Archive for children’s books

Anticipated Books (Summer-Fall) 2014: Middle Grade

2014Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2014. Today it’s time to look at books for a younger set of readers: middle grade books. I’ve mixed the different genres together for this one, so there should be something for everyone. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!  Continue reading »

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Sophia McDougall – Mars Evacuees

sophiamcdougall-marsevacueesThe fact that someone had decided I would be safer on Mars, where you could still only SORT OF breathe the air and SORT OF not get sunburned to death, was a sign that the war with the aliens was not going fantastically well.

I’d been worried I was about to be told that my mother’s spacefighter had been shot down, so when I found out that I was being evacuated to Mars, I was pretty calm.

And despite everything that happened to me and my friends afterwards, I’d do it all again. because until you’ve been shot at, pursued by terrifying aliens, taught maths by a laser-shooting robot goldfish and tried to save the galaxy, I don’t think you can say that you’ve really lived.

If the same thing happens to you, this is my advice: ALWAYS CARRY DUCT TAPE.

I love Sophia McDougall’s short fiction; I think she’s one of the most talented short fiction writers out there. I still have to read her Romanitas series; the first book in said series is patiently sitting on my TBR-pile. But when I heard about Mars Evacuees, learnt about McDougall’s inspiration for the book and read the flap text, I was sold and really wanted to read it. So I was gutted to learn that I had missed snagging an ARC of the book at World Fantasy last year, but made up for it by winning a competition McDougall ran for an ARC. There was much rejoicing in Casa Librarian at that news. And Mars Evacuees was everything I expected. It’s funny, smart, well-written and has oodles of character.  Continue reading »

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James Rochfort – The Race for Polldovia

jamesrochfort-theraceforpolldoviaNine-year-old Sophia daydreams about the beautiful Princess Polly and the fairytale land of Polldovia. One day she finds herself inhabiting this fantasy world but a very different one to that she has so far imagined.

She and Polly are in Suspyria, Polldovia’s war-ravaged neighbour, ruled by the warlord Naberius and his monstrous Dark Army. Imprisoned in Naberius’ fearful dungeon, escape is their only means of survival and a hair-raising chase ensues.

Their quest is to find a magical flower, the only thing that can defeat Naberius and save Polldovia from being destroyed at the hands of his soldiers. With the help of Acanthus, their magical and faithful steed, Polly and Sophia are caught up in a race against time and must use all their strength and bravery to outrun their pursuers…

The Race for Polldovia is a charming middle grade novel for children on the younger side of that age scale. It’s a portal narrative where Sophia follows the adventures of Princess Polly in a land she believes to be just something drawn from her imagination. I liked that aspect and while younger children might not get the context of how Sophia’s extended adventure in Polldovia came about, to older readers this is quickly apparent. As such it’s a layered reading experience that will keep it interesting for both the children and the parents reading the book with them.  Continue reading »

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David Logan – The League of Sharks

davidlogan-theleagueofsharksJunk’s sister has been stolen. Snatched from her bed in the dead of night, Ambeline doesn’t stand a chance.

No one believes Junk saw a monster take his sister. No one believes he’s not to blame.

So begins Junk’s quest to find Ambeline’s kidnapper. His journey will take him to a future world where animal species have evolved, and where the cult of the League of Sharks – the cult that stole Junk’s sister – is etched into folklore…

The League of Sharks is a fun YA novel about a time-traveling teen. The premise of the book is insane: time-travelling shark men? How on earth was Logan going to make that work? But the book also sounded insanely entertaining and it was. However, no matter how much it entertained me, The League of Sharks is very much the equivalent of a big summer popcorn film. One you enjoy hugely, but you shouldn’t ponder too closely or critically afterwards, otherwise you’ll break its magic. Something that is distinctly difficult if you are to write a review for a book. As such, even if this review might be quite critical in places, one thing that should be remembered at all times, reading this book was just plain fun.  Continue reading »

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Anticipated Reads (Winter-Spring) 2014

2014In the past two and a half weeks I’ve brought you my Anticipated Books for Winter/Spring 2014 and today I bring you the fifteen books I anticipate reading the most in the coming six months. As usual it’s a list of fifteen, as there are just too many good books to choose from and I always have a hard time getting the list down to the more usual ten books. Also as per usual, I’ve excluded many books I’m really looking forward to reading right out of the gate, for example all the new instalments in series I’ve been reading. If I loved the previous book in the series, it’s a good bet I’ll want to read the next one. Some examples of these are Tom Pollock’s final book in The Skyscraper Throne trilogy, Our Lady of the Streets, Douglas Hulick’s long-awaited second book Sworn in Steel and Stephanie Saulter’s Binary, the second book in her ®Evolution series. I also left off repeat offenders who also made the list last time, such as Mark Alder’s Son of the Morning. So below in alphabetical order by author is my list, with a little explanation of why I really can’t wait to read these books. Do you agree or would you have chosen differently from the lists I posted recently?   Continue reading »

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Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2014: Middle Grade

2014Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. Today it’s time to look at books for a younger set of readers: middle grade books. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!   Continue reading »

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Anticipated Reads (Summer-Fall) 2013

2013After my Anticipated Books for Summer/Fall 2013 posts of the past few weeks, today I bring you the fifteen books I anticipate reading the most in the coming six months. As usual it’s a list of fifteen, as there are just too many good books to choose from and I always have a hard time getting the list down to the more usual ten books. There are a lot of books I’m really anticipating reading that I excluded right off the bat, such as all the next books in series I’ve been reading. If I loved a book last year, you can bet that I’ll want to read the next instalment. Examples of these are Lou Morgan’s Blood and Feathers: Rebellion, Mark Lawrence’s Emperor of Thorns, Elspeth Cooper’s The Raven’s Shadow, Emma Newman’s All is Fair, and Chris F. Holm’s The Big Reap. I’ve also left off any duh-factors, such as Scott Lynch’s The Republic of Thieves, because honestly, who isn’t looking forward to that one? So below in alphabetical order by author is my list, with a little explanation of why I really can’t wait to read these books. Do you agree or would you have chosen differently from the lists I posted recently?   Continue reading »

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Anticipated Books (summer-Fall) 2013: Middle Grade Books

2013Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2013. This time I also added a middle grade list, because after reading several MG books in the past months I decided I wanted to read more in this age group. Call it early exploration for my girls in a few years. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!   Continue reading »

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John and Carole E. Barrowman – Bone Quill

barrowman-bonequillA faceless stranger is close to finding the key that opens Hollow Earth: a supernatural place that holds all the monsters ever imagined.
Twins Matt and Emily Calder have special powers – they can bring art to life. But can they find their missing mother and protect the key – an ancient bone quill – even if it means travelling back through time? Then Matt takes a fateful decision, one that forces him to make a terrible choice.

Save his family? Or save the world?

Last week I reviewed the first book in the Hollow Earth series, which I really enjoyed. The second book, Bone Quill, was just as big a treat as the first book was, perhaps even more so as some of the elements I enjoyed in the first book had a larger role in this book and we got to see more of the adults and their history. As this is book two in a series and this book starts where the previous book leaves off and deals with the fall out of that earlier book, it is impossible to discuss Bone Quill without giving spoilers for Hollow Earth. If you want to remain unspoiled it would be wisest to not read any further.

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John and Carole E. Barrowman – Hollow Earth

barrowman-hollowearthTwins Matt and Emily Calder have imaginations so powerful that they can make art come to life. Their powers are sought by villains intent on accessing the terrors of Hollow Earth – a place where all the devils, demons and monsters ever imagined lie trapped for eternity. If Hollow Earth is breached, the world will be plunged into chaos. If Hollow Earth is breached …

… the twins are good as dead.

When I first was approached about reviewing Hollow Earth and its successor, Bone Quill, what first struck me was the name John Barrowman. Someone I only knew from British television as a musical star and the star of Torchwood, I was surprised to find he was also a writer. The book is co-written with his sister – which wow, I think if I tried that with my siblings we’d have probably done our heads in after two chapters, so kudos for that – and is in fact more middle grade than YA, but even if I don’t read and review them as often I really enjoy well-written children’s books, so here we are. And I’m glad to be here because I spend an entirely enjoyable afternoon in the company of Matt and Em and the rest of the cast immersed in an adventure that feels like an modernised version of what I hazily remember of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books – it’s been a few decades since I read her work – and has an exciting supernatural component.

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