Sunday, 14 July 2019

The Dog Who Saved The World - Book Review


The Dog Who Saved The World - Book Review

Ross Welford
MG Science-Fiction
UK Publisher: Harper Collin’s Children’s Books.

Other Books by the Author:

The 1000 Year Old Boy

Synopsis:

When eleven-year-old Georgie befriends an eccentric retired scientist, she becomes the latest test subject for a thrilling new experiment: a virtual-reality 3D version of the future.

But then a deadly disease threatens the life of every dog in the country and Georgie’s beloved dog, Mr Mash, gets sick. And that’s only the start of her troubles.

Soon, Georgie and Mr Mash must embark on a desperate quest: to save every dog on earth, and maybe even all of humanity… without actually leaving the room.

Review:

This book was so brilliant I devoured it in one sitting!

A mix of adventure and science fiction, The Dog Who Saved The World follows eleven-year-old Georgie as she sets off on a quest to save her beloved dog, Mr Mash from a terrible fate. For a deadly disease is sweeping across the world, a danger to dogs and humans alike, and now humanity’s only hopes lies in finding a cure that does not yet exist… unless like Georgie, you happen to know a mad-scientist who has a prototype, glitch-ridden time machine… what could possibly go wrong?

I’m not usually a fan of time travel stories, but I loved everything about this one. With just a pinch of imagination, Ross Welford made the idea of jumping to the future seem very possible, without going into great depth about the actual mechanics of it all. Plus the idea of a future with no dogs in it really tugged at my heartstrings, and with such high stakes I couldn’t stop turning the pages. 

The main characters, Georgie and her best friend, Ramzy are such a fun pair. Their friendship has such solid touchstones of trust and respect, despite the utter difference in their upbringings. Then there is Dr Pretorious, the mad genius behind it all. Her humour really helped level out some of the more serious elements in the story and her personality is so huge it lights up every page. 

However all the secondary characters each have their own zing about them. From crazy aunts, to moody older brothers, sweet vicars and sharp tongued police. I adore that every character (be they two legged or four) gets their own distinct voice. 

When it came to the plot though, Ross Welford is a master story teller. Between the layers of heart pounding, tear spiking and edge-of-your-seat fiction, the author weaves many sensitive issues into his work. However he presents everything in a relatable, child friendly way without pushing any opinions onto the reader. It’s inspiring how he can open your mind to world, making you consider all the people and animals that share this planet with us and the problems others face. Even without the awesome writing I would applaud him for this alone!

All in all, Ross Welford is one on my favourite, auto buy authors for a reason. Not only are his books all stand alone reads, but each one is set in the North-East of England (In and around the towns I was actually born and raised, winning him extra points with me!). 

His latest book, The Dog Who Saved The World was yet another gripping read full of fun, adventure and futuristic spark! An easy 5 Stars!

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Have any of your read this amazing book? If so I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below :)

Monday, 6 May 2019

Rumblestar - Book Review


Rumblestar - Book review

Abi Elphinstone
MG Fantasy
UK Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Other Books:

The Night Spinner
Sky Song 
Winter Magic


Synopsis:

Eleven-year-old Casper Tock hates risks, is allergic to adventures and shudders at the thought of unpredictable events. So, it comes as a nasty shock to him when he accidentally stumbles into Rumblestar, an Unmapped Kingdom full of magical beasts.

All Casper wants is to find a way home, but Rumblestar is in trouble. An evil harpy called Morg is sending her followers, the Midnights, into the kingdom to wreak havoc and pave the way for her to steal the Unmapped magic for herself. But Casper cannot turn a blind eye because the future of his own world, he discovers, is bound up with that of the Unmapped Kingdoms.

And so, together with Utterly Thankless, a girl who hates rules and is allergic to behaving, and her miniature dragon, Arlo, Casper embarks upon an adventure full of cloud giants, storm ogres and drizzle hags. Can he, Utterly and Arlo, the unlikeliest of heroes, save the Unmapped Kingdoms and our world from the clutches of Morg and her Midnights?

Review:

From the beginning I have been a huge fan of Abi Elphinstone’s stories but RUMBLESTAR is her best book yet! … Although I’m sure I said the same thing about her last release, however this authors writing just keeps getting better.

RUMBLESTAR follows Casper, a list-making, time-keeping, rule-obeying boy who suddenly finds him thrust into a magical world where nothing is neat or orderly. All he wants is to return home, and to do that his only hope lies in teaming up with Utterly Thankless, a wilful girl with a penchant for getting into trouble alongside her tiny dragon, Arlo.

Together the trio are forced on an adventure to protect their worlds from an evil harpy and her army of Midnights. Armed with only their wits and a well-stocked canoe, they must face down magical beings, navigate impossible weather and decipher the most-tricksy of riddles if they are to succeed. Yet the Harpy is cunning, and she will do anything to stop Casper and his friends from disrupting her plans!

To say it simply - this book was amazing! Imagination and creativity at its finest, these pages hold a might of magic and brilliance, bringing to life a fantastical world full of unique characters.

I loved both Casper and Utterly who are total opposites in every way. Watching their friendship grow was heartwarming, and I thought they balanced out each other’s strengths and weaknesses perfectly. And for everything else there was Arlo, the cutest, cleverest dragon in all of Rumblestar.  

However all the characters in this book were well thought out and added extra humour or malice to the story. Definite shout out to the trolls, cloud giants and Zip, the best hot air balloon ever made… I hope we see all these characters again soon!

The plot is also very fast paced. Jumping for problem to problem, the author pushes the characters to be brave and find the strength to battle onward. The story is also centred strongly on the bonds of friendship and trust, and overall I thought everything was excellent. I simply cannot praise this book enough. 

Smooth and utterly satisfying! An easy 5 star read!

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I'm a huge fan of MG fantasy and am always looking for more books, would love if you could recommend me some in the comments below!

Friday, 3 May 2019

The Hazel Wood - Book Review


The Hazel Wood - Book Review
Melissa Albert
YA Contemporary Fantasy 
UK PUBLISHER: Penguin

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate - The Hazel Wood - Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. 

Her mother is stolen away - by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD.

To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to The Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began…

Book Review:

For a debut book, I think The Hazel Wood was an outstanding read and I’m only sorry I didn't pick it up sooner. Dark and delicious, it pulls the reader into a real-life world that becomes increasing warped and twisted as the realm of fairytales sneak in. 

The story centres around seventeen-year-old Alice who has spent her entire life on the road, running from something her mum refuses to name. But when Alice’s mum is stolen away, Alice will pay any price to get her back. But when her search leads her to the The Hazel Wood, the hidden estate where her grandmother - famous author of a book of obscure fairytales - chose to reside, Alice discovers the true reason her life has been shadowed by strange incidents. Because maybe her grandmothers stories weren't so made up after all….

This is a delicious, and beautifully constructed book. Admittedly it did creep me out, but in a good way. Its the kind of story that hooks you, even as it gives you chills, but you’ll keep on reading in the hope something good will happen to chase those chills away.

It has a very layered plot. And by this I mean a real crows nest of plot threads and sharp maze turns that will keep you guessing all the way through. Not only did this make the story hard to predict, but even where guesses could be made, every storyline had its own unique twist.

Actually this shadowy storytelling reminded me a lot of Holly Black’s Tithe series, only better. Not only is THE HAZEL WOOD a book that contains stories within stories, but the main character herself is extremely complex.

While not a particularly likeable person, Alice is a compelling protagonist and I adored all the pop-culture references she would make. Normally I don't like when authors do this, but in this story it just helped make Alice so much more real, and it separated her from the otherworld of the fairytale. 

But be warned, the fairytales in this story aren't the kind that come with happy endings. Creepy, gruesome, yet lyrical and vivid with imagery, they haunt the mind long after you step away from the story. Which yes, did make it a bit hard to sleep later that night. 

However this book was so beautifully written. I am very excited for the second instalment of this series which with release in the autumn of 2019. I can’t wait to see what the author, Melissa Albert will do next.

The Hazel Wood is a 5 star read!

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Have any of you read this book? Would love to know you're thoughts on this one, were you as creeped out as I was?


Sunday, 10 February 2019

A Pinch of Magic - Book Review


A Pinch of Magic - Book Review
Michelle Harrison
MG Fantasy
UK Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK

Other Books:
The Thirteen Treasures Trilogy

Synopsis:

Three sisters trapped by an ancient curse.
Three magical objects with the power to change their fate.
Will they be enough to break the curse?
Or will they be led deeper into danger?

Review:

A PINCH OF MAGIC was a sweet read that I loved from start to finish. Focusing hard on sisterly friendship, this story is packed with so much adventure that you just won't be able to stop turning the pages. 

The book follows three sisters, Fliss, Betty and Charlie, as they rush to break an ancient curse that keeps their family confined to their island home. Yet when their plans to end the spell only make it worse, they find themselves in a race to save their own lives. Now they begin a dangerous journey, one that will lead them to escaped convicts, magical objects, and dark family truths. But can they break free before the clock strikes midnight… or before their grandmother finds out what they’ve done?

One of things I loved most about this book was that it contained a story within a story, and more than one set of characters lives were at stake. It kept me in a constant state of curiosity as the secondary tale is scattered like breadcrumbs through out the book, containing a mystery I was dying to solve. 

However the story mostly unfolds via the middle sister, Betty’s perspective. She is the most independent of the siblings, while the oldest, Fliss - despite her flirtations - is the meeker of the three. Charlie, the youngest is absolutely adorable! A total tom boy character. What really caught my attention about these sisters - aside from the strong bond they shared - was that I think all readers will find something relatable in all of them.

However the girls’ grandmother is one of the most interesting characters I’ve come across in a long time. She is no sweet little old lady - but a tough woman who enjoys a drink, a smoke, and will beat down anyone who dares harm her precious granddaughters. I love that she owns a pub where the girls all help out. 

Then there was the idea of magic and the three gifts given to help the sisters on their quest. I love what each unique object does, and I found it realistic that while magical, each item had its limits. Along with the world building and setting - all the place names are suitably gloomy and fairytale like - I was just fully absorbed into this world.

The ending though - while complete - left a few things open. Enough to leave me curious as to what happened to two characters in particular, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there will be a sequel!

Regardless, I cant wait to see what Michelle Harrison writes next. She is one of my auto-buy authors. I have adored all her books to date and A PINCH OF MAGIC was no exception. This author has such an old school, story-by-the-fire voice that she just draws you into these magical worlds… and doesn't let go!

 A magical journey that tugged the heartstrings, A PINCH OF MAGIC is a 5 star read!

Have you read this book? Would love to know your thoughts in the comments :)