What We Are Reading Right Now – #14

It has been a while since a “What We Are Reading Post…” but trust me we have as usual been immersed in piles of books!!!


This weeks books are once again an eclectic collection of contemporary and recently launched books: teen reads and picture books, timeless classics and futuristic tales. All the books in this post were given to us by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review. Except Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger, which was given to us by Penguin Books South Africa, also for review.


Hood #1: The Land of Neverbelieve by Norman Messenger is a potential artists dream. This is an incredibly illustrated book, a natural history resource of everything relating to a fantastical island: The Land of Neverbelieve. Pages and pages of incredible plants, trees and animals… colour plates that fold out to show you all the small details pond life, sea life and so on. Fantastical detail, places that you would like to visit, like Book Mountain, where island dwellers choose to live on the slopes of this mountain as it quietly tells stories at bedtime. The book has the feel of a nature journal from olden times – only it is packed with the most incredible and fantastical creatures!!! This is a picture book for all ages, the only writing is anecdotal labels on the scientific diagrams. This is the kind of book that you will read and pour over again and again… each time something new will catch your eye. We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.


Hood #2: Andrew Lane is the author of the Young Sherlock Holmes series and a definite winner in our household… so we were looking forward to reading and reviewing this one. It is a definite teen read, a dark and grim world… with a teenage hacker, a large pharmaceutical company… the underdog vs capitalism. The young hero of the tale is Callum Challenger, he was paralysed in an accident and has a team of friends who are helping him to find and protect animals of the “Lost Worlds”… he is hoping that by collecting the DNA of these strange creatures he may be able to discover some sort of a cure or a relief from his paralysis. Of course there is a race against time. The large organisation, that he is pitted against, will go to any lengths to stop him discovering the secrets of the Lost Worlds. A serious case of don’t trust the book by its cover, none of my kids liked the weird skull x-ray, but once they got past that they discovered: lots to read, lots of hi-tech, lots of interesting characters and loads of gadgets. There is nothing untoward in this book, and a younger capable reader might enjoy it. Even though it had zero appeal for my daughter, my tech loving teen lad enjoyed it. We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.


Hood #3: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger is a must read. The lead character, fourteen year old Sophronia is a bit of a tomboy and her mother is appalled at her daughters prospects. The book is set in the 1850’s when girls were supposed to be a lot more refined than Sophronia… so her mother sends her to finishing school. The society is a little different to what we may think of the 1850’s because there are mechanimals, and strange beasts roaming around as well. What a school it turns out to be… not exactly the school her mother was after at all!!! This is a finishing school where finishing off means, well the demise of potential enemies… The girls are trained to be spies and assassins… life-skills with a subtle difference. This is certainly not your nail-polish, boy meets girl, make-up kind of boarding school book at all!!! It is a rollicking read, my three oldest kids galloped through it and loved it. The mother never realises what her daughter is up to and remains oblivious throughout… We were given this book by Penguin Books South Africa, to review.


Hood #4: Another Book in the How to Train your Dragon Series, How to seize a Dragon’s Jewel by Cressida Cowell… What can I say if you haven’t met the hero, Hiccup, yet… then you have a fabulous series of books awaiting you… the only chapter books that this lad will dive into with glee and dive he does!!! These books are well-illustrated paperbacks and there are heaps of little snippets to pull the “easily distracted reader” on and along the journey through the book. To become the legendary king Hiccup needs to complete his quest and find the last “lost treasure of the king.” After a number of trials and difficulties he reaches his goal… but his troubles are not over yet… read on read on… Seriously Cressida Cowell can not write these books fast enough. don’t get too distracted by the movie, head straight for the book series website to explore. We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.


Hood #5: It is time to introduce Timmy Failure by Stephan Pastis, all my kids loved it, and so did I. Hysterically funny, laugh out loud, very easy reading – aimed primarily at boys but all my kids loved it!!! Timmy is a detective, with a 1500 pound pet polar bear called Total, he is also in school and has a crushing teacher, old man Crocus who is 187 years old, stooped and smelly. Clearly the characters in this book are just that, characters… with fantastic cartoon illustrations edifying every point throughout!!! But don’t just take our word for it, head over to the website for some fun!!! We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.


Hood #6: For the girl who loves the Cinderella story, this is not just another Cinderella, It is in fact Cinderella by Max Eilenberg and illustrated by the amazing, incredible and awesome Niamh Sharkey. I have found that I have had to read this book a lot, very much a “popular” appeal book around here!!! The words are catchy, and the illustrations great… for I a story I know extremely well and a book that I have had to read countless times – it remains lovely. The illustrations intrigue me and I can look at them again and again!!! We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.


Hood #7: A House in the Woods by Inga Moore is simply delightful… Every now and then a book arrives on the scene that you know should be on every shelf… this is one of them, a classic in training!!! A series of little events lead up to a moose, a bear and some piggy friends in dire need of a home. The hire a group of building beavers to create a wonderful home, and they pay them in peanut butter sandwiches. Who doesn’t like a book with a building project, that ends all cosy-like round the fire and off to bed!!! Very sweet story!!! We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.

And the se7en + 1th Books:


Hood #8: This is one of those books that our little guy has carried everywhere, tucked into his backpack, under his pillow, car trips. Wendel’s Worshop by Chris Riddell is a favourite!!! This book and a number of others have been re-published in easy reader format… the writing is an easy font and not on the illustrations… but otherwise the story is the same. My beginner reader was able to sit and read this book again and again to her younger brother. It is the story of a very inventive mouse who invents a rather lazy robot to clean up his messy workshop… things don’t go to plan, so he reinvents a really zealous cleaning robot, the Wendelbot. Turns out even Wendel gets cleaned away to the scrap heap, where he finds his original friendly robot and together they save the day – in a very robots made from recycling kind of way. We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.

We would like to thank PanMacMillan South Africa and Penguin Books South Africa for giving us the books to review. We would like to declare that we were not paid to do these reviews, just provided with books. All the opinions are entirely our own!!!

3 Replies to “What We Are Reading Right Now – #14”

  1. We borrowed Wendell’s Workshop from the library and loved it. There are still times when the story is referred to. Maybe we should borrow it again……

  2. Hay Cheryl… I thought the one robot was a little intense… cleaning away at an alarming rate… but my littlest guy just loves this book… everything about it… it has inspired him to dig in the recycling like nothing else in the longest time!!! Hope you are having a fun weekend!!!

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