Book Review: All Our Yesterdays

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“I tell her everything I wish I had ever known. I tell her I love her, and I realize as I say it that I love me, too.”

All Our Yesterdays traces the stories of Marina and Em. Em found herself being repeatedly transported back to a dingy jail cell. Yet this time, she is determined for it this to not repeat again. In this exact jail cell, she finds a note written by her stuck to a drain. She has no memory of writing it, except that she knows she has a quest left behind by all the previous times she was being transported back to the cell. She has to do whatever it takes to stop James, a prodigy in science, from creating a time machine capable of changing history bring about the possibility of a worldwide apocalypse. Parallel to Em, Marina, Em’s younger self has a different story. She would give it her all in protecting her best friend, James, even after she had learnt about James’ darkest secret. They were never supposed to meet but with the creation of the time machine, the past and present intertwines into two parallel yet connected goals, where only one party can succeed. All Our Yesterdays is a reflection of love, a hope for the future, and a priceless opportunity for self-discovery. Many have also praised Terrill’s novel as a story about ‘the infinite complications of our every choice’.

After reading till the very last word of this novel, I found myself unable to return to reality and it really felt as if time had stopped. It is a fast-paced novel as it is a race against time. The narrative dragged me in instantly and was constantly giving me surprises as the plot never failed to develop and factor in twists at the most strategic points in the story. It was also interesting how it was narrated in first person, and the overlapping events narrated turned out very differently from two different perspectives. What was most satisfying about finishing the book was that it turned out to be different and even better than my initial impression of it. The idea and fragility of time travel and manipulation of time intrigued me when I first picked this book out of other books on the shelf. However, as the storyline quickly catapulted me into Marina and Em’s story, I realised that the essence of the story goes much deeper than the sci-fi aspect of it as well – Terrill’s debut shone as it presented complex human emotions throughout the entire novel, and every word she penned had a raw emotional quality to it. This novel is one unlike any other as the essence of the story does not really lie in the facts about time, but in the effects time travel might possibly bring to human beings if this does come true in the near future.

Although the theories and rules of time travel can lead to confusion at some points in time, it does not compromise the overall quality of the story because while it might be a sci-fi adventure novel, stitched into it is also a tinge of sentimentality that is very well represented through the way Em looks at Marina and discovers so much more about herself. This also accurately reflects how we feel all the time – how we often look back and hope that we can turn back time to undo or redo what we hope we should not have done, or the hope that we should not have been so naive. Out of the dozens of books I have managed to read over the holidays, this book left the deepest and most lasting impression in my mind. There is only one word for this novel – mind blowing – but even this is not enough to do justice to a great book with such rich emotions encompassed in every word of this novel. This book is certainly worth your time and sometimes even worth the heartbreak to read. Thus, I would definitely urge you to check this book out of the library whenever you can!

References:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13514612-all-our-yesterdays

Renee Ong (3U)

Book Review: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Milk and Honey is a New York Times bestseller written by Rupi Kaur. Published in late 2014, the book, which consists of a collection of poetry and prose quickly became a bestseller and topped charts. Milk and Honey is the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss and femininity. This book has the ability to remind you of all the bitter moments in life, horrible times in society and at the same time, allows you to find hope within them, because if you are willing to look for it, there is hope and love everywhere.

Personally, I feel that this book can either be an easy read or a difficult read; it really depends on how much thinking you put into it. A quick flip through the book and you might find it extremely boring; perhaps even criticize the writer for some controversial ideas of hers. Some of her poems are very simplistic, and might look like it took no thought at all to write. But when it comes to poetry, every single word counts. If you observe the illustrations carefully and try to put meanings into the words as well as make your own inference on how they link up, Milk and Honey will bring you many meaningful moments and new perspective.

I like how the author chooses to use powerful language over insulting language when writing about controversial topics such as a women’s body and a women’s rights as well as how she was able to not filter the contents of her book to fit what society would expect. She is frank with what she wants to tell her readers and I feel that as a reader of her content, we are grateful for her honesty.

I hope that you would check out this amazing book! Below are some examples of what you can expect from Milk and Honey.

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http://www.rupikaur.com

Ang Yen Chi (2U)

 

The summer I became a nerd

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Have you ever heard of that blonde cheerleader? The girl stereotypically known as the ‘bimbo’? Well, Madelyne Summers happens to look like one of them. On the outside, she’s perky, popular and dating the star quarterback. But inside, she’d rather spend time contemplating what may occur in the next issue of her favourite comic book than planning pep rallies with her gang.

Madelyne is a nerd hiding in a popular girl’s body and it can’t be known. She needs to keep it that way. During summer, she can finally let her inner geek loose. However after a slip up, the cute and dorky guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her important secret. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie is whisked off into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing (also known as RPG) and first-person-shooter video games. What an adventure! And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lie becomes and the more she risks losing Logan forever.

I really enjoyed this book, especially from the perspective of a book nerd. The events and activities they took part in were so astounding that they made my heart race and my mind work at full throttle, just to process the brain-working aspects of the plot  (like the hints of mystery or the sprinkles of clues) . One part which I found the most impressive was the inclusion of RPGs, especially the way it’s described and the element of imagination…You’ll have to see for yourself. All I can say without spoiling that part for you is that it made me want to be a fantasy character and live in that exact moment. Intrigued yet?

Madelyne seems like the arrogant, condescending and popular girl at first but after a while, she sheds her outer shell and reveals a sweet but shy comic-book lover inside. The development of her character was rather satisfying and touching. She’s not a ‘dumb blonde’ in any aspect”; in fact she’s really smart and her opinions are well-thought, through and through (most of the time). Logan is such a sweetheart too. He just wanted to share his love of all things ‘geek’ to Maddie and is really a ball of sunshine. Their friendship may be the most adorkable relationship in their world. I’d hundred-percent recommend this fantastic novel to all romantics and geeks. It’s not only inspiring, showing that you should always live as yourself, it’s also an easy read perfect for you while you relax on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself at the last page, heart beating rapidly and mind-blown as well. Don’t worry, it’s found in some bookstores and libraries. I hope you’ll take away an amazing experience from reading it too!

Jaime Ng (13)

2 Loyalty

 

The Lorien Legacies

Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in comic books – but we are real.

Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. We have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

 

The Lorien Legacies is a series of seven novels written by Pittacus Lore. The series revolves around 18 Loric, who escaped to Earth in the hope of the revival of their species in future after their homeland was attacked by the Mogadorians, another extraterrestrial race who hail from the fictional planet of Mogadore. These Loric survivors include 9 Garde, teenagers who are able to develop superpowers known as Legacies, and their respective Cêpans, designated guardians who protect them and train them in the use of their Legacies. During the war, just before they were sent to Earth, one of the leaders of the planet, an Elder, cast a charm over the children, ensuring that they could only be killed by the order of their numbers, unless they were to gather, thus causing the charm to break.

Upon arriving to Earth, the Garde members split up and live in low profile with their Cêpans, moving to houses in different states and always changing their identities to avoid being captured by the large number of Mogadorians and their leader Setrákus Ra, who had followed them to Earth. Since they look like humans, they are able to pass off as humans by hiding their imminent powers and adapting to the life and culture on Earth. However, despite their best efforts to keep themselves hidden, Number One, Two and Three are killed before the first book starts. The first book, I am Number Four, depicts Number Four (the main protagonist of the series) on the run and subsequently also shows how the charm was broken, thus setting the scene for the Garde to gather and finally fight back in the war between the two alien species throughout the next 6 books.

I’m always kept on the edge of my seat when reading any one of the books in the series, as the books are very suspenseful. The Garde faces compilation in virtually every book, such as betrayal and sometimes the death of their allies, and these plot twists add the element of surprise to the series. Not only that, they leave readers craving for more in order because readers never know what is going to happen.

There’s also a certain kind of thrill and trepidation when reading the series, as you would never know when which member of the Garde would die – since the charm was broken early in the series, all the Garde can be killed randomly at any time. The fight scenes in the book adds to the excitement, as they usually involve the use of a variety of Legacies. The passages in which the Garde use their Legacies are written very vividly and descriptively, to the extent that readers can almost imagine what it would have looked or felt like in real life just by reading the words in the chapter.

All the chapters are narrated in the first person, so readers would be able to put themselves in the Gardes’ shoes and follow the story in the narrator’s perspective relatively easily. We are also able to visualize the situation that the Garde is in, and experience their thoughts and emotions as they go on the run and fight for the survival of their race.

While the constant change in narrator does give readers better coverage as to what is happening to all the members of the Garde, the ‘switcheroo’ can also be a little confusing, especially if one of their narrations reach a cliffhanger and continues only in the next book. One moment you could be reading in Number Nine’s perspective, and when you flip to the next page the words become italicised and you’re reading from Number Six’s point of view. Despite this small shortfall, however, I feel that the series is a really gripping book that many would appreciate, especially for those looking out for adventure. The books are easily found in our public libraries, so do borrow the Lorien Legacies if you are interested!

 

WE MAY BE WALKING PAST YOU RIGHT NOW

WE ARE WATCHING AS YOU READ THIS

WE MAY BE IN YOUR CITY, YOUR TOWN.

WE ARE LIVING ANONYMOUSLY

WE ARE WAITING FOR THE DAY WHEN

WE WILL FIND EACH OTHER.

WE WILL MAKE OUR LAST STAND TOGETHER – IF

WE WIN,

WE ARE SAVED, AND

YOU ARE SAVED AS WELL.

 

Germaine Lee  3T

 

All The Light We Cannot See

A winner of the Pulitzer Prize, All the Light We Cannot See takes place in the devastation of World War II. Set in occupied France, Marie-Laure lives with her father who works in the Museum of National History, where he works as the master of its thousand locks. At the age of six, Marie goes blind. Her father builds her a miniature of their neighbourhood, so with her sense of touch, she can memorise the route home. At the age of twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris, and the flee to Saint Malo, and with them, they carry what might be the cursed jewel. It could be a fake. Who knows?

In Germany, an orphan, Werner, lives with his sister in a mining town. He finds a crude radio and fixes it, and soon enough, he has become an expert at constructing and fixing different radios. This opens up his world, where soon enough, he is invited for Hitler Youth, where many different things happen, including a special assignment to track The Resistance.  Werner travels through different towns, where he finally land into the town of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure crosses paths with him for the first time…

An intriguing book, this book has been proven to have Anthony Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors”. To me, this book gives me a sense of excitement to what is going to happen next.  When the different events unfold (and the puzzle you’ll feel when you first pick up the book – the book rapidly sweeps between different point of views!), you’ll have a sense of accomplishment when you finally understand what is happening in the book.

This book is a dazzle, it captivates me and it’s a page turner. It’s a book of war, on the Holocaust, and twisted in is a little bit of romance that completes the whole plot and the whole story. I highly recommend this!

Germaine Ong

2 Loyalty

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We Were Liars

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We Were Liars by E. Lockheart is an amazing book, a riveting, brutal and beautifully told story. It is about self-acceptance, family morals, and the possibly deadly consequences of one’s mistakes with elements of mystery and romance worked in. We Were Liars is one of my favourite books as the plot was unusual and very interesting. The plot twist towards the end was obviously unexpected but tied up many loose ends as every single detail fell together. I stayed up way too late in order to finish reading this book and the haunting ending left me thinking about it for days.

The book is centered around a privileged family, the Sinclairs who owned a private island and spent their summers there. The protagonist, Cadence Sinclair, got into an accident in Summer Fifteen and was found seriously injured in the water, near the beach. She suffered from migraines since then and was not able to remember much of Summer Fifteen except details of her accident. In Summer Sixteen, Cadence is told by her mother that she will be travelling Europe with her father. Despite resisting, Cadence goes and spends; next Summer, she returns to the island.

When she does return, just about everything on the island is different. Everyone, including the Liars, (the cousins and good friends of Cadence who also go to the island) acted nervously and secretively around Cadence; and one of the houses on the island was remodeled to a modern, sleeker aesthetic. Over time, Cadence remembered more and more about Summer Fifteen. The events of Summer Fifteen were not revealed until the end of the book and that element of surprise kept me interested.

I’d definitely suggest you read it but perhaps you might want to prepare tissues beforehand!

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_Were_Liars

More Information: http://wewereliarsbook.tumblr.com/

Jocelyn Lim (3 Justice)

Book Review – Skinny by Donna Cooner

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‘Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful.’

She’s heard these words a million times, and they only get louder.

Skinny revolves around an ordinary girl, Ever Davies, but her weight and physical appearance renders her more than ordinary to the people around her. She weighs a hefty 302 pounds and is only the centre of attention for being a laughing stock in school. However, the mockery and laughter from the people around her is nothing compared to a strong, growing voice inside her head that constantly encourages her – negatively. This voice is none other than Skinny, the part of Ever that juxtaposes her outer image. Skinny’s voice haunts Ever constantly and the battles between them never stops, with how she constantly views herself, physically. Even in the process of weight loss and starting anew, Skinny never left Ever’s head – and she has to learn to go against it, and pluck up the courage to reveal the voice inside her.

Written by an author, who has underwent the same experience as Ever, I personally find this book memorable as it follows a very simple storyline, yet it gives the character and the heated argument going on inside Ever, a powerful and overcoming voice, hence giving the story its unique character. I never knew what the title of the book meant until I opened up the book and Skinny started speaking. Surprisingly, I was touched by the poignant storyline and the whirl of emotions the author has put across so that readers can feel for Ever and learn from her.

I believe each of us has a certain form of Skinny in each of our minds all the time., that injects negative thoughts into our minds to prevent us from living our lives to the fullest. We fight with it but end up believing that we are fighting a losing battle and we let our lives be decided by this voice which knows nothing of our talents and capabilities at all. This voice will always live with us, be a part of us and we need to learn how to step up for ourselves. So why not give this book a try and hopefully, after reading it, it will trigger the inner voice in you and you will not let the ‘”Skinny in your mind define you.

Renee Ong

2J

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

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If life were fair, then Jam Gallahue would be living comfortably in her house in New Jersey and spending time with her English boyfriend Reeve Maxfield. But in an unpredictable world where things seem unjust beyond our understanding, Jam’s life became a far cry from what she wished for it to be. The heartbreak of losing her boyfriend caused Jam to be admitted to the Wooden Barn, a therapeutic home in rural Vermont, in hopes of recovering from emotional frailty. On her much-dreaded first day of classes, she finds herself being enrolled in Special Topics in English, a highly coveted class taught by elderly Mrs Quenell.

The one and only book that this class of five had to study for the semester was Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. This story of depression written by an author who committed suicide would have been the last choice for a group of vulnerable teenagers, yet Mrs Quenell had valid reasons for this unorthodox move. In addition, she hands out journals for her students to write in at least once a week. Through these journals, Jam finds herself enveloped in a whole new world where the untainted past is restored and she is reunited with Reeve once again, a world she calls Belzhar.

In her fascination and desperation to be with her first love, she filled the pages of her journal up fast until one day, only one page remained. Her last ticket to Belzhar forces Jam to confront hidden truths and ultimately decide what she was willing to sacrifice in order to reclaim her loss.

Meg Wolitzer’s Belzhar is an intelligent read about trauma, trust and the road to finding closure. Wolitzer is not only observant in writing about intense devotion among close-knit groups of kindred souls, but also imagines a world for young readers that celebrates the transcendent power of reading and writing.

Trina Chong (4U)

 

 

 

Book Review: The Boy In Striped Pyjamas

This book is about a boy named Bruno who is forced to move away from his enormous home in Berlin with his family into a smaller house with no places to explore. Besides having no one to play with except for his older sister, he’s surrounded by soldiers who are constantly in and out of his father’s office as well as other grown-ups who always seem unhappy. Bruno misses his friends, his grandparents, and Berlin itself and he does not understand what’s going on around him. He hates everything about his new house and is very lonely until he meets the boy ‘on the other side of the fence’.

This book about the Holocaust stands out because of the unusual perspective through the eyes of the 9-year-old boy who has no clue as to what is going on around him. This gives the readers a strong sense of foreboding, long before they know the extent of the terror surrounding Bruno’s world. Readers will be struck by the naivety of Bruno, and the extreme horrors of the Holocaust.

Readers will be able to relate quickly to Bruno, who is uprooted from his home and has to move to an obscure neighbourhood where he has no friends. Being lonely, annoyed by his sister and always ignored by adults, Bruno does not like living in this neighbourhood. He wants to go outside and explore and thus meets a boy ‘on the other side of the fence’ whom he can pay with.

I feel that this book vividly expresses the thoughts of Bruno. This book is suitable for all ages as it is written through the eyes of a young boy so everyone would be able to relate and understand his feelings about the holocaust. We often hear about war from the victim’s perspective. Thus, being able to hear it in the perspective of someone who was in a way part of the attacker’s side will make this book unique. This book is definitely one to remember.

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Giselle Cho (2 Faith)

 

The Time Keeper. A book by Mitch Albom.

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“A man sits alone in a cave.”

“His hair is long. His beard reaches his knees. He holds his chin in the cup of his hands. “

“He closes his eyes.”

“He is listening to something. Voices. Endless voices. They rise from a pool in the corner of the cave.”

“They are the voices of people on Earth.”

“They want one thing only.”

“Time.”

What is time?

“This is a story about the meaning of time and it begins long ago, at the dawn of man’s history, with a barefoot boy running up a hillside. Ahead of him is a barefoot girl. He is trying to catch her. This is often the way it is between girls and boys.”

Time, is often neglected in our lives. It is something that humans always take for granted. We spend our time like we have forever. But forever is only a thing that exists in fairy tales and myths and stories. Nothing lasts forever in this world. Not our lives, not our things, and surely not the day that is today. When today passes by, and the sun rises above the skylines, we start living in tomorrow. Today is only once a lifetime. Today is something we cannot bring back no matter how much we try.

Mitch Alboms book emphasizes the importance of time, and helps us appreciate the limited amount of time that is our life. The central character of this book is Dor, who in this fictional account invented the first clock. Dor is punished for trying to measure time by being banished to a cave for thousands of years. Dor becomes Father Time and has to listen to every person who laments about not having enough time. Eventually, in the present time, Dor has a chance to redeem himself and regain his freedom. He must help two totally different people understand the value of making wise use of time. One is a teenage girl named Sara Lemon.

I feel that this book is very beautiful in its way of expressing the thoughts and feelings of the author and characters. The book is written in a very unique way as each characters story is cut into parts. The beginning shows how each character is struggling in their efforts to make use of time. The thing that happens in one of the stories is surely something that we can relate to. Overall I feel that Time Keeper is a book worth investing in with its intricate and well thought of stories.

Hence, I recommend this book for anyone who is a big fan of literature. It is something that is definitely worth your time. Instead of wasting time, why not take the chance to read the book?

-Stephanie Guan (3U)

 

References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Time_Keeper