Book Reviews, Lists, Discussions, and Displays

Tag: Film

Book Review: Every Other Weekend

Every Other Weekend – Abigail Johnson – Inkyard Press – Published 7 January 2020

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Synopsis

Adam Moynihan’s life used to be awesome. Straight As, close friends and a home life so perfect that it could have been a TV show straight out of the 50s. Then his oldest brother died. Now his fun-loving mom cries constantly, he and his remaining brother can’t talk without fighting, and the father he always admired proved himself a coward by moving out when they needed him most.

Jolene Timber’s life is nothing like the movies she loves—not the happy ones anyway. As an aspiring director, she should know, because she’s been reimagining her life as a film ever since she was a kid. With her divorced parents at each other’s throats and using her as a pawn, no amount of mental reediting will give her the love she’s starving for.

Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed.

My thoughts

It is no secret that Abigail Johnson is one of my all-time favourite authors. And she did not disappoint with her newest release, Every Other Weekend. So many teens are impacted by their parents’ divorces, so I know this will be a relatable novel for many young people. Johnson captures all the devastation, hope, guilt and grief involved in family breakdown. All too real emotions, push and pull romance, heartbreaking family circumstances and authentic voices, this book will be another YA contemporary favourite.

Adam and Jolene. Two teens forced to spend every other weekend at a rundown apartment block due to their parents’ separations. But their family situations couldn’t be more different. Adam knows it won’t be long until his family is back together, if only Adam’s father would realise he should be there for his mother as they all grieve the death of Adam’s eldest brother. Jolene knows her parents are never getting back together and quite frankly she’s okay with that. She hates the melodrama her mother puts on every time she leaves for a weekend stay at her father’s empty apartment – empty except for her father’s way-too-young girlfriend. Adam and Jolene forge a strong friendship over the weekends they share. But will that friendship last if their family circumstances change?

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Book Review: Alex, Approximately

Alex Approximately

Alex, Approximately – Jenn Bennett – Simon Pulse – Published 4 April 2017

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Synopsis

Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent half of her junior year falling for a sensitive film geek she only knows online as “Alex.” Two coasts separate them until she moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist trap, the oddball Cavern Palace Museum. Or that she’s being tormented daily by Porter Roth, a smart-alecky yet irritatingly hot museum security guard. But when Porter and Bailey are locked in the museum overnight, Bailey is forced to choose whether she should cling to a dreamy fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex. Approximately.

My thoughts

Mixed feelings. On one hand I enjoyed reading Alex, Approximately. It was predictable (and sometimes unpredictable) in a satisfying way. And yet there were a few things that made me disengage.

I didn’t even read the synopsis before knowing I wanted to read this book. I loved Jenn Bennett’s previous novel Night Owls, (AKA The Anatomical Shape of A Heart) and so it was an easy choice to put this book on my to-read list. And then the synopsis sounded pretty awesome too.

Bailey has moved across the country to live with her dad, moved to the town where her long-term pen pal, Alex, lives. She just hasn’t told him yet. As she settles in to a new job, new friends, and even some new enemies (the gorgeous, but annoying surfer workmate Parker), Bailey is determined to find Alex and see if they share the same connection face to face as they do online.

Alex, Approximately is set in coastal mid-California. Hot summer days, beaches, surfing – it’s a great setting and the smell of sunscreen almost seeps through the pages. As does the small, surf town vibe.

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Display: Books and Films

Books that have been made into films display

film-display

There are many, many, many books that have been turned into films. Recent ones that pop into my head include The BFG, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Inferno, The Girl on the Train, Alice Through the Looking Glass, and of course Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.

This display highlights titles that the students might recognise from the movie or prompts them to rediscover an old favourite.

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Book Review: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak – Brian Katcher – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 19 May 2015

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Synopsis

It all begins when Ana Watson’s little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.

If slacker Zak Duquette hadn’t talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn’t have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak’s devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…

My thoughts

A book set almost completely at a comic convention. Tick. A story where the characters get together over one night and it doesn’t read as insta-love. Check. Hilarious moment after twist after timely disaster. Tick, tick, tick. A book you just have to devour in one go. Check. Basically this book is just completely awesome. It was a book I needed, the perfect mix of humour, geeky references and crazy.

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Film: This Song Will Save Your Life

This song will save your life

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales has been optioned for film and stage. This is fantastic news. I absolutely loved this YA novel. I really can’t convey how awesome this book is. How it just hits you with its honesty. This would make a fantastic movie – and the soundtrack would be out of this world.

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If you liked Ocean’s Eleven

If you liked Ocean’s Eleven…

Ocean's Eleven
And what’s not to like… great actors, humour, and clever twists you don’t see coming, whether it’s the great original or the newer version. Well if you like all of that then you should try Heist Society by Ally Carter.

Heist Society

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

I love, love, love this book. 14 days, 6 countries. They’re on a mission to rescue Kat’s dad from the evil Arturo Taccone – and steal back five of the most valuable, long-lost paintings in the world.
When Kat walked away from her family’s business she also walked away from her family, friends and the only life she has ever known. Now her father is in danger and the only way to save him is to get back into the business – world-class thievery. But it won’t be easy and together with Hale, friend and fellow thief, Simon, computer and math genius, and her three cousins, all thieves of course, Kat must make the biggest heist of her life and her family’s history.
Readers of all ages will love this brilliant and exciting story, which is well written and deliciously addictive. Read it, I know you’ll love it.

And the best thing about this book? There are two more in the series. Perfect for all you fans of those big heists.

If you liked Downton Abbey

If you liked Downton Abbey…

DowntonAnd what’s not to like… great characters, a great time period, beautiful costume and plenty of drama. Well if you like all of that then you should try A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson.

A countess below stairs

After the Russian revolution turns her world topsy-turvy, Anna, a young Russian Countess, has no choice but to flee to England. Penniless, Anna hides her aristocratic background and takes a job as servant in the household of the esteemed Westerholme family, armed only with an outdated housekeeping manual and sheer determination. 

Desperate to keep her past a secret, Anna is nearly overwhelmed by her new duties—not to mention her instant attraction to Rupert, the handsome Earl of Westerholme. To make matters worse, Rupert appears to be falling for her as well. As their attraction grows stronger, Anna finds it more and more difficult to keep her most dearly held secrets from unraveling. And then there’s the small matter of Rupert’s beautiful and nasty fiancée…

This book has been a favourite of mine for years, and it has only been recently when I have re-read it that I realised how closely it resembled the time period and setting of Downton Abbey. Also known as A Secret Countess, this book is equally romantic and charming, heartwarming and loveable. I am particularly fond of the abridged audiobook of the same name read by Sian Thomas. If this book doesn’t satisfy your Downton Abbey cravings, I’m not sure anything but waiting for the next season will.

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