Tag Archives: children’s fiction

Book Review: Jonny Jakes Investigates the Hamburgers of Doom by Malcom Judge

Published June 2015 by Curious Fox.

25726092Publisher’s Synopsis: Meet Jonny Jakes, undercover reporter for banned school newspaper The Woodford Word. Nothing will stop his pursuit of the truth. Not teachers. Not parents. Not double detention.

When a new head teacher arrives halfway through term, Jonny smells a rat. Teachers handing out sweets? All-you-can-eat hamburgers? He’s determined to get to the bottom of it, because Jonny Jakes investigates the same way he eats his hamburgers: with relish.

My Review: I haven’t read many middle grade books so far this year – so when I was emailed about this book, I jumped at the chance! Also, if the title is THE HAMBURGERS OF DOOM, there is no way I’m missing out on reading it.

I can definitely see why this first book in the Jonny Jakes Investigates series is one of Curious Fox’s leading titles of 2015. It ticks all the boxes for a brilliant children’s book, and more. From the witty illustrations of the characters, to the hilarious dialogue and fictional school setting, it was a delight to read!

The story opens with an introduction to Jonny Jakes, the mastermind behind his school’s newspaper, which has been garnering a lot of attention with its many articles mocking the headmaster. When a mysterious new head teacher turns up, Jakes is determined to get the first scoop on it, but he finds out that it’s not just any old head teacher. It’s an alien, and matters are about to get a whole lot more complicated – because despite his nice personality, is this alien headmaster up to something wicked?

The plot felt like a classic story, though original, and I can tell this is going to be a very popular book with younger readers. I did not expect to laugh as much as I did. The plot is a hilarious blend of Sci-Fi and school drama.

The voice of Jonny Jakes is undoubtedly one of the best child narratives I’ve read in a long time. There was just something about the voice, how the diary entries by Jonny were written – it felt so realistic and I loved it! I’m confident Jonny Jakes has the potential to be one of those iconic book characters children are going to grow up loving.

The dialogue was sharp-witted and I loved the relationships between all of the characters. I didn’t expect to become so attached to such brilliant characters in this book, either!

Overall, I was really pleasantly surprised with The Hamburgers of Doom. A quite frankly ridiculous story about a schoolboy reporter investigating evil hamburgers and an alien headmaster… t’s a fantastically silly read that’s bound to make you giggle a little bit, no matter what your age. I enjoyed it a lot more than I anticipated. I think it’ll appeal to a lot of reluctant young readers, too. I’m really looking forward to seeing more from this series!

My Rating:

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I received a copy of The Hamburgers of Doom from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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Book Review: The Imaginary by A. F. Harrold (Illustrated by Emily Gravett)

Published October 23rd by Bloomsbury.

22443909Goodreads Synopsis: Rudger is Amanda’s best friend. He doesn’t exist, but nobody’s perfect.
Only Amanda can see her imaginary friend – until the sinister Mr Bunting arrives at Amanda’s door. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumour says that he eats them. And he’s sniffed out Rudger. Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. But can a boy who isn’t there survive without a friend to dream him up?
A brilliantly funny, scary and moving read from the unique imagination of A.F. Harrold, this beautiful book is astoundingly illustrated with integrated art and colour spreads by the award-winning Emily Gravett.

My Review: I opened The Imaginary looking forward to a really cute story about friendship, and intending to read just the first few chapters before I did some blogging. I ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting, and getting what wasn’t quite a cute story, but a beautifully told tale full of hope, friendship, terror and adventure. Pageturner is definitely the right word to describe it: I simply couldn’t stop reading… And there was a surprise around every corner, none of which I was expecting.

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The Imaginary is marketed as an Middle Grade book, but I’m confident that teenagers and adults will fall in love with the story too – it’s got lots of crossover appeal. The plot was actually quite a bit darker than I was expecting – the antagonists were really freaky and sent shivers up my spine. However, the eerie elements of the story contrasted with the beautiful aspects of friendship and the power of imagination.

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The characters were perfectly crafted and realistic: Amanda and her imaginary friend, Rudger, are truly unforgettable. Amanda is such a bubbly and bright character, and her personality made me love her instantly! Rudger was everything I’d love in an imaginary friend for myself, and I was unable to put the book down, wanting to know what he did next.

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The story was captivating by itself, but Emily Gravett’s illustrations brought it to life. The character depictions were just as I would have seen them in my mind if the story wasn’t illustrated. I loved poring over the gorgeously detailed spreads. The use of Black and White versus colour was a very clever and pretty way of depicting normality/reality versus imagined worlds, too. I hadn’t seen any of Emily Gravett’s work before but after The Imaginary I’d love to read more MG books with her illustrations!

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Overall, The Imaginary was a really stunning book and definitely exceeded my expectations. As soon as I’d started it, I didn’t want to stop reading – and as soon as I’d finished it, I wanted to flip back to the start to read it again! A F Harrold’s writing was fantastic; it’s sad, sinister, unforgettable and magical-feeling all at once – perhaps a little nostalgic too for everyone who’s had an imaginary friend. I really recommend Harrold & Gravett’s book – whether you’re an MG reader or older, looking for a very beautiful and captivating book.

My Rating:

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I received a copy of The Imaginary from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: Magisterium: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

*unrelated note: I have been so busy, with school ending, and working at a school summer project, and other things, that I haven’t posted a book review in almost a month… *hangs head* Sorry D: But now I’ve finished school-related things properly, I’ll hopefully be neglecting the blog a lot less! Yay! (:*

Published September 2014 by Doubleday books.

13608989Goodreads Synopsis: From NEW YORK TIMES best-selling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic.

From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will — is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It’s a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.

My Review: 

I started The Iron Trial really excitedly. I’m a big fan of both Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, so I thought that both of them collaborating on a book was a brilliant idea! For the first half of the book, though, I did struggle to get into the story… I definitely had a few issues with the story but towards the end I did enjoyit.

I did really like the characters- namely Call, who’s the main protagonist. As this is an MG book, and the start of a series, I think lots of younger readers are going to grow up loving him and the rest of the students at the Magisterium.

I grew to really enjoy Magisterium, but, mainly for the first half, there were so many points where I got agitated by it. I just found so many parallels to Harry Potter – wizards hiding in plain sight in an ordinary world, secret school, trio of kids (on the front cover) who look a little too much like Harry, Ron and Hermione… yup. (I know the themes are in lots of books, but still…) There were some really great plot twists, mainly towards the end, that made me grow to love the story a lot more, but for the first couple of hundred pages, I was a bit disappointed, because of the similarities.

Okay, ignoring the negative aspects for now; I really did loved the writing! I enjoy Cassie’s writing and adore Holly Black’s, so the two put together was just awesome. They’ve adapted their voices really well for an MG audience, I think. I will probably carry on reading the Magisterium series, as I love their joined writing style.

Overall, I did enjoy Magisterium, but it definitely didn’t live up to what I’d expected. The writing was superb and will definitely draw readers in, but the storyline didn’t do the same for me. I think, growing up with Harry Potter, I’m a little protective of it, so I just disliked reading a very similar story. However, after the twists at the end, I hope that the rest of the series will have a more original sound – I’m sure I’ll be making time for the sequel when it comes out!

My Rating:

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I received a copy of Magisterium: The Iron Trial from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Review-Graphic: The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas

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Sorry for the relatively short review graphic… I had to make this in a bit of a rush between revision-y things because it’s the start of the exam season! But, honestly, I can’t recommend The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas enough- one brilliant author, one brilliant illustrator, one fantastic MG read (: