Book Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Book_Cover_-_Before_I_FallThey say ‘live every day as if it’s your last’—but you never actually think it’s going to be. At least I didn’t.
The thing is, you don’t get to know when it happens. You don’t remember to tell your family that you love them or—in my case—remember to say goodbye to them at all.
But what if, like me, you could live your last day over and over again? Could you make it perfect? If your whole life flashed before your eyes, would you have no regrets? Or are there some things you’d want to change…?

Before I Fall begins with the main character, Sam, telling the reader that she is dead. She then proceeds to narrate her final day of life, and the seemingly random events that culminated in her tragic death at the age of seventeen. However, the day that she dies is not Sam’s final day, as she is forced to relive the day over and over again, with no idea why or what is happening. But Lauren Oliver makes it clear that there is something Sam must do, something she must understand, before her endless last day will stop repeating.

Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it.
But for some of us there’s only today. And the truth is, you never really know.

Oliver’s novel is beautiful, poignant and utterly captivating. I picked it up for something to fill my day with and just about devoured it in one setting. Sam’s story is one that will stay with you, well beyond the final pages.

(MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!)

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Ranting, Reading, Uncategorized, YA Books

Book Review: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

It was bethe hosttter than Twilight. But that’s really not saying much.

First though: an admission! I actually did enjoy aspects of this book. I thought the idea behind it was very interesting, and it did keep me interested throughout. However, it made me very very angry. Mostly because of the types of characters Stephenie Meyer promotes and idolises. Great idea, shame it was written by her.

I would love to see the day when Stephenie Meyer realises that a love interest does not need to be an older man who physically assaults the main character. In The Host, the main character has two love interests (sound familiar?), one who tries to strangle her with his bare hands, the other who repeatedly knocks her around, causing her physical pain and injury. How romantic! I can barely contain my hope that I will one day meet a man just like Jared or Ian. And they fight over her, too! There is nothing more romantic than that!

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Fantasy, Films, Of concern, Ranting, Reading, Social commentary

To This Day

This stunning video, featuring a spoken word poem by Shayne Koyczan, has been making the rounds over the last day or so. And I can definitely understand why.

This is a poignant video, and a heartbreaking one. It focuses specifically on issues of bullying in schools, on name-calling and how something you call someone when they are eight, can still have an impact on their lives when they’re in their thirties.

We are graduating members from the class of we made it. Not the fadedechoes of voices crying out ‘names will never hurt me’. Of course they did.

I love the passion of Shayne’s narration. I love his use of words, and that he truly believes what he is saying. To This Day is a video that makes me cry. Because these situations do occur. Because name-calling does have an impact.

But it also gives me hope. Because Shayne’s message is one of awareness, and also one of hope.

You have to believe that they were wrong! They have to be wrong. Why else would we be here? We grew up learning to cheer on the underdog because we see ourselves in them. We stem from a root planted in the belief that we are not what we were called.

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Book Review: Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

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The U.S. cover

For it has been many years since she left the place where her hands were crippled by a fire – years in which she has nurtured her special talent with animals.

Sevenwaters is also much changed. It is now enslaved by the fey prince Mac Dara, a force of malignant magic who is responsible for a party of travellers disappearing. When Maeve discovers the body of one of the missing men, she and her brother Finbar are lured to the Otherworld on a journey that may save Sevenwaters… or lead to catastrophe.

If Maeve is ever to dream of a future, she must confront the darkness of her past.

The first thing I have to say about this book is that I don’t love the blurb… This is truly a fantastic novel, and I just don’t think that the blurb does it justice. Personally, if I was unsure of Juliet Marillier, if I didn’t already know that I have loved every single one of her books, I might not have picked this up. As it was, I pre-ordered the American edition, just because I couldn’t didn’t want to wait the extra month for the Australian edition. And I’m glad that I didn’t wait.

Flame of Sevenwaters was everything I expected, and so much more.

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November/December Short Reviews

I haven’t managed to do too much reading lately – life has been very busy with the approach of Christmas and lots of work. In exciting news, I have managed to get a job for the upcoming school year – I will be working in a school as a teacher-librarian! Just what I was hoping for! 😀 😀 😀

A side-effect of this is that I have been given a pretty long recommended reading list, full of stories that young adults like to read. I had to laugh when I saw that I had already read quite a few of the recommended authors – my enjoyment of YA literature is definitely coming in handy! The best of the recommended YA books I have read so far is definitely Sarah Dessen’s Just Listen. The novel has some great characterisations, and dealt with some sensitive issues in a delicate yet realistic manner. More on the novel below.

Coming up, my reviews of Juliet Marillier’s latest release, Flame of Sevenwaters, and the (auto)biography of John Barrowman, Anything Goes.

Featured this month:

  • Contest – Matthew Reilly
  • Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight – Nick Earl and Rebecca Sparrow
  • Just Listen – Sarah Dessen
  • Crow Country – Kate Constable
  • The Body in the Fog – Cora Harrison

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Dumb Ways to Die

 

In response to a recent increase in the number of train-related deaths, Metro trains (Melbourne, Australia) created this PSA to make people more aware of the dangers of behaving stupidly around trains. With a catchy tune and fun animations, this is a new and great way of increasing awareness of train safety! After all, being hit by a train is a ‘dumb way to die’.

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Of Fandoms and Fanaticism

There is something about finding a fandom. A fandom is like a home, for us nerdy folks. A fandom is somewhere you belong, a place that exists where you can share your love for something with others who love it too.

HP fanart by MARTA

For years now, I have ‘belonged’ within the Harry Potter fandom. Harry Potter is a very large part of the reason why my best friend and I ever became friends. It has been something to bond over, something to laugh and cry over. We have read and written fanfiction, ‘awwwww’d and drooled over fanart, and attended the midnight screenings of the last two films.

All of this has cemented our friendship. It has ensured that we always have that special something between us that makes us who we are, that makes us us. Naturally, there are other things now which keep us together. Other pleasures, loves, and hates. Other fandoms, other stories to laugh and cry over. But Harry Potter was the first thing. And we always have it to come back to.

My point has wandered somewhat, but it all comes back to the same thing. I have been contemplating the power of fandoms. The ability of a fandom to share a love of something, to make that thing grow beyond what it originally was. I am talking about fanfiction and fanart, but also about the sharing that exists within a fandom. This has been increasingly emphasised to me through tumblr, where fans blog and reblog the words and images that they love about a particular fandom.

The ability to do this keeps the fandom alive within their minds, and their hearts. The fact is that I never really loved Harry Potter until I was introduced to the Harry Potter fandom. I enjoyed the Harry Potter books. The Harry Potter fandom made me love them.

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