22 October 2013

Review: The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson

Can a man be maimed by witchcraft? Can a severed head speak?

Based on the most notorious of English witch-trials, this is a tale of magic, superstition, conscience and ruthless murder.

It is set in a time when politics and religion were closely intertwined; when, following the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, every Catholic conspirator fled to a wild and untamed place far from the reach of London law.

This is Lancashire.  This is Pendle.  This is witch country.

After reading the above blurb, I couldn't wait to read The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson.  Sadly, this beautifully designed compact hardcover novel of only 194 pages didn't live up to my expectations.

My biggest problem was continuity; I just couldn't figure out what was happening and where the plot was going.  The writing was evocative and many scenes were beautifully written, but it just wasn't enough for me.  I really wanted to enjoy the tale, but just couldn't connect to the plot.  

Perhaps it was the fault of this reader, but I won't be recommending The Daylight Gate.

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!
20 October 2013

Winner Announced: Hannah's Night Giveaway

Hannah's Night by Komako Sakai book cover
The Hannah's Night Giveaway has now closed, so thank you to all who entered the giveaway by leaving comments on the post, sharing on Facebook and on Twitter.

I enjoyed reading about your favourite children's books, and there were a lot of great books mentioned.

Without further ado, I'm pleased to announce, the winner is...

Sarah Scicluna

Congratulations Sarah!!! Please email me with your postal address within the next two weeks, and I'll send your book to you right away.  

Thanks to Gecko Press for this copy and happy reading!

Carpe Librum!
13 October 2013

Review & Giveaway: Hannah's Night by Komako Sakai

* From Gecko Press for review *

Hannah's Night by Komako Sakai is the first children's book I've reviewed on Carpe Librum, however, when I read the following blurb, I just couldn't say no.

When Hannah wakes suddenly in the night, she discovers a whole new world of adventure. With nobody awake to tell her off, she can do just as she pleases.

Hannah's Night is a short read, as Hannah wakes up during the night and explores the house.  Meanwhile, everyone else - including her sister - is asleep.

The illustrations are unique and the book feels luxurious to the touch.  Komako does an amazing job of capturing the essence of night time and Hannah is a cute and relatable character.  This would be a fabulous story to read with a young child at bedtime, and would make a wonderful Christmas gift.

My rating = ****

I'm offering my review copy (as new, read once with care) in a giveaway, so for your chance to WIN, just leave a comment here and tell me your favourite children's book.  For an additional entry, share this post on Facebook or Tweet about this giveaway using handle @Carpe_Librum1 and don't forget to leave details in your comment below.

This giveaway is available to residents of Australia & New Zealand only.

Entries close midnight Saturday 19th October and the winner will be drawn on Sunday 20th October 2013.  The winner will have 2 weeks to provide a postal address.

Good luck, and I look forward to reading about your favourite children's books.

Carpe Librum!
11 October 2013

Review: Variant by Robison Wells

Variant by Robison Wells book cover
Variant by Robison Wells is a YA thriller from HarperTeen and a quick read. Benson Fisher has been hopping from foster home to foster home, so is very excited to receive a scholarship to Maxfield Academy.

As soon as he arrives at the campus though, Benson notices that something isn't quite 'right.' He soon learns there are no teachers or adults at the Academy, and the students belong to gangs that are each in charge of various contracts at the school.

The grounds are surrounded by a large wall patrolled by students on quad bikes and the curriculum is strange and irregular.

I was shocked to learn of the secret at the heart of the school and definitely didn't see it coming. Benson is keen to escape although serious breaches of the rules result in detention, and students never return from detention.

Variant is a fabulous mystery for young readers and adults alike and I've already recommended it to other readers. Those who liked the movie Toy Soldiers (featuring Sean Astin) will love Variant.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
04 October 2013

Review: King of the Cross by Mark Dapin

I purchased King of the Cross by Mark Dapin for my Dad for Christmas last year, having previously read and adored Dapin's non-fiction book Fridge Magnets Are Bastards and giving it 5 stars.

Mark Dapin is an Australian author and King of the Cross is a fictionalised account of major Sydney crime figure Jacob Mendoza.  The premise is Mendoza talking to a journalist about his extraordinary life as the Godfather of Kings Cross.  The content is gritty and confronting, and I was glad to read that Mendoza is a fictionalised character.

I thought this novel would be filled with the kind of humour from Fridge Magnets Are Bastards, but while King of the Cross was certainly funny in parts, it was also hard-hitting.

My favourite quote from the book appears on Page 120:
"Also, the deluded moll who had complained of my 'unnatural' behaviour towards her realised that she had forgotten to move to Perth, an omission she remedied within days of the charges being laid."
Dapin has an incredible imagination and Mendoza definitely felt 100% real while I was reading his story.  The language was convincing and it was fascinating to see Dapin pull back the curtain on the bright lights and partying atmosphere of Kings Cross, Sydney.

King of the Cross is for the reader who enjoys cutting edge humour and isn't shocked by foul language or tales of the sex industry.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!