I found the first two thirds really exciting. It started to tail off towards the end and became a little bit unconvincing. I still really enjoyed it tI found the first two thirds really exciting. It started to tail off towards the end and became a little bit unconvincing. I still really enjoyed it though....more
Since You’ve Been Gone is a funny, moving and engaging story of friendship, first love and finding yourself. It was so enjoyable. I didn’t want it toSince You’ve Been Gone is a funny, moving and engaging story of friendship, first love and finding yourself. It was so enjoyable. I didn’t want it to end.
Emily’s best friend Sloane disappears at the beginning of the summer break with no explanation. She doesn’t answer her calls or emails. Emily feels utterly alone. They had all these exciting plans and now Emily has no one to have an adventure with. Emily and Sloane are inseparable. But with Sloane gone and no way of contacting her Emily must find a way to survive the holiday. A couple of weeks into the summer break, a list arrives in the mail, which can only have been sent by Sloane. Emily decides that doing all the things on the list will somehow bring Sloane back to her. So despite her shyness and introverted personality, she begins to tackle the things on the list: riding a horse, stealing something, kissing a stranger. It’s a challenge but it just might make this summer something to remember...
One of the things that I liked about this book was that Emily’s character felt really believable. The self-conscious feelings she experiences before speaking is something that I think will be familiar to teen readers. I loved that this story was in part her journey into being brave enough to leap before thinking about all the consequences. It was about seizing the moment but not about encouraging recklessness. Emily is still sensible and practical and I liked that.
I liked that she had these impressions of her classmates and that she learnt to see beyond what they portrayed at school. Frank Porter is a romantic hero. Collins is a sensitive soul which he hides behind his loud mouth. Emily’s relationship with Sloane was also really interesting to follow. We learn some from Emily’s reminiscences and some from flashbacks to the months before Sloane disappears.
This book made me laugh. It made me want to turn page after page. It’s the perfect teen summer read. It’s about enjoying the days ahead, finding your voice in a crowded room and taking a leap of faith. Another great novel from Morgan Matson. The best one yet! Read it for the romance and fall in love with the friendship.
If you enjoyed Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, you'll enjoy this!...more
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is a twist on the story of Jesus the man and Christ the Redeemer. It’s a complex tale but told with the eaThe Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is a twist on the story of Jesus the man and Christ the Redeemer. It’s a complex tale but told with the easy narrative of a traditional tale.
I certainly found this book easy to read. The narrative voice is clear and enticing. It almost invites you to sit by the fireside and listen. Perhaps it is inevitable that this story, which is known so well to the reader, reads like putting on a comfy jumper. And yet, the book may be easy to read but it is difficult to understand. At times I felt confused. I didn’t know which character to trust.
In Pullman’s retelling, Jesus and Christ are twin brothers. Both are flawed, as all humans are. They both believe in the coming of the Kingdom of God but it is in the method of preparation that their views differ. Beyond that, I don’t want to say much more because you already know this story and any twist I reveal would spoil the retelling for you. Every time we tell a story from memory a little detail changes in the retelling. If it is a witnessed event, everyone will remember it a bit differently. I think in part this is a theme of the novel. Sometimes we see what we want to see. Sometimes we change something for dramatic effect.
Although I did find the subject matter interesting and at times even mysterious, there are some passages which are excessively long. They tended to be Jesus speaking or giving a sermon with very little interruption. I’ll be honest here and say that in those parts I was a bit bored.
I know this book caused considerable controversy when it was first published. I think it’s a challenging subject matter to novelise and reinvent in an age where race, religion, ethnicity and belief are sensitive topics which shape identities and communities but can also be entirely misrepresented and misunderstood. I think having the courage to explore this story is to be commended. I wouldn’t call myself religious but religion (from a sociological point of view) fascinates me.
This book won’t be for everyone. But if you enjoy thinking and looking at the world from different viewpoints, it is a rewarding read. I have never read anything like it before....more
Night Owls is a sweet, romantic read that will make your heart soar! I love this book. I could read it again and again. But don’t let my overly romantNight Owls is a sweet, romantic read that will make your heart soar! I love this book. I could read it again and again. But don’t let my overly romantic tendencies fool you; the themes of this book are serious – mental illness, family breakdown, trust and acceptance – the meaning runs deep.
Beatrix wants to wants to be an anatomical illustrator, someone who creates images for textbooks. She has a plan to enter a competition to help her fund her college tuition. But in order to do that, she needs experience of illustrating human organs. She wants to draw cadavers at the local hospital but her mum doesn’t approve. At the beginning of the novel, she meets a mysterious boy on the night bus. His name is Jack and he has his own troubles. He’s potentially a wanted criminal but Beatrix can’t stop thinking about him.
This book is so well written that you feel every emotion of these two characters falling in love. You feel the thrill of the first meeting, the anticipation of waiting to see if they’ll meet again and the triumph of when they do. It’s really charming. Jack is not simply a rogue. He has a complicated life and is trying to keep up appearances for his family. His friends also seem troubled. Beatrix is determined and passionate about her art but her world is about to get more complicated by Jack and the return of her estranged father.
One of themes of this book is mental illness and how we treat those who experience these conditions. I really feel it’s important that as a society we talk more and learn more about mental illness. It will affect all of us in different ways. According to the charity Mind, one in four people will experience a mental health issue each year. In relation to this novel and the mental health condition of Schizophrenia, Mind explains that anywhere from one to three out of every 100 people may have a diagnosis for the condition. The statistics are vague because different measures are used in different surveys. You can read more facts about mental health on the Mind website.
This book is out is September and if you love a good, can’t-put-it-down-til-it-ends romance, then this is the book for you. It’s adorable (but meaty too). I am officially a fan. ...more
Summertime is a story of love, segregation, family relationships, and the reality for soldiers during the Great Depression.
Missy is a housekeeper andSummertime is a story of love, segregation, family relationships, and the reality for soldiers during the Great Depression.
Missy is a housekeeper and nanny for the Kincaid family who live in Heron Key, Florida. In the height of summer the weather is hot and humid. Henry, a First World War veteran, along with his comrades, takes the only employment opportunity offered to them on a public works project. The conditions are abysmal, and the men who are likely traumatised from their wartime service, are not welcomed with open arms by the locals. Tension is high at the Independence Day celebration on the beach. As locals gather to watch the fireworks, the sparks fly!
This story also follows the town’s doctor, police officer, the local store owner. The list goes on. I really wanted to love this book. On this face of it, many of the themes are issues that matter to me: civil rights and justice for all. But the style of the writing in this novel just didn’t set my world on fire. There were so many characters that meant in the beginning it was difficult to remember who they are were. Their voices weren’t distinct enough so in the third person roving narrative, I was lost at times.
Their predicament was something that should move you to tears. The veterans, abandoned by the government, were left to the mercy of the worst ever hurricane to strike North America.
The love story between Henry and Missy should have kept my attention. I’m a hopeless romantic after all. But I just didn’t feel the emotion leaping of the page.
Perhaps the style of writing was just not for me. This is entirely possible. There are lots of quotes in the book from readers who did feel a connection to the story. But I think that this book tried to tell too many stories. The author wanted to tell the story of the veterans and how the government failed them. (It says so in an author’s note). I think this would have been a much more powerful novel if she had focused on that and not all the other characters that inhabited the small town of Heron Key. It would be a different book but all the more powerful for it.
I found this review really hard to write. I guess it is a case of not every book is for every reader. ...more
Shadow Study is the first novel in a new fantasy series by Maria V Snyder. It’s a story of power and conflict, love and loyalty.
The story follows YeleShadow Study is the first novel in a new fantasy series by Maria V Snyder. It’s a story of power and conflict, love and loyalty.
The story follows Yelena and Valek and takes place almost a decade on from the events in the Poison Study series. Yelena is the Liaison between the realms of Sitia and Ixia. Valek is still the commander’s right hand man. The story begins with an assassination attempt on Yelena’s life as she travels to meet Valek. The attack leaves Yelena vulnerable as she loses her powers. Keeping her predicament secret from Valek, she returns to Sitia to seek help from the Masters and the Council. But her enemies are many and she doesn’t know who she can trust. Meanwhile Valek returns to the Commander to find that security is more than a little lax and that the Commander is testing him...
This book is as thrilling and dramatic as all the other books I have read by the author. She has a wonderful way of creating tension and making you fear the worst is about to happen. It really keeps you turning the pages. Of course, the love story between Yelena and Valek is at the heart of this book and that will please her fans: Especially me.
There is the usual cast of colourful characters Janco and Ari, Opal and Devlen, Leif and Irys all make an appearance. But there are some new characters too and one in particular who really shakes things up. I think most people will guess how it ends but it doesn’t make it any less exciting.
What I loved most about this story was learning about how Valek came to be an infamous assassin and the most feared man in all of Ixia. Imagine a man who leaves you a sculpture on your pillow as a warning to tell you you’re about to be assassinated – terrifying! And yet it was wonderful to find out what drove him to become a cold-blooded killer.
Shadow Study is a fantastic fantasy read. If you haven’t read any of the books by Maria V Snyder, then go and grab a copy of Poison Study. You won’t be disappointed!...more
Counting by 7s is a bitter-sweet tale of tragedy, perseverance, friendship and hope. It will make you laugh. It will bring a tear to your eye.
Willow CCounting by 7s is a bitter-sweet tale of tragedy, perseverance, friendship and hope. It will make you laugh. It will bring a tear to your eye.
Willow Chance was adopted as a young child and flourished with her new parents but sadly at the beginning of the novel, her life is yet again struck by tragedy and she becomes an orphan. She’s intellectually gifted and not everyone understands her. She tries to make sense of the world in her own unique way. Willow observes plants, animals and diseases and conducts studies into their properties. When her parents pass away, her life is turned upside down. Yet Willow is a change-maker. Her presence impacts the lives of those around her and she transforms others even as she tries not to put down roots.
This story is really easy to get into. Willow’s voice rings clear and you can’t help but like her and admire the things she does for others. Sometimes she doesn’t mean even mean to effect change but it happens anyway. That is what is really charming about her.
The story is written in the first person with Willow as the narrator. But rather unusually, we divert from Willow to read the events experienced by other characters like her counsellor Dell, the taxi driver Jairo and her friend’s mum Pattie. An interesting approach and for this book it works well. It allows you can see the plot coming together and want to see the best possible outcome for Willow.
I think the title doesn’t do this book justice. It is quirky but it doesn’t (for me) capture the spirit of the book. It’s a book about growing towards the sun, about doing good in the world and seeing the best in people. The fact that Willow has a habit like ‘counting by 7s’ is almost irrelevant to the heart of the story. Although it is significant to her as she changes through the course of the novel. It doesn’t really communicate the joy that her influence on others brings into the world and to the reader as they enjoy this book. But whatever the title, this is a wonderful, emotive read that sweeps you into Willow’s world and the Gardens of Glenwood.
Counting by 7s is a heartfelt, endearing book. I really enjoyed reading it. Highly recommended. ...more
Blown Away is a wonderfully adventurous picture book which delights the reader with its cheeky animal characters and its bright setting.
The story begiBlown Away is a wonderfully adventurous picture book which delights the reader with its cheeky animal characters and its bright setting.
The story begins with Penguin Blue who is taking a kite for a flight for the first time. He gets blown away and calls for help to his animal friends to help him. They get blown along too and thus they embark on their adventure.
Blown Away is a rhyming picture book and has a lively rhythm. It’s a perfect read aloud book. There is ingenuity in the illustrations which adds charming details like the blue whale becoming the school bus.
This is also a really useful book for beginning to teach the idea of animal habitats and adaptation. The penguins find it too hot in the rainforest. It would be a nice starting point to discover why some animals live in cold climates and some in tropical, humid climates.
I read this book to the Nursery children and to a Year 2 class. It was great to see the different things they noticed and the questions that the older children asked about the language and the setting.
Blown Away is a must have for any primary school library. It’s fab!...more
Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse is funny, quirky adventure story. It’s full of friendship, imaginative characterisation and a daft, adorable humourGoth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse is funny, quirky adventure story. It’s full of friendship, imaginative characterisation and a daft, adorable humour.
Ada Goth is a spirited and polite girl who lives with her father – Lord Goth – at Ghastly-Gorm Hall. Her mother died from a terrible accident and he is still grieving. Ada is rather lonely at the beginning of the story until she meets the ghost of a mouse and sets out to discover how to help him.
This is a truly bonkers book. It has Chris Riddell’s unique stamp all over it. The humour in the choice of character name and the playing with exaggeration – for example, he plays with the concept of the secret garden.
Ghastly-Gorm Hall is the sort of setting that will appeal to young readers. It’s an adventure waiting to happen and the added attraction of the illustrated form of this book really helps it come to life. Middle Grade readers are not likely to understand the concept of Gothic and this book is a great introduction to it.
One of the wonderful things about it is the use of exciting, unusual words. Sometimes I was wondering if some of these words were actual words or if they were completely fabricated. How much fun for young readers to find out though!
I wish there were more books of this length and this format for this market. It’s great for newly confident readers. The layout is kind on the eyes and the illustrations help readers picture every wacky detail from the clothing to the eggy-soldiers.
Overall, Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse is a great book which has been super popular at my school library. With its nomination for the Kate Greenaway Medal, it will surely be a hit with librarians and pupils for years to come....more
Tinder is a fairy tale retelling of Hans Christen Andersen’s The Tinder Box.
Otto Hundebiss is on the battlefields among the many bodies of the dead. HTinder is a fairy tale retelling of Hans Christen Andersen’s The Tinder Box.
Otto Hundebiss is on the battlefields among the many bodies of the dead. He cheats death and is given a set of dice to guide him on his way. It’s not a comforting read...
I’ve wanted to read this for ages but the shortlisting for the Kate Greenaway Medal has propelled it to the top of my reading pile.
I still haven’t quite decided what to make of it. I suppose it is the nature of the fairy tale before Disney gets their hands on it. Fairy tales are dark, full of deception and have a structure that’s so familiar. There were some very detailed descriptions of gore and blood and dark deeds. It’s definitely written with a young adult rather than middle grade audience in mind.
What I did like was the descriptions of the setting and some of the character references - like the lawyer being referred to as a quill. It stood out to me as clever. But sadly, I never really connected what Otto. I never lived his passion or felt his fear. Personally, I think the illustrations were distracting. My mind couldn’t conjure the darkness for itself and that worked against making the story come to life.
The illustrations that I did think were good were of the scenes where Otto goes to retrieve the box and the wolves become men. I thought the brothers were almost godly in stature and that was really evocative of the fairy tale tradition (for me anyway).
Overall, this is certainly different. I’m looking forward to reading what other people thought about Tinder....more
Fangirl is a story of moving on, growing up, finding love and finding yourself. It’s a sweet romance with an enthralling plot. I loved it!
I really didFangirl is a story of moving on, growing up, finding love and finding yourself. It’s a sweet romance with an enthralling plot. I loved it!
I really did not want this book to end. Reading it was an utter treat. It was sweet but convincing. I loved how it communicated the passion of readers through fan-fiction. The fan-fiction was so cleverly interwoven into the plot that I wanted to keep reading that story as well as the story of Cath.
Cath and Wren are twin sisters. When they go to college, everything changes. Wren wants to go it alone, Cath wants anything but. Propelled into college life, Cath would happily live in her dorm room and never leave. Except that her roommate Reagan is rather intimidating and she has about five different boyfriends. Cath must find her way through this whole new world. She must try to connect with people and make friends. But first she’ll need to leave her room...
There was a great authenticity to Cath’s writing struggle. It is surely easier to write about characters that already have a life and a soul and a whole world to inhabit. The fun is all about taking them on wild adventures. Writing for pleasure is like reading for pleasure. You do it for yourself so you can live in a make believe world. Now constructing a whole new world (that has logical boundaries and characters who are flawed) is much more difficult. But then taking those risks equates to greater rewards. (If this reads like an academic essay, please excuse me. It’s a consequence of being at UCL right now!) Cath’s dilemma resonates with me right now but not because I’m writing fiction. I’ve just conducted my own piece of research and hey, it was not easy, AT ALL! But now I’ve pretty much completed the assignment, I feel like it was a watershed moment. I have constructed something entirely my own. It feels like an achievement.
[Back to Fangirl]
I know some people didn’t enjoy this as much as Eleanor and Park but I totally did. It’s like trying to compare a marshmallow and a sherbet lemon. Both are amazing but completely different. Fangirl stands on its own as a beacon of romantic bliss. There are some very serious teen issues in this book: mental illness, isolation, alcoholism, learning difficulties. But the issues are not the heart of the book. The heart of the book is the most endearing love story. It’s wonderful. I truly didn’t want it to end and yet I gobbled it up.
I am a fangirl of Fangirl! Rainbow Rowell is a super-star of teen fiction writing....more