The Night Gardener – Terry Fan & Eric Fan

This one was another hit with the kid, which is surprising as he’s not usually into stories. This book is about a gardener who sneaks out in the night and creates beautiful topiaries on his street in the spring time.  My little one really enjoyed the surprising animal shapes that the trees and shrubs became, he also enjoyed the moon illustrated on the pages as he’s super into space. The gardener eventually gets caught, but the outcome isn’t what my kid expected which kept the story interesting. Wonderfully illustrated with rich dark colours, this soothing tale is a good one to settle down with at bedtime.

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Shooting stars – Brian Falkner

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this book, but I actually loved it.  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to connect with Egan, especially after the last book I read taking place in modern day Auckland with a male lead was Into the River. But Egan was very likeable, the prime example of innocence and wonder, something with is usually reserved only for young kids, not older teenagers.  It was refreshing to see my city from the eyes of someone new to it, and someone who really doesn’t understand it. Some background, Egan has grown up in hiding in the bush with only his mother for company.  His story is about his journey to find his mother who has suddenly disappeared, while trying to avoid his famous father who was very abusive.  He travels to Auckland in search of her and experiences a first love among many firsts. The way cursing is approached in this book was adorable, as it’s quite clear Egan doesn’t actually know any, and his interpretations are great.  I would recommend this book, it is an excellent story told in journal entries which makes it an easy book to read little and often.

Sanspell (Bloodtree Chronicles #1)– Elizabeth Pulford

This book started off well, it had a great concept, it just didn’t execute it well.  The story is meant for middle grade (ages 8-12ish) and starts out in the modern world suddenly we’re thrown head first into a world of magic and stories.  Being thrown head first is one of my favourite ways to get into a story.  Our lead Abigail is just a mostly normal girl who likes stories, her parents, as most are horrible at telling her important things that will change her life. This is where it begins to get confusing.  That is my biggest hang up with this book, the plot line was confusing.  I pushed on hoping it would become clear, but it all seemed to sort of just never got cleared up. So Abigail is sent to another world by her mother and meets her unknown aunts. She’s then sort of told that she’s a story teller or some sort, but gets put in a story..?? Like I said, it’s confusing, they tell her she’s supposed to spin the story, then she gets put in someone else’s story and it really didn’t make sense, but what she got up to in this story world was pretty interesting. I don’t think I’ll continue with this series, there wasn’t enough world building around Abigail, more like she was just thrown into another world and she didn’t understand it, so no one would. I don’t think I would recommend this one unless the child is an avid reader, the lack of a clear plot line was hard for me as an adult, I can only imagine what a turn off it would be for a kid who doesn’t enjoy reading.

The Chemist – Stephenie Meyer

I’m becoming quite the fan of Stephenie Mayer (the Twilight series and The Host). This is a great story, filled with action, suspense and a very smart and capable woman. Our heroine Alex was awesome, strong, independent, quick thinking and capable, all of my favourite things in a female hero. The story was well thought out and had me guessing, I wasn’t really sure how it was going to go, but the ride there was smooth and engaging, nothing felt out of place or clunky and there wasn’t a moment I was thinking about something else, it was very engaging. If you’re not sure if you’re a fan of military action and shoot outs, this is a great gentle introduction told by a compelling female lead. If you don’t like strong women this is not the book for you.