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Book review: In a Glass Grimmly

In a Glass Grimmly

Author: Adam Gidwitz

Price: £5.99

Publisher: Andersen Press

ISBN: 9781849396202

KRB rating: 8/10

Recommended age: 9-11

Reviewer: Krissie

The frequently discussed notion that there are only seven plots in the whole of storytelling, and that these are reworked endlessly by each new generation, is probably more relevant for fairy tales than for any other genre of fiction. With their roots in oral tradition stretching back centuries, the origins of stories such as Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood are probably lost in the mists of time. It is sad, therefore, that many children now only know the sanitised Disney versions.

That’s where Adam Gidwitz comes in. In the second of his books inspired by the tales of the Brothers Grimm, Gidwitz tackles the story of Jack and Jill, and a whole lot more besides, complete with blood, guts, gore and… um… nakedness. In this version, Gidwitz spins a web of unholy enchantment around the unlucky pair, who end up murdering giants, being drowned by mermaids and having the learn the unpronounceable German name of a giant salamander before voluntarily walking into its mouth.

One of the best things about this book is the glee with which the narrator stops the story to announce each section of particular nastiness. You could read these pieces as warnings to those with a nervous disposition, but in reality they act as enticements, daring children to venture just a little further, around the corner, into the dark where the nastier figments of their imagination live. Fortunately, Gidwitz writes with a wicked sense of humour, turning the grisly into the hilariously funny.

In a Glass Grimmly is pitched at the 9-11 market, which seems about right, and there are enough warnings to keep those away for whom it might be unsuitable, but I think that most readers of that age would be in for a real treat – a dark and witty fairy tale without the sugar-coating.

By the same author: A Tale Dark and Grimm

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Book review: Shipwrecked

Shipwrecked

Author: Siobhan Curham

Publisher: Electric Monkey

Price: £7.99

ISBN: 978-1405264570

 

KRB rating: 10/10!!!!!

Recommended age: 11/12+

Reviewer: Aimee-Paige, age 13

 

OMG, I loved this soooooo much, it’s exactly the type of book I would normally go for. It was great!!!!! If you have read the Laura Marlin Mystery books and enjoyed them, then I would definitely recommend this one!

Grace is the main character and the story is written from her POV (which I love). She keeps having dreams in which she is trying to save a baby from a fire. These frightening dreams have been troubling her, but she puts them to the back of her mind as she leaves with her fellow dancers to begin a job on a cruise ship. However, on their way a freak storm hits, and Grace and her friends become shipwrecked.

Strange things begin to happen, including strange pendants, a whisper, a Spanish boat driver and a voodoo doll. The teenagers begin to doubt that they will ever be rescued, and then they realise that they are not alone. The tension between them rises and they discover that the island is hiding a terrible secret…..   

So I suggest you read this now!! It’s great for a summer/holiday read full of mystery, love, betrayal and a little bit of dark magic. Enjoy!!! 🙂

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Book review: Geekhood: Mission Improbable

Geekhood: Mission Improbable

Author: Andy Robb

Publisher: Stripes/Little Tiger

Price: £6.99

ISBN: 9781847153647

KRB rating: 9/10

Recommended age: 12+

Reviewer: Krissie

If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you will probably have realised by now that I count myself a geek. And the great thing about being a geek right now is that it is somehow, inexplicably, fashionable. Which, if you think about it, is about the worst possible thing that could happen to geeks. All those people looking at you, and thinking about you? Horrifically embarrassing.

And that is what Andy Robb portrays so well – the crippling, hideous shame of daily life that geeks the world over squirm through on a daily basis. In this second instalment in the life of Archie, the 14-year-old Dungeons and Dragons player whose body is starting to betray him in all sorts of unfortunate ways, which is only compounded by his recent discovery of the female species, especially The Most Beautiful Girl in the World TM, who only wants to be friends. To which the natural response is to fake a Facebook girlfriend. A foolproof plan, surely?

What I loved about this book, though – and it is even better than the first – was the minor characters. Despite my love for poor Archie, it is Robb’s portrayal of the others, particularly Archie’s stepmother, Jane, that had me laughing out loud. I won’t tell you why, because I don’t want to spoil it, but I did LOL until I cried. And I still can’t read the word ‘ears’ without sniggering. That’s the great thing about the Geekhood books – Robb portrays both the humour and the pathos of the geek with an accuracy that can only come from years of geek-dom.

A work of comic genius that should be required reading for all teenagers. Enjoy!

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Book review: Angel Dust

Angel Dust

Author: Sarah Mussi

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Price: £6.99

ISBN: 978-1471400025

KRB rating: 7/10
Recommended age: 12+
Reviewer: Aimee Paige
I enjoyed reading this new novel, which would be great if you’re a fan of Misfits and Skins according to the author’s note. It is a tale of forbidden love between an angel of god and a young English gangster.
Serafina is a new angel of death, whose job it is to guide people’s souls to heaven. On her first journey to earth, she meets a boy named Marcus and instantly likes him. But Marcus’s life is about to end, and Serafina makes a costly decision that could end it all. Marcus is in big trouble and Serafina is falling deeper in love, but is she willing to give up her wings and fall to earth just to be with him?

It may take a few chapters for you to get into this book but it’s worth reading to the end. I’m not usually a fan of this type of novel but I did like this one! I hope you enjoy reading it!

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Book review: Finding Cherokee Brown

Finding Cherokee Brown

Author: Siobhan Curham

Publisher: Electric Monkey

Price: £ 6.99

ISBN: 9781405260381

FF rating: 9/10

Recommended age: +14

Reviewer: Ebba

I loved this book. Loved it! This was my response after finishing Finding Cherokee Brown, and it was also my introduction to the book. The introductive love was mostly about Siobhan Curham’s previous book Dear Dylan but it was also explaining why Curham wrote this one. After all the praise and background knowledge, I wondered if Finding Cherokee Brown could distance itself from the author’s intentions and if it could ever live up to the standard I was now expecting. I was expecting brilliance and I found Cherokee Brown.

Finding Cherokee Brown is about Clare Weeks. She is alone, bullied in school and does not think that she fits into her mom and Alan’s ‘perfect life’. Ever since her friend Helen moved to Bognor Regis, Clare has become a target for the bullies in school. The form teacher knows what is happening and she suggest that Clare should see the school counselor and join the badminton club to help her to interact better at school. Her mom’s husband Alan, who is a life coach, performs sessions to make Clare look upon school as something positive. Despite this helpfulness, Clare thinks her life is misery and she decided to write about it. The book is a mixture of her writings, character outlines, biography and pro-and-epilog. But as she writes, her life starts to change, and it changes Clare with it.

Clare might not be a Laura Ingalls or an Anne Frank, her favorite heroines, but she becomes her very own one instead. She becomes one who sees herself in others, who finds herself in her history and who dare to speak the truth. I laughed, felt sad (I never cry) and rooted for Clare all the way through the book.

Needless to say, Finding Cherokee Brown did live up to preset expectations and exceeded them. I remember staring to reading, thinking I was almost half way and then it was over. Where did the book go? When did I get through the 352 pages? I never noticed it happening. Out of frustration that my newly formed friendship ended with the last page, I promptly reread the ending and my favorite bit of the book. It made the separation easier. When I went to sleep I dreamt of the characters. They are well rounded and have a familiarity about them, yet they were not predicable.

My only criticism is in regards to the ending. It is not that it is ‘the happily ever after’ ending, but, I think some aspects of Clare’s home situation are glossed over, and appear to be resolved because other issues are. I would have liked a bit more on that but I might be nit picking here. Do not let my slight criticism fool you, Finding Cherokee Brown is a great read and I highly recommend it (so much so I gave it to my sister).

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Book review: Secrets and Lies

Sweetness and Lies

Author: Karen McCombie

Publisher: Barrington Stoke

Price: £ 5.99

ISBN: 9781781121993

*Dyslexia friendly*

 

KRB rating: 8/10

Recommended age: +10

Reviewer: Ebba

Looking at the cover of Karen McCombie’s Sweetness and Lies, with its’ glittery letters, purple back ground and three girls on the front, I did not think that I would like it. Glitter and three girls looking a bit like the Spice Girls or The Sugar Babes does not normally bode well and the oversized sticker saying ‘dyslexia friendly’ does not help the appearance of the book either. The content of the book though I did like.

The main character, Tilly, is BFFA (Best Friend Forever –Already) with Mia. Tilly was feeling a bit lost and worried when starting her new school, and Mia made her giggle. In fact, since meeting Mia, she has not stopped giggling, but Mia’s jokes are always at the expense of someone, sometimes even Tilly.

When Amber starts school one week later than everyone, because a hurricane canceled her flight from Barbados where she was visiting her granny, Tilly recognises her anxiety and apprehension as similar as her own. But Mia says Amber is lying. She says Amber does not have a granny in Barbados and that all the other things she has told them are lies too. Tilly is trapped between two girls, one of whom is liar, and she has to listen to her inner voice to find out which.

This is a tale of something we all have to do in life; learning to listen to our inner voice, stand up for ourselves and dare to question, and is not a problem exclusive to 13-year-old girls. This book puts it in terms that any 25- or 50- year old can understand. 

The dyslexia friendly aspect of the book I like (apart from the sticker). Having dyslexia myself and remembering my main problems as, among other things, finding it hard to navigate the page, and when failing to do so, feeling inadequate and stupid, Barrington Stoke has taken the navigational problems into account. For some it will no doubt be strange to read a book on yellow paper, though, this yellow makes it easier to distinguish the letters as the stand out more than against a white background. It is helping the reading experience to become less charged.

Furthermore, the problem of confusing lines, getting stuck on the same line over and over, is helped by clear spacing and paragraphing which makes the page easier to navigate. Thicker paper has also been used, I think, for the same reason. If it is already hard to read and navigate the page, a lot of focus will go to that and it takes longer to notice if you accidentally skip one page. All in all, I really like the dyslexia friendliness, which I would perhaps just call clarity. It is a format to encourage as many readers as possible to stay on track, continue reading and not giving up.

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Book review: The Crystal Mirror

Faerie Tribes: The Crystal Mirror

Written by Paula Harrison

Publisher: Nosy Crow

ISBN: 9780857632012

Price: £6.99

 

KRB rating: 8/10

Recommended age: 8-12

Reviewer: Krissie

 

The Crystal Mirror is a very difficult book to place. Firstly, there’s the cover (shadowy fairy girl with pink wings and lots of sparkles) and the title (also with pink faerie wings), both of which might suggest to your average potential reader that the story within is pretty, girly, and perfect for those just a bit too old for the Rainbow Magic series, but with basically the same interests.

 

However, the story is not like that at all. Being a bit further past the Rainbow Magic stage myself, I wasn’t really looking forward to reading this one, but I was pleasantly surprised. From the very beginning, when Laney Rivers discovers that strange things are happening around her, especially when she is near water, The Crystal Mirror reads more like Days of Blood and Starlight, or even Twilight, but for younger girls and without the love interest.

 

Laney discovers that not only is she a water faerie, but that her village is full of faeries of the different tribes; however, her own powers seem weak and her tribe is convinced that she is fulfilling an ancient prophecy and will bring bad luck. She is also ostracised for being friends with faeries of other tribes. It is only in fighting the shadow faerie that she can prove her true worth.

 

This story combines magic, horror, local politics and adventure in a way that offers a perfect link from children’s to YA books, considering themes such as social exclusion and the sometimes frightening power of adults over children, alongside a good, interesting story. I look forward to reading more from the series, but I do beg Nosy Crow to consider rebranding this one – I think many readers who would really enjoy it will be put off by the unnecessarily girly cover.

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Book review: Dead Romantic

Dead Romantic

Author: C. J. Skuse

Publisher: Chicken House

Price: £ 7.99

ISBN: 9781908435415

 

KRB rating: 5/10

Recommended age: +12

Reviewer: Ebba

Camille is alone. She does have two friends but they have grown apart more and more. She is the weird one, fascinated by death, and increasingly finds herself left outside when the other two try to impress boys. Amidst this loneliness and abandonment she meets Zoe, who is digging in a grave yard. An (un)likely friendship starts to take place, built on the foundation of creating Camille’s perfect boyfriend. Creating him in true Frankenstein-spirit.

The first 150 pages of Dead Romantic are tedious work; I felt little for any of the characters and I felt as if the plot was standing still. If you keep reading it does get better. That is, until you reach the end – a cliffhanger. Skuse is clearly writing at least a second book, though I can with ease see it turning in to a Twilight-ese trilogy.

The comparison to Twilight is not out of line. In fact, there are more things Dead Romantic has in common with it, such as the lonely and socially inept heroine and I am predicting an Edward/Jacob drama. This would be played out between the character Louis and SDB (Sexy Dead Boy), where the temptation and forbidden fruit is SDB, and Louis represents life and love. Now this is all speculation and I am doing this as the book is nothing special. Speculation give us some intrigue.

I do not look forward to the next book in the Dead Romantic series., not as I did with the Hunger Games or Harry Potter, and I believe this is due to predictable plot and predicable characters. The only character who surprised me was the notorious bully, thief and sex addict Damian de Jager. Perhaps Skuse narration does get better in the next book and dazzle it with complex characters and an exciting plot. If this does not pick up, I strongly doubt that I will pick the second Dead Romantic book up from a bookshop.

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Book review: From What I Remember

From What I Remember

Authors: Stacey Kramer and Valerie Thomas

Publisher: Electric Monkey

ISBN: 978-1405264112

 

KRB rating: 8/10

Recommended age: 12+

Reviewed by: Aimee-Paige

I really enjoyed reading this new novel as it is written in first person and each chapter is a different character’s thoughts. It is quite action packed and makes you want to read on.

Kylie Flores is the main character and is due to give the most important speech of her life at her graduation, but somehow she wakes up in a strange bed in Mexico, wearing a wedding ring.  With her parents worrying about her safety has good girl Kylie ran away or has she been taken? Can her gay best friend, Will, save the day?

As you read the book, you begin to see the characters change for the better as they try to get out of trouble and graduate in time. At the start of each chapter there is a famous movie quote that may relate to the chapter. HURRY AND READ THIS BOOK, THE CLOCK IS TICKING!

I think a lot of people will enjoy this book as it is a mix between growing up, adventure, danger, action, love and friendship. I really enjoyed it so I hope you do too!

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Book review: The Book of Doom

The Book of Doom

Author: Barry Hutchison

Publisher: Harper Collins

Price: £6.99

ISBN: 9780007440917

 

KRB rating: 9/10

Recommended age: 11+

Reviewer: Krissie

I have said on these pages before that I generally don’t review sequels. A quick perusal of my reviews, though, shows that I have lied. Sorry about that. I do review sequels, of course I do, because if I love a book, I can’t wait to find out what happens next. So, with no apologies at all, I picked up The Book of Doom with pen in hand, waiting to find out what happens after one of my top three (and definitely the funniest) books of last year, Barry Hutchison’s The 13th Horseman.

Ironically, though, it turned out not to be a sequel at all, really. Billed as part of the Afterworlds “sequence” (press release speak…), The Book of Doom looks at death from a totally different perspective from the first book, and the characters (on the whole) are a totally new set. Fifteen-year-old Zac is a petty criminal, right up to the moment that he is shot dead by a monk and sent to retrieve the missing Book of Doom from Hell in exchange for, er, not going to Hell now that he’s dead. With me so far?

Zac is accompanied on his trip around the underworlds by half-blood Angelo, who believes he is half-human, half-angel, right up to the point where a confrontation with dead, but still-vicious Vikings in Valhalla, proves that this isn’t actually the case. The two boys finally reach Hell, only to find out that neither angels nor demons are quite as they seem, and that God certainly turns up in some unexpected places.

The Book of Doom is a worthy follow-up to The Thirteenth Horseman, with Hutchison’s ability to create a ludicrously unlikely situation and make it funny as hell intact. The characters are brilliantly written, especially Argus, who almost makes up for the general lack of Pestilence in this one, while some of the bit-part characters (Steropes springs to mind) make it worth reading all by themselves. Highly recommended, can’t wait for the next one from one of the funniest writers for kids around today.

 

See our interview with Barry Hutchison at https://kidsreadbooks.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/interview-with-barry-hutchison-writer-of-invisible-fiends-and-the-13th-horseman/

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