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The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James.

August 16, 2017 Comments off

loneliest girlThe Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James. Pub. Walker Books, 2017.

This sci/fi, futurist, adventure romance for high school students and young adults is without doubt one of the books of the year. I was spellbound from beginning to end and you will be too.

Romy is 16 years old and is alone on a space ship called Infinity taking a 50 year journey at a tenth of the speed of light, to colonise a planet in another galaxy called Earth 2.

Romy was born on the space ship against NASA instructions. The Infinity is filled with thousands of frozen embryos and astronauts in a stasis condition until the journey is over. Things have not gone well on the Infinity and Romy now runs the whole ship on her own with communication back to Earth to a person called Molly. Messages take 2 years to reach Earth and back to Infinity.

Then Romy is told that a faster ship called The Eternity captained by J a 22 year old boy with the two ships programmed to dock in a year. They correspond and a relationship develops between them that provides the romance to the story. Then J tells Romy that war on Earth has destroyed NASA and a new government called UPR is in control and that all future communications are to go through him on the Eternity.

Is this all true? Is J who he says he is? has Earth really had a war? Why is Romy all alone?

Things become rivetting as Eternity catches up to Infinity. The ending is stunning and will keep you on the edge of your seat. You will not forget this novel in a hurry.

Beautifully written, totally believable and some of the cleverest plot lines I have ever read. If you miss this one you will kick yourself.

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

May 21, 2017 Comments off

chemical heartsOur Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland. Pub. Hot Key Books, 2016.

There is a Japanese art form called Kintsukuroi in which you take a bowl or plate or a pot break it into pieces and stick it back together again so that it becomes more beautiful for having been broken.

This really is a metaphor for the relationship that develops between Henry Page who narrates the novel and Grace Town a beautiful, mysterious, damaged and thoroughly weird girl. Henry wonders what it will be like to fall in love and when he first sees Grace he knows he is drawn to her like a moth to a flame.

Henry struggles to get anything going with Grace, they text each other, work together on the school newspaper but one day she is hot the next cold. Then he finds out about a deep sadness that Grace is carrying around. Henry wants to care for Grace and for her to recognise that they are an item but Grace slips into the abyss and forgets the world exists. Grace tells Henry that “stories with happy endings are stories that haven’t finished yet”.

Henry finds out that this is true. The novel also asks the question do men feel romance?. Do they crush on girls and go through the same heartbreak as girls do over boys?

Brilliantly written in a style that draws on film, book and music trivia with bold dialogue and great depth on what it is like to be growing up and seeking love. I read this in two sittings I couldn’t put it down. Thank you Linley for recommending it to me.

For teenagers and young adults who like the novels of John Green and grew up with Harry Potter, The Twilight series and the music of the Strokes and the Pixies.

Don’t miss this one you will kick yourself if you do.

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

December 28, 2015 Comments off

What we SawWhat We Saw by Aaron Hartzler. Pub. HarperTeen, 2015.

“you don’t get wasted. You don’t take off your top. You don’t flirt with raging drunks. You don’t dress like a slut. You have to play by the rules. If you don’t this is what happens”. This quote from the novel is what it is all about. A powerful theme and subject matter and a familiar scenario in this country as well.

Kate is a straight up girl. She plays sport she is a good scholar she has loyalty and a strong moral self. She has known 6ft 4 inch Ben since she was 5 years old and in a football match once she accidentally kicked him in the head and left a tell tale scar.

Set in the small Iowa town of Coral Sands where the High School has it’s best basketball team ever. Many of the players are being hunted by Colleges until one party attended by players from the Buccaneers basketball team changes everything. Not just for the school but for the whole town.

A girl is sexually abused and raped by team members while intoxicated. The incident is filmed and charges are laid. Read the rest to find out what happens.

Well told in short chapters, narrated by 17 year old Kate. I like the way the author fits in the geological history of Iowa and the musical Grease as well as a basketball game into the plot.

An unhappy ending for everyone but then what did they expect? beer and skittles!

A serious book with serious issues and attitudes for high school students.

Sylvie the Second by Kaeli Baker.

December 1, 2015 Comments off

Sylvie SecondSylvie the Second by Kaeli Baker. Pub. Makaroa Press Eastbourne NZ. 2015.

This novel for teenagers, particularly reluctant girl readers, is honest, inspiring and positive in spite of the very serious issues it deals with.

Sylvie is 15 years old and feels invisible in her family. She calls her mother Pamela Panic, her father Damn-it-all Dave and her older sister Calamity Cate, and refers to herself as Sylvie the Second. Yes the family is dysfunctional and has issues and Sylvie focuses it all on herself.

Older sister Cate has mental health problems, is suicidal and this has fractured the family. The parents sleep in different rooms and all relationships are strained

Sylvie rebels, dyes her hair red and dresses wildly. She attracts the wrong sort of attention in the shape of Chris a rich boy with a “roastbuster” mentality. At a party Sylvie’s already sad life is blown apart. You will have to read the book to find out what happens.

I will say Sylvie does have a wonderful friend in Belle and then there is the wonderful Adam Allegro, the boy Sylvie has built an imaginary shrine in her head about.

Structured in 4-6 page chapters this novel is easy to read with the dialogue within Sylvie’s family and between the teenagers particularly convincing. The ending is positive and heartwarming and there is a gentle Buddhist like philosophy that pervades the pages.

Don’t miss this one it is special.

Waterfall by Lauren Kate.

April 17, 2015 Comments off

waterfallWaterfall by Lauren Kate. Pub. Random House, 2014.

Enjoyed reading this fantasy for High school students and Young Adults from the author of the Fallen Series, but it has a mighty complicated plot. At the heart of the plot is the question of what if love does not conquer all but is bad for you and destructive to the whole world?

Eureka is a beauty she is in love with Brooks but her mother never told her what her tears would do to the World. When Atlas, the evil ruler of the Sleeping World which hides the lost continent of Atlantis, possesses Brooks and causes Eureka to shed tears, her tears cause devastating floods that all but destroy the world and it’s inhabitants.

Only two tears have fallen with the third being trapped and frozen and held by a former Seedbearer, Ander, and later Solon. If the tear falls Atlantis will rise again but if it doesn’t before the full moon the chance will have passed. The Seedbearers are powerful people but if they fall in love the love weakens and ages them. Ander is in love with Eureka.

The trouble is Eureka is all over the shop still carrying strong feelings for Brooks who is still possessed by Atlas and also carrying feelings for Ander who tells her she must confront Atlas before the new moon and end his evil ways forever. Will she do it?

See what I mean about complicated? I enjoyed it and so will fans of Lauren Kate. It is well written, it is sad, it is exciting and it tugs at your heart.

A Long Trail Rolling by Lizzi Tremayne.

March 25, 2015 Comments off

long trail A Long Trail Rolling by Lizzi Tremayne. Pub.Blue Mist Publishing, 2015.

I was so glad to read this High School/Young adult novel because it embraced two of my favourite genre, westerns and romance, but it is a lot more than that with the author herself describing it as historical/adventure fiction.

Set in the Utah Territory of the 1860’s it is about an 18 year old immigrant Polish girl named Aleksandra who disguises herself as a boy and becomes a rider on the Pony Express, a job advertised only for skinny, young, expert riders, preferably orphans.

Before this happens her father is murdered by a Cossack henchman of the Czar of Russia called Vladimir who has followed Aleksandra and her family to America because they possess an elixer made from a plant found on the Steppes that not only treats depression but gives the user incredible stamina and strength. The Czar wants it for his cavalrymen and Aleksandra’s father, Krzysztof, refuses to turn it over.

Before this all happens Aleksandra and her family had become bloodbrothers with a Shoshone Indian tribe after rescuing the Chief’s son and that same son now  wants to take Aleksandra for his wife. Circumstances between the Indians and the settlers deteriorated and the union unbeknown to Aleksandra, cannot take place.

Meanwhile Aleksandra after the murder of her father sought help at a trading post and had her heart go boom boom boom at the sight of the hunky but emotionally damaged Xavier. Will the men conflict over this young damsel in distress?

It is all set up for a wild time on the Pony Express. The last 100 pages are thrilling.

Well told by Lizzi Tremayne who not only tells a credible story but describes America when it’s environment was in pristine condition. It will make a green drool with envy. The descriptions of the Utah territory and the Great Salt Lake are breathtaking.

I loved reading this novel and you will to but don’t expect to read “head em off at the pass” or “this town ain’t big enough for the both of us”. Plenty of horse talk though and exciting encounters with the Indians.

The Boy in the Olive Grove by Fleur Beale

October 4, 2012 Comments off

The Boy in the Olive Grove by Fleur Beale. Pub. Random House, 2012.

I always look forward to a Fleur Beale novel and this did not disappoint. It is a love story of sorts but there is more to it than that. After getting totally wasted and getting her stomach pumped out 18 year old Bess has to leave school or be expelled.

She gets home to find her father seriously ill and his business going down the gurgler. To make matters worse her older brother Hadleigh takes off for parts unknown and her mother acts like a frosty super bitch.

Not only that but Bess is haunted by two repetitive dreams, one about meeting a boy in an olive grove and the other about burning a woman believed to be a witch at the stake. Could it be a past life breaking through? Have we all been this way before? Make your own mind up about this.

Bess throws herself into resurrecting her fathers business with some inventive ideas and tries to get to the bottom of her dreams by consulting  a psychologist. Some very interesting results.

There is much in this novel for teenagers to get into and I will leave you with a bit of advice from the book…”Tragic heroines are all very well in opera… but very tedious in real life”. There is a bit of both in this novel.