casey-how to fallSixteen-year-old Jess Tennant has never met any of her relatives, until her mom suddenly drags her out of London to spend the summer in the tiny English town where her family’s from. Her mom’s decision is surprising, but even more surprising is the town’s reaction to Jess. Everywhere she goes, people look at her like they’ve seen a ghost. In a way, they have–she looks just like her cousin Freya, who died shortly before Jess came to town.

Jess immediately feels a strange connection to Freya, whom she never got to meet alive. But the more Jess learns about the secrets Freya was keeping while she was alive, the more suspicious Freya’s death starts to look. One thing is for sure: this will be anything but the safe, boring summer in the country Jess was expecting.

Beloved author Jane Casey breaks new ground with How to Fall, a thrilling and insightfully written mystery.

Hardcover, 352 pages

Published August 26th 2014 by St. Martin’s Griffin (first published January 31st 2013)

Jess was one of the most determined and opinionated protagonists that I have read in awhile. She not only stated her mind, she was clear with her intentions up front, which is why I found it surprising, at times, how open others were with her. I mean, expecting her to keep something secret was never going to happen.

The similarity she bore to her dead cousin was so close that when others looked at her, it brought all their memories to the forefront. People became hostile or sad whenever she was around. She, in contrast, seemed to feel very little empathy, especially when it came to the matter of her cousin’s death.

Overall, the novel maintained pretty constant pacing throughout. Jess got to know the community and found a comfortable summer job and, of course, met the cute boy next door. There were times in the story when Jess was wise beyond her years.

I really enjoyed the setting of the story as well. It had a terrific atmosphere and a variety of character types. There is still a lot more I would like to learn about Jess, and I am looking forward to the next book. I would recommend this one to those who enjoy suspense and mystery. I liked it and I think you will to.



wanga-my heart and black holesA stunning novel about the transformative power of love, perfect for fans of Jay Asher and Laurie Halse Anderson.

Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution—Roman, a teenage boy who’s haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner. Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. 

Hardcover, 302 pages

Published February 10th 2015 by Balzer + Bray

original title

My Heart and Other Black Holes

ISBN

0062324675 (ISBN13: 9780062324672)

It’s expected that a novel focusing on a plan to commit suicide is going to be depressing and melancholy. There is not much that the story brings plot-wise that is not described in the synopsis. It’s a story that focuses on two characters: Aysel and Roman. They meet on an Internet suicide site and make a pact to commit suicide together.

I had a hard time trying to figure out what to say in my review of this story, as the book cover pretty much summarized the whole book. What I figured I would do was discuss my feelings about the story. It is hard to know whether the actions and feelings that the characters experience are enough to consider suicide. People lose themselves in emotions, become blind, lost, panicked, content or happy on an individual basis. It’s such a personal issue, how can  I judge whether they were justified in their thoughts?

Aysel is having a hard time at home and school. She feels constantly judged, eyes on her at school and also in her own home. She has a hard time expressing her emotions. Roman, on the other hand, feels that a part of him is missing. His actions caused harm and the guilt weighs him down so heavily that he’s lost his way.

This story is mostly about working out your feelings. Sometimes you find your way through them, but sometimes you don’t. The decision to follow through with your intentions, or finding a way to release them becomes the main objective of the book.

I personally agree that the best way to really understand how you feel is to open up. Conversation really does wonders, and when things are brought to light, the majority of the time you feel better. Since I am a strong believer in honesty, releasing emotion through conversations is the best thing for you emotionally. It depends on who’s around you though. Often releasing through writing, drawing, exercising is a good start, and both of these characters seem to have fallen into a place where they block out using that kind of release.

The message I got from the book was… don’t be afraid to talk, ask the hard questions, get to know yourself and others. I’m not going to say it was an easy book to read, or that I would recommend it to everybody. But I think that it was well presented and could really connect with some readers. There is a message here and taking some time out to really think about it, or discuss it with others, might give some people comfort.

 



larson-igniteAlexa remains by the newly crowned King Damian’s side as his guard, ever committed to helping him rebuild Antion and reclaim the hope of Antion’s people, despite continuing to harbor a secret love for him. However, when another threat to Damian and his kingdom emerges, and blame is cast on their newly forged allies from Blevon, Alexa knows things are not what they seem. With the fate of her nation hanging in the balance once again, will Alexa be able to protect her king and uncover the true enemy—before it’s too late?

Going back into the world and continuing the story of Antion was better than I expected the second time around. I was a little worried when book one showed us a little love triangle happening, but it really doesn’t take focus away from the great story line of the series. In the sequel to Defy, the story gets more intense as more black sorcerers arrive in the Kingdom. King Damian is under attack from his neighbours and must find out where they are coming from. It’s very unnatural to have so many black sorcerers and there must be a connection between them and the attacks from the other Kingdoms.

When terror finds its way into the castle, Alexa must go out into the forest to track down some answers and save those in need. What she finds herself doing is constantly battling her own people and the evil magic that has put a heavy cloud over Antion and its people. Talk about dedication!

I have really been enjoying this series because of the main character. Alexa is one of the most admirable characters I have come across in a long time. Her devotion to her Kingdom and righting wrongs is very powerful. She is determined, selfless, and very strong willed. The world building is good; this is one of those series that has really sucked me in, and I highly recommend it to those who enjoy fantasy and adventure.



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)



bowman-VengeanceRevenge is worth its weight in gold.

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal. 

Hardcover, 336 pages

Published September 1st 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers

This was one of those stories that I refer to as a “travel story”. I am unsure if there is already a term used for it.

Kate is in constant movement from one place to another, meeting people, finding answers and running for her life. There is very little downtime and things are always in motion.

After returning home and finding her father murdered, Kate decides that she wants revenge. First she follows her fathers wishes by travelling to a friend’s house who has promised to take care of her. Upon her arrival she finds that the friend has also passed. Kate follows her heart and the trail of the Rose Riders to avenge her father’s death with a small crew of her own (even though they are more focused on obtaining gold than killing the most powerful gang leader around).

Kate is a very determined character that has one focus. At times she will say whatever it takes to get those around her to do what she wants so she can reach her goal. All the while, those around her have ideas of their own. At times a bit of romance comes into play and there’s a lot of character growth for Kate as the story progresses.

I can’t say that I loved Vengeance Road so much that it inspired me to pick up more westerns, but I had a good time reading it and would recommend it to those who enjoy historical reads. It’s a very wild west, horse riding, shoot outs, card playing roller coaster of greed and revenge. An action packed, plot driven story that keeps you on your toes and has a fun twist ending. I haven’t read a lot of westerns and this one was engaging, had a great plot, and I loved the ending.

 



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