That Burning Summer has been reviewed and reviewed and reviewed – I must have read 20 reviews of it from other bloggers whilst try...more3.5/5 Review by Beth
That Burning Summer has been reviewed and reviewed and reviewed – I must have read 20 reviews of it from other bloggers whilst trying to fully form my final opinion of it and I’m left thinking I still don’t know. On one hand it has everything I personally want from a novel, World War Two theme, a multicultural element in the form of Henryk being Polish and a plot which should more than have kept me captivated. For the most part it did but some elements seemed so fantastical and odd they drew my attention away from the quality of the novel. Some of Ernest’s actions, being only twelve, seem almost a step beyond what I see as believable and the ending felt a little rushed. That’s all the negatives out of the way anyway. The epilogue ties some loose ends but I think a little more novel could have meant no need for an epilogue – not every novel needs one. Aside from the clear wartime element That Burning Summer can be read as a powerful coming of age novel for all the leading characters. Each of them appears to be entering the next major stage in their lives and Syson depicts this wonderfully. The language is wonderful and feels authentic, as if you can feel Syson’s research coming through (subtly of course), and though the war is ever present their village and Peggy’s predicament are kept the focus which is really refreshing – life did go on despite war. Some of the smaller almost snapshot elements make the novel more of a success for me. Though the plot is captivating I found myself more interesting in the small elements and the details of daily life which Syson ensures are included – adding more to the authentic feel of the novel. On top of all this the cover is awesome and reading about its evolution is also fun too. (less)
Oooh princess culture, one of my favourite things. Though my eldest daughter is slightly in love with Tiana, the princess from The Princ...moreReview by Beth
Oooh princess culture, one of my favourite things. Though my eldest daughter is slightly in love with Tiana, the princess from The Princess and the Frog I’m not buying into Disney just yet and am all too aware of how damaging the princess stereotype can be. This book could not have been a better choice for me. It gives a different, factually based, account of some real life princesses who didn’t quite meet the ideal or in some instances surpassed it. I knew I would love this book from the introduction where McRobbie mentions another of my favourite non-fiction works When Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein. I knew from this point McRobbie knew where she was coming from and I was hooked. What follows is a more light-hearted series of stories of princesses from history who’ve been a little more believable and a little less fairy tale. The author’s voice is powerful and distinct through with the occasional quip added within the stories displaying her clear stance when it comes to the modern princess ideal. Some of the princesses, Anne Boleyn, Marie Antoinette are pretty well known although the stories told were not. I enjoyed learning Marie Antoinette’s last words and the reasoning behind them. My favourite was probably Stephanie von Hohenlohe, the princess who was awarded a Gold Medal of the Nazi Party for her services – favourite may be the wrong word but I certainly found her story extremely interesting and I was surprised I hadn’t already heard of her! Princesses from around the world are included from Chinese warriors to murderous Ukrainians and it certainly shows the princess ideal a new light. McRobbie’s tone is light and flippant throughout which adds to the entertainment factor of many of these stories and it definitely makes history more accessible and enjoyable. When I was young I had a Book of Kings and Queens and my favourite facts were the squareness of Queen Anne’s coffin because she was so large and the creepy tale of the Princes in the Tower. I think it’s safe to say I would have lapped up Princesses Behaving Badly. (less)
This novel doesn’t leave anything to chance or allow for even a moment’s breathing space. It moves quickly, thrillingly and you’re...more2.5/5 review by Beth
This novel doesn’t leave anything to chance or allow for even a moment’s breathing space. It moves quickly, thrillingly and you’re given a fascinating insight into life inside an American prison. The confusion as to why the protagonist is there is the most confusing stumbling block to get over initially but once everything starts to demystify the novel improves. Albano’s characters are pretty one-dimensional which is quite a negative point but as they are really just examples in a novel which seems too essential be about the prison system and the state of life inside jail it doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem. Albano’s descriptions of prison and prison life are perhaps the best bits of the novel as it feels much more genuine and authentic than the characters or plot. I wanted to know what was going to happen but I wasn’t particularly invested into the fates of any of the characters. The realistic style of this novel means the language is blunt, profane and the dialogue is short and snappy. I read to the end because I wanted to know what was going to happen but I wasn’t particularly enthralled, mainly due to the plot not really keeping me entertained. As a portrait of an American prison it’s great but as a novel – not for me. (less)
Cross my Heart is another book after my own heart! World War Two Resistance in Belgium is something I knew next to nothing about but as...moreReview by Beth
Cross my Heart is another book after my own heart! World War Two Resistance in Belgium is something I knew next to nothing about but as another facet of World War Two history I was hooked from simply reading the synopsis. I’m loving how more and more authors are writing about this period of history in different ways and making it accessible to younger readers who are more than likely being let down by our less than satisfactory National Curriculum (despite hundreds of truly fantastic history teachers). Anyway, that’s not why I’m here. Cross my Heart is Nicole’s story and from page one I was invested in her character and on her side. Despite being only 15 she is committed to playing a role in the resistance and her strength and bravery and that of her friends is both astounding and believable. She becomes a spy, which is hard to believe of a 15 year old girl, and her entire life is lived on the basis of when she’ll be caught, there are no ifs and buts in wartime Belgium. Alongside her resistance life there are glimpses of normality, love and teenage development. It’s all thwarted of course as the characters are forced to grow up far too quickly. When Nicole becomes Coco a whole new terrifying world is opened up to her. A world where everyone is a pseudonym from the Poet to Hawk to Owl and the harrowing accounts of what happens when the worst occurs are so powerfully written I found myself thinking about them for a long time after reading. Hope’s story is one of the saddest and most painful – I would love to know what Reid thought happened to her next. As the novel concludes there is a powerful big reveal which is both uplifting and devastating for Nicole. It’s the perfect way for the novel to conclude and this powerful look at the Second World War from a different angle once more should be read by as many people as possible. (less)
This book was about a world where magic is power, and the non-magic majority live as slaves. The main character, Zara, is a m...moreReview by Bethan - Year 9
This book was about a world where magic is power, and the non-magic majority live as slaves. The main character, Zara, is a mage, daughter of the most powerful, yet evil mage of all, and during the book she joins the war- fighting against her father. My personal favourite part of the book is nearly right at the end, where a few crucial pieces of information are added, which link together certain confusing aspects of the story. This gives the book a whole new meaning than what was previously seen. My favourite character in the book is Swift, even though she is only really mentioned at the start of the book, she links the whole story together. The only thing I disliked about the book was some underdeveloped details, which didn’t quite fit in. I assume that there will be a sequel, where all the loose ends will be tied up. Other than this, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
I will look out for any other books by Ellen Renner, as I have greatly enjoyed reading it. As there was no issue with bad language or mature themes, I would recommend the book for 9-19 year olds. (less)
The book is about gifted people known as “messengers”. They experience blackouts and afterwards draw a picture of someone dyin...moreReview by Tomos - Year 8
The book is about gifted people known as “messengers”. They experience blackouts and afterwards draw a picture of someone dying. They have to “deliver the message” within two days and then they die. The main character is called Frances. She spends the story defying her gift and battling to change the fate of the people in her portraits.
POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT***My favourite part of the book is when Frances and Maxi save Kelly’s life at The Pink Barracuda. I like this part because it inspires hope and a chance to save lives. I liked Maxi because he was cool and helped Frances even when he didn’t know what the full situation was and shouldn’t have really. He was a great friend to Frances.***
I disliked the ending because it all happened very fast and an incident occured I didn’t agree with. I think the ending could have been written better. Yes, I would have liked to have seen the ending written differently. It was hurried and the quality of writing dipped slightly. I think it could be better.
I hadn’t heard of Edward Hogan before but I enjoyed this book very much. An excellent read. I would recommend this book to others because it was great. I think it suits the “12-15 teen fantasy” genre.
I don’t think the book is unsuitable. There are one or two uses of bad language in the book but I think this adds to the book by making the reader feel trusted and grown-up. Also, there is some romance in the book but nothing too mature.
I would give this book a 4 out of 5 star rating. A great story but the ending needs improvement.(less)
This book is about how two girls have a summer holiday and have gone to see their dad. However, strange things are happening i...moreReview by Chris - Year 7
This book is about how two girls have a summer holiday and have gone to see their dad. However, strange things are happening in their garden. But when the evil king of night come and kidnaps their dad the story races on. The girls have found out there are things called realms (other worlds) and there dad has been taken into them. The main character of the book is a girl called Taggie (short for Agatha). She also has a sister called Jemima. Throughout the book they go through a lot of different adventures in different realms. My favourite part of the book is when the Charmsward came along and Taggie developed her magical powers because I love fiction books with a bit of magic. My favourite character was Felix the squirrel because he was a very peculiar character. His little quirks made me smile. The thing that I didn’t like was the use of illustrations, as they stop the mind from imagining what the characters and realms are going to be like. If there was anything that I would want to see written differently it would be the relation with the tortoise because when it came along it seemed like the character would love them and they could help each other throughout but it didn’t happen. I would definitely read a book by this author again. If I were to recommend this to another person I would recommend it to people who like magic and pupils of Key Stage 3 because there are some rather difficult words. I would give this book 4/5 because it was a good pace and you could really relate to the characters. (less)
4.5/5 Review by Josephine Year 7 This is a hooking novel set in 1814 London. It tells the story of Emma Day, a young woman who is expected by all aroun...more4.5/5 Review by Josephine Year 7 This is a hooking novel set in 1814 London. It tells the story of Emma Day, a young woman who is expected by all around her to go to balls, wear dresses and find a suitor. But her and her two cousins are different; they never did fit in. Gretchen, Penelope and Emma don’t want to get married. Then one day everything is turned upside down when Emma finds a dead girl covered in frost and breaks the only thing she had of her mother’s, a perfume bottle. I loved reading this book and I would definitely recommend it to others (older readers would be best suited to this book, 12 year olds at the youngest). I am currently waiting for the next two books in the trilogy and cannot wait to get reading them. My favourite character would probably be Gretchen, Emma’s cousin, because she is totally different to everyone else and determined not to be a perfect example of a lady. In fact she wants to dress up as a boy and fight in the army against Napoleon rather than be a wife. Even though Gretchen is my favourite I think the other characters are imaginatively created and that Alyxandra is a very skilled author. One thing that wasn’t so good about the book was the start. It plunged straight into action and didn’t tell me any background information but in the end I managed to piece everything together. One thing’s for sure, this book can’t just be read to pass the time while your mind is on other things, it needs your full concentration and attention. Out of five I think this book deserves four and a half stars but I would definitely read this for yourselves and see what you think about it. This is an exciting romance story that will leave you hungry for more. The next book ‘Whisper the Dead’ carries on with the Lovegrove girls’ life with more danger, magic and romance than before as the Order stays in the shadows watching their every move and strange magical occurrences are happening all around them. (less)
Love this series so much. Heart breaking how spirits are crushed at such a young age and it takes a lifetime to out them back together Cannot wait for...moreLove this series so much. Heart breaking how spirits are crushed at such a young age and it takes a lifetime to out them back together Cannot wait for Dex's story(less)