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review 2018-07-05 08:43
The Trouble with Thirteen
The Trouble With Thirteen - Betty Miles

Well, that was an embarrassingly devastating re-read.  It's been ... a number of decades (which I refuse to think about), since this book was relevant to me, but I couldn't resist when I found a copy.  I remembered nothing about it save it was one of those books I read as a pre-teen.

 

This isn't so much a story, as it is a snapshot of a moment in time that's nothing but constant change for any tween, but poor Annie and Rachel get hit with a trifecta of monumental changes all in a few short months.  Best friends and neighbours since nursery school, Rachel's parents are divorcing and moving her to NYC.  This is a snapshot, as told from the POV of a 12 year old, of the way life's changes are often completely outside your control, happening whether you like it or not.

 

Honestly, this book made me a weepy, sniffly mess.  I can't believe how relevant it is at its core after almost 40 years.  There's a conversation on a landline, something most kids won't recognise today, but the rest of this very short story entirely focuses on the things that are timeless: friendship, jealousy, guilt, sorrow, it's all here.  There're no quick answers or fixes offered, just a very empathetic narrative that doesn't talk down or preach (although I suspect the writing style would be considered too simplistic in comparison to today's titles).  I'd have no hesitation giving this to my nieces if and when it's relevant - along with a packet of tissues, just in case.

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review 2018-02-28 07:29
Horrible Histories: The Groovy Greeks and the Rotten Romans
The Groovy Greeks And The Rotten Romans (Two Horrible Books In One) - Terry Deary

Eh.  Gross overuse of the word "Groovy" in the Greek part, and generally not as well laid out as the HH on World War I.  For me, that is.  For the teens it was written for, and as a teaching aid, it's great.  A lot of quizzes that were far more interesting than any I had to take in school during world history class.  I especially liked the sections where they described how to play the games of ancient Greece and/or Rome, and the sample Roman menu is a great idea of you're reading this with teens.  I personally plan on making a camera obscura with my niece one of these days.

 

As always for me, the cartoons in these books are the best bits.

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review 2017-10-09 04:16
The Blitzed Brits
The Blitzed Brits - Terry Deary,Tracey West

I knew what these were when I bought them (I bought three) – written for a much younger audience – but given the woefully little I know about world history, I figured anything was better than nothing and as I tend to think straight history texts rather dull, ultimately, I probably wasn't that far outside its target audience after all, in terms of attention span.

 

I started with this one as it was the thinnest, and thankfully, I knew most of it already - I'm not that ignorant after all! - but there were a lot of details I didn't know.  The obliteration of everything that indicated a location, for example.  Business signs that indicated the town/village/city name had that name painted over; public transit station names were removed.  I also didn't know there was such a time gap between the first blitz and the second.  And I will always know that in a stream of terrible years, 1942 was by far the worst for the homefront in terms of legislated deprivation.

 

Some of the stories were funny, of course.  The one about the girl who, listening to her mum about strange men approaching her during the blackout, accidentally put her own father head first into a pig scrap bin had both MT and I giggling.

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review 2017-10-01 05:04
Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, #2)
Hollow City - Ransom Riggs

More often than not, I struggle to like the second book of a trilogy and Hollow City is no exception.  To me, the second book feels like all the boring bits between the excitement of discovery and the thrill of the finale stretched out to 'make do' as a book.  In other words, book two is all existential navel gazing and I get bored.

 

Hollow City was not without excitement though; there were plenty of battles between the peculiar children and the hollows, and Jacob gets to use and stretch and refine his power, but mostly it's children bonding (go team!), true love (*eye roll*), evil plot to end the world revealed in all its evil glory (*gasp*) and existential navel gazing.

 

I'm being a bit cheeky; I did enjoy, it just wasn't great.  There are a couple of twists at the end; one I really didn't see coming and the other was, I suppose, inevitable, and it ends in something of a cliffhanger with the tried and true 'friends in peril' plot device fully engaged.  I already have the third book so it's definitely going to get read, but I'm not in a rush.

 

I read this for the Chilling Children square and it was more apt than I could have dreamed, as the power of one of the peculiar children is, in fact, freezing whatever she touches.  Chilling children indeed.

 

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review 2017-05-19 09:07
Prudence (Book One of The Custard Protocol)
Prudence - Gail Carriger

In that way that two strong, bold personalities often have children that have wispy, paler personalities than themselves, Prudence is a pale imitation of Connel and Alexia Maccon in Soulless.

 

It's not for lack of trying, but Carriger's attempts at giving Prudence (Rue) her own eccentric personality just falls flat for me.  What felt like effortless eccentricity and resulting hilarity in Alexis feels forced in Rue.  What felt natural in Soulless feels affected in Prudence.

 

Still, it wasn't a bad read; if I hadn't read The Parasol Protectorate and The Finishing School series first, I'd likely have enjoyed this a lot more.  But even though we get to see the beloved cast of characters from TPP return, it's sadly just not the same.  It just never really came together for me.  It was o.k., but it was never fun.

 

 

 

 

Total pages: 357

$$:  $3.00

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