Sunday, 25 August 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Listening For Lucca by Suzanne LaFleur

Title: Listening for Lucca
Author: Suzanne LaFleur
Published: August 2013
Pages: 229


" 'We're moving to your house - the one from your dream'.
Siena sees what isn't there; collects what's left behind.
'Lucca led me to his room, and then just stood in the middle, waiting for me to notice something'.
Her brother Lucca is three and hasn't spoken for over a year.
The doctors think he needs a fresh start, that's why her family left Brooklyn. But their new home feels hauntingly familiar - and when Siena finds an old pen, the story she writes is not her own . . .
Can Siena's discovery of past secrets help break her brother's silence in the present? "
(from Goodreads)

My Thoughts...

A beautifully crafted novel, which may just tickle the heartstrings, Listening for Lucca weaves together a sense of magic and mystery in a calm seaside setting to provide a light, summery read.

Aimed towards the 9+ age range, Listening for Lucca is not a complex read; I was able to simply relax and enjoy the story as it unfolded itself around me, which was a comfortable, refreshing experience - a nice break from the heavier plots I am more accustomed to reading. This is not to say, however, that Listening for Lucca's plot was in any way overly simple in a way that made it boring, rather the storyline held just enough interest and mystery to make this a compellingly readable novel.

Siena is a 13-year-old girl who has trouble fitting in. This is due to a number of oddities about her - her unusual hobby of collecting abandoned things, her 'gift' of inadvertently being able to see into the past, her vivid, vision-like dreams...and her 3-year-old brother who doesn't talk. However, this book tells the story of a fresh start for her as her family move away from the busy lifestyle of Brooklyn to a peaceful seaside town. Here, Siena discovers the story of a family who lived in the same house, which now belongs to her family, during the time of World War II that has strangely similar parallels with her family...

Some more picky readers may be dissatisfied with the ending, saying that some things are not fully explained, and although I understand where this argument is coming from, I personally liked the ending. The thing is, this book has an element of magic to it; therefore I don't believe it is necessary for there to be a completely rational logic to its conclusion. I liked the way the story was tied up; it was kind of the ideal ending - predictable, maybe, but it still gave me that warm, fuzzy, content feeling.

Though not amazing - and this might simply be because I am older than the intended age range - Listening for Lucca is a sweet read that I enjoyed. Due to the fact that it is aimed at readers from the age of 9 upwards, along with the compelling storyline - the perfect balance between realistic and magical - it is easy to read and understand; I found myself flipping very swiftly through the pages. I do in fact have a 9-year-old sister, to whom I think I might give this book (she is as big a bookworm as I am!) and see what she thinks of it!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Caught in a Moment by Martin Dukes

Title: Caught in a Moment
Author: Martin Dukes
Published:February 2012
*Thank you very much to the author for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for an honest review :) *

"Caught in a Moment is the story of Alex Trueman, a teenager who daydreams himself unwittingly into the strange world of Intersticia. This is a world outside of ordinary time, that exists in the slender intervals between instants. From Alex's point of view the world around him freezes into immobility. At first it seems the he alone is free to wander the hushed streets with their motionless cars and people. But he is not alone. Alex soon discovers that he shares the world with others. There are a few dozen fellow daydreamers who share his fate. There is plump, bespectacled Will, pretty brunette Kelly, and the rebellious outcast Paulo. Presiding over them all is the enigmatic Ganymede, and irascible vagrant who distributes food to his dependents and sets them perverse tasks to perform in return.

Alex soon finds that he has rare skills in Intersticia. Most uniquely he can affect the motionless world of 'Statica' around them. He can open doors, help himself to food, and move objects. But this forbidden activity soon sets him on a collision course with Ganymede in which the very existence of Intersticia is put at risk."

My Thoughts...

The first thing that struck me, from the very moment I began reading Caught In A Moment, was Martin Dukes’ writing style. I’m not quite sure what it was about it exactly, but there was something. I can’t quite put my finger on it. There was a kind of fluidity to the way the words seemed to roll off the page effortlessly, weaving together a story that was very easy and enjoyable to read.

What caught my attention about this book was the uniquely intriguing idea behind it – a world that exists in a frozen moment of ‘real time’? I have a personal fascination in the mysterious workings of time and space and frequently ponder ‘what-if?’ scenarios such as the one created in this book and so I was very interested to see how the idea would be executed in a novel.

And the great thing was, it came off really well! Somehow, the whole idea of this different strand of time and the concepts of ‘Intersticia’ (the parallel world Alex gets trapped in) and ‘Statica’ (the real world frozen around him) were explained in such a plausible way that I could almost believe they were actually true!

A delightfully diverse range of well-rounded characters graces the novel – from our protagonist Alex Trueman, a pretty realistic portrayal of an average teenage boy, who gets up to the mischief you would expect from anyone who suddenly found themselves in a classroom where everyone else is frozen, to the rambunctious Paulo who brings a touch of humour to the table with the jinx that makes him unknowingly yell the names of vegetables whenever he intends to say a swear word, causing him to say things like: “Peas! I don’t runner bean believe it. We’re like Robin turnip Hood or something.” A solid cast of characters id, of course, an important feature of any good novel - it is much harder to enjoy a book when one is not engaged by the characters.

All in all, an eclectic mix of magic and sci-fi, angels and parallel worlds, Caught in a Moment offers a refreshingly quirky, light-hearted read that I would recommend to anyone looking for something a little different, and unique, to enjoy.