Posts Tagged ‘Orion’

North of Nowhere – Liz Kessler

Posted in Children's Books on April 11th, 2014 by admin – 2 Comments

My 10 year old daughter is a big fan of Liz Kessler’s previous  novels, including the fantasy series, Philippa Fisher and Emily Windsnap, so I was keen to read her latest novel and see what all the fuss was about.

Targeted at children aged nine and above, this is the second of three stand-alone novels all of which have a connection with time-travel.  Whilst being more grounded in the “real” world than the fantasy novels, there is still that subtle element of the supernatural suffusing the story.

Our narrator is thirteen year old Mia (Amelia).  Her plans for a chilled out Spring half-term, hanging out with her friends, are dashed when her Grandad goes missing and she and her Mum have to join her Gran in the sleepy fishing village of Porthaven – with no mobile phone signal, no satellite tv, no internet – a teen’s worst nightmare!   Fortunately Mia makes a new friend in Dee, a local girl, although their friendship is somewhat unconventional given that they communicate via letters and diary entries.

This is a cleverly constructed, gripping tale blending time travel, mystery, family relationships and friendships and introducing realistic, very relatable characters.  The conversations between Mia and her family and her  peers hit exactly the right note.  The setting is perfect for a mystery with its windswept coast and taciturn locals – I found it reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier’s gothic haunts.

An intelligent, fast-paced adventure story which, I’m pleased to report, was enjoyed equally by my daughter and me.  We’re both looking forward to the next stand-alone novel, Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins,which is due out on 14th August 2014 published by Orion Childrens.

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Lovely Additions

Posted in Lovely Additions, Proofs on February 11th, 2014 by admin – 2 Comments

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A few interesting new arrivals on the book front recently – 2 from the library, 1 competition win, 1 purchased, 1 requested review book and 4 unsolicited review books.  Clicking on the covers will take  you to their Amazon Affliate Link.

I don’t like the word diet as it conjures up visions of torture and faddish ways to lose weight.  I’ve never dieted in my life but for the past 6 months or so I have been trying to eat more healthily.  A blood test in June revealed raised cholesterol so I decided to cut down on the cheese (my nemesis!) and be a bit more active.  I’ve lost 10lbs so far and am no longer overweight but I bought The Hairy Dieters book as it came highly recommended by friends especially as it contains meals which all the family, even my fussy bunch, will enjoy.  I’ve reserved their first book How to Love Food and Lose Weight at the library.  There’s a queue of 9 ahead of me but I have plenty of food for thought in the meantime… By the way, the weight loss hasn’t improved the raised cholesterol so a new exercise regime is the next step – wonder if I can run and read simultaneously…

 

Kill or Cure was a win in a competition organised by We Love This Book.  It has proven a big hit with the all the family, particularly the more gruesome parts, of the book, not the family!   Detailing the history of medicine from prehistory to modern times, this is one for dipping into and may well provide useful in the healthy eating regime…as in inducing  loss of appetite.

 

The Cleaner of Chartres will be a re-read this month as it is our library book group’s choice for February.  With less funding for libraries and limited stock, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Liz, our librarian, to source enough copies if we recommend a particular title.  I know we could source them ourselves but that defeats the whole purpose of it being a “library” book group.  Soon there will be no books left!  Seriously…

Lean On Pete is another library loan.  My bookish friend Mandy has been raving evangelically about this writer so I really need to get to it.

North of Nowhere is the latest novel from children’s author Liz Kessler.  My daughter Eva loved this author’s previous books so this is one for both of us to read and enjoy.  Apparently this story was inspired by a South Devon village which fell into the sea during stormy weather – ironic considering the horrendous damage the storms are currently wreaking on the Devon and Cornish coasts.

The last batch of four are unsolicited review copies which dropped through the letterbox.  Sometimes these are so wide off the mark for me, even with my eclectic tastes, but these four do appeal in very different ways.  I’ve enjoyed Valerie Martin’s writing style in the past and Byron Easy looks intriguing with The Winter Folly promising to be an entertaining dual time-frame story.  When I was Young isn’t really singing to me at the moment, I sense saga vibes coming off it!

Wondering now if I should choose my next read according to the weather today but then they’ve forecast amber alerts for gales, rain and possible snow – enough to make an indecisive Libran doolally!

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The Watcher in the Shadows – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Posted in Children's Books, Historical Fiction, Proofs, YA Fiction on May 7th, 2013 by admin – 2 Comments

The Watcher in the Shadows

Published
09/05/2013

Publisher
Orion Children’s Books (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )

ISBN
9781444001655

Source
Publisher

My Rating
5 stars

I am a big fan of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s writing, both his adult and children’s novels, since I first read The Shadow of the Wind when it was published in 2004.    Since then I have enjoyed his two other books in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books cycle,  The Angel’s Game and The Prisoner of Heaven.  There has been quite a gap between each adult novel being published but Zafon aficianados have been sustained in the interim by his Niebla (Mist) series for Young Adults which were originally written in the 90s but have recently been translated by Lucia Graves who did such a splendid job of translating Zafon’s adult novels.

Like Zafon, I fervently believe that storytelling transcends age and that his YA novels appeal to any reader who  loves magic and mystery so I was delighted to dive into The Watcher in the Shadows, the third of the Niebla series, a cycle of books which can be read as stand-alone novels as their linking theme is mystery and adventure rather than a series of characters.

In The Watcher in the Shadows you can see the first germinating seeds of Zafon’s masterful storytelling skills, that elegant Gothic style steeped in mystery and magic with an aura of malevolence haunting the narrative.  Our setting is Normandy, France in the summer of 1937.  Recently widowed Simone Sauvelle and her young children Irene and Dorian hope to make a fresh start in the small coastal village of Blue Bay where Simone has secured a post as housekeeper to Lazarus Jann, an inventor and toy manufacturer, who resides in a secluded mansion with his invalid wife.  Lazarus is the only person allowed to attend to his wife and they lead a rather unconventional life surrounded by the automatons and other fantastic pieces created by the toymaker.

At first, the omens look favourable for the Sauvelles.   Young teen, Irene, falls in love with a local boy.  Dorian is taken under Lazarus’ wing.  Simone feels settled and happy in her work.  Perhaps it is all a bit too perfect?  Indeed, fortunes change when a dark, malevolent force is unleashed and the reader is led on a breathtaking adventure with plenty of scary moments en route!   Its a fabulous, rollicking tale filled with suspense and mystery – a story which harks back to ripping yarns of years gone by but don’t expect a fairytale ending…  Highly recommended for both young  and old(er) adventurers.

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