Strungballs

Rating: 2.5 Crickets

Title: Strungballs
Author: Mike Russell
Illustrator: Mike Russell
Publisher: Strange Books
Published: 31st October, 2016

Blurb
Strungballs is an extraordinary novella from Strange Books author Mike Russell. What are Strungballs? Ten-year-old Sydney is about to find out… but first he must have a cube of his flesh removed. Sydney will transgress everything he was taught to believe in when he embarks upon a journey that will reveal the astonishing secrets hidden by the red balls on white strings known only as… Strungballs.

Inspiring, liberating, otherworldly, magical, surreal, bizarre, funny, disturbing, unique… all of these words have been used to describe the stories of Mike Russell.

Remember: Once a Strungball is inserted it must never be removed.


This is my first official ‘book for review’ that I have done, which is kinda exciting! I received a PDF version of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I must admit that while I was excited to have been asked to do a review for this novella, I was a little skeptical at first. Okay, maybe a bit more than a little. Strungballs was a weird title and the cover reminded me a little of covers I’ve seen on weird kids books. However, I read a couple of brief reviews and all I saw were good things about this book, so I had hope for it. I also read the sample on Amazon, and while it is written in a style of writing I don’t normally like, I did want to keep reading to find out what happened next.

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Jasper Jones


Rating:
3.5 Crickets

Title: Jasper Jones
Author: Craig Silvey
Cover Design: Lisa White
Cover Photography: Getty Images
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Published: 2009 (edition in photo 2010)

Blurb
Late on a hot summer night at the tail-end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleepout. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie steals into the night by his side, terrified but desperate to impress. Jasper takes him through town to his secret glade in the bush, and it’s here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper’s horrible discovery.

Carrying the secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is harried by a suspicious town tightening in fear. In the simmering summer where everything changes, he locks horns with his tempestuous mother, falls nervously in love, and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu. And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse; why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.

I found Jasper Jones to be quite an interesting read. This book wasn’t one that I had picked up myself to read, but given to me by my father after he invited me to see the movie and I said I wished to read the book first. I had previously heard whispers about Jasper Jones, in English classes and the such, and it intrigued me, but I was never really sure what the story was actually about.

The first chapter really drew me in, there was no slow beginning, no leading up to what was going to happen, it just starts right in the action. Unfortunately for me, when I started to read this book it was quite late at night, and the first chapter was 52 pages long, so I had to leave it mid scene because I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

This was an annoying little feature of the book, in my opinion. Only because, personally, if I have to stop somewhere I prefer it to be at the end of a chapter, not in the middle of one, but more often than not, due to the long chapters, I was having to stop at random pages. But, it’s not the end of the world, and luckily there were those little dots that are sometimes between paragraphs and so I would stop at one of those instead.

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Our Kind

Our Kind

It is not fair for the creatures of my
kind. We have it harder than them.  Only
a few truly do care about our kind.
There was once a time in which we lived, as
the rulers of society. Given
the highest honours, and treated as if
we were royalty. But now we live in
the shadows. Finding sanctuary in a
selected few. Where we continue toRead More »

Firstlife


Rating:
5 Crickets

Title: Firstlife
Author: Gena Showalter
Illustrator: Unknown
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Published: 22nd February 2016

Blurb
I’ve been told history is written by survivors. But I know that isn’t always true. My name is Tenley Lockwood, and very soon, I’ll be dead.

Tenley ‘Ten’ Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl… who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live – after she dies.

There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, there are two realms in power: Troika and Myriad, long-time enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a tug-of-war between realms that will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And What if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t where the boy she’s falling for lives? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

One Choice. Two Realms. No Second Chance.


What can I say. This book is one of the first in a while that grabbed me right from the start. Where as a lot of books I’ve read recently have enticed me with their cover and blurb, it took pushing through a few chapters before I really got into it. But Firstlife had me hooked from first time I laid eyes on it, till the moment I read the last word on the last page, and even after that actually.

The book starts with a conversation, is a format like emails, between Archer (Troika laborer) and his General, and Killian (Myriad laborer) and his Superior. It is highly entertaining and definitely grabbed my attention. It is also a clever way in which to introduce the characters, both the ones talking and the ones mentioned. These type of conversations happen every now and again between chapters, and I think it is a nice breather between the huge chunks of text, to have these small and informative pieces.

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Replica

Rating: 3.5 Crickets

Title: Replica
Author: Lauren Oliver
Illustrator: unknown
Publisher: Hodder & Stroughton (UK), Harper Collins (US)
Published: 6th October, 2016

Blurb

17091111_1861173597458623_654629990_oLyra’s Story
The Haven Institute is a building tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida that from a distance looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, Haven is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed. When a surprise attack is launched on Have, two of its young experimental subjects – Lyra, aka number 24, and the boy known only as 72 – manage to escape.

Encountering a world they never knew existed outside their secluded upbringing they meet Gemma and as they try to understand Haven’s purpose together, they uncover some earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls forever…17016351_1861173600791956_977375944_o

Gemma’s Story
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals for as long as she can remember. A lonely teen, her life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April. But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven Institute.

Hungry for answers, she decides to leave the sanctuary of her home to travel Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas amidst the frenzy outside Haven’s walls, and a completely new set of questions…

While the stories of Gemma and Lyra mirror each other, each contains breathtaking revelations critically important to the other story.

Hello Cricketeers! (bare with me, I’m new at this and thought I might try out a little name – yes or no?)

I was first introduced to Replica while watching one of EpicReads Book Hauls (I think that was it anyway, I’m sorry if I got this wrong). I was a little book crazy – more than usual anyway – and I was writing down every interesting book I could get my hands on (I formed quite a long list as well…). The first thing to catch my attention about this book was the fact that there were two stories in the one book! I thought it was really cool that you read the story from one character’s point of view, and then flip it over and read another’s point of view.

However, as exciting and intriguing as this is (and I still think it’s an awesome idea!), to me it was also a bit of a downfall. I started the book from Lyra’s POV and I got really into it, and when I finished her side of the story I was excited to start Gemma’s POV and find out more details about what was going on. But it was almost like the story came to a stand still; instead of the story continuing, it was rewinded and started again with a clean slate. And yes, I did understand that that was the concept of it before I started reading, but personally, I didn’t like the effect that it ended up having. I had all this information from reading Lyra’s story, and it took a while before that information was added to from Gemma’s story – to me, there was too much a lull.

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Snow Like Ashes

 

Rating: 4 crickets

Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Illustrator: Erin Fitzsimmons and Jeff Huang
Publisher: Balzer + Bray – an imprint of HarperCollins
Published: 14th October 2014

Blurb
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been searching for the chance to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior – and desperately in love with her best friend and future king, Mather – she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again. So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it, only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

This is a really good book, with an interesting story line. I found the book a little hard to get into at first, but once I got into it I was really into it and it didn’t take long to read at all (422 pages).

One of the cool things about this book is that it is one of the ones that has a map at the front, which was really helpful to refer to while reading, as the characters seem to just about explore the entire land.

Another is the different groups of people, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring of the four Season kingdoms and Cordell, Ventralli, Yakim and Paisly of the four Rhythm kingdoms. It was interesting seeing how each had their own unique appearance and culture, and how it affected how the people interacted. I, myself, have always loved the cold and detested the heat, so I love the thought of being able to be a Winterian and live in the Winter Kingdom – well, when it’s not being overtaken and enslaved that is.
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Every Exquisite Thing

 

Rating: 5 Crickets

Title: Every Exquisite Thing
Author: Matthew Quick
Illustrator: Unknown
Publisher: Headline Publishing Group
Published: 10th May 2016

Blurb
Eighteen-year-old Nanette O’Hare has played the role of dutiful daughter, hard-working student and loyal friend for as long as she can remember.
Then she reads a worn copy of out-of-print cult classic The Bubblegum Reaper – and a spirit of rebellion awakens.
Yet as Nanette befriends the book’s reclusive author, falls in love with a troubled poet and attempts to assert herself with wild abandon, she realises there can be nothing so devastating as loneliness.
But in this world of endless potential and beauty, there is a place for each and every one of us. All we have to do is find it.

 

I wanted to read this book because it was about an 18yr old girl who had always played the ‘good girl’ role, doing what everyone expected of her, and about what happened when she started to do things for herself. To rebel. I thought it would really relate to me, that I would connect to the book and the characters and find a piece of myself within the pages – and at the time I felt like I was alone in the world, so I really wanted to find a book I could really relate to.

Once I started to read it, I got 20 odd pages in before I realised that it didn’t really relate to me at all. The main character was not like me, in fact she was very different. It was disappointing to come to this realisation and I struggled to pick the book up again. But after a week or so I did pick up the book and I continued reading, and I kept reading it till I finished the entire book. The girl was not me. It was wrong of me to think that she would be. Her, like everyone else in this world, was unique and had their own set of problems. However, in the end, it did relate to me, in a way. She was different from everyone else, she never fit it, not really. She did what was expected of her, to make others happy. And while the situations she faced were quite different to mine, there was also a similarity to them. And I could relate to that, and I could relate to her uniqueness even though it was different from my own. In the same way I think a lot of people will be able to relate to this book in some way.

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The Moonlight Dreamers

 

Rating: 3 Crickets

Author: Siobhan Curham
Illustrator: Kate Forrestor
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Published: 1st July 2016

Blurb:
Amber, Maali, Sky and Rose may be very different, but they all have one thing in common: they’re fed up with being told how to look, what to think and how to act.
They’re not like everyone else and they don’t want to be.
Becoming friends gives them the courage to be themselves.

I got this book as a gift for a friend who had moved away – I bought us both a copy so that we could read it together and discuss it later. I chose this particular book because it is one about friendship and I share my first name with the Author, so it was a slightly cheesy gift.

This book was different to how I imagined it to be, but regardless it was an enjoyable read. It is a relatively quick and easy read (347 pages), but it still manages to cover a range of topics, ranging from broken families, homosexuality, racial issues and the difficulties of fitting into society when all you seem to do is stand out. It was interesting to see how all these topics were tired into one story and that it didn’t clash together.

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