Book Review #83: Mr. Bambuckle’s Remarkables by Tim Harris, Illustrated by James Hart

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Title: Mr. Bambuckle’s Remarkables
Author: Tim Harris
Illustrator: James Hart
ISBN: 9780143785859
Pages: 240
Genre: Children’s Book
Format: Paperback
Date Published: August 28, 2017
Publishing House: Penguin Kids Australia
Goodreads Rating: 4.75
Personal Rating: 4 / 5

“Sometimes the best learning happens when you teach yourself.”

Synopsis

He’s the first teacher to cook us breakfast.
Is his spark-maker beetle really that dangerous?
I heard he drank yak’s milk in Mongolia.
He’s the only person who isn’t afraid of Canteen Carol.
My mum says he used to be in the circus.

The class in room 12B has a new teacher, and nothing is ever going to be the same . . . [Goodreads]

My Personal Thoughts

Tim Harris’ Mr. Bambuckle’s Remarkables is a highly entertaining children’s book. It is jam-packed with life lessons that we, adults, often forget and neglect. I like how books for kids can become an eye-opener and refresher in order for us to contemplate our life choices and actions. This book was sent to me by Penguin Kids Australia. Yes, I do review children’s books as well because I can recommend them to my kids for them to read and enjoy. First, the illustration is really nice and catchy. I like how they all complemented with the story. Second, the main character, Mr. Bambuckle is so good in terms of bringing out the best out of his students. It is not surprising how the students of 12B became so fascinated with him. He teaches in a unique way but the lesson that he wants to impart to the kids is still clear and relevant. The ending is a cliffhanger and I was craving for more, I was a bit disappointed because it felt like I want to know the rest of the class as well and not just the first few students who were introduced. But I am not complaining, I’ll just look forward to the next book. Third, I like how it was written and executed, the simplicity of the words will be easy for young readers to comprehend. The illustrations also added colour to the book. Overall, this is highly recommended to young readers and those young at heart just like me. Kudos to the author for making me realise all the things that I have been forgetting because I was busy thinking that I’m already an adult and that I don’t need to know the basics in life anymore. I love it, each and every chapter; and each and every character including the pseudo-antagonist kid who often bullies the underdog. It was worth my time; a fast-paced story with sense and purpose.

Thank you, Penguin Random House, for sending me a copy to read and review. However, this does not change my views and opinions.

~JaNnA

 

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Book Review #78: The Build-Up Season by Megan Jacobson (Review Copy from Penguin Random House Australia)

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“Everybody’s good when they’re good, darling. You don’t judge a person by that. It’s how they act when things aren’t good that tells you who they really are.”

Title: The Build-Up Season
Author: Megan Jacobson
ISBN: 9780143573388
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Date Published: July 31, 2017
Publishing House: Penguin Random House Australia
Goodreads Rating: 4.31
Personal Rating: 4/5 

Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Iliad Piper – Ily for short – is named after war and angry at the world. Growing up with a violent father and abused mother, she doesn’t know how to do relationships, family or friends. Her love-hate friendship with Max turns into a prank war and she nearly destroys her first true friendship with misfit Mia. She takes off her armour for nobody until she meets Jared, a local actor and someone who’s as complicated as she is.

From the author of Yellow comes a powerful exploration of family and identity set against the humid build-up to the wet season in Darwin. [Goodreads]

My Personal Thoughts

The Build-Up season is a young adult contemporary story that gave me the “feels”, literally and figuratively. I have always been cautious and feeling off whenever I review a book that contains sensitive topic like violence against women and children. I hate it, I just so despise the fact that this thing exists not just today but even before we were all aware of its modern term. I remember when I reviewed Colleen Hoover’s novel entitled “It Ends with Us” (check my review HERE)r , it was very delicate and I even revised my draft a few times just to make sure that I did not offend anyone or opened up a very controversial stuff. It’s hard if you know someone who’s a victim, but it’s even harder if you are the victim itself.

I would like to thank Penguin Teen Australia for providing me an advance copy in exchange for an honest and fair book review. This, however, does not change my view and opinion about the book.

First and foremost, let’s start talking about the setting. The story took place in Darwin (Australia), I actually do not have a vast amount of knowledge regarding the place but because it was here in the land down under, it made me appreciate the story more. The story and setting matches, it is a perfect place for someone who’s hiding from someone and wants to start over. I am guessing that some people in Darwin like the main character herself dreams of taking up a college degree in Sydney or in a more modernised state and it was perfectly portrayed in the story. Some simple high school students aspire to become popular in Sydney and excel in their chosen careers. I have nothing to say regarding the setting aside from the fact that the author chose the perfect place.

Moving on, I will discuss the characters briefly one by one. Iliad is the young female character in this novel that is named from the famous poem itself about war. She is fierce, loyal, and free-spirited. I love how Ily expresses herself without the fear of being judged and rejected. She does things that will satisfy her without giving a crap about other people’s opinion. The negative thing about Ily is that I hated the way she treated her mother. I don’t want to spoil anything but it’s one of the main reasons why you should pick up this book and dive in her story. The next character is Jared; he is ambitious, handsome, but has a temper. He could have been a perfect partner for anyone but I was so disappointed when I discovered his true identity. I love his chemistry with Ily but at the same time, I was afraid of him as well. There is a love triangle in the story (which I always enjoy! Ha!) and my ship has always been with the bad guy, and this time it is Max. He is Ily’s neighbour who happens to be her mortal enemy at the same time. I enjoyed their prank war and the way their story and characters developed. It may sound cliché but I find the love hate relationship highly entertaining especially at first. The last character that I want to discuss is Ily’s mother. I pity the woman so much. She loves Iliad unconditionally that she almost gave up everything and pretended to be the bad person just so she could protect her daughter. I personally felt her battles and feelings because I am also a mother. I find the heroic act of standing up and fighting for your child as the best action of all.

The writing style is superb. I already liked it just by skim reading the first page. Iliad’s name already caught my interest and curiosity and I wasn’t disappointed. I love how delicate the topic was and how the author gave justification to it. I cringed a couple of times and it also made my heart skip a beat. Everything was so intense and beautiful. I could never wish for a better ending. Everything went the way they should have ended and I could not ask for more. I love how the problem with her father was figured out. I am impressed with how the author made Ily realise all her shortcomings and how she made some amends to all the people that she unintentionally hurt. And of course, my OTP (one true pair) ship made it! Yay!

Overall, I highly recommend this story to YA readers who enjoy books that will give those bits and pieces of life and love advice. This is one hell of a book that one should read because it is an eye-opener and it is phenomenal. Plenty of women or family are suffering from this kind of crisis and immediate help must be sought. Please, wherever you are in the world, please be aware that you are not alone in this battle and there is help available. Do not be afraid to walk the path alone, being abused is not something to be ignored or be given a justification. Nobody has the right to hurt you, not even your spouse. We care, I care.

~JaNnA

Book Review #70: Geekerella by Ashley Poston (Advance Reader Copy from Penguin Random House Australia)

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Title: Geekerella
Author: Ashley Poston
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling
Format: Paperback
Date Published: April 04, 2017
Publishing House: Quirk Books
GoodReads Rating: 4.13
Personal Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis

Anything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

My Personal Thoughts

The story is very predictable but highly entertaining and young adult friendly! I personally requested for a copy of this book because I was so curious about its hype and rating on Goodreads especially its impact on young readers on the bookstagram community. First, I must admit that it is truly adorable and bubbly, and super CUTE. I have nothing against it because what would someone expect from a modern-day Cinderella story? Obviously, it contains the usual ingredients: a young lady who’s deprived of love and attention from her stepmother and two wicked stepsisters; and who also happens to meet a prince charming in a ball with the aid of her fairy godmother-ish bestfriend slash workmate. PRESTO! And I was right, although, in this book, the antagonistic witches aren’t as gruesome compared to the classic fairytale that all of us have read over the years. The stepmother here in the story was still decent in a way and less bitchy-ish. The stepsisters, on the other hand, surprised me because the other twin sister actually has a heart. The so-called prince charming is Darien, and I like his character. He is famous and rich but despite all of the fame and wealth he still felt lonely and abandoned. There’s a lot of amazing stuff here which is different from the original story. I just don’t like the idea of having a fandom! Like seriously? It’s not my cup of tea, it was added to match the novel and for me, it’s not appealing. It seems like the fandom was just added and viola everything should match perfectly! It’s a major turn off. Aside from the fact that it’s weird, it’s also annoying because the story revolved around this sci-fi fandom that the characters were so fond of, without it, I could have given it a higher rating. But I am not complaining, it’s just that it took me ages to finish reading it (one week to be exact) because I find the Starfield thing boring. The main character, Elle, is a sweet and nerdy girl who likes to self-pity most of the time. I just love how Sage (her instant bff) brought out the inner fighter in her and helped her with all her shenanigans. This story is also LGBT friendly which makes it cool but I find the love story of Darien and Elle too good to be true and an insta-love. I believe that we can’t really fall in love with someone that we haven’t met or even talked to yet. Come on! In addition to this, the cover is just so commendable and to giggle for! It is a combination of pink, purple, and glittery font; and for me, it is a cover-buy-book. Anyway, overall I’m giving it a 3.5 out of 5 stars. It is recommended for young readers; it is Young Adult themed but I would also recommend it for much younger readers (even for starters) because of its innocence, simplicity, and life lessons. Kudos to the author for creating such an inspiring light-read and thank you, Penguin Random House, for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest and fair review.

~JaNnA