Top 5 Friday | Favourite Fantasy Trilogies

They say bad things come in threes, but some novels are proof that very good things can as well. Book trilogies are quite commonplace these days, especially in fantasy. It seems like a three-book arc is simply what’s needed to cover the scope of world-building and character development. Yet, this is not always the case… sometimes they can suffer from ‘Middle Book Syndrome’, which means the second book has no real story of its own and merely serves as a link between the first book and the last.

Well, here are my top 5, which I believe are solid gold the whole way through…
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Top 10 Tuesday: Children’s stand-alone novels

Last Sunday was International Children’s Book Day, so this week’s Top 10 Tuesday is, of course, about children’s books. There are lots of excellent series out there for children but sometimes stand-alone novels get left in the dust. Several publishers and editors have commented on the difficulty of selling a stand-alone novel due to lack of ‘shelf-presence’, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less worthwhile.

Here are ten of my stand-alone recommendations for children: Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday: Heroines in Children’s Fiction

It’s International Women’s Day on the 8th March, so today’s Top 10 Tuesday is all about female inspirations in fiction. I’m a big believer in children’s fiction setting an example for developing girls and young women, and seeing strong, independent female characters is a huge part of that representation in literature. Here are a few of the characters who inspired me when growing up.

10 – The Wrestling Princess – The Wrestling Princess by Judy Corbalis

wrestlingI remember the Wrestling Princess as my earliest fictional role model. This was in the very early nineties, when I was just starting to read by myself and I wanted something a bit meatier to sink my teeth into. Cinderella and the other Disney princesses (with the exception of Belle) never really caught my interest as a youngster, but this princess did.

She’s smart, and strong, and she doesn’t like being ladylike or proper, and she has absolutely no interest in finding a handsome prince to settle down and marry. She loves dirty engines, and fixing things, and wrestling, and all the things that princess shouldn’t like at all. Exasperated by her behaviour, her parents decree that if someone can beat their daughter in a wrestling match, then she will have to marry them. Many try, many fail, until the Wrestling Princess finds and chooses her own husband: someone who she can respect exactly the way he is, and who respects her, exactly how she is.

Also she could throw grown men over her head. What’s not to like? Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW | My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord by David Solomons (4 stars)

GymteacherMy Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord is the sequel to one of my new favourite children’s books, My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons. Being so impressed by the first novel, I had high hopes for this one, and it did not disappoint me.

Luke Parker is struggling at his new school. Maths is difficult, gym is worse, but that would all be fine if his superhero brother weren’t so annoying. Zack, a.k.a. Star Lad, won’t believe Luke when he tries to tell him there’s a new supervillain on the rise, but Luke is sure he’s right about a new terror threatening to end civilisation as they know it… or at least the civilisation of Bromley.

Solomons triumphantly returns to the world of English suburban superheroes, bringing with him the humour and ambition of the last book as well as building on the cast of loveable characters. The book is witty, excellently paced, and full of honest pre-teen awkwardness that had me smiling from ear-to-ear. Add to that a “Flash Gordon” moral (that you don’t necessarily need superpowers to be a hero), and it was a delight from start to finish.

I’m can’t wait to read the next one!

BOOK REVIEW | The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (4 stars)

the_lie_tree_front_coverVerdict: Beautifully constructed mystery that deserves (and received) the 2015 Costa Book Award.

It’s been a while since I posted a book review and I’m glad I can kick-start my posts with this novel. The Lie Tree was a delight to read; a tale woven by the masterful storyteller, Frances Hardinge.

It follows the story of Faith Sunderly, the 14-year-old daughter to Reverend Sunderly, an acclaimed natural scientist who has recently been shamed into hiding on a remote island. Faith tries hard to be a dutiful daughter as she ‘clumsily [rocks] between childhood and adulthood’, but the fact is that she has very little interest in the dresses, kid-gloves and gossip that her mother Myrtle instructs her about.

Faith is an aspiring natural scientist, with a curious mind and a knack for piecing things together. When her rather forbidding father dies on the remote island, Faith is the only one with enough scraps of fact to be sure it was murder. Faith dares her reputation and her life to catch her father’s killer.  Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW | Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford (3.5 stars)

hamsterVerdict: Cute and smart with just the right amount of sad mixed in. Many shades of fun. 

My dad died. Twice. But only the second time was my fault.

When Al Chaudhury receives a letter from his dead dad on his twelfth birthday, he doesn’t really know what to expect. He tells his mum it was just about the usual, ‘growing up, guy stuff’ that fathers tell their sons when they reach a certain age, but the truth is much weirder.

Al’s dad didn’t want to die. Fortunately, he built a time-machine to change what happened. All Al needs to do is…

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BOOK REVIEW: My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons (4 stars)

-My Brother is a Superhero-68851-3Verdict: Excellent, well paced and full of laughs.

My brother is a superhero and I could have been one too, except I needed a wee. This is the first line of David Solomons’ debut children’s novel. You know David Solomons. He’s that guy who wrote episodes of Buffy and Angel with Joss Whedon. Yeah. That guy.

Anyway, writing credentials aside, I picked up MBIAS on a recommendation from a friend and the Waterstones’ premise:

Luke is a comic-mad eleven-year old who shares a treehouse with his geeky older brother, Zack. Luke’s only mistake is to go for a wee right at the wrong time. While he’s gone, an alien gives his undeserving, never-read-a-comic-in-his-life brother superpowers and then tells him to save the universe. Luke is massively annoyed about this, but when Zack is kidnapped by his arch-nemesis, Luke and his friends have only five days to find him and save the world…

Who wouldn’t want tor read that? Continue reading