Monday, 22 December 2014

The Eye of the Sheep

'The Eye of the Sheep' is a magnificent young adult novel written by Sofie Laguna.

The story is written from the point of view of Jimmy, a boy with behavioural difficulties, and the individual and extraordinary way in which he sees and interacts with his world makes for compelling reading.

Jimmy's mother, Paula, stands out as the only person who can truly deal with him.

Thrown into this mix is a situation of inter-generational family violence.

If you are like me the characters in this novel will stay in your mind long after you have finished reading.

Highly recommended.


Monday, 8 December 2014

Vietnam Diary

Vietnam Diary
Author: Mark Wilson

This book was about the Vietnam War. This war was after the First and Second World War. This would've been a realistic fiction book because people might have actually sent letters to their loved ones on that time. This war was real but the only thing that might not be real are the the characters. A main theme that came out of this book is love because to show that the brothers really love each other, they play together, they both loved cricket and they couldn't be separated. But when Jason has to go to war Leigh is alone. On the weekends all he ever talked about was the Vietnam War. This made me connect to all the wars in the world because there was a lot of wars over many years and this is one of them.

You might like this book because it is about war. It is good to learn about history and their mistakes. I was interested in this book because i didn't know that much about the Vietnam War. You might also like this book because you might know how some characters feel,  because you might have experienced their pain or you can connect to them. You might have known someone that went to war and never came back.


Age: 12

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl

'The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl' is Melissa Keil's second young adult novel. Her first novel was the award winning 'Life In Outer Space'.

'The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl'  is set in small town Eden Valley.

Our heroine is Alba - a teenage girl with attitude - and aspiring comic book artist.

A prediction is going around that the world will soon end, and that Eden Valley will be the only place to survive. This leads hundreds of newcomers to the town. They swarm into town, hippy style, and set up home wherever they can find space.
Meanwhile Alba and her close circle of friends have end-of-school decisions to make. Alba, although outwardly confident, is uncertain and scared.

And what of Grady, Alba's best friend since they were babies. Where is this all leading?

Great characterization and storyline.

Colourful and warm.

Recommended reading for teenagers.


Wednesday, 5 November 2014


Author: Stephenie Meyer

This book is amazing . I love this book because it makes me feel in control and helps me feel nice about myself .


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Fault in our Stars

Author: John Green

The Fault in our Stars is all about a girl named Hazel Grace and she is a cancer sufferer. She didn't want to go to a Support Group and she likes it when she ends up meeting someone named  Augustus Waters. Firstly they were acquaintances and then when Augustus went to Hazel's house and then they became friends and they fell in love. They were the cutest couple. He made her wish came true, which was going to Amsterdam and meeting her favourite author of "An Imperial Affliction" by Peter Van Houten so they did that. But this is a sad book that's not such a good thing though because Augustus ends up having a prefuneral because... to find out the rest of this terrific book go and get The Fault in our Stars now. I recommend it
would be rated PG=)
How good was it? Fantastic

Age: 8

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The Sorrows of Ava Lavender

‘Love makes us such fools.’

On the surface The Strange and Beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavendar by Leslye Walton is about Ava, a sixteen year old girl born with wings, who yearns to fit in with everyone else. But this novel also traces her family history, a history of love gone wrong, of myths and fables.

It begins with her grandmother, Emilienne, who fell in love three times before she was nineteen. After the deaths of her siblings, all due to love, or the lack thereof, she married a man she thought would never leave her. Love didn’t enter into the equation.

Ava’s mother Vivianne is just as much troubled by love as the rest of her family. Falls in love with a boy who, after a one night stand, leaves her. From this one night, Vivianne has two children, winged Ava and silent Henry….but all the time waits for her errant lover to return.

This novel is an interesting mixture of fable and magic realism. Nothing and no one are really how they appear. Vivianne has an unnatural sense of smell and can detect the seasons.

"Summer rain smelled like newly clipped grass, like mouths stained red with berry juice – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries. It smelled like late nights spent pointing constellations out from their starry guises, freshly washed laundry drying outside on the line, like barbecues and stolen kisses in a 1932 Ford Coupe."

One of Emilienne’s siblings cuts out her own heart, another quietly turns into a bird. Ghosts freely roam this book as though it is the norm. Now it is Ava’s turn to try and find her place. She longs to leave the safety of her home, all that she has ever known. With the help of a friend she sneaks out but now becomes the obsession of a man who believes her to be no mortal woman but an angel.

This novel is like a grown up fairy tale.  If you accept that fact and allow yourself to be swept along with some beautiful writing, you’ll definitely enjoy this book.

Vicki @ Pakenham

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Ghost House- Alexandra Adornetto

A boy who with dark secrets buried

And a story that simply won’t die…

Chloe Kennedy, 17 years old and once quite normal; but alas no more. Now Chloe is motherless awash in grief and haunted by the dead, she thought she had banished from her life. Sent halfway around the world with her grandmother and brother in tow Chloe soon meets Alex, a boy carrying his own burden of grief and loss. An unlikely friendship is forged in their common grief and soon Chloe is learning to accept and live with her new life circumstances; a life without her mother but plenty of ghosts. However as the past and the present begin to collide in dangerous ways it will be up to Chloe to settle the past even if it might risk her future.

There is an old saying that things get better with age and this rings true in respect the writing talents of Adornetto. First published at 13 I have been a reader of Adornetto’s for many years and have enjoyed watching with each series her novels mature. Ghost House is her most sophisticated tale yet, adding her own twists to the traditional ghosts stories, Adornetto has created a story and characters uniquely her own. As with all her books what stands out here is Adornetto’s way with words; she manages to forge strong connections between the reader and the characters, especially in regards to the protagonist Chloe, whose every emotion from grief, to anger to indignation seeps through the pages and into the reader. Chloe is a pleasure to read, she is real in her emotions and actions, and manages to be sarcastic without being rude. She is an engaging and likeable protagonists who will have you hooked on reading. Alex, is an untraditional male protagonists, he is not billed at the “flawlessly perfect” male of most YA fiction these days, which is refreshing and I like that he remains a man of his time, for not only is it realistic but it also makes for some interesting interactions between the characters. Ghost house is a story that will excite you, there are some fantastical and unpredictable plot twists that make this a page turner and the characters themselves are so endearing that you will find it hard to let go. Get excited about this one, it is perhaps the best writing so far of one of Australia’s most promising writers. I absolutely cannot wait to see where Adornetto take this…because I have no idea and I love that.

Courtney :)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The devil walks – by Anne Fine

“His tone changed. Thrusting his face at mine, he told me threateningly, ‘you’d best take care. More than one thing can sting under this roof.’”

The devil walks is a story set in the 19th century about a boy named Daniel Cunningham whose  name isn't really Cunningham. He is a blank page upon which anything might be written that has been hidden away from the outside world and told he suffers from a mysterious illness (even though he isn’t) by his mother who has stolen away his childhood he can not understand why until a forceful knock at the door reveals just how many secrets his silent and protective mother has kept from him and how many she’s told. Torn away from his home Daniel slowly piece’s together a chilling legacy of vicious cruelty and fiendish spite that has gripped his family for years 

by cam narre work experience 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Horns by Joe Hill

Horns by Joe Hill is an interesting book. It depicts the tale of Ig, a man who had just lost his girlfriend who was murdered. People suspect him for the crime and his life becomes a living hell. Ig wakes up one morning to find out he has grown demon horns. He finds out that the horns make others tell him their secrets. He can also control people based on what they have said to him. Ig then decides to use this ability to find out who murdered his girlfriend, and get revenge.

At first I read this very slowly, as I had other things going on but as soon as I found the time to read I was stuck into the book. At first I thought it was boring, with no development happening. I then read on and found it really interesting. Ig is an interesting character, a man who had lost everything he had loved and now cannot stop hearing people’s secrets. Ig is portrayed as kind of gloomy, always looking at the past with his girlfriend and trying to find out who had murdered her. Ig’s best friend Lee is portrayed as a shifty kind of character, always acting suspicious and doing suspicious things. Lee is by far the most interesting character in the book, with his lost eye and his shifty attitude.

The book also plays on a bit of religion, with Ig being more of a demon while Lee is more of an angel or god. The book also explains that Ig’s power cannot work on people wearing an holy item (e.g. a cross). This also pushes the religious aspect up. The book also has some parts played in a church, with the priests scared of Ig, as he has demon horns and demon powers. The religion that is displayed in the book however, is very limited, which is a very good thing.

In the end Horns is a very good book, depicting Ig’s journey to find his girlfriends killer. I would recommend this book to people who don’t mind reading something a bit adult, or are fans of things to do with demons and angels. The book is also getting a movie in the upcoming years, with it staring Daniel Radcliffe as Ig. I would recommend this book to those aged 15+

By Damon Slatter (Work experience student @ Endeavour Hills library)

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Minnow

The Minnow by Diana Sweeney is the winner of the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing 2013.

I procrastinated for quite a while before I read this book. A pregnant teenager whose family had died in a flood? No thanks, I'll read something else.

But when I finally opened the book I couldn't put it down.
The cover is eye-catching - dark and beckoning - filled with sea creatures and underwater life. It also sets the mood for the novel.
And that is what I so loved about the book - a style and mood that sets it apart - dreamy and flowing.

The main character in the book is a girl called Tom who lives with a much older bloke called Bill since the death of her parents and sister.
Tom is pregnant with Bill's baby and she can no longer stay with Bill. She moves in with her friend Jonah who is helpful and supportive, as are others in her community.
As Tom works through her grief she communicates in an unlikely way with marine creatures and with her unborn child whom she names 'the minnow.'

This is a beautifully written novel that I recommend to those who love reading high quality YA fiction.

It is Diana's first novel, and it is a real winner.


Friday, 5 September 2014

Heir of Fire

She is a Queen…
She is Aelin Ashryver Galathynius
Heir of two mighty bloodlines
And she’s back…

Celaena Sardothien can no longer run, no longer hide. Heartbroken, lost and sent to the other side of the world, home of her ancestors, Celaena will embark on a journey to fulfil the oath she made to her perished Celaena to finally face the past and herself. Learning to accept her Fae heritage and magic will only be the beginning of Celaena’s journey from infamous assassin to reigning Queen. However there is more to the King’s reign than Celaena could have ever imagined and defeat will come at a cost. The pieces are in play, moves are being made and war is about to rage. What will Celaena choose? Run or fight. There will be no second chances.
friend. However fulfilling such an oath will require

Heir of Fire is by far the best book of this series; everything finally comes together in this thrilling, edge of your seat read. The old of characters return; Celaena’s past finally comes to light giving the reader further insight into her actions thus far; Dorian continues to grow although as with the last book he doesn’t appear as much as I would like; Chaol continues to play his role of helper of all failing to demonstrate an ability to make decisions for himself and the King proves to be more cunning than first thought. There is also a host of new characters such as Manon, a witch who is quite unlikable, and despite thawing out during the book I struggled to make it through her chapters, Sorcha a healer who attracts Dorian’s attention but has secrets of her own, Aedion the traitorous cousin and Roland the mystery Fae who intrigues not only Celaena but the reader as well. Each new character brings a new depth to the older characters and the plot overall. The descriptive nature of the text is engaging and it was refreshing to alternate between the different perspectives of the characters, as it added more layers to the overall story. Again as with its predecessors I was enthralled with the world Maas has built and the supernatural aspects she has effortlessly woven in. The plot twists along with the host of new characters makes for compelling reading and revitalises the story in exciting, new and unexpected ways. This book is literally a page-turner; a stunning new sequel in what is fast becoming one of my favourite YA series.

Courtney :)

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.


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 - 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.


Wednesday, 2 July 2014


Title: Revived
Author: Cat Patrick

Cat Patrick is a wonderful author to have debuted with a novel that is unique and memorable. 'Revive' revolves around a girl named Daisy who is not your ordinary high school girl. She is nomadic and never bothers to make attachments to people, objects or places - because she is a human experiment of the drug named revive (which does what it is called). However everything changes after the fifth time she dies and moves to Omaha, where a new life awaits her.
Read 'Revive' to join in on Daisy's engagement in new experiences and problems and intriguing concept of the way she must live, but most of all, get to know Cat Patrick's clear yet captivating style of writing that explores the ups and downs of life.
You might like this if you like......: the genres: sci-fi, teen love, drama, and mystery.

Age: 15

Check out the book trailer below.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Kissing Booth - Beth Reekles

The Kissing Booth written by UK author Beth Reekles, first appeared on the website Wattpad, since then TKB has won the Watty awards and been published; sending Beth Reekles into the world of YA authors. This novel is tremendous, I first read it on Wattpad when it was in its rough stages and it was absolutely amazing, I read it three times. Then when it came out in print I was wrapped. I borrowed it and read it a further two times and I was still amazed.

I cannot do this novel any justice, but it has got to be another of my all time favourites. The emotions, the descriptions and of course the plot is all breath-taking. Reekles is a pure generous, I wish I had written this novel. It is a must read for anyone who is in love with teen fiction romances. One of a kind, don’t hold back, I urge you to find it and enjoy! 

~E. Winters Narre Warren Work Experience 

A Girl Like Me - Penny Matthews

Historical Fiction has got to be my all-time favourite genre; there is always the right balance of fact, fiction and a good double dose of imagination. Romance, great historic moments and the telling of a different time always has me from the first sentence. If you’re a historical fiction loving reader like me, then this novel is for you. Written by Australian author Penny Matthews, A Girl Like me is a wonderfully thought provoking filled novel about an ambitious fifteen year old Emily Jane Brooker, known as Emmie by close friends and family. Emmie’s life revolves around the learning of household skills, piano lessons and her best friend Ada. But when a young Miss Bertha Schippan is brought into the picture things get a little saucy.
In all honesty this one big page turner, with the insight to facts about life over a century ago, involving a lot of Australian history about something that brought headlines rushing out around the nation. This novel has got to be one of the best novels I have read, there are references to Emily Bronte’s works and to the hard times a young woman had to go through. This amazing novel touches on all aspects of a young girl’s life back in 1902, questions will be raised with this one.
If you really do like Australia’s history, or history in general with some mystery mixed in, this book is the one for you. A well written, page turning, marvellous book that should be read by everyone! 

~ E.Winters Narre Warren Work Experience

Friday, 20 June 2014

Contemporary YA fiction

Courtney :)

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Tell us about it: The Hunger Games is all about a girl named Katniss who takes the place of her sister who got chosen to go in the Hunger Games and both of them were really scared.

How good was it? Fantastic

Review by Samantha from Cranbourne Adventurer's Club

Sunday, 15 June 2014


Title: Altered
Author:  Jennifer Rush

Anna's dad works for a mysterious organisation called the Branch. As a part of his work they keep 4 boys in a secret lab to perform experiments on them. The boys, Nick, Cas, Trev and Sam, have no memory of their past life, but as a result of their treatments have extraordinary skills, such as strength. For years, Anna has looked after the boys and become incredibly close to them, especially Sam, whom she has fallen in love with. After an escape attempt, Anna and the boys are on run from the Branch, trying to piece together all the clues to what the Branch's plans are, and Anna discovers her life has been a lie.

The main driving force of the novel is the mystery of the Branch itself, and I enjoyed this immensely. There are many twists in the book, some are expected and some were unexpected enough to warrant a second flick to the beginning with a confused "But HOW?". Reasonable number of fight scenes, although it's not action-packed. However, one of the negatives was the strange romance between Anna and Sam that seems contrived at the start and becomes a little creepy towards the end. That combined Anna's narration echoing Bella Swan in Twilight may be a turn-off for some.

So overall, skip the romance, and it's a pretty cool read. One final warning however: the ending leaves conspicuously enough room for a potential sequel.

Age 17

Friday, 13 June 2014

Paper Towns by John Green

“What a treacherous thing to believe a person is more than a person.”

John Green ceases to amaze me with his unforgettable and brilliant stories, and in every one of them he never fails to go in depth with teenage lives that is always accompanied by a concept or idea that every human can relate to.
The award-winning novel, ‘Paper Towns’, explores the lives of the interesting and lovable  characters; Quentin Jacobsen (“Q” for short), Margo Roth Spiegelman, Ben Starling, “Radar” and Lacey Pemberton. The story has romance, mystery, and humour throughout as Q desperately searches for the love of his life, Margo, along with his friends by trying to piece together clues of her whereabouts.
But what makes it different from most mystery and teenage stories is the message behind it, and that the clues aren’t your typical clues. As they search for Margo, many misconceptions and perceptions of Margo arise and it makes the characters, as well as the reader, really wonder – Who is Margo Roth Spiegelman? What kind of person is she really?

When Q and his friends go on a journey to save or find her they expected to learn more about her, but they come to learn even more about themselves.

- C.N, Narre Warren Work Experience

Monday, 2 June 2014

Love in Revolution

The setting for 'Love in Revolution' by B.R. Collins is a fictitious country on the verge of political collapse.
Fifteen year old Esteya comes from a comfortable family - her father is a Doctor.
Her brother, however, is a member of the Communist Party and tensions are rising.
We see the world through Esteya's eyes and discover that she and her family are slow to realise that revolution is around the corner. They are unaware of the danger they are in.
Initially Esteya and her family feel protected by her brother's involvement in the Communist Party. They are given benefits that their neighbours do not enjoy.

'Love in Revolution' is also a love story, and in the midst of the political turmoil, Esteya befriends Skizi, an outcast 'Zikindi' girl, and finds herself drawn to her. Their relationship blossoms. Skizi is streetwise and clever, and both girls will need all their wits about them to survive.
An exciting wartime novel of love. death, betrayal and strength.


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Looking for Alaska

I don’t think I was really prepared for this book even though I have read all of John Greens books (ironically) I was expecting something I didn’t get, but what I got was so much better. This is probably his
most serious and thoughtful book which is to say a lot, because all of his books are to some extent, serious and thoughtful. It is also a painful book to read but I didn’t quite understand why bad things happen to good people and why good things happen to bad people? Although with John’s ability to interpret different characters into multiple personality’s or egos, he manipulates the story into a very stimulating although very tragic story line creating this ordeal of wanting to endure the story even further.

 The beauty of the Looking for Alaska is that it doesn't hide anything. It showcases what young love and growing up are in a very brutal and honest light. We tend to see how the characters communicate, their relationships with each other, their pasts and the pleasure that comes with being a bad kid shine through the pages... Even though there are 2 parts to the story (before and after which I won’t be spoiling what separates them) it engages the reader to persistently want more. I tend to realise why I like this book so much, it’s because unlike most books aimed at teenagers, they aren’t. They don’t fully experience the depth of what being a teenager means, unlike John Green’s books. John utilizes the average teenager’s day to day life and portrays them in his story’s enabling all ages to feel something of the story (especially teenagers) I would recommend this book to anyone; I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and the author’s collections.

Tiana (Cranbourne work experience student)

Monday, 19 May 2014

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

I sobbed all the way through The Impossible Knife of Memory. Laurie Halse Anderson is an amazing American YA author who brought wonderful books like Speak and Wintergirls to teens. Her latest novel is just as moving. Hayley looks after her father who has returned from the Iraq war. He suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, but will not face his own troubles. Hayley is in trouble at school – somehow essays don’t mean as much as they should when you are trying to keep your father alive and functioning. She meets Finn who changes the way she sees the world – but does she have time for anyone else in the strange life she lives? Highly complex, intense and some of the strongest character writing around.

- Celia

Friday, 16 May 2014

The hobbit (a very biased review)

The hobbit is a book written by J.R.R. Tolkien, who also created Lord of the rings and many other books. It is about a hobbit, Bilbo, (Which are a race of children-sized, hairy, happy hungry beings) who goes on a
journey and finds himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. After Gandalf (My favourite character in both the hobbit and Lord of the rings) shows up at his front door and brings along a band of thirteen dwarves  to accompany Bilbo on an  escapade to slay a dragon and take back their homeland of Erebor.

This is definitely my favourite book because it’s full of adventure and excitement, and it keeps you intrigued. I decided to read this book when I was about eight because of my favourite movie (Lord of the rings) and I wasn’t disappointed. This is the only book that I can recall that I have read more than once, and once you read it it’s easy to understand why. I would recommend this to anyone of any age (Well, anyone of any age who can read, obviously) because it has such a diverse range of interesting things in it. When Tolkien wrote the book, it was intended for readers form ages five to nine, even so, many adults and teens read the book anyway.

Destinee (Cranbourne Work experience student)

Monday, 12 May 2014

Nine Open Arms

A mysterious house along a road called Sjlammbams Sahara is at the centre of 'Nine Open Arms' by Benny Lindelauf.

'Nine Open Arms' is an extraordinary novel for teens that has been translated to English from Dutch by the acclaimed translator, John Nieuwenhuizen.

A large motherless family move from place to place, their father trying to seek his fortune through various business ventures that remain unsuccessful.

'Fing' is the narrator of the story, and around her orbit circle a family with eccentricities that keep the reader amused and entertained.
Take, for instance, her father's efforts to create a cigar making empire. Many trials and mishap ensue when 'the Dad' purchases  bales of 'ready-to-use filler' from a tobacco grower.
After making five cigars and lighting them, 'the Dad' and Fing's four brothers race out to the garden where they are sick.

The house along Sjlammbams Sahara is hiding many secrets and as the story continues, moving back and forth from the 1930's to the 1860's, its secrets are revealed.

Beautiful, evocative writing and well fleshed out characters.
Highly recommended.


Thursday, 1 May 2014

Pushing The Limits

Title: Pushing The Limits
Author: Katie McGarry

Pushing the limits’ by Katie McGarry is such a good read. Echo Emerson has experienced a traumatic event. The thing is, she can’t remember it. Echo tries and discovers what happened to her while dealing with the emotional and physical scars that this event has left behind and why it had drastically changed her life.
Noah Hutchins is a bad boy. But he also has his own secrets and insecurities. An event changes his happy, care free life into a complicated journey of ups and downs. He has to make the right decisions without the help of many.
But, when Echo and Noah meet, a romance blossoms. They overcome barriers and learn to trust each other with some of their deepest secrets…
Michaela H
Age: 14

Monday, 28 April 2014

Heart Beat...

What do you do when the person you love the most is dead,
How do you cope when they’re still around
How do you love when everything you once believed is gone
Life, Death, Love…they change everything

Emma is lost in a sea of grieve, her mother is dead but not, being kept alive by machines that beat her heart to save the baby she carries. Emma resents her step-father for the choices he’s made, resents herself for the choices she makes and is drowning in sorrow and despair. What can Emma do when everything that once mattered the most never really mattered at all? Enter Caleb Harrison, the old Emma would not have spared this car stealing, reformed drug addict a second thought but new Emma, the one who is slowly dying, can only find relief in Caleb, a kindred spirit drowning in his own sea of grieve and despair. Death is hard but living is harder, together Emma and Caleb will find that life with another, life with love is always better. Emma is on the hard road learning that life doesn’t always  let us make our own fates, that sometimes life is bigger than one person’s plans, but there’s always a silver lining, a beauty to life that can be difficult to see in the mists of despair. Sometimes just living, loving and being happy can be the hardest choice of all. And it’s the choice Emma must make? Love or Hate? Life or Death? Happiness or Sorrow. No one ever said life was easy…and for Emma it sure isn’t

Scott is known for the romantic writings, the star-crossed, forbidden romances of the teen years but in Heartbeat she goes one further exploring all the other loves that define a teen; the love shared between a mother and her daughter, the love of a parent and a child, a brother and a sister, a girl and her best friend. It’s a coming of age tale told in the most complex of situations and while I time I found myself frustrated by the characters, especially Emma, her step-father and her best friend, the plot made for some dramatic and life-affirming moments. The one thing I do feel is missing from this story is Caleb’s voice because Caleb intrigued me; while he’s story is told through Emma’s I would have loved to have heard from him, to experience what his pain is like from his perspective, to see how he pulled himself together alone. Emma is a typical broken protagonist blaming the rest of the world when she is mad at herself, Caleb is not so much a bad boy as a broken one as are other characters including Emma’s mum and step-father. I do have to say that I absolutely loved Olivia, the best friend, for her aversion to technology. How interesting to see the complex of technology addiction reflected in adults rather than the teen.  Overall I really enjoyed this novel, which unlike Scott’s other works was less about young love and more about living life and making every second count. A wonderful all-compassing love story about growing up and finding out what truly matters; the one we love and who love us back.

Courtney :)

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


HANG IN THERE BOZO : the Ruby Redfort emergency survival guide for some tricky predicaments by Lauren Child.

A follow on from the Ruby Redfort adventures, this pocket size guide has it all. Everything from finding your way without the aide of a compass, how to survive a bear attack, lighting a fire without matches to deciding whether an alien is friend or foe. Do love the handy at-a-glance ID chart…how else would I have discovered the difference between the Queen of England and a stick of dynamite?

A sometimes humorous, sometimes deadly serious look at survival. Must admit the section on dealing with individuals who you know are dangerously dull is vital reading!

·      Stop.
·      Think.
·      Decide to be calm.
·      Focus on that glass of ice-cold lemonade.

Good read – Vicki @ Pakenham

Thursday, 10 April 2014

LGBTQ YA fiction

Ask the passengers- A.S. King

Courtney :)

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Why we took the car

I always keep my eyes and ears out for translated junior and young adult fiction as I know they will be top class reads!

'Why we took the car' by Wolfgang Herrndorf won the German Youth Literature prize, and has been translated into English by Tim Mohr.
Mike Klingenberg is an awkward teenager with delusions of grandeur who somehow befriends Andrej Tshichatschow (known as Tschick). Tschick has recently arrived in Germany from Russia, and is quite an enigma with his cool attitude and alcoholic breath.
Mike's adventures begin with Tschick arrives at his house in a beaten up Russian car (a Lada). Tschick is an under-age driver and the car has been 'borrowed.'
Neither boy has been invited to the popular girl Tatiana's party and they are both p....ed off and ready for action.
Off on a road trip they go to Wallachia - a German euphemism for the 'middle of nowhere' and also a region of Romania. They meet some crazy, fascinating people along the way.
As you can imagine, the teenagers get into all sorts of trouble.
Tatiana is never far from Mike's thoughts and Tschick gives Mike an insight into why his peers aren't particularly friendly towards him. Things are not always what they seem and maybe Mike is not as boring as he thought he was.
Each chapter begins with a picture of the Lada - the car's headlights shining on the chapter number. This adds to the overall quirkiness of the book. I loved this clever, very appealing novel and I recommend it to Quicksand readers.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Me since you

A girl rebelling against her father
A boy struggling with the loss of his father
One choice and one moment will bring these two together
And change their lives forever…

Rowan Areno is a teenager struggling to find herself in the adult world; her life is a balancing act of responsibility and rebellion but with a cop for a father Rowan’s lives with higher expectations of behaviour, expectations she doesn't always meet. When one day Rowan decides to skip school she could never imagine the ripple effect that would follow that one minor indecision. Lives are lost and destroyed in a heartbeat. For Rowan she will struggle to deal with the consequences that follow that day and in the process will learn what and who really matters. A heart wrenching tale about a father and daughter who both struggle to grow in a dangerously frightening and vindictive world. It will take the compassion of one boy for Rowan to truly understand what life is all about and accept that in life we disappoint the ones we love but it does not make us love one another any less. Life will never stop because of one’s pain, for Rowan this means accepting the choices she and others have made because that will be her only way forward. To live, love and forgive; it’s never easy but always necessary.

Weiss doesn't hold back one inch in this captivating and heartbreaking tale of love and loss. At times Me after you is quite harrowing and sad but none the less an honest and heart-warming portrayal of life in the everyday world. I will admit that I was shocked by the plot twists in this tale, from the immediate consequences of Rowan's decisions to the shocking aftermath months down the road. I was stunned, this tale will take you on an emotional roller-coaster ride from the very heights of young love to the very depths of despair in grief and depression. As a protagonist Rowan is likeable without being annoying or condescending. Eli is so endearing and it was great to see a young character with maturity beyond his year; I can only say that I would have liked to have seen more of him and heard more of his story because he was the character who intrigued me the most. Ultimately what grabs about this novel is the surprises and plot twists nothing in this book was what I was expecting and that in itself makes it a great read. All in all Weiss has delivered a phenomenal tale about life, love, loss and forgiveness; one that I recommend everyone read, it may break your heart but it will also uplift you with the hope that there’s always something more. A must read for YA readers in 2014.

Courtney :)

Saturday, 15 March 2014


Long before anyone had heard of the 'Hunger Games,' Gillian Rubinstein wrote a magnificent novel for teens called
I was reminded of the similarities between the 'Hunter Games' and 'Galax-Arena' in a recent article I read, which then led me to re-read 'Galax-Arena'.
In 'Galax-Arena', three young people are kidnapped and transported to a whole new world where they are forced to perform as acrobats in an inter-gallactic arena with dozens of other performers.
Their situation is chilling - they must perform or face dire consequences.
Of the three young kidnapped people one is not a gymnast. Peter was the golden child of the family: a talented and gifted sportsperson. Liane excelled in ballet and Joella, well, Joella had lots of pets.
But Joella is intuitive and has an uncanny ability to see things clearly. It is Joella who discovers a fly in their new surroundings which leads her to question all she has been led to believe. Are they really in another galaxy after all?
Gillian Rubinstein has produced an amazing storyline with gripping characters.
Who can forget 'Bro Rabbit' - a hand puppet belonging to Liane who somehow comes to life.
'Hip, hop, hai' says Bro Rabbit 'Ya gon die.'

Friday, 14 March 2014

Page to Screen: 2014 YA book to movie adaptions

Vampire Academy- Richelle Mead (Trailer)
Divergent- Veronica Roth (Trailer)
Fallen- Lauren Kate
If I stay- Gayle Foreman

The Maze Runner- James Dashner (Trailer)

Courtney :)

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Harry Potter Series

The Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling has 7 different books that goes through the life of Harry Potter and his journey throughout Hogwarts, the school for wizards and witches. I have re-read the whole series twice, as I find it very intriguing and Rowling’s use of language and techniques builds up the suspense which makes me want to read it more. Most people would have seen the movie, but wouldn’t read the books as they are too long. But honestly reading the book is much more enjoyable as it goes through everything in much more depth, and you would understand everything better. Each book brings out new adventures and mysteries making you want to follow them in their journey. My favourite book out of the series would be the 5th one, Order of the Phoenix. I don’t know why I like that one the most, but every time I want to find something to read in my spare time my mind automatically thinks towards Order of the Phoenix, though it may be long.

At first when I started the first book of the Harry Potter series I wasn’t really into it, but as I continued reading I found myself wanting to read it more which then lead me to read the whole series and I’m  glad I didn’t stop at the first book otherwise I would have missed out on reading a book that was well worth my time. If you haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books, I suggest you go and do so now because I know for sure, even if you  aren’t into books to do with the supernatural theme, it doesn’t matter as this series will not disappoint you.

- Emily, age 15

Vampire Academy Film

Go and see the Vampire Academy film! Out now! Reviews welcome for the blog.

Thursday, 6 March 2014



The pain in your past never goes.
It’s always there in the background,
like a lurking enemy, waiting to trip you up.
Or worse, waiting for you to trip yourself.

Eddie is seven when rescued from years of neglect. Hidden away, no one has seen him leave the flat for over three years. What sort of person hides their child away? What sort of person puts up with continual physical abuse from an alcoholic partner?

The answer is Eddie’s mother.

Finally he is given the chance of a real life. Taken into foster care and then adopted it is hoped that Eddie now known as Edward will be able to lead a normal life. But the years of emotional damage have taken their toll. He struggles to fit in, struggles to have a ‘normal’ life.

One day Edward sees a photograph of himself, horrified to see the monster Harris’s face. Does this mean that blood will always tell? That he too will turn into an abusive animal?

I don’t like happy ever after stories. I like darkness and sharpness….this book has it all. Fine does a great job of taking the reader to  untangle Edward’s life. The change of point of view is an intriguing way of offering up information that the central character, Edward, has no way of knowing.

We see his life from his foster parent’s point of view, as well as his adoptive parents, but we also dip into that of his adopted sister, the nurse at the hospital, his school teacher, class mate, social worker, psychotherapist.

And finally we understand Edward’s struggle and hope he discovers that blood doesn’t always make family.

Vicki @ Pak​

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