Donkey’s Years Ago

The Positively Last Performance ~ Geraldine McCaughrean

Hellooooo readers!

Just a quick reminder that the deadline for my Blogiversary writing competition is in 10 days and it’s not too late to enter, so get writing! Anyway, how have y’all summers been? Mine has been mostly sunny, like the seaside town of Seashaw where we shall be whisked to next. Now, if you will please turn off your phones, sit back and enjoy The Positively Last Performance

Seashaw: a lovely seaside town trailing with donkeys and blanketed underneath beautiful skies. The dull lives of the ghosts at The Royal Theatre is suddenly interrupted by the annoyingly noisy Gracie Walters as she arrives in Seashaw with her parents to restore the Royal to its former glory. She begins to settle in with the Resident ghosts, befriending the likes of Eugenius Birch, Mikey the Mod, Roland and Lily Oliver, Florence Melluish and Maurice the minstrel. Gracie, being a curious girl, slowly starts to uncover the sorrows of their pasts and attempts to open their eyes to the present. But there is a huge secret awaiting Gracie that will change her forever, and the Royal is in danger. Can Gracie and the Residents save the day before it’s too late?

I’m one of those people who, sadly, has a rubbish memory for books, which is part of the reason I have this blog. Now you’d think, because I have an awful memory for books, that I reread loads; nevertheless, you are wrong. But I have to say for this book I would make an exception. It’s honestly a masterpiece! Even though there are ghosts in it, it’s the farthest it can be from creepy: the ghosts are actually really sweet. All of the characters are awesome, but if I had to choose a favourite I would probably say Frank Stuart- or maybe Maurice- or Mikey. In short, every single one of the characters was a delight and each had a reason to be loved. The plot, though a little scattered, jumping from past to present, was enchanting and I loved every chapter. McCaughrean’s writing is truly magnificent! I will be sure to look out for more books by her. Personally, I don’t think there’s any argument as to why you shouldn’t read this book. No seriously, it’s so good. Go! Off to the library/bookshop with you!

Simi Star rating: ***** (5 stars)

An Adventure in Africa

The Elephant Shrew ~ Anthony Irvin

Why hello there bookworms…

So about three years ago, Anthony Irvin came into my school and told us about how awesome Africa was. Being the curious gal that I am, and also a lover of travel and adventure, I bought one of his books. Recently I decided to reread it because I really liked it and wanted to review it on here. Bear in mind this is the second book in the series and I haven’t read the first, but it’s still pretty understandable except for the parts when it mentions something from the previous book and I get annoyed because it makes the first one sound so much more interesting but anyway, I think it would be a good idea if I shut up round about now so that you can read my review.

Lucy, Kal and Ellie stumble into another African safari adventure when their plane crashes and they spend the night in a cave. Inside they discover Arabic writing on the walls, and set out to uncover the mystery. They face many dangers include hazardous cliffs, treacherous currents and annoyingly placed shafts that almost kill them as they discover the secrets of the old East African slave trade. But the horrors that they bring to light are more than they would have imagined…

First of all, I wanna say that Africa sounds amazing. The description in this novel seems to really bring the world of East Africa alive. At times it was a little boring, I have to say, but the writer does shower a lot of excitement in other places to make up for it; the rest is definitely a fun action-packed adventure! I liked Kal because he was always curious, and Matata who was fun and lovable. Also, the front cover and little animal illustrations inside are very beautiful. An adventurous tale filled with thrilling plot twists, The Elephant Shrew is a fun family story for all ages.

Simi Star rating: **** (4 stars)

War brings a whole lot of tissues

The Book Thief ~ Markus Zusak

Guten Tag Leser! Good day readers!

Recently I saw the Book Thief film and I loved it; I was sobbing so much to the point that my dad, who has working, began to shout at me to shut up. Surprisingly I didn’t actually cry in the book, but I would be prepared anyway. Personally, I way preferred the book because the film is so shamefully inaccurate, but both are definitely worth your time. Go to the shop and buy them! Now! I mean, of course, after you’ve read this post 🙂

3 Quick Facts:

  • This book is narrated by Death
  • It is set in Germany, World War 2
  • A bunch of people die in this – sorry for the spoiler but we all knew it was gonna happen

This book follows the story of young Liesel who is beginning a new life with a new family on Himmel Street. With the help of her loving new foster father, she learns to read. Entranced by words, she becomes a book thief. Death is all around her and yet her life is just beginning to bloom as she discovers this strange new world of imagination. When a stranger arrives at the door of 33 Himmel Street, Liesel’s world is thrown into danger. Living with the fear of being found out, Max lives in the basement and writes stories for Liesel. The two grow a friendship which is brought together by a love for words, but destruction is just around the corner…

Well, I can safely say that this is the most beautifully written book I have ever read. Every word, every page, every chapter was satisfyingly powerful. Every character, every setting, every story was masterfully told. I loved it. Rudy, Liesel’s best friend, and Max were probably my favourite characters for obvious reasons: Rudy was always there to help out and was a completely loyal friend to Liesel (probably because he had a crush on her!) and Max helped Liesel find the true power of words. Overall I absolutely loved this book because, why would a book lover not adore it? The storytelling is perfection; a must read.

Simi Star rating: ***** (5 stars)

A book inside a book

The Eyre Affair ~ Jasper Fforde

Hi readers!

The next book I’m reviewing, The Eyre Affair, is the book I won for my dodo poem, so it’s also signed by Jasper Fforde himself! Enjoy…

In an alternate 1985 where the Crimean War still rages, dodos still exist, and Thursday Next still doesn’t have a boyfriend, an evil villain by the name of Acheron Hades is kidnapping characters from books and holding them to ransom. When Jane Eyre is captured, Thursday must find a way to rescue her without changing the course of the story, which of course is extremely difficult as Jane is the main character… And now Hades has hidden inside Jane Eyre with a poem in which Thursday’s aunt has been trapped. Will Thursday be able to save the book and her aunt, and get rid of Hades before the novel has finished rewriting itself and she is lost in the story forever?

First of all, this book had a very complicating and confusing plot, so if you read it you will probably loose track of who’s working for who, especially as most of the characters’ names are completely made up. It took a very long time to actually get to the point when Jane was kidnapped, so it took me awhile to get into this and I felt the story could have been shorter. Despite this, it was quite funny and entertaining and I liked how, even though almost all of the characters were men, the main character was a women and she was very smart and brave – a true heroine! I also liked how there was a lot of action, but also a little bit of romance and fantasy too. And the cover is awesome! Even though this is a very famous book, I didn’t enjoy it as much, but still a great book!

Also it contains some inappropriate jokes, bad language and it was quite dark in places. This book is more for older teens and up.

Simi Star rating: *** (3 stars)

Belly of the Beast

Lascar ~ Shahida Rahman

Hi readers!

This next book was recommended to me by one of my friends because it was actually her mum who wrote it! She is an excellent writer. Also, this book is the prize for my guest post competition, and the winner will be announced next Friday!! I hope you’re all bursting to know, and I’m sorry that the winner will not be announced today. But for now, you can wait in suspense to find out who will receive this wonderful book!

Ayan and Kazi are orphans in Bengal and when Kazi is suddenly struck with cancer, Ayan must become a Lascar on a ship so as to earn money for Kazi to see a doctor. What Ayan doesn’t know is that he won’t see his brother again for many many years, as he is on a perilous journey in the belly of a dangerous ship which will lead him to Victorian London, where he must survive the harsh realities of being a Muslim in England…

This novel was extremely well written and had lots of great descriptions! Ayan’s journey is an incredible one and will intrigue many young adults. Just how this one man faces slavery, the death of friends and being bullied and insulted because of his skin colour but still stands tall until the end is so awesome!! At times it got a bit complicating or slightly boring because I think it was written for older ages, and the ending of the book was a bit unclear, but other than that it was a great book! Also, it is a bit violent so I wouldn’t read it if I were below 11. A great read! Loved it!

Simi Star rating: **** (4 stars)

A foundling is found

The Star of Kazan ~ Eva Ibbotson

Hi everyone!

I deeply apologize to the follower who recommended this book, because it has taken me so long to get round to reading it! But, better late than never, right?

The Star of KazanYoung Annika was abandoned in a church as a baby by her mother and found by a cook and a housemaid, who act as guardians until her real mother is found. She may be a lowly servant girl, but Annika is happy in her comfortable home in Vienna. But one day, a mysterious woman arrives in the city announcing that she is Annika’s mother, and Annika’s life is suddenly turned upside down. Her mother is not just any old woman, she is Frau Edeltraut von Tannenberg, the owner of a great estate in Germany called Spittal. Annika travels there with her mother, but her new life in this castle seems gloomy, and she is forbidden to help with household jobs, which is one of the only activities at Spittal that she finds joy in. She befriends a gypsy boy who works at Spittal, and only with him can she comfortably help around the estate. But her new mother is not as she seems and has a big secret that she is keeping from her new daughter. Can Annika be saved before it’s too late?

This is a truly beautiful story with some amazing characters. It is a real page turner and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I like how the story flips from Annika to the people back in Vienna. One of my favourite characters was Pauline, one of Annika’s great friends, because at the end she shows real courage and bravery to save Annika from harm. The professors that were Annika’s employers, too, were lovely characters and showed Annika great kindness even though she was just a servant. The writing is amazing as well, and I really enjoyed the descriptions because they created beautiful images in my mind. I really recommend this book, and I’m sure Eva Ibbotson’s other books are just as good!

Simi Star rating: ***** (5 stars)

Duffy and the Boones

Hi everyone!

I’m back with another exciting tale full of murders and mysteries, making this book a murder mystery! Theodore Boone is an exciting novel about a young boy who dreams of one day becoming a great lawyer…. (buy the book here)

A murder has taken place in the small city of Strattenburg and it’s the biggest in the town’s history. The accused is Mr Peter Duffy, the husband of the victim. Theo Boone is right in the middle of the trial, catching every statement and watching every witness. But this murder is much more than Theo could have ever imagined. There is a witness out there who saw everything.* But only Theo knows who it is. The police and the lawyers know nothing. Theo is suddenly stuck with a huge problem and he is the only one who can find a way out of this deep, dark mystery. (taken from blurb:) ‘A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth.’

What a tense novel! Near the end of the story I was literally glued to the book and couldn’t wait until I could read it after school. It was very good, and I felt it was a bit of a twist to a normal mystery when the killer is the last person you’d think, because at the beginning of this story, I was thinking that the murderer was going to be some creepy guy who acts sugary and innocent. But I won’t ruin the whole story. You’ll have to do that bit yourself. What I liked about the book was Theo’s personality and how he was full of intelligence about the law and he could speak Spanish and had a dog called Judge, although that’s got nothing to do with his personality…. Anyway, a great book that is highly recommended.

Simi Star rating: ***** (5 stars)

* for anyone who is confused about me putting an asterisk in the middle of the text, it is a Summary Star which I use to pinpoint my favourite part of the book.