Month: July 2016

Review: My Sister Rosa

My Sister Rosa
My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m bucking the trend scoring this a 3 rather than a 4-star rating. I did really like the story and I did feel empathy with Che and his quest to fulfil his list to stop Rosa from harming anybody, to get a girlfriend and to go home. Rosa, who is 10, is a problem, she has no empathy, she behaves badly and manipulatively and Che has become her guardian, restraining her from her most terrible urges. The parentals as they are called in the book, are weird. Very casual and under concerned about their children. Then there are the family friends, who are financing the lives of Che and his family. Why? This and other things had me wondering all the way through. There is a lot of suspense about what the awful Rosa will get up to next, who will be the next victim of her creepy ways? And this creeping menace is what kept me reading. But, it is slow moving, it really could have got a hurry along and I know that lots of ideas are being explored along the way, religion, sexuality, a culture of good deeds and lots of boxing ethics, but it is a long slow haul to the big deeds.

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Review: Coming Home to Roost

Coming Home to Roost
Coming Home to Roost by Mary-Anne Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a treat for me. Partly because I got to read it before it had a cover, when it was just a great big pile of A4 typed pages. I loved this story. I loved the people populating the pages, it feels like New Zealand, it feels just like the stories that students tell me of their lives, it feels homey and perfect and just exactly the kind of story that students need to be reading. They need stories of home. The need to read themselves. The need to have that feeling of home, Mary-Anne has captured the essence of the young NZ male and packaged him up, given him lots of great people he can learn from in his life and made an unpreachy but with good lessons book to read.

I’m a total fan of Mary-Anne Scott’s writing and I want her to be recognised as a person who is writing the stories that we need for young blokes. She is the next Fleur Beale, not that Fleur has gone, but she has that touch that Fleur has, she writes for boys and, damn it, boys need books like this. They need lots of books this and could you authors just get on and write some more for my boys and publishers just get them out there please!

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Review: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Not for me. I started this with good heart, was looking forward to it having heard it talked up in book circles for ages. I often enjoy books of this type, someone struggling with various serious issues in a funny and engaging way, but not this time. It did start well, but I made it to nearly half way before sighing and moving on. Admittedly this isn’t a huge tome, but the voice of Jenny Lawson was just not something I could be dealing with. Trying so hard to be amusing and telling stories that I just couldn’t relate to, poking fun and being snarky but in the way you do when you talk with your friends, not something that other people want to read about verbatim in a book they have paid money for. It all just made me tired and bored. I think some things are best left to a blog rather than being published in print, and this was a good example of that.

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Review: Highly Illogical Behavior

Highly Illogical Behavior
Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This guy can write a YA book, and he can make it hum along, and he can give you the most interesting premise, and he will make you cheer for his odd characters. The story of Solomon, who suffers from extreme agoraphobia to the point where he hasn’t left the house for three years, the girl who decides to befriend him for her own selfish purpose and her boyfriend who becomes his true friend is wonderful. A book with themes of loneliness, hope, love and family, a book which makes someone who could be very unlikeable, become one of the best characters you’ve read this year.

This is a must have for secondary school libraries and just confirms my fangirl status of John Corey Whaley.

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To be or not to be ….

That is the question.  Take a look at this marvelous treat.  A joy and a delight and featuring lots of fave folks from British theater and other realms. So clever and so witty.

<p><a href=”″>'To be or not to be_' featuring Benedict Cumberbatch &amp; Prince Charles – Shakespeare Live! – BBC</a> from <a href=”″>Mai Martin</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

I’ve had trouble getting this to format properly so excuse the embed code above.

Review: The Boy at the Top of the Mountain

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain
The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have had this book waiting in the tbr pile for ages. I should have read it much sooner. I really enjoyed this take on a war story. Poor Pierrot, so nieve, such a tragic start in life, his father run over by a train and then his beloved mother dies of consumption. His only friend is the little boy downstairs but his family cannot afford to take Pierrot in and so he is sent off to an orphanage. It is all pretty awful for him. Then, via a traumatic train journey, he ends up in Hitler’s Berghaus observing the war from the point of view of the Nazi elite.

This book is, in a way, related to the Boy In Striped Pajamas in that the main character is a child looking on at the Nazi activities and not fully understanding what is going on. The author, whom I admire greatly, had played a clever trick as the two books are just ever so slightly linked. I loved the way that Pierrot, who becomes Pieter is gradually indoctrinated and how we see how easy it is to be caught up in the mass hysteria of war.

An excellent book and one I think will be well received at school. It could be a successful text for school I think, there is a lot you could discuss as a result of reading this novel.

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Review: A Great Reckoning

A Great Reckoning
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been quietly reading this lovely book for ages. 2 weeks is a long time for me to spend in the company of characters but it was lovely and lively company. Louise Penny is so good at drawing you into her lovely cozy world of Three Pines and then making you uncomfortable as she places a mystery at the centre of the village and making everyone a suspect.

The crime in this particular one is set in a police training college and the victim is a man who nobody is sorry to see dead, thus everyone is a suspect. The young trainees who have been closest to the victim are sent to Three Pines and given a separate mystery to solve and so now there are two threads of mystery which need to be followed to their conclusion. Who killed Leduc and what is the meaning of the mysterious map found within the walls of the cafe. If cosy, but not too cosy, mysteries are your thing then this latest from Louise Penny will be right up your alley. I love that you can dip in and out of this series without having read any of the previous books. Perfect book to read in front of a cozy fire in the winter!

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