5 of 5 stars to ‘If I stay’ by Gayle Forman

If I stay

Get the tissue box out

In the blink of an eye, Mia’s life has changed. All her decisions in life have been stripped down to one. It’s the most important decision she will ever make in her life and as she lies unconscious on her hospital bed, sorting through memories, only she can make the ultimate decision.

Live or die?

Get your tissue box ready for this one! What an emotional and yet beautiful story. I must admit to being a little skeptical with the ‘out of body’ point of view of Mia, but it was surprisingly well done and nicely offset by the flash backs.

I truly enjoyed the characters in this novel, and particularly, the dynamics of Mia’s hippie family. The little descriptive touches of clothing and quirks really did it for me, as did the incorporation of music into the character development and storyline.

On a deeper level, I was forced to think about the choices we make in life, what really matters and how ultimately, only we can decide what happens to us.

I did feel that the story was a little too short but this is a sure sign of a gripping, well-written, emotive story.

If i Stay quote

Teens and technology

It's complicated

Enlightening take on teens and technology

‘Today’s teens spend too much time on their mobile phones.’ ‘Teens don’t understand the dangers of the internet.’ ‘Social media is negatively affecting the quality of today’s teen’s social lives.’

Sound familiar?

If you’re a parent or educator, then this book is for you. Danah Boyd debunks many of the popular myths that parents, teachers and adults often believe and perpetuate about the relationship teens have with technology, the internet and social networking sites.

Ms Boyd explains in detail why and how teens engage with technology and the internet, pervasive myths regarding the appropriateness of these mediums, and both the benefits and risks thereof. Her constant references to interviews with teenagers across America ensures that the content is relevant and eye-opening.

Coming from a country where crime is a huge issue and public transport is extremely limited, I was particularly interested in what Ms Boyd had to say about the effect mobility and safety concerns have had on the use of technology in teen’s lives. The section on bullying and the use of social media as a tool for teens to cry out for help also resonated with me.

Today’s adults are quick to blame technology for so many of the negative things that happen in society but we fail to realize that technology is just an enabler and not an end in itself. We also fail to recognize that not so many generations ago, our forefathers once touted the book as ‘evil’ too. The advent of new and uncertain technologies will always result in resistance, but Ms Boyd encourages adults to focus on the positive aspects of this increased visibility, while remaining vigilant of the potential risks.

As an author who writes for the young adult market and uses social media extensively to reach my audience, and as a parent, I found this book extremely enlightening and useful and would highly recommend it.

3 of 5 stars to ‘The beautiful ashes’ by Jeaniene Frost

Beautiful ashes

Something different from one of my favorite authors

Ivy is psychotic. It’s what she’s been told her whole life and the only way she can explain the visions of dark, parallel worlds that only she can see. Then Ivy’s sister, Jasmine goes missing into one of those strange universe’s and Ivy can only turn to Adrian. But no matter how attracted Ivy may be to Adrian, he will not allow her to forget that his destiny will be to betray her. Can they navigate the demon worlds to rescue Ivy’s sister without becoming victims themselves?

I am a HUGE Jeaniene Frost fan. HUGE. The Night Huntress series is possibly one of my favorite of all time, so I was super excited when she decided to dabble in the New Adult genre. The premise of the series is wonderfully imaginative and her creativity in fleshing out the demon realms is nothing less than the ‘awesomeness’ I expect from such a talented author.

And yet…I have to say I was disappointed. So many of the things that made me love the Night Huntress series were absent: the sizzle between Ivy and Adrian just didn’t do it for me and I did not immediately fall in love with their characters the way I did with Bones and Cat. Ivy, in particular felt a little too two dimensional for me. Adrian has a dark, brooding side to him which did endear him to me later in the book.

The world creation and action scenes were what I’d expect from Ms Frost’s calibre of work – rich, detailed and starkly ‘realistic’. Her skill in making each scene come alive with descriptive words carries through too. So while it is my personal opinion that Ms Frost excels more with adult fantasy novels than in this genre, I will remain a steadfast fan.

5 of 5 stars to ‘Requiem’ by Lauren Oliver


Thought-provoking masterpiece

There’s only one way to survive in this world: build walls. Everyone is doing it. Inside the Delirium free cities, they build walls to keep the disease out. Outside the cities, they build walls to keep the hurt out. Stuck out in the wilds, torn between the two boys who have each stolen a piece of her heart, Lena learns this skill quickly. But is it all worth it? Is life really any better under the guise of ‘freedom’ and how far is she willing to go to fight for what she believes in, if it means tearing down the very walls that protect her?

I cannot fully explain how Lauren Oliver’s writing skills have awed me. Every word, every sentence, every paragraph has been painstakingly selected to provide maximum emotional impact. Her descriptions catapult you into the wilds, until you can actually feel the bite of the cold and see the rays of glittering sunshine piercing the trees.

Lena’s character development was heart-wrenching in this installment. The intensity of her emotional state was further heightened by Hana’s point of view. From the beginning, I loved the character of Hana, but her journey has been more of a ‘character change’ rather than ‘character development’, in keeping with the storyline. I loved the diverging and converging storylines of the two best friend’s and felt that the ending tied up things nicely between them. It was also a wonderful reminder, in the midst of the love triangle, that there are other types of ‘deliria’ than just the romantic kind.

The resolution of the love triangle was not what I expected. In many ways, the entire ending left many things up in the air. At first, I was in two minds about this, but when I considered the purpose of the storyline, I concluded that it just wouldn’t have been as effective with a more cut and dried approach. The entire series is about love and life and neither of those things is ever perfectly resolved or completed. I believe Ms Oliver wanted us to think about the issues she raised in her series long past the final page and in that mission, she has succeeded.

There were many times in this novel, when I began to question which side I was on, and whether the freedom to choose and to love really was something worth fighting for when it came at such a cost. This ability to make the reader feel and think is one of the rarest skills among good writers, especially when that writer makes you question the very premises she has established in the first series. I loved that we got to see things unfold from both sides of the wall. I also particularly enjoyed the parental themes, which included Raven’s wonderful character, and the effect she had on Lena.

Overall, this is one of the most thought provoking, well-written series I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Now to search for more Lauren Oliver masterpieces…

4 of 5 stars to ‘More than a mistress’ by Mary Balogh

More than a mistress

Jane Austen quality

Duelling is a gentleman’s business. Jocelyn Dudley, Duke of Tresham is furious when his attention is distracted in the middle of his latest duel, resulting in a non-fatal, but serious gunshot wound to his person. He employs the woman responsible for his injury as his nurse and vows to make her sorry she was every born. But Miss Jane Ingleby is no insipid maid. She has a mind of her own and is not afraid to speak it – even to the infamous rake of Tresham. The Duke is intrigued with Jane and soon finds himself in deeper than he ever imagined. But Jane has secrets of her own…

I’ve always thought I was born in the wrong era. There is something incredibly romantic about ball gowns, duels and rakes. Mary Balogh has captured the aristocratic hauteur and superficiality of polite society quite beautifully in this novel. The language in particular, is striking in it’s grandeur and the characters, including and perhaps specifically, some of the satellite characters are wonderfully three dimensional and shallow, as would be expected of ladies who spend their days embroidering and attending tea parties.

I’ve read quite a few historical romance novels but this one reminds me the most of Jane Austen’s work, of which I am a great fan. The focus is not on describing the immaculate cravats and exquisite ballgowns of the elite, but rather on the relationships between the characters and the influences of society on the lives of those characters.

The novel would have been ‘perfect’ in my estimation, were it not for a certain scene I felt that was ‘missing’ at the end of the novel. The final scene is more of an epilogue, in my opinion, and I felt in many ways deprived of what I would have considered to be the climactic resolution of the story.

That said, the character development was clear and touching, the story arc was well paced, and the era-appropriate vocabulary was superb. ‘More than a mistress’ is a light-hearted, entertaining historical romance I would happily recommend to lovers of the genre.