I want to plunge right into praises for this book, for several reasons. First, and just to get it out there in public so no one can say I hid the facts from you, I didn’t have to pay for this book. A kind and enthusiastic bookseller sent it to me all the way from the U.K. (Thanks, Nigel!) for me to review. Not to encourage or discourage any authors or publishers who are thinking of making the same offer, I need to add that I only accept such an offer if it sounds like a book that I want to readand I will be honest about what I think of it!
In the past I have exchanged a few notes with Paul Catanese, author of the Further Tales series of exciting sequels to well-known fairy tales. So it was an honor, but not a surprise, to get an advance reviewer copy of his latest book, The Riddle of the Gnome. This time, Catanese gives us the further tale of Rumpel-Stiltskin, the villainous yet (if this book is to be believed) tragically misunderstood gnome who demanded a queens firstborn son in exchange for helping her spin straw into gold when she was just a poor millers daughter a gnome whose plans were undone when the queen guessed his name. Was this the end of an evil plan? Or was it the ruin of the one good thing Rumpel-Stiltskin had ever tried to do? That will be up to you to decide as you read this interesting twist on the old tale.
The fourth Further Tales adventure picks up the classic tale of Snow White over a century later. Among the lovely heroines descendants are twin brothers Bertram and William one of them (no one is sure which) destined to become a baron someday always in trouble, one leading and the other following and finally, too much trouble for their parents to deal with any longer. Bert is packed off to an unfriendly uncles gloomy castle on the borders of the feared and hated Dwergh. Will is given lessons in warfare and personal combat. And a forgotten evil that turns love into hatred, that poisons minds and destroys lives, awakens.
When Paul Catanese e-mailed me in response to my reviews of his first two Further Tales, I was flabbergasted. To be sure, it wasnt the first time I had heard from an author whose books I reviewed. Nor was it the first time I was offered a sneak peek at a book that was about to be published. But it was the first time that both things happened together, making Book Trolley history and my year! I have reviewed many books, and I have previewed a couple, but this is the first time that I was offered a chance to preview a book I was planning to read! Thanks, Paul!
The Book Trolley is all about the question, What would be the perfect book to turn to after reading Harry Potter? Answering that question becomes more and more complex as the Harry Potter series develops. Jenny Nimmos Children of the Red King series, for instance, is one possible answer if youre looking for something on the level of Harry Potter and the Philosophers/Sorcerers Stone. This book by Pat O’Shea, on the other hand, is the nearest thing to Order of the Phoenix, at least in size.
This sequel to The Wee Free Men continues the adventures of Tiffany Aching, the young witch of Discworlds chalk downs, and her determined escort of tiny, red-headed, blue men who love fighting, stealing, and the drink: the Nac Mac Feegle, also known as Pictsies.
As he begins his second year at Bloors Academy, Charlie finds himself floundering with confusion like a first-year all over again! One of the reasons is that Manfred Bloor, late head boy, is back as a teaching assistant, and his equally nasty stooge, Asa Pike, has also returned (to repeat a year). Another reason has to do with the delicate balance among the handful of magically endowed students at Bloors, which has begun to tilt toward the Dark Side thanks to a strange, magnetic little boy named Joshua Tilpin.
Still in his first year at Bloors Academy, Charlie has already found another innocent person who needs help. Once again, this means staking his life and those of his friends against an evil plan by the Bloor family and Charlies own Yewbeam aunts.
In his second term at Bloors Academy, Charlie continues to develop his gift for finding trouble (and leading other kids even older ones into it as well). He also, by the way, develops his gift for talking with people in pictures. Unlike Harry Potters world, being able to chat with people in paintings isnt a common magical gift! And unlike Hogwarts, Bloors isnt a warm, safe place where a child can foil a Dark Lord in between lessons and games. This is a school whose grounds contain dangerous ruins; run by wicked people who could do serious harm to Charlie and his friends; with a head boy of incredible nastiness; a 100-year-old dark sorcerer scheming in a tower room; an eight-year-old albino spy; and really a small number of magical children in proportion to the student body and roughly half of them are evil!
This popular series, which, as of this writing, runs four books strong, should appeal very strongly to Harry Potter fans. Its hero is a messy-haired little boy who never knew his father and who discovers at age 10 or 11 that he has a magical gift. As a result, Charlie is enrolled at a school where other endowed children study, eating at house tables below the staff at their head table, and sleeping in draughty dormitories. The school crawls with secrets, and the forces of good and evil are constantly clashing, constantly striving for control of the magic especially, it seems, of Charlies magic. For it doesn’t take long to realize that Charlie has a saving people thinggee, why does this sound familiar?