Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Gangsta Granny by David Walliams

The experts at booksfc delight in extreme sports. Some of their favourite sports include headbutting trees, swinging on dead ivy, pulling each others' trousers down and crash landing. Occasionally the experts at booksfc go to visit their Granny. Her favourite sports include tea drinking, walking using a stick, and sitting down. So far she has only managed to get Mad Scientist to join her in these sports, and that's because he trying to cure her. The others stay well clear.
This all means that the idea of a book about someone else's Granny sounded as exciting as knitting an extra fluffy woolly jumper and giving it to Granny as a Christmas present in revenge.
Despite this, they agreed to read and review the book. This had nothing to do with the word 'Gangsta'. This had everything to do with the words' David' and 'Walliams'. These two magic words will make the experts read anything. The title could have been Molecular Epidemiology, and the experts would still have wanted to read it, as long as David Walliams' name was on the front cover.
So, when they stopped running around and actually settled down to read Gangsta Granny, what did they think of it?
Front Cover
Mad Scientist: I was particularly interested in Granny's mobility scooter that managed a top speed of 6 miles an hour when she put her foot down. It inspired me to invent a range of spy gear for any other would be gangsta grannies out there. I plan to sell knitting needles that can pick locks, hearing aids that are really sophisticted listening bugs and tea pots with hidden 3G spy cameras. I think the market for these items will be huge.
Party Rocker: Yeah, hugely non existent.
Mad Scientist: Why you little punk... I'll....I'll...
Party Rocker:'ll what? Are you going to use your knitting needles on me? Or even worse, your tea pot? My knees are shaking.
Striker: Well I thought Gangsta Granny was great. First I felt sorry for Ben because he had to stay at his Granny's house every Friday. Then I felt sorry for his Granny because Ben said she was boring. Then the story became really interesting when Ben discovered his Granny had a secret, and I had to know everything about her secret. I want to give it 5 stars.
Flower Power: Me too. 5 stars. I loved Ben's costume. And his Granny. And their adventures together. And apples. And pizza. And dressing up. And parties. And lemonade (even though there wasn't any in the book). And pink. And purple. Shall I go on?
Striker/Party Rocker and Mad Scientist in unison: NO!!!!!!!!!!!!
So Gangsta Granny scores an arthritic 5 stars, and Flower Power gets sat on. What a result!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams

The experts at booksfc have a couple of rules. You need rules. They stop war, disaster and crumbs in the wrong places. But the experts don't like too many rules. So they have whittled them down to just these four fundamental rules.

Rule 1: All people have the right to release wind from their bottom in the place and at the time of their choosing.
Rule 2: Sharing is for girls.
Rule 3: Dresses are for girls.
Rule 4: Sharing dresses is for girls.

So, the next book up for review presented a bit of a problem for the experts. These were their reactions when they first heard the title: The Boy in the Dress.


Mad Scientist: It must be a mistake. It's supposed to be The Boy in the Desert and it's about a boy going on holiday when his plane crash lands in the desert.
Party Rocker: Or it could be The Boy in the Dresser and be about a boy who hides in a dresser, you know, one of those posh cupboards.
Striker: Or it could be The Boy and the Dress and be about a boy who rips up and ruins a dress.
Flower Power: Or it could be about a boy who wears a dress.
Mixed gasp of horror from co-panel.
Party Rocker shakes his head.
Striker looks confused.
Mad Scientist starts pacing up and down, frowning.
Striker picks up a copy of the book and sees a picture of a boy, wearing trousers, and playing football.
Striker: Actually it looks...
Party Rocker: (grabbing it from his hand)...sort of...
Mad Scientist: (grabbing it from Party Rocker's hand)...OK.
Flower Power: Oh.

And these were the reactions of the experts when they had finished reading the book.

Mad Scientist: What a sensitive, thoughtful, and amusing exploration of why some males wear dresses. It almost made it poetic, and brave, to wear a dress. I almost decided to wear one. I didn't because even my mum doesn't wear dresses, so there weren't any around. 5 stars.
Party Rocker: The dress was a sub plot. The real story are the discounts on offer in Raj's Shop. I couldn't wait to find out what the next special offer would be. Also 5 stars.
Striker: At first I was really sad because Dennis' Mum had left. I wanted to know why she had left. I wanted to know where she was. I wanted to know if she was coming back. I didn't think the book was funny. It just made me feel upset. But then Raj the shop owner made me smile, and then Dennis met Lisa, and it became funny, and daring and I loved it. I want to give it 5 stars. I think David Walliams is the best. I want to read all his books. But I don't want to wear a dress. That would just make me feel weird.
Flower Power: Can we go shopping?

So The Boy in the Dress is a sparkly, sequinned, shimmmering and dazzling 5 stars. What a result for David Walliams! What a result for Dennis and his dress! 

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Boy by Roald Dahl

The latest book presented to the panel of experts at Booksfc was Boy by Roald Dahl; and it was controversial.
 Front Cover
Was it going to be one of those books that are good for throwing at their co-panel of judges? Or was it going to be a book that is actually good for reading? There was a frenzied, violent and bloodthirsty discussion over whether to review the book. The following points were raised:

1. I don't want to read it because it was written a long time ago. (Striker)
2. 1984 is not that long ago. (Mad Scientist)
3. I wasn't born yet in 1984 so it is a long time ago. (Striker)
4. Apparently it's an autobiography so I do want to read it because its going to about cars, hopefully fast and furious ones. (Party Rocker)
5. Actually an autobiography is when you write your own life story. And Roald Dahl was a writer, not a racing driver. (Mad Scientist)
6. Then I'm outta here. (Party Rocker)
7. And the title is Boy. So it must be about his life as a boy. (Mad Scientist)
Long pause. Deep thought occurs.
8. Well, in that case, it might be alright...(Party Rocker)
(Striker nods)
(Flower Power frowns and wonders whether to become a feminist)

Party Rocker: I just want to point out that Mad Scientist was wrong. This book does include cars. In fact it includes a car crash! Even better, Roald Dahl is injured and has to get sewn back together. Rock on!
Striker: Even better, Roald Dahl gets paid for it.
Party Rocker: Even better, it's in a vintage car.
Striker: Even better, he didn't die.
Party Rocker: Yeah, it was the best bit of the book.
Mad Scientist: Actually the best bit was the sequel Going Solo. But I was quite interested in the family holidays in Norway, and the incident when a man smoked goat's poo.
Party Rocker: That can be arranged.
Mad Scientist: Actually I liked this book so much I've decided to write an autobiography too. I thought I'd call it Homo Sapiens Sapiens (wise, wise man). I think that describes me well.
Party Rocker: Or maybe Apeman? That also describes you well.
Mad Scientist: Even better, Great man. That also describes me well.
Party Rocker: We're off the point.
Flower Power: Was there a point?
So, even though no one bothers to vote, Boy, by Roald Dahl, is a foot down, full throttle success amongst the male experts, and Flower Power is writing her own autobiography, Girl.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Pedro the Ugliest Dog in the World by Papa G

Everyone on this book review panel has their own special interest. And, true to life, these interests sometimes change. Recently Mad Scientist has been getting interested in drama. So he temporarily wants to be known as Mad Shakespeare. Party Rocker has been getting interested in the contents of the fridge. So he temporarily wants to be known as Party Food. Striker has been getting interested in cars, particularly smart, fast and expensive ones. So he temporarily wants to be known as Stig. And Flower Power has been getting interested in Roald Dahl so she temporarily wants to be known as Mathilda.
But don't worry, they still review books (badly).
The latest book to seize the imagination of the panel was Pedro, The Ugliest Dog in the World. They stumbled across the ebook online, saw it was well reviewed and decided to give it a go. They were not disappointed. By the end of the first chapter they were crying with sadness. By the end of the second they were crying with laughter. That's not a bad start for a book that costs 77p. Even Shakespeare himself couldn't have done better.
Pedro the Ugliest Dog in the World - 'Shakespeare himself couldn't have done better.'
Mad Shakespeare: That's blasphemy. Shakespeare was a genius. Papa G can't even spell his last name. There's no comparison. Three stars.
Party Food: What upset me was that the poor people of Santa Maria only ever got to eat freshly roasted locusts. Also three stars.
Stig: Pedro was ugly, but nice, and he trusted in other people, people who should have loved him, and then they let him down and then I felt let down, and then I felt really sad, and then I wanted to cry and then I wanted to make Pedro my pet dog and look after him and make everything better. But I couldn't. I could only cry. In fact, I'm getting upset now, just thinking about it...No other book has made me feel so sad. Five stars.
Mathilda: Waaa! Waaaa! Waaaa!
Party Food: Here, have a freshly roasted locust.
Mathilda: hphfm....
Mad Shakespeare: Is this a freshly roasted locust I see before me?
Party Food: And you.
Mad Shakespeare: hphfm....
Stig: (clearing his throat)...
Party Food: And you.
Stig: hphfm....
Party Food: Job done.
So Pedro the Ugliest Dog scores a sorrowful 4 stars and Party Food is going to be dog food, when the rest of the panel get their hands on him.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Donut Diaries: Escape from Camp Fatso by Anthony McGowan

The experts at booksfc can disagree about anything: they disagree over who should have the last Haribo  and they disagree over their understanding of the world. Mad Scientist thinks the world is a small rocky planet within our solar system. Party Rocker thinks the world is his fan base. Striker thinks the world is something to do with the football tournament that takes place every four years. And Flower Power thinks the world is a type of ice lolly.
But there is one thing the experts agree on: donuts! There's so much you can do with a donut. You can eat it, lick it, gobble it, chew it, suck it, nibble it, stuff it all in at once, or devour it in one gulp. But whatever you do, it will be the best thing you have eaten that day.
So when they saw a book with a picture of a hundreds and thousands sprinkled, icy donut, they had to try to eat it. And when that didn't work as well as they'd hoped, they read it instead.


Mad Scientist: I have to be honest, my problem...
Party Rocker: (interrupting)...problems
Mad Scientist:...with this book...
Party Rocker:(interrupting)...with my life...
Mad Scientist:... is that it was a bit too simple...
Party Rocker:(interrupting) that no-one understands me...
Mad Scientist:... and there was just too little mind-bending, thought-provoking philosophical investigation and theoretical experimentation.
Party Rocker:(interrupting)...and there was just too much silly stuff.
Mad Scientist: But if I had to choose a favourite character, it would be Mr Fricker, the PE teacher with robotic hands. I liked that idea so much I made a pair. They're going to be really good when I figure out how to screw them on. 
Party Rocker: Well, my favourite character was Dong, who never said anything but 'Hello old chap, delighted to make your acquaintance'. He had real depth. As well as girth, and stamina and strength and waist size. I like to think of him as a role model.
Striker:Well, I give it 5 stars. I loved it because I love donuts. They are on my list of best foods, as well as sausages, pizza, hot dogs, burgers and tinned sardines. I also loved it because Donut had to try to escape (something I have to do a lot) and I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next.  Finally I loved it because I love football, and it started off with a game of football, and then came up with other really fun sounding games, like Peruvian shoe throwing. I'm gonna play that with Party Rocker in a minute. I've already prepared by filling a suitcase with Dad's size enormous boots and Mum's fatal party shoes.
Flower Power: (tottering over wearing high heels and dragging an open suitcase) Are we playing dressing up?
Striker (looking at her feet): No, we're not. We're playing duck
Flower Power: Ok. What do we do?
Striker (picking up a shoe)  Well I do this... (throws shoe) ... and you...
Flower Power: Owww! I'm telling on you. Mum!!!
Striker: (escaping) Time for a quick getaway.
So, Donut Diaires: Escape from Camp Fatso scores a sickeningly sweet 5 stars while Mad Scientist swears the voting is inaccurate and orders an enquiry, preferably a philosophical one.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Secret Football Club by Tom Palmer

Every now and again you find something really special. To others, what you have found appears really ordinary. But to you, your special find is so wonderful it steals your heart.

Mad Scientist: Like the time I did an experiment and grew some mould that looked disgusting, smelt disgusting and was disgusting.
Party Rocker: Do you mean the cheese between your toes?
Striker: Like the time I found a pound coin on the playground.
Party Rocker: But that was mine! Give it back.
Flower Power: Like the time I found shiny coin on Striker's desk and used it to go to the shops.
Striker: But that was mine! Give it back.
Flower Power: I didn't know you liked pink nail polish.

Sometimes the special find is a book. You discover it, you love it, you miss it when you finish it. It's as if your best friend has just moved to Mars. This hasn't actually happened to anyone yet, but it will, one day... And its how some of the experts at booksfc felt when they finished reading The Secret Football Club.

Mad Scientist: Actually, I didn't read it. There were various reasons for this. One it was about football. Two it was an easy reader. And three the text was large and the story was short. Also, I am a genius, and a scientist, and an intellectual and a crusading eco-warrior, and a brain box, so I don't read light entertainment/easy reader type short stories. I give it n stars. N is a variable. Please substitute n for the amount of stars you think is appropriate when you read it.

Party Rocker: I also give it n stars. N is not a variable. N is a rude word that we are not allowed to use on this blog.

Striker: I don't want to give it any stars. I want to give it a medal because I think it broke the world record for being the best book ever. I loved the fact it was about boys and girls at school who just want to play football. That's all I want to do, too. I loved the fact that the teacher seemed horrible at first, but then I began to understand why he was being horrible. In the end I didn't think he was horrible anymore, and that was really interesting to change my mind about a character in a book. Finally, what I liked the most was the fact their club was secret. I was so worried about them getting caught, and getting into trouble (something I know all about) that I just had to know what would happen next. If books were footballers, then this book would be Messi; the best ever!

Flower Power: I loved it too! I loved the main character, Lily, who was one of the best footballers. I loved it so much that I'm going to change my name from Flower Power to Footie Power, and become a striker too! Since nobody else gave it any stars, I won't either. I give it five fat football stickers instead.

So, The Secret Football Club hasn't received any stars but instead a random collection of football stickers, variables, n words, medals and a world record. Not bad going for a pocket money puffin!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Skellig by David Almond

Welcome back to books fc!

The experts have discovered a new hobby! As well as reviewing books, they now also enjoy debating.

Debating is when two people have the opposite opinion and both tell the other person they are wrong. Most recently, the experts have been debating environmental issues. Mad Scientist thinks the only light switch that should be turned on is the one in his room. This will save electricity, he argues, and eventually the world too. Striker has the opposite opinion. He thinks lights should be on in every room, just in case he wants to go into one of those rooms. This will also save the world, he argues, from being a dark place. Often the debate ends with a vote. This is when two people decide they were right all along. When the experts vote, Mad Scientist runs around telling everyone the world is about to end, Striker runs around turning all the lights on, and Party Rocker runs around turning every speaker onto full volume. Then no-one is happy, except the pet marsupial mole rat, who happens to be unable to see or hear.

In between debates, the experts also managed to find time to review Skellig by David Almond. This book was previously reviewed by another so called expert as 'profound' and 'visionary'. To their credit, the experts at books fc were determined not to let that put them off, and decided to read it anyway.

Mad Scientist: On the positive side: a book with a brain! Fiction with a dash of non fiction. Skellig is both fantastical and realistic. It touches on evolution, and explains pneumatisation. On the negative side: not scientific enough. I wanted Skellig dissected. And why were there no diagrams? So, overall 3.33 stars

Party Rocker: I've told you before. I don't review books with fairies on the front.

Striker: Well, I liked it. It had some really long words (see above), and some really big ideas (also see above), and at the end of the first chapter I thought it was going to be a bit freaky. But it wasn't. It was just good. I really liked the bits where Micheal went out and played football with his friends, like me, and the bits about his poorly baby sister, who had to go to hospital. There was nothing about fairies. Skellig just wasn't a fairy. So there! 4 stars.

Party Rocker: He had wings. He was a fairy. End of.

Striker: He wasn't. He was a cross between an angel and a tramp.

Flower Power: Oh, I've seen that movie. That's the one where they fall in love and have lots of puppies at the end.

Party Rocker: I've told you before, this is supposed to be a book review blog!

Flower Power: Oh, I've read the book too. It was called... (scratches her head)... I know! Lady and the Tramp. And I loved it! 5 stars.

Striker: Me too. I liked Lady and the Tramp. Particularly the tramp. Also 5 stars.

Mad Scientist: (to Party Rocker): Do you want to tell them or shall I?

Party Rocker: I'll tell 'em. (turning to Striker and Flower Power) I don't review books with fairies on the front or books made by Disney. So there. End of.

So, Skellig, by David Almond, comes out with 3 profound stars, plus 1 sneaky star thanks to Lady and the Tramp.