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Violet Ink – Rebecca Westcott

Title: Violet Ink
Author: Rebecca Westcott
Published by: Puffin

Publication date: 2014
Pages: 365
Genres: Romance; Pregnancy; Junior Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

5/10

 

Violet Ink

 

Izzy is hoping for a mellow yellow year of happiness. But for her impulsive big sister, Alex, life is much more colourful. She always writes to Izzy in a violet pen, which suits her dramatic personality. When one of Alex’s letters delivers a bolt from the blue, Izzy fears the future will be less than rosy. Will Alex’s new boyfriend spoil their sisterly bond, or does every cloud really have a silver lining?

 

I don’t have a lot to say about this book to be honest; the main character, Izzy, is eleven/twelve years old so I think I was a bit old for the age group that it is aimed at which is why I’ve given it a 5/10. The story was O.K and there was nothing in particular wrong with the overall book, so I haven’t given it below a 5/10 because I didn’t feel it was fair on the author to give it a generally negative review just because I’m not within the age group it is aimed at.

By all means read this book, the story was good but it just wasn’t my type of book.

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A Waste of Good Paper – Sean Taylor

Title: A Waste of Good Paper
Author: Sean Taylor
Published by: Janetta Otter-Barry Books

Publication date: 2012
Pages: 293
Genres: Junior Fiction; Realistic; Diary; School
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

8/10

A waste of good paper

 

Friday

Pete says this is a writing book he’s only giving me and it’s PRIVATE and I can write what I want. But SORRY PETE there’s nothing I want to write…

Wednesday

Pete’s an ALL RIGHT teacher. But it’s a DUMB idea he’s got about this book because the problem last year was what FATHEAD BARRY and the others were saying about my mum. And what happens if they start dissing her again?

Saturday

I’m writing this because of what’s happened. And that is my mum’s ex-boyfriend JON SHOWED UP. And BOTH his arms were BROKEN…

This type of book centred on children with emotional/behavioural problems is not my type of book, however once I began reading it and became engrossed in the story I found myself enjoying the witty and honest commentary of Jason. Although this book does hold a few swear words, I think it’s a book that needs to be read by younger children, in the junior fiction age category. It’s just one of those books which gives you an insight into the lives and mind set of other children. I would definitely recommend this book.

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Man vs Beast – Robert Muchamore

Title: Man Vs. Beast
Author: Robert Muchamore
Published by: Hodder

Publication date: 2006
Pages: 295
Genres: Detective; Mystery; Adventure; Action
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought

7/10

 

Man_Versus_Beast

 

Every day thousands of animals die in laboratory experiments. Some say these experiments provide essential scientific knowledge, while others commit acts of extreme violence in order to stop them. James and Lauren Adams are stuck in the middle. They’re CHERUB agents. Trained professionals with one essential advantage: adults never suspect that children are spying on them.

I love all of Robert Muchamore books, but I particularly enjoy those in the CHERUB series; with a perfect blend of adventure, mystery, suspense, action and thriller, this book kept me on the edge of my seat from page one. The characters are well developed and each have their own unique characteristics which make them interesting to follow, however whilst on their mission, the children are able to act professionally whilst still allowing their characters to show through.

Muchamore’s writing is gripping and thrilling, with perfect length chapters to keep you turning the pages, to find out what happens next. A wonderful book for junior readers.

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Amazon: Man vs Beast

Witch and Wizard – James Patterson

Title: Witch and Wizard
Author: James Patterson
Published by: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 2009
Pages: 307
Genres: Adventure; Magic; Mystery
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought

 

Witch and Wizard

7/10

This review first appeared on the 31st January 2016 on The Guardian Childrens’ Book Website: here

You are holding an urgent and vital narrative that reveals the forbidden truth about our perilous times….

This is the astonishing testimonial of Wisty and Whit Allgood, a sister and brother who were torn from their family in the middle of the night, slammed into prison, and accused of being a witch and a wizard. Thousands of young people have been kidnapped; some have been accused; many others remain missing. Their fate is unknown, and the worst is feared—for the ruling regime will stop at nothing to suppress life and liberty, music and books, art and magic…and the pursuit of being a normal teenager.

Wisty is a fifteen year-old with no regard for rules, whilst White is her eighteen year-old brother suffering with depression as a result of his girlfriend, Celia, mysteriously vanishing.

The two siblings are living their normal lives when one night they are snatched from their homes in the dead of night, accused of having magical powers they didn’t even know they possessed (although their parents did).

Their parents hand them last gifts before they are separated and along the way discover powers which – besides scaring their kidnappers – doesn’t do anything to help their horrific situation.

This book by James Patterson is a wonderful book about adventure and magic, aimed at younger readers with easy to read, signature short chapters, making it very easy to be drawn into the story line.

The pace of the plot moves quickly and succinctly – finishing on a “to be continued” after 300 pages. This book had me on the edge of my seat in many places throughout, as in some sections it seemed like the two protagonists would be unable to escape the predicaments they constantly found themselves in.

For me, this book was the one that introduced me to the author James Patterson; you may know him as the author of the Maximum Ride series, or the Alex Cross detective books for adult readers. So I would highly recommended this book to get you hooked on a new author.

In my opinion, the short chapters are the reason his books are so addictive – this is not saying that Patterson’s character development and plot lines aren’t amazing, because they are – but that the short, snappy chapters ranging between half a page to three pages (as a general rule) means that the plot lines always travel at an astonishing pace, without feeling like the action is being rushed.

Many authors attempt to incorporate fast-moving plot but it feels rushed and unconvincing, but James Patterson is one author that adopts the fast plotline strategy in an effective manner.

Despite my heavy praise for the short chapters I hated the alternating narrators between Whit and Wisty because it broke up the plot, causing some confusion around what was happening.

I tend to become very much involved in the story so forget to read who is narrating the next section of the story, which is more so of a problem with short chapters as you are barely able to get involved with one character’s scenario before you are whisked to another part of the story with the other sibling.

Looking past this, though, this is merely a personal issue which other people may not have problems. However, all in all, I would definitely recommend this book!

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Amazon: Witch & Wizard

The Name of This Book is Secret – Psuedonymous Bosch

Title: The Name of This Book is Secret
Author: Pseudonymous Bosch
Published by: Usborne

Publication date: 2008
Pages: 380
Genres: Mystery; Suspense; Adventure; Magic
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought

the name of this book is secret

7/10

This review first appeared on the 5th January on The Guardian Childrens’ Book Website: here

 

Warning: Do not read this book! …For amongst its strange and alarming contents you will find:

Two extraordinary adventurers…

A missing magician’s diary…

A symphony of smells…

And a deadly secret

But wait, you already know too much! It is too late. I’m afraid nothing will stop you now. Open the book if you must. But, please, tell no one.

 

Cass is 11 years old and is the female protagonist of the story; she is prepared for every disaster going from floods, to tornadoes and drives everyone crazy with her constant fretting about the next catastrophic calamity that could occur.

Max-Ernest is also 11 years old and his parents are divorced due to not being able to decide whether he should be called Max or Ernest (hence the double-barrelled first name). They live in the same house so Max is able to live a normal-ish childhood with two parents however both parents act as though the other isn’t there and the house is split down the middle with neither parent talking to the other. Max-Ernest has a speech impediment causing him to talk and talk and talk and talk and talk until he is told to shut up and as a result Cass is his only friend.

Cass and Max-Ernest are a match made in heaven as they both have their unique and, er quirky, personalities making them different to the average 11 year-old. Cass with her predicting of the next catastrophe and Max-Ernest with his lack of knowing when to shut up means that they get on like a house on fire even when no one else wants to know them.

An estate agent investigating a dead magician’s house finds a box labelled “a symphony of smells” and gives it to Cass’ grandfathers who investigate strange and mystifying objects, much to Cass’ mother’s dismay. Cass lets her new friend, Max-Ernest, in on the mystery and they begin to work out the mystery of the smells and look around the dead magician’s house. It is whilst they are in the house that they find a secret belonging to the dead magician but have to escape from a young couple who are looking around the house.

The couple then trace Cass and Max-Ernest to their school, but instead of finding them, they find a young artist named Benjamin Blake and Cass decides to be a hero and try to save him. The young couple aren’t what they seem from the outside as they have a goal and won’t stop until they achieve it. Will Cass and Max-Ernest save Benjamin and find out the secret of the dead magician?

Can we just look at the front and back pages of this book to begin with? The book is called “The Name of this Book is Secret”, now if that doesn’t make you want to read it, I don’t know what will. The author’s name is a pseudonym as well, I mean obviously “Pseudonymous Bosch” isn’t the author’s real name; but right from the word go, the author has cleverly built the mystery and suspense that this book incorporates into every single page. On the back page it reads “warning: do not read this book!” and I don’t know about you but that immediately makes me want to read it anyway, because it’s just a book, right? What harm can it do?

Right from page one, Cass and Max-Ernest are such quirky characters that they introduce an element of humour into the book. Cass is paranoid about the next disaster that always seems to be imminent, and Max-Ernest never shuts up. No, seriously. Taking these factors into account, it seems strange that they make such a good team to work out a mystery. Cass seems like the last person who would want to put herself in any danger considering she’s always working herself up over absolutely nothing. And Max-Ernest, surely you’d hear him from a mile off, I mean he just talks. And talks. And talks. But somehow, they work together as a dream team to solve the mystery of the dead magician.

I loved this book, from beginning to end; it has constant suspense and leaves you on cliff hangers at the end of chapters causing quite a few late nights/early mornings because it is very hard to put down once you begin. This book isn’t quite aimed at my age group (young adult) but I still enjoyed the story and plotline.

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Amazon: The Name of This Book is Secret (The “Secret” Series)

The Fire Eaters by David Almond

8/10

The Fire Eaters

Title: The Fire Eaters
Author: David Almond
Published by: Hodder Children’s Books
Publication date: 2003
Pages: 249
Genres: Historical; Realistic; Junior Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought

 

Bobby Burns is a lucky lad. He lives by the sea in sleepy Keely Bay. He has a wonderful family. He has great friends: the tough guy, Joseph Connor, who’s always looked out for him; Ailsa Spink, the seacoaler’s daughter, who can heal injured fawns with her dreams.

But things are starting to fall apart. His Dad’s mysteriously ill. His new school is a cold and cruel place. The Third World War seems about to start.

And now he’s met McNulty, the fire-eater. What does McNulty want with Bobby Burns? Why does he come to Bobby’s beach? This is the story of two months in Bobby’s life. A time of trouble, a time of change, a time of miracles.

 

This novel is set in 1962 during the Cuban missile catastrophe that was occurring at the time; however, this is the least of Bobby’s troubles. He starts attending a new school who are keen on disciplining via the use of a whip to keep the pupils in line, but when Bobby becomes friends with Daniel, things get rather out of hand for him as he becomes caught up in a riotous act of rebellion against the school. As well as this, his best friend Joseph is becoming very rough with Bobby, his other friend Ailsa refuses to attend school and his Dad has been struck down with a mysterious illness, plus there is the strange McNulty with his fire-eating skills who seems struck with Bobby.

For a book that is not aimed at my age group, this had a fantastic storyline full of mystery and empathy for the character of Bobby. Almond has written it in such a way which makes the reader feel the worry and despair of the characters in the book as they worry about the Cuban Missiles and the potential for World War Three to kick off, as well as Bobby’s school worries and his Dad’s illness which the doctors are unable to find a reason for.

Overall, I thought this was a very well-written and constructed book suitable for junior readers aged between 8 and 12 years of age, however this doesn’t mean that older reader won’t enjoy it as well.

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Amazon: The Fire Eaters

Pig Heart Boy – Blackman, Malorie

8/10

Pig Heart Boy

 

 

Synopsis

Cameron is thirteen and desperately in need of a heart transplant when a pioneering doctor approaches his family with a startling proposal. He can give Cameron a new heart – but not one from a human, one from a pig. It’s never been done before. It’s experimental, risky and very controversial. But Cameron is fed up with just sitting on the side of life, always watching and never doing. He has to try – to become the world’s first Pig-Heart Boy!

Overview *Contains Spoilers*

Cameron seems like any other normal thirteen year-old on the outside, but on the inside, his heart is giving out. He needs a heart transplant when the waiting list for human donors is huge. That’s when he’s approached by a doctor asking him whether he’d be interested in having a transplant using a pig heart. Cameron wants to be like the other boys and girls his age, able to play football and go swimming for long periods of time, without getting tired out and worrying about his heart stopping altogether.

This book was amazing! It had me really feeling for the character the entire way through. I would definitely recommend this book to junior readers as it isn’t a hard book to read, but can be hard-hitting in places, regarding how he is treated once people realise that he has a pig heart.

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Buy this book on Amazon: Pig-Heart Boy

How I live Now (Rosoff, Meg)

3/10

How I Live Now

 

Synopsis

Imagine the perfect summer. Imagine blossom everywhere. The grass so green you can taste it. The sun on your skin. The rich sweet smell of honeysuckle. A hand touching your leg. Falling for someone you shouldn’t. Imagine the world exploding. A perfect summer blown apart.

Overview *Contains Spoilers*

I have very mixed views and feelings about this book. Content wise (i.e. plot wise) it was faultless up to part two. It had just the right mixture of desire, longing and adventure in it to grab my attention. The problem I had with the book is Rosoff’s style of writing. For a start, part one of the book, which is the majority, contained absolutely no speech marks, sentences that were ridiculously long to read and get your head around and capital letters that had no place being capitalised. This made ‘How I live now’ a very tiring and difficult book to read despite its short length. I also didn’t understand why the first part seemed almost punctuation-less in comparison to part two which contained the right punctuation. It could be that Rosoff is trying to show the passage of time between the first part and the second part, however the main language used by Daisy still stays relatively the same, it’s just the use of punctuation that noticeably changes.

I also thought that the jump between part one and part two was unnecessary and confusing. I had no idea what happened in the six years between when Daisy answers the phone to Daisy returning to New York besides the very brief explanation that was given in part two. This left me feeling underwhelmed and disappointed in the story.

If this review hasn’t entirely put you off, it is still worth a read just to see how another author describes a fictional third world war.

Buy this book on Amazon: How I Live Now

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Dead Man’s Cove – St John, Lauren

9/10

Dead Man's Cove

 

Synopsis

Orphaned Laura is sent to live with her Uncle in Cornwall, convinced that a life of adventure is hers at last. But everywhere she turns she’s confronted with mysteries. Is Tariq, the shopkeeper’s silent son, a friend or an enemy? Why does her Uncle seem intent on erasing his own past? And why is everyone so afraid of Dead Man’s Cove?

Overview *Contains Spoilers*

This is a definite must read for readers who enjoy Enid Blyton’s adventure-packed Famous Five and Secret Seven books! It was packed with action and mystery which kept me hooked for more. I love the main character, Laura. She is a brave and strong-headed girl who isn’t afraid to ask questions or express her feelings. She is a role model for a lot of female readers, and males can also admire her feistiness and bravery.

I really enjoyed Lauren St John’s White Giraffe series, so I was excited to start reading this one and it didn’t disappoint! I found I actually preferred this book because of the adventure and mystery that surrounded Dead Man’s Cove. I would definitely recommend this book to Junior Fiction readers but enjoyment can also be found by Young Adult readers who are looking for a lighter read.

Buy this book on Amazon: 01 Dead Man’s Cove (Laura Marlin Mysteries)

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Haddon, Mark

7/10

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

 

Synopsis

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger’s Syndrome. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour’s dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down.

Overview *Contains Spoilers*

This book follows the story of Christopher; he is not your average teenager. He has Asperger’s Syndrome which means that his take on the world is different to everyone else’s. Loud noises upset him, lying causes his brain to overload and he appears to be a mini maths genius, using counting to calm himself down in certain situations.

The chapter numbers of this book are prime numbers, increasing like 2, 3, 5, 7 etc. This automatically caught my attention and Christopher soon went on to explain that he likes prime numbers.

This book gives a real insight into the mind of someone with Asperger’s Syndrome which could help many readers understand the condition a lot more and be more supportive to those with the illness.

I really like this book. I thought it was very original and quirky. Christopher, as the narrator, makes the story much more enjoyable than if someone else was just commenting on Christopher’s, somewhat absurd, behaviour. As the narrator is Christopher, his actions, feelings and thoughts are better explained.

Buy this book on Amazon: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

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