Category Archives: 90% – 100%

Beat the Band by Don Calame

Title: Beat the Band
Author: Don Calame
Published: 1st February 2012 (UK)
Format: Finished Paperback
Pages: 422
RRP: £6.99
Rating: 13+

Who gets more girls than a rock god? No one.

When Coop finds himself partnered with social outcast ‘Hot Dog’ Helen for a class project on safe sex, he knows he needs a way of saving his rep. Winning the school Battle of the Bands seems like the perfect solution. There’s just one small problem: neither he nor his two best friends, Sean and Matt, can actually play an instrument…

Well, I was really looking forward to this, and had high expectations and it definitely met it! Following Swim the Fly, Beat the Band follows Coop as the protagonist, instead of Matt.

Beat the Band is the school year after the summer in Swim the Fly, and Coop’s dream this year is to score with the hotties like Prudence and her entourage (he frequently has fantasies…). Although this time his friends, Sean and Matt, are a lot more preoccupied, much to Coop’s chagrin. Sean is lamenting the loss of his girlfriend Tianna, while Matt is preoccupied with his French girlfriend Valerie.

At the start of the book I just grimaced at how Coop thought about girls in his class. His attempts at flirting were hilarious, but his thoughts are… well, very close to what most boys at that age think about! Despite this set back, Coop quickly regains himself as you start to realise, as a reader, that he is very determined and ambitious, and throughout the book he develops a certain level of maturity (wait, did I really just say that? About Coop? Huh!), and you can see that he grows up – just a little bit!

Once again Don Calame has written a cracker of a book – perfect for teen boys – and further develops the characters. It was really interesting delving more into Coop’s life as he was so bold in the last book. Not only that, but his father was so well written too!

His writing style is very easy to relax into, it’s very professionally written. The language used by the kids in the book is also realistic and depict what boys are really like, very, very well!

What I really loved about Swim the Fly was the numerous times the three got into excruciatingly embarrassing situations. For me, I think there was a slight lack in them in this book, and when there were it seemed to be only Coop experiencing it. I guess it was just a bit different having it from someone else’s (particularly Coop’s) point of view. Anyway, it did not make me enjoy it less, as the style itself is just to fun to read!

I will definitely continue reading Don Calame’s work – it might not be aimed at girls but it sure is the book to perk you up and entertain you… exactly what a book is meant to do! Don Calame can easily weave humour into his stories. Humour is so difficult to get right in novels, and even harder to actually make people laugh. Kudos to you!

A hilarious novel which makes you love the time of your life when everything seems possible.

Here’s a little sample of the disgustingness (and hiiiiilariousness) that is in Beat the Band!

I shove a heaping forkful of coleslaw into my mouth. When you’re on a mission to save yourself, you’d be surprised how much raw broccoli, raw cauliflower, cold baked beans, prunes, celery, radishes and cabbagey coleslaw you can choke down.

“I’m glad I’m not going to be in that library,” Sean says, pulling the leaves off the celery for me. “Your regular H-bombs could clear a circus tent. I hate to think what kind of stench all this fuel is going to create.”

“You want me to crack you off a taster?” I say.

“Hell no!”

“Too late.” I smile, popping a cauliflower floret.

And even better, the next book in the series will be from Sean’s point of view (entitled CALL THE SHOTS)… I can’t wait!

Rating
Plot: 9/10
Not a particular plot, per se, but things keep happening that make you keep turning the page!
Writing Quality: 10/10
Definitely improved since the last book.
Originality: 9/10
Very unique.
Characters: 10/10
They continue to be very likeable and true to life!
Descriptions: 9/10
It’s not a particularly descriptive book (nothing like Twilight and Edward’s pecs kind of thing) but it is still very easy to imagine the setting, characters and such. Interwoven into the writing.

47/50 = 94% (same as last time!)

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Thank you to Templar Publishing for providing the review copy.

Check out the interview with Don Calame about Beat the Band!

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Swim the Fly by Don Calame

Title: Swim the Fly
Author: Don Calame
Published: 9th May 2011 (UK)
Format: Finished Paperback
Pages: 366
RRP: £6.99
Rating: 13+

Matt and his best friends, Coop and Sean, have set their summertime goal: to see a real-live naked girl. But that’s nothing compared to Matt’s other mission: to impress super-hot Kelly West by swimming the 100-yard butterfly, the hardest stroke known to man.

I was pretty excited when I first read the blurb of this book… it was completely different to what is usually in the shops, and completely different to what I usually go for! Swim the Fly is a contemporary YA “dude-lit” novel, but it certainly did not stop my enjoyment of the book. It easily takes the award for the funniest book I have read all year!

Matt, Coop and Sean have a summer tradition, in which they set themselves a goal each summer. When they were ten, it was riding their bikes fifteen miles way to a lake and skinny dipping. When they were twelve, it was going to the local golf course every day until they had collected 1000 gold balls. When they were thirteen they had to get their hands on a Playboy…. basically their goals got more centred around girls and sex!

The goal of seeing a live naked girl brings a ton of really embarrassing, laugh out loud events. I won’t go into too much detail, but you can read an excerpt over at Daisy Chain Book reviews here!

Don Calame’s writing is full of detail, and really fun to read. His witty writing takes the characters and the reader on hilarious adventures, leaving you turning the pages at rapid speeds. The characters are all really well developed and loveable. Each character had an obvious voice. One of my favourite characters was Grandpa Arlo…. he is such a player!

This book has opened up the world of dude-lit. If there are more books like this, I will be happy for ever more! It’s a gem, and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for something new and fresh, or someone who wants to make other people stare at them in a funny way, as you just snorted with laughter…

I leave you with a tiny morsel of the humour in this book. Go buy it for more!

[Grandpa Arlo had asked Matt to pretend to be Mrs Hoogenboom, his ‘crush’, for role-playing purposes.]

I take a breath, resetting myself. “Oh, this old thing? I’ve had this shawl forever.”
Grandpa Arlo smiles. “It suits you. It matches your eyes.”
“That’s, uh… very kind of you… I…” I have no idea what else to say. “That purple shirt… looks good on you, too. It matches… the blood vessels on your cheeks.”
“Nice,” Grandpa Arlo says.

YAY! And a sequel: Beat the Band is coming out in 2012… Coop is the protagonist in this one!

Rating
Plot: 10/10
Awesome…!
Writing Quality: 9/10
The writing quality was very, very good.
Originality: 9/10
It definitely was original to me – and I am sure it is pretty unique on it’s own.
Characters: 10/10
The characters were so good.
Descriptions: 9/10
There wasn’t too many, but I could imagine the setting really well, so I think the overall effect it had, was good.

47/50 = 94%

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Thank you to Templar Publishing for providing the review copy.

Check back later when Don Calame talks more about the aim of the summer!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Published: 5th January 2009
Format: Finished Paperback
Pages: 464
RRP: £6.99
Rating: 12/13+

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before—and survival, for her, is second nature. The Hunger Games is a searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present. Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever…

Yes, okay, I am incredibly tardy to the party with this, but in all honesty, I was very sceptical about The Hunger Games, and I was recommended it thoroughly for a very long time by a friend, and decided to give in (even though I have a huge list of TBR books! Ack! D:). I was indeed fantastically surprised, and have read the first two in the series. (I will review them separately though).

I thought the depth of the novel, with the intricacy of the main characters and Panem’s/Capitol’s past creating a wonderful read, full of action. The main character is Katniss, a fierce teen who fights to stay alive every day in District 12, hunting for food for her family. However she really only cares about her little sister, Prim, and not so much her mother who fell into depression when Katniss’ father died in a mining incident (before the book). They manage to struggle by on tesserae (the name given when an eligible entrant for the games enters themselves more than once, every time they do that they receive a set amount of grain and oil) and Katniss’ hunting ‘trophies’, and this feeling of poverty makes you really feel for their and every other family in District 12.

Gale is Katniss’ best friend, it seems, and they are hunting partners, whilst also sharing their hunting secrets with each other. I really liked Gale, he was described as a really friendly yet mysterious person, and even though he wasn’t present a lot in the actual book, I thought of him a lot and what he could have been thinking, with the Games on and all the events that would definitely seem strange to him.

I think Peeta was not as interesting as Gale, and personally I am Team Gale but I feel that it is probably going to be the losing side (after reading the second book) but I won’t know until I read Mockingjay. Although, Peeta’s background was intriguing, and he is such a lovely person, loveable and so kind to everyone.

I am sure I have mentioned before in another dystopian review, but dystopians are my absolutely favourite genre of all time. I think this was a brilliantly written book, I loved imagining this world, so strange yet very easy to relate to in the sense of the Capitol “hiding” things. I can’t wait for the film to be released, and at the moment I am so excited with the suspense of the release of the cast list! I am glad I read the books before the film, so I can compare them.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a suspenseful read, but with a really good mix of romance, and a touch of comedy (I laughed at Effie Trinket and the lives of the Capitol’s citizens, very much like the materialistic lives of ourselves in the developed world). It’s a fantastic dystopian, so vivid and rich, full of description. The characters and the world they are in and developed so well, and the overall effect is awesome!

Rating
Plot: 10/10
This is the driving force behind the book, and is magnificent!
Writing Quality: 9/10
Amazing, so amazing.
Originality: 9/10
There has been talk of it being copied from another book, I think, but I have, personally, never read a dystopian like that, and the horror of the Hunger Games is so realistically original!
Characters: 9/10
Wow, I think I am a bit too attached to Gale and Prim!
Descriptions: 10/10
If it weren’t for the descriptions I would not have enjoyed the book so much, dystopians live on descriptions, and this one devours them.

47/50 = 94%

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Thank you to a concerned friend who was shocked that I hadn’t read it!