Holly In Love – Caroline B. Cooney

Holly In Love follows Holly, a sixteen year old. She lives in a New Hampshire ski resort, the problem with this is her hatred of winter weather. Yet the winter seems brighter for her when she grows close to Jamie Winter. But Jamie is a ‘younger guy’ and her relationship would be the laughing stock of all their friends. Holly has to decide if Jamie is worth it…

I thought this book would be a relevant read given the winter weather of present, and therefore I was rather I was looking forward to reading this book. Yet it severely disappointed me.

My one main complaint regarding this book is the lack of plot – nothing of import happened. During the story there was no crisis to be solved – a fundamental of stories – and no character development.
Holly was annoying throughout – she was very self absorbed and completely obsessed with the weather, in an unhealthy way. Holly’s so called friends were not my definition of friends – they constantly mocked her and belittled her, and at times, Holly seems almost fearful of them and their judgement.

Ultimately, I would not recommend this book. The lack of plot makes it a unexciting read, it had the feel of an old author trying, and failing, to capture a teenage voice.

The Summer I Found You – Jolene Perry

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The Summer I Found You follows Kate, a teenage girl who has learnt she has diabetes and is struggling to cope with the pressures it brings to her life. She can’t fathom that her disease will be with her forever. Kate is also struggling following her break-up with her boyfriend.

Aiden is a 19 year old who has returned from an army tour abroad, during which he was involved in a tragic explosion, which leaves his sergeant dead and Aiden with an arm amputated. Aiden is struggling to come to terms with his injury and how it is going to change his life forever. Losing his arm has also meant losing his job, life plan and ability to drive his beloved car.

Kate and Aiden are introduced by Kate’s best friend, who is also Aiden’s cousin. The pair soon grow to be friends though their relationship is anything but plain sailing…

I enjoyed this book, it had the feeling of a light heated summer read yet with darker undertones – Kate’s diabetes and Aiden’s traumatic army experiences. I found it hard to put the book down as I desperately wanted to know what would happen to the characters. Some of the characters seemed almost stereotypical which I always find annoying in books – I think this stems from older authors writing about teenagers.

This book was not the best written book ever, with some awkward almost cliche descriptions, however I was so absorbed in the story, I found it easy to ignore. This also made the book easy to read, which reinforced the idea of a relaxing read.

All in all, I would recommend this book to those wishing to prolong summer (especially in the current winter weather) and relax with a light hearted read.

Stirring Up Trouble – Juli Alexander

The books follows Zoe, a fifteen year old witch, who is talented with potions. However her witchcraft has to be a secret, and whenever she uses a potion for her own personal gain, she suffers some body transfiguration. This means she has to carefully balance school, a social life and her potion experiments.

I really enjoyed this book, I downloaded it on a whim and it surprised me how much I enjoyed it.

Zoe was a very likeable character throughout and by the end of the book you empathise with her. Zoe’s best friend, Anya, however was the complete opposite, throughout I struggled to find a single redeeming quality for her, which made her friendship with Zoe somewhat unimaginable. Jason, Anya’s ex, is Zoe’s love interest; He is lovely and it is obvious why Zoe likes him so much.
Zoe’s parents are also great characters, especially her mother. Zoe is very close to her mother, due to their shared witch genes, which is beautifully portrayed in the book – this close relationship is the opposite to many teenage books. However, Zoe’s dad is quite the opposite, he recently sought a divorce, which leaves his relationship with Zoe awkward, however this does change throughout the book. The only problem with this was the almost yo-yo feeling of the relationship – it changed so often.

The plot was almost nonexistent at times, for long stretches of time nothing important seemed to happen, but this gave it the feel of a simple “summer” read. I think this is ultimately why I enjoyed the book so much, it was easy to read which made the reading more enjoyable.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book, especially with those who want a light hearted read to bring back the feeling of summer.

Paper Towns – John Green

Who is the real Margo?

My final John Green book… Having read all of his other books, I knew I had to complete the ‘series’.

Paper Towns is about Quentin “Q” Jacobsen and Margo Roth Spiegelman and their unique relationship.

The book begins with a flashback, showing the close friendship, nine year old Quentin and Margo shared, due to them being next door neighbours.

The flashbacks finishes and returns to present day in which Q and Margo have grown distant – they are still next door neighbours but mix with different crowds.

However, this all unexpectedly changes one day when Margo knocks on Q’s window in the middle of the night – the beginning of a life changing adventure. Together they spend the night committing daring deeds and getting revenge.

Q thinks this has changed their relationship and can’t wait to experience the last of his school days with Margo. Yet, the next day, Margo is missing and Q must follow her clues to find her…

This book strongly reminded me of Looking For Alaska however I still thoroughly enjoyed it. The plots were similar and the characters had the same basic traits, however there were also major differences between the two. Margo and Alaska (from Looking For Alaska) are similar personalities and as these were my least favourite characters from both books respectively, this was slightly annoying.

Q was the most likeable character and he was also easy to relate to. Margo was the focus of the novel, and as with all John Green novels, she was highly intelligent and independent, however she was also extremely selfish and self absorbed which annoyed me.

Overall, I really enjoyed Paper Towns however I would have preferred a plot line which differed more from Looking For Alaska. I would recommend the book, especially to those who enjoyed Looking For Alaska. I am glad I have read all of John Green’s books as I enjoyed them all yet I do feel that his later books are the better books.

Looking For Alaska – John Green

Looking for AlaskaFirst friend, first girl, last word

Looking For Alaska revolves around Miles Halter, a teenage boy from Florida with a love of people’s last words. Quiz him on any American president, or a multitude of other famous people, and he will be able to tell you their last words.  Miles decides, for his junior year, to explore the ‘Great Perhaps’ (François Rabelais’ last words) and hence enrolls in Culver Creek boarding school, in another state.

Before the ‘Great Perhaps’, Miles lived a rather solitary life in Florida. However with the new school, Miles also gains a roommate, The Colonel, who becomes Miles’ first real friend, teaching him all about the etiquette and pranks of the school.

The Colonel also introduces Miles to Alaska. Alaska Young is a beautiful, mysterious girl who Miles can’t help but fall in love with. Her intelligence, wit and mood swings all add up to make her fascinating to Miles.

Together Miles, The Colonel, Alaska and their other friends make a fantastic prank team, as is tradition within the school. They regularly break school rules – smoking, drinking and sneaking out

Miles has survived, and enjoyed, the majority of the school year – learning a lot, not just in lessons. However, one tragic events changes all of this. He is left to try and recover his happiness and make it through until the end of the academic year.

I loved this book. Miles was a great character – he was so realistic. His opinions and thoughts are all relatable. On the other hand, Alaska annoyed me, but her character was written to be annoying, she was a self absorbed and confusing character.

John Green’s characters are all intelligent which is my favourite part of his books, the characters are not the stereotypical teenagers which are so common place in the media. In my opinion, he has the correct view regarding teenagers, seeing them more intelligent and mature than many other writers. I believe this is an important factor in John Green’s immense popularity.

The plot begins rather slowly, however this allows readers time to begin to understand and relate to the characters which I feel, retrospectively, is an important element of the book.

The story also features important issues which teenagers face and therefore I feel a lot is to be learnt from this book.

As much as I enjoyed the book, I do feel that other John Green novels are better. Although, I would still recommend this book to all.

I now only have Paper Towns of John Green’s books to read, which saddens me as I find his books so enjoyable. I hope he writes many more books to continue my enjoyment.

The Killables – Gemma Malley

The Killables

Evil must be identified

Dystopian novels are becoming more prevalent within Young Adult literature, after reading Ally Condie’s Matched Trilogy, I became disinterested with the genre. I didn’t enjoy this series as I felt removed from the characters and I didn’t understand the relationships between the characters.

However, with The Killables I was reintroduced and will definitely be reading similar books in the future.

The Killables tells the story of Evie, a 16 year old, living in The City. The City is the home to those who have had the ‘evil’ part of their brain removed, in a supposedly utopian city. The City is under the control of The System, which is responsible for labelling all the citizens based on how evil they are.

Evie strives to be good, yet she fears she is turning evil due to a recurring dream and the secrets she is keeping.

She has a job within The System, programming label changes. This job enabled her to meet Lucas, a senior programmer, who she is engaged to. However, she doesn’t like Lucas, convinced he is a ‘robot’, lacking in emotions; Evie prefers his brother, the disgraced Raffy.

Raffy sets off a chain events which causes startling changes for The City and Evie…

I really enjoyed this book, the topic was really interesting and thought provoking. The characters were all realistic especially Evie, I found it easy to relate to her which furthered my enjoyment of the book.

This book was real page-turner; I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next! My only criticism is the ending, however I can understand the reasoning behind this as there is a sequel – which I aim to read soon!

Ultimately, a book I would recommend to those who enjoy dystopian novels or those looking to try out the genre.

Just Listen – Sarah Dessen

Everybody has those ‘lighter’ books they read – the easy, light-hearted reads which require little concentration. Just Listen was to be my lighter read.

Having heard praise of Sarah Dessen I was happy to be finally reading one of her books. However, I have to say that this book did disappoint me.

Just Listen follows teenage part-time local model Annabel in a new year of her High School. Her summer was life-changing for her, she fell out with her best friend which meant a new life style. Instead of partying every weekend and hanging out with the popular crowd, she now spends most of her time alone.

Or she does, until she begins talking to Owen. Owen is a mysterious figure, little is known about him other than rumours. Annabel begins to befriend him and find out the truth behind the rumours.

Annabel’s character was a large factor of my disappointment in this novel, I didn’t like her as I found her selfish and self absorbed. I also disliked Owen though, he was too intense and unrealistic to me.

The book was written with extended flashbacks to earlier events which made reading confusing sometimes, because it wasn’t always clear when the scene was occurring.

The book also deals with challenging issues which makes it less of the light-hearted novel I was expecting. Perhaps this is ultimately where my disappointment lies, it wasn’t what I anticipated which made me passive towards the characters and plot line.

However there were also elements of the book I enjoyed, the ideas Owen presented were original and there were deep thoughts sprinkled throughout the narrative which I found intriguing.

Ultimately it is a book I had to finish and whilst it was not a favourite of mine, I hope to try Sarah Dessen’s which will hopefully be more enjoyable for me.

I encourage others to read this book to make up their own minds and please share your opinions with me.