The Lost Boy: A “Five Things I’ve Learned” Review…

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Today’s book is a graphic novel for those who love a bit of creepy, atmospheric, magic-infused adventure, which, I am assuming, is all of you.  The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth is one that has been on my TBR list for quite some time, so when I spotted it at a great price in the Scholastic Book Club catalogue recently, I knew I had to grab it.  Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Some mysteries are too dangerous to leave alone . . .

Nate’s not happy about his family moving to a new house in a new town. After all, nobody asked him if he wanted to move in the first place. But when he discovers a tape recorder and note addressed to him under the floorboards of his bedroom, Nate is thrust into a dark mystery about a boy who went missing many, many years ago. Now, as strange happenings and weird creatures begin to track Nate, he must partner with Tabitha, a local girl, to find out what they want with him. But time is running out, for a powerful force is gathering strength in the woods at the edge of town, and before long Nate and Tabitha will be forced to confront a terrifying foe, and uncover the truth about the Lost Boy.

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And here are Five Things I’ve Learned From The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth:

1. It is a fact of life that moving to a new house will always lead to an exciting (and possibly slightly sinister) discovery, usually concealed under a loose floorboard or other enticing, secret space.

2. The probability of exciting (and possibly slightly sinister) discoveries are exponentially increased if said new house is adjacent to a wood.

3. If, upon moving to a new town, you notice something out of place (such as a grasshopper riding a dog, for instance) that others don’t seem to be able to see, you can assume that an exciting (and possibly slightly sinister) discovery is imminent.

4. When moving to a new town, always make friends immediately with the strangest and most oddball of your neighbours.

5. On moving to a new house in which exciting (and possibly slightly sinister) discoveries are likely, ensure you have access to a range of historical recording devices in order to be prepared in case your predecessor has left some audiological clues as to their sudden disappearance.

I am so glad I actually made time to (a) purchase this book and (b) read it, because it is such an absorbing and atmospheric read featuring a well-developed world and enticing mystery.  The book follows two parallel stories – those of Nate, and Will, the boy who lived in the house Nate has just moved to, but who disappeared years before.  Without giving too much of the story away, Nate discovers a recording left by Will that details some strange sightings and happenings that Will has experienced, and opens up the mystery of the circumstances surrounding Will’s disappearance.  After Nate meets his new neighbour Tabitha, who also knows something about the mystery of Will, it is obvious that the pair need to investigate.  When some extremely strange visitors come calling however (including a talking doll and a deadly tree), it is obvious that Nate and Tabitha are going to have to risk much – and possibly even their lives – if they want to solve any mysteries anytime soon.

The illustrative style is quite realistic, which lends a sense of authenticity, and more than a little creepiness, to the events.  I was sucked in almost immediately by the allure of a historical mystery and the author does a great job of drip-feeding information about the non-human characters in the story so that the reader has to keep going if they want to find out the truth about these diverse and strange beings.

I had thought I had seen somewhere that there was a sequel to this one, but I can’t seem to find anything about it now so perhaps I was mistaken.  It’s a shame though – such a world could do with a follow-up story.  You can see some preview pages of The Lost Boy at Greg Ruth’s website, though, to see for yourself how exciting the book looks.

Until next time,

Bruce

Bruce’s Lucky Dip: Paper Dolls You Never Played With as a Kid…

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It’s lucky dip time again, and have I got some ripping (pun intended) offerings for you today! For those who don’t know, my lucky dip feature involves typing a carefully selected term into the Book Depository’s search box and presenting you with the delightfully weird results.

So, paper dolls. Those favoured playthings of fleshlings fond of fun in two-dimensions. Who would’ve thought that scratching the surface of such an innocuous activity would  uncover a veritable treasure chest of oddity? Well, after the utter strangeness encompassed by the range of colouring books on offer, one probably shouldn’t really be surprised.  But one will be.

For your perusing pleasure, I present to you some of the real gems of paper-related play – click on the covers if your appetite for origami-esque shenanigans is whetted!

For the Buddhist who wants to add “right-dressing” to their list of rules for living:

dalai lama paper dolls

 

In a similarly religious vein, for the paper-doll enthusiast with a penchant for swift, undetectable revenge:

voodoo paper dolls

For the book enthusiast who really wants to get inside their favourite author’s head…and wardrobe:

literary greats paper dollsI’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I’m only certain of Shakespeare out of that lot…can anyone enlighten me as to who the rest are? Is that Sylvia Plath in the straight jacket? Virginia Woolf? And the bloke on the right looks like a close relation of Colonel Sanders the KFC man, but I’m guessing is somebody more literary minded….

For the pet-lover whose real-life animal friend is averse to wearing cute little outfits:

lucky cats paper dollsFor the man in your life who always liked to play with his sister’s dolls as a little boy:

naughty girls paper dolls

And my personal favourite….***DRUM ROLL PLEASE****…..

For the political enthusiast who wants to recreate famous scandals in their own home:

richard nixon paper dolls

Now before you start scratching your head at the utter surreal-ness of the book immediately above, the BD has a whole range of paper doll books featuring American presidents and their families.  So whatever your political persuasion, there is a paper doll out there for you, voter!

If paper dolls are not your thing, I have also recently discovered two more fantastically different colouring books that I just had to share with you:

For the littlest scholar of feminist philosophy:

girls are not chicks colouring

And for the colouring enthusiast who can’t resist using one of those fancy rainbow pencils:

sometimes the spoon colouring book

 

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and flex your creative muscle! And be sure to chime in with any other exciting paper-doll or colouring related titles that we need to know about.

Until next time,

Bruce

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Number 100!: A Double Read It If Review….

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Yes, that’s right – 100 posts! How the time has flown….

Well, after Tales of the Nunexpected in post number 99, I bring you read-it-if reviews of two books that turned out to be entirely different to what I anticipated.  The first of these is Moose Baby, by Queen of the Quirky, Meg Rosoff.

I found this one during a random browse, and while I wouldn’t consider myself a real fan of Meg Rosoff, I have read and enjoyed a few of her books.  Moose Baby seemed to promise a similar level of thought-provoking oddity that I had experienced in my previous Rosoff encounters.  I was wrong. Moose Baby broke the pointer on my homemade weird-o-meter.  Let me explain.

moose baby

Moose Baby is the story of a 17 year old girl who gives birth to a moose. Now on reading the blurb, I assumed that either (a) “moose” was a metaphor for something I would discover during reading or (b) the girl did not actually give birth to a moose, but had to look after a young moose in some kind of “Preparing for Motherhood” type school project.

Nope. She actually gives birth to a moose. The book follows the trials and tribulations of a young couple attempting to raise a moose baby in a world designed for humanoid bipeds.


Read it if:

* you’re looking for a cheerful, quick, light read – I finished this one in 40 minutes

* you’re a teenager who thinks it would be so awesome to have a baby right now

* you’ve ever experienced that awkward moment when deciding how to compliment the new parents of an unattractive baby

* you are a parent and you suspect that your sweet, intelligent, genial and well-behaved infant was accidentally swapped at the hospital and that’s how you ended up with this loud, energetic, misbehaving, dirt-magnet for your offspring 

While I personally found this book a bit too left-of-centre for my usual tastes, I think it would appeal greatly to its teenage target audience as it is a funny, engaging and not-at-all-demanding take on the young parent theme.

My second not-quite-what-I-anticipated read this week was Doll Bones, by Holly Black, of Spiderwick Chronicles fame.  I had been looking forward to this one for a loooong time as the blurb seemed to indicate an appropriately atmospheric and promisingly creepy story centred around a spooky haunted doll. Somewhat disappointingly for me, given the level of my anticipation, the blurb was….well, not exactly inaccurate, but emphasised minor parts of the story.

Doll Bones tells the story of middle-schoolers Zach, Alice and Poppy, who enjoy playing an elaborate role-play type game of their own creation after school.  When Zach’s dad throws out the action figures that are an integral part of the game in an attempt to make Zach “grow up”, the friendship between the three is tested. Faced with the disintegration of their game and a new prickliness in their friendship, the three set out on a quest to lay to rest the ghost of a young murdered girl that is trapped in the form of a china doll.  Cue adventure!

doll bones

If that explanation seems a bit disjointed, it reflects the narrative in Doll Bones – while the story itself is engaging and action packed, the horror and paranormal elements championed by the title, blurb and cover actually play a very small role in the story. The meat of it revolves around the relationship between Zach, Poppy and Alice and the challenges they face in maintaining their friendship as they experience the changes of growing up.

Read it if:

* you are certain that the creepy china doll in your mother’s/grandmother’s/aunt’s/neighbour’s cabinet is watching you…

* No, seriously. It just moved. Didn’t you see it move?

* you still like to indulge in certain childish activities…even though by all accounts you are way too old for them

* you’ve ever indulged in quite significant levels of theft to overcome minor problems with the full expectation that the rightful owners of the stolen goods would be perfectly happy for you to be using (and damaging) their stuff

* you are quite happy to pick up a book with the expectation that it will be a spooky ghost-ish story…only to find it is actually a road trip/coming-of-age tale instead

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this book – very much in fact, and I think it would be greatly enjoyed by middle readers.  I do feel though that the blurb is significantly misleading – this is by no means a ghost story. My only other problem with the book was the theft mentioned above….

***SPOILER ALERT****

The characters willingly steal and capsize a sailing boat, then abandon it when it runs aground, and make up for this by saying that they’ll phone the marina when they get the chance to let the owners know where it is. As if this will excuse the possible charges of grand theft and wilful damage to property that could be coming their way.  Then they steal some bikes too.   I’m all for the adventure element in kid’s books, but as there was no consequence mentioned in the narrative for what is unquestionably a pretty significant crime, I felt that this was a bit of a stretch.  But maybe that’s because I’m a cranky old curmudgeon who can’t remember what it’s like to be young.

****SPOILER OVER!!****

Thanks to all who’ve joined in at some point over these last 100 posts – let’s hope I’ve got at least another 100 in me somewhere!

Until next time,

Bruce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The perfect gift for the book lover with shelf space…and no gargoyle to fill it.

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This may in fact top my previous brilliance in uncovering the zombie-hand bookmarks: behold, MINIATURE AUTHOR ART DOLLS! I’m sure you will agree that the likenesses are extraordinary.

This one is obviously a miniature Maya Angelou.

These are available at UneekDollDesigns, by one Debbie Ritter at the link below.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/UneekDollDesigns?section_id=5517162&page=1

I am, frankly, astounded that this idea has not been leapt upon and appropriated by the major book selling chains.  Although on second thought, the pressure of having one’s image captured for posterity in doll form may spawn a whole new trend towards plastic surgery and excessive dieting amongst contemporary authors as they strive to attain unreasonable standards of physical beauty prior to immortalisation in fabric and crafty off-cuts.

Laybuy now for Christmas.

Cheerio,

Bruce