Two great writing books I read this week

Two great books about writing, reviewed by a kid book bloggerRecently I’ve been writing a bit more of my own stuff, mostly short stories. When I found these books on my mum’s shelf, I decided to have a look at them to see if they could help me, and, unsurprisingly, they did!

• On Writing by Stephen King

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

This is the first book about writing I’ve ever read (except for Once Upon A Slime by Andy Griffiths, which I loved when I was about 10). I really liked Stephen King’s voice and how the book was part-memoir, part-book about writing. I found the memoir bit very inspiring, particularly when he talked about his childhood – I would love to make a magazine like Stephen King did!

As for the actual writing section, I learnt a lot about writing and, particularly, editing my short stories and how unnecessary information can just distract from the story itself.

My favourite tip from On Writing is that the second draft of a story is your first draft minus 10 per cent.

I would recommend this book for ages 14+ because some of the wording and language may be difficult for younger children and it involves drug use and coarse language.

Buy On Writing at Booktopia

• Letters To A Young Writer by Colum McCann

Publisher: Bloomsbury (Allen & Unwin)

This was the second writing book that I read and I found it less in-depth but still very good and practical. Much less dense, the book presents the information in short chapters or snippets, so you can dip in and out of it easily.

I liked how each chapter began with a quote from a famous author or figure in literature. I also really liked the aesthetic of the hardback book – it’s nice to look at and feels good to hold. It is the kind of book that would make a nice gift.

My favourite tip from this book was to use your writing like a camera – to describe the surroundings with the colour and clarity of a picture.

I would recommend this book for ages 12+ because, again, some kids may not get their heads around the writing and it does contain some mild coarse language.

Buy Letters To A Young Writer from Booktopia.

Review: The School Of Music

The School Of Music, reviewed by a kid book bloggerTitle: The School Of Music

Author: Meurig and Rachel Bowen (illustrated by Daniel Frost)

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

About the book: Have you ever wanted to learn how music works, what the different styles of music are or how to make your own music? Than you should read this book!

Set out like an introductory course in music, with samples available to listen to online, this non-fiction book will tell you all about how music works and how to understand the basic concepts and structures in music.

What I thought: This is a great introduction to music. If you are already know quite a lot about music, this book may not be for you, but if you just want to know how you can make your own music and learn about the fundamental concepts of music, you should definitely give this book a go.

While I have been learning about music and playing instruments for a while myself, I still really enjoyed the section on how architecture affects sound, and the lesson on how to memorise a song or piece of music. I also liked the beautiful illustrations, which really add another level to the book.

I would recommend this book for ages 10+.

Buy The School Of Music here.

Review: Assassin’s Creed: A Walk Through History (1189-1868)

Assassin's Creed book reviewed by a kid book bloggerTitle: Assassin’s Creed: A Walk Through History (1189-1868)

Author: Rick Barba

Publisher: Scholastic

About the book: Have you ever wanted to know what life was like in the time of the Crusades or the Italian Renaissance?

Filled with fun facts, historical artefacts, snapshots of important dates and people, then this book is for you. Based around the hit video games ‘Assassin’s Creed’, the book aims to bring the worlds to life.

What I thought: I really loved the way that this book was presented. It’s got lots of little pieces of different information, which add up to build a big picture. The time periods it looks at are interesting because they’re very big events in the world’s history, and it takes an in-depth look at them and the people who made them happen.

Making it based around the video game helps to get kids, particularly teenagers, interested in history, which I think is a very good thing.

I’d recommend this book for ages 10+, as you don’t need to have played the video games (which are rated at least M) to enjoy the book. If you have played the game, you’ll probably get even more out of it because you’ll understand the world’s in which your characters are moving.

Buy Assassin’s Creed: A Walk Through History (1189-1868) here.

Review: 50 Shades Of Grey Matter

50 Shades Of Grey Matter by Dr Karl, reviewed by a kid.Title: 50 Shades Of Grey Matter

Author: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

About the book: Have you ever wondered why it is dark at night? Have you ever walked into a room and immediately forgotten why you are there?

Well this book holds the answers. Learn about the wonderful ways of science and impress your friends with knowledge such as why the sky is blue, all thanks to Dr Karl.

What I thought: I really loved this book because Dr Karl makes science fun and funny. As well as the science facts in the book, some of the general knowledge in it can be useful and clever to show off! For instance, I was able to tell my mum why she’d forgotten why she’d entered a room…

Having read one Dr Karl book, I immediately searched out others.

I would recommend this book for ages 12+ as some of the science in there, although being presented in a fun way, can get a bit confusing. If you like Adam Spencer, then you will love Dr Karl.

Buy 50 Shades Of Grey Matter here.

Review: The Doctor

The Doctor by Dr Karl, reviewed by a kid book bloggerTitle: The Doctor

Author: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

About the book: Have you ever wondered why alcohol makes you speak louder? Or how to tell which part of a movie the audience is watching – without looking? Well, Dr Karl is your man.

This collection of random science facts and questions, answered in an easy-to-read and understandable format, is sure to amaze you and leave you awestruck!

What I thought: I really loved how approachable this book was. It is not set out like a textbook or a big boring scientific volume. Instead, it is set out in sections, with each describing and explaining one concept.

Dr Karl has brought his signature humour to an otherwise not-very-funny subject, making it entertaining and informative. He is one of my favourite non-fiction authors, alongside Adam Spencer.

I would recommend this book for ages 12+ as younger readers may find it hard to follow or be disinterested in the subject matter. If you’re looking to learn something new, or you just love science, you will enjoy this book.

Buy The Doctor.

Review: Wordburger

Title: Wordburger: How to be a champion puzzler in 20 quick bites

Author: David Astle

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

About the book: This book is about the English language. It teaches you how to understand and solve cryptic crosswords, and how to think outside the square when it comes to English.

What I thought: I really loved this book because I didn’t really understand cryptic crosswords until I read it. It taught me more about lots of interesting things like palindromes – sentences which read the same backwards and forwards (eg, poor Dan is in a droop) – and how to look at cryptic crossword clues in a different way.

This book is easy to understand and is a funny, entertaining and educational read. The little illustrations throughout make it feel like it’s not too serious, and there are lots of opportunities in the second half of the book to practise what you’ve learnt, with puzzles and mini-puzzles to try.

I would recommend it for ages 10+, as younger children may not understand some of the more complicated things in the book.

Buy Wordburger here.

6 books on my Christmas wishlist

6 books on my Christmas wishlist (12yo book blogger)With Christmas fast-approaching, it won’t surprise anyone to know that I’m hoping for books this year. Lots of books.

As I do every year.

These are the six books at the top of my wishlist this year – and, yes, it was hard to narrow it down to just six!

• The Invention Of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

I saw the movie Hugo, which is based on this book, and would like to see if the book is as good as the movie. I think The Marvels by the same author also looks great.

• The Fever Code by James Dashner

I read the rest of The Maze Runner series and really enjoyed them, so I would like this prequel.

• Brotherband #6: The Ghostfaces

John Flanagan’s writing style is so engaging and I would like to see where this next book takes Hal and the gang.

• Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them by J.K. Rowling

I read The Cursed Child, a script based on a story by J.K. Rowling, and now would like to read a screenplay actually written by her.

• Adam Spencer’s World Of Numbers

Adam Spencer’s Big Book Of Numbers is my favourite non-fiction book, so I would like to add to my collection.

• The Amateurs by Sara Shepherd

I don’t know much about this one, but the description is so intriguing that I cannot pass it up! And it’s book #1 of a new series, which is always good!

Title links will take you to Booktopia (see ‘About This Site’ for details).

Review: Adam Spencer’s Big Book Of Numbers

Adam Spencer's Big Book Of Numbers reviewed by a kid book bloggerTitle: Adam Spencer’s Big Book Of Numbers

Author: Adam Spencer

Publisher: Xoum

About the book: This book contains all the weird, wonderful and wacky facts about the numbers 1 to 100. It includes quizzes and problems so that you can test your maths skills as you learn.

What I thought: I thought this book was brilliantly surprising and funny. Yes, funny. Maths can be funny. I really thought that the addition of quizzes was helpful as it helps people to learn if they actually do it for themselves. This is the best non-fiction book that I’ve read.

I would recommend this book to everyone, although it would be helpful to be a little bit older (10+) as some of the problems are difficult. If you really like numbers, or you’d like to know more about them, you’ll love this book.

Younger readers may like to start off with Adam Spencer’s Enormous Book Of Numbers, which is aimed at the 7+ age group.

Buy Adam Spencer’s Big Book Of Numbers

Review: Steve Jobs Insanely Great

Steve Jobs Insanely Great graphic novel reviewed by a Book BoyTitle: Steve Jobs: Insanely Great

Author + Illustrator: Jessie Hartland

Publisher: Random House

About the book: This graphic novel is about the life of the creator of Apple technology, Steve Jobs. I thought that it was really clever putting it into graphic novel format because it makes it easier to understand and it makes a biography fun.

What I thought: I loved all the little illustrations in the book and how it was set out in different chapters for each few years of his life. I learnt a lot that I didn’t know about Steve Jobs and I found the information very easy to understand.

I would recommend this book for ages 11+ as there are references to adult themes. I think that kids who are interested in electronics and the history behind computers would really like this book.

I found Steve Jobs to be an interesting and even inspirational person.

Buy Steve Jobs: Insanely Great here.