Book Review by Rosie Coleman
If you want a great series of books to get stuck into, I would recommend the bestselling “Skulduggery Pleasant” series by Derek Landy.
There are 13 books in the main series (so far), starting with “Skulduggery Pleasant” and ending with “Seasons of War”, as well as two more books which are supplemental to the series (but are also great fun to read) called “Armageddon Outta Here” and “The Maleficent Seven”.
Skulduggery Pleasant is set in Dublin, Ireland and is about a skeleton (Skulduggery himself) who is hundreds of years old and a 12 year old girl, Stephanie Edgley. Skulduggery has a magical influence over the elements that he uses to stop others from killing or harming mortals.
Stephanie lived a normal life, but when her uncle died, everything changed… She has a sorcerer assassin after her, and when Skulduggery defeats him, an unbreakable friendship forms and Stephanie has to embrace her new lifestyle, and a new identity to match.
Together, as the books progress, they hurtle from stopping one evil force to the next. The characters they encounter along the way range from vampires, zombies, sorcerers, necromancers, cave-dwelling monsters, trolls, dragons, goblins – and of course people!
Betrayal, magic, death, good and evil… these are the best books I have ever read!
The series has its own website which you can browse to find out more about the characters, watch a video trailer for the series, learn more about the author, Derek Landy, enter competitions, view downloads and much more! https://www.skulduggerypleasant.co.uk/
Josh Way, Year 7
I am reading: Middle School Get Me Out of Here, by James Patterson
This book is based on a kid called Rage who moved to the big city after an accident involving his mum. After that he just tries to make it through the school year.
I really like Rage because he is witty and will always launch himself into trouble. My favourite part was when Rage dropped water balloons onto some bully’s head.
I didn’t really dislike anything about the book as it was so gripping.
If you are the type of reader who enjoys funny books, then this is for you!
I rate this book a 4.5/5
Nitya Mehta, Year 7
I have been reading: The Famous Five Get Into Trouble
The book starts getting really exciting when Dick gets kidnaped. But why did they kidnap him? The kidnappers left a very big clue, “Richard! We will kill you!” How will Julian, George (Georgian), Anne and Timmy be able to rescue Dick without getting themselves into trouble?
My favourite character was Dick because he showed he wasn’t scared but he was feeling really scared from the inside.
The characters felt real, especially the dog because he protected the other four how real dogs do.
The book left me guessing because I could not work out why they kidnaped Dick until the very end of the book.
My favourite part of the book was when the Famous Five met Richard.
The book kept me there and forced me to turn the pages over.
I would recommend this book to teenage readers and adults. This book is suitable for fans of mystery books.
There are lots of Famous Five books. All of them are adventurous. There are 21 Famous Five books altogether written by Enid Blyton.
Mrs Reading, English teacher and Teaching and Learning Lead
I have just read: The Optician of Lampedusa, by Emma Jane Kirby
This is based on the true story of migrants drowning in the sea of the island of Lampedusa, and an Optician and his friends’ desperate effort to save as many as they can. Emma Jane Kirby, a renowned journalist, interviewed the Optician and wrote a poignant and raw narrative of the events before, during and after with vivid clarity.
I don’t normally read journalistic reports but found this form of literary non fiction gave a powerful voice to the migrants. The description from the eyes of the Optician of 360 people (mostly women and children) drowning hopelessly at sea, was incredibly powerful. When he managed – with his friends – to save 46 desperate people, we sense his frustration and anguish at not managing to rescue more.
Whilst I felt that the characterisation of the main character and his wife could be developed at times, I found this one of the most powerful – and indeed, important – stories, I have ever read. Once you read this book, you will never react to the endless stories of helpless migrants in the same way again.
I rate this book a 4/5.
Miss Andrews, Teacher of Art
I have just read: The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
Based in Jackson, Mississippi during 1962, the book sheds light on the different relations between white and black people of that time and the struggles of being independent women. Kathryn Stockett alternates between three narrators – the maids Aibileen and Minny (who are known as ‘the help’) and an idealistic white journalist called Skeeter who together create a book of interviews exposing the brutal prejudice of the housewives.
The book tells the bitter reality of racial division in a brave, humorous and emotional way. It is both deeply saddening and euphoric but depicts a reality which, unfortunately, was not so far in the past. The first-person narration allowed me to feel in touch and empathise deeply with the characters and I felt I was going through the journey with them, experiencing both highs and lows.
Despite the book exploring very poignant issues, some of the character and plot developments seemed unrealistic and at points the author seems to romanticise and soften what really would have happened during this time. The idea of writing a novel from the perspective of ‘the help’ had great potential but I feel the lack of authenticity and honesty let it down in places.
I would rate this book 3/5.
Hayden Dexter, Year 7
I have read Ronaldo, Ultimate Football Heroes
This book is very interesting because it is about Cristiano Ronaldo’s life as a child all the way through to 2019. It talks about his clubs that he played for and his career. I enjoyed the book because I like learning about famous footballers’ lives. There’s not a lot of characters but out of the few mine is Ronaldo because I like how he was cheeky and loved football as a kid. As I was reading the book, I kept thinking about how he because the person he is today when he grew up in a poor society. The story kept me turning the pages, I read it every night!
Miss Simmonds, Teacher of English
I have just read: Palincashire; Tales of Romania by Mark Ormsby
I bought this book in Romania when I travelled there to help me understand the culture and people. It appealed to me as it was a simple anthology of stories about Romania; easily digested on short bus trips or long train trips, allowed some insight to the language and contextualised the towns and cities I visited. It has a large amount of stories about nature and animals, which I view as typical of Romania, some basic historical and political references and many funny tales about the idiosyncrasies of the country and its folklore.
Although the tales could easily be read individually, reading from front to back allowed for deeper characterisation and story development with some of the authors regular characters. Each story was well rounded and they varied in size, so occasionally if I only had a spare 5 minutes I could digest a smaller story and other times I would read one of the larger ones. I enjoyed the humour in the stories and I related to the collision of culture presented. The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was how simple the language was and occasionally the amount of dialogue was unnecessary and didn’t add anything to the story.
I’d recommend it to those who don’t always have a lot of time to read, teenagers to adults and those who have either a connection to Romania or an interest in travel and culture.
I would give this 7/10
Ms A Connolly, Teacher of MFL
The book that I would like to talk about is called “You will not have my hatred” by Antoine Leiris. Antoine Leiris lost his wife in the terrorist attack at the Bataclan in Paris in 2015 and this book is the story of his grief and of bringing up their baby son alone in the aftermath of the event.
I have smiled many times reading this story as he portrays very candidly his personal journey through the mundanity of everyday life but the poetic and so emotional way in which he describes his pain and his longing for his loved one have also brought many tears to my eyes.
It makes difficult reading at times and is not for the faint hearted but it is a defiant but quietly understated message to terrorism and extremism symbolised through the simple existence of the little boy and I believe that the book is open to a large audience from a wide variety of backgrounds.
I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did and I would give it 9/10!!!.
Miss Sauer, Teacher of English
I have just read: Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon
This was a fascinating exploration of the gap and overlap between illness/disability and identity. I don’t usually read non-fiction in books, preferring instead to listen through podcasts, but this was well worth the ride! Andrew Solomon considers the relationship between parents and their children, theorising that many well-intentioned parents see keeping their children safe as making sure their children are like them. Starting with his dyslexic childhood and later his coming out as gay, he questions the benefits and costs of seeing a child’s differences as illness rather than identity. I found it fascinating to read the wealth of case studies he collects through 500 interviews, from deafness to transgenderism, from dwarfism to autism, and to consider a powerful question of what we should seek to ‘fix’ in our children and what we should embrace and celebrate instead. I learnt a lot about the experiences of children from many marginalised groups and the parents that love them; I was left wondering if we truly do see the value in difference. I would really recommend this to anyone who is interested in voices that are not often amplified and experiences that are complicated. A nuanced and informative read with lots of food for thought!
Miss Mawson, Teacher of Maths
I have just read: Heroes, by Stephen Fry
This book is a modern re-telling of some of the famous Greek myths and legends, such as The Minotaur, Icarus who flew too close to the Sun, Pegasus, the slaying of Medusa, the twelve labours of Hercules, Oedipus and the issues he had with his mother, and Jason and the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. A lot of the stories involve someone failing to pay their respect to one of the gods, who get their revenge! Zeus is king of the Gods and is always making his sister/wife Hera jealous by cheating on her with all sorts of creatures – but Hera is crafty and has a quick temper; she always gets her own back.
I found it really interesting because not only were the stories exciting and funny, but I was also able to learn a lot about Ancient Greece, and how they have shaped our culture and language today. For example, a lot of words we use today are named after ancient kings, heroes and Gods (planets, creatures, places etc.).
The book blurs fact and fiction in an unusual way. Some of the places, characters and events have historical evidence, and some things that happen are clearly totally fictional, but it’s never clear exactly where that line lies. It’s up to you as the reader to decide what you want to believe!
The book is the second in a series. The first book is called “Mythos”, which explores the age of the Titans, and the birth of the Gods. It shows how humans were brought to life and tells how the god Prometheus made the dangerous mistake of giving the humans fire and allowing them to build lives of their own. Zeus punished him for this! This second book, Heroes, explores the Golden Age when
Gods and men lived alongside each other. It is hinted that Stephen Fry may write a third book telling the story of Helen of Troy and the Trojan War, but I will have to wait and see!
Rebecca Frewin has recently read: All the Bright places by Jennifer Niven
This book is both heart-warming and heart wrenching. It is a mixture of the ups and downs of being a teenager in the world today. It deals with pressing, real-life issues such as; abuse, bipolar disorder, depression, loss of a loved one and suicidal thoughts. The book is focussed on Violet Markey (who Finch nick names Ultra Violet Re-markey-able) and Theodore Finch, commonly called Finch. They meet on top of the bell tower, the summer after Violet lost her sister in a traumatic car crash, on the first day of senior year. Finch eventually talks Violet off the ledge and gets her safely to the ground. Finch later volunteers to be Violet’s partner for the senior geography project, which they had to wander around their home state (Indiana) and visit and research famous places and landmarks near where they live. The friendship they quickly form turns into an epic romance.
This book is definitely for a more mature audience since it has a few touchy subjects. All the Bright Places was impossible to put down and I thoroughly recommend you read this book.
Preshika Govender, Year 7
I have been reading: When the mountains roared, by Jess Butterworth
I really enjoyed “When the mountains roared” because I really love animals and leopards are among my favourite wild cats. One of my favourite things about this book is that even though Ruby – the main character – is afraid of the dark, she vows to protect them and does all that she can to keep her promise.
Grace Tierney, Year 7
I have been reading: Still Water, by Chris Priestley
This book brings horror to life and makes me feel like I’ve travelled back to war times. I would definitely recommend this book if you like mystery and horror. When I was reading this book, it made me feel intrigued and interested. Still Water is suitable for all ages from students to teachers. It also tells children what Britain was like in war times and its history.
Lucas, Edey, Year 7
I have been reading: Armistice Runner, by Tom Palmer
The main character is a young girl called Lily. She likes to run and she is about to run in a large race but before that, she has to visit her sick Grandma who has dementia. Lily had a strong bond with her Grandma and with her Grandpa’s dogs. When they arrived, Lily makes her remember about her Grandpa. He was also a runner who fought in WW1. He never ran again after the war. He put all his stuff in a box and gave it to her Grandma.
Robert White, Year 7
I have been reading: The Last Zoo, by Sam Gayton
The Last Zoo is a very good book. There is a lot of mystery and adventure in it. I think it could have a bit more action in it though but the subject of the story is great. I really like the idea of the seam and the new animals. I also like the idea of the Angels with their miracles.
Overall, this is a well thought up exciting read. I would recommend this book.
Daria Popper in year 7 has recently read: “We are all made of Molecules” by Susan Neilsen
She rated the book 9.5 / 10.
This book is about a boy called Stewart who is geeky and gifted but socially clueless. His mum has died and he misses her every day.
Ashley is popular and cool but her grades stink. Her dad has chosen a different type of lifestyle and moved out – but not far enough. What could be worse than the whole world finding out all about your awkward life?!
Their Worlds are about to collide: Stewart and his dad are moving in with Ashley and her mom. Stewart is 89.9% happy about it even as he struggles to fit in at his new school. But Ashley is 110% horrified and can’t get used to her totally awkward home. Things are about to become a whole lot more mixed up when they attract the wrong kind of attention…
This book is very adventurous. Many very awkward things happen but is worth it to read!
This was a very interesting book to read. Although, some would say it is weird. I do recommend this book but only to 12+ ages. I would not have chosen this book as I mostly look for a good capturing title and I didn’t think this book had that. It is definitely a good book for people who enjoy reading wacky and funny novels. You must read this book!
Alfie Webber in year 7 has recently read: “Magpie Murders” by Anthony Horowitz
He rated the book 7/10 due to difficulty.
This novel is about a book editor called Susan Ryland who is given an old tattered type script of author Alan Conway’s new book. Sadly, Alan was killed (or was he?) before he could finish writing the book; Magpie murders. Little did Susan know, this book would almost cost her life. Conway’s book also had the last chapter missing, and no book editor would want to read a book and get so close to the end and not be able to finish it.
The book is mainly based around the book inside the novel (Magpie Murders) and Susan being a detective and trying to find out: Who killed Alan and where is the missing chapter?
My favourite character would probably be the detective Atticus Pund. He is my favourite character because he is the one who solves the mystery in the end and I also like the way he thinks. For example, he is quite wise and he pieced together all of the clues in a systematic way (a very stereotypical detective) and figured out who did it.
It was very interesting and you would be totally surprised at the amount of twists and turns in the story. The real murderer is actually mentioned on the early page (SPOILER) of the book. It will definitely leave you guessing. The book takes you in-between Susan’s world and the book inside the book that she is reading.
It’s the type of book that is difficult to put down once you are into it. The temptation is to just read one more page before you put it down.
There are quite a few challenging words in the book and it is definitely for mature children. However the use of vocabulary is very interesting. I loved the book so much, but the vocabulary could be challenging. Interest wise, it is a 10/10!
Ellie Moss in year 7 has recently read: “The Boy in the Dress” by David Walliams.
She rated this novel 8/10.
I chose this book as I read it to my niece and I was told it was funny; which it was! It is about a boy who enjoyed wearing dresses, and the reactions of his family and friends. It is trying to teach children that cross dressing is nothing to be ashamed of. I rated the book an 8/10 because it was a bit sad at the beginning of the book but the story was more cheerful near the end.
Due to the easy nature of the vocabulary, I would recommend this book for ages 8-12 or those who want an easy read. Personally, I found the vocabulary got a little boring after a while and if you prefer more challenging books, this book wouldn’t be for you.
Jessica Zone recently read Don’t Go There – Adam Fletcher
For my reading project this half term, I read ‘Don’t Go There’ by Adam Fletcher. It starts off where Adam and his girlfriend are in Berlin, Germany in their apartment. They decided they were going to travel to different countries, they start off going to North Korea and then travel to Wuhan, China. After China they go to Ghana, Africa. And that’s not even half the book! They then went to Israel, Chernobyl and Liberland.
I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I won’t say where they go after that, but on their adventure, they learn about the cultures and lifestyles of the people living there.
The book is a written by a man telling his stories where he recounts all the places, he went to in less than a year. The book had good describing words and didn’t talk too much about one place which I liked, so you got to know about each place very quickly.
One thing I didn’t like about the book was that the chapters were very long, and you could be reading for an hour or two before getting to the next chapter.
I would give this 4.5 stars out of 5 because it was very interesting and always making you want to read more, but sometimes there were parts that seemed to be there just to make the book thicker.
Becca Nunns recently read Neither Here nor There – Bill Bryson
I was expecting to really enjoy this book as I love to travel and have been to some of these places myself, however I found that the book didn’t excite me as much as I had anticipated. I thought this due to the fact that the writer focused a lot on the mundane side of travelling and talked a lot about being on long train journeys. Having said that, something I considered really interesting about this approach was that he didn’t visit the Eiffel tower or Notre Dame, but instead was interested in what the people who lived there did.
I also found that the majority of the places he visited; he had already been to. This made it a bit dull as it could’ve been possible that the magic of first visiting somewhere was gone. When you first go to a new place you are so entranced and enthusiastic about it that your excitement will come across in your writing. Even if you are revisiting somewhere, you often try new things, but he seemed to go to the same hotels and restaurants. One thing I did like though was how the book focused on more than one country so you could get an idea of how the different European countries compared.
I rated this book a 3/5 as I was intrigued by the approach, but it wasn’t as gripping as I would’ve liked.