#BookReview: Poor Louie by Tony Fucile #MPBooks

A funny picture book for those who love their pets!

Poor Louie book coverTitle: Poor Louie

Author/Illustrator: Tony Fucile

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

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Description:  Louie has the life every Chihuahua dreams of.  Walks with Mum and Dad, ice cream on Sundays and snuggles every night.

But when Mum’s belly grows bigger, things begin to change…

My Review:  This is such a fun story!  It starts with Louie, a Chihuahua, sitting in a dark room telling us about how he tried to run away from home.  We’re invited to hear his story which goes on to explain how wonderful his life was, how pampered (and babied) he was, until Mum’s tummy grew bigger.  The story is a pretty simple from then on and it’s obvious what is happening with his Mum and Louie, having met some babies before, fears a potential baby in the house.

I won’t go into any more detail about the story, but I will say that there is an obviously happy ending but also a surprising twist on the last page which just make me laugh.  The whole book is short but funny throughout.  I really warmed to Louie, the first pages just made me feel for the poor dog, although this might be because I’m a deep animal lover and have a tendency to ‘baby’ them myself!  I think this really appeals more to people who have pets and pamper and treat them a little like babies.  A lot of reviewers have said that this story would appeal more to adults than kids given the funny way that the Mum and Dad ‘baby’ their little Louie.  But as someone who grew up with a cat I called my sister (you may laugh but it’s true!) I think plenty of kids would understand and enjoy this book too.  I certainly would have when I was young!

Cute simple pictures

I like the illustrations in this book.  There’s something cartoonish about them but in an old fashioned way, like the cartoons of old.  I also like the way that the whole book doesn’t use a variety of colours and sticks more to a set of colours with yellow, blue and brown being the main palette.  The images don’t have a lot of detail and with the restrictions on colours it makes you focus on the important parts of the picture which just adds to the story.  Louie’s expressions are so fun and the whole book just takes on a fun feel.

Louie being pampered – recognise anyone who does this? 🙂

I’d recommend this book, it can be enjoyed by any age, though of course targeted at kids but I think only those who understand the whole loving/babying your pets might really enjoy this. I also should point out that the book is a hardback, about A4 in height but a little wider with thick papery rather than glossy pages.
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.


Are you someone who papers your pets?  Do you know someone who does?  Like the look of this book?

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#BookReview: Things To Do With Dad by Sam Zuppardi #MPBooks

A fun picture book with the surprise that there are virtually no words!

Things to do with Dad book coverTitle: Things To Do With Dad

Author/Illustrator: Sam Zuppardi

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

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Description: To Do: Wake Up, Make Breakfast, Do The Chores, Have Fun!

My Review: This is a very fun and rather simple picture book. This picture book is surprising as there are hardly any words at all and yet the story is told so well. The book starts with a boy and his father having fun making pancakes for breakfast. But then Dad looks over at the list of things to do, such as wash the dishes , hoover the carpets, etc. The dad sets off on completing his to-do list and with every double page you see him washing the dishes, for example, while his son plays separately from him, but in the same room. The boy tries desperately to get his dad’s attention but his dad, even though smiling at his son, keeps on doing his chores.

Some lovely and fun illustrations.

 

It’s hard not to give away the rest of the book but it is such a simple idea it’s impossible not to. The boy decides to resolve the problem by re-writing his dads chore list and calling it ‘Things to do with Dad’. After that the chores are still done but at the same time the dad and son can play and have fun such as exploring the jungle, instead of watering the plants.

So easy to understand without words 🙂

 

This book is very fun and a perfect gift to give for Father’s Day. The book has thick and glossy pages with some great illustrations that are very simple, looking like kids drawings, and yet hold some fun details too. I really like this book, it’s really a feel good story, so simple and yet the dad and son having fun while still doing the chores can remind both kids and their parents how much fun it can be to do the small things if you make them into an adventure. The fact this book has no words other than the chores listed makes this extra special too as it shows just how powerful some simple images can be. I’d definitely recommend this book whether for Father’s Day or just any day of the year. It doesn’t have to be exclusively for kids with dads either!
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.


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#BookReview: William Wenton and the Luridium Thief by Bobbie Peers #MPBooks

An excellent adventure thriller for kids with real and very unpredictable twists!

 

William Wenton and the Luridium Thief book cover
UK translation cover by Walker Books

Title: William Wenton and the Luridium Thief

Author: Bobbie Peers

Translator: Tara Chace

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Middle Grade/Children’s

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Description: William is in hiding with his family after the mysterious disappearance of his grandfather. But when his extraordinary talent for cracking codes is discovered, William is kidnapped and taken to the secretive Institute for Post-Human Research.

Because someone is after him. Someone who needs William’s special skills to find the last remaining traces of a strange and powerful substance called Luridium.

William will have to use all of his ingenuity and code-cracking skills to find out the secrets the Institute is hiding. Impossible puzzles, cybernetic creatures and bloodthirsty robots stand in his way.

Check out those blue sprayed pages!

My Review: Wow!  This is a surprisingly fun read despite the initial hesitation I had when I began to read this book.  William is a boy who loves to crack codes and is very smart but his parents are worried about him.  When an exhibition at a local museum shows off The Impossible Puzzle, a puzzle that no-one in the world has yet solved, William is desperate to get a peek at it.  But things soon go wrong and William find himself running for his life.

The book begins with a scene at Victoria Station in London.  The scene is brief but sets up the mystery of this story right away.  I initially had doubts on whether I would get into this book.  Although I was curious to find out what was happening, the writing in the book didn’t really feel all that great and it didn’t feel as urgent as the story probably should have been.  I’m used to a slightly different style of writing in kids books these days and this felt a little less punchy and the first few scenes which were supposed to be exciting just felt oddly predictable.  However I kept on reading and found myself progressively sucked more and more into the tale.

It wasn’t until the pages about the Institute that I really got hooked.  The story is described as a fantasy but given the fact that it focuses a lot on technology I’d say it could be classed as children’s science fiction too.  Although the book is listed as a thriller there is some humour thrown in as well.  There are robots, a lot of robots, at the institute and it’s here that I really started to enjoy the story.  It becomes an exciting adventure and a really unpredictable one.  I’m surprised at just how imaginative some of the story is and something that happens in the Archives really surprised me.

The whole story has a really good conclusion and I enjoyed the fact I still didn’t know what was going to happen even right to the end.  The book is definitely a fun filled adventure thriller with fantasy/science fiction throughout.  While the writing could have been a bit better and faster, perhaps a problem of the translation rather than the original story, it was still a good read and I think the target audience of kids won’t be bothered at all by this.  Some adults might enjoy reading this too, it really picks up the pace after the first few chapters and is really surprising with lots of twists.  This book has a great ending as a stand alone but is apparently only the first of a series and it’ll be interesting to see how popular this series will be in the UK, the original story was written in Norwegian.
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.


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#BookReview: The Cherry Pie Princess by Vivian French & Marta Kissi #MPBooks

A very fun fairy tale children’s book

The Cherry Pie Princess book cover
UK book cover

Title: The Cherry Pie Princess

Author: Vivian French

Illustrator: Marta Kassi

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: MG/children’s Fiction

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Description: Princess Peony has a bad feeling that her father might be a tyrant.  She doesn’t want to believe it, but he has a nasty having of throwing people in dungeons…

There’s a royal party coming up, and the king’s in an even worse mood than usual.  He flat out refuses to invite the wicked hag, which can mean only one thing: TROUBLE!

My Review: This is a very fun story for kids and one which I would have adored reading myself when I was younger.  Princess Peony is different to her family, the King, Queen and her six sisters.  During a Royal visit to the library Princess Peony, the only one of her sisters to show any interest in the books there, borrows a recipe book.  But Princesses aren’t supposed to bake and when her father King Thoroughgood finds out, it is only the start of Princess Peony’s troubles.

‘The Cherry Pie Princess’ is well written and really fun.  It’s like a new fairy tale story with a bit of humour thrown in.  It’s easy to get into this children’s book right away and although it is not a specifically funny book, the names of some characters and the illustrations inside will make you smile and laugh.  The story is quite simple but surprised me as I didn’t know what was going to happen.  Although the story follows Princess Peony at the beginning it also briefly follows some seemingly random characters like the Fairy Godmothers and a Hag.  All these characters stories later entwine to make a really good ending.

Cute illustrations at the start of the book

The illustrations are funny and have enough detail for me to really like them.  There are illustrations throughout the book, in black and white and there’s are illustrations on every other double page.  The pictures really lend to the story and are really well drawn, I especially like the image later of the cat sitting in the tree.  The ending of the story is a really good one and even though it’s predictably happy, I still didn’t know how everything would get resolved or what would happen to Princess Peony after a spell was cast!  (can’t say more or I’d spoil it!).

Some of the funny images that can be found throughout this book

I think kids will love this story, particularly if they are into fairy tales and although girls might be more inclined to enjoy this book, given the title and the cover, I’m sure some boys would too as Peony herself isn’t overly girly in her personality.  Adults might also enjoy it as I did.  I’d definitely recommend this book to others, given the fact it’s like a fairy tale it also has a little lesson that some characters have to learn but it’s all told in a really fun way and I’ll certainly be on the lookout for more Vivian French books after I’ve read this one!
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.


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#BookReview: Release by Patrick Ness #MPBooks

An interesting novel from the award winning author Patrick Ness.

Release book cover
‘Release’ UK book cover

Title: Release

Author: Patrick Ness

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: YA, Contemporary (slight paranormal fantasy too)

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Description: It’s Saturday, it’s summer and, although he doesn’t know it yet, everything in Adam Thorn’s life is going to fall apart.  Relationships will change, he’ll change, but maybe, just maybe, he’ll find freedon in the release.
Time is running out though, because way across town a ghost has risen from the lake.  Searching, yearning, she leaves a trail of destruction in her wake…

My Review: Oh dear. I’ve never read a Patrick Ness novel before this one however the cover and the blurb really intrigued me and I had high hopes for an author who’s so well praised. It’s a big shame though that this novel just isn’t what I expected it to be.

The description of the novel is a bit cryptic but the book basically focuses on Adam Thorn, a teenager living in a small town in America. In just one day so many things will happen that his life will change forever. The blurb doesn’t say though that Adam is gay, with evangelical Christian parents who disapprove, as well as a father who is a minister of their church and the story is mostly about him dealing with this fact, struggling with his parents, and with his own feelings. There is a secondary story in this book but I’ll explain more about it below.

The book starts with Adam heading off to get some flowers that his mother has told him to. I’d like to say that this book was easy to get into but it wasn’t. The descriptions at the start of this novel are a bit old-fashioned for my liking. I’m used to YA novels with fast and easy narration but this felt very distant at first and I was worried the rest of the book had this almost flowery/purple prose type of description. However I persevered through the beginning and the writing did get better to read, or I got used to Patrick Ness’s style.

The first chapter is a pretty mundane one describing Adam and his basic situation. Halfway through the first chapter there is a break and the second story is revealed and from then on there are two stories being told, Adam’s and that of a strange spirit. Adam’s story forms most of the pages of this book but the Sprit story jumps in every now and then. There is only a short mention at the start of the book on who the spirit is and the stories stay unconnected until the last pages. The Spirit story is an odd one as it doesn’t really fit in with Adam’s at all and even down to the last chapter, Adam’s story is resolved and in a way that was satisfying to read and although the sprit story is resolved too it feels like a separate paranormal tale that didn’t need to be a part of this book.

I didn’t warm to Adam’s character right away but as the story unfolds you learn more about his struggles both externally and internally. The story is very contemporary and though there is love and sex in the story it isn’t really a romantic one. The sex in the story is actually pretty graphic, reminding me of ‘Forever’ by Judy Bloom which the author says helped lend inspiration to this novel. There is also occasional swearing with a few uses of the s and f word.

The Spirit story is a strange one as I’ve said and feels like a whole different book. Not only is it a paranormal story but it’s also a bit fantasy with a Queen who’s a very old spirit and a faun who follows her around the town. Their story is about a girl who died, something which is mentioned at the start of the book, but the writing in this story is over descriptive and at times didn’t make much sense. The Spirit story is very short when compared to Adam’s story and feels like it was added to the book as a way to bulk up the size of it and I would have preferred this story to have been developed to be longer and more detailed itself, forming it’s own book than jumping into this one.

Adam’s story is interesting and I do like the ending of this novel, the way his story concludes, however the Spirit story really spoilt it for me and I would have preferred this to be made into two shorter stories rather than join a paranormal story with a contemporary one which just didn’t seem to work at all for me. I’m not sure if this book will appeal to everyone. It depends on the tolerance for detailed gay sex scenes and the over descriptive writing. While I enjoyed Adam’s story overall, the way he deals with things and the ending which I certainly preferred to ‘Forever’ this book just doesn’t have the re-read appeal for me. While I’ve enjoyed quite a few YA books which deal with sexuality, sex and finding yourself, and I do like the fact this book tackles gay relationships openly, I think I would have preferred a longer tale about Adam, perhaps see what happens beyond where the story ended but this didn’t happen and it was quite a short read for me (I read it in one day but didn’t feel compelled to get back to it when taking a break). so a neutral 3 feathers for me.
-Thanks to Walker Books for providing a free copy.


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#BookReview: Let’s Go To Nursery! by Caryl Hart & Lauren Tobia #MPBooks

A fun picture book for kids entering nursery!

Let's Go To Nursery! book coverTitle: Let’s Go To Nursery!

Author: Caryl Hart

Illustrator: Lauren Tobia

Publisher: Walker Books (Walker First Experiences)

Genre: Baby/very young books

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Description: Let’s go to nursery with Billy and Bee!  There’s SO much to do, and SO much to see!  Billy is shy but Been helps him have fun, so come with us now and let’s meet everyone!

My Review:

This is a great hardback book for very young kids to enjoy.  ‘Let’s Go to Nursery!’ is a fun rhyming book with some great images and rhymes.  The pages themselves are like thick shiny card so could take a quick wipe if they get a little dirty, the pages corners are also curved making this book easy and safe for toddlers to handle.

Some detailed illustrations

The story of the book is a simple but very fun one.  Bee is a confident girl while Billy is quite shy and together, along with Bee’s sister Boo, they all go to nursery and enjoy themselves.  The book’s pages are filled with fun rhymes, there isn’t one page that doesn’t have rhyming on it, even the back cover blurb has rhyming and it’s all in the same simple style which makes it easy for kids to understand what’s happening in the story.  I really enjoyed the story, even though Billy is shy and a little wary, Bee’s confident nature makes him enjoy the nursery, and when something happens to upset Boo, Billy is there to make her feel better.  The whole story has a lovely feel to it and would make me feel more confident going to nursery (I remember being very shy, like Billy, when I went to nursery myself).

Easy to read text and fun images

I really like the pictures in this book, they are all very nice and clear, not too abstract but there’s also some detail in many of the pictures which could make for a fun extra as kids and their parents can point out all the other things that are happening in the nursery.  The ending of the story is a happy as all the kids go home happy.

This is such a simple book but I really think kids will enjoy it as well as some adults sharing this with their kids.  It actually brought back some fond memories I had from my time in nursery and I think it would make a great book for kids who might be nervous about attending, giving them a positive experience to look forward to.
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy


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#BookReview: Caraval by Stephanie Garber #MPBooks

Review of the magical and mysterious Caraval, a book everyone wants to read this year!

Caraval book cover
UK book cover

Title: Caraval

Author: Stephanie Garber

UK Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Genre: Fantasy

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Description: WELCOME TO CARAVAL, WHERE NOTHING IS QUITE WHAT IT SEEMS
Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.
Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.
When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

My Review: I’m not sure how to start this review. I absolutely loved this book, once I got into it, but wow the ending was quite a shock and left me a little speechless and just a little bit annoyed.

Caraval has really been a hyped up novel this year and I couldn’t help but want to read it after hearing so much about it. The story follow Scarlett and her sister Tella who live on the small isle of Trisda but their life is marred by their abusive father who enjoys punishing the girls for any wrong-doing. For years Scarlett has been writing to the mysterious Master of Caraval to ask for tickets to the magical show but never hears back until days before her arranged wedding to a man she has never met. When tickets arrive though there is an opportunity to finally escape their abusive father so the girls go to the island where Caraval is taking place. However as soon as they arrive Tella goes missing and Scarlett must take part in the game in order to find her sister.

At the start of the book I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. We’re quickly introduced to Scarlett and Tella along with a scene showing how brutal and twisted their father is, but despite the fast pacing of this novel and the simple descriptions I just didn’t get into this book from the very beginning. The scene didn’t feel as threatening as I thought it should and the general story up until Scarlett reaches Caraval felt almost too fast paced and I didn’t get a feel for the characters until later. However despite my initial thoughts, this story soon drew me into the magic and from then on I was hooked.

The story is told in the third person but follows Scarlett as she searches for her sister with the help, or not, of the man who brought her to the island. The world of Caraval is an interesting and really mesmerising one. It’s like a magical and dark circus show that happens at night and Scarlett quickly becomes involved in the game/performance. The magic in the story and the overall Caraval is like the old fashioned circuses that existed in Victorian times. Just like a magical act, this book is filled with surprises and twists and I’m so happy that I didn’t see any of them coming. I’m very good at spotting twists in stories and often don’t find myself surprised but this book had me hooked as I really didn’t know what was going to happen next and the story kept up this pace of twists and turns right until the end.

The ending of this book is really good. It finishes really well with surprises revealed right until the last pages and it was really satisfying to read, however the epilogue is where I felt annoyed. Something simple happens but it sets up the story for a book two, leaving certain questions in your head and though I’m eager to read book two, when it is released, and there’s nothing wrong with the ending, I’d rather have had a book two without the mini cliff-hanger ending that this epilogue created.

The book has nothing offensive in it though given the dark and twisted nature of some characters I would recommend it for teens and older. Despite the many, many reviews calling this a YA novel it is not. Teens will enjoy this book and some characters are younger but this book is a general fantasy story and not specifically a YA book which usually has more specific appeal.

Caraval is everything it’s hyped up to be and I’d certainly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading a story with lots of twists and magic and for those who enjoy stories with a historic setting. Although the book takes place in a fictional world the timeframe is the past and it just added to the magical feel of this tale.


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