Jazzy Reviews

30. Apr, 2019

Papa says some of the trees are a thousand years old. They were here before anyone alive now was born, even the Queen, even before the Alchemist and the Sorceress bound time to blood and metal – if there ever was such a time. These trees will be standing long after we’re gone. Yet they aren’t predators like wolves or people. The roots beneath my feet don’t live for centuries by causing other plants to shrivel and turn gray. And their time cannot be bled from them.

If only we were more like trees.


THE GIST

Imagine a time where blood is life’s currency. Where you can survive for hundreds of years – or die in your 20’s.

17-year-old Jules Ember and her father lead miserable lives; they exist in a world where blood is money. The Gerlings rule, outliving others by melting blood coins into their drinks. Rent is payed through these coins and Jules and her father are behind on rent. In an attempt to escape the relentless assault of poverty, Jules ignores her father’s warning and seeks work at Everless, the Gerlings’ palace. Jules discovers their merciless, greedy ways and uncovers some truths about herself.

THE JUDGEMENT

Everless is an intense dystopian novel that keeps you gripped until the last page. I was entranced by Sara Holland’s style of writing, particularly the way she weaves detail into the story. It made Everless a lot more enjoyable and painted vivid imagery  inside my mind.

One of the things I most admire about Everless is the way that while the story is fantasy, the characters themselves are realistic. Jules and her father suffer terrible things through the gateway of penury and the reason Jules goes to Everless is to avoid these. Her emotions are genuine and her experiences are authentic.

It’s terrible to think blood could be a currency –  I can’t imagine the fear I would feel before having blood extracted from me and would find it hard not to physically express my disgust. This same horror is included in the story. Jules hates the Gerlings for the same reasons I would, but treats them with kindness because of certain consequences if she didn’t.

My favourite character in Everless is, surprisingly, Liam Gerling. For the duration of the book, I found him interesting to read about and anticipated his future actions. I also enjoyed the fairytale-type stories of the Alchemist and Sorceress – the original tale is just as suspenseful as Everless itself.

Everless doesn’t have extreme violence or language, but to understand the concept of the story takes maturity. There are a couple of sad scenes, as well. Therefore, I recommend Everless to readers aged 12+

Everless is the first of a two-part series. The second instalment is called Evermore and is the epic conclusion to the story. Seeing as the end of the first was a cliff-hanger, I picked up the second right after I finished! I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and read it twice to get a full understanding of it. I give Everless four-and-a-half book-bolts out of five.

ISBN: 978 1 40834 915 1
Publisher: The Watts Publishing Group

14. Feb, 2019

"Richard, what are you doing?" Mom says, horrified. It's one thing to see the weapons laid out. It's another thing to see them being loaded.

"Protecting my family." The pounding on the back door is more frantic than ever.

"Let's not jump to conclusions," Mom says, her voice quivering.

But Dad is single-minded. He straps on his Kevlar vest. "Get everyone into the safe room."

THE GIST

In the midst of a horrifying drought, 16 year-old Alyssa Morrow's life is turned up-side-down from "The Tap-Out". With water a rare commodity and her small Californian town rife with violence and crime, Alyssa is forced out of her house. To avoid death by dehydration, she hits the road with her brother and the "freak" who lives next door. Picking up strangers on the way and watching the thirst bring out the worst in people, two questions remain; how long can they survive without water and where can they find it?

THE JUDGEMENT

I discovered Dry in the YA section of my local bookshop, its fire-red cover drawing me in.

Dry is split into many perspectives; those of Alyssa, Kelton, Garrett, Henry and Jacqui. They are pictured on a nerve-racking car journey during The Tap-Out. There are also unique "snapshots" given as side-stories, adding a greater personal dimension to the disaster.

I loved how much the characters grew to like each other. For example, upon meeting the rebellious teen Jacqui, Alyssa and her comrades were unsure of her. However, with time their trust increased in her. Crisis can sometimes bring out the best in people, along with the worst.

I enjoyed Dry because of the plausibility of the situation happening in real life. I was delighted by the way the tone constantly changed throughout the story; there were nail-biting scenes, sad moments and humorous parts.

At the end, it was revealed that the authors are adapting Dry into a movie. I can't wait to see it on the big screen and hope it lives up to the novel! I will definitely be looking out for more of the Shustermans' novels and have already added the famous Scythe to my reading list.

Dry features fear, desperation and raw emotion. It is violent and shows what humans will do for the bare necessities of life. There is a scene resulting in the death of a character, which I found traumatic. Therefore, I recommend Dry to readers aged 13+

I absolutely loved Dry and read it late into the night. Even after I had finished, I flicked back to the start and read it again. The writing style isn't too complicated and I felt like I could relate to the characters. I give Dry five bookbolts out of five.

Publisher:Walker Books Ltd
ISBN:978-1-4063-8685-1

8. Jan, 2019

I knew about making people laugh, but that was hard among those who didn't know me and my little problems, who saw the saliva at the corner of my mouth and straightaway thought I must be a halfwit. I wondered what I would choose if the fairy godmother who went AWOL at my birth turned up to make amends. Okay, Jacob, she'd say, what's it going to be, normal legs or a mouth that doesn't dribble from one corner?

THE GIST

Jacob O'Leary of Palmerston is forced to live with cerebral palsy and is desperately waiting for a chance to prove himself. When livestock are murdered in his small Australian town, a newcomer is unfairly blamed and Jacob seizes the moment to fight for justice. Will he solve the Palmerston case, or fail and be forever ridiculed?

THE JUDGEMENT

Upon looking at the front cover of The Beauty is in the Walking, I immediately recognised the author's name. James Moloney is known for stories such as The Book of Lies and Bridget: A New Australian, both which I read as a 'tween. I was keen to see how he would approach a YA novel.

James Moloney's writing style is descriptive and emotional. His choice to put Jacob in the first person made it easy for the reader to relate to and barrack for him. It allowed me a window into his thoughts.

Before I read The Beauty is in the Walking, I had limited knowledge on what cerebral palsy was. Jacob reveals how hard it is to deal with his social life and mental state. He details the constant pain he endures and his jealousy of his athletic older brother, Tyke.

Jacob's adoration of Amy is central to the story. He can't stop thinking of her when he is studying for his Year 12 exams and is constantly dreaming up plans to meet up. Jacob feels like his cerebral palsy is holding him back from love and this makes him try harder than ever to win Amy over.

Bullying has followed Jacob his entire life. When a cruel teenager confronts Jacob in a bathroom, he remains silent, scared and furious. Later on, he gives the same bully an inspiring speech.

Jacob is full to the brim with problems and a war is constantly raging within his head. He battles family, love, the Palmerston case, discrimination, exams, social struggles and more. The overlapping problems in The Beauty is in the Walking create a chaotic sense that lasts until the story's end.

Jacob is understandably tormented and the reader needs to be at the emotional age to empathise with him. Because of this, I recommend The Beauty is in the Walking to readers aged 12+

This is an entertaining and inspirational read and I admired how many obstacles Jacob overcomes. He experiences great personal growth and doesn't give up on his fight for righteousness.

I give The Beauty is in the Walking four-and-a-half bookbolts out of five.

Publisher: Harper CollinsPublishers Pty Limited
ISBN: 978 0 7322 9994 1

9. Oct, 2018

"They are dangerous things, words," said the prince, his voice slow and meaningful.

I sensed trickery, and prayed for wisdom. A great stillness came over me. Wrapped in calm, I felt all my senses become heightened, alert. In a strange way I felt intensely alive, aware of everything about me, of every pair of eyes, and every change in the tense, treacherous atmosphere.

THE GIST

In medieval times a jester performs his new play, The Anger of Angels which ridicules the Prince of Goretti. At the same time, his 17 year-old daughter Giovanna meets Raffaele and falls madly in love with him. The play has dire consequences, wreaking havoc in everyone's lives. People are dying and the prince is blackmailing the jester in order to get a hold of the script. Giovanna is forced to travel to Goretti and hand it over so as to stop the misery it is causing. With love in the air and separation anxiety from her papa, Giovanna feels great pressure to complete her mission. The prince promises not to kill her, but Giovanna is untrusting. Will the prince be true to his word?

THE JUDGEMENT

The Anger of Angels has a medieval feel which captivated me from the very first page. It is exactly how I like a book to be written; it is descriptive, imaginative and has a spread of genres. It handles tragedy in a realistic way.

I love an ordinary protagonist. Giovanna is a girl who calls herself average in looks, except for one beautiful feature - her waist-length ginger hair. This feature makes her appear even more determined and feisty. It also sets her apart from the other girls in her village of Valenzio. I like the way this was written from her perspective and I felt like I really connected to her.

One of my favourite parts of the story is an example of bravery and character. After a huge argument with Ignazio (a secondary character), Raffaele is furious. Moments later, however, a tree falls on Ignazio and he is trapped. Raffaele has the option to leave him, or save him. His decision shows that he is the better person and is a strong character.

I think this book has an important moral; words can be dangerous. When the jester performs his play, he includes a riddle with a hidden meaning. The prince notices and is furious. Perilous events follow.

The Anger of Angels is a young adult novel. There is a romance between the two main characters (Raffaele and Giovanna) but nothing too iffy. There is also violence and a main character dies. Therefore, I recommend this book to readers aged 13+

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Anger of Angels. It is well-written and kept me hooked until the end. I would definitely vouch for this book if someone was looking for a medieval romance.

I give The Anger of Angels five bookbolts out of five.

Publisher: Walker Books Australia Pty Ltd
ISBN: 978-1-760650-60-5

11. Jul, 2018

"Hey," she says as I open the door. She looks really fed up. She isn't smiling and her eyes aren't as sparkly as usual. She's probably regretting that she offered to help me. She probably has a million other, better things she'd rather be doing. Like her homework. She'd probably rather be doing her homework than talking to me about what it means to be a refugee.

THE GIST

14-year-old Stevie is having it rough. Her dad has passed away, leaving her mum severely depressed so she is unable to work. Stevie has a passion for her dad's music and that is what gets her by in tough times.

Hafiz is a football-loving refugee from Syria. After his friend is hurt in a terrifying accident, Hafiz's parents had to send him away. He has been mistreated on the boat journey and arrives, scarred, in the UK.

Can these teens from two different worlds solve their problems together?

THE JUDGEMENT

This novel is named after a famous 70's song by Fleetwood Mac. This great title fits the storyline of the book; Stevie is going through so much and she needs to forget her past and look towards the future. She is named after one of the women in the band.

Each chapter within Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow varies between the characters' points of view. I have always enjoyed this layout because there are two sides to every story and I like getting inside people's heads.

This narrative is about a charmingly unlikely friendship; each character is being continuously tormented by an inner struggle and they help each other through it. The bond between Hafiz and Stevie is unique. It began as forced and awkward, but it grew. However, though they are close, they do not have a romantic relationship which is a relief in some ways; they could fight, break up and never talk to each other again.

I developed empathy for both of the main characters. Stevie struggles at school and at home, so I felt sad for her. I can relate to Stevie in a handful of ways. I have a passion for music just like her. It can help us through times when we are feeling down. Her talent comes in handy because later in the story, she has to busk for money. Stevie is poor because after her father's death, her mother became miserable which had obvious consequences.

Hafiz is picked on at school because he is a Syrian refugee. When playing soccer, he is rudely ignored and taunted by David Price, one of his team-mates. In fact, when it is obvious that Hafiz is in line for the perfect goal, David ignores him and tries to shoot, himself. Later, Price uses cruel stereotypes about Syrians and Hafiz responds by pushing him over. Hafiz's social situation is dire.

Stevie owns a book that her dad created when she started buying Justin Bieber. It is called, 'Stevie's Little Book of Big Song Wisdom' and it is very special to her. I like how the author has created a Spotify playlist with all of the songs featured in Stevie's collection. She holds it very close to her heart because it is one of the only things her father left behind.

This is an extremely emotional and confronting book and to understand and enjoy it, children need to feel for the characters. It also has mention of a teenage problem involving puberty, insults about rapists and terrorists, plus talk of relationships. Therefore, I recommend Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow to kids aged 12+.

This is a thoughtful and utterly beautiful story of friendship that is literally begging for a sequel (or even better, a prequel). I give Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow five bookbolts out of five.

Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-1-4063-8780-3