An Awfully Beastly Business; Werewolf versus Dragon by the Beastly Boys

An Awfully Beastly Business

An Awfully Beastly Business

Ulf is a young werewolf. He lives at the RSPCB, a rescue centre for rare and endangered beasts, such as giants, rocs,  fairies, kracks etc. under the guidance and tutelage of Dr Fielding, the RSPCB vet.

One day a dead baby dragon is brought to the centre. It’s mother is missing and after an autopsy, Dr Fielding discovers that the baby was killed by a cannonball. Murdered. Something dastardly is going on and Dr Fielding calls in the authorities – The Department for National and International Criminal Emergencies. Inspector Black arrives forthwith and Ulf is given the job of showing the Inspector around the Centre. But all is not as it seems… with the help of ghosts and his fairy friend, Tiana, Ulf must solve the mystery and save the day!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Ulf is a like able young werewolf and the creatures at the centre are fascinating!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

This book has been around for a while now, ans was on my list of books to read… but not a high priority. I wish I had made the effort to read it early as it is a thoroughly entertaining book!

Reality TV has taken a turn for the bizzare! Set in a bleak future where the city dwellers have it all and the residents of District 12 have little to live on and even less to look forward to, The Hunger games follows the fortunes of Katniss Everdeen. She illegally hunts for food in the Meadow, a restricted woodland surrounding District 12, keeping her sister and mother fed after the death of her beloved father.

Each year the names of all 12 – 18 year olds are put into a barrel with 2 names pulled out to compete in the Hunger Games, a televised competition where to lose is to die an often horrible death and to win is to gain riches beyond your wildest dreams.

Katniss’ sweet younger sister’s name is pulled out of the barrel, so Katniss immediately volunteers to take her place. Peter is the other contestant and things go down hill from there. The games are quite complex and political – strength and ability are not enough. It’s all about the ratings.

Katniss is often abrasive and rude. She is a survivor who has given up almost everything to keep her family alive. She is also stunningly naive about the relationships of those around her. In the games she must kill or be killed, even taking the life of her District 12 partner…

This book reminded me a lot of Stephen King’s The Running Man, which he wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. Reality TV shows that pit contestants against each other in a battle / race to the end where winning is the only option other than death.

I think Suzanne Collins has written a fantastic novel. The action is almost non stop. The characters are continually thrown into new and unsettling situations, while still keeping faith to the underlying beliefs of the story. Katniss is very empathetic. She does her best to deal with the situation while trying to stay true to herself. Manipulated and attacked from all sides, she never gives up and in the end outwits the situation, to a degree. Gripping reading – I couldn’t put the book down!

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith


Eternal

Eternal

I originally picked up this book because the cover image of an angel intrigued me… didn’t I read somewhere that fallen angels were the new vampires? Then this book must have it all… fallen angels, vampires and the occasional werewolf to top it all off. Who knew that vampires could have their own guardian angel…

Zachary was Miranda’s guardian angel, who made the major mistake of interfering in her death, thereby leaving her vulnerable to vampire attack and undeath. Miranda is your average left of center, not quite fitting in and prone to obsess about it teenager. She loves Shakespeare and musical theatre and has a major crush on the school hunk, who ignores her in favour of the cheerleader bitch queen. She follows her best friend into a cemetery in search of a boy and winds up undead, the new vampire princess, turned by the King of the vampires.

Zachary is cast down and given a mysterious task to complete is he wants to win back his wings. He thinks he is there to protect / save Miranda… or is he?

Miranda goes through a stage of being a bit painful as she struggles to fit into her new life as Vampire princess, but overall I really like this character, and forgave her the brief foray into blood drinking. I loved Zachary. His humanity and just plain goodness in the face of evil is refreshing and oddly cheering. In the end you cheer for him and Miranda.

The ending is not necessarily happy, but it is right. I’ll say no more.

‘Living Dead in Dallas’, ‘Club Dead’ and ‘Dead to the world’ by Charlaine Harris

Living Dead in Dallas

Living Dead in Dallas

Club Dead

Club Dead

Dead to the World

Dead to the World

I know I have already posted a review of the first book in the series, but since I have now officially become a True Blood devotee – the TV series as well as the books – I thought I’d share my thoughts… just this one last time. I promise, I won’t post any more reviews for this series… unless someone asks for it!

Since I read the first book, Dead Until Dark, I have watched the DVD of the first series – slavishly – and continued to read the books. Love the show – HBO have done a great job, and though there are marked deviations from the story, I don’t think these detracted at all from the shows or the books. Who can resist Ryan Kwanton, right?!

As for the books – I don’t think they have tapered off at all. I thoroughly enjoyed each book, and I feel that the characters have developed and the relationships in particular have changed in very believable ways – given that half the characters are dead and many of the others can shape shift!

I have the next book on my shelf waiting to be read, and Season 2 of True Blood is out on DVD soon… can’t wait!

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures

An interesting mix of magic, voodoo, teenage love and angst, set in a small town in the Deep South (USA), Beautiful creatures tells to story of Wate and Lena, two ‘lost souls’ who find each other as if by destiny, after months of constant dreams.

Wate has been dreaming of losing Lena for months before he actually meets her. The connection is instantaneous and strong, despite the best efforts of a cast small town bigots, snobs and down right nasty bitches.

Wate is too restless to be truly happy within the confines of Gatlin, South Carolina. He has always been a bit different, but accepted because of his family history – one of the oldest families in town. He reads constantly, but hides his books under his bed. His housekeeper/nanny comes from a long line of voodoo priestesses, with a penchant for crosswords. His father writes horror stories, but since the death of his wife, Wate’s mother, the year before has become increasingly withdrawn and cut off, locking himself in his study.

Into this mix steps Lena, the great niece of the town recluse. She is different and not about to change. She is also beautiful and talented… and a caster – a witch with a curse. On her 16th birthday, she will cease to be herself and become something truly other, and she is scared out of her wits by the prospect.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially as the librarian is pretty kick-ass, and once the whole town starts to take sides, mostly against Lena, things get pretty dicey!

Again – mostly character comments, but it is the characters I am drawn to… that and fantasy. If only there was a dragon in there somewhere, it would be perfect!!!

Unmask the Truth: The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade


Unmask the Truth - The Hunchback Assignments

Unmask the Truth - The Hunchback Assignments

I read this a little while ago, however it made quite an impression on me.

Modo is ‘rescued’ from a freak show, only to be trained in complete isolation by the mysterious Mr Socrates. Modo has very special talents. He is deformed, with a hunchback and hideous features, but he is also able to rearrange his appearance, not just his face, but his whole body for ever increasing periods of time, making him an almost perfect undercover agent!

An endearing mix of fierce loyalty, modesty, agility and naivety, Modo is let loose on the streets of London to fend for himself, until Mr Socrates feels he has proved himself, and gives him his first ‘assignment’.

There are strange things happening on the streets of London. Orphans are disappearing, noble men’s sons are killing their fathers and then themselves, the prince has gone missing and an evil scientist is experimenting on animals and people, turning them into mechanical super beings…

A bit slow to start, but once Octavia Milkweed steps into the picture, the pace steps up too and a right rollicking tale ensues. Thoroughly enjoyable!! Modo is one of those genuinely sweet characters that you can’t help but cheer on!

‘Kindred in Death’ and ‘Fantasy in Death’ by J.D.Robb (Nora Roberts)


Kindred in Death

Kindred in Death

Fantasy in Death

Fantasy in Death

Just a quick post. I know I haven’t posted much lately, and the pile of books waiting to be posted is growing fast… but what can i say? Life is pretty busy at the moment. Back at work, trying to get fit and healthy – so lots of exercise…

I am a Nora Roberts / J.D. Robb fan. I have read all of her ‘Eve Dallas’ books and quite a few of her romantic offerings as well! Some people would argue that this is not great literature – and it’s not, but then how many of the books we read actually are?

What these books are, however is thoroughly enjoyable! Set in a future where life expectancy has been extended and guns are banned (but not stunners) prostitution is licensed and computers run pretty much everything for us, murder is still a major problem. Eve Dallas is a lieutenant working for NYPD Homicide. She is the best of the best, but not without a few personal failings and hang ups along the way. Every murder she investigates is personal for her – she stands for the dead.

She is also ably supported by a cast of characters, including the delectable Rourke – an Irish ex-crim who is now a multi billionaire and runs half the planet (according to Eve). Peabody is her sidekick, Feeney, her old partner now turned computer geek, Mavis is her oldest friend (con artist turned rock star) and the list of friends expands as the series continues.

Eve has mellowed a lot over the course of the 30 books in the series so far, but she still manages to be abrasive, often rude, uncomfortable with the demands of friendship and yet, a good friend, wife and detective.

I’m beginning to notice a bit of a trend in my posts. Most of my comments tend to be character driven, rather than situation or setting etc. For me, the essence of reading is being able to get inside the character’s skin, to walk a few miles in their shoes. So long as a character is empathetic (for me) and I can relate to at least some aspect of their personality, I’m hooked!

Eve Dallas and her fiends have me hooked, although I must admit, I found her earlier adventures more enjoyable!

‘Rapunzel’s Revenge’ and ‘Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale

Rapunzel's Revenge

Rapunzel's Revenge

Calamity Jack

Calamity Jack

I have not had a lot of experience with graphic novels, but after reading these two books by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale (no relation), I will be looking at others.

I have read quite a few of Shannon Hale’s books, including Goose Girl, The Princess Academy and Enna Burning, and loved them!

In this series of graphic novels, the classic fairy tales of Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk, cross paths, get jumbled up and go West! Rapunzel has been raised by the evil Mother Gothel in the hopes that she will follow in her footsteps – nothing could be further from her mind! Once she discovers her real mother working in Gothel’s mines, Rapunzel rebels and is herself imprisoned inside a massive hollow (magic) tree, hundred’s of metres from the ground. Through Gothel’s magic, food grows, her hair and nails grow but she cannot get out… or can she?!!

After several years, Rapunzel’s hair is finally long enough for her to swing from her tree to another, however escape is never easy, and of course she is not quite rescued, but helped by a bumbling Calamity Jack. After many trials and tribulations, first Rapunzel’s problems and in the second installment, Jack’s woes are dealt with. This involves many misunderstandings, a faltering/budding romance and many monsters, daredevil feats and quite a bit of rope/hair work!

Thoroughly enjoyed these books. The illustrations are seamless in the story and beautifully crafted. I did try reading the book aloud with a class of Y3 students – reading graphic novels aloud doesn’t necessarily work so well, as most of the students couldn’t be close enough to appreciate and discern the importance of the illustrations. Nevertheless – a fine offering and one i am recommending to many students!

Shannon Hale’s official website:

http://www.squeetus.com/stage/books.html