This is a fantastically unique series for younger readers. Snicket actually becomes like a character himself, as he narrates the unhappy tale of Viole...moreThis is a fantastically unique series for younger readers. Snicket actually becomes like a character himself, as he narrates the unhappy tale of Violet, Klaus and Sunny – possibly three of the most unstereotypical YA characters you will ever read – as though talking directly to the reader.
Violet is fourteen and an inventor, able to build useful contraptions and devices out of almost anything. Klaus, ‘a little older than twelve’ is very intelligent and reads a lot, while Sunny enjoys biting things (a very useful talent – as you will come to see). After the tragic death of their parents (their house very quickly and seemingly spontaneously, burns down), they are shipped of to an array of increasingly eccentric distant relatives, all the while pursued by the determined and slightly unhinged, Count Olaf, who wants their fortune for himself.
A Series of Unfortunate Events is a real treat – filled with bizarre and delightfully random adventures and multiple character deaths, each one more strange than the next (one character, ditzy Aunt Josephine, is amusingly charmed by a (very badly) disguised Count Olaf before meeting a rather sticky end, death by leeches), all told with an Edward Gory-esque dark humour and dry wit.
A great read for both adults and children – this is a lovely little series – perfect for parents to read with their children, or even just alone.(less)
I feel particularly bad about not finishing this, since Templar kindly sent it to me for review, and it seems like the kind of book I probably would h...moreI feel particularly bad about not finishing this, since Templar kindly sent it to me for review, and it seems like the kind of book I probably would have enjoyed as a kid. I'm not going to rate it, because if I did based on my own enjoyment it would pretty low and I don't feel that is exactly fair, given that I not only didn't finish reading this, but that I'm also roughly fifteen years older than the intended audience.
I have read and thoroughly enjoyed a lot of junior fiction, but this one, for whatever reason, just didn't click for me. The writing was just too simple and I found the characters un-engaging. Unfortunately I couldn't warm to the heroine. She was the kind of character who is incredibly naive yet thinks she knows best and basically causes a lot of bother for everyone else along the way. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't. In this case, I found her bossy and difficult to like. This is quite a long book for its age group and I personally found the story slow going.
I was honestly surprised that Sword of Light failed to capture my interest. I love anything to do with the legends of King Arthur and when I first heard the synopsis for it I was very excited about the book. One of the greatest legends retold, but with a Pendragon woman (or girl in this case), at the helm? Definitely my kind of book. Sadly, I found myself picking this up, growing bored and putting it back down again several times over the last few months, and so I've finally decided to call it a day.
It's such a shame, but I wouldn't discourage any little readers from picking this up, as they may well enjoy it far more than I. It has all the components for a fantastic, magical adventure but, personally, it didn't come together. (less)
I wasn't sure if I would enjoy Cold Kiss or not. A few bloggers had piqued my interest about it, but to be honest, I am not a zombie kinda-gal. It als...moreI wasn't sure if I would enjoy Cold Kiss or not. A few bloggers had piqued my interest about it, but to be honest, I am not a zombie kinda-gal. It also sounded a bit too much like every other paranormal romance out there. But Cold Kiss really is something a bit different. It's not really a zombie tale, or another 'destined' romance. At it's heart, it's a story about grief and about living.
I was impressed by the depth this story had, without getting too serious and found it a refreshing paranormal romance. Wren is a very easy character to connect with. She does something so incredibly foolish, so stupid, that you can't help but want to shake her and say 'girl what are you doing!!!??!" But at the same time, you can't help but sympathise with her. Because, how many of us, really, would be strong enough to make the other choice - if we had the power to bring back the people we love? You cannot judge Wren for her actions, not least of which because Garvey makes it clear that Wren is well aware how badly she has messed up and how desperately she wants to make it right.
What I loved about Cold Kiss was that it portrayed a realistic, mature relationship, often unusual for a paranormal romance. Wren and Danny's relationship is healthy, normal, supportive, fun and loving. When Wren finally lets Danny go, she comes to understand that no matter how much you love someone, you still don't have the right to own or control that person. She realises that what she has done was not only foolish, but cruel and selfish.
I only wish we had gotten more of Danny. Not only the Danny that Wren brings back, but the boy she fell in love with. The strongest moments of Cold Kiss were her memories of him, of what the two of them had together, and by the end of the book, like Wren, I ached knowing that that boy was gone, and he wasn't coming back. It made the scenes where she remembers how kind and caring he was, memories of Danny teasing her, giving her piggyback rides, singing to her over the phone and million other little things, especially poignant and bittersweet. Garvey handles the grief of loosing a loved one well, and there is one moment in particular, when Wren breaks down in the basement after Danny's funeral that is very well-executed and powerfully raw that it brought tears to my eyes.
Not that Cold Kiss is without it's faults. I absolutely hated the Gabriel plot line. I think that authors and publishers believe that if there isn't a (current) romantic interest, teenagers simply won't be interested. Gabriel's character is underdeveloped and the interest between him and Wren forced and pushed too quickly to try to explain why he takes Wren's powers, and the fact that she is hiding a dead boyfriend, in his stride. It doesn't work and only his character unbelievable and his presence just detracts from Wren's own story, while feeling superficial next to Wren and Danny's romance. I understand why Garvey gives Wren a potential new love interest (I say potential because they don't quite get together, though Gabriel's feelings are clearly very strong from the get-go - another example of insta-love that thus far this book had managed to avoid). I suspect to show that Wren, no matter how she feels right now, is able to fall in love again. But I feel this could have been conveyed just as well without creating the overdone love-triangle.
There is also an unresolved mystery concerning her mother and father that was built up and never fully explained, which I found frustrating. Wren's relationship with her mother was an interesting story arc and it felt incomplete. If Wren was going to turn to anyone for help and support, I wanted it to be her mother (which would have been unique for a YA novel), instead of the new boy from school.
There wasn't quite enough here to make this a really emotional read. But on the whole, this was a well-written, engaging book. It was perhaps a little predictable, and the story nothing new, but there were some very touching scenes and it explores the pain and grief of loosing a loved one in a realistic way. Not a favourite by any means, but a enjoyable, easy read.
*Many thanks to HarperTeen and NetGalley for making Cold Kiss available for review*(less)
I suppose I might review this at some point. But for now, I'll be honest and say this was painfully dull and I'm very glad I have finished listening t...moreI suppose I might review this at some point. But for now, I'll be honest and say this was painfully dull and I'm very glad I have finished listening to it. (less)
I should warn you now – I don’t think this review will be very well-written. I’m not sure I’m able to express my love, adoration, and pure joy with th...moreI should warn you now – I don’t think this review will be very well-written. I’m not sure I’m able to express my love, adoration, and pure joy with this book.
Quite simply, it is stunning. Heartbreaking, poignant, hilarious, beautiful, wonderful. It’s something very special.
In many ways I’m surprised to find it in the children’s section, as it is so insightful, with an unusual story-line and a sophisticated voice rarely seen in children’s fiction. But I’m delighted Templar (and previous publishing houses) are putting this kind of storytelling out there. Make no mistake – this is certainly a book for all ages.
I have to start with Frankie. He is adorable. I wanted to simultaneously be his best friend and adopt him. This kid had some seriously high stress levels and his anxieties, thoughts and concerns had me in stitches many times (don’t worry Frankie – I’m totally with you on the whole pool thing, I avoid them for that very same reason).
Frankie is a shy, reserved, intelligent, imaginative kid with a talent for drawing, who particularly likes birds. He’s also a bit of a hypochondriac and ever so slightly neurotic and while there are many delightful and funny moments throughout The 10pm Question that stem from his bizarre range of worries, it’s also clear that they are very serious to him and everything is starting to overwhelm Frankie. Sydney, his new best friend is loud, and vibrant and spontaneous, and asks awkward questions. Ma won’t leave the house and no one will talk about it. When it finally all becomes too much for him, my heart just broke for the little guy and I just wanted to give him a big hug – luckily, the fabulous Aunts are there just when he needs them the most.
Speaking of. The Aunts. were. amazing. I kind of want to be them when I’m old. They were hilarious and wise and filled their lives with many great things.
The 10pm Question is very much a character driven novel, but what brilliant characters. This fabulous, insane, eccentric, hilarious, utterly normal family. The way they interact, how they care for one another, how they bicker and argue and support each other – it was refreshing and captivating and I missed them once I finished reading. The relationships were spot on, but the bond between Frankie and his mother is particularly strong. Every night, at 10pm, Frankie goes to her with his fears and worries for the day and she patiently listens to him and answers all his questions, fighting the world for Frankie in the only way she can.
Ma was a lovely character, though she is probably the one we get to know least, because Frankie guards her so closely. She forges a life for herself, in the best she can, and her strength and courage in the face of her own crippling fears. I couldn’t help but admire her and the love she has for her family, and they for her.
The 10pm Question is the kind of book that makes me wish I were I writer. Full of humour, wit, compassion and richly developed characters that will stay with you long after you finish the book. Kate De Goldi tackles the difficult subject of mental illness in a way that is thoughtful, quiet, powerful, moving, respectful, eloquent and truthful. Frankie loves his mother. But he doesn’t understand how or why she is the way she is. Reading how Frankie and the rest of Parson’s family cope with their loved one’s condition boarders on the personal.
Kate De Goldi is extremely talented, as what could have easily been a depressing, awkward novel in someone else’s hands, instead is filled with a warmth and leaves you very much with a feeling of hope. The 10pm Question made me laugh. It made me cry. It reminded me of some of my own childhood memories, long forgotten.
This is a unique treasure of a book I will revisit time and time again (and has some wonderful cover art). Read it.
‘Last Saturday when they’d been there he’d had his annual unsavory collision with a plaster. There was nothing more revolting in Frankie’s view than free-styling your way, innocent and blissful, into the path of a used plaster. In Frankie’s hierarchy of squeamish experiences, the casual caress of a stained plaster was right up there with accidently catching sight of writhing maggots in a forgotten rubbish bag. He’d had to get out of the pool immediately last Saturday and lie on his towel in the sun to recover.’
~ page 37
‘C’mon, throw it, throw it. I may as well get the shine on the end of my knob.’
With a blurb like that I was instantly hooked. In an area overflowing with teenage paranormal romance, The Recruit is like a breath of fresh air.
Jame...moreWith a blurb like that I was instantly hooked. In an area overflowing with teenage paranormal romance, The Recruit is like a breath of fresh air.
James is the kind of cocky, cheeky, little troublemaker that I can't help but love. (At some point while reading some rather strange, premature, maternal instincts kicked in - I just wanted to give him a hug. I would totally adopt him.) He has some anger issues, coming from a pretty broken home and crappy childhood, the kind of kid a lot of people write off immediately, (he steals, vandalises property and sometimes can’t control his temper); but he is a good kid at heart who needs some direction, is intelligent and very protective of his little sister. We only get to see glimpses of their close bond here – but I’m hoping their relationship will be build upon in later books.
What I loved about this book was that the story felt realistic, not just the concept of mini spies, but the characters as well. Yes, these kids are spies, on secret missions for the government, but they still act like kids. James hates school, and just wants to just play on his Playstation, eats way too many Mars bars and gets distracted by a cute girl on his first mission. The teasing companionship, competition and closeness between the recruits was one of my favourite aspects. I definitely felt I was reading about real kids, and Muchamore got the balance between trained spies and normal 12-year-old behaviour just right.
There were too many characters that I really liked in the book to mention, but I have to talk about Kerry, James's best friend, who is one feisty little kid who I just loved for constantly kicking James’ backside, bickering and making sure he survived basic training. I can't wait to see how these characters will develop as they grow up in the later books.
The Recruit is a story that won’t set your heart racing, and is a fairly lightweight read due to it’s target audience, but it is a fun, well-written and unique storyline that is certainly refreshing and one that has plenty of room to grow as the series follows James’s time at CHERUB. The feel and style of narration reminded me a lot of Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan (a series I adore). I’m already quite attached to James (bless his heart) and you can bet I’ll be coming back to find out what happens to him next. I have a feeling the stories are only going to get darker and older as they go on.(less)