Secondary and YA

 

girl-in-pieces

‘A haunting, beautiful, and necessary book that will stay with you long after you’ve read the last page.’  

— Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything

From debut author Kathleen Glasgow comes one of the most highly-anticipated and talked about novels of 2016.

Perfect for fans of Girl, Interrupted, Thirteen Reasons Why, and All the Bright Places, Girl In Pieces is a beautifully written and utterly profound novel that has been described by the Kirkus Review as ‘poignant and transcendent’ as well as ‘grittily provocative’.

Already receiving high praise from the likes of Teen Vogue, Entertainment Weekly and the New York Public Library, Girl In Pieces is a must-read for young women around the world and a story they won’t be able to look away from.
Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people do in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the bridge. Your best friend who is gone forever. Or your mother who has nothing left to give you.

 

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.
A deeply moving portrait of a girl in a world that owes her nothing, and has taken so much, and the journey she undergoes to put herself back together. Kathleen Glasgow’s debut novel is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest.

 

Kathleen Glasgow lives in Tucson, Arizona and writes for The Writer’s Almanac. She received her MFA from the University of Minnesota and BUS from the University of New Mexico. Her poems and stories have appeared in Bellingham Review, Clackamas Literary Review, and Cimarron Review. Girl in Pieces is Kathleen Glasgow’s debut novel and has been sold to Spain, Brazil, Poland, Italy, the United Kingdom, Australia/New Zealand, and Czechoslovakia. You can find her on Twitter: @kathglasgow.

Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow ISBN: 9781460751053 RRP: $19.99

  • The number of young people who die by suicide in Australia each year is relatively low compared with the number who self-harm. It is difficult to estimate the rate of self-harm as evidence suggests that less than 13% of young people who self-harm will present for hospital treatment. Evidence from Australian studies suggest that 6–8% of young people aged 15–24 years engage in self-harm in any 12-month period. Lifetime prevalence rates are higher, with 17% of Australian females and 12% of males aged 15–19 years, and 24% of females and 18% of males aged 20–24 years reporting self-harm at some point in their life. The mean age of onset is approximately 17 years.  While suicide is more common among young men, self-harm is more common among young women. For further information visit: https://headspace.org.au/health-professionals/understanding-self-harm-for-health-professionals/

 

  • If you or someone you know self- harms, get help right now. Kids Helpline: kidshelpline.com.au/teens; 1800 55 1800

 

  • If you or someone you know suffers from depression, get help right now. Beyond Blue: beyondblue.org.au; 1300 22 4636. headspace, National Youth Mental Health Foundation: headspace.org.au; 1800 650 890.

 

  • If you or someone you know is suicidal, get help right now. Lifeline: lifeline.org.au; 13 11 14.

 

  • If you or someone you know needs a safe place to sleep, get help right now. Raising Children: raisingchildren.net.au/articles/teen_housing_services;1800 152 152. The Salvation Army: salvos.org.au; 13 72 58


 

art-of-not-breathing

 

When I’m underwater, I remember things. Flashes of the day my brother Eddie vanished. My father holding me; my mother missing. And the deeper I dive, the less pain I feel. I can believe my brother isn’t dead, that my family isn’t falling apart. I can forget that it was all my fault. The only trouble is, eventually you have to come up for air.

PRAISE FOR THE ART OF NOT BREATHING

“While the compelling plot, well-drawn characters, and page-turning conclusion will attract readers, what will linger most in their minds is the luxurious feel of the water and other details vividly evoked by Alexander’s atmospheric writing.”  – School Library Journal

“Narrated in a crisp, unvarnished voice, Elsie’s frightening and alluring tale shows that even while in the depths one can reach for light. In a breathtaking setting, this is a fresh and vivid take on the long-term effects of a child’s death on a family.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Alexander debuts with a raw and sensitive novel about loss.” – Publishers Weekly

“Alexander’s debut uses the setting to excellent effect, while spinning multiple levels of mystery within the many subplots. Of special note is the intriguing description of the silent undersea world.” – Booklist

“Intense, compelling and beautifully observed, this novel opens a window into secret worlds and portrays a family dealing with the aftermath of a tragedy. A dark page-turner which will leave you haunted and moved.” – Julia Bell, author of The Dark light

The Art of Not Breathing is an astonishingly good debut novel. I couldn’t put it down.” – Cat Clarke, author of Entangled

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Sarah Alexander grew up in London with dreams of exploring the world and writing stories. After spending several years wandering the globe and getting into all sorts of scrapes, she returned to London to complete a Master’s degree in Creative Writing at Birkbeck College in 2013. She works in publishing and lives with her husband and two chickens. THE ART OF NOT BREATHING is her first novel.

The Art of Not Breathing: drafting – organised chaos by Sarah Alexander

Before I started writing The Art of Not Breathing, I spent many hours googling ‘How to write a novel’. The internet was full of helpful advice for people who weren’t me, like, ‘You must write every day’, and ‘So-and-so wrote ten books on their commute to work and won loads of prizes’. Back then, it seemed impossible to write this way – for one thing, my commute involved being squashed under someone’s armpit and not having the space to breathe, let alone get my arms into some kind of writing position. Eventually, I realised the internet wasn’t going to give me a magic answer. I had to find a way that worked for me, and that took a bit of time:

  1. I spent a good few years (twenty-ish) writing the first few thousand words of many different novels. I noticed some similarities in the half-novels I’d written and decided those must be the things I really wanted to write about (probably). Those things were family, siblings, grief and water.
  1. The Art of Not Breathing started with a scene. Elsie and her mum were running down a hill – talking, laughing, but not really saying anything. I knew they were in pain. I noted down everything about them – their looks, likes, dislikes, desires, strengths, the things they weren’t saying, the people they might love.
  1. I gave myself a timeline for the events – six months. I plotted the main action (diving) around the seasons and the weather. I drew a map of where the characters lived. Points 1-3 were the full extent of my planning.
  1. I started writing scenes, not in any particular order, just the ones that popped into my head. Then I tried to stick them together to make a plot.
  1. I rewrote the first ten thousand words six hundred times because they were the most important. I did this for a year, writing mostly at weekends.
  1. After a year, I realised it was more important to write the other sixty thousand words. I did this by writing nearly every day, in 45-minute bursts before and after work and on my lunchbreaks. At weekends, I continued to stick my scenes together. Sometimes, I wrote the words at weekends and did the sticking together in 45-minute bursts.
  1. At the beginning of each week, I made a list of potential scenes and conversations to write so that I didn’t use my writing time for thinking. If I got stuck on one, I could move to the next. I made these lists on my phone, on my commute.
  1. When I was almost done with the first draft, I took a week off work to get the damn thing finished. I put so much pressure on myself to write that I gave myself insomnia and didn’t write anything. It took another three months to write the final few chapters.
  1. For the second draft, I took a pair of shears to the manuscript and hacked away almost half of it, then built the story back up again with a couple of new subplots.
  1. For the third draft, I did the same again but not so drastically.
  1. GOT A PUBLISHING DEAL!!
  1. Worked on another two drafts with two different publishers. The edits included remodeling a character, changing the age of a character, more cuts and more additions.
  1. The day before the final manuscript was due I noticed there was a gaping hole in my timeline. I spent three days fixing it and no one will ever know.

Lady Helen

Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club
by Alison Goodman


A demonic conspiracy, a Regency romance … all hell is about to break loose.

Lady Helen Wrexhall is set to make her debut at the court of Queen Charlotte and officially step into polite Regency society. Little does she know that this move will take her from the opulent drawing rooms of Mayfair and into a shadowy world of missing housemaids, demons and danger.

Interview with Alison Goodman

We spoke to New York Times bestselling author Alison Goodman about her epic new trilogy.

1. Do you remember what first inspired the idea of the Lady Helen series?

I actually got the idea for the series on a tram in Melbourne. I was coming home from the Romance Writers of Australia conference where I had attended a session on ‘Researching the Regency’ by the wonderful Jen Kloester. I have always loved the Regency era — I’m a big fan of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer — but I had it fixed in my mind that the research would be a bit out of my league. However, Jen’s session made me realise that I could, in fact, do it. So, with that revelation buzzing through me, I got on the tram, stared out of the window and started to think about the kind of Regency novel that I would like to read. The answer came very quickly and clearly: Pride and Prejudice meets Buffy*. I grabbed a pen and paper and started writing down the outline of Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club.
*Lady Helen does not meet any vampires. Instead, I’ve created my own demonic energy creatures (cue cackling mad-scientist laugh).

2. We know you did a lot of research into Regency England — what was the most interesting/bizarre thing you learned?

There are so many bizarre things to choose from, including the fact that a chamber pot was often kept in the dining room for the gentlemen to use during dinner, cheese was eaten with its maggoty or mite livestock intact, and ladies did not wear underpants. I think my favourite fact, however, is that some ladies had wax bosoms fitted to bulk up their ‘frontage’. The problem with wax inserts, however, was that if you got too close to the fireplace, your bosom would melt. There are reports of suspicious stains on satin bodices and bosoms popping out on to the floor!

Book Reviews

I adored the thrilling description throughout the whole document. The way in which Goodman brought a person, a place, a ball to life. She has such a gift for perfectly capturing feelings and social interactions on paper. The characters of Helen’s Aunt, Uncle, and brother, Andrew, were especially brilliant; I suppose this was crucial to provide such depth to the tiny world Goodman created. The smallest of details added just that extra credibility needed for me to lose myself in Helen’s story. The effort and time that went into research and the attention to intricacies (as Alison explains in the Author’s Note) truthfully made this novel so much better than other works of fantasy. Imogen, Year 11

Hursltone  Agricultural High School

Readers are dealt a handful of compelling mysteries right off the bat, seizing your attention.  The mysteries themselves are craftily plotted and Goodman elucidates them consistently as the book progresses in a coherent and riveting manner. Kayla, Year 10

Hursltone  Agricultural High School

I enjoyed reading it thoroughly and found the hours I spent in the World of Lady Helen to be time well spent. In her novel, Alison Goodman has exhibited her literary skills masterfully and I cannot wait to read the next instalment. Amy,  Year 10

Hurlstone Agricultural High School,

The Divergent Series: Allegiant Official Teaser Trailer – “Beyond The Wall”

Allegiant [Film Tie-in Edition] ISBN 9780008167165 RRP 19.99

Allegiant

TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU by Claudia Gray

Ten  ThousaTen Thousand Skies Above Yound Skies Above You is the sequel to A Thousand Pieces Of You, a successful novel about Marguerite, her family, a time-travelling device called the Firebird and her friends. When a long rival of hers splinters her boyfriend’s soul into 4 pieces and scatters them to different universes, she has no choice but to do as this rival commands to retrieve Paul’s soul.

As someone who didn’t read the first book of the series, I believe that this story is still just as great and understandable without knowing the first book. However, it took a while to come to grips with and understand the book and the characterisation of Marguerite. At first, it seemed that her characterisation was very Mary Sue. That is to say, the way her life seemed to be just sounded too perfect. The sign of a love triangle with two guys who love her so very much at equal lengths, her parents working on a time-travelling device with her being the ‘perfect traveller’, and that wherever she went in whichever dimension, Marguerite was someone special-whether it be a prominent figure in France or the best and most heartless agent in a governing organisation.

But when I looked past this characterisation, I loved the story. It was everything I expected in a book which mentioned multiple dimensions. The settings were so well described that I could almost feel myself as a bystander in each dimension. It was fast paced, and didn’t slow down. And as well as this, it had just enough romance to spur Marguerite on (I am a sucker for a soppy love story).

The novel was one which managed to capture my attention for a long period of time, and I finished the book in two (very long) sittings. Even though some parts were cringe-worthy and the writing seemed a little bit off, I just couldn’t find myself willing to put the book down.

The settings and the scenery within the novel were what got me through with the combination of a well-made plot line. The characterisation could’ve been made much better and the relationships between Marguerite and the boys could’ve been written a little less awkwardly. But all in all, it was a book that I genuinely enjoyed reading once I got past the beginning. Jennifer, Hurlstone Agricultural High Year 11

Tape, written by Steven Camden,

Immediately gripping If I’m honest, the book took a while to win me over. The cover design and the blurb were confusing, but not unattractive. Yes, I was intrigued from the beginning, but it wasn’t an intrigue that compelled me to read further. By the time I was a quarter of the way through, however, I loved it. I fell in love with the characters and the settings and the hilarious family adventures and run-ins with strangers. It had me in tears quite a lot of the time, too.

Overall, it is a brilliant book. Imogen,  Hurlstone Agricultural High Year 11

There was nothing in this book which called out to me, and even throughout the book, I rather felt a little annoyed as I kept reading-thinking that something near the end of the book might make up for the slow boring plot and unusual and confusing method of displaying dialogue.

Jennifer,  Hurlstone Agricultural High Year 11

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

The fiMagoniaction novel, Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley is a book of fantasy, yet it is stirred up with extensive vocabulary, language techniques, and beautiful storytelling with a pinch of romance so that the book resembles that of a piece of art.

However I do find the blurb about the book very misleading. Not every book with a character suffering from some kind of lung illness should automatically be compared to The Fault in Our Stars, though this book is definitely better in its own way. The tension in the book adds to the storyline too.

During the plot, Aza’s sickness has been wearing her down her whole life, slowly suffocating her, making her drown in air. The blurb is a bit ironic though, it says that Aza Ray is drowning in thin air, though thin air usually has the consequence of dying, such is the problem why humans can’t go into space without a suit. Then, one day, an MRI test showed a feather in her left lung. And, shortly after that, a bird flew into her mouth and down her throat, and made a nest in her lungs. And then her whole life as she knew it exploded and shattered to pieces. Because she’s not who she thought she was. She doesn’t belong here. She’s from a different place – a place filled with flying ships and marvellous bird-people, a place hidden among the clouds and filled with magic. Death and rebirth, loss and gain, heartache and love. And nothing will ever be the same again.

The last two sentences release the tension within the last chapter. It is a memorable part of the book.

Magonia rates eight out of ten, it suits everybody, all ages. This book is a great contribution to reality. By Ben, Sutherland Public School

The plotline of Magonia is certainly original. It is a fascinating take on avian shifters – without the actual shifting or transforming aspect. It was a very sweet, light read that absolutely flew by. I found myself, however, wishing that Jason and Aza Ray’s adoptive family didn’t exist when she first found herself in Magonia. They really limited her ability to explore that magical world of Magonia, and I felt that the concept of Magonia did not really reach its potential. I was completely invested until I reached about the halfway point of the story, where my mind sort of rambled and only occasionally did the plotline catch my eye from then on.

Though the side characters, most especially Zal Quel, captain of the Amina Pennarum, were interesting, the real focus of the story was Jason and Aza Ray’s relationship and individual personalities.

Jason and Aza Ray’s relationship was absolutely heart-warming. From their adorable meeting, to their crazy adventures, I completely feel in love with their interactions and shy, love-struck selves. The differing perspectives really emphasised how much they cared about one another and how highly they valued one another’s opinions. Their chemistry was something that most YA romance books aspire to and on those grounds alone this book was highly impressive. It really reinforced a healthy romantic relationship and the importance of compatibility in your partner.

Aza Ray was a very powerful female protagonist. She never once let the concept of her being the ‘dying girl’ define her and was quite down to earth (pun intended) in her interactions and experiences. She kept a cool head in the face adversity and pressure, and made friends no matter where she went, and thus was such a great role model. The core of her being was this powerful fighter, this woman who could change people’s lives with her voice alone, who had survived as many years as she did living literally as a shell of who she was/ could be, so I thought of her as a very fascinating character.

I felt that Jason was more of a dreamer than Aza Ray. He was the embodiment of the best of 21st century men: proactive, caring and willing to compliment and embrace female intelligence and strength. He was an incredibly hardworking character- his love for his mums and Aza Ray, his readiness to do anything for them was a very sweet aspect of his character and I felt that he really provoked sympathy within readers. His reaction to Aza Ray’s death was heartrendingly sad, and the frustration of being unable to tell him that Aza Ray was alive was bittersweet. Their reunion was a little anticlimactic but, in all honestly, was very realistic. The reunion with Aza Ray’s family was far more enjoyable, personally.

My favourite aspects of Magonia was definitely the fascinating concept of Magonia. This idea that the air we live and breathe in was somebody else’s sea, simply blew me away (again, no pun intended). It left me in a strange loop of thought- “but what if Magonia was another lands ocean?” and so on and so on. It was a little mind-numbing, in fact, when I tried to figure out where it would end. The biggest asset for me was in fact neither the plotline, nor the characters, but the writing. It flowed beautifully, with a sort of quirky morbidity to it that suited Aza Ray to the letter. Headley definitely knew how to suck you in, and weaved her words in a way that should absolutely be commended.

Overall, this book was a great ride. An oddly light, quirky, thoughtful read, its characters and their chemistry alone were amazing in their authenticity and uniqueness and the concept of the fantastical aspects of Magonia was also something of a novelty, though its full potential; was not reached. I would personally give Magonia 7.5 out of 10, keeping in mind that it is a great way to introduce fantasy to teenagers, as Magonia uses a combination of it and romance, as well as adventure. Heleen, Hurlstone Agricultural High Year 9

‘When Marnie Was There’ by Joan G Robinson ISBN 

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I found this story to be quite a quaint little story and the writing style gave off an almost CS Lewis feel. The characters were all written beautifully and I loved them all. Anna is a young girl who can definitely be classified as an introvert, and throughout the story, I believe many other children can also relate to her. And because of this, her relationship with Marnie is so strong and can truly be said to be something that can last the test of time.  Anna, the main character of the book, is very human when you explore her adventures down to the marshes. She has both flaws and strengths which make her seem like a childhood friend.

I dare say that I almost cried at the end of the book even though nothing sad really happened. The touching end was so beautiful and it tied the book together. Marnie joins together with her Auntie once more, but this time with a more positive attitude than when she left her.

The only downfall to this book was that I felt that how Anna and Marnie were able to communicate with each other wasn’t really explained. But this didn’t detract from the story-it probably would’ve been better to not explore that since it’ll change a beautiful story into a supernatural mystery.

All in all, I found that When Marnie Was There was a wonderful book, suitable for so many ages. It can teach everyone about how important friendships are to mental wellbeing and how important it is to keep those friendships strong.

Jennifer, Hurlstone Agricultural High,  Year 11

‘When Marnie was there’ is an interesting book by Joan G Robinson that has amazing imagery woven into an excellent storyline. Readers will find this book very hard to put down and will get lost in its slowly deepening plot.

‘When Marnie was there’ is about a girl called Anna who takes her summer holiday off at a small seaside village in Norfolk, England. At first Anna doesn’t have any friends but then she meets a strange girl that is her age called Marnie. They have a friendship full of adventures and secrets until Marnie suddenly disappears out of Anna’s life. The a mystery about Marnie slowly unfolds

My favorite part of the book was when Anna And Marnie devised a plan For Anna to go to the party at Marnie’s house without an invitation. Anna dressed up as a beggar and pretended to sell sea lavender at Marnie’s party. This is the most memorable part in the book for me because it is the first time in the book where Anna and Marnie do something exciting together.

Some things that I like about this book are the fantastic imagery used throughout this novel. The book makes me feel that I am actually at the little Norfolk village myself, and I can touch the smooth sand and smell the sea breeze. I also like the excellent characters in this book. The characters make this book fun to read because we can see them change throughout the book, for example, the main character Anna starts out as being very shy and antisocial but she then starts to come out of her shell and be a caring friend. The interesting characters make the book for me.

I would recommend this book for people who like dramatic books that have mystery in them. This book is good for boys and girls aged from 10 to 13. You will enjoy this book if you like plot twists and a book that is hard to put down. It is a must read and I give this 9 out of 10.

Review by Peter from Sutherland Public School Age 11

Joan Robison’s book ‘When Marnie was there’ mixes mystery fantasy and adventure into an enjoyable but slightly predictable chapter book. Anna hasn’t a friend in the world, until she meets Marnie. But Marnie isn’t all she seems…

I enjoyed the description of little Norfolk with its rolling green hills and the old rickety windmill. I also enjoyed how each characters personality changes or develops throughout the story, for example, when Anna becomes confident and friendly because of Marnie’s friendship.

‘When Marnie was there’ is an enjoyable book that I would recommend for children around the age of ten. I would rate it six stars out of ten. The plot unfolds slowly at first then faster leading up to a plot twist at the end of the book. The characters were interesting but the storyline was slow and a bit dull at times. Unfortunately the ending also left a feeling of un-satisfaction.By Abigail Sutherland Public School

Ophelia, Queen of Denmark by Jackie French

This story, based on one of Shakespeare’s plays is set in Denmark. Ophelia the beautiful daughter of the Lord Chancellor is dreaming of a position that a lady in waiting wouldn’t dare to dream- to become Queen.

Loved by PrOphelia Queen of Denmarkince Hamlet, Ophelia’s goal may be accomplished. But things take a wrong turn and when Hamlet isn’t enthroned King, the whole royal household is set upside down.

Stabbing and poisoning each other, Ophelia is being torn apart with love and madness, Ophelia learns that some deaths are better off left alone.

This novel is sure to make a hit and I would rate this with five stars. My personal favourite character would be the Queen because of her intelligent bravery in her every move.

I recommend this book to all adolescent readers because it is so amazing and I couldn’t help but turning another page.

by Emily Sutherland Public School

Ophelia: Queen of Denmark by Jackie French

I liked the way that Ophelia was portrayed in the novel. She was in the first person, and although all external dialogue was in old Shakespearean language, her thoughts and internal opinions were a lot more modern, and this made it easier to understand and sympathise with her morals and values. Also, being from only Ophelia’s perspective, we get to see the story unfold quite naturally – she finds out about what has happened/is happening before the queen or king or Hamlet may have, and she gets Hamlet’s perspective, the Queen’s perspective, and the servants’ gossip perspective from Gerda. She is perhaps the most informed character in the entire setting, and this allows the audience to easily form their opinions and understanding based on the information being available.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. It gives a modern take on the Old Shakespearean tale, through language and from a different perspective. Ophelia is unrealistic for the true time frame; however, through the transformation and modernization of the play, it becomes acceptable and understandable that a girl would be so rambunctious. The novel is written cleverly, and has the reader constantly thinking. I give this book an 8/10. Review by Nicole Age 15 Hurlstone Agricultural High School

Ophelia: Queen of Denmark by Jackie French

Shakespeare certainly had a flair for mystery and intrigue, and Jackie French does him justice in this novel. The story begins with a discussion on the obligations of and how to become a queen, six-year old Ophelia, Wette Willies, the ghost of a dead king and revenge. By the second chapter Ophelia (now sixteen) is confronted with another dead king, is now a lady in waiting and horrifying impropriety in the face of the death of royalty. Immediately after, announced through the nonverbal dances of the court, Ophelia is promised the throne by the Queen Gertrude and her son’s hand in marriage. Ambitious Ophelia is glad of the chance not only to prove herself, but to escape the stuffy “confined life (of) a dutiful daughter and lady in waiting”. Quickly we are introduced to the intrigues of court and politics, with the Young Fortinbras ready to attack with an army of his own, the Prince Hamlet (now King Hamlet) naïve in the way of the thrones and the Queen pondering on marriage with Lord Claudius. There is mystery and machinations galore throughout this whole novel, narrated in the refreshing, lovely style signature to Jacky French.

The characters were what made this book shine. Ambitious, cunning Ophelia, lonely, misguided Hamlet & confused, heartsick Queen Gertrude were awesome assets to this story. I knew I would like Ophelia from the very beginning with the words “I was fond of cheese. I’d rather eat cheese than fly.” (Wouldn’t we all, baby Ophelia, wouldn’t we all?). She was proud and powerful in her own right, ready to “set the wind (to) singing lullabies”. She had a sort of innate coolness or perhaps ambition, that made her seem rather ruthless and cold hearted at times. Prince Hamlet was also enjoyable to a lesser degree. He evokes an empathy and pity in me, due to the cards he’d been dealt and his sweetness of character.

Overall, Jackie French’s Ophelia would receive about a 7.5/10 for me. It was an enjoyable, quick read and a powerful, interesting twist on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. She should be proud of her work and know that it will be enjoyed, like many of her other books.

Heleen, Year 9 Hurlstone Agricultural High

The Beauty is in the Walking by James Moloney

Through ‘The Beauty is in the Walking’, James Moloney takes his readers on a heartfelt journey into the events of Jacob O’Leary’s final year of high school in the small town of Palmerston. Complete with exam stress, teen angst and a mystery that will have the whole town on edge, it is a book that, through its careful depictions of contemporary issues and infinite relatability in the feelings of characters and the characters themselves, delights its audience to no end and leaves them both in a state contemplation as well as a thirst for more.

The issues of racism and racial profiling in the media as well as the experiences of sufferers of Cerebral Palsy are key ideas in this book, with particular focus on the latter.The protagonist and hero of the story, Jacob O’Leary, was himself, born with the disease and, through the first person voice of the novel, we are given insight into the experiences and feelings he has in regard to his disease and how it has affected his life. This gives way to contemplation in the reader both during the book as well as once they have turned the last page with quotes such as: “People reacted to me in different ways – overreacted, really – to my awkwardness, my disabilities. Some patronised me with offers of help, like I couldn’t wipe my own nose, and others went the other way, slipping into a cruelty they didn’t really mean.”

However, in spite of the afore mentioned issues, the arguably most driving factor in the appeal of ‘The Beauty is in the Walking’ is its total relatability, particularly for teens who can identify with so many aspects of the novel. These include the feeling of restlessness so many teenagers feel as they are forced to start thinking about their future and what they’re going to do once they leave high school. James Moloney has also created characters that one can identify in their own life, and it is through these characters that the reader gains an appreciation for the people in their own life as well as find an understanding in the feelings of Jacob which only aids to further the relatability of the novel.

Conclusively, in ‘The Beauty is in the Walking’, James Moloney has created a literary masterpiece that is not only thoroughly enjoyable, but relatable to the point where it insights contemplation earning it a 10 out of 10 rating that many readers, particularly teenagers would agree with.

Amy ,Year 10, Hurlstone Agricultural High School

The Beauty is in the Walking by James Moloney. Kayla, Year 10 Hurlstone Agricultural High School

The Beauty is in the Walking written by James Moloney showcases Moloney’s skill as a teen novel writer. His quintessential portrayal of Australian adolescence strikes close to home for teenage readers without landing the book straight in to the cliché category.

Jacob O’Leary or ‘Jake’ as he is referred to throughout the book, is the protagonist, and we’re introduced to him during the aftermath of a shocking crime in his small country town called ‘Palmerston’. Like all teens he is just trying to find where he belongs however he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly after birth. When the town begins to point its fingers at the newly settled family, it ignites a spark in Jacob. He is convinced that the police have accused the wrong man and he sets out to prove it.

The beauty of the book, in my opinion, is that it doesn’t hide or sugar-coat anything. It brings you into Jacob’s world of pain, love, discrimination, heartbreak and growing up in a brutal and honest light. Moloney’s raw perspective on how the characters communicate and their relationships with each other shine through the pages and make the book memorable. An example of this is a conversation shared by Jacob and his mother about his disability. She proclaims to him that she wouldn’t trade his disability for a dozen able-bodied children, which is followed by his thought “Jesus, I would”.

The only negative aspect of the book that dropped its rating from its original perfect score was that Moloney created hints about a future plot twist, leaving you to anticipate it and as a result the twist itself had less of a shocking effect than intended. I would highly recommend this book to the older half of high school students, simply because I feel like reading it in high school is when it will leave its biggest impact on the reader however it still holds strong as a book to read for more mature ages.

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Steadfast

Sorceress bySorceress Claudia Gray

Book review by Maddi

Smiths Hill High School

March 2015

The book Sorceress by Claudia Gray is the third instalment in the Spellcaster series, and is an enjoyable teenage read. The series follows the story of a teenage girl, Nadia, who has spent her whole life being taught the secret art of witchcraft by her mother. When her mother walks out on her, her brother and her father, they decide to move to Captive’s Sound, where Nadia soon discovers there’s more to the desolate town than first meets the eye.

The series at first seemed to be a mainstream magic novel, but the tightly-woven plot twists and turns, keeping the reader engaged and excited. In a majority of magic-related novels, the magical concepts can be difficult to grasp, and at first this seemed to apply to this series. However, a large number of the characters are also new to the magic discussed in the book, and through the explanation given to the characters; the reader can also begin to understand the magical concepts. The third book cannot stand alone, however, and Sorceress doesn’t make any sense unless read as part of a series.

The events in the third book happen quite quickly, and keeps you avidly reading while the action makes the pages turn themselves. The plot is what makes this series unique. It is twisted and unexpected, but the resolution and the conclusion of the third book didn’t seem to match this. Instead of a twisted and intriguing conclusion, the ending seemed to be the clichéd happy ending found in many teenage novels, and this was disappointing

Apart from the clichéd ending, I loved the Spellcaster series, and in particular the third instalment Sorceress. I would recommend the series for 12-16 year olds, as anyone younger possibly wouldn’t understand some of the concepts, and anyone older would probably find it too childish. Overall Rating: 9.5/10.

More on the  Spellcaster Series…….

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Disruption 2

Disruption by Jessica Shirvington

Set in future America, Disruption explores the potential technology of the 22nd century. It follows the life of an 18-year-old girl, Margaret, known as Maggie, and the secret and dangerous life she leads.

The population of the time are controlled by M-Bands, a compulsory technology put in place by the American Government, and their many accessories. One such accessory is the Phera-Tech app, compulsory for 18 years and over. This technology ‘rates’ the wearer with any other individual they pass, and puts them in a category depending on this rating. High ‘raters’ generally end up as couples, whereas lower raters are just friends or close acquaintances. Maggie is sent on a mission to alter the readings of one boy, Quentin Mercer, so that she can use him for information to track down her father in an underground labyrinth for ‘negs’. Negs are people who have logged three or more negative readings on their Phera-Tech- that is; they haven’t registered any connection at all to the person they rated with. Maggie needs Quentin’s help for this- his family is the richest in town and Quentin’s father, Garrett Mercer, runs the underground system. As Maggie continues her quest, she develops a relationship with Quentin, but in the end it comes down to one decision- family or friend?

This book brings up many thought-provoking themes that are relatable to the target audience- teenagers. These include society’s addiction to technology and the choices between relationships that all young adults have to make. However, the relationship between the two main characters is easily predicted after the first few chapters, and the storyline, though deeper and more interesting than most, is only a few steps up from the clichéd American teenage girls’ book. Another factor that added to my dislike of the book is that even though the cover and blurb would lead you to believe that it is an adventure novel, the storyline contradicts this impression. Although the beginning and ending were enjoyable, the body of the narrative was repetitive and generally boring for someone of my interests. I did, however, enjoy the action sections, and in my opinion the book could have used more of those scenes. It would be well suited to readers who enjoy romantic novels, but for those looking for more adventure, this isn’t the right book to choose. I would recommend it to readers age 12-18 who enjoy a good romance novel. Overall rating: 8/10.

Review by Maddison McCarthy, Smith’s Hill High School

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The Endgame is a very complicated book. I don’t think it was a very good idea for the author, James Frey to write the book from thirteen different perspectives. James Frey has obviously looked into the culture and backgrounds of his characters extensively. They all have very detailed pasts that make their character unique and explains why they do what they do. He has done an excellent job at making the story as clear as possible despite the incredibly complicated storyline. I think the puzzle involved with the book wasn’t a very good idea because it distracts from the story itself because the whole time you’re trying to figure out what the answer might be. This book is a very interesting and unique story however the complicated and confusing plot makes the book a less entertaining and enthralling read. Reviewed by Smiths Hill High School

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