Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak (2006)

I bought this when I was stuck at the mall and needed something to do. The title was familiar and it was cheap. It's written by an Australian, despite the Germany/WW2 premise. It won twelve awards and was listed on the New York Times bestseller list for a good while.

It was really hard to stop reading this, I love how Death narrates the story and chooses a little girl as one of his favourite stories to tell. He talks about how much he hates his job and longs for a holiday, but there is no one to replace him. He uses distractions as holidays, and takes note of the colour of the sky when he takes people. Liesel is used as one such distraction. One who loses much, but is still hungry for life.

Liesel is sent away to live with foster parents, but her brother dies on the train trip. She and her mother leave him beside the train tracks to be buried, where Liesel steals her first book - The Gravediggers Handbook - despite being unable to read.
She is haunted with nightmares of her mother abandoning her and her brother dying. Her foster father Hans stays up with her and teaches her how to read. Her father struggles with his painting business. He lost clients when he painted over slurs on Jewish homes and is known as a Jew-lover. Her mother takes in washing to make ends meet. At a book burning Liesel salvages another book, but realises the mayor's wife - who she takes in washing for- saw her steal it. The next time she collects the washing the mayor's wife allows her to read in her library.

In WW1 Hans life was saved by another man and he promised his family he would help them anytime they needed. But that man was Jewish, and his son Max asks of him to keep him hidden in their basement.
During the air raids, Max goes up to see light. When times get tough, the washing stops, Liesel steals books from the mayor's wife in revenge. Hans is whipped on the street for giving bread to a Jew and Max leaves in fear of discovery. Hans is conscripted and given the job of taking bodies of the street. He returns home safe and the air raids continue. Liesel is writing the story of her life into a book down in the basement. One day, the sirens for the air raid do not go off soon enough and everyone on the street is killed. Liesel is the only one left alive

Thursday, 22 December 2011

My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult (2004)

I love this book, so I couldn't resist reading it again. It just sits on my bookshelf begging for me it read it again.   I know lots of people who aren't Picoult fans, but everyone's different and I love her books, especially the compelling subjects she always chooses to write about.

An easy five stars. It's heartbreaking, and as per usual of Picoult novels, it presents an impossible choice. One daughter is dying of kidney failure and the other refuses to donate her compatible kidney. 

Anna was genetically engineered to save her sister, Kate. Kate is currently dying of kidney failure as a result of her leukaemia treatment. Anna does not want to donate her kidney, and finds a lawyer called Campbell to help her sue for medical emancipation. This tears the family apart. Their mother, Sara cannot believe that Anna is choosing to end her sister's life. Anna moves out to the fire station with her father to get some thinking space. A court case ensues, and Anna reveals that Kate asked her to help her kill herself and that is why she won't donate her kidney. Anna's lawyer is awarded medical power of attorney for Anna. In the car ride home, Anna is killed but Campbell chooses to give Anna's kidney to Kate. Six years on, the family stil feels the loss of Anna, but Kate has been in remission ever since the transplant

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Prom Nights From Hell - Meg Cabot, Kim Harrison, Michele Jaffe, Stephenie Meyer & Lauren Myracle (2007)

I bought this book from an op shop because it was fifty cents and I like Meg Cabot. At first thought the pricing was a mistake because surely they could get more money for something with Stephenie Meyer's name attatched, however after reading the book I can see why it was so low.

This book contains five short stories, all about supernatural events happening at a prom. None of the stories were particularly compelling, they were all quite predictable and were nothing I hadn't heard of before. The exception being Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper by Kim Harrison. This story was probably the best idea of the five, however it didn't really have a resolution in the end and I think it would have been better as a full length novel.

The Exterminator's Daughter - Meg Cabot
Mary tries to kill Dracula's son the day before prom but fails. While doing this she meets Adam, a guy from her school who she's never really noticed before, they fall in love and defeat the vampire at the prom together.

The Corsage - Lauren Myracle
In an attempt to try to get Will to ask her to prom, Frankie takes him to a psychic who gives her a corsage that will grant her three wishes. Frankie then wishes that the boy she loves would ask her to prom so Will then climbs a water tower to spray paint the question on it and falls to his death. On the night of the prom she wishes for him to be alive again and his corpse comes to her house, she then uses her last wish to make him dead again.

Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper - Kim Harrison
At the prom, Madison is dumped by her date and falls into the arms of a handsome stranger. When driving her home, he drives her off a cliff and stabs her. Madison then wakes up in the morgue with two white (good) reapers arguing over who was responsible for not saving her. Madison is like a ghost unless one of the reaper's amulets are close by so she steals one off the black (bad) reaper who killed her in the first place and who came back to take her somewhere. A white reaper is then assigned to be her guardian angel for a year as she poses as a human while they work out why she's so important.

Kiss and Tell - Michele Jaffe
Miranda has superpowers and works as a driver on her day off from boarding school. On the day of her prom she drives a girl named Sibby to somewhere where people are trying to harm her. Miranda helps Sibby escape and then takes her to the prom so they can hide. While there Miranda talks to her crush, Will, who really wanted to go to prom with her. The prom is then evacuated when the police announce a "bomb scare" and the policeman who is leading them is the one who is after Sibby. Miranda then knocks out the policemen and saves Sibby, she takes Sibby to her safehouse and then goes to breakfast with Will.

Hell on Earth - Stephenie Meyer
Gabe is drawn to a mysterious girl called Sheba at the prom. Sheba is a demon who is causing havoc at the prom and when Gabe sees her she can no longer manipulate the people at the prom. She realises that Gabe must be half angel and has no idea, he is drawn to situations where he can help and is unkowningly trying to save Sheba.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Trail Ride - Bonnie Bryant (2001)

I read this because I was going through my books and I remembered how much I loved this particular Saddle Club book as a six-year-old (I was obsessed, I may or may not own the entire series.) It took me about half an hour, being as it has 150 pages and 16pt font. When I did some research on this book, I found out that that author, Bonnie Bryant, had several ghost writers and wrote less than forty of the 101 books in the series.
Childhood ruined.

It is a children's book, and considering, I would recommend you give this to your ten-year-old daughter instead of caving and buying that pony she wants. It uses simple language and is very repetitive. Although by reading the series you will gain learn a lot about horses.

Lisa, Carole and Stevie are invited to their friend Kate's horse ranch. Stevie is not allowed to go as it conflicts with her cousin's wedding. Kate has lots of adventures planned and the girls downplay their fun in their emails to Stevie. Lisa, Carole and Kate go to a waterfall and go swimming with their horses. At the rehearsal dinner, Stevie finds horses and befriends the boy next door who owns them. Kate also takes the pair to an archaeological dig on the ranch, but ends the day very unwell and is bed-ridden.

Lisa and Carole ride their horses out to see a meteor shower, when Carole starts seizing. Lisa goes for help and finds poachers stealing the finds from the dig. They see her and chase her and her horse jumps over a cliff, and she is left for dead. At the wedding, Stevie ventures outside, and saves one of the horses lives by fashioning a makeshift torniquet. Lisa guides the horse on a narrow trail down the cliff and gets back to the ranch and saves Carole.Turns out, Carole and Kate contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from tick bites they got at the waterfall pool.

Froi of the Exiles - Melina Marchetta (2011)

I know that this book has taken me ages to read, and the fact that it is 600 pages has nothing to do with it, I just found it's very hard to get addicted to. You know when you're reading a book and the part you're reading is so exciting that you have to keep reading? That didn't happen at all in this book, the whole thing is kind of like a slow burn, it's interesting, just not enough to make me want to read more than a chapter a night.

I enjoyed the first book in this series Finnikin of the Rock more than I enjoyed this one. I found this one was too long and had too many stories going on for me to understand. It's really hard to remember who all the characters are, which provinces are good or bad, and work out who's perspective you're reading from all the time. My favourite character was probably Phaedra, she was the only character who was consistently both likeable and strong-willed for the entire novel. Although I like Melina Marchetta, I think she is better at writing teenage dramas like On the Jellicoe Road and Looking for Alibrandi.

This book focuses on Froi, the thief that Isaboe and Finnikin met in the last novel. It's been about three years since Lumatere's curse was lifted and Froi is now a trained and trusted member of the Queen's Guard and is sent into Charyn to kill the king with information from a Charyinite that Charyn is also cursed and no-one has had a child for eighteen years. While there he falls in love with the lastborn princess, Quintana, who is destined to bear the first child of Charyn with another lastborn male. We discover that Quintana was really the oracle's child, not Lirah of Serker's (the king's whore), however the king is still her father. The oracle was thrown into a gravina on the day she gave birth to Quintana along with who everyone thought was her child. Lirah also gave birth that day, to a boy, who she thought was thrown of the balcony with the oracle because the children had been switched. It turns out that Lirah's son was Froi and Quintana's stillborn twin was thrown off the balcony into the gravina with the oracle. This means that when Froi and Quintana had sex, Quintana fell pregnant. Froi tries to protect her, however they are followed many times, and then when he finally takes her somewhere he knows she will be safe, Turla, they are betrayed, and Froi is captured after telling Quintana to run for her life and to protect their son. Beatrice and Trevanion get married, and Lucian falls in love with his Charynite wife, Phaedra, who he had previously rejected. Phaedra however, seems to die in a plague with five other Charynite women and Lucian is devastated. In the epilogue we learn that Phaedra and the women are actually alive and faking their deaths was part of an unknown plan. Froi awakes to his uncle, Arjuro, who is going to heal him then help him find Quintana.

^I told you it was complicated. And I left out all the confusing stuff.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

A Fortunate Life - A.B Facey (1981)

My great-aunt sent this in the mail for my mother, my sisters and I to read. It has been buried in the depths of our house until I begged Mum to dig it out for me. My great-aunt raved about this book and insisted that we should all read it. She bought the book at an op-shop and it is in tatters. In my opinion, the more beat up a book is, the better it wil be.

This book is eye-opening. It reminds me a lot of Sewell's famed Black Beauty and a little bit of Boy. It is an autobiography about a man who went through a life filled with unimaginable hardships, yet still believed that he was lucky. He pushes at every boundary and takes all the chances he can, and unlike many  he actually lived his life to the fullest. At eighty-two, he wrote this book, with encouragement from his wife and children, having been known as the family storyteller.

Albert, or Bert, and his various sibling were raised by his grandmother. He become one mouth too many to feed and was sent off to various jobs as a farmer's boy.  Some were good, some were not and in one place he was whipped half to death by drunks. He never had the chance to go to school so this limited his options. He became a  good boxer and travelled in a boxing circus and was never once defeated. Bert enlisted in WW1 and survived, but not without injuries that further limited his career options.

He married Evelyn, a woman he received a parcel from whilst in the trenches. They had many children and he worked as a tram driver. When that proved too hard with his war disability, he and his family relocated back to the country. This served them well, until the Depression hit. They then moved back and Bert became a tram driver once more.  Their sons enlisted in WW2 and one, Barney, was killed. This has a big effect on his wife, and she was never quite the same. After "fifty-nine years, eleven months and twelve days" (page 322) Evelyn died, leaving behind a shadow of her husband. Yet after all this, Albert reflects on his life and is extremely satisfied.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Power of Six - Pittacus Lore (2011)

Clare lent me the prequel a while back and I liked it. I saw the movie, and it was pretty decent. (certain not like the butchery that was made of Eragon) So I bought this because I had to know what happened next. Pittacus Lore is a pseudonym adopted by the author and he is included in the story and maintains that the book is real and the names have been changed to protect the Garde. Rather reminiscent of Lemony Snicket and his Series of Unfortunate Events.

I liked this book, there was never any lack of action. Good, solid action-packed little book. Good for a fast read and a change of genre. Definite thumbs-up.

Four, Six and Sam leave Paradise after they wrecked the school in the last novel. They are trailed by police and are heralded as terrorists. Four opens his chest and it contains powerful gems that he doesn't knwo how to use . A dual story is also being told; Seven is living in a convent in Spain, and her Cepan has adopted a life of worship. Four, Six and Sam try to outrun the police and the Mogodorians and are ambushed a few times. They end up having to enter the Mogodarians lair to claim back their Chests. There they meet Nine. Six then leaves to help Seven who is being attacked by the Mogodorians. Six and Four plan to meet up in a few weeks.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Vanished - Danielle Steel (1993)

My mum picked this up for me secondhand. It's typical Danielle Steel, but it seems very personal and she did lose one of her own children. It's set in the 40s and doesn't seem very carefully researched. She constantly asserts the attributes of her characters instead of using dialogue or actions to allow the characteristics to be inferred by the reader.

I don't like this book. It has very little substance and drags on a lot. I don't recommend the book. But in saying that, I still like some of her other work.

Marielle married young and her toddler, Andre, drowned and later the same day she miscarried her daughter. This left her and her husband Charles devastated. She was in a sanatorium for two years and attempted suicide continuously. Years later, she has now married well to a wealthy Malcolm Patterson, and has a four-year-old, Teddy. Teddy is kidnapped, and Charles is the immediate suspect. Teddy's pyjamas are then found at Charles' house. A trial ensues and a search for Teddy. Charles is about to be convicted, and then Teddy is found. Malcolm was trying to spirit him away to Germany where his mistress and secretary could then adopt him and raise him as their son.

Inheritance - Christopher Paolini (2011)

I pre-ordered this book months ago. There may or may not have been tears of joy when it was revealed at the end of the third book that there was going to be a fourth. I've heard people say that his writing style is pompous, or that he is the worst of J.K Rowling and J.R.R Tolkien combined and that they couldn't bring themselves to read it because the movie was so bad. Or even that the movie is better than the book.. which is a travesty. Personally, I love the way he writes and the dedication he puts into the world he creates. Not to mention he was only 15 when he wrote the first book - Eragon. 

Read it! I love it more than Harry Potter, and I really love Harry Potter. It is admittedly hard to get into initially but within a hundred pages, you'll be making excuses as to why you're skipping meals. Easily one of my favourite books.
The Varden and their allies are making their way to Uru'baen to defeat Galbatorix wEragon and Saphira realise how ill-equipped they are to fight him, and turn to advice given to them by the werecats. They fly to Vroengard and find their true names, and unlock the Rock of Kuthian into the Vault of Souls. Inside are hundreds of Eldunari that Galbatorix believe dead, and hundreds of dragon eggs. The Varden, with much help from Roran, attack Uru'baen. Eragon, Saphira, Arya and Elva seek Galbatorix at the heart of his city surrounded by his stolen dragon eggs, using Elva to detect the various death traps set by Galbatorix. When Eragon finally confronts Galbatorix, he realises he cannot defeat him, Galbatorix uses the name of the ancient language to manipulate magic. Eragon casts a spell with the help of the Eldunari that makes Galbatorix understand how his subjects have been suffering. This understanding kills Galbatorix.

The Varden is victorious and Nasuada becomes Queen of Alagaesia. Arya leaves immediately, to Eragon's despair. Saphira and Eragon search Alagaesia to find a place to raise the dragons and train the Riders. Eragon also alters the Rider's enchantment to imbue Urgals and dwarves alongside elves and humans with the potential to become Riders. He meets up with Arya, who is now a rider as one of Galbatorix's eggs hatched for her. He is called Firnen and he and Saphira start courting immediately. Arya confesses she is now the elven Queen and Eragon asks her to renounce her crown as he has found that the only place the dragons can be raised is outside Alagaesia. She cannot and the pair realise that Angela's prophecy is going to be fulfilled, Eragon will leave Alagaesia, never to return.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Boy - Roald Dahl (1984)

Sometimes, when my pile of books to be read seems insurmountable and unexciting, I turn to an old favourite, a comfort read. That is why I picked up Boy. I am the kind of person who will read something over and over because I love it, even though I know exactly what is going to happen. I must have read this at least five times as a kid, and the stories - some of which horrified me - made me laugh and led me to read them again and again.

If I have kids, this is going to be one of the many books I shove down their throats. It's set in 1920, a time where if you got tonsillitis, your adenoids would be removed without anaesthetic on the kitchen table. I was a little worried I wouldn't enjoy this book as much now that I'm older, but that's not the case. Read it, have a good laugh and be thankful corporal punishment in schools is now illegal.

Dahl's father died when he was young, and his mother had to bring up six children by herself, but luckily they were quite wealthy. His father was very explicit in that his children had to go to English schools as they were the best in the world. It tells of the Great Mouse Plot of 1924, where Dahl and four other boys put a mouse in a jar of Gobstoppers. His family used to return to Norway every summer and spend their days taking a boat to various little islands. At the age of nine, he was sent to an English boarding school, where the boys would be caned severely. His 22-year-old half-sister bought a car (a very rare thing in the 1920's) and crashed which sliced Dahl's nose almost completely off and it had to  be sewn on again.

When he was twelve he went to a boarding high school, and although he was captain of two sports, he was considered too subversive to be for school captaincy. He and his classmates use to be chocolate testers for Cadbury (which is where he got the idea for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) He won many awards for his photography - one of which he took of the Arch of Ctesiphon (one of the Seven Wonders of the World) while flying for the Royal Air Force during training in 1940.

Despite his average grades and lack of captaincy, Dahl got a job with Shell and  received his dream posting for a job in East Africa.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Best of Me - Nicholas Sparks (2011)

This was a spontaneous purchase. Its pure, typical Nicholas Sparks. Girl meets boy, boy is from side of the tracks and boy and girl are kept apart. Its reminiscent of Sparks' The Notebook and Piccoult's My Sister's Keeper. 

I liked it, but it wasn't a personal favourite. Towards the end, it got tearjerking, but managed to avoid cliché, which is always nice. A nice book to read, but nothing especially compelling or unique.

Dawson Cole and Amanda Collier were in love as teenagers. Dawson lived with a local mechanic, Tuck, to stay away from his abusive father and criminal family. But when Amanda's parents blackmailed her, Dawson ended the relationship so she can go to university. Dawson killed a local doctor soon after Amanda left, and was sent to prison despite the fact it was an accident. He still feels guilt and sends money to the family.

Years later, Tuck dies and the pair are asked by his lawyer to return to their hometown. Dawson has never gotten over Amanda and lives on his own at works constantly. Amanda has married and has kids. When Dawson returns, his family immediately are out to get him, the man who shamed them. Tuck's will leads them to a cottage, where the pair pick up where they left off. Amanda thinks about leaving her family, but can't and Dawson is again forced to live with her memory.

Amanda's son is in an accident and needs a heart transplant. Dawson goes to the pub and tries to save the son of the doctor he killed, but is shot by his cousin. Amanda's son gets a transplant, and the heart he is given was Dawson's.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Revolution - Jennifer Donnelly (2010)

I bought this because I wanted something to read. Then I read the blurb later and realised it was historical fiction, something I'm not super-keen on. It is set in present-day France and the diary that the main character Andi finds details the story of a girl living through the French Revolution in 1790.

I found the diary entries that are included really boring and I often skimmed them to get back to the contemporary storyline. The incorporation of the dual storyline seemed awkward and forced. I find it hard to stop reading a book once I start, so even though I disliked it I stuck with it until the end.

Andi blames herself for her brother's death, and is on a cocktail of medication to ease her depression. She wears a key her brother found on a red ribbon around her neck. Her estranged father takes her to Paris so she can work on her senior thesis. All she cares about is music and agrees to write the thesis on the French composer Malherbeau and relate his work to contemporary artists like RHCP. Her father is a geneticist is testing a heart specimen to see if it belongs to Louis Charles (the French boy king during the French Revolution) and Andi finds a guitar case and unlocks a secret compartment with her necklace. She finds a diary belonging to Alex - Louis Charles'  companion. She reads the diary while trying to write her thesis. She meets a boy called Virgil and they traipse around Paris and go to a party in the catacombs. Then the police turn up and they are separated, and all of a sudden Andi finds herself in 1790 with Malherbeau and she is Alex. She tries to save the boy king, but fails. She then wakes up with Virgil  there and is confused as to whether she was dreaming. Fast-forward a year later, and Andi has recovered from her depression and lives in France studying music and she and Virgil are together.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Sisterhood Everlasting - Ann Brashares (2011)

Although I really enjoyed the previous books in the saga, I think this book was a total waste of a book and so much more stuff could've happened or been written better in it.

This book was written in the same style as the last four books which obviously works well with the four main perspective to switch between. My favourite character was Bridget, even though I used to be able to relate to Carmen, and Lena was probably my favourite character, Bridget had the best storyline in this book as it was the only interesting one. I think that if you want to read this book, save yourself the time and just read the last fifty pages as it's where everything happens. The twist at the end was the only redeeming plot point of this story.

Bridget, Carmen, Lena and Tibby are still good friends but have drifted apart in the last few years, especially Tibby who moved to Australia. A little before their 30th Birthdays Tibby invites the girls to Greece for a reunion. Tibby got there a day earlier so she could meet them at the airport, however when they arrive Tibby is nowhere to be found. They go to Lena's grandparents house where they were going to stay and they find all of Tibby's stuff but no Tibby. A body is found in the water that had drowned and it turned out to be Tibby, and when the girls look through her bag they find a letter that seems like a suicide note and some letters addressed to them with dates on. Bridget then finds out she's pregnant, she is still with Eric except after Tibby's death she started hitchiking around the country and doesn't want to tell him about the baby. Carmen is engaged to a guy she doesn't love, and Lena thinks about Kostos every day. Bridget ends up going to Australia to talk to Brian where she learns that Tibby had a daughter, Bailey. Lena starts a pen pal relationship with Kostos and has to deliver a letter to him from Tibby, in person. In the end Brian and Bailey move to Pennsylvania to a house that Tibby picked out that has many little sheds and other buildings where Bridget, Carmen and Lena could've stayed with them. We learn that Tibby had Huntington's, a degenerative disease. She found out when she was pregnant with Bailey, who doesn't carry the gene and brought the girls to Greece to tell them, she was then going to move to Pennsylvania with Brian and Bailey and go into a hospice. However she lost muscle control when swimming and drowned in Greece before she could tell the girls. Bridget keeps her baby and gets back with Eric, Lena and Kostos reunite, and Carmen breaks up with her fiancee and ends up alone.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

City of Fallen Angels - Cassandra Clare (2011)

I bought this book straight after I read the first book because I knew I would want to read it once I finished the third one. I liked this book, however I really wish the fifth one was out because it has a big cliffhanger ending.

I didn't like this book as much as the first three, I thought that the storyline was really weird and sort of boring until the ending. My favourite character in this book was Isabelle, I liked reading her perspective and seeing the depth of her feelings and some reasons behind her behaviour.

For plot summary see Mac's previous blog.

Friday, 28 October 2011

The Road - Cormac McCarthy (2006)

One of my teachers said I should read this. I was a little skeptical, considering his choices for English texts are generally unpopular. I like it, the way it is written made it hard to put down. He uses a stream of consciousness  (not unlike Tim Winton in Cloudstreet) where there are no chapters, and sentences and paragraphs mesh. There is also no punctuation or speaker acknowledgement during dialogue.
Are we going to die?
Sometime. Not now.
And we're still going south.
So we'll be warm.
Okay what?
Nothing. Just okay.  
(page 9)

This book is amazing. It is a post-apocalyptic novel with a father doing everything he can for his son. The story is told in a way that haunts you and breaks your heart. The characters are never named and is told in third person. In 2006 it won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction and in 2007 it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. A film adaptation was released in 2009. Check out the trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbLgszfXTAY

The world (for some unknown reason) has been left almost barren. A father and son trek across the country to get to the warmer coast. Along the way, they encounter thieves, scavengers and cannibals. They have to search through abandoned homes to find food to sustain them. The man has a pistol which he keeps in case they have to commit suicide. The man tries to give almost all they find to the boy, but the boy is too astute. When they near the coast, the man gets sick and is dying. He tells his son to go on without him. The man dies, but a couple and their children have been following the pair, concerned for the boy with his sick father, and let the boy come with them on their journey to the coast.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Handle With Care - Jodi Picoult (2009)

I have a considerable stack of books that I plan to read. But I saw this, remembered how much I loved it and wanted to read it again. I bought it in 2009 for a long plane trip and read it twice on said trip. I don't care what other people think, I am a hardcore Jodi Picoult fan (for instance, my co-blogger is not a fan of this book.) She writes about situations where I couldn't imagine what decision I would make. This book is written from multiple points of view; the mother, the father, the sister, the doctor and switches every chapter. It is written to the main character, Willow, who writes the last chapter.

This is one of my favourite books and hands-down my favourite Picoult book. I love all the medical and legal jargon. The main charter Willow loves random facts and spouts them off throughout the novel. The mum, Piper, used to be a pastry, and her chapters start with a recipe and baking technique (like; weeping, proving and blind-baking) that relates to what she's going through that chapter. Despite the constant narration changes, the story is seamless and left me staring into space thinking about it once I turned the last page.

Willow O'Keefe has osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease.This means that she will break bones hundreds of time in her lifetime and have other various medical complications. Despite this, she is a smart, funny, lively six year-old. Unfortunately the medical bills are crippling her family. When a family trip to Disney World goes wrong, and Willow's healing fractures lead foreign doctors to suspect child abuse, Willow's parents - Sean and Piper - are pushed to breaking point. Sean wants to sue Disney World, but the lawyers suggest a wrongful birth lawsuit against their obstetrician. The case is that a ultrasound showed signs of osteogenesis imperfects which the doctor disregarded and did not proceed to counsel aborting. Only problem is, the obstetrician is Piper's best friend. A gruelling court case means that Piper has to testify that she wished that Willow had never been born. Sean drops out of the case, and files for divorce. Amelia, her other daughter, is struggling with her own life. She is a bulimic who starts to cut herself. Willow sees her doing this and copies, which almost leads to her death. The O'Keefe's manage to win the civil suit - with awards of $8 million. Amelia's disorder is uncovered and she is sent to therapy and uses art as an outlet. Sean and Piper reconcile. The cheque remains stuck to the fridge, but money is no longer an issue, as they know there is a backup. One day, Willow goes outside out and walks across their skating pond, she falls through the ice and can't yell for help through the pain of broken bones and drowns. The cheque for the damages is buried with her.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card (1985)

I read this because Clare said it was good, and because I haven't read any good sci-fi in ages. It was a good choice. I love the way he writes, and I love the original storyline. It was great to see the plot unfold through the eyes of a child with the mind of an adult. The story has been on Card's back-burner since he was a child, and it shows through his use of children as pawns in an adult world.

I love this book. It's great. I'm also happy there is not a single romance in the story Thank-you Orson Scott Card! (though there was some random nudity..) Seriously though, read this book. It makes you think, has lots of intertextuality and like Animal Farm was an allegory for a real event, I think comparisons could be made with Ender's Game as well. Oh, and did I mention the awesome battles in zero gravity?

It won the Nebula Award for best novel in 1985, and the Hugo Award for best novel in 1986 - which are the two most prestigious sci-fi awards.It also won the Margaret A. Edwards Award in 2008 which honours an author for lifetime contribution to young adult literature. The U.S Marine Corps even have the book as recommended reading for their officers!

There is a video game, comics, a subsequent series and a shadow series. A movie is also in the works and the screenplay is actually written by the author. They are still casting, but I found a great fan-made trailer:

Clare has already read and reviewed this, so check out her summary.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

City of Glass - Cassandra Clare (2009)

This book also came in the in the box set that I bought of this series. I really enjoyed this book, just as much as the previous books in the series.

This book was just as well written as the previous books but this book had a lot more fighting and wars. My favourite character in this book was Magnus, he was pretty hilarious in this book and he helped out Clary when she needed it. I also thought that when Alec came out to his parents, Magnus' reaction was very entertaining.

This book starts with the Lightwoods going to Idris without Clary because Jace lied to her as he didn't want her to go. Clary then draws a portal rune to take her to Idris and Luke follows her to protect her. Because of wards on the city, Clary lands in Lake Lyn, the lake that Raziel came out of to give Jonathon Shadowhunter the mortal instruments, however the water drives people insane and Luke takes her to his sister's house where she heals her. Clary then goes to see Jace where he yells at her for coming, while there she also meets Sebastian and Aline, who are cousins and are who the Lightwoods are staying with. Sebastian takes Clary to Ragnor Fell who will help her mother, however he has been killed and Magnus is there in his place and tells Clary she must retrieve the Book of White from Jace's childhood home. Clary and Jace get the book, however when they return to Alicante a massive war is going on because Valentine has destroyed the wards around the city and demons are running wild. Jace, Clary and Alec go to free Simon from the prison he was put in as the building is on fire. While there they also free Hodge, whho tells them that the Mortal Glass is Lake Lyn however he is then killed by Sebastian who runs off. Max was also killed by Sebastian that night and the Lightwoods are devastated. Jace goes to find Valentine through tracking Sebastian, however we learn from Jocelyn, who Magnus revived, that Sebastian is Clary's brother and Jace was Stephen Herondale's child. Clary makes a rune that binds downworlders and shadowhunters together so they can share each others abilities in battle, then Clary goes to Lake Lyn to stop Valentine. Valentine binds her up and then Jace comes to save her after killing Sebastian, however Valentine kills him first. Clary then draws a rune over the summoning runes that Valentine drew so when Raziel is summoned he kills Valentine and lets Clary have one wish. She wishes for Jace. The books ends with all the characters, friends again, and watching the celebratory fireworks together.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

City of Ashes - Cassandra Clare (2008)

This book came in the same boxset as the first one and I enjoyed it more than the previous one. Which means a lot.

This book was written from many different perspectives which was really interesting. I also liked how the author started including more about all the different "downworlders". I thought the development of Clary and Jace's romance was kind of gross, but well written, and I loved the development of their special abilities. I think my favourite character in this book would have to be a tie between Alec and Luke. I saw a lot more of Luke's love towards Clary and his whole pack, and Alec's character development and romance with Magnus Bane was very entertaining to read.

Clary and Simon are now dating and Jace is kicked out of the institute by Maryse. The faerie queen wants a conference with Jace to see what he knows and to discuss things, however faeries are very tricky and make Clary have the "kiss she desires" before she can leave. Simon kisses her, however Jace is the one who must, which upsets Simon and he runs off to the vampires to see if he was turning into one of them. He wasn't, but by going into their lair they attacked him and turned him into a vampire. Valentine needs the blood of a werewolf child and a vampire child, so he takes Simon and Maia as revenge on Luke. Luke, Clary, Jace and Magnus go to rescue them from Valentine's ship, however he has thousands of demons at the ready and a massive battle ensues, Jace is about to be killed when the rest of the shadowhunters come to help him fight. Simon is almost dead and needs blood to survive so Jace lets him drink some of his blood then they go to find Clary who was taken by Valentine. Jace gives her her stele and with her newfound abilities she draws an "open" rune on the ship which tears it apart. The book ends with Simon realising he can now go in the sun, Jace moving back to the Institute, and a shadowhunter telling Clary she knows how to heal her mother.

Friday, 14 October 2011

City of Bones - Cassandra Clare (2007)

I read this book because Mac said that she thought I would like it after she read it. I saw a box set of the first three for thirty dollars at kmart so I decided to get them.

I quite enjoyed this book, it is very different to the other books in the young adult paranormal genre as it has many different types of creatures. I thought it was well-written and included many rare words which I had to look up in a dictionary which is always good. My favourite character, although it might seem a little cliche, was Jace, I found him hilarious and his personality was really intriguing until the end when he was all weird. I definitely enjoyed this book and will probably have to buy the fourth, fifth and sixth books later.

Clary is a normal girl who can see people that no one else can see. She soon learns that they are shadowhunters, and that she must be one of them as she can see them. Her mother is kidnapped, and Clary learns that she was also a shadowhunter and was married to another shadowhunter called Valentine who turned bad and started a massive war and has now returned. Clary then works with the shadowhunters Jace, Alec and Isabelle to find the mortal cup before Valentine does. They get the cup and Jace and Clary fall in love. Jace and the cup then get stolen by Valentine, and Clary goes to rescue them and she learns that Jace is her brother, who her mother thought was dead.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Chocolate War - Robert Cormier (1974)

I read this because it was an assigned text. It was this, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland or Ender's Game (which I also plan to read.) I have to use it as an exemplar for the types of books children/adolescents should read. When it was published, the content was extremely controversial. It was banned from schools and libraries It is number 3 on the American Library Association's list of Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books. I think this is unwarranted, the main character Jerry does get sexually explicit at times, but not overtly so.

This book was okay. It was really easy to get through, I think I managed it in a couple hours. It has been heralded as one of the best young adult novels of all time, but I don't really understand why. It's not particularly compelling and there are a lot of characters that you have to wrap your head around.

A all-boys Catholic high school, Trinity, has an annual chocolate sale. This year, acting headmaster Brother Leon orders double the amount of more expensive chocolates. The boys now have to sell twice as many at double the price. The sales are abysmal, and Brother has to enlist the help of the Vigils, a secret, student-run society. They control the school by giving out assignments like unscrewing classroom furniture until it almost falls apart. Archie, the assignment inventor, makes Jerry refuse to 'volunteer' to sell his chocolates for ten days. Jerry plays along, but decides he never wants to sell them at all, which screws with the Vigils plan. Jerry gets beaten up and yet still refuses. The Vigils get other boys to sell his chocolates, and eventually every box is sold. But since Jerry disobeyed, and example has to be made. He is goaded into a fight where he is beaten almost to death, with a crowd of his peers who scream 'kill him."

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card (1985)

I had to read this book for english and I found it surprisingly good. We got to choose between four different texts and I'm glad that I chose to read this one.

Although this book is written from a child's perspective, you hardly realize that at all as Ender thinks and acts way beyond his years. The plot of this book was interesting and well written, however I found that there was a little too much political jargon to find that part of the story at all interesting. Although this book is from a child's perspective, it deals with some very gruesome themes and there is a lot of psychological warfare and torment going on, which I found very full on and a little scary at times. My favourite character was Colonel Graff, you only get snippets of his life and his experiences however I really got the sense that he was a lovely person who truly cared about Ender.

This book is set in the future where an alien invasion of "buggers" fifty years ago has the world training children to be the commanders and soldiers in the next battle. Ender Wiggin is six years old and human kind's only hope of survival as he is a child genius. He quickly passes through battle school and moves to flight command where Mazer Rackham, the only person to have defeated the buggers previously, becomes his teacher. He soon goes through many computer simulations and on his final test he must go through a simulation in which there is a planet in the middle of battle. He defeats the simulation by exploding the planet, however then he learns that all the simulations were real and he had just killed all the remaining buggers. He and his sister Valentine then go in the "first colony" to live on the bugger planet and Ender discovers a fertilized bugger egg, ready to be hatched whenever. He takes it with him as he and Valentine go to explore the galaxy.

Airman - Eoin Colfer (2008)

I read this because my co-blogger lent it to me. I love the way Eoin Colfer writes (Some good reads of his are; the Supernaturalist, The Wish List and the Artemis Fowl series) I liked this book, but perhaps I'm a little to old and a little too female to fall head over heels for it. I can see how the 12-year-old tomboy me would have woshipped the shelf this book sat on. There is a fair amount of technical language in this book which may be a slight failing of the story.

All in all, a good read. A very believable and motivated hero. This book would actually make quite a good movie. It's nice to read something other than assigned texts.

Click here for Clare Bear's plot summary.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Room - Emma Donoghue (2010)

Mac lent this book to me saying it was the best book she read all year, and I have to admit I was disappointed. It's a book that made me really paranoid about being kidnapped off the street and really made me think about the world differently, so if you enjoy books that make you think, I strongly recommend this book.

I think the writing style of this book was really interesting as it is from the perspective of a five year old boy, so he capitalizes inanimate objects as he thinks they are real living things. The plot was a really good idea as well, I actually found it quite disturbing, especially the idea of a five year old with waist long hair breastfeeding, that is an image you will find hard to get rid of. This book had good writing and a good plot, it just didn't grab my attention that much.

For plot summary, see Mac's previous blog.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

You Against Me - Jenny Downham (2010)

This book was lent to me by Mac and I can believe that she gave Before I Die (also by Jenny Downham) 4 stars, and this book only 3. I liked this book so much more than Before I Die and found the storyline a lot more intriguing.

This book was an easy read and was very hard to put down once I got into it. I found the storyline interesting and the decision that Ellie had to face very thought-provoking. The best character, in my opinion, was Ellie, she had such a conflicting decision to make and I found it easy to like her personality. To top off the thought-provoking storyline and likeable characters it had a happy ending, which always earns points in my book.

For plot summary, see Mac's previous blog.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Divergent - Veronica Roth (2011)

This book was lent to me by Mac soon after she read it and the only reason that has been keeping me from reading this for so long is that she needed it back for her assignment. I hate her for keeping it from me for so long. The movie rights were optioned before the book was even released and I really hope they do the story justice.

I loved this book, I found the world interesting and the story refreshingly different from most dystopian novels I've read. I really loved the character Four, he was very gentle, humble and kind, yet brave and courageous at the same time, I really want him to be real just so I could marry him myself. I also found it fun to imagine which faction I would choose if I was in this situation and it was surprisingly hard to choose.

Tris lives in a world where the population is split into five factions each of which honour a different value and strive to achieve it. There is: Candor, which values honesty, Amity, which values peace, Erudite, which values knowledge, Abnegation, which values selflessness, and Dauntless, which values bravery. When Tris takes her aptitude test to see which faction she would do best in, she learns that she is a divergent someone that belongs in many factions, not just one. Tris then betrays her family, who are Abnegation, and moves to Dauntless, in which she makes many new friends and falls in love with Four, a training leader who also moved into Dauntless from Abnegation, a rare occurence. The night after initiation all the Dauntless members, who had been injected with a serum that can control their behaviour, form an army to destroy Abnegation as they are being controlled by an Erudite leader who wants to be in power. However, as Tris is a divergent, she is not controlled by the serum, neither is Four as he is also a Divergent, so Jeanine, the Erudite leader gives Four a serum she was developing that will work on Divergents. Tris' mum and dad then sacrifice themselves for her to get to the control room to stop the serum affecting people, however first she must pass Four, who was guarding the control room. She manages to do this without killing him and together they stop the serum and take the data that contained the serum's control code.

Shift - Em Bailey (2011)

I bought this because I read some rave review and it was like ten bucks. Mistake. I liked the cover and the premise was kinda intriguing. But seriously, shapeshifters? The supernatural thing is getting old, and if you're going to use it, it has to be done well. The Australian author has previously written children's books and this is her first YA novel, and it is clear through the simple vocabulary and structure. I felt that all the parts of the book that could have been good, were way too obvious to provide a good twist. Perhaps her branching out into YA fiction was a bit premature and her command of sublety needs improvement.

I don't like this book. It's not meaty enough and when I read the last page all I felt was disappointment. Olive is on some sort of medication, but is never explained what and why (though I'm thinking some sort of TCA.) I was happy to read the "..well-written, tightly plotted thriller.." but that sure was an empty promise. Twilight packed more of a punch. I looked for some other reviews who voice the same negative opinion as me, but I couldn't find any, but that's not persuading me to change my stance.

Olive used to be popular, until she tried to kill herself. Now she has one friend Ami. But it turns out that Ami is actually imaginary. Katie, her old friend is the stereotypical Mean Girls-esque bitch. Then this new girl, Miranda shows up. Olive finds her mirrored eyes and shrunken appearance unsettling, and befitting of the computer age (and just like Twilight) she Googles her apprehensions. Lo and behold, Miranda is a shapeshifter who feeds off people like a parasite. She feeds off Katie, she becomes Katie and this leads to Katie's death. Lachlan, the new guy, is showing interest in Olive, but Olive just backs away. Olive is also obsessed with this band Luxe and Miranda uses that as her opening. She plans to use the lead singer Dallas, who she assumes Olive is in love with to make her jealous and open her up for a parasitic feast. Fatal flaw = Olive loves his music, not him. So Miranda's attempts are fruitless. Turns out, Lachie is Dallas' younger brother. Miranda starts to latch on, but she doesn't assume full power, due to the fatal little flaw. Miranda has a party and Dallas passes out. Miranda's lack of care shocks Olive out of her little trance. Miranda then tries to drown Olive, but Olive pulls her under. Then Lachie comes to the rescue and they be the bigger people and save Miranda.

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Power of Six - Pittacus Lore (2011)

I was so excited for this book because I read I Am Number Four like six months before it was a movie and could not wait for this book. It was absolutely worth the wait.

I think I liked this book even more than the first book in the Lorien Legacies series and if they keep getting better I cannot wait for the next book, which hasn't even been confirmed yet. My favourite part in this book was learning more about Six and her seeing her character develop into more than just a warrior.

This book switches between the perspectives of John, who is with Six and Sam, and Marina, number seven. Marina has been living in a convent with her cepan, Adelina since they first arrived on earth because Adelina has started to believe in the nun's ways, this has left Marina to develop her legacies and look for the other Garde by herself. John, Sam and Six have a bit of a love triangle going as they are on the run, however when they learn that Sam's dad was a human that helped the Garde escape and was a Lorien ally that left a tracker to find their ship in his lair, they have to stop running and return to Paradise. They get the tracker, however John's chest gets stolen in the process and then he goes to see Sarah, who has been working with the police and has turned him in. Six breaks him and Sam out of jail and then they split up, with Six going to Spain to save Marina who is being attacked by Mogadorians, and Sam and John going to the mogadorians headquarters to get the chest. Six helps defeat the mogadorians with Marina and Ella, the tenth Garde who was sent on the second ship from Lorien and who has been with Marina for a while. John and Sam save the chests and find Nine captured in the cells, Sam then gets trapped in the cells while looking through them to find his father and John and Nine are blocked out of the headquarters by a forcefield as Setrakus Ra, the mogadorian leader, returns to join the fight.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Room - Emma Donoghue (2010)

For starters, the honest-to-God reason I bought this was because the author has the same first name as me. I was in a rush and it seemed like a better reason than a superior cover design. This book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize which is a pretty huge deal. It's written through the perspective of a five-year-old boy. It is brilliantly written and a compelling story that I read the whole thing in one sitting.

I love this book. It's the best book I've read all year. You'd think that the child narrating would get really tedious, but all it does is pull you into the story even further.

Room is the story of five-year-old Jack who has spent his life living in Room. All he knows is what is inside it. Ma starts telling him of the outside world and tells him they have to escape. Ma was kidnapped at 19 and has been kept in Room ever since. She gets Jack to play dead inside Rug, and when 'Old Nick' takes him in his ute, he jumps out at the first opportunity. He gets to the police eventually and frees Ma. The pair are free, but the world is very overwhelming for Jack. He has to learn to wear shoes, to sleep by himself and be weaned. His mother tries to commit suicide and then his Grandma takes him in while she is recovering. Jack begins to learn to interact his life like a normal child and is later reunited with his mother.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Bloodlines - Richelle Mead (2011)

My cousin lent this book to me because she lent me the Vampire Academy series which I enjoyed. This is a spin off from that series, but it's written in the same type of style and fans will enjoy it.

I definitely enjoyed this book, I really liked the original series, and this book is written in the same way as the old series except revolving around Sydney and Jill. Richelle follows the same kind of plot structure she always does with lots of enjoyable dialogue until the last hundred pages when all the action happens. I really enjoyed how much Adrian was in the book considering how loveable his character is.

Sydney has been assigned to protect Jill from moroi assassins who wish to kill her so Lissa can no longer be queen. Jill has been sent to a college in Palm Springs with Sydney, Eddie, Adrian, to whom she is now spirit bound, and Keith, Sydney's boss who is an extreme dickhead in my opinion. Sydney eventually becomes fond of all her new vampire and dhampir friends and they help her discover that Keith has been selling vampire blood and saliva for his own personal gain. Sydney is then attacked by Lee, who was a moroi whom Jill had fallen for, he had previously been strigoi but had been restored by a spirit user and was now trying to become strigoi again. Adrian then comes to help Sydney, and eventually Eddie and Jill turn up to save the day, but not before they discover that Lee cannot become strigoi again and he dies trying to be turned by two other strigoi who he had called. Sydney is then assigned to stay on in Palm Springs in Keith's place and to head up a task force discovering about spirit's affect on strigoi, there is a little spark of romance between her and Adrian right before the end of the book, however Sydney is disheartened when her task force arrives and Dimitri is part of it.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Delirium - Lauren Oliver (2011)

I wanted to read this book when Mac bought it for a friend of ours for her birthday in February, she said she would lend it to me when she finished it however she still hasn't. So I borrowed it from another friend of mine on the recommendation that I would really like it, I did like it, but it's not as good as others in its genre.

I did like this book, I found it very similar to Matched by Ally Condie with the opressive society that chooses your husband or wife for you. I found that the character that never talked, Gracie, was my favourite. She was very interesting and helped keep Lena's home life interesting.

This book is set in a future where love is a disease which you are cured against at 18. Lena was looking forward to her procedure until she met Alex. Alex is an "invalid" someone who lives past the border of the city and in the wilds, he managed to get a fake id number and was allowed to live in society. Lena falls in love with Alex and she decides to leave before her procedure with him and go the the wilds. The Regulators catch them, lock Lena up, and move her procedure foward, however with the help of her best friend Hana and her cousin Gracie, Lena escapes her bounds and Alex comes for her. A chase ensues which ends in Lena crossing into the wilds and Alex being shot helping her escape. A really depressing ending, especially considering how much more I liked Alex than Lena.

The Lottery - Shirley Jackson (1948)

Doing my English assignment on Divergent/dystopian fiction I came across a famous American example of a early dystopian short story. I read it, and I loved it. I can't say much else without spoiling the story. But if you read it, push through and read until the end - it's definitely worth it.

Here's a link so you can read it online:

Here are some links for more background on the story (they have spoilers!):

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Specials - Scott Westerfeld (2006)

This book is the third in the Uglies series and was a reread for me because of my english oral.

This book is a lot more action packed than previous books in the series and still has the excellent writing style and interesting characters of the previous books. The best part of this book was the reappearance of David, who was scarcely in Pretties and I had forgotten how much I liked him.

In this book Tally Youngblood is now a special special, a cutter, led by Shay and devoted to taking down the Smoke. Tally wants Zane to become a special, however Shay says that he needs to do something to prove he can be special so they decide to help him escape to the smoke so Dr Cable will make him special. To help him escape Tally and Shay steal a tool from the armoury and accidentally destroy it in the process. Zane escapes with a bunch of crims and Tally and Shay follow them, however Shay decides to go ahead leaving only Tally following the crims and Zane. When they arrive at the Smoke they learn that the smokies have joined with another city, Diego, which allows free thinking and has no specials and have already passed out hundreds of thousands of pills to many cities. Dr Cable then attacks Diego thinking it was them that destroyed the armoury and Zane dies in the process, Tally then returns to her city to tell Dr Cable the truth about the armoury, however before she leaves David gives her a cure for being special injection that she can take when she wants. Tally then talks to Dr Cable and learns that she knew it was Tally and Shay that destroyed the armoury and had spun it this way so no one would stop her attack on Diego, Tally then uses the cure on Dr Cable so she doesn't stop any of the progress and decisions that the cities make on their own. Tally is locked up downstairs and hears all the news that the cities are allowing free thinking, but are starting despecialization to make sure there are no superhuman specials left to hurt people, when Tally is taken for her operation Dr Cable helps her escape and tells her there needs to be at least one special left. Tally then escapes into the wild with David and tells people that they are the new special circumstances and will protect the land and forests when people start to destroy the land.

What Happened to Goodbye - Sarah Dessen (2011)

I loved Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, so I figured picking up her latest novel would be a good decision. Dessen always uses a female protagonist who has some sort of past issue/s they need to overcome. Also she gets characters from other novels to make cameos, which I really like. Her plotlines may not be super exciting but the characters always stick with you.

I liked this, maybe try some of her older stuff to get a feel for the way she writes before tackling this one.

Mclean is named after a famous basketball coach who coached that her dad loves. Well, he used to love until his wife shacked up with the new coach. Since Mclean's parents divorce, and Mclean moves around with her dad, who works to resurrect dying restuarants, every six months. Each move she invents a new version of herself. Eliza, Lizbet, Beth and now Liz. When she gets to her newest move, she decides to be Liz, but that plan fails when she blurts out her real name to her neighbour, Dave. Her mother is the bane of her existence, always trying to talk to her or to get her to come over for visits. Mclean makes some new friends and begins to fall for Dave. She then finds out that her dad is up for a new assignment - in Hawaii. She goes to see her friends, who she finds looking her up online with her email and finding five versions of her and they confront her. She runs out. She stays with her mum and then runs away again and calls Dave crying. Her parents turn up and they all resolve her problems. She is to move back with her mum while her dad goes to Hawaii. She faces her friends who are sad to have her leaving, but then when it is time for her to leave, her mum can't go through with it and Mclean stays with her friends, to graduate in a place she finally calls home.

Pretties - Scott Westerfeld (2005)

The sequel to Uglies, this book is also a reread for me for my english assignment and I still am enjoying it, for the second time.

This book is very different to Uglies with a lot less about The Smoke in the storyline. However it does introduce Zane, a character who is very loveable and interesting to read about.

Tally Youngblood is now a pretty, best friends with Shay and about to be voted in to her new clique, the crims. When a party with her new friends gets crashed by Croy, who tells Tally the whereabouts of the cure, Zane wants to help Tally find and test the cure together. When they get the pills, they take one each, which has a crippling affect on Zane, Tally and Zane must then get the tracking bracelets off so they can escape to the Smoke. Tally gets sidetracked on her way to the smoke, getting trapped in an experiment full of pre-rusties that live like barbarians and discovering more about how the specials manipulate people. When Tally arrives at the smoke she learns that the pills had to be taken together, one breaks down the leisions in the brain and one stops the process so the brain isn't severly damaged. Zane took the one that breaks down the brain, however without the other pill it didn't stop giving him brain damage, Tally's pill didn't help her at all, meaning that she was never cured and changed her brain herself. A tracker soon goes off that was placed in Zane's tooth, Tally stays with him even when David asks her to leave with the smokies and when the specials arrive Shay is leading them and captures Tally, telling her that she will make her special.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Uglies - Scott Westerfeld (2005)

This was a reread for me, I'm reading these books again for an assignment and I really enjoyed this book the first time and again this time.

The main character Tally kind of annoys me at first, but once her character develops and gets a bit more depth to her thoughts I really like it. The second half of this book is definitley the better part of the book.

The book tells the story of Tally Youngblood, it is set in a futuristic time when the human race has evolved and now when a person turns sixteen they get an operation that makes them beautiful and their status is changed from an "ugly" to a "pretty". Tally is an ugly who can't wait to be pretty, when she befriends Shay, she learns that there is a place people can go if they don't want the operation; The Smoke. Shay asks Tally to leave with her to The Smoke and Tally refuses, however Shay leaves her a set of directions to get there just in case. When Tally goes to have the operation a division known as special circumstances steps in and tells her she must follow the directions and go to the smoke to activate a tracker they gave her so they can disable The Smoke and make all those inside pretty. When Tally gets to The Smoke she learns that the operation also gives the person leisions on their brain that stop them making their own decisions, Tally then decides she doesn't want to leave or betray her new friends, especially David, whom she has fallen for and throws the tracker into the fire. This immediately activates the tracker and the specials arrive, Tally fights the specials and escapes with David, they then rescue seven smokies and a newly pretty Shay, from special circumstances headquarters and start a new Smoke in the Rusty Ruins near town. David's mother thinks she has found a cure for the brain leisions except Shay refuses to take it as a test subject, so Tally gives herself up so she can try the cure then give it to Shay and all the other pretties.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Graceling - Kristin Cashore (2008)

This was a birthday present from my co-blogger, and I used it as a reward to motivate myself to slug through April Fool's Day - which surprised me by being amazing. This is a very good book for a debut author. Graceling won the 2009 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature. I can draw a lot of parallels to The Hunger Games especially since Graceling's protagonist is Katsa and the Hunger Games produced Katniss. It reads well and easily with well developed characters and just the right amount foreshadowing.

I liked it, it lends a great change from the paranormal genre. I am excited to read its companion/prequel Fire, which was released last year. A third book - Bitterblue was meant to be released this year, but its still progressing, but I found out that it is set eight years after Graceling which shall be interesting. My one personal criticism (which is kinda silly) Why does girl always have to met boy and live happily ever after?! I was excited for a book with a strong woman with no love interest to split her power. But no, my hopes were dashed about halfway through. Nevertheless, my recommendation of the book stands despite my feminist assertions.

Katsa is Graced with killing. She is called a Graceling and all Gracelings have eyes with a different colour in each. Her uncle, the King, has been using her to manipulate and torture her subjects since she was a child and accidentally killed her funny uncle. Then one day on a mission, she saves a kidnapped old man who she believes is guiltless. The man she saved is actually the father of the Lienid King. His grandson, the Lienid Prince Po arrives to stay with his grandfather. But Po has a  gold and a silver eye and is Graced with combat skills, and is the only real competition Katsa has ever faced. They are confused as to why anyone would want to kidnap grandfather. They trek across the lands to find King Leck who they conclude must have taken him. Katsa finds out that Po's true Grace is mind-reading and is very angry with him. He keeps it a secret from everyone, even his family to protect himself. They reconcile and Po digresses that he thinks that Katsa's real Grace is not killing but survival. Po also believes that one-eyed Leck has a secret Grace of mind-control which is why his reputation is so esteemed. The pair begin to fall in love. They reach Leck's  kingdom only to see him kill his wife and his daughter flee from him. Leck's Grace has an instant effect on Katsa, but not Po. Po manages to pull Katsa away and they traipse through the mountains with Leck's young daughter Bitterblue. Po goes back to kill Leck and is shot and badly injured. He cannot carry on so he makes Katsa leave him behind. She agrees, but only because his Grace is extending to awareness of all things, not only people. Bitterblue and Katsa make it through the icy mountains thanks to Katsa's survival Grace. They go to Po's castle only to find Leck already there, having brainwashed the Lienid family. Katsa is instantly under his spell, but has a moment of clarity when Leck mentions revealing Po's true Grace, and impales him through his eye, killing him. She goes back for Po, and finds that he was blinded by the shot and relies completely on his Grace to see. Katsa stays with Po out of love, she previously refused to believe in. The two then they part ways temporarily - Po to lead his kingdom and Katsa to teach young girls like the newly coronated Bitterblue how to fight.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Coming Out - Danielle Steel (2006)

My mum recently bought me a few second-hand Danielle Steel books. And I'm not really sure if I'm a fan. I've disliked more than I have loved. This book has little depth. The title is a little double entendre, one meaning being the twin girls who are coming out into society as debutantes. And the other foreshadowing revelations to come.

It's a fairly basic story. The huge problem it has is that Steel constantly over-emphasises the attributes of the characters. And then it's like ten pages later she's forgot she already described the character and goes for take two with some rephrasing. What annoys me most is that the protagonist is a flawless housekeeper, loving wife, caring mother of four, devout Jew and full-time lawyer - all of which she achieves to perfection easily with no juggling or time constraints. It's unrealistic and vaguely insulting to working mothers.

Olympia is happy with her life. She loves her job, her second husband and her kids. She is from a wealthy, high-society family and receives in the mail an invitation for her two twin daughters to attend a debutante ball. She is excited to have her daughters experience the same magical night that she did. One daughter, Virginia is ecstatic to be invited, and immediately wants to go shopping. The other  - Veronica - refuses to go on account that it is an elitist, discriminatory, outdated event. Her Jewish husband is even less keen - he refuses to attend on the grounds that is discriminates against Jews and blacks by only inviting girls from white, blue-blooded families. Olympia manages to get her mother-in-law on side. Olympia buys a dress with Virginia, and they also pick one for Veronica. Veronica relents and agrees to go as their biological father refuses to pay for their tuition if they both don't attend the ball. The girls go off to university and the matter is shoved in the closet for a few months, but Olympia is worried about her oldest son Charlie who has been introverted of late. Then when the girls return home the week before the ball, all hell breaks loose. Olympia and her youngest son get the flu, her mother-in-law has a fall and breaks her ankle and Olympia catches sight of Veronica's new tattoo - a big multi-coloured butterfly that spans her back. Problem is, Veronica's been bought a backless dress. The mother-in-law saves the day by whipping up a stole to cover the horrendous tattoo. Then Veronica's date turns up with bright blue hair. But the committee soon sends him away to dye to to a natural colour. The night goes ahead and all is well, except Olympia wishes her husband was there. Lo and behold, the guy turns up. Then while Olympia is dancing with her son Charlie, he tells her that he is gay.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Before I Die - Jenny Downham (2007)

Mac lent this book to me saying that I would cry like a baby, I did not, but I found this book very depressing.

This book is very sad, as it folllows Tessa Scott as she is dying from Leukemia and tries to complete her bucket list. I didn't sob like a baby for thirty pages, like some people, however there were one or two glistening tears on my cheek. I found this book very refreshing as it wasn't all emotional and touchy feely like most books about someone dying are. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a bit of a tear-jerker.

For plot summary see Mac's previous blog.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Starcrossed - Josephine Angelini (2011)

I really like this book. It had a massive cliff-hanger, with so many unanswered questions and now I have to wait for the sequel. Props to Angelini for branching out and not utilising werewolves, vampires or even the nephilim but demigods - that being the descendants of Greek gods. It was really hard to put this book down, so it was devoured pretty quickly.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Forever - Maggie Stiefvater (2011)

I was so excited to buy this book when it finally came out, I have read Shiver and Linger and loved them so very much and I couldn't wait to find out how it ended. I wasn't disappointed.

The Wolves of Mercy Falls have had me hooked since Christmas last year and this book was a delight to read. It is much like the previous books in the series so if you liked the other ones then you'll love this one for sure. It has the perfect balance of humour, drama and romance that I love. I read this book in one day and I love the love between Sam and Grace and had to know that they had a happy ending and although I wasn't quite happy with the diplomatic ending that Stiefvater wrote, it was good enough for me.

The book starts from Shelby's point of view as she kills a girl who we later find out is Olivia. There is a lot more wolf perspective in this novel than in the others because we often see the wolf pack thorough Grace's wolf eyes. Tom Culpeper is starting a hunt to kill all the wolves and he manages to book the helicopter in 14 days, Sam then wants to capture Grace to make sure that she survives over any others. While Cole and Sam are looking in the woods for Grace they see that she has fallen into a sinkhole, they manage to save her and she helps them decide to move the wolves to avoid the hunt. While looking through Beck's journal Cole learns that to move the wolf pack one must stay human to throw images to another wolf so that wolf can lead the pack to the new location. While moving the pack the hunt is moved up and the wolves were going to make it until Shelby attacks Beck and scatters the pack when they are in the middle of an open field leaving them open to be shot from above. Cole, Shelby and Beck are shot among many others, so Isabel drives into the middle of the shooting so her dad will stop. The remaining pack successfully relocates to the peninsula they were aiming for, and Cole survived the bullet wounds. The book ends with Sam and Grace together and Sam asking Grace if she's sure she wants the cure even though at the moment the odds were fifty/fifty, Grace reminds him that she trusts Cole, and she takes his hand and they walk away together. I was happy with the ending because you can decide whether she survives or not, in my personal opinion if she had died it would have ruined the book so I loved that it was a sort of open ending. Recommended for anyone that liked the previous books or anyone that loves a good romance.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove - Lauren Kate (2009)

I read this book because my co-blogger lent it to me because we love Fallen, Torment, and Passion by Lauren Kate and thought this would be good as well. Assumptions were wrong.

The only character I liked in this book was J.B and he died after the first 100 pages. This book was written well, just the plot wasn't any good. It is a modern remake of Macbeth by Shakespeare, I read the plot summary of that before this book to know what to expect and after reading this book I thought it was just plain weird. On reading Mac's blog on this book I thought she was being a bit harsh, however after reading it I completely agree with her. If you want to read this book I suggest you give it a miss and read Fallen instead.

For plot summary; see Mac's previous blog.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Airman - Eoin Colfer (2008)

Although I've never read artemis fowl, I have read the supernaturalist and I really enjoyed that so when I saw this in an op shop for $2 I bought it.

I really enjoyed this book, although it was slow in places and talked a lot about the mechanics of aeroplanes, it had a nice story and it does that thing where it could be true but you're not sure. I really liked the character of Linus Wynter, who was always determined to stay optimistic even in the darkest times.

Conor Broekhart was born in a hot air balloon, leaving many people thinking he was born to fly. As he grows up with his best friend Isabella, he learns about the science of flight from his much loved teacher Victor Vigny with funding from King Nicholas, Isabella's father. However, when Conor is fourteen and he and his teacher are on the verge of being the first people to fly, Victor and King Nicholas are murdered by the evil Bonvilain. Conor witnesses this and Bonvilain then sends him to the little saltee prison and tells his family and Isabella, to whom he had just professed his love, that he died trying to protect them. However as a form of psychological torment, Bonvilain tells Conor that his family and friends hate him and think he killed the king. Eventually Conor breaks out of Little Saltee and saves Isabella and his parents from being poisoned by Bonvilain by building and flying the first plane in history. An adventure story with an emotional twist, if you liked Eoin Colfer's other works or any adventure type stories this is a book for you.