Apple is in the 8th grade. She has a best friend named Pilar, and a very strict Nana. Apple’s Mother left her when she was just a toddler. Every year at Christmas she cannot help but ask Nana if her mother had called, or emailed. She just couldn’t understand why her mother would choose to leave her, alone, by herself, and never ask about her.
Apple dreams to have a life away from her almost non-existent father and his wife Trish. She hates how her grandmother refuses to let her walk home from school or even hang out with friends or do anything fun that her friends are doing. On Christmas night, Trish announces that Apple will become an older sister. Apple feels abandoned and left out by her family. To make things more confusing, her mother arrives to pick her up from school!
Finally, presented with the chance to escape her life, Apple moves in with her mother. But Apple soon comes to realise that her Mother is not who she imagined, and Apple has never missed her Nana more. Apple faces the biggest decision - does she stay with her Mother or move back to Nana’s place?
Goodreads Rating: 4.0
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If I stay is the first book in its series. The novel starts with 17 year old Mia and her family celebrating the unexpected snow day. School is closed for Mia and her brother Teddy, so mum and dad also decide to stay home from work. They all decide to spend the day visiting friends and their grandparents.
The family sets out in their car to begin their visits, until all of a sudden Mia is staring at herself lying on the ground, bloody and bruised. She searches frantically for her parents and brother, only to discover that both her parents are dead and her brother is still fighting for his life. In a matter of moments this family’s world has come crashing down. Mia is stuck somewhere in between, she is having an out of body experience, while her physical self is in a coma.
The story continues on with everyone she knows visiting and talking about how they want her to stay. Mia, in her ghostly state, is unsure if she wants to stay in a world without her family. She is lost, conflicted, and struggling to understand what has happened and what will happen next. She must make a decision before time runs out.
It is a captivating read, though the only warning is to keep tissues handy.
Goodreads rating: 3.95
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The Memory keeper’s daughter is a novel which is full of secrets. David and Norah have a perfect life as husband and wife, until one night when Norah, who is pregnant with twins, goes into labour and David, who is a doctor by profession, must deliver his children himself in the middle of a blizzard.
They have a healthy baby boy and a girl with Down Syndrome. David knows of the mortality rate of babies with Down Syndrome. He knows that keeping this child will mean that he and his family will face great troubles and loss. He entrusts the child to the nurse and begins his new life with his beloved wife and new healthy, perfectly normal baby boy.
However time passes and Norah is never able to overcome the loss of her lost baby girl, who David said died at childbirth. Her baby girl’s ignored existence by David fuels an anger in her that slowly tears down her marriage. David is left to watch as the decades old lies unravel, and he begins to truly understand the consequences of what he did all those years ago.
This book is a roller-coaster of emotions and questions. Have a read and answer the question. Was David’s decision to lie about his daughter dying the right thing to do? Yes or No?
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Dan Brown's, "The Da Vinci Code" is book two of the three part series. It is a captivating read, which really makes you question the stories behind everyday symbols we see. It is a story about how Harvard symbolist Robert Langdon receives a phone call late at night regarding the death of a renowned art curator. When taken to the crime scene he is informed by the cryptologist Sophie Nevue that he is being investigated as prime suspect to the case. The investigator, Fache does not trust him. Both Sophie and Robert understand that there is a lot more to the case of the curator’s death than is apparent. Why are there ancient symbols and codes at the crime scene? What is the wider purpose? And what does this all have to do with Leonardo Da Vinci?!
Sophie and Robert escape police surveillance, and so begins an adventure and French police chase that takes them across Europe to solve the time long mystery behind the Church and Priory of Sion, and how they are both linked to all this.
The story is narrated by a few characters, each trying to tell their side of the mystery. The hunt has begun for answers of a time long ancient mystery that, if revealed, could change the world. The characters are entertaining, and full of mystery. You can expect a few unseen twists in the story and don’t be surprised if you hear yourself say ‘no way!’
To read and understand this book you do not have to read the first book of the series, Angels and Demons, but that book is also an 'on the edge of your seat' thriller! So give this author a chance if you need a Sherlock mystery to solve.
Margot Baumann has now begun her new job in the mailroom of a large Nazi prison. On the first day, she is told that her job consists of burning the letters that come through the camp to, and from the prisoners. Young Margot is only 17 years of age when she starts her job, and very quickly learns of the reality of the camp. Where people don’t come to work, but are imprisoned to slowly and painfully die.
Amidst this dread Margot comes across a letter addressed to her! Curious, she steals the letter and opens it in the secrecy of her room. It is a love letter written by an enemy of war, who has been imprisoned in the camp. Unable to remove herself from her need to help the prisoner, Margot begins to write love letters back to this mystery prisoner. However will she be able to stop herself from developing feelings for this individual, and go against every order she has been given by her SS Commanders? Or will she do her duty as a Hitler youth and burn the letters?
Warned by all close to her that have knowledge of her secret, she continues to write letters to a prisoner at a time when the world is constantly looking over their shoulders in fear.
What will happen when she is found out? What are the consequences for treason in Nazi Germany?
This story is full of drama, suspense, and danger, you won’t be able to put it down.
Goodreads rating: 4.2
We need to talk about Kevin, Is written in the form of letters by Kevin’s mother (Eva) to her now ex-husband (Franklin). Eva begins by talking about how she dreaded motherhood and how it was made especially a nightmare by her unlovable son Kevin; who murdered seven of his schoolmates, a cafeteria worker and a very popular teacher, just two days before his sixteenth birthday.
Now two years after the event Eva recounts Kevin’s childhood and teen years through these letters. Trying to understand how she did not pick up on her son’s strange behaviour of finding satisfaction in hurting others. Eva expresses to Franklin (very hurtfully in some places) how she thought he never did listen to her observations of Kevin’s development, and also begins to blame herself and her lack of expressing love to him that made him so unwilling to feel apathy and love towards others.
The book leaves us with the time long question of nature vs. nature. Was Kevin born a sociopath or did he become one? Who is to blame?
This book has also been made into a movie. However like many book to movie happenings, the movie is a bit different. So if you like to read and analyse critical details to understand the nature of the sociopathic Kevin and his antagonistic mother, give this book a go.
Goodreads rating: 4.07
Gamers! This book is for you!! A dystopian novel set in 2044, where the US population is out of control and poverty is at an all-time high. People escape the harsh realities of life by delving into an alternate online world called the OASIS - think VR Sims, but supercharged. The OASIS was created by an über-introverted guy stuck in the 80s, and is a place where you can be, and do, anything you want.
Super-introvert dies, but leaves a message to all OASIS users - you find the easter egg, you get control of the OASIS and inherit half a trillion dollars. The hunt begins!
The story follows the main protagonist - Wade Watts, aka Parzival - and his rag-tag bunch of friends, which he picks up along the way (except for his bestie, Aech). They're up against a bunch of heavy-hitting, hardball 'Sixers' in the race to find the egg. Chaos reigns, and the fast-paced action will keep you on the edge of your seat.
You may be aware that the movie adaptation arrived in theatres in late March - you may not be aware that the movie varies greatly from the book. If you're one of those people that likes to compare apples with apples, you're going to be disappointed here. Instead, think of them as separate entities, and enjoy them for their own merits.
The book rates at a comfortable 4.3 on Goodreads, with the movie rating a healthy 8/10 on IMDb. Which is better, the book or the movie? You decide.
Let's just say right off the bat - if you're squeamish, DO NOT read this book! Full of macabre and gory details, Scythe is not for the faint of heart. Having said that, the story is wonderfully original, and well worth the read. In the near future (2045), death - as in the end of one's life - has become a thing of the past. Humanity is living in a post-mortality world. Have an accident? Not to worry, your remains will be taken to a revival centre, and in a few days you'll be as good as new. Gotten too old? Never fear, all you have to do is 'turn a corner' and become young again. Pick your age! Anything from age 21 onward is possible - it's up to you to decide.
Of course, there is the problem of population control. This is answered in the form of Scythes, who have an annual gleaning quota to fulfill. The quota, and its specifications for candidates, is based on mortality-age statistics, and all Scythes must adhere to strict regulations to ensure a lack of bias. Ultimately, candidate selection is up to them, and once you've been gleaned, there's no coming back - there is, however, a year's immunity from gleaning for your remaining family members, so its not all bad...
Being a Scythe is not a job for everyone, and like any job, it requires training. This story follows the selection, induction, and training of two apprentice Scythes, whose lives have been irrevocably changed after a chance encounter.
A real page-turner, don't be surprised if you manage to get through this in a weekend (or a day, if you have plenty of down time on your hands). It's full of mind-challenging ethical dilemmas, sure to get your thoughts churning. Rated a pretty healthy 4.33 stars on Goodreads, why not give it a go?
Popular writer John Green's latest novel, Turtles All the Way Down, was surprisingly less tear-inducing than some of his previous works. It had plenty of heart-felt moments, sadness, and mourning, but the main focus of the story was the main character Aza's battle with anxiety.
The narrative gives a fascinating insight into the inner monologue of an anxiety sufferer, engendering empathy for the character and perhaps a stronger understanding of what those with mental health issues struggle with on a daily basis.
There is romance of a sort, so the story is not wholly consumed by Aza's involuntary self-torture, however there are other aspects of Aza's life, such as her connection with her best friend, the relationship she has with her mother, and so on, that help readers relate to Aza as a character.
The book developed a lot of interest in New Zealand not just because it was written by John Green, but because the story features a tuatara - New Zealand's largest endemic reptile. John Green appealed to New Zealanders for as many 5c coins as he could get, as he wanted to gift them to readers on his book tour as a 'token of kindness' - his own battle with mental illness being a contributing factor to the development of this book. Westlake Girls High School Librarian Megan Davidson rallied the troops, and collected a staggering 8,000 coins, which she delivered to Mr Green. He went on to publicly thank Megan, and the kiwis that donated the coins, saying "I will try to use them well; to give them out over the course of my life to those who might need a physical reminder of how kind people can be." You can watch the video he posted here:
Air Born is the first in a five-book series written by New Zealand author Jess Pawley. The series began as self-published books through Amazon and online via Wattpad. It has since been picked up by a New Zealand publisher and undergone redevelopment for relaunch to the market (full history here).
The story begins with Tyler, about to undertake his first solo sky dive while training for the Civil Air Patrol. His 'chute malfunctions and it all goes wrong, but Tyler survives the fall due to the wings that suddenly burst out from his shoulder blades. While his life is saved, it suddenly becomes increasingly hectic - somebody caught the fall on camera, and the footage gets televised on the news. Suddenly, lots of interesting people come out of the woodwork - both good and bad...
The book starts out action-packed, and it doesn't really slow down. What makes the story 'realistic' (in a suspension-of-disbelief kind of way) is that Tyler spends a long time figuring out exactly how to use his new wings. The movement and control of his new appendages doesn't come naturally, and he has to build strength in his new wings and the muscles required to use them effectively, while learning how to fly.
Well suited to those interested in the fantasy genre, this is a refreshing change from the vampires, werewolves, fairies and angels that have taken over the fantasy literature sphere in recent years (or decades).
Air Born has an average rating of 4.3 on Goodreads. While this is based on only 10 ratings at the time of writing the review (which is understandable, given that it was only relaunched in New Zealand on the 2nd October) the original version, First Flight, has an average rating of 4.38. The author has as loyal fan base, which will be sure to grow once this book, and the follow-up issues, gain traction in the young adult reading community.