24 July, 2014

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

From Goodreads: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Thoughts: I listened to this as an audio book. It was narrated by Kate Rudd, who is not someone I had every heard of before. I mention this because I have come to realise how important a narrator is to an audio book. Kate Rudd is a good narrator. I didn't find myself distracted by her voice, it didn't sound "put on", she made the book enjoyable.
It's easy to see why this book has done so well. I found it to be a strong story that dealt with the tough topic of teenage cancer sufferers without becoming condescending or clich├ęd. It became apparent to me what was going to happen fairly quickly, but I think anyone with half a brain would have seen it. I don't think John Green set out to put in a big twist that no one would see coming, instead I think he wanted a book with emotion and thoughtfulness and I think he achieved it.
The book made me cry, but I don't think I cried where most YA readers would have. The parts that had me almost sobbing as I sat in the car park at Woolworths (handy hint - emotion laden books while driving, not such a good idea!) was the conversation Hazel had with her parents towards the end of the book. Hazel is living on borrowed time - you know it the whole way through. As a parent, I cannot and do not want to imagine what that feels like. Hazel's fears for her parents took my breath away and had me wanting to reach out and grab her, hold her close and promise her they would be ok and then I wanted to tell her parents that when it came, I would support them too.
One of the thing Green is a master of is producing quotes you just know teens are scrawling down all over the place because those words touched them. Google A Fault in our Stars quotes and you'll see what I mean. Here's a taste:

The thing is, I remember just about every scene where those words were spoken. I could put them in chronological order for you. John Green writes words that have power. The problem may be believing those words come from teens.
After a short FB discussion with a friend about AFioS I started to think about the portrayal of teens in young adult books. I know I have often thought that the characters are unbelievable, wise beyond their years - and this holds true for AFioS. The insights and reactions of Hazel, Gus and even Issac is way beyond what I think most teenagers would display. But here's the thing, I don't remember ever thinking that when I was a young adult reading such books - and I don't think the characters in the books have changed that much. What has changed, obviously, is me. I'm older, I have more experience and I am now (far) distant from being a young adult and therefore the direct target audience for these books. So here's my conclusion on teens wise beyond their years in YA books - they have to be. If the characters in YA books were your typical teens, you wouldn't get the stories you do. I think it's also a way of showing YA readers what they can become, presents a model of maybe who they'd like to be. This slightly unrealistic presentation of their age group doesn't worry them because they can imagine that's what they could be like. If adults truly want to get the best out of YA books, they need to stop expecting them to be books for adults and accept they are books for young adults - teens.

Book Review: The Arrival

From Goodreads: In a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean. He's embarking on the most painful yet important journey of his life- he's leaving home to build a better future for his family.
Shaun Tan evokes universal aspects of an immigrant's experience through a singular work of the imagination. He does so using brilliantly clear and mesmerizing images. Because the main character can't communicate in words, the book forgoes them too. But while the reader experiences the main character's isolation, he also shares his ultimate joy.

Thoughts: Shaun Tan is fabulous. His ability to tell a full and emotive story suing pictures is bought to the fore in this book. The Arrival is a graphic novel without words, but at no stage are you left wondering what the story is about, what emotions the characters are feeling and why they are making the decisions they do.

The Suitcase - Shaun Tan

The Old Country - Shaun Tan

Telling the story of a man who leaves his family and journeys to a new country in search of a better life, Tan illustrates the strangeness of a new place, where nothing looks familiar and there are so many things you don't understand.

Freshman Monroe Scholars

The Market - Shaun Tan
Yet people are met, stories shared and you realise you are not the only one to have struggled in this new environment.

Columbus State University Unfamiliar Genre Wiki - Graphic Novels
Friends are made,
Dinner - Shaun Tan
families reunited,

Josephine Zupan's English 4561 E-Folio
and all without the reader having read a single word.

This book is so rich. You could easily spend a couple of hours pouring over the illustrations, looking at the detail and delighting at the story.

Shaun Tan explains some of the inspiration and processes behind The Arrival on this page. You will need to scroll down past the pictures to read the article. 

This book also fits into my 100 Best Book List Challenge, covering the Young Adult category.

21 July, 2014

Book Review: The Shelf

From Goodreads: Phyllis Rose embarks on a grand literary experiment—to read her way through a random shelf of library books, LEQ–LES
Can you have an Extreme Adventure in a library? Phyllis Rose casts herself into the wilds of an Upper East Side lending library in an effort to do just that. Hoping to explore the “real ground of literature,” she reads her way through a somewhat randomly chosen shelf of fiction, from LEQ to LES.
The shelf has everything Rose could wish for—a classic she has not read, a remarkable variety of authors, and a range of literary styles. The early nineteenth-century Russian classic A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov is spine by spine with The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Stories of French Canadian farmers sit beside those about aristocratic Austrians. California detective novels abut a picaresque novel from the seventeenth century. There are several novels by a wonderful, funny, contemporary novelist who has turned to raising dogs because of the tepid response to her work.
In The Shelf, Rose investigates the books on her shelf with exuberance, candor, and wit while pondering the many questions her experiment raises and measuring her discoveries against her own inner shelf—those texts that accompany us through life. “Fairly sure that no one in the history of the world has read exactly this series of novels,” she sustains a sense of excitement as she creates a refreshingly original and generous portrait of the literary enterprise.

Thoughts: The idea of this book appealed to me as I have often looked at a library full of books and wondered if you could systematically read the whole thing. Logic tells me no, but it could be rather fun to try! Phyllis Rose didn't attempt to read a whole library, but she did aim to read a whole shelf. The choosing of the shelf was not completely random, she did come up with a few guidelines to help her choose which of the  1249 fiction shelves in the New York Society Library she would read. The guidelines included the shelf having to include a classic, having no more than 5 books by one author (of which she would only have to read 3) and a mix of contemporary and older works.
Rose's exploration of her shelf turned up some wonderful works for her. She fully explores not only the book, but the author, at times contacting the author to discover more of their story. You could look at each of the eleven chapters as separate essays, tied together by the shelf. Her analysis of the effects of different translations of one book was fascinating, as was her look at  women in fiction and the amazingly complex world of weeding or deaccessioning in a library.
The Shelf won't be for everyone, but I really enjoyed it. I fought hard to limit the number of books Rose mentioned making it onto my TBR list, although a few have found their way to it. I will also admit to being awfully tempted to undertake a similar challenge....

17 July, 2014

Book Review: Me Talk Pretty One Day

From Goodreads: David Sedaris' move to Paris from New York inspired these hilarious pieces, including the title essay, about his attempts to learn French from a sadistic teacher who declares that every day spent with you is like having a caesarean section. His family is another inspiration. You Can't Kill the Rooster is a portrait of his brother, who talks incessant hip-hop slang to his bewildered father. And no one hones a finer fury in response to such modern annoyances as restaurant meals presented in ludicrous towers of food and cashiers with six-inch fingernails.

Thoughts: I can't remember where I first heard about this book, but it stuck with me enough to include it as one of my back up books for my Five from Forever challenge. Just as well I had a back up because I cannot track down a copy of my 5th book - Egg-Larva-Pupa-Woman. Me Talk Pretty One Day also has the added bonus of being a book in my 100 Best Books List Challenge - one book, two challenges! Excellent!
Me Talk Pretty One Day is a collection of short essays, columns written by David Sedaris about his life. The first half is in America and includes stories on his family, his life in college and his foray into experimental art and drugs. The second part of the book concentrates on his adventures in France after he moved there with his boyfriend.
The book provided some genuine laugh-out-loud moments and several wry chuckles. Many of the reviews on Goodreads are either scathing or full of love - I can see both points of view. One review relates a story about the mother of the reviewer pretty much being snubbed by Sedaris at a book reading/ signing. Any one who had read the book should not have been surprised by his reaction to the mother's behaviour.
I'm don't think I'd like David Sedaris. I think I would find him self centred and obnoxious. I'm equally certain he wouldn't care what I thought. I think it's this aspect of him that makes the book what it is. Not sure I'd recommend it to anyone, but if I did I would suggest they proceed with caution.

Challenges:  Five from Forever, 100 Best Books List

Book Review: A is for Alibi

From Goodreads: Laurence Fife was a slick divorce lawyer and slippery ladies' man. Until someone killed him. The jury believed that it was his pretty young wife, Nikki, so they sent her to prison for eight years. Now Nikki's out on parole and Kinsey Millhone's in for trouble. Nikki hires Kinsey to discover who really killed her husband. But the trail is eight years cold, and at the end is a chilling twist even Kinsey doesn't suspect--a second eight-year-old murder and a brand-new corpse.

Thoughts: I've been looking for a new mystery series to read. I really enjoy them, but have been struggling to find something new and engaging. I picked this up in the hope it would be it, especially given it would give me at least 26 books to read (23 have been published, x, y and z are to come). The concept of the alphabet thing also appealed to me. I like a nice, ordered series. However, the reality is it didn't really grab me. I'm not rushing out to get B is for Burglar. I may come back to the series at a later date, but I'm really in no rush. The search continues...

Book Review: Spinifex Baby

From Finch Publishing: I thought I knew how hard it would be. What I didn’t know was that it would test me to the inner core. This desert with its rolling dune fields is an unforgiving land that relentlessly destroys even its own ancient beauty. It is a place where, compared to the age of the landscape, a single life means less than a grain of sand. I could not have known that the biggest challenge I would face would not be from the piercing sun, not from the unforgiving dust, not even from the aching loneliness of isolation, but from the treachery of my own self.
When Karen and her partner Al set forth from the cold mountains of Tasmania to the 45-plus degree heat of central Australia to transform a cattle station into a conservation reserve, they were ready to embrace the beauty of the land and throw themselves into the task of protecting native plants and animals. They thought they had all the skills necessary to beat the heat, the dust and their isolation from society. However, when Karen became unexpectedly pregnant, their lives were turned upside down. Suddenly their biggest danger was not their exposure to the harsh elements but to the deepest fears that resided within themselves…

Thoughts: I'm so excited to read this book, if for no other reason than it signifies the return of book group in my little corner of the world!! Yay!! Spinifex Baby was recommended by one of book group members who happens to be Karen Harrland's sister-in-law.
As an Australian, you can hardly imagine two landscapes more different than the Tasmanian mountains and the Queensland outback. One cool, green, wet with lush bushland. The other hot, red, dry (unless it's wet season and then it's really wet) and sparse vegetation. Add to this the remoteness of the desert and Karen and Al are way more adventurous than I would ever be!
Karen truly brings the beauty of the outback to the fore. Her writing has made me want to visit the landscape. She does however, also bring the harshness out. A place where when you hang washing, the first piece is dry before you put the last piece on the line. A place where a walk across the yard can leave you exhausted and sunburnt. A place where the nearest medical help is four hours by plane.
Given how ill she was during her pregnancy, I'm in awe of the fact she stayed out there. I wasn't even remotely as ill as Karen and I found it hard to go to the shops, let alone help keep a remote station running. As for returning after she'd had the baby, I don't think wild horses could have dragged me back!
Spinifex Baby is a wonderful book. It showcases the Australian outback without romanticising it. You are left with no doubt that it's not easy out there, but if you are willing to put the effort in, the rewards are incredible. It's a great read and I'm really looking forward to the discussion I know it will spark on Saturday.

09 July, 2014

Book Review: Ugly

From Goodreads: Robert Hoge was born with a giant tumour on his forehead, severely distorted facial features and legs that were twisted and useless. His mother refused to look at her son, let alone bring him home. But home he went, to a life that, against the odds, was filled with joy, optimism and boyhood naughtiness.
Home for the Hoges was a bayside suburb of Brisbane. Robert's parents, Mary and Vince, knew that his life would be difficult, but they were determined to give him a typical Australian childhood. So along with the regular, gruelling and often dangerous operations that made medical history and gradually improved Robert's life, there were bad haircuts, visits to the local pool, school camps and dreams of summer sports.
Ugly is Robert's account of his life, from the time of his birth to the arrival of his own daughter. It is a story of how the love and support of his family helped him to overcome incredible hardships. It is also the story of an extraordinary person living an ordinary life, which is perhaps his greatest achievement of all.

Thoughts: Another book I came across one day while shelving and decided to grab. I'd heard of Robert Hoge, seen a few of the publicity interviews when this book came out and knew that I wanted to read it.
First up this is a very well written memoir - unsurprising given Hoge's background as a journalist. However, I often find a journalist style doesn't transfer well to story telling. Hoge's however has spent a life time writing stories which was obviously a good grounding for this book. His style is easy to read, conversational. Along with looking a serious issues such as his medical care, Hoge's lightens the tone with stories of any normal Australian childhood. In fact for me, the strength of this book is the highlighting of the normality of his life. His struggles are ones many can identify with (fitting in, feeling/ looking different, making friends etc) even if the reasons for those differences are not the same.
Ugly is well worth the read if you are after a book to inspire you. It's a book that supports the theory that often the only limitations we have are the ones we place on ourselves.

07 July, 2014

Book Review: Allegiant

From Goodreads: The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.
But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.
Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

Thoughts: This is the third and final book in the Divergent series. I reviewed the second book Insurgent last week and said I was unlikely to read this one for awhile. However, the request I had on it at the library came through and it's only a 2 week loan, so needs must and I read.
Allegiant is definitely better than Insurgent, but still sadly falls short of the promise offered in Divergent. The view point switches between Tobias and Tris, but their voices became so similar at times I had to double check whose view I was reading. The world they find outside the fence holds some pretty big and shocking truths, truths that really have a huge effect on their whole lives. What's happening inside the fence becomes a secondary, minor, story line which was frustrating. The first two books had spent a lot of time setting up this faction/ factionless war and it amounted to nothing.
My biggest issue with the end is how neatly it's all resolved and how quickly. It's a common problem and I understand why. You've written a trilogy, your audience, especially if they are young, want to know how everything ends. They like nicely packaged answers. The problem however, is in doing so, the ending often feels rushed and too perfect. It clashes with what we know is reality - there isn't an end, things rarely work out neatly.
It's a good series, especially for it's target audience. I do like how it has strong female characters and even once romance is introduced, the female characters retain their strength. They are able to make decisions without the romantic interest or without deferring to them. I like how Tris owned her decisions, didn't back down from what she believed and called Tobias on some of his behaviour. There needs to be more of it.

04 July, 2014

Book Review: Lockie Leonard Legend

From the Blurb: Lockie's survived his first year of high school, settling into a new town and his first mad love affair - it’s all behind him; he made it!
But the world of weirdness hasn't finished with him yet. His little brother's hormones have kicked in, his baby sister refuses to walk or talk - but eats anything in sight - his Dad arrests a sheep and his Mum seems to have checked out of the here and now.
As Lockie's world turns upside down, he learns that life is never as simple as it seens and along the way finds out a lot more about himself than he ever realised was there.

Thoughts: I truly believe Tim Winton is a good author regardless of whether he is writing for kids, young teens or adults. I find so few authors manage to straddle all three.
In the third Lokie Leonard book, things get serious. Lockie's mum is suffering from depression and Lockie needs to stand up and help take care of his family. There is still the trademark Winton humour, but there is obviously a serious side to this book. It's a book about realising what's important in life, banding together as a family and learning to take care of the ordinary every day things. What can I say, it's Winton and we all know I love him.

03 July, 2014

Children's Book Council Picture Book Short List

Children's Book Council of Australia

So here is the last category is the Children's Book Council 2014 short list I am reviewing. The picture book category! Let's get the show on the road right away!

Rules of Summer - written and illustrated by Shaun Tan

You know if it's Shaun Tan you are in for a treat. When you are the youngest sibling, you don't get to make the rules. Even worse, often you don't know what the rules are until you break them, or the rules get changed without notice. And punishment can be swift and harsh. But so can forgiveness.
Rules of Summer is another lush Shaun Tan production with illustrations that are a visual feast, full of imagery and hidden meanings.

Source: Rules of Summer
The text is deceptively simple, but along with the illustrations can leave the reader full of dread. Spectacular.

King Pig - written and illustrated by Nick Bland

King Pig can make the sheep do anything he wants, except like him, which is what he wants. King Pig is the perfect book to subtitle - a cautionary tale. It encourages self reflection and taking a look to see if sometimes it's your behaviour contributing to the problem.
Ninck Bland's illustrations are great! I've never seen more dejected looking sheep in my life.
Source: A Strong Belief in Wicker

King Pig is oblivious to the impact his own behaviour towards the sheep. I like that when King Pig realises what he has been doing and finds a way to say sorry, it doesn't immediately absolve him of all his past transgressions. If he wants the sheep to like him, he is going to have to work at it. As the end of the book said though, It wasn't perfect, but all the sheep agreed, it was a pretty good start.

The Treasure Box - written by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Freya Blackwood.

"This is a book about out people, about us," he said. "It is rarer than rubies, more splendid than silver, greater than gold."

This single book is the only one left after the enemy bombed the library and everything burned.
Margaret Wild tells the story of Peter and his father's flight, the hiding of the treasure, the recovery of it and it's return to it's rightful place.
Freya Blackwood's (who also illustrated one the early reader short listed books - Banjo and Ruby Red)illustrations however, make this book incredible. The illustrations are paper collage with objects drawn, cut out and then pasted into a scene. It gives them a 3D effect that combined with the dull colours, truly portrays the despair of the situation.

Source: Freya Blackwood
Throughout the book, certain parts of the illustrations (like the tree above) are constructed from torn book pages which come from foreign editions of Sonya Hartnett's The Silver Donkey and Morris Gleitzman's Once and Then - themselves excellent Australian children's books about World War I and II. The end pages are also covered in these torn pages. This book is a great addition to the body of literature available when discussing war and it's effects on society as a whole.

Silver Buttons - written and illustrated by Bob Graham

In the moment between Jodie drawing the 2nd silver button on the boots of her duck and her drawing the 3rd silver button, something momentous happens - Jonathan takes his fist step. From there, Graham slowly expands outwards from the lounge room, look at what happens, in gradually widening circles, in that one small moment.
Graham moves the perspective of his pictures from up close to aerial "shots" of the city. Expanding and contracting the view, giving the reader a feeling of scale. The pictures are worth examining as there are often hints or links between them.

Source: Babyology
  The expanded view also allows the reader to gauge how far from the original event they have moved. Silver Buttons is a wonderful study in scale and waht can be happening in one single, precious moment.

The Windy Farm - written by Doug MacLeod, illustrated by Craig Smith

This family lives on the windiest farm on Windy Hill. One day the wind blows half the house away and Rich Uncle Jeff (who has an oil well in his backyard) refuses to help. Then one day they make some wind mills and start farming wind and everything changes!
Doug MacLeod has written a book about clean energy and it is perfectly clear who are the energy baddies and who are the energy goodies. Uncle Jeff (aka the oil companies) is mean and nasty and his pumping of oil is unsustainable. The residents of Windy Farm are lovely and resilient, "Never mind," says Granddad when the house blows away. They show ingenuity and compassion, producing energy that is environmentally friendly and sustainable.
Source: My Front Room
Craig Smith's illustrations are wonderfully chaotic. You can just about feel the wind come off the pages. Uncle Jeff's house is foreboding and the oil well in the backyard is ugly. In the end everyone gets what they deserve and the world gets more green energy. What more could you want!

Parachute - written by Danny Parker, illustrated by Matt Ottley

Toby always wears his parachute. It keeps him safe and secure. One day, he lends the parachute to Henry so he can get down from a high place. Then Toby is left alone to get down by himself.
Most kids I know have had a security object - whether it be a blanket, a toy or some other random object. They are important, but as we all know, at some point we have to let them go. This is a lovely book about that letting go process. The beautiful part is how Toby let go of his security object, his parachute to help someone else. It starts a journey of letting go completely, allowing the child to do it in his own time.
Source: Brona's Books
Matt Ottley's pictures always delight me. His use of perspective in this perfectly reflects how sometimes, things look bigger and further than they really are. It would be a wonderful book for discussing fear and how I mind can make it seem worse. I also love how Toby talks himself through the fearful situation. The triumph of beating his fear is all his.

So there it is, the 6 short listed picture books! I'll do a post in the next day or two where I will select what I think should be the winner of each category. The winners are usually announced the Friday before Book Week, so that should be Friday 15 August. You can be sure I'll let you know who wins!

Book Review: Blood Ties

From ABC Book Shop: In Australia an astonishing 80% of homicides are committed by someone related to the victim or within their close family circle. But why do people kill those close to them, and how do these killings affect the family circle - beyond normal trauma and grief? What causes a father or mother to turn on their children, a husband or wife to end the life of someone they once loved? In Blood Ties, renowned true crime author John Suter Linton tackles the subject of domestic murders, why they happen, how they happen and the long legacy they leave. Through high-profile cases such as that of Mark Galante, who was convicted of killing his wife, Jody, and of Arthur Freeman, who threw his small daughter off a bridge, Suter Linton examines the stories behind the headlines. He talks to survivors, providing a fascinating glimpse into the ties which bind - and sometimes destroy us.

Thoughts: It's been awhile since I've read a good true crime book and this caught my eye as I was reshelving one day. For a long time I've had a morbid fascination with serial killers and mass murders. So called crimes of passion not so much. When you see reports of murders like the ones in this book - children and mothers - my heart just breaks. How, as a mother, do you come to terms with the death of child, especially in such a terrifying and violent manner? How do you reconcile children losing not only a mother, but then also having to process the fact that it was dad that killed her?
As with most true crime books, this doesn't really offer an answer - most probably because there isn't one. It does show that answers to questions that arise from these type of killings are not black and white. No one deserves to die at the hands of what is suppose to be a loved one. Getting away from a violent and disturbed partner is not as easy as some like to think. Very few think that someone they love or have loved is capable of murder.
Murder in families truly leaves no winners. Children with out mothers, mothers with out children, families left trying to understand what went so terribly wrong. What I most probably find most depressing about this and other books in this genre is the fact that the names change but the story is pretty much the same. As Linton says in the final chapter of his book, called Conclusion:

There is no conclusion. The names will change, but the scenarios, sadly, will remain the same...There will always be partners whose hate and bitterness is so great they will take the lives of their children to hurt and spite the other. There will be parents who, suffering depression and believing they have no other choice, will kill their children to save them from a torturous future before killing themselves. 

This is not a bad book, but it's not a book to uplift or give answers. It's not a casual afternoon read. If, like me you're into books of this ilk, it's worth a look. Other than that, don't torture yourself, but hug your loved ones tighter. And if you are in a relationship with someone you are worried about, seek help - for you and them.

Domestic Violence Helpline:
1800 800 098, 24 hours, 7 days a week
Telephone counselling for victims of domestic violence and their concerned friends. Also provides information about services for those affected by domestic violence or who are troubled by their own behaviour.

Mensline Australia:
1300 78 99 78 24
hours a day, 7 days a week.
A dedicated telephone and online support, information and referral service, helping men to deal with relationship problems in a practical and effective way.

National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line:
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

A free confidential service for any Australian experiencing or who has experienced domestic or family violence and/or sexual assault. Available 24hours a day, 7 days a week.

13 11 14
, 24 hours, 7 days a week
Lifeline provides access to crisis support, suicide prevention and mental health support services.

Kids Helpline
1800 55 1800
, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
A free 24 hour counselling service for Australian kids and young people aged 5-25 years. Support available over the phone, email or web.

Book Review: Delirum

From Goodreads: Ninety-five days, and then I'll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It's hard to be patient. It's hard not to be afraid while I'm still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn't touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't.

Thoughts: I chose to listen to this because I needed a new audio and I had enjoyed listening to Panic. The premise also sounded interesting - a world where love is seen as a disease and a cure has been found. Once you reach 18 you can be cured and live a life of blissful happiness, never bothered by those pesky, overwhelming emotions again. Except of course, there are people who get infected before 18 and those for who the cure doesn't work. Given the whole outline of the world it's not hard to see where this book is going.
I mentioned in a recent review that I have some trouble with the current batch of YA dystopian novels. I gave this one a go because I liked the author. My problem now is I'm not sure if I have issues with this because of the book or the person who narrated it. When I think about the story I can't complain about it too much. Yes there was a little too much teenage angst, but it's a novel aimed at teenagers specifically about love - I can't be surprised by the angst! The world created is believable, the characters genuine. The narrators voice though was grating. Narrated by Sarah Drew, I just found her voice annoying. The best I can come up with is was it wasn't old enough, and not even that is right. Her voice for the female teenage characters was fine, but for any male or grown up character it just didn't work for me.
Any way, I'm going to read the second one rather than listen to it and see if that's the issue. I hope so, I really do want to like it.

Book Review: Insurgent

From Goodreads: One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Thoughts: Second book in the Divergent series. Unfortunately I think this suffers from the second book syndrome in that it simply doesn't measure up to the standard set by the first book. It was OK, but I didn't have the same drive to read it as I did with Divergent. Tris has a lot of angst in this book and there is a stronger focus on the romance between her and Four. One of the things I liked about Divergent was the fact the romance wasn't the foremost thing in the book. In the end though, I won't say too much, partly because it's hard to without giving spoilers and partly because I simply don't have that much to say about it. Insurgent is worth reading if  you've read the first one. I will read the last, if for no other reason than I'd like to finish the series!