Learn more Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle George Michael - MTV Replugged Shop now Shop Women's Shop Men's
Profile for Fly on the Wall > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Fly on the Wall
Top Reviewer Ranking: 398,370
Helpful Votes: 24

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Fly on the Wall (north-west, UK)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3
pixel
The House on Hummingbird Island
The House on Hummingbird Island
by Sam Angus
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.89

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mis-sold as book for 10+ readers, 18 Sept. 2016
the cover, blurb and first 150 or so pages of this book read like the Secret Garden transported to the Caribbean. An orphan girl is sent from her home in England to an island with an alcoholic governess and her horse. She soon acquires a parakeet and various other tamed wild animals. She meets Austin, a boy remarkably like Dickon in the Secret Garden. He feeds hummingbirds honey from his finger tips. All this I loved. But then she ages from 12 to 15, the First World War starts and the mystery of her birth and why she is there vanishes in favour of a story about how black soldiers were treated during the war (terribly badly). This was ok and educational BUT it was another book for an older age range. Letters are exchanged between the heroine and her cousins, another character dies, she falls in love and is rude to Austin ( who also joins the war effort). I didn't want to read a war/ teen romance story, so this was frustrating! Eventually the mystery of her birth is explained when the 80 year old mute woman writes down what she knows. It is.... Tagged on?
This could easily have been two separate books one for younger readers and the other for older readers. .... My other objection is the confusing portrayal of race. The heroine hears that her mother went mad and becomes scared that she will. First, why does she take this from a man she hates and does not trust, when other characters who she likes have told her that her mother was kind and capable and good? Second, the business of going mad and having bad blood is worryingly conflated with the possibilities of her being mixed race. Her grandmother is black, it turns out. So this troubled me.
It wasn't always clear to me whether characters were black, brown or mixed, or mixed and white-looking ( which happens), and with all the hereditary stuff going on this does matter. I found it confusing, so a teen reader (who might not go for it as the cover makes the book look younger) would surely also get a bit lost?


Perijee & Me
Perijee & Me
by Ross Montgomery
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Problem parents, sci-fi creature and a (sort of) pirates' adventure. Brilliant., 1 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Perijee & Me (Paperback)
Loved this. Such a great voice. Written so the reader guesses just a little bit more about what's going on for 'Me' than she realises herself. It's very funny, warm and adventurous. You really can't guess where it's going (except it's probably going to have a happy ending). So very imaginative and genre-defying: 'real' family stuff and problem parents, sci-fi creature, then a pirates' adventure vibe later on.... I shall read it again.


Nathan's Wish
Nathan's Wish
by Cyndi L. Trombley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.81

3.0 out of 5 stars NOT the same book as the other Nathan's Wish!, 10 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Nathan's Wish (Paperback)
This is not a review. I wish to comment that this is the same title as another book but as it has a different author is probably a different story
Someone has posted his review of the Nathan's Wish book with the character with spina bifida both here AND on the other Nathan's Wish book's page! [I'm giving this three stars as I didn't want to swing its score] Probably his review should be removed if this is a different story.


M. E. and Morton (Lions)
M. E. and Morton (Lions)
by Sylvia Cassedy
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Left with a weird feeling, 10 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In places this is very well observed and the voice is strong but the overall feeling I had at the end was a peculiar one. I think I read this as a child/teen too, as I had deja vu throughout.
The main character, M.E., finds her learning disabled brother, Morton, embarrassing. As she puts it: 'he's the dumbest kid on the block and also the ugliest'. A new girl in school, Polly, befriends both of them but the protagonist doesn't realise Polly's hanging out with Morton too, and is cross when she finds out. She wants to be Polly's best friend. The reader will warm to the new girl and think she's fairer than M.E. and more fun to be around, but after a time her dares and devil-may-care attitude become worrying. She doesn't really care for either M.E. or Morton, it seems. We meet the new girl's family and find out she's been pushed out by her mother to live with her Gran. She's very poor compared to M.E. and money troubles have split up her family. The Gran's tiny flat where Polly sleeps on the sofa is an eye-opener to M.E.
The climax has Morton disappear. In fact, Polly has caused Morton to be injured - and worse, she doesn't tell anyone where he is. It's as if she forgets anything has happened. In the conclusion, everyone is OK, Morton is out of hospital and M.E. grows up a little: she admits she loves her brother.
I felt uncomfortable that the poor-girl (working class, or whatever you want to say) has been used as the cataylst for M.E's growth. In addition the book starts with the disturbing scene of M.E. and her friend Wanda playing a game called 'poor children' and later another game called 'wheelchair'! Whilst this shows how much the children in M.E.'s world exoticise outsiders and happily play 'let's pretend' without any real understanding of a person's experience, it gave me higher expectations of the book. After all, the author's creation of that scene suggested she was going to show more about poor and disabled children's lives. She kind of does with Morton, but Polly becomes a slightly scary villian by the end. I think as a child/teen reader I was also confused by this book as possibly you need a and adult's world-view to grasp what might be going on with Polly and not to think she is a nasty piece of work.


Collins Big Cat - Mountain Mona: Band 09/Gold
Collins Big Cat - Mountain Mona: Band 09/Gold
by Vivian French
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A goat needs to get glasses, 10 Feb. 2016
I volunteer at a local primary listening to struggling readers read. We liked the story for the character of Mona who doesn't do things as the other goats do. She lands on bushes not rocks and thinks rocks are bushes. She is quiet and likes growing sunflowers rather than being loud and boisterous like her brothers and sisters.
We later find out she is short-sighted and needs glasses. Not being able to see a scary lion (she thinks he is a giant sunflower!) means she appears brave. She surprises her brothers and sisters by making the lion leave them alone... What is a bit confusing is the rock/ bushes thing. I'd have thought being short-sighted would lead to other more obvious mistakes for a goat. My child reader found it hard to make sense of that as did I!
Anyone looking for books about animals needing glasses, you could also try: Benjamin and the Super Spectacles (a short-sighted bunny) and Specs for Rex (a cute lion cub needs glasses).


Welcome to Biscuit Land: A Year in the Life of Touretteshero
Welcome to Biscuit Land: A Year in the Life of Touretteshero
by Jessica Thom
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.04

3.0 out of 5 stars Not as funny as her show but interesting, 15 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I went to one of Jess's theatrical shows and later bought the book. The show was hilarious, warm, friendly, and informative. In small doses this book is intriguing but it isn't as vivid as the show. Even the language material - the examples of how Tourette's has produced surreal and playful juxtapositions - didn't work as well as the show. Maybe it is the rhythms, or the timing, or being with a live audience who are also laughing? Possibly it is because on stage Jess is ticcing so the 'story' comes through the 'biscuits' and other Tourette's interruptions. The book edits most of that out except for one section where she reports herself verbatim with all verbal tics in.
Also, as a diary there is not a big narrative arc: Jess makes a resolution to be more positive, things change a bit at work, she moves house, she encounters people who attack her, she holds onto friendships and they deepen. That's OK as life is like that, but if you expect more drama or story it may disappoint you. It's worth watching her on YouTube (her Queen's speech is brilliant) to get a feel for how she talks if you've not seen her live. show.


El Deafo
El Deafo
by Cece Bell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.88

5.0 out of 5 stars A lively novel about friendship and deafness, 15 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: El Deafo (Paperback)
Terrific graphic novel. I lent it to my Mum's husband who has been deaf since childhood with aids and it provoked some interesting conversation. he liked it too. The writer has a lovely grasp on the trickiness of friendships between girls at school and the drama of being 'naughty'. My Mum is now reading it.


Russell Brand's Trickster Tales: The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Russell Brand's Trickster Tales: The Pied Piper of Hamelin
by Russell Brand
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.92

3.0 out of 5 stars funny but ending is not great for disabled kids, 15 Jan. 2016
This is a funny book but I read it for the disabled character and it nearly does so well - but at the end misses the point. The boy we're rooting for has a limp and is bullied by the other posher kids. He's the kid who can see what is going on with the rats and the mayor and the piper. He's the kid who survives to the end. But, but, but... at the end he grows up and gets to be mayor himself. I went 'hurray!' But the final line says 'and you'll hardly notice him limping.' This upset me as I wanted the story to show how a child with a disability can grow up to be an adult with disability and still be a great person and get to be mayor. Why not?
If the message is 'difference doesn't matter' then the end contradicts this as the boy blends in with everyone else to become successful.
Because of that ending I won't share it with my disabled niece because I feel it suggests you have to be cured to succeed. Or perhaps it implies that disabled kids will grow up to be non-disabled. I wrote to the publisher about this and she said that she was sure this was not Russel's intention and if the print run sold out she would discuss it with him before re-issuing the book! So, I hope the print run sells out and that is what happens. If the last line was removed it would be a five star book for me. [The disgusting stuff other reviewers refer to is exactly the stuff kids of a certain age love: poo! messy poo squirting everywhere! This did not bother me in the slightest. It's funny. It's only poo.]


The Secret Mother
The Secret Mother
by Victoria Delderfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm, intriguing, beautifully written, 5 Oct. 2015
This review is from: The Secret Mother (Paperback)
This is a lovely book that manages to keep suspense going even whilst the reader knows the basic connections. We know who the mothers are and who the twins are; what we don’t know is exactly how they got to where they are now. So it is a book about ‘why?’ Quite early on we gather that Mai Ling is May Guo and that as a girl she gave up her twin baby girls for adoption. When we see Mai run away from an arranged country marriage to the city, where she gets a job in an impressive factory, we can perhaps predict the innocent being corrupted and abandoned. Mai’s story in China is reminiscent of Thomas Hardy’s tales almost a century before! I thought about Tess and the girl in the Mill on the Floss. There are plenty of European nineteenth/ early twentieth century heroines who came a cropper for want of a proper sex education and for want of a society where the men didn’t think they could do as they pleased to women! However, because this is 1992 and China, there is a whole different edge to this story that held my interest. The men are also not all unrelenting villains, and we are given hints as to why they might have turned out how they have. I liked this attention to subtle characterisation. All the set-piece scenes managed to do something unexpected. I especially liked the arrival of the Western industrialist who might invest in Mai’s factory and whom she has been groomed to impress. That scene surprised me no end.
I also enjoyed the way the China-based story has been woven into the ‘present’ day story set in Manchester and then China again (2008, I guessed, from the newly-built Bird’s Nest stadium). The twins as sixteen year olds are great fun to read. Jen is studious with an annoying boyfriend, Rikki is arty, lesbian, but has no girlfriend. They are at odds about whether or not to pursue their biological Chinese parentage: Jen is learning Mandarin but Rikki thinks it is all a waste of time and hates their unknown birth mother for ‘abandoning’ them. Their lifestyle in posh Manchester chafes at Rikki’s sense of independence, yet because we’ve been shown Mai at a similar age we read the twins as quite spoilt! I used to live in Manchester so I loved all the physical detail. I even used to work in the top floor café in Affleck’s Palace in 1998 (a bit earlier than the book’s setting)!
In addition to the two main storylines I enjoyed the objects and motifs that were threaded through: a ‘double happiness’ tattoo recurs in the story, and there are two small wooden dolls made by Mai that carry a weight beyond their size. Do read this book if you enjoy books about family, adoption or ‘roots’. It is warm, intriguing and beautifully written.


The Ghost of Grania O'Malley
The Ghost of Grania O'Malley
by Michael Morpurgo
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Disabled Jess gets side-lined by abled Jack, 23 Oct. 2014
If you get this because you wanted a book with a disabled child lead then I have to say that the book starts well but ends up being a disappointment. Lead character is Jess a girl with cerebral palsy who lives with Mum and Dad. Initially the writer gives Jess a good central place in the story – she fights her way up the Big Hill (which has previously defeated her) and is excited to get to the top. No-one believes she did it though. Then her American cousin Jack arrives and becomes popular at her school with his knowledge of baseball and his set of rollerblades (that Jess can’t use). We see another kid bully Jess saying she belongs in special school. Jack is on her side and believes she climbed the Big Hill. So far, so interesting.
The main plot concerns the Big Hill being exploited for gold. The islanders have voted for a gold-mining project (except for Jess’s Mum and the old man who lives on the hill) because they think it will lead to jobs. The ghost pirates are against the hill’s destruction and Grania shows Jess the whereabouts of her treasure chest to try and solve the problem and pay off the islanders. This doesn’t work and ultimately Jack puts sugar in the diggers’ engines to delay them. Then when the diggers are mended Jess sits down in front of them on the hill and Jack makes a big speech which makes the islanders change their minds and climb the hill to camp out on it overnight. Next day the diggers encircle them, but the ghost pirates arrive and drive the diggers into the sea. The kids win.
The problem with the book is that if you want a disabled heroine she gets side-lined by Jack. There is a scene where the two are fishing and Jack’s line snags a fish. He slips and Jess grabs him, but they both fall in the sea. When they re-tell this story they say that Jess fell in and Jack dived in to save her. Why was that necessary? Why not say it as it first happened? (I know it is fiction, but the writer must have had a reason for casting disabled girl in the story and presumably it was NOT to make her look inept!) Jess also has a few times where she complains about her ‘lousy palsy’. Being angry maybe would be OK but I’d rather she had focussed her energy outward, e.g. on the meanness of the teacher who has her hand-write lines as punishment even though her hands cramp. (Why don’t her parents notice and get involved?). The writer might intend to show us unfairness but children’s fiction also needs to be aspirational. Jess’s body won’t change so challenge the social injustices around her… Finally, the way Jack saves the day could have been shared between the two kids. Jess might have liked engines and decided to sabotage the diggers, and then Jack could have the speech on the Hill. Or Jack could have sabotaged the engines whilst Jess had the speech. Most stories would split the ‘hero duties’ between the two leads, but the story didn’t and I felt that Jess trailed away into becoming an observer. Nearly a good book but the writers misses his own point, I think.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3