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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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: Yellow – Megan Jacobson

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Title: Yellow (2016)
Author: Megan Jacobson
Publisher: Penguin Teen Australia
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 259 pages
Release Date: February 1, 2016
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Goodreads Description

If fourteen-year-old Kirra is having a midlife crisis now, then it doesn’t bode well for her life expectancy. Her so-called friends bully her, whatever semblance of a mother she had has been drowned at the bottom of a gin bottle ever since her dad left them for another woman, and now a teenage ghost is speaking to her through a broken phone booth.

Kirra and the ghost make a pact. She’ll prove who murdered him almost twenty years ago if he does three things for her. He makes her popular, he gets her parents back together, and he doesn’t haunt her. Things aren’t so simple however, and Kirra realises that people can be haunted in more ways than one.

Review

I picked up Yellow mostly because of the cover (just look at all those beautiful colours!), without really knowing what it’s actually about. Magical realism is very much a hit-or-miss for me — I’ve really only loved Haruki Murakami’s books from that genre, and everything else is a bit of a dud. Unfortunately, Yellow didn’t make it to my favourites’ list either — I felt really disconnected from the story. 😶

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Book Review: The Yearbook Committee – Sarah Ayoub

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Title: The Yearbook Committee (2016)
Author: Sarah Ayoub
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 330 pages
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Goodreads Description

The school captain: Ryan has it all… or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?

The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends…

The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.

The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend… cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?

The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.

Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?

Review

The blurb of The Yearbook Committee reminds me of The Breakfast Club — essentially five students from different cliques forced to spend some time together and then later become friends. It also reminds me of Riley Redgate’s Seven Ways We Lie, which is a really great example of how multiple perspectives can add to a story. This book, however, is a little shakier, a little more confused, and overall weaker than those two titles.

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