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Daddy’s Little Earner: A heartbreaking true story of a brave little girl's escape from violence

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A horrifying account of Maria's life, whose mother (abused and forced into prostitution by her husband, Maria's father) left the family when Maria was four, and which time her father began abusing her. Before she's ten, she's addicted to drugs, drinking and her father is sexually molesting her and preparing her to sell herself on the streets. She goes out "on the game" when she's eleven and continues into her late teens. It's a terrible story to have to read, and the almost lackadaisical way social services treats her is shocking, but believable. She's forgotten about. Some parts of it bugged me from the perspective she had given us. I feel like this would have been both terribly cathartic and painful for Maria to write about, to let everyone know what her early life was like and how she was treated by her own family. There are points though where I feel like she's not being honest with herself. For example, she claims "I wasn't a bully at all myself" yet mentions at least a dozen times that she beat people up to make herself "hard" and was always being pulled out of schools for fighting, including one situation where she and another girl throw hot tea on each other. It's quite clear reading her story that she WAS a bully, even if she doesn't like to think herself that way. Similarly, while talking about how often she took drugs and, in particular, Speed, she claims "I guess it was just luck that I didn't become dependent on it like most girls on the street." With everything she has told us up until this point, and what she goes on to do even after she her her son, it's hard to believe this statement she makes and has me wondering if she is just talking herself out of what really happened for fear of what she might find if she digs into that portion of her life. However she is open and clear with every other aspect so it would be odd, but this just stuck out to me as a reader. But I am reviewing this as a reader, not as any sort of doctor or therapist and I have no experience in the life that she lead, so my views are clearly of a biased nature. There's also a distasteful conclusion where Maria becomes focused on having a child so she has something to care for. When she has her son and goes back to drugs, drinking and prostitution; social services maintain she is a good mother and leave the baby in her care. It just seems horrible, yet I suppose it's the same mistake social services made with her mother when Maria was a baby. They let her stay in an abusive environment despite clear warning signs. All in all it's a moving and memorable novel, and one I am glad Maria was given the chance to tell. Recommended!
The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse

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I really enjoyed this one! I can be finicky when it comes to stories presented in this document/information fashion, but I really liked this one. I just grabbed it off the shelf at my library to read something while I waited for my mum, then I had to borrow it and now I'm going to buy myself a copy, it's definitely one I want to have in my collection.I'm interested to know if the author intends to write more of this "series", although it's not really a series. This book reads like a manifest, a documentation of this zombie virus, the stages the human body goes through, the process of infection, etc, I think it would be interesting if the author used this book as a jumping off point and then dove into the world he's created all these facts for. There is mention that the world has been decimated by nuclear attacks in an attempt to localize the infection, so the world is a mess. The people who survived live underground and are under Martial Law. It would be an interesting setting for a zombie novel, in my opinion.
ZOM-B

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Quite a good book! Very quick read, finished it in a couple of hours, but it's very quickly paced which made it much easier to read. Not a lot of time for stopping and thinking, which if done too much in a novel can make it a real bitch to read. It's a zombie story with a twist, the zombies are almost like the pets of these weird mutant people who are taking over the world. It's a little like an episode of Buffy especially with the zombies fingernails extending out of the skin and then becoming eating machines. There's no insight as to why the zombies came to be or what caused it. We read through the perspective of B (who I initially assumed was a boy but it is revealed at the end she is a girl, Becky) an only child with a heavily abusive and racist father. She's quite a messed up girl, skipping school, stealing, thuggish friends, that kind of thing but she has deeply scarring issues with her fathers racism. I had an issue with the blurb on the back which states "How do you react when confronted with your inner demons? What do you do when zombies attack? B Smith is about to find out."Only B Smith doesn't find out until 3/4 of the way into the novel, that's when zombies actually appear for the first time. There are reports on the news that everyone plays of as false, but the first time a zombie arrives is way too close to the end of the story for my liking. I also didn't like the constant references to killing zombies because of how they are killed in the movies. I'm sure that's true, but it just reads funny to me. Makes it less realistic to kill something the way it is killed on TV, unrealistic attempt at realism. The ending was slightly abrupt, which is to be expected since it's the first in a trilogy. I probably won't be reading further. It's not a bad book, it just didn't inspire me to keep reading. Perhaps if the ending was different.
Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife

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This was one of those classics that I had always read pieces of and never the full thing. Having found the book on my mother's book shelf, I decided to read it fully and it was definitely worth it. A heartbreaking window in the mind of a vivacious adolescent girl in the mix of one of the worst acts of human cruelty and indecensry in history.Often Anne laments on how crazy the world around her is, and how nice things would be if they were normal and everyone got along. A childish hope, perhaps, but one that deserves to be remembered and acted upon. This child did not deserve her fate, and her eloquence and maturity in the pages of her journal reflect what an incredible force for the good of humanity she may have become. But perhaps not, perhaps if she had survived she would just be remembered as one of the lucky ones who made it out, and her personal thoughts would have remained her own.Due to her tragic death, we are given the honour of reading the pages of her diary and remembering that what happened to her and her family, her people, was a complete and utter waste of generous lives.
Sister

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Refreshingly brilliant in my opinion!I've gone through a spate of sub-par horrible books in my To-Read pile lately, and I was worried about this one, too! I needn't have been. It's wonderful. And a lesson to authors how to create 3D characters even if they have the smallest role in the story. I normally am free with spoilers in my reviews, but I'll hold off this time because I think it's worth the read to get the pay off that I got by the end of the book. I will say that it's not much of a light-hearted read, but it is exciting and definitely a page-turner.If you're looking for a good one-off book to read, this is it!
Dead Island: Der offizielle Roman zum Game

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This one caught my eye because it was/is originally a PC game of the same name. Even the cover is the same. It made me borrow it just to see how the heck they turned a game into a story. Having sucked majorly at the game and not able to get out of the resort, I was excited to read the book to see if it shed light on the game. Of course, having not finished the game I don't know what's accurate. Maybe I'll try the game again on the lowest level of difficulty.Anyway, onto the book. I quite enjoyed it! When people say "fast-paced" this is the kind of thing they mean. Constantly moving, always a new obstacle to overcome. There really is very little time to stop and process what's happening. There are some references to the game that I quite liked, for example there's a conversation where the survivors are told to use weapons created from anything they can find, which reminded me of the game since you use oars, axes, sticks, whatever is handy at the moment. One thing I didn't like was the frequent comparisons to a zombie movie. It's a personal issue I have with novels, I don't like it because it almost seems to make light of the situation and remove you even further from the action. If the characters are treating it like a movie, why should I be any more invested? Similarly, every plot twist is brought up by the characters so there are few actual revealing moments where theories come together. For example, all the lead characters were given the free trip to this holiday island because they donated blood and won a sweepstake or something, so extremely early on in the novel this spurs on one of the lead characters to assume that means they are all immune to the zombie virus and were sent to the island in anticipation of the outbreak. It just threw me off a bit, one of the things I like about novels is questioning what's happening myself and having my own theories. Another thing that bugged me, as it always does. Women are weak, screaming and frail. The only strong woman is Purna, a hard as nails bitch with heavy police/army training perpetrating the theory that the only way a woman could be strong is if she had been prepared for most of her life for a disaster scenario. Meanwhile, men are just excellent in the situation from the get-go. One part that annoyed me greatly was when our main group of five decides they have to go into the jungle to a village in search for help for a vaccine. Instead of taking the woman who can translate and speak the language (the only person in the group who can), they leave her behind with another woman and the hard-ass Purna and two men go on the trek and, of course, struggle with a language barrier when they get to the village. Time and energy could have been saved by bringing the appropriate character along, and if she were male I would assume she would have been there, but she's a young girl so she stays behind.Anyway despite all my issues with it - which I'll admit are a personal taste thing rather than technical issues. Although there is a heavily lame/cliche final sentence - it's a very well-written novel. I give the author major props for his unique descriptions of each zombie kill. I don't think there are two kills that are the same either in action or the authors language. And all of it is sickeningly realistic, this is not one for the squeamish! Recommended for any zombie fans.
Sold

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The back of the book provides a great explanation for this story calling it "deceptively simple", and that's exactly what it is. I read it in about three hours, it's a very easy read but man it's full of emotion and rich characters. It's a testament to a wonderful writer that she can give so much while giving so little. I recommend this one if only to heighten awareness for the young girls everywhere forced into conditions such as Lakshmi is in Sold.
POD

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A good little Sci-fi novel about people struggling to survive, which is just the kind of thing I like to read. While I loved being in the lives of Megs and Josh, seeing how they survived and struggled for food in both of their immensely different situations, I kind of wished we saw more of the aliens. They don't really play much of a role other than floating in the sky and keeping people inside. The second a person step outdoors, they get zapped and we never find out where they go. Doesn't matter where you are, the PODs are all-seeing. If you walk outside, they get you. Just seemed a bit too juvenile a way to bring in aliens. It may as well have been a storm or nuclear blast. But I'm willing to admit that as a 24 year old woman, I probably wasn't the target market. I am big on Sci-fi and aliens, so I offer my views as that as a fan of the genre. First off, I'll start with Meghan's story.One thing that bugged me throughout was Megs' clear ignorance to her mother being a prostitute. It's early morning, she leaves her daughter in the car, slathers on makeup, tells her daughter this "job interview" won't take long and then they'll have money to eat breakfast, then gets in a car with some guy and they drive around a corner. That in itself didn't bother me, she's just a young twelve-year-old girl unaware what her mother has to do to make a living. But the more we find out about Megs, the more she seems like the kind of girl who would be very aware that her mother was at least a part-time hooker. Megs manages to survive on her own in a multi-storey car park and is savvy enough to search for food under seats, finds water in the water section of a carpet cleaning van, rescues a kitten whom she keeps safe, hides in the trunks of cars to avoid some Bad Mofos who have taken over the hotel that the car park is attached to, and she even steals a gun and leaves them a taunting note. She then sneaks through vents to get into the hotel to save her kitten and instead saves some other woman who, when she finds her, it is mentioned that Megs knows her but I forget how she came up earlier. She sneaks in and out of the hotel, has a scuffle with a few guards that she manages to get free from; and throughout all of this we get hints at her past, the way her mother's boyfriend drank and beat her up, the way they were always moving and having to leave their items behind. My conclusion was that Meghan is very smart and resourceful, and she WOULD know what her mother was really doing in these job interviews. But again I'm pretty sure any 12 year old would be. Perhaps it's because the author is male, but I don't want to get gender bias into this. I felt the authors grasp of a twelve year old girl was a little muddled. At the start she seems almost like a seven/eight year old, but her actions and vocabulary are one of fourteen year old. She doesn't come off as a twelve-year old at all. Perhaps that's the author being unsure how to write a female, another point in the novel he writes about two teenage friends one of whom claims the worst thing about the alien invasion is that she's still fat, following up with the completely non-insulting nod to the female gender when she says "Like, no duh, this is, like, the worst vacation ever."I would like to think that even the vainest of stereotypical teenage girls would recognize the desperation of an alien invasion, lack of food/water/safety. Maybe I'm just being too feminist about it.. Anyway, onto Josh's story. I preferred it to Megan's, but it was unnecessarily gross at times.Family dog, Dutch, loves to lick his balls. We're told that in those words exactly, and we're told them often. Including one unsavory scene where Josh recounts listening to the dog lick his balls as he's trying to sleep. Add in a father in sweatpants who reaches down to scratch his own balls in front of a window and you have quite an image. It's father and son living alone, and I get that when you're alone with family during some sort of panic, you don't give a shit who scratches what where or when. But as a reader, we don't like to read that. The same way we don't want to hear about people squatting over buckets to go to the bathroom, and tossing the contents into their backyards. Or the way one guy whistles while he's squatting over a bucket. It's unnecessary to go into that much detail about crap, as a reader we figure that would be taken care of; we don't need the mechanics of it. But hey, maybe the guy was just going into the specifics would really say in this type of scenario.All in all, POD is a quick, easy read (though it did take me a week 'cos I was busy) and quite engaging. The story is always moving forwards, and there's no time for a lull or dump of information. It's a well written novel but I would imagine it's for younger readers around 10-16. If you like the genre and can find it at your local library, pick it up and give it a read. :)
The Pack

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Just plain didn't like this one. I thought it read like a first draft, so many sentences seem disjointed and incorrectly constructed. And there is rapid overuse of the word "for" at the beginning of sentences. "For of course no Zone could contain his appetite for space.", "For when the trucks run out," etc. It's as though the author wants them to have some dramatic impact, but the overuse prevents this from happening. Maybe rapid is the wrong word, but it's one of those things that you start to notice and then every time it happens again you cringe. It's one of those stories that doesn't really explain itself. Something has happened to the world, there are Zones and Invisible Cities and people shunned by society; but no real reason as to why. There is very little world building but things are obviously immensely different. The characters don't seem to go by their real names and, again, there's no real explanation as to why (except for Skreech, who is feigning life as a boy), but everyone else seems to get this big end of chapter moment when they reveal their name. Again, it's never explained why people are like this. Why do they hide their names or give themselves other names? Why is that such a big deal? Another unexplained plot-line is that Bradley can talk to his dog, and I'm still yet to figure out if this is just Bradley thinking his dog is replying or if they do have some sort of telepathy going on, it's not really explained. Or if it is, I missed it. There's a lot of boring and lengthy discussion between characters that just seem to stop the narrative in its tracks.The novel is interspersed with chapters of random flashbacks that immediately stop the action of the narrative. Our protagonist, Bradley, and his dog have been captured by this street gang of dog fighting kids led by a maniac, and we break away for pages and pages about Bradley's life with his family before whatever happened to the world happened. They are explained as Bradley's dreams, but a character experiencing a dream does not take up an entire chapter. Ditto for storytelling. As in characters in the narrative sitting down to listen to an Old Woman tell them stories. They don't do this once, they do it often. Again, it slows the story to a crawl.It also relies on one of my least favourite narrative tropes, where the weak girl in the gang is the one who gets kidnapped and the boy has to save her. I get annoyed reading on and on about Bradley's adventure to find and save his friend, Floris, but I would rather be reading Floris saving herself. Maybe that's just me!Avoid this one, took me forever to finish it. Very disappointing, I expected a lot more from the author with his credentials.
Everything is Broken

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Quite a dark and gritty read! I enjoyed it, though, it was the kind of thing I look for in a disaster scenario novel with the focus on the human side rather than government or something removed from the human element. There are a lot of POV's going on and it changes every couple of chapters and it doesn't have any sort of order. Sometimes you get Russ's POV in two consecutive chapters, sometimes you go into Dickie or Nella's head at the start of the chapter and then in the middle of the chapter there's a section break and we're in someone else's head. Made it confusing, and when the penultimate point happens at the end of the story we have about three or four people who we've been in the heads of for the whole novel, but we only get this climatic scene through one person's eyes. And not the character that it would have made the most sense to see it through.Another issue I had with it was that the women are very much treated like dainty, breakable objects who drink tea and stay safe in rooms while the men protect the town. Even the "lead" female only stays with a group of bad guys who rape her so bad she gets an infection because she figures it's safer for them to look after her. It gets taxing, and there's a point at the end where one of the lead male characters exclaims to his girlfriend "You got out by yourself!" Still, it's an exciting read despite its flaws. Recommended if you like the survival/disaster type stories :)
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