Review: The Golden Tower by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

The Golden Tower by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

ALL GOOD MAGICIANS COME TO AN END.

Callum Hunt has been both a hero and an outcast.

Now starting his final year at the Magisterium, Call is desperate to find his place at the school, win his friends back, and prove he is a force for good.

But he soon comes face to face with an old enemy, transformed into a being of terrible evil. It must be stopped, and the Magisterium needs Callum’s help.

It is a mission that could save him, or destroy him . . .

Series: Magisterium 5
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Sword & Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Corgi Books (13th September 2018)
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)

The Golden Tower is the final book in Holly Black and Cassandra Clare’s Magisterium series. This book concludes the story that started in The Iron Trial, when Callum Hunt was first introduced to magic. It’s Callum’s final year at the Magisterium, and a lot has happened to him and his friends since he started at the school. In this book Callum discovers that an old enemy has returned transformed into a terrible evil, one who is determined to make Call pay. Call is determined to prove that he is a force for good, so when the Magisterium asks him for help he says yes.

It was interesting to return to the world of the Magisterium, to Call and his friends.  The Golden Tower is a good read, and I think fans of the series will enjoy its conclusion, but it just wasn’t a book that really called to me. Don’t get me wrong, the story is appealing and I was curious about how Black and Clare were going to end things. I just wasn’t wowed. There was no real magic, or surprises and it just kind of felt too neat. It’s a good solid read, and it ties-up all the loose ends in the series.

I don’t want to damn The Golden Tower with faint praise. I honestly do think that readers who have followed this series to its conclusion will enjoy this book. They’ll enjoy following Call to the conclusion of his journey, and seeing how far he’s come from the boy first introduced in The Iron Trial: at heart he’s still that same boy, but he’s matured. The plot of the book is very well thought out, and the book is very readable. Once you’ve found your rhythm reading, it’s a very easy story to fall into and enjoy.

I have enjoyed this series, and if you aren’t looking for anything particularly complicated then I think you will too. The Golden Tower is a good solid end to the Magisterium – it dots the i’s and crosses the t’s. And there is nothing wrong with the uncomplicated nature of this book. There are also definitely parallels with the Harry Potter series, and readers of one series will enjoy the other – though I don’t think the Magisterium matures the way the Harry Potter series does in later books. It’s a little sad to say goodbye to everyone, but The Golden Tower brings things to a good conclusion.

* It was only as I collected all the details for this post that I realised I hadn’t read the fourth book in the series, but honestly I did not notice a gap between the end of book three and the start of this one. I won’t be going back and reading the fourth book, but I just wanted to put this here in case anyone was looking for my thoughts on the fourth book.

Review: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

Title: The Stonekeeper (Amulet, 1)
Author: Kazu Kibuishi
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Publisher: Scholastic (11th May 2017)
Blurb:

THERE’S SOMETHING STRANGE BEHIND THE BASEMENT DOOR . . .

After a family tragedy, Emily, Navin, and their mother mover to an ancestral home to start a new life. On the family’s very first night in the mysterious house, Em and Navin’s mom is kidnapped by a tentacled creature. Now it’s up to Em and Navin to figure out how to set things right and save their mother’s life!

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)
Review:

THE STONEKEEPER is the first book in Kazu Kibuishi’s series Amulet. It follows the story of Emily and Navin, who move into their ancestral home with their mother after a family tragedy. All three of them struggle to come to terms with their new circumstances. The move to their ancestral home is supposed to be a fresh start for the three of them, but Emily and Navin’s mum is kidnapped by a tentacled creature during their first night in the house. Determined to get her back, Emily and Navin set out on an adventure to rescue their mother and save her life.

Continue reading

Review: The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher, Illustrated by Shane Devries

Title: The Christmasaurus
Author: Tom Fletcher
Illustrator: Shane Devries
Genre: Christmas, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Publisher: Puffin Books (6th October 2016)
Blurb:

Forget everything you thought you knew about the North Pole, pop a crumpet in the taoster and get ready to meet:

a boy called William Trundle;

his dad, Mr Bob Trundle;

Santa Claus (yes! The real Santa Claus!);

an elf named Snozzletrump;

Brenda Payne, the meanest girl in school (possibly the world);

a nasty piece of work called the Hunter;

and a most unusual dinosaur . . .

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
Review:

THE CHRISTMASAURUS by Tom Fletcher and illustrated by Shane Devries tells the story of a boy who loves dinosaurs and whose father loves Christmas. William Trundle is close to his father and has lots of friends at school that is until Brenda Payne starts at his school; everything changes. Then all William has left is his father and his love of dinosaurs. William is very lonely. Brenda seems to be able to find him anywhere, and after a while he begins to wonder if there isn’t some truth to her words. So he sends a rather tricky letter to Santa.

Continue reading

Review: My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord by David Solomons

My Gym Teacher Is An Alien Overlord by David Solomons (ARC edition)

Title: My Gym Teacher Is an Alien Overlord (My Brother is a Superhero, 2)
Author: David Solomons
Illustrator: Laura Ellen Anderson
Genre: Humour, Middle Grade
Publisher: Nosy Crow (7th July 2016)
Blurb:

Zack and Lara have superpowers. Luke has new school shoes and a burning sense of resentment. He KNOWS that aliens disguised as gym teachers are about to attack Earth but will anyone listen? No. So one dodgy pact with a self-styled supervillain later, and Luke is ready to save the world. He just needs to find his trainers.

‘My Gym Teacher Is an Alien Overlord’ is the action-packed sequel to the bestselling ‘My Brother Is a Superhero’, winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the British Book Industry Awards Children’s Book of the Year.

(Blurb taken from Nosycrow.com)

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)
Review:

MY GYM TEACHER IS AN ALIEN OVERLORD is the second book in David Solomons’s My Brother is a Superhero series. The book follows the story of Luke whose elder brother Zack is a superhero. One of Luke’s best friends Lara is also a superhero. Luke is frustrated that his brother has gained superpowers, whilst he lover of comics has not. When he discovers that his gym teacher is an alien set to attack the Earth, he tries telling his brother and Lara but they dismiss him. Frustrated, Luke finds himself allied with a self-styled supervillain on a quest to save the world.

Continue reading

Review: The Song From Somewhere Else by A. F. Harrold, Illustrated by Levi Pinfold

Sorry this review is a day late, I forgot to schedule it. I hope you enjoy it anyway.

The Song from Somewhere Else by A. F. Harrold (UK edition)

Title: The Song From Somewhere Else
Author: A. F. Harrold
Illustrator: Levi Pinfold
Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Middle Grade
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (10th November 2016)
Blurb:

Frank doesn’t know how to feel when Nick Underbridge helps her escape from the boys who’ve been bullying her. No one at school really likes Nick. He’s big, quiet and he smells weird.

And yet, there’s something nice about Nick’s house. Frank hears faint music playing – it’s light and good and it makes her feel happy for the first time in forever.

But there’s more to Nick, and his house, than meets the eye, and soon Frank realises she isn’t the only one keeping secrets. Or the only one who needs help . . .

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

THE SONG FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE by A. F. Harrold and illustrated by Levi Pinfold is a beautiful and haunting story. The story follows Frank – Francesca Patel – over a period of a week during the summer holidays. All of Frank’s friends are on holiday and her cat has gone missing, so she is by herself trying to put up missing cat posters when the local bullies find her. She is rescued by Nick Underbridge, who no one at school really likes, and she finds herself at his house where she hears beautiful and haunting music. Frank feels happy for the first time she can remember.

Continue reading

Review: The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (UK edition)

The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (UK edition)

Title: The Bronze Key (Magisterium, 3)
Authors: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Sword & Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Corgi Books (1st September 2016)
Blurb:

MAGIC CAN SAVE YOU
MAGIC CAN KILL YOU

It should be a time of celebration. The Enemy of Death is dead; a severed head proof of his downfall – Callum, Tamara and Aaron, all students of the Magisterium, are heroes.

But when a fellow pupil is brutally murdered, Call’s worst fears are confirmed: there is a spy in his magical school.

No one is safe.

Now, using the powerful magic they’ve been taught, the trio must risk their lives to track down the killer. But magic is dangerous – in the wrong hands it could bring terrible destruction. And reveal the deadliest secret of all . . .

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)
Review:

THE BRONZE KEY is the third book in Holly Black and Cassandra Clare’s brilliant middle grade fantasy series Magisterium. This book continues the story of Callum Hunt – or Call to his friends – as he attends magic school. The Enemy of Death has been defeated, and Call is about to start his third year at the Magisterium. Call had a good summer with his father and best friend Aaron away from the world of magic; he hopes his third year will be less eventful than the previous two. Unfortunately that isn’t to be, as not long after his return a pupil is murdered.

Continue reading

Review: The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

Title: The Wolf Wilder
Author: Katherine Rundell
Genre: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Publisher: Bloomsbury (10th September 2015)
Blurb:

Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, where their closest neighbours are wolves. Feo’s mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. Like the wolves, Feo has learnt to be wary of humans – even before the soldiers arrive with their guns and threats. And when the soldiers do their worst, she goes on the run with just a fugitive boy and her wolves for company – to rescue her mother and to save her pack . . .

Rating: *** (3 stars)
Review:

THE WOLF WILDER by Katherine Rundell reads like a Russian fairy tale. It tells the story of Feodora and her mother, they live in the snowbound woods of Russia. Feo’s mother is a wolf wilder, so Feo has grown up with wolves and has learnt to be wary of humans. So when soldiers from the Tsar arrive with weapons and take her mother away, Feo has no choice but to try and get her mother back.

Continue reading

Review: How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Title: How to Train Your Dragon (How to Train Your Dragon, 1)
Author: Cressida Cowell
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books (4th February 2010)
Blurb:

HICCUP HORRENDOUS HADDOCK THE THIRD was an awesome swordfighter, a dragon-whisper and the greatest Viking Hero that ever lived.

Can Hiccup pass the Dragon Initiation Programme with a toothless dragon and fight the Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus before it gobbles up every Viking on Berk? It’s time for Hiccup to learn how to be a Hero.

Rating: **** (4 stars)
Review:

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON by Cressida Cowell is the first book in the series of the same name. The book follows Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third as he attempts to pass the Dragon Initiation Programme.

Continue reading

Review: Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Title: Talking to Dragons (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book Four)
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Young Adult
Publisher: Magic Carpet Books (March 2003)
Blurb:

Always be polite to dragon!

That’s what Daystar’s mother taught him . . . and it’s a very wise lesson – one that might just help him after his mom hands him a magic sword and kicks him out of the house. Especially because his house sits on the edge of the Enchanted Forest and his mother is Queen Cimorene.

But the tricky part is figuring out what he’s supposed to do with the magic sword. Where is he supposed to go? And why does everyone he meets seem to know who he is?

It’s going to take a particularly hotheaded fire-witch, a very verbose lizard, and a badly beahving dragon to help him figure it all out.

And those good manners certainly won’t help!

Rating: *** (3 stars)
Review:

TALKING WITH DRAGONS by Patricia C. Wrede is the fourth book in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. This book follows the story of Daystar who at sixteen gets handed a magic sword by his mother and sent into the Enchanted Forest, and has to work out for himself what he has to do.

Continue reading

Review: Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Title: Calling on Dragons (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book Three)
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Young Adult
Publisher: Magic Carpet Books (March 2003)
Blurb:

A Princess’s work is never done – not even when she becomes queen!

Princess Cimorene is now Queen Cimorene . . . and she’s faced her first queenly crisis – the Enchnated Forest is threatened with complete destruction!

Those wizards are back – and they’ve become very smart. (Sort of.) They’ve figured out a way to take over the forest once and for all . . . and what they have planned isn’t pretty.

With a little help from Kazul the dragon kind, Morwen the witch, Telemain the magician, two cats, and a blue, flying donkey-rabbit named – what else? – Killer, Cimorene might just be able to stop them.

And some people think being queen is easy.

Rating: **** (4 stars)
Review:

CALLING ON DRAGONS by Patricia C. Wrede is the third book in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Princess Cimorene is happily married to King Mendanbar, and is now Queen of the Enchanted Forest. Morwen the witch, who is friends with Queen Cimorene and Kazul, notices that there is something going on in the Enchanted Forest – the spells that Telemain the magician and Mendanbar wove don’t seem to be working. The wizards are back . . .

Continue reading