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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.

 

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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

 

 

Undrowned ChildPublished by Orion Press

I am a little astonished that I haven’t reviewed this superb volume on my blog before – you will understand when I tell you that I must have sold well over a thousand copies of this book – by that I mean hand-selling it to anyone I think would enjoy it.

I received a proof of it when I was working in the now defunct branch in Harrods (I was there for 15 years or so) – and fell in love with it. At that time I had an ‘Account’ on the Waterstones web site and was able to review it:

‘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…’

I then organised for Michelle to come to the store for an event, for which I wasn’t in store, however, I know it was a success and that she was very touched as I received a gorgeous bar of mandarin Venetian marzipan (and a signed copy) from her as a result. You don’t really need to know about that though – you are only interested in the book – so my curious friends…

If you have been to Venice, and fallen in love with that aromatic, aquatic city, with its history and stories, then this is the book for you.

That is unless you don’t like the gondolas. I had a customer, once, who said she didn’t like Venice and when I asked why, she complained about the gondolas, as, to quote her, ‘…they moved…’ It was at that point I gave up – I think she is the only customer I have tried to sell this book to, who hasn’t gone away with it in their pocket.

If you haven’t been taken by your parents, or your partner has been,  but you haven’t – then I suggest you do something about it. If your parents have been and haven’t taken you, then they haven’t (in my opinion) done their job properly. There really is nothing like the city, mysterious & beautiful; a gem of a place… If your partner has been and you haven’t. Then that alone would be a measure for me to decide whether to continue with the relationship, or not…

This book takes a nugget of the history of the city and its people and has a glorious piece of fantasy wrapped around it. Michelle Lovric loves the city. She had at one time a small apartment in an palazzo – and has written many books on the history and stories. Her first books about the city were for adults, this was her first for young readers. She used her knowledge of the city and wound it into a world that is both beautiful and twisted. Parts of this are dark. I cannot repeat this enough, but the plot is glorious, our heroine, brave and resourceful, the  mermaids (there are mermaids), are NOTHING like any mermaids you have ever come across, and are not to be discarded as rock decoration – they have attitude.

The language is superb, and is wonderful – colouring the story….

It is an expensive book. Not because of the intrinsic cost (£6.99), but because you will want to visit the city afterwards – to find the places mentioned in the book and to just saturate yourself in the story, and the city as a result of it. The additional costs include: flights, hotel, food (always a joy), a trip on a gondola (if you have never been to Venice, this is a must, but isn’t one of the less expensive experiences in the city), and of course some sort of souvenier… Do not go in the  summer – there are too many tourists. The spring and the autumn are the times to go and remember to take something warm – it can be quite chilly in the evenings…the water is never far away and remember to take with you your copy of The Undrowned Child

It is probably time I revisited the city.

We keep this in the 9 – 12 section of the store. It is true that some of the younger readers in this reading group will love it. Others though might find it a bit much, so for comfort’s sake I have listed this as 12 and onwards…after all the last sentence or so of the introduction are the following:

A Case of Baddened Magic

‘…They found all the bodies in the end, except that of the baby.

Stories flew about. ‘Such a tiny little mite, the fish ate her.’ people whispered.’