The House With a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs ๐Ÿ“š BOOK REVIEW

My review of The House With a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs ๐Ÿ“š

I read a paperback edition of The House With a Clock in Its Walls. This is the first book in the Lewis Barnavelt series.

Genre:ย Children’s fiction, middle grade fiction, fantasy.

Illustrator: Nathan Collins

Publisher:ย Templar, Picadilly Press

Originally published:ย 1973

Pages:ย 192 (paperback)

Audiobook length: 4 hrs and 33 mins

Synopsis by the publisher:

TICK TOCK,
A DEADLY CLOCK…

When orphaned Lewis Barnavelt comes to live with his Uncle Jonathan, he is amazed to find out there is a wizard in his family!

Lewis experiments with Uncle Jonathan’s spells and uncovers the mystery behind the ticking that he can hear throughout the house, sometimes loud, sometimes quiet, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. It’s an evil clock and it could destroy humankind.

My thoughts:

I had never heard of this book or the movie adaption of it before the trailer popped up on our Netflix feed. Immediately after having watched it, I thought “This sounds like it must’ve been adapted from a book!”, so I did a bit of a Google search and found the Lewis Barnavelt series where this was the first book.

The movie trailer looked absolutely magical and dark, so just up my alley, and I had to read the book before we watched it. I also have somewhat of a soft spot for Jack Black when it comes to movies because he’s such a wonderful actor and he’s perfect for quirky and mysterious roles in my opinion.

I loved the magic and darkness in this story. It’s one of my favorite things when authors dare to be a bit more on the darker side in their children’s books. I remember loving that as a kid myself.
We get to experience some of the grief that Lewis experiences after having lost his parents, and also the struggle of trying to find your place and to fit in. This book also touches on the subject of bullying and the challenges of finding out who your true friends are.
And the banter between Uncle Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmermann was hilarious!

But even though there were a lot of things in this book that I really liked and enjoyed, there were a few things that I didn’t like as much.
I think one of the biggest drawbacks for me as a reader was the amount of buildup to the big climax, and then having it resolved so quickly. It felt somewhat anticlimactic, and as if a chunk of the story was just left out altogether.
I also felt like I had quite a few questions that went unanswered, but knowing that this is the first book in a twelve book series makes me think that I’ll get more answers further down the line.

But all in all, I did enjoy The House With a Clock in Its Walls, but I did not love it. It’s one of those very rare instances where I actually liked the movie more than the book. That doesn’t happen too often.
Even so, I will continue on with this series, and I will let you know what I think of the other books as well.

It is creepy, dark, quirky, and funny, but I just had a bit higher expectations for it that it failed to meet. But if you have kids who like Goosebumps and other slightly dark and creepy children’s books, then I would recommend giving this book a chance.

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Pax by Sara Pennypacker ๐Ÿ“š BOOK REVIEW

My review of Pax by Sara Pennypacker ๐Ÿ“š

I read a paperback edition of Pax.

Genre:ย Children’s fiction, middle-grade fiction.

Illustrated by: Jon Klassen

Publisher:ย HarperCollins

Originally published:ย February 2nd, 2016

Pages:ย 288 (paperback)

Audiobook length: 5 hrs and 32 mins

Synopsis by the publisher:

Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day, the unimaginable happens: Peter’s dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild.

At his grandfather’s house, three hundred miles away from home, Peter knows he isn’t where he should beโ€”with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox.

Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own.

My thoughts:

I randomly came across Pax while browsing a Norwegian bookstore and it was cover love at first sight! So much so that I decided to buy the book before I even read the synopsis. When I did read the back, I was even more sure that it would be a good match.

I love when authors write stories from the perspective of animals. Giving the animals a voice of their own adds a whole other depth to a story. I find that it’s even more enjoyable when we get to shift between the perspectives of humans and animals so that we get to experience certain events in two (or more) different ways. Pennypacker did a really good job with that throughout this book.

Pax isn’t just a story about a strong bond between a fox and a boy, but it also tells a story of grief and war. As far as I could tell, which war this story is set in isn’t mentioned, but I got the feeling it was probably World War II. Not knowing doesn’t take away from the story at all though since the focus isn’t on the war itself, but more the experiences of growing up during one.

The illustrations throughout this book are absolutely stunning! I wouldn’t have minded if there’d had been more of them, but hey, quality over quantity!
A big round of applause for Jon Klassen!

Both Peter and Pax develops quite a lot as characters during the short amount of time that we get to spend with them, and I loved being able to join them on that journey.

How about the ending?

I loved the way that it ended, even though it might not have been the ending that I was expecting or hoping for. But I thought it was the right way to end the story.

This story also had me crying a little bit, which doesn’t happen all too often these days! So extra points for having me so engaged in the story!

All that being said, I wish it would’ve been a little longer though. I felt like there was more to this story, but I also understand that even though I enjoyed it as an adult, it was written for a much younger audience so having it be 350+ pages long might not have been the right choice for this particular book.

I highly recommend Pax to readers who loved Watership Down, Charlotte’s Web, or any other story of hardship and struggle that are told through the perspectives of animals. It’s written beautifully and it tells a really heartbreaking but also heartwarming story that is just as enjoyable for adults as for kids.

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How To Fly With Broken Wings by Jane Elson – REVIEW

9781444916768This book was sent to me by Hachette Children’s Books via Netgalley to read and give an honest review. Thanks guys!

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Booksย 

Published: March 5th, 2015

Pages: 191 (paperback)

Not available as audiobook at present time.ย 

 

 

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Synopsis by the publisher:ย 

‘If Finn Maison shouts jump you jump or you are dead.’

Twelve-year-old Willem has Aspergers Syndrome and two main aims in life: to fly and to make at least two friends of his own age. But all the other boys from the Beckham Estate do is make him jump off things. First his desk – and now the wall. As his toes teeter on the edge, Sasha Barton gives him a tiny little wink. Might she become his friend?

Bullied by Finn and his gang the Beckham Estate Boyz, Willem has no choice but to jump. As he flies through the air he flaps his arms, wishing he could fly and escape into the clouds. Instead he comes crashing down and breaks his ankle.

Sasha, angry with herself for not stopping Finn and his Boyz, is determined to put things right. And soon, while the gangs riot on their estate, Willem and Sasha form an unlikely friendship. Because they share a secret. Sasha longs to fly too.

And when Magic Man Archie arrives with stories of war-flying spitfires, he will change the lives of the kids on the Beckham Estate for ever. And perhaps find a way for Willem and Sasha to fly …

Touching on themes such as friendship and bullying, this is a charming tale about overcoming obstacles and finding friendship in unlikely places.

***

The Writingย 

The writing in this book was what really made this out to be not my cup of tea. I liked the dialogue and thoughts of Willem, but when it came to most of the other character’s voices it felt a little forced to me unfortunately.

And even though I see how Elson tried to give Sasha a realistic teen voice it just did not do it for me. And the word “proper” gave me headache when I saw it for the hundredth time.

I do enjoy writing in middle grade fiction from time to time, but this was not one of them. It was okay, but there was just a lot of things I found weird with it and it made me loose focus on the story as a whole at times.

The Characters

I was really looking forward to reading a story that was told from the perspective of someone with Aspergers Syndrome as I do have someone close to me who has this syndrome but in a much lighter degree.

I liked his voice in the story and the way that his notes was shown to us and gives the reader an interesting insight to a brain that works a little different from most others.

That being said, I really felt like there could have been so much more depth to this character.

Sasha had I very hard time relating to. I found her love/hate relationship to Finn to be very annoying and somewhat unrealistic considering their very young age.

The Plot

Unfortunately I found it to be really hard to get invested in this story. The start was catching but then it went kind of flat.

There were a lot of things going on from time to time, but for some reason it just didn’t grab a hold of me and at times it was a little all over the place and had me confused.

I didn’t like the ending of the story either. I thought it was very unrealistic.

Thoughts

Even though there is a lot of negative sides to this review there was a few sections of the book that I did enjoy.

It was a fast read and it might come across completely different for a younger reader than what it did for me.

Bottomline (in my case) is that I thought that the book was no more than okay. It had potential to be so much more than what it was.

2-star

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