Archives for category: For 9 – Adult

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 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 Firefly

Why on earth I never picked up Horatio’s books before I really don’t know. I am in the middle of this one, having just finished Aubrey and the Terrible Ladybirds.

These books are beautifully simple, but also wonderfully intricate, a little like a good netsuke. This story is the first in the collection – there is to be a third (Aubrey and the Terrible Spiders), but it is the second one I have read.

Aubrey’s father is under attack by the terrible Yoot. His depression is all pervading, and devastating, but with help Aubrey and his mother there is a chance that things might change. I haven’t finished this yet – and am writing this in my lunch hour at work – because you need to buy it – along with Aubrey and the Terrible Ladybirds. Touching, clever, educational (I know…), and superbly written this tells the story of what can happen when the black dog gets you between its jaws, when the Yoot begins to colour all your thoughts and life…

This is, I think a 9 – 12 and perhaps I should adjust The Terrible Ladybirds to the same age group – though I think a good eight year old could read both. This one though is a little darker than that. The books encompass natural history, good English, and wonderful story lines. They are marvellous. I am so looking forward to Aubrey and the Terrible Spiders

Published by Firefly Press

There is an old adage that you should never judge a book by the cover. I believe that on the whole this is true (you can miss superb stories, by assuming things, just because of the illustration and design), however, I am also aware that sometimes a cover can lead to extraordinary books.

This is one such.

On the whole books about the environment can be a little worthy, this though is marvellous – which is just one of the reasons why I love it.

I have thought about reading the first book in this series before, but never got around to it, however, my colleague Tom (without whom my working life would be much more stressful), showed this to me yesterday and I fell in love. First with the cover, with its brilliant design and then found myself enchanted by this wonderful story. The plethora of insects, mammals and arachnid characters are colourful and superb – this is about intolerance, the environment and natural history – a gorgeous extraordinary mix – like nothing else I have come across… There are classical and binomial references too – and the details of the lives of the smaller wildlife, out in our gardens is carefully covered, and there are references too to the solar system and the more complicated aspects of physics…

It is one of those special books. The first volume is called Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot, which I will read as soon as I can get hold of a copy. I am also excited to report there is a note in Aubrey and the Terrible Ladybirds that there is to be a third…about spiders – those glorious arachnids… called appropriately enough Aubrey and the Terrible Spiders.

These are books for anyone who is interested in our smaller fauna – with brilliant plots too…I could go on, but I had better not….

Oh, almost forgot – it has some lovely illustrations too – just enough, and not too many by Jane Mathews….

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Published by Orion

Have you been to Venice (Italy)?

This was first published in 2009 and I was very lucky in that I received a proof copy of the book when I was working in Harrods and promptly fell in love with it. I suddenly realised the other night that I *have never written a post about this quite extraordinary book.

 I wrote a review on the Waterstones web site as a result and it read:

“Atmospheric, beautifully written and about Venice…a superb volume of adventure encompassing- all that makes a good solid read. Includes ghosts, retribution, death, mermaids, seahorses, bravery… Absolutely brilliant. Read it in Venice if you can, if not, then read it and visit as soon as you can…’

Sadly they changed the site, so you can no longer read it – I really should put this up again – it is a marvellous book.

Should you be an adult about to ignore this small volume as it was written for younger readers, be aware that if you do you will be missing one of the gems of English writing, and I won’t be responsible for that.

I think the characters of the mermaids are perhaps my favourite – they wouldn’t have much time for the more traditional sirens of the sea really – wilder and more full of life.

I sold nearly a thousand copies in Harrods – I sold it to everyone: a gentleman who wanted a copy of the Koran in English; he left with two books, one he had intended to read, the other, was a copy of this. Another man wanted to look for accounting books and requested to see our section, which I told him was very small. He complained that it was, so I told him that I had already said so. I did, however, have a book he would like (it is better than a book on accounting), and sold him one too…and a famous comedian once told me he had finished with me after I had found him all the books he wanted, and noticed me waiting for him. To which I replied I hadn’t finished with him – and sold him a copy of it too, along with all the health books his wife had gathered together. Numerous people were asked if they had been to Venice and if they had liked it. Once I had the reply in the affirmative (I only ever had one person say they didn’t**), I would tell them about this and they would buy it, and go back again. Others hadn’t been – and would take a copy to read before they went. Some I ‘caught’ for want of a better word just before they were going – which was marvellous – they would take it with them and read it in Venice.

This is the book for taking to Venice.

If you are one of my younger blog readers and your parent’s / significant adult hasn’t taken you to Venice – then persuade them to buy you this book, read it and then nag them. You should have been taken to Venice by now. If they are being recalcitrant, then either ask them to visit me (and I will persuade them), or ask them to read it – a book that makes you yearn for the city of water, cats, mermaids and history.

Venetian cat: Venice used to be a city of cats – but then they decided to sort out their strays and they have been moved onto a local island. Which is a pity – it is still a city of cats; the dogs are there as a temporary anomaly – I am sure the felines will return – after all, Venice is an intricate city full of tiny alleys, and bridges, and little space for dogs to exercise, and the cats are still there. You just have to keep an eye out…

*Having written and illustrated this post, I find on typing in the Categories and Tags that it seems I have already reviewed it. No matter – it is definitely worth two posts.

**As to that lady who sadly hadn’t enjoyed her visit to Venice.

I was confused by this reply, and asked her what it was that she didn’t like.

To which she replied ‘The gondolas’. Venice Canal:

I assumed she hadn’t meant the boats (they are a beautiful craft) and that she had meant gondoliers (the gentlemen who punt them) and that one of them had been a little unprofessional, perhaps and asked her.

To which she replied ‘No, the gondolas!’ So I asked her what it was that she didn’t like about the gondolas – and she replied

‘They wobble!’ Which is true and part of their charm.

There was nothing I could do or say about that and so she left without buying this miraculous piece of writing…

The second volume in the series is called The Mourning Emporium, and the last, Talina in the Tower – since they are all in print, you may as well buy them together. After all, you will buy them once you have read The Undrowned Child, so why wait and have to return to the book shop to get them? Or for Waterstones to deliver them? Image result for talina in the tower

 

 

 

 

 

Picture credits: venetiamicio.blogspot.fr / Patti Wood

 

 

Published by Allison & Busby

I picked this up as I had finished my last Children’s book, and needed something to read on the journey home. Most will know that I don’t read many Adult books – I find that if I am to give an honest review and help our younger readers then I need to have read the books I suggest. Most of my customers are visiting the Children’s section – so I read mainly children’s books. I do though like a little bit of crime (usually of the ‘friendly’ variety, though I do like Janet Evanovich), some more classical volumes have stolen my heart (Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, the short stories of Saki/HH Munro), & the odd bit of non-fiction too, also grace my shelves.

This is, I think the second in The Bradecote & Catchpoll mysteries. I haven’t read the first having only found this one in the proof piles at work. A nice mix of history and crime. I didn’t expect to be drawn into the descriptive passages as I have been.

He was quite young, perhaps only in his late twenties, but the stern demeanour aged him. He was tall, almost gangly, and the robe hung from him as though is body were the clapper of a bell. The ring of hair about his tonsure was very dark, and showed a tendency to wave, but looked as though such frivolity was frequently chastised by water and comb. The dark brows beetled over a finely chiselled face with hard grey eyes.

Its super – the plot is engaging, the deaths not too graphic, wonderful characters and I love the English. Set in 12th Century Worcester it feels accurate historically (I am no historian) – and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I shall be looking to see if we have Servant of Death on our shelves when I get back to work in a couple of days – and if its not there I will be ordering a copy. If it is – I shall be buying it and settling down another good read.

There is something about reading an ‘Adult’ book that always makes me feel a little guilty (I really should be reading more 9-12 / Teenage / 5-8) – however, I am enjoying this so much I am not feeling a even a little bit shame-faced.

After all – I think a 9-12 reader could read it and enjoy it, just as much as those who are a little older. So go out and buy this, but don’t, if you are buying books from Finchley Road O2 buy the last copy of Servant of Death (if it is in stock), until I have had a chance…I will have finished this one by the time I go back to work on Saturday…

Actually I think I might have circumvented any of you who might be thinking of buying our last copy – it seems we do have one in stock (so the Internet says), and so I have used technology and have Clicked and will Collect on Saturday – so there! You can’t have it (if they find it) – I have reserved it. Do though buy another copy – or order one. If it is as good as this – and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be – it will be worth every penny.

 

Published by Faber & Faber.

I shall never think of mackerel in the same way again.

This is a beautiful book, unlike any I have read before. Billy’s ‘thing’ is Natural History, the strange and peculiar; the interesting facts about animals that make the subject so fascinating. His hero, is also one of mine – Sir David Attenborough, who makes regular visits to Billy in his daydreams, as his mind wanders away from life when he doesn’t want to deal with the more challenging things that it periodically throws at us all. He watches all David’s programmes, and he knows that he has all the answers to everything – to all the questions, he just has to listen and he will answer.

Billy is different, not the usual boy. Being different isn’t good, at least that is what Billy has found. His class find him strange and as Billy knows that isn’t always good in the animal kingdom.

Then a new boy arrives at school, another boy who is interested in Natural History. He though is different from Billy; he can’t swim, and Billy can. Patrick though, can do other things…and is willing to wait for his friend, when many others wouldn’t.

The imaginative text – which is so peculiar to the book is reflected in the use of typeface  – which along with the illustrations makes this very unique.

It is a beautifully illustrated volume – the book has superb free and paste-down endpapers and a lovely dust jacket with fish swimming on them – and one in particular, a mackerel facing Fish Boy on the front. It is handsomely designed and the pictures really contribute to making this a very special book – they make it more of a gift and rather special.

It has been published in hardback, but it would have been a disservice to both the story, design and illustrations if it hadn’t been. It costs a little more, but you receive more than you pay when you purchase such a volume.

Buy it.

Image: Anne Cecile

Published by Walker Books

This is a ‘good one’ as my colleague texted me, when I mentioned I was finishing it yesterday. That is an understatement. This is a story of a young boy and a monster that comes calling. Exactly what it says on the cover. It is an extraordinary book of hope and acceptance, love and bravery.

I hope that the film I am going to see on Thursday will live up to the book. I am concerned that this might not be the case. My friends, however, all say that those involved with the production of this film of this book are ‘good’, and to have hope that it won’t be a debacle.

I firmly believe that if a book comes out, and a film is then made of it – that you should read the book first and that the reverse of that statement is true too. The Hobbit, (the films) has small nuggets of wonder, (when we first glimpse Smaug and when he spins to get rid of the gold that was covering him, for example), but the films were in my view nothing to do with the original tale as Tolkien wrote it.

If it is worth making a film of a book, then the book must, therefore, be a good one. Why else would you do it?

I never understand why film producers should muck about with plots that the author was happy with when it was published. A part of the book which is intrinsic to the story – that story which was so good that it resulted in the film maker being interested in making a film in the first place. So I’m a little concerned. Never-the-less I have a ticket for Thursday and I hope, as advised, that this one will be different and will have at least the soul, the essence of the book.

If so, I will quietly cry in my seat, as I did in my lunch break yesterday, as I finished this extraordinary book.

I should have read this many years ago – but never got around to it. The film, I admit pushed me into going back to it now, and I knew as soon as I started it that I would love it just as much as I did The Knife of Never Letting Go.

This is not just a good one – its marvellous, full of heart. It is an extraordinary story.

Read it, before you go and see the film.

Image result for a Monster calls book walker books

Published by Simon & Schuster

This is book is a Russian doll of stories, each fitting in the other. Centred around Alice a young author who always finishes her tales. Well, always, apart from this one. This is Alice’s story, and Midge’s, her younger brother’s. When Alice disappears along with Twitch his cat, Midge is taken aback when he thinks he sees his sister, but she doesn’t acknowledge him. Then she disappears completely and a rather talkative black cat arrives. Similar in some ways to Twitch, but slightly different physically, and Twitch never spoke and certainly didn’t drink tea…

This is the first Michelle Harrison volume I have read (which is embarrassing), but she is known for her superb writing (in particular The Thirteen series) – and I’m only sorry I have only just got around to reading her.

If stories, magic, adventure, danger, mysteries and puzzles have proven good ingredients for good books before, then this is one you can’t afford to miss.

This kaleidoscope of stories is frankly fascinating and intriguing.

Enjoy it –

Published by Macmillan January 2017

I hope that Macmillan will publish this book in such a way that it looks as though it has been covered by a hoar frost. This is the story of the turning of the seasons, the power of Autumn, of frost, and the power of Spring and of nature itself. It is a remarkable and wonderful tale of trickery, death, hope and of friendship. It is the tale of spirits, of life itself. I loved this. There are some aspects that are similar to the Percy Jackson series (Rick Riordan) – however, I prefer this – a more elemental story, darker in some ways and something I can really relate to having walked my estate this morning through a hoar frost; the grass a pale green, crunchy under foot.

This book should give the designers at Macmillan a chance to really make something of it. The proof I read had a lovely owl on the cover, but not quite the owl that I would have chosen. It does not depict the dark side as much as it should and there is little or no frost – just some snow like designs dotted around the bird of prey. I have searched the Internet in my usual way to give you a picture of what the actual published book will look like – and the above seems to be the design that Macmillan are using.

I’m afraid, I hope this isn’t the case.

Whilst owls are important in the story, surely this book is about frost, that spiky extraordinary stuff that makes designs on metal, leaves, grass and water… Some while ago I wrote a post on this blog about rime – the patterns found on cars – perhaps Macmillan can find something of the sort to make this volume really stand out – it certainly deserves something of the sort. Something that makes you think it will be cold to the touch – not shinny – cold… We will see what they can do! The pictures below are copies of those I took early one morning of the ice patterns on the tops of cars… I would be very happy for them to be used for this volume…

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