Ask a Librarian – They DON’T bite!

Do your children need something to read this half-term? Try using this chart to find their next book!


JK Rowling paid damages by Daily Mail

The UK newspaper, the Daily Mail, has been made to print an apology and pay “substantial” damages to JK Rowling, BBC News reports.

In September last year, the Daily Mail printed an article on suggesting that JK Rowling told a false “sob story” after being stigmatised by church goers when she was a single mother. The story was based on an article Rowling wrote for Gingerbread, a single parent charity. (You can read the original article here:

Rowling sued the paper for libel, saying that the article was “misleading” and “unfair”, caused her great distress and embarrassment and had injured her reputation. In January, the Daily Mail admitted liability and promised to print an apology and pay damages. The BBC has said that all the damage money has been donated to charity by Rowling.

Read the full article by BBC News for further details at

The Hunger Games, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Finished this novel a few days ago but events at home have prevented me from posting the review until tonight.

Panem is at war.

The districts are in revolt. The Capitol is fighting to regain control  and has Peeta Mellark prisoner, using him for their own means. District 13 is trying to turn Katniss Everdeen, survivor of two Hunger Games, into the Mockingjay. Katniss is reeling from the revelations that she has been a pawn in plans laid down by everyone around her and finds herself questioning who to trust.

Kept busy initially with doing propaganda work for the rebels, she eventually manages to persuade the rebel leaders to give her the chance to actually fight in the revolution and takes it with both hands.

Katniss’s goal? To bring down the oppressive rule of Panem and kill President Snow.

The third book in the series brings the curtain down on the story brilliant, tying up loose ends and keeping the reader glued from start to finish. It shows not just the war but the things that happen behind the scenes: the war councils, the tactical discussions and the creation of propaganda. The book also shows the effects of war on  civilian people in their civilian life in their civilian homes. This happens in District 13 but is especially emphasised I think in the Capitol, with people becoming refugees, having been displaced from their homes, and others being forced to take those people in. I couldn’t help thinking it almost mirrored the billeting of evacuees in the Second World War. Think Goodnight Mr Tom and you get an idea of what I am talking about.

This book does seem more bloody than the others, especially considering the level of violence in all three books. This feeling is accentuated by certain major events, again, near the end of the book. Certainly, this is not bad thing I don’t think as it actually makes sure the book, story and the series makes a lasting impact on the reader and forces them to think.

For the most part, the limited first person narration is perfect for the story however, near the end, there were some events that I feel could have benefited from being in third person so being elaborated on. I think those events would actually make for a great short story and/or spin-off novella. I am not going to say what as I don’t want to give away any spoilers.

There were parts which seemed rushed or just skipped over which could also have been elaborated on and it felt like that Collins decided to use the hospital almost as a way of setting things back to default. Rowling used this as well near the end of the Harry Potter novels but it made Mockingjay feel very episodic by bringing it constantly back to the hospital. I feel it was unneeded and better plotting of the novel could easily have avoided this.

Mockingjay is brilliant book to finish the series, despite it’s issues, showing sensibility, tact and raising issues about the effects of war on people. It makes the reader think about what they are reading and consider the earlier books in light of events in this book, something that rarely seems to happen in modern day novels.  Whilst it perhaps could not be read as a stand alone, it has an excellent story that breaks away from the almost formulaic plotting of the previous two books and keeps the reader’s attention from start to finish.

Costa Book Awards

Costa Coffee has announced its category winners for its Book Awards 2013. The overall Book of the Year Award will be announced on the 28th January 2014.

The Costa Children’s Book Award: Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell






The Costa Poetry Award: Drysalter by Michael Symmons Roberts







The Costa Biography Award:The Pike by Lucy Hughes-Hallet





The Costa First Novel Award: The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer





The Costa Novel Award: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson






Should Kate Atkinson’s book be announced as the book of the year, it will be the first time a woman has won the main award twice. Good luck to all!

Book Review: Horrible Histories, Rowdy Revolutions by Terry Deary

What’s this you say? A book review?

Yes. My pile of read books waiting for reviews is getting a little high so I figured I might as well sit down, re-read one or two and write at least one review.

Horrible Histories. The 20-year-old book series that leaves the horrible parts in and has spawned a BAFTA winning TV series. This book is one of the specials that looks at revolutions from ancient times right up to 1999. From Rotten Romans to Bolshy Bolsheviks, this book looks at peasant revolts, the French revolutionaries with their guillotine, the English civil war and the Americans who first fought the British then themselves. History certainly isn’t boring!

This book is as brilliant as the others in the series. Filled with all the usual historical jokes and teacher jokes, it makes learning about history fun and lets children (and adults!) learn about periods of history that are not on the National Curriculum or exam board specifications. It provides a thorough overview of the different revolutions, dates and offers definitions of what counts as a revolution and what counts as a rebellion. The illustrations are by Martin Brown, who has illustrated the earlier books and been involved in the TV series.

The book also looks at the things that are not or rarely talked about even if the revolution in question is on the school curriculum: slogans, songs and the batty real names of revolutionary leaders! Fun little facts that kids would love to know and test their teachers with!

Sadly, the book is not flawless as I have two negatives I have to mention. The first is about the question and answer parts of the book. Quizzes are regular occurrences in the series and this one is no different but I couldn’t help feeling they came a little too often so causing the reader to have to be flicking back and forth in the book more often than maybe is necessary.

The second is when Terry Deary writes mock reports about events from the points of views of the people involved. One of them to me confused me as he seemed to jump back and forth in events and it did not seem structured. The report in question made the POV character seem like an imbecile which seems rather harsh to me.

The book is brilliantly written, offers the usual quizzes and bad puns whilst offering the information required. Children will really enjoy it and it will certainly supplement their school learning, like all Horrible History books.

Derek Landy reading Chapter 3 from Last Stand of Dead Men

So, as if I haven’t posted enough videos of Landy reading and talking about Last Stand of Dead Men, HarperCollins Children’s Books have published yet another on their YouTube channel. So, I’m posting this one too:

I have also found a video of him introducing Last Stand too, from the Waterstones YouTube channel:

I can’t remember if I have posted it before so I figured I might as well post it again.