Monday, 24 June 2013

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Quirk Books)

If the cover image alone doesn't make you instantly want to read this book,
then there's something wrong with you :)
On DaddyAfterDark you may have noticed I have a tendency to favour the surreal, the supernatural and the fantastical. Fantasy books have always been the staple on my bookshelves (with a few notable exceptions here and there), simply because it feels like you're reading the work of authors who know they're well and truly off the leash, can let their imaginations roam free, present any character or situation to you (the reader) and get away with it.

So it is with "Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children" which at first glance may look like 'just another ghost novel' but is absolutely anything but.

16 year old Jacob enjoys a close relationship with his Grandfather, who always weaves amazing fantastic tales of his life and the things he got up to before he settled down. Producing a box of strange photos to back up his claims, Grandpa tells Jacob all about an orphanage he grew up in, and the 'peculiar' children there.

Jacob, being a typical teenager, always takes Grandpa's stories with a pinch of salt but when Grandpa phones in the middle of the night with a note of urgency and terror in his voice, Jacob rushes to the scene - to find Grandpa dead in the forest. Not merely dead, but clawed, attacked, ravaged by something. Something that Jacob sees fleeing from the scene out of the corner of his eye. Something wholly terrible and unnatural.

The incident has such a profound effect on Jacob that he searches out Grandpa's photo box to look at the pictures again, finding more than he bargained for...

Strange photos of children, that Jacob at first takes as photomanipulation but begins to question whether they might actually be genuine.

On the advice of his therapist, Jacob petitions his parents to let him visit the island which his Grandfather spoke of, to seek out the orphanage and the mysterious Miss Peregrine - who featured in several letters also in his grandfather's possession.

What is actually going on in the photos? Did the stories that Jacobs grandfather told him have an air of truth about them?

After much cajoling, Jacob gets his wish and he sets out with his birdwatcher father to make a vacation out of the trip.

Ransom Riggs creates an other-worldiness in this novel that is boosted by the photos - included as counterpoints to the story throughout the book. Many may argue that books of this ilk do not need illustrations but in this particular case, I think they work beautifully and add bucketloads of atmosphere and spine-chilling surreality, to put flesh on the bones of the characters within.

As Jacob reaches the island, we soon learn that there is far more at stake here than Jacob's journey of closure, and though the island initially seems like a dead end, the boundaries of time and space are broken and Jacob will find more questions than answers.

Without spoiling too much of the novel, I came in with the expectation that this might be a spooky story, but left wanting - nay craving the next book in the series (The Hollow City - which is published next January - a very long time to wait, ack!)

Jacob's journey of discovery - not just about the truth behind his grandfather's stories but his own self discovery too, is a nail-biting and fascinating read.

It's a book that effortlessly paints each scene (with or without the aid of the aforementioned photos) so strongly in the mind that you can almost hear the whirr of diesel generators feeding the island's makeshift electricty supply, and later on almost feel the flecks of blood spattering across your cheek as things take a seriously dark turn as this first book in an eventual trilogy draws to a close.

I seriously cannot wait to read more. If this doesn't end up as a Tim Burton film I'll eat my hat (in fact I'm not really sure I would want Mr Burton to touch this particular book, I really can't see how Johnny Depp could play a 16 year old!)



(Kindly sent to DaddyAfterDark for review by Mat @ PGUK / Quirk Books)

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman (Doubleday)

Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman. Heaven in a hand-grenade
It seems like a long time ago that a mysterious PR flyer arrived through the letterbox at ReadItDaddy Towers. A lot has happened since then. We now have this darkly delicious blog to talk about 'grown up' books (or should I say 'more grown up books') and Malorie Blackman's star has deservedly gone stratospheric as she is now the new Children's Laureate.

I'm new to her work but I'm hooked, simply because Noble Conflict weaves exactly the kind of story world I'm inexplicably drawn to. Talk about dystopian futures, divides in society, conflict and rebellion and I am there with knobs on - and that's what you'll find wrapped between these black luxurious covers.

The story begins with an introduction to the main character, one Kaspar Wilding, a freshly scrubbed new recruit to the Order of Guardians. Call them peacekeepers, a security force, but they are the front line in a futuristic world where the thread of order is frayed and dwindling.

We follow Kaspar's progress through boot camp initially, but soon we also encounter the main meat and bones of the story as The Guardians are repeatedly attacked as insurgents strive to undermine their ordered society.

Kaspar soon finds that there is far more behind the scenes with the seemingly random acts of terrorism. In conjunction with computer genius Mac, a cute purple haired 'civvy' working alongside the Guardians, Kaspar uncovers a plot and becomes more directly involved with the insurgents as he meets one face to face after a traumatic incident while out in the field.

Kaspar soon finds himself on the wrong end of both the Guardian chain of command and the insurgents themselves as he fights to uncover the truth.

As we follow Kaspar's quest, it's easy to draw comparisons with what's happening in the world today and from what I read, this is something that Malorie Blackman specialises in. Drawing allegorical comparisons between the fight for liberty versus the war against terror, "Noble Conflict" is addictive stuff and I particularly love Malorie's 'balls out' approach to her character's dialogue and depth.

You'll be expecting a twist, and there is a huge one. You may also be expecting closure and resolution but unless we get to revisit Kaspar's world (and I dearly hope we do) you'll be left wanting more by the time you finish this book.

"Noble Conflict" By Malorie Blackman is from Doubleday, and was released on 6th June 2013. 

Monday, 3 June 2013

DaddyAfterDark's first official review - "Lockwood and Co: The Screaming Staircase" by Jonathan Stroud (Random House)

Spooky goings on? You don't know the half of it...

Title: Lockwood and Co (subtitled "The Screaming Staircase")
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 29th August 2013 (UK) 17th September 2013 (US)

Welcome to our first official "Daddy After Dark" review and for our first dip into books that we can't cover on ReadItDaddy (our children's book blog) we thought we'd jump right in at the deep end with a book that chills the very spine (not the spine of the book, dafty - your spine!)

In an alternate reality, ghosts are a serious problem. They're not content with just rattling a few chains, or spooking celebrities on silly late night TV programmes, they're as real as the nose on your face and represent a serious threat.

Adults have real problems detecting ghosts (so no need for Venkman, Stantz, Spengler and Zeddemore here) so it's up to children to become ghost hunters. Sensitive souls who can detect psychic emanations from buildings and objects, or actually see ghosts going about their nightly business soon end up in the employ of ghost detection agencies - such as Fittes or...Lockwood and Co.

Anthony Lockwood is recruiting for a new 'specialist' for his own agency and after a fairly shocking kick-off the novel introduces us to Lucy Carlyle, a talented young psychic agent who joins Lockwood and Co after passing their spooky interview process and tests.

Along with George Cubbins, another operative with more of a penchant for biscuits than spectres, the three set out to establish the agency as a force to be reckoned with amongst London's larger psychic detection outfits.

Haphazard, chaotic and with some success, their methods soon lead them to a case that goes horribly wrong and ends up with destruction of property and threat to life and livelihood.

Soon Lockwood and Co are under the scrutiny of DEPRA, the government's regulating body for psychic detection agencies, and with the threat of lawsuits and financial ruin, they must take on one of the biggest most dangerous unsolved ghost cases in London in order to save the company.

Are the three up to the challenge?

You'll have to find out by reading the book, of course. The preview copy came with a rather neat app download - Hold up your favourite smart device with the Random House reader app, and you'll get to hear Jonathan Stroud telling you a bit about the book (on the back cover) with a rather neat AR style video.

Turn the device on the front cover though, and you'll find out why the book comes with the warning that a type 2 apparition is nestling somewhere between the covers.

"Lockwood and Co" is fast paced, absolutely chock full of ghostly thrills and though it's set in contemporary times, there's enough of a whiff of victoriana and steampunk about it (particularly in the methods that Spectral Agents use to dispatch their ghostly foes) to instantly grab the attention and keep you hooked.

Alas, mere mortals like yourselves will have to wait all the way until the 29th August 2013 to get your hands on a copy of Lockwood and Co (US folks will have to wait until 17th September, poor things) but it will be worth the wait. It's a real belter of a book that packs a psychic punch. Essential bedtime reading (unless, like me, you quake under the bed scooby-doo style at the mere mention of ghouls and ghosties!)

Author Jonathan Stroud. If your party needs a smartie, just hire...RentaGhostExpert!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Quirk Books)

1 comment:
If the cover image alone doesn't make you instantly want to read this book,
then there's something wrong with you :)
On DaddyAfterDark you may have noticed I have a tendency to favour the surreal, the supernatural and the fantastical. Fantasy books have always been the staple on my bookshelves (with a few notable exceptions here and there), simply because it feels like you're reading the work of authors who know they're well and truly off the leash, can let their imaginations roam free, present any character or situation to you (the reader) and get away with it.

So it is with "Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children" which at first glance may look like 'just another ghost novel' but is absolutely anything but.

16 year old Jacob enjoys a close relationship with his Grandfather, who always weaves amazing fantastic tales of his life and the things he got up to before he settled down. Producing a box of strange photos to back up his claims, Grandpa tells Jacob all about an orphanage he grew up in, and the 'peculiar' children there.

Jacob, being a typical teenager, always takes Grandpa's stories with a pinch of salt but when Grandpa phones in the middle of the night with a note of urgency and terror in his voice, Jacob rushes to the scene - to find Grandpa dead in the forest. Not merely dead, but clawed, attacked, ravaged by something. Something that Jacob sees fleeing from the scene out of the corner of his eye. Something wholly terrible and unnatural.

The incident has such a profound effect on Jacob that he searches out Grandpa's photo box to look at the pictures again, finding more than he bargained for...

Strange photos of children, that Jacob at first takes as photomanipulation but begins to question whether they might actually be genuine.

On the advice of his therapist, Jacob petitions his parents to let him visit the island which his Grandfather spoke of, to seek out the orphanage and the mysterious Miss Peregrine - who featured in several letters also in his grandfather's possession.

What is actually going on in the photos? Did the stories that Jacobs grandfather told him have an air of truth about them?

After much cajoling, Jacob gets his wish and he sets out with his birdwatcher father to make a vacation out of the trip.

Ransom Riggs creates an other-worldiness in this novel that is boosted by the photos - included as counterpoints to the story throughout the book. Many may argue that books of this ilk do not need illustrations but in this particular case, I think they work beautifully and add bucketloads of atmosphere and spine-chilling surreality, to put flesh on the bones of the characters within.

As Jacob reaches the island, we soon learn that there is far more at stake here than Jacob's journey of closure, and though the island initially seems like a dead end, the boundaries of time and space are broken and Jacob will find more questions than answers.

Without spoiling too much of the novel, I came in with the expectation that this might be a spooky story, but left wanting - nay craving the next book in the series (The Hollow City - which is published next January - a very long time to wait, ack!)

Jacob's journey of discovery - not just about the truth behind his grandfather's stories but his own self discovery too, is a nail-biting and fascinating read.

It's a book that effortlessly paints each scene (with or without the aid of the aforementioned photos) so strongly in the mind that you can almost hear the whirr of diesel generators feeding the island's makeshift electricty supply, and later on almost feel the flecks of blood spattering across your cheek as things take a seriously dark turn as this first book in an eventual trilogy draws to a close.

I seriously cannot wait to read more. If this doesn't end up as a Tim Burton film I'll eat my hat (in fact I'm not really sure I would want Mr Burton to touch this particular book, I really can't see how Johnny Depp could play a 16 year old!)



(Kindly sent to DaddyAfterDark for review by Mat @ PGUK / Quirk Books)
Read More

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman (Doubleday)

No comments:
Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman. Heaven in a hand-grenade
It seems like a long time ago that a mysterious PR flyer arrived through the letterbox at ReadItDaddy Towers. A lot has happened since then. We now have this darkly delicious blog to talk about 'grown up' books (or should I say 'more grown up books') and Malorie Blackman's star has deservedly gone stratospheric as she is now the new Children's Laureate.

I'm new to her work but I'm hooked, simply because Noble Conflict weaves exactly the kind of story world I'm inexplicably drawn to. Talk about dystopian futures, divides in society, conflict and rebellion and I am there with knobs on - and that's what you'll find wrapped between these black luxurious covers.

The story begins with an introduction to the main character, one Kaspar Wilding, a freshly scrubbed new recruit to the Order of Guardians. Call them peacekeepers, a security force, but they are the front line in a futuristic world where the thread of order is frayed and dwindling.

We follow Kaspar's progress through boot camp initially, but soon we also encounter the main meat and bones of the story as The Guardians are repeatedly attacked as insurgents strive to undermine their ordered society.

Kaspar soon finds that there is far more behind the scenes with the seemingly random acts of terrorism. In conjunction with computer genius Mac, a cute purple haired 'civvy' working alongside the Guardians, Kaspar uncovers a plot and becomes more directly involved with the insurgents as he meets one face to face after a traumatic incident while out in the field.

Kaspar soon finds himself on the wrong end of both the Guardian chain of command and the insurgents themselves as he fights to uncover the truth.

As we follow Kaspar's quest, it's easy to draw comparisons with what's happening in the world today and from what I read, this is something that Malorie Blackman specialises in. Drawing allegorical comparisons between the fight for liberty versus the war against terror, "Noble Conflict" is addictive stuff and I particularly love Malorie's 'balls out' approach to her character's dialogue and depth.

You'll be expecting a twist, and there is a huge one. You may also be expecting closure and resolution but unless we get to revisit Kaspar's world (and I dearly hope we do) you'll be left wanting more by the time you finish this book.

"Noble Conflict" By Malorie Blackman is from Doubleday, and was released on 6th June 2013. 
Read More

Monday, 3 June 2013

DaddyAfterDark's first official review - "Lockwood and Co: The Screaming Staircase" by Jonathan Stroud (Random House)

No comments:
Spooky goings on? You don't know the half of it...

Title: Lockwood and Co (subtitled "The Screaming Staircase")
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 29th August 2013 (UK) 17th September 2013 (US)

Welcome to our first official "Daddy After Dark" review and for our first dip into books that we can't cover on ReadItDaddy (our children's book blog) we thought we'd jump right in at the deep end with a book that chills the very spine (not the spine of the book, dafty - your spine!)

In an alternate reality, ghosts are a serious problem. They're not content with just rattling a few chains, or spooking celebrities on silly late night TV programmes, they're as real as the nose on your face and represent a serious threat.

Adults have real problems detecting ghosts (so no need for Venkman, Stantz, Spengler and Zeddemore here) so it's up to children to become ghost hunters. Sensitive souls who can detect psychic emanations from buildings and objects, or actually see ghosts going about their nightly business soon end up in the employ of ghost detection agencies - such as Fittes or...Lockwood and Co.

Anthony Lockwood is recruiting for a new 'specialist' for his own agency and after a fairly shocking kick-off the novel introduces us to Lucy Carlyle, a talented young psychic agent who joins Lockwood and Co after passing their spooky interview process and tests.

Along with George Cubbins, another operative with more of a penchant for biscuits than spectres, the three set out to establish the agency as a force to be reckoned with amongst London's larger psychic detection outfits.

Haphazard, chaotic and with some success, their methods soon lead them to a case that goes horribly wrong and ends up with destruction of property and threat to life and livelihood.

Soon Lockwood and Co are under the scrutiny of DEPRA, the government's regulating body for psychic detection agencies, and with the threat of lawsuits and financial ruin, they must take on one of the biggest most dangerous unsolved ghost cases in London in order to save the company.

Are the three up to the challenge?

You'll have to find out by reading the book, of course. The preview copy came with a rather neat app download - Hold up your favourite smart device with the Random House reader app, and you'll get to hear Jonathan Stroud telling you a bit about the book (on the back cover) with a rather neat AR style video.

Turn the device on the front cover though, and you'll find out why the book comes with the warning that a type 2 apparition is nestling somewhere between the covers.

"Lockwood and Co" is fast paced, absolutely chock full of ghostly thrills and though it's set in contemporary times, there's enough of a whiff of victoriana and steampunk about it (particularly in the methods that Spectral Agents use to dispatch their ghostly foes) to instantly grab the attention and keep you hooked.

Alas, mere mortals like yourselves will have to wait all the way until the 29th August 2013 to get your hands on a copy of Lockwood and Co (US folks will have to wait until 17th September, poor things) but it will be worth the wait. It's a real belter of a book that packs a psychic punch. Essential bedtime reading (unless, like me, you quake under the bed scooby-doo style at the mere mention of ghouls and ghosties!)

Author Jonathan Stroud. If your party needs a smartie, just hire...RentaGhostExpert!

Read More