Despite the teetering pile I present to you, I actually had a very slow beginning of the month reading-wise. Ready Player One took over that time and it wasn’t until I finished it that my pace began to speed up. The Spiderwick Chronicles books took 4 days and I flew through The Walled City. I think the reading part of my brain was glad Spring had arrived. For however long that lasted. Sit down, get a cuppa, this is a long one!
The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book One; The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
This is a really fun introduction to this series; you meet the characters, you see the house, you start to see the wonders and scares of this world. The whole series doesn’t shy away from being just that little bit scary, but it has enough humour and family and great storytelling to make it a perfect kids book. It also has a lovely bit where a character who isn’t really a ‘reader’, loves to stay up late reading when he finds a book that interests him. I loved it. The same character is dealing with anger issues; “he knew what it was like to be mad, and he knew how easy it was to get into a fight, even if you were really mad at someone else.” It really stood out to me as a great message, and these books could be used to open some pretty tricky conversations with kids. Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black have written a great first book.
The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book Two; The Seeing Stone by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
In this book we meet new creatures like goblins, a hobgoblin and a griffin. And there’s even more Thimbletack from the first book who speaks only in rhyme which is adorable. My favourite had to be; “A human boy is like a snake. His promises are easy to break.” Thimbletack speaks the truth!
The books go from strength to strength, this one focuses more on external threats. Mallory, who is one of my favourite female fictional characters, she makes me want to start fencing, comes to the defence of her brothers despite them not getting along much. The family dynamic of siblings is spot on, as is the story.
The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book Three; Lucinda’s Secret by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
The gang go to visit Lucinda, the ‘mad’ great aunt of the three children and she tells her story of the magical creatures she has encountered to the kids, which gives us a pretty neat backstory. The first half wasn’t a lot of direct action and the second half was kind of slow but the book as a whole was lovely. Middle books are always tricky.
The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book Four; The Ironwood Tree by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
The lesson in this book definitely seems to be tell your parent/ guardian when serious things are going down. It’s hard to review this book without spoilers but the world expands again in a really beautiful manner, I would totally live with dwarves. Underground? No sunlight? Precious metals? If it has wi-fi, I’m in.
The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book Five; The Wrath of Mulgarath by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
The whole series really comes together in this book, there are no lose ends, it’s all tied up nicely with a satisfying ending.
The biggest complaint I saw on the Goodreads reviews for this series was that the books were so short, but these are books aimed at kids. And the authors know their audience. Averaging at just over 100 pages a book, these are the perfect length for the age group and I’ll be keeping my copies around in the hope of sharing these stories with future children.
The whole series has beautiful illustrations as well that I just want to frame and put on my walls, they really add something to the books and are great for the imagination.
Talking Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah
To get hyped up for seeing Benjamin Zephaniah perform some of his poems, I thought it would be a good idea to read through my battered and loved copy of Talking Turkeys (now signed!). I love the poems in this collection, they’re definitely aimed at kids but Zephaniah knows what he’s doing and he does it well. The poem that led me to eventually become a vegetarian is in this book and I think it’s a great little number to pick up for kids that maybe need a helping hand into poetry.
On Writing by Stephen King
This was recommended to me by my tutor as her first recommendation to new students of writing and as a fan of Stephen Kings work I was more than willing to pick up a copy. I’ve been dipping in and out of it for months but decided to finally sit down and read it cover to cover. Personally, I think if you have even the remotest interest in writing as a degree, career or even just for fun then this is something I would pick up. I learnt a huge amount about his method of writing which was fascinating, and it really inspired me in my own writing. When I finished it, I felt like turning it over and starting from the beginning again. I was really inspired.
The Princess Diaries: Third Time Lucky by Meg Cabot
I started re-reading this series last year in February and didn’t feel like picking up the next book at the time. But a couple weeks ago there was a #BookBloggersChat on twitter and I got talking to Hera about the books again which inspired me to pull out my copy. And I enjoyed it! The characters are likeable and pretty dang accurate to teenagers, they’re funny and young and whiney and have, what I call, ‘high school bullshit’ drama.
A little thing I noticed, my edition is so old it actually says ‘the third and final part’ in the blurb. This was clearly before the next 7 books came out!
The Princess Diaries: Mia Goes Forth by Meg Cabot
This took me a little longer to read than the third book. A lot of the beginning is very stationary as Mia is in Genovia and is doing a lot of boring princess stuff, but it soon picks up when she calls her friend. I was actually smiling when I read the last twenty or so pages because of how mushy and cute it was, I don’t read a lot of romance so it was a nice experience.
The Walled City by Ryan Graudin*
I flew through this book in about four days, which was about 100 pages a day and oh my goodness. The story is set over 18 days, with a countdown as chapter titles, it was very dramatic! And has three characters, each in a very different situation within The Walled City. Jin Ling, who just wants to find her sister. Dai, who has a mysterious past and a plan to get out. And Mei Yee, who has been sold into prostitution and just wants to stay alive. The Walled City actually existed too, you can read about it here.
A issue I’ve seen a few people have with this book is the frequent use of metaphors, but I picked this up right after reading 150 pages of The Handmaid’s Tale and in comparison, this book does metaphors much more smoothly. It feels polished and doesn’t jar the reading. In fact, this is one of the first books in a while where it felt more like I was watching the story, rather than reading it.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
You may remember that this book came in my February Loot Crate and I was super excited to read it, unfortunately reality wasn’t as good as the hype or my expectations.
Now I was born in the nineties, so my knowledge of the eighties is next to nothing. In fact, I really can’t think of anything I watch/read/listen to that comes from the eighties. The references this book made kind of flew over my head rather than making my nostalgic, which I think is the main charm of. I got very excited at the one Firefly reference, but that was really it, so I can only imagine how people who knew the eighties would feel. For me, the book wasn’t strong enough to carry itself without that.
I’m constantly told to show, not tell in my writing, and I think that’s the main problem I had with this book. I felt like I was being told everything.