Mrs Bradbeer’s English classes have been writing book reviews for you to share and reflect upon. Here they are:
For Young Adults:
by Livia E. Bitton Jackson
Harper Collins Publishers (1980)
The book Elli, is a true story about a teenage girl in the holocaust, she moves from concentration camp to concentration camp watching her family members drop as they move along. The story is set in Europe during World War 2. Elli and her family live in a small village, they are Jewish and get taken away by the Nazi’s under Adolf Hitler’s orders. I really enjoyed reading this book and learning about all the horrible things that occurred in World War 2 for the Jewish people. I would strongly recommend this book for anyone to read. I think the author wrote this book to show everyone the harsh conditions and terrible things the Jewish people encountered during World War 2 and she has chosen to write someone’s true story to make it even more believable. This book is similar to Anne Frank’s diary because it is about the same event and happened at the same time. This book is a book for young adults because of the events that happen in the story.
Soul Surfer – Bethany Hamilton
A true story of faith in God, family, and fighting to get back on the board. She has the courage to never give up and makes the most of her life that God has given her. She tries to do everything for herself even though she only has one arm.
Bethany Hamilton is a very inspirational young girl. When she was only 13 years old she was in a shark attack. One morning Bethany, Alana (Bethany’s best friend), Byron (Alana’s 16 year old brother) and Holt (Alana’s dad) went out surfing on the reefs just off Tunnels Beach, Kauai, Hawaii. The water was crystal clear and she saw a flash of grey then she felt two tugs on her arm and watched the water around her turn red. Holt and Byron got her on the reef and tied her to Holts’ longboard and had Alana run back to call the ambulance. Bethany has a very strong belief in God. The first thing Bethany asked when she got out of surgery was “When will I be able to surf again?”
Read the book to find out how Bethany got back in the surf and made her big comeback. Bethany is now 26 years old, still sponsored by Rip Curl and is involved in many major surfing competitions.
Author: John Green
Publisher: Penguin Published: 2008
Quentin “Q” Jacobsen and his next-door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, played together as children, but over time Margo has become an unattainable girl of mystery. Just a few weeks before graduation, the “Q” and Margo reconnect when she suddenly appears at Q’s window and asks for help with an all-night revenge spree targeting unfaithful friends and bullies throughout their Orlando neighborhood. This adrenaline-filled adventure starts off Paper Towns. The day after their revenge spree Margo has disappeared. Since Margo has disappeared before, leaving clues and turning up in outlandish places, her family has written her off this time, and her high school friends are awaiting a spectacular return with an even more dramatic story of her escapades. Only Quentin fears the worst, that she has taken off to commit suicide, when he finds clues left specifically for him in highlighted passages of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. His desperate search for Margo leads him in and out of abandoned subdivisions, what the girl once called “paper towns.” Helping Q solve the puzzle are Ben, who achieves instant popularity and a date with a possible prom queen despite his often sexist remarks, and Radar, a more grounded classmate with a Wikipedia-like website that cracks some of Margo’s clues. Their witty, hilarious banter lightens Quentin’s quest, for the friends’ culminating road-trip investigation.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (publisher HarperTeen)
Mare Barrow is a Red living with her parents and a younger sister, Gisa; her three older brothers, Bree, Tramy, and Shade, serve in the front line of a war fought between the northern Kingdom of Lakeland and the Barrow’s homeland, the Kingdom of Norta, currently ruled by King Tiberius Calore VI, a Silver with supernatural powers that allow him and the rest of the Silvers, who also have supernatural powers, to rule over the more numerous Reds. When she learns that her best friend, Kilorn Warren, will be conscripted, she plans an escape and meets with a colleague who directs her to Farley, a captain of the Scarlet Guard, insurgents composed of Reds who want to bring equality between their people and the Silvers. Farley demands a sum of money in exchange for Kilorn’s escape.
A plan to steal from a Silver with Gisa goes horribly wrong when they are caught; the Silvers break Gisa’s hand as a punishment, leaving her unable to support the family. During her attempt to steal at a tavern, Mare meets with Cal, a handsome teen who listens to her problems and takes her home while also giving her money. The next day, Mare is taken to the king’s local residence and realizes that Cal is Tiberias Calore VI’s son, Prince Tiberias Calore VII, who wants to protect her from conscription. During the Queenstrial, where certain Silver nobility compete for Cal’s hand, Mare displays electrokinetic powers against Cal’s eventual bride, Evangeline Samos. She is captured, but because the king fears of an uprising should a Red be discovered to have supernatural powers, Mare is made a bride of Tiberias’ second son, the shy Maven, given the name Mareena Titanos, and a cover story: the daughter of a Silver general who was adopted by the Reds in the war zone. Mare soon feels guilty for developing mutual feelings for Cal, her betrothed’s brother and the future Silver king.
Suddenly having to live as a noble within the king’s ranks, Mare slowly acquaints herself with Maven and Cal while also befriending Julian Jacos, Cal’s uncle and a librarian who teaches her how to control her powers, and Lucas Samos, Evangeline’s cousin and a security guard. Mare is permitted to say goodbye to her family by Cal and learns the return of Bree and Tramy, but not Shade, who was beheaded by the enemies. Furious that her favourite brother was killed, Mare joins the Scarlet Guard followed by Kilorn also promises that he will join the Scarlet Guard, which infuriates Mare. Eventually, Mare reunites with Farley to discuss the next step of the organisation’s plan and is surprised when Maven, a Silver prince joins in. The plan involves disrupting a royal ball and killing several important Silvers, but ends up killing many innocent Silvers due to a bomb exploding. Though the rebels are able to be freed thanks to Julian’s help, Mare is disturbed when she learns that Farley did not design the bomb.
Due to the attack of the Scarlet Guard, the Reds are punished by the Silvers with the lowering of the age of conscription from 17 to 15; Mare herself is ordered to broadcast the new law. Julian confesses that his research concludes that Mare’s blood is Red and Silver, and stronger than both; Shade was too, which was why he was killed. Another meeting with Farley in a free zone that the Silvers have been keeping out from leads Mare, through Maven’s suggestion, to infiltrate the king’s residence in the capital, Archeon. There, the rebels, through the underground-roaming Undertrains, stake an invasion, following Mare tricking Cal. Cal takes notice and attempts to arrest her, but in the palace, it is revealed that Maven has been manipulating Mare all the time, as he is in league with his mother, Queen Elara, who forces Cal into killing his father, thus branding him and Mare traitors while allowing Maven to become king.
Lucas is executed for his part in the rebellion. Mare and Cal would have too, if not for the arrival of the Scarlet Guard. Mare and Cal battle their former sparring partners, including Evangeline, and manage to kill a few before they retreat. The two then escape with the Undertrain before Maven gets them. Inside it, Mare meets with Farley, Kilorn, and, to her shock, Shade, who has been faking his death and is also a part of the Scarlet Guard. Taking notice of Cal to calm down, Mare vows to take revenge against Maven.
The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins
Published in 2015 by Transworld Publishers (Penguin, Random House)
Rachel catches the same train every morning and every night returning to and from work. She rattles along the same stretch of track every day and stops at the same light daily. When the train comes to a halt she gets a small insight into the lives of a married couple eating breakfast. She begins to think she knows them and has named them Jason and Jess. Their life that she sees through the window is perfect. But she is wrong, there is a much deeper conflict raging inside of Jess.
But one day on the train Rachel sees a heart reaching thing unfold before of her very eyes. Their lives and hers have been changed forever. Rachel goes to the police but they brush her off and say she is an unreliable witness. But she ends up involving herself too much and puts the lives of others on the line.
The Girl on the Train is an amazing book. It is great for any age group from 12 years and older. It is a book full of twists and turns that leaves you on the edge of your seat the entire time. It is a very easy book to read and quite easy to follow. Once the first page is read it is impossible to put down.
by Cormac McCarthy
Originally published: September 26, 2006
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic fiction
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
The Road is a 2006 novel by American writer Cormac McCarthy. It is a post-apocalyptic tale of a journey of a father and his young son over a period of several months, across a landscape blasted by an unspecified cataclysm that has destroyed most of civilization and, in the intervening years, almost all life on Earth. During their time walking the man and his son face starvation, thirst and a fear of other humans along the road.
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones and when the snow falls it is grey. They sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing: just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bandits that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food – and each other.
I read ‘The Road’ as a recommendation from both my dad and Mrs. Bradbeer and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Of all things, ‘The Road’ is heart-wrenching and tear-jerking. It is unbelievably sad and the ending is so unexpected. At certain points throughout the book, you have to take a minute just to take in the unbelievable realism of the story being told, or the horrible events that transpire. One such is ‘the baby scene’, a particularly telling tale of how far people in the world will go to find food. One special thing about the road is McCarthy’s tendency to leave out basic punctuation and speech marks for his characters and sentences. Words like can’t are written cant, don’t as dont and shouldn’t as shouldnt. There are no chapters and the passage of time is unclear as there are no calendars, no internet or working timepieces.
‘The Road’ was adapted into a film version premiering in 2009 to mostly positive reviews. The ‘man’ character is played by Viggo Mortenson who played Aragorn in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Films and the ‘lady’ is played by Charlize Theron.
5/5 – Easily one of the best books I’ve ever read and one of the few that genuinely made me sad.
Stop what you’re doing and read this book – you won’t be able to put it down.
A Fortunate Life
by Albert Facey
‘A fortunate life’ is an Autobiography on Albert’s tough and challenging life growing up. It is suitable for senior school students and was published in 1981, only nine months before A.B Facey’s death. Albert is just an ordinary boy growing up and living in the rough frontier life of a sheep farmer who survived as a private of Gallipoli and raised a family through the Great Depression. According to Albert, he saw his life as a fortunate one, even though it was full of hardships and he puts a positive spin on everything. It is certainly worth a read and it makes you think about how lucky we are with the life we are living.
“I never worried about trying something different or having a go at something. I have always believed that if you want to do something you usually can” -Albert Facey
review by Charles
Author: Sean Condon
Publisher: Lonely Planet Journeys
Published: March 1, 1998
From the title Drive-thru America, it sounds like a standard travel companion, advising people on the best places to eat and the local landmarks to seek out. But what it actually is, is a cynical social commentary that engages the reader in lowbrow and witty commentary from the author Sean Condon. The book begins with Sean working his job at an advertising company in Melbourne when he is offered the task of doing an advertisement in America but his abnormally passive-aggressive boss continually and indirectly tires to get him to back down so he can go. Eventually Sean simply quits his Job and goes to America anyway because he already had his travel visa ready to go. Sean calls upon his hippie/gen X friend David and they fly over to America for what is aptly called the great American fat fest. Much of the story sees the pair travel in a small car across America all the while getting themselves into awkward and often avoidable situations that either occur due to ignorance or unawareness, these often have humorous pay-offs, an early example being on the plane trip over to America and Sean pretends to be blind so he doesn’t have to talk to people beside him, this backfires when a cute girl sits next to him and he creates an elaborate story about a factory accident which he later confesses to lying about. Though much of the humour in the book usually sticks its landing there are very few instances of the swearing being overwhelming or unnecessary and there are also moments of the story progressing at a sluggish pace.
Overall though drive-thru America is a good read that despite having rare instances of the story progression stagnating and the swearing becoming unnecessary, these issues are usually drowned by many other jokes or jabs at culture that rarely fail to create a giggle (especially on your first read, the depths of that they can dwell to can take you by surprise) and help the pace of the book . One thing to bear in mind though is that this book is a product of its time and some things may not make sense without a little bit of background knowledge of some 90’s culture.
Maze Runner –
Review by Harry
The Maze Runner is the first book in a trilogy written by the American author James Dashner. The book was first published in 2009.
It is a dystopian novel set in a world that isn’t different from the divergent or the hunger game series.
The book starts with the main hero of the story, Thomas, waking up in a strange and alien maze environment. He has no memory recollection no belongings and no idea why he is there neither do any of the other teenagers there called Gladers.
When Thomas first arrived he was eager to look around the gigantic maze, this meant that stirred trouble between him and some of the pre-existing Gladers. But it isn’t long before that curiosity changes everything. The maze unleashes foul and horrible creatures upon the Gladers, giving them no choice but to explore and try escape in one last chance at survival.
The maze runner is a science fiction/ dystopian style novel. It would most likely appeal to teenage boys aged from 12+, the Maze Runner is the first of a trilogy so it doesn’t sum everything up and does leave a few questions unexplained. Overall I rate this book a 7/10.
Younger Students: see more titles here