Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mothstorm by Phillip Reeve

Summary: It should be a quiet Christmas time for Art Mumby and his family when Jack and his crew arrive and tackle the problem of Christmas pudding infestation, and a mysterious message from Uranus (Sorry, Gregorium Sidus). Upon investigating, Art (and his family, too, of course) discover a sinister cloud of moths led by an even more sinister woman threatening the galaxy, and worse, the British Empire (again)!

Assessment: As my faithful readers (all two of them) know that I am quite devoted to this series. I love the author's vivid imagination and witty turns of phrase, as well as humorous look at the Victorian period. The illustrator's whimsical illustrations that give the feel of a Victorian novel. There's plenty to like in this from Art's heroic efforts to Myrtle teaching an alien society of warrior females to do embroidery and faint better. However, having said that, I get the feeling from this novel that the author is running out of ideas. One of my biggest complaints is that one of the best characters, Ssilissa, had very little to do throughtout the whole story. Only until the end do we see her again. This is quite disappointing as I expect more from Reeve's great storytelling skills. Hopefully the author will take a little break, clear his mind, and then write some more about Art and his family!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep by Liz Kessler

Summary: Emily and mother and father are sent to live on an island with other mer/human families. Even her best friend is there! It seems like paradise until Emily, in an attempt to impress some new friends, discovers a dark secret to this paradise. Deep below, the island is guarded by a terrible creature that Emily has unknowingly awakened too early. With no one able to control it, the terrible creature threatens not only her tranquil island, but even the humans who venture out too close - and that includes her old nemesis Mandy Rushton.

Assessment: It isn't too often that I say this, but I actually enjoyed this book better than the first one. I think this is because none of the humour or feeling of adventure is lost in this second book, as can so often happen and since introductiosn to characters and settings can be taken care of quickly, this leads to more action and more excitement. What is more, I really enjoyed having Mandy Rushton's point of view in the story. It opened up better understanding as to why she had picked on Emily earlier and why she is unhappy. It is very rewarding that both Mandy and Emily have to change in order to help each other.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Tale of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler

Synopsis: Emily Windsnap has always lived on a houseboat on the water, but never learned to swim. As she reaches her twelfth year, Emily convinces her mother to let her take swimming lessons. When she does, Emily discovers great joy - and terror. She's extraordinarily good at swimming, but her legs lock together and she is unable to move them. Although terrified to go back into the water, she wants to know what happened, so she sneaks out at night and tries to swim again. Her legs lock up again, but this time, she learns why - in the water, Emily becomes a mermaid! Suddenly, a whole world opens up to Emily complete with merpeople, shipwrecks, and even the real fate of her long-lost father.

Assessment: It is probably few girls who have not dreamed of being a mermaid. Here in Emily, our dreams can swim freely! Kessler does a good job describing the confusion and exhileration Emily feels at learning her true identity, as well as introducing us to new friends, merpeople culture, and school. The mystery of what indeed happened to her father keeps the story moving briskly, although I didn't find the means of how Emily's mother was tricked into forgetting her former life very believable. Still, it ends happily and wondering what will happen next to Emily, her family, and her new friends.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Time Thief by Linda Buckley-Archer

Synopsis: Time collides when the Tar Man, the villain of the 18th century has come into the modern age, while Kate and Peter's father disappear back in time to try to find Peter. While in modern London, the Tar Man learns to adapt his skills for his profit. Back in the 18th century, Kate and Mr. Schock scour London to try to find Peter - only to discover that they haven't gone far enough and Peter is now a grown man.

Assessment: Make no mistake, Linda Buckley-Archer is a talented storyteller, adept at weaving emotion and excitement into her stories, and packing them with fascinating details of the 18th century. However, this book doesn't live up to the excitement of The Time Travelers. For one, while the idea of a rogue as villainous as the Tar Man wreaking havoc in modern London tugs at the imagination, his havoc on the modern area doesn't really pan out. His profits come from stealing art. Not terribly exciting. Furthermore, it you were a fan of young Peter, and especially Giddeon, you barely see them until the last few chapters. The book is action packed and exciting, but doesn't quite live up to the first one. I hope the final book in the series re-ignites the excitement of the first story.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Changeling by Delia Sherman

Summary: 12 year old Neef is a changeling, a human child stolen by the fairies of Central Park to live among them. She has always lived in the world of "Between New York" a world that only the fairies know about. One night she breaks the greatest taboo and joins in the Midsummer Dance. Her punishment: to be devoured by the Wild Hunt - unless she can get three magical items to appease the Green Lady. And thus Neef sets off on her greatest journey into the fairy realm of New York City.

Assessment: Even if your not that fond of fairies, (though I admit I am), this is a fun read. Sherman has managed to create a contemporary city landscape where the beings of old stories come alive in the modern world, including a tough mermaid of the harbor, and my personal favorite, the dragon of Wall Street, with his human assistant Dow Jones. There's a little bit of everything thrown in from vampires to Japanese tengu, and Neef's inability to be surprised by anything and ability to keep her wits makes this book a great page turner.