Sunday 9 November 2014

More Mini-Recommendations

As mentioned yesterday, I've lost the energy for 'proper' recommendations, but am trying to clear the backlog of stuff I've read. Apologies to anyone who's given me books for the brevity of these.

Descriptions of each book taken from Goodreads. Please assume all books given to me by publisher or author unless otherwise stated. (It's so long since I got some of them that I actually can't remember. Oops.)

The Imaginary, written by AF Harrold, illustrated by Emily Gravett (Bloomsbury Children's Books) (Bought)

Rudger is Amanda’s best friend. He doesn't exist, but nobody's perfect.

Only Amanda can see her imaginary friend – until the sinister Mr Bunting arrives at Amanda's door. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumour says that he eats them. And he's sniffed out Rudger. Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. But can a boy who isn’t there survive without a friend to dream him up?

I asked at the launch, when buying this, if it would be safe to read it on the way home (I live alone and get scared easily) or whether I should leave it until morning. The general consensus was that I'd be ok reading late at night; in the end I didn't get round to it until the following day - and I'm quite glad. There are some really unsettling moments here, with a staggeringly nasty villain, and I think it could be a bit scary for the lower end of the age range, at least if they're of a nervous disposition.

With that in mind, though, this is a really magical read. I loved the friendship between the two main characters, Amanda and Rudger, and Emily's illustrations add a lot to the story. The use of colour as a contrast to the mainly black and white illustrations is eye-catching, while the narrative is superb. The ending brings tears to join the scares, and will stay with me for a long time. It's also a really funny read!

Highly recommended to children who don't get nervous and to adults of all ages.

Waistcoasts & Weaponry by Gail Carriger (Atom) (lent to me by Faye)

Warning: Spoilers for first two in this series

Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style--with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what--or who--they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all. 

I've said previously that the love triangle here is one of my very favourites, but I've also criticised some rather flat supporting characters. The good news here is that the love triangle is brought closer to the forefront of the book, with the majority of it concentrating on the three people involved and Sophronia's friends Dimity and Sidheag; the better news is that this focus on fewer characters means we get a far better idea of who Dimity and Sidheag are and I grew to really like both of them as well-rounded characters.

As ever with this series, the plot is zany but huge fun - there's a brilliant moment when the friends decide to steal the train, which is something I'd never expect to have seen stolen in a YA novel - the world-building is well done, continuing the intriguing jockeying for power of vampires, werewolves and Picklemen, and the final part is intriguing, with one character in particular ending up in a situation which will make book four very interesting indeed.

That said, I think the climax was too open for my preference, even in a series book - I'd have liked to have seen a bit more of a resolution. Still, this is just about the best so far of a very enjoyable series; the fourth is high on my most anticipated list for next year!

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