Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pam Reviews: The Spindlers + Fortunately, The Milk

I'm so excited today to turn the blog over once again to my fabulous mom who's going to share her thoughts on a pair of middle grade titles!

THE SPINDLERS
Lauren Oliver
Middle Grade/Fantasy
HarperCollins
246 pages
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Evocative of Alice in Wonderland, this novel from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver is a bewitching story about the reaches of loyalty and the enduring power of hope.

Looking across the breakfast table one morning, twelve-year-old Liza feels dread wash over her. Although her younger brother, Patrick, appears the same, Liza knows that he is actually quite different. She is certain that the spindlers—evil, spiderlike beings—came during the night and stole his soul. And Liza is also certain that she is the only one who can rescue him.

Armed with little more than her wits and a huge talking rat for a guide, Liza descends into the dark and ominous underground to save Patrick's soul. Her quest is far from easy: she must brave tree-snakes, the Court of Stones, and shape-shifting scawgs before facing her greatest challenge in the spindlers' lair, where more than just Patrick's soul is at stake.


PAM'S THOUGHTS
I was totally enchanted with Lauren Oliver's world building in her wonderful and unusual adventure tale, The Spindlers. The ABOVE is a world of humans, where heroine Liza Elston lives a normal life with her parents and her beloved younger brother, Patrick. But the strange, perilous BELOW is an underworld filled with monsters that become either her kind allies or her scary enemies on a journey to save her brother. Liza must rescue his soul, which frightening Spindlers–half human, half spiders with long pointy legs ending in human hands–will consume. All the monsters are imaginative, original and magical: the crafty, thieving Troglods; the helpful, sensitive Lumen; the beautiful, harmless Nocturni; the evil, soul nabbing Spindlers; and many more. All depict horror and wonder. The Spindlers is a purely entertaining, enjoyable read and guaranteed to capture anyone’s interest.
 

I think Lauren Oliver is quite the descriptive storyteller. Her numerous infusions of similes and metaphors in her writing style perfectly illustrate emotions or visuals that impact the reader instantly. Although her book is geared for the middle grade reader, the imparted values of love, strength, honesty, loyalty and what it means to be a friend are gentle reminders for readers of any age.
 

Rating 4/5

Find Lauren:



FORTUNATELY, THE MILK
Neil Gaiman
Middle Grade
114 pages
HarperCollins
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
"I bought the milk," said my father. "I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: T h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road."

"Hullo," I said to myself. "That's not something you see every day. And then something odd happened."

Find out just how odd things get in this hilarious story of time travel and breakfast cereal, expertly told by Newbery Medalist and bestselling author Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Skottie Young.

PAM'S THOUGHTS
Page after page of whimsical, humorous characters and their silly, futuristic adventures with a father protecting his precious purchase of much needed milk for his children’s breakfast, await to entertain middle grade readers in Fortunately, The Milk. I thought the author told this tale with beautifully colorful and witty language through the narrator, the Dad. Ordinary items found around Dad’s home were very cleverly turned into his unique characters or settings. For example, his son’s stegosaurus dinosaur model was the inspiration for the unforgettable character of Prof. Steg, and the volcano drawing on the fridge became an incredible setting for a harrowing escapade. Although this book was written for a younger audience, adults can also appreciate Gaiman’s humor and gentle barbs at pop culture. It really is a purely fun read for anyone.

However, what elevated my rating of this fantasy were the superb pen-and-ink illustrations by the talented cartoonist, Scottie Young. They’re simply amazing and, for me, his commanding artistic style was an absolute delight to view. EVERY page (some full and even double spread) was filled with extremely clever drawings along with a unique and imaginative use of illustrated type. Although Dad’s adventure drawings were impressive, the most outstanding ones were those expressive emotions he captured for each character. My favorite appeared at the end of the book: The smug expression on Dad’s face reflecting his pride in having turned a too-lengthy errand to the store for milk into a dangerous, magical, time-traveling epic tale for his very skeptical children. It was priceless.

Rating: 4/5

Find Neil:


This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my (or in this case, Pam's) honest opinion.

43 comments:

  1. PAM!!!!!!! :)))))
    Such lovely reviews! And even though I usually do not care about Middle Grade books, I think I might like The Spindlers.. The cover is beautiful:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Danny! Thank you for your sweet comment and I think you'd really enjoy reading The Spindlers - it's a wonderful, and at the same time, creepy action- packed adventure story!
      Pam

      Delete
  2. Lovely reviews Pam! I've been meaning to read both of these books for a long time. I've had the Spindlers ever since BEA and still haven't gotten to it.
    Can't wait to see you at BEA next month!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Alison! I would guess that your TBR list borders on staggering, but if you can, slip Oliver's book toward the top, and I think you'll find it a very quick and most enjoyable read!
      Pam
      PS. Awesome times and happy faces ahead at BEA - see you there!!!!

      Delete
  3. Ah yes, Lauren Oliver has a real flair for writing in all age groups! The Spindlers wasn't my favourite of hers, but I really loved it. Now that Neil Gaiman book - I can't believe I've never heard of it before! It's SO up my alley and the drawings sound great! Thanks for sharing, Pam :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Aylee. I'm sooo with you on Oliver's "flair for writing" - hugely descriptive - just loved it!!! This was my first exposure to both authors, and I thought their unique styles and messages really appealed to any age reader. If you can grab Gaiman's book just to review the illustrations, I think you'll be so gIad you did. I can't write enough about them. Thank you for your comments!
      Pam

      Delete
  4. oh it's cute! Love retellings and I haven't read one on Alice yet. One day I'll have to try Lauren Olover, mainly as everyone has already read at least one book. I didn't know the second one but I love the cover. thanks for the reviews!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Melliane! Please give Oliver's book a try very soon - it's enchanting and very entertaining! And yes, the illustrated cover of Gaiman's book is incredible *sigh* I so love Skottie Young's work!!
      Pam

      Delete
  5. I really loved Spindlers, and I've been meaning to check out Fortunately the Milk. It's so amazing how Neil Gaiman's writing can be written for a younger age group, but still appeal to adults. I adore Coraline and The Graveyard Book, possibly even more than I love his adult books. I can't wait to read this now, and see the gorgeous illustrations. Fantastic reviews! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Lauren, thank you for your thoughts on Gaiman's appeal to all ages. With Fortunately, The Milk I heartily agree! Young readers will love the whimsical story and characters, while adults will appreciate his humorous "spoofs" on pop culture icons like decorative plates, plastic flamingos, scented candles and throw pillows. Uh-oh, I so fall into the last one, so love my decorative pillows :)
      Pam

      Delete
  6. While I really enjoyed Lauren Oliver's YA books I haven't read any of her middle grade books. This one seems amazing and I loved the sound of world building. I'm so happy you enjoyed it and I'll have to give it a try. Also let's take a moment and appreciated Neil Gaimen's titles! This one is amazing :) I'm glad you enjoyed this one as well. Amazing reviews, Jenny :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tanja! The Spindlers is an amazing read, and quite honestly, all due to Oliver's highly imaginative and very descriptive world building talents. Loved it all. And for Gaiman's book, whew, no shortage on talent there - I loved that he beat to a different drummer in his storytelling!
      Pam

      Delete
  7. Fantastic reviews Pam! I feel like I really need to read Fortunately, the Milk soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment and PLEASE read FTM - it's really fun! Oh wait. I really shouldn't go here again (but I must), the illustrations are AWESOME!
      Pam

      Delete
  8. MOM!! *waves furiously* I highly enjoyed these two tales, too. The drawings in Gaiman's were certainly gorgeous, weren't they? And I do love how Gaiman's mind works.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MARY!! *waves furiously back* you are too cute. I'm thrilled you've read both and liked them as much as me. Huh. You mentioned the gorgeous illustrations. Skottie Young is a creative genius with pen and ink. Whaddya think, should I go work on his PR team? Such. A. Fan. Thanks Mary!
      Pam

      Delete
  9. I love that these were both such cute reads! I have been curious about the Spindlers for awhile now so I am happy to see a positive review on it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment! It's been a l-o-n-g time since I've read any MG books and I thoroughly enjoyed them both - pure fun!
      Pam

      Delete
  10. Spindlers has such a lovely cover. I haven't read anything by Lauren Oliver yet, but I think I need to start somewhere. I know I know, she's such a loved author in the bookish community. I've heard so much about her writing. And it's always great when an author can teach younger readers strong values through their books.

    Fortunately, It's Milk looks like such a cute read too. Many MG are so much more than they initially appear to me. I haven't tried one ever since I grew out of the age range, but I think I might like both these reviews.

    Lovely reviews, Pam! So glad you enjoyed both of these and it was nice seeing you on here after so long! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for sharing your really kind comments and thoughts! Oh Nick, if you're going to try Oliver, please jump in on this one - it's wonderful and the values she imparts are subtle, but effective. I liked The Spindlers so much, I thought I would read her Leisel and Poe book next. I loved FTM too, as it was one delightfully fantastic adventure after another. But then, I got distracted with the phenomenal artwork, which was a HUGE a plus for me *another sigh*
      Pam

      Delete
  11. I can't remember if my brother has read The Spindlers; if he hasn't, I'm going to give it to him as a recommendation. I'm also going to let him read Fortunately, The Milk. Both sound like great MG reads that I can picture him liking. Thanks for the recommendations, Pam!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're most welcome for the recommendations as I think he'd enjoy them! Each story is soooo different but both vastly entertaining. Thank you for your comment.
      Pam

      Delete
  12. Pam these sound magical and I love the sound of the above and below worlds.The cover of Spindlers is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Geez, you could not have chosen a more perfect word to describe these books . . . they are "magical." And thank you for your comment!
      Pam

      Delete
  13. I haven't heard much of the Spindlers, but it does sound something I would enjoy. I've yet to be disappointed with Neil Gaiman so he's an auto read for me. I have to figure out who to slip him up the top of my huge tbr pile. Great reviews!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Auto read" says volumes on Gaiman and how much you love his books. I'm betting FTM will be at the top of the stack, like tomorrow. I really liked my first Gaiman experience, so I'm grabbing another one very soon. Any favorites you'd like to suggest? I'd appreciate your input! Thanks Rummanah!
      Pam

      Delete
  14. I love NG! He really is delightful to read no matter what age he is writing for. What a wonderful set of review Pam :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Felicia! Wow, another diehard Gaiman fan - he is awesome! I have to share this because this author is so new to me, but while reading FTM, I was in awe of his thought processes and his incredibly creative mind, rapidly shooting out non-stop imaginative characters and adventures. I repeat. In awe. Thanks for your comment! Pam

      Delete
  15. I've had The Spindlers for ages and SO need to read it!
    Neil Gaiman isn't always for me, but this one sounds pretty decent and maybe more my pace so I might need to give it a try!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Candace, please don't wait a moment more to enjoy Oliver's book - truly, it's such a quick read and simply enchanting, what could be nicer than that! Thank you so much for your comments!
      Pam

      Delete
  16. I have yet to read Lauren's mg series. I think my mom has this book in her classroom. Will have to steal it from her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Savannah, go for this MG read! And what better endorsement for Oliver's book could there be than your Mom having it in her classroom . . . hmmm?

      Oh wait. May I also suggest that you just borrow it :) Just kidding! Thanks for your comment. Pam

      Delete
  17. YAY! Hi, Pam *waves* so glad to have you back :) I've heard great things about Oliver's world-building and writing abilities so it's good to hear that you enjoyed it too. I wonder though, if middle graders get the metaphors. So good to hear that this can be enjoyed by older people than 12 year olds as well :D Oh, and the cover for Neil Gaiman's book is so awesome! It's fun? Yay! Ooooh, this has illustrations? Whoop! Me likes. I'm reading a time traveling book right now (Julie Cross's Tempest) and this could be a fun way to get another perspective entirely on this topic. Thanks so much for awesome reviews, Pam!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your adorable *waves* and welcome back - what a warm personality you must have! I appreciated your comment that middle graders might not get metaphors, but I gotta say, Oliver uses them so beautifully and simply, I think they won't miss the feelings she's trying to portray. She's a very, very talented writer.

      Oh how I have laughed reading your animated thoughts in support of the most awesome of illustrators, Skottie Young. Are you tired of me plugging his mind blowing talents yet? *Hugs* to you for your darling comments about his work. Enjoy your new time travel read and thanks!
      Pam

      Delete
  18. Pam what wonderful reviews! These look like beautiful books and with your seal of approval, I know they are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhh, my sweet cathyzem - my heartfelt thank you for your super kind words of support. You're, as always, there for me and I adore you.
      Hugs, Pam

      Delete
  19. Awwww they look so cute, wants!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They ARE cute, gets! Thanks so much for your comment!

      Delete
  20. Thanks for the heads up on these, Pam. I will soon have middle grade readers so I am hunting down books for them. I still haven't anything by Lauren Oliver can you believe that? I think the illustrations in the Neil Gaiman book sound fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
  21. That's awesome that your mom guest posts on your blog! I love me some Alice in Wonderland; thanks for the recommendations.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I didn't even realize Lauren Oliver wrote a MG book. Huh, shows how behind I am. lol. And Neil Gaiman ... yeah, the guy is a master of his craft. Great reviews, Pam!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Pam- I am reading FORTUNATELY, THE MILK right now. because that title. It was there on Amazon so many times and finely I just had to get it. It is the first book of Neil Gaiman's that I am reading and it is just like you say. The drawings add so much to the story, the dad, always segue ways into another story with the title....I think it's going to be one of those phrases I say instead of "just because" when my kids ask a question I can't answer! I love, love, love your reviews of both books, but especially Fortunately the Milk. Now, instead of writing my own review, I'll just point them to yours because you said it best!!
    Excellent!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I love the way you write and share your niche! Very interesting and different! Keep it coming!
    10etext

    ReplyDelete