children’s

TRILOGY Review: The Firebird Chronicles

The Firebird Chronicles is a children’s/young adult fantasy series following two young Apprentice Adventurers, Scoop and Fletcher.

Rise of the Shadow Stealers (The Firebird Chronicles #1) by Daniel Ingram-Brown – eBook, Published January 25th 2013 by Our Street Books

The first book, Rise of the Shadow Stealers, follows the confused youngsters as they make sense of their surroundings. Neither has any memories of who they are or where they come from, and with the help of their mentor, the Yarnbard, they slowly piece together the story of their past.

Throughout the book, Scoop and Fletcher are held back by Grizelda, an evil old woman who’s determined to take control of the land. They are set monumental tasks by the mysterious Storyteller – the creator and controller of the world they live in. Grizelda desperately tries to prevent them from succeeding at every turn.

My immediate reaction to this book was that I was too old for it. I always emphasise the fact that children’s books can still be good books, enjoyed by any reader. This was, in all honesty, not fantastic. The plot wasn’t bad, and it wasn’t exactly hard to read, but the writing wasn’t particularly outstanding and there were tons of grammatical errors. One recurring mistake I noticed was the misuse of “passed” and “past”. Little things like that really affect how professional a book feels, or how immature the writing comes across.

2.5 stars for this book. The plot was okay, but the characters and speech were overly childish and didn’t feel authentic.

The Nemesis Charm (The Firebird Chronicles #2) by Daniel Ingram-Brown – eBook, Published May 27th 2016 by Our Street Books

The second instalment of this series is The Nemesis Charm. While this book had similar issues with character development, speech and grammar, I found it slightly better than the predecessor.

After rediscovering their identities, Scoop and Fletcher have settled into their lives and begun building a relationship with their parents. But of course, this calm does not remain for long. Soon, citizens are falling ill with a mysterious sleeping disease, the Storyteller’s Princess among them. Yet again, Scoop and Fletcher are tasked with saving everyone.

Grizelda continues to fight them at every step, while raising her own army and attempting to take control of the world (again). Scoop and Fletcher find themselves travelling with a Dark Pirate towards the Threshold, the Uncrossable Boundary to a mysterious world beyond.

There is also a whole other side to their story – the real Storyteller, if you will. A girl in Leeds called Libby, who is continuing the story her missing mother began.

I got strong Inkheart vibes from this series. The main difference was that this seemed a whole lot more immature, and amateurish, honestly. There were still so many mistakes, and Grizelda really felt like a typical children’s villain. I think this is supposed to be ‘cheesy’ and predictable to a certain extent, as it is playing on the idea of stories and heroes and so on, but it was hard to take it seriously at times.

2.5 to 3 stars for the second Firebird Chronicles book. It was alright, clever and exciting, but still had its faults.

Through the Uncrossable Boundary (The Firebird Chronicles #3) by Danial Ingram-Brown – eBook, Published November 30th 2018 by Our Street Books

The final book in this trilogy is called Through the Uncrossable Boundary. I think you can guess what that means.

In my opinion, this was the strongest book of the three. Again, it still had a fair few errors, but it was unpredictable and unique. Everything was finally explained in full, and the ending was tidy and satisfying. There was loss and heartbreak, and massive revelations.

Basically, Fletcher and Scoop end up in our world. While this is a little predictable, and some of the following events may be a little cheesy, I think it was quite good. It was a nice ending to the trilogy.

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

3 stars for the final book.

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Book Review: The Secret of the Silver Mines (Dylan Maples Adventures #2)

I didn’t know that this was part of a series when I first requested it but luckily it was perfectly fine as a standalone read. It’s a young adult adventure novel, but I definitely got the feeling that it was aimed at younger young adults than myself. The main character is 12-year-old Dylan Maples, so I assume the target audience is around that pre-teen age, too.

Dylan’s father often moves around for his work, which is as a lawyer. They’re now moving to Cobalt, in north Canada. “Hicksville”, as Dylan calls it. It’s only for a few months, but Dylan is dreading leaving his friends behind. Cobalt is bound to be so boring. How will he ever survive?

But of course, Dylan finds adventure in this seemingly sleepy town. As usual, I won’t tell too much of the plot, but I will say that Dylan finds himself in the middle of the law suit his dad is working on.

Dylan makes a friend in Cobalt, too – Wynona. He meets her almost immediately, though they don’t become acquainted until a little later on. Their relationship remains platonic, though it is fairly obvious that there are some deeper emotions.

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

Personally, I found this to be quite a young book. It included a huge amount of similes and metaphors and what I’d consider ‘simplistic’ writing. It wasn’t bad, it just felt like it was a bit too young for me to enjoy.

For a younger audience I could see this as being quite interesting, though I found it a little slow at times. 3 stars.

Book Review: Ghost Boy

Another young adult novel, following an 11-year-old boy. His name is Ben, and he sees ghosts. Well, spirits, and only a few. Mainly, he sees Abby, a girl of his own age. His mother views his ability as a ‘gift’, but his father thinks he’s crazy. He gets angry when Ben talks about Abby as if she’s real, and tries several methods to rid Ben of his spirits.

Ben goes through a lot in this novel, from his cousin losing his foot, his father sending him to a shrink, being caught graffiti-ing, and being beaten up for standing up to a bully. And more! These things are mostly nothing to do with Abby or Ben’s ability to see the dead, but there are some connections. In one case, Ben actually exorcises a ‘dybbuk‘ from a stranger on a beach.

It is clear that Ben is desperate for his father’s approval. He attempts daring and foolish stunts designed to impress him, and he ends up lying about taking anti-psychotic medication just to please him. His mother often stands up for Ben, but this causes h er to fight with his father. Ben’s sister is rarely mentioned, and does not seem to make any comments on Ben’s ability – if she even knows about it.

A lot of this book felt like it was completely disconnected to the main plot; it felt a bit like a generic YA fiction novel at times. The plot revolving around Abby seemed to disappear for a while, before being re-introduced.

The plot with Abby was actually very interesting. I had my hunches from relatively early on, but it wasn’t overly obvious or predictable. I did find it a bit strange how Ben believed he had a romantic interest in her at one point, and the ‘solution’ she suggests is also a bit strange… But it was unique and innovative, that’s for sure. I’m intrigued to know where Abby got her name from, as it is later revealed that her mother referred to her as Eliza.

Ben’s exorcising ability was not explained or developed upon at all, and there was no other mention of/reference to dybbuks or similar demons. This was a bit of a shame, as that was an interesting aspect.

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

As Ben was quite a young protagonist, I do believe I am a bit too old to actually really appreciate this. The writing definitely seemed more suited to a slightly younger audience, but wasn’t overly immature. I’d definitely recommend this for slightly younger readers. I noticed a few mistakes, but only generic typos. 3.5 stars.

Graphic Novel/Picture Book Review: The Little Red Wolf

35905318This is only a very short book, so the review will be short too. It’s based on the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood (as you may have guessed from the title). It’s a beautifully illustrated novel, with a really sweet message about love and friendship between humans and animals.

It follows a similar story to the original fairytale, but where the child captures the little wolf while he is delivering a rabbit to his hungry old grandmother. The child sings a song, which is gorgeously illustrated by Fléchais, which tells the tale of a woman and man falling in love, but the man then losing his wife to wolves. This, she says, is why her and her father hunt and kill wolves – because they are evil beasts that bring nothing but pain.

The little red wolf’s father comes to the rescue – without killing the girl or her father – and tells his son about the version of the song he knows – where the woman is friends with the wolves, weaving them capes (like the one the little red wolf wears) and the man accidentally shoots her himself. I found this to be really quite touching, and I really did like this interpretation of the fairytale.

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

I don’t think the chapters were necessary for such a short book – they didn’t mark the end of a “chapter” in any way for me, but just felt like they’d been randomly placed throughout the story.

Overall, this is definitely a lovely story for children to read, even if it is a little sad. The art was really lovely, and it told the story beautifully. 4 stars.

P.S. Sorry about the awful quality of the pictures. My laptop has a red light filter on and just doesn’t do the art justice at all.

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