Tag Archives: MG

Book Review: The Case of the Exploding Loo by Rachel Hamilton

Published May 2014 by Simon & Schuster.

18870172Goodreads Synopsis: Quirky twelve year old Noelle (Know-All) Hawkins may be one of the brightest girls in her class but even she can’t explain how her dad, wacky scientist Big Brain Brian, spontaneously combusted while sitting in a portaloo. It’s true that he was working on a new top secret Brain Ray machine and was on the point of a great break-through when he vanished – could this have had something to do with his disappearance? Know-All is sure all is not as it seems and with the help of her sister Holly she is determined to find out what really happened to her dad!

My Review: I started The Case of the Exploding Loo really excitedly, as I haven’t been reading many MG books lately, and this looked really quirky and funny. It definitely was! I ended up reading it in two sittings and I really recommend it if you’re looking for a really clever, giggle-inducing novel.

The Case of the Exploding Loo follows young, smart and inquisitive Noelle as she tries to uncover the reasons behind an exploding toilet that’s supposedly killed her dad, after starting to find lots of suspicious activity around her neighborhood. The plot is so wacky and crazy, with brain washing rays, lots and lots of portaloos and suspicious teachers. It’s completely unpredictable!

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that’s full of so many things that worked so well. I really loved reading it; once I started it was actually quite hard to put down; there’s a new clue every few pages. It is quite a fast paced book, which made it a little hard for me to gather everything at first, but I did get used to the pace and was able to follow the story quite easily.

Noelle was such a brilliant main character. She’s nicknamed “Know-All,” a play on her name as she’s a bit like a human Google- she’s pretty dorky. That made her really fun and loveable. I really loved her inquisitive nature. I hope there’s another book based around her in the future, because I found her so adorable!

Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Case of the Exploding Loo. It’s a fun, quirky and genius début novel, from an author I’m sure will have many more hilarious books out in the future. The story has not just a memorable protagonist, but also lots of funny punchlines and a clever conclusion. Being quite scientific, it remind me a lot of the Doyle & Fossey: Science Detectives series for children- which was awesome because I adored those books a few years ago. Recommended if you want something that’ll make you giggle! (:

My Rating:

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

Book Review: The Julian chapter by R J Palacio

Published 1st May 2014  by Random House Children’s books.

20878809Publisher’s Synopsis: Over 1 million people have read Wonder and have fallen in love with Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. Now readers will have a chance to hear from the book’s most controversial character—Julian.

From the very first day Auggie and Julian met in the pages of the #1 New York Times bestseller Wonder, it was clear they were never going to be friends, with Julian treating Auggie like he had the plague. And while Wonder told Auggie’s story through six different viewpoints, Julian’s perspective was never shared. Readers could only guess what he was thinking.

Until now. The Julian Chapter will finally reveal the bully’s side of the story. Why is Julian so unkind to Auggie? And does he have a chance for redemption?

My Review: The Julian Chapter was a story I fell in love with from the start. It’s engaging, emotional, and incredibly powerful. Spinning off from Wonder, R J Palacio’s much loved début, The Julian Chapter tells the story of the bully who hated Auggie for his looks.

As soon as I’d gotten an email about this spin-off chapter, I was too excited for words! I fell in love with wonder last year. It was so moving and powerful. I couldn’t wait to hear more from R J. I started the story straight away and once I’d begun, I couldn’t stop. I was so engrossed in the story! Julian was a character whose narrative wasn’t in Wonder, which switched between the viewpoints of lots of people in Auggie’s life. I was so glad I could finally see through Julian’s eyes.

The writing, of course, is brilliant. R J Palacio has adopted the voice of a middle-school kid really well. Julian’s voice is really distinctive and realistic. I could feel his anger and fear about the situation he was in because of Auggie. If you read Wonderyou’ll have really disliked Julian for the things he did to Auggie. I did. But in this novella, I got to understand all of the reasons behind his actions. Obviously, the things he did are still awful- but The Julian Chapter has made all of his actions make sense, and it’s built a really good back story to one of the most complex characters in the story.

The Julian Chapter tells Julian’s side of the story in Wonder, then goes on to after the events of Wonder. I loved how much Julian develops throughout the story. He changes into such a different person over the course of the novella, and honestly, the last few chapters made me start crying. I grew to forgive Julian, and liked him by the ending; The Julian Chapter shows how it wasn’t all Julian’s fault- how his actions were caused by so many things. I love that R J Palacio has made Julian such a more understandable character with an eighty page story.

Overall, The Julian Chapter was just… amazing. It’s poignant, honest, and written so well. I loved hearing Julian’s voice, and learning about his life and back story. The Julian Chapter gives a whole new side to the story. If you loved Wonder, I cannot recommend this highly enough! For an under-100-page story, it’s unbelievably emotional and engaging. I won’t be forgetting The Julian Chapter any time soon!

My Rating:

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I received a copy of The Julian Chapter, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler

Published April 24th 2014 by Random house.

18160169Goodreads Synopsis: Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That–along with everything else–changed the day she met her first fairy…

When Alice’s father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon–an uncle she’s never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it’s hard to resist. Especially if you’re a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.

My Review: The Forbidden Library series is bound to be the next big children’s fantasy sensation. The concept was really original and fun- I really recommend this is you’re a fan of The Chronicles of Narnia!

As soon as I’d started, I knew I was going to really like it. I was drawn in straight from the start; I really liked the quiet, hard-working protagonist Alice, and felt like crying with her after she finds out about her father. I was really absorbed in the story as she finds herself in a new, strange house with a relative she never knew she had.

After enjoying about a third of the book, I don’t know why, but I lost interest a little… I thought maybe I was just in the mood for another genre, so I read a couple of books  in-between. It took me a while to get back into the story. I really, really did love the concept and the magical books idea, it was so awesome, but for some reason up until the last hundred pages or so, I found myself just reading and not enjoying it as much as I thought I would. I’m really not sure why!

Django Wexler’s writing really is great, it felt so descriptive and fun.I did find bits a little fast paced…. But it’s definitely worth a read, though, if you love fantasy; it ticks all of the boxes.

I really liked Alice, for the most of the story. She was a really relatable girl. She’s a bit lonely,but very adventurous. And, of course, she loves reading. 😀 A little way into the story, though, her personality just suddenly seemed to change. She was really… quiet sounding at the start, though very inquisitive, and then once the supporting character is introduced she suddenly seemed a lot different, I can’t quite put a finger on why… she just seemed randomly snappy? I couldn’t quite get my head around it. I’m not sure if that was just because I’d been dipping in and out of the story, though!

Overall, The Forbidden Library is definitely worth reading if you love fantasy books. I’m sure it’s going to be the Next Big Series for middle grade readers! I really did love the concept of the story… it’s a book about books, how can you not love that? 😀 Mostly, I was really absorbed in the story. It did take me a long time to read, and I was mixed a little about the protagonist, but I will most definitely be looking out for more from Django Wexler in the future!

My Rating: 

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I received a copy of The Forbidden Library 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 (:

Book Review: Bird by Crystal Chan

Published 30th January 2014 by Tamarind books (A Random House imprint).

13260749Goodreads Synopsis: ‘Grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother, John. His name was John until Grandpa said he looked more like a Bird with the way he kept jumping off things, and the name stuck. Bird’s thick, black hair poked out in every direction, just like the head feathers of the blackbirds, Grandpa said, and he bet that one day Bird would fly like one too. Grandpa kept talking like that, and no one paid him much notice until Bird jumped off a cliff, the cliff at the edge of the tallgrass prairie, the cliff that dropped a good couple hundred feet to a dried-up riverbed below. From that day on, Grandpa never spoke another word. Not one. 
The day that Bird tried to fly, the grown-ups were out looking for him – all of them except Mom and Granny. That’s because that very day, I was born.’

Twelve-year-old Jewel never knew her brother, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Then one night, on her birthday, she finds a mysterious boy sitting in her oak tree. His name is John. And he changes everything.

My Review: Bird is a beautiful book…. there aren’t actually many words to describe it properly and do it justice. It’s a poignant tale about love and loss, and I think it’s going to captivate anybody who reads it.

The story’s completely riveting: Literally right from the first page, where the reader finds out that Jewel was born the day her brother jumped from a cliff, and that their grandfather’s never spoken a word, since. Crystal Chan’s writing is so good, I honestly did have tears in my eyes from the beginning. Chan’s captured the voice of a twelve year old flawlessly. I was sucked right into the story of Jewel, and the complicated relationship with her grandfather and the friendship growing between her and John- a boy who’s staying in the town, who has the same name as her brother.

The plot is flawless- there’s no other way to describe it! Every event was completely unpredictable, and Crystal Chan can make you laugh or cry with every page. The plot is very character driven, exploring the ups and downs of a torn apart family, and focusing on the impact of Jewel’s new friend on her grandfather. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The plot twists are all emotional and shocking, especially the big one about John, Jewel’s friend. I was completely blown away, and I couldn’t stop reading.

Jewel is a character that any reader can instantly fall in love with: She’s so well developed and realistic, and her voice just captured me, and didn’t let me go until the very last page. Her narration is really captivating and she’s probably now one of my favourite contemporary fiction characters. John’s also such good protagonist. Chan made me really mixed on him at points, with those plot twists… but he’s the kind of character you can’t not love!

Overall, Bird is amazing, and a book that I’ll be recommending to everybody I know, regardless of what kind of books they like. The central character were so three dimensional and loveable, I really wanted to read more about them after finishing… I’m pretty sure I’ll be rereading this book! The plot weaves themes of superstition into themes of love and loss, and it’s just beautiful. Bird is moving; more emotional than most books I’ve read this year, and I really can’t recommend it highly enough!

My Rating:

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

Graphic Novel Review: Bravest Warriors Vol. 1 by Pendleton Ward

Also by Joey Comeau, Ryan Pequin and Mike Holmes. I couldn’t fit them in the blog post title (:

Published by KaBOOM!, 31st August 2013.

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Goodreads Synopsis: The new hit Cartoon Hangover series from the imagination of Adventure Time creator, Pendleton Ward! POWER! RESPECT! Based on ADVENTURE TIME creator Pendleton Ward’s brand new animated series! Join Chris, Wallow, Beth and Danny, four 16-year-old heroes-for-hire, as they warp from galaxy to galaxy, saving alien races with the power of their…emotions. They’re noble, righteous and totally bodacious! This new series of original comics based on the new Cartoon Hangover series is sure to be a smash hit! This collection includes the first four issues, including the totally boss backup stories!

My Review: PENDLETON WARD I LOVE YOU.

Just had to get that out of the way. sorry. *Cough*I’m obsessed *cough* This was so fun. So, ridiculously, stupidly fun… I originally wasn’t planning on reading this, but I bought it on my Kindle. I’m so glad I did buy it- it was definitely worth it!

Bravest Warriors follows a band of four kids and one unofficial member (who is, probably, one of the coolest…), who defeat evil things with their righteousness. Sound silly? NO. Because this is what happens in Adventure Time, Pendleton Ward’s most famous work, and Pendleton Ward is awesome, and there is no way to deny that. ‘Nuff said (:

The world Bravest Warriors was set in was so rich with wacky imagination. It’s so difficult not to fall in love. Immediately, I was sucked into the world, and after the collected issues… I just wanted more! I’ll admit that the planet full of sad clowns was extremely creepy, but the extremely cute illustrations meant I could read it (: I fell in love with the artwork. It’s so pretty, simple yet really fun. Similar to Adventure Time’s art, which is probably a reason I loved it so much. Bravest Warriors is such a vibrant comic. It really stands out!

The story is very jumpy. It’s packed with events and it is pretty much all over the place and really random. But, I think that made it really loveable. It’s completely unpredictable and laugh-out-loud funny. Giant cats attacking spaceships. Sadness overtaking a world full of clowns. And zombies. None of them should go together, but they do. I’m not quite sure how this comic pulled it off, but it did!

The characters are so loveable. Each of them are all really different, but they made an awesome team. My favourite character? Had to be Beth, the dark haired girl on the cover. She was… awesome 😀 Though, of course, Miss Unofficial Fifth Member of the Team was equally fun. They’re all really easy to love, and I was really absorbed in their story. I ignored family on Christmas a bit, because I was so curious to see what happened to them!

Overall, Bravest Warriors is just a really fun comic. It’s not really to be taken seriously; it’s a silly, funny, random graphic novel, but it’s so easy to get stuck into. I’m really happy I got around to reading it! Recommended to MG fans of comics, but really, I enjoyed it a lot and I know a lot of adults did too, as I saw on Goodreads! The characters are loveable, and you’ll find yourself giggling manically at the story. Adventure Time fans will gobble it up.

My Rating: 

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I purchased Bravest Warriors through X Comics online.

A Boy Called Hope

By Lara Williamson, published by Usborne.

A Boy Called HopeGoodreads Synopsis: I’m Dan Hope and deep inside my head I keep a list of things I want to come true.
For example, I want my sister, Ninja Grace, to go to university at the North Pole and only come back once a year.
I want to help Sherlock Holmes solve his most daring mystery yet. And if it could be a zombie mystery, all the more exciting.
I want to be the first eleven-year-old to land on the moon.
I want my dog to stop eating the planets and throwing them up on the carpet.
And finally, the biggest dream of all, I want my dad to love me.
A Boy Called Hope is a brave, bold and funny debut about family in all its shapes and sizes.

My Review: Upon finishing this, I literally had no words. I was actually speechless: I wasn’t expecting such a poignant, beautifully written, heart-breaking-and-heart-warming story- from a debut novel! As soon as I’d finished the last chapter (for the fourth time) I knew this had to be my new favourite title of the year. A Boy Called Hope is set to become an outstanding, award winning novel, I’m sure, thanks to the unforgettable plot and the beautiful writing style.

A Boy Called Hope is about Dan, an eleven year old whose dad left his family years ago. His father is now famous, his dog keeps eating everything, his sister is a Word Ninja, and his friend is obsessed with religious artifacts. Dan’s story is about his search to see if his dad, who never kept contact, still loves him. Along the way there he has to face so many other difficulties: family-wise and friendship-wise. Lara Williamson has captured an eleven year old’s voice perfectly! The story was so believable. I didn’t want to let go of the characters, and the story, when I was nearing the end. It was reminiscent of John Green’s and Annabel Pitcher’s writing, as it was brutally honest and emotional.

Dan is really three-dimensional character. He’s funny at points, clever at others, and always carries this inspiring amount of hope with him wherever he goes. Dan put a smile on my face with every page and I’m sure every reader will fall in love with his personality. His story is so heartwarming. At the same time, it’s also heartbreaking. A Boy Called Hope covers a lot of issues, though mainly it’s about a father-son relationship. I think Lara captured that bond, and the effects of it breaking, so effectively. It brought tears to my eyes- happy ones as well as sad ones! His family life is complicated, but I could connect to all of the characters in his life in one way or another. The ending for Dan’s family was sad in one aspect, though brilliant and uplifting in another!

Overall, A Boy Called Hope is a 2014 debut that you do not want to miss, whatever age you are. The writing is beautiful, honest, and enjoyable: Lara Williamson made me feel like I was really reading a diary from an eleven year old boy. Her writing is honest, heart-wrenchingly sad and powerful… but it’s uplifting and fun too. The plot is so unpredictable- a real roller-coaster, and the ending was definitely not what I expected! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love with the characters and the ending will make you itch for more about Dan and his unforgettable life. A Boy Called Hope isn’t to be missed- it’s essential for Middle-Graders and up… make sure to look out for it in March!

My Rating:

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