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Posts tagged ‘Highly Recommended’

Thelma The Unicorn

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By: Aaron Blabey

Thelma only wants to be a unicorn. She believes everything would be wonderful if only that would happen. One day it does, a happy accident transforms Thelma into a magnificent unicorn and she becomes ever so famous. It doesn’t take long for Thelma to realise that maybe just being herself is better, that being a unicorn isn’t everything she thought it would be.

Aaron Blabey stories are always such fun and often have a good little gem of a message in them. This story is about being true to yourself and those who are good to the real you. Also how being famous may not in fact be the best or most important thing in life. This is a thoroughly enjoyable story, dealing with a big topic in an easily accessible way, accompanied by wonderful illustrations.

Highly Recommended

Publisher: Koala Book Company

 

Published: 1st August 2017

Key Words: Fun, Fame, Dreams

ISBN: 9781742764085

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A Monster Calls – Movie Review

a-monster-calls.jpgMovies of books, don’t always go so well and I firmly fit into the category of person who believes mostly books do it better. I like the way I create a movie in my head as I read and sometimes the films, for the sake of action and time, change things up that are, to a reader, just wrong.

Having said that, I really enjoyed this movie. Patrick Ness, the writer of the source material, had a hand in the film and I think that showed, not just in the storytelling but also in the tone.

As a book it was moving, intense as you would expect from the subject matter; broken family, mother critically ill, bullying. The whole tale is about some of the dark places life can take us and ways to cope through them. The film echoed that.

It is not a faced paced film, it is slow as it weaves a story in several parts; Conor’s real life, the interactions with the monster (voiced with gravitas that only Liam Neeson can bring), and the stories the Monster tells. It is an emotional tale, filled with painful truths, bought to life in a touching and very real way.

The cast did an amazing job. Lewis MacDougall (Conor) is vulnerable, defiant, broken and ultimately finds strength though the journey the ancient tree monster takes him on in the search of truth, Conor’s truth. Felicity Jones does a great job of playing a mother who knows she is ill but struggles to hide it from her son, whilst giving him the love he needs. Conor’s Grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) is stern, distanced from him but tries as she understands they are all each other has, she delicately plays that balance of love, sadness and frustration.

It is a film that pulls at the heartstrings. As a mother I identified on many levels. As someone who has intimate knowledge of bullying, it strums a note. As a reader who loved the source material it is a film that doesn’t disappoint.

If you get the chance go see the film, even if you don’t pick up a copy of the book, I highly recommend it.

 

The Hidden Oracle

xthe-hidden-oracle.jpg.pagespeed.ic.eQ1MXlIOfDBy: Rick Riordan

The Trials of Apollo Bk 1

Apollo is in a whole world of hurt, he is used to being a god but now he is a 16 year old boy stuck in the mortal world because Zeus has cast him down. He now has to find what it is he has to do in order to regain his godhood. To add to his mortification he is rescued from his first beating by twelve year old Meg. He persuades Percy Jackson to take them both to Camp Half-Blood hoping that whilst there he can find some answers but the Camp is in chaos, things are not as they should be, campers are missing and the oracle is not working. How can you go on a quest when the being who issues the quests is unable to do so? Somehow Apollo needs to confront his fears, overcome the limitations of his now teenage, human body and deal with betrayal such as he has never felt before.

This is a fun entry into the world of demigods. Apollo is a funny and at times irritating character with his self-importance and egotistic ways. The blending of a teenagers imperfections with the mind of an ancient god makes for some very amusing moments. Twelve year old Meg is the perfect foil for the fallen god, her street smarts and ultimately damaged personality contrast beautifully with his grandiosity. It is going to be interesting to see where the character of Meg is taken, all the demigods have issues and most have parental issues but it seems that Meg’s issues have the potential to touch on some darker territory. The pace as always with these stories is fast, the action at times quite nasty. Riordan has given us a horrible yet interesting villain (an no I won’t tell you who it is – no spoilers). It is always nice to go back to the camp and see what has changed and what hasn’t, new campers who come to the fore. I look forward to the next instalment of this series.

Highly recommended.

Publisher: Puffin Books

Published: 3rd May 2016

Key Words: Action, Adventure, Humour, Mythology

ISBN: 9780141363936

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer

I received my copy from the publisher
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By: Rick Riordan
Book one of the Magnus Chase series

Magnus Chase is homeless, has been for two years, extended family is more than a little dysfunctional. He has friends, of sorts, Blitz and Hearth, they keep an eye out for him. Magnus was managing, that is until he died. That was things got really strange because a girl on a flying horse saves him. Magnus finds himself at the Hotel Valhalla, where he meets others who have been saved by Valkyries. His Valkyrie has issues of her own and Magnus discovers that not everyone wants him there. In fact if he is to survive, if that is what he is doing, then he has to go on a quest. Doing this though means first of all finding a way out of Valhalla. With Sam, the Valkyrie and her secret as well as Blitz and Hearth who turn out to be far more than simple homeless folk, by his side, Magnus sets out to retrieve Frey’s sword and not free the Fenris Wolf. Simple as quests go, really. All they have to do is navigate their way through parts of the nine realms and get the things they need to prevent Ragnarok. Easy.
And that is all I am going to say. Mostly. If you’ve read Riordan you know to expect a fast paced story with plenty of action, characters who balance bizarre with humour to keep things as real as they can. There are a few ties to the world of Percy Jackson, but again, no spoilers. The characters work well together and the mythology is a consistently tight and entertaining background.
Thoroughly readable (as in hard to put down) and highly entertaining.
Highly recommended.
Publisher: Puffin
Published: 6th October 2015
Genre: Mythology, Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 528 pages
ISBN: 9780141342429

Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright

I received this book from the publisher
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By: Chris Riddell
Book 3 in the Goth Girl series.
Ada Goth is the only child of renowned writer Lord Goth and she lives at Ghastly-Gorm Hall. Ada is a smart girl, rather self reliant and is looking forward to seeing her father who will be home for Christmas. The other thing happening at the hall for Christmas is a literary dog show. Famous authors from all over will be bringing their beloved pets to the hall to see which one deserves the title best in show. Ada though is also excited for the fact her best friend will be coming back to the hall for the holidays.
Things don’t really go as planned though as strange things start to happen; howls in the nights, shoes that have been chewed and mysterious paw prints. Something is going on and Ada is determined to figure it out as well as having some fun along the way.
A wonderfully enchanting tale, filled with absurdities that are Riddell’s signature, accompanied by his distinctive and quirky illustrations. Ada is a steady, relatable character in amongst the slightly off centre story and supporting cast. Riddell’s books are always entertaining, a real pleasure to read, picture books to chapter books. A truly fun read.
Highly recommended.
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s
Published: 29th Sept 2015
Format: Hardcover, 220 pages
Genre: Humour, Christmas, Family, Mystery
ISBN: 9781447277897

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

I received my copy from the publisher
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By: Patrick Ness

Life for a high school student is filled with stresses related to dating and exam scores and that is how it should be, not everyone can be a chosen one. Not everyone is the one who has to face the zombies, kill the vampires or defeat whatever the latest threat to a town might be. Stories are always told of those people but what of those who share the town with them. This is the story of those whose lives go on at the edges or outside all that action. To Mikey though that is as it should be. Mikey just wants to graduate, get the chance to go to prom before the high school gym gets blown up again and maybe kiss the girl. This is life.
This book is a wonderfully engaging story. As a counterpoint to Mikey’s life we do get hints as to what is happening in the extraordinary world, but so what? Mikey’s life is interesting, filled with stresses that we can all identify with. (Well apart from a mother who basks in the spotlight of fame.) Mikey has a close group of friends, is protective of his sisters and protective of his best friends secret, no small ask when that friend might be something pretty spectacular, such as a god. Then of course there is the girl he believes he should be with and the guy she seems to fancy.
Ness has taken the concept of a story about the spectacular or supernatural and turned it on its head. In the process he has given us a wonderful tale rooted in the mundane, it is a highly relatable tale dealing with depression, mental health issues and eating disorders. There are some serious topics packaged here and as always Ness deals with them in a manner that makes them seem less taboo. Once again Patrick Ness has proven what a masterful story teller he is.
Highly recommended.
Publisher: Walker Books
Published: 27th August 2015
Format: hard cover 352 pages
Genre: fantasy, high school, growing up, friendship
ISBN: 9781406331165

Battle Magic

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By: Tamora Pierce

Briar, Rosethorn and Evvy and visiting the mountain kingdom of Gyongxe, a mystical country filled with temples of many religions, the very earth is filled with power. Before there time is up though they are summonsed to visit the Emperor of Yanjing under the pretense of seeing his glorious gardens.
Things are not as peaceful and pleasant as the emperor attempts to make things seem on the surface. The mages sense and see things they do not like, amongst them the treatment of certain individuals, the emperor’s dark cruelty, a huge army and throng magic that underlies it all, keeping it all together. Unwilling to stay they leave and discover the Emperor as about to launch an attack on Gyongxe and he will do anything to stop the visiting mages from joining the other side. This is omething Rosethorn cannot allow as she has vowed to defend the First Temple of the Living Circle and where Rosethorn is bound to go Briar will not be far away, even if they do get separated for a while.
Another wonderful addition to the world first bought to us in the Circle Of Magic series. This is perhaps though, the darkest and bloodiest of the books, dealing as it does with genocide and war. Pierce uses this context to push her characters through emotional arcs that will forever change them. I won’t go too much into what they go through, the individual things they experience, because that would detract too much from the read itself, and it would be too easy to unintentionally leave spoilers. Rosethorn’s steadfastness, Briar’s stubborn loyalty and Evvy’s wonder and enthusiasm are still there shining through the whole time.
A bigger book than the other circle books but just as un-put downable.
Highly recommended.
Publisher: Scholastic
Published: 1st Oct 2013
Format: Paperback, 464 pages
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN: 9781742990170

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