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)
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)
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)
Every night Conor O’Malley has the nightmare. Every night. But tonight something is different. Tonight there is a new monster. A new nightmare. And Co...moreEvery night Conor O’Malley has the nightmare. Every night. But tonight something is different. Tonight there is a new monster. A new nightmare. And Conor isn’t sure if this is a dream or not. But either way, this is the monster he was fearing. This monster, the yew tree, tells him that it will tell him three stories. And then Conor will tell the monster a story. A true story. And if he doesn’t, then the monster will eat him alive.
Conor is isolated and bullied at school. He and his friend Lily have had a falling out. His father lives in the US and rarely visits. He has nightmares. And his mother is sick.She is undergoing cancer treatments, and tells Conor that she will get better, but deep down Conor knows that may not be the truth. And he resents his grandmother’s present in his life, interfering when his mother is unwell, tired, or in hospital.
a monster calls
A monster calls by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Jim Kay This is a wonderfully told book. Incredibly sad. But incredibly beautiful as well. And the illustrations by Jim Kay are just perfect, and fit the story so well.
I really loved this book. The monster, the green man, or yew tree, however you see him, and the stories he tells are not at all what I expected, and yet are so well fitted, that after reading them there is no other story that would have worked.
I suppose in many ways the theme of this book is similar to the Chaos Walking series, in that it is all about the truth. Truths we hide from ourselves, and truths that other people hide from us. Sometimes to try and protect us. But without the truth, however terrible that may be, how can we figure out how to deal with anything. Along with this idea of the truth, is the one, that life isn’t fair, and it certainly isn’t simple. Another truth we learn while growing up.
The central plot, that of a child dealing with a parent’s illness, made me think of I kill giants, even before I had read this one. And of course both feature monsters as well. But they are very different books. And both work in their own way. I can’t really compare them, apart from to say that if you liked one then I’d recommend picking up the other as well.(less)
Halloween hasn't quite arrived when Samuel Johnson calls in to the Abernathy's as he attempts to get a head start on everyone else. Dressed as a ghost...moreHalloween hasn't quite arrived when Samuel Johnson calls in to the Abernathy's as he attempts to get a head start on everyone else. Dressed as a ghost and accompanied by his dog, a little dachshund called Boswell, he in for a disappointing evening. Mr. Abernathy wants nothing to do with Samuel's tricks nor with treats. He has plans for this evening. His wife found a book recently, and together with the Renfield's they are about have some 'fun'.
This continues pretty much where Noughts & Crosses finished up. If you haven’t read that one you really have no business reading this book. It won...moreThis continues pretty much where Noughts & Crosses finished up. If you haven’t read that one you really have no business reading this book. It won’t make a lot of sense to you, not to mention you’ll know how the first book ends, and you won’t know the characters at all. Have I convinced you to go read the first yet? Good, off you go.
Callum and Sephy have grown up together, best friends, and now in their teens maybe their friendship is developing into something more. But there is a...moreCallum and Sephy have grown up together, best friends, and now in their teens maybe their friendship is developing into something more. But there is a problem, Callum is a Nought, and Sephy is a Cross, and the two don’t mix, not in this world. But there are moves towards progress and integration, or at least hopes of that in the future; for the first time noughts will be allowed into Sephy’s school, and Callum is one of the four that managed to pass the entrance exams. He will be allowed in, but he knows that it will be difficult, Sephy is more innocent. She’s just glad they’ll be able to spend more time together. Neither knows just how hard it is going to be, and all that is before the bomb goes off
This is the second Book of Bayern so it does help if you have read the first book, The Goose Girl but it is not entirely necessary as the story itself...moreThis is the second Book of Bayern so it does help if you have read the first book, The Goose Girl but it is not entirely necessary as the story itself is quite separate. Shannon Hale expands on the world she created in the first book, using a secondary character. In The Goose Girl Enna was one of Ani’s “forest friends”, important as friend and helper. In this book Enna is the main character. After the events of the first film she returned home to the forest, her mother died, and she moved back home with her brother. As this book begins he has found a mysterious vellum parchment in the forest and begins to change, becoming hot-headed and rash. At first he begins to argue against the king, saying the forest folk have been too harshly treated and deserve better, but as soon as word comes of a possible war he swings in behind Bayern and becomes a loyal subject, desiring to go to war on his country’s behalf. And then there is the fact that he can control fire.
Sam Beaver is eleven years old when out exploring a Canadian swamp he comes across a bird’s nest, a Trumpeter Swan’s nest to be specific, and in it ar...moreSam Beaver is eleven years old when out exploring a Canadian swamp he comes across a bird’s nest, a Trumpeter Swan’s nest to be specific, and in it are 5 eggs. Sam is delighted; he loves nature and keeps a careful watch being careful not to upset the swans. He even saves the nest from a fox attack. And when the eggs hatch he is even more entranced by the cygnets. But one of them has a problem, Louis has been born without a voice, and so Sam decides to help him out. He takes him to school and helps him learn to read and write, now he can communicate through a slate & chalk. Then his father gets him a trumpet and Louis learns to play it, so he can win the love of Serena.
The final book in a series can often be a tough one to read and enjoy. On the one hand you want it to end happily ever after for the characters. Espec...moreThe final book in a series can often be a tough one to read and enjoy. On the one hand you want it to end happily ever after for the characters. Especially is you are at all invested in them. But at the same time you also want it to be truthful. By which I mean you don’t want the author to duck the difficult decisions and have some quick get out of jail clause. And I’m happy to say that Ness manages it all, with some brilliant writing along the way.
If you haven’t read the first two books in this series you really shouldn’t be reading any further in this review. Not that I’m setting out to spoil anything, it is simply that they are brilliant books and I always think it is best to begin a read without knowing anything at all about the plot. I knew nothing about The Knife of never letting go before I opened those pages and began to read. And while it took me a chapter or two to really get into it, once I did I loved it. And The ask and the answer followed suit. This book starts off where that ended with war looming over all involved.