November Book of the Month by Annabelle F. Year 11

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

This month is a very exciting month for Cruel Prince fans- Queen of Nothing, the highly anticipated final book of the trilogy is due to be released. So, to celebrate, November’s book of the month is the Cruel Prince, the first book in the series.

The day I read this book was certainly a memorable one for me, though I won’t go into the details of why- long story short I was very ill, and I was bored, so I bought a new book on my Kindle, which was the Cruel Prince, newly released a few days earlier, if not that day. Nothing else to do, I easily devoured it in a few hours- which is unlike me, because I usually need a few breaks when reading otherwise I will lose focus.  It was so good that I literally could not stop reading, I was unable to lose focus or to not pay full attention, this book demanded it all, and it definitely took my mind off how disgusting I felt, and away from the dreariness of bed rest, usually an impossible task.

Holly Black (author of many, many books, including the Spiderwick Chronicles, a very popular children’s book which has been adapted into film, so chances are you’ve come across it) certainly did not disappoint. It is a fantasy, for fans of Sarah J Maas and Cassandra Clare, or anyone who enjoys a good, albeit less child friendly than the ones you probably grew up with, fairy tale. In fact, if you are a fan of Cassandra Clare you are basically destined to love it, since the two are pretty much best friends and Holly Black inspired the faeries of the Shadowhunter world- but in my opinion Holly Black is the better author.

Jude is a mortal in the land of Faerie- brought up by her mother’s ex-husband, who also happens to be her parents’ murderer. It would be appropriate to call family life awkward. She is addicted to Faerie though, she grew up there and now she finds that she could not belong in the mortal world. Her entire life she has been tricked and mocked and hated by the faeries, simply for the curse (or perhaps the blessing) of not being like them, and she is more than desperate to prove them wrong and to show them that she is as good, as strong, as clever as any of them. Jude is ambitious and longs for power and recognition, and she’ll do whatever she can to get it- and have revenge on Cardan.

Whilst for many of you this book may be too far into the depths of fantasy (which is what I thought at first), it is beautifully written, the plot dark and rich: not only absolutely amazing, it will astound you, it certainly isn’t a normal book. It takes the phrase ‘plot twist’ to unknown heights. The malicious but captivating and ever exciting faerie court viewed through mundane eyes is addictive and you can understand why Jude doesn’t want to leave. It is unnervingly easy to fall in love with. The characters are brilliant.  Jude and Cardan are two of my all-time favourites, without a doubt. They aren’t normal, clichéd fantasy heroes- far from it- and I would say that they definitely aren’t the usual ‘I’m not like other characters’ characters. The sequel, the Wicked King, is even better than the first book, which is usually unheard of, plus I didn’t think you could get better than the Cruel Prince. You really won’t be disappointed.

It’s in the Senior Fiction section

Non-fiction Book of the Month by Safiyyah S (Year 11)

No One is Too Small to Make a Difference – Greta Thunberg

I’m sure you’ve all heard of Greta Thunberg – good or bad. Either way, I think that she is one of the most influential people in our society today. Her resilience through all the hate she receives, her confidence despite her syndrome and being an activist who has become the voice of our whole generation are just some of the reasons why I think she is inspiring. I will admit I had a bit of trouble writing this review compared to my previous reviews. One of the reasons why is because I didn’t know whether to treat this book as any non-fiction book or a book about a subject that I have grown to become passionate over the years. The environment.

The book is an extremely easy read – not going past 80 pages – and it consists of a collection of eleven speeches which she has written and presented about global warming and climate change. This book brings you Greta in her own words and I feel like it is a huge cry for why we must all wake up and fight to protect the planet, no matter how powerless we feel because our future depends upon it.

I really recommend this book to every single person. If a 16-year-old can speak for a whole generation, we can stand by her and be the change we all want to see.

October Book of the Month by Annabelle F. Year 11

What if it’s us? By Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

This is a book crafted by two of YA’s favourite authors (and I have to say, they work well together- I don’t have very good experience with book/author collaborations…), and when I was reading it I could not stop smiling – it is a very adorable book, with some of the cutest, sweetest (perhaps slightly stalkerish) characters ever. Exceedingly cute. Musical cute, which you might be able to guess from the title- it is very much a musical in the form of a novel.

It’s summer, New York.  And Arthur, who is interning at his mother’s law firm, is not feeling it, the New York we probably all dream of- far from home (Milton, Georgia), things are not as exciting as he hoped. Until he wanders into a post office for no real reason, apart from the fact that he believes in love at first sight. He follows the random stranger into this post office and learns that the nameless beauty is carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s belongings, and all is perfect, until a flash mob marriage proposal sweeps them apart, never to see each other again. Only we know that’s not true. And obviously there are going to be some bumps in the road, after all a relationship with someone you can’t even find and you only have the summer?

This book is outrageously happy. It’s a definite pick-me-up of a book, one whose happiness you will not be able to resist. It isn’t all up, but it is about 98% pure cheer- the book does delve into some important ideas surrounding identity and homophobia, for example. I really like how different the two characters are, and how they seem to complement each other more because of that. I like that their relationship isn’t all easy and that they do have to work for it to work. I love how Arthur is just open and warm to everyone he meets, and I love Ben and The Wicked Wizard War. I love how easy the characters were to not just relate with, but get along with- they weren’t complicated, but this isn’t supposed to be a complex book. They each had their own flaws and fears and joys and passions, they could hurt, and they could love. But it was just a really easy book to read, which I think we all need sometimes. It’s funny.  A tornado of a romance, with all the sparkly feel of a musical, definitely for fans of Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen. It’s available in the library (Senior Fic.)

Summer Reading Challenge Winners

Congratulations to Naomi from Year 8 (pictured to the right of her friend Ayanfe), one of the winners of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.  Naomi will be taking over the library budget this term and selecting the books we buy for you to read.

Well done to Alekhya in Year 10, our other Summer Reading Challenge winner.  Alekhya read an astonishing 20 books over the summer holidays and won a box of Krispy Kreme donuts for her efforts.

Congratulations to everyone who participated.  Certificates will be presented to you during assembly.

The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer

Reviewed by Safiyyah S (Year 11)

I am not one to read non-fiction books and I most definitely would not expect me to say a non-fiction book is my favourite book- yet here I am. Unfortunately, I can’t say this book takes you to some magical world where shadow hunters and warlocks exist. Instead, it takes you to the harshest place I can think of- reality. Although this book is an easy read, it challenges us individually. The main gist of the whole book is that since our money can save lives in poor societies, we have a responsibility to hand it over. And I know that sounds extremely brutal but I can promise you that when you read this book, your eyes will be opened. I never considered myself a huge charitable person that donated constantly out of the goodness of my heart, but I thought I gave a reasonable amount. However, my opinions on a variety of topics changed whilst reading this book-including how I see myself. He doesn’t just say why we should be helping; he shows how we can do it and why our pitiful excuses to not help eradicate poverty when we clearly have the ability to, are wrong. Nearly ten million innocent children die each year from poverty-related causes. 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day–the Starbucks tea I drank the other day is approximately someone’s salary for 4 days of work. If your excuse for not reading this amazing book is that it’ll make you feel guilty, fun fact-it’s supposed to. We all should feel some sort of guilt. I really recommend this book for everyone and I hope that we don’t ignore such a predominant topic that this book educates us on.

 

“If we are not to turn our backs on a fifth of the world’s population, we must become part of the solution.”  

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Reviewed by Annabelle F (Year 11)

I am aware that this is not the first book in the series, however much like the films, I read this book first and the rest of the series in a very mixed up order too, though I am still to finish. This book is among the top ten most read books, along with the Bible and Twilight, and is perfect for those who love conspiracy theories, history, mysteries and controversy. It is so effective a mix of fact and fiction that, at times, it is very easy to forget where fact ends and fiction begins.  

Robert Langdon is a world-renowned symbologist and Harvard professor, in Paris to talk about his new book. Only whilst in Paris he becomes entangled in the murder of the curator of the Louvre, a beloved figure in France, and finds himself and detective Sophie Neveu (the curator’s granddaughter) in a chase to solve one of the greatest mysteries of all time- that of the Holy Grail. Of course, they have some competition and are wanted fugitives with the French police at their heels, to make things even more complicated.

 Whilst there were some points I found a little contradictory, overall it was a very well composed thriller- an intricate web of puzzles to be solved against the clock. It’s one of those Scooby Doo novels where you really don’t know who is really who and what people’s true motives are; the plot just gets thicker and thicker. It keeps you on your toes and keeps you guessing.  It’s one of those books that when you shut it, it kind of feels like waking up, kind of like remembering that the world exists, it’s so vivid and intense that it doesn’t feel like a story. And it will keep you’re mind busy for a good while.

It’s in the library, Senior Fiction.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Reviewed Annabelle F (Year 10)

I know there are some mixed opinions about this book, but personally I think it deserves Book of the Month. I love the way it is written, I love the characters, how crazy it is, the poems, how it explores grief. You can really tell that it means a lot to the author, it really comes through in her writing, because whilst there are some moments that might seem very tumblr, I think it is genuine.  Something as honest and genuine as this book could only come from real emotion, real experience, and I think she has done a brilliant job of communicating that with the world.

Grief stricken, lovesick, Wuthering Heights obsessed Lennie Walker aka John Lennon is a bit of a mess, even by the standards of the (out of its tree and running around the park) crazy, hippy place she lives in Northern California. Juliet, that is, her sister Bailey has just died. Lennie now knows that the worst can happen at any time, and she struggles with the fact that her sister, her best friend, is never coming back. Lennie, in her agony, starts to shut the people she loves out, as she herself shuts down. That is until Toby (Bailey’s boyfriend) and Joe (a crazy French musician with the amazing signature Fontaine smile) come along….

Lennie thought her life couldn’t get more complicated, she thinks she’s only just started to wake up, that her sister was made for this, she was the actress, made for all the drama, not her, not Lennie, and so we follow Lennie as she realises that she was awake all along and she stops fighting against her grief and realises that as long as she lives, she will grieve because that is the way that love works.

Along the way, a few (many, beautiful) poems are strewn around town, and we get to read some of them. Personally, I adore them. They capture Lennie so well and I think foreshadow who Lennie grows to become, show us who she has been all along. Not a companion pony but a whirlwind of love and light and craziness and imagination. They capture her, her grief and her love in such a thoughtful way, but are also kind of like a wrecking ball of emotion, you can’t avoid it, you can’t not feel what she’s feeling, not know what she knows. I really love them, and I think they are the empirical evidence that poetry is not dead, but very, very alive to those who doubt.

So do I love this book? Yes. Do I think that you should read it or reread it? Yes. And do I think it deserves book of the month? Yes! (100%, affirmative, amen, right, aye, beyond a doubt, by all means, certainly, definitely, gladly, most assuredly, naturally, of course, sure thing, undoubtedly, unquestionably, without fail, yep, ja, oui, sí, joo, áno, hej, 是, ae, yebo, you should definitely get the message if you’ve get this far, which I do not expect but well done if you have, in all honestly, would I have written this review if I didn’t think it was worth one, if not, twenty three reads? I hope someone spots all my references…)

Jandy Nelson is also the author of: I’ll Give You The Sun (another brilliant book)

If you like this book you might also like… We Were Liars (E. Lockhart), Eleanor and Park (Rainbow Rowell), All the Bright Places (Jennifer Niven)

To check the availability of these books in the school library, go to the Reading Cloud