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Review: Me and Mr J by Rachel McIntyre

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Title: Me and Mr J
Author: Rachel McIntyre
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Publication Date: March 2015
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Fifteen-year-old Lara finds her soulmate. There’s just one problem – he’s her teacher.
Lara’s life has changed radically since her father lost his job. As the eldest, Lara tries to keep upbeat, and the one outlet for all her problems is her diary where she can be open about how dire everything is at home, and worse, the fact that she’s being horrifically bullied at school.
And then a shining light comes out of the darkness – the new young and MALE teacher, Mr Jagger. The one person who takes Lara seriously and notices her potential. The one person who is kind to her. The one person who she falls madly and hopelessly in love with. The one person who cannot reciprocate her feelings … can he?

REVIEW BY MOLLY 8:8

In my opinion Me and Mr J is a romantic but dangerous book suitable for 13-16 year olds.

Me and Mr J is based on, fictional character, Lara Titlis’ diary. In Lara’s diary she writes about her school life which is not ideal for a teenaged girl … until Mr J comes along. Lara is a smart and intelligent young woman but it seems that other pupils in her school -especially the tormenting trio: Molly, Mikaela and former best friend Chloe- seem to be jealous of her brains. Lara may be clever however, the girls have no trouble finding ways to pick on Lara. They call her names because she is ginger and insult her embarrassing surname, on some occasions they would even use the fact that her family is having struggles and going through a rough time as a way to taunt her. Lara finds it very hard to cope with the bullying she faces at school she even tries to avoid the bus. There is only one person who helps Lara through the intimidation and mistreatment that she faces every day and that person is Mr J (Lara’s form tutor and English teacher). Mr Jagger is the only person Lara can talk to about everything and mistakenly falls for him. Lara is convinced that the way Mr J cares for Lara is not just because he is her teacher and it is his job to make things right. Even though Lara has fallen in love with Mr J is it possible that he could feel the same way? Or is Lara just interpreting his actions the wrong way?

Lara writes all of her thoughts and feeling in the diary her parents got her for Christmas, which no other characters in the book would know about. Lara is a very independent person and it shows in the way that Rachel McIntyre has written her diary. Lara has to be mentally strong and resilient to be able to put up with the grief and stress she gets from her so called friends. I get the feeling from this book that Lara knows how to look after herself because of past experiences in school. Lara is my favourite character because from reading her diary you can tell that she is a comical person and can always see a funny or positive side to the stuff she has to put up with at her school. She is the type of person who will just take out her anger on her diary and it is quite amusing to read. Lara’s witty sense of humour makes the book easier to read under all of the stress and unkindness which is carried through out Me and Mr J.

My favourite part of the book is the ending as Lara finally can be happy although the ending is probably not what you would expect. The book has a twist and it comes as a surprise, I certainly didn’t predict it. I would recommend the book because it is worth reading to find out the ending. The book was very enjoyable to start off with and it didn’t get boring however towards the end of the book it became quite repetitive and I just wanted to get to the end. I would most undoubtedly read books written by Rachel McIntyre again as the book was definitely my type of genre. Unfortunately, I do not consider reading as a hobby because when I read I feel as if I am forcing myself to. For anybody who struggles to enjoy reading should consider reading Me and Mr J because I found it comfortable to read as it was humorous and easy-going.

I would rate the book 4/5 stars.

Review: Shadowlark by Meagan Spooner

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Image from Goodreads

Title: Shadowlark
Series: Skylark #2
Author: Meagan Spooner
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
Publication Date: Oct 2013
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Lark Ainsley escapes the Iron Wood, only to find herself captured and imprisoned in a hidden underground city.

Powerful magic protects the city of Lethe, stopping the inhabitants from transforming into Empty Ones, monsters who hunger for human flesh.

But this magic comes at a terrible price, and the city lives in fear of their leader Prometheus and his gang of Eagles.

Lark is desperate to save the city from Prometheus’s tyrannical grip, and find her brother, before it’s too late.

REVIEW BY CHRISTOPHER 8:5

Shadowlark is about a girl called Lark Ainsley. She has escaped her home town (with the power to strip others of their magic) to find her brother. But they are caught and trapped in the underground city of Lethe and Lethe has a secret that Lark must uncover.

Lark Ainsley run away from her hometown to find her brother and is in the wilderness. However, in the wilderness there are evil beings called shadows and they are hunting her. She gets caught and is then brought to the city of Lethe but she cannot escape.

My favourite part of the book was when the battle occurs. There are a lot of twists and turns to the plot, although there are also many revelations. The action is described very well and doesn’t get lost in technical terminology (by using words specific to a sport e.g. a parry in fencing) so you know what is happening.

My favourite character was Lark because she has the power to strip others of their magic and use it. She also was an outsider and people think of her in the wrong way. This made me empathise with her because people think that I don’t have any fun and that I just revise all the time. I disliked the fact that the author kept on using the same or similar phrases to describe the shadows. I also disliked the lack of different places.The only setting was the city of Lethe for most of the book.

If I were to change anything in the book I would change Oren’s personality. Oren was Larks friend and he is a shadow. He can change into a ruthless monster if there is not enough magic in the air. He was very cold hearted and distant throughout the book. He didn’t change and was not very fundamental to the storyline despite his regular appearance.

I would read a book by the author again because she has a good imagination and it was different to any other books I have read that involve magic. She was creative with her choice of characters and didn’t choose common names such as Tom. I liked this because it made her writing more memorable than others. I would recommend this book to people who like a story with magic and who have a good imagination. This book would also be good for people who like Harry Potter because she has good names and different magic. An intriguing storyline was woven into the book just like J.K Rowling and she captured the magic in the story. The readers of this book also like a bit of treachery and action. I think Shadowlark is best suited for Year Seven and up because some of the words used in the book would be hard for a year six to understand.

Shadowlark includes romance and the occasional bad word however, this shouldn’t be much of an issue for the target audience. Additionally, it didn’t bore me or seem like the author was just trying to fill pages. On a scale of one to five I would give it a 3. It didn’t blow me away but it did have originality and a lot of themes woven into the plot, such as betrayal, romance and tragedy.

Review: Killing Sound by Paul Southern

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Image from Goodreads

Title: Killing Sound
Author: Paul Southern
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: Sept 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Jodie is cursed with a terrible gift. She just doesn’t know it yet. When she stumbles across one of her dead father’s old papers on sound waves in the attic, it sets her on a terrifying journey to find out more, leading her across the streets of London to the dark, untrodden tunnels of the Underground, where she is forced to face the truth. Her worst nightmare is about to become real. Worse, she can hear it coming.

REVIEW BY OLIVER 8:5

Killing Sound is about a girl named Jodie, who is almost eighteen years old. When she was little, she saw something horrible – something that she managed to block out of her mind. However, the memories came back haunting her; she had to stop them, while also trying to uncover the truth about her parents’ death twelve years before.

For me, the best part of the story was when Jodie found out what actually happened to her parents (nobody knew how they were killed and Jodie had to find out) because it showed how she reacts in a certain situations and it altered her point of view.

However, I didn’t particularly enjoy the romantic aspect of the plot; for me that isn’t really what I like to see in thrillers because they are supposed to be action and not romance. Apart from that Killing Sound was quite enjoyable.

My favourite character was Jodie’s best friend Luca, he was very understanding and listened to his best friend. He was very loyal and would do pretty much anything that Jodie told him to do. He was also quiet and very helpful to the other people who were in the story.

If I were to have anything changed I would like to change the ending because it is really unpredictable; I would like to see what it would be like if the ending altered. Although the way in which the plot played out was really interesting and altered your perception of the events witnessed within the plot.

I would love to read another book by the author, Paul Southern. I found Killing Sound to have an engaging storyline that kept my attention throughout.  I did not get bored (that is saying something as I easily get bored with most books) because it had an interesting plot. It was also easy to read and understand the story.

I would recommend this book to others and I would probably recommend it to thirteen to fourteen year olds because it has some bad language in it. Apart from that it is a really good book without the use of bad language it would be suitable for a lower age group as well.

I would rate this book four out of five stars; I would recommend it to anyone looking for an engaging thriller.

Review: My Best Friend and Other Enemies by Catherine Wilkins

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Title: My Best Friend and Other Enemies
Series: My Best Friend #1
Author: Catherine Wilkins
Publisher: Nosy Crow
Publication Date: Sept 2012
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

When Jessica’s best friend goes off with new-girl Amelia, Jessica is hurt but determined not to take it lying down. She has a plan, and a secret weapon – her felt-tips. The pen is mightier than the sword, after all, and having a sense of humour wins Jessica far more friends than she loses. A funny, wise story that will touch a nerve with everyone who reads it.

REVIEW BY ELLA 8:5

My Best Friend and Other Enemies is a quick read only 202 pages but quickly grasped my attention by relating it to the childish behaviour and attitude coming from young girls today. My Best Friend and Other Enemies demonstrates the evil schemes and dirty tricks some children can inflict on one another, rather than solving there problems with words they use action, which never ends well.

My Best Friend and Other Enemies follows the life of Jessica, Natalie and Amelia, they are all year six student Hellfern Junior School. The story is told from Jessica’s point of view, which again adds to the suspense of the book. Jessica and Amelia were getting along perfectly, until Amelia starts being catty and horrible towards Jessica, which leads to Natalie leaving poor Jessica to fend for herself in this horrific place called primary school! After a while the girls join two rival gangs both against one another for the ultimate prize of boys and popularity. But will the girls ever make up or will this childish war never be won? That’s for you to find out.

I really enjoyed this story book, even though it was predictable at times it just summed up my life in primary school from the catty arguments over stupid things, just wanting to fit in, and on top of that not being yourself to please other people. I also loved how it wasn’t confusing it was clear and that meant you could understand and relate to the book more than you would if you had words and names overloading your mind which can usually happen in these kind of stories.

Even though I did enjoy the book I felt that the beginning and middle were thoroughly explained and you understood the story but at the end the pacing was way too fast and needed further detail and depth, this could have easily filled up a few more chapters.

My favourite character has to be Jessica. Even though she was the victim in the book she turned her negative experience into a positive, her cartoon drawings flourished and long lasting friends were created. She saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

All in all this book was very interesting and I highly recommend it. You may not think you enjoy romance or soppy predictable books, but give this a try and you won’t regret it.

Review: It’s About Love by Steven Camden

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Image from Goodreads

Title: It’s About Love
Author: Steven Camden
Publisher: Harper Collins Childrens
Publication Date: Aug 2015
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Real life is messier than the movies. A bold, thought-provoking novel from the exceptionally talented, Steven Camden.

He’s Luke. She’s Leia.

Just like in Star Wars. Just like they’re made for each other. Same film studies course, different backgrounds, different ends of town.

Only this isn’t a film. This is real life. This is where monsters from the past come back to take revenge. This is where you are sometimes the monster.

But real life? Sometimes, only sometimes, it turns out just like in the movies…

… maybe.

REVIEW BY USHENKA 8:5

It’s About Love is a modern-day love story. The author of Tape, Steven Camden, has written a story from the point of view of a sixteen-year-old boy named Luke. In his first week of college he meets a girl in his film studies class. Her name is Leia and, ignoring the Star Wars connection, their passion for film makes them the perfect partners.

Luke, however, comes from a very troubling background. He has purposefully chosen a college two bus journeys away in order to escape his past. He can try to hide his relationship to his brother who is due to be released from prison , but he cannot cover up the scar on his face. Initially, Luke wants as little attention as possible, although once he starts developing feelings for Leia he enjoys being around her and her friends.

This was my favourite part of the book because we get to see a different side of Luke when he is with his friends from college. We hear more of his opinions and see him in a more comfortable environment. However, when he is with his family he is often in the shadows of his older brother. I think Steven Camden also shows us in this part of the book that it does not matter what your background is, it does not affect how well you successful you are in life.

Yet, everything changes when Luke’s past life and friends collide with the new. All of his efforts to keep his past life and present fail, and Luke is left with less than what he had. Believing he has ruined everything with Leia, Luke needs all the encouragement he can get from his film studies tutor, Noah, to keep on going. Surprisingly Noah was my favourite character throughout It’s About Love. Even though Noah was not a main character I felt he played an important role. He often helped Luke through dark times and believed in him when others didn’t. I felt as if Luke and Noah had a special connection  throughout the narrative. Noah also inspired Luke to follow his dreams and showed the readers that you can make your dreams come true no matter who you are or where you come from.

Steven Camden writes the story through first person narrative, film directions and ideas in Luke’s notebooks. This is an interesting method and helps to create a clearer picture of Luke’s personality. He is a teenager with potential and the ability to think for himself. It is his past history that makes him feel like he does not deserve happiness or success.

Despite the title, I felt It’s About Love is more suitable for young adult males rather than females due to the nature of the story and the main theme within the plot. However, I would still recommend this book to females. Steven Camden clearly has the young adult audience in mind as he writes and I am sure there will be many readers who will love this book.

I would love to read a book by this author again, I find Steven Camden’s writing very captivating throughout the whole story.  I am also looking forward to reading Steven Camden’s first book Tape.

The only issue with the content of the book is that it does contain explicit language throughout along with violence towards the end. I do think Steven Camden was right to add violence into this story as it really describes Luke’s background.

There weren’t that many flaws in Steven Camden’s book however one flaw that I did encounter was the way Steven Camden portrayed Leia. I felt as if it was hard to get to know this character and I also felt as if she changed personalities throughout the story. I think Steven Camden should develop on Leia’s character and also give a more clear image of the ending.

I think Steven Camden should have developed Luke’s and Leia’s relationship; very often Leia would not appear in the book for chapters. Also I would have liked to have seen their relationship after they started dating, to give us an insight on whether Luke and Leia stayed together or ended you going their separate ways.

I think the cover of this book does give the reader the wrong impression. This book is the opposite of what the cover looks like. I guess this just goes to show you, don’t judge a book by its cover!

Taking all this information into consideration I will be giving It’s About Love 4 out of 5 marks.