Frostblood – Elly Blake

Generally this was a pretty good story, set to be the first of a trilogy. I enjoyed the setting and the frost and fire wielding, Our main character Ruby is easy to understand and feel along with, but my only complaint is that the story was extremely predictable. It’s a good read if you’ve not heard this story over and over before, but as a seasoned reader I was really hoping for more. If I decide to pick up the next book, Fireblood, I’m really hoping that Elly Blake pushes her characters and her stories into that more realm. I’d like to see something new, and her writing style is very easy to go along with and you want to know more, it just wasn’t quite there with the story telling. I would recommend this for a tween reader, someone who is new to the fantasy/romance genre as the story might still be fresh and new.

Once (Once #1) – Morris Gleitzman

I enjoyed this first installment of the Once series and I’m just about to start the second book (Then).  For those unfamiliar with this series of quick reads it’s set in 1942 in German occupied Poland during WWII.  It’s the story of Felix, a maybe orphan on a journey to find his parents after 3 years and 8 months of waiting around in an orphanage for his parents to come and get him.  The innocence of Felix and his love of telling stories make this book enchanting despite its grim nature.  Looking at the Holocaust through the eyes of a young Jewish orphan boy is pretty eye opening especially as Felix is growing up on his journey to find his parents. This is a really good way to introduce a pretty horrific time period in recent past to a younger audience, Felix is charming and likable and forever innocent in this first tale.  Really looking forward to seeing what become of him in the second installment.

Holes – Louis Sachar

I’m not sure why I waited so long to read this modern classic. I actually remember when this book came out, I would have been the perfect age to read it then, about 11 and a friend even recommended it to me, but it just hadn’t caught my interest at the time. This story is about a a young boy who’s family is cursed with bad luck, and through this our hero Stanley is sent to Camp Green Lake to dig holes in a rehabilitation program for a crime he didn’t commit, but things aren’t as they seem at the camp. All the boys at the camp are digging 5×5 foot holes, but why?  This was a great read and I enjoyed the untangling of the story, Stanley doesn’t make all the right choices, but he certainly owns up to the ones he’s made which really made this story stand out.

Losing It – Julia Lawrinson

This book was pretty meh. It’s about four high school senior girls, Zoe, Abby, Mala and Bree, who challenge each other to lose their virginity before ‘schoolies week’. From what I can gather that’s like the Australian version of spring break, a huge party at the end of the school year, intended for high school leavers.  I got roped into reading it for ‘appropriateness’ by one of the teachers at my school, and even though the entire book is about young women trying to ‘lose it’ I don’t think it’s that inappropriate for older teens. I liked the format of the book though, It started out omnipresent, stating the intention and the rules of the challenge, then splits into four sections, one told by each girl, with a remaining bit at the end where they go over who won the challenge.  The book is pretty formulaic, and there were almost no twists, though it might give a younger reader a few eyebrow raises.  Abby probably had the best character development, the only one of the girls who is raised in a Christian family. Bree, the last entry , though quite different from the others was probably the most boring, despite all the build up from the other girls’ entries. I wouldn’t recommend this one as it wasn’t anything special.

Exclamation mark – Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld

Let me start with this: my kid loved this book.  It’s a simple story about an exclamation mark trying to fit in and finding his place in the world of punctuation. Once the mark finds his voice, the story becomes delightful and my kid loved the way we read it, really over extended and excited, driving home the exclamations; needless to say it got read over and over at bed time.  I also really enjoyed the shape of this book, long and thin, just like the punctuation it’s about.  If you’ve got a kid who is generally not into stories, but keen on non-fiction, I would give this a go

Lumberjanes – Beware the kitten holy – Written by Noelle Stevenson & Grace Elli; Illustrated by Brooke Allen; Colours by Maarta Laiho; Letters by Aubrey Aiese

What a great comic. Each girl in the girl-scout-like troupe is unique and wonderful.  They each have their own distinct traits, making each one likeable and relatable; you’re either like one of these girls or you ‘ve known someone like them. I also really like the behaviours they are modelling: camaraderie, compassion, helpfulness, friendship and fierce loyalty.  Each girl is a bad ass in her own way and the group encourage each other to use their individual strengths, trusting that the girl knows what she is doing.  It’s refreshing to see and it made me feel goodas an ex-scout to read it.I really enjoyed how they used heroic and notable women’s names as exclamations, I had to look up a few and really liked learning about some really amazing women. The art is also dynamic and does a great job of telling the story, the colours are rich and vibrant and convey real feeling and impact as the girls go on their adventures. I loved this comic and I’m looking forward to grabbing another volume.  Well done Lumberjanes team!

The Dark – by Lemony Snicket ; illustrated by Jon Klassen

This book was cute, creepy and charming, with a nice twist; exactly what I would expect from Lemony Snicket.  I’m also becoming a fan of Jon Klassen, his style really speaks to me, and the projects he participates in are quickly becoming favourites and I will be seeking out more of his work in the future. The picture book is about a young boy who is rather afraid of the dark, and bout once happens once the night light in his room goes out. It’s perfect for your little one who might be a bit skittish of the dark, it seems scary in the beginning, and the book exudes a bit of tension but by the end that tension is drained and the reader is no longer so worried about the dark.

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) – Cassandra Clare

Technically I didn’t read this one, but listened to it in audio book format. I think that may have tainted my view on it a little as the narrator’s voice just wasn’t incredibly pleasant and at times made the characters sound rather whiny. But that just proves how good the writing was because despite that I really enjoyed the story. I love period dramas, and this was one with a magical YA twist. We follow Tessa Grey who has arrived in London to find her brother missing. She is kidnapped by some magical hags but escapes them only to be caught up in Shadowhunter business, for those who don’t know Shadowhunters are like the  police of this magical world and Tessa helps them in turn for their help finding her brother. This book was long, but was well paced and worth a read, I’m looking forward to reading the next installment.

Sunshine – Robin McKinley

To be honest, I picked this one up because it had a good reference from Neil Gaiman on the cover. The general story is one about vampires, a different take on the dystopian paranormal romance genre. I really enjoyed this story, but boy was it long. We follow a young woman nick named Sunshine, she’s a baker in her family run diner, and that’s probably one of my favourite things about her, even though everything goes to hell she still thinks about her family and her job because she genuinely loves them. But in hind sight she really does spin a lot of extra tangents that probably could have been cut down. The action is great, and everything is described incredibly well, it was so easy to picture everything Sunshine is talking about, even the weird magical things. There is a relationship built up between Sunshine and her vampire Con, that just never seems to go anywhere though, it is an odd relationship, but a good one and I’m sad to say there isn’t another book after this one, I would have liked to see where they ended up. I really enjoyed that vampires are not romanticised in any way, they are terrifying hunters and so should they be. There are a few different kinds of magical creatures in Sunshine’s world and I enjoyed the variety, though we only really focus on vampires, which is sad as this world has a lot of options for other stories.  This book has a lot of adult themes (sex, trauma, rape, PTSD, violence) and would be recommended for the new adult crowd.  And even though it was long, the story is believable, or as believable as a magical world can be, with its colourful cast of characters and a great world I would recommend reading it, even if it is a little long.

The girl who owned a city – by O.T. Nelson; Adapted by Dan Jolley; Illustrated by Joelle Jones; Colours by Jenn Manley Lee

This is a book by O.T. Nelson, but I haven’t read it so can’t compare this graphic novel to the original 1975 novel.  Back story here is everyone over the age of 12 was killed off by a virus, leaving behind a bunch of kids who are starving and often useless. Our main character Lisa is just trying to keep herself and her little brother Todd safe.  There are gangs roaming around, and as in usual kid fashion are completely cruel.  Lisa then enlists the kids on her street to form their own community in which they share resources and knowledge, different from the menacing gangs, these kids actually look after each other. The story really begins once Lisa has built a virtual empire and rival factions get jealous and then come the internal problems Lisa faces with her co-leaders.  I enjoyed this story, even if it seemed a little far fetched in places as I’m not sure a 12 year old could be quite that mature, but I liked where the story went and the overall themes and storytelling, some good examples here of growing up and people management.