Posts Tagged ‘Reviewer-Daisy’

Fangirl

Rainbow Rowell
fangirlCath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.
Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She’s got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible . . .

In a plight to try and make my spot as a ‘proper, grown up reviewer’ VERY IMPORTANT, I have decided that my reviews will now have a level of maturity that may have not been prominent in my former reviews. Eh hem.

Fangirl is a fun, light-hearted, teen read which is not set in an apocalyptic future and no one dies in it so yayyy.

Fangirl is about a girl called Cath who has gone to college somewhere in America with cows (I think its college which is like Uni in the UK, I don’t understand the American schooling system) and she is the quieter, more reserved half of a pair of twins. Cath and her twin sister Wren enjoy the very popular book series ‘Simon Snow’ which is about the world of Mages and is an obvious joke about the very popular ‘Harry Potter’ series. In fact Wren and she are such massive ‘fangirls’ of Simon Snow that they write ‘fanfiction’ about it. Now if you don’t know what fanfiction is, I suggest you Google it because it will be easier.

Cath and Wren have stuck together ever since their mum left them with their slightly insane father and they have done everything together…until now. Wren, as the more outgoing of the two, suddenly decided that although the two twins would be going to the same college (Uni, whatever) that Wren wants to not share the same room as her sister and Cath was pathetically ‘dumped’ by her own twin. Cath being the quieter, more socially awkward one relied on her sister to do the socializing for her and she is slightly freaking out a lot.

The book opens on Cath being worried about there being a boy in her room and then finding that the boy’s name is Levi and he is not her roommate but her roommate Reagan’s ‘friend’ (Cath assumes that Levi is Reagan’s boyfriend, I, as the admittedly embarrassed lover of poorly written romance novels, see Levi as a potential lover for Cath. But we are getting ahead of ourselves). Levi is really annoyingly happy and friendly to everyone and Cath thinks that is threatening. Reagan and Cath are quite happy to ignore eachother and let Levi come in only when Reagan is there; otherwise he has to sit in the hallway. Cath gets on with her life without Wren okay but is struggling and Reagan stages an intervention when she finds out the Kath was ‘dumped’ by Wren and has been living on only cereal bars and peanut butter which she has hidden under her bed because she is too scared to go into the food hall and she doesn’t know where it is. Also she was running low because Levi kept secretly eating them when Cath was in class.

Anyway, as the two make an unlikely but brutally sarcastic friendship, Cath has to juggle her very popular fanfiction account which has thousands of followers; school work and her dad’s sanity decline because he is struggling to cope without the girls. Wren becomes a social butterfly with no time for Cath but a lot of time for alcohol fuelled parties and flirting with boys.

After a while, Cath becomes friends with a boy called Nick in her fiction writing class and they become writing partners and it turns out better for him because Cath is a very good writer and she writes all the best bits, they become writing partners for any assignment they get and eventually tries to claim credit on a piece of work that they both wrote together which causes a massive hoo-hah and the end of their friendship.

After lots of fun (!) school stress, she gets a boyfriend, sorts out life with her dad and Wren gets saved from alcohol poisoning and all is marvellous and dandy.
That was admittedly a very vague synopsis but you get the picture and this review is already too long and my tea’s gone cold.

Verdict: After reading all (most, slight over exaggeration) of Rainbow Rowell’s books, I have decided that this is my favourite. It is witty, full of sass and a generally nice read. I definitely would recommend to anyone of the ages 12 and up, not because of the content but because I think the humour would go over the head of anyone of a younger age.

Reviewed by Daisy

Publisher: Macmillian
Publication Date: September 2013
Format: ebook
Pages: 445
Genre: Contemporary romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Daisy (15)
Source: own
Challenge: None
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Happy 4th Birthday Big Book Little Book

Big Book Little Book is FOUR !!In actual fact we turned four yesterday but It sort of crepe up on us a. I can’t quiet believe it that it has been over four years since Big Book Little Book was conceived and our first review went live. Seriously, where has that time gone?!

I don’t think that I can truly express how much being a part of this blog means to me. There have been times over the last four years when I have wondered if it is really worth the time investment, but no matter how busy I am, how hetic life gets, I can’t quiet say goodbye to this project.

When I first helped to co-create this blog it was all about the books. As the years have passed it has become more and more about people.

When you think of a book worm you probably conjure up images of a lone person( yourself?), snuggled away in a quiet corner somewhere absorbed in another world. It isn’t necessarily a hobby that your would consider as being particularly sociable. While I still cherish the solitary activity of reading (even more so in a busy and growing household) the thing that I adore about being a member of the BBLB team is how it is the opposite of solitary.

It is so satisfying to work with such a dynamic team. Although the team is quite fluid with regards to the actual team members and how much time and input each of us are able to provide, we are all united in our passion for the written word. My regular book chats and emails with my fellow BBLB’s really enrich my week

Outside of the team, being a member of BBLB has opened up my world beyond my geographical social circle. It has allowed me to share my passion even further, from passing interactions with fellow bibliophiles via the comments box and social media, through to more meaningful friendships “in real life”. I’ve met and regularly interact with some amazingly creative, passionate and diverse people from all walks of life and from around the globe.

Wether this is your first visit, you are a regular commentator or you are one of my best bookish friends, thank you for being a part of this experience.

Now I’m going to hand over to some of the others as they share the things they love about Big Book Little Book and why they enjoy being a part of the team. I promise I haven’t paid them 😉 *blushes*

Caroline x

Daisy
I love blogging because it’s great to get lots of people to read books that I know are good and I don’t want others to miss out! Books are an integral part of my life and I love to read so I need to spread the love! Happy birthday Big Book Little Book! Here’s to another bookish year!

Faye
My favourite thing about BBLB is that it covers more than one section or genre, there’s something for everyone at any age. I also love the team and how it ranges in ages too. It’s got a great static page that promotes the site well. But mostly I love BBLB because Caroline isGreat to work alongside, she’s incentive, creative and passionate. All brilliant things in a team leader.

Helen
Well another Blogaversary has rolled around and it continues to be great to be a part of Big Book Little Book this year. Although I have found getting around to writing has got harder, (why does that happen when you have more time on your hands?!) I have continued to love the mixture of books I have had the chance to read. I still get that thrill out of seeing a book before it is on the shelves in the shops, or electronically whizzing out to us these days. As my children are getting older and we move on from picture books I have loved seeing them delve into books that I adored as child, it reminds you how much good stuff is out there to be looked forward to.

On top of that I was especially excited to see our name get mentioned in The Guardian as one of the top ten book blogs (check out the full list here)

I still remember the original four of us sitting around my kitchen table discussing what we could do and the possibilities, I don’t think any of us imagined it could get that far. So this year I am proud of our achievements and all who have contributed from the original team through the changes to those now faithfully doing a lot more than I am ☺

Prudence
So it’s BigBookLittleBook’s 4th anniversary and as a member of this lovely team I’ve been asked to write a few lines to explain what I enjoy about book blogging and why. Firstly and foremostly a big WHOOOOOPWHOOOOP!!! I haven’t been with them long but it’s privilege and such an achievement!!! Book blogging and reading are a means of an escape to an alternate reality full of wonderful characters I can pick and choose who to be and whose adventures to follow. But not only that I’ve had the amazing opportunity to meet the minds behind them both old dab hands and new ones grasping their pens for the first time. And it’s all so exciting! But it doesn’t stop there. As if that weren’t enough the blogging community made up of publishers, bloggers, fans and so many more is simply lovely and I’ve made so many new friends (real and fictional :p) who have stuck by me through the good book times and the not so good ones. Brought into this community and supported by our fearless reader errrmmm sorry I mean leader :p Caz, the reasons for which I enjoy book blogging are countless. And now if you don’t mind I have another book or two hundred to read 😉

To celebrate we are giving one international reader the chance to win one book of their choice ( up to the value of £10).
To enter, simply tell us your favourite thing about Big Book Little Book.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Divergent

Veronica Roth

DIVERGENT_B_Format_UK.inddSociety is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue, in the attempt to form a ‘perfect society’. On her Choosing Day, Beatrice Prior renames herself Tris, rejects her family’s Abnegation group, and chooses another faction.

Beatrice Prior lives in a dystopian future world, in a city surrounded by The Fence, keeping everyone safe from whatever lies behind. Her world is divided into 5 groups or ‘Factions’ based on desirable traits and created as a consequence of the war that got them landed behind The Fence. People who blamed the war on selfishness joined Abnegation, those who blamed the war on dishonesty joined Candor, and those who blamed the war on weakness joined the ‘warrior’ Faction, Dauntless. Stupidity, Erudite and aggressiveness, Amity.

The Factions do not mix and live very different lives. Beatrice lives in Abnegation she has been born into that Faction and has always seen herself as a misfit for the faction, their ability to totally forget themselves and their needs and to always help someone in need. Even small things like looking in the mirror are named vain and therefore selfish. Beatrice’s brother Caleb has got it down to a tee. He always helps the elderly person across the street and feeds the Factionless (those who have nowhere to go or have been kicked out of their faction). He belongs in Abnegation whereas Beatrice thinks she doesn’t.

As Caleb and Beatrice are both 16 they have to come up to their Choosing Ceremony where they pick whether to leave their Faction to join another or stay. Beatrice doesn’t know whether she wants to stay with her family or go.

Her Mum and Dad are both important members of the Abnegation society. Because they put their needs before their own, Abnegation are trusted to run the Government. Beatrice’s Dad works alongside Marcus who is getting a lot of questions thrown at him about the soundness of Abnegation’s teachings because Marcus’ son transferred to Dauntless the Warrior Faction 2 years ago and they are blaming Marcus for beating him.

Beatrice has to take an Aptitude test to see which Faction she has the best qualities for. She does the test and finds out she has an Aptitude for Abnegation…and Dauntless and Erudite. Having an affinity for more than one Faction is dangerous and means that you are hard to keep under control. “They call it Divergent”. You can’t tell your family, friends or anyone. You’re in a lot of trouble and have to try and pick the right Faction with no help whatsoever from the Aptitude Test. Beatrice surprises everyone with her choice…

A new name, new friends and a new life but with extra enemies and an elusive instructor who is mysterious and scary but also protective.

Please excuse me while I hyperventilate.

Okay, that over let’s proceed to the book. It is very good. If you get the chance to read it, it is strongly recommended.

Verdict: Teen Fiction! Woo! It’s a really brilliant book and will get you really excited. Fast-paced and thrilling. Not suitable for under 12s.

Reviewed by Daisy (13)

Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: February 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 489
Genre: Dystopian
Age: YA
Reviewer: Daisy
Source: Own copy
Challenge: None
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The Baking Life Of Amelie Day

Vanessa Curtis

Amelie DayAmelie Day loves to bake – cupcakes, biscuits, bread, tarts and muffins – so she’s thrilled when she’s invited to compete in Britain’s Best Teen Baker of the Year. But Amelie has Cystic Fibrosis and some days she can barely breathe. Determined not to let her condition or her mum stop her, Amelie musters all her flour power, but will it be enough to get her there?

Amelie Day loves baking, in fact she LIVES baking. She’s always concocting new recipes and making up cookie/cake/biscuit related ideas. She could bake for Britain, in fact she really could bake for Britain as she’s won a place in Britain’s Best Teen Baker competition and can’t wait to get started. Sadly, there’s a problem, she’s got cystic fibrosis, a condition which is hard to live with, some days she finds it hard to breathe.

Amelie has always wanted to win this competition and she tries out all her food out on her two best friends and guinea pigs, Gemma and Harry, they know how to help with her condition and she tries her best to get on with it but its really hard. Will she be able to overcome her condition (and her mum) and win the competition? Or even be able to get to the competition?

I don’t want to ruin the ending for you all but I know that there are some parts in the book which will make you laugh, some bits that will make you cry (I know because I cried!) and you will realise that people with CF are really brave and inspiring to get on with life like that.

Verdict: I think this book is inspirational, brilliantly written and covers important topics.

Reviewed by Daisy (13)

Publisher: Curious Fox
Publication Date: September 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 240
Genre: Baking, Diversity, Disability
Age: YA
Reviewer: Daisy
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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#CountDownTo7th August : Interview With Emma Carrol

Big Book Little Book are absolutely delighted to host author Emma Carroll as she counts down to the August 7th release of her second novel The Girl Who Walked On Air . The Girl Who Walks On Air is a beautifully written middle grade novel which perfectly balances breath holding daredevilry and adventure with a compelling personal mystery.
TGWWOAAbandoned as a baby at Chipchase’s Travelling Circus, Louie dreams of becoming a ‘Showstopper’. Yet Mr Chipchase only ever lets her sell tickets. No Death-Defying Stunts for her. So in secret, Louie practises her act- the tightrope- and dreams of being the Girl Who Walked on Air. All she needs is to be given the chance to shine.
One night a terrible accident occurs. Now the circus needs Louie’s help, and with rival show Wellbeloved’s stealing their crowds, Mr Chipchase needs a Showstopper- fast.
Against his better judgement, he lets Louie perform. She is a sensation and gets an offer from the sinister Mr Wellbeloved himself to perform in America. But nothing is quite as it seems and soon Louie’s bravery is tested not just on the highwire but in confronting her past and the shady characters in the world of the circus . . .

Both TGWWOA and your debut, Frost Hollow Hall, are set in the Victorian era. What is it about historical fiction and this time period that inspires you?

To me, historical fiction gives you freedom to put characters in situations that wouldn’t occur nowadays- a 13 year old walking a tightrope without a safety harness, for instance. There weren’t health and safety laws, crash helmets, antibiotics. Danger is everywhere in historical fiction!

Reading your work you really get a feel for the Victorian era, but without feeling like you are being given a history lesson. It is obvious you have had to undertake a great deal of research in order to get the setting of your books just right. What is your favourite fact/ piece of research about the era that you didn’t include in your work?

When researching ‘Frost Hollow Hall’ I found out about post mortem photographs, where people had their picture taken with a loved one who’d just died. It was one of many Victorian grieving rituals which to us seem creepy, but at the time were a popular mark of respect. For The Girl Who Walked On Air I loved reading about Charles Blondin. I had no idea he’d cooked an omelette on a tightrope over Niagara Falls! What a nutter!

On the surface Frost Hollow Hall and TGWWOA are two very different novels. Where do you find your inspiration for such varied subject matter?

‘Frost Hollow Hall’ was inspired by my love of snowy winters and stories set in creepy old houses. I’d like to say ‘The Girl Who Walked On Air ’is inspired by my talent for tightrope walking, but I’d be lying, sadly. One day I was looking at pictures of C19th circuses. It got me wondering what would motivate someone to risk their life every day just for entertainment.

Both of your published works feature very determined young women. What do you think Tilly (Frost Hollow Hall) and Louie’s strongest personality traits are? What are their weakest?

Great question! I think Tilly’s biggest strength is her loyalty to Kit and to her family. Louie’s is her determination to succeed. She isn’t afraid of danger. Weaknesses? Tilly’s rather hot-headed and proud. Louie tends to get the wrong end of the stick sometimes, and she is a bit of a show-off!

Which of your Characters do you identify with the most? Why?

I recognise bits of myself in Tilly and Louie. I think I’m loyal to those I love. I can also be a bit hot-headed and jump to the wrong conclusion at times! They’re both much braver than me- I’d never walk a tightrope, or go up a pitch-black staircase at night. No way!

What is it that attracts you to writing fiction for young people, particularly for the 9-12 year old age range?

For the past 18 years I’ve worked as an English teacher, so I’m around young people a lot. That said, the age I write for is a bit younger than the age I teach. When I started Frost Hollow Hall, I wanted to write a good old-fashioned romp of a story, something that was engaging and uplifting to read. Faber pitched Frost Hollow Hall at the 9-12 market, and I’m so glad they did. School events with this age group have been awesome!

In Louie’s world the ultimate achievement is to become a showstopper. In order to achieve this dream Louie has to maintain her belief and self-confidence in her abilities in the face of external criticism and indifference. Gabriel’s struggles however are internal. He has to face his fears, fears exacerbated by his past experiences. For you how much was writing and publishing a novel about grit and determination in the face of external obstacles and how much was about facing your own internal obstacles?

Interesting question! Writing involves determination. It takes time. It can’t be rushed. Yet it has to fit in around a day job (for me, anyway) and family life. It is hard work- like always having homework, I heard someone once say! But I’d not change it for the world.

Like Gabriel in’ The Girl Who walked On Air’, I think most writers face internal struggles. Not a day goes by where I don’t think ‘ ugh that’s a terrible chapter/scene/sentence’ and when other people say it…well…it can hurt a bit. But at some point you do have to take a deep breath and let go.

Did you have to overcome any personal challenges in your quest to become an established author?

The hardest thing has been juggling a job I find challenging with one I’m desperate to spend more time doing. I’m still so new to all this, so ask me again in a few years time.

IN TGWWOA there is certain level of audience expectation that the circus performers continually push themselves to create and perform more daring stunts. While I’m sure that your publishers didn’t expect you to risk life and limb for the cause, how has your experience of writing a second novel differed from your debut?

Ha ha luckily no they didn’t! Writing The Girl Who Walked On Air to a deadline gave me my first real flavour of writing professionally ie less staring out of windows/checking twitter, more getting words down. I felt I understood the process of crafting a book better so when the editing began, I didn’t quite feel so overwhelmed.

Louie spends many years perfecting her craft before she is ready to share it with the world. Do you have any secret talents you would like to share with us? 😉

If I told you they’d no longer be secret, would they? 😉

While undoubtedly born with a natural talent, I loved that Louie did not just rely on her talent to achieve her dreams. It took practice, self-confidence, determination and commitment to the cause. In our society of instant gratification, reality TV stars and the desire to be famous for five minutes, how important do you think it is for young people, especially girls, to have positive role models like Louie in their life?

This is a very important question on a huge, huge issue. I’d like to think Louie embodies the qualities you mention, yet she’s also flawed. She has to work for what she wants, often doubting herself in the process. She’s an ordinary person doing extraordinary things. It’s vital for girls-and boys- to have positive female role models.

Who are your favourite literary role models?

I do have a soft spot for characters who defy the odds. Jane Eyre isn’t pretty or accomplished, but she knows her own mind. Katniss Everdeen isn’t privileged or highly trained yet she’s a survivor. Hazel Grace Lancaster is terminally ill and still manages to fall in love. It’s a satisfying arc.

Do you envision revisiting any of your characters? In particular, Daisy would love to know if you would ever write a sequel to Frost Hollow Hall?

You’re not the first to ask that question, Daisy! At the moment there are no plans for a Frost Hollow Hall sequel. But, never say never. In the final chapter I did deliberately keep a few story threads open…

Your debut novel Frost Hollow Hall is a ghost story and your current work in progress, “In Darkling Wood” (TBC) also appears to contain a supernatural element. What is it about the supernatural that interests you as a writer? And on a personal level would you believe in Kit (Frost Hollow Hall) if you saw him as a ghost?

As a child I loved anything spooky or ‘unexplained’- obviously, I still do! I think it comes with having an active imagination, the idea that we don’t ‘know’ everything and that some things are beyond our understanding.
Would I believe in Kit Barrington? Absolutely. I’ve never fallen into a frozen lake, but once when I was very ill, I had a dream about a work colleague who had just died. He sat on my bed and told me I was going to be all right. This was my inspiration for how Kit appears in Tilly’s dreams.

Are you able to tell us anything about your current work in progress?

‘Alice’s little brother Theo is dangerously sick. When a donor is found, he’s rushed into hospital for a heart transplant and Alice goes to stay with Nell, the grandmother she barely knows. Darkling Cottage is a strange old place, surrounded on all sides by an even stranger wood.

Meanwhile Flo is writing letters to her older brother Alfred. It’s November 1918. The war is over at last. She can’t wait for him to come home. There’s something in the wood she’s dying to show him. No one else will believe what she’s seen….’
The first wobbly draft is nearly complete.

emma carrollFrost Hollow Hall won The North East Book Award 2013. It was longlisted for the Brandford Boase Award 2014 and The Leeds Book Award. It was named a top book of 2013 by The Daily Telegraph, and was a LoveReadingForKids Book of the Year 2013.
When she isn’t writing, Emma Carroll teaches English part-time at a secondary school in Devon. She graduated with distinction from Bath Spa University’s MA in Writing For Young People. ‘Frost Hollow Hall’ is Emma’s debut novel for Faber. Her second, The Girl Who Walked On Air is out in August 2014. It is set in a Victorian circus. She is currently working on a third book based on the Cottingley Fairies story.
In another life Emma wishes she’d written ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier. She lives in the Somerset hills with her husband and two terriers. To learn more about Emma and her work visit her website here

Questions by Daisy and Caroline

countdownbuttonv2A huge thank you to Emma for taking the time to answer our questions. The Girl Who Walks On Air will be published by Faber and Faber on the 7th of August.
To learn more about the fantastic #CountDownTo7thAugust blog tour and to take a look at the full schedule visit the Count Down YA website here.

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Looking At The Stars

Jo Cotterill

looking at the starsAmina’s homeland has been ravaged by war for many months, but so far they are safe, together. When a so-called liberating force arrives in the country, the family think their prayers for peace will soon be answered, but they are horribly wrong. The country is thrown into yet further turmoil and Amina’s family is devastated. Her elder brother is accused of being a ringleader in a rebel group and goes into hiding. Her father is then killed for apparently protecting him. The women of the family—Amina, her two sisters, and their mother—have no choice but to leave their home town, along with thousands of others, and head for a refugee camp. But there are even more challenges ahead

I loved this book, it is so honest and innocent but at the same time it is powerful and heart-breaking.

Amina Ambrose lives in Talas, an unsteady Dictatorship country on an unknown continent. The army who run it are called the Kwana and it is starting to exploit its power over the people in Amina’s country. They have made rules in the country that are unjust, such as making females wearing headscarves and men having the power over the women and boys having power over the girls. A revolution is needed to save the country. Amina is about 14; she has an amazing imagination-brilliant for making up stories and telling them to her family. She lives with her Mother-Mamie, her Father-Potta, her older brother-Ruman, her sister, who is a year older-Jenna and her little sister-Vivie.

Kwana have bought in a new rule: ‘Depending on your status or your family’s status you will be given a letter of heritage which you will have to wear at all times’. The letters of heritage determine your rank in life so if a family member was part of the Kwana you would be a letter A. The highest rank is a letter A. Amina’s family is an H. These letters were turning friends against friends and brother against brother. A family friend mysteriously disappeared and on their door was painted the letter Q.

Things started to look very bad. People were being shot, many were punished for saying anything bad against the Kwana and after school one day Ruman decided that he wasn’t going to have it anymore and left to join an underground Rebel movement. Even at night Amina could hear her parents whispering things like: “we’ve got to tell them, sooner or later they’re going to find out”…

War had broken out between the Kwana and an invading country to help save the people of Amina’s country. In the dead of night the Kwana broke into Amina’s house demanding to know where Ruman was. The family didn’t know so in the end the Kwana dragged them out of the house and tried to get answers. Amina tried to lie to save her family but still there was a devastating outcome.

There was no way that Amina’s family could remain in Talas so they left-and got stuck at a checkpoint. The Kwana were examining identification papers to see if they could leave. Sadly Amina’s family had trouble at the checkpoint (by the way, I’m not saying what happened because I don’t want to give it away!) and now Jenna and Amina had lost Vivie and Mamie! Can you guess what happens to the Ambrose family? Read the book to find out!

Verdict: I think this book was a real eye-opener to the wars ravaging other countries in the world. It shows peoples genuine struggle to stay alive and I thought it was a very good book and it was very interesting.

Reviewed by Daisy (13)

Click HERE to read author Jo Cotterill’s fabulous guest post about why boys should read books about girls.

Publisher: Random House Children’s
Publication Date: February 2014
Format: Hardback
Pages: 288
Genre: War
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Daisy (13)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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Wonder

R.J. Palacio

wonder“My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”
Wonder is probably the most thought-provoking book I’ve read in a long while. It makes you feel angry about the injustice of the world. August feels ordinary, He does ordinary things, he has an Xbox and a dog and he eats ice-cream and rides his bike like an ordinary boy. The problem is he doesn’t look ordinary. How can you blend in when kids run away screaming from you in the playground? How can life be easy when you were born to stand out? August’s parents both had the same gene; he had a 1 in 50,000 chance but I guess he was unlucky, because he has treacher Collins Syndrome.

Definition-. “Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS), also known as Treacher Collins–Franceschetti syndrome, or mandibulofacial dysostosis is a rare autosomal dominant congenital disorder characterized by craniofacial deformities, such as absent cheekbones. Treacher Collins syndrome is found in about 1 in 50,000 births. The typical physical features include downward slanting eyes, micrognathia (a small lower jaw), conductive hearing loss, underdeveloped zygoma, drooping part of the lateral lower eyelids and malformed or absent ears” (Wikipedia, 2014)

These are the normal symptoms and there is nothing else apart from your facial features that are affected by the syndrome. So you feel completely normal but look far from it. You want to know the worst part? There isn’t anything he can do about it.

He’s never been to school and his parents want him to go, although they’re really not sure themselves. How will everyone react? It’s hard starting a new school but how hard would it be with a face that gives people nightmares? When he starts, it turns out OK, he knows people stare and point at him when he walks past and whisper about him behind his back. He does, however, quickly make friends with a girl called Summer and a boy called Jack Will. There is still one person who can’t get over it and he is really horrible to August. This book tells of all the hardships of life when people only look on the outside…

I really liked the book. But it was really sad. I like the fact that it was written bylots of different people’s point of view. I think it is not suitable for younger readers because it’s a very difficult topic and very hard to get your head around. And also, I suggest you read it with a box of tissues nearby as it is quite hard to read for the emotional reader (AKA me, I found myself with tears in my eyes in more than 1 point…)

Verdict: Overall I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a good read and to have their thinking challenged about how we judge people.

Reviewed by Daisy (12)

Publisher: Corgi Children’s
Publication Date: January 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 215
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Daisy (12)
Source: Own copy
Challenge: None
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Darcy Burdock

Laura Dockrill

darcy burdockIntroducing Darcy Burdock, a new, cool, all-conquering girl character with a fresh and distinctive take on the world.
Ten-year-old Darcy is one of life’s noticers. Curious, smart-as-a-whip, funny and fiercely loyal, she sees the extraordinary in the everyday and the wonder in the world around her.
Written and illustrated by Laura Dockrill: author, poet & performer – think Lady Gaga meets Mother Goose.

Darcy Burdock is one of life’s thinkers she sees the amazing in everyday life around her. She thinks about everything and has a very active imagination. She often writes inventive stories and uses lots of people from her own life in these stories. She is a friendly character and you tend to fall in love with her because she’s so friendly and I love her because she also likes Glee!

She tells about her hectic life and how growing up as a tweenager (a between teenager- not quite a teenager or a child) affects her. Her life is quite normal but she has problems at school, nosey neighbours, annoying boys, rubbish siblings and equally annoying girls as well.

My favourite part in the story is when her sister doesn’t get chosen for a dance school and Darcy realises how important her sister is to her. Also there is a part whenever she walks into a room her parents stop whispering and her best friend Will is ignoring her. She feels really left out. Turns out they were planning a surprise birthday party for her.

Darcy Burdock is a very nice story with memorable characters but it’s quite short, I read it very quickly, and it ends very suddenly. It’s for younger tweens- about 9-11, and because I am 12 and it seemed like a book for younger children.

Verdict: If you are a fan of Lauren Child you would enjoy this book.

Reviewed by Daisy (12)

Publisher: Random House Children’s
Publication Date: March 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 278
Genre: Contemporary
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Daisy (12)
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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Treason (Secrets & Spies #1)

Jo Macauley
treasonFourteen-year-old Beth Johnson is a talented and beautiful young actress. She is also a spy. The year is 1664, and Charles II is on the throne, but all is not well in the bustling city of London, and there are those who would gladly kill the king and destroy the Monarchy. One morning, a mysterious ghost ship drifts up the Thames. Sent to investigate by the King’s Master of Secrets, Alan Strange, Beth quickly finds herself embroiled in a dangerous adventure. Will Beth be able to unravel the plot to kill the King before it’s too late?

Amazing! This book is very good for historical fiction novel devourers like me! So it’s 1664 and Beth is an actress at a theatre in London and a spy. She has been waiting for a while to get a good spying assignment and hopes that solving puzzles will help. The only problem is her arch enemy Benjamin Lovett is used to having the women parts in the plays but since the law changed, every theatre now needs a woman actor.

Being a spy is good, but that big assignment just hasn’t come yet and Beth is wondering if her Spymaster (Alan Strange) really doesn’t want her after all. So when she gets a call from him she rushes there to see what he wants. Her heart sinks as she gets assigned a ghost ship.

Meanwhile, John and his close friend William also go to investigate this Ghostship as he is a small junior Clerk and seeks adventure. Will disappears on the ship mysteriously, John is left alone. One day a pretty girl (aka Beth) turns up and asks him about the ship. Better together, they team up with a back street pickpocket and uncover the 2nd great gunpowder plot!

Will they save the king, rescue Will and warn everyone before it’s too late?

This book is very good and if you like historical novels this is definitely for you. This book is in the same genre as the ‘My Story’ series, although in my opinion not quite as good, but that is a lot to live up too! Definitely still worth a read though. I read this book in 4 hours and it was very good. Check out the others in the series: plague, inferno and New World.

Verdict: A very good book but may only appeal to a small age bracket (12-13 years)

Reviewed by Daisy (12)

Publisher: Curious Fox
Publication Date: June 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 224
Genre: Historical, Adventure
Age: YA
Reviewer: Daisy (12)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut author
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Love, Lies and Lizzie

Rosie Rushton

Love, Lies and LizzieWhen Mrs. Bennet inherits enough money to move into the kind of village she has always dreamed of, her daughters find themselves swept up in a glamorous life of partying and country pursuits. However, Lizzie and her sisters soon discover the truth.

I was having a go at reading some Jane Austen books and my librarian said that if I was into those then I might be into this book. It was based on ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen so I thought I should give it a try. So I did. Here goes, so Mrs Bennet and Mr Bennet have 5 daughters (I know! 5!) Jane, Lizzie, Meredith, Katy and Lydia. They move to a posh village with massive fancy houses. Lizzie likes the new house because she can have her own room. Anyway her family get invited to a party to meet some of the people in the village. Lizzie meets Charlie and Caroline Bingley and Charlie’s best friend James Darcy. James has a hate for Lizzie because he grew up in a posh all-boys school and Lizzie says how amazing her State school was. She was showing off and he hated it.

On the other hand though Jane had her eye on Charlie and Charlie quite liked her back. While all this was happening ( it’s a bit hard to follow, can you see why?) Lydia had ran off to a Club with another boy called Danny who was also at the party …and breathe… ok, so all the others went off to find Lydia and Katy (who was a suck up to her twin and liked to follow her around) and when they were at the Club Lizzie overheard James saying to Charlie that he didn’t like her and Lizzie left the Club in anger and everyone had to follow, it annoyed everyone as they didn’t want to go.

Sound familiar to all you Jane Austen lovers out there?

Find out about thrills, spills, make ups, break ups and luuuuurve!

Verdict: Very good book, for ages about 12-16 and girls (or boys who like romance)

Reviewed by Daisy (12)

Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Publication Date: January 2009
Format: Paperback
Pages: 208
Genre: Retelling
Age: YA
Reviewer: Daisy (12)
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British book
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