Book Review | When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson

When Marnie Was There Review Paige's PagesTITLE: When Marnie Was There
AUTHOR: Joan G. Robinson
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins
RELEASE DATE: 1967
GENRE: Junior Fiction, Fantasy
PAGE COUNT: 286


For a children’s book first published in 1967, When Marnie Was There still feels fresh and magical.  For some readers, this was the book they grew up with.  For me, this is a book to grow old with.  

12-year-old Anna lives with her foster parents in London.  She is sent away for her health to a seaside village where she meets a mysterious girl.  Marnie is Anna’s first real friend – someone who accepts her for who she is.  But Marnie’s life in the beautiful Marsh House is not as perfect as it seems.

Straight away, the mental health aspect surprised me. Continue reading

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Book Review | This Census-Taker by China Miéville

This Census-Taker Review Paige's PagesTITLE: This Census-Taker
AUTHOR: China Miéville
PUBLISHER: Del Ray
RELEASE DATE: January 12, 2016
GENRE: Magical Realism, Adult Fiction
PAGE COUNT: 210


China Miéville’s brand new novella boasts contemporary style as well as the grace of an old classic.  It uses the power of silence and suggestion to make a lasting emotional impact.  

Isolated on a mountaintop with his parents, a seven-year-old boy believes his key-maker father is a murderer.  Lacking proof, he has no option but to live under a shadow of fear. Continue reading

Book Review | White Space by Ilsa J. Bick

White Space Review Paige's PagesTITLE: White Space
SERIES: The Dark Passages  #1
AUTHOR: Isla J. Bick
PUBLISHER: Egmont USA
RELEASE DATE: February 11, 2014
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror
PAGE COUNT: 560


White Space is the captivating first book of Ilsa J. Bick’s young adult fantasy series, The Dark Passages.  What starts as a cool concept evolves into a scary and unputdownable epic.  

When Emma woke up yesterday morning, life had still been pretty normal.  Well, as normal as it got for a kid with a head full of metal, killer headaches, visions that appeared more or less at random, chunks of lost time, and nowhere to go over Christmas break – page 31

17-year-old Emma is no ordinary teenager.  Her random blinks into other people’s minds are disorienting but harmless.   Continue reading

Book Review | Slade House by David Mitchell

Slade House Review Paige's PagesTITLE: Slade House
AUTHOR: David Mitchell
PUBLISHER: Random House
RELEASE DATE: October 27, 2015
GENRE: Supernatural Horror
PAGE COUNT: 233


Every nine years a guest is summoned to Slade House, never to return.  The only people who know the truth behind the disappearances are already dead.  David Mitchell uses his iconic split narrative style to magic this supernatural horror story into being.  

Over the course of five decades, five guests walk into a terrifying trap.  Slade House is nothing more than the facade for a deadly game of cat and mouse.  Like flies in a web, the unwitting victims don’t stand a chance against the sinister powers at work here.  Who are the residents of Slade House and what is their purpose?  This grown-up equivalent of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is creepy and compulsive. Continue reading

Review | The Bees by Laline Paull

51N7JrL9bKLTITLE: The Bees
AUTHOR: Laline Paull
PUBLISHER: Fourth Estate
RELEASE DATE: January 1, 2015
GENRE: Thriller, Action
PAGE COUNT: 352


Imagine a thriller told from the perspective of bees.  Through the analogy of a totalitarian beehive, Laline Paull’s debut novel questions our perception of the world and our humanity.  With its startling political message, The Bees is destined to become a powerful dystopian classic.  

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker from the lowest class of the hive.  From birth, she knows her one duty is to accept, obey and serve.  When Flora saves the hive from a wasp invasion and becomes the first of her kin to forage for nectar, she catches wind of insidious secrets.  Plague, massacre, and religious purge bring death and discord to her home.  Despite her readiness to sacrifice everything for her Queen, Flora’s stirring of forbidden maternal love could lead her to commit the most sacrilegious crime of all.

She dragged her body through and fell out onto the floor of an alien world.  Static roared through her brain, thunderous vibration shook the ground and a thousand scents dazed her.  All she could do was breathe until gradually the vibration and static subsided and the scent evaporated into the air.  Her rigid body unlocked and she calmed as knowledge filled her mind.  This was the Arrivals Hall and she was a worker.  Her kin was Flora and her number was 717 – page 3

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Book Review | Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

miss-peregrines-home-for-peculiar-children-book-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
SERIES: Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #1
AUTHOR: Ransom Riggs
PUBLISHER: Quirk
RELEASE DATE: June 7, 2011
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure
PAGE COUNT: 352


Ransom Riggs’ debut novel combines vintage photographs with fast-paced fantasy.  Although this book has a unique vision, poorly developed characters let it down.

After a horrific family tragedy, 16-year-old Jacob travels to a tiny island off the coast of Wales to investigate his grandfather’s mysterious past.  There he finds a home for children with extraordinary abilities, hidden from the outside world.  However, evil lurks one step behind him, hellbent on destroying both his world and that of the peculiar children.   Continue reading

Best Books I Read in 2015

My favourite part of New Years is looking back on what I read the previous year. I flogged my Goodreads Reading Challenge by reading 44 books in total! You can follow this link to see my complete reading list (and feel free to ‘friend’ me so we can share recommendations).

I want to share with you all the books that wowed me in 2015. These are reads that I struggled to put down, that haunted my sleep, that refused to stop popping into my thoughts ever since. 

6334Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This dystopian story is about young clones bred for organ harvest. Although this sounds like the set up for a thriller, it is in fact a tender reflection on the characters’ emotional development from child to adult. Ishiguro writes beautifully and broodingly. Always subtle, Never Let Me Go has a lingering impact on your perspective of humanity.

T38447he Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Like Never Let Me Go, this is a social critique delivered through dystopia. In the future, the remaining handful of fertile women are allocated as birthing machines to the wealthiest men. Defiance has fatal consequences. The Handmaid’s Tale holds a mirror to society with its a prediction of the future. (Word of warning: if you have even the smallest seed of feminism in you, reading this book will make your ovaries explode.)

fight-club-book-coverFight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

This book is all grit and gore. Through deceptively layered storytelling, we watch as our narrator is trapped in the mayhem (pun intended) of a rising anarchist group. This psychological thriller is as wildly entertaining and it is terrifying.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis12800_12088bc3a1d7062e_b

Ask yourself if you’re ready to face the consequences of reading this book. American Psycho is genius, surely, but you can’t unread it. Patrick Bates is rich, handsome, and well-connected. He’s also a psychopathic killer. The style allows you to slip into his claustrophobic stream of consciousness, de-sensationalising his actions until torture seems as ordinary as neckties and business cards.

10956The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

Now grown men, old neighbours reunite to remember the Lisbon sisters they worshipped in high school and try to understand the girls’ suicides. The changing of the seasons ties together this insidious story. While Eugenides’ tender narrative style is gorgeous, I feel that it’s the pervasion of colour and sound and smell that leaves the richest impression. When I remember reading The Virgin Suicides, I remember the deep orange of Autumn leaves and hear the beating of fish fly wings.

My Hundred Lovers by Susan Johnson13634670

I understood the importance of this book when I reread it for an analytical essay. On my first read I was stunned by its poetic style – by Johnson’s skill at making love to language. On my second read, it was deep and raw and intensely personal. My Hundred Lovers explores the first fifty years of a woman’s life through one hundred things and people and places she has loved – a concept reminiscent of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film Amelie – all artfully layered within this unforgettable book.

51lyq4laGpL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre

Media’s twisted truth and the scary reality of mob psychology is the basis of this confronting book. Vernon Little is charged with accessory for murder after his best friend massacres his classmates in a high school shooting. Told from his uniquely irreverent first person perspective, Vernon God Little is equal parts hilarious and horrible.

So those are the best books I read in 2015. These standouts were insanely obvious because of how they changed my view of the world. I’d love to hear your reading highlights from last year. Write to me in the comments and if you’re on Goodreads I’d love to see your Reading Challenges.

Photo credit: http://www.goodreads.com

 

Review | The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Mother of modern classic literature, Margaret Atwood, makes waves with her latest release, The Heart Goes Last.  This psychosexual thriller/dystopian comedy is a cutting social critique – a smart book that will captivate a large range of readers. 

9780385540353Stan and Charmaine are a young, married couple who swap poverty for a second chance at life in the twin cities of Positron and Consilience.  They sign their lives away to be a part of its unique social experiment: do gaol time now and buy time for your future.  While Stan and Charmaine serve their prison sentence every second month, their home is occupied by their ‘alternates’.  Growing obsession with their counterparts and whispers of sinister truths undermine the cities’  façade of perfection.

While Atwood’s famous social critique The Handmaid’s Tale is dark and disturbing, The Heart Goes Last offers an equally compelling view of the modern world through biting humour and action-packed plot.  From the first sentence, you are launched into her world.  She keeps the pace tight and the tone light, even when the stakes are extremely high.  The Heart Goes Last is a smart and fun addition to the dystopian narrative as established by Orwell, Huxley, and Burgess – by nature, not as hard-hitting as those classics, but an enjoyable and accessible new take.

This book is super fun and easy to read.  It’s a great introduction to Atwood’s writing if you think one of her heavier books looks daunting.  Her versatility and skill as a writer in many genres amazes me.  If this is your first taste of Margaret Atwood, please go read The Handmaid’s Tale next.  That stuff will knock your socks off.  

Book Review | Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Leviathan Book Review Paige's Pages.pngTITLE: Leviathan
SERIES: Leviathan #1
AUTHOR: Scott Westerfeld
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse
RELEASE DATE: October 6, 2006
GENRE: Junior, Steam Punk
PAGE COUNT: 440


Leviathan is the adrenaline-fueled first book of Westerfeld’s steam punk trilogy.  Aimed at middle school readers, it blends the perspectives of a prince turned fugitive and a pauper disguised as a boy to provide an alternate history of WWI.

The story starts the night that 15-year-old Prince Aleksander’s parents are assassinated and the palace staff abduct him for his safety.  Meanwhile, Deryn is disguised as a boy onboard the British airbeast, the Leviathan.  Although they are each caught up in their own battles, their paths are set to collide.

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