Book 15 – New Moan by Stephfordy Mayo

New Moan - Stephordy MayoBest review ever on this particular book is the one I read on GoodReads.com, the reviewer claimed that it was ‘unoriginal’ …. Yes, you read that right, UNORIGINAL!

Could be me, I’m not sure what they expected but of course it’s unoriginal! It’s a freaking parody, in this case being original would be a bad thing! It kind of makes me wonder if this person doesn’t know what the word ‘parody’ means or if they just didn’t get the idea behind this book.

Nonetheless it is a strange comment given that this book makes it very, very clear that it is a parody and I honestly can’t understand how you can read it any other way. Especially the part where there is a very clear and obvious reference  to the author, Stephordy Mayo. Of course it doesn’t take away to the fact that there are some people who might not be familiar with the meaning of that particular word. On the other hand if you take the time to read a book and don’t know or aren’t sure about the meaning of a specific word I would think, expect even that you would be interested enough in figuring out what the word means.

I won’t get into the story line, with the original books and films well known and too many times discussed on the net I think that there is no reason for me to write it down. It’s about an annoying teenage girl who falls in love with a ‘mysterious’ vampire who still goes to high school …

What I want to say though is that I had a lot of fun reading this book, in this case because it takes what I don’t like about Twilight and highlights those details and exaggerates them at precisely the right moment. This book made for a great read, especially since I read this ‘lighter’ material during the time that I was reading the ‘Tomorrow Series’. Which at times could be somewhat depressing, this book gave me the opportunity to read something different.

Now I really want to read a ‘Hunger Games’ parody! I am huge fan of The Hunger Games fan and it might be somewhat comfronting, but I think that as long as you don’t take this too serious you’ll be fine.

Maybe I can pick up a Hunger Games parody when the book fair is back in town in November. Don’t worry, until that time comes I have enough books to choose from.

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The Tomorrow Series – John Marsden

The Tomorrow SeriesI know that I have reviewed each and every book separately in this series, however I also want to do an overall review. Why?  Because these books really mean a lot to me. If I read another series of books in this challenge – which will probably be ‘The Ellie Chronicles’ – I think that I will choose to do it differently. This was the first time that I read and reviewed books this way and it’s quite difficult to write a review without spoiling the previous books. However since some things are considered common knowledge in later books it’s quite hard to not spoil mayor plot-twists. Especially considering that some mayor players didn’t reach the end-line.

You can read every book on it’s own and review them book by book. Yet, only after you’ve read everything, you can write a truly honest review. And that is why I decided that I wanted to write this overall review.

As I’ve said before – more than once – I read the first book when I was about fourteen years old and at the time I read a lot of books. But this one always stayed with me. I was able to recall details from it much more vividly than I ever could with any other books I’ve read. It made a huge impact on me. I think partly because this is a ‘realistic’ book and at the time I read a lot of fantasy – this could really happen. There is nothing wrong with fantasy, however this book’s realism made me wonder about things you might not wonder about at that age.

I was in awe with the things that these kids knew and did. I mean I wouldn’t know how to fire a gun – I guess I could learn, but learning because you need it to survive or learn it as a skill while you grow up are two different things – you can’t compare the two. Neither would I know how to survive in the bush, or live off the land. Of course we don’t have a bush in the Netherlands, so it’s not knowledge which I would need. And with our cities and towns so close together survival skills is not something which you learn from an early age on. So I was amazed and I also knew that we over here would be screwed if anything like this would ever happen here. At the same time the way that they had been blind sighted by the enemy would be a lot harder to pull off in an overcrowded area like we have here in Europe.

And then there is the fact that these teenagers where only a little bit older than I was at the time. So you constantly keep comparing yourself to them. Would I be able to do what they did? Could I kill a soldier? If the choice was one of life and death, I think that I would find the strength to at least do something to keep myself safe. Would I survive? I don’t know and I hope that I will never find have to find out. But those statements truly explain why I love the way that John Marsden writes so much. He makes them and the situations they find themselves in so real, they are such typical teenagers that they could actually be your friends. I really think that he nailed their characters. All of them. All the different characters and their antics – each individual is different and the way they respond in each situation is so realistic. I am simply in awe with the man’s writing style.

Through all of these years every now and again this book would come to my attention and I always wondered what happened to Ellie and her friends, and at the end of the first book you really wonder about Kevin and Corrie. Finally being able to read what happened to everyone meant a lot to me. And I’m glad that I took the time to read these books. John Marsden is an amazing writer who’s books I will forever recommend to anyone who will listen to me.

I applaud John Marsden for the amazing books he wrote, for not stepping away when things got hard. For taking the steps necessary to write the journey of a year in the life of Ellie and her friends. And for not stepping away from the true devastation a war brings. The loss of ones home and the security they find in their family and friends. The loss of hope, pain and anger so well written that it at times made me cry.

My favorite book

I guess that this can’t be a surprise, my favorite book will forever be the first book ‘Tomorrow,  When The War Began’. I really enjoyed reading it again, even though I’d seen the movie pretty recently. There were still a lot of moments I couldn’t remember which made re-reading the book a very pleasurable and still interesting thing to do.

When I read ‘The Killing Frost’ I didn’t think that it was possible to let these teens cause any more destruction than they did in that part of the story. But I was wrong … I was so wrong! There was so much more destruction they could cause. Burning For Revenge’ showed us really how much destruction five teenager without hope on a true suicide mission can cause.

My least favorite book

I guess when it comes to my least favorite book I would have to say ‘Darkness Be My Friend’. With that I’m not saying that it is a bad book, it was just a less interesting part of the overall story line. It’s smack dab between two action packed books, so the story line needed to settle down a little bit to stay realistic, I guess. It’s the natural ebb and flow of life.

There might be a television show in the future

I recently found an ImdB page for a ‘Tomorrow, when the war began’  television show. I don’t know how much of this is really true or if it’ll ever happen. But if there’ll be a television show, I will make sure that I can watch it one way or another. I think these books could be a really good foundation for a television show, especially if you look at the type of shows which have recently been produced.

Go read the Tomorrow Series, really do it now !

Book 14 – The Other Side of Dawn by John Marsden

The other side of dawnThe last book in the ‘Tomorrow Series’, I’ve finished it. The whole story consists of 1900 pages, give or take. I can’t believe it! Like I said before – I mentioned it many times, I am aware – I read the first book almost twenty years ago and now in a matter of a couple of months I read all seven books in the series. And I’m looking forward to read ‘The Ellie Chronicles’, the three books which take place after the war.

As this is the last book you might want to know what the other books were about. If you like to read the other reviews I wrote, you can find them here – ‘Tomorrow, when the war began’, ‘The Dead of the Night’‘The Third Day, the Frost’, ‘Darkness be my Friend, ‘Burning For Revenge’ and ‘The Night is for Hunting’.

What can I say about this book, well only one thing really …. the war is over! But in some ways it feels like it’s only just beginning…

‘The Other Side of Dawn’ that title is a pretty big give-away that the war is ending and the people of Australia can turn a new leaf, start a new day. At the same time there is also something really worrisome about the new situation that the Aussies find themselves in.

First let’s go back to the beginning of the book. From Colonel Finley they get the news that the war is at a very crucial turning point and that they – if they choose to take the job (yes, that’s a movie reference) – can make a real difference. Colonel Finley tells them that someone will visit them for twenty four hours, he’ll bring some goodies with him which will help them in their mission to attack and confuse the enemy.

But this book wouldn’t be interesting if everything went according to plan. So I can guaranty you that it won’t go as planned and that is where the real story starts.

You should really read the book to figure out what happens to Ellie and her friends, her family. The farm that she grew up on and the town of Wirrawee.

One thing I figured out while I wrote there reviews…

While I was reviewing these books I kind of ran into a problem. Reviewing one book is one thing, however reviewing a whole series is a whole different matter. It’s difficult, I hadn’t expected that. You are trying not to spoil too many plot points but when you get to the next book the spoiler you didn’t want to give in the previous review has become ‘common knowledge’. And I guess that it is really difficult to write reviews for books in a series.

So I have decided that I want to write an overall review for the seven books. In which I will explain what I thought of the overall story line and the character development as well as my opinion on the best book and my least favorite book.

And when I read ‘The Ellie Chronicles’ I won’t post the review till I’ve finished all three books to see if it will be easier to write review without spoiling the storyline.

Book 13 – The Night Is For Hunting by John Marsden

The Night is for HuntingThis is where you can find the reviews for the previous books ‘Tomorrow, when the war began’, ‘The Dead of the Night’‘The Third Day, the Frost’, ‘Darkness be my Friend and ‘Burning For Revenge’. This is the sixth book and with only one book left we are definitively nearing the conclusion of the series. On one hand I want to read on as fast as I possibly can. However on the other hand I don’t want it to be over. But I guess that’s always the case when you your feelings are invested in something and my feelings certainly are invested.

This book is all about change if you ask me. Of course they have all changed tremendously during the war, which is to be expected and no surprise if you take into consideration all the things they have seen and had to do to survive. Their small group has caused more damage than anyone else in the Wirrawee area, as far as they know. And if they ever get captured it will mean certain death.

During ‘Burning for Revenge’ they made their way to Stratton, where they were staying at the house in which Ellie’s grandmother used to live, before the war. Ellie has no idea what happened to her, but her house is still in pretty good shape and gives them enough cover to stay safe. Soon after they arrived in Stratton they were caught and robbed by a group of younger kids, surprise really was what caught them. After loosing some of their old, yet very emotionally charged possessions – a picture of Ellie’s parents, Homer’s pocket knife. No one really bothered with the ‘ferals’  (as they referred to the kids) who’ve obviously been living on their own –  likely since the beginning of the war. But Ellie always kept an eye on them, to make sure that they were okay and one night she sees that they are in dire need of help.

The relationship between Ellie and Lee has been strained since his betrayal, yet he is the one who goes with her when she knows that the ferals are in danger. And together they save five of the younger kids, who didn’t have time to flee when the soldiers arrived. Ellie actually steals an army truck and with a quick stop at her grandma’s house to pick Homer, Fi and Kevin up they leave Stratton in a hurry chased by soldiers. Back to the only place where they know they will be safe.

It’s not an easy journey but Ellie has no choice, she has to continue on even when she hears the kids crying and screaming terrified in the back of the truck. The problem is that these kids have lived among one another since this war began, with no adult supervision and they don’t trust easily. Even if Ellie, Lee, Homer, Fi and Kevin are just a couple of years older, they don’t trust them and the first change they get – which is when they are on foot going up the path to Tailor’s Stitch at the top of Hell – they flee. They simply refuse to listen.

They are sure that the kids won’t get far especially since they are city-kids who are not used to the bush, however like they themselves these kids have learned a trick or two about survival and determination. And they walk, far … really far. And all Ellie and her friends can do is follow them and try to catch up before it’s too late. Extreme exhaustion and dehydration are always just around the bend in the bush and since they are in pursuit for days it’s no real surprise that when they finally find the kids, one of them didn’t make it.

This book in particular is a little slower on the action, but after the high action packed last book I think that this was a good compromise. There are still some really nail-biting and terrifying moments but there is also a lot of time for reflection and even some downright sweet moments. All in all this book holds a perfect balance.

Book 12 – Burning For Revenge by John Marsden

Burning for Revenge - John Marsden‘Burning For Revenge’ is the fifth book in the ‘Tomorrow Series’. Only two books left!!! I can’t believe how fast I’m reading through these books. I guess part of it is the anticipation to finally be able to see where this story takes Ellie and her friends.

You can find the reviews for previous books here ‘Tomorrow, when the war began’, ‘The Dead of the Night’‘The Third Day, the Frost’ and Darkness be my Friend’. From a readers point of view it’s probably not a wise thing to review all of the books in ‘The Tomorrow Series’ one after another. But this is the order in which I’ve been reading these books and if I take too long between finishing them, writing the review while I’m already reading the next book I’ll be lost. I won’t know what happened in which book anymore because the new book continues where the last one left off. So I better get this show on the road because I’ve already read part of the next book.

This book – as far as I can tell right now – is the one with the biggest twist. It’s unbelievable! There is no way that you could have foreseen what happens in this book. It’s all about revenge … the title really says it all. I guess that in a way Ellie and her friends believe that they won’t make it much longer, the war has taken a toll on all of them and they have been struggling with the violent acts they have been forced to commit to keep themselves and each other safe. It becomes more difficult for them to believe that they will one day see end of the war or their families again and that they will ever be able to see a day where they will be free. Especially when it becomes once again clear that they are on their own.
After the Kiwi’s failed attempt to blow up – or whatever their plan was, since they never shared that information with Ellie and her friends – the newly expanded military airfield in Wirrawee and their escape from the area. They know that the enemy will be searching for them and that they won’t stop looking for them any time soon.

By sheer accident they find themselves literally in the center of the lion’s den. And all they can do is fight their way out or die trying. The problem is that no one can predict how they react when it’s a life and death situation. At this point Lee has turned into a true soldier, he does what needs to be done and seems relatively speaking ‘okay’ with what they have to do (of course this is also a front which some teenagers manage to put up when they don’t want the world to know what they think or feel). Of course he has also dealt with some personal information about his family which most likely numbed him. Homer and Ellie both use the practical knowledge of growing up on a farm to good use and they have been able to manage relatively well. Fi’s the one who probably made the biggest personal growth, even though they have seen some pretty shocking things, she’s also able to say really close to herself. The kindred spirit she was, for instance she still doesn’t swear. And she’s also often the voice of reason, especially for Ellie. I know that I stated this exact same thing in my review of the first book, it’s still true.  She – even though she lived in Wirrawee – was a city girl and now she’s has turned into a fighter. Ellie and Fi are complete opposites. She’s might not be the best shot or come up with the best ideas strategically speaking, however she steps up when anyone needs her even if she’s scared to death. The problem lies with Kevin, whatever happened to him when he was captured and the violence they recently seen has taken a huge impact on him. He’s basically catatonic and while no one really knows how to handle the situation or what to do with him they know that they have to help him. Even if he doesn’t want to be helped or if they have to force him to do certain things. They can’t leave him behind, because that would mean certain death.

Even though this is the fifth book in the series I’m reading I’m still impressed with way John Marsden manages to keep these teenagers so close to the original characters even while they grow tremendously. The way the characters interact with each other is so real, they could be your friends. He has an amazing grasp on what drives these teenagers, what makes them tick and how they would react in these extreme situations.

The 2015 Reading Challenge

Quirk-Books - How to Read A BookThis year was going to be the year I was going to do things differently. Isn’t that what we promise ourselves at the start of every year? That’s exactly what it is, I guess you could call it a sort of New Years resolution. Especially since that was exactly when I made this decision. Though I really hate that term, for me a New Years resolution is synonym for failure. Most of the time that is what happens after all… and in a way I can’t deny that this is a failure as well. Chances are that you might think about it that way, seeing how it’s already August and I am no where near half way through my challenge.

I signed up at Goodreads for the 2015 Reading Challenge with fifty books, which is a huge number of books and I knew beforehand that it was going to be hard to achieve that amount of books in just twelve months,  if not completely impossible. Due to the fact that with seven and a half months down and only thirteen books read so far I guess it’s safe to say that I won’t make it. I won’t make my goal, not by a long shot.

Yet, I can’t think of it as failure since I have met every other goal in this challenge that I set for myself. For years I had collected a lot of books but due to all kinds of excuses I was never taking the time to actually sit down and read them. This year however thanks to this challenge I somehow found the spare time to do it. I read a variety of books, both in English as well as in Dutch. And I might even try and read a book in German, I know the language well enough to understand and speak and I think that I can actually manage to understand it while I read it too. My biggest challenge when I had German lessons in school was with the whole ‘der’, ‘die’ and ‘das’ thing.

Although I have to admit that reading in Dutch was quite the adjustment for me, even if that is my first language. In all honesty before this year, I can’t even recall the last time I read a Dutch book. So maybe reading a German book isn’t that easy either. Anyway that’ll be something I’ll worry about at a later time.

The books I read so far vary a lot, both of the dutch books were books I received as a present with other books I bought. They do that over here once a year or so to promote reading – buy a book, get one for free written by one of the Dutch big name authors. Both of the books are novella’s, short stories. I had them for a long time, years even I never really got around to reading them.

The Death Note book, is an originally Japanese manga translated into English. Some people might call it a comic but they are wrong. It was actually the first manga I’ve ever read. I’m not sure if it’s for me though.

I read a book by Tess Gerritsen, who is one of my favorite authors. I simply love Rizzoli & Isles, both the books as well as the television show. Even if there is really no comparison between the two. This book however was really the least favorite book of Tess Gerritsen I’ve read so far. I know that this particular book is not a R&I book but that is how I got to know and love this author. If you like authors like Tess Gerritsen and Karin Slaughter, you’ll also like Dean Koontz. Who’s book Velocity I read.

Yet most of my time these past months have been spend reading ‘The Tomorrow Series’ by John Marsden. The first books, the start of the series, was a book which I read when I was fourteen. A book which always stayed with me and now I’m finally able to read the rest of the story. I’m currently reading the sixth book in the series. After this there is only one book left apart from the three books which have the same main character, Ellie, but take part in a later stage of her life after the war ended I presume.

And of course lets not forget the most ‘controversial’ books on my list of books read for this year, the second and the third book in the ‘Fifty Shades’ trilogy. Granted I still have that third book to finish but still.

Book 11 – Darkness, be my Friend by John Marsden

Darkness. Be My Friend - John Marsden‘Darkness, be my Friend’ is the fourth book in the ‘Tomorrow Series’. You can find the reviews for the first book ‘Tomorrow, when the war began’ here, the second book ‘The Dead of the Night’ here and the third book ‘The Third Day, the Frost’ here.

As stated in the last review, what they have done at Cobbler’s Bay has had huge consequences and they’ve paid a high price. They made the perfect getaway after they blew up the marina, they are hiding out in an abandoned junk yard. Thanks to the junk yard they are able to hide the car in plain sight, find a safe place to hide out when the junk yard’s being searched. The look-out they have created gives them a perfect view of the surounding area.

During the time that they can move around safely in the junk yard they break into the office annex house where they find a room filled to the brim with electronic devices and radios. They try to make contact with someone – anyone – who can help them even though they know that it’s a huge risk they are taking. Especially after the destruction of Cobbler’s Bay and the enemy who’s now for sure out for their blood. They are able to contact a man who makes sure that their story is known by the New Zealand Military – who have been fighting with the Aussies against the enemy but so far haven’t been making much progress. They are able to tell the Kiwi’s what they did, yet at that moment in time they aren’t in a position to help them, especially since they are just civilians.

Lee, who’s always been a little bit of a loner, leaves the junk yard during the day to make hikes while the other’s are at the junk yard. What he sees one day spurs them all into action. The enemy is literally going from one house to the next with dogs, obviously looking for them. And at the rate they are going they will be at the junk yard in a matter of days if not hours. Ellie and her friends leave the junk yard behind in a rush, hoping that they can escape the net that is tightening around them, their only option is to use the car. However using it also imposes a huge risk and in the end they are caught. Ellie is sure that they will be executed on the spot, instead they are send to Stratton Prison. Homer and Ellie are immediately separated and put in solitary confinement. Days turn into weeks and months, when they are finally brought in for interrogation. They come face to face with someone from their past. Someone who they thought had perished in the massive explosion at Fi’s old street in Wirrawee. He’s the one who decides that they will be executed when they are no longer of use to him. While they are counting down the hours  to their dead the Kiwi’s are preparing an air strike. Large parts of Stratton are bombed – Stratton was filled with factories before the war which have now been put to good use by the enemy. Part of the prison goes down as well and they escape.

They have seen hard times before, even moments where they thought that they would never survive another day. Yet nothing could have prepared them for this moment. This is a moment which in my honest opinion changes a lot, it defines who they become. It is a turning point in their journey, even more than the fact that the war broke out and they have been separated from their parents and siblings. This is the moment where they are paying the highest price they have paid so far. Robyn doesn’t make it out. In fact, she took her own life to protect and safe her friends, she paid the ultimate prize. It gave the others just enough time to make their getaway. They flee as fast as they can, all of them are wounded one way or another and in pretty bad shape but they somehow make it out.

Eventually they are picked up by a helicopter who brings them to New Zealand. The Kiwi’s know about the things they’ve done and the sacrifices they’ve made and they see them as true heroes. They are able to recover from their wounds – both physically and mentally – and get the help they need in whichever way they want. Whatever they ask for they’ll get even if it is a vacation or a trip. Deep down they know that it’s only a matter of time before things will change again. This situation is only temporary.

It’s a matter of time before the other shoe drops. Ellie, Lee, Homer, Kevin and Fi have been in New Zealand for six months when they’re introduced to a team of soldiers. A team of highly trained and specialized soldiers are being deployed to the Wirrawee area in hopes that they will be able to destroy the airfield which the enemy has been building. Ellie, Homer, Kevin, Fi and Lee are ‘asked’ to go back with them, of course it’s not really a question and they know it. It’s trivial that they go. The Kiwi’s are counting on their knowledge of the Wirrawee area to safely guide them from Hell to the airfield.

Ellie doesn’t want to go back, she’s obviously dealing with PTSD and isn’t prepared yet to put herself back into the danger of the war. She feels that they’ve done enough and lost enough people around them. It doesn’t matter however and eventually Ellie agrees too, they are going back home. The choice has been mad to put the helicopter down in one of the paddocks on Ellie’s farm. From there she’s going to lead the soldiers and her friends back to Hell. It’s only when the Kiwi’s are getting ready to make the hike to the airfield that they tell Lee and Ellie that they want them to guide them through Wirrawee.

All they know is that the soldiers are going to do something with the airfield but they have no mission details. It’s to ensure that they can’t give away any details if something happened to them. They leave Hell, Homer, Fi and Kevin stay behind. From the moment they leave the safety of Hell everything goes wrong, literally everything. Ellie’s PTSD is bringing them all in danger. Which means that one of the soldiers is asked she’s to bring her back to hell – for her own and their safety – while Lee’s asked to guide the rest of them through Wirrawee. When Ellie returns to Hell’s she has to tell the other three what happened. The next night they anxiously await what’ll happen, hoping that they’ll be able to see what the Kiwi’s have planned for the airfield. But nothing happens … there is absolutely no sign of an uproar. No one returns in the next couple of days, not even Lee – who they knew wasn’t going to be allowed to go with the Kiwi’s to the airfield.

So, what happened? What went wrong, why didn’t anything happen and most importantly where is Lee?

I guess you’re really going to have to read the books to find out.