The teacher’s secret

The teacher's secretTo start with, this is one of those books with a blurb that is really unhelpful.  I am always nervous reading a book about teacher’s so was dubious to begin with.  Then there was the title… ‘secret’ like teacher’s are bad… we so don’t need any more bad press as teacher’s are already blamed for failing to teach this, that or the other.  Bandwagon moment here… what is a parent’s role?  Do you know one year a newspaper published 103 different things that teacher’s should be responsible (reading made the list).  These included driver’s ed, drug education, first aid, manners, hygiene and financial management amongst the other 90 odd.

Okay, totally off track so let’s go back to the book.  The blurb kind of talked about all these secrets and how a town can be an escape and a refuge.  I will agree that the only part of the book that was accurate was the escape or refuge part.  I felt like it was to be about a country town but I got the vibe of something more like the Mornington Peninsula (sorry for anyone who doesn’t know this area).

The story interweaves the lives of a number of characters and what has shaped them and continues to shape them.  I actually really enjoyed it and felt it was the first book I’d read for a while with a bit of depth.  The key characters weren’t brought together in a tacky way that reduced who each of them were but it felt possible to me.  Firstly, there is the school handyman, then the recluse older lady, the teacher, the young parent, the refugee and a supporting ensemble of characters that are no less important to the shape of the story.

If you struggle with multiple story lines happening at once I think you’d still be okay with this book as it isn’t overly complicated either.  I’d give it 4 stars.

Happy reading x

The Crown

The crownThis is the fourth book in what I previously wrote about as The Selection trilogy.  So I guess to start with the trilogy bit goes out the window!  I was pretty excited to read this book as I really enjoyed the dystopian fiction of this series.  Everything about it just got my attention.  In saying that, I suspect that in 100 years time it won’t be going into the time capsule of finest books of all time.  I think I might have downloaded it release day 🙂

This book picks up where the last one left off and is the story of the daughter and her own coming to grips with what it means to lead, to be a young woman, to fall in love but be her own person.  It is a good, solid coming of age story that whilst dystopian, is still relevant to the struggles that many young women, and perhaps men too, face.  Do we fall in love and let that decide our future? Is career the end goal?  How do we balance our potential to make a difference with our own heart?

There are some neat underlying stories in this as well and the tension on the side builds really well.  I love the guts of the character and the support she gets.

4.5 stars!

Happy reading x

 

Strictly Between Us

strictly between usTamsin and Michelle, best friends forever and totally inseparable now include Michelle’s gorgeous husband Patrick in their little clique.  Except Tamsin has heard rumours about Patrick and decides her best friend duties call on her to get to the bottom of this.

This moral dilemma is an oft written about one but not one I personally have ever had to face so I can’t comment on the technique really and I suppose new situations are the same.  Alright – prejudice probably revealed in that sentence but really… would you go about finding out if your best friends husband was cheating by sending in your colleague as a honey trap?!?!

The whole book is a bit far fetched for me and another book I am embarrassed to say I read… getting a theme here!  I really need something good, gutsy and challenging but am just not finding it.  At this point I’m genuinely looking forward to the next Liane Moriarty novel which I would rate as chic lit too!  So sad 🙁

I’d give this book 3 stars with the redeeming feature being the friendship between the girls.

Happy reading x

Spoiled & Messy

spoiledMaybe I might just be a teensy bit embarrassed to admit that I read this book but work has been really busy and I needed something totally other – this is more than it.  It is the best and worst kind of stereotypical fantasy Hollywood story line all at once.

Sixteen year old Molly Dix mother has just died and she has discovered her previously unnamed father is Brick Berlin (yes that’s his name!), is her father.  Brick just happens to be the biggest star in Hollywood and is about to take Molly from the backwater she is living in into a life of the ultimate luxury.  Sound like a 16 year old girl dream?  Enter step sister and Molly not being as superficial as this role requires.

My thoughts?  I actually really enjoyed this book because the authors are so very funny.  Laugh out loud funny at times.  They totally play the Brick character up and Molly is a really strong, capable girl.  They give what could be a quite weak and dull story some guts with humour and strong characters.

As escapist literature goes I would absolutely recommend this and the sequel.  They tie together really well and are cheesy but not too pathetic.  I won’t go into a detailed review of Messy because that would kind of kill the first book but needless to say it picks up where Spoiled leaves off and takes us to the next part of the story – where life gets a little messy.

messy

Brick is one of the funniest characters I have read and I just adored the way the authors made fun of him and the Hollywood stereotype the whole way through.  Molly is a strong female lead about staying true to yourself but also not being afraid to take opportunities and work hard.  Even the step sister Brooke has some redeeming features under all of it and reminded me a little of Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl.

Pick these up and have a laugh – 4.5 stars (for what they are!)

Happy reading x

Special

Special I so want you to read this book but I need to tell you something first.  The story has not gone out of my mind since I read it.  That is normally a really good thing, except when it’s a cliffhanger novel waiting on a sequel.  Even that can be okay but I was so excited to read the follow up I started googling Georgia Blain to see what else she had written and when the sequel was due.  Here’s the something I had to tell you… Georgia Blain has incurable brain cancer.  I feel so sad for her and her family but also for this great character as I want to know what happens to her!

To be fair, a month on from reading it I have stopped laying awake at night wondering but it was a good read.  I don’t think it will ever quite make literary greatness but the concepts in the story are good and strong, and like so much, a little close to real.  It’s supposed to pay homage to A Handmaid’s Tale but well, there is a great I haven’t read.

The main character, Fern, is a Lotto Girl, bred and grown to be ‘special’.  Only things in her perfect world get a shake up and Fern has to go into the real world.  It is dystopian fiction about what makes us special.  There is a point Blain makes that utterly captured me. I can’t remember the quote word for word but basically if we treat someone like they are special, bright, clever, capable they will be all those things.  As a teacher do I know this?  Yes!  As a parent how do I do this?  With difficulty because there has to be balance.

It’s a cracking read and well worth it.  Fast paced and clever – 4.5 stars.

Happy reading x

Flawed

flawedNot your typical Cecelia Ahern at all.   Still, she has some serious runs on the board in terms of writing and ability to sell it so I was keen to dive in.

Flawed is a young adult dystopian fiction.  It is centred around Celestine who is living the perfect life.  She is well like by all, academically bright and linked with Art Crevan, whose father is one of the most powerful men in the city.  She is really the poster girl for a city where they smallest imperfection has one branded as ‘flawed’.

Celestine is anything but flawed, or is she?  A chance incident on a public bus one day really tests her and the story unravels from here.  The decision she has to make in a moment may cost her everything.

This novel adds to the increasing pool of dystopian fiction and would make a great text to teach.  It is engaging, well written and has complex moral issues, but so do a myriad of other books in this genre.  You know what… this got my attention and I read it quickly.  For lovers of this genre I would definitely recommend it and give it 4 stars… its hard to top hunger games!

Happy reading x

The one who got away

the one who got awayCaroline Overington is a journalist converted to author (probably the other way around really).  She has written some really clever books about true crime and a fictional take on this.  Whilst they are not my first love, they are good, solid reading.  Hence, I was excited to see something new from her.  This is totally different (& not in a good way!)

Firstly, it is set in the US.  The other stuff I have read by her has all been set in Australia.  This to me is just much more fictional and fantastic not in the good sense of the word.

A happily married couple – only to discover he is having an affair (drum roll please), with his… go on, I dare you – guess… SECRETARY!  wow!  How did you know.  What unfolds next is a tale of love and lust, greed and anger and enough thriller to still leave you wondering at the end.  Another booked billed like Gone Girl and to be fair, I would say that this is more of the creepy style of Gone Girl.

Check it out if that sort of reading is your thing but I’d give it a 3.

Happy reading x

Maestra

maestraNo here is a holiday read if I ever saw one… trashy, lots of great clothes, a little thriller and a little escapism.  I had read it was the next 50 shades but it isn’t.  There was a bit of sex in it but its pretty forgettable.  The reviews I’d read and the press it was getting was selling it as the next ‘it’ book.  Given I like to be well informed on such issues I started dutifully reading (if only I was as conscientious with superannuation and the like!)

Judith had a difficult childhood, shaping her anger at life as an adult and her complete focus on being everything other than her difficult childhood.  She fine tunes her accent, works hard to get a degree in Art History and work at one of the most prominent art houses in London.  Unfortunately Judith realises this is not enough and she will never be a member of their ‘club’.  In comes a timely meeting with an old friend and where one door opens another one closes.  Tracking down the artwork that cut her out of the world, Judith enters a whole new one with everything she has learnt.  She is fast, canny and not afraid of anything.

And then there are her character highlights (?) – lust, greed, envy, wrath & pride… mmm… deadly?  You bet.

Read away for escapist thrills but not for getting smarter – 3.5 stars.

Happy reading x

Summer Skin

summer skinIt’s not a good sign when you can’t even remember what a book is about but now I do!

Jess is out for revenge, last year the all boys college “Knights” played a pretty horrendous prank on one of her mates and this year its payback time… so no one from their co-ed university college is to get it on with a “Knight.”  Here comes the kicker that no-one would expect (sarcasm inserted), Jess falls for a Knights boy!

The story isn’t overly predictable though and Jess and the boy have both got strong back stories.  Its not all about sex either (thank goodness), it is a lot about power, trust, feminism and how to be a feminist.

A very easy read that I won’t go on about.  Jess is likeable, the story is easy but it’s not “Only ever yours”.

 

book blogging disGrace!

Seriously… I was still slightly involved in this project.  Just focussed totally on one half of it… the reading bit.  The last thing I wanted to do with a heavier work load was sit at my computer.  In fact, probably, the last thing I had energy to do (well that and cooking, socialising, generally being more well rounded!)

So I still have been reading a bit if you’ll bare with me.  I intend to get very busy with the blogging today and set up some posts to publish.  I know its school hols in lots of places which often means holidays and more reading time so hopefully I can find you a little inspiration.

In the meantime apologies and please let me know if you have a fabulous book for me!

Happy reading x