Book Reviews, Lists, Discussions, and Displays

Tag: November 2016

Book Review: Twig

Twig – Aura Parker – Scholastic – Published November 2016

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Synopsis

Finding friends isn’t easy when no one can find you!

One, two, three. One, two three.

Why won’t someone play with me?

Heidi is a stick insect, long and thin like the twig of a tree. It’s her first day at Bug School, where she hopes to learn lots and make new friends. But no one will talk to her . . . and no one will play with her at lunch. No one notices her at all – not even her teacher Miss Orb. Perhaps she’s blending in with the branches a little too well! Finally, Heidi speaks up for herself and Miss Orb comes up with a plan to help Heidi stand out.

Aura Parker’s winsome illustrations are a pure delight. Kids of all ages will pore over the adorable details and enjoy the numbers and counting elements throughout the story. The endpapers are a delight and each includes a search-and-find activity.

My thoughts

I fell in love with this picture book when I first saw the end pages. I didn’t even need to read the story or flick through further to know it was going to be a gorgeous book.

Are you a bit different from those around you? Do you stand out? Or maybe you are so different no one even sees you? That’s the problem Heidi has. No one sees her. Heidi is tall and thin, just like the twig of a tree. It is her first day of school, but it is hard to make friends when no one notices you in the playground and you can’t join in the classroom activities if no one knows you’re there.

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Book Review: Infinity

infinity

Infinity – Jus Accardo – The Infinity Division #1 – Entangled: Teen – Published 1 November 2016

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Synopsis

Jump dimensions. Find the bad guy. Don’t fall in love.

Nobody said being the daughter of an army general was easy. But when her dad sends a teenage subordinate to babysit her while he’s away? That’s taking it a step too far.

Cade, as beautiful as he is deadly, watches Kori with more than just interest. He looks at her like he knows her very soul. And when he saves her from a seemingly random attack, well, that’s when things get weird.

Turns out, Kori’s dad isn’t just an army general—he’s the head of a secret government project that has invented a way to travel between parallel dimensions. Dimensions where there are infinite Koris, infinite Cades…and apparently, on every other Earth, they’re madly in love.

Falling for a soldier is the last thing on Kori’s mind. Especially when she finds herself in a deadly crossfire, and someone from another Earth is hell-bent on revenge…

My thoughts

Infinity is the exciting start to a new series, with a complicated love story, sci-fi inter-world travel, a dangerous bad guy set on revenge across worlds, and an independent and feisty protagonist. It sets the scene for what promises to be a fun series.

Kori’s father, general in the US army, has left on duty once again. But not before laying down his punishment for her sneaking away from home in the middle of the night and contributing to her town’s artwork. Some might call it vandalism, she calls it bringing colour and beauty to dark places. But her new babysitters are unlike the stuffy soldiers her father usually sticks her with. Young, loud, messily dressed and hot, Private Cade and Recruit Noah are hiding secrets from Kori – secrets that could throw her life into chaos and change everything she has ever known about her world and family.

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Book Review: The Sun Is Also A Star

the-sun-is-also-a-star

The Sun Is Also A Star – Nicola Yoon – Delcacorte Press – Published 1 November 2016

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Synopsis

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

My thoughts

I chose to read this because of a) that cover and b) so many enthusiastic reviews. Those reviews seemed to be persistent urging to read this wonderful book, just give it a try. I would recommend the same. The Sun Is Also A Star is so very clever, so very cool and so very worth reading.

I found the synopsis vague… purposely so because the less you know the better. The plot points aren’t important – it’s the magic of all the little moments coming together. Natasha has one day left in New York before she and her family are deported back to Jamaica. For Daniel, this day is the last day of his childhood, of following his own dreams before relinquishing them to follow the path set before him by his parents. When the two meet it seems more than happenstance, maybe even meant to be.

I absolutely adore the romance in this book. Insta-love move over because love at first sight (or maybe second sight) is clearly the winner here. Yes, this is a love story told over one day. Skeptical? Fair enough. I’m sure, like me, you’ve read stories where the characters fall head over heels so quickly that it seems more ridiculous than romantic. I had no such problems with The Sun Is Also A Star. Daniel is a dreamer, poet, romantic. He believes in meant-to-be and love. Natasha on the other hand is a scientist, lover of facts and just a little bit cynical. She thinks Daniel’s crazy to believe in love, yet she can’t deny how drawn to him she is.

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Book Review: The Best Possible Answer

The Best Possible Answer

The Best Possible Answer – E. Katherine Kottaras – St. Martin’s Griffin – Published 1 November 2016

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Synopsis

AP Exams – check
SAT test – check
College Application – check
Date the wrong guy and ruin everything you’ve spent your whole life working for– check

Ultra-high-achiever Viviana Rabinovich-Lowe has always had a plan—and no room to be anything less than perfect. But her quest for perfection comes toa screeching halt when her boyfriend leaks racy pictures of her to the entire school. Making matters worse, her parents are getting divorced and now her perfect family is falling apart. For the first time, Viv feels like a complete and utter failure.

Then she gets a job working at the community pool, where she meets a new group of friends who know nothing about her past. That includes Evan, a gorgeous guy who makes her want to do something she never thought she’d do again: trust. For the first time in her life, Viv realizes she can finally be whoever she wants. But who is that? While she tries to figure it out, she learns something they never covered in her AP courses: that it’s okay to be less than perfect, because it’s our imperfections that make us who we are.

My thoughts

Is this book:
A) about family, family implosion and how to ride the chaos of family
B) a story of strong friendship and how it can hold you together
C) about second chances and learning to trust yourself again
D) a fun story of summer friendship and romance
E) all of the above

“Hint: test-prep research shows that you should actually always pick E.”

It is funny how a writing style can change everything. In anyone else’s hands this novel could have been run of the mill. But instead it is a charming book of friendship, family and mistakes and secrets that shake one’s trust in others. I was charmed from the first page. I loved the chapter headers. I loved how this wasn’t a simple romance where love fixes everything, but instead a story of what love is, how it hurts and when it is worth the risk to reach out and trust another person, whether that’s a romantic interest, your best friend, your family members or yourself.

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Book Review: Fate of Flames

Fate of Flames

Fate of Flames – Sarah Raughley – Effigies #1 – Simon Pulse – Published 22 November 2016

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Synopsis

Four girls with the power to control the elements and save the world from a terrible evil must come together in the first epic novel in a brand-new series.

When Phantoms—massive beasts made from nightmares and darkness—suddenly appeared and began terrorizing the world, four girls, the Effigies, each gained a unique power to control one of the classical elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Since then, four girls across the world have continually fought against the Phantoms, fulfilling their cosmic duty. And when one Effigy dies, another girl gains her power as a replacement.

But now, with technologies in place to protect the world’s major cities from Phantom attacks, the Effigies have stopped defending humanity and, instead, have become international celebrities, with their heroic feats ranked, televised, and talked about in online fandoms.

Until the day that New York City’s protection against the Phantoms fails, a man seems to be able to control them by sheer force of will, and Maia, a high school student, unexpectedly becomes the Fire Effigy.

Now Maia has been thrown into battle with three girls who want nothing to do with one another. But with the first human villain that the girls have ever faced, and an army of Phantoms preparing for attack, there isn’t much time for the Effigies to learn how to work together.

Can the girls take control of their destinies before the world is destroyed forever?

My thoughts

I love superhero books, so I was excited by the premise of a strong cast of females with impressive powers (and a touch of both glamour and drama) in a fantasy setting. Fate of Flames delivers plenty of action and mystery, and all the drama you would expect when throwing four girls together and hoping they can save the world.

Maia knows everything there is to know about the Effigies, four girls gifted with the powers of the elements to fight the Phantoms that plague the world. Maia just never expected to become an Effigy herself. But with a new villain who can seemingly control the Phantoms, Maia will have to quickly get used to playing the hero, even if she’s not sure how.

The description of Avengers meets Sailor Moon is apt, I think. Especially the part where the Avengers fight between themselves and generally create destruction wherever they go. Similar too is the organisation that seeks to control the Effigies, while keeping many things hidden from them. It’s fun going on an adventure with Maia as she travels some major cities of the world, fighting monstrous beasts (or running away from them) and trying to uncover the villain’s evil plan.

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Book Review: All In Pieces

All In Pieces

All In Pieces – Suzanne Young – Simon Pulse – Published 8 November 2016

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Synopsis

“Anger-management issues.”

That’s how they classified Savannah Sutton after she stuck a pencil in her ex-boyfriend’s hand because he mocked her little brother, Evan, for being disabled. That’s why they sent her to Brooks Academy—an alternative high school that’s used as a temporary detention center.

The days at Brooks are miserable, but at home, life is far more bleak. Savvy’s struggling to take care of her brother since her mom left years ago, and her alcoholic dad can’t be bothered. Life with Evan is a constant challenge, but he’s also the most important person in the world to Savvy.

Then there’s Cameron, a new student at Brooks with issues of his own; a guy from a perfect family that Savvy thought only existed on TV. Cameron seems determined to break through every one of the walls Savvy’s built around herself, except if she lets herself trust him, it could make everything she’s worked so hard for fall apart in an instant.

And with her aunt seeking custody of her brother and her ex-boyfriend seeking revenge, Savvy’s fighting to hold all the pieces together. But she’s not sure how much tighter she can be pulled before she breaks completely.

My thoughts

I thought All In Pieces read like a cross between Simone Elkeles and Sarah Dessen. It had a tragic backstory and tough current circumstances but with a good dash of family, romance and hope. It was incredibly enjoyable to read, and ran the whole gamut of emotions from anger, outrage, swooniness (yes, I think that can be classified as an emotion), sadness and just a bit of joy.

Savannah stabbed her ex-boyfriend through the hand with a pencil. He totally deserved it. But it means Savannah has to attend a special detention school, which makes caring for her little brother that much harder. But she has great friends and a crush on her new classmate, the ridiculously handsome and very out of place Cameron. So it makes singlehandedly balancing her alcoholic father’s rants, her brother’s tantrums and her aunt’s distaste a little easier.

Savannah can take care of herself, as she so eloquently proved to her ex. But she has a lot to handle and it’s not easy for her to let people into her life. She doesn’t trust easily, and for good reason. That’s why she runs so hot and cold with Cameron. Sure, he seems nice and talks to her (and only her), and her best friend is all for encouraging Savvy to give him a chance, but letting him into her life will mean revealing all her secrets and vulnerabilities.

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