Review: Catwoman: Soulstealer

Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons #3) written by Sarah J Maas


So I finished this book yesterday, having started it the day it came out (The 8th for us in NZ!) I really really enjoyed it, and the length of time it took me to read it is not a reflection on the quality of the book.

This morning, as I prepared to review this book I logged into goodreads. Which is usually my go to – and I like to see what other people have said before I begin to write. I was honestly shocked this time round, that the reviews were largely negative. But I LOVED this book. I feel like I need to throw in a disclaimer, that while I have watched the Batman movies, I do not know anything about the Gotham City timeline or lore. So this book was quite out of the blue for me – and largely was just an enjoyable read with fictional characters, I did not think more of it. Perhaps after my hubby finishes the book I will add his insights about if it fits in the world and the lore.

So – maybe my love of Sarah J Maas overrides my critical abilities but I thought this was a great book. The character, was flawed, which made her a believable character, she also had a clear motivation.

There were certainly parts that struck me as cliche, and that of course were slightly predictable. The romance story line was certainly this. However that did not detract from the fact that it was an enjoyable story.

I did struggle with her plan to bring down Gotham City, which felt like at the end it was less of a plan, and more of a personal vengeance, and things at the end got a little blurry and confusing, but at  the end I was left with a lovely feeling of hope and catharsis. I really enjoyed that among the bad guys there was this token of good, and understanding that good and bad are the two sides to the same coin. That they are needed in order to have balance. I also enjoyed the discovery of female friendship. These relationships felt far more important than the romantic one, and it was nice to see that focus.

Overall I felt this was a really enjoyable read. It was obviously set in the world of Gotham City that we are familiar with, and with the corruption that already exists there.

Mrs K

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Comic Books, DC

Review: Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere written by Celeste Ng

35061545This book was an impulse buy. Before I read the two Holly Black books I was perusing the amazon kindle store looking for something and this book for some reason spoke to me. It is so different from most of what I read these days, although is probably more what I traditionally read.

The title. The pun on the title is so incredibly apt. The literal meaning with the house fire, but also the metaphorical meaning with the little fires we all deal with in our own lives and family lives on a regular basis. The suitability of the title really only hit me when I finished the book, but I felt somewhat overwhelmed at just how perfect it was.

This was a good, slow moving story, that looks at the complexities of teenagers, and parents, and what it means to live up to the dreams that you had. There is a classic or cliche story about wanting what you do not have, and the importance of relationships vs possessions.

The characters in the book are for the most part believable and endearing, and I found myself drawn to the story of their lives, hoping desperately for everything to turn out ok.

The book is really told in a series of flashback, but there was only one frustrated moment where I could not help but wonder what this all had to do with the initial event!

I think this book beautifully explore relationships, particularly those between


daughters and mothers, and set in the small town setting where everyone knows everything this was only emphasized.

If you like this type of book (Think Jodi Piccoult) then you should definitely give it a read, while it is slow I do not think you will be disappointed!

Mrs K

Genre: Fiction, Adult, Contemporary

Review: Six of Crows

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

23437156So I am way late to this party! This book was published in September 2015. A student recommended it to me, and I was intrigued.

Honestly, the book starts off quite slow – for the first 20-30% I was not even sure I would finish it. I did not really feel anything for the characters, I was confused by the world and all in all not sold.

I am happy to report that that did change. The pacing worked itself out, and was spot on, leaving me totally unable to put it down.

I disliked that the characters were teenagers, I felt like their world smarts and their life experiences were well above that of a teenager. However I could cope with this because it was only sometimes referred to.

What I loved was that each character had clear strengths and flaws, and both were developed so well. The back story was able to help us understand the character, but they were real frail people.

I think my favourite character was the wraith followed very closely by Nina. Both of these characters had an interesting bond, and a heartwrenching story.

I loved the heist component, and the way that the heist required them to trust each other in a way that they had not done in a long time, this was a nice moment, and almost an oppurtunity for a rebirth. They also had to learn many new skills along the way.

Trickery is not my native tongue, but I may learn to speak it yet.

I also really liked the ending, that we were kept on our toes right until the end, but that the ending also wrapped many things up. While it is the first part of this particular story and their are I think two more books, I look forward to reading them, but was also happy to put the book down and move onto my next book. This might not seem like a great thing – but it was really important to me at this point, that I not end up so wrapped up in a multiple book series that I could not get on with my life!

Interestingly one of the books I felt like it really related to was the book Railhead, which was another heist type story in a speculative fiction world.

Overall this was a great book – and one that I definitely recommend you read!

Mrs K

Genre: Adolescent fiction, dystopian fiction, speculative fiction, Heist, crime, fantasy, YA

Review: Ones and Zeroes

Ones and Zeroes (Mirador #2) by Dan Wells

30256102This was the second book in the Mirdor series. It was the first book I have read since discovering Sarah J Maas back in March! I had been looking forward to this book, and it did not disappoint. It was gripping, with well developed characters. I really liked that there is a range of characters from a range of backgrounds in this book, and that they can look past their differences to be friends.

This book took a different approach, with despite being set in 2050 largely this was a heist story, which took place in a little over a week.

One thing that I did not like, is while Bluescreen felt like a total stand alone book, Ones and Zeroes leaves us half way through the story, while this is not a problem as such it will continue to test my patience!

I think this book remains very relevant, with net neutrality, and also an increasing difference between the wealthy and poor. It was nice to see a group of young people take action and try to take on the multinational megacorp!

My favourite quote (Sorry it is a long one!)

“There are two kinds of people in the world” said Alain, “and please let me finish, because I know you think you know where this is going and I know you’re going to think it’s rude, but that’s not what I’m trying to say. There are people who matter, and people who don’t There are people who act, and people who react; people who change things, and people who get changed. The most important thing in the entire world, in the entirety of human experience, is that you can choose which kind of person you are. I want to be the kind that makes a change.”

I loved this over riding idea, the concept of a vigilante, or someone who wants to make a difference. I loved that the introduction of the new characters challenged the status quo, and caused the characters to re-evaluate what was important to them and what mattered.

So much to love about this book. From everything from the characters discussion on religion through to their family responsibilities and friendship.

If you have not read the first one – definitely start there! Then move to this one – it is well worth the read!

Mrs K
Genre: Young Adult, Adolescent, Cyberpunk, science fiction, dystopian fiction,

Review: Shooting Stars

Shooting Stars written by Brian Falkner

32491888I am definitely noticing a massive downturn in reading since starting back at work. And even though I read with my year 11s most days, it still just is not the same as being on holiday.

Still this was not a book that would normally make my list. In fact I have tried to read a couple of Brian Falkner’s books before and really not enjoyed them.

This book made my radar because it was on a list needed for an inter-school activity, so I started reading, and I am really pleased I did.

I love Egan’s very honest and often naive take on life. I really enjoyed seeing our world through his eyes. I also enjoyed his writing style, especially his deliberate attempts to copy other authors.

I liked the impact his simply way of life had on the others that he met, and his own consistency when it came to the code from his mother.  He showed us so many things that are wrong with the world, and even the lack of green or forest when he arrived in the city, or the pollution in the water. This was a great book for opening our eyes to the world around us. It also could lead to a fantastic writing opportunity about seeing things for the first time.

I still had questions at the end, and the end was immensely sad, but the impact of Egan was definitely the prominent feeling the reader was left with.

I would definitely recommend this for readers in years 9 – 11 and I also think it could do some great things to draw in reluctant male readers.

Mrs K

Genre: Adolescent fiction, adventure fiction, teenage fiction, male protagonist,

Review: Full Cicada Moon

Full Cicada Moon written by Marilyn Hilton

wow!! I cannot believe how much I loved this book! It is very different to what I normally read! I picked it based on its tag line

Change can start with one brave voice.

Mostly I read it over a couple of days in my 15 minutes of reading with my year 11s.

The book is written in poetry, which normally frustrates me a little bit, but just works perfectly for this book.

I love the ideas in this book. It is set in 1969, and Mimi is half her mum and half her dad and all her. The problem is her dad is African American and her mum is Japanese. And in a place where this is not what they are used to seeing they struggle to accept Mimi as American.

I love so many parts of this book. The metaphor of a tap that they use throughout for making change, often Mimi thinks

Drip, drip, drip

A reminder that slowly water can carve through anything.

Mimi deals with going against gender norms, wanting to take shop not just Home ec. However she also is very courageous in a soft and gently way. When her principal says

You are a credit to your race

She understands he thinks this is a compliment, however when she says it to him at the end of the meeting it is very powerful!

Such an amazing powerful book about change caused my ripples and how important it is to be that one brave voice!

I really can’t recommend this book enough, for all levels!

Mrs K

Genre: adolescent fiction, poetry, historical fiction,

Review: Rain Fall

Rain Fall written by Ella West

37641941This is the fourth book from my Whitcouls haul – and perhaps this is my favorite. This book was published this year, which impresses me – normally I am way behind on finding and reading books. (See yesterdays blog for an example!)

This was a New Zealand author, and the book is set on the West coast of the South Island. I love the moodiness and the way that she describes the rain.

“In other languages there are a million zillion words for snow or ice or heat. In English it’s words for rain – drizzle, mist, trickle, sprinkle, fog, shower, cloudburst, downpour, deluge, torrent, storm, flood and a whole lot more I can’t think of right now.”

This was the first sentence of chapter one – and just like that I was sold! (Side note – I am totally going to use this as an activity with my junior students! listing as many words as we can for common words we use all the time.)

The story style reminded me of Joy Cowley’s Bow Down Shadrach, although it has been years and years since I read that book.  I loved this book, and read it in one sitting, letting life just kind of happen around me so that I could finish it. I loved the conflict that Annie felt, from living in the small town and knowing everyone, and as such struggling to accept that her neighbor, who she knew, could be a bad person. This read as so genuine and real!

The only thing I struggled with was Jack saying that he loved Annie after maybe a week of horse back rides! However, I know that as a teenage girl I would not have had a problem with this.

The characters were well developed, and I thought that the story did well to shed light on the hardships of those in smaller towns, especially as the towns main source of employment starts to dry up. I enjoyed this narrative, and thought it was a nice side story to distract from a constant wondering of what had happened.

I probably would not teach this in school, although will definitely be recommending it to all my year 9 and 10 students to have a read.

Mrs K

Genre: Adolescent Fiction, Teenage Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Romance

Review: The Changeover

The Changeover written by Margaret Mahy

The last four books I have read have all been published in 2017. The changeover was 351461first published in 1984. I know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover – but if it had still had this cover then there was absolutely no way I would have picked up this book!

I have read few of Mahy’s other teenage novels, as I read one (24 Hours) and was not really sold. I love her picture books though, and her books for younger readers.

The first thing I noticed about this book was the timelessness of the writing. My version of the book had a new cover (the one below) and if I had not looked at the publishing date (or know that she died 5 years ago) then I totally could have believed that this was written recently.

The book also fits in with the very popular supernatural genre which I would argue has made a massive comeback in the last five years.

the-changeoverThe actual story was lovely, it was gorgeous, and a little strange, and very powerful. The description which Mahy uses fills everything with personality, there are not long passages which merely describe the setting, instead the setting comes to life, as Laura describes it to us. We become completely immersed in Laura’s life, seeing the world through her eyes, and understanding how she thought.

The romance was sweet and moving, without being graphic or over the top. I also loved that amongst the supernatural romance, was a girl adjusting to her mum seeing men, and seeing her father again for the first time in a while. I loved that all these elements of the story just kind of melded together.

The other thing that I quite enjoyed was the slight twist on the normal gender issues, and the acceptance that needed to come that witches could be both male and female. Also, that the hero was female, saving her little brother.

This was a lovely easy read, as a kiwi I love that it was set in New Zealand, and that I understood talk about school certificate etc, more than I understand when authors talk about grades etc. I really enjoyed this book, and would definitely recommend it for year 10 students.

Mrs K

Genre: Adolescent fiction, fantasy, young adult, supernatural, paranormal, witches, romance, New Zealand fiction

Review: S.T.A.G.S.

S.T.A.G.S written by M.A Bennett

35154365The second of my impulse buys from Whitcoulls, and this one was even better than the last!

We already know that I am something of a sucker for school stories. I love the idealism of boarding school, Mallory Towers and Harry Potter show of a friendship which blossoms and the fun you can have in all the history and tradition of the school.

S.T.A.G.S though, instead tells the other side of the story. Set in a private boarding school, it tells the story of bullying, of elitism, and of the need to eliminate those who challenge the status quo.

When Greer arrives at S.T.A.G.S. it is like being thrown back in time, as a reader this is a disconcerting aspect of the novel – for them to know and live in our world (constant film references reassure us of that) yet they choose to use no technology, and live in a ‘simpler time’. The ‘cool group’ in school are called the Medieval’s, and anything that they do not approve of is called Savage.

Greer suffers through her first term, making no friends, and having no one to talk to. Then the most popular boy in school issues an invitation. As the cover says:

“Nine Students. Three Blood Sports. One Deadly Weekend.”

This is a mystery or a thriller that keeps you on your toes. Right up to the end. I thought it was a unique concept and was certainly very readable.

It’s quite interesting, I wrote this blog nearly 24 hours ago now, and have left it sitting open on my computer. I have really struggled with the fact that although by all accounts I enjoyed the book, I had very little to actually say about it. For once, I feel like the review was largely plot based. This really intrigues me as I am not sure why. As I have said I enjoyed the book, the setting was odd. If I am honest the characters were probably not fully presented as likeable – certainly they were much harder for “Joe Average” to relate to – and because of the teenage emotions and their own guilt they were not necessarily reliable narrators – however this did not really change the nature of the story, because it was the mystery that drew me in as a reader. I did have a problem with the lack of parents, or responsible adults around, but again it fit in with the setting and the world the book created. It is an interesting experience feeling like I don’t have much to say, yet I enjoyed the book, although not enough to gush over… hmmmm.

I highly recommend this for reading. I would probably not teach it at school because of the bullying which is so prevalent, however would make for a great connections report around that theme.

Mrs K

Genre: Adolescent fiction, contemporary fiction, thriller, mystery, school fiction

Review: I am Traitor

I am Traitor written by Sif Sigmarsdottir

34816564This was one of the impulse buys off the whitcoulls shelves. Boy am I pleased it was!!

The book had elements of Animal Farm, set among a futuristic dystopian world. I loved that it was a slightly different approach to most of the books that look at alien invasion.

I thought that the characters were well developed and the pace was just right. Even the way the teenagers thought was largely spot on! The main character is 14 years old, and largely concerned with things that in my experience all 14 year olds are. Her primary desire when they had power was chat rooms and facebook.

I enjoyed the diary aspects, and how slowly the diary and the story caught up so that they were eventually telling the same story.

I thought the themes in this book were really powerful, the idea of right and wrong, and the ambiguous ness of it – was Amy a traitor or a hero? Did it matter? I also enjoyed the more minor themes; the ideas of a perfect race, the cruelty of humanity, and also discrimination.

There were aspects which I struggled with more – who was good and who was bad, was a big one – which I get can tie into the theme and the idea of Amy being a traitor or not. But it did make for some fuzzy reading along the way.

I would love to teach this – maybe to a year 10 class – I think there is a lot to do. And you could draw comparisons to When We Wake as well, particularly when you look at sustainability of the planet.

Mrs K

Genre:Thriller, speculative fiction, adolescent fiction, teenage fiction, science fiction, dystopian fiction.