On the Jellicoe Road Review

July 27, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★★

On the Jellicoe Road ReviewOn the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Published by Penguin Australia on August 28th 2006
Pages: 290
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five-stars
I'm dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.
Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs—the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.
And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother—who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.
The moving, joyous and brilliantly compelling new novel from the best-selling, multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca.

This was originally published in Australia under the title “On the Jellicoe Road” but was shortened when released in the United States two years later as “Jellicoe Road.” Regardless of what the title is, it’s an amazing book and I can’t believe it took me so long to read it. If you haven’t read it yet either, I definitely recommend picking up a copy soon!

It’s difficult to summarize the book without giving too much away about it. Honestly, it’s best to walk into this novel not knowing much, it’ll be much more mysterious and suspenseful that way. What I will say is that it revolves around Taylor, a girl who attends the Jellicoe School. She is the leader of the boarders at her school and leads them through the territory wars which are against two other groups: the Cadets and the Townies. Her biggest challenge is the terrifying and mysterious leader of the Cadets, Jonah Griggs. Taylor’s world gets complicated when Hannah, her closest ally, disappears without warning. All Taylor has as a guide is a manuscript that Hannah wrote that Taylor slowly realizes is about her own life. She uses it to not only find Hannah, but to find out more about her own past and secrets as well.

I loved Taylor way more than I initially anticipated. She’s a headstrong character who also is witty, funny, smart, and incredible. I really loved watching her evolve and mature throughout the novel. She’s one of the most well written young adult heroine that I’ve seen in awhile. Additionally, I loved Jonah Griggs, but who doesn’t? I also thought her friends Raffy and Chaz were great and fascinating supporting characters. I found myself wanting to know even more about them and about their own stories. The four characters that are the center of Hannah’s manuscript are also hilarious and fun characters that you can’t but love right away.

The relationship between the tough Jonah Griggs and the sassy Taylor Markham is charming and endearing. I loved the banter and how this relationship had such a slow build up. The two also have a history that is pretty difficult to discuss and simply needs to be read. I will say that the truth about this gradually comes out at the best and sweetest times possible. I think the best part about Jonah Griggs is that he doesn’t say memorable things to Taylor that make him extremely swoon worthy like Augustus Water or Park Sheridan, but his actions say it all. He does things to show her how much he cares, which is what any girl wants from a guy.

This is one of the best books that I’ve read in a long time. It’s safe to say that I’ve never read anything like it and I don’t really expect to read anything like it again. This book surprised me by how fascinating it is. It draws you in from the very first page and I love books that manage to hold your attention from start to finish. Another highlight is that it can be read in just one sitting, it’s an easy read and I promise you won’t be able to put it down.

Quotes: 
“It’s funny how you can forget everything except people loving you. Maybe that’s why humans find it so hard getting over love affairs. It’s not the pain they’re getting over, it’s the love.” 

“If you weren’t driving, I’d kiss you senseless,” I tell him.
He swerves to the side of the road and stops the car abruptly.
“Not driving any more.” 

“But grief makes a monster out of us sometimes . . . and sometimes you say and do things to the people you love that you can’t forgive yourself for.” 

“Is a person worth more because they have someone to grieve for them?”  

“No,” I say, looking up at Griggs. “It’s actually because my heart belongs to someone else.” And if I could bottle the look on his face, I’d keep it by my bedside for the rest of my life.” 

five-stars

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Go Set a Watchman Review

July 23, 2015 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Go Set a Watchman ReviewGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Published by HarperCollins on July 14th 2015
Pages: 278
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four-stars
From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.
Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch--"Scout"--returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience.
Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision--a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.

When I first heard that Harper Lee was releasing a sequel to her beloved To Kill a Mockingbird, I panicked. Was this something that Lee truly wanted to do? Her sister, who cared for her estate had recently passed away, and I worried the older woman was being taken advantage of.

Now that I’ve read Go Set a Watchman, however, I understand why Harper Lee’s lawyers and publishing agent pushed for its release: the book is nothing short of yet another masterpiece. Though it’s an early draft of the novel with spelling and grammatical errors, Watchman brilliantly resurrects our favorite characters and tackles the topic of racism.

We are reintroduced to Scout Finch, who is now 26 years old and living in New York. She is coming home to Maycomb, Alabama for two weeks to visit her aging father Atticus. During her stay, we see Scout (now referred to as Jean Louise, her given name) play around with a potential lover, visit and reminisce about old friends, and learn about the NAACP and just how her town feels about it.

While the book contains good points as well as bad, I overall found this to be an easy read and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I did not mind the way Atticus was portrayed. In Mockingbird, he was a hero and the one we cheered on in court as he defended an African American man. In Watchman, Atticus is said to hold racist beliefs. I wasn’t bothered by this in the slightest. Atticus never says outright that he hates African Americans or believes they shouldn’t be citizens. Which is why people shouldn’t let this tidbit dictate whether they read the book or not. Other chapters and characters in the novel make it a notable read and definitely one that everyone needs to see in today’s time and age regardless of if they like the newer Atticus.

I recommend this book to anyone wanting another perspective on the topic of racism. Like Mockingbird, this novel makes plenty of excellent points on the treatment of African Americans and how equality can be achieved. Even if one is unsure this book will live up to the hype of the prequel, it will definitely come pretty darn close.
four-stars

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Fangirl Review

July 18, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★★

Fangirl ReviewFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on September 10th 2013
Pages: 433
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Attachments
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five-stars
A coming-of-age tale of fanfiction, family and first love
CATH IS A SIMON SNOW FAN. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan... But for Cath, being a fan is her life--and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fanfiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to.
Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath that she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend; a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world; a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words...and she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

This book was a very sweet surprise for me. I’ve held off reading this book for nearly two years now and I’m not completely sure why. I think I held Eleanor & Park to such high standards that I was afraid this one wouldn’t live up to it. However, Rainbow Rowell is an excellent writer and her second novel was honestly just as great as the first.

Cath was by far one of the most relatable characters I’ve ever seen. As an introvert myself, I see myself in Cath as she gets lost in her writings and struggles with the truth of whether or not fanfiction is plagiarism. Levi is one of those fictional characters who you instantly swoon over. He isn’t the most popular guy on the college campus, but he’s got an incredible personality. Rowell describes him as someone who is always smiling and that his presence alone instantly lights up a room. Another character I loved was Cath’s roommate Reagan. I love that she bonds with Cath at the dining hall by judging everyone who walks by. She’s a sassy and memorable secondary character. Wren is a character who you gradually warm up to, it’s obvious that she loves her twin sister, sometimes she just needs a break. I loved the twins dad, he had a great deal of wit about him and I appreciated all of the pop culture references.

The romance between Cath and Levi happens at a realistic speed. The two begin as friends then it slowly but surely turns into more. I honestly didn’t completely see it coming since it built so much, I could barely even tell that he liked Cath. I like the pairing between them since they are totally different people. Like they always say, opposites attract and you don’t get more opposite than Cath and Levi.

This book is an enjoyable read that you won’t want to end. It’s safe to say that I wish the story of Cath and Levi didn’t end here. I think that anyone could read and love this book, but I think that nerdy teen girls could probably relate to it the best. If you’re like me and haven’t read this book, do yourself a favor and pick it up.

“To really be a nerd, she’d decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.”

“How do you not like the Internet? That’s like saying, ‘I don’t like things that are convenient. And easy. I don’t like having access to all of mankind’s recorded discoveries at my fingertips. I don’t like light. And knowledge.”

“In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t Google.)”

“Just… isn’t giving up allowed sometimes? Isn’t it okay to say, ‘This really hurts, so I’m going to stop trying’?”
“It sets a dangerous precedent.”
“For avoiding pain?”
“For avoiding life.”

“You’ve read the books?”
“I’ve seen the movies.”
Cath rolled her eyes so hard, it hurt. (Actually.) (Maybe because she was still on the edge of tears. On the edge, period.) “So you haven’t read the books.”
“I’m not really a book person.”
“That might be the most idiotic thing you’ve ever said to me”

five-stars

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