All posts by Niav

About Niav

Niav wrote for the Mostly Books blog from 2013 to 2015. She grew up loving books, and will read just about anything. Niav has been writing short stories (and occasionally poetry) for years, as well as playing soccer, rock climbing, and volunteering on camps for kids with disabilities in her spare time.

The Hundred Page Rule

In my family we have a rule that if you start reading a book and don’t like it, you have to read the first hundred pages anyway, just in case it improves.

The One and Only Jack Chant by Rosie Borella

the-one-and-only-jack-chantI was put in this position with The One and Only Jack Chant. In the first few chapters, I was faced with a whiny, self-centred and quite frankly annoying protagonist. All this was made worse by the fact that the quote on the front promised me that Amber, the protagonist, was ‘the best kind of heroine’. Admittedly, I have no patience with protagonists, but it really was enough for me to want to put the book down and get on with something better. However, the hundred page rule didn’t allow that – I pushed on somewhat reluctantly.

Oh, but the character development was beautiful!

Eighty pages in, I was hooked on Amber’s story. It was worth my persistence – Amber did become a hero in her own quiet right, and I began to feel that she was a character I could really relate to. The One and Only Jack Chant became a highly enjoyable read, and the added mystery of the ghostly visitor kept me on my toes as Amber uncovered the secret motives of both her living and supernatural coworkers.

I would recommend the story of Jack and Amber to readers aged around 12-14.

Cracked by Clare Strathan

CrackedI had no need of the hundred page rule in this excellent novel.  Clover, who is a bit out-there as a result of her mother’s out-there parenting, is in high school and negotiating the hardships of being a teenager. She is a realistic character who is only just beginning to discover the depths of herself. Sure, she’s broken, but when her best and only friend betrays her, her mother’s controlling becomes too much and her old dog is facing his last days, what else could be expected?

Across a few nights of mayhem, Clover shows the reader exactly what else. Despite her quirks and flaws, her strength and determination shine through, making her story a pleasure to read.

One of the things that I particularly loved about this book was that not only does it promote environmental activism, but it also talks about sex in a way that empowers young girls to make their own decisions, regardless of pressures.

Cracked is ideal for young adult readers, aged from 15 and up.

The Vanishing Moment by Margaret Wild

resized_9781743315903_224_297_FitSquareThe hundred page rule didn’t really apply to The Vanishing Moment as it is quite a short novel – even if I didn’t like it from the get-go, by the time I reached the one hundred page mark I may as well have just finished it. Fortunately, it was a great read.

The cover asks ‘If you could live a different version of your life, would you take the chance?’ My answer was no, but the girls in this story made me look at that question through different eyes. As an older sister, Marika’s story particularly pulled at my heartstrings.

Two different plot-lines were cleverly interwoven in this novel, adding a challenge for the reader as they try to figure out where the two stories are going to meet. Overall, it was a very cleverly written book, aimed at ages 13 and up.

Terms & Conditions by Robert Glancy

terms-conditionsTerms & Conditions is quite a different story from the other three reviewed here. Instead of being told through chapters, each segment is written as a clause.

Frank has been in a car crash, but he can’t remember a thing. There are strangers leaning over his hospital bed and the person who faces him in the mirror is just as unknown.

Back at work, he discovers that pre-crash Frank wrote the terms and conditions for his brother’s legal company, and it seems to be the only thing he can remember how to do. However, he soon learns that things have a way of coming back to bite you, and his life becomes a tangle of terms and conditions.

As his memory gradually returns, Frank discovers that life really is all about the details.

Terms & Conditions is an excellent read for people aged 18 and over. (WARNING: Contains a sex scene described in graphic detail.)

An Open Letter to Writers and Publishers

As an avid reader, I’ve dabbled in many genres. I’m not going to name and shame here, but I’ve noticed something that is common to them all: the representation of people with disabilities.

I have worked closely with children with multiple and severe disabilities, and I can truthfully say that they are some of the most amazing people I know. Once I get to know each one of them, their personality begins to shine through and I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to develop friendships with them.

Through this, I’ve become quite conscious of how I talk about people. The thing is, we all have things we can do better than others. We all have things that other people can do better than we can. We all have things we love to do. We all have things we loathe. Really, we’re not all that different from one another; we just have different abilities.

The same goes for people with disabilities, and I believe that’s something we all need to remember. It doesn’t matter if someone looks or acts or thinks differently to you, because we are not our disabilities.

In many books that I’ve read where a character has any sort of disability, the problem lies in how they are referred to. Her autistic brother. The disabled child. She has special needs. These people are more than that! They are not their disability. They have personalities and passions. They deserve the respect of being recognised like you or me.

What writers, publishers, editors and everyone need to be conscious of is the effect their words might have. People-first language puts the person before the diagnosis. Her brother has autism. The child has a disability. She needs …

It’s easy, and it just adds respect for everyone.

My Summer Reads

All Our YesterdaysAll Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Marina was living the perfect life – rich, safe and on the brink of a relationship with the wealthy boy next door. That life fell apart in an instant.

Em is trapped in a cell, with nothing but the voice of the boy next door and terrible visits from the doctor. She has lived many lives, and a past version of herself has left her one instruction for how to escape from her cell forever. She’s already failed many times, and this is her last chance.

But playing with time is dangerous, especially when you’re on a mission to kill, or else be killed.

All Our Yesterdays is a fast-paced thriller from new author Cristin Terrill. I absolutely loved this novel. The suspense is terrific and the characters are real, imperfect and conflicted. Two different points of view very cleverly show two different worlds that are intricately linked and their collision is mind-blowing.

A must-read for fans of The Hunger Games and Doctor Who – I would recommend this book to both boys and girls of age thirteen and up.

 

Every Breath

Every Breath by Ellie Marney

Rachel Watts is new to Melbourne, having arrived from the country. She misses everything about her old life. In her short time in the city, she has befriended James Mycroft, an erratic seventeen year old genius with a troubled past.

When they find one of Mycroft’s friends dead and the police aren’t giving an explanation of what happened, the two neighbours decide to take the investigation into their own hands. But this isn’t a school science class – they are hunting a very real, cold-blooded killer, someone who would not hesitate to take the life of anyone who found them out.

Every Breath is a complex and rich teen crime novel with an engrossing plot and interesting characters. With subtle links to the original Sherlock Holmes, and a splash of romance thrown in, I recommend this book to readers aged 13 to 18 and to fans of Sherlock.

Catching Fire − Book to Film

As you’d have to have been living under a rock for the past few months not to have noticed, the second movie in the Hunger Games series is in cinemas now. I’ve read the whole series multiple times, so I’m really excited for Catching Fire to hit the big screen. However, some people, including my mum, have a difficult choice to make – should they read the book or watch the movie first?

My general rule is to read the book first. My mum’s is to watch the movie first. Our different ideas come from the same reasoning − the book is usually better than the movie. I would rather get full enjoyment from the book and risk being disappointed by the movie, while my mum would rather not be disappointed by the movie and still mostly enjoy the book.
There are a huge number of movies based on books currently in the making, and some of the ones for which I’m most excited are:

  • The Fault in our Stars – John Green
  • On The Jellicoe Road – Melina Marchetta
  • The Hobbit (Part 2) – J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – J.K. Rowling

With so many YA (Young Adult) book to movie adaptions coming out in the next twelve months, I thought I’d talk about a few of the best adaptions I’ve seen:

LOTR

1) The Lord of the Rings trilogy (books written by J.R.R. Tolkien, movies directed by Peter Jackson): I read these long before I saw them, but watching them, I felt like I’d already seen them. The characters were perfectly cast and the locations were breathtaking. Not everyone will want to plough through the novels (but props to you if you have, and if you haven’t, I’d recommend them, they’re brilliant), but the movies are just as good as the books.

Wallflower2) The Perks of Being a Wallflower (book written and movie directed by Stephen Chbosky): this is a timeless coming-of-age novel, first published over a decade ago but still relevant today. The film was released last year, and although the book and movie have their differences, the magic of the book has been beautifully transferred to the screen.

Red Dog3) Red Dog (book written by Louis de Bernières, movie directed by Kriv Stenders): okay, admittedly I haven’t read the book, but it’s a really good, ultra-Aussie movie.

Catching Fire4) The Hunger Games (book written by Suzanne Collins, movie directed by Gary Ross): I’m a huge fan of both the books and the movie, as you might’ve guessed (and I’m seeing Catching Fire this weekend! *does embarrassing excited dance*). The Hunger Games are held by the all-controlling Capitol every year, and each of the twelve districts are required to supply two Tributes to fight to the death on national television. It sounds somewhat gruesome, but director Gary Ross captures Collins’ message about war when he takes her book to the screen. So what else can I say? Read the books, hire the movie, and then head over to the cinema to check out Catching Fire.