Saturday, 31 March 2012

March review

A manic month for me workwise in March ....

Books read in March

Fever by Lauren Destefano
Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris
The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams
Deenie by Judy Blume
When you were mine by Rebecca Searle
Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
The Prince who walked with Lions by Elizabeth Laird
Unrest by Michelle Harrison
Fateful by Claudia Gray
A Million suns by Beth Revis
The Last Echo by Kim Derting
Fever by Dee Shulman
Eve by Anna Carey
Raising Demons by Rachel Hawkins
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Girl Stolen by April Henry
Fear by Michael Grant
The Seeing by Diana Hendry

Favourite Book read in March

Unrest by Michelle Harrison
So creepy and brilliantly written. I loved it

Favourite book published in March

The Rising by Will Hill
I read this over Christmas and loved every page. I am so glad that everyone else is finally getting a chance to read this bad boy!


Bookish Highlights of the month

  • I went to the Michael Grant event run by the Norfolk Children's Book Group. As always with their events it was awesome. I enjoyed his talk and got my huge pile of books signed.
  • Harriet Castor came in and did an event at school. As you may know I am a huge fan and enjoyed every minute
  • I went to the Hachette Bloggers Brunch which, as it always is when I see my blogger friends, was awesome. I finally got to take Sarah to forbidden planet too!!
  • I got quoted in Egmont's edition of Dear Dylan. Very exciting indeed!

Friday, 30 March 2012

Review: Dark Storm by Sarah Singleton

Dark Storm by Sarah Singleton
Published by Simon Pulse


Ellie is staying with her maternal grandparents for the summer, while her recently bereaved dad takes off on holiday with his new girlfriend. Upset by his apparent callousness, missing her mother, and jealous for her dad's attention, she begins to spiral into depression. Her grandparents suggest she joins a local theatre group, to meet people her own age and get away from the dark thoughts that threaten to engulf her. But then she gets roped into a seance at the theatre, and is the only one who actually sees a real ghost. Now a spirit is contacting her from beyond the grave - and as the dead boy's story unfolds, Ellie finds herself falling in love with him. But if she solves his mystery and helps release his soul, will he be lost to her forever?


Dark storm is a beautifully written ghost story set in an atmospheric setting with interesting characters and an engaging storyline.

I have come to expect beautifully written prose from Srarh Singleton. She is one of those authors that I really think it a bit under-rated because no one seems to have heard of her but her writing is very good.

Ellie feels abandoned. her mother died not all that long ago and she is stuck staying with her grandparents while her father is off in America with his new girlfriend. In order to not have to spend the entire summer alone Ellie decides to join a local theatre group. This decision is one that changes her summer and helps to make her start to feel better. There she meets other teens and starts to finally get over losing her mother by making new friends and moving on.

The second thing that change her life for that summer is a chance find of an old model theatre in a  bookshop. She is fascinated by both it and the boy who made it. While in the process of making the theatre up something stirs the ghost of the boy who made it awake and from then on out Ellie helps him by researching more into who he was and finding out why he has unfinished business and in the process starts to fall in love with him

I loved the friendship Ellie had with Daisy, a local girl she meets at the drama club. I loved that they bounced off one another well and were quite expecting of each other despite that fact that Daisy is clearly in love with the Alex, the boy (and not ghost) who is falling in love with Ellie.

Coming from a small seaside town myself I really thought Sarah captured the feeling of living in one, the idea that, apart from the summer when the place is crowded with holiday makers, there's not that much to do and the frustrations of teens living there and the ways in which they find their own entertainment.

I won't tell you too much about the storyline except to say I thought it was really interesting and quite unique which is something I enjoyed because all too often of late I just feel like I'm reading the same book over and over again. A atmospheric and engaging read.
READ IT FOR THE BRITISH BOOKS CHALLENGE

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Review: Department 19 The Rising by Will Hill

The Rising (Department 19) by Will Hill
Published by Harper Collins


The pulse-pounding sequel to DEPARTMENT 19. Blockbusting sequel to DEPARTMENT 19, the biggest boy teen launch of 2011 – with over 25,000 copies sold in hardback and a devoted legion of Facebook fans.Amazing author Will Hill will be out on the road again in April to promote THE RISING, as well as maintaining a constant presence on Twitter.DEPARTMENT 6 IS THE ARMY.DEPARTMENT 13 IS MI5.DEPARTMENT 19 IS ALL THAT STANDS BETWEEN YOU AND THE END OF THE WORLD.After the terrifying attack on Lindisfarne at the end of the first book, Jamie, Larissa and Kate are recovering at Department 19 headquarters, waiting for news of Dracula’s stolen ashes.They won’t be waiting for long.Vampire forces are gathering. Old enemies are getting too close. And Dracula… is rising.

As you might well know if you follow my reviews one of the books that most took me by surprise last year was Will Hill's Department 19. Even my wimpy girl self loved it and want to get my very own T-Bone and go out vampire hunting with Jamie (PS Mr Hill making me love teenage boys is bad enough but then teasing me about their future fate on twitter is just mean!)

Department 19 is a secret government organisation which is responsible for hunting down all the vampires and making sure the rest of the population can sleep sound and safe in their beds every night without the knowledge such a thing actually exists. The people who work for them are hardcore fight machines trained and equipped using only the best, cutting edge and sometimes groundbreaking technology.

I thing I love most about this series is Jamie. At 17 he is one of the newest Operators in Department 19 following the footsteps of his father and grandfather. Last year he took down one of the oldest and most powerful vampire in the world earning himself a stellar reputation for the outset (not that always makes him all that popular). What I love about him is that underneath all that hard man image, and at times arrogance, he is still just a teenage boy who wants hang out with his friends, have a girlfriend and at times he just needs his mum. The boy is also a heart breaker in training which is where I fall down somewhat. This is really evident in the way his relationships develop both with Larissa and with his friend Kate through the book and how he manages to simultaneously upset both of them mainly through being a naive boy.

The story starts off in the same breakneck pace I've come to expect after reading Book 1 and didn't really let up all  the way through. This book is a monster at 700 pages long but I found myself zipping through it quickly and never having a moment to get bored with all the action that was going on around the main characters. There were several sections where I didn't quite believe that I had read (just you wait until you get to page 504 and have to peel your jaw up from off the floor).  The actions scenes had me torn between needing to know what happened next, not wanting to look at it (yes I know it is a book and I am being silly) as some scenes were all a bit too gory and in stunned disbelief about what had just gone down.

Going back to talking about cute teenage boys (and I will stop in a minute) the addition of Matt to the story, who you might remember from book 1, was most welcome. He is almost the complete opposite of Jamie being super clever rather than super tough but that doesn't mean he isn't brave. I can't wait to see how his character develops in future books.

There is also a brilliant side plot with a character from the first book. I won't let you too much about it as it is rather spoilery but I loved it especially the "JJaaaiiimmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeee" line which made me both want to sob with relief and whoop with joy.

The final major showdown of the book really doesn't hold anything back. The violence in it is brutal with several bits which were just a bit too horrible to comprehend. Had the book been a movie I would have been hiding behind my cushion at that point. Several bits again left me completely stunned and needing a minute to take it all in.

The ending of the book was awesome with so many things set up for the final book in the series and a final showdown with those evil vampires.

Not a book for the faint hearted. A thrilling and fast paced ride which keeps you on the edge of your seat. Perfect for boys and girls sick of the cliched paranormal romance. I know a 12 year old boy who is going to be extremely jealous when I tell him what I read over my Christmas Holidays!

P.S I still want my own T Bone!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Review: Forgiven by Jana Oliver

Forgiven by Jana Oliver
Published by Macmillan




Riley Blackthorne. Kicking hell’s ass one demon at a time...

Riley has made a bargain with Heaven, and now they've come to collect.

Lucifer's finest are ruling the streets and it seems that Armageddon might be even closer than Riley imagined. But with her soul and her heart in play it's all she can do to keep herself alive, let alone save the world. Riley's not afraid of kicking some major demon butt, but when it comes to a battle between Heaven and Hell, she might need a little help...



Forgiven is the third book in the demon trappers series. It lived up to my expectations and has left me desperate for book 4. Forgiven kicks off directly after where book 2 left ff so I would recommend maybe rereading a chapter or two from it before you start this one.

Riley is one of those characters who really want to root for. She's kick-ass yet vulnerable at the same time and that combination makes you love her all the more. In the past few books the girl has been through hell and back and in this book I wanted to see her start to get something good going on in her life rather than just all the rubbish she's been dealing with lately.

One of riley's biggest problem is the one surrounding her recently undead dad. I loved the storyline involving him in this book and thought it was really heartfelt and touching.

After the deal Riley made in the last book much of this book sees her standing inbetween heaven and hell stuck with the choice of deciding which side she falls to in the end. Quite literally having the mark on Heaven on one hand and Hell on the other means there is a lot riding on this not at the very least her reputation as a trapper. I loved how throughout the entire book you were never quite sure which way she was going to go in the end.

I loved Riley and Beck in this story. Finally they start to give into each other with Beck dropping his macho front to let her in. I loved seeing this changing relationship and the general gorgeousness that was Beck. (I stand by my review of book 2 - give the boy an Indiana Jones style outfit and send him adventuring). I actually think the thing I love most about him is the 'older man' thing his has going on because I know for a fact in Riley's shoes I wouldn't be able to resist his charm despite the age gap.

I hated Simon in the last book. He wasn't in this one much but I loved seeing him finally get the dawning realisation that he had been wrong and treaty Riley badly. Admittedly had I been Riley I would have liked to stab him with something to prove a point but clearly she is more restrained than me!

As I've come to expect from this series there was plenty of action of a demon ass-kicking variety which I enjoyed and kept me hooked page after page as I needed to know how things played out.

The last chapter killed me. I'm not saying much on that one but I was not happy.

bring on book four. I need to know how the whole story plays out.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Review: Au Revior Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

Au Revior Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber
Published by Electric Monkey


Perry Stormaire is a normal high school senior– he is busy applying to college and rehearsing with his band –until he agrees to go to the prom with the Lithuanian exchange student who is staying with his family. It turns out that Gobi Zaksauskas is not the mousy teenager that she seems but rather an attractive, confident trained assassin. Instead of going to the prom, Perry finds himself on a wild ride through the streets of New York City as Gobi commandeers the Jaguar his father lent him for the prom in order to take out her targets. Perry learns a lot about himself – and ends up with some amazing material for his college application essays.

I loved Au Revoir Crazy European Chick from the first page and was unable to put it down until I'd finished it. It was funny, action packed and totally different from anything else I've recently read which was refreshing.

Perry is a high school student. For the last nine months he has had an exchange student living with his family. Before she arrived he had all the typical teenage fantasies about this girl from abroad who would be arriving to stay with his family but unfortunately for him Gobi was far from the fantasy he had in mind.

On her last few days in the country Perry is told by his mother he is taking Gobi to the prom. He is not happy about the idea at all as he was supposed to be playing a gig in New York and truth be told he doesn't want to be seen with the frumpy Gobi yet he is made to anyway.

It's only once he gets to the prom that everything kicks off. Gobi transforms in front of his ideas to this ninja assassin who leads him on a trail of destruction across new york killing a variety of people in her wake. What I loved most about the book was Perry's reaction to the crazy situation he has found himself in. He is stunned to say the least but also has no idea about what he should be doing or how he ended up in the position he is in.

The action in this book is fast paced. The whole book screams to me that it needs to be made into a film as it is so action packed and funny and witty throughout. I loved the contrast between Gobi and Perry and the way they interacted with each other.

All in all a surprising good read which I enjoyed completely.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Review: Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby

Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby
Published by Walker USA




Meet Josephine Foster, or Zo Jo as she’s called in the biz. The best pint-sized photographer of them all, Jo doesn’t mind doing what it takes to get that perfect shot, until she’s sent on an undercover assignment to shoot Ned Hartnett—teen superstar and the only celebrity who’s ever been kind to her—at an exclusive rehabilitation retreat in Boston. The money will be enough to pay for Jo’s dream: real photography classes, and maybe even quitting her paparazzi gig for good. Everyone wants to know what Ned’s in for. But Jo certainly doesn’t know what she’s in for: falling in love with Ned was never supposed to be part of her assignment.

Shooting Stars is a heartfelt and enjoyable YA contemporary read which makes you think about the important things in life.

The story follows Jo a pint-sized teen paparazzi who uses her tinyness to her advantage to get into venues her competitors can't in a bid to take pictures of hollywood stars, the proceeds from which she's saving up to fund a college course in the not so distant future. Because she is so young she is offered an under cover job at a teen facility to get pictures of a teen music star Ned Hartnett. The money is too good to turn down so Jo takes the job.

Whilst in the facility Jo gets to meet Ned and gets to know him and through the interactions she has with him she starts to realise that maybe taking the job wasn't the right thing to do. She attempts to take a few pictures but feels bad about it and then has to dodge questions from her boss about what she is doing with her time.

I won't go into too much more detail about what happens in the story but I loved how things turned out and the revelations that were made she you got to know Ned in more detail. I particularly loved the twist and seeing the way in which the story played out as it had a real message to tell about fame and the role of paparazzi in showbiz. I particularly loved the relationship built up between Jo and Ned throughout the story and would love to see a sequel to see more of their story.

A really enjoyable contemporary novel which kept me engaged throughout.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Review: The prince who walked with Lions by Elizabeth Laird

The Prince who walked with Lions by Elizabeth Laird
Published by Macmillan

A sweeping epic about a prince torn from his mountain home. Based on a true story.

The British Army is circling the stronghold of the King of Abyssinia. Under orders from Queen Victoria, its mission is to rescue the British Envoy, held prisoner.

Watching with terror and awe is the king's young son, Alamayu. He knows that his father is as brave as a lion, but how on earth can he and his warriors stand against the well-equipped foreigners? As battle rages, everything that Alamayu fears comes to pass. The fighting is cruel and efficient. By the time it is over, Alamayu is left without parents, throne or friends.

In a misguided attempt to care for him, the British take Alamayu to England. There he is befriended by the queen herself and enrolled in Rugby College to become a 'proper' English gentleman. What the English see as an honour is, to this lonely Ethiopian prince, a horror.

This is Alamayu's story, seen through his eyes: the battle, the journey to England and the trauma of an English public school as he comes to terms with the hand that fate has dealt him and tries to build a new life.


***

 The Prince who walked with lions was an interesting read.

I like Elizabeth Laird's style of historical fiction in that is always based on a huge amount of research of the events that book is about. The facts behind the story are solid and therefore the book is informative without being dull as the story-telling is spot on.

I really enjoyed this book - it mixes between present tense diary format with flashback scenes following the Abyssinian prince and looking back over his life. I found getting inside his head really interesting and learning about the history of a country I knew very little about really engaging.

An interesting and informative read.

READ IT FOR THE BRITISH BOOKS CHALLENGE

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Bookcase Showcase: Blogger Little M from We Sat Down


 Little M is the younger half of We Sat Down. Her book reviews can be found over on http://wesatdown.blogspot.com.  You can also follow on Twitter: @We Sat Down.

Little M’s bookshelves are alive and a treasure trove of all sorts.  She has a bookcase that reaches from ceiling to floor and another bookshelf on the wall.  But her library spills over and His Dark Materials and Harry Potter are now over on Big M’s shelves.  And some are kept in piles too, awaiting either a new shelf, to be dug out in years ahead, or given to other readers.

The shelving system is random because it’s pragmatic.  Books go on shelves wherever they can fit either because of size or space.  Books that have not been read go on lower shelves where they can be easily reached.  Some books are ‘special’ and stay on shelves for nostalgia (with Little M’s or Big M’s).

Here’s one of the higgledy-piggledy shelves where books share with lots of other goodies: bookmarks, bookplates, bookends and small ornament collections..  It has some books that date back to Grandad’s London school days right through to brand new 2012.



Here’s a wall shelf with books that have recently been read.




And here is a pile.


Friday, 23 March 2012

Review: Finding Sky by Joss Stirling

Finding Sky by Joss Stirling
Published by OUP



When Sky catches a glimpse of Zed for the first time, lounging against his motorbike at school, she is drawn to him just like every other girl in Wickenridge. But Zed sees something special in her that the other girls don't have. Zed tells her they are both Savants - people with special powers like telepathy and the ability to see into the future. Not only that, she is a Savant too, and his soulfinder - meant to be together.

When a soulfinder speaks telepathically to her partner, it's like all the lights coming on in a building. You lit me up like Vegas. But for Sky it's just not that easy - she's a mystery to herself, haunted by nightmares from her past before she was adopted, and riddled with doubt and insecurity. Just when Sky is slowly coming round to the idea of being with Zed she is kidnapped by a family of criminal Savants. In a chilling twist, Sky and Zed's relationship is put to the ultimate test and the fate of those she loves lie in Sky's hands. Will Sky have the strength to embrace her power and be brave enough to control her own destiny, or will the dark demons of her past prevent her from realising her true potential?


 I have had this on my shelf for ages and was in all honesty reluctant to start yet another paranormal romance series. I must say despite my initial reservations I really did enjoy it.

Sky is an interesting character. She is one of those characters you really want to root for from the first place because she is likable and easy to relate to. She's had a traumatic past but has worked hard with the support of her adoptive parents to move on and lead a normal life.

Sky has just started a new high school in America. On the first day she lays eyes on the mysterious Zed Benedict. He's rue and arrogant but despite this Sky is drawn to something about him. After a bit of false start the two connect and from there on out the story develops further.

Through the relationship with Zed is becomes apparent that Ski isn't as normal as she first sees. She has powers and is able to hear Zed and his family in her head. Not only that it turns out that Zed's family is also gifted with a wide range of abilities between them which they use for good. This unfortunately puts them at risk as a target of an equally gifted mafia style mob crime family whose crime plans are scuppered by the Benedict family.

The story to start with is quite slow but I really enjoyed getting to know the family and seeing the relationship between Zed and Sky develop. Later on the pace picks up once the action really kicks in. From there on out I was at the point where I didn't want to put the book down as I needed to know what happened next. I particularly enjoyed seeing how all the events develop Sky as a character especially when she starts to find out more about her own abilities.

An interesting novel with some original ideas which was an enjoyable read.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Review: Bunheads by Sophie Flack

Bunheads by Sophie Flack
Published by Atom


As a dancer with the Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward is living her childhood dream. She gets to be up on stage in front of adoring crowds every night. And while she might not be a prima ballerina yet, she's moving up the ranks and surely if she works hard enough she can make it happen.

But devoting her whole life to ballet leaves very little time for anything else: friends, family, school have all fallen by the wayside. Hannah doesn't mind, until a chance encounter in a restaurant brings Jacob into her life. He's cute, he plays guitar and he's offering a whole future that Hannah never considered. And now she must choose between her lifelong dream or what could be the love of her life..



 Bunheads isn't my typical sort of read. It's girly, floaty and quite slow but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

The story is based around Hannah. Hannah is living her childhood dream dancing in New York for the Manhattan Ballet company. She lives and breathes the ballet and her entire life is devoted to and revolves around it meaning she has very little time for anything else at all. The story gives you a real insight into the life of dancers and shows you that it isn't all glamour and glitz like you might be led to believe especially considering the things they have to give up to be their very best day in day out. I liked that you got this look into the world of the ballet very vividly.

The storyline is quite slow throughout the entire book as it is day in day out ballet. The writing itself is good which keeps you drawn in but I did find myself wanting and waiting for something to happen.

The reason why I didn't wholly love it was because of the love interests. From reading the blurb you could get the idea that it was a real sweep-her-off-her-feet love story whereas actually she meet the boy ignores him pretty much most of the time then dates someone else (mainly it seems because he has money) before deciding that she is giving up too much to be a ballerina which really was nothing to do with the boy. While I don't need a girl to be swept off her feet to enjoy a book I found it was actually a bit anti-climatic as that's the sort of book I thought I was getting.

That said I actually loved the epilogue and thought it was a really fitting ending to the book and Hannah's story.

An interesting read for me. If you were one of those girl who dreamt of being a ballerina when you were small you will love it ... Black swan without all the bonkerness!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Review: The repossession by Sam Hawksmoor

Review: The Repossession by Sam Hawksmoor
Published by Hodder


34 kids missing. Vanished without a trace.

Believing she is possessed, Genie Magee's mother has imprisoned her all summer encouraged by the sinister Reverend Schneider. Beautiful Rian, love of her life, sets her free, and their escape washes them up at Marshall's remote farmhouse downriver. But why are there newspaper clippings of the missing kids pinned to Marshall's bathroom wall? And should they believe his stories about the experiments at the Fortress, an underground research station nearby?

Genie meets Denis. Missing two years now, but hasn't grown an inch. Rian is haunted by Renée, who insists she's not actually dead. Soon they discover the terrible truth about Reverend Schneider and worse, Genie is next ... and Rian can't do a thing to prevent it.

The Repossession is just the beginning


 I really enjoyed The Repossession. It was an interesting read with unique ideas and characters you can instantly warm to.

The story looks at the idea of the 100s of kids that go missing every year and poses an idea about where they maybe going in one particular area in America. The idea is actually quite chilling when you think about it as the kids involved just disappear without anyone ever finding out where they might have gone.

The main story revolves around Genie and Rian who are fast becoming my favourite YA couple. Up until Rian rescued her Genie was told by her mother and the local crazy-ass priest that she was possessed by the devil and that she was evil because she has a gift. As a consequence was locked into her room. Rian lives with his disabled mother and her boyfriend who he doesn't like. One day Rian decides to save Genie and the pair run away. Due to the fact that so many other kids have gone missing of late their disappearance isn't considered all that unusual.

I loved the relationship between Rian and Genie. It was both very innocent but all really sincere. Rian felt very much like his job in life was to look after Genie and keep her safe. I liked seeing how they interacted and looked after each other. Whilst on their escape they stumble across an old farm and spend the night in the barn. In the morning they are discovered by the farmer who offers them a place to stay and plays almost a fatherly role in their lives, offering them a home in return for companionship and help around the farm.

As the story develops it becomes much more. You start to get under the skin of why Genie's mother thought she was possessed when you start to see her gift coming out and being used more and more. You also start to find out more about why the teenagers locally have gone missing and where it is they may have gone. The ideas behind it are really interesting, bordering on a little bit sci-fi which I wasn't expecting, and really kept me engaging throughout.

I am certainly looking forward to book two now!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Review: Becoming Nancy by Terry Ronald

Becoming Nancy by Terry Ronald
Publsihed by Transworld



For David Starr, being cast as Nancy in the upcoming school production of Oliver! is quite a shock. But David is up to the challenge. Living in a three-bedroom semi in 1970s' working-class East Dulwich, surrounded by his somewhat colourful relatives, he is bright, smart-mouthed, fanatical about pop music and ready to shine. Rehearsals begin, and he strikes up a friendship with the handsome yet enigmatic Maxie Boswell, captain of the school football team. As their alliance deepens it appears they might become more than just good friends, but that can't be right, can it? Discovering a confidant in empathetic teacher, Hamish McClarnon, and spurred on by his no-nonsense best friend, Frances Bassey, David takes on the school bully, the National Front, and anyone else who threatens to stand in the way of true love. Vibrant, warm, and full of life, this uproarious and touching coming-of-age novel, set against the backdrop of South-East London in the thrill of the late seventies, will transport you straight back to your first music obsession and the highs and lows of your first love

I must admit this isn't a book I normally would pick up. I read very little adult fiction but was pitched it for review saying it was very much a cross over novel and I agreed to give it a go and I'm so glad I did.

I thought David was a brilliant character. We met him as he has just about come clear in his mind about his own sexuality and follow him as he comes out to his friends an family. I though he was really warm and genuine and loved the relationships he had with the people around him.

I loved David's teacher/gay role model Hamish. I loved that in him David saw the man he could become ... one that was both comfortable with his sexuality but also quite happy to take on anyone that dared to give him grief about it or harass others. You can certainly see his influence as David grows as a character and becomes more comfortable in his own skin.

I loved this historical setting (yes I know people would disagree and say it isn't historical yet but I studied the time period as part of my History degree so I'm going with it). I liked seeing the attitudes and ideas that were prevalent at the time especially when you consider it is set about the same time as the brixton race riots and only a few years after homosexuality was no longer considered a crime in the UK.

What I loved about this book is that is was very much a book with a story to tell - teenage boy in the 1970s who after coming out as gay has to deal with a huge amount of grief from other parties who treat him horribly because of their bigoted and homophobic view points which it does well. However it does it in such a brilliant way that it doesn't come across as odd or patronising.

As a word of warning to my younger followers who are considering reading this. There is a lot of swearing in this book and there are scenes with sexual content which are quite graphic so maybe not one for younger teens / tweens.

To sum in in short it's like a gay, less irritating and wittier Adrian Mole. I thoroughly enjoyed it as a heart-felt coming of age sto
ry with a brilliant moral and story to tell set in a modern history backdrop. Brilliant

Monday, 19 March 2012

Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson



From her first moment at Merryweather High, Melinda Sordino knows she's an outcast. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops - a major infraction in high-school society - so her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't know glare at her. No one knows why she called the police, and she can't get out the words to explain. So she retreats into her head, where the lies and hypocrisies of high school stand in stark relief to her own silence. But it's not so comfortable in her head, either - there's something banging around in there that she doesn't want to think about. But, try as she might, it just won't go away...

 Speak is one of those read I've heard about time and time again since I've started blogging as one that I need to read. I am pleased to say it packs the emotional punch I was promised.

This book really hits home when you see the way in which Melinda is treated for something that really wasn't her fault. She is ignored by her peers in a cruel way (even if they don't realise it) and her attempts to make friends with other just don't work as she finds herself dropped as soon as a better subsitute is found. Even her teachers and parents treat her differently and keep her at a distance.

It takes a while for the reader to get to the bottom of why Melinda is the way she is and to find out what actually happened to her. If I had any complaint about this book it is that you spend a long time hearing about the day to day aspect of her life and how awful it is. That isn't to say that her sorry isn't poignant seeing the way in which she is treated but I would have liked to see the story start a little later and then gone on after and see how Melinda started to build her life up again afterwards.

For me the morale of this story is that it is always always right to speak up. The realisation that Melinda has when she gets feedback from a note she scrawled on the door in the toilets which makes her realise she isn't alone showed this brilliantly.

A heart-felt book which has brilliant morales and is well worth a read.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Judy Blume reviews

I mentioned I had never read any Judy Blume and one of the lovely ladies in publicity at Macmillan immediately sent me these two books ...

Blubber by Judy Blume
Published by Macmillan



I'm almost ashamed to say before this book I hadn't ever read a Judy Blume despite hearing nothing but good things about her stuff. I really enjoyed it and am sad that I didn't discover her books when I was a teenager.

Blubber was a short yet poignant little book about bullying. I found it quite moving at points to see how the children were effected by the way in which others treated them because of something they had no control over. Equally it was very telling to see how the lead bully led her pack by keeping others afraid and on her side. It also gave real insight into how keeping silent about it really didn't help anyone at all and I think would show youngsters the importance of speaking out about problems if and when they arise. It also showed how easy it is for someone to become a bully without even realising it and how actually they don't always see that what they are doing is necessarily wrong at first which for me made me really think about the way in which I help to teach the children I teach about the nature of bullying.

A thoughtful and interesting read which I would recommend again and again

Dennie by Judy Blume
Published by Macmillan



I found Deenie to be a bit of a heart breaking story.

Deenie is a normal young girl. She goes about her life in the way youngsters do. She has a pushy mother who wants her to be a model but other than that she goes to school and spend time with her friends and carries on like a normal almost teenager.

It isn't until she finds out that she has scoliosis that things start to change when she finds out that she will have to wear a back brace for four years. Her mother is devastated and she finds it awkward and clumsy ripped her new clothes which she had to buy especially as her old ones don't fit with the brace. The story really is about her coming to terms with what she's dealing with.

For me this book had two messages.

The first was about educating children about being different. Dennie in this book is very judgemental about others around her who aren't quite normal including an old lady with a hump back and a girl in her class with a skin complaint and she doesn't start to change her mind until her own situation changes to make her less than normal. I thought her reaction was actually really typical of the naivety of youngsters and highlighted the need for people to teach children to be kinder and more tolerant of other people and their differences.

I also think this book had a lot of say about pushy mothers. The driving force in this book in Deenie's mother who is intent that Deenie will be a model when she is older regardless of whether Deenie wants to or not. The way in which she reacted to Deenie's condition was appalling to be perfectly honest and actually made Deenie feel a lot worse than she needed to.

All in all a quick little read with nice messages to tell. I enjoyed it.