Book Review | Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Hold Still Book Review Paige's PaigesAUTHOR: Nina LaCour
PUBLISHER: Dutton Books for Young Readers
RELEASE DATE
: October 20, 2009
GENRE
: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
PAGE COUNT
: 230
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Nina LaCour has become one of my favourite authors because I feel like I can count on her to deliver great character development and themes. I love her way of unravelling themes cyclically, returning again and again to whimsical and nostalgic images that grow to carry strong meaning for the characters. 

At the heart of Hold Still is loss and loneliness.  When the story begins, Caitlin is feeling  lost at sea after her best friend, Ingrid, commits suicide. The first half of the book is heavy with Caitlin’s grief and her seemingly futile search for meaning and belonging.

The plot is broken into four parts, one for each season. The changing seasons make a poignant backdrop for the changes in Caitlin’s life. Her school photography assignment that forces her to find a new perspective on Ingrid’s life, and her project to build a treehouse in her backyard both spark Caitlin’s character arc. I also love the motif of the abandoned cinema in her neighbourhood, which takes on so much more meaning as the story progresses. Art and the vulnerability to openly express emotion, whether that be in a photograph or a friendship, are key themes.

Since Hold Still deals with suicide and self-harm, it is potentially triggering for some readers. If you’re not sure, keep in mind that it does include explicit details, but not in an overly graphic way (and not in a romanticised or dramatised way). The mood of the book is melancholy with gentle glimpses of hope that emphasise what comes after this trauma. I think this would be a great read for teens who do not experience mental illness, or who knows someone who does, because Caitlin’s point of view as an outsider to Ingrid’s pain means she has to learn to understand her friend’s experience. Basically, this is not Ingrid’s story, but rather the story of someone who does not have a first hand understanding of mental illness.

This is a sad book that may leave your heart aching, but it’s also hopeful and beautiful with its motifs of regrowth, reimagining, and remembering.

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If you like Hold Still, try:

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera ★★★★★ My Review | Add to Goodreads

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3 Mini Reviews of Recent YA Reads

I’ve read a lot of thought-provoking books recently, so I decided to sum up my thoughts quickly for you! If you’ve read any of these titles I would love to hear your opinion in the comments. 

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Take Three Girls

Take Three Girls Review Paige's PagesAUTHORS: Cath Crowley, Fiona Wood, Simmone Howell
PUBLISHER: Pan Australia
RELEASE DATE
: August 29, 2017
GENRE
: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
PAGE COUNT
: 439
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Told from the alternating points of view of three Melbourne private school girls – each written by a different author – this book looks at the impacts of cyber bullying and the true meaning of friendship. Although cyber bullying is a dark topic, the overall vibe of this book is shiningly positive. I love how each of our narrators, Clem, Ady, and Kate, has a distinct voice and their own emotional journey. Continue reading

Mini Book Review | Ida by Alison Evans

Ida Book Review Paige's PagesAUTHOR: Alison Evans
PUBLISHER: Echo
RELEASE DATE
: January 1, 2017
GENRE
: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
PAGE COUNT
: 246
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One sentence blurb: Ida’s secret ability to switch at will between parallel universes becomes complicated when she starts to lose control and is stalked by shadowy doppelgangers.


The lightdark surrounds, skin-tight and consuming. Warmth starts at the top of my head; it’s quick this time, and I know in my bones, my skin, I’m going in the right direction – page 9 Continue reading

Book Review | Sea (The Huntress #1) by Sarah Driver

The Huntress Sea Review Paige's PagesAUTHOR: Sarah Driver
PUBLISHER: Egmont
RELEASE DATE
: April 6, 2017
GENRE
: Junior Fantasy, Adventure
PAGE COUNT
: 336
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Goodreads blurb: In the sky, the fire spirits dance and ripple. Grandma says they showed our Tribe that I’d be a captain, before I was even born.

Ever since Ma died, Mouse has looked after her little brother, Sparrow, dreaming of her destiny as captain of the Huntress. But now Da’s missing, Sparrow is in danger, and a deathly cold is creeping across Trianukka . . .

Sea-churning, beast-chattering, dream-dancing, whale-riding, terrodyl-flying, world-saving adventure.  Continue reading

Book Review | Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Everything Leads to You Book Review Paige's PagesAUTHOR: Nina LaCour
PUBLISHER:
Speak
RELEASE DATE
: May 15, 2014
GENRE
: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Romance, LGBT, Own Voices
PAGE COUNT
: 336
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One sentence blurb: when teen set design intern, Emi, gets her big break working on an independent film, her only distraction is Ava, the secret granddaughter of a Hollywood star.

One thing that everyone seems to be able to agree on is how cool Emi’s world is.  As a set design intern her passion is creating the perfect setting for a scene, which involves inhabiting the characters’ hearts and minds.  I love how she filters everything through a set designer’s lens, noticing details that no one else would see.  Emi’s unique voice and perspective as our narrator is strong and interesting to follow.  I have a lot of love for her. Continue reading

Why I Love Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Nevermoor Book Review Paige's Pages.pngPUBLISHER: Hachette Australia
RELEASE DATE: 
October 10, 2017
GENRE: 
Junior Fantasy
PAGE COUNT:
 451
MY RATING: ★★★★
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Blurb: Morrigan Crow is cursed. Born on an unlucky day, she is blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks – and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on Eventide.  But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away to a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.  To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to pass four difficult and dangerous trials – or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate. Continue reading

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline | Hits and Misses

Ready Player One Book Review Paige's PagesPUBLISHER: Broadway Books
RELEASE DATE: 
August 16, 2011
GENRE: 
Sci-Fi
PAGE COUNT:
 386
MY RATING: ★★★☆
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BLURB FROM GOODREADS

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.  Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based on Halliday’s obsession with ’80s pop culture.  And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.  Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. 

Continue reading

Book Review | When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi Book Review Paige's PagesTITLE: When Dimple Met Rishi
AUTHOR
: Sandhya Menon
PUBLISHER
: Simon Pulse
RELEASE DATE
: May 30, 2017
GENRE
: New Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance
PAGE COUNT
: 380


When Dimple Met Rishi is a light-hearted rom-com for anyone who’s ever questioned what they want from life.  This book excellently portrays the dilemmas “new adults” face when leaving the nest, and explores generational relationships when cultural traditions are at stake.  We even get a fab feminist protagonist to lead the way on this adventure.   Continue reading

Graphic Novel Review | El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo Book Review Paige's PagesTITLE: El Deafo
AUTHOR
: Cece Bell
PUBLISHER
: Harry N. Abrams
RELEASE DATE
: September 2, 2014
GENRE
: Junior Graphic Novel, Memoir
PAGE COUNT
: 233


El Deafo is an utterly adorable Own Voices  graphic novel based on author Cece Bell’s own childhood experience of severe deafness.  One of the many wonderful things about this book is how it avoids representing deafness as a disability.  Although Cece faces plenty of adversity in the form of loneliness, being misunderstood, and toxic friends, she ultimately uses her Phonic Ear hearing aid as a superpower to become the hero, El Deafo.  This is a universally relatable and informative story for junior and middle grade readers that inspires compassion and respect for differently-abled people. Continue reading