Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ghostly Menage, by Alysha Ellis (Adults Only)

My guest reviewer today is Trent Kinsey, who has reviewed Alysha Ellis's Ghostly Menage, published by Eternal Press. Before you proceed, you should know this book and hence the review, is for adults only.

Trent says:

For those who don’t know me, I am a fan of horror and its likes, my favorite being the psychological horrors. The ones that dig deep in your head and nest for a while, always leaving you questioning your own sanity. With that said, for someone like me to pick up a book such as Ghostly Ménage by Alysha Ellis, you would probably think it’s because the word “ghost” appears in the title. You would be partially right. I will say I picked the book up without any preconceived ideas of what story I would be reading and there is no doubt in my mind I am truly happy that I read Alysha’s tale. First let me dispense with the background of the story so I can get to what really turned the gears in my head as I read page after page after page. Quick and dirty: Kelsie, under those circumstances we find ourselves in from time to time, is required to stay with her aunt for a couple of days. Maud, Kelsie’s aunt, believes the house she resides in is plagued with a poltergeist and contracts the services of an exorcist to rid the entity from her home. Her aunt will not stay in a house by herself with a man present and thus Kelsie arrives to hang around until after the exorcism for her aunt’s benefit. Staying with her aunt, Kelsie learns ghosts are real and…real fun to have around. When I said I read page after page, I spoke lightly. I devoured Alysha’s tale and am extremely excited to read her next book, “Giving Up the Ghosts,” which awaits me on my phone for when I take my breaks at work. Alysha’s use of dialogue brought the characters from the page and turned them into living, breathing people. I’ve known people like Kelsie’s aunt Maud and could feel Kelsie’s irritation at her aunt’s opinion of her. The imagery and sensations Alysha inspires in her prose made me feel as if I was in the room as the events unfolded. To say the least, I could not put it down because I had to know what would happen next. Is it a malevolent poltergeist or a playful ghost? Could Kelsie be in danger or was it all in good fun? Alysha kept me reading so I could find the answers and satisfy my own distorted curiosity. All in all, I can’t wait to partake in Kelsie’s next adventure and am looking forward to more works by Alysha. Kudos to you Alysha and may the words continue to flow on the page for your future works.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Guest Reviewer - Von Gobstopper's Arcade

Today's guest reviewer is Brenton Cullen. You can read more from Brenton at http://bjcullen.blogspot.com . Also, catch his recent blog tour, beginning at http://tips4youngwriters.wordpress.com/

VON GOBSTOPPER’S ARCADE by Alexandra Adornetto (HarperCollins, 2009, RRP: $19.99)
Reviewed by Brenton Cullen

17 year old whiz author, Alexandra Adornetto, makes a wonderful and enchanting impression with her latest novel, the third and last book in her highly-acclaimed series, The Strangest Adventures. Yet again we meet our main protagonists, Milli and Ernest, who are very excited, along with the rest of the children of Drabville, after a toy arcade is opened by acclaimed toy maker, Gustav Von Gobstopper, in their very honor. Milli and Ernest and the rest of their class at their new school St Erudite visit there on an excursion and soon find themselves becoming allies with several amazing talking toys.

There, they learn of a macabre plot to destroy Christmas for the town, led by the, yet again, Lord Aldor, now transformed and going by the title of Dr Illustrious. Will the two children finally defeat Lord Aldor, or, will this be their final showdown …. ?

Adornetto’s book is amusing, enchanting, and quite original. The plotlines and characters are very quirky, which is a good thing. However, some of the too-big language used in the door and narrative rambling leads the reader out of the story.

Nonetheless, highly recommended!
5 stars

Thanks, Brenton! And remember, readers, guest reviewers are welcome at Read and Reviewed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Connie and the Pigeons, by Mabel Jean Kaplan

Connie and the Pigeons, by Mabel Jean Kaplan, illustrated by Kelli Hainke (Stories for the Telling).

"Connie and the Pigeons" is a small, handy-sized picturebook illustrated in soft tones of blue-grey, sepia, and muted browns. It has accents of bright colour here and there which "lift" the drawings. I am reminded of a long-ago favourite picturebook of my son's, with similarly soft drawings. The illustrations repay examination, as children will love looking for the peripatetic lizard character that appears from time to time.

"Connie" is considerably longer than most picturebook texts. In many ways, it is more like a short, chapterless children's novel. This length and style of story was popular when I was young, and I have always liked it. The extra word count gives a more relaxed feeling to the telling.

The Connie of the story is the first Qantas plane to take Australian passengers to the UK. Connie loves her work, and is unhappy when she is retired and sent to an aeroplane graveyard for possible recycling. Her lonely days improve when some pigeons set up housekeeping in her interior. The friendly pigeons are indirectly responsible for Connie's second chance at life.

Connie is a sweet character, and her story is told in a friendly and readable manner. Connie is a "person", but remains a plane in capabilities. She cannot move unless assisted by a human pilot. The text is simply written, but, like the illustrations, is brightened with touches of verbal and adjectival colour. I can heartily recommend Connie's story for children (and adults) with a love of planes, aviation history, museums, and stories of renewal and triumph.

To read how Mabel account of how she came to write "Connie and the Pigeons", visit her guest-blogger appearance at http://spinningpearls.blogspot.com .
Connie and the Pigeons is available through Westbooks in Victoria Park WA (08) 9361 4211

Email: orders@westbooks.com.au; online through http://www.justlocal.com.au/clients/book/mabel-kaplan/ or direct from the publisher Stories for the Telling 54 Hudson Avenue Girrawheen WA 6064 Tel. (08) 9342 7150 Email: mabelka@hotmail.com
For those on the Eastern coast it is also available from
HARS Souvenirs
cnr Airport and Boomerang Roads
Albion Park Rails, New South Wales 2527
Qantas Founder Outback Museum
PO Box 737
Longreach Qld 4730

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Writers: A Collection of Australian Writers' Biographies by Brenton Cullen

The Writers is a lively account of the lives and times of six contemporary Australian writers. The authors covered include Dianne Bates, Duncan Ball, Libby Hathorn, Hazel Edwards, Jackie French and Bill Condon. Rounding up such a selection of august names would be a feather in any biographer's cap, but author Brenton Cullen seems to have a knack for inspiring confidence in those he approached.

Dianne Bates' biography begins with her rollicking childhood, showcasing some of the hair-raising escapades that suggest she had a vivid imagination even in primary school. The story continues through her teenaged years and her long and successful writing career, right up to 2007. The next subject, Jackie French, is followed in similar fashion. It is again clear that writing talent and potential career must have been inborn. After Jackie's biographical notes comes an interview. Libby Hathorn's biography follows, and then comes an interview with Dianne Bates. The other biographies continue in similar patterns, intercut with interviews, "how authors write" details, and pointers for further reading.

At the end of the book, author Brenton Cullen steps to the fore to thank and acknowledge the writers and other people who have helped with the production. The specific way in which he names and thanks each one lends another personal touch to an enjoyable and entertaining collection.

Writers (and especially well known ones) often find themselves answering the same questions repeatedly, but being invited to revisit key parts of their lives, to go back in time to when and how it began, and to examine
why it began, must be more of a treat than a retread. Better yet, the questions came from a young writer whose own tastes and talents may have been partly shaped by the very people showcased in his book.

I can recommend "The Writers" to anyone interested in children's literature, in the making of a writer, and in youthful enterprise. "The Writers" is available in several formats from www.lulu.com . The accompanying photograph comes from Brenton Cullen's own blog.