Posted on

Pages & Co: Tilly and the Bookwanderers – Anna James

Today’s review is a magical book for 8-12 year olds with magical adventure, books and a girl who lives in a bookshop!

Here is a review from a Rogan’s Reviewer, Emily (10).

Pages and Co is the story of an 11 year old girl who can travel inside books. She lives in a bookshop in London with her grandparents. The story begins when Tilly loses her best friend and ends with her imprisoning a villain with her new comrade! As well as books this story is packed full of friendships, mysteries and cake.

Pages and co by Anna James is an absolutely brilliant book for any book-lover and is full of so many plot twists it’s extraordinary! Especially at the end (but I won’t spoil it for you). I wish I could book wander like Tilly and Oscar, my only question is what would happen if you book wandered into this book? Would you be able to book wander into the books in the book? I loved how it referenced so many other books, but it would only make sense if you have read them all, luckily, I had read most of them. I loved all the little details like the necklace with the bee charm that Tilly and her mum both wear, and how the opening scene begins with Tilly spilling potatoes everywhere. The two characters I loved the most were Amelia, the librarian and Anne of green gables.

I would recommend this book to children aged 5-105.

I would rate it 10/10!

And I would just like to say one more thing: that the author of this book is an absolute genius.

                             

Posted on

The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton – Anstey Harris

This is a warm and uplifting book from Anstey Harris – the publisher blurb :

Grace Atherton has fallen out of love…and into life.

Between the simple melody of running her violin shop and the full-blown orchestra of her romantic interludes in Paris with David, her devoted partner of eight years, Grace Atherton has always set her life to music.

Her world revolves entirely around David, for Grace’s own secrets have kept everyone else at bay. Until, suddenly and shockingly, one act tips Grace’s life upside down, and the music seems to stop.

It takes a vivacious old man and a straight-talking teenager to kickstart a new chapter for Grace. In the process, she learns that she is not as alone in the world as she had once thought, that no mistake is insurmountable and that the quiet moments in life can be something to shout about…. 

And Christine, one of our Rogan’s Reviewers says:

A story of how one single event is changing  a few peoples lives for ever. A story of what love is not and what friendship is with love of music as a background. It is a book full of emotions and a good read – very enjoyable. Thank you for recommending I try this book.

Posted on

The Dreamers – Karen Thompson Walker

Well, this will be polarising. This book is nominally an epidemic / apocalyptic thriller charting the spread of a disease in a small Californian university town. It’s also an in depth lyrical piece about the nature of dreams and reality. 

We begin in a small town in the shadow of a mountain, next to a lake, and one by one local college students start to fall asleep. And they can’t be woken, with their brains are more active than waking or dreaming. 

The short chapters explore the lives of some of the students, two young girls who live with their survivalist father, a doctor visiting to understand the epidemic, two new parents and their tiny baby and many more. 

The prose is fascinating, lyrical and flows beautifully. The short chapters are evocative and give you a real sense of the people in the town, while still touching on the escalating crisis. 

I can imagine readers coming to this expecting thriller style ‘Outbreak’ shenanigans will be disappointed, but if you loved her previous work, The Age of Miracles (2012) you will enjoy this one. There is an explanation and resolution to the story, characters and the sickness itself, but it is mostly not needed or the point. 

Excellent, let’s just hope the next novel from this author arrives sooner than 2026!

Posted on

The Go-Away Bird by Julia Donaldson and Catherine Rayner

What a lovely book, this little treat is a real traditional picture book. It’s the story of a grumpy bird who doesn’t want any company or noise and always tell people to go away.

There is some great repetition so that children can easily understand the story and can join in at the right points for the times when the bird refuses friendship. Then when a bigger threat shows the strength and support of a group the message of the story is subtley revealed.

Catherine Rayners stunning paintings provide both beauty and character and Julia Donaldsons prose seems both fresher and more traditional all at once than her recent works.

A lovely tale about needing time to oneself, but also the value of friendship and teamwork. Lovely.

The Go-Away Bird is released in a gorgeous hardback edition on 7 March 2019.

Posted on

The Plotters Un-Su Kim

This is a (very) grown up new book, released on Thursday 21 February. It’s from one of the biggest established voices in Korean Noir. Newly translated ready for the UK Market, it’s challenging and distinctively non Western in style and tone.

‘Kill Bill meets Murakami. Twisted and surreal, The Plotters is one of those rare books that will haunt you long after you’ve finished it. The writing is smooth, unhurried and often profound, even as it draws you deeper into the gruesome underworld of skilled contract killers. Chillingly, the violence is almost exquisite, a bloody art form’ D. B. John, author of Star of the North

Our Rogan’s Reviewer Erin writes:

“The Guardian billed this as the new Scandi noir; considering Jo Nesbo’s books have sold more than 36 million copies worldwide this is a bold claim, fortunately this bold claim is more than just talk. Reseng, our main character is an assassin in Seoul, and while yes he is an assassin, he has morals and isn’t a bad person, after all everybody needs a job. This is a job, in the world he was brought into as a baby and the only world he knows. This underpinning fact of Reseng’s life explains the business like manner of his character. The story reads like a third person memoir of an assassin a tone that I don’t think other authors could have achieved with the same level of mastery as Un-Su Kim. Concisely put, this story – because it’s so foreign to your own life experience – draws you in such a insidious manner that you will suddenly find yourself irrationally angry at perfectly ordinary parts of your day because they are taking away from your reading time. 

Posted on

Enchantee – Gita Trelease

This brand new release (21 Feb) is a magical YA release.

School Library Journal describe it :

Distinctive characters, vivid 18th-century images of Paris and Versailles, lively French-infused dialogue, an appealing heroine, and an upbeat ending propel this lengthy romantic fantasy. Romance and fantasy readers will enjoy the magic realism, ruse and tension of Camille’s double identity, authentic historical references, and Camille’s daring, passionate spirit. A must-have.

Our own Rogan’s Reviewer, Holly says:

Enchantée is an amazing twist of historical setting and magic.  The book follows the life of Camille, a young girl, as she struggles to keep herself and her sister alive by using magic to cheat her way into court. 

The book was exciting and sad. It had a hold over me; I couldn’t stop turning the pages. I could feel the character’s pain and fear, and at several points felt myself tense hearing my heart beat a little faster. Because the book is set in the past with a detailed description of Paris in 1789, you can imagine the characters to be real, and that this was what their lives were like. 

I would recommend this book for young adults who are interested in magic, drama and a sense of mystery. Overall, I think Rogan’s Books should stock this book and that it will be really popular.

Come and order a copy!

Posted on

How to Rob a Bank – Tom Mitchell

This was a little treat of a book, it’s a funny relatable book about a fifteen year old boy. It doesn’t try to be an allegory, there are no dragons or chosen ones. It’s all the better for it. After hearing the author talk about this book, he said that there is a gap from the ages of around 12 – 15 where readers are lost – and from our book selling experience it’s mainly boys.

This book is the antidote to that. It’s a book that’s purely for reading and enjoying. There is no metaphor or lesson, it’s literally about a boy, Dylan, who accidentally burns his prospective girlfriend’s house down with a knock off scented candle – and he decides to try to rob a bank to pay her back for his mistake.

Super cool movie-style book poster? Check!

There is a lively and engaging secondary cast of characters, his sister Rita is gloriously self involved about the whole situation and his mum and dad are very well drawn and funny. Some of the set pieces are hilarious, especially an incident involving the neighbours cat and it’s consequences and the various robbery attempts Dylan makes.

The book is full of pop culture references, without the author trying to be cool, and the language is accessible and appropriate for the target audience.

My favourite character was Tom, who has a permanent Joker grin after being accidentally kicked in the head by a llama as a child. You can see why teenagers will find it funny.

Get this one for the teen boy in your life, if anything has a chance at keeping them interested in books till they become cool again at sixth form, it’s this.

Posted on

A Home Full of Friends – Peter Bently and Charles Fuge

This picture book, on the face of it, wouldn’t appeal to the mini reviewer in our house. It’s very traditional in its illustration and doesn’t feature neon, pirates or dinosaurs. And yet.

We love this book. It’s a gentle tale of friendship and acceptance and is the perfect bedtime read. Bramble Badger is a kindly soul with a small sett and a happy life, but when a storm hits his little community he takes a walk to see the damage.

He comes across three of his friends one after the other, who have had their homes damaged, and they ask to stay with him. He has little room and little food, but says yes to each one.

Then, when they arrive that evening, they have brought their family – 12 mouths to feed! He doesn’t turn them away, choosing to share what he does have, and when he does he realises they saved things from their homes and they have plenty of food and supplies if they share. They have a lovely time and discover a home is better with others.

This could be twee, and it probably is, but the verse is charming and the super detailed pictures are just lovely. It’s impossible not to smile when reading this book out loud to a little one.

Apparently, the tree falling is scary (when Daddy makes the bang), the squirrels are cute, it’s funny when a hedgehog makes himself into a bowling ball and the best bit is all of Brambles friends sleeping in drawers and cupboards!

A hug of a book, which (along with it’s equally charming sequel) is now often requested in our house.

Posted on

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

Bit of an old one today, that has been made current again by the recent film. I’ve yet to see the movie, but this book is a proper dystopian classic…

The novel follows our hero, Tom who is a teenage Apprentice Historian in London. But in this post apocalyptic world London is a movable traction city vehicle, a massive lumbering hulk with buildings and engines and people living on it. They hunt and destroy smaller city vehicles for parts and resources. However, not everyone believes this is a cause for celebration. Tom accidentally interrupts the apprehension of a fugitive Hester Shaw but when he tries to help it’s clear he has seen too much and his own superior pushes him from London.

Hester and Tom then go on a fantastical series of adventures escaping from Cyborgs, meeting airship pilots and encountering pilot towns, ultimately getting themselves on a mission to stop an ancient deadly weapon called MEDUSA.

The story is thrilling, the characters well realised and complex and while some of the themes are quite adult it’s a great bridging novel between middle grade/older children fiction and full YA angst and violence.

It’s the first in a series, and while there’s clearly an adventure after this one (it’s the first of four) it can easily be read as a standalone.

And we just happen to have this wonderful edition in the shop right now.

Posted on

Lots of Frogs by Howard Calvert and Claudia Boldt

Today’s review is from a family of Rogan’s readers. The book is a charming little picture book that came out in November last year. It’s cheeky and sweet, with a direct short style of prose that is easy for kids to understand, but is expressive and fun. It’s a tale of a box of frogs getting into real mischief.

Rosey (3) Loves this book because ‘it’s so funny’, her favourite page is when the frogs go in the headteacher’s hair.

Chloe (7) Loves this book ‘because it’s funny, my favourite page is when it goes – rows of frogs drinking tea’

And their Mum and Dad were ‘not so sure about the very short style of sentences in this book to start with but it definitely grew on us. A good, fun book – not too short to be over in a flash, but also not to long to lose interest. Nice and bright and colourful.

So there you have it!