Book Review: The First Third – Will Kostakis

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Title: The First Third (2013)
Author: Will Kostakis
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 248 pages
Release Date: July 24, 2013
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

Life is made up of three parts: in the first third, you’re embarrassed by your family; in the second, you make a family of your own; and in the end, you just embarrass the family you’ve made.

That’s how Billy’s grandmother explains it, anyway. She’s given him her bucket list (cue embarrassment), and now, it’s his job to glue their family back together. No pressure or anything.

Fixing his family’s not going to be easy and Billy’s not ready for change. But as he soon discovers, the first third has to end some time. And then what?

It’s a Greek tragedy waiting to happen.

Review

The First Third is my first novel from Will Kostakis, and boy, was it pretty damn good. This is the story of Billy Tsiolkas, the middle son in a Greek family, and his quest in completing the three items on his grandmother’s bucket list: find his single mother a husband, find his older brother a girlfriend, and ‘fix’ his sullen, uncommunicative younger brother. With the aid of his best friend and a girl he meets at the hospital, Billy seeks to accomplish what his grandmother can’t while he navigates through various life problems.

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ARC/Book Review: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life – Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Title: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life (2017)
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Publisher: Clarion Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 464 pages
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Goodreads Description

Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his own history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events force him and his best friend, Samantha, to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief.

Suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and discovering that he no longer knows who he really is—but if Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

Review

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life is my second book from Benjamin Alire Sáenz, the first being the very popular Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which, incidentally, I also wasn’t in love with but actually liked better. This book is the story of Salvador, a sweet, sensitive boy who lives with his gay father, as he goes through a lot of life-altering changes.

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Book Review: Cloudwish – Fionawood

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Title: Cloudwish (2015)
Author: Fiona Wood
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 228 pages
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

Vân Uoc doesn’t believe in fairies, zombies, vampires, Father Christmas – or magic wishes. She believes in keeping a low profile: real life will start when school finishes. But when she attracts the attention of Billy Gardiner, she finds herself in an unwelcome spotlight. Not even Jane Eyre can help her now.

Wishes were not a thing. They were not.

Correction. Wishes were a thing. Wishes that came true were sometimes a thing.

Wishes that came true because of magic were not a thing! Were they?

Review

I’ve actually had Cloudwish on my TBR for about a year and forgot about it until I accidentally happened upon it on one of my weekend library runs. I took it home without much consideration, thinking that I’d just drop it if it didn’t jive with me… but then I started the book and fell into the story so hard, I just found myself loving it. The blurb and cover might package the book as a cute, sweet love story, but it is so, so much more (and better!) than that.

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Book Review: The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater

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Title: The Dream Thieves (2013)
Series: The Raven Cycle – Book 2
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Extent: 437 pages
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself.

One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams. And sometimes he’s not the only one who wants those things.

Ronan is one of the raven boys – a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school, Aglionby Academy. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan’s secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface – changing everything in its wake.

Review

You guys… I think I’m falling madly in love with this series. I mean, I’ve always known that it’s likely my kind of thing, but I never knew just how much it is my kind of thing. This review might contain spoilers for that first book, so please proceed at your own risk.

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Book Review: Lost Stars – Lisa Selin Davis

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Title: Lost Stars (2016)
Author: Lisa Selin Davis
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 272 pages
Release Date: October 16, 2016
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Goodreads Description

In the aftermath of her older sister’s death, sixteen-year-old Carrie is taken under the wings of her sister’s friends, and finds herself forsaking the science nerds of her former life and slipping into a daze of cheap beer and recreational drugs. Carrie – a talented guitar player and obsessive tracker of the coming Vira comet – is partying hard and fooling around with boys she doesn’t even like, even though she’s desperate for a boyfriend.

Her mother, enveloped by grief at the loss of her eldest child, has retreated to a monastery in the Catskills that requires a vow of silence. With her family splintered apart, Carrie is overcome at times by uncontrollable rages and her father decides to send her to a boot camp for wayward teens. Compounding the shame, and to her horror, she is forced to wear work boots and a hard hat – boy poison.

Then she meets Dean, a fellow musician and refugee from his own dark past. Throughout the summer Carrie learns more about Dean, about her sister’s death, about her own family’s past, and about herself…as well as about the Bee Gees, disco and the difference between wood and sheet-rock screws. Through love, music and her precious comet – and no small help from Lou Reed – Carrie fumbles her way through the complex web of tragedies and misunderstandings, to the heart of who she is and who she wants to be.

Review

Despite the really beautiful cover and the potentially heartbreaking premise, Lost Stars did not engage me at all. I actually picked it up multiple times over a number of weeks, waiting for that moment of utter attention to strike, but after perhaps the fifth time I just gave up because it just never happened. Had this not been a review book, unfortunately, I probably would’ve DNFed it pretty early on.

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