Book reviews

Book Review | Half Lost

Title: Half Lost

Author: Sally Green

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Half Bad Trilogy #3

Synopsis 26404831Nathan Byrn is running again. The Alliance of Free Witches has been all but destroyed. Scattered and demoralized, constantly pursued by the Council’s Hunters, only a bold new strategy can save the rebels from total defeat. They need the missing half of Gabriel’s amulet – an ancient artifact with the power to render its bearer invincible in battle.

But the amulet’s guardian – the reclusive and awesomely powerful witch Ledger – has her own agenda. To win her trust, Nathan must travel to America and persuade her to give him the amulet. Combined with his own Gifts, the amulet might just be enough turn the tide for the Alliance and end the bloody civil war between Black and White witches once and for all…

The epic conclusion to one of my all time favourite Half Bad trilogy. I have to say this one definitely went out with a bang but not in the way you’re thinking, it’s bitter sweet, it leaves its mark on you and isn’t that what all great books do?

Half Lost was set apart from the two prequels in the sense that it didn’t focus so much on the action and violence and war. However, it focused more on Nathan’s character development and the psychological repercussions of war and going through what he has gone through.

At times I found myself asking, “where is this book even going?”, but once you remind yourself to stop pondering over the plot so much and give attention to the characters it gets much better. Nathan’s character journey in this novel is the best so far, you empathise with his anger and you empathise with his need to play a part in this world while on the other hand you also empathise with his need to not be a part of this world anymore.

The book is heavily focused on Nathan but the characters around him are seen to play a crucial role in forming him into the person he is.

I did find the writing is a bit different from the prequels, it’s more continuous and more like Nathan’s internal monologue while the prequels are more focused on narrating the actions. While I did sense the book lacked direction at times, everything came together in the end and it was beautiful and it tore me apart and yes, Nathan found himself.

Rating

4

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Book reviews

Book Review | Atonement

Title: Atonement

Author: Ian McEwan

Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis: 9961Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.

On a hot summer day in 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives—together with her precocious literary gifts—brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.

 

I initially wasn’t going to write a review of this novel since we’re studying it at school but a friend encouraged me (Thanks M!) so here we go,

From the beginning, I knew Atonement was messed up, A self-centered, pretentious 13 year old protagonist by the name of Briony continues to send the lives of everyone around her into turmoil because of her wild imagination and attention seeking nature. I could write a whole essay on how displeased I am with Briony however, it’s not an easy job to create characters whom you can have such deep unresolved hatred for so Woo McEwan, everyone hates Briony.

To be honest, Atonement is the kind of novel that if  I were reading it as leisure, it wouldn’t leave a lasting impression on me. Just the fact that we’ve been asked to analyse it is making it apparent to me how much depth the novel has. The author plays around with time in a way that I didn’t even think was possible, stretching out two days in one part and then condensing a whole war in the second.

For the majority of the novel, you feel like you’re being led by the hand as events upon events occur until you’ve stumbled upon the God Forsaken Epilogue. The novel is written in very descriptive detail so at times it almost gets too much, especially in the first part where for example McEwan would spend TWO WHOLE PAGES describing a table or something.

The ending is another essay topic in itself but for those who have read the book or seen the movie, I don’t believe what she did can be classified as redemption, it was a base-born cowardly move.

Atonement is definitely worth a read if you’re looking for an interesting read that will make you think and if you’re looking to have a screaming heated discussion with your friends about how much you hate this non-existent 13 year old.

Rating

4

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Book reviews

Book Review | To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han

Series: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before #1

Genre: Contemporary

Page Count: 288 pages

Synopsis :To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all

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This book was so freaking cute let’s establish that. Having read Jenny Han’s work previously and not liking it, I was skeptical going into this but I can confirm this was one entertaining read.

I consider myself a dreamer like Lara Jean so it was easy for me to relate to the events in this book which was fun. I’m sure people with sisters will also relate to this book because of all the different dynamics of a sisterhood being explored in this book. Seriously it made me want to have a sister (not really tho)

It’s quite a light read so I found it easy to whiz through. I like the quirky fashion references throughout the book, I mean Lara Jean’s style has me dreaming, so cute and chic.

I like all the relationships being developed in this books, I mean it didn’t just center around the love interests but also families and friends.  There were these funny moments which had me laughing out loud. At times I felt the book was predictable but there were these unpredictable aspects which threw me off and i loved it!

The book finished off on an open ended note which has me dying to run out and start reading the sequel!

Rating

4

 

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Film review

Film Review | Paper Towns

Title: Paper Towns 

Director: Jake Schreier

Starring: Nat Wolff & Cara Delevigne

Australian Release Date: 16 July 2015

Synopsis

A young man and his friends embark upon the road trip of their lives to find the missing girl next door.

I had the pleasure of watching Paper Towns at an advance screening last night with my friends.

The movie gets a five stars in being entertaining. It had me laughing out loud, squealing out loud and was the most animated experience I’ve ever had. Oh and lets not forget the surprise moment when Ansel Elgort just pops up on the screen like

And me and my friend are just sitting here like

Seriously though, the casting of the movie was on point, the characters actually looked and acted like teenagers so that was nice. Cara Delevigne made me fall in love with her and Nat Wolff the star of the show was just brilliant, all the cast did a very good job of representing the characters from the books.

Even after that, the film seems a bit lacking. Don’t get me wrong it’s enjoyable but it’s no TFIOS alright, it doesn’t leave you thinking about it for days to come or whatever. The ending was not a happily ever after which made the film realistic but it could’ve ended at a happier note.

Despite that, the film leaves you with some great messages about friendship, appreciating what you have and of course the main one: there is a difference between what you think people are and what they actually are.

Rating

4

 

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Book reviews

Book Review | Sweet Damage

Title: Sweet Damage

Author: Rebecca James

Genre: YA Thriller

Source: Allen & Unwin

Page Count: 336 pages

Synopsis 

I still dream about Anna London’s house. In my dreams it’s as if the house itself has sinister intentions. But in real life it wasn’t the house that was responsible for what happened. It was the people who did the damage …’

When Tim Ellison finds a cheap room to rent in the perfect location in Sydney it looks like a huge stroke of luck. In fact the room comes with a condition, and the owner of the house, the mysterious Anna London, is unfriendly and withdrawn. When strange and terrifying things start happening in the house at night, Tim wonders if taking the room is a mistake. But then his feelings for Anna start to change, and when her past comes back with a vengeance, Tim is caught right in the middle of it.

A thrilling rollercoaster of a story – read it with the lights on!

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Plot

This was majorly a plot driven book. I like how the author manages to keep you interested ALL the way throughout the book. In the beginning there is this intrigue about who Anna is and what happened to her, but even by the very end there are still elements of interest that make you want to keep reading. Oh and don’t even get me started about the plot twists. Some of them are a bit far fetched but they work well in the context of the book

Characters

Anna is a very well constructed character. The book does a very good job of portraying mental illness and really explaining what it’s like for people going through those things. And I like Anna’s character development of how she is determined to get better by the end.

A majority of the book is told by Tim’s perspective but I feel like Tim was mostly the observer, it’s hard to explain but it just felt like he was a plot device to basically just introduce readers to Anna’s story. But he does play a major role in Anna’s character development and driving the plot so…(awkward contradiction much)

The rest of the characters in the books are also developed well in the sense that the book explains their actions and how their past has made them into the person they are today

Writing

The book is told in dual perspective by Anna and Tim (mostly Tim though). Anna’s pov is in italics and Tim is just normal font but if it weren’t for the font difference I don’t believe I would be able to distinguish their voices.Writing isn’t the forte of this book as it is quite simplistic but the plot more than makes up for it

Rating

4

 

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Book reviews

Book Review | Afterworlds

Title: Afterworlds

Author: Scott Westerfield

Genre: YA Fantasy

Page Count: 599

Synopsis 
Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…
Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved – and terrifying – stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most

This book was unlike anything I’ve ever read. I mean it’s a book inside a book , how can you not expect queerly brilliant things already?

Scott Westerfield just manages to make it so easy for the reader to transition from Darcy into Lizzie chapters and I feel like he’s one of the few authors that can pull this book-ception off.

Since they’re essentially two separate stories I have two separate things to say about them so to avoid confusion let’s begin with

Darcy

Darcy’s PoV told in third person is a brilliant inside scoop into the world of novel-making and publishing. We follow the business side of writing, the editing and the marketing but we also see the social side of it, from parties to lunches.

One thing I realized is that when your novel is actually going out into the world there is so much you have to consider, I mean people’s opinions and politics and gah I thought writing was just about pouring your heart out and not caring what anyone else thought.

Darcy’s chapters also provided a backstory to some of the decisions Lizzie makes in her story and I quite like that.

As a character, Darcy is flawed, she doesn’t handle things in the most mature way, she feels like a child who’s been handed a basket of responsibility and she doesn’t know what to do with it. But the best thing is, I feel like she’s meant to be flawed you know, people are meant to be flawed and Darcy was a very good representation of a person. (as in she was realistic)

I believe Afterworlds is one of the first novels if not the first novel I’ve read where the protagonist is involved in a same sex relationship and I love it cuz huzzah for diversity in YA. Imogen, Darcy’s girlfriend is just as flawed and beautiful and I like how their relationship was…like a real life relationship. (I’m SO GREAT at describing things!)

Lizzie

While Darcy’s PoV is systematic Lizzie’s is chaos, it is dark, oh so dark. I know many people have and will already say this but that first chapter when the terrorist attack happen? Brilliant.

At the beginning of the book curiosity had me hooked to the Lizzie chapters. Finding out about the Afterworld and Lizzie having freaky experiences.  But towards the end I preferred Darcy’s chapters more and more, I don’t know Lizzie’s so inconclusive, I mean you never really find out everything about the Afterworld and the ending is a bit out the blue I believe.  There’s just room for more detail is all I’m saying.

Afterworlds was a unique novel which definitely left an impression upon me so you should totally check it out

Rating

4

 

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Book reviews

Book Review | I was Here

Title: I was Here

Author: Gayle Forman

Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary

Pages: 288

Australian Release Date: 1st of February 2015 Preorder now HERE

 

Synopsis i-was-here-9781471124396_hr
Cody and Meg were inseparable
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss

 

Gayle Forman has written a book that captures the impact suicide has on loved ones creating the kind of book that stays with you.

Plot

This book is basically The Fault in Our Stars meets Paper Towns. Initially there is this whole intriguing mystery of Meg and the reason behind her suicide, whether her best friend Cody really knew her  and then things pick up when Cody goes into full sleuthing mode. The story intensifies as the ugly aspects of the online world are exposed and some life lessons are learnt.

I congratulate Gayle Forman on writing one of the most realistic books I’ve ever read. Nothing is sugar coated and real world problems are dealt with. The integration of mental health into YA indicates progress and just how powerful this genre can become in impacting people’s lives.

Characters

In the beginning I felt detached from the characters but as I read more and invested myself in this story it all came together. The ending was so powerful because I could totally relate to the struggles that everyone must have been going through.

This book deals greatly with the impact Meg’s death has on her parents and especially Cody. I found Meg and Cody’s relationship somewhat a mystery and it’s better left that way I guess. I love the development between Cody and her mum because it’s so raw.

Writing

Gayle Forman’s writing is so emotionally powerful and she has created such a timeless story in the short frame of 200 pages.

If you enjoyed If I Stay and Where She Went I would recommend this book to you. Also John Green fans as it deals interestingly with the idea of death.

Rating

4

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing a copy for review. My review is 100% honest and all opinions are mine.

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