Another month, another batch of books. Eight books finished this month, mostly historical fiction, but one book I was sent for review and six of them covered areas of the What’s in a Name? challenge too…
Dire – don’t waste your time
OK, but nothing to write home about
Very good – worth a read
Superb – read it immediately!
25. Jeanne Kalogridis – The Borgia Bride
The Borgia family were notorious and seeing them through the eyes of Sancha de Aragon (who married the youngest Borgia son, Jofre), is absolutely fascinating and the writing is incredibly vivid. I absolutely loved this one and will be getting hold of other novels by this author as soon as possible.
The characters are engaging, the story is filled with intrigue, and the writing is wonderful. A must-read for fans of historical fiction – especially if you like your fiction based firmly on fact!
26. Eoin Colfer – Plugged
I felt this new, more adult offering wasn’t quite as finely honed as Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series, but there’s definitely potential for a whole new series here. McEvoy is a likeable character and I desperately wanted him to succeed – I wouldn’t mind seeing him again in another story.
At under 300 pages, it’s a little shorter than I thought it could have been, but if you like Colfer’s style, this is definitely worth a try. (SEE FULL REVIEW HERE)
27. Philip Pullman – The Ruby in the Smoke
I picked it up from the library for my What’s in a Name? Challenge and I’m very glad I did. It’s the first time I’ve read any Pullman, and although the His Dark Materials series doesn’t really appeal to me, I think I might be tempted to read the others in the Sally Lockhart series… and I think I’ll be watching the television adaptation of the Ruby in the Smoke (which, I believe, starred Billie Piper) some time soon too!
There’s just enough intrigue and suspense to keep you hooked till the end, and those who enjoy good fiction from the young adult section will most probably find this a pretty decent read
28. Frances Hodgson Burnett – A Little Princess
I had an abridged version of this story when I was very young, but this was the first time I’d read the whole unabridged novel and I’m SO glad I did! Sara Crewe is quite the most likeable child ever written. Although she’s good and kind and intelligent, she’s never uppity or spoiled, however, she’s not perfect – she has moment where she really has to rein herself in and bite her tongue, and that makes her all the better. Most of all, though, it’s the sheer magic of the tale that is so all-encompassing – I really felt involved and desperately wanted everything to work out well for Sara. This is one children’s classic that really couldn’t be better!
29. Audrey Niffenegger – Her Fearful Symmetry
After her extraordinary debut with The Time Traveler’s Wife, Niffenegger set the bar high for herself. Unfortunately, I felt this offering fell quite far short. It’s a shame, because there are some really fascinating characters (martin, the OCD neighbour upstairs in particular), but the plot was just too predictable. There wasn’t a single major “reveal” that I didn’t see coming from a mile off. Overall, I found it rather unsatisfactory – although I tried not to expect something that would knock my socks off, perhaps my expectations were still far too high. A major let-down. I just hope that whatever Niffenegger produces next will rise closer to the quality of that wonderful debut…
30. Frances Hodgson Burnett – The Secret Garden
I think I’m going to have to get hold of more work by this author because right on the heels of A Little Princess, this was another full-marks read! Mary Lennox couldn’t be more different from Sara Crewe, although they were both born and spent their early childhoods in India, their experiences and the outcome of their upbringing produces complete opposites – Mary is surly, stubborn, sour and unattractive, and yet this story of her transformation is nothing short of magnificent, so that one becomes very fond of her after a little while. The use of Yorkshire dialect is a lovely touch and never detracts from the ease of understanding, but adds a warmth and homeliness that would otherwise be sadly missing. Absolutely glorious!
31. J. M. DeMatteis and Mike Ploog – Abadazad: The Puppet, the Professor and the Prophet (Book 3)
I read the first two books in this series last year. Apparently, the original deal was for eight books, but only four were written and, sadly, only three published (the third isn’t available in the US). It’s a shame, because the idea is rather wonderful and the half-written, half-comic strip style works really well (the artwork is marvelous too).
This third installment doesn’t really live up to the previous two books, but it’s not bad at all. I really wish they had continued with the series, because it’s left on rather a cliff-hanger. Still, if you like comic books, fantasy and a classic-type children’s story with a twist, you may well enjoy this series.
32. Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell – Barnaby Grimes 1: Curse of the Night Wolf
If you’re a fan of The Edge Chronicles, you will love this! The wit and flair of this writer and illustrator are perfectly matched, combining an exciting, adventurous story with whimsical and evocative line drawings. Although the city remains unnamed, it’s most certainly based on Victorian London, filled with hansom cabs, messenger boys, ruffians and nobility. The supernatural twist will keep young readers hooked (especially boys – this is perfectly suited to them!), and the antics of Barnaby Grimes will entertain readers of pretty much any age.
BOOKS STARTED (carrying over to June):
Simon Scarrow – The Legion
The tenth book is this fantastic historical fiction saga. Cato and Macro are hot on the trail of the escaped gladiator and renegade warrior, Ajax, and hell bent on seeking justice (or is that revenge?) for what Ajax did to Macro and Cato’s fiancé, Julia. But trouble is brewing in Egypt – can Cato (who is now a newly appointed acting Prefect) and Centurion Macro capture their enemy before his actions send the entire region spiraling into turmoil?
Julia Golding – The Diamond of Drury Lane
Cat Royal is an orphan living in the Royal Theatre on Drury Lane in Regency London. There’s mystery and intrigue as she tries to discover a hidden jewel and keep it safe from Billy Shepherd and his brawling gang of barrow boys. Colourful, exciting and mysterious historical fiction for young adult readers.