galley-frogsAs a follow up book to Girls Above Society: Steps to Success, Lauren has done a great job of using anecdotal stories to bring awareness to the pursuit of authentic romantic happiness.

By putting her heart on her sleeve, she’s able to let us see some of the many types of ‘frogs’ and ‘toads’ she’s come across–some of who we’ve probably met  on our own journey.

I’m not sure how I feel about the use of the term ‘prince’ to describe the ideal partner (mainly because it propagates the princess myth), but as it would be difficult to find another term that speaks to so many girls, so I understand why Lauren used this analogy.

I found the book to be insightful, and I can surely relate to a few of the toads.

By reading both books, you’ll receive plenty of food for thought. Though the books are aimed at girls; I still think guys would benefit from knowing what the girls they’re dating are striving for.

The ‘toads’ Lauren didn’t cover were those who perpetuate domestic violence, but it is an issue becoming more prevalent among couples of all ages. For more information head here… http://www.whiteribbon.org.au/finding-help

Buy KISSING FROGS from Amazon



winnacker-DefectorImposter bk 1

Tessa can touch people and absorb their DNA, and then she can change her appearance to whoever she has just ‘downloaded’. She’s been in training for two years to become a part of the FEA (Forces with Extraordinary Abilities), a secret branch of the FBI…and she’s just been given her first mission.

Her moral compass is screaming out, trying to tell her that what she’s being asked to do is wrong. But this is what she’s been trained to do, and getting on with it throws Tessa in the deep end and reveals her personal hell to the reader.

 

winnacker-imposterDefector bk 2

After surviving her first mission, Tessa is selected to be flung back into the insanity that is the life of an FEA agent. The kicker is that her best friend has been abducted and getting her back isn’t going simple.

Skeletons are being discovered in closets and things that were mostly black and white have become a disastrous muddle of grey.

This series is extremely addictive and there is something in it for everyone: suspense, romance, betrayal, political intrigue and action, action and more action… oh, and explosions. Woohoo!

Susanne’s characters feel extremely real, even though they may come with fictional added extras. Many of them have tragic back-stories and you can forgive them for the most part because they’re just working for people who gave them a better life. I love the self-realisation that occurs over these two books. The character arcs allow questions to be asked and answers to not be pretty.

If I were put in the same position as Tessa, there is no question that I wouldn’t handle it as well as she does.

Marissa Meyer, author of Cinder, has given this book high praise. I agree that if fun and suspense is your thing, you should pick these books up and give them a go.

 

Imposter

Paperback, 320 pages

Published January 2nd 2014 by Hodder Children’s Books (first published May 28th 2013)

ISBN 1444916173 (ISBN13: 9781444916171)

 

Defector

Paperback, 312 pages

Published August 7th 2014 by Hodder Children’s Books (first published November 13th 2013)

ISBN 1444916181 (ISBN13: 9781444916188)



Belinda_kisses_tnBelinda compares the book and film version of Tomorrow When the World Began by John Marsden. I must say, that I (MDP), enjoyed the movie version a lot.

 

marsden-Tomorrow_When_The_War_Began_Front_CoverBook

I read this one when I was in high school and swore that I would never bother with the Tomorrow series again. English classes have a lot to answer to for killing reading passion.

Seven teenagers head bush, and on their return to civilisation they realise the enitre region has become the epicentre of an invasion of Australia. They decide to slow down the enemy and take back their town.

Back then, I didn’t have the world knowledge to visualise the imagery, and the themes went over my head. Now, however, I get it. I no longer hate the unapologetic way that Marsden brings a country town atmosphere to the setting, and the fair dinkum Aussie-ness of the characters.

Yes, the book is now dated by 20 years or more, but the struggles are still relevant. It includes themes of love, fear, and the primal urge to survive, which are timeless and give Tomorrow, When The War Began a level of relevance, regardless of the decade. An Australian teen classic!

Paperback, 304 pages

Published June 1st 2006 by Scholastic (first published 1993)

ISBN 0439829100 (ISBN13: 9780439829106)

 

Film

The film opens with Ellie recording a recount of her experiences. It then moves on to aerial shots of outback Australia with Steer by Missy Higgins adding an authentic ambience to the shot. Ellie working the property with her Dad certainly highlights the contrast between innocence and survival.

The movie has been updated from the book with the inclusion of contemporary technology such as mobile phones and videos. Filming was done across New South Wales, including places like Port Stephens and the Blue Mountains, which is exactly how I pictured it while reading.

The casting is as I imagined it, though I am not entirely sure if actor, Deniz Akdeniz, thought he should act the way he did, or if he was directed to do so. It just seemed off.

The storyline gallops along and there are no fatty bits to be trimmed. The adaption by the director, Stuart Beattie, is respectful and authentically brings the spirit of the book to life. They hit all the high points and, thank goodness, some of the more gruesome elements from the book are just a flash on the screen.

As mentioned before, the soundtrack is also pretty catchy with Jet, Wolfmother, Missy Higgins, and quite a few other great Aussie acts adding our flavour to the score.

It looks like there are plans to make the second book, The Dead of Night, next. I just hope the casting, script adaption, and location shoots can be lined up to bring the world John Marsden created to life.



carter-pawnKrista:

Cover

Pretty plain cover. I appreciate it because it’s one that doesn’t have a girl in a dress on the cover, even though it could with this story. It’s nice to see something simple.

Characters

There are actually a lot more characters than I was thinking there would be when starting the story. Not only do we meet those people most important in Kitty’s life, but all of the Hart family and their closely trusted circle.

Favourite

By the end of the book my favourite character was Benjy. If I were stuck in this situation, I would want him as my sidekick: dependable, honest, and trustworthy.

Least Favourite

There were more people I didn’t like than I liked in this one! It was very surprising that the further I read, the more dislike I had for each member of the family and their actions. This took me off guard. I would have to say the most hated from the first time we were introduced to her was Augusta, the oldest surviving member  of the family line.

Beginning

Kitty has just taken her test and rated lower than she expected in the cast system her world so depends on. She has just turned 17 and feels that her life has just plummeted to nothing and she would rather die. Her boyfriend Benjy and her “mother” encourage her to live and convince her that she is destined to help the population fight the unfair ranking system.

Storyline

Kitty is picked up off the streets because of her similar look to Lila Hart. Given no reasonable choice, she is forced into pretending to be Lila after being “Masked” to look exactly like her. As she stands in for Lila, the family slowly begins revealing secrets of how they really rule the land and the operate the ranking system. She soon gets caught up with the political labyrinth players and the rebellion.

Ending

You thought you could see what was coming, but I never expected things to go the way they did! It was like being on a roller coaster where you were expecting to drop downwards but it pulled you sideways instead.

Thoughts

I can honestly say that I have not read a teen book with so many twists. I think there were so many big revelations throughout the story that I could actually feel my head spin. I am usually a huge fan of books that are just as fast paced and action packed as this one, but at the end I felt pounded with so much to take in. I felt out of whack, needing to still take it all in. It was a pretty dark and powerful read if you look at it in a more critical way — politically and socially.

Quote

“But the world is out there, and it understands that the illusion of knowledge and freedom is not the same as the real thing. Eventually, it will fade, and there are those who will do whatever it takes to make that happen sooner rather than later.”

 

 

aimee carterBel:

Cover

I borrowed the audio book from the Brisbane City Council Library and Bolinda Online audio books. The cover art is a round maze with an eye visible though most of the paths. A blue chess piece sits in the top right hand corner of the slate grey background. The book is read by Lamecce Issaq.

 Characters

There are so many characters to hate in this book. The lovable ones are certainly a catalyst to continue reading the series.

Favourite

Kitty. Kick ass, and brainy. Some of her decisions are a little questionable but her motivations make sense.

Least Favourite

Hmmm. Augusta. Again you can understand her motives, but that doesn’t make them right, or forgivable in any way.

Beginning

Kitty is given a really low score on the standardised test to see where she will fit into society, which means a menial job and having to move away from the love of her life Benji.

Storyline

Kitty takes an offer to go from a 3 to a 7 with the intention of being able to stay with Benji. Strings are attached however, and what would a good dystopian book be without some totally corrupt political themes.

Ending

I didn’t pick it, and I am desperate to read on.

Thoughts

With the standardised testing in Aussie schools becoming such a focus, the thought that a single exam determines the rest of your life is just a little too close to home.

I was a little weirded out by the masking process and how easily it seemed to be to recover from such dramatic procedures. Anyone who’s ever seen that gosh awful make over TV show The Swan… that’s what I pictured through this section of the book. EWWW!

I was a little perplexed about the lack of reaction from the character Celia over Kitty’s new circumstance. As a Mum, if this happened to me, I’d be beyond not okay with it.

I did LOVE the book. I’ll be looking to read on throughout 2015.

Quote

I picked this quote because it is pretty much the pivotal argument through the whole book, and I would hazard a guess as to the inspiration for the title of the book.

“They may be weak when the game begins, but their potential is remarkable. Most of the time, they’ll be taken by the other side and held captive until the end of the game. But if you’re careful—if you keep your eyes open and pay attention to what your opponent is doing, if you protect your pawns and they reach the other side of the board, do you know what happens then?”
I shook my head, and she smiled.
“Your pawn becomes a queen.” 
~ Kitty having a conversation with Celia about chess.

 

Carter_captiveJoelene:

Cover

A brilliantly blue eye framed by something that resembles machinery. Fits the futuristic dystopian theme.

 

Characters

The cast of characters isn’t huge in Pawn, so it’s easy to keep track of who everyone is. The Prime Minister’s family make up most of the players and it ends up seeming a bit like a political family drama.

Favourite

Greyson. He’s probably the smartest guy in the book. Trying to sort out that mess of family is way too complicated. He’s also more empathetic than the others; accepting people as they are rather than forcing them into what he wants them to be.

Least Favourite

Kitty. She really does live up to the book title. She never risks herself; she just lets the larger players push her to where they need her to be.

 Beginning

When Kitty scores low on the test that will decide her future, she thinks that any chance of a good life is forfeit. Then the Prime Minister makes her an offer that she can’t refuse.

Storyline

In a futuristic dystopia, Kitty is an unwanted extra child. When the Prime Minister offers her a chance at more than she could have dreamed, she takes it. What she doesn’t realise is that taking the offer might mean losing herself and becoming someone else – specifically the Prime Minister’s niece, Lila Hart.

 Ending

There’s more upheaval in the end of Pawn than I was expecting. The game is going to change drastically in book two!

Thoughts

Carter took a lot of the issues with growth and technology that worry us today and incorporated them into Pawn. What if technology existed that meant we could replace one figurehead with another without anyone knowing? If humans don’t regulate the population now, what will it mean in the future?

There are also some truths in the novel. Even now the world is told to believe that if a person works hard enough – wants something desperately enough – they will achieve it. We believe the lie, and don’t question the ugliness beneath it. Pawn builds its foundation on that unpleasant notion with the idea that a test given to the poor and rich alike is not equal.

Quote

“On my birthday, you gave me a present,” I said. “It was a purple flower from a vendor selling perfumes. A violet. You said – you said they never gave up, like me.”

 

 

Carter_TestLisa:

Cover

I absolutely love this cover. If you have the US hardback version, the book jacket slips off, and reveals something even more beautiful. Looking at this cover before indulging in the book, it completely suckers you in. It’s mysterious, different, and bold in a strange way. After reading Pawn and looking back at the cover, you find a whole new meaning to it and each of its elements. Gorgeous!

Characters

There are quite a few characters in Pawn, but each and every one of them is unique and interesting. Obviously, some are meant for you to hate, but I can appreciate an amazing villain!

Favourite

Of course my favourite character would be Kitty, and I’m sure many of you will agree with me. She’s totally kick butt and doesn’t let anything scare her. She’s the perfect character for this role; she’s someone strong who won’t back down on her beliefs.

Least Favourite

As I said before, I can appreciate an amazing villain. When I think of my least favourite character, my mind automatically goes to Augusta or Daxton, simply because the reader is made to despise them. But looking back at them, they are perfect. Daxton is crazy in the head, and does some really messed up stuff, while Augusta is the older lady, who thinks she can still rule a modern world in the old ways.

Overall, I LOVED these two characters, but if I had to choose my “least favourite” it would be them.

Beginning

Pawn follows the story of a teenage girl named Kitty Doe. Anyone with the last name “Doe” is the child that was illegally born, because there is a one child minimum law. While most Does are sent to a place called Elsewhere, some are lucky enough to go to local group homes.

Once teenagers turn seventeen years old, they take an aptitude test, that determines what their ranks are in society. Ones and twos are usually sent to Elsewhere, while threes do the dirty work, fours and fives live comfortable while sixes and sevens are royalty.

After taking her test, Kitty scores low, and is tattooed a three on the back of her neck. She knows she will spend the rest of life working in the underground sewers, or renting out her body to disgusting men for money.

Middle

But when Kitty is approached by a man, who she later discovers is part of the royal family, with an offer to become a seven, Kitty can’t turn it down. She doesn’t know what the catch is, or what he expects of her, but becoming a seven is much better than staying a three, or being sent to Denver, or Elsewhere.

End

While I wish I could give you as much detail about the end, as I did with the beginning, I can’t. I want you to feel the same excitement, nervousness, and anxiety I felt with I was completely wrapped up in Pawn.

All I can tell you is that this story was absolutely amazing! And I’m dying to go out and buy myself a copy of the second book in The Black Coat Rebellion series: Captive.

Overall

I love Aimee Carter and have read all of her books, so this month’s read was a very exciting one for me!

When I first started Pawn, it reminded me of The Selection. Obviously, there are thirty-five girls standing here, to fight for the position that Kitty is in, but the general idea of a poor girl comes into the kingdom and starts to change this in their society is the same. Pawn also had different rankings in society. In The Selection, the higher numbers where lower ranking, in Pawn the lower numbers where lower ranking.

Overall, I enjoyed Pawn, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed The Selection series as well as The Chemical Garden trilogy.

 

 

Discussion Questions

Kitty has dyslexia and it has an affect on her test results. How do you feel about the very generalized way of ranking people this book has
Would you sacrifice yourself for the greater good?

How does the book compare to Kiera Cass’s The Selection?

Do our other club members use audio books often, and out of the three formats (ebook, physical book, audio book) which did they use for this month’s pick?

How close are we, as a global society, to using standardised testing to ‘match’ people to their ideal jobs?

Feel free to take the discussion to out GoodReads home.

 

 

 



armstrong_sea of shadowsTwin sisters Ashyn and Moria are the last hope for the survivors of the enraged souls of the damned. One a Seeker, one a Keeper, they must race across a monster-infested wasteland to alert the Empire that evil is on the loose.

Sounds enthralling doesn’t it? As with every Kelley Armstrong book I’ve read, it certainly delivers.

Her world-building and monsters are detailed and vivid. Her dialogue is snappy and witty. Her characters are able to be pictured in your mind like a film.

Think Indiana Jones crossed with The Mummy as well as however many other adventure films you may have seen. But, instead of the simpering women screaming to be saved and the sweaty masculine hero, picture these girls front and centre in all the fun stuff. They stand shoulder to shoulder with the shady, mysterious men they’re travelling with; just the way I like it.

The character arc progresses quickly, and it will be exciting to see what Kelley intends to throw at them all into next.

Empire of Night, book two of the Age of Legends, isn’t due out until April next year, so I will be waiting a little longer to see if and how the twins manage to outsmart the political manoeuvrings going on around them.

If you liked Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, this will be right up your alley.

 

http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com/

Paperback, 406 pages

Published April 8th 2014 by Atom

ISBN 0751547816 (ISBN13: 9780751547818)

 



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