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61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hollow Earth
Hollow Earth
I absolutely loved this book, it's a great read irrespective of your age. It's action packed and a good mystery, keeps you guessing throughout the story. I could not put this down... I loved the way the authors interweaved fiction with real places and artwork. I was thoroughly entertained and felt more educated about some of the great artwork mentioned...
Published on 2 Feb. 2012 by Miss_Chinarose

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars teenagers' fantasy
A colourful story based around the power of imagination vested in two twins who are the latest incarnation of wizards who can create in reality what they draw. Baddies chase them to Scotland where grandpa helps them and their history is "explained" before mum disappears, a battle is had and they finish with ice cream. Simple characters and swift pot speed the story along,...
Published 1 month ago by Miss Philippa Crick


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61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hollow Earth, 2 Feb. 2012
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Hollow Earth
I absolutely loved this book, it's a great read irrespective of your age. It's action packed and a good mystery, keeps you guessing throughout the story. I could not put this down... I loved the way the authors interweaved fiction with real places and artwork. I was thoroughly entertained and felt more educated about some of the great artwork mentioned. I have sudden urge to vist some of the galleries to see the works of Art. I'm really looking forward to reading this to my niece and nephew as I know they will love the concept too and I also look forward to reading further installments about the Calder twins. Good work Carole & John Barrowman!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Middle Grade Adventure, 3 May 2013
When I first was approached about reviewing Hollow Earth and its successor, Bone Quill, what first struck me was the name John Barrowman. Someone I only knew from British television as a musical star and the star of Torchwood, I was surprised to find he was also a writer. The book is co-written with his sister - which wow, I think if I tried that with my siblings we'd have probably done our heads in after two chapters, so kudos for that - and is in fact more middle grade than YA, but even if I don't read and review them as often I really enjoy well-written children's books, so here we are. And I'm glad to be here because I spend an entirely enjoyable afternoon in the company of Matt and Em and the rest of the cast immersed in an adventure that feels like an modernised version of what I hazily remember of Enid Blyton's Famous Five books - it's been a few decades since I read her work - and has an exciting supernatural component.

Hollow Earth's premise of Animare, gifted people that can bring their drawings to life, and Guardians, the people who need to protect the Animare from the world and the world from the Animare, was intriguing and I really liked how the authors pulled this out into history, by having some of the most famous painters in history be Animare. Even if they don't animate their work, the magical energy they put into painting gives their work that magical sparkle that sets it apart from regular artists. The idea that all the monsters ever created by the Animare are gathered together and imprisoned in the Hollow Earth is quite scary; it's like having a giant closet filled with the monsters-under-your-bed you always thought weren't real. While the Animare powers are quickly revealed and explained to the reader, the exact powers of the Guardians are still rather, elusive, something which I like, since it still leaves some of the magic to be discovered in the following books. The island setting added to the atmosphere, as it created an easily overseen field of action and even if access to the island was by scheduled ferry and people move off and on the island quite easily, it still made it seem as if there were clear borders between the world of the island and the rest of the world.

Our protagonists Em and Matt are joined by Zach, a teenager already living at the Abbey, their grandfather's estate. I loved this little gang of three. They each have their own skills, abilities and character traits, but they for a solid whole. Matt's rebelliousness rather left Hollow Earth open to falling into the trap novels with young protagonists often get stuck in, namely that of not telling an adult what you are doing, but going blithely off to deal with a problem on your own. This just frustrates me enormously, but then again, that might be my parent brain thinking. He's also quite a strong animare and a little reckless with it. Em on the other hand is developing Guardian powers early. This also left me a bit conflicted, because while they are some very cool skills, mostly telepathy and empathy, I did find it a little typical that the girl got the abilities connected to emotions early and not the boy, but otherwise I like that they each have their thing. Zach is also going to be a Guardian and is able to communicate telepathically with Em. Zach is also deaf from birth. I love how this was worked into the narrative; it's part of who he is, but any potential communication problems are naturally solved by the telepathy and technology. Also his skills, both those connected to his loss of hearing and his computer skills are actually used to further the, plot which was cool. One thing I really loved about this story was the bond between the kids and their parents. Em, Matt, and Sandie are a cohesive family unit and she's very much in the picture, even if the kids manage to sneak off while she's working. Similarly, Zach's father clearly loves him beyond anything and it's very much returned by Zach. Even if both families aren't traditional family units, they show that this doesn't mean a family has to be dysfunctional.

I found the adults in the novel quite interesting. They definitely weren't just there to provide transportation, money or the semblance of parental units; they were integral to the story and the plot. The more political aspects of the story, embodied in the politicking of the different factions, the Council of Guardians, the Society of the Hollow Earth, and those at the Abbey were intriguing and left me wondering about what had gone before to create these societies. The way the kids picked up on the adults' interactions and the tensions between some of them was also well done, as I'm of the school of thought that kids pick up a lot of stuff unconsciously and are often far more aware of what is going on than we give them credit for. Our intrepid trio definitely pick up on the interplay between Sandie and Mara, Sandie and Vaughn, and Simon and Mara, and aren't afraid to comment on it, if only amongst themselves. I love the bond they have with Grandpa and the way that their getting to know him leads to one of the clues to their solving the problem.

Hollow Earth is an exciting adventure story, mixed with some quite interesting magic, mystery, and mythology. The latter of which is shown to the reader in flashbacks to the Middle Ages and to the young animare scribe Solon. His story and the resolution of his story are crucial to the ending of this book's main crisis, though at one point all I could think was OMG their patronus is a peryton! And while I picked some of the twists up quite far in advance, this might also have been due to the fact I'm not a middle-grader. Overall Hollow Earth was quite enjoyable and I'm looking forward to starting its sequel Bone Quill. Look for a review of that next week.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! I love this book., 12 Mar. 2012
By 
Hannah Taylor (Northamptonshire, England, UK) - See all my reviews
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I brought this book only because John and Carol Barrowman wrote it. and I must say I am so surprised it is amazing! Great story line and love how the book is set out as the chapters are very small, But I like it that way.

For a start I'm dyslexic and I can't normally read and follow books plots well so i don't read which is a shame. But as soon as I received the book I got straight into it and able to easily follow the book from beginning to end. There is another 2 books to come I have heard so I shall defiantly be buying them as soon as they come out!

Defiantly a good read, and good buy for the audience it is aimed at.

Thank you John and Carol for an amazing book, I shall be reading the next one to come!

Came in perfect condition, though arrived 2 days late, But that didn't bother me.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for adults too, 7 Feb. 2012
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Originally purchased for a friend's son I have to admit to reading it first and then ordering it for Kindle. What an exciting adventure this is and a refreshing change from many adult books that do not balance the characterisation and plot lines so one is left unsatisfied with the read. The book leaps straight into the action: the unique world of Hollow Earth and the Calder twins are swiftly entwined in a real page turner.The story moves along nicely with a few unexpected twists and left me wanting to read (the as yet unwritten) second book now.
The phrase may be over used but I really struggled to put this down.Given the authors it is maybe not surprising that one can see this as a film and certainly the characters deserve to be just as well known as those in J.K's books. Well done John and Carole.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, fun read for young and old, 9 Feb. 2012
I bought this "officially" for my 9 year old daughter, but also because I was facinated to see if it could be a cut above the average celebrity novel, given that Carol has excellent literary credentials.

It certainly is. John's wild imagination and enthusiasm is evident throughout, and Carol's high quality writing style makes it flow from the pages as a fast paced, slick and very enjoyable read.

It has come up with a completely new concept for a superpower (as far as I am aware), slightly reminiscent of the Mary Poppins scenes where they jump into the pavement art and have an adventure. I also love books that have a flashback plot line running along side the main plot as it adds extra richness

I can see this book not only giving children something new to read and be passionate about now Harry Potter is complete, but also sparking an enthusiasm and interest in art - it certainly made me get out my books or great artworks of our times, and I am looking forward to discussing them with my daughter once she has read it (now I have finished she can have a turn!)

I hear it may be made into a TV series - it would be well suited, but personally I think it would be a shame if it happened too soon as many children would then just watch it rather than being drawn into, and encouraged to read the books and imagine the settings and characters for themselves.

Looking forward to the next....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoying this book, 11 May 2013
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This review is from: Hollow Earth (Kindle Edition)
It's kept me interested and I'm keen to get onto the next book, my daughter and her friends will love it. I also like the fact that it brings in a character with a sensory impairment to make the reader more aware of the difficulties of hearing loss. If only telepathing was real!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great series opener, 17 July 2013
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This review is from: Hollow Earth (Paperback)
This book opens with a chapter set in the Middle Ages. It grabs your attention and has you asking loads of questions and then jumps you forward to the modern day and adds more questions and introduces engaging characters – a few hours later you find you’ve powered your way through to the end of the book. Well that was my reading experience anyway, this book got its claws into me within a few pages and refused to let go.

I love the world that has been created for this book, it’s well described and thought out – I particularly loved that it links to our world through art, a few times paintings are mentioned that I knew, and a few made me look them up. I really hope that young readers will want to look up the paintings too and be introduced to some wonderful pieces of art.

I really liked the main characters, again this is a middle grade book featuring a trio with two boys and a girl, but in this book the three characters are far more equal and all have an important part to play. I very much liked that one of the main characters has a significant hearing impairment and communicates using sign language – he is written in a wonderfully manner of fact style, his deafness does not define him or become an important part of him, it’s just one facet of many that make up his character.

This is the opening book of a trilogy, it does a good job of balancing world building with action. I am really looking forward to seeing how the remaining books answer some of the questions left open at the end of this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Original and Entertaining Read, 2 July 2012
By 
Sir Furboy (Aberystwyth, UK) - See all my reviews
John Barrowman is Captain Jack from Doctor Who/Torchwood. Luckily I did not realise this when I bought this book as I would have wrongly assumed it was a poor book being marketted on his fame as an actor. In fact this is a very well written and original tale, and the fact that Carole Barrowman is an English teacher must have something to do with the quality of the tale.

And what an interesting tale this is. The lead characters are twins Matt and Emily, not yet teenage but leaving childhood behind as they discover (or indeed, other people discover - they knew it for a while) that they have special powers.

Twins with special powers? Reminds me of Garth Nix's "Troubletwisters" and that is pretty much a perfect combination for a story for children and young adults (and indeed lots of adults, like myself!) In this case the main power is that of an "animare": the ability to bring works of art to life, and to enter the paintings themesleves.

This is almost an original idea. I have only ever seen anything quite like it once: when Will Stanton hides a magical item in "Silver on the Tree" in a painting of Caerleon amphitheatre.

I don't know whether the Barrowmans read that story - I would not be surprised. Nevertheless this is in no way stealing and recyling other ideas. Instead this book is highly original in concept.

It maybe slowed down a touch in the middle. Some books you cannot stop reading. This one I did manage to leave for a while before returning to it. Still it is a great story with some great characters. If they turn it into a movie I wonder if John Barrowman will act in it!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hollow Earth, 24 April 2012
A debut novel by all round entertainer John Barrowman and his English teacher sister Carole and what a book it is.

An interesting cover, don't you think? I've heard it said on several blogs that girls are put off the book thinking that it will be too 'boyish'. Not personally to my taste I admit but hey if boys are picking it up and reading it because they like the cover then it has my vote. Not that it is in any way a boys book, this will appeal to lots of readers and not just the young adults to whom it is aimed.

Mainly the tale of not quite teenage twins Matt and Emily and their friends, including Zach, all of whom have special powers including the ability to bring art to life, to enter paintings at will, the story also dips back in time to a Monastery in the Middle Ages.

Hmm, Animares? Not a super power I had heard of before (a totally new concept as far as I'm aware) but certainly one which appealed to me. Fresh, exciting and with plenty of scope this gives a whole new outlook to a genre that is quite simply full to overflowing.

As for the characters? Well observed, as much care was taken with the secondary characters as with the main ones. I liked the twins (Emily more so than Matt) but I loved Zach. A deaf teenager I felt it was great that John and Carole chose to feature someone that little bit different, someone, it could be argued, that was not generally seen as the first choice for a main character, but felt that he had a lot more potential than we saw here.

So, so much more than a novel envisaged/penned by your average celebrity - I believe it is John's imagination and sense of fun combined with the high quality of writing (much of which I'm presuming is Carole's) that makes Hollow Earth such a good read. Fast paced and action packed from page one, this makes for an exciting read with lots of twists and turns, I eagerly await part two of what I believe is a three book deal as I believe that this first instalment only skimmed the surface and there is better to come.

Hollow Earth
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5.0 out of 5 stars A cross between the famous five and E Nesbit., 29 Jan. 2013
By 
H J Mac "Heath" (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This book is a great, rollicking read. I really enjoyed it. There's something so old fashioned about the style. It reminded me of E Nesbit, and it had that classic formula of the siblings who have adventures with friends whilst adults are conveniently indisposed.

There's a set up for a sequel which I really hope they are writing.

I agree with a couple of other reviews which talk about the strange Americanism. It is strange as the authors are from Glasgow, and John B has lived most of his life in Britain. So at times it feels very British, as it should being set mostly in Scotland, but then there will be these odd sections where a Scottish seaside town sounds like it's straight out of an American book, it felt very like Trixie Belden in fact. They keep referring to "Main Street" in the local town, and I kept thinking "wouldn't that be The High St" Also there are beaches full of young people sitting about fires and having BBQs, I certainly have only seen that on American telly, and never on a beach in Scotland. It was a shame because it did throw me out of the story as I couldn't picture the place properly, and the stark beauty of the Scottish Islands got a bit lost in their descriptions.

However I gave it five stars purely because it did keep me reading and I really enjoyed the ideas and plottiness. Also the characters are well drawn and likeable, you can imagine reading a few books of their adventures.
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Hollow Earth
Hollow Earth by Carole E.
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