watch out! I have to make up for about a year’s worth of reviews…
watch out! I have to make up for about a year’s worth of reviews…
Sales of The Hobbit have rocketed recently with the gripping film adaptations being watched all over the world. But is it really worth all this popularity? Keep scrolling…
J. R.R. Tolkien
First published 1937
Reviewed by Naomi Dinmore
Well the answer to ”does it deserve all this popularity?” Yes. Yes it does - Definitely.
For those of you who do not know, this book is about a hobbit. (Well I never would have guessed that!)
My summary of a Hobbit:
A hobbit is an ”unobtrusive” man, of roughly three feet high, slightly stout with large feet. They like living in the countryside, and most of them can be found in Hobbiton, located in the Northwest of Middle Earth. (There are very useful maps in the whole series which help you visualise it even more.)
As you can see, the detailed descriptions alone are enough to make the book five stars, but there’s a fantastic original plot as well!
”Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit hole in Bag-End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf (who I bet was the inspiration for Dumbledore in Harry Potter) and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive to whisk him away on a journey supposedly going ”there and back again”. They have a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug (there is an ongiong debate about the pronunciation of his name - whether it’s an ow sound or an or sound!) The Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon.” (played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the film, which is always a plus).
Although sometimes the language is hard to process, I found it was very rewarding because I persevered. As the reader gets used to the language, the vivid descriptions draw the reader in; and the frequent use of imagery (oh dear, it’s starting to sound like an English essay) compliments the wide range of vocabulary to make it seem like their own film is playing in their head.
Yeah, who needs the film?! (Well actually, the film is good because it heavily popularised this classic! Oh, and we mustn’t forget how brilliant Martin Freeman is! ;D)
Overall, YES! It certainly deserves this popularity, so I shall give it a 5/5
Anna Dressed In Blood
By Kendare Blake
Published August, 2011
Reviewed by Charlotte Brindley
“Cas Lowood is no ordinary guy – he hunts dead people”
Before I chose this book I was searching for something that was a little different, something a little unusual – and I’m so glad that I chose this one. It’s only February, but I believe this is my best read of 2014!
Prepared to be scared, that’s all I can say! The book’s disclaimer reads: ‘not for younger readers’ and that’s definitely true, but it should also advise readers not to read at night – because I did, and I have never been so scared by a book in my life.
It wasn’t a ‘nervy’ scared, like in horror films where you’re waiting for something to jump out and scream. No. It’s the worst kind of fear. The book educes you in a paralysed state of fear where you can’t move a muscle because you’re so afraid, at one point I wasn’t able to breathe because I was so fearful (whether it’s because I’m a wuss or because the book’s terrifying, well you’ll have to read the book and decide for yourself).
Another warning is that the book is gory – which for me wasn’t a problem, but if you’re squeamish then I’d advise not to read it. Blake’s descriptions of the hunts and the murders were so detailed that I felt as if I was inside Cas’s world, watching as he battled against a murderous ghost. Blake’s imagery is probably one of the best I’ve read in an older teen book.
Aside from that, the book is a love story – between the main protagonist Cas and Anna – Anna Dressed In Blood. I was slightly weary (and scared) of Anna at first, however as the story developed I felt myself fall in love with her, the same way Cas does. Anna is such a strong character that has an emotional impact that resembles a physical slap in the face. Blake portrays Anna in such a strong and powerful way, dealing with her past and her wrongdoings in a delicate, yet extremely potent manner, which makes Anna my favourite character.
Cas (Theseus Cassio) Lowood is the star of the story, and for a ghost hunter, he is a very relatable character. Blake cleverly weaves the struggles of teenage life in with her story of horror and mystery; also, even though the novel is told from a boy’s point of view, I found myself connecting to Cas. Cas’s courage is extremely admirable, along with the love and protectiveness he has for his mother.
Overall, I loved this book. I loved how Blake wove dark and gory elements into her story which made her supernatural book more believable, unlike some dark romance/supernatural books out there. I extremely enjoyed Blake’s new and fresh approach to the dark romance genre, and I advise anyone who likes this genre to definitely pick up this book. Even if you have been put off the dark romance genre, I advise you to give this book ago as it is everything you want from a book that deals with ghosts, death and romance. I’m definitely hooked on this book and am eagerly awaiting the sequel!
By Donna Cooper
Published October, 2012
Reviewed by Charlotte Brindley
“Ever Davies is fifteen years old and dangerously overweight.”
Skinny is about Ever Davies’ journey to lose weight; it tackles controversial subjects such as gastric surgery and obesity. I didn’t quite know what to expect with this book.
Ever Davies is the main protagonist in this story, she is a likeable character, but can be quite annoying when she makes stupid mistakes that, as the reader, know will have disastrous consequences. However I really admired Ever and her journey, her lack of self-esteem and her inner demon, named ‘Skinny’, made her a relatable character. I could see parallels between Ever’s life and my own, along with my friends’ – which I thought was a very clever and ingenious for Cooper’s target audience.
As much as I loved Ever, Rat was my favourite character by far. Even though his full name is Theodore Simon Wilson, the character acquired his nickname from his appearance and its likeness to a character in a novel.
I also believe that his nickname is a work of Cooper’s genius of making this story have parallels to the Cinderella story, as Ever is Cinderella; Rat as one of the mice who help Cindy, but appears more than he seems; Briella is the (evil) stepsister; Charlotte is the (evil) stepmother; and Jackson Barnett as Prince Charming, though he also isn’t what he appears to be. There are also events, such as the Ball, which are associated with the Cinderella story.
I liked Rat so much because he is a fun and loyal character – he always stays beside Ever, even when Skinny is breaking her down inside. Rat seems like an amazing friend and also is relatable though how he is willing to anything for his friends.
Overall, I did enjoy this book though the storyline was a little cliché; however it is very inspirational to all teens, no matter what issues they have. I would recommend this to older readers as the gastric bypass surgery is slightly controversial, and I believe difficult for younger readers to understand – but I would recommend it to anyone who is searching for a book that is inspirational and sweet.
By Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Published December, 2009
Reviewed by Charlotte Brindley
“Is falling in love the beginning… or the end?”
I brought this book after watching the film, and I know it’s meant to be the other way round but I’m glad I did it the wrong way round.
This is purely because I enjoyed the film all the way up to the end, and I shall not spoil it but I thought the ending was terrible. So I decided to see if the book was any better, and agreed it was.
If you’ve watched the film then I do advise you read the book because there are many cute scenes/chapters within the book that explore Lena and Ethan’s love in more depth than the film did, even though the film was pretty good with the romance aspect. Also, after reading the book, a lot more aspects of the film made sense.
However there was one aspect that I hated in both the book and the film. In the film, the character Larkin is a good guy who is a bit of a joker, and was my favourite character in the film. But in the book he was the complete opposite.
SPOILERS!!! Larkin turned out to the bad guy and was a horrible person. I cannot express how much that annoyed me; surely if you’re going to make a film of your novel, you’d keep the characters the same? Well apparently not.
SPOILERS OVER!!! Apologies for the rant.
Overall, I can’t really decide whether I like the book – in my personal opinion, the film is better because all the loose ends are tied up, whereas in the book it’s a bit of a mess, which I assume will be sorted out in the sequels. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Twilight or the Mortal Instruments, but I’d advise them to read the book first.
By Rachael Wing
Published January, 2007
Reviewed by Charlotte Brindley
“Who doesn’t want to star in the world’s greatest romance?”
I picked this book up a while back, and when I read it I did enjoy it – so I thought I’d review it.
Star-crossed is about Jen Anderson who auditions for the role of Juliet in the school’s rendition of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, however Chris Banner gets in the way.
It’s a modern day Romeo and Juliet story, as the Andersons’ and Banners’ hate each other, but Jen and Chris fight against their parents’ feud to be together. All together, it’s a cute short romance novel written by Wing, who wrote it as a teenager, which is very inspirational.
Even though the plot line was cliché, and the romance became a little too sickly at times, I did enjoy it as it was short and sweet. My favourite character was definitely Reuben, or Rubes. I enjoyed the relationship between him and Jen, and how he was portrayed – I’d definitely like him as a best friend.
Overall, if you want something light and fluffy to read, this is definitely the novel to read!
Heroes of Olympus #3: Mark of Athena
By Rick Riordan
Published: 2nd October 2012
Reviewed by Hannah Staples
“Seven half-bloods shall answer the call.
To storm or fire, the world must fall,
An oath to keep with final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.”
(It does also help if you have read the original Percy Jackson series as Heroes of Olympus is a spin off, following on from where they ended.)
For those unfamiliar with Percy Jackson, the series is a modern take on ancient Greek and Roman mythology where demigod children are living in modern day society completely indistinguishable from everyone else in almost every way. However every demigod has a varying degree of both ADHD (or rather have strong battle instincts) and dyslexia (as they are “hardwired” to read in Ancient Greek/Latin). Thus proving that you don’t have to be perfect to be a hero.
Mark of Athena starts where Son of Neptune ends; with Greek demigods Annabeth, Leo and Piper together with Roman demigod Jason, on a rescue mission to recover Percy and unite both Greek and Roman camps. As always, Riordan reveals clues and foreshadows the rest of the novel in the form of a prophecy. This is always my favourite part as you keep it in the back of your mind and begin to decode its hidden meaning as the quest goes on. However, this doesn’t make the plot line predictable and if anything, just gets you even more involved as you shout at the characters: “do the thing!” or “don’t do the thing!”
Each and every character is beautifully well developed so they are not only believable but your best friends. No matter how you perceive yourself you will end up envisaging yourself as one of the characters or even just part of their world. I mean, who doesn’t want to be told that their differences are what makes them special? I think this is what makes moments shared between characters even more powerful, especially as you see friendships grow through shared (mostly extremely dangerous) experiences.
With brilliant characters comes extremely gripping and emotional scenes. From your typical fight scene to difficult challenges fought alone you find yourself being desperate to somehow enter the book yourself and help. This is an exceptionally hard emotion for an author to convey, particularly when the novel is written in third person, as you naturally remove the reader from the immediate action. Riordan does this so well you can almost feel the physical pain that the characters suffer.
Although technically aimed at 9-12 year olds there is nothing to stop teens or even adults from absolutely loving the books - you may actually understand more of the humour, especially the romance. The series is a quick and easy read but the world in which Riordan paints is so good you can’t help but fall in love with it.
Written by: Graham McNamee
Published: 3rd January 2013
Reviewed by: Hannah Staples
Jane is not your typical teen. Only her best friend Lexi knows why she is different from anyone else: her own shadow seems to pull her into near fatal accidents. Determined to find the truth behind what is happening to her things take a turn for the worse the investigation connects her to the history of a serial killer.
An incredibly gripping mystery by McNamee (described as the Stephen King of Young Adult fiction) Beyond is definitely one for you Supernatural fans out there. I couldn’t stop myself from getting involved: speculating what was behind Jane’s attacks and why, even going as far as throwing the book across the room when it got too tense. McNamee descriptions throughout the novel are so vivid it’s if you’re there, unable to affect your surroundings, which is nothing short of terrifying.
There are very few characters featured in Beyond which I found helped the story-line immensely. It provided more time to focus on the main characters’ reactions to events; getting to know them through experiences rather than with long, unnecessary back stories. I also enjoyed the use of flashback-style mini stories as a way of explaining all her previous attacks. This allows you to obtain a greater understanding of Jane’s past without removing you from the action and breaking the flow of the overall plot.
There are so many clues that tie in to the overall mystery; something as small as Lexi’s short film about frogs could be taken as a metaphor for the bigger picture. You end up paying attention to every detail, not wanting to overlook anything in case it becomes important later. Yet another way you find yourself being pulled in.
I absolutely loved this book and was left feeling uneasy for days- definitely not one to read before bed (unless you like scaring yourself). With short chapters and hard hitting scenes it is nothing if not a page turner; easily readable in an afternoon. However, I would recommend this to 15+ readers it as it does contain some adult themes and is rather disturbing in places. No matter what genre you prefer I would suggest reading Beyond.
The Last Apprentice: The Disappearing Duchess
Author : Imogen Roffi
Reviewed by Molly Abbott
"A young girl is an apprentice at an art school but is made to join forces with a boy to find out who killed her master, only to find out once she stepped inside a painting that her duchess had been kidnapped and replaced with a ‘life’ painting."
I enjoyed this book because it was different to any other I have read, although it was in the fantasy genre, the characters and the story line were very believable. The book was quick to read but contained a lot of detail and once you had started reading you couldn’t take your eyes out of the book.
The Disappearing Duchess is a book set in 19th century Venice with a magical twist and when the author describes the settings you really feel like you’re there, She describes the character of the young girl so you get to know her and you feel what she’s feeling. The book really expresses her opinions and thoughts on what is going on.
I would recommend this book to anyone who needs a book that they can read in a short amount of time but really enjoy and likes a believable story but with a magical twist. This book is aimed at readers aged 9-12.
by Kathryn Erskine
Publication date: February 2011
Reviewed by Megan Charvill
Ten-year-old Caitlin Smith is doubly bereaved. Two years ago her mother died of cancer; now her beloved older brother Devon has been randomly murdered in a shooting at their American middle school. Such tragic deaths would be hard for anyone to deal with, but for Caitlin they are unusually difficult. She has Asperger’s syndrome.
Mockingbird is a short, easy read for people who can get into the storyline and connect with the characters. Unfortunately, I found it increasingly hard to read because I just didn’t enjoy it.
When first reading the blurb of this book, I thought I would enjoy it because it sounded extremely similar to Infinite Sky by C.J. Flood which read a couple of months ago and absolutely loved. Hoping the Mockingbird would be similar genre and that I would enjoy reading it, I was disappointed because I disliked this book so much I had to stop reading it.
The idea of the storyline itself is a good idea, the bit I found frustrating was the fact that the rest of the book after the fourth chapter was repetitive. The main character Caitlin was constantly going into school to her counsellor because she didn’t want to work in groups and nobody ‘got it’. Because of this I really didn’t enjoy it.
However, I do think someone who is slightly more patient would enjoy the book. I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 8 and below the age of 13 because it is a very simple book that has no explicit or inappropriate content