Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Review #418 - All These Things I've Done (Birthright #1) by Gabrielle Zevin


In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

My Rating: 3.5/5

This is a book that has been on my bookshelf for quite some time and with the trilogy now having been completed decided to finally read it.

Whilst I did like this book, it never had me fully immersed within its pages. The first half of the book was significantly better than the second half.

Given that this was a dystopian novel within a dystopian world, I didn't feel like their world was that different to the one we live in today. The only major difference was that chocolate was illegal.

I really liked Anya as a protagonist. She was very mature and levelled. Her relationship with her family was something that I particularly liked about her. She always put them before herself.

Anya's father plays a large role in her life even though he died some years ago. She is constantly quoting him and wondering what he would have done in certain situations. I really liked this aspect as it gave meaning to her strong family views.

Win was a character that I liked at first but by the end of the book I didn't really care about. I am not even sure if I can pinpoint where in the book my opinion about him changed. I probably would have preferred Win and Anya to just be friends, but then this book wouldn't have a plot.

Natty and Leo were my other favourite characters. Natty was what I expected Anya to be like at that age. Leo was the more complex character in the entire book. He felt like he always had to prove himself as everyone underestimated him because of his head injury.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review #417 - Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender


Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger . . .

My Rating: 4.5/5

I received this book for review from Scholastic Australia.

This book combined a lot of things that I love in books - unique settings, strong historical element and paranormal activity.

From the very little I knew about Marie Antoinette before reading I could tell that this book was extensively researched and made me interested in learning more about her.

The romance in this book was a little lacking. This was not something that bothered me that much but I just felt that the relationship between Jules and Colette was underdeveloped.

The whole idea of the Secret of the Key was my favourite part of the book.

Hannah was the most annoying character in the book. I spent the majority of the book wishing that Colette and Pilar would stand up to her and stop letting her manipulate them.

There were parts of this book that reminded me of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson so if you liked that I would recommend reading this.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Review #416 - The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton


In Ponyboy's world there are two types of people. There are the Socs, the rich society kids who get away with anything. Then there are the greasers, like Ponyboy, who aren't so lucky. Ponyboy has a few things he can count on: his older brothers, his friends, and trouble with the Socs, whose idea of a good time is beating up greasers. At least he knows what to expect-until the night things go too far.

My Rating: 4/5

I seem to have been one of the few people who did not have this book for required reading during high school.

All I knew about this book was that it was highly liked and considered somewhat of a modern classic. Plot wise I knew nothing.

When I first started reading it I found it hard as there was too much dialogue for my liking. The story also seemed a little slow.

It wasn't until Ponytail and Johnny's incident in the park where I started understanding the hype about this book. It was around this time that I became fully invested in the story.

All of the characters are unique and even though they all belong to the same stereotyped group they are all individuals.

I watched the movie soon after finishing the book and although the characters didn't look exactly like I had expected them to I thought that it was a strong portrayal of the story. I also liked how it quoted the book word for word at times.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Review #415 - Braveheart: Lessons Learnt from Life by Brett and Hayley S. Kirk


There have been times throughout my life that have challenged who I am and I have not always held my head high and said: this is me.

In September 2010 Brett Kirk walked off the MCG, having played his final game of AFL for his beloved Sydney Swans. Many know him as the courageous captain who helped his team win the holiest of grails on the AFL calendar. What many people don't know is how he came to be such a tireless captain, honest teammate, and admired role model in both life and sport.

His next challenge is to help YOU!

Brett, with the help of his wife, Hayley, opens himself up like never before, sharing personal stories to guide you through the challenges of working out who you truly are, what drives you, what you love and ultimately who you want to be.

My Rating: 2.5/5

I borrowed this book from my local library with expectations of it being an autobiography. I have read numerous other books written by AFL players and had expected this to be like them.

This book is more like a self-help book which is something that I do not usually read. Part of this was inspiring, but I didn't care much for the religious aspect of it.

I liked the inclusion of the photocopied pages from his journal and school reports. The layout of this book was my favourite aspect.