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Posts tagged ‘Growing Up’

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

I received my copy from the publisher
By: Patrick Ness

Life for a high school student is filled with stresses related to dating and exam scores and that is how it should be, not everyone can be a chosen one. Not everyone is the one who has to face the zombies, kill the vampires or defeat whatever the latest threat to a town might be. Stories are always told of those people but what of those who share the town with them. This is the story of those whose lives go on at the edges or outside all that action. To Mikey though that is as it should be. Mikey just wants to graduate, get the chance to go to prom before the high school gym gets blown up again and maybe kiss the girl. This is life.
This book is a wonderfully engaging story. As a counterpoint to Mikey’s life we do get hints as to what is happening in the extraordinary world, but so what? Mikey’s life is interesting, filled with stresses that we can all identify with. (Well apart from a mother who basks in the spotlight of fame.) Mikey has a close group of friends, is protective of his sisters and protective of his best friends secret, no small ask when that friend might be something pretty spectacular, such as a god. Then of course there is the girl he believes he should be with and the guy she seems to fancy.
Ness has taken the concept of a story about the spectacular or supernatural and turned it on its head. In the process he has given us a wonderful tale rooted in the mundane, it is a highly relatable tale dealing with depression, mental health issues and eating disorders. There are some serious topics packaged here and as always Ness deals with them in a manner that makes them seem less taboo. Once again Patrick Ness has proven what a masterful story teller he is.
Highly recommended.
Publisher: Walker Books
Published: 27th August 2015
Format: hard cover 352 pages
Genre: fantasy, high school, growing up, friendship
ISBN: 9781406331165

The Andy Flegg Survival Guide…

9780143306771By: Mark Pardoe

Andy Flegg wants an X-box, to get one his mother has told him he has to write in a journal everyday. Andy is not impressed. Some entries are really short and then things start happening. A cute girl starts in his class, his parents are fighting and his dog gets sick. Then his dog gets a bit better, his parents get back to normal briefly and the cute girl is texting him. Things are just not meant to be that way. The day the motorbike his dad has borrowed is vandalised is the day things go from bad to worse for Andy. Just when he thinks it can’t get any worse he finds out just how wrong he can be.

Andy is an everyday 11 year old who loves computer games and isn’t fond of school. His biggest problem is that he doesn’t have an X-box. As Andy writes in his journal bits of his life seem to unravel. It is a fun, somewhat quirky look at being a preteen boy who has to deal with the obvious things such as the next best computer game and the other unexpected things such as his ‘thingie’ suddenly taking on a life of it’s own, particularly when he thinks about Amber. It is an angsty time and Pardoe takes you through it with humour and ease. Andy could be any boy, he is believable and his responses to the curveballs life throws at him are made all the more real by the fact that there are consequences.

This is a wonderful read, the fun balances out the pathos and there is no total happy ending, which is good because that would totally have negated the power of the story-telling. Also as a funny little bonus each entry has an obscure word defined and used, I think I can safely say a large number are words I will never come across again but it is a great device. Suitable for 10+.


Publisher: Penguin Books Australia

Published: 24 July 2013

Format: Paperback 240 pages

Categories: Life, School, Friends, 

ISBN 13: 9780143306771

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page

Girl Defective

I received my copy from the publisher.


By: Simmone Howell

Skylark lives above her dad’s record store with her dad and brother Gully. They each have their own problems. Dad is an alcoholic, Gully has social difficulties, including the fact he cannot go out without wearing a pig snout over his face. Sky looks fairly normal on the surface but a little scratching and it’s clear she has more than enough of her own problems. She is still struggling with the abandonment of her mother, having to be the responsible one and having to get a handle on her bubbling hormones. She just wants to break out a little, she wants to be a bit more like Nancy, who seems to have control of her life. There’s a girl, a boy, a girl who had gone missing and some life changing events.

Sky is a bit of an outsider, her best friend is older and doesn’t go to school, her mother doesn’t have much interest in her outside a brief call for her birthday. Sky has feelings for Nancy but they are complicated, particularly when Luke comes along. She loves her brother but it’s hard to be the one mostly responsible for him. Sky is struggling to find her own way, to find who she really is so she can be true to herself.

The other characters frame Sky’s story. Nancy appears happy on the surface but underneath is something much darker. Gully adds some humour even as his defects are central to his actions, you feel sadness for his situation but there is joy in the way he copes. Luke brings a quiet determination to the story, he is a little lost but knows what he is looking for.

This is a story about family, about disfunction and about survival. This story shows us that though times can be terrible, can be hard to handle that there is a way through them. It is possible for a family to stick together an come out the other side. If you like books that are grounded solidly in reality and don’t shy away from tough topics like disfunction and teenage uncertainty then I’m sure you’ll like this one.

Publisher: Pan Australia

Published: 01 March 2013

Format: Paperback 312 pages

RRP: $16.99 Aus

Categories: Fiction, Family, Teenagers

ISBN 13: 9780330426176

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page.

Drowning Instinct

I recieved this copy from the publisher


By: Isla J Bick

Jenna Lord is damaged. She has been in a psych ward, she’s seen councillors and now she has to start at a new school because her father thinks it’s best. Jenna just wants to get through. She doesn’t want to get into any trouble. There is enough trouble in her life, home is terrible, her father isn’t there mostly and her mother is a workaholic/alcoholic. No-one really has time for Jenna. No-one that is until her teacher shows interest. He offers her friendship, he offers her love.

We start this story in a hospital. We don’t know how Jenna got there. Then the narrative jumps back to where Jenna says it all began. One by one Jenna’s secrets are then revealed as she tells her tale to a recording device given to her by a detective. The style feels natural, the moments when Jenna addresses the detective directly in no way takes you out of the story.

This is a thought provoking book, with some interesting notes in the back. It touches at dark places, on many levels and is likely to stay with you for a while after you have finished reading it.

Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc

Published: 28 February 2013

Format: Paperback 368 pages

Categories: Romance, School Stories

ISBN 13: 9781780870434

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I received this from the publisher.

9781471100482By: Stephen Chbosky

Charlie is a shy freshman who is trying to figure out his way through the maze that is high school. Is is a place of first loves, first dates, friendships and family dramas. Charlie is good at sitting on the sidelines, he is good at watching. There comes a time though when you need to stop watching and start living. With the help of new friends Patrick and Sam, Charlie starts to experience what growing up is all about.

In it’s simplest form ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ is a coming of age story. There is very little about it that is simple though. Charlie is incredibly shy and highly emotional. You know there is stuff that has gone on in his life and that is never made very clear. Charlie is a troubled kid, on many levels. For me he wasn’t the strength of the book.Sam and Patrick were what held this story together for me. For all that it is supposed to be poignant, touching, I found Charlie to be a bit frustrating, especially his constant crying. Yes it is an interesting read, it is a different take on navigating what can be such a difficult time. It will definitely appeal to some, though I think it is going to be one of those books you get or you don’t really. For me it was something I can say I’ve read, but it didn’t leave much of a mark.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd 

Published: 01 October 2012

Format: Paperback 240 pages

Categories: Contemporary Fiction

ISBN 13: 9781471100482

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page.

Bella’s Blessings

9781897476611By: Brenda Stokes & Trisha DesRosiers

When Bella is born, her grandmother makes her a blessing bag and promises to give her a different blessing each spring. First love then dedication and on we go. Each year Bella learns something according to these blessings. Bella’s grandmother can’t live forever though and can her last blessing be something Bella can learn from?

This is a beautiful and touching book about life and growing. Dedication, love, beauty, honesty, kindness and courage are all traits for Bella to develop and the message comes clearly to the readers through the gorgeous text and charming illustrations. A heartwarming story. For older picture book readers because it has plenty of text.


Publisher: Simply Read Books

Published: 05 November 2012

Format: Hardback 50 pages

Categories: Animal Stories, Growing Up, Family

ISBN 13: 9781897476611

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page

Secret Girls’ Business

I received this from the publisher.By: Maggie Hamilton

A book full of fun, fashion and tips on helping you find your way through the teenage years. Interspersed between craft activities and style tips are sections of information on tough issues such as bullying, depression and popularity.

This book has been put together by Maggie Hamilton who has done some intense studies of teenage girls and authored the book ‘What’s Happening to Our Girls?’

The serious information is kept concise whilst letting them know that they are not alone in experiencing these feelings.

In the spirit of living in a multicultural country we are given peeks into the lives of girls from different cultural backgrounds. To show you what girls are capable of, women who have achieved success in a great variety of careers are given brief profiles.

As well as recipes for all sorts of things there are plenty of fashion and gift craft ideas.

This is a wonderful gift idea for a creative teenager, full of plenty of ideas to help them develop their own style, and work through the time of figuring out their own identity, something that can be a tricky thing to do. A previous book I mentioned that ran along a similar  vein was great for tweens and young teens but this one is aimed at older teens. I would say best suited for  14-16 year olds.

Definitely worth a look.

Publisher:  Viking Australia

Published: 22nd August 2012

Format: Paperback 192 pgs

Genre: Non-fiction, Craft, Teenager, Multiculturalism

ISBN: 9780670076772

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of page

GIRL! The Ultimate Guide to Being You.

By: Anna Barnes

Now I don’t normally review non-fiction, mostly because I don’t read a lot of it but I started going through this and thought it was a great idea. Not only a great idea but very well executed. This is a book that doesn’t stick to one theme in regards to growing up, it doesn’t push any one thing at you. Instead what Anna Barnes has presented us with is a self-discovery guide. It contains chapters dealing with everything from creating your own style, to body image, environmental issues to changing the world.

This book is choc full of information about all sorts of things (parents can even learn things as they look through it -I did).

It is an open, honest look at what it is to grow up and try to figure out who you are. At times it is serious other times it is funny. Best of all it offers a variety of suggestions letting the reader know that no one way is the right way to be. We are all different and this is a book that celebrates that. I would totally recommend giving this to a pre-teen or a young teen, it may even provide an icebreaker for broaching certain topics.

Definitely worth a look.

Publisher: Puffin

Published: 28 March 2012

Format: Paperback 240 pages

Categories: Social Issues, Growing Up, Adolescence

ISBN 13: 9780143305767

Purchase: here or use the Booktopia link on side of the page

The Night Fright

By: Sally Rippin

Part of the Billie B Brown series

Billie is so excited because she is going to the movies with her friend Rebecca and Rebecca’s older sisters. The thing is they like scary movies. Billie says she is big enough to handle that but is she? What happens after the movie?

Another fun addition to the Billie B Brown series looking at fear and growing up. Billie finds out it is okay to say she is a little afraid. She doesn’t have to be something she isn’t. I like these books because Billie is allowed to be a kid. She is allowed to experience a whole range of emotions. These are entertaining stories but also provide openings to discuss things kids may need to talk about.

Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont

Published: 01 June 2012

Format: Paperback 60 pages

Categories: Fiction, Swimming, Challenges

ISBN 13: 9781742971445

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page


By: Oliver Phommavanh

Johnny Khamka has a problem. Actually he has more than one but the biggest one is how to get his childhood bestie, Josie, to take him out of the friend zone and into something more. Johnny is a funny guy though and that has to count for something , doesn’t it? Than a comedy competition for class gives Johnny his best opportunity yet. Surely if he nails it Josie will see him in a different light.

With a little success under his belt Johnny decides now is the time to take his comedy more seriously. His dad though, is acting strange about it all and things are changing with his mates. Comedy is a treacherous minefield though and just when he most needs to be on the top of his game he may be in danger of bombing out and not being funny at all.

This is a book that touches on one of those awkward moments of growing up, bridging that friend to dating gap. Johnny is an appealing character, his uncertainty is universal and very believable. Phommavanh capture not only the awkwardness of that age, the situation and the feel of a big extended family environment. The tension between Johnny and his father through this is a nice touch. The other characters ground Johnny’s story, giving it a wonderful depth. If you are looking for something very entertaining with more than a dash of humour, then pick this up and give it a go, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised.

Suggested reading age – 12+

Publisher: Puffin

Published: 21 March 2012

Format: Paperback 204 pages

Categories: Fiction, Humour

ISBN 13: 9780143306511

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page

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