Saturday, 31 March 2012

Luke's Reads: Behind the Scenes

I have recently finished a challenge in which I read 50 books that Michael Grove;s comments prompted three authors and two reporters to choose. The article is here. This challenge has broadened my reading knowledge and nearly put me in an early grave. I found some new favourite books (The London Eye mystery!) and wanted to burn others (How to be topp!). 

The challenge was a very hard project and took a lot of time and hard work from me and my mum Jay who has supported me throughout the challenge and provided most of the books. She was actually the one who suggested that I did the challenge. One day while I was playing video games she got me pause (A feat in itself) and said “I bet you a tenner that you can’t read 50 books in one year!” 
I replied“No problem, prepare to lose your money, Mum” And so the challenge began.   I hope you are ready to experience Luke’s Reads (Behind the scenes).

Pros of the challenge
 I discovered many new books to my liking: things like Ender’s game, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and the London Eye mystery. Because of the challenge I was pushed into new unfamiliar territory and didn’t know what to expect while I was there. It was an interesting experience full of books that it turns out are really good. The most surprising reaction was when I read Swallows and Amazons and found it not that bad. Read the review 

Cons of the challenge
While I did discover some new favourite books the challenge was full of books that I wanted to burn like How to be Topp, the Old Man and the Sea and After the First Death. I HATED these books. The other thing that I hated was when I did not reach my intended target by Christmas. I was incredibly angry and upset when this happened and I felt that getting an extension was like cheating. But in the end I swallowed my pride and took the extension.

My list of 20 books for 11-12 year olds
  • Silver Tounge by Charlie Fletcher
  • Artemis Fowl  by Eoin Colfer
  • Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
  • Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver
  • The River of Adventure by Enid Blyton
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  • How to be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell
  • Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
  • The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
  • Time Riders: Day of the Predator  by Alex Scarrow
  • H.I.V.E. by Mark Walden
  • C.H.E.R.U.B. :The Recruit by Robert Muchamore
  • Heroes of Olympus: the Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
  • Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O'Brien
  • The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett
  • Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett
  • Johnny and the Dead by Terry Pratchett
  • The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
  • Enders Game by Orson Scott Card.
  • The Magic Scales by Sam Wilding

In Conclusion…
While the challenge was full of obstacles and required lots of time, work and attention it was also educational, interesting and really helped my reading ability. I feel very privileged to be able to do this challenge in the year. I would like to thank my mum Jay and:
Mark Tranter for The Owl Service and A Christmas Carol.
Sarah who sent us When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
Immi Howson  for Mistress Mashem's Repose and People Might Hear You.
I am very grateful to all of these people that helped me and I hope that they say you’re welcome. So to finish off I hope to make those who read my blog laugh by saying I give this challenge 1000/100.   

Jay Writes - 
Thanks also to our friends and well-wishers who left comments on Luke's blog over the year. They have really encouraged him. I think Luke's done a super job with this challenge and I'm proud of him for persevering. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading most of the books along with him (although I was less keen on having to nag him to write the reviews!)

Friday, 23 March 2012

Wild Card 3

The Knife Of Never Letting Go

Now a lot of people have said this book is amazing; that it is the book of the century and everyone should love it unless the book comes to life and ruins everything you love. If that happens then you have a reasonable excuse to dislike it. But apart from that then you must love it, love it, love it. Everyone I know has said this, including my parents. But to be perfectly honest I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

Now don’t get me wrong OK, I liked the book. But it just isn’t as amazing as everyone was saying it was. It had some good positives and some annoying negatives (I will go over these in a minute). So while the book didn’t live up to what it was built up to, it did have its moments.
Let’s start with the positives: First I want to say that the idea that the story had was simply fantastic. Coming to a new world to find that it has a chemical that broadcasts your thoughts to everyone? Genius! And the characters in it are so well written I was jealous that I would have to wait 10 years to get close to that sort of writing.

However. The book did do a few things that I hated. The first is how stupid the people were when it came to plans. I mean the settler plan. Come on. 20 odd villages and not one mechanic that can fix a spaceship. Not ONE?! No way of contacting them when the purpose of these people was to check it out and then CONTACT THEM! That was a bit of a design flaw don’t you think?

Also the book did what How To Be Topp did: deliberately misspell words. I HATE that.  SHAME ON YOU STORY! But apart from those rather large cons the book does alright on my scale. I will give the book 71/100 for excellent story writing and good execution of an idea.
This is the last challenge review I am doing so when I next post something I hope to be £10 richer.

Jay Writes
Look guys - it's the last review of the 50! 
It came as no surprise to us that Luke used his final Wild Card to avoid reading Little Women. That's the one I'd pegged from the start as the least likely to appeal to him. Instead, we chose the start of an award-winning trilogy of modern YA fiction. 
I hope Luke is immensely proud of himself for finishing this challenge. We're all chuffed to bits!

Wild Card 2

Ender's Game

This book has recently become one of my all-time favourite sci-fi books. A really positive review. 
For a big book (and it is big) it doesn’t over explain things or leave loads of plot holes for me to fill in and gets the story across to the reader at a good steady rate. The gist of the book is that in the far future the race of humans are preparing to go to war with the insect race of the buggers (clever). For the best results they get people to help them genetically engineer amazing super generals to lead their armies to victory. 
Ender Wiggin is one of these kids and after he is pulled away from his home and placed in battle school only then does he unlock his true power as a leader of the human space fleet. TO WAR. At least that is what everyone tells him. But he doesn’t want that to be true. He just wants to go home. 
A fantastic book for all people with two digits in their age. I hope the public enjoys it as much as I do. For the amazing piece of art that is this book 99/100.   

Jay Writes - Luke cashed in his second Wild Card to replace Mistress Masham's Repose.  Our lovely friend Immi loaned it to us and he just didn't fancy it. (I enjoyed it!) We chose Ender's Game as a classic science fiction story that had an awful lot to say. I'm so glad he embraced it with such enthusiasm

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Animal Farm

I have to start this review by saying “I want a book not a history lesson!”

I admit that this was a good story that got the emotion that the animals had across as well as telling an excellent story. But I thought that this was going to be little story about the animals standing up for themselves and proving that the humans ought to pay more attention to them. I mean come on listen to the name “Animal Farm” if that doesn’t sound like the name of a book for five year olds then I am a bottlenose dolphin (which I’m not of course) 

It was so confusing with all the stuff happening at the same time and how somehow the animals can talk to humans and stand on two feet and build windmills and have whips and believe in candy land and well you get the Idea. But to its credit it explains the Russian revolution a lot better than I could plus at SOME times in the book you feel like you really know these animals and you want to help them out of their terrible predicament. 

But the fact remains that is a lesson. A very good lesson with a fantastic way of teaching in fact the only history lesson that was better than this one was when my mum made the Tudor family tree out of ginger bread men and woman. That was awesome. But still a lesson. Kids don’t want history lessons they want fictional stories.
You see?

But the book still had a good setup, well designed characters and was well written. For all those positives 61/100.