Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit: Gangsta Granny

Gangsta Granny

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Ben is bored beyond belief after he is made to stay at his grandma’s house. All she wants to do is to play Scrabble, and eat cabbage soup. But there are two things Ben doesn’t know about his grandma: she was once an international jewel thief and she has been plotting to steal the crown jewels. Now she needs Ben’s help.

Thoughts:

Gangsta Granny was my first experience of reading a book by David Walliams. I know I wanted to read a book by him, as his books are so popular in primary school. Gangsta Granny does have a suggested age range on it (9+) but I think it’s suitable for strong readers and teachers/parents to read to a child. There are a few sentences (e.g. a reference to Nuts Magazine) that will likely go over most children’s heads, so I don’t see it as an issue at all.

Gangsta Granny is a funny book which focuses on an eleven year old boy called Ben and his relationship with his Granny. Ben often has to stay at his Granny’s house, whilst his parents go out, usually to watch a popular dancing show that they’re obsessed with. Ben thinks his Granny is boring. She smells of cabbage and plays board games that Ben really doesn’t want to play. Ben finds out that Granny has a secret, which makes her much less boring! They start to bond over her secret, as Ben sees his Granny in a new light.

I can totally see why children love reading David Walliams. The book was very funny, well written, had interesting illustrations and would totally engage even the most reluctant of readers. From a teacher’s perspective (really weird that I can say that now) I think children would lap this up. There’s so much that could be done with this book in the classroom. It would inspire creative writing, that’s for sure. I also really appreciated how it dealt with loss in such a sensitive manner.

I shall be definitely reading more from David Walliams in the future.

For Beth’s review, check out her blog HERE

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit Challenge (August)
The Graveyard Book- Neil Gaiman

Love Bomb (The Ladybirds #2)

Love Bomb (Ladybirds, #2)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Flirty Dancing

Synopsis:

Betty Plum has never been in love. She’s never even kissed a boy. But when H.O.T. Toby starts school it’s like Betty has been hit with a thousand of Cupid’s arrows. It’s like a bomb has exploded – a love bomb!

More than ever Betty wishes her mum hadn’t died when Betty was a baby. She really needs her mum here to ask her advice. And that’s when she finds hidden letters for just these moments. Letters about what your first kiss should feel like and what real love is all about …

Is Betty ready to fall in love? Will she finally have her first kiss?

Thoughts:

Love Bomb is the perfect book to read when you need a bit of a lighter read. It is so easy to read, with characters that are easily likeable. I found Betty, the main protagonist, in this story very endearing. This story is more of a companion to Flirty Dancing, but I believe it can be read as a standalone. You don’t need to know what happened in Flirty Dancing to enjoy Love Bomb. 

Love Bomb follows Betty who is ‘different’ to the rest of her peers. Betty is a fifteen year old, who is dealing with her widowed father is moving on with a new relationship. Betty also has a massive crush on the new boy, Toby. Betty puts her everything into getting his attention. I’m not sure why, as I thought he was an absolute idiot! You’ll have to read it to see if you agree with me!  Love Bomb is a lighter read, but it does have some substance to it. Betty had lost her mother to cancer. Betty’s mother had left some letters for Betty, for special events in her life like her first kiss. Betty feels like she’s getting to know her mother through these letters.

I am looking forward to reading more in this series and reading from another character’s point of view. The characters Jenny McLachlan has come up with are incredibly realistic and I can certainly see that they’ll be relatable to many teenagers that will devour this series.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars!

A fun, but sensitive read!

I Knew You Were Trouble (Jessie Jefferson #2)

I Knew You Were Trouble (Jessie Jefferson, #2)

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Simon and Schuster

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Longest Holiday
Johnny’s Girl
The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson
Thirteen Weddings

Synopsis:

Life as the undercover daughter of a rock god isn’t going to be easy. How will Jessie adjust to her old boring life again after spending her summer living it up with her dad in LA? With tough decisions ahead (and not just choosing between two hot boys), can she cope juggling her two very different lives?
Summer may be over, but Jessie’s story is just beginning…

Thoughts:

Yes. I am sorry if you’re singing Taylor Swift now. I know I am every time I think of this book. Very clever title there. I’m a massive fan of Paige Toon’s writing, both her adult and her young adult books. I just love how all of her characters exist in the same sort of ‘world’. I love the connections and random mentions of other characters. It’s always seamless, and makes me feel like I know the characters. So, I was very much looking forward to reading the next book in the Jessie Jefferson series which is Paige’s young adult series.

This book can definitely be read as a stand alone, but I personally thing it’s a much richer reading experience if you’re familiar with Jessie and her background. It just enhances the book! I will say though, that this is an exciting addition to the first book, following Jessie who I think is an amazing character and her famous Dad Johnny Jefferson, who is one of my favourite male characters ever. (Seriously, if you’re into chick-lit please read Johnny Be Good)

Jessie’s life changes when it is made public who she actually is. I Knew You Were Trouble deals with Jessie finding out who her real friends are and working through a long distance relationship when temptation comes her way. This book certainly gives you an insight into how crazy it must be to have famous parents and never really be free to do your own thing. I loved Jessie’s interactions with her dad, and his dad’s wife Meg.

This book is such a fun summer read. It’s easy to devour, well written, ridiculous in parts but ever so entertaining!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I think this book would appeal to adult readers that love chick-lit! Fun, flirty and entertaining, what more could you want this summer?

Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s list are the Top Ten characters who are fellow book nerds. I love this topic! I love a bookworm, but I have found it a bit tricky to think about who to include! Has anyone else had this problem?!

Book images go to Goodreads

Matilda- Roald Dahl

Matilda

Matilda is the ultimate bookworm. I absolutely love her and think she’s such a great character for children!

Celaena-Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

I love that Celaena is kick ass and a bookworm! :D

Jo March- Little Women

Little Women (Little Women, #1)

Jo was one of the first bookworms that I read about. I loved how much she enjoyed books and writing stories.

Cath- Fangirl

Fangirl

Cath is a fantastic, relatable character. I adored her!

Liesel- The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Of course, Liesel has to be mentioned in a list like this. Liesel has a great love for books!

Hermione- Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

Hermione is one of the ultimate bookworms. I love how into her books she is and how powerful they are to her.

Juliette- Shatter Me

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)

Juliette isn’t the most obvious choice, as when I think of her I think of her strength, but she is a book lover for escapism!

Hazel/Gus- The Fault In Our Stars

The Fault in Our StarsJohn Green doesn’t frequently feature in my Top Ten lists, but there’s no denying that Hazel and Gus are wonderfully bookish.

Isla- Isla And The Happily Ever After

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)It took me a while to think about adding Isla, but when I thought about it, Isla really likes reading about adventures rather than taking part in adventures. She’s shy and unassuming. A character that’s easy to relate to.

Anne- Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)

Another wonderful bookish character. I think it’s lovely that book nerds are represented in children’s literature!

Who did you add to your list? Let me know! Feel free to leave a link to your posts!

Banned Books #13 Detour For Emmy by Marilyn Reynolds

banned books

Welcome to this month’s Banned Books feature where we discuss a book that has been challenged!

Detour for Emmy (Hamilton High, #1)

Synopsis:

This novel tells the story of a 15-year-old girl who must face the consequences of becoming pregnant.

First published: 1993

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2005 (source)

Chosen by: Chrissi

Reasons: sexual content

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: Challenged…. perhaps. I’m not really sure. There is only one really detailed sex scene which is certainly nothing in comparison to books like Judy Blume’s Forever (also a Banned Book on our list this year!). The rest of the sexual content I don’t think is anything teenagers wouldn’t talk about at school between themselves or find in other books even before sex on the internet became so prominent i.e. when this book was first published. I can’t really see it being taught in classrooms at that time.

CHRISSI: Yes and no. I can see why it would make some teachers uncomfortable to study it with children. But as a general book for the school library/to recommend to teenagers? No, not at all. I think all too often sexual content is shied away from and there really shouldn’t be such a fuss made of sexual content in books. I sometimes think the more a teenager is told not to read something, the more they want to! I actually think Emmy comes across as very strong in this book. She is determined to have a good life for her child and live with the consequences of being a teen mum.

How about now?

BETH: Nowadays, as I mentioned in the previous section, teenagers have access to much more explicit sexual content compared to what is written about in this book. I think it’s a great book for teenagers to read as it’s real-to-life and stresses the important of contraception if teenagers are going to be having sex, something I think is very important. It also shows that things go wrong, people let you down, you have a hard choice in front of you and your life could change forever but if you have dreams, they are still achievable – you may just need to adjust them slightly. I don’t see a problem with school libraries making this book available for students to read as the messages in it are too important to get political about.

CHRISSI: I think it should be read by teenagers and young adults. I certainly don’t think it’s overly explicit. Nothing in the book totally shocked me and I feel it dealt with some issues that needed to be addressed. Emmy doesn’t have the best home life and I think it’s important that this is represented in fiction, as some young adults (and adults alike!) could totally relate to this! Her boyfriend is a complete idiot too… something else that other young adults/adults might relate to! ;)

What did you think of this book?

BETH: It’s a good read – perhaps I didn’t relate to it completely as I’m a bit above the age bracket it’s aimed towards but I appreciated what the book was trying to say and support the author in that. I think that teenagers would relate to the characters and enjoy the story. I also liked that it explored other themes like parenting, race and friendship.

CHRISSI: I don’t think it’s a book that will totally stay with me for a long time. I didn’t find it overly memorable, but I enjoyed reading it and think it should definitely be out there for teenagers!

Would you recommend it?

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

House of Windows

House of Windows

How did I get it?:
I received it from Faber in exchange for a honest review.

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Bone Dragon

Synopsis:

‘The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us.’ Robert Louis Stevenson

Nick hates it when people call him a genius. Sure, he’s going to Cambridge University aged 15, but he says that’s just because he works hard. And, secretly, he only works hard to get some kind of attention from his workaholic father.

Not that his strategy is working.

When he arrives at Cambridge, he finds the work hard and socialising even harder. Until, that is, he starts to cox for the college rowing crew and all hell breaks loose…

Thoughts:

The first thing I want to mention in this review is how different House Of Windows is to The Bone Dragon. I think it’s incredible that it’s the same writer, as House Of Windows definitely has a different vibe to it. It’s less dark, and more coming of age. That’s in no way a criticism, I personally feel like it shows what a versatile writer Alexia is!  As I am always honest in my reviews, I will say that House of Windows is definitely a slow burning book, but stick with it, as it’s totally worth it!

House of Windows follows Nick, who is going to Cambridge University at the age of fifteen. Nick is incredibly bright, but doesn’t like to be labelled as a ‘genius’. He just sees himself as hard working! First of all, Nick struggles with the transition to university, especially being so young. He finds the university work harder than he had anticipated and the socialisation is something he’s never really been good at. Nick joins the rowing crew, hoping to eventually make a friend so he doesn’t feel so isolated.

Nick’s isolation from his peers is a really strong element to House Of Windows. I don’t think that Nick is a particularly likeable character at the start of the book, but as the book progresses, I started to understand and empathise with him more. I felt like Nick was craving recognition from his father who worked hard. At the heart of House Of Windows is a story about the importance of family and feeling like you belong.

Alexia Casale is a terrific writer. All of her characters are so well developed and House Of Windows is certainly a character driven story. Don’t expect this book to be like The Bone Dragon, it’s good in its own right and it is totally worth reading!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A very different, but still brilliant book from Alexia Casale!

I Wish For You

I Wish for You

How did I get it?:
I was sent a copy by Camilla Isley, in exchange for an honest review (which does not affect my opinion of the book!) Thanks to Camilla!

Synopsis:

A year ago when the love of her life dumped her for no apparent reason, Ally thought she had hit rock bottom. But now that she has seen him with another woman, and one she knows only too well, her life seems to have reached a whole new level of low.

Yet, when she stumbles across an ancient object infused with magical powers and a stranger with a dark past appears out of nowhere promising to grant all her wishes, she finds herself hoping again.
Suddenly Ally’s life is turned upside down; she has a mystery to solve, a rival to beat, a millenarian curse to break, and well, she wants to have some fun playing with her new “gifts”…

But can she wish her way to happily ever after?

Thoughts:

I Wish For You is one of those books with a cover which completely sums up what it is about. The cover screams romance to me. Certainly, chick lit used to be my favourite genre to read, and it still has a place in my reading life! I just read more widely now than I used to. I do like to dip my toes into chick lit every now and again, and when I was approached to read and review a copy of I Wish For You, I decided to snap up a copy. These kind of books are brilliant for when I want a lighter read and I Wish For You certainly fit that mould.

I Wish For You is Camilla Isley’s debut novel. It tells the story of Ally, who is still pining after her ex boyfriend James. It has been a year since they broke up, but Ally is still hopeful that they’d get back together one day. One day Ally is shopping with her mum at a flea market. Ally comes across a little box. A woman tries to give Ally the box, but Ally refuses. She is surprised to find it in her handbag later. Ally notices a dial which she turns and ends up releasing a genie who offers to grant her wishes. The genie is called Arthur and is not used to living life in the 21st Century. Ally and Arthur’s journey is interesting as Ally chooses her wishes and Arthur adapts to a very different way of living.

I Wish For You is such a fairy tale-esque story, so with my love of fairy tales, you can see why I really enjoyed reading it. I did think it was a little predictable in places and I wouldn’t say it’s a story that completely stands out in the genre, but it’s still a completely engrossing story and it certainly didn’t take long to read.

Ally is a good character, she means well but at the same time she’ll do anything to get James back. She was quite brutal in the way she wanted to ruin James’ new girlfriend. Ally is likeable, but I felt sorry for her. She was totally living in the past and was unable to move on. This will be relatable to so many people. I thought Arthur was an adorable character, he was certainly a favourite of mine.

I think Camilla Isley has a promising future in this genre. I Wish For You was a good debut, and I’d definitely read more from her!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

I Wish For You is light and fun. Worth reading for fans of the genre!