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Review: House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Posted by SalesianLibrary on June 5, 2010

Title: House Rules: A Novel
Jodi Picoult
Publication Date: March 2010
Location in Library: Under PIC in the Fiction section

Blurb: House Rules is about Jacob Hunt, a teenage boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject – in his case, forensic analysis. He’s always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do…and he’s usually right. But then one day his tutor is found dead, and the police come to question him. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger’s – not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, inappropriate affect – can look a heck of a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel — and suddenly, Jacob finds himself accused of murder.
(Blurb taken from the Good Reads website.)

My Thoughts: Jacob Hunt is a teenage boy with Aspegers Syndrome. He can’t look people in the eye, can’t relate to other people’s feelings, often says innappropriate things, has ticks and twitches he can’t control especially when he’s upset, can only wear and eat certain colours on certain days and needs to take breaks in a special room to calm himself down, amongst other things. Jacob is also obsessed with forensics, and often shows up at crime scenes to help the police. All of these things are characteristics of a person with Aspergers. However, when Jacob’s tutor, Jess is found dead the police come to the conclusion that these characteristics also point towards Jacob being guilty of her murder.

After a couple of disappointing releases Jodi Picoult is back to her usual fantastic work with House Rules. I literally flew through this book just because I didn’t want to put it down. I found all the details about the court case and Aspergers Syndrome really interesting and I now know a lot more about both of these topics than I did before. What I liked most about House Rules was how Picoult made Jacob a character I could empathise with and grow to like. I have read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night and didn’t have this experience with that book at all. I also liked how you got to see each person’s point of view as Picoult had her chapters from various people’s point of view. So you got to see the impact Jacob’s Aspergers and his court case have on his mother, Emma and his brother, Theo and also get the story from the point of view of Jacob’s lawyer, Oliver and the police officer that arrested him. The ending was a little predictable, I had solved the case before I was halfway through the book, but I still enjoyed reading on to see if I was right and to see how exactly the story would end up.

I definitely recommend House Rules!

Rating: ****


Posted in 4 stars, Book Review, fiction, New Fiction, recommendation, Review | 3 Comments »

Review: The Last Song

Posted by SalesianLibrary on May 24, 2010

Book: The Last Song
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Released: 2009
Location in Library: Fiction under SPA

Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Miller’s life was turned upside down when her parents divorced and her father moved to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains alienated from her parents, particularly her father…until her mother decides it would be in everyone’s best interest if she and her brother spent the summer with him. Resentful and rebellious, Ronnie rejects her father’s attempts to reach out to her and threatens to return to New York before the summer’s end. But soon Ronnie meets Will, the last person she’d thought she’d ever be attracted to, and finds herself falling for him, opening herself up to the greatest happiness – and pain – that she has ever known. In the tradition of his beloved novel A Walk to Remember, Nicholas Sparks brings us a deeply moving story of a young girl’s first encounter with heartbreak – and love.

My thoughts: I went into The Last Song expecting it to be a light read, something more entertaining than deep. And it was entertaining, but there was so much more to it than that. The book was also very touching, very deep and a great coming of age story.

Ronnie is horrified and angry to find out that her mother has decided that she and her younger brother Jonah will be spending the summer with their father in Wrightsville Beach. Ronnie hasn’t spoken to her father for the past three years since he left her mother and after her arrival spends as much time as possible away from the house. Because of this she meets the interesting Blaze, dangerous Marcus and Will, someone she never thought she could fall in love with, but does. As the story moves along Ronnie becomes a much more likeable character (she was a little childish at the start) and you can see her growing and accepting her father. I found it interesting that, even though Ronnie is the main character, the chapters changed from her point of view to her fathers point of view to Will’s point of view. I find in some books this is hard to follow, especially if there are too many people included, but The Last Song was very easy to follow, as each character stood on their own, with their own distinct personalities.

Like all of Nicholas Sparks’ other books this also has a twist at the end, which results in some very sad and touching moments. A piece of advice, make sure that you have some tissues with you when you get to the last few chapters of the book.

I definitely recommend this book, although I’m sure the girls will get more pleasure out of it than the guys.
Rating: ****

Posted in 4 stars, fiction, recommendation, Review | 1 Comment »

Wings review

Posted by SalesianLibrary on August 21, 2009

Aprilynne Pike
Rating: Very Good
Located on the fiction shelf under PIK

Laurel’s family has just moved to a new town so her father can open a bookstore. This means that Laurel, who has been homeschooled all of her life will have to start going to high school. She quickly becomes friends with David, despite feeling closed in at school. But then Laurel finds a bump on her back, which keeps getting bigger and bigger. At first she ignores it and hides it from her family and friends, but eventually she has to tell David when she wakes up to find a wing-like blossom has grown from the bump.
David and Laurel set about trying to figure out what’s going on with her body. David, the science wizz, concludes after looking at Laurel’s cells through a microscope that she is more plant than human. But it takes a trip back to the woods behind her old house and an encounter with the handsome Timani for Laurel to realise that she’s a faerie! She also learns that it’s up to her to save her old home from the evil that is trying to take it away from her, her parents and the faeries that live there.
Wings was a really enjoyable story to read. It had a unique twist, was funny at times and overall a very entertaining story. Laurel was a very likeable character, although I felt that David was a little boring at times. But both them, and the other surrounding characters grow through the novel and you really get to know them.
Another blogger mentioned something about the possibility of there being a sequel which would be interesting, especially with the growing love triangle between Laurel, David and Timani.

Posted in Book Review, fiction, New Fiction, Review | Leave a Comment »

Exchanging Lives review

Posted by SalesianLibrary on August 17, 2009

exchanging-lives-buchananExchanging Lives
Kathy Buchanan
April, 2009
Rating: Good

Exchanging Lives is a very light and fun novel about two young girls from Sydney, Australia. Charlie and Annie used to be friends, but once they hit high school, Annie joined the popular group and pushed Charlie away. Now both girls have been chosen for an exchange student program where they will spend 3 months in America with a host family. Annie is supposed to be going to New York where she’s excited about checking out the latest fashions, and Charlie is supposed to go to a small town in Ohio, where she’s excited about finding out what living on a real farm will be like. But their parents, who are also friends, decide to pull the ultimate switcheroo and send Charlie to New York and Annie to Ohio with interesting results.
Exchanging Lives was a nice story about what real friendship is about, and making the most of what life throws your way. Both girls learn a lot about themselves and each other in their 3 months away, and also to look beyond their first impressions of places and the people they live with.

Posted in Book Review, fiction, New Fiction, Review | Leave a Comment »

Second Star to the Right review

Posted by SalesianLibrary on August 17, 2009

secondstartotherightSecond Star to the Right
Deborah Hautzig
2008 (first published 1981)
Very Good

 Second Star to the Right is an incredibly moving story about 14 year old Leslie Hiller. Leslie is a perfectionist and constantly worries about disappointing her mother. To take control, and she believes, to make herself happy she decides to go on a diet. But things get out of control, when Leslie can’t stop dieting. She starts eating less and less, believing that she’ll know when she’s thin enough. But she’s never thin enough. Soon Leslie is throwing up whatever she eats, throwing food out her bedroom window and is too exhausted to even go to school. Leslie is aware that she’s slowly killing herself and that she needs help, but finds it impossible to bring herself to eat.

Leslie is soon admitted to hospital, where the treatments and reactions to anorexia seem very dated. It frustrated me so much whenever someone asked Leslie ‘couldn’t you just eat a little so you put on weight?’, not realising there was more to her problem than that.
There is no proper outcome at the end of the novel, which left me wanting to know what happened to Leslie. But overall Second Star to the Right was a very good, and often sad, read. I found it very interesting to see anorexia through the mind of someone suffering from it.

Posted in Book Review, fiction, issues, New Fiction, Review | Leave a Comment »

The Year my Sister got Lucky review

Posted by SalesianLibrary on August 13, 2009

The Year My Sister got Lucky
Aimee Friedman
June 2009
Rating: Very Good

Katie and her sister Michaela are extremely close, more like best friends. They have lived in New York all their lives, both attend a prestigious ballet school and both love their lives in New York. Or so it seems.
Katie is devestated when she finds out that she has to move with her family to a small town, called Fir Lake, in upstate New York. It’s nothing like her beloved New York City. The people are overly friendly, her new ballet school is, to put it bluntly, a joke and they actually live near real cows! Katie immediately sticks out like a sore thumb, with her ‘New York’ sense of style and attitude. But to her surprise and horror, Michaela fits in straight away.

As Michaela settles into her new country life, making friends, gaining a footballer boyfriend, joining the yearbook team and attending homecoming, she and Katie grow apart. Katie finally does start making friends and trying new things, but she does this reluctantly. And then she finds out that Michaela has been hiding things from her, important things that she would usually tell Katie. Can these sisters also be best friends?

I had added The Year my Sister got Lucky to my wish list on Amazon, only to have it bought by my Library the next day. What a coincidence! And I’m glad I got to read it too, as it was a wonderful and entertaining book, with a great message about how your attitude effects your situation. Both Katie and Michaela were likeable, in their own way. Neither of them were perfect and made plenty of mistakes through the book, but this was part of what made them so likeable and real. The Year my Sister got Lucky is a great story about sisterhood, change and growing up that I’d definitely recommend.

Posted in Book Review, fiction, New Fiction, recommendation, Review | Leave a Comment »

Pink by Lili Wilkinson

Posted by SalesianLibrary on August 9, 2009

Lili Wilkinson
Rating: Excellent

Blurb: “The pink jumper was practically glowing in my grey bedroom. It was like a tiny bit of Dorothy’s Oz in boring old black-and-white Kansas. Pink was for girls. Ava Simpson is trying on a whole new image. Stripping the black dye from her hair, she heads off to the Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence, leaving her uber-cool girlfriend, Chloe, behind. Ava is quickly taken under the wing of perky, popular Alexis who insists that: a) she’s a perfect match for handsome Ethan; and b) she absolutely must audition for the school musical. But while she’s busy trying to fit in – with Chloe, with Alexis and her Pastel friends, even with the misfits in the stage crew – Ava fails to notice that her shiny reinvented life is far more fragile than she imagined.”

I’ve often seen Lili Wilkinson’s books around but have never had the chance to read any. When I saw Pink though I knew I had to read it, especially since one of my favourite colours is pink.

I can honestly say I really enjoyed reading Pink. Ava’s story and her struggle with her identity and sexuality were very real, honest and something I think most people can relate with. Pink shows that it’s okay to be unsure of who you are and who you want to be, but that in the end it’s important to just be yourself and not be ashamed of any aspect of yourself. All of the characters were easy to identify with, many of them hiding parts of their lives as well.

Pink was very well written, with quick snappy and funny dialogue, and conversations and stories seemingly straight out of a schoolyard. I loved the fact that the book was set in Melbourne, with mentions of lots of places I like to go to. I will definitely be hunting down more of Wilkinson’s books in the future.

Posted in Book Review, fiction, New Fiction, recommendation, Review | Leave a Comment »

Envy: A luxe novel

Posted by SalesianLibrary on August 2, 2009


Blurb: “Two months have passed since the dramatic homecoming of Elizabeth Holland – Manhattan society eagerly awaits her return. But Elizabeth won’t rejoin her sister Diana’s side. The whispers are beginning – is all as it seems behind closed doors? Uptown, Henry and Penelope Schoonmaker are the city’s most celebrated couple. But despite the glittering diamond she wears, the newlyweds share little more than scorn for each other. Manhattan’s most envied residents appear to have everything they desire: wealth, beauty, happiness. However, in a city where appearance is everything, sometimes the most practiced smiles hide the most scandalous secrets.”

I must admit, the first thing that attracted me to the Luxe series was the covers. Who could resist those beautiful dresses?! Not me!
I wasn’t sure how ‘Envy’ would span out and if I’d like it considering Henry and Penelope…… But I wasn’t disappointed. Envy was just as good and just as addictive, juicy and scandalous as the first two books in the Luxe series!
Although despite all the juiciness it’s nice to see some of the characters growing up a bit and starting to stand up for themselves. 
I’m excited that the fourth book ‘Splendour’ is not far off being released, although I’m sad to hear that it’s going to be the last book in the series.


Posted in Book Review, fiction, luxe series, recommendation, Review | Leave a Comment »

How to Ditch your Fairy

Posted by SalesianLibrary on May 11, 2009

larbalestier_fairyWelcome to New Avalon, where everyone has a personal fairy. Though invisible to the naked eye, a personal fairy, like a specialized good luck charm, is vital to success. And in the case of the students at New Avalon Sports High, it might just determine whether you make the team, pass a class, or find that perfect outfit. But for 14-year-old Charlie, having a Parking Fairy is worse than having nothing at all—especially when the school bully carts her around like his own personal parking pass. Enter: The Plan. At first, teaming up with arch-enemy Fiorenza (who has an All-The-Boys-Like-You Fairy) seems like a great idea. But when Charlie unexpectedly gets her heart’s desire, it isn’t at all what she thought it would be like, and she’ll have resort to extraordinary measures to ditch her fairy. The question is: will Charlie herself survive the fairy ditching experiment?

This is a fun book that I’d definitely recommend if you’re in the mood for something light and quick.

Posted in Book Review, New Fiction, recommendation, Review | Leave a Comment »

Princess of Gossip

Posted by SalesianLibrary on March 18, 2009

books_princessAvery is a new girl in a huge high school, where she feels unnoticeable, boring and lonely. She creates a MySpace mini-tribute to Marisa, a singer whose first album is about to drop, and soon she has 30 people waiting to be added to her friend’s list – and they think she’s Marisa. And so Avery starts blogging as the singer. She rationalizes that it’s all in fun, and she’s helping people who are ordinary and lonely like herself. When Avery gets an invitation for Marisa to attend an exclusive party, she goes as Marisa’s assistant. There she stumbles on some hot gossip about a celebrity couple. Avery realizes she’s got an exclusive if she acts fast, but she can’t post as Marisa. So she starts a new blog as Princess of Gossip. Then Beckett Howard, a playboy celebutante, asks her out, and the paparazzi snap a picture of them together that gets posted on all the gossip sites. Her classmates are wowed, and Avery can’t help but love the attention. But it’s all going to come crashing down, and not even the Princess of Gossip will be able to hold on to her crown…

Princess of Gossip is very entertaining and I loved how they included modern technology (like MySpace and Ning) how it’s actually used!

You can actually visit the Princess of Gossip’s Ning page here.
Check out more info and reviews about Princess of Gossip here

Posted in Book Review, New Fiction, Review | Leave a Comment »