This is a great fun middle grade book about girl friendships, navigating the new world of secondary school, and finding your hidden talent. Cassidy isThis is a great fun middle grade book about girl friendships, navigating the new world of secondary school, and finding your hidden talent. Cassidy is such a strong character with a distinct twelve year old voice and a funny outlook on her changing life: new friends and social groups at secondary school, and a growing family (her mother is pregnant with twins). It reminded me at times of Adrian Mole aged 13 and 3/4ths. There are also some hilarious gags - especially in the reply letters Cassidy get from the various organisations she writes to trying to discover her talent....more
Beautifully written. It made me tear up a couple of times. Both Hannah and Aaron felt so real - a mass of contradictions, bad decision, stupid bullishBeautifully written. It made me tear up a couple of times. Both Hannah and Aaron felt so real - a mass of contradictions, bad decision, stupid bullish or bravado teenage logic.
Hannah at first was grating in the extreme. But then her character really grows in a subtle way across the course of the book. It is brilliantly done - and it doesn't feel like a character 'arc' - more like as she moves away from her old life another side of her personality comes out. I did feel there could be a little more about her actual pregnancy and her worries about being a mum, but in a way it is kind of a character trait that she's not thinking so much about the future only about the things going on now.
Aaron was a lovely character too, trying to atone for his past by being the perfect guy to Hannah. At points he comes over a little too perfect, like the hero Hannah needs, rather than how he might behave considering his own self doubts. I totally loved him and believed him as a character, but I wanted Hannah to confront his oddness a bit more, and I get why she wouldn't - because she doesn't want to spoil things. But he is like a cuckoo child a little bit, adopting someone else's family, and this creates conflict near the end.
Both characters are so likeable and full of depth. I love how the book ends, and I would definitely read a sequel to see how they deal with parenthood and their mixed up friendship/relationship. The nature of which is something created out of both their needs in that short space of time, and how would it develop when the rules changed? All this is so interesting that at the end I wished there was more. I so wanted to know how Hannah dealt with being a mother in her unique sometimes insightful sometimes scattered way. There's just so much potential for looking at that in the way she oscillates between being teenage and more mature in her handling of things. And how Aaron dealt with the truth being out there about him and the potential of a shift in his relationship with Hannah and her family, and how he'd be with the baby. And I would've loved to see how all the kids at school would be with Hannah as a mum. All that made me wish for a sequel and I hope one gets written one day!...more
This was the most fun thing I've read in a while - a cross between Jeeves and Wooster, Agatha Christie and Daisy Pulls It Off! With two great heroinesThis was the most fun thing I've read in a while - a cross between Jeeves and Wooster, Agatha Christie and Daisy Pulls It Off! With two great heroines in Daisy and Hazel....more
Dido Twite is a great heroine, all mouthy action, sharp elbows and ideas, and this is the first of the series I've read where she's the main characterDido Twite is a great heroine, all mouthy action, sharp elbows and ideas, and this is the first of the series I've read where she's the main character, but I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as my other two forays into Joan Aiken's many books - The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, and Black Hearts in Battersea – which I thought were both brilliant. Somehow the plot here is not as strong, it feels as if there's too much beginning and not enough end, because the denoument has brilliant possibilities, but is dealt with rather fast. Also the biggest disappointment for me in the book, there were no wolves, despite the fact the book starts with a big coach crash and Dido spends most of the time wandering round the countryside. It still has a lot of fun stuff though - including another of those outlandish and nefarious villainous plots that the baddies in Joan Aitken always seem to come up with....more
I was given a proof copy of RailHead to read and loved it. Packed with adventure and filled with unique story elements, it's a great sci-fi heist storI was given a proof copy of RailHead to read and loved it. Packed with adventure and filled with unique story elements, it's a great sci-fi heist story with a retro steampunky feel. Set on an interstellar rail network winding through the stars where, instead of spaceships, old fashioned trains travel through wormholes to visit other planets.
There's lots of intriguing world building that feels very immersive but is also in service of an interesting plot - rather than as can sometimes be the case, where you get slightly lost in the details of the world. It reminded me in parts of Perdido Street Station, and other theme elements are reminiscent of The Diamond Age or The Windup Girl, but being YA SciFi it feels more zingy and fun, light on its feet! Plus there's lots of amazing cliff hangers as Zen the young petty thief must use all his wits to perform the heist of his life on a speeding train!...more
This is such a gorgeous middle grade adventure story. I love the design of the book, the lovely silhouette illustrations of the animals and the map. PThis is such a gorgeous middle grade adventure story. I love the design of the book, the lovely silhouette illustrations of the animals and the map. Plus the opening setup at Spectrum hall, where we meet Kester and we're not exactly sure what's going on.
There's a great meeting scene with a scrabble board which works really well as a graphic feature of the text. And it's clever how Kester uses it communicate with Polly, because he can't talk to humans, only animals. Then I loved how it was reused later in the plot in another way.
The characters are very distinct personalities too - the horrible adults - and the animals each with their own quirk. I loved the General - the opinionated Cockroach, and the White Pigeon, who is always saying the opposite to the rest of his gang. The villain Captain Skulldiss is so brilliantly drawn - like a cross between Herr Flick and the Childcatcher – he actually made my skin crawl reading his first appearance. ...more
Four past midnight is the only Stephen King book I ever read. I first read it about 20 years ago, and the Langoliers is the story from this collectionFour past midnight is the only Stephen King book I ever read. I first read it about 20 years ago, and the Langoliers is the story from this collection that stayed with me vividly. I cannot remember any of the others.
Re-reading it now it seemed totally familiar. The story is just brilliantly cinematic. Perfectly set up and pace to build mystery and tension from the very start, withholding as much information as possible about the strange limbo space the characters find themselves flying into on their airplane. Although they are somewhat of a stock disaster movie bunch, the worst being the caricatured English secret agent type guy, Stephen King masterfully mixes between their own internal dramas and the tension building around them. Then plays them off against each other to milk every last piece of drama out of the strange situation the characters find themselves in. It is a great lesson in dramatic writing techniques, and a thoroughly original concept for a story....more
If you are trying to write a story about time or time travel, as I am! This is a great introduction to the theories and ideas developed around that suIf you are trying to write a story about time or time travel, as I am! This is a great introduction to the theories and ideas developed around that subject over the last couple of hundred years. It does get complex towards the end and some of the stuff about the time and the universe whooshed right over my head, but it seems a great basic overview of time theories from philosophy and physics and good for generating ideas....more
A fun and scary middle grade fantasy adventure for 9-12 year olds.
The creepy prologue, gives way to an opening chapter filled with action, and Moll mA fun and scary middle grade fantasy adventure for 9-12 year olds.
The creepy prologue, gives way to an opening chapter filled with action, and Moll makes an enjoyable and opinionated hyperactive-heroine, who barely stops moving throughout the book. She's the sort who says what she's thinks, and means what she says. Clearly and beautifully written with lots of action and movement, so you can almost see her. I loved her line in insults - calling Alfe a spudmucker, and telling him to wipe his behind on a tree-root.
The other characters are great too. Especially Moll's friends: Siddy and his earthworm porridge, and of course, Gryff the wildcat. Also Oak and the extended gypsy family who take care of the hyperactive Moll! and there's a scary coda at the end that sets up a new villain. ...more
This is probably my favourite book that I've read this year. But I don't know how to review it without giving away too much. Just to say that MelanieThis is probably my favourite book that I've read this year. But I don't know how to review it without giving away too much. Just to say that Melanie - the girl of the title - is an amazing and unique character, and the whole hook of the beginning of the book and the way it develops is completely brilliant. The way we first discovering Melanie imprisoned in a military base and are with her through all the horrors she suffers.
The way the story gradually opens out to reveal the other characters and their agendas, and thus what Melanie is imprisoned for. And then the way the story goes from there, as Melanie finds out the truth about herself and comes to terms with it, while enduring a gruelling journey with the other characters.
Even saying these few things I feel are almost spoilers, for a story that just builds and twist and keeps you on tenterhooks throughout....more