Rivers of London
by Ben Aaronovitch
Today is Father’s Day, and we have a special review by Jim (Mr Bookbubble), who recently read a book that inspired him into a series, and he wanted to share it on this day when dad’s are king.
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch is the story of Metropolitan Police Officer, Peter Grant, who, when following up on a murder investigation, come to the attention of Britain’s last Wizard. Inspector Nightingale opens Peter’s eyes to a whole new under-world in London including; Gods and Goddesses, vampires and spirits, and something that is causing chaos in his beloved city.
The mix of crime, drama and intrigue alongside the supernatural and magic really drew me to this book, along with Inspector Nightingale, the Head of the Magical Unit. I really liked his character because he quirkily dressed and as English gentleman, drove a jag and showed that older men can still be active. His back story was hinted at in this book and I cannot wait to read about in in future books.
My favourite action in the book was when Inspector Nightingale was chasing the main protagonist through the streets of London and back through time. I was intrigued at how London changed as they ran, back until there was no London.
This is a book that Young Adult readers will enjoy, but there is some violence and that younger readers may find disturbing or frightening. This was such a good read, I am now on book two.
Two Fantasy Reviews by Two Young Reviewers
For today’s blog we have two very very different Fantasy books being reviewed by two of our young reviewers, The Gift and The Hidden Oracle. They are both the first book in a series and so there should be many birthday’s and Christmas presents covered if your young readers like them as much as our two do.
The Gift By Alison Groggan
(Reviewed by Ruby E Aged 8)
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What is the book about?
A girl called Maerad who finds out she is a bard. A bard is someone with magical powers.
Who is your favourite character and why?
Maerad because she is brave and cool
What is your favourite part of the book?
When Maered and Cadvan are in Innail because it’s the funniest part.
Why is this book better than other books?
Because it is violent and fantasy
The Trials of Apollo, The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
(Reviewed by Sam S Aged 10)
This is a book about a Greek god who gets cast down to earth in the form of a gawky teen called Lester Papadopulos merely because Zues had to find someone to blame for the Giant War. Lester has a quest to find a Hidden Oracle, with the help of a new Demigod called Meg Macafree and the famous Percy Jackson. But as the enemy the roman tribunal advances on the Oracle – CAN APOLLO SURVIVE ?
I recommend this book for ages 8-17 or older. I liked this book because it was full of fun and adventure and I liked the characters, especially Lester because who does not like a god who is full of himself who is turned into a gawky, acned teen.
P.S I have read the second book and don’t think it was as good as the first.
The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson
A young English Lady is captured by a Yeti to help bring up his children. What a fantastical, Dhalesque idea for a book. I was intrigued and just had to read it. And what a fantastical world Eva Ibbotson created.
This beautiful story introduces us to a very different family, a family of yetis. Each has their own personality and traits and each has a big heart. Lady Agatha Farlingham is brought into their lives and brings them up in the best traditions of English children. But yeti’s live for a long time, and humans not so long. What will happen to Lady Agatha’s family when she is no longer around to protect them? You will not believe her solution!
The Abominables is at its heart and adventure story, but it is also a story about acceptance, tolerance and doing the right thing. Although you may not notice it that much as you will be so caught up in the story and its peculiarities. One of my favourite bits is how Eva Ibbotson explains why we have never been able to find any yetis. This is because their feet are backwards compared to ours, so trackers always think they are going where they have come from.
This is a delightful book that readers who enjoy Roald Dhal should have a look out. I am sure you will be just as enchanted as I was.
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Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken
Last year I raved about Alexander Bracken’s Passenger. Such and interesting and easy to read book. I was so excited to receive a copy of Wayfarer, the conclusion to Passenger, and started reading it straight away. This book was not such an easy read, and even Alexander Bracken herself said this was a harder book to write, but in many ways it is the better of the two books and a strong ending to Passenger.
In Passenger we are introduced to the idea of people able to travel through time when the central character Etta Spencer found she was one of these travellers. While being sent on a mission to find a artefact called the astrolobe to save her mother she fell in love with an ex-slave Nicholas who helped her on her quest.
Wayfarer see the two lovers separated, looking for each other and trying to find the astrolobe to save the world from changing timelines. This book is way more complex than the first book. It deals with such weighty issues as should you change something just because you can, even if it is for the better? Is duty more important than self? Where does family fit in? This all seems a bit heavy, but set in a fast paced story that steps in and out of history, the themes are handled delicately. And this is still essentially reamains Etta and Nicholas’ love story.
Although I loved reading both these book, I have to say Wayfarer was by far my favourite. I have been thinking long and hard about why and I have to say that while Passenger was a beautiful watercolour, Wayfarer was definitely an oil painting with the same beautiful colours but way more texture. All the characters became three dimensional, with stories that connect the reader into their lives. The settings became more real and more a part of the story, but perhaps that most textural element was getting the reader to think about what might have happened if history had been changed and the life we are living is not the true timeline.
If you enjoyed Passenger, you will love Wayfarer. If you have not read either I suggest you treat yourself. Ok, I know these books are aimed at young adults, and I am supposed to be helping you find books for your young readers, but in this instance I say treat yourself! Buy the books, set aside an afternoon, and enjoy!
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The Keeper of Portals by V.S. Nelson
I am always a bit nervous when reviewing a new author as you never know what it is you are letting yourself in for. I was a little more nervous because The Keeper of Portals is this authors first book! The start of this book was not so comforting, but I persisted through the first few chapters and was so pleased I did.
I agreed to review this book because the story really intrigued me. Martin has moved into a new home with his mother, and after a few days of exploring he hears a voice in his room – it is The Keeper of Portals, whose job it is to ensure that each door in the world always meets up with what it should be connected to. This meeting is just the beginning of the strange things that happen to Martin, including travelling back to the past and meeting Isabel, who works with him to try and stop her Master from bringing destruction to the world.
The story line and the alternate universe it is set in is the real strength of this book. The world where everything is its won Keeper to ensure it functions properly is so well developed you can almost believe it is true. The story moves backwards and forwards in time with intriguing twists and turns that keep you involved until the very end.
Some of the characterisation and dialogue in this book feels a little forced at times but the unique story line more than makes up for this and I would recommend giving this new author a chance. I for one can not wait to see what V.S Nelson imagines into being for their next venture. This is definitely an author to watch.
Go to Goodreads to find where to buy a copy of this book.
Squeak Street – Old Bun and The Burglar
by Emily Rodda and Andrew McLean
Old Bun is lives on Squeak Street in Mouse Town. The rich old mouse lives in alone Number 1 Squeak Street, and he is afraid his cheese will be stolen. How fortunate that The Rich Mouse Guard Company arrive at his door to help him protect his cheese? But is he really that fortunate? Are the Guards who they really seem, and who will really help the old mouse guard his cheese?
Emily Rodda is a favourite in this house for her science fantasy works like the Golden Door and Deltora Quest Series, so I was intrigued to read her early reader series. She has teamed up with Andrew McLean to write a series of stories on the mice who live on Squeak Street.
The first book in this series is a lovely story about bravery and doing the right thing and community, with lots of mouse-ism children will love. It is a story that can be read to emerging readers, but the language also works for for those who want to read independently. Best of all for the new readers it is in Chapter Book format, and we all know how much they want to read their very own chapter books. As a bonus, if your child likes this book, with eight other books in the series you may be on to a winner.
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The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
Recently I have been reviewing a lot of picture and girl oriented books and this week I decided to change it up a little and read a book that was targeted a little more at boys. The Blackthorn Key is about potions, puzzles and murder in Medieval London and is an action adventure mystery that will certainly grip the imagination of male readers. For girls who love the mix of history and adventure this book might also be interesting, but the lack of a strong female character may put some off.
There is a murderer about in London and he is killing apothecaries. This is not good for Christopher Rowe, apprentice to Apothecary Blackthorn. Soon he and is best friend Tom are caught up in a murder mystery and they must follow the clues to solve the riddles to keep themselves safe. The book is action packed and fast paced. The dialogue between the two main characters will appeal to boys, as will the inclusion of a lot of potions and chemistry. The fact that it is set in a very different time adds a whole different dimension to the book. Set after the fall of Cromwell a level of political intrigue adds to the mystery and danger and provides some key plot elements.
Promotional material says that those who love the Percy Jackson books will love this story, and I believe that to be true. However, as already stated, the lack of a strong female character may put off some female Percy Jackson followers. I would also be wary about letting some of the younger Percy Jackson followers read this book as some of the deaths are quite brutal and as they are set in a real historic context rather than a make believe world they appear more graphic. There is also a level of religious mysticism that could also be quite scary if the reader is not mature enough to understand that this was based on beliefs at the time and is in no way real. Although the suggested age range is 10-14 I am considering whether or not to have a talk with my nearly 10 year old Percy Jackson fan to clarify a few things before he starts on this book as I would like him to enjoy it as much as I did.
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Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
I bought this book to read on an impulse when I had some time to kill purely because I loved the cover and it is set in the desert. It think the desert is always a place of mystique and this book set in a dessert land definitely captures the magic and romance the dessert brings to mind. The location provides an interesting backdrop that brings to life magical creatures, political intrigue and romance in an entertaining way through the exploits of Amani Al’Hiza.
In a world where women are less than worthless Amani struggles to leave her unhappy home to find somewhere she belongs and where her life matters. A stranger unexpectedly gives her the opportunity to do just that buy helping her escape and giving her the opportunity to write her own life story. On her journey she and the stranger travel through a desert filled with dangerous magic and turbulent rebellion, avoiding the sultan’s army to get Amani to the city of her dreams.
With this book it took me a little while for me to warm to the main characters but I persevered because the story line was so intriguing. Who can resist a book about rebellion against a cruel regime that includes magic and romance set in the desert? Well, clearly not me! And I was rewarded for my efforts as the main characters grew on me and secondary characters were introduced who were unique, interesting and well written. There are also some entertaining twists in the story that are completely unexpected. I think this book will appeal to the older teens with a romantic bent, giving them an offering that does not include vampires. This is the first book in a series and I for one will be looking out for its sequel as the ending left many unanswered questions.
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The 52 Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton (Scott T Aged 9)
What is the Book About? Two guys have many problems and they have to solve them.
Who is your favourite character and why? Andy Griffiths because he is smart and not like Terry who is not smart at all. And my second favourite character is Terry because he is funny.
What is your favourite part of the book? When the Ninja snails have 100 years and 15 minutes to deliver a book.
Why is this book better than others? Because it is interesting to read.
Any other comments? I recommend children 6 and over can read this book.
Hairy Macleary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd (Tara T Aged 7)
What is the Book About? Dogs all getting together. They see a cat and get scared and run away.
Who is your favourite character and why? Hairy Macleary because he is the main character. I also like Schnitzel von Krumm because he is like a sausage.
What is your favourite part of the book? When the cat come out and the dogs run away.
Why is this book better than others? Because it has lots of dogs and they get scared by a cat.
Any other comments?
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Click on the image to purchase from Fishpond NZ, or Click here to buy from Booktopia
The Impossible Quest by Kate Forsythe
Initially this review was going to be on The Impossible Quest Series Book 1 Escape from Wolfhaven Castle as it seems that every child I talk to at the moment is reading this book or another one in the series. I thought it was worth a read to find out what all the fuss was about. However I found this book so engaging I had to read all five books in the series over the weekend and am now reviewing the entire series.
I love a good medieval sci-fantasy book, and this series is one of the best I have read. Children will love it because it is very action centered as well as telling a good story – four young teens search for four mythical beasts to fulfill a prophecy and save their families. What I love about this series was how Kate Forsythe managed to keep the action moving along quickly enough to keep children interested, while clearly describing her fictional world and characters in detail. This is no easy feat and she carried it out seamlessly.
While the books are target for the 5-12 market, most children who enjoy the magical and mythical will love reading these stories or having them read to them. There are deaths and there are scary bits, so there are some children who may not find them so engaging because of this. I have also found that children who really like the Dear Dumb Diary and Diary of a Wimpy Kid genre are not big fans of these books. However, this reader was and I cannot wait to see what Kate Forsythe brings out next!
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