Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Bookish Bargains

I was met by the delightful sight of these two very wonderful books by Julia Golding at the charity shop on my lunchbreak today.  I would know these books anywhere, and I ran over, grabbed them and bought them immediately. Not only are these excellent stories, but they have such enticing, adventurous covers. These two are hardbacks. PRISTINE hardbacks. And they were only ONE POUND each! Bargain or what.

They are really rather gorgeous and look completely unread. The only sad part about that is that obviously these were bought new for some young human being who obviously didn't take too warmly to them. Fair enough, I guess, if it's not their cup of tea, but I hope they gave them a fair chance before wafting them away to the charity shop. 

The top book, 'Cat Among the Pigeons' is the second in the series and 'Den of Thieves' is number 3, with 'The Diamond of Drury Lane' getting it all started and the series continuing on over six books. But the first one I ever came across at the library and got stuck into was 'Cat Among the Pigeons' and it reeled me in enough for me to devour all the others, along with my Mum who loves them too. The story certainly didn't suffer for being read before the first one, but I would recommend starting at the beginning if you can.

If you want a feisty, adorable heroine and a good dose of fast paced thrilling adventure, these are the books for you. Our lead, young Cat, lives in the Theatre Royal, up amidst the props and costumes, orphaned from birth and living off the kindness of the Theatre Manager, turning her hand to any job that needs assistance. Red haired, brave and loyal, Cat gets into many a tight predicament and it always seems impossible that she will escape or rescue whoever needs rescuing. Throughout the series we see her navigating the perilous backstreets of London, hiding out in a revolutionary Paris, being sold as a slave in Jamaica, and tracing her family routes in Ireland.

There is a strong theatrical theme through all the books, with each one containing a really absorbing cast list and scene synopsis. We meet a wonderful ensemble of characters from truly despicable villains to faithful and true friends and a whole lot of dubious types in between. One of my favourite characters is Frank, a posh school boy who Cat befriends one evening at the theatre, along with his sweet sister who become like siblings to Cat.

It now appears there is a new Theatre Royal story coming out soon, so keep your bookmarks at the ready. 

I should warn you though that, sadly, the publishers suffered a bit of a funny five minutes and thought the completely perfect covers needed redesigning,

from this rich gorgeousness:         

to this insipid mildness:

I think it turns something unique and awesome into something tacky and uninspiring that could be one of the countless unmemorable girly books out there that do nothing for the heart and soul. I do not wish to see a photograph of somebody else's perception of Cat's face on each book - I can imagine her for myself with the help of Julia's brilliant writing. So, do look beyond the watered-down, luke-warm image that you will see in bookshops or libraries now, and be assured that what lies inside is an absolute gem. 

And here they all are, the first three, happily sitting on my bookshelf. Smiles. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Book Review - Fire Spell

I would like to introduce you to this fine and super book that I discovered on one regular Tuesday afternoon not so long ago, sitting innocently on the shelves at the library, like all books do that escape my notice when they first arrive. Nevertheless, here it is. 

You can just tell it's going to be good, can't you?

It is one of those books that you have to give in to. You have to keep picking it up and turning those pages, even when you really should be doing something else. 

I won't say much about the plot because it's too intriguing and brilliant for me to ruin it for you but it involves: a puppet master, 3 children, an old witch, dirty London, some smelly dogs, a pile of cruelty and a big heap of kindness, hope, and a completely satisfying ending to a mystery and a condundrum. 

I think this is a superb book for over elevens, and adults too, of course, who love a good daring adventure.

The vivid characters are completely original and we have the luxury of seeing each one's thoughts and feelings as the story deepens. It is a treat to be so overwhelmed by such a book every now and then, but frankly if it happened too often I don't think I could cope!