Archives for category: For 9 – Adult

Published by Orion.

I have just returned from 18 days in Madagascar – a trip to the North. Of which I will probably write a post at some point or another, once I have recovered. A land of infinite variety and fascination.

There are a few disadvantages to going on holiday at this time of the year – Christmas was coming just before I left and whilst I was away, it came in like the proverbial hurricane it always is. I am astonished by how much stuff is ‘needed’ by young people, when I compare what the average Malagasy child has – it really puts ‘our’ now probably more ‘traditional’ Christmas – a season of ‘want’, in perspective…

I will stop ranting now and let you know about one of the other disadvantages. You can miss out on good books – unless you have kindly colleagues who let you know about them on your return. Young Amabel found this one whilst I was away and raved about it so much when I walked into the department on Monday I knew I would have to read it.

It has, I’m sorry to say, a rather unexciting dust jacket.

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The boards of the book though reflect the content  and are wonderful (they even have gold highlights) – with just enough flavour to indicate the darkness of this inventive and superb adventure – I am loving it – At the beginning of the book Morrigan Crow has an appointment with death. She knows when she will die – the date is in the diary. Her stepmother, however,  proposes that there is another side to death; life – and whilst her family and Morrigan sit down to her last meal – a ‘celebration’ of sorts, her stepmother informs her husband that she is pregnant – ‘It’s like…the circle of life. One life may be snuffed out, but another is being brought into the world. Why, it’s practically a miracle!’

The book is superbly complex, and filled with clever ideas… It is a new world for everyone to enjoy. It is one to savour; funny, scary and a little mystical. If you like magic – with a twist, and I suppose if you liked Harry Potter – you will almost certainly love this, and in someways Jupiter reminds me a little of Dr Who… which is frankly quite glorious…

This is a fantastic book and everyone should have a copy for Christmas.

Do not be put off by the cover, (or the majority of the pictures which illustrate the chapter headings) they do not reflect the intricacies and sophistication of the story. Then again, do not let my enjoyment of the darkness and the complexities of the tale to put you off either.

It has the right balance and is marvellous.

They just shouldn’t have published it with a dust jacket – as Amabel said, ‘naked’ it is superb. The dust jacket, just lacks a little something.

They should just have dared to go bare!

I have only one other complaint. I like to ask good authors to come for book-signings at Finchley Road O2 – Jessica Townsend lives in Australia – and even if I managed to persuade her to come, I doubt that Waterstones would be willing to cover her travel expenses. If, however, she should read this – and is coming anyway to the UK – a very warm welcome would await her in Finchley Road O2 Waterstones. Just let me know…

 

 

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Published by Walker Books

I am loving this. Even though I have only read 88 of 278 pages of my proof. This is one of those good books. Atmospheric, unique and full of character.*

At the beginning of the story Mup and Tipper are travelling back home from the hospital in the back of the car. Mup’s mam isn’t talking, singing or talking. The car is silent, with the moon shining, the colour of brass, large and strange in the sky. Tipper has fallen asleep, drooling a little on the straps of his car seat. Mup would have liked him to have been awake, just as company, even if he wasn’t able to have a conversation yet, being a little too small. She rests her head against the window, watching the trees flash by and that is when she sees the witches.

There were men witches and women  witches, and they leapt from branch to branch, racing along at tremendous speed. They were nothing but shadows among shadows, so that Mup had to strain her eyes to see them. She watched for so long that she began to fall asleep again, half convinced she was dreaming after all. Then one of the witches jumped the gap between two trunks, her silhouette dark against the fine grey of the sky. She descended in a falling arc, her clothes blown back like ragged black wings. As her pale hands reached for the branches of the next tree, she looked down into the car and met Mup’s eyes…

This is wonderful – a distraction from everything I should be doing (certainly not writing another post, or wanting to read this) – which is a sign of a very good book.

The use of language is beautiful too – which is always a bonus, small terms of phrase, little jewels of words to treasure.

As always I have’t read the blurb – I try not to, however, this does quote the Sunday Independent on the back – Ireland’s answer to J. K. Rowling. If that persuades you to buy a copy of this extraordinary volume when it comes out on the 1st of February (I know – next year, but it is September now…just five months to wait) – then all the better.

It has become a habit to compare this type of book and the authors of them with Harry Potter and J.K.R. Not necessarily a good thing. I think she could learn a great deal from Celine Kiernan – this is super.

The cover of my proof is rather lovely, but the only representation I can find of it on the Internet is not perfect, so I looked at Celine’s blog to find she has been working on the above animation – which I have stolen – so much more fun than a picture of a book. I hope she doesn’t mind…

Go out and order a copy from your nearest good bookshop.

* Just thought I would give you an update. Finished this on the train to work this morning. It is as brilliant as the first 88 pages indicated it would be.

It is the start of a trilogy – now waiting for book two.

Impatiently.

 

Published by Oxford

This is, by far, my favourite book by Gill Lewis.

It is the story of two brothers. It is also the story of hen harriers and a divided community. Its about standing up for what is right, or what you believe is right. Its a story of acceptance, learning and supporting one another. Its a story of a family, and yes, a story of two brothers.

It is a wonderful book. It should be read along side A Very Good Chance by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald – it has a similar positive vibe.

The world is changing, there is nothing new in that. Sometimes it can be a good thing. We need to nurture these positives against the negatives. They may be small, but they are important.

This is brilliant – absolutely brilliant.

This superb picture is by Mark Hamlin (www.discoverwildlife.com).

Published by Pushkin Books – September 2017

Translated from Swedish by Peter Graves

My proof was/is an oversized paperback, 8 x 6, and about 2 inches thick. Some 589 pages, including the last which is an illustration.

This is the story of Sally Jones, a ship’s engineer who’s captain is wrongly accused and convicted of murder.  It tells the tale of her adventures trying to find a way to prove his innocence. There are many circumstances and people out to prevent her from succeeding – and it is a wonderful tangle of adventure, travel, three humped camels, accordions, music, sailing, friendship, bravery and the odd fight too! I’m afraid I haven’t finished this yet, reaching only page 260 – mainly because I have been reading Sally’s adventures before I go to sleep, and not carrying  it around with me.

Sally Jones is talented, clever and observant, and also happens to be an ape, which means that though she can’t talk, she can certainly communicate, and is literate too. Being an ape amongst humans, however, adds to her problems. She won’t be able to help her captain from the inside of a zoo…

The illustrations at the head of each chapter are superb – full of wonderful detail – beautifully illustrating each chapter – so each is unique, these are not devices, but pictures to be studied and enjoyed as much as the story.

This is, I’m afraid another success for Pushkin. I seem to be a bit of a fan of this publishing house – but there you go – good books deserve good reviews, and Pushkin keep producing good books, and it is obvious they must have good authors to write them. The publisher’s info. states that it should be published on the 7th of September – in a jacketed hardback (just as it should be) – the illustrations alone are worth the extra cost. Buy this for anyone special you know, who like a good book – I am sure you know someone and it would be a delight to receive as a Christmas Prezzie – or ‘seasonal gift’ – whatever you like to call the holidays around December…

Published by Bloomsbury – Early September 2017

I really shouldn’t be writing this post – I should be trying to find a way of making some cash – ASAP.  Instead of which I have listed all the out going amounts (some are estimates; the house is peeling as though it has a bad case of eczema) and its beginning to worry me a bit – not the house, the finances. So I’m doing what I am good at, and sticking my head firmly in the sand, and writing about a proof that I have just finished and loved.

This is a tale of two sets of siblings. The first two are sisters – bound up with each other, getting one another into scrapes as they grow up amongst the higher echelons of society. That is they were, until one sister is accused and convicted of theft – and not just any theft. The other pair are a sister and brother. The sister to become queen, both though, secure and safe, or so one would have thought…

This is a brilliant adventure full of bravery, fear and a wonderful distraction from all mundane things like paying bills, doing the ironing, booking boiler appointments and other such interesting things…. It is a tale of friendship and is full of mystery too.

There is reference, on the back of the proof, to the book being for fans of Katherine Rundell, Eva Ibbotson and Cornelia Funke – and so it is, but I think it is also from a new unique author who is one to watch in her own right.

Also on the back of the proof is a note stating there is to be a second volume – which is marvellous – that is due out in 2018.

Wolves, adventure, mystery, bravery and treachery mixed – what more could you want?

A small comment about design. Each chapter starts with the notation of which it is, Chapter 1, 2 and so on, with an arrow design beneath. Someone somewhere in Bloomsbury has taken the trouble to ensure that the arrow on the chapter headings points one way on the verso pages, and the other way on the recto – which pleases me more than it should. I suspect its something to do with Dad, who designs books…

As always with proofs, I have no idea whether the picture above is the one that will be used on the cover…but it is a rather good one.

It would make a very good House of Ghibli animated film – perhaps someone will read it and do something about that. Sadly I don’t have any connections in the film industry, however, you never know who might just be reading this blog…

 

 

 

 

This is a stunningly beautiful slim small volume. It contains a simple tale of a small group of people; adults, children and a dog.  Adrift in the sea in a boat. They don’t have much to share: their stories, a scarf, a scrap of food, the warmth and affection of an animal and a violin. The violinist, who couldn’t leave his instrument behind, plays some music and tells his story and that of the violin in his hands…

This is a book about freedom – hope and bravery.

 

 

 

 

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….