noni-arkanaeAlex was sent down the hallway to the third door on the right. Nothing was ever the same again. Who’d have guessed behind that door was a whole different world of magic and excitement.

Lynette Noni has crafted a story that is not only fun but intriguing as well.  As we all know, the boarding school, magic, questing and teen angst thing has been done to freaking death.  We’re usually on the quest with a nerdy guy, or a pathetically naive girl. Alex is so beyond awesome that it’s kind of annoying that she’s fictional.

I also like to analyse the calibre of the best friends or posse, and judge them on their ability to see the main character as they really are, and their willingness to stick by them through the entire character arc. Bear and Jordan are pretty damn loyal. They stack up, and though they can’t be with Alex every step of her journey, they don’t have to cower, crawl and kowtow to fix a mess; which is refreshing.

The adult characters aren’t all ridiculously stern, though Alex’s parents are markedly absent through a good 99 percent of the story. I am looking forward to the future books where I would imagine they will remerge and add flavour to the plot.

I thoroughly enjoyed the settings of the boarding school and the various other places Alex travels to. I can imagine how it would feel to be in the archives, and the food court sounds amazing.

I look forward to continuing with the Medoran Chronicles and finding out what Alex does next.

 

Paperback, 436 pages

Published February 1st 2015 by Pantera Press

ISBN 1921997508 (ISBN13: 9781921997501)

 

noni-Akarnae student cardP.S. At Brisbane Supanova in November I had the chance to briefly meet Lynetteto have her sign my book and participate in a fun extra she had on offer at the signing table. There were also bookmarks… hand made by Lynette.

You can find Lynette here:- http://lynettenoni.com/

And you can follow her on all the social medias.

Facebook:- https://www.facebook.com/lynette.noni/

Instagram:- https://www.instagram.com/lynettenoni/

Twitter:-  https://twitter.com/LynetteNoni

 

Paperback, 436 pages

Published February 1st 2015 by Pantera Press

ISBN 1921997508 (ISBN13: 9781921997501)

 

 



kaufman-illuminaeBel:

Cover

I have the small format paperback. It’s looks very much like a page from a visual diary. Oranges red’s and vivid yellows are superimposed over print to look like an inferno. Though it seems rather abstract in the description, it really does represent the story quite well.

The title is over the top of lines of white out, and the blurb at the top of the page by Marie Lu shares my opinion of this book. The one line synopsis, “First, survive. Then tell the truth.” It’s a real hook to picking up the book.

Characters

The cast is rather large as there are the crews of two space vessels to take into account. We do however focus mainly on a much smaller group.

Favourite

I cannot pick between Kady and Ezra. The interviews at the beginning of the book really clinch it for me.

Least Favourite

Aidan. I can just imagine his cold, detached, monotone voice. A whole lot of nope!

Beginning

The space colony Kady and Ezra live in is attacked by a large company (attacked as in bombs and biological warfare) and in the evacuation they end up on two different space vessels.

Storyline

The biological warfare starts to take hold on the ship Ezra is on and lies are being told to cover the tracks of the people in power.

Ending

It’s up to Kady and Ezra to bring the best outcome and save as many people as they can. No pressure!

Thoughts

I love the formatting of this book.

Presented as a dossier ready for review by a tribunal, I think it quite unique. It’s filled with interviews, third party recounts of surveillance footage, instant messages, diary entries, artworks, diagrams and emails.

Sitting at 599 pages I really thought I would struggle to get through this monster this month. I did, however, get it consumed in a day: almost one sitting.

It is totally immersive and the character voices are witty and believable.

I’m glad this is written by Aussie authors. There really is something satisfying about authors who are not American making it to the NY Times best sellers list.

Quotes

Interviewer: – “We can talk about it if you like, or we can sit here and stare at the walls until our allotted hour is over.”

Interviewer:- “It’s up to you.”

[SKIP 51:27 MINUTES OF COMPLETE SILENCE]

~ Ezra interview.

Interviewer: – “You evacuated at that stage?”

Kady:- “You make it sound way more organised than it was.”

Interviewer:- “How was it?”

Kady:- All kittens and rainbows apart from the screaming and explosions.”

~Kady interview.


 

amie-kaufman-and-jay-kristoffJoelene:

Cover

An array of oranges and yellows. Like an explosion overlaid with embers. It’s dramatic and eye-catching; and the writing on the cover suits the files format of the novel.

 

Characters

Ezra Mason and Kady Grant. A couple for a year, at the beginning of Illuminae, they have just broken up.

 

Favourite

I don’t know if I have one. I really like the dynamic between AIDEN and Kady without necessarily adoring either of them on their own.

 

Least Favourite

Probably Ezra. He’s a perfectly functional character, if he were meant to be minor player. Considering that he’s second only to Kady, he’s kind of lacklustre.

 

Beginning

When a corporation finds that another company has been mining one of its planet’s resources, it moves to destroy the colony. Kady and Ezra are set to be collateral damage in the battle. Luckily for them one of the United Terran Authority battle-carriers is near enough to respond to distress signals and come to the rescue. Now, badly damaged, the remnants of this once great colony must keep ahead of the remaining enemy ship as they try to reach civilisation.

Storyline

Just when you think that the Kerenzan refugees are in as much danger as they could be, they get thrown even deeper. With some of the survivors suffering from the effects of previously unheard of biological weapons, the others need to make difficult decisions about how to survive to six month trek to safety.

 

Ending

The ending picks up pace so much more than the beginning. It’s amped up and edge-of-your-seat stuff.

Thoughts

The format didn’t work for me. I don’t mind different styles, but structuring this in interviews, files and break-downs of video footage killed almost all of the emotion. It’s actually an amazing story. Fresh, vivid, with enough going on to keep the pace and story tight and taut. The panic of being chased by a determined and more powerful enemy, being at risk from biological hazards and not being able to trust the usual hierarchy is obvious, but would be more palpable if the story had been interspersed with files rather than being entirely files.

Quote

Interviewer: How did you make it out?

Kady Grant: I’m a lateral thinker.

Interviewer: Meaning you used your comput-

Kady Grant: Meaning I broke open a window.

 


kaufman-illumKrista:

Cover

The hardcover has a see-through plastic book cover. The actual hardcover of the book is a document with red handwritten notes on it. It 100% represents the story and the bright orange colours really draw the eye to it.

Characters

There are so many characters in this story that at times I couldn’t remember who was who. The main characters are Kady and Ezra; they recently broke up and during the rescue, end up on different spaceships. A lot of the communication is done between the two.

Favourite

I can’t really pick an absolute favorite out of the group but I did like Ezra over Kady. I found him to be a very caring person.

Least Favourite

I don’t have a character specifically, but the whole company of BeiTech was pretty awful.

Beginning

Most of the beginning of the story is character interviews about what happened to cause the mass evacuations of the Karenza Colony, and reports of some of the survivors and the testing they were going through on their ships to put them to work in different fields. Pilot, computers..etc.

Storyline

The illegal colony of Karenza is invaded and the majority of the citizens are killed; it’s a massacre. Some are able to escape to the three ships in the area, but are separated from their friends and family (if they even survived) and are given new jobs above the aircrafts, which are still trying to escape the BeiTech ships.

Ending

In the beginning of a war you expect a lot of upset, deaths, and that is what you get. There are twists, explosions, near death experiences. You name it!

Thoughts

This book was difficult for me. I had heard about it everywhere, and I loved the idea of how it was put together (all letters, reports, computer messages etc). But I really had a hard time getting into the story or liking the characters. I came to the conclusion (in relation to my own feelings of this book) that it is a work of art. Some of the pages, especially near the end, are very visual and artistic; they add a great experience to the reading of the story. I also enjoyed the more gruesome parts of the story; it makes the story dark and dangerous and crazy, which I love.

Quote

CitB:stay on task, grasshopper. we let the Alexander burn us out of the sky, your red hot love will be subsumed by a bigger, hotter flame

ByteMe: how do you even function in society?

CitB: it’s a struggle

 

Discussion Topics:

How do you feel about computers being programmed to kill innocents if those deaths could save more lives than they took?

 

Hardcover, 599 pages

Published October 20th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

ISBN 0553499114 (ISBN13: 9780553499117)



shpeherd-The-Cage-FeatureWhen Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn’t know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn’t alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora’s past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren’t from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

megan shepherdKrista:

Cover

The cover is bright colourful and does represent the story and the main character, Cora.

Characters

Even though, at times, the story does switch perspectives, it really focuses on Cora. She is put into a “cage” with 5 other people: Lucky, Rok, Mali, Rolf and Leon. All are given the same rules and all want to survive.

Favourite

Cassian. I found him very intriguing. I was happy to see that he was a pretty important character throughout the story.

Least Favourite

Rolf just rubbed me the wrong way. I found him very petty and emotional. Didn’t seem to really have a grip on reality.

Beginning

I pictured in my head a mix of The Truman Show, but set in the Hunger Games Arena, which is located at the Men In Black headquarters!

Storyline

Six people are put into a cage and told to obey three rules. Solve the riddles, stay healthy, and procreate. (lets just say most of them focus on that last one, be it negatively or positively).

Ending

Well we all knew what the story was leading up to. There is a big event that happens at the end, which I guessed, but enjoyed anyway.

Thoughts

We learn a ton of stuff about Cora, but only begin to touch on the other characters. As I personally did not find Cora incredibly interesting, I hope that the rest of the series brings in more of the others. Otherwise, on the whole, I enjoyed the story. It was one that I read straight through; it was a fun read but dark. It’s a fight for your life and being in such a different setting really plays head games with the characters. Things get nasty.

Quote

“Sometimes mistakes are worth making.”

 

shepherd-huntBel:

Cover

I have the hard cover. The dust jacket is quite lovely.  A blonde in a white dress is walking through a sand dune away from us, the viewer, toward a cityscape. In the foreground, there’s a jungle-type frame with vines and foliage. It gives at least a hint as to the storyline.

However, without the dust jacket the book is white with gold letting on front and spine. I actually prefer the minimalistic nature of the book minus the dust jacket.

Characters

We have a cast of less than ten key characters. They all drove me up the wall at one stage or another.

Favourite

Lucky, though on day twenty on he lost all my respect.

Least Favourite

Cora. OMG girl, have you never picked up a history book and learned about Stockholm syndrome? Her heart was probably in the right place, but what the hell?

Beginning

Cora wakes up in an odd place and eventually runs into five other fellow captives.

Storyline

The captives are given three rules to live by and Human Zoo is pretty much the gist of everything.

Ending

What I wanted to happen, did happen. So it was a happy ending for me.

Thoughts ~May Contain Spoilers~

If I replaced the humans in this story with animals, I don’t know if I would feel as uncomfortable (which in turn makes me feel uncomfortable)… which was Megan Shepherd’s whole point of writing the book in the first place. No comfort zone for you!

I’m glad Cora has a back bone, but I wish she didn’t think just in terms of visual attractions when meeting beings of the opposite sex. The poor girl is clearly a great candidate for Stockholm syndrome, so I’m just twitchy about that whole area of the storyline in general.

As for the questionable consent around the third rule…walking up a flight of stairs and sitting on a bed, even kissing a little is NOT consent. She should not have had to resort to what she did to escape that situation if Lucky had been decent.

Cups of tea people. Cups of tea.

My moral issues with the story are probably mine alone. It is entertaining and the shock value is timed well. I cannot wait to hear what you all thought of it.

Quote

“Mali may have taught you some tricks,” he said, “but you cannot hide your thoughts from us forever.” Cassian speaking to Cora.

 



aguirre-queenBel:

Cover

I have the hard cover. A bunch of black and white photos of a guy and girl on a bicycle and post it notes background the title.

Characters

I love this collection of characters. Minor flaws in everyone means you can identify with more than one.

Favourite

Sage. She’s had a run of bad luck, but manages to make everyone’s day by leaving positive post-it’s on people’s lockers. This makes me smile.

Least Favourite

Dylan’s Mum. Just, ugh!

Beginning

Sage meets the new guy and there’s a connection.

Storyline

Dylan and Shane have at it and the crap hits the fan.

Ending

Lovely.

Thoughts

I like the way Anne has created teens who are not all shallow and vain. Sage’s actions make me wish more kids would do what she does. I like that not all the adults are absent and unaware of the dramas in their kids’ lives. There are parts that may make you uncomfortable, but it casts a perspective not many would think of.

Quote

Not so much a quote but the happenings on page 280. Small seemingly meaningless actions can make the greatest impacts. I love it when good karma is paid back.

aguirre-mortal
Krista:

Sage Czinski is trying really hard to be perfect. If she manages it, people won’t peer beyond the surface, or ask hard questions about her past. She’s learned to substitute causes for relationships, and it’s working just fine… until Shane Cavendish strolls into her math class. He’s a little antisocial, a lot beautiful, and everything she never knew she always wanted.

Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone to play guitar and work on his music. He’s got heartbreak and loneliness in his rear-view mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. He doesn’t expect to be happy; he only wants to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage.

But love doesn’t mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall apart before it can be put back together again…

Published April 7th 2015 by Feiwel & Friends

Cover

The cover completely represents the book. The romance that’s involved and the ideals of the main character represented with the bicycle and post it notes.

Characters

The story follows the main character, Sage, who lives with her aunt. There is a romance with new boy, Shane, and some friends that come into the mix as the story progresses.

Favourite

Shane – probably the most swoon-worthy boy in a book I have read all year. He’s pretty shy, quiet, pensive… and a musician. Very sensitive to Sage’s somewhat quirky ways and very dependable, when he can be.

Least Favourite

Ryan. He wasn’t absolutely horrible, but I felt that he was a very shallow person.

Beginning

We are introduced to Sage who is in a very comfortable, positive stage in her life. She’s healthy, has friends, and is overall pretty happy. Then her best friend tells her a secret, and her life begins to slowly spiral and change.

Storyline

(Besides the synopsis here are some thoughts I had on the storyline/theme) Sage learns to evaluate her own life and those around her. Even if you aren’t the most popular, who you choose to surround yourself with matters. Thinking of others needs in life is important when getting to know somebody.

Ending

Very fairytale-esque: it was perfect for the story and really wraps everything up nicely

Thoughts

In a way, I felt this book was like a fairytale. It’s a representation of change, learning who you are and being true to yourself. A great recommendation for those who like clean reads, positive attitudes and actions in life.

Quote

“Every flaw makes him more perfectly Shane, more right for me. I feel like we’ve been tested, and that we can survive anything. We’re Strong. Were special. We Are. And together, we’re invincible.”

 



graudin-the walled city coverJoelene:

Cover

The title in red slashes on a dark background. The font is reminiscent of Chinese brush-strokes, which suits the story but the cover doesn’t do the novel justice.

Characters

The story is told through three perspectives. Dai is a fugitive trapped in the Walled City until he can find a way to clear his name. Mei Yee was sold to a high-class brothel by her father. And Jin Ling is Mei Yee’s younger sister who came to the city to save her.

 

Favourite

All of them. I really can’t choose. Jin Ling is more obviously brave, but she doesn’t have the character build up the others do. She comes into the book fully formed and never doubts her task. Both Dai and Mei Yee are more subtle in character. They’re full of uncertainty, so when they commit to an action it costs them more than it costs Jin Ling.

 

Least Favourite

Ambassador Osamu. There are several awful characters in Walled City but out of all of them Osamu was the only one who seemed as though he really had a choice. He saw the suffering around him and could escape it, or help ease it. Instead he adds to it.

Beginning

Jin Ling is trying to survive the harsh city streets long enough to find her sister. When Dai offers her a job that will give her access to the one brothel she has not been able to explore, she jumps at the chance. Even if it means going in to the lair of the terrifying Brotherhood.

Storyline

Time is running out for the notorious Walled City, and for those who dwell within its walls. If Dai can’t broker a deal for his freedom in eighteen days, he will spend the rest of his life in a cell. If Jin Ling cannot find her sister in that same time, she will lose her forever. And Mei Yee finally needs to decide to fight for her freedom, or she will never get it back.

Ending

I could barely handle the suspense. A hundred pages from the end I almost flicked to the back to make sure no one I cared about died.

Thoughts

Loved it. I didn’t think I would because sex trafficking, ugh. But Ryan Graudin handled that storyline well. It wasn’t graphic or gratuitous; nor was it romanticised. What Mei Yee and the other girls went through had psychological consequences, but the novel didn’t treat the girls as nothing but psychological consequences. They had their own minds and they played their part in protecting themselves and each other.

Quote

It’s the Brotherhood’s symbol: a beast the color of luck and blood inked on the walls of every building in Hak Nam. A reminder that they own everything here. And almost everyone.

 

graudin_wolfBel:

Cover

A black and red blueprint lies behind the bold red title. The rules of living in the city are in stark white and the author’s name is in a mid tone grey. It fits the tone of the book perfectly.

Characters

There is no room for innocence in the city this book is set in. Everyone has a damn good reason for you to hate them.

Favourite

Jin, mainly because she’s doing the Mulan thing to track down her sister in this hell hole.

Least Favourite

Kuen, for so many reasons, but being bully is just the tip of that iceberg

Beginning

Jin needs to find her sister who was sold to feed her father’s alcoholism.

Storyline

Dai needs Jin to help break open his case

Ending

In a place like this I don’t know if you could really class anything as a happy ending

Thoughts

The sex trade, people smuggling, drugs, gang violence, this really is no fairy tale. The Walled City was based on a real place. The issues within the pages are struggles that are all too common around the world. Ryan has done an amazing job capturing what I would imagine a place like that to feel. The tiny seed of hope is sometimes all anyone needs to get ahead. That can be a dangerous thing for those trying to suppress and control those around them.

Quote

“But I don’t want to be like my mother, either.. Waking up every morning and watching the sun rise on fresh wounds, wondering in the secret chambers of her heart if there was something more. Through the rice fields and over the mountains.”

Krista:

Cover

My favorite cover is the one with white across the top and black along the bottom. Also ….there’s a dragon! The story does not have a dragon in it but represents the culture of the setting of the story.

Characters

DAI, JIN and MEI YEE. Two sisters and a boy. All looking for something. Freedom.

Favourite

DAI-Mostly because I liked his back story most and his kindness.

Least Favourite

Pretty much everybody but the three main characters. The gangs, captors and even the other girls in the house are all pretty nasty people.

Beginning

We are introduced to the three different characters through chapters from their different perspectives. We soon learn that they are all players in the same game and need each other to be free again.

Storyline

Dai is trying to obtain some very private information from the leader of a large crime group. If he succeeds he will have paid back his debts and can return to his family. Jin is in search of her sister who was kidnapped from her home.  Mei Yee is a girl locked in a room who has a rich “suitor” that wishes to take her away from the city.

Ending

I enjoyed the ending there were some surprises that I didn’t see coming: a lot of action, danger and lives in jeopardy.

Thoughts

Slightly based on a real city, The Walled City is full of danger, drugs, crime, sex and money. The story touches on some things that still happen all around the world today. It’s put together nicely with three really fun characters, and I liked learning about each of them. Lots of action and hope.

Quote

“There are moments you wait for. And then there are moments you wait for. Moments you spend every other moment preparing for. Points of your life that click and turn. Push you in a completely new direction.” -Jin

http://www.ryangraudin.com/

Paperback, 424 pages

Published November 6th 2014 by Indigo (first published January 1st 2014)

ISBN 178062199X (ISBN13: 9781780621999)

 

 

 



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