Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Book - Geek Girl

Author - Holly Smale
Year - 2013
Genre - Teen Fiction
Pages - 356

This book was recommended to me by Rachel.  I had seen it displayed quite prominently in several bookshops over the past few months, and so knew that it would be a popular book amongst teens at the moment.  I cannot say that it is the kind of thing that I would usually read, and - if I am entirely honest - it struck me as a 'girls' book.

The book focuses on Harriet, a self confessed geek, who is dragged along to a fashion fair by her friend Nat, who wants more than anything in the world to be a model.  However, things don't go entirely to plan when it is not Nat who is spotted by the agents, but instead Harriet herself.  For someone who has always professed to hate fashion, how will she cope with the idea that she could be a model?

As I mentioned before, I approached this with the idea that it was a book for girls.  Whilst there is no denying that this is the prime target of Geek Girl, I have to say that I absolutely loved it.  Smale is a very talented writer who has created such amazing and likable characters that it is incredibly easy to become fully absorbed in her world.  The storyline is not something that holds any interest to me, but through great writing and wonderful characterisation, I was so hooked that I read the whole book in one sitting.

If you are a teenage girl, then this is the book for you.  However, if you are not then don't discount it.  Reading books that you never usually would and loving them is exactly the kind of thing that makes this challenge worthwhile.


by Mr Freeman

Mr Freeman - 6
Team 7.1 - 4
Book - Twelve Minutes to Midnight
Author - Christopher Edge
Year - 2012
Genre - Fantasy
Pages - 256

This book was recommended to me by Paige.  She decided after only a few pages that she was not very impressed by it, so I shall be interested to see if my opinions are different, or if her opinions change as she finishes it.

It is the late nineteenth century and Penny has become one of the most successful writers in London.  This is despite her being only thirteen years old.  Despite writing under a pseudonym, she quickly becomes caught up in mystery when all of the inmates at Bedlam Asylum start to write unusual things at exactly twelve minutes to midnight each night.

When I started the book, I was ready to agree with Paige.  To start with I am not sure that it is the most interesting thing I have read recently.  However, once I got past the slightly gothic nature of the beginning, I found myself getting more and more into the plot of the book.  The slightly magical nature of much of it was interesting, and I think the main point behind the book was excellent.  However, I did want things to develop far more than they did.  Everything seemed to come to a close a little to quickly, when I could see the potential for it to carry on for further than just this book.

As I understand it, this is the first part of a series.  I would be interested to see how Edge develops his characters, and despite being a little disappointed with some elements of this book, I would still give the next one a go.


by Mr Freeman

Mr Freeman - 5
Team 7.1 - 4
(Looks like I had best get planning a handwriting lesson...)
Book - Love Lessons

Author - Jacqueline Wilson
Year - 2007
Genre - Romance
Pages - 264

This book was the recommendation of Sophie.  I am aware of Jacqueline Wilson - she was my little sister's favourite author as she was growing up, and as a result there were loads of her books around our house - and I have read one or two of her books.  However, she is a very prolific writer so there will always be plenty more to go, and this was not a book that I had come across before.

Prudence and her sister Grace are home schooled by their overbearing father, but when Prudence starts to rebel against him, he suffers from a stroke.  Whilst he recovers in hospital there is no option for Grace and Pru to start at the local secondary school, but for someone who has spent almost her entire life being schooled from home, Pru has a lot of difficulty fitting in, and causes plenty of problems along the way.

Wilson is famous for writing books for children about real issues, and in that regard, all of the books that I have read before by her have done very well.  There are believable real characters and no punches are pulled when it comes to talking about the world.  However, I found this book to be less real, and at times rather uncomfortable.  Prudence herself is not a particularly likable character, and she starts to grate from rather early in the book.  You can understand why, but it does not do a lot to improve the readers enjoyment of the book.  As the story goes on it becomes morally dubious and I am not sure that it is a book that I would ever recommend.

As an author, Wilson is still incredible, and I would recommend that you try reading one of her books - maybe Double Trouble or one of the Tracey Beaker books, but I cannot say that this book was one that I particularly enjoyed or would suggest you read.


Review by Mr Freeman

Mr Freeman - 4
Team 7.1 - 4
(I've caught up...)
Book - Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Author - Rick Riordan
Year - 2005
Genre - Fantasy/Adventure
Pages - 375
Series - Percy Jackson

This book was recommended to me by Samara, and I have to be completely honest and admit that it is actually a book I had read before.  I am a big fan of science fantasy and as a result, this series was something I was already aware of, and had actually read all of them a few years back.  However, having loved it completely, I was keen to give it a reread.

Percy often finds starnge things happening to him, but it isn't until he reaches "Camp Half Blood" that he discovers why.  He is the son of the Greek god Poseidon.  In this world, the gods of the Ancient Greeks are still alive, and have many children on Earth who inherit a small amount of their powers.  Percy is about to find out just how much his life has now changed.

This is a truly brilliant premise, and delivers on every front.  There is just the right mixture of action and development, and adding in the slightly more unusual twist of including many of the myths of Greek mythology makes the whole book even more enjoyable.  Speaking as someone who has read the rest of the series, I can also say that the stories get better and better as the books go on.

If you are a fan of fantasy books - or if you have simply finished Harry Potter and need a new series of young adult fiction with a magical side to it - then I can wholeheartedly recommend this book, and all of those that follow it.  As I understand it, Rick Riordan has recently started to release more books set in this universe, and I think that a reread of the entire series may be in order to set myself up for these new installments.


Review by Mr Freeman

Mr Freeman - 3
Team 7.1 - 4
Book - Framed

Author - Frank Cottrell Boyce
Year - 2005
Genre - Adventure
Pages - 320

This book was recommended to me by Brooke, and from the start was one I was looking forward to reading.  Boyce is a writer whose books I have been recommended several times, and he has become even more famous in the past year for having written a large part of the opening to the London Summer Olympics in 2012.

Framed tells of a boy called Dylan who lives in a town in North Wales.  His quiet life changes when an old mine in the town becomes the place in which incredibly expensive paintings are hidden by London's National Gallery.

The strongest part of this book is the characterisation.  You find as you read it that you fully believe in all of these unusual characters from a little Welsh town.  Dylan himself is a great character, and Frank Cottrell Boyce manages to mix together a strong character with traits of naivity and humour in order to make him an incredibly engaging person to read about.

Many of my friends who have recommended reading Boyce's books only started reading his stuff as adults themselves, and in that regard, despite this being a book aimed at children, I certainly believe that it can go beyond that and be read by anyone of any age.  I know that I certainly intend to give some of his other work a go.


Review by Mr Freeman

Mr Freeman - 2
Team 7.1 - 4

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Love Lessons

Book: Love Lessons
Author: Jacqueline Wilson
Year: 2007
Genre: Romance
Pages: 264
Series: Not part of a series.


I decided on picking this book because the romance title made me just want to read it and find out what happens. The moment I picked up the book I didnt want to put it down. I like to read but I never have time!


In the romance book it all starts where two sisters are being taught by their dad because he took them out of school when they were little. Then suddenly the dad is rushed to hospital and the two girls are forced to go to school! As you read on you find out the older sister is having a hard time and is getting bullied! But when she starts to baby-sit for her art teachers kids she starts to gain feeling for him!

My thoughts

My thoughts about this book is that is has been well written and makes you want to keep going in it, also I hope I get your attention to read it as it is a well in truly good book!


This book was amazing and as I said in my introduction I never have time to read but after that book I hope I keep on reading from now on!

My score out of 10: I give this book a 8/10

Review by, Sophie, 7.1

Mr Freeman - 1
Team 7.1 - 4

Tiger Wars

Book: Tiger WarsAuthor: Steve Backshall
Year: 2013
Genre: Adventure
Pages: 262
Series: Yes, but the second one isn’t out yet.

I picked this book because I love tigers (and I mean I absolutely love them) and I love adventurous and action books because I love the feeling when you are tense and trying to cling on to your seat. Also it makes me really want to read on. The feeling of that tiger on the front is hard to describe it makes me feel like this book is going to be amazing and make me feel euphoric! I already know that there are tigers in this book on the front; other than that I know nothing! I am expecting an action packed book full of adventures and excitement…

Tiger Wars starts and ends well but gets a bit lost in the middle. To be honest I felt like there was a very interesting non-fiction book in there somewhere trying to get out. The facts about animals, landscape and habitat and even the survival tips were really engaging. Sadly the plot wasn't engaging (even though it had the potential to be), the characters were two dimensional and the whole effect was of a substandard Willard Price adventure with facts shoe-horned in just when the plot looked like it was actually going to get interesting. I think that this book will be popular with children though because of Backshall himself and his huge following. Perhaps they won't find the lumpiness of the style upset them as much as it upsets me - I will be interested to find out! Backshall's non-fiction books (that accompany his Deadly 60 series on CBBC) are much more fun. I feel kind of bad slating this book as I really, genuinely wanted to love it . Writing good fiction is a hard thing to learn however (much like Kung Fu, wilderness survival skills and tracking for example) whereas writing poor fiction is startlingly easy. My fingers are crossed for the next book...

I thought it was average. Not the best book I have ever read. I didn’t like that the middle went all confusing and I didn’t know what was going on but then at the end I caught up, but it took at least 5 chapters from 9 to 14 to catch up with the whole point of the story also there wasn’t many animals in this book (especially tigers)! It used a lot of good words such as “Saker though was far from asleep with thoughts coursing through his consciousness”

I think this book would be aimed for young adults because it has murder and violence In it. I would only recommend it if someone needed to get a book that was about survival tips.

I would give a 7\10!

Review by Olivia, 7.1

Mr Freeman - 1
Team 7.1 - 3