Book reviews

5 Stars = it was a book that moved me, that made me think, wonder and left something inside.
4 stars = it was a good book, with some thinking and wonder.
3 stars = it was enjoyable, but no lasting impression. A light read.
2 stars = it was OK but I would probably not recommend it to anyone. I May not have finished it.
1 star =  I probably didn't finish it as it was going to be wasting my time, if I did finish it, I was not impressed that it wasted my time.


Sucktown, AlaskaSucktown, Alaska by Craig Dirkes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a great story about life choices and thinking things through before makes Ng really stupid decisions no matter how desperate you are. The characters are real with enough grace and humour to want to care for what happens to them. The setting in Kusko, Alaska allows for different perspective & lifestyle and a glimpse into what living there might be like. A great read for older teens, I read it in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it. Previewed via Net Galley.

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The IntrovertThe Introvert by Michael P. Michaud
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a quirky and quick read about a young mans quest to get through his life without causing too many dramas that upset him. Similar in vein to "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time" where the protagonist is slightly dysfunctional and whose behaviour can be triggered by certain actions by others, leading to unexpected, possibly life changing events.

I would recommend it to people who like a bit of black humour, quirky characters and a plot where you are not really sure where you will go.

Thank you to Michael P. Michaud for reaching out to me to read and review your 2nd book. It was a pleasure!

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Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of EverythingFreakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not sure - it started off well but then at the end it got bogged down in naming children. After 191 pages we then get into the columns and the blog. I gave up at this point. It is sort of a cross between Malcolm Gladwell & Bill Bryson, but not nearly as good. I was expecting more due to the hype.

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Booke of DaysBooke of Days by Stephen J. Rivele
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This long book is written in diary style from the perspective of a french nobleman participating in the first crusade. It is very descriptive and it may give a glimpse into what life might be like as a crusader, I just found it became a little tedious to read about and stopped reading about 3/4 of the way through. I didn't really care about what happened to the diary writer or his fellow crusaders.

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Carefully Everywhere DescendingCarefully Everywhere Descending by L.B. Bedford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I did not write a review straight after reading this book as i wanted time to think about it, but it did not leave a lasting impression on me and as such I did not get around to the writing of the review. The story is OK about an unexpected relationship that develops with the stops and starts and misunderstandings that new relationships have, but at the end it all changes suddenly and becomes a crime thriller. All a bit confusing and a bit unbelievable after the fairy story that had pre-ceeded it. Looking at others reviews, it seems there is a mixture of really love it or could leave it. It does have an LGBTQ theme, which may warrant its inclusion in a library, but I think it could have been written a little better. Read through Net Galley in 2014.

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How Many Letters Are In GoodbyeHow Many Letters Are In Goodbye by Yvonne Cassidy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story had so many layers, the protagonist was so believable and the format of letters worked perfectly. This is a book that explores the themes of self identity, relationships, sexuality, family secrets through the main character of Rhea's letters to her mother as she works through a really tough time in her life. The LGBT aspect is just part of a bigger story. It was a book I read late into the night, not wanting to put it down.

Read through Net Galley. To be published in March 2016
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 Sycamore RowSycamore Row by John Grisham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Enjoyed this very much. I bought it as I needed a boost to get back into reading for pleasure and it worked. A great story with some twists and with a satisfactory ending.


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Paper HeartsPaper Hearts by Meg Wiviott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I grabbed this advanced reader copy at ALA San Francisco, and picked it up late at night to help me sleep. I didn't put it down until I was finished about 2 hours later.

A beautiful story of friendship, love and family through the harshest of times. Written in verse, it is not too heavy on the details, but translates the fear, hope and survival against all odds that a group of young women face and lived through in Auschwitz. What makes the story even more powerful is its basis on truth.

Place this on your to read list and wait with anticipation for its official release in October 2015.

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Placid GirlPlacid Girl by Brenna Ehrlich
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book started out well enough for about the first half, then all sorts of things started being thrown in and it lost direction.

The themes of family dysfunction, friendship, online relationships, all revolving around music backdrop and older teens worked well then it all started getting mixed up with heavier issues that just didn't work due to the plausibility and the characters. I started looking to see how many pages I had left. (always a bad sign for me). I pushed through when there were only 50 pages to go.

It isn't a bad book, it just wasn't brilliant for me.

View all my reviews The Good Women of China: Hidden VoicesThe Good Women of China: Hidden Voices by Xinran
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a narrative of women's lives during the Chinese Cultural revolution without being preachy or even sentimental, it just tells the personal stories along with the connections and stories of the author.

It is powerful, and illustrates how governments have such a responsibility to create opportunities for people to flourish rather than be down trodden enough so survival is the normal mindset. This book helps me understand some of the issues plaguing China's society now. We are now seeing the remnants of a harsher and more self protective time.

Read it for a glimpse into a difficult and harsh time for those who lived through it.

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Adaptation (Adaptation, #1)Adaptation by Malinda Lo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found reading this a struggle in the second half. It all seemed so confused - aliens, area 51, abductions, US government intervention, gay relationships, not gay relationships, family issues, all too much that I just didn't care in the end. It started off pretty good but then meh.... But plenty of other people liked it, so maybe it was just me.

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The Death of BeesThe Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It was the opening line "Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved." that got me into this book. It is dark, it is about two girls who behave in ways which lead to more problems and try and live as normal a life that having buried their parents in the back garden allowed. It is a bizarre story told from 3 characters viewpoints.

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 The ServantThe Servant by Fatima Sharafeddine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a short story that has been translated from Arabic, which makes the writing a little stilted and not quite fluid, but if you know this when you start, it is acceptable.

A lovely story about a young woman who wants to break out of the cycle her family situation has placed her in through determination, sacrifice and some risk. Themes of family, friendship, education and relationships are all part of this story.

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Neither Here nor There: Travels in EuropeNeither Here nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the anecdotes that Bryson offers. Having travelled through a few of the countries he visited, his words resonated with me regarding some of the local idiosyncrasies of each place, and he has inspired me to find out about the other places I have not visited. His way of describing things is hilarious.

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Balzac and the Little Chinese SeamstressBalzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this quick, quirky read. Set in the tumultuous times of the Cultural revolution in China, it follows two young city men who have been sent for re education in the country. However, through their actions they help to educate others in the country. The theme is about the power of literature to change us.

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The ReaderThe Reader by Bernhard Schlink
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had no expectations for this book, I chose it because it was short, the blurb made it sound interesting and I thought I would give it a go. The subject of taboo love and relationships, illiteracy, personal shame, world war 2, conflicts of working under orders, the holocaust and Germany coming to terms with the war are all in this story written like a memoir.

It was a one day holiday read which kept me engaged for a few hours.

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My Life as an AlphabetMy Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story was funny as the protagonist is so literal and tries to save everyone in her life from themselves. She works at changing her family situation to make it more functional after a few family tragedies, her best friend she finds a challenge in many ways. It is a great story to read to just walk in the shoes of someone who thinks different for a little while.

Reminded me a little of Morris Gelitzman's works - "Two weeks with the queen", "Blabber Mouth" and "Belly Flop" among others.

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PaperboyPaperboy by Vince Vawter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperboy is about a young man who stutters and the struggles he has in communicating with others. It all comes to a head when he takes over a friends paperboy run for a month where he has to communicate with his customers.

The story is semi biographical and it does give a good insight into the struggles of those who stutter, I liked the relationships he makes with the different people on his paper run, however, I felt at the end it dragged on a bit. A nice story.

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Dead EndsDead Ends by Erin Lange
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a lovely story about how 3 very different people become friends and grow through knowing each other. Billy D befriends Seely and Dane through his good nature and ability to talk to anyone, the three of them set out to solve a family mystery that is bothering Billy D, but find much more than they bargained for. Themes of bullying, dysfunctional families and unlikely friendships bind this story together.


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The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and DisappearedThe Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really wanted to like and enjoy this book, I got to page 227 and had to call it a day. It was taking me too long to read it and I was finding other things to do instead of reading it, which tells me I was not engaged as I should have been.

I found the flashbacks predictable and silly (which they were supposed to be), but did enjoy the escapades of the modern day 100 yr old and his friends, there was just not enough of them to keep reading. It is apparently a best seller, and that may be the problem I have with it.



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The Secret Life of BeesThe Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading this story of Lily finding herself in a complicated world. The story will not be for everyone, but if you like narratives on relationships, then this may satisfy you. It is a tear jerker in parts, and has a satisfactory ending that is not too contrived.




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  Romeo and Juliet: Plain Text: The Graphic NovelRomeo and Juliet: Plain Text: The Graphic Novel by John F. McDonald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of the many graphic novels of the greatest love story ever told by Shakespeare. The illustrations are bold and detailed with sombre colours, reflecting the historic time in Verona. The text has been reduced and modernised. There are no sonnets, but it is a good start to begin to appreciate the storyline of this complicated and violent drama.



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The Weight of WaterThe Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book. It was easy and quick to read being written in prose but packed a powerful punch. It deals with the issues of immigration, language, relationships, split families, bullying, making friends, and finding your place in a flowing and beautiful story. This is definitely a reread in the near future.




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Blood Red, Snow WhiteBlood Red, Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a little confusing at first, with the three different styles of writing making up the book, however, it all comes together at the end. This story deals with the politics and relationships of the Russian revolution in a fictional way based on the life and trials of the British journalist and author Arthur Ransome as he negotiates life in Russia during World War 1 and the revolution. There are spies and intrigue, favours requested and granted, and wheeling and dealing. Historically accurate, this could be used as a supporting text for those studying the Russian Revolution along with Animal Farm.

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Anna's Crossing (An Amish Beginnings)Anna's Crossing by Suzanne Woods Fisher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A story based on the treacherous voyages of the European immigrants to the USA in the 1700's, with special emphasis on the religious migrants of the Amish and Mennonites fleeing persecution.

The writing gives a descriptive and detailed account of the experiences of being on board and the conditions of these ships - the squalid conditions, death and disease, sexism, prejudice, physical dangers of crossing the Atlantic ocean, dehydration among others. There is also a budding love story which ties it all together.

It was more about the conditions of the voyage than about the Amish community, but still touches on the persecution and beliefs. It is a nice story without any big thinking.

Read through Net Galley for an honest review.

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 ContestContest by Matthew Reilly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Aliens, explosions, chases, suspense all wrapped into one fun rolicking ride set in the main New Public Library. I listened to this many years ago and remember it being full on action, so I thought I might reread it after I visited the NYPL, and it was totally worth rereading.

It is easy to read, and unputdownable!

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If This Is a Man / The Truce If This Is a Man / The Truce by Primo Levi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this book from the shelves after a friend suggest I read it. It is a compelling and sobering read about the German concentration camp of Auschwitz during world war 2 and how the author survived not only this, but the long and tortuous journey home after the war. The sheer number of displaced personas after the war and how they were taken care of is in itself a revelation for those of us who have no clue about these times.

What struck me about the book was the spirit of impartiality throughout the book. There is no emotion (not even anger or hatred), but we feel the humanity as the events and people are described throughout. It is a document not so much about the atrocities, but about the human element of the situation. It is an impartial narrative about what happened, who did what and what the consequences were. Throughout it, man's instinct for survival continues to bubble to the surface.

Do read it, for not only do you understand more about these terrible events, but you will find more gratitude, priority and humility in your own life.

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Altered (Altered Sequence, #1)Altered by A.D. Croucher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an easy and fast read with lots of action. I liked the themes of genetics and 'saving' those with genetic diseases by making the cells stronger - leading to 'superpowers'.

I didn't really connect with the characters and I felt the story was being set up for a sequel in the latter part (which of course it was), which meant the ending wasn't really an ending, just a pause in the story. Not sure I will go on to read number 2.

The copy was from Net Galley - read in exchange for an honest review.

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! The short chapters, the friendship, the conversation, the drama and the understandings. A brilliant novel about friendship, love and being true to oneself.




 Still AliceStill Alice by Lisa Genova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an emotional read to follow the disintegration of Alice's brain and memory as she moves through the debilitating effects of early onset Alzheimer's. Alise was an academic and very intelligent and starts noticing small memory loss and disorientation. Her husband is also an academic and finds it difficult to accept the situation. This story is one that helped me to understand Alzheimer's better, what causes it and how the sufferer moves into the space that makes them strangers to those who love them. This is a must read for anyone with Alzheimer's amongst their family or friends to gain a greater understanding of the disease.


View all my reviews Son (The Giver, #4)Son by Lois Lowry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recently read the Giver quartet in one long read and enjoyed it immensely. This book is definitely tied to all the others and I am not sure it would all come together so nicely without the backstory of the other short books of Gathering Blue and the Messenger in between the Giver and Son.

Son picks up the back story of Gabriel and Jonas before they meet and then continues on with the story of Gabes birth mother and her struggle in the environment she is in. Son follows some of the big themes of the Giver but brings in new themes of motherhood, love and identity. I wasn't quite ready for the abrupt ending, but overall it was good finish to the saga.

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Messenger (The Giver, #3)Messenger by Lois Lowry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Messenger has a powerful theme of corruption of spirit through wanting more and how it affects more than the individual. The third in the Giver series starts to tie up the characters and the story but then leaves more questions ... so I am onto 'Son' now...

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Gathering Blue (The Giver, #2)Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this immediately after the Giver, and right before the Messenger. Even though it is a different story to the Giver, it all comes together in the Messenger. I enjoyed this short story of yet another simple dystopian world with an oppressive government. I don't think it is as strong as The Giver, but a nice lead in the rest of the books.


The Giver (The Giver, #1)The Giver by Lois Lowry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have just reread this book after a many years gap and it is just as good when I read it the first time. It is a novel that provokes thought on how we live our lives, what makes up our lives and the value of life.

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Life : The interesting thoughts of Edward MonktonLife : The interesting thoughts of Edward Monkton by Edward Monkton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very short book - almost like a picture book and did not take very long to read. The illustrations and quirky musings of text are intriguing and may prompt some thought. The author is someone of note in the UK who has developed a bit of a following http://www.edwardmonkton.com/



 The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wasn't in a good place to be reading this book as it had many characters and sub themes and plots and I just couldn't keep track of them all at a very busy time in my life.

The story intrigued me, and the characters with their magical talents were interesting. I may get back to it another time when I have more head space to keep track of everyone.

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Strings AttachedStrings Attached by Judy Blundell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story is set in New York in the heyday of Gangsters, night clubs and cabaret dancers at the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. If follows the life of a young starlet as she tried to make her way into the big time on Broadway and how she is influenced by the different people in her life. It is an intriguing web of relationships, favours and crime. I read the book while visiting New York and enjoyed becoming familiar with the streets and landmarks that the main character walked and lived by.
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  What I Saw and How I LiedWhat I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a historic, realistic, crime fiction set in post world war II USA. The protagonist wants to grow up, but her parents want to keep her young, she falls in love with a older man who she knows nothing about, her parents have secrets and behaviour she doesn't understand. All in all an enjoyable read and one that keeps you guessing.

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The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)The Maze Runner by James Dashner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an action thriller type of ride. It was violent, it had young men in it doing man things, and then a girl is thrown into the mix. It really is not a book to read and then feel satisfied at the ending as it leads seamlessly into part 2 ... and if you don't want to read book 2, then you are left wondering what is going to happen.

It is an easy read, the characters are likeable however the relationships are not deep, (but this could be because they really have only just met each other) the story is exciting and keeps you turning the pages.

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The Ocean at the End of the LaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fantasy but created in such a way that it is real, if that makes sense. I enjoyed it thoroughly. The mix of monsters in the form of living creatures influencing real life people - is it a metaphor for anything? I don't know but it was fabulous story. Definitely for the older reader.

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Every Ugly WordEvery Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The main theme of this book is bullying and how it breaks the victim to the point where their whole self worth is degraded. Teenagers can be cruel and relentless to each other without feeling any empathy for the victim. Words and actions hurt, betrayal hurts, and not having anywhere to go leads to a feeling of powerlessness and desperation. I loved the climax of the book - it was a total twist and keep me up reading way beyond my bed time. This would be a relevant book to read as part of a unit of work on relationships and empathy as well as for any young person who breathes.

Obtained through NetGalley for an honest review.

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Gracefully GraysonGracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a beautifully written book using the voice of the 12 year old protagonist Grayson as he deals with his identity and working out who he is in his own skin and what he needs to do about it to make it right for himself. Themes of self acceptance, bullying, courage, ignorance are all part of this story.

A book I recommend to anyone looking for a read that will stay with them long after the final cover has been closed.

Read through Net Galley for an honest review.

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The Incredible Here and NowThe Incredible Here and Now by Felicity Castagna
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting read for me as it was set in a location in Sydney that I was very familiar with, having grown up nearby, but of course many years earlier than the setting of the book. I am not sure that being familiar was necessary to understand or even engage with the story, but it did help me to connect with the story and characters. It was a sensitive story about a young man working through a grieving process with his family and figuring out the meaning of life.

The chapters were short, the insights were personal, it was a short and easy read, but pulls on the emotions especially toward the end.

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Let's Get LostLet's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a book that I just enjoyed so much I couldn't wait to get back to it. I enjoyed meeting the new people Leila met on her travels, and how she was able to help them, I enjoyed learning about Leila's life at the end and although it was a bit unrealistic at times, and contrived, it all added to book that helping truly helping someone will come at the most inconvenient time, but it will be an important moment in both people's lives. And, sometimes it just needs time and a listening ear and you never know what adventures will come from it. It felt a little like Stargirl for older readers.

Obtained through NetGalley for an honest review.

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 Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1)Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. This story is amazing. It is 'unputdownable'. Through the two female protagonists I learned so much about the war time efforts of women and the sacrifices all people made during the time of World War 2. I learned the strength of friendship and how doing hard things can sometimes be the best things for others. Do yourself a favour, read this book.

SF WEI

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The One and Only IvanThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an incredible story, one that gets right to your heart with a wonderful and poignant message. I am not usually a fan of animal stories, but this has been on my to read list for a while because of the accolades it has received. It is also a book I have elected to have in the year 7 literature circles, prompted by its inclusion in the HK Golden Dragon Awards.

This is simply written in Ivan's voice, and is very easy to read, but with a big message. I would recommend it to anyone interested in animal welfare and to feeling good after reading a story. It would be great for a read aloud.

SF APP

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Truly, Madly, DeadlyTruly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fast and exciting read with many twists in the tale. Would recommend to anyone who likes crime fiction and trying to figure out who dunnit. Well executed and keeps you guessing right the way through.

SF JAY
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 Indelible (The Twixt, #1)Indelible by Dawn Metcalf
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really, really tried with this book, I got to page 355 and I just could not go any more to finish the 380 pages. Yep - I was in the climax and couldn't read any more. It was too ridiculous with new characters being introduced 30 pages from the end of the story.

As I was reading I was thinking - have I missed something? who might like this book? Someone who likes fantasy very much might like it, or not. It was confusing and complicated, without much substance and way, way too long. I just couldn't get 'into' it. I have too many other potentially good reads to move onto without wasting one more second on this book. And I will claim the extra 30 pages on my as a reward for getting nearly through it. I really don't care that I missed the end.

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The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading about Charlie and his thoughts as he experiences things for the first time and figures out how to be a friend, boyfriend and dealing with lifes twists. Written in letter format, it is a very personal account of how he feels and reacts to life relationships and dealing with something that happened in his past.

Would recommend it to anyone who likes novels that get inside peoples heads and lives. It is an easy read. Now to rewatch the movie.


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The Moon and MoreThe Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was my first Sarah Dessen book, and it was OK. The plot and characters were believable and the storyline was interesting enough to keep me wanting to read more. It is realistic fiction about a small town holiday resort and relationships between outsiders & the locals, along with family relationships all thrown into the mix. It will appeal to those who enjoy realistic fiction about relationships and moving on.


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Boy Nobody (Boy Nobody, #1)Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow - this story was a ride. Easy to read and to stay up all night reading. Teen spy and assasin, someone always has a bigger picture than you. I look forward to the next installment.


Read via Net Galley for an honest review. The title of the version I read was 'The Hit'.
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  Mirror X (The Van Winkle Project, #1)Mirror X by Karri Thompson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I loved the concept and premise this book was based on, and the blurb certainly got me in, but, I couldn't finish it. The instant sappy love story drove me to distraction so much that I could not get past it. I want to see strong female protagonists who have a reason to exist beyond finding a love interest, and in the case of this story, there was a great story worth telling and a big problem to overcome. The author missed a great opportunity by trying to squeeze a sappy love interest in.

I see others have given it a higher rating, so maybe it just wasn't my cup of tea, but others may find it great.

Previewed through NetGalley for an honest review.
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 Switched (Trylle, #1)Switched by Amanda Hocking
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Why does nearly book with a female protagonist have to have a love interest in it? Do young women fall in love with every good looking young man who helps them to the extent that everything else does not matter - or even make sense? And why do all these YA heroes need to have chiselled good looks?

Back to the book - I finished it, which is an achievement and it was OK, I did have part 2 ready to read as well, but I don't think I will go there. It was a bit predicatable, drawing on many fairy stories and well known plots, the story was OK and is good for a light holiday read where thinking is not required.

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Wake (Watersong #1)Wake by Amanda Hocking
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a perfect summer read - a story that gets you in, but isn't too deep. A bit of romance, family relationships, supernatural creatures, death and destruction and mystery to take you on a journey that doesn't really have an ending as it leads quite nicely into the next book. I would consider it a chick lit book, and understanding this, it was quite an enjoyable ride on a hot, lazy summer afternoon.

In our school library - SF HOC
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 Maggot MoonMaggot Moon by Sally Gardner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an easy read with short chapters and easy vocabulary. I read it in two sittings and couldn't put it down, particularly toward the end. I found it a little disjointed at the start but then all the pieces came together and I was along for the ride. The main character has dyslexia and is living in a world where propaganda and spying on others is the norm - echoes of Nazi Germany, Communist China and other oppressive governments. Family and relationships are important to get people through such a life, and the example of having courage to take action to make change at any cost is one which has been demonstrated many times through history, and is one of the themes of this book.
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 Beetle BoyBeetle Boy by Margaret Willey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This took me a little while to get into but once I focused and had time to just read it, I enjoyed this story of a young man who was abused and then estranged from his family through a variety of circumstances and who needed to come to terms with his life and making decisions based on his future, not his past. Themes of forgiving oneself and others, one person making a difference, taking responsibility for ones life, letting go of what can't be changed and moving forward are all part of what makes this realistic fiction a book that can't be put down once you know the character.

I recieved this copy through Net Galley for an honest review. It will be published Sept 1.



View all my reviews Geek Girl (Geek Girl, #1)Geek Girl by Holly Smale
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

This was a fun light read. It reminded me a lot of Sophia Kinsella's writing with a nice message about growing up and being who you are. It has themes of bullying, relationships and taking opportunities when they come. It is a little bit unrealistic at times, but all the characters make it seem like it is possible. I laughed out loud a few times and that is always a good sign.

A fun holiday read just in time for summer!

SF SMA

View all my reviews Two Boys KissingTwo Boys Kissing by David Levithan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a book that everyone should read to understand the feelings and gain an understanding of what it is like to be a young gay man trying to find your way in the world, and how the acceptance of the people in your life make such a difference to how well you do this.

It is comprised of a number of seperate young men's stories following their relationships with lovers, friends, family and community with a narration by a generation of deseased gay men (guardian angels?) who also tell their story of what happened to them. It is sometimes hard to follow the stories, but the essence of humanity remains the same throughout.

It needs to be in every secondary school library.

SF LEV

View all my reviews The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book, but the ending left me totally floored... what was that? Did Atwood run out of time to meet the deadline? I was disappointed that I didn't get to know more, was the plan that I had to to think about hope and what I wanted to happen?

I loved the narration style - as thoughts rather than speech, as speech at the time was limited, I loved the narration from the voice of the suppressed, but still in a place of some value. It is an adult read with adult concepts and provokes deep thinking about the issues. It lost a star due to the ending that I was not impressed with. Or should it get a 5 because the story left me wanting more??? Sigh ...

SF ATT

View all my reviews The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fabulous. For some reason I had not read this book until now, it came to my attention again when it was recently rebanned in schools in the USA, and nothing gets me reading better than a banning.

A great story that had me laughing, crying and thinking. It touches on so many issues of life - family, indigenous people, alcohol abuse, relationships, friendship, life choices, bullying, taking risks, breaking away and being who you are in a short 200 page easy and pleasant to read story. Do yourself a favour and read it.


View all my reviews Uglies (Uglies #1)Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was being read avidly by the students at our school and I thought i would see what all the fuss was about, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It is a great sci-fi dystopian style story that has loads of action that will keep you turning the pages to see what happens next. I am not sure I will get to the other three books in the series, but if they are as good as this one, then it may be worth pursuing to see what happens to Tally Youngblood.


View all my reviews Billy Tabbs (& The Glorious Darrow)Billy Tabbs by Michael P. Michaud
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book as a preview from Net Galley and so glad I did. It is an allegorical satire combining the larger themes from 1984, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, and Brave New World describing the community that is set up working toward a better future. I cannot and will not give too much away as it is quite deep, it gets you thinking, and it has a wicked twist at the end which made me want to reread the book knowing this information. No one should reveal this information for anyone about to read the book. It would be a total spoiler.

Themes of power struggles, equality, revenge and revolution. A great ride. It isn't published until November - but keep a look out for it. I think it will become one of 'those' books that everyone needs to read.
Accompanying website Darrow knows
http://www.darrowknows.com/Home_Page.html


View all my reviews Abandon (Abandon Trilogy, #1)Abandon by Meg Cabot
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I found this book confusing, it had a slow start, then seemed to pick up, then it went down hill again. It took too long to get to the guts of the story, and then so many things happened that really didn't add much to the story (are they a set up for what is to come in the following books I won't be reading?). The lead character is a bit shallow and her love interest is, well two dimensional.

I was very disappointed in this being a Meg Cabot story, I expected better, and was disappointed. I really don't like giving books low scores, but I can't go higher with this one. I did finish it, maybe I was hoping it was going to get better.


View all my reviews The Isobel JournalThe Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a true graphic novel but different from the comic book style. It is also a very quick read fun, quirky and full of quite lovely drawings. I would definitely place it in a library where teens can read it and talk about it. It would also be a great inspiration for young people to see be motivated to created a similar style journal for their projects, and to share amongst friends, even electronically.

Accessed through Net Galley


View all my reviews Half My Facebook Friends Are FerretsHalf My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets by J.A. Buckle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was funny. I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading it. Written in diary style, it follows the journey of a young man as he figures out his life, friends, family and figuring out girls.

A insightful read into a young mans thinking. Good fun and one I recommend people buy for their libraries, and for young men and women who like funny books.

Net Galley pre release reading.


View all my reviews Reality BoyReality Boy by A.S. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read "Everyone see the ants" I am keen to read other A.S King novels. I love how the author takes tough subjects and makes them real by exposing the rawness of our humanity, the consequences of actions by ourselves and others and how we are all responsible for the change we want to be.

The book started off a bit slow and I was a bit concerned, but by the 5th chapter it was what I was hoping for from this author. It was a great read.

I recommend this to people who like big issue stories and realistic fiction.

In our Library SF KIN





View all my reviews Crispin: The Cross of Lead (Crispin #1)Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is part of an inherited literary circle for year 7's that I run and I hadn't read it before, but I had to try to book talk it when I knew very little about it. So, to persuade a number of students to read it, I said I would read it with them.

It is set in 1377 and is a historic fiction based on the life of a peasant boy. The story is rich in historic narrative and detail, with references to the plague, styles of government and plotting for revolutions along with heir lines and the sheer ruthlessness of the time for those who were not in the ruling classes. For this insight into these time, it is worth a read, however, the story is a bit slow and flat, and for a Newberry award winner, it is somewhat disappointing. I will have to see what the rest of the group thinks before I make a decision as to whether it stays in the literary circle.


Stay Where You Are And Then LeaveStay Where You Are And Then Leave by John Boyne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a story that follows the lives of those left behind in World War 1 and the pieces they had to pick up to put back together during and after the war. Set in the UK it tells the story of one family's struggle with a returned soldier who suffers from shell shock, parents protecting their children from the horrors of war and different relationships in the neighbourhood street. It is told from the perspective of his young son Alfie and how he saw the world during this terrible time.

It is nice to read something that is not so much about the war but the people that were affected by the war left at home to deal with it. The story has so many layers to it it could be read by many different age groups and as a supplement to a WW1 history unit. It is also very easy to read.

In RCHK library

SF BOY


David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling GiantsDavid and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I do enjoy Gladwell's books as they easy to read and make me think, and this was no exception. The anecdotes included had me agreeing and seeing things for the first time. Change can happen even when the odds are stacked against what ever it is if the one with the disadvantage uses different methods that what is expected. Essentially the story is to think different, and do the unexpected to succeed when you really have few options.

Personal copy.

 The WallThe Wall by William Sutcliffe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I started this book I thought it was a dystopian novel, which is is of sorts, but as a metaphor for what has happened and is currently happening in parts of our world when communities are divided by a wall. It is an action story full of different relationships with family, strangers and government and how we are all connected and how our actions lead to consequences far beyond what we can ever appreciate.

It was well written as first person as a believable protagonist, with the author letting us into the thinking of a 13 year old boy who changes over a short period of time as he learns of things much bigger than himself.

Available in our library now.

SF SUT

 The Good BraiderThe Good Braider by Terry Farish
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading this book, it was a quick read as it was written in free verse and the story flowed very easily.

One thing I really liked about this book was the short historic information about Sudan at the back, with the author letting us know how she researched the story and what she based it on. I also enjoyed the culture clashes as she learns to live in a new country.

Something I didn't like was the constant reference to the 'African' ness by the protagonist. Why wouldn't the main character identify more with being Sudanese rather than African? Africa is not a country, it is a continent made up of many countries. This reference is what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke about in her very well watched TED talk on the dangers of a single story. http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_a...

And although the tale of Viola is one that is worth being told, I feel the author has let the reader down by being too broad about identity and adding to the single story of Africa and the people who live in, and have come from, that vast and diverse continent. Which is why it only received 3 stars from me.

In our Library SF FAR



 Under the EggUnder the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a quick read, full of action, intrigue and quite believable. I loved how the author mixed in art history with history of World War 2 and a mysterious girl to be found. The greatest aspect about this story is the protagonist asking experts for help rather than setting out to be the amazing teen super detective. A mystery story about friendship, families and history. For 11 years up.

Released March 18 2014

Received through Netgalley for an honest review.


 Rock and a Hard Place (The Jamieson Collection, #1)Rock and a Hard Place by Angie Stanton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story was a little unrealistic and possibly far retched in what was happening in the characters lives, but sweet at the same time. I did stay up way too late reading it, so it was compelling enough to keep me awake. I think teens who enjoy romance and hard luck turned good luck stories will enjoy this.

Read from RCHK Wheeler's ebook platform.

 Life of the Party (Shades) (Shades)Life of the Party (Shades) by Gillian Philip
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a story about a group of young people whose lives are changed dramatically through alcohol and driving. It is a Shades publication, so it is high interest, short story and would probably appeal to young people who like shorter stories with not too much of a complicated story line.

Read from RCHK Wheelers ebook platform/

 The Worst Girlfriend in the WorldThe Worst Girlfriend in the World by Sarra Manning
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun read about friendship, families and how everything gets messed up when love (or young lust) is involved and the way things can get worked out if everyone is prepared to give a little.

Franny and Alice have been best friends since they were babies, but their lives are going through some changes as Franny heads off to technical school to learn how to be a fashion designer and Alice is finishing her schooling. Their friendship goes through some trials as they get used to the new situations and people in their lives. it is a light hearted read with some funny situations and underlying messages about living your dreams and how working through problems helps to make life a little smoother.

A recommended read for those who like realistic teen fiction with funny bits. It will be released May 1, 2014

**Read through NetGalley for a published, honest review **



Boys Like YouBoys Like You by Juliana Stone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a story I started and just could not stop reading. The characters, the pain, the stories, the journey, the healing, just beautifully told.

I can't wait for its full release in May 2014 so I can start recommending it to young people to read. Fantastic. Equalling John Green's & Rainbow Rowell's writing, it will become a must read amongst teens.

(I received a copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.)




 Dead Silent (Poppy Sinclair, #2)Dead Silent by Sharon Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Poppy Sinclair the main character seems to have found herself in some awkward situations throughout this book with her boyfriend, dead bodies and the wrong people. It was a gentle romp through a prestigious historic UK university hunting for secret societies with dead bodies turning up along the way and Poppy trying to figure out who the murderer is with the help of the police. Her parents are an integral part of the story, with their beliefs and parenting styles leading to her making decisions along the way. I would recommend this story to those who like crime thrillers.

This is the second in a series 'The Poppy Sinclair Mysteries", however I hadn't read the first book, and it did not affect reading this story. I will purchase it for our school library.

(I received a copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.)
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 Backward Compatible: A Geek Love StoryBackward Compatible: A Geek Love Story by Sarah Daltry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The story is about a couple of college aged students who find romance through their love of a video game. They are both hard core gamers and so are their friends. The story is entertaining in how they manage their nocturnal lives of gaming with their parents loves, each other and eating. Not much college attendance occurs, it may be a holiday period, I can't remember.

There are many references to gaming culture, which I wasn't familiar with, but it didn't detract from understanding and enjoying the story. For those who like a relationship story, with a lot of gaming culture thrown in, or even if you enjoy gaming with a little relationship thrown in, I would recommend this book.

NetGalley preview.


If You Could Be MineIf You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting read about two young women in love who cannot be in love in Iran as the laws don't allow it. it is a struggle for both women as they try to figure out what their lives will be after one is married through an arranged marriage.

The story takes us through the range of emotions as Sahar, the protagonist explores possible solutions to this problem. It is easy read, but covers complex problems and may give readers an insight into a culture and relationship that is different to their own.

From our school Library
SF FAR

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Girl in TranslationGirl in Translation by Jean Kwok
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Written like a memoir, but fiction, this story takes us into the life of a HK immigrant girl who moved to New York with her mother. It has to be based on enough fact to create the images of the sweat shops, the slums they are forced to live in and the difficulties moving to a new land, not speaking the language, while dependent on someone who wishes to take advantage of them.

It made me more aware as an educator of what I presume is possible for students, when it may not be. It gave me a little more of an insight into the poverty cycle and how hard it is to rise above it. It gave me more of an insight into being more considerate and caring with regard to giving people a break which may be life changing. It also made me more aware of why immigrant children are so driven, as they are the ticket to freedom for their entire family.

The story itself is simply told and is an easy read.
Available from our school library. SF KWO.

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Counting by 7sCounting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Sometimes a book comes along and just knocks your socks off. This is now on top of my list of YA favourites. It is about relationships, overcoming huge problems, moving on and how we can make a difference just by being ourselves.

A great read for year 6 advanced readers and up.

Thanks Styling Librarian for reviewing it!

Styling Librarian review

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