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Review: Rags and Bones by Melissa Marr

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Image from Goodreads

Title: Rags and Bones
Author: Anthology – Melissa Marr
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: Oct 2013
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

There are some stories that will always be told, tales as timeless as they are gripping.

There are some authors who can tell any story.

In RAGS & BONES, award-winning and bestselling authors retell classic fairytales and twisted tales in the way that only they can. With magic and love, they bring these stories – whether much loved or overlooked – back to life.

Read ‘Sleeping Beauty’ as only Neil Gaiman can tell it. See ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ through the eyes of Kami Garcia. And learn of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ from the inimitable Garth Nix.

REVIEW BY LOUIS – YEAR 8

Rags and Bones is an anthology of fairy tales re-told/re-imagined with twists and turns, making a refreshing change from the typical Princess in tower rescued by Prince. These are not however, the well known fairy-tales most I hadn’t heard of before. For me this only makes the book more exciting because I didn’t know what I was going into.

I will be honest and say this is not the sort of book I would choose to read off of a shelf. But it surprised me because I actually loved it. I only wish that I could relate to characters more with anthologies because I always feel like time for the stories and characters are cut short.

My least favorite story in the book was The Cold Corner because I found the whole plot to be uninteresting. It takes too long to actually get into the story and it is not very engaging for the reader.

My favorite story is The Soul Collector. It has an exciting beginning and is instantly is engaging. To find a character who is a murderer in a fairy-tale is rare even when the murderer is the main character because fairy-tales are supposed to be innocent children’s stories????? Or so I believed. This story kept me hooked all the way through. The first person narration made it feel as if I was right there with the main character. It felt as if the character was speaking directly t me, telling me her life story. It has an exciting plot and changed my perception of fairy-tales.

I would have liked to see more well-known fairy-tales included in the anthology.  I didn’t feel as if the stories within the anthology were really fairy-tales due to the setting.

There are some mature parts of the book and a few swear words  (but it is fine as everyone age of 11+ would have heard these words before – one of the downfalls of modern society perhaps). It doesn’t make the stories any less exciting though.

Rags and Bones provides a great introduction to authors I wouldn’t have previously considered reading, I am definitely seeking out other books by them now :)

Review: The Templeton Twins Make a Scene by Ellis Weiner

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Image from Goodreads

Title: The Templeton Twins Make a Scene
Series: Templeton Twins #2
Author: Ellis Weiner
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: 15 Oct 2013
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

With its kid-perfect humor and dynamic illustrations, Book 1 of the hilarious Templeton Twins series left young readers clamoring for more. This time, Abigail and John Templeton find themselves at TAPAS (the Thespian Academy of the Performing Arts and Sciences) where their father, the illustrious Professor Templeton, has been hired to invent a groundbreaking theatrical device. Once again, there is drama (of course!), silliness, and suspense, as the twins (and their ridiculous dog) must thwart the dastardly Dean brothers in order to save the invention as well as their father (and the dog). Oh yes, there is sure to be another recipe. This time for guacamole. Or is it coleslaw?

REVIEW BY EVAN – YEAR 8

As you would expect, The Templeton Twins is about twins, Abigail and John, who are the son and daughter of a world famous inventor. He is about to create a device which could fetch millions but somebody is trying to take the credit for it. The twins will stop at nothing to make sure their father gets what is rightfully his. I feel that the Twins each boast qualities that will be put to very good use at the climax. On numerous occasions they have to work together, complimenting each of their strengths, aided by people who they believe are annoying, but are actually their friends.

The best parts of the book is when the narrator gets up to his antics and begins talking about how brilliant he is. He is not afraid to show his seeming dislike for us readers if we haven’t read the first book. However, the best thing about it is how if you haven’t read the first book, it doesn’t affect your enjoyment of the second. You don’t miss out on anything that is vital to your understanding of the story.

The way the characters develop, is one of the ways I think the story is kind to those who haven’t read the first book despite how unkind the narrator is if that is the case. My favourite character would be the boss of the Twins Dad. She steals the show when she is in the room and is portrayed truly brilliantly! It is one of the few books that will make you laugh out loud. Tell your friends, make them laugh as well :)

Unfortunately, some parts of the book were not quite as good as they could have been. The characters don’t get old but I feel that the narrators jokes did at times. At first, I think that when he was talking about how amazing he is and how disappointed he was if we hadn’t read the first book was quite funny. However, those jokes and the use of French words all the way through the book just got overused.

Despite this, I think I would read another book by the same author because I think that I did enjoy it. Out of five, I think I would give it a four because like I said, there was a bit of room for improvement but I enjoyed it. I would definitely recommend this book to others who are over the age of ten because there are lots of French words and I am not sure that they would fully understand the humor.

On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and if you want a funny children’s book, you can’t get much better than this.

Review: Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott

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Image from Goodreads

Title: Fire and Flood
Series: Fire and Flood #1
Author: Victoria Scott
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: March 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Time is slipping away….

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can’t determine what’s wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She’s lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she’s helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It’s an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother’s illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there’s no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can’t trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

REVIEW BY RACHEL – YEAR 8

Fire and Flood is about a girl called Tella and her brother Cody, who has cancer. He doesn’t have long to live. Tella is determined to save him, even if it means risking her own life. She has been given the opportunity to compete in a treterus competition that will test her physically and mentally, she doesn’t think twice.

Tella meets Levi and Ransom when she is trudging through the jungle looking for food when their paths cross. They have to be my favourite characters. I thought they had a great personalities and always lightened the mood in the team. It felt as if I knew these characters personally and had been with them for years, they were very realistic and I was able to relate to them very well. They had an adorable cheekiness about them!

The plot kept me guessing the whole time, which made me want to read it even more! It was exciting and had lots of twists along the way, many of which were very unexpected. The story was very gripping and made me want to keep turning the pages.

The only things I disliked about this book was it finished very suddenly and we never find out the end. I found this very disappointing because I was very intrigued, and I wanted to found out how she finished in the competition.

I would recommend this book to anyone but only in the target age range, because it could be inappropriate for younger readers a times. But it was a great book and I really enjoyed it.

Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

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Image from Goodreads

Title: Lies We Tell Ourselves
Author: Robin Talley
Publisher: Mira Ink
Publication Date: 3 Oct 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

It’s 1959. The battle for civil rights is raging. And it’s Sarah Dunbar’s first day of school, as one of the first black students at the previously all-white Jefferson High. No one wants Sarah there. Not the Governor. Not the teachers. And certainly not the students – especially Linda Hairston, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist. Sarah and Linda have every reason to despise each other. But as a school project forces them to spend time together, the less their differences seem to matter. And Sarah and Linda start to feel something they’ve never felt before. Something they’re both determined ignore. Because it’s one thing to be frightened by the world around you – and another thing altogether when you’re terrified of what you feel inside.

REVIEW BY BETH

On reading the premise of this novel I thought Robin Talley might be trying to do too much, the integrationist issue itself was large enough without the added complexity of the nature of the two main characters’ relationship and I was sceptical, I didn’t get why there was the need to do both, and then I read the book.

Lies We Tell Ourselves is wonderfully written with empathy and realism in equal measures. It’s a must-read, I’d say especially in American high schools but equally here. Living in a city where many of the streets are named after slave traders and home to the National Slavery Museum, I am well-versed in the time before Sarah’s but the movement she was involved in and the importance of that movement is something I had never read about in depth. Reason number one that Lies We Tell Ourselves is a great book. Talley handles the subject with grace and it is a fantastic example of modern historical fiction.

The split narrative technique allows the two lead characters to grow in their own ways. In some aspects I’d say Sarah stays more static than Linda, in that many of her heartfelt opinions and reasoning stays the same throughout, although this can’t be said of her feelings towards Linda, whilst Linda finally takes the opportunity to have her own thoughts, rather than regurgitating those of her father and her family.

The second reason Lies We Tell Ourselves is so effective is the balance Talley achieves. Yes, this is a momentous time in history but for people like Sarah and Linda, they were just living it. The regular feelings and stirrings of adolescence were no weaker and Talley manages to add this element into the story with ease.

Lies We Tell Ourselves seems to be about truth, accepting yourself for who you are and bravery. The act of integration was something that was forced upon many children and though they agreed in principle, it wasn’t an easy process and Talley doesn’t shy away from the language, the brutality and sheer viciousness of the attacks on the black children as they try to fit into a white school.

This novel is deeply personal, both Sarah and Linda feel like real people and it’s more than possible to believe that the experiences people went through weren’t far too different from theirs.

Review: Making Headlines by Erin Brown

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Making Headlines
Series: Taking Flight #2
Author: Erin Brown
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date:
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

When a one-night stand turns into an online photo scandal, Sophie Tucker and Luke McGraw become campus celebrities overnight for all the wrong reasons.

Sophie Tucker can’t wait to start her freshman year of college—she has a full scholarship to her dream school and her sights set on landing a coveted staff writer position on the college newspaper. But when a scandalous photo from a one night stand she barely remembers is posted on The Score List, a new tabloid-style gossip site the campus is buzzing about, Sophie realizes her freshman year isn’t going to be what she imagined. As more photos are posted, Sophie decides to use her journalistic prowess to take down the anonymous person behind the site.

Luke McGraw is that guy—the vice president of his fraternity, the online editor of the school newspaper, and the one every girl wants to date. When a photo of Sophie, the girl he hooked up with the night before classes started and can’t get out of his head, shows up on The Score List, he knows that he has to find out who is behind the site—both to avenge Sophie, and to save the reputation of his fraternity.

When Sophie and Luke realize they’re both investigating, they decide to team up. But focusing on the investigation instead of each other proves difficult, especially when neither of them are sure the other can be trusted.

REVIEW 

Making Headlines has a few similarities with Deeper by Robin York in respect of the fallout experienced by women specifically when their sexual activity is made public knowledge.

Following a random hook-up the night before freshman year officially starts, Sophie finds herself the recipient of  online shaming. The dual narrative provides the deeper understanding of the level of inequality still experienced in today’s society where intimate matters are concerned, essentially misogynistic in their values. The double standard toward these type of situations is passionately portrayed within the narrative.

Sophie is a wonderfully strong character with an underlying layer of vulnerability. Her  goal of being an investigative journalist including her tremendous talent is put to the test in uncovering the culprit of the shaming.

Sophie’s tendency to flirt shamelessly counts against her both within the plot and also in forming a connection with the reader. It is only when the plot gets past this barrier that a true connection to Sophie is achieved, the way in which Luke views her aids this aspect. I liked Luke from the beginning even with his player reputation, he was very realistic and a typical guy. Only realizing his mistakes in retrospect :)

I  really liked the aspect of the plot involving role-playing games and how they can help build self-confidence within the gamers. It made me think of all the ways this idea could be utilized in library lessons ( a librarians mind never shuts down) :)

While the story itself was enjoyable it is Sophie as a character that is the outstanding feature for me. She is a fascinating, multi-talented woman who would make a terrific role model if you disregard her excessive flirting.