Archives for category: Book Review

Published by Usborne Books

I believe that books that result in an emotional response, are the good books. The books that make the reader worry about the characters, the books that make you cry.

This a story with many threads / ribbons running through it. Essentially it is the story of a young girl whose family ‘doesn’t do normal’. Her brother is sick, and she suffers from Selective Mutism (SM), which powerfully affects her life. It is also about the good and the bad that is the Internet. It is about communication in all its forms, (word of mouth, written and social media), a story of sibling love, about super powers, and friendship.

I finished it this morning, lying on my bed (it was very hot last night) when I should have been up and getting organised. I cried. This is one of those good books, those good books that are so much more than the single ribbons or threads that run through them. I also laughed –

She said, “Bernard is having a difficult day too, dear,” and we both looked down at Bernard rolling around with one of her fluffy slippers. She tutted, shook her head and said, “He’s sex-mad that cat. I’ll get you one of my current buns, dear.”

Read it and cry…

 

Published by Orion Books

This reminds me a little of Welcome to Nowhere (Elizabeth Laird’s book on the Syrian refugee crisis); this though is a tale of Tibet, of bravery, adventure, secrets, mountains, danger, and two extraordinary yaks. It is another story about man’s inhumanity to man – but it is also a tale of hope. Tash and Sam attempt to travel to India from Tibet by yak, hoping to meet the Dalai Lama and perhaps make some contribution to change.

The chapters are small, no more than a few pages, with beautifully decorated leaves in between. Simply and clearly written it is a powerful novel.

I now want to visit Tibet, the mountains and perhaps to be introduced to a yak or a dri…I suspect they are rather special creatures.

 

Published by Egmont

This was originally published back in 1991 by Simon and Schuster. I had never read it when I came across a copy and am now two thirds of the way through this darkly enticing volume.

Whitby is an extraordinary place – its history is remarkable, and this tale of aufwaders, fisher folk, magic, witches, murder and mystery is one that fully reflects the darker side of the village. It has of course, the connection to Bram Stoker and Dracula…this is another tale, as dark, a story of children, ‘difficult cases’, a group of elderly ladies, a cat, an evil hound and a mystery that runs though the town like a stain…. I wish I had known about the book before I visited Whitby some years ago – it is a story that should be read at the top of the steps leading to St Mary’s Church and the ruin of the abbey…

This copy has extra material – a map, details of places and things mentioned in the book and found in Whitby, a Q&A with Robin Jarvis and details of local legends…

I am beginning to think I ought to do a post about ‘good authors’ – those that regularly produce ‘good’ writing – Robin Jarvis is certainly one of these – his writing reminds me of Susan Cooper’s wonderful Dark is Rising series (Over Sea & Under Stone, The Dark is Rising, Geenwitch, The Grey King & The Silver on the Tree) – that I enjoyed as a young reader….

The above superb photograph was taken by John Patrick – a picture of the abbey with mist swirling around the arches…..(http://blog.newfocusphoto.com/locations/foggy-whitby) – I thought it rather wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

Published by Piccadilly Press

This should, in a way have started with the phrase ‘Once upon a time…’ It is a lovely return to those wonderful stories that were read to everyone from an early age – perhaps in particular to young girls. This is the story of a princess, the younger sister of one who one day will take on the responsibilities of the throne and everything that goes with it. That sister is interested in ephemeral things, how she looks, shiny things, (particularly gifts) and which prince has come to play court to her. Our heroine, however, is much more practically minded and is thinking that perhaps she might become a wizard, though she’s not really sure. In the mean while she’s enjoying the library and books…

When one of Morven’s suitors is turned into a frog, and she doesn’t show any inclination to follow tradition and kiss him, leaving Princess Anya to find a way to solve the problem, along with that of a wicked sorcerer who is trying to take over her sister’s throne…

A newt (an enchanted boy) that regularly licks his eyes to keep them clean, an otter half turned into a human, along with a magic carpet that flies high and incredibly fast – first having rolled his passengers tightly together to prevent them from falling off, and a librarian, who when stressed changes into an owl and regurgitates castings with little or no warning, are just some of the rather eclectic and wonderful characters in this story.

The copy I read is the hardback – with a lovely black dust jacket with a very pleasing green frog resting on Garth Nix’s name, emblazoned as it is on the cover in gold. The actual boards and spine sadly don’t have a gold frog embossed on them, which I had hoped for. Though the stuck down and loose endpapers are beautiful (almost making up for this lack) – with a design of frogs leaping over lily pads. If the world was as it should be, somewhere out there should be some wallpaper made of this design – it is just right – and would make a lovely addition to a room – though perhaps four walls might be a bit much. My only serious sadness (apart form not finding a gold frog on the front board) is the lack of margin and space in the gutter of the book – which gives a feeling of frugality, not to say parsimony to the book, which is unnecessary. My colleague at work said it would add expense – I replied that I thought it would be worth it – the story certainly deserves a beautiful design…

The story itself is wonderful – and if I could find a way to organise for Garth Nix to come to London for an event to celebrate the publication, I would – however, he lives, rather inconveniently, in Australia…

 

 

Published by Faber & Faber

This is a superb book – I started this yesterday afternoon, in my tea-break. Then continued reading on the way home on the train and then just before sleep. This morning I read it between having my shower and getting dressed, then on the train again, this time on the way to work. Sadly I had no time at lunch, but finished it this evening as I came home again.

The legend of Podkin One-Ear is related by a story-teller, one who tramps the lands to tell tales at times of celebration. The legend he relates is full of good old fashioned adventure, with a young rabbit, the son of a chieftain and his older sister and younger brother up against an evil taking over their world. At the start of the tale, he does have both his ears…

I can only say I loved it – was captivated by the story, which was enhanced by the illustrations by David Wyatt – just enough to give extra flavour to the legend.

 

This will be a classic, without any doubt. I usually pass on my proofs to local youngsters. I’m afraid this time, I’m keeping this one. Simply one of the best books I have read for a very long time, which is particularly pleasing for this age group. For them, there isn’t enough good writing, so I’m always pleased when I come across something this good for our younger readers…though anyone sensible, who is older than that will enjoy it too…

Published in the UK by Macmillan Children’s books, in the US, by Scholastic

I read the proofs publishers send me without reading their blub. This is essentially to ensure that I don’t start a story with any preconceived ideas. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised (a cover can be very misleading), sometimes disappointed.

I read this proof over 24 hours or so. It had a rather simple cover, just a drawing of a skeletal hand reaching up towards the night sky. Simple and effective.

The story reminded me a little of Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls. It left me in tears at work as I read the last few pages. Then again, I am a bit of an emotional wreck at the moment, post Pakka. That said, it is beautifully written and quite superb and as I explained to a mother and daughter recently, sometimes books that make you cry are the best books and shouldn’t be avoided.

Enjoy this, simply and beautifully written story of life and everything that goes with that – and if you haven’t read A Monster Calls read that too…

Sadly Kim Ventrella lives in Oklahoma City and so isn’t available for events…it would be superb if she were…. Looking for pictures of the cover, I came across the one above which is ‘connected’ (I don’t know what the correct term is) to Kim’s Internet site – I assume the dog is hers…he looks rather lovely. The cover above is the one Scholastic are using for their American edition of the book – to be honest I hope ours is similar to the design on my proof – more in tune with story…with a hint of darkness…

The Macmillan edition is out on the 21st of September 2017

Image result for coyote summer thebo

Published by Oxford University Press

The story of a troubled, young, rich and indulged teenager uprooted from her secure and comfortable life in London and left in the wilds of Kansas on her aunt’s farm. This is a moving, brilliantly written superb tale of growing up, responsibilities and taking on the challenges of disappointment, whilst working towards something important. Life on a Kansas farm is far harder, both physically and mentally than she expects and she is driven to continue her love of dancing out in the wilds, in private, with just a coyote looking on. Dancers should definitely read this…

It is a wonderful book, something for the Summer holidays and one to disappear into – I think it is better than her first book, Dreaming the Bear which is always a very good sign – and something that really pleases me too, it has the right ending – buy it.

On searching the Internet for photographs of the cover, it seems there was a film also called Coyote Summer, released in 1996

This looks to be a better story – I haven’t seen the film though!

Published by Corgi

When searching for this book to give to my customers, for reasons I have never worked out, I used to believe it was written by David Almond – perhaps because it is an almost whimsical tale with just a splash, a stain, of darkness in it. It is as different from The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas (possibly John Boyne’s most famous book), or The Boy at the Top of the Mountain as you can get – almost a fairy story. Those books I have to say are not like a fairy story, and some consideration should be given to whether it is the right time to read them. Different people read things at different times… This one though, as I said, has the flavour of a fairy story, and we all know how dark those can be….

Barnaby Brocket was a little different when he was born; he floated immediately to the ceiling, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. This condition results in his parents having to tie him to his chair, so he didn’t float a way, which would be inconvenient to say the least. When taken for walks, he bobs behind his mother, not unlike a balloon…

That though is not the terrible thing that is mentioned in the title…

The hardback had wonderful illustrations by Oliver Jeffers in it. He also illustrated the dust jacket. I don’t know whether the paper back has his pictures. I hope so. It is worth, though trying to find a hardback; even if you buy it second hand…so much better than the photograph on the cover of the paperback – which is a disappointment, I think.

 

Published by Walker Books

David Almond’s books are quite extraordinary, no two seem to be alike – each is a masterpiece. I’d love to know where he gets his ideas from. This is the story of a bus driver. Bert has been driving his bus, on the same route, every day for ten years. He knows every bump, curve and passenger – he has dealt with all sorts of people, the young, the foolish, the friendly, confused, lost and bemused. Things are becoming a little predictable. Until one day he feels a fluttering in his chest and begins to panic and stops the bus. The complaints that result from this unauthorised and unwanted stop, he doesn’t hear, he is too concerned with what the fluttering means. Is this the end? Before the book has really got started? By page 12?

Actually it is just the beginning. This is a lovely, kindly book about people. About how people want to be seen to be bigger than they really are. It is about art classes and art teachers – it is about hope. It is also about bullies, and friendship, but mainly its about Angelino Brown – as unique a character as any David Almond has written about before.

I thought I had written a post about Clay or The Boy who Swam with Piranhas, one of my favourite David Almond books, but it seems I haven’t yet – so along with this one – have a look at those too, along with I suppose, Skellig, probably his most famous book…

 

 

Published by Puffin Books.

Some of you may have read The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, some years ago. This volume continues the adventures of Ted Spark – just three months after he solved the mystery of what happened to Salim, his cousin who, (if you didn’t guess, or know) disappeared off the London Eye. This is Ted’s second mystery – set around the theft of a picture from the Guggenheim museum in New York.

I have dipped into The London Eye Mystery, but haven’t yet managed to read it; it sells itself by word of mouth, and I do like to encourage new good books. I have read enough though to be happy to include it in my piles, with the notation that though not read by me yet, I believe it to be good. I will be reading it very soon; I loved The Guggenheim Mystery – its brilliant and extremely well written.

Ted Sparks is rather a unique character – and having a trip to New York to see Salim should be a holiday to remember, but not for his aunt being arrested for theft….

Robin Stevens is the author of the Wells and Wong detective novels.  There are six so far, and are very distinctive cover wise, with very bright covers. I have read the first in the series (I have too many books to read to try them all) – and wrote a post about it some time ago. This is very different – set mainly in New York, and is a brilliant bit of deduction.

So, for all those potential Poirots, Christies, Holmeses, Chestertons e.t.c that are out there – do read the Wells and Wong books, but start with The London Eye Mystery (Siobhan Dowd), then this and then disappear into Murder Most Unladylike. They will keep you out of mischief for some time to come!

Do remember, though, to read as wide a range of authors as possible – it is very easy to just follow one; only to miss out on new potentially superb authors. Its important for your health to eat a wide ranging diet, the same is true for reading – your English will improve if you read many different authors…(they use different words, and their use of language is different)…. It makes reading more interesting and food, quite extraordinary…

The titles in the Wells & Wong series so far run to six:

Murder Most UnladylikeArsenic for Tea, First Class Murder, Jolly Foul Play, Mistletoe and Murder and Cream Buns and Crime.

There are also two mini volumes: The Case of the Blue Violet and The Case of the Deepdean Vampire.