Tag Archives: Child Protagonist

Magic and other Misdemeanors, Michael Buckley

Magic and Other Misdemeanors, Michael BuckleyMagic and Other Misdemeanors by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2007
Pages: 282 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #5

Rating: 4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it

In their latest adventure, intrepid fairy-tale detectives Sabrina and Daphne Grimm investigate a rash of magical thefts that might add up to a very grim future for their family, who are not so popular in Ferryport Landing these days. With Granny Relda desperately scrambling to pay Mayor Heart’s outrageous taxes on humans, the Sisters Grimm tackle their first solo case – with a little help from the troublemaker Puck, of course. Meanwhile their old friend Mr. Canis seems to be losing his grip on his human self, becoming more like the Big Bad Wolf every day. Can Sabrina and Daphne solve the crime and change their family’s future for the better?

After their trip to New York, the Sisters Grimm are back in Ferryport Landing for their best adventure yet. Magic items have been stolen from three of Ferryport’s most powerful witches and tears in the fabric of time have started opening up in town, letting through dinosaurs, American civil war soldiers, and providing the sisters with a rather grim glimpse into their possible futures where dragons roam the skies and the Scarlet Hand rules Fairyport.

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The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

The Book Thief, Marcus ZusakThe Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

First Published: 2005
Pages: 534 (Paperback)
Form: Novel

Rating:4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it

HERE IS A SMALL FACT

YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.

1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.

Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when bombs begin to fall.

SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION

THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATH.

it’s a small story, about:

a girl
an accordionist
some fanatical Germans
a Jewish fist fighter
quite a lot of thievery.

ANOTHER THING YOU WILL NEED TO KNOW

DEATH WILL VISIT THE BOOK THIEF THREE TIMES.

I’m alive! I haven’t been online much (or even read very much) in a long time for lots and lots of reasons – some personal that I don’t want to get into, some so boringly mundane that nobody else wants me to get into, but I’m back now so will get onto the review.

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The Problem Child, Michael Buckley

The Problem Child, Michael Buckley The Problem Child by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2006
Pages: 292 (Hardback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #3

Rating:

For Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, the latest in a long line of fairy-tale detectives, there is one mystery they want to solve more than any other.

Who kidnapped their parents over a year ago?

Sabrina enters the hideout of the Scarlet Hand, the sinister group of Everafters who are keeping her parents prisoner. She has a chance to rescue her mom and dad but is foiled by the most famous fairytale character in the world.

How can a human child defeat a magic one?

With the help of her little sister (who might be tougher than Sabrina realizes) and a long-lost relative, Sabrina finds a powerful weapon for fighting her enemies, and discovers that magic has a high price.

The library finally got it in for me! And I think it might just be the best in the series so far – though not without a lot of problems. The major one being that the author really can’t do a natural sounding recap for shit. So after the big cliffhanger the last book ended on, we get a first chapter of what should be an exciting action/revelation scene being awkwardly interrupted for massive infodumps to tell us everything that has led up to this point – and not even particularly accurately. Two mysteries solved does not equal ‘as they solved one mystery after another, the girls had started to discover a disturbing pattern‘ except in the most strict technical sense. As a result of this ‘stop and explain everything’ approach, the flow of the early portions of the book feels very disjointed and it’s a while before the writing finally finds its feet. It’s practically an advert for why some series are much better off sticking a ‘the story so far’ page in before you get to the prologue. But once those pacing issues are ironed out, the ‘standalone’ plot for this novel is much more interesting than the last entry in the series.

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The Unusual Suspects, Michael Buckley

The Unusual Suspects, Michael BuckleyThe Unusual Suspects by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 290 plus afterword (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #2

Rating:

For Sabrina Grimm, living in a community of fairy-tale characters means always being ready for trouble. And something is definitely wrong at her new school. The adults seem too angry, the kids seem too sleepy, and the gym teacher likes dodgeball way too much. Of course, her little sister, Daphne, is having the time of her life. (Who wouldn’t with Snow White for a teacher – she’s so good with little people!) But when Sabrina’s teacher, Mr. Grumpner, is found dangling in a giant spider’s web, even Daphne’s convinced Ferryport Landing Elementary has a monster problem. Can the Sisters Grimm solve the crime?

So, after reading a few stories in a row that didn’t quite ‘click’ with me I thought I’d pick up something nice, easy, and fun – and this proved to be exactly what I needed. Without spoiling the first book too much, The Sisters Grimm is a fractured fairy tale/fairy tale mash-up series following the adventures of  Sabrina and Daphne Grimm as they solve fairy-tale crime and try to track down their abducted parents. If I’m honest, it’s not the best-written of series so far, but it’s very fun, the ideas are good, and as a sucker for reimagined fairy tales I’m kinda moving towards loving it. Enough that I’ve already put in a library reservation for the next book anyway.

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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

Publisher: Corsair
Pages: 328 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: Fairyland #1

Rating:

September is a twelve-year-old girl from Omaha. Her dad is fighting in a faraway war, her mum is always out at work, and September is stuck in a lonely, adventureless rut. So when the Green Wind arrives at her window and invites her to Fairyland, she accepts in a flash. (Mightn’t you?)

But Fairyland is in crisis and confusion, crushed by the iron rule of the villanous Marquess – and September alone holds the key to restoring order. Well! She knows what a girl with a quest must do: she sets out to Fix Things.

With a book-loving dragon and a mysterious boy named Saturday by her side, September faces peril and pandemonium; loses her shadow, her shoe and her way – and finds a great deal more besides. But time is short, and time is ticking, and every story must have an ending. Can September save Fairyland? Can she even save herself?

Eeeee! (That’s my excited noise) How could I not pick up a book with a title that awesome? It’s been on my wishlist since it was first drawn to my attention, so naturally as soon as I spotted a copy in the bookshop I just had to buy it. And I am so, so, glad I did, and that I’m such a shallow reader easily swayed by a pretty cover and a wonderful title, because boy did this book live up to both. I do get the feeling that it’s probably one of those that you either love or you feel distinctly ‘meh’ about, but for me it really worked. I found it a lovely, charming, clever little fairytale and a perfect book to wrap up my summer-holiday children’s book binge.

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Pery Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Publisher: Puffin (Penguin)
Pages: 342 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: Percy Jackson #4

Rating:

‘Honestly, Blowing up another school was the last thing I wanted to do’

As the son of a Greek god, I’ve had my share of near-death disaster. This summer I didn’t choose to battle the cheerleading squad, but when two hissing she-devils with fangs are heading straight for you, what’s a half-blood meant to do?

That was just the beginning. This is the one where my arch-enemy, Luke, is looking for a way to invade our camp via an ancient labyrinth. If he succeeds, thousands of bloodthirsty monsters will attack. So it’s goodbye sunshine, hello darkness as four of us descend into the terrifying underground and beyond…

Can Percy navigate his way out of trouble – before Luke’s army bring mass destruction to camp half-blood?

Eeeeee! Love, love, love. And just the sort of read I needed right now. Doubts about whether I’m just a bit too old to get the full enjoyment from these books officially over. I think I might even like this one more than Sea of Monsters and I am definitely, definitely, looking forward to seeing how the final confrontation will go down in the next book.

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Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

Publisher: Walker Books
Pages: 249 – including afterword (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: Alex Rider #1

Rating:

MISSION 1: STORMBREAKER

“When the doorbell rings at three in the morning it’s never good news.”

When his guardian dies in suspicious circumstances, fourteen-year-old Alex Rider finds his world turned upside down.

Within days he’s gone from schoolboy to superspy. Forcibly recruited into MI6, Alex has to take part in gruelling SAS training exercises; then, armed with his own special set of gadgets, he’s off on his first mission. But Alex soon finds himself in mortal danger. It looks as if his first assignment may well be his last. . .

Another ‘low four’ for this one. I enjoyed it, I’ll read the next couple of sequels at least, but there was a lot that held me back from liking it more. This is (mostly) more my fault than the book’s which is, for the most part, a high quality action-adventure  spy-story very much in the vein of a ‘teenage James Bond’ that has fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Unfortunately I’ve never been that into the James Bond films, found Casino Royale to be a total snooze-fest, and have never had any inclination whatsoever to pick up an Ian Flemming book. These damning personal defects aside I would probably have gotten on with this book a lot better had I read it when it came out in 2000 (when I would have been eleven or twelve) – not just because I’d have been both less picky and in the right age bracket but because, only twelve years later, a lot of the premise comes off as absurdly dated.

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