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review 2017-08-18 17:08
Weathering the storm
Wonderstruck - Brian Selznick

I was totally charmed by Wonderstruck because I went into it totally blind as to what it contained. I had a clue from the bolt of lightning on the front cover but even that was just a tiny portion of this stellar novel. The reader follows a boy on a journey from his small town into the bustling metropolis of New York City as he tries to find a clue to his origin story. Once again we are treated to detailed illustrations of not only the New York of the 1970s but of the 1920s as well. And a large part of the novel takes place in one of my favorite places in NYC: The American Museum of Natural History. There's a description of early museums and cabinets of curiosities (look out for a post in the future about this in more detail) which entrance as well as educate. Selznick explores Deaf culture, survival against all odds, and how we are all connected to one another. There is a grounding in true historical events which lends an extra dimension to the narrative. 10/10


Source: Brain Pickings

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-08-18 17:01
Theater come to life
The Marvels - Brian Selznick,Brian Selznick

The Marvels is his newest work and combines two stories into one. The first half is told entirely through pictures and is incredibly moving and beautiful. If I didn't convey this before, I find Selznick's art highly compelling and capable of telling a story without words being necessary. That didn't stop me from loving the second half of the book which is told from a different perspective and through text alone. The ending is a delightful mixture of the two which makes total sense with the narrative. It's difficult to explain this one without giving anything away but I'll give it my best shot. There's a boy who runs away, a sad man living in a house which has its own lively spirit, a girl chasing a dog, and the pangs of first love. Selznick touches on topics such as abandonment, homosexuality, AIDS, death, and ultimately coming into one's own. It's all about the choices that we make and the people that we want to become. It's phenomenal and maybe my favorite of the lot. 10/10


Source: Booking Mama

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-08-18 16:56
Automatons, clocks, and a train station
The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick

I'm guessing that if you haven't read The Invention of Hugo Cabret then you've at least seen the film Hugo starring Asa Butterfield and Chloë Grace Moretz. The movie adaptation is actually very faithful to the book. If you're unfamiliar, it's about a boy that is living in a train station in Paris and trying to put together a clockwork man. In order to do so, he has to stoop to thievery, sneaking, and subterfuge. But it's not simply the storyline that sets Selznick apart from the pack. It's his use of illustrations and words that make reading his books so enjoyable. There are full-page spreads with no text whatsoever that are absolutely breathtaking. Generally, his illustrations are done in pencil and without color. They're gorgeous and I love them.Themes explored include but are not limited to: loss and redemption, solace in the written word, trust of children over adults, and orphaned children. Out of the three I'm reviewing today this one was my least favorite but that might have been because I already knew the story from seeing the film...or that he was still experimenting with his style with this earlier work. However, I'd still rate it a 9/10. 



Source: Goodreads


Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-08-12 22:39
Book Review of The Amulet: Journey to Sirok (The Elias Chronicles Book 1) by E.G. Kardos
The Amulet: Journey to Sirok (The Elias Chronicles) (Volume 1) - E. G. Kardos

WHEN TWIN SWORDS COLLIDE, an incredible power is unleashed and a new world opens. Defeating the three-headed dragon is the only way for Elias to seize his treasure. THE AMULET- Journey to Sirok is a magical adventure as Elias searches to find a sorcerer named Zoltan to reveal clues to his search.


Review 3*


This is the first book in an intriguing fantasy series. I enjoyed it but with reservations.


Elias is an interesting character. I really liked him. He is a young boy living in a remote village in Hungary. He is the son of a farmer, but he has no interest in being a farmer like his father or two brothers. He is an artist and loves to draw and paint the beautiful scenery and animals living in the forest surrounding the farm. When his Nattymama (Grandmother) tells him the tale of Zoltan, a sorcerer, who lives in Budapest and who can help Elias find his fortune, Elias sets off on a journey to meet him, but faces many obstacles and dangers along the way.


This is quintessentially a coming of age tale. When I first started reading this book I struggled with the author's writing style and it took me a while to get into it. Elias is only fifteen (nearly sixteen), so I was surprised at how harshly his father treated him. Just because a child doesn't want to follow in the parent's footsteps, a parent should encourage their child to follow their own path, not throw them out of the house. Unfortunately, it is more common than one would think. Having said that, Elias is a pretty level-headed boy and is able to keep his wits about him even when things look really dire at times. There is also a little folklore woven into the tale, with mention of monsters like the Sarkany, a three-headed serpent dragon that becomes a representation of a person's worst nature.


Elias meets several characters (including monsters) along his journey, but I found the majority of them to be one-dimensional and forgettable for the most part. Even the Sarkany didn't seem particularly scary or threatening. This made me feel sad. Nattymama was the only other character that felt lifelike besides Elias. However, I am not in the age range this book is aimed at, so younger readers may not have the same opinion as myself.


I reached the end of the story with mixed emotions. I was happy at the way it concluded, but also a little disappointed that the story left me feeling rather ambivalent to it. I don't like saying this but I don't think I will be continuing with the series. Although the character of Elias was interesting, there was not enough character development or excitement generated for me to want to read the next book in the series.


E.G. Kardos has written an interesting middle grade/young adult fantasy. The author's writing style felt a little stilted in my opinion, and I struggled to get to grips with it in the beginning. It is not particularly fast paced, however, it kept me turning the pages. The story flowed wonderfully from scene to scene, and is written in such a descriptive way I could picture the tale easily in my minds eye.


I highly recommend this book to children aged 10 upwards and to adults who love reading YA/Middle Grade Fantasy. - Lynn Worton

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review 2017-08-04 00:03
Book Review of Jimmy Threepwood and the Veil of Darkness by Rich Pitman
Jimmy Threepwood And The Veil of Darkness - Rich Pitman

Even heroes do bad things, but there's something really unfortunate about being selected to join the forces of evil and become one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse!


When Jimmy Threepwood is collected to face his dark destiny and destroy the world with his supernatural powers, he is faced with a choice ... What lengths will he go to for the sake of revenge?


Many centuries ago the Elders designed the world we live in, but they knew that through time and the advances in medicine and technology, the world would slowly start to die and man would ultimately destroy the planet. The Elders created a prophecy that every two millennia, four children would receive a mystical mark. The children would grow and (one day) be powerful enough to release the mighty beast, Tyranacus. Together they would purge the world of man, allowing it to heal before the life cycle would start again.

Margaret Threepwood was a gentle and loving wife and was due to give birth when tragedy struck and Margaret fell severely ill. The Gatekeeper of life and death appeared in the hospital ward and provided a one-time deal so Margaret would live as long as her son Jimmy Threepwood was brought up unloved, uncared-for and handed to the Gatekeeper and his minions on his eleventh birthday, where his destiny would be unveiled to him.


As Jimmy approached his eleventh birthday he noticed strange and unusual things happening. Firstly, a mysterious crow started to follow him around school; this ultimately led to a Bunson burner accident and an unusual scar forming on Jimmy's arm in the shape of a number nine. This was followed by Jimmy protecting his friend against the school bully, but one touch changed both Jimmy's and the bully's lives forever...


Review 3*


This is an interesting middle grade fantasy. I enjoyed it.


Jimmy Threepwood is an interesting character. I really liked him. He has been brought up in a very unusual household. He is not physically abused but is emotionally neglected. His mother is emotionally cold and distant towards him. His father is more caring but still holds himself emotionally at bay. There is a reason for this. However, Jimmy grows up with a good soul and is kind and caring even though he has very few friends. When he reaches his eleventh birthday, his life changes once more and he finds himself training with three other students in dark magic to fulfil a prophecy made millennia ago.


I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author with no expectation of a positive review in 2013. Unfortunately, due to my rather large reading list, I haven't been able to get to it until recently. I sincerely apologise to the author for the delay.


When I began reading this story, it struck me as being similar to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter but with the characters meant to be bad rather than good. There are some major differences though. Instead of working with light magic, these students deal with dark magic, evil intentions and emotions, with the intention of freeing a demon to destroy man, whose activities are destroying the Earth with progress and technology. Jimmy is a good and kind character with a heart of gold, which leaves him in a bit of an emotional quandary about what is morally right and wrong. It is only when he is tricked (though he doesn't realise it) that his soul is tarnished by revenge. The other three students are evil or cruel due to their own upbringing. What I couldn't understand is this: if they had been brought up to be selfish and cruel/evil, how could they form a bond of friendship/teamwork? This seemed to be a bit of an oxymoron. You have to care about and trust your teammates to work together. If you are brought up to be selfish and uncaring, trust would be a problem. Having said that, this book is aimed at middle grade children and it may make more sense to them than it does to me.


We are introduced to some interesting characters: The Gatekeeper, who is similar to the Grim Reaper in appearance, Xanadu is the Gatekeeper's minion, Lyreco is a Dark Reefer and Jimmy's teacher, then there is Harry Hopkins, Percy Timmins and Talula Airheart, the three other children chosen to fulfil the prophecy. However, I felt that the characters were not as well developed as they could have been.


This story is an interesting mix of coming of age tale and fantasy and takes the reader on a journey from beginning to end. There are some fantastically described action sequences that had me sitting on the edge of my seat.


Unfortunately, I did find that the story was troubled with proofreading errors which caught my eye and this distracted me from the story's flow. I am hoping that along with the cover change that these errors were corrected as I've noticed that it has just been re-published as of July this year (2017) on Amazon. However, as I have the version from 2013, I can only comment on what I've read.


I reached the end with mixed feelings. It has a chilling conclusion which sets it up perfectly for the second book. However, I am in two minds whether or not to continue with the series as I didn't connect to any of the characters apart from the Gatekeeper (whom I felt sorry for, but only because of his innocence from the event that caused Jimmy's need for revenge). This saddens me. However, other readers may have a different reaction and enjoy it enough to continue with the series and, if you are one of them, good!


Rich Pitman has written an intriguing and somewhat unique debut novel. I loved the fast paced writing style, though thought that there was too much "telling" and not enough "showing" for my taste. The proofreading errors slowed the flow down, but didn't ultimately ruin my enjoyment of the story. I wish him all the best for the future and will follow his career with interest.


As this book is aimed at middle grade aged children, I highly recommend this book to readers aged 11 upwards. I also recommend this book to adults who love reading YA/middle grade science fiction/fantasy/coming of age genres. - Lynn Worton

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