Lizzie’s Dream Journal – Charlie King

After the death of her father, Lizzie Barnes’ life takes an interesting turn when her mum brings home a journal.  Lizzie decides to use the journal to write short stories involving her beloved teddy bear Rodford and his arch-enemy Dr Ofdor, a villainous grizzly bear.
She soon notices it is no ordinary journal as people around her begin to have dreams based around her stories.

When Lizzie begins to experience the dreams for herself, she finds that as the creator, the rules of the journal can work against her.

Lizzie, with the help of Rodford and a rat named Ridgeley, must explore the different worlds while facing the dangers she created, including Dr Ofdor, to free herself from the workings of the journal.

Charlie King, author of The Lyons Orphanage and The Lyons Legacy is back once again with a new standalone YA novel.  When I got the email asking if I wanted to review this latest title, I was immediately intrigued by the blurb and excited to see what the book had to offer.

Lizzie is a character younger readers will easily be able to relate to, and will come to explore her sense of loss, the new and strange vulnerability that comes with that.  Along the way Lizzie has to deal with bullies, and learn what it means to be a good friend. Continue reading “Lizzie’s Dream Journal – Charlie King”

Literature Binge

After my Charles Dickens birthday binge chronicled in the last post, a bit more variety was needed in my reading collection, and what better place to turn to for inspiration than book bloggers.  After hunting around for a short time I came up with three books that would add depth to my collection.

Again thanks to Crissy for the classy book shots.

First port of call was Claire over at Word By Word, for those of you who haven’t discovered this blog yet please be warned you will end up wanting to spend all your money on a variety of books, all of which are wonderfully reviewed.  Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat caught my eye with short stories of a Haitian flavour.

Next up was Asha’s recommendation for Twilight in Delhi which sounds like an atmospheric historical fiction novel that will captivate the senses.  Ever since finishing A Suitable Boy, I have hankered for an Indian novel to read, although I have Rohinton Mistry’s  A FIne Balance still to read, I had to have this book too. Continue reading “Literature Binge”

Love Machine – Neveah Hor

In the year, 2050, among the humans on the streets, there were these very few others. Others who were made in the biggest technology company, AITA (artificial intelligence and technological advancements), what humans call, the guardians. They were crossbreeds of humans and animals which had the highest Intelligent Quotient (IQ). They were created to protect all citizens with their special abilities. However, they had one enemy. The citizens called them the poachers. They are from another company, The Royal AI. This company was the second most advanced company and they wanted all the glory of AITA. To win them over, The Royal AI had to prove themselves worthy and they resolved to hunt down the guardians to kill them all off by creating their own crossbreeds. Life for the guardians was not that easy. Humans just did not understand one thing. These guardians they so often talk about did not want fame. They wanted something else…

When ambitious thirteen-year-old Neveah Hor emailed to ask if I would review her debut novel, I did take time to debate whether it would be a good idea.  In the end after Crissy encouraged it, reasoning that it was something different to read and an interesting exercise for me, I caved in and decided to give it a go.  And as the saying goes, an honest review in exchange a free book.

The story is one centred around love, heavy on the relationships from the off, it’s very much a coming of age story, with life lessons about friendship and loyalty.  There is lots of action and romance, but Love Machine didn’t grab me, which may perhaps not be surprising to anyone who has read this blog. Continue reading “Love Machine – Neveah Hor”

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis

Four adventurous siblings―Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie― step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

After the Genesis heavy themes of The magician’s nephew we come to the other most recognisable bit of Christianity in this book, but it is far less heavy in its symbols this time around, and a much better introduction to  the Narnia series – as well as being a decent standalone read too.  Oozing, as it does, a lot of charm.

It was surprising to find that a lot of the things I remembered from the book didn’t happen in half as much detail as I recalled, which is probably a case of having seen the numerous adaptations of TV series and films, which inevitably form unconscious associations and attribute details as time goes on.

What keeps readers returning to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe time and again is the joy of discovery, Narnia is a world that I do love venturing into, and the book oozes a lot of magic still to this day.  The idea of going onto another world is always appealing, on the other hand the characters are very simplistically drawn, and I can’t help but feel that it is the dim memory of childhood nostalgia which keeps them beloved these days.

The climactic chapters feel all to brief, the action passes within a few scant paragraphs and this is something of a theme of the series sadly.  The reader can bulk it out within imagination – or the adaptations – but with such scant text this all comes after the initial reading and as a result doesn’t really help the book in the moment. Continue reading “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis”

The Magician’s Nephew – C. S. Lewis

NARNIA…where the woods are thick and cold, where Talking Beasts are called to life…a new world where the adventure begins.

Digory and Polly meet and become friends one cold, wet summer in London. Their lives burst into adventure when Digory’s Uncle Andrew, who thinks he is a magician, sends them hurtling to…somewhere else.

I wrote a brief overview of the Narnia chronicles years ago, and have been wandering in that world again of late.  This time I plan to review each book, and it seems that my overall view of the series have changed over the years.

Although written as the sixth book in the Chronicles of Narnia, The Magician’s Nephew can be read first as it explains the beginnings of and explores the key aspects of the series.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a stronger starting place for the series, The Magician’s Nephew however, is a mixed bag and doesn’t feel as natural, it also assumes you have read the former work which can be a bit annoying at times, if you haven’t yet done so.

The rings with which the adventures starts feel a bit out of place in this universe, as a device they veer more to the sci-fi but this is however juxtaposed with the dangers of technology so that does work in its way.  For this reader though, it does feel somewhat forced. Continue reading “The Magician’s Nephew – C. S. Lewis”

The Other One Hundred

After yesterday’s post, it makes sense to add that the last few pages of The BBC Big Read book listed the books that didn’t make it into the top one hundred.  There are far too many Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Wilson books for my liking, which underlines the major flaw in the survey.

There are some good quality books that didn’t make it, and plenty of choice for the book pile.  After the forty-three that I had read from the top one hundred, it’s even more dismaying to find that I have only read thirty-six of this offering, although I did start Moby Dick, and The Handmaid’s Tale but didn’t finish them.  I trust your scoring will put me to shame. Continue reading “The Other One Hundred”

The Big Read

Here’s a blast from the past!  In 2003 the BBC launched a survey to find the nation’s best loved book of all time.

Although the results are somewhat engaging, by allowing unlimited entries per author the final list clogs up a bit.  The rule of only one book per author in the top twenty-one places, which then went on to the final round of voting, balances this out a little. Below is the final order.

As a retrospective it makes for interesting reading, it’s not a surprise to see the Harry Potter books placing so highly (as well as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials), although that probably speaks more for the demographic of voters and the HP phenomenon being at fever pitch at the time, perhaps.

Now is your turn to play along at home, how many of these have you read? I’ve finished the highlighted forty-three books, which is a bit disappointing, especially as I have owned plenty of the other books at times but never gotten around to reading them when they were within my grasp. Continue reading “The Big Read”

The Lambton Worm – Terry Deary

The Lambton Worm is evil, EVIL, EVIL.  And all it needs to be set free is someone to perform one wicked act, just one bad deed.  When young John Lambton, son of Lord Lambton, defies his father and sneaks out of the castle at dawn on a Sunday morning to go fishing, he has no idea of the evil he has setting in motion.

I read this book in primary school, not that I remembered much about its contents when starting this recently, just a recollection of a protracted fight scene.  There has also been a question in my mind for years over whether I did, in fact, enjoy this book or found it plain scary.

The story is based on an old legend from County Durham, in England and dates from the 14th century, retold here for children The Lambton Worm retains the history of the story, featuring castles and also has a side story about the Crusades as well which I didn’t recall but enjoyed immensely.

The titular worm is by far the best character in the book, starting off with the thought, “Oooooh, I’m evil!”, the cartoonish nature of the beast subtly changes as it grows more powerful throughout the story.  The worm is a pitiable creature but also faintly sinister, which was the main reason I think that this book always bothered me. Continue reading “The Lambton Worm – Terry Deary”

Not Enough Women

Amelia always watches in fascination as I read, and then gets angry when she can’t turn the thick cardboard pages of her own books.  This got me thinking that much of the literature I read is by male authors, and in the future, I will be wanting to introduce Amelia to a good blend of both men and women.

Winter reading with Amelia, she made sure I was pronouncing all the words correctly.

As most of my readers are of the female variety, this is where your expertise would be greatly appreciated.  I would love some recommendations for good authors, especially beyond the women who wrote the classics.  I have a bit of list of books gathered already but would love to add to it and have a richer reading list.

I am already a huge fan of Virginia Woolf, Irène Némirovsky as well as the recently read Marguerite Yournecar, and Daphne Du Maurier, and plan to read some more Barbara Kingsolver, Dava Sobel, Eowyn Ivey, and Enid Blyton. Continue reading “Not Enough Women”

The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien

Whisked away from his comfortable, uncomfortable life in his hobbit-hole in Bag End by Gandalf the wizard and a company of dwarves, Bilbo Baggins finds himself caught up in a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon.  Although quite reluctant to take part in this quest, Bilbo surprises even himself by his resourcefulness and his skill as a burglar!

By now, I am assuming that The Hobbit is well known to pretty much everyone, so I won’t go too in-depth into the book. After the terrible film adaptations, it was always going to be a bit of time before coming back to this story. Now, with the memory of the stretched-out trilogy dulled enough to appreciate the prose again, the road well-travelled, was once again traversed.

The tale is rich in detail and full of adventure. Middle Earth is full of song – interestingly most are Dwarfish – and feels ancient, it’s impressive for a world to be established so quickly in the reader’s mind.  As the journey continues on through the seasons, and months are counted off, it feels appreciatively real, and the characters’ weariness becomes a lot more believable.  For a short book, it really does a stand-up job of an exhausting, if pleasurable trek.

The best part for this reader were the tantalising hints at things happening in distant locations, those were stories I wanted to hear, as well.  The world felt vast and lived in, and this is enhanced with the addition of maps.   I’ve always hankered for those stories Tolkien never wrote about, the ones suggested by places mentioned on his maps.  This sense of mystery always keeps the world pleasingly incomplete and open to my imagination’s wondering. Continue reading “The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien”