Friday, 28 March 2014

Sarah’s Review of Whisper by Alyson Noel


Whisper is the final book of four in the Riley Bloom Book Series by Alyson Noel and it is by far my favourite one! In this book, Riley has been given the biggest, most challenging soul catch she has ever faced and finds herself a little bit worried, although she’d never let Bodhi, her guide, know that. She has been assigned a Roman gladiator named Theocoles, nicknamed The Pillar of Doom. She has no idea how a little twelve year old girl such as herself will be able to convince a real gladiator that it is time to move on. When she arrives, she quickly finds herself taking on the challenge completely on her own, she will have no help this time from Bodhi, or even from buttercup, her dog. Quickly into her wanderings she meets a beautiful girl named Messalina. Messalina quickly captivates Riley and convinces her that in order for her to be successful then she must become a part of Messalina’s world. Messalina transforms Riley into a beautiful young woman, allowing her to mature and look the part of a beautiful teenager, which she has been wishing to be for so long. With this transformation, Riley may be able to not only experience her first boyfriend, but also her first kiss. Although she quickly realizes Messalina is trying to entrap her in her world, Riley is reluctant to believe it, and to try to stop it. With everything she has ever wanted within her reach, Riley may just stay there, unless she can break free from Messalina’s spell and save herself too.

In this book Riley faces some big concepts, such as learning what it takes to grow up and to find love. Noel is a genius in delivering these big life lessons without being in your face with it. Riley learns what being mature and growing up really means and how you can achieve that even in the afterlife. She learns that she needs to listen to her own mind and her own heart, instead of others, and to see the truth that lies within.

Noel also throws in the concept of beauty as being only skin deep. In order to really grow and be beautiful, you need to be honest with yourself and accept who you are before you can grow. Noel has Riley face her issues, especially body image issues, which many young girls struggle with and can relate to. Noel very subtly, yet effectively, helps the reader understand that there is more than what meets the eye. You need to accept yourself as who you are and that in itself will help you lead a more happier life, while propelling you to where you truly want to be.

This was a wonderful final novel in the series and I highly recommend reading it, especially to the tweens. Even if you don’t read the first three, I believe you will enjoy this last book. Happy reading!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Sarah’s review of Dreamland by Alyson Noel


In the third book of the Riley Bloom Book series, Dreamland keeps us located in the Here and Now. Riley and her guide Bodhi are given a break from soul-catching after sending numerous souls across the bridge in the last book. But Riley is finding out that other than soul-catching, she’s not quite sure where she stands in the Here and Now. She does not want to interfere with her parents and grandparents lives because they all seem to be having such a great time with their special projects. She finds herself longing for friends, and to find the truth in how to achieve her biggest dream ever. All she has ever wanted to do is to turn thirteen, but having died at the age of twelve she felt as though that would never happen. Yet a brief conversation with Bodhi has left her hopeful that there is a way to achieve her goal after all. Her next step in her quest is to try to talk to her sister, Ever, through a dream. But she needs to find Dreamland in order to do it, and hope that it’s not banned as Bodhi suggested. Upon finding Dreamland, she meets Balthazar, the director of Dreamland who fills her in on the two ways to send dreams. You can either be a dream jumper, where you just jump into the person’s dream and participate, or you can be a dreamweaver, where you can create the entire dream in a studio and send it to the dreamer. Riley learns that the latter, years ago, had been outlawed, and no one practises it anymore. But Riley being the stubborn girl that she is, goes off in search for this studio only to come across another ghost boy who has continued dreamweaving by sending nightmares to people. Riley finds herself trapped in her own nightmares and must find a way to break free in order to save herself and attempt to save the ghost boy.

Once again, Riley is in over her head, and her stubborn attitude leads her to seek out what she wants, no matter what the consequences. She finds herself thrown into a dangerous situation in which she may not make it out of. But while dealing with her own nightmares she begins to grow as a person. In the end Riley learns a very important lesson, not only about herself, but about life in general.

Alyson Noel has such a way with words that keeps you hanging on. Even though these books I feel are geared towards young teens, I find myself continually turning pages to see what Riley is going to do next, or what is going to happen to her now that she has found herself in another unpredictable situation. Noel’s descriptions allow you to put yourself right in Riley’s shoes and see the world, or the Here and Now, just as she sees it and to feel and experience what she is going through. Thanks for writing books that keep us so entertained!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Sarah’s Review of Shimmer by Alyson Noel


This is the second book in the Riley Bloom Series by Alyson Noel. The first one was okay, but I have to say the second one is much better. In this book, Riley, Buttercup, and Bodhi find themselves enjoying a much deserved vacation after dealing with the Radiant Boy. While vacationing, they find a very mean black dog. Even though Bodhi warns her against it, Riley decides that it’s her responsibility to cross him over. This leads Riley to Rebecca, a young ghost who is very angry about her murder on her father’s plantation in the 1700’s. We come to learn that she was murdered after the slaves her father employed revolted against them. Because she is so angry, Rebecca has kept everyone else who died held against their will with her, and has made it so that they relive their worst days over and over again in their minds. She has enclosed them in a huge bubble, one that seems impossible to escape from once you have entered.

Riley Bloom, goes through a great deal of personal growth throughout this book. She finds herself within Rebecca’s bubble and has to work very hard to overcome her own worst memories in order to save herself and the others who are also trapped. Riley needs to convince Rebecca to forgive those she has trapped. She is faced with a huge task and finds herself learning more than she ever thought she would about herself. As she continues with her soul catching she learns to overcome a lot of her fears. She realizes that most of them are just figments in her mind, and if she believes strongly enough then she can overcome them and the obstacles she faces. She just needs to stay strong.

Even though this story is fiction, some of the instances that involved the slaves come from actual experiences. We learn about struggles, overcoming obstacles and ultimately forgiveness.

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