Sunday, 20 April 2008

Once Upon a Time in the North - Philip Pullman

This is another element in the His Dark Materials saga. This book explores the first meeting of Lee Scoresby, the Texan balloonist, and Iorek Byrnison - the armoured bear. The sense of cold in the far north has seeped into the human inhabitants and made them devious and politically corrupt. Lee and Iorek form an unlikely alliance that will help some of the innocent people caught up in the problems in the town of Novy Odense.

This is a superb short novella - illustrated beautifully by engravings by John Lawrence. It is also a lovely object in itself with cloth cover and quality paper production. Any reader of HDM must read this.

Skulduggery Pleasant-Playing with Fire by Derek Landy

Derek Landy started life as a screen writer and this certainly shows in his style which creates a rollercoaster of a ride.

The skelton detective Skulduggery and his sidekick Valkyrie Cain (Stephanie to her family) have to defeat terrible evil in the form of Baron Vengeous who is trying to master the deadly armour of Lord Vile and thus gain world domination....

This is a rip roaring adventure that will pull the reader into the story and keep them reading right to the exciting end. This is the second in the series - and more promised for the future.
Great for top of primary schools!

Mariah Mundi- The Midas Box by G P Taylor

I was really looking forward to reading this book - I had enjoyed G P Taylor's previous output but there is something about the set up - a slight fantasy location that tries to be mysterious and scary gothic at the same time. There was a sense of threat but it wasn't engaging enough to help me finish the book.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Ghostscape by Joe Layburn

Aisha - a somali girl living in East London is prone to fainting attacks. Each time she collapses she is transported to her area, but in World War II - and she meets Richard who is actually using her old school building as a shelter. Aisha realises that the school she knows is a new building and sets out to investigate what happened to the old one. This leads Aisha to discover the history of her area, to try to save Richard, and also in the process to come to terms with the difficulties she has been having with her mother and her culture.

This short novel is based on the real life case of an East End school bombed in WWII. It is easily accessible and should prove a successful first novel for this debut author. The handling of the gritty background, a bullying theme and a multicultural theme make it an interesting modern ghost story - always popular.

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

A boy and his uncle discover a body in the bog when they are illegally cutting peat on the borders of N Ireland during the height of the troubles in Ireland. Fergus's brother is in the Maze prison on hunger strike, there are Provisional IRA people in the local community, and a bomber working around the area. Into this mix come Cora and her Mum to investigate Fergus's find from an archaeological viewpoint - and all Fergus has to do is keep everything together, pass his A levels and thus escape from the situation - whilst falling in love with Cora, of course.

This is a very tightly scripted story - totally believable and engaging. Siobhan Dowd was a huge loss to the children and young people's arena