Book reviews, YA fiction

The Wild Book by Juan Villoro – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Middle Grade Fiction / Age Range: 10–14

The Wild Book is the YA debut of one of Mexico’s foremost authors: a wondrous adventure story of a boy who goes to live with his kooky, book-obsessed uncle in a library where books have supernatural powers.

Thirteen-year-old Juan’s summer is off to a terrible start. First, his parents separate. Then, almost as bad, Juan is sent away to his strange Uncle Tito’s house for the entire holiday! Who wants to live with an oddball recluse who has zigzag eyebrows, drinks fifteen cups of smoky tea a day, and lives inside a huge, mysterious library?

As Juan adjusts to his new life among dusty shelves, he notices something odd: the books move on their own! He rushes to tell Uncle Tito, who lets his nephew in on a secret: Juan is a Princeps Reader, which means books respond magically to him, and he’s the only one who can find the elusive, never-before-read Wild Book. But will Juan and his new friend Catalina get to The Wild Book before the wicked, story-stealing Pirate Book does?

An unforgettable adventure story about books, libraries, and the power of reading.

Shy and uncertain, Juan learns from his uncle what makes him special, and how to embrace his uniqueness.

Featuring both a child of marital separation and a blind character, The Wild Book offers an opportunity for parents to introduce their children to the important issues of divorce and disability. Braille books are a major plot point, and there is no line drawn between the disabled and abled: we are all just lovers of stories.

The Wild Book is a YA debut by one of Mexico’s best-known authors. It has sold over 1.3 million copies in Spanish.
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MY REVIEW 

“And that’s how my time in the labyrinth of books began “

Juan is sent to stay with his Uncle Tito after his parents separate and his mum needs a little time on her own. Uncle Tito’s house is quite literally full of books, from floor to ceiling…”a library is a collection of souls”

Uncle Tito is an eccentric with an absolute passion for books and reading…..but he is searching for one elusive book and he feels Juan will be able to find it as he is super special. With Juan in the house he is no longer lonely and they forge a special bond.

Juan is at first a little unsure, he gets lost in the house and books, carrying with him a little bell at all times. He then meets Catalina, a girl in the nearby pharmacy and together they bring life to the house and Uncle Tito…..will they find The Wild Book?

I know this is a middle grade book but oh my, I absolutely adore it. It captures the love of books and how they have a different meaning to each reader. It is so full of marvellous descriptions that I could write a whole post just using quotes…it is truly special and with its magic, will appeal to book lovers everywhere and of all ages. 

“Every Book is like a mirror, it reflects what you think.”

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book  and this is my honest, unbiased review.

You can buy a copy here 

https://amzn.to/2YZxFQP

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Juan Villoro is Mexico’s most prolific, prize-winning author, playwright, journalist, and screenwriter. His books have been translated into multiple languages. Several of his books have appeared in English, including his celebrated 2016 essay collection on soccer, God Is Round (Restless Books). Villoro lives in Mexico City and is a visiting lecturer at Yale and Princeton universities.8

Lawrence Schimel is an award-winning author and translator of books. He lives in Madrid and New York City. HopeRoad, set up in 2012, specialises in writers and writing from and about Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. Their aim is

to give a voice to writers and stories that might otherwise be missed by the mainstream book trade.

 

PRAISE

 

This is a beautifully written ode to the inherent magic of books and reading. … Translated by award-winning Lawrence Schimel, Juan Villoro’s prose is lovely and clear. Villoro, ‘Mexico’s Updike,’ is his nation’s most prolific, prize-winning writer. The Wild Book is no exception within his canon. Each of the twenty-one chapters is accompanied by Eko’s stunning woodcut-style illustrations, depicting books with teeth and pages flying. Deserving a place beside classics like The Phantom Tollbooth and Half-Magic, The Wild Book is a timeless celebration of reading.’

Claire Foster, Foreword Reviews, Five-Star Review

 

‘For me, when it comes to good writing, texts are alive and living among us, no matter the genre. Juan Villoro’s The Wild Book — a story in which books themselves are characters — is an especially good example…. In Uncle Tito’s library, the books choose their readers. So Villoro’s novel chose me…. Equal parts ecology and magical realism, Villoro explores the nature of literature and reading. The best stories are wild, after all…. Villoro entrusts young readers to care for and sustain the magic — and in doing so, takes them seriously. But the novel is also generous with its adults…. Villoro’s novel illuminates why YA literature has such a large adult readership. Even as we age, or perhaps especially then, our purpose is not to tame our life stories — but rather to allow them their wild lives.’

Kristin Van Tassel, Los Angeles Review of Books

 

‘This quirky tale – originally published in Mexico – is a delight, giving books a life of their own. Before long, you’ll see your reading list in a whole new way…. The Wild Book has a classic, magical feel, but it’s also grounded in reality, as we see Juan coming to terms with his parents’ separation and his feelings for Catalina, the girl who works in the local pharmacy…. A must-read for book-lovers everywhere.’

BookTrust, Five-Star Review

 

‘Villoro’s lighthearted and timeless voice makes it easy to suspend any disbelief and revel in the bookish magic.’

Caitlin Kling, Booklist

 

‘A rewarding and bewitching story which goes to the heart of why books are so powerful and incredible…. The Wild Book is a paean to the potential of books. If you consider yourself a bibliophile, this, quite simply, is a must-read. In some ways a Library of The Shadow of the Wind for younger readers, The Wild Book luxuriously riffs on how books can be mirrors and windows…. Delicate, fine and surprising turns of phrase pack this novel, originally published in Mexico, mixing moments of humour with splashes of original beauty. The smooth and seamless translation is a delight, as are the glimpses into another culture…. Apart from the glorious celebration of stories, I also loved how The Wild Book movingly and sensitively navigates a teenage boy’s changing relationship with some of the adults in his life…. The emotional sensitivity of Villoro’s novel is nuanced and subtle. Perfect for intrepid book explorers who relish getting lost inside the pages of a book, The Wild Book is a dazzling adventure you’ll not want to miss.’

Zoe Toft, Playing by the Book

 

‘Rich on multiple levels, a cast of colorful characters, plots and twists galore, and plenty of humor, author Juan Villoro weaves his words with a style that will delight older kids, start to finish, making The Wild Book a wild ride, indeed.’ Kendal A. Rautzhan, The Port Huron Times Herald

 

‘This book is awesome. It is very interesting; there are just so many books, and it strikes on so many topics. It is also a great adventure story, one that is even believable because the author’s name is also Juan, so that is really funny. I like how the Wild Book acts – the books are characters in this story, too, and some of them become good friends with Juan and help him. This is a great story for anyone who loves books like I do!’

Raifl – Age 9, Kids’ Book Buzz, Five-Star Review

 

‘Brings to mind the same ecstatic thrill I felt reading The Phantom Tollbooth as a child, Fahrenheit 451 as a teen, and Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore as an adult. I’m absolutely envious of the young readers who are about to discover the magic of Juan Villoro’s The Wild Book.’

David Gonzalez, Skylight Books (Los Angeles, CA)

 

Book reviews, YA fiction

The Misfit Tribe and The Secret of Mystery Island by B J Rowling and D G Lloyd – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Some secrets are best kept hidden… and some are just too magical not to share.

Teenagers, who unexpectedly acquire a vast collection of magical, mystical powers and abilities, find an ancient map. This map leads them on a quest for buried treasure to a mysterious island filled with hidden secrets, booby traps and a ruthless villain who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. What could possibly go wrong? A lot!  
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MY REVIEW 

This is a YA fiction adventure story, which I found reminiscent of The Goonies. There’s JJ and his friends searching for treasure after finding an old map….

There’s lots of puzzles, clues, booby traps and even a dastardly villain after them. 

The characters are all well rounded and all have their unique personalities, all are misfits, from JJ, Digger the military obsessed to Genius (says it all) and Karli, Aaron and Sandra. All on a fun, exciting adventure. Very entertaining.

Thank you to Sarah at Book On The Bright Side for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review.

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Author Bio: 

 

  1. J. Rowling, a native of England, is an author, screenwriter, producer, actress and cousin of Harry Potter author, J. K. Rowling.

 

  1. G. Lloyd is an American-Australian author, screenwriter, producer, actor and script coverage analyst.

 

https://twitter.com/bjrowling

 

https://twitter.com/themisfittribe

 

https://www.facebook.com/BJRowling

 

https://twitter.com/dglloyd66

 

Book reviews, Dystopian fiction, YA fiction

Jacob’s Ladder by Charlie Pike – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB

We have heard your call

You no longer need to fear.

You will receive five messages, of which this is the first.

The last message will inform you of the time and place of your salvation.

 

Two hundred years from now, the earth is dying, scorched by powerful flares from the sun. A series of messages from an alien civilization sent to humanity over two centuries promise rescue to those strong enough to survive on their planet.

Initiate Leon is a member of the True Path warrior culture and preparing for his Rising. But when his test comes – to kill in cold blood – he cannot do it. To redeem himself, he must journey to find the earth’s fifth and final message from the Saviours, with the help of his resourceful servant, Martha.

Out in the wild, Leon discovers alarming changes in his body – he can drink water through his skin, and has poison barbs buried deep in his flesh. Martha reveals to him the secret that the True Path have kept from him all this time: Jacob’s Ladder, an adaptation for life on the alien planet, has lain dormant in his genes and is now being activated. He is part alien and part human, and he is in grave danger from those who wish to take what is in his body.

An ambitious YA novel for fans of Patrick Ness, Rick Yancey and James Dashner.

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MY REVIEW

Leon is ready for his Rising, he has trained for this all his life……he meets his bind and is shocked it’s a woman…surely he is worth more than this? It will be too easy to hunt and slit her throat with Stella! ……won’t it?

His bind is sent and he and his ‘crew’ are on the hunt, but she escapes when Old Sally, the acid rain, hits……

They eventually find her, wounded but she pricks Leon’s neck with something, before all hell breaks out and the only survivors are Leon and his divvy (slave) Martha….

What follows is a journey, a perilous one to say the least and the relationship between Martha, or Ulya as she has said her real name is, and Leon….will they hear the final message from Thule……or is everything Leon believes about to come crashing around his newly changed body…?

While this is a YA novel, it’s not a light read….there’s brutality to women, slavery and general cruelty, oh and worm brood!! A clever and well plotted tale of a dystopian world…..dark and moody with the underlying desperation of hope…

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book  and this is my honest, unbiased review.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jacobs-Ladder-Prepare-Born-Anew/dp/1788490401

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Charlie Pike
Charlie Pike by City Headshots Dublin

Charlie Pike started his writing career when he lived in Turkey, teaching English to adults and children. When he returned to Ireland he worked as an advertising copywriter and freelance journalist, writing feature articles for Irish newspapers, until an opportunity came along to work for an Internet start-up. In 2003 he formed his own web company, Usable Design. He met his wife, Birgit, in Turkey and they now live in County Wicklow. They have two children. Charlie is a graduate of Trinity College.

His debut YA science fiction novel, Jacob’s Ladder, was published in spring 2019.

 

Jacob’s Ladder by Charlie Pike

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The O’Brien Press (1 April 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1788490401
  • ISBN-13: 978-1788490405

 

Book reviews, YA fiction

The Girl Who Came Out Of The Woods by Emily Barr – Book Review

 

PUBLISHERS BLURB

A commune hidden from the world. A terrible accident. A lifetime of secrets to uncover. The new YA thriller from Emily Barr.

I’ve been trapped here for days. What if I die here? I decided to write down my story so that one day, when I’m discovered, they will know who I was and why I was here.

Arty has always lived in the Clearing, a small settlement in the forests of south India. But their happy life, hidden from the rest of the world, is shattered by a terrible accident. For the first time in her sixteen years, Arty must leave the only place she’s ever known, into the outside world she’s been taught to fear.

Her only goal is to get help from a woman called Tania, who used to live in the forest, and the Uncle she knows is out there, somewhere. As she embarks on the terrifying journey, pursued by an enemy she can’t fathom, Arty soon realises that not everyone is to be trusted. She’s looking for answers, but what she’ll learn from Tania and Uncle Matthew is a shocking truth about her past.

Everything is changing too fast for this girl who came out of the woods, and is she running into a trap…? (Courtesy of Goodreads)
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MY REVIEW

Arty (Artemis) has grown up in a tiny community almost entirely cut off from the outside world….except the shaman sells the ‘herbs’ they grow occasionally for essentials and once a year for Kotta, they have Kingfisher beer and Dairy Milk.

They live in a clearing in a forest about sixty miles from Mumbai, in a matriarchal society, and all have the names of goddesses and gods.

Arty has never known any other life, until a sickness hits the clearing and she has to leave and is taken to the real world…..and it’s a total shock to her…..the smells, the food and sheer number of people….

Along with Arty’s tale, is that of a prisoner in a basement…..who is it? Arty’s mum?

I loved Arty, smart but totally naive as to how the world really works…..trusting everyone..will she survive? Will she see Zeus or any of her family again?

I loved The Girl Who Came Out Of The Woods by Emily Barr, thought provoking and moving and a beautiful end….

I would like to thank the publishers, the author and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book for free and this is my honest and unbiased review.

#TheGirlWhoCameOutOfTheWoods


I would like to thank the Pigeonhole and the author for the opportunity to read this book for free and this is my honest and unbiased review