To be honest I’m presuming that the majority, if not all, of you are well aware of the plot of Dodie Smith’s novel. Perhaps more from the Disney films...moreTo be honest I’m presuming that the majority, if not all, of you are well aware of the plot of Dodie Smith’s novel. Perhaps more from the Disney films than the books, but most people know all about Cruella De Vil and her plans for Dalmatian fur coats.
Life for Mr and Mrs Dearly and their dogs, Pongo and Misses, is going well. They live near Regent’s Park in London and are very comfortably well off, Mr Dearly having helped the government out with its sums, he doesn’t really have to worry about money any more. But one day they bump into an old school-friend of Mrs Dearly, Cruella De Vil, and she takes quite a shine to Pongo and Misses. She loves their wonderfully spotted Dalmatian coats, and when the dogs have puppies she becomes even more interested.
One day returning home from a walk the Dearlys and the Pongos are distraught to realise their fifteen puppies have disappeared! Stolen!
Mr Dearly at once offers a reward, but the dogs are not prepared to sit around and wait for their “pets” to find their puppies, they get the news out on Twilight Barking and pretty soon learn where the puppies have been taken to. Then they are off to Suffolk to rescue them. I would say I haven’t read this book in more than twenty years, if not longer than that, but as I was reading it I could remember it all so well. Every new dog that made its appearance was an old friend. I have no idea how many times I read and reread this book as a child. I know it was a lot.
But my familiarity with it did nothing to lessen my enjoyment of it. I simply love this book. Smith’s way of telling the tale is just such a delight to read. And while the gender roles might date this book quite a lot, I can’t see any reason why a modern reader wouldn’t enjoy this book. Especially if they were a dog lover. And Cruella, although not on stage a huge amount, is a wonderful villain. The threat she poses looms over the dogs and the whole story the whole way through. If you get a chance you really should pick up this classic and give it a go. If only for the illustrations. They are simple, black and white, but so effective.
This is my first book for this year’s Once Upon a Time reading challenge, it may not be an old folk tale or fairy tale, but it has that wonderful fairy tale atmosphere that I think is such a part of OUaT. Plus, you know, talking dogs really is fantasy fiction :)(less)
I am miles and miles and miles away from being obsessive and compulsive, yet I do have a completion-ist streak in me. That is the only excuse I offer...moreI am miles and miles and miles away from being obsessive and compulsive, yet I do have a completion-ist streak in me. That is the only excuse I offer for continuing to read this series of books. It isn’t that they are bad, or horrible. There is nothing Meyer-Twilight-horrific enough to keep me reading because I just can’t look away from the wrongness of it all. But at the same time, this is not a good book. Action and adventure and flying horses. That’s why I read the first one. Why I read the second… well, it could have improved. It didn’t really, but it was more of the same. Enough to let me know that while this series of books was perfectly adequate for certain tastes, it wasn’t for mine. I like character. Well drawn characters. This does not have that. It has a very simplistic plot and very simplistic characters. I don’t write that to knock the book. That is what it is aiming to be, I think and hope :) and there is nothing wrong with children’s books being just that. Of course the very best of children’s books have layers and complexity. This doesn’t. It is a simple story, and it is told in an entertaining fashion. With battles and action galore. It has people standing up for what they believe in, occasionally they may not do the “correct” thing, but they try to do the right thing. So it’ll pass an afternoon, and I think that if I was a child this would be a book that I would love.(less)
Monzo is a small dog, he usually recognises people by their footwear. He starts out life with “the cruel man” who docks his tale, but soon he comes to...moreMonzo is a small dog, he usually recognises people by their footwear. He starts out life with “the cruel man” who docks his tale, but soon he comes to live with a new family where he starts to learn about life.
As you know if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time I’m a sucker for animal stories, especially dogs or horses. And when they are children’s books they usually make for quick reads, this is exactly that. It is a nice tale, with some nice illustrations. Although really I suppose it is a collection of stories, each being an adventure that Monzo experiences. There is learning from the neighbourly rabbit, who even speaks the cúpla focal as gaeilge((couple of words in Irish)) , as well as dealing with “bad dogs” who chase sheep and everything in between.
All in all, it is a lovely little story for any dog lovers out there, recommended for ages 7 to 9ish.(less)
It is hard to avoid comparisons with Harry Potter when your story stars parentless children, a hidden magical world, and a wise old wizard, not to me...more It is hard to avoid comparisons with Harry Potter when your story stars parentless children, a hidden magical world, and a wise old wizard, not to mention an evil sorcerer rising to regain power. Add in the conventions of an epic fantasy and you may be thinking that The Fire Chronicle is not a book for you. I, however, would urge you to look beyond the cover and read at least a few pages. You will soon discover that Stephens has not written a quick and hasty fill-in-the-blanks story. Instead The Fire Chronicle is great mix of historical fiction, fantasy, and adventure all in one.
This is the second book in the Books of Beginning series, and, for the most part , it concentrates on the second child, Michael. He has always had his sister Kate to make the decisions and take control. In this book he must learn how to be the leader and look after Emma. She may be less than a year younger than Michael, but she is still the baby in the family and needs him more than ever. All three siblings have very different characters and voices, and throughout the story they all learn, develop and grow. Michael in particular is written with great affection and humour; reading about him and his worries you can’t help but empathise with him. The story itself moves quickly, with plenty of action to keep you turning those pages. There are dragons and elves, magical worlds and time-travel. This book really does have something for everyone to enjoy.(less)
I had very low expectations of this book because of the cover, but it was sent for a magazine review so I started it. Really enjoyable well told story...moreI had very low expectations of this book because of the cover, but it was sent for a magazine review so I started it. Really enjoyable well told story with some great children's characters.(less)
Before I start reviewing this, I just want you to do one thing, read the title of this book. Railsea. Now imagine what that means.
If you have imagined...moreBefore I start reviewing this, I just want you to do one thing, read the title of this book. Railsea. Now imagine what that means.
If you have imagined a world covered in railtracks, with trains as ships then you have gotten a bit of an inkling about the world this book is set in. And if you happened to further imagine that burrowing animals might be a threat to these locomotives and so have placed giant moles and stoats and turtles are huge monstrous beasts, well, then well done you, because I certainly wouldn’t have imagined it before reading this book. I do love it though.
Sham ap Soorap is out on a moler’s ship. This is his first voyage on the Railsea, he is the doctor’s apprentice, although he isn’t entirely sure that this is what he wants to spend his life doing. The captain of his train, the Medes’ captain is a captain with a “philosophy” that is, an obsession. Many hunters have them. Her’s is the great white mole. And if you can see ever so slight echoes of Moby Dick, well, yeah, that is kindof obvious. And that isn’t the only literary influence on this book. There are pirates and salvagers, molers and warengines, excitement and orphans. All packed into the one book. It really is great fun.
However, it does take a little while to get going, and the narration is, well, idiosyncratic to say the least. Personally I really enjoyed it, but I could see some readers not liking the & instead of and, and the little interlude chapters could be taken as irritating rather than entertaining. Horses for courses and all that.
I don’t think this would count as my favourite Mieville novel, I really enjoyed it, and I love the idea of it, but I still think, that for all its flaws The Iron Council is my favourite. This is more than entertaining though. And I love the cover. All his books have been reissued with this style cover in the UK market and I think that they look fabulous.(less)
Medraut is the eldest son of Artos, but he will not inherit the High King’s title, lands, or power. For he is the illegitimate son of the king. And mo...moreMedraut is the eldest son of Artos, but he will not inherit the High King’s title, lands, or power. For he is the illegitimate son of the king. And more than that, the result of incest. Medraut’s mother is Artos’ sister, Morgause. In this adaptation of the Arthurian legend Artos, or Arthur, has two more children. Twins, Lleu a son, and Geowin, a daughter. Much younger then Medraut, it is Lleu who will inherit everything. It is Lleu who receives all his father’s love while Medraut has to live under the cruelty and torture of Morgause.
My main reason behind reading this was Wein’s most recent book, Code Name Verity which I loved. Unfortunately this series of books, The Lion Hunters seem to be out of print, so if you are interested in reading this you will have to look for some second-hand sellers. Although I did see mention of the possibility of some ebook publications in the future. Here is hoping, because while I didn’t love this one quite as much as Verity it is still a great read.
Told in the first person, by Medraut, and addressed to his mother, it took me a little while to get use to when he addressed her as you, but apart from that it was an engrossing read. Medraut is such a conflicted character, he often doesn’t know how he feels about his situation or his siblings, he has been so twisted by his years under Morgause. And there is a lot of darkness there, mostly hinted at, very little overt, but you still totally understand that Medraut has been badly damaged. And like many victims he is still very much under Morgause’s sway, he may hate her, but he will also obey her because he fears her. And he also does resent Lleu, afterall, the favoured son has everything that Medraut could possible want, and yet doesn’t seem to appreciate it. Lleu’s arrogance pushes at Medraut, provokes him, but is it enough to push Medraut over the edge?
This isn’t a book that everyone will enjoy, but I certainly appreciated its beauty, and will be reading on in the series.(less)
Mel is not having a good year at school. Her friends have turned on her, and her boyfriend one day stopped talking to her, became her ex over night an...moreMel is not having a good year at school. Her friends have turned on her, and her boyfriend one day stopped talking to her, became her ex over night and hasn’t spoken to her in weeks. But she does have Pug.
I don’t think I am going to say very much in this review. But just in case you don’t read any further can I just say quickly that I really really really loved this book.
This is one of those books that might be labelled “domestic fiction”, because it is about those small everyday things that happen in life. And Lanagan writes it so well that you’ll be wondering why more books aren’t like this. Highlighting the small things in life because they really are the most important things.
Mel is such a great character. At times I just wanted to shake her because she was being so silly. And yet, it made sense in her convoluted way of thinking. Nothing she said or did ever made me think a real person wouldn’t do/say that. It all seemed so real.
And I loved her relationship with her parents. Not that it was perfect, or even functional at all time, it was just so realistic and believable. And that is what I want in my books, real characters who mess up, who make mistakes, and who are sometimes, just plain stupid in their actions.
I could maybe argue that Mel should have been a bit more worried about money, and her future. I know I was thinking about that as I read the book. What was she going to do if she dropped out of high school. Was she going to get a job? But that was never really brought up, which is understandable in one way. And she is still a kid in many many ways.
And then there is Pug. He was just wonderful. He’s the nice guy who never seems to get to play the love interest in books/films any more. He was solid and dependable and just nice and lovely. And you could so see why Mel fell in love with him. I mean, in comparison to the likes of Edward in the Twilight series, well, there is no comparison. Edward is a stalker, and I really don’t understand why Bella falls in love with him. But Pug… ah, just read the book. You’ll find him adorable, I almost guarantee it!
Okay, I’ve never wanted kids. Never had any interest in becoming a mother. So when I tell you that reading this at one point I actually thought, hmmm having a baby sounds pretty cool will tell you just how well written this book is. Not that I thought that for long, I mean, nope. Still not interested :) But it is a perfect illustration of what good fiction does, it gives you an alternate viewpoint from your own.(less)
As I said about the first book, this is a children’s book and is written for its market. Which means that it isn’t too concerned with character twists...moreAs I said about the first book, this is a children’s book and is written for its market. Which means that it isn’t too concerned with character twists and darkness, or subverting genres, or any of that sort of thing. Instead it sets out to tell a story, an adventure story with some myth thrown in to the mix.
Emily used to be an ordinary New York school child, but now she is the Flame of Olympus, but her father is still in the hands of the evil CRU and she intends to rescue him, with or without Jupiter’s help. But she also has to worry about her new powers and her lack of control over them. She runs the risk of hurting the very people she is trying to help. And to cap it off the dangerous Nirads are back!
This is a quick and easy read. It is entertaining enough but it wouldn’t be a book I’d revisit. If I was a child though, well maybe :) It is full of action and there is rarely a dull moment, so it is very easy to just keep on reading until you suddenly come to the end, there isn’t a dull moment.
Plus, you know my previously mentioned weakness for horses (even if Pegasus isn’t really a horse).(less)
Honour is the youngest of three girls. Her mother died soon after the birth of a fourth daughter, as did the baby, when Honour was only a toddler. Her...moreHonour is the youngest of three girls. Her mother died soon after the birth of a fourth daughter, as did the baby, when Honour was only a toddler. Her father is a very successful business man, and has built up wealth and status in the city. Honour herself feels that she doesn’t live up to her nickname of beauty, but that is what everyone has called her since she was five years old, so Beauty she remains. All seems to be going well with the family when disaster strikes. Three of her father’s ships & investments are lost, and they are forced to leave the city and set up home in the country. All three girls must learn to work hard if they are to get by, but none shirk their duty.
As they are settling in to their new home and new circumstances news arrives. A ship has made it back. Their father sets off to finish his business, but on his way back home he becomes lost in a storm. He finds safety in a strange, enchanted castle, but upon leaving its gates he sees a rose garden. Remembering his youngest daughter’s desire for some rose seeds he plucks one. Only for the enraged owner of the castle to accuse him if betraying his welcome. This beast threatens to kill the rose thief, but eventually relents saying that he may leave, provided he returns with his youngest daughter who must stay with the beast.
I’m guessing that I didn’t need to relate that to you, after all, pretty much every one is familiar with the story of Beauty and the Beast. This version, published back in 1978 is an adaptation of that classic fairy tale. But you will find no squabbling sisters, or petty jealousies. All the girls are loving sisters and daughters. And there are no evil stepmothers. What a relief!
I enjoyed this book, but it felt a little uneven to me. Some aspects were almost too practical for the sudden magical elements in it. The enchanted castle and curse upon the Beast didn’t seem to fit with the start of the book at all.
A nice, enjoyable read, but not McKinley’s best. It was her first so that can be excused(less)