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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: 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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The Life of Riley

The Life of Riley
Written by Joanna Nadin
Price: £6.99
Recommended age: 13+

It’s not often I review sequels. It’s even less often that I love a first book, want to read the rest, than find out by accident that I already have the sequel sitting in my teetering pile of unread books. But such was yesterday, and I did squeal very excitedly because I loved Queen of Teen nominee Joanna Nadin’s first story of Rachel Riley, My So-Called Life.
I’m pleased to say that the sequel more than lived up to hopes, and that I laughed so hard at some bits that I felt slightly sick. Rachel is growing up, and finding the middle-class confines of Saffron Walden almost more than she can bear, but when her New Year’s resolutions include attempting to stop friendship with chav neighbour Thin Kylie, and experimenting with alcohol and all sorts of other stuff that I had best not include on a children’s book review website, you know it is going to be anything but boring.
Rachel’s Mum has a sense of renewed vigour with her Cilit Bang obsession (and I am recognising some worrying similarities between her and me…), the dog is as mad as ever, and the Cornish relatives with their Fray Bentos pies and Spar bags really do have me crying with laughter. In amongst all of this, Rachel has to try to work out why she keeps kissing the wrong boys, and why the right ones don’t want to kiss her back. Or are they the right ones after all?
Beg, buy, borrow a copy of The Life of Riley – you won’t regret it, and I highly recommend all middle class mothers with teenagers daughters to read it too (although it might scare you a bit). A quick reminder: take note of the warning of rude content if you are sensitive about that sort of thing.

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The Weight of Water

The Weight of Water
Written by Sarah Crossan
Price: £6.99
Recommended age: 10+

Despite all the great books now available for children and young adults, there are still very few that are able to stun you with their originality and talent. Sarah Crossan’s The Weight of Water is such a book.
Although this is her debut, I had previously read her second novel, a dystopian thriller called Breathe (see review), which I found far superior to many others in the genre. However, it completely failed to prepare me for The Weight of Water, the tale of Polish girl Kasienka, who moves to Coventry with her mother in search of her errant father, and finds that fitting in is not going to be so easy.
The story is told in poetic form, offering both a novel and a volume of poetry that can be dipped into or read through in one sitting (as I did). It covers loss, loneliness, bullying, friendship and first love as Cassie adapts to her new country – and it adapts to her.
My own favourite poem is ‘Split’, as Kasienka tries – and fails – to reconcile all of the different people she is expected to be. Haunting, beautiful, terrifying and ultimately truthful, I defy you not to be moved by this incredible debut. Crossan really is a talent to watch.

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The Demon Notebook

The Demon Notebook
Written by Erika McGann
Price: £7.99
Recommended age: 11+

When I was about 13, my friends and I tried to raise a spirit in the school basement one lunchtime. The scariest thing that happened was being caught by our French teacher, although she was scarier than any demon – and demons don’t give detention either. The heroines of Erika McGann’s book are even less lucky, however, as their own attempts result in one of their group, Una, being taken over by a demon who seems intent on carrying out each of their failed spells, no matter how silly – or dangerous. The girls must band together with the local Old Cat Lady and their (thankfully more sympathetic) French teacher to stop the demon before someone gets killed. But how can they fight their own friend?
The Demon Notebook taps into the ongoing interest in YA fiction for all things supernatural, and succeeds in creating a story with likeable characters, plenty of dramatic tension and even some humour as Grace discovers that the school heartthrob was far more attractive when he wasn’t bewitched into total adoration. It may lack the intensity of some other fiction of this kind, but I look forward to seeing what McGann writes in the future.

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The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
By: Catherynne M. Valente
Price: £9.99
Age: 7-77
Release date: 17 January 2013

You know what it’s like when you read an absolutely brilliant book, and you can’t wait for the sequel – but there is a little part of you that almost doesn’t want to read it in case it’s not as good as the first one? That is exactly how I felt embarking on The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, the sequel to Catherynne M. Valente’s award-winning, New York times bestselling, and my own favourite book of the whole of last year, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.
First up, the plot. You really do have to have read the first book for this one to make sense, so it is a sequel in the true sense of the word. Having returned to Nebraska after her adventures in Fairyland, September’s life is quiet – too quiet, punctuated only by an undercurrent of anxiety over her father, still absent at war. So when magic comes bouncing across the prairie in the form of a man-wind and a woman-wind in a rowboat, she chases after them with little thought of the consequences, only to fall straight back into Fairyland. But a lot has changed since her last visit, with her own shadow up to mischief, and although she finds both her old friends and some old enemies, no-one is quite as they seem this time around.
So is it as good as its predecessor? The Girl Who 2 (for the sake of brevity) shares the same luscious language, engaging characters (the coats have to be among my favourites) and fabulous storylines as the first book. September is as wonderful as before, but her friends are different and (without giving away too much of the plot) I was disappointed not to read more of them. That said, the changes in them are fascinating and the lovely Aubergine, the characters in the tea-house and Glasswort Groof are worthy additions. The Girl Who 2 acts as a reflection to the previous book in many ways, and if some of the colour is lost in September’s foray through Fairyland-Below, then the mystery and the darkness add a whole new dimension.
In short, if you loved the first book as I did, I’m fairly sure you will love its sequel too. And if you haven’t read the first book, the comparisons to The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland are well-deserved without ever being derivative. Personally, I’m hoping for a third… after all, the most important things comes in threes and sixes, and I think six volumes is too much to hope for.

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