Just ace. I would've truly, truly loved this as a child. The time-travel, the scope of the adventure, the instantly memorable characters (I mean, prof...moreJust ace. I would've truly, truly loved this as a child. The time-travel, the scope of the adventure, the instantly memorable characters (I mean, professor dinosaurs? Pirates? Volcano gods?). Was delightful!(less)
In trying to articulate my excitement for wonder that is The Screaming Staircase, I was going to write my shorte...moreOriginally published at Winged Reviews
In trying to articulate my excitement for wonder that is The Screaming Staircase, I was going to write my shortest ever review and leave it at that, because it summarises the book so well: freaking brilliant. (Well, freaky and brilliant, really).
Then I thought it might help to elaborate. My expectations were set extremely high when I first heard about this book at the Random House Children’s Publishers blogger brunch. It ticked all the right boxes for me—great author, alternative London setting, a cavalier hero, smart female narrator. Plus, actually having Jonathan Stroud there demonstrating how to fight ghosts with a rapier, salt, chains and a teapot was pretty perfect.
In this version of England, there is a Problem—ghosts are everywhere and their touch can kill. You can feel them, but you eventually can’t see them. As people grow older, their ability to see ghosts fades away. Enter Lockwood & Co., a small agency founded by teenager Anthony Lockwood to help those with a Visitor problem. Unlike the big corporations with legacy adults running the show, Lockwood & Co. is solely run by our three young protagonists.
Our narrator is Lucy Carlyle, a trainee who possesses superior ghost ‘empathy’. She moved down to London due to an incident where she used to work and after countless applications (at other firms), ends up as the newest employee of Lockwood & Co. As luck would have it, one Lucy and Lockwood’s cases…goes up in smoke, which leads to the little company owing a lot of money and having to risk all by taking on a huge case potentially out of their depths.
This book had some seriously chilling moments. I brought this to read on my honeymoon and every time a wave crashed, I almost threw the book up in the air and hid under the covers. These are not friendly ghosts Lockwood & Co. deal with—they are vengeful, dark spirits that cause extreme terror and harm. When our heroes eventually face the titular screaming staircase, I was truly frightened, not to mention a certain encounter with a floating head (yes, I am a scaredy cat, but just wait until you read it).
That said, the book’s tone is generally light (yes, it’s light and scary, I don’t know how Stroud manages this brilliance). The banter between Lockwood, Lucy and the third member of the trio, the cynical researcher George Cubbins is extremely fun to read, especially as they live together and have to get used to each other’s odd habits. I love the humorous understatements in the face of true danger, something I’ve come to know and love from Stroud’s writing. Of course, there are the required tea and biscuit breaks, which adds to the British charm.
My only gripe about reading this book early is that I now have to wait even longer for the sequel. I excited to see the world-building get even deeper, learn more about Lucy’s abilities and discover the cause of the true mystery behind the Problem. Recommended for absolutely everyone, kids and adults alike will be enthralled by it. (less)
Thank you to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing a copy of the book for reivew. Another fun read from an increasingly fun series. Full review...moreThank you to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing a copy of the book for reivew. Another fun read from an increasingly fun series. Full review to come.(less)
I really didn't want to press 'Finished' on this book, because to be honest, there just wasn't enough of it. It was spectacular. Really poignant, ofte...moreI really didn't want to press 'Finished' on this book, because to be honest, there just wasn't enough of it. It was spectacular. Really poignant, often funny, often sad. Loved each character and wanted to hug all of them. SO MANY FEELS. Full review to come when I'm more coherent!(less)
MOST EXCELLENT. Just a fantastic romp filled with action, magic and the genius that is Bartimaeus. I definitely need my own Djinni. Full review to com...moreMOST EXCELLENT. Just a fantastic romp filled with action, magic and the genius that is Bartimaeus. I definitely need my own Djinni. Full review to come!(less)
3.5, but rounding up because it's Percy Jackson. As I've said before, don't love it as much as the first book or the original series, but I'm optimist...more3.5, but rounding up because it's Percy Jackson. As I've said before, don't love it as much as the first book or the original series, but I'm optimistic about book 3. (less)
I wish my 12-year old self had books like this when I was growing up. Or really, I wish my 12-year old se...more3.5 stars, original review at Winged Reviews.
I wish my 12-year old self had books like this when I was growing up. Or really, I wish my 12-year old self had wanted to read books like this when I was growing up. I read a lot of serialised girl fiction, like Sweet Valley and The Babysitters Club and not quite enough ‘boy books’. I realised now that while I learned a lot about gossip, boys and friendship, I missed some really important lessons, like adventure, or blackmail.
Artemis Fowl Junior is a well-spoken, criminal genius, who happens to be twelve. He tries to restore his family’s riches through the easiest way possible—discover the fairy races’ secrets, kidnap a fairy and blackmail them for gold. It’s too bad he runs up against Captain Holly Short, the only female retcon officer and the entire LEPrecon unit who will not stop until they rescue one of their own!
The story is told from the point of view of both Artemis and Holly (and LEPrecon). Artemis starts out quite stern, but slowly develops a concience and sympathy. He ends up feeling bad for Holly and throughout the book, you can see a little of his dry humour start to come through. Holly is feisty and determined, always having to prove that she’s a good officer, but she’s also smart and empassioned and I found I liked her a lot. Although they are on opposing sides, I was rooting for both, and I liked how the lines were blurred between protagonist and antagonist.
I think the best thing about the book was the great supporting cast of characters. There’s kick-ass Butler, Artemis’…butler, whose family the designation ‘butler’ actually originated from; grumpy Commander Julius Root, Holly’s commanding officer; tech-genius centaur Foaly, in charge of all of fairy’s impressive technology and 007-like gadgets; and my personal favourite, the irrepressable Mulch Diggums—dwarf, kleptomaniac, burp machine.
The story itself and how it unfolds is really fun and there are lots of twists and turns, which keeps it interesting. The author breaks the barrier several times and the writing is witty and humourous. The action is also paced well and it kept me wanting to read more. I would’ve loved this book a whole lot if I was 12 and I recommend it to anyone whose inner child wants to read a good story.
3.5 stars, originally published at Winged Reviews. It would've been 5 if I was between the ages of 9-12!
Take a dash of colorful characters, a pinch of...more3.5 stars, originally published at Winged Reviews. It would've been 5 if I was between the ages of 9-12!
Take a dash of colorful characters, a pinch of danger, and generous scoops of adventure and you have a terrific culinary mystery for young readers. This was the tagline on NetGalley that intrigued me and the book definitely lived up to it. The Case of the Missing Deed is reminiscent of the great children’s detective stories I used to read as a kid. One part Famous Five, one part Encyclopedia Brown, one part Nancy Drew and/or Hardy Boys (depending on your gender) and sprinkle in a whole lot of heart.
Aimed at pre-teens, the writing is simple but effective and I found myself unable to put the galley away. The story follows the adventure of five cousins on their annual vacation at Grandma’s cottage on Otter Island, after Grandpa passed away. The island is rich in tantalum, a metal used widely in modern electronic equipment, which pretty much makes it a goldmine. A mining company is trying to buy up the island and is forcing Grandma to produce the deed that proves the property is hers or her lovely cottage will be seized.
Sadly, Grandma has a bad memory and can’t remember where Grandpa told her he kept the deed, however Grandpa was famous for being a mystery and puzzle lover. When the children start going through the family recipes in order to cook something to cheer her up, they discover little hidden clues written by Grandpa that they believe will lead them to the deed.
It was fun to watch the cousins sampling recipes, deciphering clues and finding little objects tagged with a number that their Grandpa left for them. The book also captures the essence of the different children well. Genevieve has fallen for her first boy and is letting it cloud her judgment. Sebastian is a genius who takes the lead on the ‘mystery’, but it’s making him extremely paranoid and suspects everyone is in cahoots with the mining company. Claire is younger and tries to see the best in people. Alex is the practical problem solver, and tends to approach things the most rationally. Olivia is an artist who paints beautifully and is the best in the kitchen. The mix of all the cousins working together is really great, and I wished the book was aimed at an older audience because I would've loved more character development.
The story paints all non-family members ambiguously, which lets you delightfully unfold the mystery with the children. Sebastian is especially suspicious of his mother’s new boyfriend, which adds a very real touch to the story. The people who represent the mining company are suitably threatening, and in the end the story becomes more than finding the deed, it becomes about saving the island.
In addition having simple, easy and delicious sounding recipes, book also explains basic ciphers and codes. There are so many things in the book for the reader to take away and to learn from. The ending is suitably happy (if not a little sudden), but all the little story lines were tied up neatly. I highly recommend this mystery for young readers and know that they would enjoy the Teaspoon Detectives and their adventures.(less)