The Doll Maker (The Viper and the Urchin Book 4) by Celine Jeanjean #NewRelease #TuesdayBookBlog

Doll

Revolution in the streets.

A deadly weapon stolen.

A wardrobe too wide to fit up the stairs.

All is most definitely not well back in Damsport…

For Rory and her companion Longinus, this is an exciting time, a new beginning.  No longer is Rory a waif, a defiant pick-pocket given a place to sleep and guidance by the wise but eccentric assassin.   They are moving into a new home as equals. Rory believes she is paying her way, an independent young woman who helps the Marchioness when Damsport is under threat.  Longinus is in his element, decorating their new home stylishly and employing Tess, a maid, to take care of them.  But their happiness is soon disturbed when Rory discovers their friend Cruikshank, the skilled machinist, critically injured by brutes who have broken into her workshop.  A dangerous weapon containing a lethal explosive has been stolen and the whole city could be destroyed.

Rory must work with Varanguard, Raif, once more and this time she has come of age. She is prepared to recognise her feelings for the strong handsome young man. Together with Longinus they face terrifying events.  Rory participates in a thrilling duel on board Crazy Willy’s steamcoach and Longinus faces up to fears from his past when he enters the eerie rooms in Arthur’s Automaton Emporium.  He found,

“himself facing rows and rows of beady black eyes, all looking at him.  The eyes belonged to dolls. Rows and rows of dolls….

The doll’s eyes were as black and gleaming as beetle wings and so shiny they looked wet….

One had hair but no face so that its black eyes looked out from metal sockets above an articulated metal jaw, its joints held in place by vicious-looking screws.”

Will the Old Girl maintain her position as ruler of Damsport or will a popular rising, funded by bribery and lies, replace her with a corrupt, power-seeking aristocrat who only cares for himself?  Rory’s links to the underworld in the Rookery are essential if the city is to survive.

This is the best of all these exciting steampunk adventures.  The plot turns from one frightening situation to another problem which must be solved.  The characters the reader now knows so well, are courageous, loyal and enterprising and their personal development is believable and heartening.  A must read!

The Doll Maker on Amazon UK

 

Advertisements

T is for Dido Twite from Black Hearts in Battersea #AtoZChallenge #TuesdayBookBlog

Hearts  Black Hearts

Joan Aiken was an amazing writer of children’s fiction about the supernatural or alternative history. The long series of fat books which begin with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase are set in Britain in a version of late 17th century history where James II was never deposed in the Glorious Revolution, but supporters of the House of Hanover are active enemies of the monarchy. Wolves have invaded the country from Europe via the newly built Channel Tunnel. The child hero or heroine varies from one book to another, but my favourite appears first in book 2, Black Hearts in Battersea. Here I met Dido Twite, a poor ragamuffin girl who helps young apprentice painter, Simon and the wealthy, Sophie. Dido Twite speaks appallingly, dresses scruffily and is defiantly independent. She also proves to be loyal and brave.  The children deal with wolves, kidnapping and shipwreck.

Part of Dido’s endearing quality is her personal vocabulary.  In distress she exclaims, “Croopus!” Her friendly greeting is, “Wotcher my cully,” and we understand her meaning when she says, “betwaddled,” or “havey-cavey.” It is such a relief when this extraordinary girl reappears in Night Birds in Nantucket and other books in series.

Dido Twite

This will be the last of my #AtoZChallenges for two reasons. Firstly, because I am travelling for several days with limited Internet connection but secondly because I am uninspired by the last few letters of the alphabet.  Perhaps you can suggest suitable book characters you might have included in your list of favourites.

My A to Z favourite Book Characters

#AtoZChallenge : N is for Thursday Next #JasperFforde #BookCharacter

Thursday next   Eyre

Thursday Next is the heroine of an alternative twentieth century world. A bold, courageous woman, she has returned from a military career in the Crimean War to take up a post as a Literary Detective.  She has the ability to jump in and out of famous books and alarmingly, some of the characters can jump out of their novels, changing the plots.  In the first novel of this series Thursday changes the ending of Jane Eyre to the far superior conclusion we are familiar with.

At home in Swindon, Thursday lives with her pet Dodo, Pickwick, wondering what happened to her father, a special operative who may be trapped in another dimension.  George Formby is the first president of the English Republic, elected after successful liberation from the Nazis.  Thursday’s active life makes relationships hard to maintain but there is romance on the horizon.  Her story is full of humour, mishap, heroism and extraordinary situations which particularly appeal to a bookaholic.

Well     Lost

 

#AtoZChallenge : I is for The Iron Man by Ted Hughes

I am not sure whether this book is as well known these days but it has to be included in my A to Z of favourite book characters.

Iron

The Iron Man came to the top of the cliff. How far had he walked? Nobody knows. Where had he come from? Nobody knows. How was he made? Nobody knows.

Taller than a house, the Iron man stood at the top of the cliff, on the brink, in the darkness.

In my early days of teaching in the 1970s, most primary schools classes read The Iron Man together. The length of a novella and with the essence of a folk tale moved into the 20th century, its unpredictable plot and simple messages appealed to boys and girls alike. As a poet, Ted Hughes was sparing in his words and how much he told his readers. The man made of metal is clearly described but we do not know where he has come from. Because he is eating tractors and farm equipment, the locals dig a large pit and a boy called Hogarth lures the Iron Man into it. But next Spring the Iron Man springs back out, so Hogarth leads him to a heap of scrap metal. They become friends and the Iron Man is accepted by the local community. Subsequently the Iron Man meets a “Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon” and together they help to restore harmony and peace amongst mankind.

“Haven’t you heard of the music of the spheres?” asked the dragon. “It’s the music that space makes to itself. All the spirits inside all the stars are singing. I’m a star spirit. I sing too. The music of the spheres is what makes space so peaceful.”

#AtoZChallenge : G is for Granny Weatherwax #TerryPratchett

I have long been a fan of Terry Pratchett, but my particular favourites are the books about the Guards, Death and the witches. If you’ve not read his books I wouldn’t recommend starting with “The Colour of Magic,” his first Discworld book. Try “Wyrd Sisters,” and meet the indomitable Granny Weatherwax.

Weatherwax06042019

The best way to describe Granny Weatherwax is to list a few quotes from the books:-

  • It was one of the few sorrows of Granny Weatherwax’s life that, despite all her efforts, she’d arrived at the peak of her career with a complexion like a rosy apple and all her teeth.  No amount of charms could persuade a wart to take root on her handsome if slightly equine features, and vast intakes of sugar only served to give her boundless energy.
  • She was aware that somewhere under her complicated strata of vests and petticoats there was some skin, that didn’t mean to say she approved of it.
  • Granny’s implicit belief that everything should get out of her way extended to other witches, very tall trees and, on occasion, mountains.
  • Granny Weatherwax was like the prow of a ship. Seas parted when she turned up.

wisdom

‘If you can’t learn to ride an elephant, you can at least learn to ride a horse.’

‘What’s an elephant?’

‘A kind of badger,’ said Granny.  She hadn’t maintained forest-credibility for forty years by ever admitting ignorance

Quote

  • Looking into Granny’s eyes was like looking into a mirror. What you saw looking back at you was yourself and there was no hiding-place.
  • ​At home Granny Weatherwax slept with open windows and an unlocked door, secure in the knowledge that the Ramtops’ various creatures of the night would rather eat their own ears than break in.
  • She was a good witch.  That was her role in life.  That was the burden she had to bear.  Good and Evil were quite superfluous when you’d grown up with a highly developed sense of Right and Wrong.

ignorance

When all hope was gone, you called for Granny Weatherwax, because she was the best.

And she always came.  Always.

#AtoZChallenge: C is for Charlie Bone

Charlie 1Bone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie Bone is the hero of Jenny Nimmo’s fantasy school adventures written between 2002 and 2009.

After his father’s death, Charlie Bone has lived with his mother and her mother, in the house of his other grandmother, Grandma Bone. Looking at a picture of a couple with a baby and a cat, he suddenly discovers he can hear their voices. Although he tries to hide his new gift, Grandma Bone and her scary sisters soon find out, and send him to Bloor’s Academy where the evil head boy, Manfred, is constantly finding ways to make his life miserable. When Charlie discovers that the child in the photograph is being held, hypnotised, against her will, he and his new friends with ‘gifts’ try to awaken her. But they will have to overcome Manfred’s hypnotic power first.

Charlie is a thoroughly likeable boy who just wants to be ordinary but having been been given a gift he must use it for good. This endowment comes from his family since they are descended from the Red King.  When he meets the fiery cats, Sagittarius, Leo and Aries, he gradually learns more of his past and therefore his future.

Charlie may sound similar to Harry Potter, but this series of books remains suitable for middle grade children and the plot is very much driven by conversation.

Red Knight

 

The Wind Singer by William Nicholson #BookReview #YA

Wind Singer

William Nicholson was the playwright who wrote “Shadowlands” and “Gladiator” so it may surprise you to read that The Wind Singer is a children’s book (or at least young adults). It is a dystopian fantasy, centred on Kestrel and Bowman Hath, twin sister and brother who live in the city of Aramanth with their mother, father and baby sister. In Aramanth everyone is ranked and housed according to their success or otherwise in examinations. From the first toddler test to check whether a baby can identify colours and is out of nappies to the advanced tests for the father of the family.

The Hath family live in the Orange sector which we would identify as being for blue-collar workers although they are obviously intellectually superior but don’t toe the line. Kestrel is strong and independent and always protects her sensitive, fey, twin brother Bowman. The whole Hath family are closely tied by love and are torn apart by a mistake made by Kestrel. She and her brother realise that the city will only become whole and normal if they can find the missing part of the Wind-Singer a strange tower erected by another race thousands of years before. Their quest takes them on a long journey accompanied by Mumpo, a very simple boy who loves Kestrel. Their journey, bravery and adventures make up the rest of the story. It sounds predictable but it is a compelling read and this is both a complete story in its own right and part one of a trilogy with very different, more demanding events in the next two books.

I think this is essential reading for today’s constantly tested young people, especially the children of competitive parents, but it is also a very enjoyable read for any adult who enjoys a fantasy read.

The Wind Singer at Amazon UK