A great and terrible beauty by Libba Bray

Amy A Great and Terrible BeautyI was on the verge of abandoning this book, it really didn’t hold me, but I kept going just in case. After beginning in India, it is set in Victorian England where Gemma Doyle has been sent to a stuffy finishing school after her mother’s mysterious death. Gemma and her friends discover a way into a different realm and struggle with that power, and the evil that awaits. It wasn’t quite convincingly Victorian, or English, enough for me; the girls were too modern, but the real problem was that I didn’t find the plot that exciting. Plenty of nasty girls and angst plus a little bit of mystery, magic and steamy dreaming. I’ll give the rest a miss.

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Because you’ll never meet me by Leah Thomas

Because you'll never meet me by Leah ThomasA debut novel for Leah Thomas this story is a very unusual exploration of a friendship between two teens who will never meet. Contact with electricity sends Ollie into debilitating seizures, while Moritz has no eyes, a heart defect and is kept alive by an electronic pacemaker. Written as series of letters, the story plays with the emotional connection between the two boys as they try to deal with adolescence and the revelation of their shared past, a past filled with experimentation at THE LAB. This book, although contemporary in nature, has elements of evolving supernatural powers, so you do need to sacrifice logic. If you like this you might like quirky literary quality of Mosquitoland by David Arnold and  Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. Students might also like to consider this book for their HSC AOS –Discovery.

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Men we reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Amy Men we reapedThis is a powerful book; not an easy subject, though beautifully written and compelling. It is a memoir of a southern, Black woman, who lost five men in her life. They died because of drugs, accidents and suicide, but their deaths were about more than that; the extraordinary disadvantage of their heritage in Mississippi. Ward’s grief is raw and harsh, not lessening as the years go past, and the questions raised are worth raising, and worth deliberating on, particularly given what has been happening. This is an American story, but black lives matter everywhere.

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One true thing by Nicole Hayes

One true thing by Nicole HayesA story of contrasts from the viewpoint of a politician’s teen whose life seems to be public property. I felt Frankie’s distress as the power of the media tried to pull a happy family apart. Events escalate, depriving Frankie of her music, her friends and her boyfriend. I was torn for Frankie once she discovered her mother’s secret. She equally admired the love and commitment of her parents and fumed at their inaction.  I won’t tell you the secret because it is the basis for the story. Just know that the secret is not what the media has made it out to be and when it is revealed you will find yourself taking sides. Continue reading

The White Mouse by Peter Gouldthorpe

DONEAmy White MouseNominated for a 2016 Children’s Book Council Award – The White Mouse : The Story of Nancy Wake by Peter Gouldthorpe. This looks like a picture book, but it is pretty dense with information so it’s definitely for older kids. The story of Nancy Wake, the Allies’ most decorated woman in WWII, is packed full of danger and excitement and it is well illustrated with big, realistic drawings. Every child should know about the amazing life of Nancy Wake!

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The other side of the world by Stephanie Bishop

other side of the worldWhat a beautiful, sad, and thoughtful book. Henry and Charlotte live in Cambridge in the early sixties, just pregnant with their second child. They are both feeling lost, longing for things to be as they were, and Henry takes them to Perth for a new life. Beautifully written, The Other Side of the World is almost dreamlike, exploring the meaning of home, marriage, motherhood and belonging. Melancholic, but beautiful.

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The ocean at the end of the lane by Neil Gaiman

ChrissieThis Novel is a contemporary fairy-tale for grownups. For those who need a genre box it’s “Magic Realism”. If you have a hard time suspending your disbelief, engaging with the fantastical or embracing the transcendent this book is NOT for you; if the reverse, then it’s quite possibly perfect.

A recipe for reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane
1. Box of tissues – you’re going to be doing some crying
2. A dash of time- you’ll be doing quite a lot of reflecting
3. Liberal seasoning of imagination
4. A set of socks- because the pair you’re in will be knocked off!
5. A decent sprinkling of inner child
6. A splash of wonder

Mix thoroughly and enjoy anytime!

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