Time for another catch-up blog before 2014 ends. I’ve been doing a lot of reading but haven’t had enough time to review each book separately. So here is a bunch of mini-reviews.
|Great Southern Land, edited by Stephen C Ormsby and Carol Bond
This is an eclectic collection of stories, with Australia as the common theme/setting. They range from contemporary to historical, from realistic to fantastical. They’re not all gold (in fact there are a couple of clangers), but there’s enough here to make it a worthwhile read — particularly Sean McMullen’s “Acts of Chivalry” and David McDonald’s “Set Your Face Towards the Darkness”.
|Missing, Presumed Undead by Jeremy Davies
This is a really bizarre, humorous, sci-fi, noir crime thriller. It took me a little while to get into it and, in fact, I almost put it down after the first chapter… but I’m glad I persisted. The style and humour grew on me, and it wasn’t long before I was really enjoying it. The highlight for me was the world that the author has created — so odd and fascinating. And this book is crying out for a sequel.
|Alice on Mars by Robert Rankin
This is an illustrated story about the further adventures of Alice (from Lewis Caroll’s classic tales) as she heads to Mars, post HG Wells’s The War of the Worlds. Entertaining, bizarre and very funny!
|Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow
A very cute walk down memory lane. I loved all the old illustrations but there’s nothing special about the accompanying text.
|Shadow Sister (Dragonkeeper: Book Five) by Carole Wilkinson
This is the follow-up to Blood Brothers, which began a new trilogy in the Dragonkeeper series of children’s books. It continues the adventures of Tao, the ex-novice monk, and his dragon Kai in ancient China. A beautifully written book, as you would expect from Carole Wilkinson, full of wonderful historical detail.
|The Tale of Despereaux: being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread by Kate DiCamillo
This is an extraordinary children’s book. So beautifully told. So wonderfully constructed. Full of amazing and odd characters. And it is never quite what you expect it to be. Loved it so very much!
|Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell
This is a charming, amusing and unexpected kids’ book. It’s filled with the weirdest array of characters you could ever hope to meet, bizarre situations and an off-kilter sense of humour. I had a permanent smile on my face as I read this book. The text is peppered with some lovely illustrations that add to the charm.
|In Hades by Goldie Alexander
This is a YA verse novel about two dead teenagers and their descent into Hades. Wow! An amazing, daring, different, unique book. Forty separate poems combine to tell the story of Kai and Bilby-G, which at times mirrors Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. I dare you to read this and not care about these two tragic, damaged, often unlikeable but ultimately redeemable human beings. Loved it!
|Chasing Shadows, written by Corinne Fenton and illustrated by Hannah Sommerville
This is a gorgeous picture book about dealing with depression and finding a reason to continue living. Lovely, heart-felt, poetic words combine with soft welcoming illustrations to tell the story of how a puppy helps a young girl to step out of the shadows.
|The Cuckoo, written by Gary Crew and illustrated by Naomi Turvey
This is a stunning picture book for older readers. Crew’s haunting, meticulously crafted words create a wonderfully dark, yet positive fairytale. And they work so well with Turvey’s illustrations. A limited wash of colour on each of the black and white drawings gives them such a unique and slightly eerie quality. Brilliant!
Well, that it’s it for now. Hope you all have a great New Year. I’ll be back in a few days to ruminate over 2014.
Catch ya later, George
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