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Review: Vlad the Inhaler by Lorraine Mace

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Vlad the Inhaler
Author: Lorraine Mace
Publisher:  Little Roni Publishing
Publication Date: 30 March 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

VAMPIRES, WEREWOLVES, AND PEACHES, OH MY! Vampires suck… But Vlad is half-human. Vlad’s parents have disappeared, and his evil relatives will stop at nothing to steal his inheritance and eliminate the asthmatic “hupyre” they despise. 

With two new friends and a heart bursting with courage and determination, Vlad faces perilous adventure and certain death to make things right in the world of Dank Forest. 

Peppered with gorgeous black-and-illustrations, join the adventure and bring a peach for Vlad!

REVIEW BY BETH

Vlad the Inhaler is a funny and quirky take on the traditional vampire tale. Written for younger readers, the novel tells us the story of poor young Vlad, the half-human vampire hybrid who struggles with his new life with his evil relatives. Without his parents to protect him Vlad is surrounded by poisonous cousins and family members who want rid of him for good. It takes some odd friendships to see Vlad through the horrible situation.

Vlad is an odd hero, not many weedy asthmatics become the star in their own novel so he should definitely be applauded for that. Mace has created a fun and quirky character who it’s hard not to empathise with and root for. His evil vampire relatives try as hard as they can to belittle and dampen his spirit but despite all his foibles, Vlad has the strength of character and the backup of his pals to find a way through.

A speedy read which is packed full of action and humorous quips Vlad the Inhaler is a masterclass in punnery. It’s impossible not to laugh along, whatever age you maybe, as Vlad runs to escape his relatives and the author utilises a wry sense of humour to keep the tone light and fun for younger readers.

The climax of the novel is brilliantly sharp and there were a couple of will they, won’t they moments which kept me guessing and took this novel from a simple ‘watch the hero get his happy ending’ to one where there was a chance that maybe Vlad was going to become his relatives next meal.

Travel from Dank Forest to Malign Village with Vlad and be prepared to chortle.

Review: The Legend of the Frog By Guy Bass

Image Received from Publisher

Image Received from Publisher

Title: The Legend of the Frog
Series: The Legend of the Frog #1
Author: Guy Bass
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Publication Date: 3 Feb 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Amazon

The Legend of Frog is the first book in a brand new three-part series by award-winning and best-selling author, Guy Bass (Stitch Head and Stitch Head: The Pirate’s Eye). A mash-up of fairy tale, fantasy and science fiction with a hearty helping of humour, The Legend of Frog is sure to introduce Guy to a whole new raft of readers as well as delighting his legions of fans. Prince Frog is convinced he’s destined to rule the world …the trouble is, the world has ended. Undeterred, Frog sets out to claim his crown, armed with nothing more than a pair of Catastrophe Pants and his trusty stick, Basil Rathbone. But Frog soon realizes that the world isn’t quite as ended as he thought. He discovers a magical kingdom, filled with wild landscapes, strange creatures …and a princess sitting on his throne. Together with his new friend, Sheriff Explosion the sheep, Frog seeks to prove his princeliness and escape the clutches of the princess who’s sure he’d make a better pet than a prince. But just when Frog thinks things can’t get any worse, he discovers he is actually the prince of an invading alien army and that he’s just given the go-ahead for an all-out alien invasion. Can he and the princess put aside their differences long enough to save the kingdom – and the world? It’s time for Frog to decide whether to be a prince or a hero?

REVIEW BY SHELLY

This is the hilarious tale of a frog, a princess and an all-out alien invasion.  Frog is on a quest to search for his birth right and that means he must travel to the End of the World.  So armed with his trusty sword, Basil Rathbone, and Catastrophe pants he sets off to stake claim to his royal throne.

This is a romping good read that I got through in one sitting.  I thought the story was really funny and the characters really well written. Frog is a great lead and is very funny especially when we get glimpses of his diary – written like an 8 year old would write even though Frog is only 1!  Even though Frog is the main character I have to say that my favourite would be Sheriff Explosion – his trusty steed.  A joy to find out that he is in fact a sheep that cannot giddy up and has to be carried everywhere.

I would highly recommend this book to all young readers especially young boys as it is an easy read but really funny and will draw them in straight away.  I mean what is not to love about a Frog who thinks he is a prince battling Aliens in bipods whilst putting up with a Princess who thinks he is destroying everything.  I for one am hooked and cannot wait for the next tale.

Review: The Fairytale Detectives by Michael Buckley

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: The Fairytale Detectives
Series: The Sisters Grimm #1
Author: Michael Buckley
Publisher: Amulet
Publication Date: 1 Oct 2005
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

For Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, life has not been a fairy tale. After the mysterious disappearance of their parents, the sisters are sent to live with their grandmother–a woman they believed was dead! Granny Relda reveals that the girls have two famous ancestors, the Brothers Grimm, whose classic book of fairy tales is actually a collection of case files of magical mischief. Now the girls must take on the family responsibility of being fairy tale detectives.

REVIEW BY JACK – YEAR 7

This is a book about two girls – Sabrina and Daphne – who are German-American orphans with the surname Grimm. They discover they are descended from the famous brothers Grimm and have inherited their ancestors’ role as fairy-tale detectives. They are soon swept up in their first adventure: they must help their grandmother (Relda Grimm) to stop a rampaging giant from destroying Ferryport (Fairyport) Landing. The Fairy-tale Detectives is the first in a series of six.

When I read the synopsis, this looked like a typical fairy-tale remake, but as soon as I began the book I was proven wrong. Mixing adventure with sisterly strife and reinventing ancient characters in an amazingly imaginative way, The Fairy-tale Detectives is an incredible story. I struggled to find any possible improvements to this book but an appendix with quick biographies of original fairy-tale folk would be useful to understand some of the more obscure characters.

The part of this book I like the most is when the children and Puck (the fairy king from Shakespeare) first enter the forbidden room and are shocked by what they find. The conversation which follows is truly hilarious. My favourite character is Granny Relda’s mysterious companion, Mr. Canis, who brings the novel to its stunning conclusion.

This is an interesting, funny and well-written story and I intend to look out for the rest of the series. I would say this book definitely gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Review: Ghoulish Song by William Alexander

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Ghoulish Song
Series: Zombay #2
Author: William Alexander
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: 7 Nov 2013
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

A brave girl flees a ghoul while trying to save her town in this lively, fast-paced companion to National Book Award winnerGoblin Secrets.

Kaile lives in Zombay, an astonishing city where goblins walk the streets and witches work their charms and curses. Kaile wants to be a musician and is delighted when a goblin gives her a flute carved out of bone. But the flutes single, mournful song has a dangerous consequence: It separates Kaile and her shadow. Anyone without a shadow is considered dead, and despite Kaile’s protests that she’s alive and breathing, her family forces her to leave so she can’t haunt their home.

Kaile and her shadow soon learn that the troublesome flute is tied to a terrifying ghoul made from the bones of those who drowned in the Zombay River. With the ghoul chasing her and the river threatening to flood, Kaile has an important role to play in keeping Zombay safe. Will Kaile and her shadow be able to learn the right tune in time?

Set in the delightful and dangerous world of Goblin SecretsGhoulish Song is a gripping adventure laced with humor and mystery from National Book Award;winning author William Alexander.

REVIEW BY SHELLY

Ghoulish Song is a companion to Goblin Secrets as the two books run side by side.  So if you read my review about Goblin Secrets you could probably understand my trepidation on reading this one.  I have to say though that I enjoyed this one a lot more.

The story follows Kaile whose problems start when she is given a flute made out of a bone by a Goblin Troupe.  When she plays the only tune the flute will allow her shadow goes and separates itself from her.  A problem for most people but when you live in Zombay it means you are now dead and so her family hold a funeral for her and cast her out.  It is then the adventure starts as she tries to track down the owner of the bone her flute is made from and to try and get her shadow to come back and join her.

I thought that the story telling was much better with this book and even though you still don’t really have any references as to why things are as they are in Zombay you get carried away with the tale.  I really warmed to Kaile and Shade (her Shadow) as I felt there was enough back story so that you could understand her more.  I enjoyed the way music was central to the story and because of that it seemed to flow better as a book.

I wish I had read this book first as it may have made more sense reading them this way round but maybe it will make me pick up the next one and I wouldn’t have thought that before Ghoulish Song.

Review: The 13th Horseman by Barry Hutchison

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: The 13th Horseman
Series: Afterworlds #1
Author: Barry Hutchison
Publisher: Harper Collins Childrens
Publication Date: 1 March 2012
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

In a darkly funny, action-packed adventure, fourteen year old Drake is surprised to discover the Horsemen of the Apocalypse hanging out in his garden shed. He’s even more surprised when they ask him to join them. The team is missing a Horseman, having gone through several Deaths, and they think Drake is the boy for the job.

REVIEW BY SHELLY

How would you feel if one day you were in your garden and suddenly found a shed had appeared and inside were the three Horseman of the Apocalypse playing a game of snap?  This is what happens to Drake who is then told that he is the fourth Horseman and is, in fact, Death himself.

Drake does the only thing a sane person would and tried to run away.  Unfortunately the shed has other ideas and follows him until he caves in and accepts the job.  Not great timing though as the previous Death, there have been 12 before Drake including a goldfish, is trying to bring on Armageddon.

This is a truly funny book that did have me chuckling away to myself on more than one occasion.  I particularly enjoyed the game of Twister with War, Famine and Pestilence – I mean it can’t end well can it?  The main characters were well written and although Drake is the hero of the book I think my heart lay with the other three Horsemen especially Famine.  Not the stick thin person you may imagine but a huge blob of a man with a fondness for chocolate or anything else that is within reach.  The parts that are in the shed are some of the funniest in the book.

The story is action packed and although the end did feel a little rushed what is not to love about huge robots and menacing bouncing spheres that want to bring down the universe?  I have to say that the writing did remind me a little of Terry Pratchett but that is no bad thing as I think Barry Hutchison can certainly hold his own when it comes to funny fantasy adventure.