Posts Tagged ‘book recommendation’

Book Club Pick: June 2018

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Book Details:

Title: If I Stay

Author: Gayle Forman

Series: Sequel – Where She Went (2011)

Country: United States of America

Publisher: Dutton Book

First Published: 2009

Pages: 210

Publisher Description:

Life can change in an instant.

A cold February morning
A snowy road…
And suddenly all of Mia’s choices are gone.

Except one.

As alone as she’ll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all.

Review:

17-year-old Oregon teenager Mia Hall is a gifted cellist, who has ambitions to move to New York City and study at the Juilliard School of Music.

One snowy day while on the road to visit family friends a truck hits the car she and her family are travelling in. Mia’s parents die at the scene, while Mia and her younger brother Teddy are transported to hospital in a critical condition.

Mia has an out-of-body experience, somewhere between life and death, where she watches over her body as the doctor’s perform surgery to save her life.

The chapters alternate between Mia telling the reader what is happening in the hospital and flashbacks to memories of her family life, her friendship with best friend Kim, and her budding romance with guitarist Adam.

Music plays are large part of the novel. The edition I was reading included a Behind the Music section at the end of the book, in which Forman discusses some of the songs referenced in the novel.

At just over 200 pages it is a relatively quick read. Although I felt that narrative is quite predictable it is still a rewarding and heartfelt journey for the reader.

In 2011 Where She Went, a sequel was released. It takes place several years after the conclusion to If I Stay, and is told from Adam’s perspective.

In 2014 a feature film directed by R.J. Cutler and starring Chloë Grace Moretz as Mia was released.

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Links:

Gayle Forman Official Website

Gayle Forman on Twitter

Gayle Forman on Facebook

Gayle Forman on Instagram

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: May 2018

AskThePassengers

Book Details:

Title: Ask the Passengers

Author: A.S. King

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United States of America

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

First Published: 2012

Pages: 293

Publisher Description:

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her that they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching the airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions…like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.
As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even realize she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives – and her own – for the better.
In this truly original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society’s definitions, Printz Honor author A.S. King asks readers to question everything – and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking real love.

Review:

After Astrid Jones’s grandmother passes away she is buried in the small Pennsylvania town of Unity Valley, where she grew up. Following her grandmother’s funeral Astrid’s parents purchase her grandmother’s family home.

So at 10-years-old Astrid and her nine year-old sister Ellis and their parents pack up and leave New York City for Unity Valley.

When the novel opens Astrid is a seventeen-year-old high school senior. She does not have the best relationship with her parents. Her family is rather dysfunctional. Her father is getting stoned in the garage and her mother is taking her underage sister out for mother-daughter nights that involve drinking. Astrid’s mother is also very critical and judgemental when it comes to Astrid.

The town of Unity Valley is presented as being a small-minded and conservative town that is fueled by rumour and gossip.

Astrid’s best friends are Kristina and Justin, who are the high school’s power couple; most likely to be crowned Homecoming King and Queen. Except their relationship is a cover. Kristina is secretly dating Donna and Justin is dating Chad.

Astrid is also in a secret relationship. She is dating Dee, a co-worker at her part-time catering job. Despite knowing that her two friends are gay she is not ready to share her secret. She is also not comfortable with the label of gay. Astrid likes Dee but is reluctant to define herself as gay – yes she likes a girl but she cannot rule out dating a guy.

As Astrid feels she does not have the support of her family and friends she spends much of her spare time lying on the picnic table in her backyard. She looks up into the sky sending her love and thoughts to passengers flying aboard airplanes above.

The novel cleverly juxtaposes Astrid’s first-person narrative with short scenes about love and relationships from a passenger aboard the plane. These short scenes are stand-alone and in each scene we are introduced to a new character.

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King also weaves philosophy throughout the narrative, such as the teachings of Plato, Socrates, and Zeno. Astrid even renames Socrates Frank and communicates with him (sort of an imaginary philosophical friend).

Ask the Passengers is a coming-of-age, coming-out story about love and discovering one’s self.

Links:

A.S. King Official Website

A.S. King on Twitter

A.S. King on Facebook

A.S. King on Instagram

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: April 2018

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Book Details:

Title: Breathing Underwater

Author: Alex Flinn

Series: Sequel – Diva (2006)

Country: United States of America

Publisher: HarperCollins

First Published: 2001

Pages: 263

Publisher Description:

To his friends, popular and handsome sixteen-year-old Nick Andreas has led a charmed life. But the guys in Nick’s anger management class know differently. So does his ex-girlfriend Caitlin. Now it looks like the only person who doesn’t realize just how from perfect Nick’s life has become is Nick himself.

Review:

Sixteen-year-old Miami high school honour student Nick Andreas is in court following an assault on his former girlfriend Caitlin McCourt.

The judge grants a request for restraining order and orders Nick to attend six months counselling, classes on family violence and dealing with anger. She also orders Nick to keep a journal writing five hundred words each week detailing what happened between him and Caitlin from the first time he saw her until his day in court.

The novel follows Nick in present day as he attends a family violence class, returns to school where he ostracised by fellow students, and his home life with his father. It is also interspersed with Nick’s journal entries about his past relationship with Caitlin.

It is interesting that the novel is written as a first person narrative from the perpetrator’s point-of-view rather than the victim.

Nick’s own father is abusive both physically and psychologically. In this the novel is addressing the idea about the idea of circle of domestic violence. Nick is a victim of his father’s abuse, and while at times Flinn offers a sympathetic portrayal of Nick it is clear that he is responsible for his own actions.

It also explores of how difficult it can be to leave an abusive and controlling relationship. Although Caitlin does eventually remove herself from the situation and seek help.

A tragic event leads Nick to understand and accept his behaviour and make attempts to seriously seek help to change.

There are a few moments that don’t ring quite true. For example, the interaction between Judge Lehman and Nick is cliche.

This was Flinn’s debut novel. She has gone onto write many other realistic fiction novels, but she is probably better known for her modern fairytale retellings, including Beastly (2007, ‘Beauty and the Beast’), A Kiss in Time (2009, ‘Sleeping Beauty’), and Towering (2012, ‘Rapunzel’).

Click here to read my review on Cloaked, a mash up / modern retelling of The Frog Prince, The Elves and the ShoemakerThe Six SwansThe Golden BirdThe Valiant TailorThe Salad, and The Fisherman and His Wife.

In 2006 Flinn released a sequel Diva, which followed Caitlin as she puts her relationship with Nick behind her.

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Links:

Alex Flinn Official Website

Alex Flinn on Twitter

Alex Flinn on Facebook

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: February 2018

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Book Details:

Title: Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment

Author: James Patterson

Series: Maximum Ride series (Book #1)

Country: United States of America

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company – Hachette Book Group

First Published: 2005

Pages: 432 (hardback); 448 (paperback)

Publisher’s Description:

Her full name is Maximum Ride. And the girl can fly.

Max’s Missions:

  • Protect the rest of her gang – Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman, and Angel – from a pack of half-wolf, half-humans with a taste for flying humans.
  • Rescue Angel from a crew of wack-job kidnappers.
  • Infiltrate a secret facility to track down her friends’ missing parents.
  • Get revenge on the one person she thought she could trust.
  • Discover the best chocolate chip cookie in New York City.
  • Save the whole world, for crying out loud.

Not necessarily in that order, of course.

Review:

The novel follows six children – Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gassman and Angel, who have escaped a facility known as ‘The School’. It is here that genetic experiments were performed on the children. They were injected with avian DNA (98% human; 2% bird), meaning that each child has wings and is able to fly.

The group is being hunted by the Erasers, a group of half human / wolf mutants from The School. When the youngest Angel (age 6) is captured the rest of the group must save her.

14 year-old Max is the leader of the group and novel is written from her point-of-view. The novel uses a third person perspective when the Max is not present.

The chapters are very short (2-5 pages) making it an easy read. The short chapters also give the narrative a fast-paced, action-packed feel.

While there is a lot action there is very little character development, and the ending leaves a lot of unanswered questions to be explored over the series.

A film adaptation was released in 2016.

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Links:

James Patterson Official Website

James Patterson on Facebook

James Patterson on Twitter

James Patterson on Instagram

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: January 2018

AmericanStreetCover

Book Details:

Title: American Street

Author: Ibi Zoboi

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United States of America

Publisher: Balzar + Bray, imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

First Published: 2017

Pages: 324

Publisher’s Description:

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie – a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream.

In her stunning debut, Pushcart-nominated author Ibi Zoboi draws on her own experiences as a young Haitian immigrant, infusing this lyrical exploration of America with magical realism and Vodou culture. Unflinching yet filled with joy, American Street is an evocative and powerful coming-of-age story.

Review:

The novel, which is narrated by sixteen-year-old Fabiola Toussaint opens with her arriving in New York with her mother. They are immigrating to the United States Fabiola’s birthplace from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Fabiola’s mother is detained by immigration at the airport and Fabiola has to travel onto Detroit by herself. There she meets her Aunt Jo and her three cousins Chantal (Chant), Primadonna (Donna) and Princess (Pri).

Later Fabiola learns that they plan to deport her mother back to Haiti. She meets Detective Shawna Stevens from the Grosse Pointe Park Police Department who offers to help release her mother into the States if she helps with a police investigation.

American Street follows Fabiola’s journey in Detroit as she adjusts to life in America with a new school, new friends, and a new romance.

Although the novel is set in present day it is based on Zoboi’s own experiences as a Haitian immigrant in Bushwich, Brooklyn in the 1980s.

Links:

Ibi Zoboi Official Website

Ibi Zoboi on Facebook

Ibi Zoboi on Twitter

Ibi Zoboi on Instagram

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: December 2017

WhatLightCover

Book Details:

Title: What Light

Author: Jay Asher

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United States of America

Publisher: Razorbill, imprint of Penguin Random House

First Published: 2016

Pages: 251

Publisher’s Description:

Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon. It’s bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except for every year, they back up and move to California to set up there Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And always leaving one always means missing the other.

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other. By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. But as disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra can’t help but wonder if love really is enough to overcome every obstacle…

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Review:

Jay Asher’s holiday romance What Light is a light read (pun intended) for the festive season.

The novel is narrated by Oregon teenager Sierra, whose family own a Christmas tree farm. Every year since she was a baby her family have shifted south to a California town from Thanksgiving until after Christmas to sell their Christmas trees.

Sierra has to leave behind her Oregon friends Rachel and Elizabeth. But for one month of the year she gets to see her holiday friend Heather.

Business is struggling and Sierra has overheard her parents discussing this being their last season in California.

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Sierra meets Caleb, a cute messy-haired boy with perfect dimples. Caleb has a dark past, which causes Sierra’s parents concern. They are also worried about Sierra being heartbroken when they have to return to Oregon.

Despite the rumours surrounding Caleb, Sierra is drawn to him and sees the good in him.

Similar to Asher’s successful Thirteen Reasons Why, the novel touches on how one moment can change a family and the effect that resulting rumours and gossip can have. What Light is a more optimistic story though.

Fans of Thirteen Reasons Why are best not to compare the two novels as they maybe disappointed as What Light is quite bland in comparison. Remember it is a light holiday romance.

It has all the elements of the holiday season – Thanksgiving, a Christmas Parade, Christmas Eve Mass, cookies, candy cane stirred hot chocolates, Christmas sweaters, gift giving, charity, and visits to Santa at the mall.

This is a light read to get one in the mood for Christmas.

 

Click here to read by review of Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson.

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Links:

Jay Asher Official Blog

Jay Asher on Facebook

Jay Asher on Twitter

Jay Asher on Instagram

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: November 2017

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Book Details:

Title: Turtles All the Way Down

Author: John Green

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United States of America

Publisher: Dutton Books, Penguin Random House

First Published: 2017

Pages: 286

Publisher’s Description:

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student and maybe even a good detective, while also living with the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

Review:

Turtles All the Way Down is John Green’s first YA novel since his bestseller The Fault in our Stars in 2012.

The novel is narrated by sixteen-year-old Indianapolis teenager Aza Holmes. Aza suffers from anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). She is supported by her high school Maths teacher mother, her therapist Dr. Karen Singh, and her sci-fi obsessed best friend Daisy Ramirez (who writes Star Wars fan fiction).

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As the novel opens the big news story in Aza’s town is the disappearance of Russell Pickett, a billionaire who went missing the night before police raided his home in connection with bribery and fraud charges. There is a $100,000 reward for information.

Daisy convinces Aza that they should investigate and get the reward. Aza knows Pickett’s eldest son Davis. In fifth and sixth grade the pair attended Camp Spero, a summer camp for grieving children. Aza had lost her father and Davis his mother.

Pickett was the absent father even when he was around. He planned to bequeath his estate to his pet Tuatara.

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Tuatara – native to New Zealand (shout out to my home country!)

While the novel pays some attention to the mystery of Russell Pickett’s disappearance the focus is on Aza’s mental health issues. John Green himself suffers from OCD. The term obsessive compulsive disorder is never used; rather Green explores the condition describing it from Aza’s prospective.

Turtles All the Way Down is an intelligent, sometimes witty, sometimes depressing, and sometimes hopeful exploration of the mental health problems that many young people today sadly struggle with.

Links:

John Green Official Website

John Green on Facebook

John Green on Twitter

John Green on Instagram

Vlogbrothers YouTube Channel (with brother Hank Green)

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

 

Click here for my review of John’s Green’s The Fault in Our Stars

Click here for my review of John Green’s Paper Towns

Click here for my review of John Green’s Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances (with Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle)