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Saturday, 30 August 2014

Library Resource: Poster and graphics maker website

I came across a fantastic website for creating posters, blog graphics and Twitter posts. It's https://www.canva.com/. There are great tutorials to try out to understand the basics. You'll see one of the blog graphics which I made here.

This year I want to share a lot more of the library resources I make on my blog. So here is the first one.

Three posters to encourage pupils to use the computer for different activities. You'll find them at this link. They are PDFs and you're welcome to download them and use them in your school library.

Here is a small  version as an example: 



Friday, 29 August 2014

Review: Grace

Author: Morris Gleitzman

Release date: 3rd Feb 2011
Target audience: 8+
Genre: Realism / Family story
Themes: Beliefs / Religion / Family
UK Publisher: Puffin

Grace is a contemporary story of belief, faith and family. It’s about being true to yourself and your beliefs and standing up for your religious freedom and right to think freely.

Grace and her family are part of a small religious community. Her Uncle has just been made an elder. A special role in their church and it is a time of celebration. But sadly for Grace, she seems to sin despite her good intentions. Her school project sparks outrage from their leader Mr Gosper. It sets in motion a chain of events that will shake the very foundations of Grace’s world.

As always, Morris Gleitzman delivers a powerhouse of a story in a beautiful simple way. The voice of the main character Grace leaps off the page and carries an important message without it ever feeling like a lecture or sermon.

At the heart of this story is a girl who believes in God. She is raised in a small religious community which is a branch of Christianity. Most likely a sect but the author never states the exact group. And in essence that is irrelevant because any system of belief can be corrupted and abused by man. I think I liked this book so much because it didn’t shy away from such a big topic. It explored it through the eyes of a bright, innocent, loving girl and made it easy for me (and young readers) to understand.

It was fun to read about a character who used words like “afflicted” and “wrath”. There aren’t many contexts where a Middle Grade character could use this dialogue and make it work but it really does here and it is rather endearing. There are also many references to bible stories which make this book really great for discussion and exploring Christian beliefs.

I admire Gleitzman for the risks he takes in this book. He puts Grace amidst extremely dangerous situations and deftly resolves them so satisfyingly.

Overall, Grace is a wonderful novel for readers 8+. Some children who have questions about faith will find this book comforting. Those who have no beliefs will understand those who do a little better. And those who love a great thrilling story, full of love, which undoubtedly enjoy this book.

Bought: Purchased at SLA Conference

Friday, 22 August 2014

Review: Assassin's Apprentice

Author: Robin Hobb

Release date: This edition 2014, first published 1995
Genre: Epic Fantasy / Historical Fantasy
Target audience: Adult
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Series: Book 1 The Farseer Trilogy

Assassin’s Apprentice is an epic fantasy novel. It’s set in a world of kings, princes, allies and assassins. It’s an epic tale – rich on historical world-building.

This book absorbed from start to finish. It wasn’t a quick read. It was a slow burner that had me wanting to read into the wee hours because I was just so engrossed. I liked that it was sumptuous in the detail. This book felt like a fantasy rite of passage. Robin Hobb is obviously a huge name in my favourite genre and yet I had never read anything by her. I’m so glad I came across this book in the public library.

Fitz is the illegitimate son of Prince Chivalry Farseer. His earliest memory is of being dumped by his maternal grandfather at the feet of Burrich - his father’s loyal servant. Fitz grows up in the stables where Burrich tends to the horses, dogs and hawks. He grows up an outsider – always being viewed as “the bastard” child. He feels acute loneliness and yet great loyalty to the King and his uncle Prince Verity. There comes a time when he charged to learn magic known as the Skill. It is a dangerous pursuit under the instruction of a vile and cruel teacher. It tests him to the limit and it could break him. But without the Skill, the kingdom of the Six Duchies may fall to the evil Red Raiders and their mysterious soul-stealing.

The novel is told from Fitz’s point of view. At the beginning of each chapter there is an excerpt from the history of the Farseer and their kingdom of the Six Duchies. It’s the story of Fitz’s many roles in Buckkeep. He assists Burrich with the animals. He spends time training with weapons. He, as the title suggests, becomes the assassin’s apprentice. Not something a person might want to be but is driven to out of loyalty. It is a book about fate – sometimes our name dictates our nature, sometimes our circumstances. Sometimes it is merely that we are a pawn in other peoples’ games.

The characterisation is excellent. You feel every single breath Fitz takes but you also come to love Burrick, admire Verity and fear Galen. It is quite something the way this book is written. It really haunted me when I wasn’t reading it. I kept wondering about what would happen next. I loved that the author didn’t take the easy route. Characters are maimed, killed and utterly tormented. It made reading this book surprising, full of anticipation and an absolute nail-biting pleasure. If you haven’t read anything by robin Hobb, then begin with the Assassin’s Apprentice. You will not be disappointed. It was incredible!

Source: Borrowed from the public library.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Review: Crash

Author: Nicole Williams

Genre: Contemporary / Romance
Release date: First published July 2012
Target audience: New Adult
Publisher: UK Paperback Simon and Schuster
Publisher: Ebook edition Harpercollins

Crash is a contemporary romance. It’s a story of first impressions and the truth behind them. It’s a sweet love story.

Lucy has recently moved with her family to their lake shore cabin after losing their family home. She’s trying to make the best of it but things at home are difficult. She’s not looking forward to starting her final year of school at a new tough school either. As she reads on the beach, her attention is grabbed by a muscular young man playing a game of football. It’s the beginning of a friendship which could break them both in two.
This was not the most well written of novels. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure read rather than a thought-provoking one. I did enjoy it though. I was smiling while reading it. It’s sort of like I read it with one eyebrow raised the whole way through.

There were some things that didn’t quite work for me. The first is that Lucy and Jude seem to connect a bit too quickly. I’m not convinced that someone who has suffered as much as Jude would let someone enter his life so easily and so whole-heartedly. It seemed almost instantaneous. Then there’s the fact that Lucy was so passionate about dancing. At least we’re told that but we’re never really shown it. There just aren’t enough scenes with her actually dancing and feeling the movements and the music.

Having said all that, I wanted to know how it ended and I really wanted them to be together by the end of the novel. I read it really quickly too. So if you like a quick romantic read, then give it a go. I preferred Easy by Tammara Webber. There was more substance to that new adult novel and the writing was less cheesy. But hey, I did have fun reading Crash and I kind of want to know what happens next. Guilty pleasure, indeed.

Source: Bought and read on my Kobo.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Review: NYPD Red 2

Author: James Patterson (and Marshall Karp)

Release date: 5th June 2014
Genre: Crime thriller
Target audience: Adult
Publisher: Century Random House
Series: NYPD Red #2

NYPD Red 2 is another fast-paced crime novel from the frighteningly prolific James Patterson. Think: cops, car chases, elite team, good guys, bad guys and city politics.

In this instalment top NYPD Red team Detectives Jordan and MacDonald are after a serial killer vigilant. This criminal mastermind has decided to become jury, judge and executioner. The media call him “The Hazmat Killer”. The case ends up with the Red team when a young rich socialite is found dead on a carousel wearing the calling-card Hazmat-esque suit. It’s a race against time to locate the bad guy and save the mayor’s political career.

Though I don’t normally read crime fiction because I’m a big wimp, for some reason the NYPD Red series is just not scary. It’s fast-paced and involves horrible torturing and murder but I guess it’s just a little too tongue in cheek to take seriously.

The voices of the main characters are so snarky and a little daft with their witticism that it makes the book more light-hearted entertainment than edge-of-your-seat thriller. And yet, I enjoyed it. The chapters are so short that you can speed through it.

If you’re looking for a quick, light read which is entertaining, then give it a go. If you love cop shows like me, but hate being scared, it’s just the thing.

Source: Borrowed from the public library