Book Review: The First Third – Will Kostakis


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.


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: The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater


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.


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: Openly Straight – Bill Konigsberg


Title: Openly Straight (2013)
Series: Openly Straight – Book 1
Author: Bill Konigsberg
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Extent: 321 pages
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Goodreads Description

Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He’s won skiing prizes. He likes to write.

And, oh yeah, he’s gay. He’s been out since 8th grade, and he isn’t teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that’s important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.

So when he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret — not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate break down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben… who doesn’t even know that love is possible.


How do I begin to review a book I have very, very mixed feelings about? I suppose we’ll start with a summary. Openly Straight is the story of Rafe, who moves to an all-boys boarding school far away from home because he is tired of being known as The Gay Guy. At this new school, he hangs out with people he wouldn’t normally hang out with, hides parts of himself, and essentially “reinvents” himself.

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Book Review: Zac and Mia – A. J. Betts


Title: Zac and Mia (2013)
Author: A. J. Betts
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 310 pages
Release Date: July 24, 2013
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Goodreads Description

“When I was little I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster. Now I believe in science, statistics, and antibiotics.”

So says seventeen-year-old Zac Meier during a long, grueling leukemia treatment in Perth, Australia. A loud blast of Lady Gaga alerts him to the presence of Mia, the angry, not-at-all-stoic cancer patient in the room next door. Once released, the two near-strangers can’t forget each other, even as they desperately try to resume normal lives. The story of their mysterious connection drives this unflinchingly tough, tender novel told in two voices.


Plenty of people compared this to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. I didn’t really get that feel, but I could certainly see the similarities: two kids with cancer fall in love. The characters and personalities in Zac and Mia are different, though, so I’d say the story is quite different.

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Book Review: Life in Outer Space – Melissa Keil


Title: Life in Outer Space (2013)
Author: Melissa Keil
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 305 pages
Release Date: February 1, 2013
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

Sam Kinnison is a geek, and he’s totally fine with that. He has his horror movies, his nerdy friends, World of Warcraft – and until Princess Leia turns up in his bedroom, he doesn’t have to worry about girls.

Then Sam meets Camilla. She’s beautiful, friendly and completely irrelevant to his life. Sam is determined to ignore her, except that Camilla has a life of her own – and she’s decided that he’s going to be part of it.

Sam believes that everything he needs to know he can learn from the movies … but now it looks like he’s been watching the wrong ones.


How do I begin to review Life in Outer Space? The first thing you need to know, I guess, is that this book is more about the simple things in life. If you take a teenage boy and ask him to genuinely write a diary about his day-to-day life, Life in Outer Space would probably be quite close to it. This is not to say that the book is boring, not at all — in fact, it’s actually funny, relatable, and geeky in the best possible way.

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