The Outsiders is a timeless story of growing up, of boys becoming men, of social divide and the crossing of boundaries. It’s a short book but perhapsThe Outsiders is a timeless story of growing up, of boys becoming men, of social divide and the crossing of boundaries. It’s a short book but perhaps because of that every word has a purpose.
Ponyboy is a Greaser like his two brothers Soda and Darry. Ponyboy’s the youngest of the group and he loves the cinema and reading. He’s a little softer than the other Greasers but he’d never admit it to them. The Greasers are rivals with the Socs. The Greasers are working class. The Socs are middle class rich kids. The Socs drive by the Greasers and when they find one on their own they beat them up real good – like they did with Ponyboy’s friend Johnny. There is a dangerous current brewing between the Socs and the Greasers and it won’t end well.
This is a story about brotherhood and friendship. It’s about being part of a loyal band of young men and how for some this is the only family they have. It’s also about the choice between being a villain or a hero. We’re not talking capes here. We’re talking about how you treat others, how you sacrifice yourself for someone else.
I feel like I’m trying to explain this book too much. It really isn’t complicated. It’s a story of how circumstances can run away with you and how suddenly life can be extinguished. It’s sad but it is also glorious because to have the loyalty of a band of brothers can help make a boy become a man.
I enjoyed The Outsiders so much. It’s as relevant now as it was when it was first published. Read it....more
Brewster is a raw coming-of-age story. Set in the late 1960s in the USA, it’s a story of growing up in a small town. It’s about boys becoming men, it’Brewster is a raw coming-of-age story. Set in the late 1960s in the USA, it’s a story of growing up in a small town. It’s about boys becoming men, it’s about finding your identity and it’s about the pain we live through. This is a hard review to write because this book is so good. It moved me. It kind of haunts me. It has a power all of its own.
Jon is the protagonist and he tells the story. I guess he’s looking back and recounting this time in his life. A time when his life felt anything but liberated. It’s a story of a friendship between two boys both with family troubles. Ray sees a quality in Jon which he recognises and though they never talk about it, they become friends. They walk the streets in winter. They sit by the lake in summer. Jon is recruited to join the track team. He runs. It lets him conquer pain. It gives him a purpose. Ray sits in the bleachers and watches. But periodically Ray disappears for days at a time. He comes back bruised with stories of illicit boxing matches and girls he fought tough guys over. And Jon expects nothing less of Ray. He’s the hard man. He’s dangerous and everyone at school knows it.
Jon tells the story retrospectively jumping around sometimes as he remembers different moments of those few years. I guess it doesn’t sound like much happens here. But it does as much as it can in a small town and in a country which is at war with Vietnam and it the midst of the summer of love.
I happen to read a review of Brewster in the Sunday Times Culture magazine and it stood out. I love coming-of-age stories and this one sounded right up me street. I wrote the name of the author and the title down. Then maybe two weeks later, I popped into the public library to collect something I’d reserved and I spotted it on the way out. It seemed serendipitous. I must have been meant to read this book.
It’s the sort of book you could read more than once. I need to get my own copy now because I know I’ll want to read it in years to come. It’s brutally emotive. There’s no doubt about it, this book will be a modern classic. Brewster is an outstanding piece of literature and above all, a moving story of the pain of growing up. Read it. ...more
The Last Runaway is a journey into the new world - a journey from 1850s England to America across the ocean. It’s about principles and freedom to actThe Last Runaway is a journey into the new world - a journey from 1850s England to America across the ocean. It’s about principles and freedom to act on those principles. This historical novel swept me away and I found myself picking it up at every opportunity. It was a pleasure to read.
When Honor’s sister Grace decides to emigrate to America to marry, Honor thinks that this is her chance for a new life too. Having been recently jilted and her betrothed expelled from the Quaker community, she feels embarrassed and self-conscious in her small community.
Honor and Grace take the long journey by boat to America but when they arrive their dream is far from coming true. Grace soon takes ill and Honor is left to make a new life for herself alone. She travels many miles across America to reach Ohio and there, she must find a way to begin again. Honor’s story was a touching and honest. She is constantly comparing life in America to her home back in England. Everything from the food to the way people speak. She has to learn to accept many differences and find a sense of belonging in this new frontier.
Not only was this story well told and well plotted. It was educational too. I felt I learnt a lot about Quakers. I didn’t really know anything about the religion before I read this book. I also learnt much about how the Quakers opposed slavery in the 1850s. I liked how the author explored the ways the different characters responded to the issue. Honor wants to help the slaves escape America and find their freedom in Canada. Other characters do the same. But her Quaker husband and his family are not so ready to help despite it being part of their beliefs that all men are equal in the eyes of God.
I can’t write this review without mentioning the patchwork quilts which Honor is so talented at making. I loved all the references to sewing and her particular skills. The way she collected little scraps of cloth from garments that had a meaning to her was really touching.
I read this book for our parent book group at school and I’m so glad I did. I would never have picked it up otherwise and I really enjoyed everything about it: the tone, the description, the exploration of beliefs and principles. The Last Runaway was an accessible, moving and enjoyable read. ...more
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky is a spy story. Secrets, betrayals, multiple identities, they’re all here. Marian Sutro is a young woman who is part EngThe Girl Who Fell from the Sky is a spy story. Secrets, betrayals, multiple identities, they’re all here. Marian Sutro is a young woman who is part English, part French and is recruited by a mysterious British secret service organisation for her skill in languages. Immediately Marian knows that she’ll sign herself over to them; she’s the sort of girl who enjoys risk.
I read this book very quickly and I did enjoy it. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Code Name Verity. The subject matter is incredibly similar. But that was a more literary take on spying than The Girl who Fell from the Sky which is more of an easier but less dramatic read.
Marian Sutro is an interesting character. She recognises that she has more than one identity and that she is essentially playing at being a spy. She takes on many different roles – she is a lover, comforter, daughter, sister, friend, and ultimately, she is a spy. She undergoes rigorous training in rugged Scotland and then she parachutes into France to complete the work she’s been prepped for. But nothing can really prepare her for the risks she’ll face.
Though this was easy to read, it is also easy to forget. There isn’t really anything new in this book. It doesn’t have a unique voice or anything that stands out to add to the subject matter. I’m not a particular fan of spy thrillers and I wouldn’t have read this if it wasn’t a book chosen for the staff book group.
I liked that fact that the ending was fitting of the story and of Marian. Overall, not a bad read but it certainly won’t stay with me....more
Crash Into You is the third book Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits series. Again, you could read this as a standalone novel, the story follows the evCrash Into You is the third book Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits series. Again, you could read this as a standalone novel, the story follows the events of the second book but as with the previous titles this story is told from two more characters’ viewpoints. This time we get to know Isaiah and Rachel. Their love story is told in alternating chapters and is full of emotion and high-octane action.
Isaiah is still reeling over Beth’s rejection at the beginning of this book but he has other challenges too. He and Noah are struggling to pay the rent on their appalling apartment and Isaiah is still not old enough to be living independently. He’s determined not to return to foster care, especially as it would mean crashing with Beth’s aunt. He refuses to face that level of humiliation. But he has another problem too. His mum has returned and she wants to see him. But he’s not ready for that and maybe he never will be.
Rachel is a new to us character. She’s the single girl in a family full of big brothers. She’s the weak link or at least that’s how everyone sees her. She’s living lie, pretending to be something she’s not. Her whole family want her to fulfil the role of Colleen who died of leukaemia. Rachel wants to please everybody but her own secret is slowly eating her from inside out. She has violent panic attacks and no one knows. Her salvation is her car which she drives to escape. The night she rebels and finds herself drag racing changes everything for her and for Isaiah. There’s a price on Rachel’s head and somehow they have to pay it.
This was a super read. In some ways it is less steamy than the other books in the series. It’s intense but that’s more through the nature of drag racing and driving at speed than it is the romance. Isaiah shows a gentle, soft side and Rachel has an innocent nature.
I really enjoyed getting to know some of the other characters in this book: Abby and Logan. I liked the way friendship developed between Rachel and Abby. I’m hoping Abby will get a book of her own. Her back story has the potential to be so interesting.
Overall, this was another fantastic contemporary romance from Katie McGarry. It had an explosive plot and a sweet romance. And of course it had all the emotion you come to expect from this series. After all, it’s not easy facing up to our parents’ flaws but its all part of growing up. Source: Bought and read on my Kobo ...more
I loved listening to this as an audio book on the way to work. It really made the journey enjoyable for a change. It was entertaining, funny and reallI loved listening to this as an audio book on the way to work. It really made the journey enjoyable for a change. It was entertaining, funny and really easy to follow. A perfect story to listen to - mind you it was more anecdotes than a plot but who cares! It was fantastic. The Yorkshire dales came to life....more
Review: Life After Life is a story of a life lived over and over. It’s about death, life, war and the choices we make.
This is a complicated story. TheReview: Life After Life is a story of a life lived over and over. It’s about death, life, war and the choices we make.
This is a complicated story. The main character is Ursula – a peculiar but intelligent girl. It’s really quite difficult to explain the plot. Ursula is born again and again in this book. She perhaps has a destiny to fulfil and each time she dies, she comes back the same but a little changed. She doesn’t really remember the lives that went before but she has inexplicable fears resulting from her many deaths. Each time she is born again, she finds a way to avoid that death but sooner or later comes yet again a cropper.
Born in 1910 over the course of the book, she’ll see the Great War, the Second World War. She’ll fall in love, or at least have lovers, she’ll experience motherhood and many losses.
I really found this book difficult to get into. In the first part Ursula dies so many times and in such quick succession that you don’t really get to know the characters. You meet her mother Sylvie, her sister Pamela, Bridget the maid, the doctor, her father Hugh. The list goes on and then, of course, it’s back to the drawing board, she dies, she’s born again. It was the sort of book that you never felt like picking up. But because I was reading it for the staff book group, I had to persist.
The middle part of the book was the most interesting but it was also rather grim. Ursula experiences domestic violence, rape, rejection, war. Talk about depressing. The final part of the book – well, I just didn’t get it. The whole thing was just completely unsatisfying. Ursula appeared to have a purpose throughout all her lives. I think she achieved it but I still don’t quite know. The ambiguity is not a good thing for such a complicated book.
The wartime setting was vividly described and this was what made the middle part interesting. The author was particularly good at bringing to life the many ways that people died in the war. She held nothing back. Now I think about it. I think this book is rather brutal but perhaps that it is only right for a book exploring the horror of war and persecution. The other enjoyable aspect of the book was Ursula’s family and their foibles.
Overall, I think Life After Life required rather a lot from the reader. It required patience, considerable concentration and perseverance. For me, there just wasn’t enough reward in the story for the effort that had to go into the reading. This book is definitely for people who enjoy detail and non-linear storylines. So in essence – not me!