Pages and Co #1: Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James

Pages and Co 1.jpgTitle: Pages and Co #1: Tilly and the Bookwanderers

Author: Anna James

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Harper Collins

Published: 17th June 2019

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 400

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: A magical adventure to delight the imagination. Eleven-year-old Tilly has lived above her grandparents’ bookshop ever since her other disappeared shortly after she was born. Like the rest of her family, Tilly loves nothing more than to escape into the pages of her favourite stories. One day Tilly realises that classic children’s characters are appearing in the shop through the magic of ‘book wandering’ – crossing over from the page into real life. With the help of Anne of Green Gables and Alice in Wonderland, Tilly is determined to solve the mystery of what happened to her mother all those years ago, so she bravely steps into the unknown, unsure of what adventure lies ahead and what dangers she may face.
~*~

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of books that take place in bookshops or libraries, or both – aimed at all age groups and as a book lover and weekly visitor to my local bookstore, I am loving these books and feel right at home in them. Tilly and the Bookwanderers is exactly this kind of book.

Tilly has lived with her grandparents her whole life, ever since her mother, Beatrice, disappeared shortly after she was born. All she has left is a necklace with a bee, and a few stories. While on mid-term break, she discovers a box of her mother’s old books while helping her friend, Oskar, find a book for their school holiday reading. One day she bumps into Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Anne of Green Gables in Pages and Co. Bookshop, and soon she is drawn into their books and others, and the mystery of her mother’s disappearance all those years ago, unsure of what is to come.

Living above a bookstore is an ideal scenario for any reader, and Tilly always surrounded by books, which is where the mystery starts. Throughout the book, she encounters characters from many classic works, including Lizzy from Pride and Prejudice and Sherlock Holmes. There were many things I loved about this book, from the setting, in a uniquely delightful bookstore that I would love to be able to visit beyond the page, the magic of reading, and the Underlibrary, and the ability to meet characters in the books I read.

In a way, we all wander through the books we read, disappearing into their worlds for hours on end, and often feeling like we are part of that world. While in the real world, we often feel like everything melts away as we read and we enter the worlds of Hogwarts, or Lyra’s Oxford, or many of the fictional worlds and settings we visit – real or imagined (and sometimes a combination), Tilly is able to draw herself into these worlds.

Perhaps it seems a bit much to have bookstores and libraries featuring so prominently in books, but for me, there is definitely something enjoyable about this – it allows people who adore these kinds of books to see a world they inhabit daily but in a fantastical and relatable way. The bookshop and books become more than  just the setting – they become characters that enrich the book and narrative, and make the reader want to dive into the worlds of the books in the novel, as well as the novel itself. It was a feeling I had, and it is definitely one that permeates my reading, and makes Tilly’s adventures magical and wonderfully written, and I am very keen to read the second book when it comes out.

What is lovely about this book and its idea of book wandering is that one does not lose the ability when they become an adult or hit puberty – people of all ages can book wander, and all in this series have to deal with Enoch Chalk, who I am sure will appear in future books as he creates havoc in his quest against Tilly and her family. Another great start to a new series I am sure will be  savoured and loved.

The Dragon in the Library by Louie Stowell

the dragon in the library.jpgTitle: The Dragon in the Library

Author: Louie Stowell

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Allen and Unwin

Published: 25th July 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 224

Price: $12.99

Synopsis: Save the library, save the world!

Kit can’t stand reading. She’d much rather be outside, playing games and getting muddy, than stuck inside being quiet with a book. But when she’s dragged along to the local library at the start of the school holiday by her two best friends, she makes an incredible discovery: the local library is run by wizards … and she’s one too! The youngest wizard ever, in fact.

But someone is threatening to tear down the library and disturb the powerful magical forces living beneath it. And now it’s up to Kit and her friends to save the library… and the world.

The first book in a fantastically exciting, imaginative and brilliantly funny new series.

~*~

It’s the first day of the summer holidays, and Kit can’t wait to go out and climb trees and get muddy. But her best friends, Alita and Josh, want to go to the new library and check out the latest book in a series they love, Danny Fandango. While they are there, they meet the new librarian, Faith. Alita and Josh head off to scour the shelves, leaving Kit alone to explore the library. When she finds herself pulled into a book of dangerous animals, and has to be rescued by Faith, Kit learns that she is a wizard – the youngest wizard in the world in fact. Showing her powers earlier than usually expected, Kit has to keep the secret from her family – but Alita and Josh overhear, and the three friends and Faith are soon pulled into a quest to save the library from a horrible man called Hadrian Salt – a developer who wishes to take the new library and build a shopping centre. So Kit, Faith, Josh and Alita set out to save the library – and uncover a much more sinister plot, involving the secret hidden beneath the library.

Kit is the third of five children – and at the start of the novel, feels quite left out between her perfect older sister, her rebellious big brother and the youngest children, a toddler and a baby. So when she discovers she is a wizard, she finally has something that makes her special – but like in most stories about wizards, she cannot let anyone know, and her newfound powers are unpredictable.

Louie Stowell combines wizards, dragons, and libraries with a diverse and adorable cast of characters, whose passions for magic and the written word were my favourite aspects of this book, and everyone who reads this book will be able to see various aspects of themselves in all the characters in the book, whether it is what they look like, or what they love or their personality, which is really delightful and fabulous.

Their fight against Hadrian Salt is only just beginning – his quest to buy the library is more sinister than imagined, and it will be up to Faith, Kit, Alita and Josh to save the library – but of course, as the first in the series, there will be much more to come, and I think we will see much more of Salt in subsequent books.

With a reluctant reader as the main character, supported by a diverse cast – Alita, Josh and Faith – Kit is the a wonderful and fun character, and hopefully this book will appeal to eager readers who will see themselves in Alita, Josh and Faith, reluctant readers like Kit, and readers of all ages, genders and races, who will find something about each character to relate to, which I find really nice, and Louie Stowell has pulled this off in a brilliant way to show aspects of the real world alongside magic and fantasy elements.

As the first in a series, it does a fantastic job of setting up the plot and the characters and the challenges they will be facing in subsequent books. I love the idea of a dragon living below the library, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Book Bingo Fifteen – Written by an Australian Man

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Welcome back to Book Bingo with Theresa and Amanda. We’re now up to post fifteen for the year, with about fifteen to go. With any luck, what I have will take me to the end of the year – I am not sure if I have any double bingos left but will be making changes if I need to fit it all in and get my bingos done.

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So far, I have only included my bingo graphic when a row is completed – that is, filled in and the post has gone live. You may have noticed my text rows saying bingo – but if the book has an asterix, then it hasn’t been included in a post or been published yet. So this week, I have featured my category for a book by an Australian man, The Honeyman and The Hunter by Neil Grant.

9781760631871

Neil Grant is a Central Coast local, so when I read this book, I was pleased to recognise several of the places and place names Rudra and his friends visited. Rudra is caught between cultures and countries when his grandmother visits from India, and an old ghost story about a tiger skull starts to haunt him, leading him back to India to set a curse right. It is a coming of age story that crosses cultural boundaries and understandings, and grapples with issues of racism within families and what this means for someone like Rudra.

BINGO!

I have read a book for each category in Row Five Across – a couple of these posts are yet to go live but this post and the bingo week posts for these books will reflect gaining a bingo.

Row Five: Bingo

Written by an Australian Man: The Honeyman and the Hunter by Neil Grant

Written by an Australian Woman:Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch by Nicki Greenberg – AWW2019

Written by an author under the age of 35: Archibald, The Naughtiest Elf in the World Causes Trouble with the Easter Bunny by Skye Davidson – #AWW2019*

Written by an author over the age of 65: Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s Brilliant Career began by Libby Hathorn – #AWW2019*

Row One:  –

A book with a red cover: Children of the Dragon: Race for the Red Dragon by Rebecca Lim – #AWW2019*

Book by an author with the same initials as you:

Themes of science fiction: The Lost Magician by Piers Torday*

Book with a place in the title: The French Photographer by Natasha Lester -AWW2019

Written by an Australian man: The Honeyman and the Hunter by Neil Grant

Literary: Zebra and Other Stories by Debra Adelaide – AWW2019

Half way there! Come back next time for book bingo sixteen! We’re getting there!

Beatrix the Bold and the Curse of the Wobblers by Simon Mockler

beatrix-the-bold-and-the-curse-of-the-wobblersTitle: Beatrix the Bold and the Curse of the Wobblers

Author: Simon Mockler

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Bonnier/Piccadilly

Published: 1st July 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 256

Price: $14.99

Synopsis:Ten-year-old Beatrix is very good at telling jokes, dancing and throwing knives. She also happens to be a queen of a distant land – though she doesn’t know that yet. She also happens to be the queen who is quite possibly destined to lead the Wobblers to bold victory over the Evil Army – though she doesn’t know that yet either.

Beatrix lives in an enormous golden palace with Aunt Esmerelda the Terrible and Uncle Ivan the Vicious, but as she’s only been allowed to see one new room per birthday, she’s only ever been inside ten rooms of the palace. Her aunt and uncle have always told her that if she goes beyond the woods outside the palace she’ll fall off the edge of the world.

And the Dark, Dark Woods and all that lies beyond must be avoided at all costs – what if the dreaded Wobblers were to get her? But finally, the veil Beatrix has been living under is starting to slip. Beatrix knows she needs to be bold. Beatrix knows she needs to look for answers. And she’s about to get them.

Once upon a time, in a land far away, lived a small girl, and a big secret. The girl’s name was Beatrix, and the secret was … well, you’ll find out soon enough.

Beatrix is a bold and clever young thing, but she has also never left the palace where she lives – because then she might fall off the edge of the world or get eaten.

Er – really?

What is this big secret everyone’s keeping from her? Beatrix decides it’s time to look for answers. And with her trusty sidekicks Oi the Boy, Dog the dog and Wilfred the Wise, she can do anything.

~*~

Beatrix the Bold and the Curse of the Wobblers is the first in a new trilogy by Simon Mockler, about a princess who has spent her entire life so far in a palace of locked doors with her Aunt Esmerelda the Terrible and her Uncle Ivan the Vicious (who is probably no more vicious than a kitty), and for years hasn’t known anything about her parents. Until she overhears her uncle talking about her and battle plans. This discovery sets in motion a series of events that leads Beatrix to escape the palace, discover that her aunt doesn’t really want to protect her, and find new friends – Oi, Dog and her tutor, Wilfred, who help her plan to take down the Evil Army and find her family.

Beatrix’s story is set in a distant past and land, far removed from our own. However, the author including references to our world, usually as comparisons to how Beatrix does things in her world. These will work really well for a younger audience, and are not overdone, and nor do they take away from the story being told.

Beatrix is not like other princesses. When she’s not reading, watching her aunt paint the palace servants in gold paint, or at school, she’s playing chess and battles with her uncle Ivan. As the story progresses. Beatrix uncovers the secrets that have been kept from her, by the very person who was meant to be protecting her. From here, Beatrix’s quest, with Oi, dog and Wilfred, is to seek out her parents and real home – and save them from dangers that were predicted when she was a baby.

This delightful start to a new trilogy is enthralling and engaging and will appeal to a broad audience of readers. Filled with adventure, magic and everything enjoyable about this kind of book, and I am looking foward to the next two in the trilogy.

Deltora Quest Omnibus #1 by Emily Rodda – Deltora Quest wrap up

Deltora Quest 1.jpgTitle: Deltora Quest Omnibus #1

Author: Emily Rodda

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Published: 1st October 2008

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 774

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: Here, for the first time, the eight books of the international best-selling fantasy series Deltora Quest are brought together in one superb volume.

For centuries, the evil Shadow Lord has been plotting to invade Deltora and enslave its people. All that stands against him is the magic Belt of Deltora with its seven gems of great and mysterious power.

When the gems are stolen and scattered throughout the kingdom, the Enemy triumphs, and Deltora is lost. Abandoned by their king, suffering under the Shadow Lord’s cruel tyranny, the people live in ignorance, terror and despair.

But while most have abandoned hope, three unlikely companions have not.

The great gems have been hidden in fearsome places throughout the kingdom and are protected by terrible guardians. But Lief, Barda and Jasmine believe that they can be found. They cling to their faith that if the magic Belt can be restored, the Shadow Lord will be banished from their land. With only a sketchy map to guide them, the companions set out into the unknown.

So begins the perilous quest which has captured the imagination of millions throughout the world.

~*~

The Deltora Quest series, consisting of eight books, is the story of Lief, Barda and Jasmine seeking to restore the magical Belt of Del and defeat the Shadow Lord who has invaded their homeland. To start with, I have linked each individual review here in this post, listed below.

The Forests of Silence

Deltora Quest 1

The Lake of Tears

lake of tears

City of the Rats

city of rats

The Shifting Sands

the shifting san ds

Dread Mountain

Dread Mountain

The Maze of the Beast

The Maze of the Beast

The Valley of the Lost

valley of the lost

Return to Del

return to del

I read each book and this omnibus as part of the 2019 Australian Women Writer’s Challenge and for a few other challenges, fulfilling several categories, some which I managed to do by bending and reimagining the parameters given in the challenge. Currently, I have this one slated to fulfil my novel of 500 pages or more, as so far, I have not read one yet in all my reading this year so far, but am keeping this open in case something does come across my desk for review or general reading purposes.

Being able to read all eight books in this omnibus version was a very good thing, as I was able to flick backwards and forwards, putting the clues together from each book as I read it over the past few months in between my work as a quiz writer, editor and book reviewer. So, I finally finished it, and really enjoyed it. Throughout, each novel built on the previous ones, whilst still being individual stories. Yet their interconnection means that it is best to read them in order, so everything makes sense and fits in together like a puzzle or game while you read.

2019 Badge

In wrapping up this series, I have not been as expansive as other posts, as I have included each individual review. Astute readers will piece the clues together as they read, and each clue is cleverly included throughout, culminating in the final books to reveal the secrets that need to be uncovered.

Overall, it was a very engaging and action packed series, with the right amount of adventure, humour, darkness and light for readers of all ages to enjoy and engage with.

Return to Del (Deltora Quest #8) by Emily Rodda

return to del.jpgTitle: Return to Del (Deltora Quest #8)

Author: Emily Rodda

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Published: 1st November 2001

Format: Paperback

Pages: 132

Price: $14.99

Synopsis:Lief, Barda, and Jasmine have finally retrieved all the gems of the Belt of Deltora and now, in their final step towards overthrowing the Shadow Lord, they must find the true heir to the kingdom’s throne.

~*~

With all the gems of the Belt of Deltora intact, Lief, Barda and Jasmine set out back to Del, where they hope to defeat the Shadow Lord and find the true heir to the throne after the debacle with Dain. On their journey, they are plagued by those who work for the Shadow Lord and want to see them fail. But with protection from members of the seven tribes of Deltora to help escort them home, they hope to make it back and uncover the secrets they have been seeking for so long.

2019 BadgeIn the final epic adventure, Lief, Barda and Jasmine face more dangers from the Shadow Lord on their way home who are determined to prevent the trio from succeeding and restoring the heir, and order to the throne of Deltora. Through several more ups and downs, Lief, Barda and Jasmine arrive home safely – discovering more secrets upon their return about the true heir than they were expecting, resulting in a finale that is satisfying and enjoyable.

Finally, Lief is able to begin his journey home, after reuniting the gems with the belt. His journey home is a little easier than his journey to find the gems but is not without its challenges either. In this one, the threats coming after him are determined, but also, it seems, desperate to stop him.

Reading this series through to its end was a wonderful joy. It is a wonderful example of Australian fantasy for kids, and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading over the past few months. Following Lief’s journey has been fun, and enjoyable, and one that I hope to revisit and also read the further books in the subsequent series. It concludes the series nicely and neatly, with a good lead in to the next set of books, that will continue the adventures of Lief, Jasmine and Barda, that I am looking forward to reading.

Pulling together seven books worth of story succinctly, and all the clues that have been dropped throughout the previous seven books, Emily Rodda has connected each element together in a really good way, and intriguing way for readers of all ages. A good read, and a good conclusion to the series.

The Valley of the Lost (Deltora Quest #7) by Emily Rodda

valley of the lost.jpgTitle: The Valley of the Lost (Deltora Quest #7)

Author: Emily Rodda

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Published: 1st October 2001

Format: Paperback

Pages: 132

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: Lief, Barda and Jasmine, searching for the seven lost gems of the magic Belt of Deltora, have almost reached their goal.

Six gems now gleam in the Belt, but the last must be found before Deltora can be freed from the tyranny of the evil Shadow Lord.

The companions have faced many terrors with strength and courage. Now they are about to meet dark mysteries that strength and courage alone cannot defeat.

If they fail, their quest will be lost, and they will remain forever trapped in the swirling mists of the Valley of the Lost.

~*~

2019 BadgeOnwards the intrepid trio venture, towards Tora as they uncover more secrets about the fate of Endon, his queen and the heir to the throne of Deltora, whose presence will unite the lands and be revealed once they have fitted the final stone, the diamond, to complete the belt and unlock the powers that have for many years been hidden and kept from the one person who can reunite the kingdom.

Lief, Jasmine and Barda have come so far – and now they face their final trial – gaining the diamond from the Guardian. To do this, they must be honest and fair in the game they must play with him and try to keep others from thwarting them in their quest to reunite the gems with the belt. And this is where the plot twists come in – two – that evolve throughout the rest of this book and then in the final book that at first, will have readers cheering and breathing a sigh of relief before yanking the carpet out from underneath you.

In doing so, it gives the adventure more energy and a sense that all is not what it seems for Lief, Barda and Jasmine – whose bond has never broken throughout the series. When a new threat rears itself over the three companions, they must work with the people of the seven tribes of Deltora to find a way to keep themselves safe so they can finally defeat the Shadow Lord.

In the penultimate book, Emily Rodda has started to bring all the threads of the previous six books together as Lief, Jasmine and Barda start to discover secrets linked to the stones and those they have met. It is all cleverly done, so not everything is revealed at once, and like a treasure hunter, the reader gets to discover new and exciting facts as they read on throughout the series. The series has danger, adventure and excitement in equal measures, with enough variance to each story thus far to keep readers interested yet at the same time, with the familiar plot thread running through to connect them all.

Once the final stone has been found, and placed in the belt, it is the start of the journey home to Deltora, to finally defeat the Shadow Lord. There are more challenges to come, and more puzzles to solve on their journey home. In this one, the stakes get higher as they get closer to reuniting the stones – creating an exciting story that seems to just fly by as you read it.

Another great book in the Deltora Quest series, which is perfect for any aged eight and over, because it is filled with adventure and friendship, games and puzzles to solve as the series starts to come to an end. It has been really fun reading these books and discovering a new adventure with the characters. I’ll be reviewing the final book and doing a wrap-up post for the omnibus here soon.