Archives for posts with tag: Book Review

Published by Harper Collins

This series has been on my radar for some time, but I never picked one up until today. I borrowed the first volume from our shelves to read with my lunch. I haven’t put it down. I am presently reading a book on Madagascar (too heavy to carry to work), Alison Weir’s new paperback biography/fictional account of Anne Boleyn, a book on venom and now this – which I suspect will be my ‘main’ read until it is finished.

I’m only up to page 82. My favourite quote though, so far, was on page 28:

“Stuffed dogs, Miss?” I wondered aloud.

“Can’t stand the things. I like to see them dead.” replied Miss Fox

You can tell she’s not on the good side…immediately. Someone to watch.

This is something I am really enjoying. I should be having some time off soon (if all goes to plan), and if I do, I have a feeling I will be wanting to read all the other titles by Sophie Cleverly – The Whispers in the Walls, The Dance in the Dark, The Lights Under the Lake, and The Curse in the Candlelight.

Even the titles are intriguing.

What have I been doing?

I feel this series has been overlooked by the publicists, and the reading public. To my shame I have overlooked the books. They have not given the attention they deserve.

The Lost Twin (book one in the series) is a superb story. Scarlet has gone. Scarlet was brave, outspoken, determined and everything Ivy is not. Ivy though, has been enrolled in Scarlet’s school…to replace her…to become her…

It’s quite a thing to be told that you don’t exist anymore…

Its brilliant!

For twins and for people who are not twins – everywhere…

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Published by Piccadilly Press.

I love rain. I was staying with my uncle on his farm in Laikipia, Kenya some years ago and my cousin complained that the ‘rains’ hadn’t come. I offered to encourage the weather with a rain dance. George was a pragmatic farmer and African, and he laughed at me. The next day he complained that though it had rained, it hadn’t rained on his tomatoes. So, I promised him more for that night, and danced a dance in the middle of the courtyard…like I have never danced before… or since, to be truthful. I don’t do much in the way of dancing.

The thunderstorm that occurred that night was like nothing I have ever experienced. Loud, all-pervading, and glorious! I couldn’t hear my Mum when she spoke directly into my ear…and the smell was, well – quite sumptuous.

I have always liked the rain, in preference to the sun – so much more going on.

This is a new dystopian volume from Zillah Bethell (author of A Whisper of Horses) – in an era where water is the rarest commodity in the world and as a result those who have water, or are able to use distillation plants to obtain fresh water are at war with those who don’t. This is the background to this multilayered story of a young boy with achromatopsia, a condition which results in the suffer being totally colour blind. They see the world in a spectrum of greys and whites – a rainbow means very little to them.

At the beginning of the story Auden’s father is away fighting in the war. His uncle, a scientist has recently died and left his cottage to his family and Auden’s mother has moved them from London to the country.  Which is when this really begins.

The book raises various questions and ideas, beliefs and thoughts: Does everything have to have a purpose? Is that why things exist? What makes a thing a living entity? What makes us human?

The ideas include the fact that for the most part, humans are kind and truthful and wise and decent and that we should recognise difficulties for what they are, and press on regardless.

Achromatopsia is a real condition – though suffers, the Internet informs me, not only have an inability to see colour, but other aspects of their sight are also affected. Particularly when in bright sun light, and though this is something that Auden also has to deal with, the idea that he is able to see better than someone without it, in poor light, seems not to be the case.

This is a story about doing what is right. Believing in yourself. Friendship, bravery and sacrifice.

 

 

Published by Pushkin Books

This is a rather pretty little hardback. Just 88 pages. It tells the story of two children caught in a snow drift, and taken in by a dog.

I have always liked Irish Wolfhounds – long legged and full of character. This relates the story of the poet, and his relationship with his dog, and the dog’s relationship with the children. Its about love. How someone can be with us, even when they are gone. This is a poignant little volume. It contains a small amount of poetry and is a moving story.

At the moment the book is a reflection of my life, in away. I know that someone I cared about and lived alongside and with me for many years is no longer here. I find, however, that she is also with me, as the poet is with the dog, in this small volume.

Its a rather special.

The picture below is off the Internet – credited as The Pinnacle of Nobility – on Pinterest.

 

        

Published by Piccadilly Press.

It is 03.09 in the morning. Dark. Silent, apart from my oil heater clicking gently behind me. I woke a while ago to continue reading this extraordinary volume.

This is a story set in Grey Britan, after the Gasses. The world has changed, things are not as they once were. Lahn Dan is contained within the Emm Twenty-five and there is nothing beyond.

‘there’s nothing outside of the Emm Twenty-five. Everything outside Lahn Dan is Dead.’

People and society have changed too.

The Aus live lives that are easier than most, though much of their world is fake. They are secure. Have hot water. Fresh food and their grass is green. They have been changed to look like the people of history, those known for their looks. They are beautiful. The Cus, meanwhile, are only able to use technology to support the Aus, and Pb they are the lowest of the low. They work. Have nothing, but stories, are almost illiterate, don’t eat food, but consume small pills for sustenance. Their grass is a sort of muddy brown colour.  They are set apart.

Aus – gold, Cus – copper and Pb – lead.

Lahn Dan to Serendipity is a place of darkness, filth, and hard-work. A place of bridges over the Tems – which she knows used to be one of the largest rivers in the world. Serendipity has never seen a river, but she has heard about them. The Tems is now a thick line of mud, used to dispose of anything unwanted, whether human or otherwise.

London is filled with images of horses. The National Gallery contains, of course, that stunning picture Whistlejacket by Stubbs, along with many others, including The Horses of Achilles, by van Dyke. Then there are the statues: Richard III on horseback outside the Houses of Parliament. The horses in the sculpture entitled Animals at War in Park Lane – there are thousands of them. Lahn Dan is filled with them too..

This book was a serendipitous find. I saw a brief glimpse of its existence in a piece of ephemera at work. Then sent out a plea for a reading copy – a proof, any form of this book for me to read. The author responded promptly and sent me a copy of the hardback – which I took home the day before yesterday, and started to read last night.

I am now just 55 pages into the book. I can’t leave it alone, yet am having to stop, every now and then, because I’m worried about what Serendipity has done, who she has met, and what decisions she is about to make. There are many characters who can and without doubt will affect the run of this story – and one I am in particular, a member of the Aus society, of whom I am most suspicious.

The book quotes a poem I read at school entitled The Horses by Edwin Muir –

We did not dare go near them. Yet they waited, 

Stubborn and shy, as if they had been sent

By an old command to find our whereabouts

And that long-lost archaic companionship.

 I have ridden horses. I have been snuffled at. I have been examined and in turn gazed back, into those gorgeous eyes. I have been trusted. I have ridden like the wind, my mount and I as one, both together. In a small way, I have been part of that archaic companionship. This is a celebration of all of that.

The paperback is due out on the 25th of this month. I’m afraid I prefer the hardback’s dust-jacket to the cover of the new edition coming out – it is perhaps less eye catching, it is perhaps more traditional.  A book though, is more than its cover, as we all know – so  if you can find a copy of the hardback before the 25th of January – then buy it (£9.99).

If not, then order the paperback (£6.99).

I suppose it isn’t long till the 25th of January.

 

 

 

 

 

Published by Chicken House

I once had a balloon flight. I was a member of a group called S.P.I.C.E. (Special Programme of Initiative Challenge and Excitement, if I remember correctly), and had become rather ‘hooked’ on anything to do with flying: I skydived, flew a helicopter, a Mark 2 (I think) Provost Jet, experienced a basic aerobatics flight, followed by a second that was to competition standard, flew a glider, a tiger moth (including doing a loop the loop), and had a lesson in a small plane. I also had the flight in a balloon. It was remarkably peaceful and as though the world was turning beneath, rather than we flying above it – it was most peculiar.

This is about the race to construct and fly the first controlled balloon flight. Its about a young fingersmith (pick-pocket) who is employed to steal a box at the start of this intriguing and rather wonderful story. Which seems a simple enough proposal…initially.

Her adventures, though, are just beginning; as a result of a spur in the moment decision she becomes caught in the ropes dangling below a balloon and finds herself being carried above the trees and a barn…the river below a silver slither of brightness.

When she recovers, (which takes a while) she is offered a job working for the family from whom she was to steal the box…and its not long before her disappointed previous employer appears on the scene…

This is (remarkably) the story of the Montgolfier hot-air balloon -which was unveiled before King Louis XVI of France in 1793. I’m afraid I knew nothing of the two Montgolfier brothers, however, the Internet (the modern day encyclopedia), makes this reference:

On 19 September 1783, the Aérostat Réveillon was flown with the first living beings in a basket attached to the balloon: a sheep called Montauciel (“Climb-to-the-sky”), a duck and a rooster. The sheep was believed to have a reasonable approximation of human physiology. The duck was expected to be unharmed by being lifted and was included as a control for effects created by the aircraft rather than the altitude. The rooster was included as a further control as it was a bird that did not fly at high altitudes. The demonstration was performed at the royal palace in Versailles before King Louis XVI of France and Queen Marie Antoinette and a crowd. The flight lasted approximately eight minutes, covered two miles (3 km), and obtained an altitude of about 1,500 feet (460 m). The craft landed safely after flying.

I don’t know what has happened, but 2018 looks to being a quality year for Children’s writing. This is superb – I have even had to put it down at intervals, because I have been too scared to read what happens next.

Out now. Buy it, read it, and pass it on.

NB – I note two authors. Neal Jackson won The Big Idea Competition in 2014 – and Emma Carroll was asked by Chicken House to write the story based on his idea. So you have two authors. Magic.

Published by Chicken House

A story of crime fighters, but not the usual kind. These are from a freak show – each different from the norm and from one another as they could be: grotesque and curious.

This is the story of missing mud-larks, murder, dastardly deeds, murder and mayhem. Set in Victorian London – the Great Exhibition has opened its doors to the great and the good, but otherwise London was still one of the most aromatic places in the world, and not in a good way.

This is a story of misbegotten characters, and the search for perpetual beauty.

Funny, disturbing, engrossing – a book by the author of  The Legend of Podkin One-Ear and The Dark Hollow. Perhaps for slightly older readers – Superb.

 

Published by Oxford University Press

Anger. True anger, the sort where nothing else matters is usually indicated by shouting, red faces, noise and confusion.

This book is about the power of anger.

The power of revenge.

Families and real friendship.

It is a tale of power. The use of power for good and the not so good.

It is the story of Ned Harrison Arkle-Smith, his two sisters and his parents who have decided that they can no longer continue to live together as husband and wife.

Though rather than sell their home, with its large staircase and hall, they decide to keep the family together by splitting the house between them. So when Ned returns from a trip away, he finds his home divided by walls. The front hall now has two doors. One for his Dad, the other for his Mum and the year will be split with him and sisters visiting each parent on alternate weeks.

This is not how things are supposed to be.  Ned can’t see why things can’t be the way they were. He can’t understand his sisters either and when he finds his best friend has made new friends, and has new interests from the summer, his anger grows.

Written in the first person this is also a brilliant book about parents. Who on the whole do try to make things as right as they can. Its about change, friendship and dealing with things.

 

 

 

 

 

Published by Bloomsbury.

I was sorting the picture books today and came across this book, that I hadn’t come across before. Norman lives a ‘normal’ life, until the day he grows some wings.

Rather than upset his parents, Norman begins to wear a heavy coat to cover his feathers. Which is fine outside when its raining, but not so good when the sun is shining or he is indoors.

His parents wait a while, as the coat gets tattier, until the day when Norman realises that the thing that is making him hot and bothered isn’t his set of wings, but his coat. When he at last throws it aside he realises that everyone is hiding sets of wings too – and he needn’t have worried.

This is a wonderful book about normality. The fact that we all have wings and should perhaps just enjoy them – after all what is normal for me is normal…

It is super – and its always a joy coming across a book like this when you are half way through removing every book form a section, off the shelves so you can dust, and then return them all in order.

Marvellous.

Published by Simon and Schuster

I haven’t got very far with this yet – but it is quite an extraordinary volume.

It is a brilliant piece of fantastic fiction and adventure that (so far) involves an evil ice queen, a young boy with his arctic fox cub, and a young girl frozen alive onto a musical box.

It is intriguing, well written and (so far), quite wonderful – It has all the elements to making this a very, very good story. At the moment I am at home writing this up, and outside it is cold, with rain/sleet – a day for snuggling down with a good book. Which I intend to do – with this one. Though I think I might put the fire on first.

‘…Flint found himself wondering whether birthplace, parentage and appearance were really the things that you should list people under. Somehow courage and loyalty seemed better markers.’

‘Belonging is not about knowing your tribe. Its about trusting people whatever their tribe.’

Read it – I know this is a ‘good one’.

Later…I seem to be savouring this volume – not finished yet – but it is a brilliant and a superb read. An absolute ‘must by’. Good thing Waterstones is making it the Children’s Book of the Month for January! Go out and buy a copy – and get another book in the promotion for half price (if cheaper than this), or get this one for half price, if the other is more…

Or just buy, borrow or beg a copy. It isn’t expensive. It’s a paperback and its good.

 

 

Published by Harper Collins

This is a rather clever book. I am not sure I would ever have wanted to live for ever. The world changes so fast, and not always for the better. I wouldn’t have minded being able to time travel, though, that would be different. As long as I was able to return to where I should be; today – now: 27th of December 2017 at 10.57 am.

This story, though, (unless everything changes), is about a boy who will essentially live forever. Like Peter Pan, he will never grow up; he will stay 11 years old and unless he has an accident, will never die.

For some, that sounds almost perfect. Alfie, though, finds his friends grow away from him. They don’t understand how he can stay a boy, when their interests begin to change. He is still playing football and with his cat and wants to stay with his mother. His interests are still those of an 11 year old boy. Friends never last long.

He and his mother live a very quiet life. His father died a long time ago from an accident on a ship and so they live in peace with his cat.

When his mother dies in a fire, Alfie finds himself alone and begins to think that perhaps he would prefer to grow up with his friends and to live a normal life. He has one opportunity to do this, a way of changing things. Other factors, however, are beginning to be brought to bear on his life – things are changing and being a boy alone, life is getting more complicated, more difficult.

This is about a boy and Biffa, his cat from around 1014 AD. living in the 21st C. It is clever and touching. What happens in the end, is for me coloured by Biffa’s survival – but for all that, this is a story of friendship, history and that peculiar yearning we have to ‘live for ever’. Do we really want to?