Archives for category: Book Review

Image result for max kowalski didn't mean it

Published by Puffin Books

Not many big brothers would hold a funeral for a desiccated bifurcated dead worm for a younger sister.  This is, however, one of the first things that the hero of this story does at the beginning of this book. He is his father’s eldest child. He is ‘stepping up’ – taking on the responsibility of his family, when his father disappears.

This is a story of families. Of siblings. Of hiding out. Sticking together and responsibilities…a tale of a trip to Wales, of learning to climb, a pink rolling suitcase stuffed with money and a mystery…

I haven’t finished it yet – but it keeps distracting me from what I should be doing….

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Image result for the dragon in the library

Published by Nosy Crow –

There are some out there who don’t enjoy a good book. I was one, once. Though I did enjoy being read to. I just didn’t see the necessity of learning to read for myself. That is until I visited the Tutankhamun exhibition…but that is another story in itself.

This then is for those out there who think that books and dare I say it, LIBRARIES are rather dull and not for them.

How different things would be if there happened to be a dragon living beneath these extraordinary and wonderful depositories of escapism and other things…

Kit’s friends are ‘into’ books – in a big way – never happier than sitting with a nose stuck into a new novel…she though, would rather spend her time outside – there are trees to climb, places to go…not least the local cemetery… ‘...with its spooky stone angels and matted undergrowth full of cool insects and – one blissful day – a rat….’

When Kit finds herself visiting her local library with her friends things turn out very differently from the way she thought it would…there are wizards and dragons involved and magic too… There is a little of Pages & Co / Anna James (see previous review) in this – however, this one is for those who are a little younger – none the less a book to enjoy over the summer. You never know it may mean a visit to a library, or perhaps to a bookshop – to look at books

Illustrated throughout by Davide Ortu – which is always a bonus…after all what is the use of a book without pictures? 

 

The Wishing Bones

Published by Orion Books

‘Let’s not be counting our vultures,

till they be hatched.’

Those of you who frequent Waterstones Finchley Road O2 will be well aware of my passion (I think that’s the best word to describe it) for Michelle Lovric’s Undrowned Child – which I reviewed way back in 2009 on W.com and then again, a few years later and since then a number of times on my blog.

This is Michelle’s most recent Venetian tale. Once more, not for the feint-hearted: a story of murders, mystery and mermaids. A different tale – one of orphans, reliquaries and the trade in sacred relics…and so much more.

Another volume that seems to have been well and truly soaked in the waters of the canals in Venice. If you have read The Undrowned Child then this is one to reawaken that urge to visit Venice whether literally or within the boards of a book. If you haven’t read The Undrowned Child, (I can’t see why you might not), then these two volumes make a wonderful pair of Venetian mysteries and will without doubt encourage you to visit (should you not have done so already), or to return to La Serenissima.

This then is a story of reliquaries and the trade in the remains of saints. If all the claims made around various saints are true, then a number of them, it would seem, had more than the usual quota of limbs, amongst other things. This story is about where those may have come from. A story that is as dark as many of the stories that colour Venice’s history.

Not for the feint-hearted, as I said, but a book for those who can acknowledge the darker side of this extraordinary city,  a book like no other. Apart from that other one, I may have mentioned…

Image result for Pay attention, carter jones schmidt

Published by Anderson Press

‘What’s this?’ I said. ‘Tea with milk and sugar.’ said the Butler. ‘I don’t drink tea,’ I said. ‘All civilised people drink tea, young Master Jones.’

‘Then I guess I’m not civilised.’

‘A claim you share with Vikings, Huns, assorted barbarian hordes. and marauders of all stripes….’

This is about cricket. You know that game with stumps, wickets, and a hard red ball. This though, is also about so much more.

It made me laugh – I have a friend who has recently returned to Washington DC – reasonable enough, after all she is American. Having just read this – it made me wonder what she thought, truly thought of us English. We are, after all a rather unique race of people.

This was a joy. It was also touching and thought provoking.

I wish Carol was still in the UK – I would have given her this to read.

If you want a book that is about cricket, this is for you – but be warned. It’s not just about cricket…there’s a lot more depth to it than that, though I suppose some cricket fans might object to that statement. There are more depths though, whatever you may be led to believe.

Brilliant, funny, joyful and as I said, thought provoking and touching.

It’s about being a gentleman, cricket…oh, and tea…

I read a proof – that looks nothing like the cover above – which I have to admit doesn’t appeal to me – that said ‘Never judge a book by its cover.’ So don’t. Read this.

 

 

Image result for the butterfly circus chelu

Published by Walker Books

I have often wondered if I would have the nerve to soar through the air on a trapeze. I’m not sure – I DID once do a zip wire – which was nearly a failure as I didn’t want to let go of the tree – but enough of that. Maybe one day I will…

This is a story of two sisters. Both trapeze artists. One falls and though she survives she slowly realises she has a secret that she daren’t acknowledge even to her sibling.

This is a story of the circus. A story of sisters, jealousy, bravery and a shadow…

Marvellous –

Everyone should read this one – I love Rosa – it’s wonderful.

 

Image result for Peril en pointe lipscombe

Published by Chicken House

I had a ballet lesson or two in my extreme youth. My career was similar to that of Helen’s – as she states in the Acknowledgements at the end of this wonderful book – ‘Tragically, my own ballet career went down the plug-hole, age six, but that’s another story.‘ I think mine went down a similar hole…

This though, is a wonderful mix of ballet and espionage! An interesting mix – which works well as though Helen’s career may have been short, she made sure that the feel of a ballet school and the intense work that is put in to producing a production is soaked well into these pages. I thought that her life must have been in and around dance and ballet. So for those of you who know what it is to go ‘en pointe’ – you should’t be disappointed…and in all other respects this is a brilliant adventure story.

I have to say (I have a friend who is a Trekkie) that when discussing a mole (not the sort with a velveteen jacket – the other sort), our heroine says –

‘It can’t be Merv,’ I say. ‘He’s got a Star Trek thermos.’

Which made me laugh…

Into ballet? Read it. You like books set in schools?  Into mysteries and espionage? More reasons to read this…Thoroughly good.

 

 

Image result for the fire maker jones

Published by Chicken House

There are at least two versions of magic out there. There’s the fictional magic of the Harry Potter sort. Then there’s the magic, which is more a question of illusion and tricks and of the more regular sort.

Alex is into the latter – fascinated by slight of hand. He’s good at it – but knows that practice is the way forward. He’s a little different from his peers to say the least…and escaping from one of his class mates – bent on having another go at him, he backs into a garden and sees something that he shouldn’t…

This is rather brilliant – not all heroes are what we expect. Perhaps there is a little Harry Potter magic out there, if we only know where to look –

I loved this – a tale with a magical twist…

Brilliant.

Image result for milton the mighty teeniest superhero

Published by Chicken House

Size isn’t everything – Milton could be the biggest super hero ever. Particularly if Emma Read’s book has as much influence over our interest in spiders as Maya Leonard’s books have had with beetles.

You will be aware that spiders are not insects – as arachnids, they have eight legs and eight eyes. They are pretty amazing creatures, often miss-understood. Especially by us.  We often don’t seem to take the time and trouble to find out about something before we scream and run away.

Image result for milton the mighty teeniest superheroYes, there are spiders out there that are venomous. In this country we don’t have any venomous spiders that would cause us any problems (that is unless you happen to be a fly – if so you are, you are a rather intelligent one), that said all wild animals should be given respect whether they are venomous or not.

This is the story of Milton who happens to look like a Black Widow spider. That’s because he is a spider, and does look similar, but actually he’s a False Widow spider – which is a very different kettle of fish.

This is a story of mass hysteria, bravery of the eight-legged and two-legged sort and a celebration of all things arachnid.

For younger readers, this is an adventure for those who aren’t sure about these extraordinary creatures that eat all those flying creatures that bite…and it’s also for those of us who are all too well aware of how fantastic spiders are.

Image result for malamander thomas taylor walker

Published by Walker Books

Why I never received a proof of this, I don’t know – I thought I was on everyone’s list for pre-publication Children’s books. I must have fallen off a list…

I have only just started this – it arrived at work today and I nicked one to read whilst having my lunch – it is wonderful.

Lost and found. Lots of things get lost – there’s a big Lost Property Office run by T.F.L. which reputedly has some very strange things in it.  I have a transparent box in which I keep lost property for a month – mostly odd toys and the odd glove. Harrod’s had a very efficient and very busy system when I worked there… Generally the items that I took down to the Lost Property Department were things like glasses, gloves, hats, purses and once a wallet that was bursting at the seams (it couldn’t close), with £50 notes, all on their edge, forcing the opening so that it bulged apart by about three inches… I never knew of a person, though to be left, or for that matter to be found in such a place…

This is about a young Lost Property Officer working in a hotel. He looks after lost things. There is though, a mystery around the town and the hotel. A baby that was left (before his time) and the parent’s of that child went missing…leaving just two pairs of shoes and some luggage – now no longer safely stored in his office…

I am LOVING this – and won’t say more at the moment (I can’t, I haven’t finished it yet) – but I can tell you it has some fantastic characters in it – and I’ve only just reached page 44 – I can’t wait to find out about the man with the hook, or about Lady Kraken, Mr Mollusc, or the Belgium chef and of course what happens to Violet (and what happened to her)…let alone Herbie….

There are fantastic pictures of fish throughout the book – vert wild looking and chapter headings illustrations as well. This, I am certain, is a book that everyone will want to read…

It is now 08.51 and I’m going to tweet about this quickly and go to bed, to curl with this very good book and find out what happens next…and the answers to those tantalising questions!

Image result for the land of roar

Published by Egmont

I think most people at some point in their lives, have dreamed about another world…some are famous and are often quoted in books – the idea of going through a wardrobe into another country…

This though is a little unusual – Arthur and Ross used to imagine another world – The Land of Roar, but they haven’t thought about it for years and it is only when they begin to clear out their grandfather’s loft that they begin to remember their imagined adventures. The old rocking horse in the corner…no a little battered and worn…and the fold-away-bed…

Or were they? Should imagination be just brushed aside, as some sort of ephemeral thing? Imagination is a very strong talent and is likely to get you into trouble as it is to get you high marks in English exams. That a whole world might be reliant on your belief, your imagination, is a little disturbing…though wonderful too.

The Land of Roar. Things are different and not for the better…