Today it’s my second blog this year on the Big Project Blog. After a very busy month there has been a slight delay to my round up so I’m sharing with you some of my favourite MG books that I read in February. This includes reviews already featured on my blog, a review in this week’s TES online Class Review and a brand new book.
His Royal Whiskers – Sam Gayton
I love reading books that make me feel like a child again. Books that suspend my belief in what is really possible and take me on a wondrous journey to unknown lands. ‘His Royal Whiskers’ by Sam Gayton does exactly this by transporting us to the magical world of Petrossia ruled over by the terrifying and brutal Czar. Used to getting his own way he is completely enraged when he discovers his son the Prince Alexander, the only heir to the mighty Petrossian Empire has met a fate worse than death. Something far worse has happened! He has been transformed into a fluffy-wuffy kitten and not by an unknown assassin but by his two best friends (having friends is a sign of weakness in the Czar’s eyes) Pieter a mathemagical genius and Teresa a kitchen Spice Monkey. Can they turn Alexander back into a boy before they lose their heads? This is magical storytelling at its very best, I was totally engrossed by this book and devoured it in one sitting. I simply couldn’t wait to find out how it would end. Gayton has created a fully developed alternative world, filled with the most exquisite details. My favourite was discovering there are no weekends – they were killed off by the Czar a long time ago. I love how everything in Petrossia sits just a shade apart from our world with only a slight distortion, making it more believable for the reader. Brimming with alchemy, daring and danger ‘His Royal Whiskers’ is an absolute joy to read.
The Jamie Drake Equation – Christopher Edge
How amazing would it be to have a dad who’s an astronaut? Rocket launches, zero gravity, and flying through space like a superhero! Jamie Drake’s dad is orbiting the Earth in the International Space Station and Jamie ought to think it’s cool but he just really misses him… Hanging out at his local observatory Jamie picks up a strange signal on his phone. It looks like alien life is getting closer to home. But space is a dangerous place and when his dad’s mission goes wrong can Jamie prove that he’s a hero too? A cosmic adventure for anyone who’s ever looked at the stars. I found this story to be completely fascinating and remarkably endearing, I was transported by to a long time ago when I stared at the television in wonder when first seeing the spectacular E.T on the screen. For me Christopher Edge makes science understandable and above all interesting and made me wonder what lies beyond the Milky Way. Once again Christopher has managed to expand my mind with this fantastic adventure delivering an emotional story which packs a punch in terms of tension and drama. Wonderfully compelling and brilliantly told this story will take your breath away.
The Night Spinner – Abi Elphinstone
Deep within Tanglefern Forest, feeling bereft and lost, Moll and her tribe are ready to set off on quest across the northern wilderness in search for the last Amulet of Truth. Time is running out and the darkness is closing in, leaving a wave of misery and destruction in its wake. Armed only with a set of mysterious clues they must face the most difficult part of their journey. But danger is lurking behind every corner and they must use their wit and bravery to outwit witches, goblins and giants as they climb treacherous peaks, weather unnatural storms and scale vast lakes. Do they have what it takes to defeat the dark magic once and for all? This story is cinematic in it’s journey across the northern wilderness, it stimulated all of my senses with the sumptuous descriptions of the snow, tipped mountains, deep, dark lochs and the heather filled moors. Packed with drama, danger, daring and most importantly heart from beginning to end, this story is a truly emotional rollercoaster of a ride. As we come to the end of this epic journey I felt incredibly tense and agitated, there is a moment – you will know it when you read it – that I let out an audible gasp as I couldn’t quite believe what was unfolding before my eyes. As ever the characterisation is brilliant and it is the cast of secondary characters which give this story a real depth creating this believable but magic world which you find yourself lost in once again. A truly spectacular end to this outstanding trilogy, ‘The Night Spinner’ is a story that will stay with me forever.
The Painted Dragon – Katherine Woodfine
Lil and Sophie are back in another thrilling adventure in Katherine Woodfine’s ‘The Painted Dragon.’ With an opening chapter that leaves you feeling like a nervous wreck you know that you’re in for a treat. Mr Sinclair in his endeavour to make Sinclairs the most glamorous and sophisticated department store invites London’s rich and famous to visit an exhibition featuring priceless paintings including the King’s very own ‘The Green Dragon.’ But on the morning of the gala evening a terrible crime is uncovered. The King’s painting has been stolen from a room that was locked, but this is something much more complicated than a locked room mystery. Once again Lil and Sophie find themselves caught up in an elaborate plot and faced with forgery, trickery and deceit on all sides. Will they be able to unmask the true villain and prove that they are detectives to be reckoned with – no matter what danger lies ahead. Katherine has succeeded once again in creating an intricate mystery waiting to be unravelled, whilst giving the reader a real insight into the inequalities in Edwardian society. Assembling characters new and old the story builds to a thrilling climax as our splendid duo will stop at nothing to expose the thief. Wonderfully dramatic and tense, this is a truly marvellous tale that will leave you wanting more.
Who Let the Gods Out – Maz Evans
Elliot has a secret. His mum has been really unwell, she is becoming increasingly confused and forgetful, while he has just about been coping in looking after her and himself on his own, fearful that the truth may be uncovered. Especially with their evil neighbour becoming increasingly nosy as she is determined to stop at nothing to get her wicked hands on their farm so she can make a huge profit out of their misery. For Elliot, life is becoming increasingly desperate and solitary. But then fate lends a helping hand when a shooting star, namely Virgo a young goddess crashes to earth changing his life forever. As the gods take over the farm bringing nourishment and soft furnishings to the lives of Elliot and his Mum you see that friendship and support make them both stronger, despite the fact that carnage is unfolding around them. Maz has assembled a magnificent cast of characters worthy of the most extravagant feast in this riotous tale. The plot is fast and furious and will grab your attention and hold you in its grasp till the very end, then infuriate you (in the very best of ways) by sneaking in a final cliff hanger to ensure that you are desperate to come back for more. If you want to laugh out loud, sob quietly and be swept away on a madcap mayhem of an adventure, then ‘Who Let the Gods Out’ is the book for you!
Eliza Rose – Lucy Worsley
‘Eliza Rose’ by Lucy Worsley offers a thrilling insight into life inside the Tudor Court during the reign of Henry the Eight. I have always been fascinated by Tudor history devouring Jean Plaidy novels as a teenager desperate to find out the truth behind this powerful dynasty. Told through the eyes of Katherine Howard’s cousin Eliza Camperdowne, we get an alternative view of this much aligned Queen, who history remembers less than fondly. Court is a place of danger and treachery for those who dare to step over the line, how can headstrong Eliza survive without getting caught up into trouble especially when the glamorous Katherine is playing a dangerous game. Can Katherine really be blamed for the path fate led her down, when this tale clearly shows how easily young girls lives could change in the blink of an eye if they were favoured by the King. Eliza is a formidable character who is determined to choose her own destiny in a world ruled by men. An entertaining and compelling read, I felt like I was hiding in the shadows watching history unfold before my eyes.
Thank you to Andersen Press, Bloomsbury, Chicken House, Nosy Crow and Simon & Schuster for sending me copies of these books.