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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

Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne

10/10

Am I Normal Yet

 

Title: Am I Normal Yet?
Author: Holly Bourne
Published by: Usborne

Publication date: 2015
Pages: 434
Genres: Young Adult; Feminism; Mental Health
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought

 

All Evie wants is to be normal. And now that she’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the-girl-who-went-nuts, there’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships can mess with anyone’s head – something Evie’s new friends Amber and Lottie know only too well. The trouble is, if Evie won’t tell them her secrets, how can they stop her making a huge mistake?

It takes a lot to knock Divergent off the top spot in my imaginary ‘best books ever’ list, but this book succeeded right from page one. I’ve never read a book that tackles the sensitive topic of Mental Health but this book not only tackled it, but was able to give an insight into the mind of someone with OCD, generalised anxiety disorder and Emetophobia, all of which I suffer with. And let me tell you, this book pretty much described my life from attending College at the age of 16, right down to the obsessive hand washing. It was such a breath of fresh air to finally find a book which deals with these issues and I think that more YA novels should cover Mental Health topics.

Mental Health is one subject that so many books skirt around the edge of because it is not widely understood or recognised…which is part of the problem. I’m just so glad that this book is a thing, that Holly Bourne is a real, actual person who I have so much respect for and I’m so glad for Amber over at the mile long bookshelf for writing her review of this book because if she hadn’t I wouldn’t have read it.

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Amazon: Am I Normal Yet? (The Normal Series)

An Abundance of Katherines – Green, John

3/10

An Abundance of Katherines

Synopsis

19 Katherines and counting… When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a blood-thirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun – but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.

Overview *Contains Spoilers*

When I began this book, I was excited – after all I have loved every other John Green book that I have read and I thought I would love this one. I was wrong. It started off by making me laugh which I took as a positive sign, however very soon I became bored with Colin’s constant whining about how he is not a genius. I also found the mathematical formulas, which I didn’t understand, an unnecessary addition to the plot, particularly as the character creating them apparently ‘hates maths.’

I found the footnotes distracting and although it is not a necessity to read them, I didn’t dare miss them out in case they were going to add any plot twists to the story line. (They didn’t, if you hadn’t guessed).

All in all, I was very disappointed with this book – it didn’t live up to my high expectations of John Green’s books. I wouldn’t waste your time on this book unless you fancy reading pages and pages of mathematical formulas and moaning on the part of the main character.

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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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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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All the Bright Places (Niven, Jennifer)

8/10

All the Bright Places

 

Synopsis

Theodore Finch wants to take his own life. Violet Markey is devastated by her sister’s death. They meet on the ledge of the school bell tower, and so their story begins. It’s only together they can be themselves… But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

Overview *Contains Spoilers*

This book was beautiful, sad but beautiful. It deals with mental illnesses in a sensitive manner, bringing light upon illnesses that once were scoffed at, or thought to differentiate between a ‘crazy’ person and a normal person. Theodore Finch is an eccentric character with heaps of talent for music and song-writing and I love his character. I found Violet a less interesting and believable character as almost seemed false in what she was feeling. The romance between these two characters was not one hundred percent believable as their reactions to and around each other, felt to me, incorrect.

However, overall I would definitely recommend this book to teens of all ages, even though it deals with adult themes, it is a must-read story!

Buy this book on Amazon:All the Bright Places

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Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

10/10

Simon vs the Homo sapiens agenda

 

Synopsis

Simon Spier is sixteen and trying to work out who he is – and what he’s looking for. But when one of his emails to the very distracting Blue falls into the wrong hands, things get all kinds of complicated. Because, for Simon, falling for Blue is a big deal…

Overview *Contains Spoilers*

This book had me on tenterhooks the entire way through; it had me smiling at the cuteness, feeling sympathetic for Simon’s predicaments and situations and I overall absolutely loved it!

The characters are so well developed and the clues hidden throughout the book as to Blue’s real identity are well hidden but when you know the truth, are so obvious. It keeps you guessing right up until the end.

This book does show Simon’s rollercoaster of emotions as he goes through blackmail, coming out and bullying before finally accepting who he is and finds out who ‘Blue’ really is and then declares them boyfriends. It is a truly beautiful moment when they meet each other in the flesh for the first time despite going to the same school for years.

This book is guaranteed to make you experience all of Simon’s emotions along with him and be prepared upon starting this book, for an addictive ride in Simon’s mind and life. Well worth the read!

Buy this book on Amazon: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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The Art of Being Normal (Williamson, Lisa)

9/10

The art of being normal

 

Synopsis

Two boys. Two secrets. David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in Year 11 is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, and unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…

Overview *Contains Spoilers*

This book was amazing! It had me hooked from the very first page. David and Leo are incredibly, in-depth characters, whose emotions and behaviours are very relatable to a lot of people. The fact that they are both transgender makes the story all the more powerful and hard hitting, especially when they both get tormented by their school bullies. It tackles an issue which isn’t covered enough in young adult books which is what makes ‘the art of being normal’ a very unique book, well worth the time to read.

This novel follows the lives of two boys, David and Leo; David wants to be a girl and Leo used to be a girl. Williamson manages to include the correct balance of humour and also empathy within the pages of the book, in order to keep you interested in the story but also connected to the dilemmas that the two boys face, even when you’re not reading the book.

Buy on Amazon: The Art of Being Normal

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Withering Tights – Louise, Rennison

7/10

Withering Tights

 

Synopsis

You know what it’s like when you have your first snog, and it feels like a tiny bat is barging around in your mouth? Of course you do. So you will love Tallulah Casey as she careers about in her tights. She’s your kind of mate.

Overview *Contains Spoilers*

Tallulah Casey is 14 and she is about to attend Dother Hall of Performing Arts for the Summer. There’s just one problem, though. She can’t sing or dance. Throughout this book, the reader follows the adventures or ‘misadventures’ of Tallulah as she shows off her Irish Dancing skills and gets her first kisses from boys.

This is a hilarious book, normally not my type of reading as it is quite simple language, however, I absolutely loved it! In some places, it had me laughing, whilst in others, I felt sympathetic for Tallulah’s predicaments.

I would highly recommend this book to young teens or pre-teens because you are guaranteed to enjoy it in some way, even if this is not your style of reading.

The second book in the series can be found here.

Buy this book on Amazon: Withering Tights (The Misadventures of Tallulah Casey)

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Tom Gates – Genius Ideas (Mostly), Pichon, Liz

7/10

Tom Gates Genius Ideas Mostly

 

Synopsis

This is the look on my face when I get a genius idea (which happens a lot). Marcus likes to think he has good ideas. But they are mostly all rubbish. When Uncle Kevin says he is an expert on everything it makes Dad pull this face. And this is me when Delia has a hair disaster.

Overview *Contains Spoilers*

I was a bit dubious to start this book because I knew it was definitely aimed at younger children and it was presented in the style of a comic book which I am not the biggest fan of. However, I loved this book! It was funny in all the right places and it was a page turner because you always wanted to know what Tom was going to do or say next.

The doodles throughout this book added to the humour of the storyline whilst also keeping the younger children that it is aimed at, interested in the story and dilemma. Tom’s character is a very quirky one and many children will be able to relate to his problems and his love-hate relationship with his sister, Delia. His problems include an annoying classmate, Marcus, a walking disaster buddy, Joey, and school bores like homework and sports day, not to mention combs getting stuck in gelled hair!

I would recommend this book to younger readers as it is full of delightful doodles and annotations, however if you are slightly older and just looking for a quick and easy book to read, then don’t rule out Tom Gates!

Buy on Amazon: Genius Ideas (Mostly) (Tom Gates)

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