Friday, March 20, 2015

The Dream Snatcher by Abi Elphinstone

This review originally appeared on the Bookseller review website follow the link here and Abi kindly got in touch to say that it was also published in the print edition which of course I was delighted to hear.

The Dream Snatcher is a wonderfully magical debut for the ten to thirteen age group which will appeal to fans of Philip Pullman and Michelle Harrison as it features a young girl, a tenacious wildcat and a beautiful woodland setting. Moll is a gypsy girl pulled into a world of dark magic. When she learns the truth about her parents and about who she is, she is revealed to be the key to an ancient prophecy. But danger lurks nearby as a witchdoctor known as Skull tries to lure her or "dreamsnatch" her away from the safety of the gypsy camp to prevent the prophecy from coming true and unleash his dark magic on the world. Moll needs all her determination and her friends to defeat him. This a beautifully written book with a wonderful cast of characters including some wonderful animals. I really enjoyed the fact that the adults are a part of the adventure, helping and protecting Moll and also acknowledging her importance to the camp.   The wonderfully atmospheric writing brings the ancient wood vividly to life. I was enchanted right from page one. It's dark, gripping and thrilling and I really hope it will be a long running series. 

You can learn more about Abi and her writing habits from this interview be prepared for serious writing shed envy.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Guest Review of Rebecca series by Anna Carey from Jacq Murphy

Thanks so much to Jacq who blogs here and is like me a dedicated kids and YA bookseller.

Time for me to review another of the O'Brien Press children's series. Anna Carey has published four books in the awarding winning Rebecca Rafferty series to date, and these books remain popular with teens all over Ireland. Set in contemporary Ireland, Rebecca lives at home with her sister Rachel and her writer mother and history professor father. She attends the local school with her friends Cass and Alice and the horrible Vanessa and Karen, where she is forced to deal with an English teacher obsessed with her mothers books. This is a fun, and funny, series which keeps you coming back for more. 

The Real Rebecca 

The first book introduces us to the titular character at fourteen, just beginning 2nd year, as her once boring life  becomes far more eventful. First, her mother has published her first book for teenagers and everyone thinks the horrible main character must be based on Rebecca. Then, she develops a massive crush on the mysterious Paperboy. And she has to put up with horrible, awful Vanessa trying to use Rebecca's notoriety to get herself on television! Can Rebecca show everyone her real self, avoid Vanessa and get the guy? 

Rebecca's Rules 

Her boyfriend has moved to Canada and all her friends are fed up with listening to Rebecca mope. It's time she reinvented herself,so with her band temporarily out of action, Rebecca decides to join the school musical and set some new rules for herself. Unfortunately, Vanessa has landed the lead role and thinks she's the biggest star on the planet. But getting to work with the extremely cute John Kowalski almost makes up for it... It's a shame her parents won't stop banging on about their days in the college musical! 

Rebecca Rocks 

It's the summer holidays, and Rebecca and her bandmates from Hey Dollface are headed to rock camp! The local college has a summer arts program and it's the perfect place to spend a few weeks, making music, meeting new friends and getting to know old friends a little better. When Cass reveals a secret she's been keeping, how will Rebecca and Alice feel? Not to mention, Rebecca's parents have been even more mortifying than usual, having been inspired to appear in a musical themselves. And there are some pretty horrible boys in a hideous band called Crack Parrot to deal with. 

Rebecca is Always Right 

It's only the beginning of 3rd year and Rebecca is already fed up of being nagged about studying for her Junior Cert. Rebecca may think she's already right but suddenly her life is getting more complicated. When disaster strikes for her sister as her longtime boyfriend Tom dumps her, can Rebecca find a way to help her mend her broken heart? And can Rebecca prevent her Dad from making a fool of himself in his starring role? And does she have more than friendly feelings for Sam? How can anyone be expected to study with so much going on! 

Reading these novels was almost like taking a little a trip back in time to my own teenage years. Anna Carey has managed to write Rebecca Rafferty in an incredibly authentic way. She may even be one of the most realistic teenagers I've ever read. Rebecca's home is in Drumcondra in North Dublin and the action mostly takes place in Drumcondra, Dublin City Centre and Kinsealy. It's fantastic to recognise street names, and others places mentioned in the books, and I'm sure this gives it a special place in the hearts of local children. Carey has included a well developed cast of multifaceted characters, with realistic, relatable and interesting storylines. My personal favourite would have to be Cass, her awkwardness and inner strength is really appealing and I loved her progression throughout the series. My favourite book in the series was Rebecca Rocks (no surprise that Cass is featured heavily in this one!). I loved reading this series and it appeals to a wide age range, which is always fantastic. The content of the books are suitable for younger readers, while still being thoroughly enjoyable for older teens and adults. 

I don't think I would have picked up this series had I not been asked to review it but I am so glad that I did. I enjoyed them so much, and I would jump at the chance to read another one.