Lazy Saturday Review: Killing the Dead by Marcus Sedgwick #HO17 #MiniBookReview

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I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

killingthedeadTitle: Killing the Dead
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 112 pages
Publication Details: March 5th 2015 by Indigo
Genre(s): YA; Horror
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it.

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Set in a girls’ boarding school in Massachusetts a haunting and sinister story YA story for World Book Day from prize-winning author Marcus Sedgwick.

1963. Foxgrove School near Stockbridge, Massachusetts. One of the oldest and finest academies in the country – but what really goes on behind closed doors? Nathaniel Drake, the new young English teacher, Isobel Milewski, the quiet girl who loved to draw spirals, her fingers stained with green ink, Jack Lewis, who lent Isobel books – just words, just ink on paper, Margot Leya, the girl with those eyes – who are they, what part have they played in killing the dead?

Follow the dark, dark path
Into the dark, dark woods
To the dark, dark bridge
By the dark, dark water.
Linger.
Let the ghosts of heaven tell their story.

A stylish and creepy story for World Book Day from prize-winning author Marcus Sedgwick.

Review

It’s been a while since I finished this short read, and I’m not too sure how I felt about it. I thought it was an odd choice for a World Book Day book as they are usually aimed at younger readers, but I think it’s great they are now including books for older children, especially ones as dark as this.

Marcus Sedgwick was my favourite author for a time, and don’t get me wrong, I still think he’s amazing, but a few of his latest books have disappointed me. Killing the Dead feels like vintage (darker) Sedgwick, but it also ties in with some things in The Ghosts of Heaven, which is his only book that I have actively disliked.

In this story, I loved the setting, but not so much the characters, making it hard for me to get invested in their well-being. I loved the idea that the school has this tragic accident in its past that has become a dark and sinister legend, but I wanted it to be explored more instead of focusing on a perverted teacher.

So the jury’s still out on this one. If you want a good, dark, read by Sedgwick there are lots of others I would start with, such as The Book of Dead Days or The Foreshadowing.

horroctrating-3

Up Next on Horror October:

30 Days of Horror: Cruel Summer

Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention by Mindy Hardwick #BookReview #NonFiction

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kidsinorange

Title: Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention
Author: Mindy Hardwick
Series: n/a
Format: Kindle Edition, 220 pages
Publication Details: February 23rd 2017 by Eagle Bay Press
Genre(s): Non-Fiction; Crime; Writing
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

Purchase

The gang leader doesn’t like poetry, but will a detention center workshop show her how to express love for her newborn daughter? A teen boy dies of a drug overdose. Will his final poem speak what he cannot say? 

In the middle of a career change from teacher to writer, Mindy Hardwick volunteered to facilitate a weekly poetry workshop at a juvenile detention center. By helping the teens write poetry about their lives, Mindy discovered strength and courage to grieve the loss of her father, find forgiveness and release the past. 

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be used as a grant for writers to work with teens at Denney Juvenile Justice Center. The youth’s poetry anthologies can be downloaded at: http://www.denneypoetry.org 


Review

 

I’m sure this book won’t appeal to everybody, but I enjoyed it. It’s part memoir, part poetry, and part inspiration.

Teacher Mindy Hardwick runs poetry workshops in an American juvenile detention centre. She is met by an interesting group of teenagers with various pasts, crimes, and issues. Most of the group appear uninterested in the workshop, greet it with trepidation, or sometimes even with defiance.

As Mindy tries to get a handle on the group, and encourage them to participate she reflects on her own past and struggles.

I don’t know what I was expecting from this book, but I just knew that it would be an interesting comparison to what I do at work. I work in two prisons as a library assistant and run creative writing groups in both of them. A lot of what Mindy described rang so true. The bizarre nature of the workplace, but how it quickly becomes the norm. Having people in your group that don’t want to be there despite having signed up, and how nothing ever goes to plan!

I enjoyed reading about the dynamic of Mindy’s group, and how it changed over time. It was also nice to see the work that they produced. The part of the book I wasn’t expecting, and also wasn’t overly keen on was Mindy’s segues into her past. Some of it was enjoyable as it gave an insight into what has shaped her as a person, but I felt like it was too much at times.

Overall, I’m pleased I discovered this book, and it certainly gave me lots to think about.

unicorn rating 3

Me & Mr J by Rachel McIntyre

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Title: Me & Mr. J
Author: Rachel McIntyre
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC
Publication Details: March 5th 2015 by Electric Monkey
Genre(s): Contemporary YA; Romance
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

Fifteen-year-old Lara finds her soulmate. There’s just one problem – he’s her teacher. Lara’s life has changed radically since her father lost his job. As the eldest, Lara tries to keep upbeat, and the one outlet for all her problems is her diary where she can be open about how dire everything is at home, and worse, the fact that she’s being horrifically bullied at school.

And then a shining light comes out of the darkness – the new young and MALE teacher, Mr Jagger. The one person who takes Lara seriously and notices her potential. The one person who is kind to her. The one person who she falls madly and hopelessly in love with. The one person who cannot reciprocate her feelings … can he?

Review

This book confirms my suspicions that I’m just kinda over Contemporary YA. I don’t mean that to sound harsh on the book itself, it’s a perfectly good book, written well, but I’ve just had enough of traumatic school-days stories.

There would have been a time when I’d have lapped Me & Mr J up. It’s the story of Lara “titless” Titliss as she navigates her way through her final year of high school. She is bullied quite horribly and as the book goes on, the more horrific the bullying gets. The only person who makes school bearable for Lara is the new English Teacher, Mr Jagger.

Me and Mr. J is written in ‘diary entry’ style which is great in sense that we get to see Lara’s amazing ability to shrug off and rise above everything the bullies throw at her. But the downside for me was that the language was way too cringe-worthy at times. Don’t get me wrong, it was believable and represents how teenagers talk and think but that doesn’t make it any less annoying to read. There was a lot of eye-rolling and sighing from me.

Oh, Mr J. My life would be a desert of complete unbearability without you as my metaphorical oasis/ watering hole”

My heart was saying, Mr Jagger, you are the only decent thing in my life. I can’t stop thinking about you. If I didn’t have you, I’d probably kill myself”

I thought this book was going be about a sordid affair between a teacher and student but I found it mainly to be about bullying, and discovering who you are – which I’m sure a lot of people would enjoy – I just wasn’t in the mood for it.

I did enjoy seeing how the relationship between Lara and Mr J eventually developed, despite the obvious repercussions. I also thought Lara was a strong character who could certainly inspire teens who have had problems with bullying, regardless of her mistakes, but I was hoping for something more.

unicorn rating 2