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?

 

 

 



So as you can see we have a slight re-design of the front page. I wanted to bring the reviews into more focus, along with our columns, in the big slider at the top.  The whole look is more visual. We have so many great sections, I wanted them to be better represented. My book carousel has now moved to the bottom of the page. Let me know what you think!

armstrong_sea of shadows

 



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)

 



sophie delezioMost Australians have heard of this young woman who has overcome not one but two serious accidents in her almost fourteen years of life.

In December 2003, she survived a car crashing into her childcare centre. She sustained burns to 85% of her body and it took six months of recovery before she could go home. Keep in mind she was two years old at the time and ended up losing both her feet, one hand and her right ear.

Seeing a gap in the system to support parents and families of kids who survive serious accidents, Sophie’s parents founded the Day of Difference foundation.

Not to be held back, Sophie started school in January of 2006. Five months later, while crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing in her wheelchair with her Nanny and assistance dog, Tara, Sophie was hit by a car. She sustained injuries including, but not limited to, a broken shoulder and jaw, and she suffered a heart attack.

She was back at school in July of the same year. What a champion effort by her family, friends, specialists and therapists.

Nine years on and Sophie has been on numerous TV shows talking about her road to recovery, she has a book called Sophie’s Journey written by Sally Collings, and is taking an active role in her family’s foundation.

In loving memory of Sophie’s assistance dog, Tara, Day of Difference is giving kids in hospitals the chance to have a fluffy cuddle buddy thanks to the generous donations from the public. For more information head here

Here’s a clip from Studio 10 of Sophie talking about the Tara hug buddies

There is also a bike ride coined Distance for a Difference Tour, happening in March of this year.  For more information go here. I think you’d all agree Sophie is an incredibly courageous young woman and should be recognised for beating the odds.

Sophie’s Journey

By Sally Collings

Paperback, 432 pages

Published May 1st 2008 by HarperCollins Australia (first published May 1st 2007)

ISBN 0732285534 (ISBN13: 9780732285531)

 



Chris G_TNI thought it seemed appropriate that I did a Red Carpet Killer Outfits post because of all the red carpet events around this time of the year. Below, I choose my favourite 5 from 2014.

 

 

RC 1

 

Model, Cara Delevingne looks totally stunning in this metallic dress at the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival. I think glittery dresses are sooo popular at these award shows because the dress takes on a whole new look depending on where they are! If they’re on the carpet, it’ll have a reflective red sheer. If they’re sitting down in a brown theater, it’ll have a brown hue to it. The possibilities are absolutely endless with this incredible dress.

 

RC 2

 

Singer, Taylor Swift rocks an incredible pairing of a low-cut crop top, and a high-rise skirt with a slit up the side at the ACM Awards. The cut shows off her rocking legs and toned tummy. She looks great in an easy white on black outfit, and her signature red lip adds a little pop to her otherwise bland outfit. She’s also killing beach waves which accentuates her very pretty doll-like face.

 

RC 3

 

Singer, Rita Ora is also wearing a silver dress. This one has the unique cut – off the shoulder, one long-sleeve, one no-sleeve, ankle long maxi. Her stylist clearly knows what (s)he is doing because the smoky eye adds a bad girl look. I don’t totally agree with the braided updo, quiff style because it makes her look a little boyish. However, her tanned skin totally stands out in the mi, and I love it. Blond, tanned, and glittery. Nothing wrong with that!

 

RC 4

 

Actress Jessica Alba wears an incredible haute-couture gold shimmery dress to the 2014 ESPY Awards. The dress cuts right around the knee, and the shoulders remind me of something that would be worn by a Tribute in ‘The Hunger Games’. I think the thing that is wrong with this outfit is the lip. The colour is too light, and should’ve been a plum, or even a black? It’s a little risky, but I think it would work out in the end.

 

RC 5

 

Finally, last but not least is the glamorous Katy Perry at the Grammy Awards. This dress is totally AH-MAY-ZING!!!!!! It starts out like any regular dress, but as it goes down, music notes are added to this flowy number. I cannot get enough of this dress! I wish it was socially acceptable to wear a red carpet dress multiple times because this would never get old. This dress is fun and whimsical! It’s totally dreamy.

 

Remember to visit my personal blog at www.christophersfashion.com!

I’ve redesigned the whole site, and I’d love to hear everyone’s feedback!

Chris


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