Before the ski trip, sixteen-year-old Cassidy “Sid” Murphy was a cheerleader (at the bottom of the pyramid, but still…), a straight-A student, and a member of a solid trio of best friends. When she ends up on a ski lift next to handsome local college boy, Dax Windsor, she’s thrilled; but Dax takes everything from Sid—including a lock of her perfect red curls—and she can’t remember any of it.
Back home and unable to relate to her old friends, Sid drops her college prep classes and takes up residence in the A/V room with only Corey Livingston for company. But as she gets to know Corey (slacker, baker, total dreamboat), Sid finds someone who truly makes her happy. Now, if she can just shake the nightmares and those few extra pounds, everything will be perfect… or so she thinks.
What happens when you think something terrible has occurred, but you can’t be sure? What happens when you can’t remember? What happens when you can’t forget?
What happens when someone takes everything from you?
This book doesn’t have all the answers, but it sure does come close.
Sid felt so incredibly real – her reactions, her motivations, her skewed understandings all made sense the way that Sid thought and felt them. They made sense to her (most of the time), and so it was easy to see why she did(n’t) do what she did.
I found the first part of the book utterly harrowing. As Sid slowly came to realise what had happened to her, I literally had to take breaks from reading: tear myself away from the words on the page and take a deep breath. It has that much of an impact.
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad.
Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.
But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?
Six words to describe This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers: powerful, suspenseful, horrifying, unexpected, heart-rending, real.
I didn’t expect to like this novel. I’m not a big fan of anything zombie and I feel terror at the mere mention of the horror genre. This book, though, was something totally different, something completely unexpected. And probably not for fans of pure zombie-inspired tales of horror!
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it, though! This is Not a Test is a wonderfully constructed novel. The characters are purely three-dimensional – they each have their strengths and an abundance of weaknesses that serve to make the novel all the more interesting, and all the harder to put down.
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.
But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.
A Monster Calls is the story of thirteen-year-old Conor O’Malley, whose mother is undergoing treatment for cancer. His mother’s terminal illness provides a stark backdrop for Conor’s story, and the reason for the appearance of the ‘monster’ at his bedroom window.
This book is as beautiful as it is harrowing.
It is a story that centres around the pain of losing someone you love to terminal illness. Patrick Ness is credited as stating that A Monster Calls is a story “about loss, but also the fear of loss, and there’s not a person in the world – young or old – who hasn’t experienced that.” (Link)
This is a story about grief, about guilt, and about the importance of admitting the truth. It is about facing your monsters: the real ones at your window, and the ones of your nightmares.
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.
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.
As a MASSIVE Juliet Marillier fan I feel privileged to live in Australia as it means I was able to buy her newest book Shadowfell earlier in the month (apologies to US fans who have to wait until September!). And I devoured it. I would have posted about reading it earlier, but I’ve been busy recovering from the book-hangover it induced.
It is marketed as a young adult novel, but I would argue (and my mother would agree!) that Shadowfell is the kind of book everyone can enjoy, no matter their age. I really enjoyed this novel – in particular the main character Neryn and Flint, and the Good Folk who surround them. As usual, Marillier’s novel is brilliantly crafted and entirely gripping. aplaceformorethoughts