Battle of the Books staff book reviews ๐Ÿ‘ฑ ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿ‘ด ๐Ÿ‘ต

As promised here are some reviews of the Battle of the Books selection by some of our lovely teacher readers!ย ๐Ÿ˜ ย More to come next weekย ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Teacher’s Deadย by Benjamin Zephaniah, reviewed by Ms. Ronan.ย ๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿ”ชโ˜ 

What’s not to love about a murder mystery, especially one where the victim is a teacher who’s murdered by two of his own students, in front of the school!! Great suspense and intrigue are generated throughout the book as the main character, Jackson, tries to figure out what motivated the two boys to murder a man who was regarded by everyone as very nice. He takes on a huge responsibility of investigating the crime in order to make sense of what happened.
I was a bit disappointed that the main character, Jackson, was not developed in more detail. He has a supportive Mum but no mention of a father figure and few friends. He is a particularly thoughtful and insightful teenager, in many ways mature although sometimes a little innocent in his expectations of others. He’s certainly a lovable character but I’m not sure he was entirely credible without a better understanding of his background.
Overall, this would be a good 1st/2nd Year read for someone who wants a good page turner that’s short and doesn’t get bogged down in too much detail!
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The Art of Being Normalย by Lisa Williamson, reviewed by Ms. Ronan.ย ๐Ÿ‘ซ
This novel tracks two teenagers who struggle a little with life. David reveals very early on that he has always wished he was born a girl. He is very upfront and candid about sharing his thoughts and fears with his two best friends but cannot speak to his family about it.
Leo, the other main character, is more of a mystery and he arrives at David’s school clouded in rumours about how he left/was kicked out of his last school. His home life is fairly complicated; his father isn’t around, his mother has a string of boyfriends, Leo and his sisters seem a bit neglected.
Leo and David strike up an unlikely friendship given their personality differences. As we hear more about their problems, it seems both characters have significant obstacles to overcome.
I really found myself looking forward to picking up this book each evening to find out what would happen the pair.
This is the first book I have read which deals with transgender issues and I found the characters very engaging. Both were convincing in different ways. Given the obstacles the characters face, the plot was a little too neatly sown up for my liking at the end. For those of you who like happy-ever-afters, you’ll love this one! Cheesetastic!
All in all, I enjoyed this read. Any book that makes me want to find out what happens is a winner for me. Probably for 2nd/3rd Year up.
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We chose The Art of Being Normalย overย Teacher’s Deadย because the characters seemed more credible. We felt they reflected the emotional landscape of adolescence more realistically. We were also interested in the treatment of transgender issues. Neither of us read a story with that backdrop before and we found we were thoroughly engaged by that slant on the plot. Fundamentally the novel tracks how teenagers cope with issues that are difficult and we thought the protagonists were more realistic in their reactions than the protagonist of the other book.
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Infinite Skyย by C.J. Flood, reviewed by Ms. Gorby.ย โ›…๐ŸŒŒ

This book was a delightful short read. Written by C.J. Flood this is a young adult novel that deals withย the compelling topics of first love and prejudice towards Irish travellers. Irisโ€™(13) mother leaves theย family home to try and find herself whilst her husband Thomas struggles to mind Iris and her brotherย Sam(15). A traveller family who settle near Irisโ€™ home causes tension in the locality but Iris befriendsย Trick and they become firm friends. Read this book for beautiful descriptive language which will leadย you to the devastating and heart breaking finale.

I would give this book 4 out of 5 and strongly recommend it as an enjoyable and thought provokingย read.

 

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My Sister Lives on the Mantelpieceย  by Annabel Pitcher, reviewed by Ms. Flannery.ย ๐Ÿ‘ซ

Excellent book: but be prepared for a book that is going to pull at your heart strings and make you feel you are part of the story and make you cry.

I was a bit dubious from the start regarding this book as it was based on perspective of a 10 year old and talk about his sisterโ€™s death and huge issues (racism/terrorism/death/friendship/bullying/alcoholism/eating disorders/) that affected Jamie and his family.

The Jewel by Amy Ewing, reviewed by Ms. Flannery.ย ๐Ÿ’Ž

Very good and really enjoyable. It’s is a much easier and enjoyable read and deals with tough issues of slavery & servitude. It is a little racy in some areas and might be a bit too much for some but it is more fantasy fiction and easier to read than the previous tear jerker. It doesn’t pull at the heart strings as much.

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpieceย  by Annabel Pitcher, reviewed by Ms. Parsons.ย ๐Ÿ‘ซ

This book dealt with many delicate topics in a very clever way. The book is written from the viewpoint of a ten year old. This gives us the opportunity at the age we are now to reminisce about how we were affected by things when we were younger, transporting us back in time. If you have had the death of a close family member, or if you have experienced bullying, then this is a very emotional book to read. It has the power to put you back to a situation that happened and re-experience it.

The Jewel by Amy Ewing, reviewed by Ms. Parsons.ย ๐Ÿ’Ž

I read this book after My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece and I found it much easier to read. Though it deals with the serious topic of slavery, there are lots of things going on in Violetโ€™s life that brighten up the pages of the book. I would recommend this book if you liked reading The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins or the Gone novels by Michael Grant .

 

Joint review by Ms. Flannery and Ms. Parsonsย ๐Ÿ˜

We chose the Jewel over My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece. Both are excellent books but the areas and issues raised in My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece are tough and heart wrenching. We both found it a very difficult book to read. There were lots of tears. It was very well written, but we both found it a difficult one to continue on with and complete as it was so very sad. The writer really puts the reader into Jamie’s shoes. This book deals with the important issues of death, racism, alcoholism, eating disorders, bullying and terrorism. All of these issues are viewed through the eyes of a ten year old.

The Jewel deals with the hard issues of slavery and servitude, and divisions of social classes. This book is similar to the Hunger Games. We chose it as our winner because it was an easier and more enjoyable read. The plot of this book is firmly placed in fantasy fiction, the reader gets to suspend reality. As a result, it is a more enjoyable read. It is enthralling with all the action.

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Eleanor & Parkย by Rainbow Rowell, reviewed by Ms. Nolan.ย ๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿ’‘

โญ๏ธโญ๏ธโญ๏ธโญ๏ธโญ๏ธ for Rainbow Rowell’s – Eleanor and Park. I loved it and felt lost without it to pick up once I had finished reading it! The gradual development of a relationship between two very different characters is dealt with in a gentle fashion using alternating passages from either person’s point of view. The teenage angst of needing to fit in, together with wanting to be an individual, is described wonderfully. The author also deals with the balancing of needing to be loved with the need to love in these teenage lives. The issue of bullying and how the characters each dealt with it in their own very different ways, was interesting. All in all, a great read that I would recommend to all ages.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, reviewed by Ms. Nolan.ย ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜‚

๐Ÿ”ฅas in burn the book – Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Hated it from start to finish! I had to force myself to finish as I felt like I was reading a bad first-year essay where there was no plan for a good ending and so “…..I woke up and found it had all been a bad dream…..!. It was like reading a second-rate script for a rotten version of the teen movie, Mean Girls. American High School kids at their worst. I really hope that Irish teenagers are less shallow and have more sensitivity in them than the characters in this book. Would not recommend it to anyone!
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Seven Days by Eve Ainsworth, reviewed by Ms. Coffee and Ms. Murphy. โŒ›โ›…๏ธ๐ŸŒ™

This is a very interesting and topical story about bullying. It is told from theย perspective of the bully and the bullied. It will keep the reader interested untilย the conclusion. We meet two main characters in the story. Jess is overweightย and awkward and has a difficult life outside of school. Kez is beautiful andย popular and also has her own problems. She keeps picking on Jess. The authorย makes us see Kezโ€™s background and why she has become a bully. ย As a reader, we had a lot of sympathy for the person (Jess) who is bullied butย the author tries to make us also feel sorry for the bully by explaining why she isย the way she is.

We would recommend this book as our favourite to go to the next roundย because it keeps the reader on edge for the โ€˜7 daysโ€™ over which the book is set.ย The bullying spirals out of control and the impact on the victim is clear to see.ย Kez and her friends have a Facebook conversation before each day which setsย the tone for the chapter. The book also opens with a heartfelt letter whichย immediately sets the tone for the whole book. It is an even-handed look atย bullying and the issues facing teenagers today.

 

Iโ€™ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, reviewed by Ms. Coffee and Ms. Murphy.ย โ˜€๏ธ

At the beginning of the book Jude and her twin brother Noah are very close.ย Age 13, Noah draws constantly while his sister, Jude, cliff dives and does theย talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barelyย speaking. Something has happened to wreck their lives.ย Noah tells the story during the early years. The later years are Judeโ€™s. Theyย each only have half a story.ย Noahโ€™s perspective includes the drawings he paints in his mind, reflecting hisย inner emotions. Jude has snippets of superstition from her Grandmaโ€™s bible.ย Jude also sees ghosts.ย The story is told piece by piece which link up with each other until you end upย with the full jigsaw.

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Thanks to all who have submitted reviews so far you are all โญ๏ธโญ๏ธโญ๏ธโญ๏ธโญ๏ธ, it’s so interesting to see the different reactions to books!ย ๐Ÿ˜Š ๐Ÿ“šย ๐Ÿ˜

 

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