Posts Tagged ‘book recommendation’

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.

Let it snow

 

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

Turtles_All_The_Way_Down

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.

Tuatara

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)

Book Club Pick: October 2017

TheFaultInOurStarsCover

Title: The Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United States of America

Publisher: Dutton Books, Penguin Group

First Published: 2012

Pages: 313

Publisher’s Description:

Despite the tumour-shrinking medical miracle that has brought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverant, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars brilliantly explores the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

Review:

John Green’s latest novel Turtles All The Way Down is due out this month. So for this month’s book club pick I selected his previous published novel The Fault in Our Stars.

Turtles_All_The_Way_Down

 

The narrator of The Fault in Our Stars is sixteen-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster, who has lung cancer.

At her mother’s request Hazel attends a cancer support group for young adults in a local church. She only attends to please her mother. That is until she meets seventeen-year-old Augustus Waters, a cancer survivor whose osteosarcoma has caused him to lose his right leg.

Augustus is at the meeting to support his friend Isaac, who is mentally preparing himself for his upcoming surgery to have his remaining eye removed due to cancer.

Hazel and Augustus strike up bond. Hazel accompanies Augustus to his place to watch V for Vendetta (2005), so Hazel can see her doppelgänger Natalie Portman. They also exchange their favourite books. Augustus gives Hazel The Price of Dawn based on his favourite video game and Hazel gives him An Imperial Infliction.

An Imperial Infliction by Peter Van Houten is a novel that follows a teenage girl Anna who has a rare blood cancer. Augustus is frustrated that the novel ends mid sentence without a satisfactory conclusion. This ending suggests that Anna got too sick to finish or passed away before completing the story.

Hazel has written many letters to Van Houten via his publisher but she has never received a response. Van Houten has not published since and the left the States for the Netherlands.

Augustus contacts Van Houten’s assistant and she puts them in touch with Van Houten and they correspond by email. Van Houten explains he can only answer Hazel’s questions in person.

Augustus uses his wish from the The Genie Foundation and surprises Hazel with a trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive author. The trip unfortunately does not go to plan.

The novel is witty and as one would expect from a novel about cancer it is heartbreaking.

The title of the novel is inspired by a line from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, in which Cassius says to Brutus “The fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” (I, ii, 140-141). Similarly the title An Imperial Infliction comes from a poem by Emily Dickinson.

20th Century Fox optioned the rights to the novel upon its release and a film adaptation directed by Josh Boone, starring Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern and Willem Dafoe, was released in 2014.

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 Green’s Paper Towns

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

 

Book Club Pick: September 2017

WordsInDeepBlue

Title: Words in deep blue

Author: Cath Crowley

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: Australia

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

First Published: 2016

Pages: 349

Publisher’s Description:

Second-hand bookshops are full of mysteries

This is a love story.

It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets.

It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea.

Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal. She’s looking for the future in the books people love, and the words they leave behind.

Sometimes you need the poets

Review:

Eighteen-year-old Rachel Sweetie’s brother Cal tragically drowned in the ocean ten months ago and her life has spiralled out of control. Rachel lost her way and subsequently failed her final year at school, pushed friends and her boyfriend away.

She decides to get her life back on track and returns to Melbourne, after three years to where she grew up, to live with her aunt. Rachel takes a job at her former best friend Henry Jones’ family’s second-hand book store, Howling Books. Her job is to catalogue the bookstore’s Letter Library.

The Letter Library is a collection of books that are not for sale that are kept permanently in the store. Customers can write notes in the margins, underline favourite passages, and leave letters between the pages. The Letter Library was probably my favourite part of the book – do these actually exist?

Poor Henry is having dramas of his own. His on-again-off-again girlfriend Amy has dumped him ahead of a planned round-the-world trip and his mother would like to sell the bookstore, which is his home.

To be honest I didn’t really like the character of Henry. I found him to be a bit self-centered, self-absorbed etc.

My favourite character was George, Henry’s younger sister and I was actually more interested in her budding romance than Henry or Rachel’s.

Similar to Crowley’s novel Graffiti Moon, the narrative is told in first person – alternating between Rachel and Henry. It also includes letters found in the pages of the Letter Library.

Graffiti Moon was my book club pick for January 2015. Click here to read my review.

 

Links:

Cath Crowley Official Website

Cath Crowley on Twitter

Cath Crowley on Facebook

Cath Crowley on Tumblr

 

Source: I was given a free copy of this book at YA Day, Sydney Writers Festival 2017.

P.S. You can read about my experience at YA Day, Sydney Writers Festival 2017 here.

Book Club Pick: August 2017

Eleanor&Park

Book Details:

Title: Eleanor & Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United States of America

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

First Published: 2013

Pages: 328

Publisher’s Description:

eleanor…Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

park…He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set across the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Review:

Eleanor & Park was the debut young adult novel by Rainbow Rowell. It take place in Omaha, Nebraska in 1986. It is a love story between two sixteen-year-olds, Eleanor and Park.

Eleanor has crazy red hair and a strange fashion sense. Park is half-Korean (his parents met when his father was stationed in Seoul) and has an interest in punk and New Wave music.

They first meet when Park begrudgingly allows Eleanor to sit next to him on the school bus. At first they do not speak or even look at each other. Park notices that Eleanor is discretely reading his comics over his shoulder. At first he waits giving her time to read before he turns the page. Eventually he brings her own comics and later mix tapes.

Both feel alienated at home. Eleanor has an alcoholic abusive stepfather and Park has distant relationship with his father, who he feels is tough on him for not being masculine enough.

The story is written from a third person narrative with a dual perspective. The reader sees the the world from both Eleanor and Park’s perspectives.

The novel has received some criticism of its stereotypical portrayal of Korean-American culture but otherwise it is an intelligent and witty look at first love.

Links:

Rainbow Rowell Official Website

Rainbow Rowell on Facebook

Rainbow Rowell on Twitter

Rainbow Rowell on Instagram

Rainbow Rowell on Tumblr

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: July 2017

the-sidekicks

Book Details:

Title: The Sidekicks

Author: Will Kostakis

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: Australia

Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia

First Published: 2016

Pages: 256

Publisher’s Description:

The Swimmer. The Rebel. The Nerd.

All Ryan, Harley and Miles had in common was Isaac. They lived different lives, had different interests and kept different secrets. But they shared the same best friend. They were his sidekicks. And now that Isaac’s gone, what does that make them?

Review:

Sixteen-year-old Isaac Roberts has died unexpectedly. His three Sydney Catholic boys school friends Ryan, Harley and Miles are left behind to process their grief and figure out who they are, and where they fit without Isaac. Together the three boys are not friends, they only shared a best friend.

The novel is written in three sections with Ryan (the Swimmer), Harley (The Rebel), and Miles (The Nerd) each giving their perspective on life with and without Isaac. Kostakis gives each boy a label and then breaks down that label showing that there is much more to them than a label.

Each sections reads like a separate novella but together the three pieces make up a novel about grief and Australian male teenage identity.

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Seventeen-year-old Ryan Patrick Thomas, the swimmer, is up first. He is an Olympic hopeful and his mother is a teacher at the school. He has a secret boyfriend Todd, who he meet at Model UN. Ryan is conflicted with his sexuality and is struggling to come out.

The next part of the novel is narrated by Scott Harley, a boarder at the school. Harley does not have the best relationship with his parents and is struggling with feelings of abandonment after his mother returns to the States. This may explain his connection to Isaac’s mother, who he helps come to terms with losing her son.

The final part of the novel is told from the perspective of Miles Cooper, who from Ryan’s narrative we learnt shared a dark secret with Isaac. As Miles has written, directed and produced a short film starring Isaac, his narrative is written in film script format.

I saw Will Kostakis, in May at All Day YA at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Click here to read my recap on the event.

Links:

Will Kostakis Official Website

Will Kostakis on Facebook

Will Kostakis on Twitter

Will Kostakis on Instagram

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: June 2017

IlluminaeCover

Book Details:

Title: Illuminae

Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Series: The Illuminae Files series

Country: United States of America

Publisher: Alfred A. Knoff

First Published: 2015

Pages: 599

Publisher’s Description:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again!

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Review:

The novel is set in the year 2575 and focuses on seventeen-year-old Kady Grant and her ex-boyfriend Ezra Mason.

Kady and Ezra are two high school students living on Kerenza. After their plant is attacked the two teens make it out aboard two rescue ships. Kady is onboard the Hypatia and Ezra on the Alexander.

The stakes are high – the Lincoln, an enemy warship is in hot pursuit; the AI on the Hypatia appears to be controlling the ship; the crew onboard the Copernicus are infected by a virus and have launched escape pods towards the Alexander.

At 599 pages Illuminae may appear as a big book. This may intimidate some reluctant readers, but just as one should not judge a book by its cover, one should not judge it by its size.

The novel is written in found footage or epistolary style, in that it is made up of a collection of classified documents that have been retrieved by hacking. This includes emails, transcripts, reports, classified files, instant chat messages, diagrams and artwork. Many of the pages have only have a few words and there are a few blank pages, so it is quite quick to read once you get use to the style.

It is a very visual book.

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There is a lot of violence present in the novel but it is not overly graphic. Coarse language in the ‘documents’ has been blocked out with black, although it possible to guess the swear words by the size of the black and the context in which it appears.

The sequel Gemina was released in October 2016 and the third book Obsidio is due out early next year.

Gemina

Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B Entertainment, announced in November 2015 that they had secured the film rights.

I saw Amie Kaufman, co-author of the Illuminae, recently at All Day YA at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Click here to read my recap on the event.

Links:

Amie Kaufman

Amie Kaufman Official Website

Amie Kaufman on Facebook

Amie Kaufman on Twitter

Amie Kaufman on Instagram

Jay Kristoff

Jay Kristoff Official Website

Jay Kristoff on Facebook

Jay Kristoff on Twitter

Jay Kristoff on Instagram

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.