Destroying Avalon

Destroying Avalon by Kate McCaffrey

 A young Avalon is moved from her tight-knit country town to the big city, where her parents have found new teaching jobs at a local High School. She doesn't really know what to expect at her new high school, but she certainly wasn't expecting this.

Destroying Avalon is an extraordinary text that any teenager can relate to. It tackles strong issues like bullying and discrimination, which helps you connect with Avalon from the second you turn the first page. I've read this book multiple times and it still forces a few tears out of me every time without fail. There's loss, happiness, the gain and loss of friends, and eventually death.

If you are a teenager or are starting out at a new school, then you'll feel all Avalon's angst though out the novel. It's magnificently written, and is a definite must for all young people out there.

Age: 17


In Fiona Wood's latest novel, 'Wildlife', a bunch of year ten students are thrown together at the annual outdoor education camp. The experience lasts for one term, and involves self-sufficiency, team-work and physical exercise.
For Sybilla there is an added complication-her face has been displayed on a billboard for a perfume advertisement.
And..she kissed the gorgeous Ben Capaldi.
People are starting to notice her.
The teenagers in Sybilla's orbit are an interesting bunch. Holly, for instance, is supposed to be Sybilla's best friend. But with friends like Holly, who needs enemies?
Lou is the quiet girl in their group who is grieving for the loss of her boyfriend and is an enigma to the others until she can no longer contain herself.
And then there is Michael, Holly's best male friend who has always been there for her.
The teens are finding their way with their friendships and boyfriends/girlfriends.
Even though Holly has doubts and insecurities she is thoughtful and strong and able to work through issues of peer pressure to find the best path for her.
Recommended teen reading.


DEAD BOYS CLUB  by Geoffrey Malone

Imagine dawn- a strange quiet,
no cockerels crowing.
You step outside your hut, curious.
Then you see them – children, with rifles.
Racing at you. Yelling. Firing.

This story is often hard to read because of its truth. Every year thousands of children are taken from their homes and families and used as child soldiers.  Children, boys and girls, as young as five are taken and forced into a dark reality.

This is Sam’s story. He is twelve when his village is attacked, his mother and sisters killed. Forced to become one of the soldiers in God’s Freedom Army, led by the deranged self proclaimed Colonel Dada.

Sam has seen what happens if you don’t obey. Death. Soon he is given a gun, taught how to fight, to kill, aware that any day could be his last. How can you dream of home and family when men with machine guns guard you day and night. Escape is impossible. Or is it?

A good read but be warned that it will make you shudder with what is happening out there in the real world.

Vicki @ Pakenham.

Never Fall Down

Generally I'm not a fan of war books. I'm an emotional reader and I find them way too upsetting to read. However I have had my eye on Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick for a couple of weeks because I saw that it was about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia which I knew nothing about, apart from the phrase 'The Killing Fields', and a hazy idea of injustice.

I just finished Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher for out Teen Book Group at Narre Warren (which all are welcome to join by the way) and deciding I may as well continue with a bit of depressing reading I picked up Never Fall Down. It is a novel based on the real experiences of a man called Arn Chorn-Pond, a man who was a boy when the Khmer Rouge took power Cambodia in the 1970s. The narrative is told in the first person by McCormick based on interviews she undertook with Arn, and the other people mentioned in the story. It is a very powerful narrative, and feels very immediate for this reason. 
This is an amazing story of a kid who managed to survive while hundreds were killed around him. He survived initially by becoming part of a musical group that was taught to play revolutionary themed songs and eventually even joined with his oppressors in an effort to survive. This story is told with compassion but also does not flinch from the hard truths that those in terrible circumstances must face. You may not like this man after reading his story but you will certainly understand him and something of the terrible things the people of Cambodia went through during this period.

Ultimately however, this is a story of hope. While the human race can do some truly despicable things, our capacity for forgiveness, of ourselves and of others, and our ability to continue to hope for the best in the direst of circumstances gives this story some light within the darkness.

- Celia

Acid (the most brutal police force in history...)

ACID- the most brutal police force in history
They rule with an iron fist
They see everything. They know everything.
They locked me away for life.
My crime?
They say I murdered my parents.
I was fifteen years old.
My name is Jenna Strong…and this is my story!
Survival of the fittest is often just a saying for Jenna Strong it’s a philosophy. As the only female in an all male prison, she murdered her parents at 15, Jenna is tough ass. Nobody messes with her without suffering serious and painful consequences. That is life for Jenna always on the defensive always looking to survive but when a mysterious rebel group breaks Jenna out of prison not even Jenna will be prepared for what is to come. Survival is still number one for Jenna but just what will she have to do to survive. The truth is coming and Jenna will have to make some heart-wrenching choices is she wants to survive. Just what happened that night when her parents died? And how far will Jenna go for the truth…and revenge. Nothing will be the same.

What I loved most about ACID was the protagonist Jenna, she was strong, independent and fierce, which in YA fiction can be hard to come by, yet she had a sense of vulnerability about her that just melts your heart. I couldn’t help but compare her to Katniss Everdeen; you love Katniss then you’ll love Jenna. Pass does a good job of delivering a well paced and suspenseful plot, never leaving a time for a dull moment its go go go from the very start. The character development and world building is well constructed and I really enjoyed the secondary characters, specifically Max who you only see through Jenna’s eyes but can’t help but sympathise with. And while Max does play a role as the love inertest he is more than just that, as is Jenna, their emotional feelings and relationship is simply a fact of life, falling in love is something that happens, and doesn’t at all dominate the plot nor define the characters. The plot twists were amazing and very unpredictable and it made for a nice change to read a dystopian novel set in Britain rather than the ever popular US. One critique I will make was that Pass didn’t take the time to explain the technology of the futuristic world, what exactly were the pulse guns was a bit lost on me, and as such some of the action scenes weren’t as visual as other parts of the novel. There is also one aspect of the novel, has to do with how Jenna hides from ACID no spoilers, that didn’t sit well with me but overall a beautifully and intrinsically constructed novel that goes everywhere but where you expect and some places you don't expect. ACID is a wonderful story, one to put on your must read list, and one that  doesn’t disappoint.     Courtney :)

The Day Of The Triffids

The Day Of The Triffids by John Wyndham. 

I loved this book, it's a classic must-read for sure. It's about a man who wakes up in hospital with his eyes bandaged over from an optical related surgery. It was caused by an attack from a 'Triffid', a new species of walking plants that have invaded the world. Whilst in the hospital, a meteor shower occurs with the eyes of the world upon it. This causes everyone who had seen this spectacle to go blind. The man in the hospital is one of only a few sighted people left. 

His adventures are heart-racing and page-turning. It's very rare for me to be interested in something like this, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. You can just imagine and feel the desertion and loneliness that John describes. Not only does the story line hook you until the last page, it makes you think about what the world could be like if an event like this really did happen, who would survive? If I were blind, would anyone help me?
It's a fabulous read and I highly recommend it. 

Chantelle Your age: 17

The 5th Wave

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The 1st wave Took out half a million people The 2nd Wave Put that number to shame The 3rd Wave Lasted a little longer. Twelve weeks…Four billion dead The 4th Wave You can’t trust that people are still people And the 5th Wave? No one knows. But it’s coming…
(Longlisted for the Silver Inky award 2013)
The others have come and if you didn’t die from the electromagnetic storm then you were left to survive the tsunami that destroyed the world’s coastlines. If you lived through that then you had to survive the Red death, a highly contagious bird disease. Next you had to survive being hunted by those who look and act human but are not. Survive all that and your only option…is to wait for what comes next…

Cassie Sullivan has survived all this and now on a lonely stretch of road, armed with a M-16 rifle and her trust no-one mantra, she struggles forward determined to save her little brother Sammy. But when survival becomes dependent on the mysterious and slightly too perfect to be real Evan Walker, Cassie will be forced to choose, between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender and between life and death. Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope but can she trust him…
Not far away Cassie’s high school crush Ben Parrish also survives only to find himself interned in a military camp. Trained to the extreme Ben loses himself in order to survive and fight. But just want is Ben training for and who can and should he trust. The fifth wave is coming…just how will they survive?
First off let me say alien invasion stories are hard to pull off and I didn’t have high expectations for this book. In fact the last alien book I read and loved was the Animorphs series when I was 12, yet Yancey managed to really blow me away because I absolutely LOVED this book. The story is very nicely unravelled with Yancey giving away little pieces of the puzzle the further you read. But what I most loved about this book was how Yancey made me question myself. I thought I had the plot down, but I never did, I thought I knew who they characters were and yet I questioned it. Cassie is just a wonderful character, typical teenage she loses none of her attitude despite all else she loses. Ben is so devastatingly broken that you can’t help but want to piece him back together. Their journeys from crashing to the very depths only to struggle back again makes for a thrilling and highly compelling read. Evan Walker…what can I say you think you know but Yancey still makes you question it. In fact I think that’s the brilliance of the story you not only question what makes us human but also like Cassie and Ben who to trust and how to trust what you know when your gut tells you otherwise.  The writing and plot is superbly delivered and while having only a handful of main characters Yancey manages to give each one soul and depth that reaches out from the pages of the book. The 5th wave is an insanely amazing read and one that will have lasting popularity for years to come. A very intense and violent read this isn’t one for the faint hearted but if you can handle such a dark tale you will become addictively hooked; one of the best reads of 2013. Pick it up…if you dare!!!

  Courtney :)

Creepy and Maud

In 'Creepy and Maud', Dianne Touchell will take you on a journey that is not an easy one, and it's certainly not a comfortable ride, either.
Nonetheless, 'Creepy and Maud' is an amazing novel - beautifully written, but also dark.

'Creepy and Maud' has been selected as one of the shortlisted books for the CBC Book Awards for 2013.

The two main characters ('Creepy' and 'Maud' - not their real names) are a teenage boy and girl who live in close enough proximity that they can see into each other's windows.
And that is precisely what they do-largely communicating by writing notes and displaying them on the window.

A range of dysfunctional characters displaying alarming behavioural traits inhabit the world of 'Creepy and Maud'.
Let's begin with Creepy's parents. Creepy's father has actually trained their dog to bite his mother.
And then there is Maud. Maud pulls her hair out - handfuls at a time. Creepy watches her do this from his window.

Dianne Touchell's characters are insightful, often weirdly so.
For instance, Creepy is aware that much of his father's anger is due to a lack of control within his own life.
Then there are Creepy's views on love.
 'Love is sort of creepy. When you fall in love, you presuppose all sorts of things about the person. You superimpose all kinds of ideals and fantasies on them. You create all manner of unrealistic, untenable, unsatisfiable criteria for that person, automatically guaranteeing their failure and your heartbreak.
And what do we call it? Romance.
Now that's creepy.'

I recommend this book to all lovers of good teenage fiction.


A Bridge to Wiseman's Cove

A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove is a book written by James Molony. He expresses the relationship and raw emotions of a family with many problems in their lives. The “Carl” family slowly breaks up as the mother leaves the older sister to look after two young boys, Carl and Harley Matt. But when the sister abandons the boys for a job overseas, the boys find themselves in a sad situation being left with their Aunt for weeks and weeks to come. Later in the story Carl and Harley will realise that their Mother will never come back and many secrets will be revealed.              
This book is an amazing survival story of two young boys and is a great read for the ages of twelve plus. A Bridge To Wiseman’s Cove is a moving story with sad twists and turns, but as you read on throughout the book all of the problems will turn out just fine. This book is a must-read for all young teenagers.

- Luke Beaumont (Teen Reviewer via Celia)

Between the lives

800x600 Above all else, though I try not to think about it, I know which life i prefer. And every night when I Cinderlla myself from one life to the next, a very small, but definite piece of me dies. The hardest part is that nothing about my situation has ever changed. There is no loophole. Until now, that is... Normal 0 false false false EN-AU JA X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";}

Life has always been complex for Sabine, living two lives where she is physically the same but different in every other way is an exhausting task. But that has always been the way life is for Sabine. As Roxbury Sabine she’s your average teenager, she has hard working parents, a younger sister who worships her, questionable friends and exhibits delinquent behaviour. In direct contrast Wellesley Sabine lives a life of privilege, with annoying older brothers, the perfect boyfriend, great friends and academic success. Life for Sabine is 24 hours in one life before ‘shifting’ to the other for the next 24 hours at midnight. Nothing ever changes…until now. When Sabine breaks her arm in one life she discovers a loophole that sends her into a spiral of dangerous experimentation. Is one life truly better than two? What’s worth risking for happiness we think we want? How does Sabine choose the perfect life, if there is such a thing.
Ok WOW…Between the lives is a clever, genuine and masterfully unique tale that will captivate the reader with the turn of every page. Be warned this book is emotional  Jessica’s writing has a way of pulling the reader in, making them feel everything Sabine feels including her despair, her strength and her confusion as she attempts to navigate the waters of her lives with the new rules in place. Sabine is quite relatable, she’s experiencing all the angst that come with the teenage years, struggling to find her identity and her place in the world, but in a unique way. Ethan as a supporting character is charming and mysterious and an excellent sound bar for Sabine as she struggles to figure out her lives. The writing, the plot and the characters all gel together for an insanely good read.  The storyline is quite heavy, dealing with some serious issues, which takes the reader on one hell of an emotional rollercoaster ride but one that is totally worth the journey. Between the lives is unlike anything I’ve read before, it is touching, honest, intense and heartbreaking all at once. Do not pass on this one….

Courtney :)

Looking for Alibrandi

Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta introduces us to 17 year old Josephine Alibrandi and the ups and downs of her busy whirlwind life.  In the beginning, we see how she is trying her best to juggle impressing her friends and family at the same time while trying to discover who she really is. Her Italian heritage plays a big role in her life and she begins to wonder about her family’s history and ends up unpacking some family secrets. Josie feels like her past seem to always determine how people see her and when she meets her Dad for the first time it certainly took her by surprise. To add to all the issues she has to face, she meets Jacob Coote who helps make her see things from a different perspective and also helps show her how to value what she has.  Throughout the story, Josie slowly grows maturely and learns more not only from the people around her, but also from herself.

I really enjoyed Looking for Alibrandi because it really captures the dramas and pressures that people go through day to day. It deals with a lot of different issues that are present today such as racism, peer pressure and family issues. Towards the end, I learnt how the title showed how Josie was on a journey to finding out about where she came from, who she is and where she belongs. Those are definitely questions that are common to everyone making it worth a read.

- Davina (Teen Reviewer via Celia)

Check out the trailer to the movie that was released in 2000.

Friday Brown

Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield.

‘They call me Friday. It has been foretold that on a Saturday I will drown….’
Seventeen year old Friday Brown is trying to escape. Escape her nomadic life, her mother’s death and the family curse that foretells of her own death…death by water.
Not wanting to live with her stern and taciturn grandfather, she finds herself on the streets. There she is befriended by Silence, a boy who due to physical abuse can not speak, and she is introduced to his ‘family.’ An eclectic group of kids living in a squat, under the guidance of the magnetic Arden.
The group leave the city for the ghost town of Murungal Creek, a place which Arden claims as theirs.  There Friday learns that family is more than what you are born with, it is what you create with those you love.  And that sometimes you have to fight for what you believe is right.
Wakefield creates a haunting yet real world, with some of the most broken characters I have yet to meet. Yet you feel for them. Silence, the mute boy with the damaged past is one of the best characters I have met for a long long time.
This book takes you on a journey with a bunch of misfit street kids- and leaves you with a sense of sadness and the understanding that it couldn’t have ended any other way.
I thoroughly recommend this book. Short-listed for the Book of the Year, Older Readers category by the Book Council of Australia 2013.

Vicki @ Pakenham

Teen Book Group Display

Hi all!

The next Narre Warren Teen Book Group session will be held on Thursday 11th of July at 4.30pm. We will be discussing Divergent by Veronica Roth. Check out the brilliant display two work experience students made to promote the event:

Thank you Sinead and Charlotte!

Hope to see you all there.

- Celia

To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Outstanding. It may seem to be a bit slow moving in the first half of the book, but if you're appreciative like I am for classic literature, you'll see through it and enjoy it immensely. I love how Harper Lee describes everything so well, and how her descriptions allow you to accurately picture the whole scene of the novel.

You'll never forget this book, it hits you hard, and is one of those books that makes you take a step back and think about what life is like today. It's altered my view of reality, and will be embedded in my mind for infinite years to come. It's a definite must-read, I highly recommend it.

Age: 17

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin begins with 17 year old Mara Dyer, who wakes up in a hospital with no memory of a tragic accident that took place and killed her friends, with her being the only survivor. As a result of the accident, she is diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and begs her family relocate to Miami, Florida, for a fresh start. But things don’t end there.

Mara starts at a new school and quickly becomes friends with Jamie, who makes her feel at ease with herself and is the only person who doesn’t know about her past. I really liked Jamie’s character, as he was funny and completely at ease. She is also introduced to Noah Shaw, the arrogant English boy who moved to America three years earlier. He is everything she is not asking for.  She steers clear from him with Jamie’s advice, but develops feelings for him as the story unfolds.

Mara slowly begins to remember the events from the building collapse and with it comes some terrifying revelations. She learns that she has the ability to kill with her mind and that she and Noah have a connection that runs deeper than any other relationship.

I really enjoyed reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer because the story is one that stayed with me long after I turned the final page. It was a story about finding a sense of comfort in a world that was chaotic. Noah made Mara believe that he could help her. He also made her believe that she wasn’t a murderer and wasn’t to blame for the deaths of her friends. He made her feel beautiful and cared for and wanted to ‘fix’ her, and he wouldn’t give up on her like her family had by not believing her problems couldn’t be fixed with medicine.

By the end of the book, I learnt that it is more than meets the eye with people. Mara is a shell of her former self, and Noah is the one to complete her. The ending of the book was a complete cliff-hanger, and it made me want to have the second instalment right away. Throughout the book, I was left on the edge of my seat in anticipation of what would happen next. If you enjoy a fantastic, original with a twist read, Michelle Hodkin’s remarkable debut is the perfect novel.

- Charlotte (Teen Reviewer via Celia)

Joyous and Moonbeam

'Joyous and Moonbeam' by Richard Yaxley is a strong and touching Australian teen novel.
The story is essentially that of 33 year old intellectually disabled man, Joyous.

 Life has not been easy for Joyous who has long been the butt of jokes and has encountered many fights.
Whilst his mother is fiercely loving and supportive his father had an untimely death after a 'poorly judged whiparound a bread van'.

Joyous is working in a sheltered workshop when he befriends a 15 year old girl he nicknames 'Moonbeam'. Slowly they begin to form a friendship which blossoms. Their friendship is nurturing and has mutual benefits.

Joyous has a  philosophy of 'working things around a little' and looking for the positives begins to rub off on pessimistic Moonbeam.
The voice of Joyous is fresh and innocent and true.
'Joyous and Moonbeam' is told from the point of view of three people : Joyous, his mother, and Moonbeam.
Each has a compelling story to tell.

Recommended reading.


Inkys 2013 Longlist

The long list of nominations for the Inky Awards 2013 have been announced.

"The Inky Awards are for teen literature, voted for online by the readers of insideadog.com.au, and named after the site's wonder-dog, Inky. There are two awards: the Gold Inky for an Australian book, and the Silver Inky for an international book."

The judges will begin their deliberations on the long list, to determine which titles will be kept for the short list, which will be announced 26 August.

The short list will then be opened to your votes to determine 2013's Inky Award winners.

In the meantime, check out the long list and catch up with those titles you may have missed. (and getting them from your library is so easy) After all, you could be voting for them later in the year.

~ Michelle

FILM SCREENING: Bride and Prejudice

Bring along your friends and some cushions, and come to the FREE film screening of 'Bride and Prejudice' at Hampton Park Library these school holidays.

A modern adaptation of Jane's Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice', it's part romance, part comedy, and all Bollywood! Set in Amritsa, Lalita Bakshi (played by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) is the beautiful and headstrong daughter, who is determined to only marry for love, as her mother conspires to marry off all her daughters. But then Lalita meets the wealthy American, William 'Will' Darcy, who is obstinate and conceited. But is it all a case of prejudice?

Where: Hampton Park Library
When: Thursday 4 July
Time: 5.30-7.30pm

You'll like it if you like: Jane Austen, Romantic Comedies, Bollywood movies, and musicals!

Snacks provided. BYO blankets and cushions.

Also a lucky door prize to be won on the night!

Book online at www.tinyurl.com/cclcevents or phone your local CCLC library.

Rated PG.

See you there!

~ Rafah