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Mr. Mg Tobin "mat" (Oxon)

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My Swordhand is Singing
My Swordhand is Singing
by Marcus Sedgwick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to its Vampiric Roots, 17 Feb. 2008
This is the fourth Sedgwick that I have read and must admit to taking a shine, not only to his style of writing, but also the eye with which he sees the world. Sedgwick's `Swordhand' is a real triumph in portraying a time when people were still greatly affected by folklore and dark whisperings in the world that surrounded them. Much like `The Dark Horse', Sedgwick has encompassed a land where, in terms of knowledge and understanding, people are still in their infancy and the Europe is still vastly untamed.
The book's dark and brooding pace suits the story's mood. Written in third person, the tale oversees the life of Peter whose secretive father hides a tragic past and whose distant and offhanded demeanour makes growing up in the cold wild of 17th century Romania difficult. After moving from place to place we find father and son beginning to settle on the fringes of the village of Chust. Here, Peter tries to forge relationships with the guarded locals, but all is not as it seems as the nights are plagued by vampires. Peter finds himself not only entangled a web of deceit within the village but also in the grip of his father's past which will not leave them alone.
Although aimed at the younger teens, I have found `My Swordhand is Singing' fits 10+ in age as long as the reader is prepared to be scared and is competent. The landscape and characters are so well crafted and the storyline so deeply sown into the world painted by Sedgwick that this is a book you shouldn't miss. I was particularly taken by Tomas (Peter's father), who is handled with great mysteriousness and who plays well opposite Sofia, a gypsy girl whom Peter befriends. With no end of scary moments and gripping episodes, the book ends in a climax that leaves the reader wanting more. This is a vampire story that deals more with their origins rather than the typical soft-brush that they tend to be painted with these days.

by Linda Newbery
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.73

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catcall, 17 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Catcall (Paperback)
Newbury's writing style is accessible and yet deep and `empathetic'. Within moments, I was in the book and the lives of Jamie and Josh.
The novel is written in first person, which I always admire when an author handles this well. We see the story take place through the eyes of Josh, the elder brother. Josh and Jamie live with their mother and step-father as well as their `new' baby step-sister, Jennie. Their father lives further in London with his girlfriend, Kim and her teenage son Kevin. The story is a very interesting insight into personal territory and one boy's fight to try and keep his identity while the world around him changes for the worse.
Josh's younger brother, Jamie, after a visit to a zoo, seems to become possessed by the spirit of a lion that they see caged up. As the book progresses, Jamie becomes more and more lost and the spirit of `Leo' increases. Josh and his family look on in horror as they see Jamie's persona disappear behind an angry cat-mask. It is only the person who is closest to him, his big brother Josh, who can pull him back from the darkness of acceptance.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I liked the whole idea of the story of `one boy's refusal to accept change in his family'. Newbury seems to effortlessly create thoughtful and well-painted characters whose dialogue and actions are easy to imagine and a joy to soak up. The book is interspersed with cut-outs from Josh's Catbook where we learn fascinating facts about cats throughout history and science. The themes of the story are ones that children, for whom the book is aimed at, can either relate to or at least empathise with

07 The Enemies of Jupiter (The Roman Mysteries)
07 The Enemies of Jupiter (The Roman Mysteries)
by Caroline Lawrence
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Roman Mysteries Thickens...., 3 Nov. 2004
These books created by Caroline Lawrence, are just a great blend or action, history and adventure. I read the first book to a class of mine (Year 5) a few years back and it started a great bandwagon of reading these books throughout the room. The chapters are short and always end with a cliffhanger, so there is the gripping thought and desire to read on.
The text is bigger than what is expected, so those who struggle to read will feel like they have accomplished something when they put the book down.
The thing that I like about this book and the series as a whole, is that from Book 1, the characters develop. There are four main protagonists (and a few dogs to boot) and as you can guess, the story it set in Italy when Rome was the height of cultural perfection. Each of the characters are extremely individual and well crafted, and as mentioned, grow up and change as the books continue.
The series is easy to get into and simple to read, there is even an A-Z of key words at the back that explain some of the Roman words in the book.
Very simply, the book is like a Roman Famous Five. This is unfair on Lawrence as she creates a world that is ancient and yet easy to see, as well as characters who you genuinely feel for and wish to succeed.
I heavily recommend the series and think that it is a good read for those children who are just starting to brave reading on their own. On saying that, I am enjoying them and I am slightly older than 7!

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