Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Humans by Matt Haig

The Humans

“I was not Professor Andrew Martin. That is the first thing I should say. He was just a role. A disguise. Someone I needed to be in order to complete a task.”

This is my second Matt Haig book and I have to say that they just get better and better. This is full of humour, love and maths!
We follow an unnamed alien as he is transported into the body of Andrew Martin, a mathematician who discovers some mathematics solution that the Aliens do not want us to know as they think we can't handle it.  And so begins the aliens account of what it is like to be a human with all their eccentricities like wearing clothes and having noses.
The book begins with his distaste of everything Humans do but in the end it turns into a sort of love story as he falls in love, not only with himself but also the family he has been transported into.  Matt Haig's humour really shines through as the descriptions of things we do everyday are hilarious through the eyes of the Alien.  The way he learns our language by reading Cosmopolitan made me laugh out loud more than once especially as it seemed to be an edition purely of orgasms!!  The relationship between Father and Son was also really well written and could have come off as soppy written by anyone else but Matt Haig but this is full of humour and heart break all wrapped into one.
The book is heart warming, thought provoking, funny and sad and one of the best books I have read all year.  I beseech you all to run out and grab a copy - you will not be disappointed.

Soulmates by Holly Bourne

Image from Goodreads

I have to say I love a book that can make you laugh and cry in equal measures and that is why I loved Soulmates.  For a first novel by Holly Bourne it is in my eyes a complete success.  A book about finding your soul-mate and the consequences this can cause but not written in an overly toe curling way.
The main characters, Poppy and Noah, are well written with good senses of humour and just the right amount of teenage angst.  It is Poppy we follow throughout the story so we see everything from her point of view which I personally think is the right way round as it is her struggle with becoming a cliché that makes the story work.  She doesn’t believe in soul-mates or true love and can barely stand any of the boys in her town until she meets Noah.  It is as if they are destined to meet and fall in love although it takes Poppy some time to come to terms with it all.
I also thought that the supporting characters in the book were really brought to life. My favourite being Lizzie.  Lizzie is one of Poppy’s gang and I love the fact that she is a budding journalist and wants to be the first to get all the gossip.
I love the concept that if two soul-mates come together then it will cause a worldwide disaster and that there is a company who tracks them to make sure it doesn’t happen.  I love the twist that finding your soul-mate is not necessarily a good thing as this kind of turns all your romantic notions on their head.
I really cannot recommend this book enough.  As I said at the beginning it will make you laugh, cry and smile and for me it transported me back to being a teenage girl falling in love for the first time and who doesn’t want to relive that?
Reviewed for Emma -

Lockwood & Co by Jonathan Stroud

Image from Goodreads

I wasn’t quite sure of what to make of this book when it hit my doormat.  The front cover says that there is an apparition contained on it and the back cover tells me to download an app so that I can see said apparition.  Is this the way forward for books and their covers?
So I opened it up – the app and the book and have to say that I’m glad I did.  The book did take me awhile to get into it as to be honest, I really didn’t have a clue what was going on.  It wasn’t until you got some of the back history that everything becomes clear and the gripping story evolves.
The story is focussed on Lucy.  She is a Junior Field Operative who can hear rather than see the Visitors.  The Visitors are ghosts who have now become such a problem that there are companies who specialise in finding their source and getting rid of them for you.  Most of the companies are run by adults but it is the children who actually do the work as they can see the Visitors.  Lockwood & Co is different as it is run by Anthony Lockwood who is a child and George who helps out mostly making tea and doing research. Lucy ends up working with them and this is where the story comes to life.  It follows the trio as they chase the Visitors and come across a ghost who nearly kills them but also gets them to solve the mystery of who killed her.
I really enjoyed this book.  I think the way that Jonathan Stroud has written all three main characters shows that he understands the way teenagers think as there is some great humour in it as well as a cracking story full of mystery and ghosts.  Nothing seemed rushed and he let the story tell itself.  I’m not sure if there is going to be another Lockwood & Co book as this book does have a really good ending with nothing left hanging, well not much anyway but I for one will be first in the queue for the next one, apps and all.
Reviewed for Emma -

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Image from Goodreads
What a lovely book.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I said I would review it but it really was a delight.  I know the illustrations were not all finished in the copy I had but they really made the story come alive and I looked forward to seeing them throughout.
We follow Flora and her incredible tale of life with a superhero squirrel, Ulysses.  Ulysses is made into a superhero by a rampant vacuum cleaner and in a heartbeat (literally) he can understand Flora and wants to be able to communicate with her.  As Flora has read The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Icandesto!, for years she doesn’t bat an eyelid at this turn of events.
Throw in a romantic novelist Mum, a slightly batty Dad, the boy next door who is temporarily blind and Tootie the lady who sucked Ulysses up in the vacuum and you get one hell of a charming novel.
And if that wasn’t enough Ulysses decides that he wants to write poetry and learns how to use a typewritter.
As I said a charming book that is enhanced by the illustrations that really captured my imagination and heart.
Reviewed for Emma at -

Brotherhood of Shades by Dawn Finch

Image from Goodreads

Dawn Finch invites us into a world that sits between life and death in this utterly readable first novel. The world she has created goes back to the Reformation that took place in Tudor times but skips forward to modern day life in a heartbeat.
Adam is a homeless kid living in modern day London until he dies and then meets D’Scover who tells him of the Brotherhood and their constant quest to keep the evil spirits away.  D’Scover is convinced that Adam is the Sentinel who will once and for all banish the forces of darkness and so begins their quest.  Along the way they meet Edie, an actual living breathing person, who can read minds and has been reincarnated for hundreds of years. 
I loved all three main characters and especially Adam’s sense of humour.  It feels at times that the relationship between Adam and D’Scover is one of Father and Son as D’Scover is hundreds of years old although still a child in his original form.  I found it amusing to listen to Adam joking about the world of the dead and could virtually feel D’Scover’s lip curling up in distaste.  I also thought the blossoming relationship that was forming between Adam and Edie as very sweet and had something of a teenage crush feel to it.
Also as a Londoner it really brought the City to life and now I find myself wanting to visit the places that are in the book. I really appreciated the facts at the end that tell you where to find some of the places and objects so you can go on a little treasure hunt yourself.

For a first novel I thought it was a really great read and I do hope there is going to be a sequel as I would love to meet up with Adam, D’Scover and Edie again and find out what becomes of them.

Another thankyou to Emma for the book -

The Secret Kingdom Trilogy by Jenny Nimmo

Wow Jenny Nimmo knows how to tell a cracking story.  The Secret Kingdom books are my first taste of her novels and I have to say won’t be the last.  The trilogy follows Timoken, a young boy who is enchanted by a magical moon spider web cloak when he is born and leaves him with one foot in this world and one in the realm of enchantments.  When he is just eleven tragedy strikes and his parents are killed by evil viridees who are after the cloak and to survive Timoken and his sister Zobayda have to leave the castle. It is only when his Mother advises him to fly from the Castle that Timoken learns of his magical powers.
The first book then follows their journey as they try to find another home where they can live as a family.  Along the way they have some fantastic adventures and meet Gabar, a talking camel who helps them and then becomes part of the family. Timoken can speak to all animals so the reader finds out what Gabar is saying and this brings some very humorous passages within the book.  It is within this first book that he learns of most of his magic and how both the elements and animals will help him in times of trouble.
The second book – The Stones of Ravenglass follows Timoken and his ever growing family to medieval Britain where he desperately wants to find his own Kingdom so that he can find a place of his own. Unfortunately he meets Osbern D’Ark and the Damzel of Decay who both want to harm him.  He does meet some new friends along the way though, a magician called Eri and his dragon Enid.  Can I just say that I loved the relationship between Gabar and Enid with Enid being the flirt and Gabar trying not to fall for her charms.
The last book – Leopards’ Gold jumps ahead to a place where Timoken has his family and Kingdom but all is not well within the magical walls.  So follows a plot to overthrow the King and create disharmony between his children.  In this book we are told the story by Petrello, one of Timoken’s younger children, who has not yet learnt of what his magical talent might be.  I think that out of all the books this is the weakest as we are not hearing Timoken’s voice and so feels a little disjointed compared to the other two.
These are truly magical books that explore the love of family, loss and the need to truly belong somewhere.  The books are extremely descriptive and it feels as though you are in the plains of Africa or the deep dark forests of Britain.  Jenny Nimmo creates such great characters throughout all the books that by the end you feel as though they are friends and you are deeply committed to find out what is going to happen to them all. 

All in all a great trilogy that I think would make any young readers want to dip into Jenny Nimmo’s world again.

Once again thanks to the lovely Emma for the books -

Monday, 19 August 2013

The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling


This is a thrilling mystery set in Victorian London that follows Remy, a high wire circus act, who is also a very clever thief.  We follow her as she attempts to steal the Darya-ye Noor diamond from the Tower of London but is thwarted by a clever adversary, Lord Abernathy.

I have to say that I really loved this story.  I really warned to Remy who I found to be a very reluctant heroine.  The way her tale entwines with Thaddeus Rec is extremely entertaining and utterly convincing.  Thaddeus Rec is a young policeman who when not trying to save Remy is trying to arrest her.  They are both orphans and it is really interesting to see how their paths have differed, Remy being a thief and Thaddeus a policeman who was once living destitute on the streets of London.  They are both catapulted into the underworld of the London sewers and underground rivers.  That part of the story was really interesting as I never knew how many rivers there were under London.

There are other characters that play a huge part in this Indian Jones style story.  My favourites being J and the Professor.  J had all the charm you would expect of a Victorian cockney lad who lives on the streets and he reminded me of a character from Oliver Twist.  The Professor is like a mad scientist with all his futuristic inventions including night vision glasses. In my head he was “Doc” from Back to the Future!

All in all this is a truly entertaining book that captured both my heart and imagination and I for one cannot wait to read more books by Sharon Gosling.
Many thanks once again to the lovely Emma for the book -