Quicksand

The Minnow


The Minnow by Diana Sweeney is the winner of the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing 2013.

I procrastinated for quite a while before I read this book. A pregnant teenager whose family had died in a flood? No thanks, I'll read something else.

But when I finally opened the book I couldn't put it down.
The cover is eye-catching - dark and beckoning - filled with sea creatures and underwater life. It also sets the mood for the novel.
And that is what I so loved about the book - a style and mood that sets it apart - dreamy and flowing.

The main character in the book is a girl called Tom who lives with a much older bloke called Bill since the death of her parents and sister.
Tom is pregnant with Bill's baby and she can no longer stay with Bill. She moves in with her friend Jonah who is helpful and supportive, as are others in her community.
As Tom works through her grief she communicates in an unlikely way with marine creatures and with her unborn child whom she names 'the minnow.'


This is a beautifully written novel that I recommend to those who love reading high quality YA fiction.

It is Diana's first novel, and it is a real winner.

-Ann

Heir of Fire

She is more than an assassin…She is a Queen…She is Aelin Ashryver GalathyniusHeir of two mighty bloodlinesAnd she’s back…
 Series: Throne of glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire
Celaena Sardothiencan no longer run, no longer hide. Heartbroken, lost and sent to the other side of the world, home of her ancestors, Celaena will embark on a journey to fulfil the oath she made to her perished Celaena to finally face the past and herself. Learning to accept her Fae heritage and magic will only be the beginning of Celaena’s journey from infamous assassin to reigning Queen. However there is more to the King’s reign than Celaenacould have ever imagined and defeat will come at a cost. The pieces are in play, moves are being made and war is about to rage. What will Celaena choose? Run or fight. There will be no second chances.friend. However fulfilling such an oath will require

Heir of Fire is by far the best book of this series; everything finally comes together in this thrilling, edge of your seat read. The old of characters return; Celaena’s past finally comes to light giving the reader further insight into her actions thus far; Dorian continues to grow although as with the last book he doesn’t appear as much as I would like; Chaol continues to play his role of helper of all failing to demonstrate an ability to make decisions for himself and the King proves to be more cunning than first thought. There is also a host of new characters such as Manon, a witch who is quite unlikable, and despite thawing out during the book I struggled to make it through her chapters, Sorcha a healer who attracts Dorian’s attention but has secrets of her own, Aedion the traitorous cousin and Roland the mystery Fae who intrigues not only Celaena but the reader as well. Each new character brings a new depth to the older characters and the plot overall. The descriptive nature of the text is engaging and it was refreshing to alternate between the different perspectives of the characters, as it added more layers to the overall story. Again as with its predecessors I was enthralled with the world Maas has built and the supernatural aspects she has effortlessly woven in. The plot twists along with the host of new characters makes for compelling reading and revitalises the story in exciting, new and unexpected ways. This book is literally a page-turner; a stunning new sequel in what is fast becoming one of my favourite YA series.


Courtney :)

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Claire


Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Claire is book one in the prequel series the Infernal Devices based before the Mortal Instruments series began. 

Magic is dangerous; but love is more dangerous still ~


When 16 year old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to England in hope of finding her brother. The time is the reign of Queen Victoria and something terrifying is awaiting for her in the London’s downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gas-lit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, Nephilim warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, in order to keep the peace among the human world. 
When she arrives in London, she is kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, who are members of a secret organisation called the Pandemonium Club; Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability. The ability to transform at will, into another person. The Magister, the shadowy figure that runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.
Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her new found power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by and torn between two best friends; Jem, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arms length… everyone, that is, but Tessa. 
As their search draws them deep into the heart of an evil dark plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world... and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

This book is spectacular, with everything I'd wanted in the TMI series and more. The magic and mysteries are compelling and Victorian London is a fantastic backdrop to this steam-punk tale about a girl who discovers she has incredible powers...and an incredible past. Tessa is a vibrant, fascinating heroine and all the secondary characters, including Will and Jem and Charlotte, are engaging and sympathetic. I thought this book was much more mature than the TMI series, so I'm very much looking forward to reading the next two Infernal Devices instalments.


- S.Rose (Narre Work Experience Student)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
 by Benjamin Alire Saenz has won a number of American awards and commendations including the Printz Honor Book, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and Kirkus Reviews best Teen Book of the Year.

Fifteen year old Aristotle is not sure who he is. He has few if any friends. He does, however, enjoy bantering with his mother.

'What are you going to do today?' she asks him.
'I'm going to join a gang' he says.
'That's not funny' she responds.
'I'm Mexican. Isn't that what we do?'
'Not funny' she says.
'Not funny' agrees Aristotle.


Whilst Aristotle is at the local pool, he befriends a teenage boy called Dante and they form an intense bond.
Over time, Dante, an artistic teenager, is able to break down barriers that Aristotle has built around himself.

The reader slowly discovers that Dante is gay. What happens next is a journey for both young men that involves inner strength and bravery.

There are many things to admire about this novel and the relationship that both boys have with their parents is one factor.
The writing is clever and honest, depicting the lives and challenges of American/Mexican families.

Highly recommended reading.

-Ann

Wonder by R.J Palacio





Wonder by R.J Palacio
I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a severe facial deformity and this book follows his story as he attends mainstream school for the first time. The story is told from the point of view of Auggie, as well as the people in his life. Being the 'new kid' at any school is always hard, Auggie must learn to make new friends, interact with teachers and navigate new rules. Auggie has to deal with all of the usual emotions on top of his fears about how people will react when they see his face.

We, the reader, are never offered a detailed description of Auggie's face, but as the story goes on and we hear from other characters, we begin to create a picture of what we think Auggie must look like. What I found most striking about this novel was that sometimes, because Auggie's voice sounds like the voice of any regular 5th grader, I would sometimes forget about his deformity and get sucked in to the relationships and conflicts in the story.

August's down to earth attitude and bravery is inspiring. This particular quote is an example of his perspective on things:

It’s okay, I know I’m weird-looking, take a look, I don’t bite. Hey, the truth is, if a wookie started going to school all of a sudden, I’d be curious, I’d probably stare a bit! And if I was walking with Jack or Summer, I’d probably whisper to them: Hey, there’s the wookie. And if the wookie caught me saying that, he’d know I wasn’t trying to be mean. I was just pointing out the fact that he’s a wookie.

Despite Auggie's attitude and resilience, there are some awful scenes which make the book an emotional and heart breaking read. However, these scenes are balanced by moments of inspiring kindness and friendship that leave you feeling whimsical and uplifted. Ultimately positive, this book was a compassionate story, realistic and warm. I would recommend it for readers of all ages.

Jess from Endeavour Hills

This Is Not a Test


This Is Not a Test-  Courtney Summers

I’m so over books about zombies and vampires, angels and demons. The un-dead in any form. There are so many out there….so if you have to write one, make it good.

This is good. Although in reality the zombies, or in this case the ‘infected’ are merely a tool to throw six teenagers together.  Yes it is the end of the world and the six students are sheltering in their High School, while the dead pound on the doors and wait for them to come out. But this novel is much more.

Main character Sloane waits for the doors to open, for her world to end. In fact she feels her life ended when her older sister Lily ran away from home. Leaving her alone with their abusive father. Sloane finds no reason to keep on living, wants to give up. Has her suicide note already written. But hiding in the school with others that are fighting for survival, means she has to think of others. Not just herself.

Like a lot of readers, this novel in some way reminds me of The Breakfast Club. Teenagers thrown together, who would never become friends in normal circumstances, begin to see each other in a new light. As time inches by, tensions build, personalities war.

Then it’s time to leave, to take their chances out in the streets. Try to find a way to survive, to make it to Rayford and the shelter it promises.  I won’t give too much away, but the ending is one that I really didn't expect. Not after the fact that the group had survived so much.

Recommend read
Vicki @ Pakenham

Pygmalion

Pygmalion - A Play by George Bernard Shaw

Not many people in their teen years have heard of the play Pygmalion.  I mean most of us don’t even read plays! I read this for a school assignment but for me it became so much more. As an avid fan of the movie My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison, I was extremely excited to hear that this play is what the movie was based off.
Set in the early 1900's under Edwardian rule, this play is about a teacher of phonetics, the science of speech, and Eliza Doolittle a poor flower girl trying to get by on the little amount of money she makes. Higgins meets Eliza in not the best of situations with her convinced he's a cop and thinks she was ‘coming onto’ an older gentlemen. She is absolutely horrified to say the least. You can imagine the noises she makes with her horrid cockney accent when she’s in a rush! As the play progresses Higgins decides to take Eliza on as a bet of a sort with a friend of his,  Colonel Pickering a fellow linguist (scientist of speech if you will) that he could transform Eliza and even pass her off as the queen of Sheba within 13 months. A the bet progresses and Eliza is taught how to speak and act like a proper elegant and well-dressed lady, more problems, feeling, and characters come to light. The real question is will Eliza ever be able to pull it off and what will happen to her now if she doesn’t?

As a play it is very different from a book in how you read it and how to understand what exactly is happening so I’ll give you some tips. All stage directions will be in italics and [brackets], it gives actors directions for movement and expression. At the beginning of each act, think of them as chapters if you will, there will always be a very detailed setting so that you know exactly of your surroundings because that is how it was meant to be done on stage. When one character is speaking to the other it may come up with them speaking their name and then saying something aimed to them and them alone. One thing that I found to be a great help was if you completely had no clue what a word meant just have a dictionary on your lap or on a laptop. By the end of the book your vocabulary will clearly be so resplendently refined that you will be able to baffle all whom you meet just like Eliza does.

If you happen to enjoy the movie that was based of this play then I recommend you read this too as it opens your eyes so much to all of these other ideas and things that were meant to happen and coincide with each other, I for one find it absolutely fascinating.
I see now that I have rambled on quite a bit about this play probably because for me I’ve always wondered if more happened beyond the movie because as they say all of the best movies are based off books.
As far as I know this doesn’t have any prizes behind it like many others of the time but it does have a string of performances and a movie featuring some of the most brilliant actors and singers alike starring in it.

L.E Simpkin (Work Experience Student)
Age 15

Note: I can add that My Fair Lady won many awards in 1965 - including Best Picture Oscar, Best Actor in a Leading Role Rex Harrison , Best Director George Cukor, Best Cinematography,  Best Costume Design, and Best  Music. Here's a clip about the making of the movie from the play. Cen




Calypso Summer

It is thirty-nine degrees, his boss hasn't paid him, and he is too broke to fix his 'piece of shit ten-speed.' So begins 'Calypso Summer' by Jared Thomas.

Calypso (real name Kyle) Summer is viewed with suspicion by many people with whom he comes into contact. Not because of his near waist-length dreadlocks, but because he is an Aborigine.

Calypso is trying to make good decisions in his life since leaving school. However, Calypso's old life is never far behind him with his bad-influence ganja smoking cousin Run also living in the flat that Calypso rents.
After months of unemployment, Calypso finally scores a job with Gary who runs a DVD store. Gary then branches out in to a health food outlet. He has big plans for the new store-plans that involve Calypso and traditional bush medicines and remedies.

But Gary can by mysterious. Are Gary's intentions good or will he exploit Calypso and his newly found bush relations for his own ends?

'Calypso Summer' depicts young Aboriginal people in a contemporary setting and raises issues of Aboriginal heritage and connections as well as urban life, family and romance.

There are laugh-out loud moments when, for instance, Calypso is tricked into thinking he has been given a relaxing natural bush product for his bath, or when we find out how 'Run' was given his name.

I really enjoyed this book, which was the State Library of Queensland black and write prize winner for 2013.

-Ann

Revived

Title: Revived
Author/Artist: Cat Patrick

Cat Patrick is a wonderful author to have debuted with a novel that is unique and memorable. 'Revive' revolves around a girl named Daisy who is not your ordinary high school girl. She is nomadic and never bothers to make attachments to people, objects or places - because she is a human experiment of the drug named revive (which does what it is called). However everything changes after the fifth time she dies and moves to Omaha, where a new life awaits her.
Read 'Revive' to join in on Daisy's engagement in new experiences and problems and intriguing concept of the way she must live, but most of all, get to know Cat Patrick's clear yet captivating style of writing that explores the ups and downs of life.
You might like this if you like......: the genres: sci-fi, teen love, drama, and mystery.

 C.N
Age: 15

Check out the book trailer below.

The Kissing Booth - Beth Reekles

The Kissing Boothwritten by UK author Beth Reekles, first appeared on the website Wattpad, since then TKB has won the Watty awards and been published; sending Beth Reekles into the world of YA authors. This novel is tremendous, I first read it on Wattpad when it was in its rough stages and it was absolutely amazing, I read it three times. Then when it came out in print I was wrapped. I borrowed it and read it a further two times and I was still amazed.

I cannot do this novel any justice, but it has got to be another of my all time favourites. The emotions, the descriptions and of course the plot is all breath-taking. Reekles is a pure generous, I wish I had written this novel. It is a must read for anyone who is in love with teen fiction romances. One of a kind, don’t hold back, I urge you to find it and enjoy! 
~E. Winters Narre Warren Work Experience 

A Girl Like Me - Penny Matthews

Historical Fiction has got to be my all-time favourite genre; there is always the right balance of fact, fiction and a good double dose of imagination. Romance, great historic moments and the telling of a different time always has me from the first sentence. If you’re a historical fiction loving reader like me, then this novel is for you. Written by Australian author Penny Matthews, A Girl Like me is a wonderfully thought provoking filled novel about an ambitious fifteen year old Emily Jane Brooker, known as Emmie by close friends and family. Emmie’s life revolves around the learning of household skills, piano lessons and her best friend Ada. But when a young Miss Bertha Schippan is brought into the picture things get a little saucy. In all honesty this one big page turner, with the insight to facts about life over a century ago, involving a lot of Australian history about something that brought headlines rushing out around the nation. This novel has got to be one of the best novels I have read, there are references to Emily Bronte’s works and to the hard times a young woman had to go through. This amazing novel touches on all aspects of a young girl’s life back in 1902, questions will be raised with this one. If you really do like Australia’s history, or history in general with some mystery mixed in, this book is the one for you. A well written, page turning, marvellous book that should be read by everyone! 
~ E.Winters Narre Warren Work Experience

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


Tell us about it: The Hunger Games is all about a girl named Katniss who takes the place of her sister who got chosen to go in the Hunger Games and both of them were really scared.

How good was it? Fantastic

Review by Samantha from Cranbourne Adventurer's Club

Altered


Title: Altered
Author:  Jennifer Rush

Anna's dad works for a mysterious organisation called the Branch. As a part of his work they keep 4 boys in a secret lab to perform experiments on them. The boys, Nick, Cas, Trev and Sam, have no memory of their past life, but as a result of their treatments have extraordinary skills, such as strength. For years, Anna has looked after the boys and become incredibly close to them, especially Sam, whom she has fallen in love with. After an escape attempt, Anna and the boys are on run from the Branch, trying to piece together all the clues to what the Branch's plans are, and Anna discovers her life has been a lie.

The main driving force of the novel is the mystery of the Branch itself, and I enjoyed this immensely. There are many twists in the book, some are expected and some were unexpected enough to warrant a second flick to the beginning with a confused "But HOW?". Reasonable number of fight scenes, although it's not action-packed. However, one of the negatives was the strange romance between Anna and Sam that seems contrived at the start and becomes a little creepy towards the end. That combined Anna's narration echoing Bella Swan in Twilight may be a turn-off for some.

So overall, skip the romance, and it's a pretty cool read. One final warning however: the ending leaves conspicuously enough room for a potential sequel.

Lauren
Age 17

Paper Towns by John Green

“What a treacherous thing to believe a person is more than a person.”

John Green ceases to amaze me with his unforgettable and brilliant stories, and in every one of them he never fails to go in depth with teenage lives that is always accompanied by a concept or idea that every human can relate to.
The award-winning novel, ‘Paper Towns’, explores the lives of the interesting and lovable  characters; Quentin Jacobsen (“Q” for short), Margo Roth Spiegelman, Ben Starling, “Radar” and Lacey Pemberton. The story has romance, mystery, and humour throughout as Q desperately searches for the love of his life, Margo, along with his friends by trying to piece together clues of her whereabouts. But what makes it different from most mystery and teenage stories is the message behind it, and that the clues aren’t your typical clues. As they search for Margo, many misconceptions and perceptions of Margo arise and it makes the characters, as well as the reader, really wonder – Who is Margo Roth Spiegelman? What kind of person is she really?

When Q and his friends go on a journey to save or find her they expected to learn more about her, but they come to learn even more about themselves.


- C.N, Narre Warren Work Experience

Love in Revolution

The setting for 'Love in Revolution' by B.R. Collins is a fictitious country on the verge of political collapse.
Fifteen year old Esteya comes from a comfortable family - her father is a Doctor.
Her brother, however, is a member of the Communist Party and tensions are rising.
We see the world through Esteya's eyes and discover that she and her family are slow to realise that revolution is around the corner. They are unaware of the danger they are in.
Initially Esteya and her family feel protected by her brother's involvement in the Communist Party. They are given benefits that their neighbours do not enjoy.

'Love in Revolution' is also a love story, and in the midst of the political turmoil, Esteya befriends Skizi, an outcast 'Zikindi' girl, and finds herself drawn to her. Their relationship blossoms. Skizi is streetwise and clever, and both girls will need all their wits about them to survive.
An exciting wartime novel of love. death, betrayal and strength.

-Ann

Looking for Alaska

I don’t think I was really prepared for this book even though I have read all of John Greens books (ironically) I was expecting something I didn’t get, but what I got was so much better. This is probably his
most serious and thoughtful book which is to say a lot, because all of his books are to some extent, serious and thoughtful. It is also a painful book to read but I didn’t quite understand why bad things happen to good people and why good things happen to bad people? Although with John’s ability to interpret different characters into multiple personality’s or egos, he manipulates the story into a very stimulating although very tragic story line creating this ordeal of wanting to endure the story even further.

 The beauty of the Looking for Alaska is that it doesn't hide anything. It showcases what young love and growing up are in a very brutal and honest light. We tend to see how the characters communicate, their relationships with each other, their pasts and the pleasure that comes with being a bad kid shine through the pages... Even though there are 2 parts to the story (before and after which I won’t be spoiling what separates them) it engages the reader to persistently want more. I tend to realise why I like this book so much, it’s because unlike most books aimed at teenagers, they aren’t. They don’t fully experience the depth of what being a teenager means, unlike John Green’s books. John utilizes the average teenager’s day to day life and portrays them in his story’s enabling all ages to feel something of the story (especially teenagers) I would recommend this book to anyone; I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and the author’s collections.


Tiana (Cranbourne work experience student)

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

I sobbed all the way through The Impossible Knife of Memory. Laurie Halse Anderson is an amazing American YA author who brought wonderful books like Speak and Wintergirls to teens. Her latest novel is just as moving. Hayley looks after her father who has returned from the Iraq war. He suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, but will not face his own troubles. Hayley is in trouble at school – somehow essays don’t mean as much as they should when you are trying to keep your father alive and functioning. She meets Finn who changes the way she sees the world – but does she have time for anyone else in the strange life she lives? Highly complex, intense and some of the strongest character writing around.

- Celia


The hobbit (a very biased review)

The hobbit is a book written by J.R.R. Tolkien, who also created Lord of the rings and many other books. It is about a hobbit, Bilbo, (Which are a race of children-sized, hairy, happy hungry beings) who goes on a
journey and finds himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. After Gandalf (My favourite character in both the hobbit and Lord of the rings) shows up at his front door and brings along a band of thirteen dwarves  to accompany Bilbo on an  escapade to slay a dragon and take back their homeland of Erebor.

This is definitely my favourite book because it’s full of adventure and excitement, and it keeps you intrigued. I decided to read this book when I was about eight because of my favourite movie (Lord of the rings) and I wasn’t disappointed. This is the only book that I can recall that I have read more than once, and once you read it it’s easy to understand why. I would recommend this to anyone of any age (Well, anyone of any age who can read, obviously) because it has such a diverse range of interesting things in it. When Tolkien wrote the book, it was intended for readers form ages five to nine, even so, many adults and teens read the book anyway.


Destinee (Cranbourne Work experience student)

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