'Every Word' where we see the return of Rachel and Mycroft.

-Ann

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The House of Hades

The fourth book in The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan has been released. The House of Hades follows on from The Mark of Athena.


At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy's instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea's forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors from both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

Check out this clip of the author Rick Riordan reading from the new book The House of Hades.
Cen
  

Monday, 7 October 2013

Upcoming Books to Movies

Very excited about the making of two of my favourite books into movies.



The Book Thief  will be released in mid November. Based on the the novel  by Markus Zusak I can't wait to see this story on the big screen.  Directed by Brian Percival (Downton Abbey) and  musical score by John Williams (Jaws, Jurrasic Park, Harry Potter etc), the film stars Emily Watson, Geoffrey Rush, Sophie Nélisse, and Ben Schnetzer.

Check out this clip to see how Liesel  is bought to life on screen.




The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is currently being filmed in the US. Starring Shailene Woodley as  Hazel (The Secret Life of the American Teenager ), , Ansel Elgort as Augustus, Natt Wolff as Isaac (The Naked Brothers Band ) and Willem Dafoe as  Peter Van Houten.

John Green has been vlogging from the set.  Check out the clip below as he introduces the actors plus talks about watching his book come to life.



PS. Look out for movies of Divergent by Veronica Roth and Maze Runner by James Dashner as they will also be in cinemas in 2014

Cen

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Sky So Heavy

'The Sky So Heavy' is written by Clair Zorn, an Australian author who lives on the New South Wales coast.
At the centre of the novel is teenager, Fin, who has an excellent wry sense of humour. he goes about his day in his own fashion - dodging school work where he can, and trying to be cool and impress the object of his affections, Lucy.

But on the other side of the world a nightmare is unfolding that has dire and unforeseen consequences.
Nuclear missiles are being detonated and Fin's life is about to be turned upside down.
Fin wakes up to a snowy, freezing cold world where resources become limited, and people will do anything to survive.

Fin has to take charge.
With a younger brother to look after, Fin has to make momentous decisions that could mean survival or death.

This is an impressive novel that will appeal to teenagers who enjoy adventurous and futuristic stories.

-Ann

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Raven Cycle 2: The dream thieves


A secret is a strange thing.

There are three kinds.

The first requires two people: one to keep the secret, one to never know it.

The second is harder, the secret you keep from yourself, the ‘I am afraid’ secret.

The third is the secret no one knows about. It was known once but not anymore.

We all have secrets in our lives…and Ronan Lynch has lived with every sort of secret.
 
 
 The Raven cycle Series: The raven boys, The dream thieves...

The Raven Boys are back; Gansey, Adam, Ronan, Noah and Blue have found Cabeswater and awakened the ley line, they are now one step closer to Glendower and one step closer to the prophetic end, Gansey’s death. But looking for long buried secrets will take this five-some to places they never imagined. Gansey will face slowly losing his friend, Blue will accept that her feelings will be what they will be and not what she wants them to be, Adam will face his past in order to find his future, while Ronan will have to dig deep down to discover the haunting truth about his family’s past and come to terms with his extraordinary paranormal gift. Nothing stays secret forever, especially not when you go hunting for it, but the Raven boys will soon learn they’re not the only one’s hunting…there are dangerous times ahead.

As with the prequel 'the dream thieves' had me enraptured from the very beginning. There is just so much that I love about this series but first and foremost I love how character driven the story is; I love Ronan for his complexity and ability to constantly surprise me, Adam I can only admire for his strength and determination, Noah is charmingly endearing as the boy who never grew up, Gansey is soulful and wise beyond his years with the knowledge to know who he is and what he wants without having to apologise for it and Blue has a strong independent spirit I can’t help but love. Additionally I can’t help but admire the skill of Stiefvater to craft such an intelligent and unpredictable tale. This is a story you read in a whirlwind, never knowing what’s coming next, always being surprised by the outcome. In the dream thieves Ronan takes centre stage as the main protagonist and I quite enjoyed getting to know him better, however I did miss Blue and Gansey but enjoyed the brief moments of their developing relationship. What stands out about this novel is the mystery, Stiefvater has told  you how the story ends but makes it so difficult to envision; you just can’t imagine where she’s going to take these characters, this story and you the reader, which makes for a thrilling and enthralling read. While at time it may seem that Stiefvater is going off on a tangent, why did she introduce this character, every page of storytelling has meaning, adds to the plot which slowly unravels the further you read. Stiefvater challenges you to think, to observe, to put together the puzzle pieces that she leaves behind and solve the mystery, but she does it so masterfully that it is difficult to see the whole picture until of course you’ve finished the book. This is not a novel you just read, this is a novel in which you think, you observe, you wonder, you amaze and you become very much a part of the story as the sixth raven boy. Sequels can be hard to live up to the hype of the first book but not only does The dream thieves live up to the expectations The raven boys left but it exceeds it. The dream thieves is one of the most refreshing and imaginative story’s in the YA genre today, it will hook you from page one to the very end; it’s not to be missed.

Don't believe me check out the author's top ten reasons to read:

Courtney :)

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Too Close to Home

Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay  is a event filled thriller with a twist like no other. The news that your neighbours, the Langleys and their teenage son, have been shot dead is shocking enough, but even more terrifying is the thought that maybe the killers went to the wrong house.

The Cutters, who live next door, also have a teenage son, Derek, who was in the Langleys' house when the killer came to visit; naturally Derek becomes the upstate New York cops' chief suspect.

But this is just the start of an extraordinary and complicated series of events that, before the 380 pages are done, are going to lay bare many shameful secrets kept hidden for years. Too Close to Home is generally more intended for a slightly older audience, as the older teens are able to connect with one of the protagonists, Derek. It's a little slow in some parts, but picks up your attention in others.

I wouldn't recommend this book to someone who gets paranoid easily, but for all others it's a good read to check out.

Chantelle
Age  17


Friday, 6 September 2013

Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters



For Lovers of the Percy Jackson series of  books by Rick Riordan, the second movie in the series, Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters  is due for release on the 19 September. 

Catch it in the school holidays!

Check out the trailer below.


Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Reboot!

She was dead…but not anymore
She was once harmless…but not anymore
Emotionless, Dangerous and Deadly,.
She is the perfect solider
…until of course she isn’t
The perfect solider is done taking orders
Watch out!!!

Five years ago Wren Connelly was shot three times in the chest. She died only to rise again 178 minutes later rebooted. Set in the ruins of what was once Texas Reboot tells the tale of the human race being overrun by Normal looking as ever Reboots are faster, stronger, able to heal and emotionless, they are the perfect army for a totalitarian government intent on controlling the masses. Wren Connolly is perhaps the most deadly Reboot ever, dead for 178 minutes, the longest ever, she is more dead than alive…or so she thinks. When Callum, dead for 22 minutes and still more alive than dead, arrives he shakes Wren to her very core. Callum is slow, weak and emotional, the absolute opposite to what HARC wants.  But as Callum begins to challenge Wren’s ideals and stir emotions in her she believed long dead. It all comes down to a choice for Wren, the unknown or the known?  Is Wren human enough to care to save a life rather than take it?
the spread of a deadly virus, KDH. KDH is a virus that kills then revives leaving the world occupied by ‘Reboots.’


The Vampire, the fairies, the angels, they've all had their reinventions now its time to reinvent the zombie and what a reinvention it is. Tintera pushes the boundaries and breaks down years of traditionalism to bring to life an utterly original retelling of the zombie tale. Wren as the protagonist is bad ass, she’s tough, practical and a lot more human than she realises. Callum as the love interest is sweet, endearing and not all macho. I particularly liked how his character refused to be changed no matter the cost; he reminded me a lot of Peeta from the hunger games. And I suppose because of this I loved the dynamic of his relationship with Wren; this is a tale of about a girl who saves a boy, a tale about an emotionally broken girl who is healed by the love of a boy. In addition to the tale Tintera’s writing style is very free flowing and descriptive which make for an easy and visual read. My only criticism of this book is that it ended rather abruptly, I didn’t know I was at the end of the book until there were no pages left to turn. That being said Tintera plots enough suspense and questions throughout the pages to make for a compelling read. If you’re looking for something new in the supernatural genre then Reboot is a it…a thrilling and action packed reformed zombie tale. 



Courtney :)

Monday, 26 August 2013

The Ink Bridge

'The Ink Bridge' by Neil Grant is one of the shortlisted books for the Australian Children's Book Awards.
'The Ink Bridge' is a captivating read that confronts us with the harsh realities of refugees, asylum seekers and people smugglers.
The initial setting for the book is Afghanistan, and the story begins with the vivid spectacle of local Hazara men forced by the Taliban to destroy the ancient Buddha statues of Bamiyan.
The day is one of complete horror for Omed, who witnesses the destruction of the fifteen hundred year old statues, the death of his friend, and another atrocity which I will leave readers to discover for themselves. The Taliban come looking for Omed and he must escape. He teams up with 'The Snake'; a sinister man. Unfortunately for Omed their relationship is co-dependant.
The pair make their way to a refugee camp in Pakistan and then travel to Australia by boat.
After fleeing a detention centre they arrive in Melbourne. Both men end up working in a candle-making factory in Melbourne.
Omed meets Hec-both teens are mute for one reason or another-and their stories become intertwined. Without giving away too many details, in the last phase of the book Hec travels to Afghanistan to look for Omed. He witnesses modern Afghanistan and travels through regions dominated by warlords and landmines.
'The Ink Bridge' explores complex issues of illegal immigration and people-smuggling and challenges the readers' perception of right and wrong.
The story of Omed will leave you wondering long after you have finished reading this book. It gives a human insight into what is currently a hot political debate.
-Ann

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

This is a brilliantly funny, heartbreaking book and the début of author Jesse Andrews. It's been a little while between YA books I have loved, and I am glad I got to experience that whole can't-put-it-down thing once again. Andrews has a style similar to John Green, but a bit earthier (much more swearing and slightly less introspection). The similarity to Green is echoed in the fact that both Green's recent book The Fault in Our Stars and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl are both about teens suffering from cancer. Both, however, skip the Life Lesson style of writing, and both are better for it.

Greg Gaines doesn't really have friends . He exists on the edges of his high school carefully maintaining good relationships with all cliques but not belonging to any particular one. His only real friend is Earl and he only really hangs out with him in order to shoot movies - his one passion in life. When Greg's mum finds out that a classmate of Greg has cancer she corrals him into becoming friends with her. This is not a heart-warming tale in which Greg learns great life lessons but rather a funny and raw account of a dorky teenage boy coming to grips with the concepts of death and friendship.

The author has a strong sense of style, and the conversational tone if the book makes it extremely readable - even for reluctant readers I would imagine. Many scenes in the book are written as movie scripts or in dialogue only and organised into bullet point format. It sounds confusing but works so well to describe events and the differing internal voices that make up Greg's narrative.

And did I mention it was funny? A funny cancer book - very hard to pull off. Congrats to Jess Andrews. Greg has a great way of describing his world and especially his parents - particularly his mother.

This one is for guys and girls, reluctant readers and passionate readers, and all those in between. Highly recommended!

- Celia

Monday, 19 August 2013

Mystic: Alyson Noel

Daire and Dace have made the ultimate sacrifice for good
Can they go back?
How do they move forward?
And can Daire bring herself to do the one thing she now needs to do…save Cade’s life?

Series: Fated, Echo, Mystic

Since arriving in Enchantment Daire has had one sole purpose, to the Richters by killing Cade. But it was
Daire and her love Dace who died in the end, now Daire must do the unthinkable, save Cade in order to save Dace. Accepting her destiny as a Soul seeker Daire must now deal with her ailing grandmother, finding her lost love, a stranger with secrets and a mad prophet and his daughter intending to end the world and all those deemed unworthy. The final countdown has begun and Daire is racing against the clock to save not only Dace and Cade but all of Enchantment as well. For Daire and Dace nothing will ever be the same again…the question is can they accept that?

Mystic is by far the best book in the series thus far while Echo acted as a “fill in” book for the overall plot, Mystic ramps things up with a full throttle plot, with twists and turns, all the way from the very first page to the very last. What I enjoyed most about Mystic was the added perspectives of secondary characters such as Xochitel and also the appearance of Phyre, who as a character is both infuriatingly frustrating yet sympathetic; she is nothing more than a brainwashed girl with little hope…sad. Dace begins to develop much more throughout Mystic as well; with a piece of his brother soul within him Dace must now struggle with the age of dilemma of right and wrong. Whereas previously Dace was purely good with no thoughts of wrong, the tables have now turned with Dace actually having to make an effort to be good. In a character this flawed nature is much more appealing and changes his relationship with Daire, more than the other books Daire and Dace’s relationship felt real and in fact for me it was this changing dynamic that really made this book shine. Daire too becomes more likable within this story she begins to assert herself and challenge her destiny. As always Noels writing style is evocative, all her research and talent makes for a very visual read. Not only can the reader envision Enchantment but also the mystical worlds of upper and lower. Overall Mystic brings this series to a head, it has everything, romance, action, madness, magic, loyalty loss etc and it is wonderfully delivered. Of course there’s still one book to go and Noel leaves plenty of room for the epic finale Horizon due out in November.



Courtney :)

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Are you excited yet?


Because I am!

- Celia

Destroying Avalon


Destroying Avalon by Kate McCaffrey

 A young Avalon is moved from her tight-knit country town to the big city, where her parents have found new teaching jobs at a local High School. She doesn't really know what to expect at her new high school, but she certainly wasn't expecting this.

Destroying Avalon is an extraordinary text that any teenager can relate to. It tackles strong issues like bullying and discrimination, which helps you connect with Avalon from the second you turn the first page. I've read this book multiple times and it still forces a few tears out of me every time without fail. There's loss, happiness, the gain and loss of friends, and eventually death.

If you are a teenager or are starting out at a new school, then you'll feel all Avalon's angst though out the novel. It's magnificently written, and is a definite must for all young people out there.

Chantelle
Age: 17

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

DEAD BOYS CLUB

DEAD BOYS CLUB  by Geoffrey Malone

Imagine dawn- a strange quiet,
no cockerels crowing.
You step outside your hut, curious.
Then you see them – children, with rifles.
Racing at you. Yelling. Firing.


This story is often hard to read because of its truth. Every year thousands of children are taken from their homes and families and used as child soldiers.  Children, boys and girls, as young as five are taken and forced into a dark reality.

This is Sam’s story. He is twelve when his village is attacked, his mother and sisters killed. Forced to become one of the soldiers in God’s Freedom Army, led by the deranged self proclaimed Colonel Dada.

Sam has seen what happens if you don’t obey. Death. Soon he is given a gun, taught how to fight, to kill, aware that any day could be his last. How can you dream of home and family when men with machine guns guard you day and night. Escape is impossible. Or is it?

A good read but be warned that it will make you shudder with what is happening out there in the real world.

Vicki @ Pakenham.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Never Fall Down

Generally I'm not a fan of war books. I'm an emotional reader and I find them way too upsetting to read. However I have had my eye on Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick for a couple of weeks because I saw that it was about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia which I knew nothing about, apart from the phrase 'The Killing Fields', and a hazy idea of injustice.

I just finished Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher for out Teen Book Group at Narre Warren (which all are welcome to join by the way) and deciding I may as well continue with a bit of depressing reading I picked up Never Fall Down. It is a novel based on the real experiences of a man called Arn Chorn-Pond, a man who was a boy when the Khmer Rouge took power Cambodia in the 1970s. The narrative is told in the first person by McCormick based on interviews she undertook with Arn, and the other people mentioned in the story. It is a very powerful narrative, and feels very immediate for this reason. 

This is an amazing story of a kid who managed to survive while hundreds were killed around him. He survived initially by becoming part of a musical group that was taught to play revolutionary themed songs and eventually even joined with his oppressors in an effort to survive. This story is told with compassion but also does not flinch from the hard truths that those in terrible circumstances must face. You may not like this man after reading his story but you will certainly understand him and something of the terrible things the people of Cambodia went through during this period.

Ultimately however, this is a story of hope. While the human race can do some truly despicable things, our capacity for forgiveness, of ourselves and of others, and our ability to continue to hope for the best in the direst of circumstances gives this story some light within the darkness.


- Celia

Monday, 29 July 2013

Acid (the most brutal police force in history...)


ACID- the most brutal police force in history

They rule with an iron fist

They see everything. They know everything.

They locked me away for life.

My crime?

They say I murdered my parents.

I was fifteen years old.

My name is Jenna Strong…and this is my story!

 

Survival of the fittest is often just a saying for Jenna Strong it’s a philosophy. As the only female in an all male prison, she murdered her parents at 15, Jenna is tough ass. Nobody messes with her
without suffering serious and painful consequences. That is life for Jenna always on the defensive always looking to survive but when a mysterious rebel group breaks Jenna out of prison not even Jenna will be prepared for what is to come. Survival is still number one for Jenna but just what will she have to do to survive. The truth is coming and Jenna will have to make some heart-wrenching choices is she wants to survive. Just what happened that night when her parents died? And how far will Jenna go for the truth…and revenge. Nothing will be the same.

 

What I loved most about ACID was the protagonist Jenna, she was strong, independent and fierce, which in YA fiction can be hard to come by, yet she had a sense of vulnerability about her that just melts your heart. I couldn’t help but compare her to Katniss Everdeen; you love Katniss then you’ll love Jenna. Pass does a good job of delivering a well paced and suspenseful plot, never leaving a time for a dull moment its go go go from the very start. The character development and world building is well constructed and I really enjoyed the secondary characters, specifically Max who you only see through Jenna’s eyes but can’t help but sympathise with. And while Max does play a role as the love inertest he is more than just that, as is Jenna, their emotional feelings and relationship is simply a fact of life, falling in love is something that happens, and doesn’t at all dominate the plot nor define the characters. The plot twists were amazing and very unpredictable and it made for a nice change to read a dystopian novel set in Britain rather than the ever popular US. One critique I will make was that Pass didn’t take the time to explain the technology of the futuristic world, what exactly were the pulse guns was a bit lost on me, and as such some of the action scenes weren’t as visual as other parts of the novel. There is also one aspect of the novel, has to do with how Jenna hides from ACID no spoilers, that didn’t sit well with me but overall a beautifully and intrinsically constructed novel that goes everywhere but where you expect and some places you don't expect. ACID is a wonderful story, one to put on your must read list, and one that  doesn’t disappoint.
 
 
Courtney :)

 

Friday, 26 July 2013

How Hogwarts was founded

Just for a bit of a Friday laugh...



- Celia

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The Day Of The Triffids


I loved this book, it's a classic must-read for sure. It's about a man who wakes up in hospital with his eyes bandaged over from an optical related surgery. It was caused by an attack from a 'Triffid', a new species of walking plants that have invaded the world. Whilst in the hospital, a meteor shower  with the eyes of the world upon it. This causes everyone who had seen this spectacle to go blind. The man in the hospital is one of only a few sighted people left.

His adventures are heart-racing and page-turning. It's very rare for me to be interested in something like this, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. You can just imagine and feel the desertion and loneliness that John describes. Not only does the story line hook you until the last page, it makes you think about what the world could be like if an event like this really did happen, who would survive? If I were blind, would anyone help me?

It's a fabulous read and I highly recommend it.

Chantelle 
Age: 17 

Monday, 15 July 2013

The 5th Wave



The 1st wave
Took out half a million people
The 2nd Wave
Put that number to shame
The 3rd Wave
Lasted a little longer.
Twelve weeks…Four billion dead
The 4th Wave
You can’t trust that people are still people
And the 5th Wave?
No one knows.
But it’s coming…

(Longlisted for the Silver Inky award 2013)

The others have come and if you didn’t die from the electromagnetic storm then you were left to survive the tsunami that destroyed the world’s coastlines. If you lived through that then you had to survive the Red death, a highly contagious bird disease. Next you had to survive being hunted by those who look and act human but are not. Survive all that and your only option…is to wait for what
comes next…

Cassie Sullivan has survived all this and now on a lonely stretch of road, armed with a M-16 rifle and her trust no-one mantra, she struggles forward determined to save her little brother Sammy. But when survival becomes dependent on the mysterious and slightly too perfect to be real Evan Walker, Cassie will be forced to choose, between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender and between life and death. Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope but can she trust him…

Not far away Cassie’s high school crush Ben Parrish also survives only to find himself interned in a military camp. Trained to the extreme Ben loses himself in order to survive and fight. But just want is Ben training for and who can and should he trust.
The fifth wave is coming…just how will they survive?

First off let me say alien invasion stories are hard to pull off and I didn’t have high expectations for this book. In fact the last alien book I read and loved was the Animorphs series when I was 12, yet Yancey managed to really blow me away because I absolutely LOVED this book. The story is very nicely unravelled with Yancey giving away little pieces of the puzzle the further you read. But what I most loved about this book was how Yancey made me question myself. I thought I had the plot down, but I never did, I thought I knew who they characters were and yet I questioned it. Cassie is just a wonderful character, typical teenage she loses none of her attitude despite all else she loses. Ben is so devastatingly broken that you can’t help but want to piece him back together. Their journeys from crashing to the very depths only to struggle back again makes for a thrilling and highly compelling read. Evan Walker…what can I say you think you know but Yancey still makes you question it. In fact I think that’s the brilliance of the story you not only question what makes us human but also like Cassie and Ben who to trust and how to trust what you know when your gut tells you otherwise.  The writing and plot is superbly delivered and while having only a handful of main characters Yancey manages to give each one soul and depth that reaches out from the pages of the book. The 5th wave is an insanely amazing read and one that will have lasting popularity for years to come. A very intense and violent read this isn’t one for the faint hearted but if you can handle such a dark tale you will become addictively hooked; one of the best reads of 2013. Pick it up…if you dare!!!



 
Courtney :)

 
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