November 25

‘Tall Story’ by Candy Gourlay

Tallstory“What you want isn’t always what you get. Even when your wishes come true.”

Gather together in the blistering hot country of the Philippines and the freezing cold city of London, as you follow Bernardo, an eight-foot tall boy with size 22 feet. He dreams of leaving his Filipino village San Andres and heading to London for the first time to join in with his mother’s, half-sister’s, and step-father’s lives. Though how can he leave his village when the townspeople believe that he is the power that is keeping the earthquakes away from destroying San Andres? How will he fit into his new life and the lives of others in London? Will San Andres be destroyed if Bernardo leaves? All of these griping and thrilling questions, and many others, are answered within this book ‘Tall Story’.

This book surprised and surpassed my expectations and assumptions. I believed that this book was a little too easy and uninteresting for my entertainment. I was terribly wrong. Although the language level of the book is designed for younger readers who have just begun reading novels, I was actually really intrigued and entertained by the storyline and the main characters, to the point of finding it hard to put the book down because I just wanted to know how everything was going to work out. The fact that the book, the storyline, the characters, and the settings are highly engaging, realistic, convincing, suspenseful, and emotional, this is really what makes it such a great book for readers to enjoy and be entertained. The characters and their journeys are also really easy to become involved with and connected to, even from the start. Overall, ‘Tall Story’ is just a great read for people to enjoy and be a part of for the journey of the entire book.

I recommend this book to children between the ages of 8 and 12 who are interested in taking a heart-filled adventure about a young boy’s life. Readers will enjoy this book if they like books that are full of emotions, intriguing characters, and descriptive settings. This book is a little bit of an easier read, though it’s still interesting and suspenseful enough to keep readers entertained. I’d rate this book ‘Tall Story’ 3½ out of 5 stars.

Zachary Q. Year 9


‘The bigger they are the harder they fall.’

This story is set in a busy city in England and a small village in the Philippines. Both places differ from each other by a lot so it is almost assured that the reader is in for quite a ride.

The two main characters are almost complete opposites at first glance, but as the story goes on their connections start to shine. Andi has grown up in England and since she was a little girl she has had the ambition to play professional basketball. Bernardo is a giant 8ft boy, a legend in his village. The only relation they have in common is their mother.

The story explains the journey from the perspectives of both Andi and Bernardo as they have to deal with the many emotions of life as Bernardo moves to England, dealing with his monstrous height.

I loved this story because of its drama and short bits of humour and the fact that I can relate to the story such as the mothers actions and reactions as I am Filipino myself and my mum is exactly like her. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone because this is no comic book or detailed novel. It is a story which should be shared with everyone.

Wilfredo Jr V, Year 9

June 23

‘My Life as an Alphabet’ by Barry Jonsberg

mylifeasanalphabet‘This isn’t just about me.’

Candice Phee is an hilariously honest and a bit weird twelve year old girl. After the death of her newborn baby sister, Sky, her mother becomes depressed and stays locked in her room for hours non-stop. Her father and Uncle aren’t on speaking terms anymore. Mainly Candice lives a tough life. Can she get her family back together again? Can her Uncle and father talk to each other again? Can Candice make her mum happy again?

At school Candice is given an English assignment. She has to write about something that has happened in her life. The assignment involves writing one paragraph for each letter of the alphabet. But one paragraph isn’t enough to tell her teacher about her life, therefore she decides to write multiple paragraphs for each letter, e.g. ‘A is for Assignment’.

Follow the crazy life of Candice Phee in the novel ‘My life as an Alphabet’ by Barry Jonsberg, a true, heart-filled story. I enjoyed this novel in many ways, like what would the characters do next and whether Candice’s parents could be happy again. It was very interesting how Candice made her parents happy again. The story reminded me that people do go though things like this; everyone doesn’t have a perfect life and family, also people do suffer from depression.

I would recommend this novel for the ages between 11 and 15, who like to read true and humorous stories. When reading this novel young adults would get a full insight into real life problems that other teenagers would be experiencing. This novel keeps you hooked throughout the story with its humour and mysteries that some characters find (you eventually find them out). ‘My Life as an Alphabet’ is truly a great read; therefore I give this novel a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

Erin S, Year 8  


You could be around a person your entire life, but that doesn’t mean you know them. My Life As An Alphabet is a novel that reflects a teenage girl’s life through school and relates to the dreams and doubts that happen while growing up, discovering who she is as well as who she wants to be. The novel by Barry Jonsberg reflects all these qualities in the home and suburb of an out of the ordinary girl named Candice Phee and her life explained ‘as an alphabet’.

Candice is not really an ‘alphabet’ but she uses the alphabet as a prop to explain what has happened to her for an English assignment. During her time writing the assignment, Candice goes through her past and the tragedy that happened to her sister as well as the family tension that was created without her. At every letter of the alphabet she goes through her life and explains her feelings and weird ways she understands everything she does while writing her essay.

The character’s personality was portrayed really well in this book and the small funny things that happen once in a while throughout this novel were my favourite parts of reading this book. It had good jokes and new comedic challenges that await Candice, her family and Douglas Benson from another dimension, which in the end bring them closer, with Candice learning from her mistakes as well as others.

I rate this book four stars. It made me laugh, cry and just smile when I was reading small paragraphs in my small space of spare time. This novel made me want to read it every chance I got and once reading I couldn’t stop because of how addictive it was. The book was true to teenagers and heartfelt as well as funny in the most part.

If you thought this book was a good book to read then I would think ‘The Fault in our Stars’ or ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ would be another excellent choice to read.

By Angelique, Year 8


‘This isn’t just about me. It’s also about the other people in my life – my mother, my father, my dead sister Sky, my penpal Denille, Rich Uncle Brian, Earth-Pig Fish and Douglas Benson From Another Dimension. These are people [with the exception of Earth-Pig Fish, who is a fish] who have shaped me, made me what I am. I cannot recount my life without recounting elements of theirs. This is a big task, but I am confident I am up to it.’

Candice Phee is a twelve year old girl from the sunny town of Albright. Her life might seem like a piece of cake on the outside but really it’s not. Her baby sister Sky died years ago, her mum is depressed, her dad is angry at his brother and won’t talk to him and her best and only friend believes he’s from another dimension.

One day at school Candice is given an assignment by her English teacher. It has to be 26 paragraphs long and each paragraph has to start with the next letter of the alphabet. She then decides to write multiple paragraphs instead of one for each letter so that she can recount her whole life during this assignment.

I loved ‘My Life As An Alphabet’ because it shows a girl’s experiences as she tries to cope with guilt, depression and family issues while trying to fix everyone else’s problems at the same time. While this book could be sad at times it also was quite touching and humorous. It reminded me that nobody’s life is perfect and that everyone has their own problems. I would recommend this book to both boys and girls of ages 12 and up because this book is based on a 12 year old girl’s everyday life.

Georgia O, Year 8.

November 20

‘Amaryllis’ By Craig Crist-Evans

Amaryllis‘Dear Mr and Mrs Staples, your son, Frank, did not return from a mission in Southeast Asia and is presumed Missing In Action.’ (Quote from the Book Amaryllis).

Amaryllis is the story of the Staples family, specifically the bond shared between Frank and Jimmy. It is set during the Vietnam War, and it is told from the point of view of Jimmy, Frank’s younger brother.

Frank leaves home in events preceding the book. Although Jimmy is disappointed at Frank’s departure, he understands why Frank did what he did. Frank had had problems with his father since a young age, and once he had his 18th birthday, his father was too much for him to live with, so he surprisingly joined the army to ‘escape’ from his life in California. Frank is then shipped off to Vietnam, to take part in a war that he doesn’t believe in.

Throughout this book, the strong bond that Jimmy and Frank share is very prominent, especially in the letters they sent each other after Frank left home. Jimmy misses Frank greatly, as when he was back home they spent a lot of time together, especially surfing, Without Frank at home, Jimmy feels burdened with having to deal with his father all by himself.

Frank and Jimmy were always the best of mates growing up together, but due to their father’s behaviour Frank is driven out of the home he grew up in. Once he leaves home, He and Frank keep in touch through letters, and these letters depict what Frank is going through in Vietnam. These letters from Frank often are not positive, and quite often he tells Frank of the horrors of war, or the drug problem he is suffering from.

“I remembered how the salt water dried in my hair, how the wet suit felt like a second skin against my body. I remembered everything Jimmy, but all I could think about was the smack in my pocket.”

Whilst all of this is going on in Vietnam, Jimmy is also struggling to deal with life with his alcoholic father back in California.

This book was such an interesting read for me because throughout the entire book I was drawn in to Frank’s depiction of the war. Throughout the book I felt enthralled by the letters, and it encouraged me to keep reading to find out what would happen to Frank.

I would recommend this book to any teenager, as it has some coarse language and drug references, but it appeals to those of that age when reading about the struggles of Jimmy, of whatever type they may be.

By Daniel D., Year 9

November 17

‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days’ by Jeff Kinney

diary-of-a-wimpy-kid-dog-days-dvd-cover-40On the off chance that you’ve never read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days, it’s about Greg Heffley, a middle school kid who is always being tormented by his more seasoned sibling Rodrick and his younger sibling Manny, who annoys him and escapes with it. His companion, closest companion Rowley, is an unusual child, however he appears to dependably get it right with the girls while Greg is horrible with them. Greg endeavors to wind up acclaimed, however he is always a disappointment.

Does this sound like a book you would enjoy reading and will it keep you reading for the duration of the day and night? Assuming this is the case “Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog days” is the book for you.

When Greg and Rowley go to Rowley’s country club, they bring a girl friend, Trista, along, yet she begins communicating with some lifeguard and simply overlooks Greg and Rowley who were the ones that took her there. It was one unfortunate day, it was. Rowley’s father appears at Greg’s home and expects that Greg will pay for all the smoothies he’s requested at the country club. Greg and Rowley begin a grass cutting business to attempt to earn cash to pay off Rowley’s father. A client shows up and says Greg provided for her with an awful quality yard cutting. At that point his father comes and completes the employment for him, however the woman still has a bad take on Greg’s reputation.

All these grievous occasions and more made him have the need to stay home for whatever remains of the summer as all that he arranges goes totally pear-shaped.

In this book I adore the characters Greg, Manny and Rodrick because they single out Greg and attempt to mix things up, and he figures out how to transform it into an huge show. It makes the book more successful. Greg’s guardians are careful, because they don’t know what Greg’s brothers will be up to next. Rowley is a painful character, as everything needs to go his direction.

I found this book very amusing and an incredible page-turner. Before you turn the following page in the book you know Greg’s going to have a terrible accident, in the same way as when Rodrick deceives him into hopping off the high stage into the swimming pool. The style of writing relates well to teens because it provides a view of teen life.

If you like a courageous, humorous tale around a truly dorky young person and his disastrous life, go read this book.

Po-Jen, Year 9

November 17

‘Family Secrets’ by Brian Keaney

familysecretsImagine that you had to fly to Ireland and leave everything you know behind to visit someone in the hospital that you don’t even know! What would you have said?

This is a situation for 14 year-old Kate, an only child. Kate’s mother owns a café underneath were they live. Kate will meet her mother’s half of the family, and find out about her father and the secrets her mother has been keeping from her. So when Anne gets a letter to say that Kate’s grandmother, who her mother never talks about, is very ill, Kate’s mother decides to go to Ireland to look after her grandmother.

I would recommend this book for girls from the age of 12-16, because it has some mystery to find out about Kate’s family and it makes you think about what will happen as you read into the book. Emilee P. Year 9


 Imagine that you need to travel to a foreign country where you find that you need to see a family relative that you don’t know or have never meet before. Kate and her mother decide to do just that and travel to Ireland to see Kate’s grandmother. When they arrive at their destination, Anne and Kate walk to her friend’s place. The next day they both go to the hospital to see Kate’s grandmother.  Kate starts to unravel the past of her mother and what she has been hiding all these years.

Kate learns more about her mother than she ever knew about and her and Anne’s relationship begins to grow. They begin to have more trust in each other and enjoy each other’s company.

The book teaches you about friendship, commitment and trust.  I would recommend this book to 12 years and older as it reflects towards particular life experiences for this age group.

Stephanie, Year 9

November 14

‘Tall Story’ by Candy Gourlay

TallstoryMeet Bernardo, an eight foot tall guy who is only 13. Moving from the Philippines and trying to fit in with his new school, Bernardo is only stopped from making any friends at his school by one thing: his height. Bernardo for the first couple of chapters deals with discrimination due to his significant height for a thirteen year old boy.

The story is set in London. Bernardo moved from the Philippines to London for some unexplained reason the book never explains why but it is assumed that he is going there for schooling reasons, as we learn more about the main character Bernardo, his parents and his family. Bernardo tries very hard to fit in with the rest of his peers, Bernardo is not completely alone however he does eventually have some friends later  in the story. I could go more into detail about that but it would dive into spoiler territory.

The writing in the book is mostly superb. The author definitely knows how to write characters and give them some emotion and feeling. Earlier I said that the novel has ‘mostly’ superb writing. Why say mostly? Well that is because the book has some very particular moments where the writing had a slight bit of awkwardness feel to it and generally it is one of the book’s worst aspects. But in other areas as mentioned earlier the writing is superb. Also another issue that I would like to bring up is that during the first half of the book the story goes absolutely nowhere, because the book focuses way too much on the back story and sometimes that could get a little bit annoying. There are better ways to bring character development into a story without making it feel so forced.

I really recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a light-hearted story and doesn’t mind that almost half the book is back story and don’t mind that sort of character development. This story would be great for any young teenager and adult to read. I’d rate the book “Tall Story’s” a 3.5 out of 5 stars. Jack H, Grade 9

November 14

‘Fighting Ruben Wolfe’ by Markus Zusak

fighting ruben wolfeMeet the Wolfe Brothers. Their family struggles financially but the two brothers work through the tough times and help each other with their favorite hobby, ‘Boxing’. Their hard work and persistence pays off when they become boxing champions.

If you enjoy reading about people who step up and keep pushing when the odds are against them, then this is the book for you.

This is the story of Cameron and Ruben Wolfe, two brothers from a working class family. The two brothers have a friend that is being bullied at school and Ruben finally steps up and teaches the bully a lesson. Initially to make some money, the boys hook up with a fight promoter who sees something saleable and crowd-pleasing in the untrained brothers. It’s no fake WWE wrestling that the Wolfe brothers are drawn into. It’s real boxing, with real pain and real consequences. The brothers soon find that they are fighting for more than tips and pay off money. It soon becomes a fight for identity, dignity and for each other.

I really admired how Markus Zusak wrote this book. There were always twists and turn in the book so it kept my full attention. I could imagine the scenes in my head, and I felt like I was involved in the book myself. My mum had to keep reminding me to do my other subject homework rather than just read this book. The attitude of the two brothers was outstanding, I just couldn’t believe how positive the two Wolfe brothers were during such difficult times. I would recommend this book to teenagers who like adventure books because it is a journey for the brothers. It was a great read and I will definitely read more books by Markus Zusak.

Mak, Year 9


 “Every dog has its day.”

Do you like exciting, action-packed books that make you forget about the world, and put you in a different place? Would you consider boxing if it meant happiness, financial wise, for your family? There are two boys in this book, Cameron and Ruben Wolfe, who are adventurous brothers who find it difficult to support their family without enough money. Their dad can’t find a job after getting hurt at work, their mum is the one who earns the income in the family. Their big sister is always getting hung over. Their big brother is successful and has a productive job, a girlfriend but now is living on his own.  They decide to make money by fighting in the boxing ring day in, day out. They decided one day that they would challenge each other, step in the boxing ring and fight. A person’s feelings mean more than anything to them than fame and fortune does.

Even though it takes a while to really get into the book and to enjoy it and be interested, it becomes worth it because of the generous amount of adventure that is given in the end. I would recommend this book to 10 to 15 year old boys that enjoy being inside and reading about adventure rather than dreaming about being in the book. “Fighting Ruben Wolfe” will relate to teenagers who have siblings that they fight with because they may not always get along, but still always love each other almost like best friend after, like Cameron and Ruben Wolfe. I would rate this book a 2 out of 5 stars. This is because I wouldn’t usually read this type of books and would rather not read these types of books.

 Mikayla, Year 9

November 13

‘When Dogs Cry’ by Markus Zusak

When dogs cry“You’re quite of a lonely bastard aren’t you Cameron,” Rube said.

The name of this book is ‘When Dogs Cry’ and it is written by Markus Zusak.

Are you tired of people not acknowledging you? If you are, then you should read ‘When Dogs Cry’. It is about how a boy, Cameron Wolfe, doesn’t get noticed by anyone and his older brother Rube Wolfe gets all the girls but he doesn’t treat them with the respect that they should have. But then Cameron meets a girl named Octavia. His brother Rube goes out with her, but of course he discards her like the rest of his girlfriends. When Cameron finds out that Octavia likes him, he doesn’t believe it. He couldn’t put the pieces together why Octavia would like him.

This book isn’t like every love story. It has a twist in it, which is that the girl falls for the boy not the boy falls for the girl. I would recommend this novel for people who like a romantic read.

Kamii.M., Year 9

November 28

‘All I Ever Wanted’ by Vikki Wakefield

All I ever wanted       If you like romance, a little bit of humor and if you have a soft spot then you will definitely love this book.

The story is set in a small town in a very rough neighborhood, where family businesses are drug dealing and loan sharking. All the neighbors are either very strange or very terrifying and they don’t all get along. Mim is a young girl who lives in this neighborhood and dreams of a different life – a life where she is far away from where she lives now. She has always dreamed of a better life and she clings on to the idea of leaving where she is now and going off somewhere else nicer and better. She sets some strict rules for herself and she is determined that if she follows these rules she might be able to leave her life and not turn out like her mother.

But Mim struggles to follow these rules because of her mother and some of the things her mother does. She struggles and when they are broken her life changes forever.

I did enjoy the book but I didn’t. I enjoyed the characters but I did not enjoy the plot of the story. The characters were really realistic to teenagers in today’s society but the plot didn’t grab my attention. It seemed a little bit boring at the start of the book and I was waiting for something to happen and something did happen but I wasn’t thrilled or shocked, I was a little disappointed. I would have to recommend this book to teenagers around the age of 14 – 16 or 17-year-old girls, which is about the age Mim is, and it relates to those ages in today’s society.

Ashley, Year 9

November 13

‘You Against Me’ by Jenny Downham

You against me      ‘Love’… it’s weird. You wouldn’t think that you could find that word associated with ‘rape’, would you? Neither did Mikey Mackenzie. He went looking for trouble, but instead… he found love.
‘You against Me’ by Jenny Downham is set in Britain. It is a very well written book with lots of issues that relate to teens and young adults. This book would appeal to the age group of 14-17 years; readers who like a bit of romance and mystery.
Mikey Mackenzie is a teenage boy who works at a pub, has a dream of becoming a chef and plays around with girls when he feels like it. When he meets Ellie, it all changes. She is in charge and Mikey likes it. Mikey falls head over heals for Ellie, a simple girl going to school who has never done any wrong … until now. Karyn sits up in her room, covered in doonas 24/7, why? Because Tom has been accused of sexually assaulting her. To make matters worse, Karyn and Mikey are brother and sister, just as Ellie and Tom are. It makes it harder for Mikey and Ellie to find time to be together, if they don’t get caught out first. Ellie’s mum is on both sides but her Dad is determined to keep Tom out of jail even if that means disowning his own daughter. What if their families find out? What will they do? Do they love each other enough to find a way? All hell breaks loose when things get too much for Mikey and Ellie.

I really liked ‘You against me’ as the writing style is very captivating. It draws you in from the start and makes a love story in your head. It keeps you wondering what will happen from start to finish. ‘You against me’ is a book full of mystery, surprises, loyalty and decisions but most of all it is a book about love.
Tayla C, Year 9


      Rape. How would you feel if your sister came and told you she had been raped? What would you do to try and protect her? The thing you would want to do is find the person who molested her, right?

     How would you feel if your brother was accused for that rape? If he had to be on watch 24/7, not being able to live like a free man?

      This is the story told in ‘You Against Me’ by Jenny Downham. This book is set in Britain and was very well written with a lot of relevance to the teenage world. This novel would appeal to 13-18 year olds mostly because of the maturity in the book. This is a story full of love, mystery and confusion.  Kayrn McKenzie, Mikey McKenzie, Tom Parker and Ellie Parker are all a part of a love rollercoaster. Kayrn locks herself in her room and covers herself in blankets 24/7 because of the rape that Tom Parker was accused for. Ellie is an innocent teenage schoolgirl and Mikey is a normal teenage boy who works in a pub but when Mikey meets Ellie he instantly falls for her, creating chaos. Ellie and Tom are siblings and so are Mikey and Kayrn, making it harder for Ellie and Mickey’s love to become more real. Being in love with the sister of the person who molested your sister wouldn’t be easy. Will their families find out about this love? What will happen if they do? What would happen if Tom or even Karyn figure out the chemistry between Mikey and Ellie? Will they be able to keep their love a forbidden secret?  Will it all go downhill when someone finds out? Or will it all be too much for them to handle?

      I thoroughly enjoyed ‘You Against Me’ as it fully captures the writing style of heart and mind. The story’s plot captures your full attention, keeping it throughout the whole book and keeps your mind open to any new surprises. It is the type of story that you could read for hours. It makes you want the book to never end. It will intrigue you and make you forget about the real world. It makes you wonder whether it will finish as well as it started? If this sounds like something you would want to read, ‘You Against Me’ is the book for you.

      Ruby F, Year 9


What would you do if your sister was sexually assaulted? Would you get revenge? What if you were the victim? Would you leave your house? What if your brother was accused of rape? Would you, along with the rest of your family, stand by him?

Mikey McKenzie is an 18-year-old who is desperately trying to keep his family together. With his father being out of the picture and his mother a drunk, it is up to him to bring in the money, step up and be the man of the house. When his younger sister, Karyn, claims that Tom Parker raped her, he wants to seek revenge.

Ellie Parker is a 15-year-old girl, and when her older brother is accused of the crime, she tries her best to make sure that he doesn’t go to jail and that her family stays intact. Mickey and Ellie should despise each other, after all they are the reason both their families are falling apart. However, this turns out to be the story of how Mikey and Ellie eventually fall in love.

In the novel ‘You Against Me’, Jenny Downham highlights some of the crimes prevalent in modern society. Downham shows that the crime not only affects the victim and the person that is accused, but it also affects the families and friends involved.

In this book, I enjoyed the two different stories that were told and their different points of view on this situation. For Mikey, it was trying to keep his family together, and having to accept that he could not do anything but wait for the court to make their decision. For Ellie, she is trying to wrap her head around the idea that her brother could be a rapist, and she must decide whether to go with what she believes is the truth, or what her family is pushing her to do, so that her family will stay together.

I believe that this novel is very well written, and if you are a female between the ages of 13 – 17 you will enjoy this book. The novel relates to issues in today’s society, whether the issues are falling in love with somebody you’re denied the chance to be with or being sexually assaulted. If you have read and enjoyed ‘Just Listen’ by Sarah Dessen, then you will enjoy this novel. 

Sarah, Year 9



      You Against Me is a story that would be interesting for teens. It is about a girl named Karyn who decided to go to a party, where she becomes a victim of rape. Her brother Mikey has to be responsible and get Tom back for raping his sister Karyn. But on the way to help his sister Karyn, Mikey starts to fall in love with Tom’s sister Ellie, who is the only one who knows what really happened to Karyn…

      Jenny Downham wrote a great novel, but this is one story that is both a mystery and romantic; a crime novel with love added into it. All the families in this story are affected because they can’t believe everything that happened with the rape. Imagine that you are trying to find the person who raped your sister, but then in the middle of this crime scene you find love yourself.    

       You would think because “You Against Me” is a crime novel that you would never think of love or romance, wouldn’t you? Mikey and Ellie are very much alike because they both have their own difficulties and yet they both still find love in the weirdest way, through a crime. When Mikey and Ellie are together it’s as though Jenny Downham has brought real love to every person. This is one of the things that made Jenny’s writing great: it sounds like a real life relationship that will never end. In Mikey and Ellie’s lives there are many dramas but, no matter what happens between them, nothing will stop them being together. Jenny Downham made the couple seem alive and vibrant so that the story comes to life and that is what I think makes a great novel. This book is a good book. This is why I would have to rate it a 4 out of 5 stars.

      Melly Year 9.


November 8

‘Six Impossible Things’ by Fiona Wood


      Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood is an extraordinary novel about adolescent issues. Dan Cereill is a 14-year-old boy whose Dad announced that he is gay and walks out, and from then on everything just gets worse. Would you consider reading this interesting book but beware… once you start, you won’t stop!!

     The book is set mainly at Dan’s house and at his new school. After his dad left, Dan and his mother were forced to move due to the bank repossessing their house. Dan left his private school and they moved to their recently passed auntie’s house.

     Here at the new suburb, Dan moves to a state school where he meets the girl of his dreams. Her name is Estelle, and coincidentally she lives next door to him. His mother’s wedding cake business is failing but for now, Dan has just narrowed his messed-up life down to six impossible things…







     I enjoyed the book but at some stages I found it a bit weird/disturbing. The reason for this is because of a few cases of stalking. At one stage of the book Estelle slept in Dan’s bed without him knowing and Dan snuck into her attic and read her diaries.

     Fiona Wood said that ‘Six Impossible Things’ would make you smile and cheer for the underdog. Dan Cereill coped with life well. Considering the changes he has made, it makes it impossible not to be interested and continue reading. I recommend this book to people aged 12-20; this book is suitable for readers who enjoy books about life-changing experiences and some romance. I would rate ‘Six Impossible Things’ 3.5 stars out of 5.

Samson B, Year 9.


There’s this girl I know. I know her by heart. I know her in every way but one: actuality. Her name is Estelle. I yearn for her. ” (Six Impossible Things, p.1)


      ‘Six Impossible Things’ is set around the life of a 14-year-old boy, Dan Cereill, as he starts a new life with new friends at a new school. The book tells how Dan has to complete a list of six somewhat impossible challenges, some of which include Dan kissing Estelle, a girl he has never meet before, trying not to be a complete nerd/loser and trying to talk to his father the next time he calls.

      Dan Cereill is a nerdy 14-year-old boy who lived a normal life until his parents go bankrupt, the bank sells everything this family owns and to put the cherry on top his dad anounces he is gay and leaves. Dan also has to cope with moving into his Great Aunt Adelaide’s house, which wouldn’t be a bad thing if it didn’t smell of animal urine and looked like an old museum. Estelle is the girl next door who Dan falls in love with without meeting her. Throughout this book, Dan and Estelle go on an emotional rollercoaster ride where Dan does something to gain her trust and later on loses it. Estelle somehow finds a way to do things her parents don’t allow her to do, some of which involve a large tree.

      I enjoyed reading this book because all the different characters made it an interesting read, especially Dan and Estelle, even though they are two different people from two very different worlds, Dan is a nerdy underdog who falls head over heels for Estelle, the beautiful and popular one that every girl wants to be and every guy wants to win.

      I would rate this book a 4/5 because even though it was exciting, thrilling and romantic it had some chapters that made you ask yourself what the author was thinking. I would recommend this book to girls aged 14-18 because girls around this age would be able to relate to Estelle as she and Dan go through this romantic journey.

       Ashley G, Year 9

November 7

‘Tall Story’ by Candy Gourlay

Tallstory              “Call me the second he keeps growing,” said Bernardo’s Mum with a worried face.

      Meet Bernardo, a regular man with one unusual difference, a tumor on the gland that regulates his growth. Bernardo lives in San Andres, with his Uncle and Aunty and his mother lives in the Philippines. This book involves family, sports and travel and if you like that, then you’ll like this book. This book includes many positive aspects but also has a few negatives. Whilst Bernardo is having his own ‘growing’ problems, one of the weaknesses is that the book can sometimes become confusing because the chapters are always changing from one family member to another. Apart from this, this book is an easy read and really intriguing.

       The story is set in two different countries, one being the Philippines where Bernardo and his auntie and uncle live and the other country being the United States, namely San Andreas, where Andi and Bernardo’s mother lives.

      Without giving too much away, the story is about a young teenage boy who cannot stop growing. That is not the only problem though. The community that Bernardo is a part of relies on him to stop earthquakes in their village. In the U.S. is Andi, Bernardo’s half sister who lives with her mother and step-father. They move houses and Andi joins a new school. She goes to try out for the school basketball but realises that it is an all boys team and she is not allowed to join. Bernardo then moves to San Andreas and gets along with Andi quite well through his humor and quirkiness.

       This is a very likeable book because it has all the characters and routines of an everyday family but at the same time still has some not so normal aspects. This book would be a great read for a male aged about 13 years old who enjoys sports and travel. I rate this book a 6 out of 10.

Molly, Year 9        


October 23

‘Skin’ by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

 Skin    “You don’t have to be thin to feel small”.

      Donnie is a regular thirteen-year-old boy; apart from the fact that his sister, Karen is withering away into nothing and the pressures of his sister’s illness are crushing his parents’ marriage. A typical teenage trouble story, except not so typical.

     As Karen slips into the abyss of the anorexia that could claim her life at any moment, Donnie starts to feel more alone then ever. His parents don’t see him anymore; they only see Karen and Donnie starts to feel like he is walking on this Earth for no particular reason. He starts to feel like he is worth nothing and that no one will really miss him if he leaves. However, things starts looking up for Donnie when he meets some of the best friends he will probably ever have: Sheila and Rodney. Unfortunately, Donnie can’t appreciate their friendship while his sister is about to snap.

     The story is very engaging and keeps you on your toes, not knowing what will happen next. However, by reading the book, you begin to understand Donnie and think up advice for him, spending almost all of the time in his thoughts. You want to help him solve his problems as a friend would.

     The storyline is quite difficult to follow in the beginning, where the author changes the time setting quite frequently, but as the plot progresses it becomes a very effective and unique way to lay out the story. Donnie continues to struggle along and tries to pick up the pieces of his somewhat broken life and begins to realise there is not much he can do to help his sister – she is the only one who can help that.

     If you have previously enjoyed teenage drama novels you will most definitely take something meaningful away from this book. Personally, I believe it is a story that all teenage girls should read. Skin, four and a half stars.

Anna. A, Year 9.


She was dying to be thin. He was struggling to survive.

The novel Skin written by Adrienne Maria Vrettos is a story about a family that is afflicted with many problems: health, relationships and even in this case, life.

     Karen, a 16-year-old girl, has an eating disorder because she has been verbally bullied at school, being called fat. Donnie, her younger brother, who isn’t very popular at school, is struggling with the situation that Karen is in. Donnie and Karen’s parents are also struggling with not only keeping their relationship alive but also they are worrying that both their children are slowly slipping away. Can their family survive? Can Karen start eating again? Can Donnie find his true self again?

     Since the day at school where Karen was called ‘fat’, everything changed. She did anything to be thin. Every day Karen just fell apart more and more, and every day she ate less and less. She was dying not only mentally but also physically and no one could do anything about it. Donnie was really struggling with Karen’s illness. He was not only losing his big sister; he was also losing himself. He tried to do the only thing that he knew he could do and that was to try to fix things, but in the end he tried so hard to help Karen that she started to push him away. Then Donnie couldn’t even help himself. Karen got worse; she made several trips to the hospital and each day she got thinner and thinner.

     I really liked the book Skin because it relates to teenagers these days and it’s a very interesting and enjoyable read. It’s a book that once you start reading you don’t want to stop because you want to find out what’s going to happen to Karen. Skin really gets you thinking about how to treat people and it leaves us with the thought that one little word can affect somebody’s life in so many different ways. It doesn’t just affect the one person — it affects their whole family. Skin is probably most relevant to the ages of 13-19 as they are the ages when some girls or boys go through anorexia or mental illness. It’s so easy to read and I think that people should read it as it relates to quite a few people and perhaps people might learn a lesson and watch what they say. Karleigh, Year 9.


     “She was dying to be thin, he was struggling to survive”.

     Do you desire reading a book that will twist your emotions, a book that will continue to have a twist around every corner? Then it is highly recommended that “Skin” by Maria Vrettos is the book for you!

     Young 16 year old Karen had the burden of needing to feel thin, with many people telling her that she was “fat” and out of place. The novel is told from the perspective of her younger brother, Donnie. Donnie and Karen had their ups and downs in their brother and sister relationship. The tragic event of Karen’s anorexia, and the state that Donnie finds her insends Donnie into shock and takes the reader on a journey through his imagination and memories of him and his big sister.

     I enjoyed the book “Skin” by Maria Vrettos because it relates to today’s society and there is so much intensity with problems occurring throughout the book. The reader is always kept excited and the tension grows as the chapters go on. This book will keep you wanting to continue reading and never stop. With its twists and turns, “Skin” is definitely one book that will be enjoyed greatly.

     It is recommended that the book “Skin” by Maria Vrettos would be enjoyed by all readers but in particular teenagers, both boys and girls, as anorexia and self doubt are extremely common to12-19 year old girls such as Karen. These are the age groups that are told they need to fit in and these are the age groups that feel they need to be perfect to fit in. Although 12-19 would be a great age group, any ages would enjoy this edgy, traumatic and emotional true experience of the lives of two young brothers and sisters.

Ashley, Year 9

June 7

‘Six Impossible Things’ by Fiona Wood

Six impossible things“There’s this girl I know. I know her by heart. I know her in every way but one: actuality. Her name is Estelle. I yearn for her. ” – Fiona Wood.

The book is set in Melbourne, Australia, mainly at Dan’s school. This story is about a young man named Dan Cereill. His dad announces to him and his mother that he is gay and is deciding to move out of the house, and then they find out that his mother’s wedding cake business is going nowhere but downhill and eventually out of business. Then, to make matters worse, his great Aunt Adelaide passes. Lucky for him and his mother, in Adelaide’s will she leaves Dan and his mother her giant mansion and her dog, Howard. There is also a girl named Estelle in this story, who is the girl of Dan’s dreams. He has never seen her, talked to her, or met her, but somehow he knows she exists and has a huge crush on her.


I liked this book because I can relate to it, it’s interesting and overall a great book. I enjoyed this book a lot because it is very descriptive, which helps paint a picture in my head about what is really happening throughout the story, and it helps me to imagine the situation in my mind. I also liked the storyline of this book and the way it progressed, because it kept me engaged the whole time and I could barely put the book down for anything.


I would recommend this story to both boys and girls from about ages 10+ and I believe that anyone would love this book, especially those who enjoy reading teen novels. I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Millie L., Year 8


Dan Cereill, normal boy who goes to a normal school? Right? Wrong. Dan is the complete opposite of normal with a crazy life.


Dan’s life was turned upside down when his Dad announced that he was gay, broke and would be moving out. This left Dan and his Mum with no food, no money and no life. All they had was a dead aunt’s old house and her dog Howard.


Dan Cereill had to live in a new town, with a new school and no job. This involved Dan meeting new people, going through new school hell and finding a successful job for both of them to kick-start their lives again.


The only thing getting Dan through this crisis is the girl next door, Estelle. Dan fell in love with her the first time he saw her and it just so happens that they are in the same class. Lucky or not?


Dan wrote a list of six impossible things that could happen in his life in his diary.


The list includes:


1.     Kiss Estelle

2.     Get a job

3.     Cheer my mother up

4.     Try not to be a complete loser at school

5.     Talk to my Dad when he calls

6.     Figure out how to be good.                                Fiona Wood


I loved this book from the very start. Fiona Wood described the setting and the characters so well, which made it easier to understand the book and to picture what the characters look like. I loved it because it could be someone’s life and it has a large amount of events in it which are relevant in today’s world.


I would recommend this book for 13- 16 girls who are interested in love stories and drama. I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.


Emma, Year 8

May 30

‘The Secret Life of Maeve Lee Kwong’ by Kirsty Murray

 maeve lee kwong  

Meet Maeve Lee Kwong, your average 13 year old girl who loves performing and her two best friends, Steph and Bianca. If you’re looking for a girly, feel-good, page-turning book this novel is perfect for you. Go on a journey with Maeve, who lives a normal life in suburban Sydney with her mother, stepfather and little brother until a terrible accident turns her life upside down. Things will never be the same again.      


On a quest to find somewhere to belong, the strength of Maeve, her friends and remaining family members make for an inspiring novel with an intriguing and mysterious feel. Kirsty Murray captures the essence of grief and confusion felt by a 13 year old girl who loses a parent, is ripped from her family and friends and thrown into a whole new environment.


After being adopted by her distant Chinese grandparents, Maeve is moved to the Gold Coast by her grandparents and secretly pins all her hopes on her Irish father, who she has never met before. Trying to cling to the things that remind her of how life used to be with her parents, Maeve now struggles to live with her grandparents. They love each other, but fail to understand one another. When given the chance to board at her old high school in Sydney, things finally seem to improve for Maeve. Supported by her friends and music teacher, McCabe, Maeve is encouraged to go looking for her dad and is very surprised at what she finds.


 This is a beautifully written novel with likeable characters and strong emphasis on grief, culture and belonging which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. This novel was a page-turner, with twists and turns to keep you up all night reading. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys performing or is just looking for a believable, feminine book that’s different from anything you’ve ever read before. It’s definitely no secret that the Kirsty Murray novel, ‘The Secret life of Maeve Lee Kwong’ is a wonderful book, so head to your local library and check it out today!


Millie J., Year 8


Maeve Lee Kwong is a 13 year old Sydney girl who loves to dance. She has a little brother called Ned and a mum called Sue. She is a normal 13 year old girl living a perfectly normal life, when suddenly something terrible happens and her whole world is torn apart. Maeve’s step-father is devastated and all they have is each other, until Maeve and her little brother are split apart and forced to move away from each other.

Maeve lives with her strict Chinese grandparents. She is fighting to hold onto the things she loves most: dancing and her best friends. Maeve secretly tracks down her Irish farther, who doesn’t even know she exists. She is worlds away from her father, yet she has to find a way to get to him. From Sydney to Surfers, from Hong Kong to Ireland, she searches for ways to get there to find a place where she belongs.

Maeve is just an ordinary girl who is caught in the wrong moment of time. So if you love to read thrilling, and mysterious books, then ‘The Secret Life Of Maeve Lee Kwong’ is the book for you. 

Charli, Year 8

October 31

‘Skin’ by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

“…she was dying to be thin. He was struggling to survive.” 

This is the blurb from the front cover of the novel Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos. It expresses how Donnie, Karen’s younger brother,  struggles with his sister’s illness and the alienation he feels within his family. The story starts off revealing the ending, and goes back to where all of the drama started: gossiping, bulling at school, parents fighting and Donnie’s sister Karen suffering from anorexia.  Donnie and Karen come from a suburban, middle class family in America. Through the story they go to many different places, such as school, home and on a camping holiday.

The story is told through Donnie’s eyes, even though it is based on Karen’s illness. Putting that aside, Donnie has many other problems in his life that contribute to how he feels alienated, and ignored. His friends at school make fun of him, and only stay around when they feel like it, his parents continuously fight, which also affects the relationships he has at home.  Karen has similar problems, but she is also a moody teenager, which can also affect the household. Karen has a best friend who is also a huge part of this novel.

Overall, Skin is an excellent book for teenage girls. It shows how anorexia can affect not only you, but everyone around you in a horrible way. The emotions shown through this book are just amazing and it really gets you thinking about how other people have problems, how people suffer from the actions of others, and most importantly… how there will always be help for you. You just need to learn how to accept it.

Michelle, Year 9


“These are the things you think of when you come home to find that your sister has starved herself to death:1. My sister is flat like a board.2. When I scream in my sister’s name in her face, I can hear my father’s voice in my own.3. Where is it you’re supposed to press? In the middle, on the side? Left or right?”

This story opens with a young boy called Donnie who comes home to find that his sister Karen has starved herself to death.  He goes back from the start of the story when Karen stops eating and tells the long painful journey he and his family went through to try and save her.  The beginning of the story is sad but intriguing. It shocks you so you will keep reading.  It is about a girl and her brother in a bad stage in life.  Their parents are fighting every day and all they can do is sit outside and wait for them to finish fighting.  As things get worse, so does Karen. She is now starving herself and doesn’t realize how bad she is getting even though she discusses it with her new neighbour Amanda.  Donnie tries his hardest to keep her at a normal weight. He does everything he can, but as time goes by things just get worse and worse.  One of the key scenes in this book is when Donnie finds Karen’s food journal.  This scene is important because it changes the way Donnie sees his sister.

This book can help you learn about yourself in the way that you don’t just take life for granted.  It gives you insight about human behaviour. Anorexia is a mental illness and by reading this book it will give you a perspective from how every character is feeling.  I think you would like this book if you were a teen because this is the most common age for people to go through this experience.  I rate this book 5 stars as it is a good book and gives you an insight into how bad anorexia is from somebody else’s perspective. Tia, year 9


Would you die to be thin?

I really loved Skin. It was one of the best books I have read. The main characters in this book are Donnie and Karen. Donnie is 14 and always worries about everything whereas Karen is 16 and is dying to be thin.

The plot of this story is mainly that Donnie’s life is unravelling. His parents’ marriage is falling apart, and his sister is slowing rejecting him due to her illness. But Donnie being Donnie does the only thing he know how to do: fix things up and return them to how they used to be, his parents loving each other, Karen always caring about herself and Donnie. This will be hard for Donnie because he will have to stop looking at the past and move forward to start his life again.

I liked this book because it relates to teenagers and how they would react to things in modern society. The story is set in a city and is based on the sister’s anorexia.

I would recommend this book to females aged 12-17 as it addresses anorexia and this generally concerns girls. This novel is a realistic fiction, meaning it can happen to anyone but it is not true.

Morgan Year 9.


May 10

“Wilderness” by Roddy Doyle

 “Wasn’t really my cup of tea”. I have just finished reading the book the wilderness by Roddy Doyle and to be honest it didn’t capture my attention very much at all like the epic novels by say “J.K Rowling” or “Suzanne Collins”

The story takes places in Ireland where Sandra and her boys go on a trip to Sweden and Finland, but they encounter some difficulties whilst on vacation. I am a very enthusiastic reader and I love to sit down and get sucked into a fantastic book, but when it comes to books like these I don’t really get the vibe going that makes me want to sit and read for hours on end with novels like these.

On the other hand I do have to give him some credit. The story is very original – has great story structure and very illusive and very comparable characters to keep you entertained for a while. The story starts to kick off half way through the book, but you first have to go far too deep into what its all about before you can actually read it with some anticipation.

Over all I’d rate this book 3 STARS out of five and I’d recommend it for children aged 9- 14 yrs. I didn’t enjoy it very much, and I hope he can lift his game before he releases another novel onto the shelves. – Jordan, Year 8

October 25

‘The Secret Life of Maeve Lee Kwong’ by Kirsty Murray

Maeve Lee Kwong is a 13 year-old girl who loves dancing, her friends and above all her family. When her mother, Sue, dies suddenly in a car crash Maeve’s whole world is torn apart. Maeve and her little brother Ned are devastated; all they have left is each other. So when Maeve is sent away from Ned she feels her world slowly falling apart. Will things ever be the way they used to be? Will Maeve ever be with Ned again? If you enjoy a sad gripping story you will love ‘The Secret Life of Maeve Lee Kwong.’ Alley, Year 9

October 24

‘Skin’ by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

“…I put the heels of my hands, one on top of the other on Karen’s chest. I can’t feel her ribs under the thick of her too-small sweater…” 

Donnie, a young 14 year-old boy has a dysfunctional family. His parents are constantly yelling at each other. His sister, Karen, who is 16, is anorexic and is forever storming around swearing. Donnie is feeling more invisible as each day passes by. He suffers from ear infections and is the outcast at school. I recommend that students from the age of 14 and up should be allowed to read this novel.

This book is rather interesting; once you start reading, it’s quite hard to stop. Although the story is truly hard to understand, reading it twice can really get your head around it. I personally think this novel has a moral to it, that going through the disease anorexia can be somewhat challenging, but there will always be someone with you by your side through every step to get you better. This novel is demonstrating reality; that some families truly are like Donnie and Karen’s. This type of drama actually happens in real life.       

Maryann, Year 9


I have not yet finished ‘Skin’ by Adrienne Maria Vrettos, but from what I have read, it is the type of book that makes you want to keep reading in anticipation to find out what happens next. It is a good book- well written and planned out, although I wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers. I would more recommend this bookf or readers of ages 13-16, as the idea of anorexia- although very real- may frighten younger children, and some older readers may find it a little under their reading level and not as interesting as for young to mid teenagers.
On a scale of 1-10, based on what I have read so far, I would give Skin a 7. There are a few things missing from the story which I generally like in a book. If I don’t like a book at first, I generally tend to slacken off with reading it.
The beginning of the book was very complicated to understand as it came out of nowhere and had no beginning or no end. This could leave a reader not wanting to read more, because generally, if you don’t understand the first part of the book, you get lost thinking about it all during the book.
So far in the book, my judgments tell me that things are not going too well with Karen, as she struggles with accepting her body image, which makes the book more appealing to teenagers, as eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are very real and more common in female teenagers. Jessica, Year 9


Brothers and sisters can be annoying, but when you start realizing their life is slipping away you will do anything. Donnie is the brother of Karen, who suffers from anorexia. No one notices until it gets to a fatal state. Donnie is in his first grade on middle school and is facing issues with bullying and exclusion from his two best friends. Karen shares an unbreakable friendship with Amanda who just moved in across the street. Amanda has to face humiliation after Donnie spread around rumours about the freaky summer. I was enthralled in the pages of this book and therefore unable to put it down.    Kelseigh, Year 9


13-year-old Donnie has a hard life. His parents are always fighting and he is losing his friend, so he creates a major rumour to keep them close. On top of that Karen his sister has an illness, anorexia, and is slowly slipping away. As time passes by poor young Donnie seems to think that no one cares about him anymore and he seems to become more invisible by the minute.

I think this book is very interesting. It has a good topic and shows all different people’s perspectives on dealing with anorexia. The book keeps me captivated because I know that there are families out there dealing with this as well. It’s directed at the age group from 12-17.  Kayley year 9

October 28

‘Family Secrets’ by Brian Keaney

You’re an only child, have a single mother and you know nothing about your family or its past. So when your mother receives a mysterious note about your grandmother you are nothing but suspicious. Your friends are acting cruelly and your mum is becoming more distant. Your mum, Anne, decides to go to Ireland to look after her mother who is in hospital after suffering from a stroke. You can’t imagine anything worse. But when she goes to Ireland she discovers things about her family’s past and her father. Will Kate find out who her father is? Why did her mother leave Ireland? And why doesn’t her mum speak about her past? Rebekah Yr9

‘Family Secrets’ by Brian Keaney is about a young girl called Kate, who is interested in her mother’s background. Kate knows hardly anything about her mother, Anne’s, history in Ireland and why she left.  When Anne’s mother suffers a stroke, she is forced to go to Ireland to visit her. Kate takes this opportunity to find out about her mother’s past. ‘Family Secrets’ is very simple but has lots of detail in it. The main character of this book is Kate, who always wants to know more and wants to discover things. She is easy to relate to because if you were put in her shoes, you would want to know more especially if it was all because of you that your mother had to leave her home town, Ireland. Niamh Year 9