Title Fight Reading Challenge: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs

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Title Fight Button 2016

Today I have another submission toward the Title Fight Reading Challenge 2016 in category three: a book with onomatopoeia in the title.  We received a copy of Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs from the publisher via Netgalley, and couldn’t wait to get stuck into this interactive children’s offering.  Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Draw your way through the story!

Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs! is a lighthearted fantasy where the reader first draws him- or herself into the story, and then continues by following prompts and adding more illustrations and doodles. Set in space, the book invites the reader to join Carl, a duck and member of a super-secret international group of explorers, on a journey in search of a very important grail-like object. The book is sturdy paper over board with beautiful cream paper—perfect for defacing! And by the end, the reader will have co-written a tale to return to again and again, and show off to family and friends.

search for the slimy space slugs

This book is pure, unadulterated FUN from the first page to the last.  If you were a child who was always being roused at for doodling in books, then this tome will be a balm for your very soul.  The idea behind this series of books – yes, a whole series! – is for the reader to co-create the story by adding to the illustrations at strategic points.  From adding quirky characters to creating strategic escape hatches, the book guides the reader to draw their way out of danger and save the day!

I was itching, just itching, to grab a pencil in my stony claw and start scribbling away to create my own unique narrative, but – alas! – I only received a digital review copy.  What a tease!  I am definitely planning on purchasing at least one copy of this for my own doodling pleasure and maybe one more for the eldest mini-fleshling in the dwelling.  Maybe.

Your guide on this tour of doodle-y duty is a rather bossy duck, whose heart is nevertheless in the right place.  Apart from all the fun of a book that requires you to be an integral part of the tale, the book is packed with hilarious, sometimes slapstick, sometimes dry humour (mostly instigated by the duck) just perfect for reluctant readers and subversive adults.  Here’s a strip of illustration that had me giggling aloud:

slimy space slugs

Silly, silly fun!

Simply for the fact that this book launched me back to the fun and cheekiness of childhood, I dub it a Top Book of 2016 pick!

Bruce's Pick

I urge you to check out this series and leave copies of it lying in obvious places around your home or classroom.  Then come back later and see if any of the copies are still where you left them!

Until next time,

Bruce

Title Fight Reading Challenge: The Other Mrs Walker…

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Title Fight Button 2016

Today’s book neatly slots in to category two of my Title Fight Reading Challenge 2016: a book with someone’s title in the title.  We gratefully received The Other Mrs Walker by Mary Paulson-Ellis from PanMacmillan Australia, after being intrigued by its dark blurb and the promise of a twisty mystery.  Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Somehow she’d always known that she would end like this. In a small square room, in a small square flat. In a small square box, perhaps. Cardboard, with a sticker on the outside. And a name…

An old lady dies alone and unheeded in a cold Edinburgh flat, on a snowy Christmas night. A faded emerald dress hangs in her wardrobe; a spilt glass of whisky pools on the carpet. A few days later a middle-aged woman arrives back to the city of her birth, her future uncertain, her past in tatters. But what Margaret Penny cannot yet know is that in investigating the death of one friendless old lady, her own life will become enriched beyond measure.

The Other Mrs Walker – a detective story with no detective – is a beautiful, beguiling and intensely moving debut.

the other mrs walker

Before we get into the meat of this review, let me just warn you that this is a story for which you will need your wits about you.  If you are looking for a charming, uplifting, old-lady-meets-a-sorry-end-but-really-lived-a-full-and-extraordinary-life type of novel, you should probably move on right now, because this is a complex, layered story in which the sins of the father (and the mother as well, in this case) are most definitely visited upon successive generations.

The story begins with Margaret’s unwelcome return to her mother’s dingy Edinburgh flat, and her initial experience with the “indigent roster” – the rota of ladies from various church groups who take it in turns to attend the funerals of the city’s unclaimed dead.  From this experience, tagging along with her mother, the opportunity arises for Margaret to take on a job searching for the next of kin of unclaimed dead – and it is during her first case that Margaret is introduced to the late Mrs Walker. Margaret’s investigations will take her from Edinburgh to London and back again, and will end up redefining much that Margaret thought about her own family, before an unexpected and satisfying ending.

The story is told in alternating perspectives between Margaret and her mother in the present, and the Walker family in the early 1930s to the Second World War and beyond.  I can’t say much about the content here, because all the players are linked and to discuss it would be to spoil much of the plot, but the atmosphere throughout the book is bleak, to put it bluntly.  This is one of those books that can’t necessarily be described as “enjoyable” due to the deliberate and pervading atmosphere of loss and the pits of everyday despair and/or chaos in which the characters find themselves.  It can, however, be described as compelling, fascinating (in a slow-motion car wreck kind of way) and layered.

The Other Mrs Walker will appeal to those who love a character-driven mystery, where the death has already occurred and all that’s left is to piece together the life that preceded it from a few dismal, throw-away clues.  If you’re looking for strong-willed, determined female protagonists, a diverse array of them are presented here, so you can take your pick of the style of strong-willed determination that takes your fancy.  If you’re looking for historical fiction that doesn’t shy away from the social improprieties of the time, then you will find plenty of fodder to affirm your concept of the “bad old days” within these pages.  And if you’re looking for a mystery that will keep you puzzling until the end and then some, you should appreciate the flow of The Other Mrs Walker.

Until next time,

Bruce