Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor & Park
Eleanor and Park

By Rainbow Rowell

Everyone sits on the bus, one person to a seat and nobody changes seats, nobody moves to let someone else sit down. That's the unspoken rules of the bus. 

Eleanor gets on the bus that first day at her new school and knows the rules, but she also knows she has to sit somewhere, the bus driver keeps telling her to. 

Park sits on the bus, he knows the rules, he is a pro at keeping his head down so Steve doesn't target him in his put downs. Just ignore her, Park thinks. But he can't ignore Eleanor. 

Thus begins their friendship that spans one school year.  Park sees something in Eleanor that she doesn't see in herself. Living in an abusive situation, Eleanor doesn't believe she is worthy of much, and just tries to make it through the day. Park begins sharing his comics with Eleanor and then mix tapes of music they both like. They begin to hang out more and more and their friendship blossoms into first love. 

Park protects Eleanor, but in his quiet unassuming manner, well, except for that time he martial arts kicked Steve at the bus! As Eleanor's home life becomes dangerous to the point that Eleanor needs to escape, Park devises a plan to get her to safety. 

Throughout this book, I was hoping things could change for Eleanor, that she could escape her home situation or someone would see her struggles and at least buy her a toothbrush. I am glad she had Park for a friend and loved the hopeful ending.

There are many themes in this book, friendship (sometimes found in unexpected places), domestic violence, bullying, and body image, all of which are written about so well. It reminds you of what it is like to be young and in love, a must read for the young adult and adult seeker of realistic fiction.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Ten Thousand Skies Above You

Ten Thousand Skies Above You
Ten Thousand Skies Above You
by Claudia Gray

In book 2 of the Firebird Series, Claudia Gray continues the cross-dimensional adventures of Marguerite Caine as she tries to save Paul from the person she now knows to be the real enemy. 

Marguerite and her family are coming to terms with all that has happened in A Thousand Pieces of You, and are learning to deal with the consequences, especially for Theo. In order to help Theo recover, Paul heads off to the multiverse to look for a cure. When he doesn't return as expected, Marguerite is forced to make a deal with Conley to try and save him, one piece at a time. His soul has been splintered and lies scattered across multiple universes leaving him with no memory of Marguerite's Paul, or of Marguerite.

As Margeurite and Theo travel into the multiple dimensions they encounter new, alternate worlds and within them, alternate versions of themselves. As they gather the pieces of Paul, while trying to keep Triad at bay, Marguerite begins to question her belief in destiny and fate as she sees how things aren't as she always believed they would be - no matter what.

This book is as fast paced and action packed as book 1, and leaves you hanging and desperate for book 3 (A Million Worlds With You). Fortunately, all three books are out now, so you don't have to wait!

Monday, 19 March 2018

Mortal Engines

Mortal Engines
By Philip Reeve

Tom Natsworthy is a Third Class Apprentice in the Guild of Historians in a futuristic London.  But this London is like nothing you’ve ever imagined.  It’s one of the great Traction Cities – a city on wheels – that moves about feeding on smaller towns in the Great Hunting Grounds.  No longer does the “civilized world” stay in one place – 1000 years in the future, “Municipal Darwinism” dominates in a “town-eat-town world”. (p.58)

Despite being considered a low-class citizen, Tom believes that London is the greatest city in the world.  But when he is betrayed by his hero, Thaddeus Valentine, Head Historian of London, Tom begins to see the world differently.

Dumped into the Great Hunting Grounds, Tom gets stuck with fellow survivor, Hester Shaw.  As the two of them try to make their way back to London, they are swept up in an all-out war between the Traction Cities and static settlements.

London, it seems, has revived a weapon of mass destruction from ancient times.  With the help of Anna Fang, aviatrix, Hester, and a number of other surprise allies, Tom must battle the city he loves.

Full of dashing heroes, striking landscapes, fierce battles, suspense and tragedy, Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines doesn’t disappoint.  This is the first book in the Mortal Engines quartet.  Make sure you read it before you see the movie!

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Words in Deep Blue

Words in Deep Blue
Words in Deep Blue

by Cath Crowley

This is a beautiful book made even more lovely by the fact that I listened to it as an audiobook, the Australian accent putting me right in Australia, the setting for this tale. Rachel Sweetie and Henry Jones grew up together in Gracetown until Rachel moved to Sea Ridge with her family to help her grandmother. Three years have gone by, so much has changed and Rachel is moving back to escape the death of her brother, Cal, the failure of her last year at school, and essentially, her life.

Henry's family owns Howling Books, a used bookshop in Gracetown, known throughout Australia as the home of the Letter Library, a collection of books in which people leave notes for each other. Before Rachel moved to Sea Ridge, she left a note for Henry, declaring her love for him, hoping he would choose her over the perfectly perky Amy. He never answered it. Rachel has since ignored all letters from Henry, and he does not understand why. 

Their avoidance is about to come to an end when Rachel begins work at the bookshop. As Rachel catalogues the Letter Library in preparation for the sale of the shop, she begins to open up about her life and she and Henry slowly begin to rebuild their friendship. 

This book is written in alternating chapters from the point of view of Rachel and Henry, so you really get inside their heads. The story is also interspersed with quotes from books, both classics and contemporary, and the notes left inside them in the library. It is such a great way to tell the story, I absolutely loved it! 

If you want a good story about friendship, love, loss and books, this is the read for you!

Monday, 26 February 2018


By M.T. Anderson

Titus lives in a future where information no longer comes through a device; rather, it infiltrates the brain directly through a “feed”.  Advertising and entertainment pop right into people’s heads.  People can “chat” each other through the feed and often are not accustomed to speaking out loud.  Titus and his friends are totally surrounded by consumerism, but having grown up with the feed, they cannot imagine a world without it.

Enter Violet, a girl who seems different from Titus' superficial friends. Violet questions whether there is more to life than the feed, and seeks out information about politics, the environment and the world outside the bubble that has been placed around her.  She even tries to disrupt the feed, shopping and searching for outrageous items but never buying them.  This confuses the marketing system of the big corporations and they can’t quite create a consumer profile for her.

When a crazy hacker/protester disrupts their feeds, Titus, Violet and their friends end up in the hospital with nothing to watch or do.  They are forced to hang out together without any external stimuli.  But it turns out that a feed disruption can have much more serious consequences than boredom; the feed is intricately linked to the brain and humans cannot “disconnect”, even if they want to.  Will Titus ever be able to go back to the carefree lifestyle he once knew?

Feed is set in a not-so-distant future that we can all relate to.  As technology surges forward at an incredible rate, we are all along for the ride.  But what are the consequences of our dependence on the constant flow of information?  Can we operate without it?  More importantly, what does it really mean to be human?

Monday, 5 February 2018

All The Crooked Saints

All The Crooked Saints
By Maggie Stiefvater

Beatriz Soria is not only fiercely intelligent, she can also grant miracles.  So can her cousins, cool Joaquin and saintly Daniel.  In fact, all the Sorias have the power to grant miracles.  In Bicho Raro, Colorado, miracles are commonplace. 

The Sorias are accustomed to “pilgrims” who come to them in desperation and they are willing to help.  But there is a catch: no one knows what kind of ill effects a miracle will produce.  Miracles, it seems, are simply a way to push people into dealing with their own problems, but some never do…

A Soria miracle could make you into a giant, as it did for Tony, a radio DJ.  Or it could make rain follow you wherever you go, trapping the butterflies that you attract on your dress, soggy and unable to fly away; this is what happened to Marisita.  Or the miracle could produce a giant snake that entwines you and your twin sister, leaving you unable to leave her side, as it did with Robbie and Betsy.

The Sorias would like to help when a miracle leaves a pilgrim in distress, but there are strict rules against this.  But when Beatriz, Joaquin and Daniel, set up a movable radio station in the back of a truck, they may find a miracle of their own.

Maggie Steifvater’s All the Crooked Saints is strange and beautiful.  Steifvater’s magical realism makes the high desert of Colorado, and its inhabitants, into a world unto itself.  In Steifvater’s world, fantasy and reality intertwine to create a bewitching novel.  

Highly recommended!


Monday, 22 January 2018

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

 Starr Carter lives in a poor black neighbourhood, but attends a white prep school in the suburbs. She lives two lives, one in each place, but one night these worlds threaten to collide as she becomes the sole witness to the shooting of her best friend, Khalil. Khalil is unarmed and shot by a white police officer, while Starr sits by helplessly. 

The fallout from this shooting affects Starr, her family, and her neighbourhood. Starr's anonymity in the event is what keeps her safe, but when the shooting becomes a national headline and Khalil is portrayed as a thug, a drug dealer, and not Starr's childhood friend, the sweet boy who loves his mama, she struggles between keeping quiet and speaking out. As the only witness, Starr is the one person who knows exactly what happened that night. 

With hope that the system will not fail Khalil, Starr continues her normal day to day existence, but as time goes on, and street protests erupt, she finds it more and more difficult to reconcile her two worlds. She hears comments and sees behaviour with a heightened awareness that leave her deeply considering what she needs to do.

This book is a firsthand account of a life surrounded by racialization and marginalization.It explores and questions white privelege, black oppression, racism, police brutality, discrimination, and prejudice as Starr finds her voice and learns the power it has.