Sunday, 29 August 2010

Emperor: The Gates of Rome by Conn Iggulden

Amazon review:

'If you liked GLADIATOR, you'll love EMPEROR.' THE TIMES 'Great fun !

The great events and breathtaking brutality of the times are brought lavishly to life. Russell Crowe and Sean Bean's agents are surely already jockeying for the wide-screen roles.' GUARDIAN 'A brilliant story -- I wish I'd written it.

A novel of vivid characters, stunning action and unrelenting pace. It really is a terrific read.' BERNARD CORNWELL 'Stunning. It begins with hints of a mystery and continues as a galvanizing historical thriller. Words like "brilliant", "sumptuous" and "enchanting" jostle to be used but scarcely convey the way Iggulden brings the tale to life, or the compelling depictions of battle, treachery and everyday detail in a precarious world vividly re-created ! exhilarating.' Los Angeles Times

'The descriptions of combat in the circus, slaves in revolt, skirmishes in Greece, amputations and street fighting are all convincing.' TLS 'A rich and compelling novel that draws the reader into an extraordinary time and the life of an extraordinary man.' DAVID GEMMELL

You might be wondering why I haven't written many blog reviews lately. You may think I stopped reading. Actually, no. It's just I haven't been reading much YA lit lately.

I just went through an Ancient Rome phase. I started reading this really cool series of books by Conn Iggulden about the life of Julius Caesar and I just couldn't stop until I finished all four of them. They were really, really good.

There are a number of reasons why I loved this series. First of all, I'm fascinated by the man. I mean, it is so interesting to be able to learn about how Caesar came to be so famous. I liked reading a book that put me back in time. I could almost imagine what it would have been like to have lived in Caesar's time. As well, Iggulden managed to build a fascinating story without giving in to all the details.

I tried reading McCullough's books about Caesar, but she just made things way too complicated for me with all the characters. McCullough's books read like an encyclopedia entries. Iggulden's were written like an adventure story.

As well, Iggulden really brought the action to life. I've never written a book about ancient war before, but the way Iggulden described the fight scenes was so incredibly descriptive - it made brutal hand to hand combat sound beautiful.

Anyway, I thought it was worth writing a review just in case there were other readers who enjoy these types of books.

4.5/5 Stars

For readers who enjoy reading about Ancient Rome, I also highly recommend Philip Matyszak's Legionary: The Roman Soldier's Manual. I really enjoyed it. After reading Iggulden's book I was so curious about what life was like for the typical soldier and I found Matyszak's book to be of great interest - easy to read and full of fun facts!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

I've just re-read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone with my eight-year-old son, Nicholas and I'm so glad I got to share it with him!

I've probably told you this before, but I resisted reading HP for a very long time. I was certain I would not like it. "It's for kids," I thought. Wrong. About five years ago, I picked up the first book just to see what all the fuss was about. I was amazed from the first page.

Rowling's book is really for everyone. It is truly amazing. The writing is pure genius and the story keeps pulling you forward so you never want to put the book down.

I rarely read books a second time, but I'm wondering if maybe it's time to do that. I think I appreciated every little bit of this book more with my second reading. Besides, it was so much fun seeing my son react to it - laughing and cheering throughout!

Forget about the movie. So many students say, "I've already seen the movie. Why should I read the book?" There's no contest here. The book is so much better than the movie. The movies are good. There's no doubt about that. But it just can't compare to the joy of reading the book.

If you've never read the series, you should get started now! You could read them all before the final two movies come out (the first one in December?). We have the complete collection in the SRR and we have about 20 copies of book #1.


5/5 Stars

Gone by Michael Grant

Book Blurb:

In the blink of an eye.

Everyone disappears.


Everyone except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not a single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Gone, too, are the phones, internet, and television. There is no way to get help.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.

It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen and war is imminent.

The first in a breathtaking saga about teens battling each other and their darkest selves, gone is a page-turning thriller that will make you look at the world in a whole new way.

I blogged about this book a while ago. Incredible book. Seriously. From the first chapter I was hooked on Grant's premise. Imagine: A bunch of teenagers are sitting in a classroom when, suddenly, their teacher disappears. Soon they figure out that all the people above the age of 15 are completely gone.

For some kids this would be a kind of heaven, well, until reality sets in.

That's so cool. What would happen if something like that happened? What would the kids do? Will they be good little boys and girls? Will they organize themselves somehow? Will somebody step up to be the leader? How will they survive? Grant explores this and much more, taking the reader on a wild ride. There is more to this story than I can tell you. You'll just have to read it; I'd hate to spoil the fun for you!

Although I felt a bit ripped off by the ending of this one, I really enjoyed it a lot. I've donated my copy to the SRR already so you should grab it if you get a chance. I highly recommend it. If you liked Hunger Games, you'll enjoy this one.

One of the best books I've read in a long time!

4.5/5 stars

Hunger by Michael Grant

Book Blurb:
It's been three months since everyone under the age of fifteen became trapped in the bubble known as the FAYZ.

Three months since all the adults disappeared.


Food ran out weeks ago. Everyone is starving, but no one wants to figure out a solution. And each day, more and more kids are evolving, developing supernatural abilities that set them apart from the kids without powers.

Tension rises and chaos is descending upon the town. It's the normal kids against the mutants. Each kid is out for himself, and even the good ones turn murderous.

But a larger problem looms. The Darkness, a sinister creature that has lived buried deep in the hills, begins calling to some of the teens in the FAYZ. Calling to them, guiding them, manipulating them.

The Darkness has awakened. And it is hungry.

The sequel to Gone was really great. I plowed through all 560 pages this weekend and loved it. I'm totally fascinated by the whole situation and I'm enjoying Grant's characters.

I liked that we had a chance to see how this world develops. I've always been fascinated by this sort of Lord of the Flies idea. I mean, if there were no adults around, what would happen? Are children basically good? Would they help each other? Things really heat up in this second book of the trilogy.

In particular, I like the way certain ideas start to gain momentum in this book. For example, the kid who ran the McDonald's is now dreaming of starting up some sort of currency. However, rightly so, the other kids are suspicious of his intentions. What will Albert do once he becomes a business tycoon. As well, friction is developing and two separate groups are going to battle it out, and I don't mean the rich kids from the private school (although they are back and badder than ever in the second book as well).

BTW, our copy is an uncorrected proof of the book which was sent to us by our generous book angel Mary from the United States. Thanks Mary! This is a special book and many of our girls will enjoy it.

Great book. Highly recommended.

4.5/5 stars

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Poison Study number one!!!

Hi girls,

We have a lot of new and exciting books, but I'm pretty sure that the number one series of books in the school is still the study series by Maria V. Snyder!

This series of books took off when Peta donated them to us last year. The girls in 5C and 5D picked this one up and passed it around. It became so popular that Peta even sent us a second set.

We still rarely see them being returned so we know they are being shared within the classrooms. Fire Study was returned this morning and it was on the SRR shelf for about two minutes, then three girls from 9A yelled, "It's here!" and then it was gone.

Did you know that Maria V Snyder wrote another trilogy after the Study Series? All three books are out already and I will try my best to order them once we have some book funds available to order them. The books are Storm Glass, Sea Glass, and Spy Glass.


Sunday, 22 August 2010

Mockingjay Out Aug 24th

Wow, it's finally coming out!

Those of you who have read the Hunger Games series (and loved it) will be happy to know that the wait is over. Mockingjay, the final book in the trilogy, will be out August 24th.

We are very lucky because Peta has already ordered us two copies from bookdepository so we should get them in just a couple of weeks! Yay! Thanks so much Peta.

In the lead up to the release, the book blogging community is starting to get really excited. If you are a fan of the series, have a look at Steph Su's (always interesting and informative) blog:

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

New Cassandra Clare Book - Enter and Win

Steph Su is putting up a copy of the new Cassandra Clare book in a contest. I hope you will all enter to win it!!! Go to her blog and fill out the entry form today:

National Debate Competition

Congratulations to the STPRI Debate Team for their win over the SMSAB team today! Well done girls! Lindy, Ruth, and Najeeha did a great job for us today and we look forward to seeing them go into the next round. Also, thanks to the rest of the team members who came out to show their support. We have such a great team and I keep telling everyone how lucky we are to have so many girls interested in competing. Our school is very unique that way.

I was surprised to see some of my former students today (yes, I moved from SMSAB just three years ago). I was really proud to see the boys I taught were on the school's debate team. Congratulations to them for joining the competition. I thought they did very well. It was really nice to see Muiz and Azlan (my former students) and Fahkri (a student I knew and brother of another former student - Nabilah). I still have fond memories of my time at SMSAB and I continue to wonder how my former students are doing. I hope one of them will read this and add me to Facebook!!!