Tag Archives: family

Stresshead – Allayne Webster
Book Reviews
December 27, 2011 posted by Jocie

Stresshead – Allayne Webster

“OMG. Year 11 results are out TODAY, my boyfriend is MIA and my mum is acting TOTALLY WEIRD. I’d turn to my BF Kat, that her life has suddenly gone from hero to ZERO. I don’t know who to talk to an everyone’s got their OWN problems. What would life be better if I wasn’t such a STRESSHEAD?”


Stresshead is a light, easy read that is very, very Australian. Told in the voice of Dennie, we learn about her woes with life and pressure to live up to expectations.

I largely liked this book. I related to Dennie (real name: Denise) easily and quickly (I am a huge chronic worrier), however she sort of got on my nerves occasionally with her internal voice. I liked all of the characters. They were all colourful, unique and fiery. Admittedly, I was a little confused in the first few pages; so many characters are introduced so quickly. But I loved the atmosphere, Webster really got the right feeling to it; it felt like a real family.

The plot felt like it was trying to go in ten different directions. It was trying to be funny, yet serious, yet growing up. This led to confusion. The pacing, as well, was also very cruisey – I didn’t feel any inclination to read chapter after chapter.

However, the author really got the voice of a teenage girl, and the writing was good. There were moments when the things Den worried over were so silly they were funny.

Unfortunately, the setting of Sydney wasn’t really used. While the Australian-ess of it all was obvious, I didn’t really get a feel for anything except the feeling when the family are together.

The family, itself is a very, very important element in the book. It really brings home and collects all the mistakes. In their own dysfunctional way, Dennie’s family truly show the essence of family. I applaud Allayne Webster for that.

Overall, Stresshead is an enjoyable book that ensures you that no matter how screwed up you think your family is, the fictional ones are ten times more.


Pages: 213

Publication Date: May 1st 2011

Publisher: Omnibus Books

Challenge: n/a

Rating: : ★★★☆☆

Quote: “I’m toast. I’m burnt toast. I’m the charcoal you scrape off the toast with your knife”

Book Reviews
May 4, 2011 posted by Christina

City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments, Book 4) – Cassandra Clare

“Clary is back in New York and life is good: she’s training to be a Shadowhunter and is finally able to call Jace her boyfriend. But nothing comes without a price. When Jace inexplicably begins to pull away from her, Clary is forced to acknowledge that she herself has set in motion a chain of events that could lead to the loss of everything she loves. Even Jace.

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. The stakes are higher than ever…”

Warning: Some spoilers ahead

Back in August of last year fans of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series heard the words every reader wanted to hear – the series was going to be continued, extended to another three books. This news was greeted with a collective gasp, cheering and plenty of dancing (or was that just me?). Fast forward to April 2011 and we have the fourth book in the series, City of Fallen Angels.

Beginning this book was like being reunited with old friends and it felt SO GOOD! I had a bit of a Kanye moment once Jace and Clary came into the scene…

Jace to Clary: So are you planning on staying up there-
Me: Jace, Jace, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish, but IM JUST SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU GUYS!
*figuratively hugs the characters then lets them get on with the story*

Cough… ahem.

The story picks up 6 weeks after the end of City of Glass, and everyone is adjusting to life after Valentine and life without Max. While Jace has been helping to train up Clary as a Shadowhunter, their relationship has been blooming. So how come Jace suddenly starts to pull away?

Simon on the other hand is still trying to find the balance between a normal life and his new vampire self, not to mention his two girlfriends who don’t realize they’re not Simon’s one and only. When a new vampire comes on the scene and makes Simon a very tempting offer, life becomes very complicated not just for Simon, but for the Shadowhunters as well.

Though it’s the fourth book in the series, most of the conflict from the other books has already been resolved, so we’re starting anew – mostly. At first it felt a little strange since unlike starting any other new book from the beginning, there was no need to adjust to the setting of characters – we already know and love them, but we don’t know what they’re in for yet. There were however a few loose ends left at the end of City of Glass which are picked up in this book, but it’s not toward the middle to end of the book we start to see what the complication for this half of the series will be and where the plot will go.

A fair bit of the book focused on the characters relationships with one another and how they were dealing with things mentally, emotionally and psychologically. There’s plenty of romance, particularly from Jace and Clary (that alley scene *fans self*), but Cassandra Clare definitely pushed the characters this time around, there’s a lot more emotion.

It was frustrating seeing Jace doubt himself and his relationship so much but people don’t heal overnight and Jace definitely has some issues to work out, plus there was that whole possessed by a demon thing, so he’s forgiven.

I loved how gutsy Clary was, I think I forgot just how strong she could be. She showed initiative in her Shadowhunter duty and tried her best to be a better fighter. When Jace was M.I.A. she carried on, she was definitely upset and put out by the situation, but she didn’t let it take over her life. Even in the way she related to Jace, she showed more confidence and has grown up a lot as a character.

The action and suspense at the end of the book really turned up the heat in the story, the fight scenes were very well written. As the story comes to a climax at the end with an epic action sequence, you think it’s all over (seriously, with only about 10 pages to go) then, BAM, cliffhanger! Initially I was struck with disbelief with how it ended but it’s a good cliffhanger and only made me a million times more excited for City of Lost Souls.

After finishing the book, especially for those who have a hard time with the way the book ended I highly recommend you check out the Q&A Cassandra posted on her blog, understanding her reasoning for certain things really cleared a few things up, click here.

This book is hypnotically well written, you get so comfortable reading it, 424 pages just doesn’t seem like enough. It comes complete with all the snark and sarcasm we’ve come to love from Cassandra Clare’s characters.

I recommend giving City of Glass another read before starting this one just to refresh your memory on a few points , that’s only if you have the will power to resist diving straight into this one. I doubt fans of Cassandra Clare will need much encouragement  to check out the latest addition to the series, but for those who haven’t read the books – what on earth are you waiting for??


Pages: 424
Publication Date: April 2011
Publisher: Walker Books
Challenge: n/a
Rating: : ★★★★½

P.S. Ed Westwick a.k.a. Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl lent his voice along with Molly C. Quinn for the audiobook version of COFA. Definitely worth checking out, Ed makes everything sounds 100x sexier.

Teaser Quote: “You’re the first Shadowhunter I’ve ever met.”
“That’s too bad,” said Jace, “since all the others you meet from now on will be a terrible letdown.”

Six Impossible Things – Fiona Wood
Book Reviews
August 17, 2010 posted by Christina

Six Impossible Things – Fiona Wood

“Fourteen year old nerd-boy Dan Cereill is not quite coping with a reversal of family fortune, moving house, new school hell, a mother with a failing wedding cake business, a just-out gay dad, and an impossible crush on the girl next door. His life is a mess, but for now he’s narrowed it down to just six impossible things…”

It always seems to be that when one thing goes wrong in your life, other things like to join in and make it even worse. When it rains it pours right? It’s under these circumstances that we meet fourteen year old Dan Cereill.

After his father’s business goes broke, he announces that he’s bankrupt, gay and moving out. Dan and his mother are left to face the liquidators as Dan’s whole life is literally taken away from him. At the same time, his mother’s great Aunt Adelaide has passed away and left the house to Dan’s mother. The family collects their few belonging and tries to start again.

Not long after they move in, Dan meets his next door neighbor (and soon to be new classmate), Estelle. Needless to say he is head over heels in 5 seconds flat.  He also meets his new roommate, Howard, Aunt Adelaide’s dog, and the very cool Oliver, who lives in the stable house.  With a new house, school, friends and a new lifestyle, can Dan and his mother cope to make this new life work?

Six Impossible Things is quite a remarkable book. Loosely based on Cinderella (Dan Cereill is an anagram for Cinderella), the story also has a touch of Lewis Caroll’s Through The Looking Glass as well as a bit of the Ugly Duckling. Though it references these stories the book itself is still quite unique and makes these connections without being obvious.

Dan himself is a total sweetheart, so many times I felt like reaching into the book and giving this kid a hug. I thought he was really an amazing character who steps up to the plate despite the unfortunate situation around him. Even though he’s young, he displays maturity, yet still stays true to his age. It was great to see him grow and see how he was dealing with things (while not dealing with others).

His crush on Estelle is also quite cute. Unlike other books where there’s a love interest just because the girl is super super gorgeous, Dan likes her for more than that. He stumbles around a bit but really works at making her see him for what he really is. It was very sweet, and always maintained the feeling of it being real.

Dan’s mother was a very human character. As a kid in this situation you’d probably look to your mother to stay strong and pick up the pieces but in this story, I was pretty disappointed by her behavior. She’d be moody, sad, and sometimes even neglectful of Dan, often she sabotaged her own business and chance at income and failed to recognize just how much Dan was trying to make her happy. You’re not always going to like a character and though I didn’t like her, she was still very real. It’s realistically how many people would cope (or not cope) in the situation.

This book is skillfully written, with not only great characters (both main and minor) who each had their own defining personality, great dialogue, but also by adding just the right amount of humor so that this book doesn’t come off as depressing. It seems with so much heartache this book would be much sadder, but it was instead a very sweet and heartwarming novel that I really enjoyed.

Pages: 263

Publication Date: August 2010

Rating: : ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: He gives me an assessing once over. “Out of your league, man, unless you do something about the look,” he says.
“You said outward stuff doesn’t make you cool.”
“It’s definitely not
the thing, but it’s a thing. It’s one of those paradoxes life throws up – it can’t make you cool, but it can make you uncool.”
Now he tells me.

The Piper’s Son – Melina Marchetta
Book Reviews
March 3, 2010 posted by Katie

The Piper’s Son – Melina Marchetta

Thomas Mackee wants oblivion. Wants to forget parents who leave and friends he used to care about and a string of one-night stands, and favorite uncles being blown to smithereens on their way to work on the other side of the world.

But when his flatmates turn him out of the house, Tom moves in with his single, pregnant aunt, Georgie. And starts working at the Union pup with his former friends. And winds up living with his grieving father again. And remembers how he walked away from Tara Finke two years ago, after his uncle’s death.

In a year when everything’s broken, Tom realizes that his family and friends need him to help put the pieces back together as much as he needs them.

Thomas Mackee feels as if he has nothing left to live for. His family is split apart; he no longer communicates with his closes friends and almost lost everything if not for the compassion of those friends he cut off. For as much as Tom seems to hate the world, the further we go along and find that Tom is struggling with hating himself. After an event that leaves him in hospital, Tom ends up pleading with his Aunt Georgie to let him stay. A decision that eventually puts Tom on the path to who he really wants to be.

Georgie is pregnant. To the man she broke up with for seven years. Who has a son from another relationship. Georgie and Sam have a careful relationship. What it is neither can really decide or talk about. For Georgie and Sam, silence is normal. Until Tom appears and unintentionally creates a channel for communication, and Georgie and Sam might have a chance to finally work out exactly what they mean to each other.

Francesca and Justine work at the Union pub, the pub where Tom’s flatmates stole $2000 from while they were working there. Tom decides that it is up to him to repay the debt. Francesca and Justine knew Tom through high school, and were cast aside when Tom lost his uncle, yet they never stopped caring. Slowly, Francesca and Justine find that they are getting their Tom back, and will do everything they can to help Tom return to who he used to be.

But Tom doesn’t only have his own life to worry about. His father is a former alcoholic whose drinking problem forced Tom’s mum and sister to relocate to Brisbane. His father abandoned Tom to fend for himself, and never once looked back. His favourite uncle was killed in a terrorist bombing attack, the one person Tom relied on for good, true, honest advice. His sort-of ex-girlfriend that he is still in love with is in Same and has moved on, refusing to communicate in any form.

In a life where everything seems so tangled, will Tom be able to work out, what it is he truly wants before it is too late?

The Piper’s Son is the fifth novel from Australian author Melina Marchetta, and is set five years after the events of Saving Francesca. Yet, it is not necessary to have read Saving Francesca to understand the story, as believe it or not, this is the first Marchetta novel that I have read. That may come as a surprise to some who knows Marchetta’s work, but I now know why Marchetta is regarded as one of the best young adult authors in Australia.

The Piper’s Son was one of the most captivating and engaging books I have read this year. I could not get the characters out of my head, constantly wanting to pick up the book and find out what happens next. Through the perspective of Tom and occasional flashes into the mind of Georgie, I’ve discovered two characters that I care about. Tom is troubled and flawed, needing love and acceptance, even if sometimes he shrugs it off and pretends like nothing can tough him. Georgie is that aunt that you wish you have – caring enough to let you stay when you have nowhere else to go and perceptive enough to know that something is wrong, even if you don’t want to talk about it. From the beginning of the novel where nothing goes right for either Tom or Georgie, to the end where you find that maybe, just maybe they can make their lives work in a positive way; you are there with them, each step and failure along the way. Failure that reminds you that they are just a human as anyone else.

Set in a modern day Sydney with references and mentions to recent events from everything to the Lord of the Rings to the London terrorist attacks, Marchetta has created a world that is gritty and instantly believable and recognisable as a world that we belong to.

I highly recommend this to everyone, no matter the style of novel you like to read.

Publication date: March 2010

Pages: 328

Rating:: ★★★★★

Teaser quote: He went to the sent box praying that somehow the email got rejected. No such luck. Twenty seconds earlier anabelsbrother sent taramarie a message, now with the words cheers, or see ya, or whenever. But signing off with the word, love.