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More Than One Way to be a Girl


By: Dyan Sheldon

This book was sent to me by the publisher

Loretta Reynolds and Giselle Abruzzio somehow became best friends. Somehow because the two girls could not have been more opposite in everything. This difference though drives them towards what seems like a silly bet but quickly becomes something far more. Who knew one bet could be so life changing. Loretta has to embrace the feminine side of herself, that part that she has kept hidden because she believes there is more to a girl than what she looks like. Giselle has to give up the make up and fashion, dress down and act smarter. The girls learn so much over the course of the summer.

This isn’t a book I would automatically be drawn to, having said that I was curious to see how it would play out, who would be the victor in this battle of gender stereotypes. I was wonderfully engaged and totally drawn into this social experiment. Witty, fun and achingly real, Sheldon’s telling of this story from both points of view was a great decision. Seeing things from both sides gives equal weight and emphasises the the fact of the title, there is ‘more than one way to be a girl’. This is the sort of book that will hopefully encourage people to see things from more than their own limited perspective. This for me was a delightful surprise. I don’t want to say anything else for fear of spoiling the fun.


Publisher: Walker Books

Published: 1st September 2017

Key Words: Friends, Family, Relationships, Gender Stereotypes

ISBN: 9781406363036


I received my copy from the publisher.


By : Fiona Wood

A whole term of school in the wilderness, a place where the classes are geared to life skills and survival. Sibylla has known this term was coming for a while, that doesn’t mean she wants to go. Then just before it all starts two very unexpected things happen. She becomes the face of a perfume with her picture appearing on a twenty metre billboard, and as a result she kisses hunk, Ben Capaldi. Sibylla isn’t sure what this is going to mean for the term in the great outdoors. She’s sure things will be fine though because her best friend Holly, is also going to be stuck there with her. Things get complicated though when, for Holly, friendship doesn’t seem as important as having a boyfriend and being popular.

Added to this is new girl Lou, she joins the term because her parents think it will be a good way for her to break the isolation she found herself in after the death of her boyfriend. Lou, is struggling, damaged, a reluctant addition to the cabin. She slowly gets drawn into the drama unfolding in front of her and she has to decide if she will stay on the sidelines or get involved for the sake of a new friendship.

This is a nuanced and engaging read. These characters are so believable, they could be any high school girl trying just to survive being a teenager. Sibylla is an average girl to whom something fortunate happens, she just wants to get through though and isn’t too worried about being popular, her best friend Holly has other priorities. Sibylla isn’t driven to capitalise on her luck but eventually her passiveness, becomes a little frustrating. She is the poster girl for reacting rather than being proactive. Lou is magnetic, her sadness just draws you in. You cannot help but be enthralled as she slowly comes out of herself like a flower starting to bloom, (as dodgy as that cliche may be and as much as Lou would curl her lip up at it). The story itself is a gently told tale of finding who you really are. These characters contrast in many ways and that contrast makes for an beautifully real story. The fragile one finding strength and the one who appears to have it sorted, realising things are not what she thought and finding a way to make up for her mistakes.

A story of discovery, not fitting in, relationships and love. Well worth a read.


Publisher: Pan Australia

Published: 01 June 2013

Format: Paperback 384 pages

Categories: Friendship, Growing Up

ISBN 13: 9781742612317

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


Between the Lines

By: Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer

Oliver is Prince Charming. He knows the moves he has to make, he knows he will end up with the princess, he knows he has the fairy tale ‘Happily Ever After’. The problem for Oliver is that he is sick of playing a role, he really feels that there must be more for him than the part he is forced to play, again and again.

Delilah loves books, school not so much but books definitely. In fact she is rather obsessed with one book in particular, she has read it and re-read it so many times she knows it off by heart. The problem is it is a fairy tale for children. Then one day she notices something different and finds out there is so much more going on in the book than she could ever have guessed. The Prince and the Loner are desperate to meet for real but how is this even possible when they come from such vastly different worlds.

For what this book is it is an appealing read. It is a twist on a fairytale complete with it’s own happily ever after. Delilah is a young teenager who is not popular and somehow manages to do things that only make her more unpopular. She lives with her mother and her dad is out of the picture, she has a best friend whom she isolates herself from as she becomes more and more obsessed with the book. Oliver is a prince who just wants to be a boy and experience life.

This is very different to Jodi Picoult’s other work which often deals with much deeper subjects. I think if you are an adult reading this you may be in for quite a surprise as it is very definitely a young adult title. The story itself is broken into three parts; the fairy tale as it appears in the book within the book, and chapters from both Oliver’s and Delilah’s perspectives, all of which are presented in different colours.

The story itself touches on issues of isolation and abandonment but the main focus is the romance and how will these two ever get together. Being co-written by her daughter may explain the style of writing which I’m not sure will appeal to older teenagers. For me it felt very geared towards 12/13 year olds. If you know a preteen or young teen who likes this style of story then this book is worth checking out.

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Published: 01 July 2012

Format: Paperback 368 pages

Categories: Fiction, Young Adult, Relationships, Fairy Tales

ISBN 13: 9781743310922

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

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

By:  John Green & David Levithan

Will Grayson #1 has two rules a) don’t care too much, b) shut up. The things that have gone wrong in his life have stemmed from the times he hasn’t stuck to these rules, like the time he wrote a letter sticking up for his best friend Tiny Cooper the best, and very gay, offensive linebacker in the schools football team. Will and Tiny go way back and at this time in Will’s life this is causing him a few problems.

Will Grayson #2 is in a dark place trying to help his mother, and get through school all while trying to figure out life and his own sexuality. He cuts himself off from as many people as he can. Then one night things go mildly wrong for Will Grayson #1 and terribly wrong for Will Grayson #2 and their worlds collide.

I don’t want to say much more about the plot, except to say writing a musical about your own life is brave or ridiculous at any age, good thing Tiny is…well Tiny.

Will Grayson and Will Grayson have vast differences yet at the same time both struggle with relationships and school. Tiny, who is so much larger than life is what joins them together. Tiny Cooper is a fantastic character who is bound to stay with you long after the last page has been cheered over. The two Will’s provide a wonderful grounding for this story whilst Tiny gives it it’s pizazz. Levithan and Green have come together to give us one hell of a lough out loud, life affirming book. it is a great story, with great characters. It will possibly be the most romantic book you will read all year, but there is nothing schmaltzy about it. There are crushing moments, moments of high hilarity and moments that will resonate with you.

Definitely pick this up. Highly recommended.

Publisher: The Text Publishing Company

Published: 03 May 2010

Format: Paperback 320 pages

Categories: Humour, School, Sexuality

ISBN 13: 9781921656231

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page


By: Lili Wilkinson

Penny Drummond lives with her dad and aspires to be a prize winning journalist. Before she gets there she has to hone her skills on her school newspaper. She is focussed, in control and desperately for the story that will give her that big break. Then she discovers a boy at her school is posting anonymous messages on loveshyforum.com and blogs about his terrible problem of not being able to even talk to girls, let alone the girl of his dreams.

Penny believes this could be the story she has been looking for, so she sets out to track him down and fix him up. Things don’t go as smoothly as Penny expects, especially when she finds out just who the boy is. Along the way she discovers all is not as perfect in her life as she assumed.

Penny is a strange character. At times she is annoying, when she is all knowing and superior in her attitude to everyone. Somehow though it is not that off putting. Sure I wanted to slap her upside the head a couple of times but mostly I was pulled into the story and how she grows as a person. Penny has cut herself off from friends and it is nice to see how others get into her life. The people around her are well developed and balance out the story nicely. I enjoyed this, there were parts that on their own may not have worked but when woven together created a rather entertaining story.

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Published: 01 April 2012

Format: Paperback 324 pages

Categories: School, Friendship, Relationships

ISBN 13: 9781742376233

Purchase: here or use Booktopia logo on side of page

A Friend Like You

By: Julia Hubery

Illustrated By: Caroline Pedler

Panda invites Monkey along on his special journey up into the mountains. Monkey is excited to find out what the surprise is and wants to rush. He keeps telling Panda to go faster. Panda takes his time, he wants to share things along the way with Monkey but Monkey keeps rushing on ahead. Then they come to the river and Monkey finds he needs his friend very much if he is going to finish the journey and see Panda’s surprise.

This is a beautiful story of difference and friendship. It also touches on the ideas of slowing down and being patient so you don’t miss things. This is quite a lot of text for a picture book and for me the way it is written makes you want to take your time and plod along with Panda, enjoying the journey. That by no means should make you think this is a slow or boring book. The glorious illustrations are full of space and detail that add to the atmosphere of peaceful enjoyment. A truly wonderful picture book.

Publisher: Good Books

Published: 01 May 2009

Format: Hardback 32 pages

Categories: Fiction Adventure Relationships

ISBN 13: 9781561486601 

Purchase: here

Tomorrow When The War Began

By John Marsden

It’s just like any other day of the holidays when Ellie and her friends say goodbye to their families and head to the hills for a few days camping. They weren’t to know everything was about to change. It starts with the planes, then they find abandoned houses and dead and dying animals. The place they come back to is not the one they left. As they piece together more information they realise they have some big choices to make. Bigger than they ever thought they’d have to. Do they fight? Do they give up? Can they sacrifice everything they have?

A riveting read told from the perspective of Ellie. It is a story that gets you thinking about some of those big questions. These engaging characters are put in a terrible situation but Marsden doesn’t shy away from the sometimes devastating consequences their actions have. He respects his readers ability to think and as a result they are loyal and the series remains popular.

Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks

Published: 01 June 2006

Format: Paperback 277 pages

Categories: Fiction, Adventure, Relationships

ISBN 13: 9780439829106

Purchase here

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