Young Adult

All posts tagged Young Adult

Banned Books #6 Lush by Natasha Friend with Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library

Published December 29, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Natasha Friend is a Judy Blume for today — clearly evident in this remarkable new novel about a girl whose father is an alcoholic and how she and her family learn to deal with his condition.

It’s hard to be a 13-year-old girl. But it’s even harder when your father’s a drunk. It adds an extra layer to everything — your family’s reactions to things, the people you’re willing to bring home, the way you see yourself and the world. For Samantha, it’s something that’s been going on for so long that she’s almost used to it. Only, you never get used to it. Especially when it starts to get worse…

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Welcome to the last book in our Banned Books Challenge where very month for the last six months of 2014, I have been collaborating with Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library. We have been looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book.

This month’s book is….

Lush by Natasha Friend

First published: 2007
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2010 (
source)
Chosen by: Bibliobeth
Reason: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group


Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: This is such a recent publication (2007) that I’m actually really surprised that it is banned/challenged in schools. Out of all the books we have read so far, this is the one that I really don’t understand the reasons behind it and it confused me so much that I actually had to leaf through the book again to try and work out why there may be problems.
CHRISSI: This is one book that I totally DO NOT see why it was challenged. I’m actually quite annoyed by it being challenged, because I actually see this book as a book that could be used to support teenagers going through the very same thing. It is a story about alcoholism- so of course it’s going to contain reference to that. As for offensive language… pffft. 
LUNA: You know I actually checked to see if there was another Lush by Natasha Friend because seriously are you kidding me? Do I understand any of the reasons – NO. The story is about a 13 year old girl dealing with her father’s alcoholism how can it not contain alcohol and its effects? The offensive language as far as I can figure out is the word “boobs”. I repeat, are you kidding me?!

How about now?

BETH: As I said above, this is a recent release, and not much has changed in seven years, so definitely NO. By banning or challenging it, I think it could be depriving teenagers of a book that could be incredibly useful if they were in a similar situation. There was a sexual scene but I really don’t think it was particularly explicit (You probably get worse on Coronation Street or Eastenders for goodness sake!)
CHRISSI: No. It could be used as a support/understanding/educative book. Just no. 
LUNA: Pfft. Don’t understand why it’s ever been challenged in the first place. I’ve said it so many times but here I go again: Don’t underestimate teenagers.

What did you think of this book?

BETH: I think this is one of my favourite books out of our banned book series. It was a beautiful and emotional rollercoaster of a read as Sam and her family learn to deal with her father’s addiction. The characters were brilliantly realised, I loved our main character Sam and her little brother Luke is too adorable for words. For me, it felt like such an authentic read that I think teenagers in the same situation could relate to the circumstances that Sam finds herself in and benefit from it.
CHRISSI: This book is potentially my favourite out of our banned book series. It contains so many important topics and as I’ve said before, I think it could be incredibly educative/supportive. I was very moved by this story. I loved it!
LUNA: I am so impressed how much of a punch this relatively short book packs. Sam has a lot to contend with, her father has been drinking for a long time but her mother isn’t acknowledging it. Sam’s father is stressed, he needs support and understanding. Sam doesn’t agree and then it comes the night he goes too far.
Natasha Friend really deals with the emotions Sam goes through brilliantly, as the reader you’re with Sam from the very beginning. I loved the friendship she strikes up with AJK. Sam’s relationship with her little brother, how she looks after him. At times my heart just ached. Lush is a great book.

Would you recommend it?

BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Without a doubt!
LUNA: Absolutely
BETH’s Personal Star Rating:
 four-stars_0
I’ve really enjoyed our Banned Books Challenge this year so thanks to Chrissi Reads and Luna for making the process so fun. Next year Chrissi Reads and I will be back with more Banned Books and we’re hoping Luna may be able to drop in from time to time. Wishing everyone a very happy 2015!
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Looking for Alaska – John Green

Published May 12, 2013 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

What did I think?:

This is the second John Green book I’ve read, the first being the hyped “The Fault in Our Stars,” which I really enjoyed but had a few teeny issues with. I’m actually still reflecting and trying to collect my feelings on this novel, as it provided me with a mixture of emotions. The story centres around a teenager called Miles, as we meet him he is on his way to boarding school for the first time which was the same one attended by his father. We get the impression that his life up until now has been a bit dull and lacking in something, as only two people turn up to the “going-away party” organised by his parents. Before leaving, his parents warn him about his behaviour and what is expected of him i.e. no drugs, drinking or cigarettes and not to do anything stupid. Hmm, well we can kind of see where this is going?! And, like any normal teenager, he’s bound to break at least one of these rules?

Once at Culver Creek, he makes friends with the Colonel, Takumi, Lara, and the intriguing and incredibly messed up Alaska Young. This is also his foray into the forbidden items of cigarette and alcohol, and a world of pranks against the Weekday Warriors – a group of rich kids that the Colonel despises with a passion. And then…tragedy strikes, and the friends have to pull together in so many ways, that Miles finally feels like a “somebody,” and more importantly, finds what he seems to have been searching for.

The story almost felt like a book of two halves to me, the “Before” portion was good, and meandered along at a nice pace, but I felt the book only took off once I reached the “After” half which completely gripped me and is the reason for my rating. I really loved all the characters, and felt they all individually brought something to the story as a whole. I found Lara absolutely hilarious, with her Romanian accent-altering words: “I’m not keeding, take off your clothes!” The character of Alaska was fascinating, and I was curious throughout to try to understand her sadness and despair. There is a lot of sadness in the book, but I thought the author dealt well with this and a number of other themes including religion, spirituality, forgiveness and teenage angst. The book ends on a poignant note, and leaves the reader an interesting message – how do we escape the labyrinth?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

The Quietness – Alison Rattle

Published April 29, 2013 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

When fifteen-year-old Queenie escapes from the squalid slums of nineteenth-century London, she has no idea about the dangers of the dark world she is about to become embroiled in. Initially thrilled at being taken on as a maid for the seemingly respectable Waters sisters, Queenie comes to realise that something is very wrong with the dozens of strangely silent babies being ‘adopted’ into the household.

Meanwhile, lonely and unloved sixteen-year-old Ellen is delighted when her handsome and charming young cousin Jacob is sent to live with her family. She thinks she has finally found a man to fall in love with and rely on, but when Jacob cruelly betrays her she finds herself once again at the mercy of her cold-hearted father. Soon the girls’ lives become irrevocably entwined in this tension-filled drama. THE QUIETNESS is a novel of friendship and trust in the darkest of settings.

What did I think?:

I was recommended this book by my sister who absolutely loved it so I was intrigued to discover what it was like. Well, I definitely was not disappointed. The Quietness is a beautifully realised and original piece of work that has a bite of real history behind it. The author introduces us to two sisters that actually existed in Victorian England and were known collectively as the “Brixton Baby Farmers,” who were responsible for the deaths of nineteen infants by starvation.  Our main characters, Ellen and Queenie become embroiled in this nasty business when Queenie is employed as a maid for the sisters under false pretences, unaware of what is really going on. Ellen, on the other hand becomes a “fallen woman” when she becomes pregnant and is sent to the sisters’ house in disgrace by her father, a prominent anatomist to have her bastard child in secret. During this time period, an unmarried pregnant woman was an abomination, and abortions were not only illegal but highly dangerous due to unsanitary “back-street” methods.

Of course, there is much more going on in this book then meets the eye involving both girls families, Ellen’s pregnancy and a hidden secret but I don’t want to give anything away. The author does a terrific job of alternating the narration between both main characters and keeping the story alive and fresh. “The Quietness,” can be interpreted many ways – it is something Queenie longs for in her family yet in Ellen’s family it is something that she seems to have an abundance of. It refers to the babies in the house, and also has a physical connection with an object used in the novel. As a historical novel for young adults, I think it has passion and depth and will definitely succeed in making people more interested about our past, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Entangled – Cat Clarke

Published March 23, 2013 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The same questions whirl round and round in my head: What does he want from me? How could I have let this happen? AM I GOING TO DIE? 17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with table, pens and paper – and no clue how she got there. As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she’s tried to forget. There’s falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there’s something missing. As hard as she’s trying to remember, is there something she just can’t see? Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here? A story of dangerous secrets, intense friendships and electrifying attraction.

What did I think?:

This book was given to me by my sister, ChrissiReads, and I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. I am a fan generally of Young Adult books, but the blurb on the back didn’t really pull me in. And, like the old saying – “don’t judge a book by its cover,”  I’m afraid I did and the author proved me wrong. Okay, it obviously isn’t going to win any major literary prizes but for the genre, it’s a fantastic read. The story opens with our main character (possibly kidnapped) in a room with no idea of how she got there and with just a pen and some paper. So the story unravels, and we learn about the tumultuous life of this young woman, and deal with some major issues in that Grace cuts herself on a regular basis which helps her feel better about things.

I really admire the author for putting this issue out there and think it will speak to a lot of young adults who are either going through it themselves or know someone else who is. She also manages to cover quite a lot of other potentially “teenage” issues like drinking, sex, and friendships with candour and wit. Basically, Cat Clarke is definitely an author to watch out for and I look forward to reading more of her works.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Magic Under Glass – Jaclyn Dolamore

Published February 21, 2013 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act – singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry’s world, however, buried secrets stir.
Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry’s involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton’s stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.

What did I think?:

I was recommended this book by my sister who “absolutely fell in love with  it.” Being a bit of a sucker for a story with any magical element, I couldn’t wait to read it myself. As well as the oh so pretty cover design, its actually a decent read. The tale of a young girl who falls in love with a machine who is actually alive and (shock) – a fairy prince, was so sweet I just settled back and enjoyed the ride. I was definitely the sort of girl who clapped as hard as she could so a fairy wouldn’t die, and I see no reason to change now!

This book is so easy to read I devoured it in under 24 hours and am looking forward to the sequel “Magic Under Stone,” which was published in the UK last year. The author has posted some helpful answers to frequently asked questions on GoodReads including what the title means – literally and metaphorically (!!), how she rates it (a modest 4 stars) and how the country in the story is drawn. I recommend it to all magic fans everywhere.

Please see ChrissiReads fabulous review HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Pretties (Uglies #2) – Scott Westerfeld

Published January 13, 2013 by bibliobeth

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Whats it all about?:

Tally has finally become Pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are cool, her boyfriend is totally gorgeous, and she’s completely popular. It’s everything she’s ever wanted. But beneath all the fun – the non-stop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom – is the nagging sense that something is very wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally’s Ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what’s wrong with Pretty life, and the fun stops cold. Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life…

What did I think?:

This is the second book in Scott Westerfeld’s trilogy book which began with Uglies. I gave Uglies a massive five star review, so my expectations were kind of high for the follow up – Pretties. Let me just say, for a YA book its absolutely fantastic and the age range it’s aimed for will love it however I was a tiny bit let down by this second offering. I think I know what it was though…. the “pretty speak” was kind of dizzy-making and bogus you know?!

However, if you can get past the pretty speak, (which I did) the second half of the book is thrilling and by the end of it I felt excited about reading the next in the series, Specials. Can’t wait to see how Westerfeld is going to conclude the trilogy.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) – Suzanne Collins

Published January 11, 2013 by bibliobeth

Whats it all about?:

Can Katniss Everdeen win the final fight against the Capitol? Against all odds, she’s survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she is still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no-one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12…

What did I think?:

If you haven’t heard about The Hunger Games yet, where have you been? (And why are you reading this review? Start with the first one!) I am definitely a fan of this trilogy however the last book came as a slight disappointment and this is why I haven’t rated it as high. The action is a bit slow to all kick off, although when it did I found myself desperate to find out what was going to happen.

Katniss is a gutsy, feisty character – qualities I find endearing in my heroines and is so refreshing to see compared to other books who tend to favour the weaker female type. But make sure you have some tissues ready for the ending – I’m saying no more….

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars