Mini-reviews: Girls having Adventures
When I have the choice between reading another book or reviewing the one I have just read, I usually choose to read another one. As much as I adore shouting about books on my blog, reading is, after all, my first love!
Therefore, I have decided to do some mini-review posts to tell you about some other books which I have read and think you might enjoy.
The mini-reviews this time are all themed around adventures, specifically girls going on adventures – honestly this post could easily have been twice as long, but I had to call a stop to it at some point! These are all fantastic books which deserve space on your bookshelf and in your heart.
Have you read any of these?
Are there any that you would like to pick up?
The Girl who Stole an Elephant by Nizrana Farook
Chaya, a no-nonsense, outspoken hero, leads her friends and a gorgeous elephant on a noisy, fraught, joyous adventure through the jungle where revolution is stirring and leeches lurk. Will stealing the queen’s jewels be the beginning or the end of everything for the intrepid gang?
Wow, this book certainly doesn’t pause to let you catch your breath! I read this in one sitting, with the shirt chapters and hectic pace leaving me unable to put it down, even for a minute. This is an original, exciting adventure following Chaya, Neel and Nour as they flee from the forces of law arrayed against them after Chaya steals jewels from the Queen, then uses the King’s prize elephant as a getaway vehicle.
I loved the dynamics between the three children as they get to know each other, Chaya’s father and how accepting he is of his wild daughter, as well as the revolution plotline. The only slight drawback is that the end of the adventure comes rather abruptly, with everything being resolved in a matter of pages – I would have liked a bit more elaboration on the details.
Fun, fast and brimming with cultural details, this deserves to be widely-read!
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?
One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.
But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them.
The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?
The first book by Roshani Chokshi that I read was The Gilded Wolves and I adored it, so I have been trying to get my hands on her others books to read those too.
Aru Shah and the End of Time is her middle-grade debut, but it doesn’t read in any way uncertain as the story rockets by at an amazing pace, full of wisecracks, fascinating characters, references to mythology and the author’s signature beautiful descriptions.
Aru and Mini are both fantastic characters and I loved how all of the Pandava brothers seem to be girls in this modern age – well overdue! Aru is a strong but flawed character, with defense mechanisms for dealing with her problems that can sometimes cause bigger problems. I also loved the slightly-neurotic but loyal Mini and Boo made me laugh so often.
A fantastic adventure!
My only concern is that all of the references to popular culture will really date this book, so it may become irrelevant in the future. That would be a real shame because it is a vibrant introduction to Hindu mythology and great fun to read!
The Magic Place by Chris Wormell
‘And even though she only saw it in her dreams, she felt sure it was real.’
From her cellar bedroom, Clementine dreams of a magic place. And she’s determined to find it one day. But first she must escape from her wicked aunt and uncle and from the Great Black City. With the help of her best friend, Gilbert, a very clever cat, she sets off on an epic journey that just might make her dreams come true.
A thrilling, moving and funny adventure about looking for the most magical place of all. HOME.
I didn’t really know what to expect when I picked this up, but the mention of magic and the beautiful cover had me intrigued. This reminded me a little of Harry Potter, Matilda and Howl’s Moving Castle – all good comparisons!
The story follows Clementine, a maltreated little girl who has never seen the outside world, save for a square of sky over her chimney…yet she dreams of a magic place with towering mountains covered in heather, fresh streams and a cosy cottage. Her aunt and uncle are con artists, but Clementine’s life changes when her uncle forgets to lock the door into the attic one day and she is finally able to see more of the world.
The illustrations really add to the story, bringing her grotesque aunt and uncle to life. I did really enjoy this, especially the involvement of the dogs, but it ends without anything really being resolved or explained leaving me with lots of questions about the characters and their motivation, other than just to be horrid!
The Mask of Aribella by Anna Hoghton
On the eve of her birthday, Aribella discovers she has a secret power – when angered, flames shoot from her fingertips.
Frightened, she runs away, only to be rescued by a magical organization of masked heroes with their own special skills. Aribella and her new friends have sworn to defend Venice, but can they defeat the evil rising from the Island of the Dead?
A captivating middle-grade fantasy in the entrancing setting of historical Venice.
I am so glad that I picked this one up – set in Venice and full of magic, mystical creatures and intrigue, this is definitely one not to miss. Aribella is a brilliant main character because she is flawed and unsure of herself at many points in the story, but begins to believe in herself as she comes into her power and become secure in her knowledge that she can always try, even if the odds seem insurmountable. This story has so much to recommend it and would be loved by any readers aged 7+ who enjoy a magical, fast-paced adventure full of friendship, family and adventure.
Read if you loved Stravaganza!
Evernight by Ross MacKenzie
Thousands of years ago, the Evernight came to the Silver Kingdom and turned everything to darkness and chaos. It was only defeated thanks to the skill and bravery of the Witches. But now the Evernight is about to return, released by the evil Mrs Hester, and the only spell that might stop it is lost, deep below the great city of King’s Haven.
Then orphan Larabelle Fox stumbles across a mysterious wooden box while treasure-hunting in the city’s sewers. Little does she realise she is about to be catapulted into an adventure, facing wild magic and mortal danger – and a man who casts no shadow . . .
I did a little squeal when this appeared in my book post – thank you very much Andersen Press! I loved both The Nowhere Emporium and The Elsewhere Emporium by the same author so I was extremely excited to read this. (I also got to meet Ross MacKenzie recently and totally fangirled over all his books!)
From the very first few lines, it is clear that this is a much darker book than either of the author’s previous two and I really loved it. Reading with my teacher hat on though, I would definitely recommend this for Year 5 and upwards (age 9+) when the author’s previous books would be perfectly suitable and enjoyable for a younger audience too.
I adored the world-building, particularly how magic spells are created and used, Shadow Jack is truly terrifying and I found myself feeling quite tense and wondering what would happen to Larabelle. Excellent adventure!
The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Andersen
All 12-year-old Marinka wants is a friend. A real friend. Not like her house with chicken legs. Sure, the house can play games like tag and hide-and-seek, but Marinka longs for a human companion. Someone she can talk to and share secrets with.
But that’s tough when your grandmother is a Yaga, a guardian who guides the dead into the afterlife. It’s even harder when you live in a house that wanders all over the world . . . carrying you with it. Even worse, Marinka is being trained to be a Yaga. That means no school, no parties–and no playmates that stick around for more than a day.
So when Marinka stumbles across the chance to make a real friend, she breaks all the rules . . . with devastating consequences. Her beloved grandmother mysteriously disappears, and it’s up to Marinka to find her–even if it means making a dangerous journey to the afterlife.
With a mix of whimsy, humor, and adventure, this debut novel will wrap itself around your heart and never let go.
I cannot believe that it took me so long to finally read this, especially as it ticks so many of the boxes for things I love in a book! Inspired by Russian folklore and tales of Baba Yaga, this is an immersive, beautifully-written story about a young girl and her search to find herself after the unexpected happens. I loved Marinka’s character and how she grows throughout the book, as well as her interactions with other characters.
This book is just lovely, enhanced even further by the glorious illustrations!
Next I need to read The Girl Who Speaks Bear…
Have you read any of these books?
Would you like to read any of them after reading this post?
Could you recommend any other books featuring girls having adventures?
What are you reading at the moment?
Check out some more mini-reviews themed around Girls in Politics, the Sea , Mermaids , Rescue Dogs , Clockwork , Circuses , Female Pilots, Greek Mythology , Gaming , Hot Air Balloons , Remembrance or Villains?
Thanks for reading!