More catching up | last one, honest.

I was off being festive and finding my Christmas spirit and such over the weekend - so I managed to miss a few bits in the resulting unwellness on Sunday. Thanks to the Very Hungry Caterpillar and Sarah for pointing out two extras:

The Independent on Sunday featured a young reviewers round up:

This is a moving book which has sad bits and funny bits, especially when Johnny’s friend Elizabeth Stanton (whose mother eventually adopts him) calls him “Johnny Rot”. My dad says this is a joke about punk rock. - Leo Taylor (aged 8 ) reviewing Michael Morpurgo’s Kaspar Prince of Cats.

And the other is, of course, Sarah Webb’s Christmas round-up in the Irish Independent last Saturday.

There’s an embarrassment of riches for readers of 9+ who like their fiction fast, furious and above all, fun. Action-fest masters Eoin Colfer, Derek Landy and Michael Scott hit bullseye yet again. Landy’s skeleton detective, Skulduggery Pleasant is back in Playing with Fire (HarperCollins, £6.99) and Colfer’s urbane young hero returns in Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox (Puffin £12.99). The Magician by Michael Scott (Doubleday, £10.99) is another cracking action-adventure tale. - Sarah Webb.

Right, back to the parties and homemade cures for self inflicted festive cheer.

Written by david. in: childrens books | Tags: ,

Tomorrow’s reviews today

The Sunday Times ‘Best of 2008′ list is online - a good day in advance. The Great Nursery Rhyme Disaster and Andy Stanton and David Tazzyman’s Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear.

Malorie Blackman’s Double Cross is reviewed by Diane Samuels in the Guardian:

Double Cross certainly stands up on its own. For a newcomer to the series it does take a bit of effort to piece the people and past events together, but it’s all worth it. Blackman “gets” people, especially young adults, in all their tentativeness, determination and energy. She “gets” humanity as a whole, too. Most of all, she writes a stonking good story. And this is what takes the book beyond the moment, giving it a timeless value. The combination packs a punch yet keeps a tender heart.

Happy reading.

Written by david. in: Review, childrens books | Tags: ,

Conor Kostick | Move

Conor Kostick’s new book arrived on Friday too. But it came with a big warning on the front so I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to give away. All I’m saying is that Conor is back with a bigger, better and even more thrilling book called Move.

Liam O’Dwyer discovers he can move between parallel universes – when he wants something to go his way, he moves to the universe where it happens. (Remember Sliders?) But there are consequences to each move and they are starting to catch up with Liam and his friends.

As with his two previous books, Epic and Saga, Conor has created a world that is hard not be sucked into… (But not until September according to O’Brien Press)


Kate Thompson | Creature of the Night

Creature of the Night landed on my doorstep on Friday and the only question I can think of is… ‘Is there is no stopping Kate Thompson?’

Following on from last years success with The Last of the High Kings she is back with her fourteenth book for teenagers. This time, with Creature of the Night Thompson recreates a vision of Dublin that is laden with urban grit but at once recognisable.

Bobby’s Ma is moving him and his half-brother out of Dublin to Clare. Moving him away from his mates, Fluke, Beetle and Psycho Mick, and away from trouble. On the bus down he doesn’t waste any time in planning his escape back to Dublin. But he discovers that life in the country is worse than he had imagined - especially when his new neighbours, the Dooley’s, warn him to leave milk out for the faeries.

If I had to fault the book it would be Bobby’s well spoken manner on the page - his narration as an inner-city fourteen year old doesn’t always ring true. (Not that inner-city fourteen year olds won’t understand the language/vocabulary, I’m just not convinced that they would use it.) Like Bookwitch, I had a problem with the epilogue too and personally wish I’d stopped reading at the end of the last chapter.

All that said, the ensuing culture shock ensnares Bobby, his family and the Dooley’s in a gripping story of debt, drugs and murder mystery. There is nothing gracious or whimsical about Creature of the Night and the bleak, austere world that Bobby and his family are trying to leave behind is exposed with brilliant, vivid, reality.

Having already won most major Children’s Books awards, Creature of the Night will likely ensure that Kate Thompson’s name features on most shortlists next year. A mix of stark realities and folklore, Creature of the Night is a compelling book that you won’t be able to put down.

Written by david. in: Reading, books, childrens books | Tags: , , ,

music 101 | the ravonettes

With the best name in music The Ravonettes, a duo of Danish early-rock revivalists, have released their third album, Lust, Lust, Lust. Listening to all three in succession may not be the best way to hear any band but it does The Ravonette’s no harm.

There is a darker substance to the new album that was lacking in the first two. Focusing on the sex of sex, drugs and rock and roll, along with the trademark tracks played fast and loud. The first few songs are more lucid than the rest of the album but there is something in each one to catch you all the way to the end. A worthy alternative to REM’s Accelerate (on the playlist for next week).

Songs of the album - Aly Walk with Me, Dead Sound.

Written by david. in: 101, Listening, Review, music | Tags: , ,

music 101 | Colm Ó Snodaigh

A copy of Colm Ó Snodaigh’s album Giving fell into my lap on Friday. I’ve only managed to listen to it once (and a half) so this might not be the fairest judgement delivered on the album. First impressions are worth something though.

Giving is an eclectic mix - it was hard to find a definite thread that runs through all of the tracks apart from Ó Snodaigh’s own vocals which sometimes exude confidence, while at others shy away. The confidence on the album overall is a mixed bag - the songs jump from weakly written, Adieu, to impressive, subtle and haunting tracks like Lechaileach Arís and Is tú mo Ghrá.

The album is far removed from the usual sounds that Kila deliver - which is an interesting move for Ó Snodaigh. It does focus heavily his voice, which comes into it’s own in some of the tracks. Good for a Monday night in with a book and a glass of whatever you’re having yourself.

Written by david. in: 101, Review, music | Tags: , , , ,

monday music 101

Everything is running a bit slow after the blog awards. Here’s todays 101 - just a little later than usual.

I’ve had the Delorento’s living in my ear all this week - discovering them nearly three years since they were the ‘next-big-thing in the making’ (according to Mr Sheridan). There is something very calmative in the songs on their album in love with detail. The confident vocals supported by the lyrics, repetitive without becoming irritating, are what stand out for me. The percussion and bass create a great, and subtle enough, atmosphere for each song that makes listening to the whole thing a real pleasure.

The band sound familiar, even on first hearing, which really can’t be a bad thing for a first album. Overall the Delorento’s have mightily impressed me - so much so that I have just booked myself two tickets to see them in the Olympia in April.

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For those that don’t know (I didn’t until yesterday) Adrian Crowley has become a resident of Whelans. Well, he is every Wednesday throughout March at least. Wednesday night will see him alongside Mumblin’ Deaf Ro and Boa Morte. Aoife has an interview with Ro (as the Mammy calls him).

Written by david. in: 101, Listening, Review, music | Tags: , , , ,

Miss Julie | Project Theatre

I’m not sure what it is about stage performances that I have never been able to adjust to - everything seems forced (staged?). Someone crying on stage is just short of rubbing clenched fists under their eyes or a new character entering a room will nearly stomp for attention. The current Frank McGuinness adaptation of Miss Julie, Strindberg’s play about class, is no different.

The set built for the run was impressive - the kitchen is reproduced brilliantly with almost neurotic detail - but is it a good sign if all I can really praise is the stage and lighting? The actors - Catherine Walker, Declan Conlon and Mary Murray - deliver powerful performances at times but not until much later in the play.

I was dissappointed by McGuinness’s adaptation - the BBC Drama version was almost identical - except for the Irish-isms that have been injected. It was good, but not “an extraordinarily fluent and very earthy adaptation” as one review reports.

Dermod has a different take on things over at bonhomie.

Written by david. in: Reading, Review, Theatre | Tags: , , , ,

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