The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars by Jaclyn Moriarty (Kingdoms and Empires #2)

whispering wars.jpgTitle: The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars

Author: Jaclyn Moriarty

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 24th October 2018

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 528

Price: $22.99

Synopsis:An enchanting and whimsical spell-filled fantasy novel from Jaclyn Moriarty, the highly-acclaimed author of The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone and the award-winning author of Feeling Sorry for Celia and A Corner of White, suitable for readers who loved A Most Magical Girl

I was taken by Whisperers at 2pm, so I never pulled the lever for the laundry chute.
That’s what bothered me most. 
This is way ahead in the story, though. A lot happened before that.

The town of Spindrift is frequented by pirates, Shadow Mages and charlatans. It’s also home to the Orphanage School, where Finlay lives with Glim, Taya and Eli. Just outside town is the painfully posh Brathelthwaite Boarding School, home to Honey Bee, Hamish and Victor, Duke of Ainsley. When the two schools compete at the Spindrift Tournament, stakes are high, tensions are higher, and some people are out to win at any cost. Before long, the orphans and the boarding school are in an all-out war.

And then Whispering Wars break out, and Spindrift is thrust onto the front lines. Children are being stolen, Witches, Sirens and a deadly magical flu invade the town, and all attempts to fight back are met with defeat.

Finlay, Honey Bee and their friends must join forces to outwit the encroaching forces of darkness, rescue the stolen children, and turn the tide of the war. But how can one bickering troupe outwit the insidious power of the Whisperers? And who are the two mysterious figures watching them from the shadows?

From the award-winning Jaclyn Moriarty comes a spellbinding tale of unlikely friendship, unexpected magic and competitive athletics.

~*~

The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars is the next in the Kingdoms and Empires series, that began with Bronte Mettlestone and her rather inconvenient adventures to visit aunts and hand out gifts to them, where she meets up with Alejandro and other friends – that is her story, and in the second book, we have two delightful and enthusiastic narrators – Finlay, from the Orphanage School, and Honey Bee, from the Brathelwaite Boarding School, a rather painfully posh school on the edge of town, and when the book opens, Finlay and Honey Bee are at each other’s throats, and their schools are neck and neck in a local sports competition – a competition that the Brathelwaite students desperately have to win if they do not want to incur the wrath of their headmaster – who is rather questionable and I sincerely didn’t trust him from the get-go. As time goes on though, both Finlay and Honey Bee – who alternate chapters and actually get to know each other – relate to the reader the rivalry between their schools, and the strange goings on in spindrift – children are disappearing, and each school thinks two mysterious children who keep popping in and out of Spindrift are from the respective schools, spying on the opposing school – but is this the case, or are they another entity entirely?

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Eventually, Finlay and Honey Bee realise that they must work together 0 and their friends must work with them and each other to uncover the truth about what has been happening with the help of two mysterious visitors who know more than they are letting on – visitors that readers of the previous book will recognise and enjoy seeing again. The Whisperers are back, as are the tales of Spellbinders and Witches and faery magic – and a set of twins – intelligent, smart and cheeky – to rival Fred and George Weasley – the latter of which would probably take Eli and Taya under their wing should the worlds meet, and the mischief caused would be wonderfully catastrophic, as well as dragons – my favourite final chapter line is “And that’s when the first dragon landed.” What a way to end a chapter! Alone, all these elements are effective – but together, they create an atmosphere of humour and mystery that is delightful and exquisite in its execution, and is an exciting plot, driven by magic of all kinds that weaves its way around the words and spellbinds the reader. As I read in, the surprises kept coming, and I was cheering for Finlay and Honey Bee, glad that they finally managed to get along, though their arguing made the story extremely amusing and brought a lovely sense of humour to the book, as did the way they broke the fourth wall, and spoke directly to the reader, and admonished each other for misleading or not telling the reader something – an excellent addition!

This series is shaping up to be spectacular one, and is yet another example of the fine, well-honed talent we have coming out of Australia, especially with our women writers, whose stories are often diverse, and cross a myriad of experiences and genres in both fiction and non-fiction, and this is only growing each year as we have more and more enthusiastic and wonderful talent entering the scene. A wonderful follow up, and hopefully, with many more to come.

Let Sleeping Dragons Lie (Have Sword, Will Travel #2) by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

let sleeping dragons lieTitle: Let Sleeping Dragons Lie (Have Sword, Will Travel #2)

Author: Garth Nix and Sean Williams

Genre: Fantasy/YA

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 24th October 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 288

Price: $14.99

Synopsis:From New York Times bestselling authors Garth Nix and Sean Williams comes this funny, exciting fantasy adventure about two friends and a couple of swords with attitude.

Odo and Eleanor are excited to be knights. Only … they’re stuck at home waiting for something bigger to come along. That ‘something bigger’ comes to them in the form of an old man named Egda, a warrior named Hundred and an ancient legend about a sleeping dragon.

Odo, Eleanor, and their trusty and talkative swords, Biter and Runnel, are plunged into a quest that will take them (as all good quests must) to unfamiliar lands, where they will fight unseen enemies and unlock unbelievable secrets in order to prevent an unbearable impostor from taking the crown.

Also, they will need to keep an eye out for dragons.

As they did with Have Sword, Will Travel, fantasy masters Garth Nix and Sean Williams have crafted a tale full of fire, laughs and twists for adventurous readers of all ages.

~*~

Sir Odo and Sir Eleanor return in a new adventure. In Let Sleeping Dragons Lie, they are off on another adventure, much to Eleanor’s joy and enthusiasm, which is in contrast to Odo, who’d rather head back home to work in the family mill. Instead, they embark on another quest to save the kingdom, and find the rightful king, and battles with bile wolves, that their stroppy swords lead them into. Remember, Runnel and Biter are no ordinary swords – they are enchanted, sentient swords, who desire battle and bravery, much to Odo’s chagrin. In the midst of the dangerous battle, they are swept to safety by blind Egda, and the warrior, Hundred.

What follows is another dangerous quest, to find an all-powerful dragon, and stop an imposter taking the throne. To do so, they must risk, their lives, the lives of many villagers along the way, and the lives of Egda and Hundred to awaken an ancient, mythical dragon who can restore order to their world. However, is it worth the risk, or should they let sleeping dragons lie and find another way?

In the second in the series, Odo and Eleanor are back, this time with an entourage and secret identities as they traverse the kingdom to stop the imposter on the throne. Far from the threat of the false knight of Have Sword, Will Travel, Sir Saskia, Odo and Eleanor dodge thieves and people trying to stop them, fight bravely – Eleanor, and reluctantly on Odo’s part. The continuing theme of the reluctant hero in Odo, and Eleanor’s eagerness to partake in the quest and become the best night she can is threaded throughout the novel.

The presence of female characters like Eleanor, Hundred and Saskia, as well as the mystical dragons like Quenwolf shows that female power in these books is an integral part in the story, and drives it forwards just as much as Odo and the male characters, showing that boys and girls can take on, and enjoy roles that traditionally, might not be assigned to them in fantasy novel. It is refreshing to see these roles more and more, and to have good books aimed at readers of all ages and genders, and not at a specific demographic – it allows all readers to imagine themselves as Odo or Eleanor – or even both if they feel like it, and not feel as though they are identifying with the wrong character. For girls to imagine themselves a knight is one of the reasons I have fallen in love with this series.

It has fairy tale elements of a quest, and the magical swords pulled from the stone, or presented by a lake, in a similar manner to Excalibur and King Arthur, to the motifs of the reluctant hero, thrust into a world they do no understand. However, Odo has a supportive family, who encourage him to go on the quest and help him prepare, whereas other motifs involve an orphan thrust into the world. In this world, Odo and Eleanor mentor each other, but are also mentored by their swords, Biter and Runnel – which makes it a very unique and fun series to read.

I’m thoroughly enjoying this new series, and look forward to what happens next, as I am sure there are characters that we have not heard the last of.

The Cat with the Coloured Tail by Gillian Mears, Illustrated by Dinalie Dabarera

the cat with the coloured tail.jpgTitle: The Cat with the Coloured Tail

Author: Gillian Mears, Illustrated by Dinalie Dabarera

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Walker Books

Published: 1st September 2015

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 80

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: Mr Hooper and The Cat with the Coloured Tail travel through the countryside in their ice-cream van. They enjoy looking for heart shapes (their favourite game) and making people happy with their delicious moon-creams. But a dark feeling is following the cat. Something is wrong. When the ice-cream van enters the forest, Mr Hooper and the cat realise the heart of the world is in danger. Will they be able to save it? A lyrical fable about love and healing.

  • “Gillian Mears’ distinctive voice is undimmed, and her yearning fable is a sweet and gentle reminder of the two great forces that lie dormant within us – kindness and hope. Her work hasn’t just described life; it’s enhanced it. And we owe her thanks.” Tim Winton
  • Gillian Mears is an acclaimed award-winning author of adult fiction. This is her first book for children and is inspired by personal experience.
  • A tender fable-like tale about love and healing that works on many levels. The story is rich in symbolism and with a subtle yet powerful environmental message but is still able to be enjoyed as a magical story.

~*~

In this charming tale, Mr Hunter travels the countryside with his beloved cat, whose tail changes colour, and who can see hearts in the world. The Cat also knows what kind of moon-cream people need to make them feel better when they are sad. And right now, the whole world is sad. Mr Hunter has stopped seeing hearts, and doesn’t know why – and his beautiful cat, The Cat with the Coloured Tail. is frustrated with him and can feel the sickness seeping into the world. Darkness, and sadness and cruelty – the light seems to be dimming everywhere they go as they approach their holiday. The sick, blackened heart of the world needs to be healed, but can Mr Hooper and his cat do it – and how will they do it?

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Told in a fairy-tale, or fable like manner, Gillian Mears’ heart-warming story can be read by any age group, and touches on the goodness of humanity, and the little things people can do to help those having a bad time, or in need of a bit of fun and a smile. Alongside this, is a message about the world and its destruction, and the healing power of selfless sacrifice to help heal the wounds that have been inflicted upon the world by cruelty.

In this story, it is up to Mr Hooper and The Cat with the Coloured Tail to find out why the heart of the world is sick, and how to fix it, by following the trail of sadness that the cat’s tail can sense. What they find is distressing, yet the find and what follows are so beautifully and magically told, that there is a sense of calm even as the worst begins to happen.

The heart-warming end will bring a smile to your face, and is a perfect read for all readers – to be read to them, or individually, and can be enjoyed by all ages. The Cat with the Coloured Tail is a lovely read, with a message about caring and healing for all.

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