Cogheart: brilliant adventure book for children

I first saw  Cogheart in a Waterstones window display and it caught my eye immediately. Straight away I thought that this was a story that I would have loved as a child. And then I though, well if I would have loved it when I was younger, why not read it now?

The story focuses on Lily, whose father is missing (presumed dead) in an airship ‘accident’. Her new guardian, Madame Verdigris, soon becomes obsessed with selling off her father’s possessions in order to lay her hands on a perpetual motion machine, with the help of the villainous, mirror-eyed Mr Roach and Mr Mould. Lily finds a new-friend and ally in clockmaker’s apprentice Robert and together, along with her mechanical fox Malkin, they must try to keep her father’s most precious invention safe.

The story itself is set in an alternative Victorian era, where travel is mainly done by airship and mechanicals and mechanimals form a part of every day life, along with some unusual human-mechanical hybrids. This raises an interesting theme of whether the mechanical people and animals have the same rights and also the same ability to feel as humans and in fact, the story soon reveals that humans can in fact be trusted far less than the clockwork inventions.

It was an interesting read with some good twists and turns that (whilst a little predictable for adult readers) would definitely keep younger readers entertained. I would definitely recommend it for children in the age range of 9-12 for an enjoyable story full of mystery, action and adventure.

The Sunday Philosophy Club

I’ve never read any of Alexander McCall Smith’s novels before now but the premise of this one seemed interesting. Isabelle Dalhousie witnesses the death of a young man one evening at a concert. Unable to put it out of her mind or accept, as everyone else does, that it is simply a terrible accident, she begins her own series of investigations into what happened. 

It sounds like an intriguing mystery and there were sections of the story that I really enjoyed, particularly towards the end as it picked up pace and the drama increased.

 However, far too much of the novel seemed given up to philosophising and consideration of ethical theories  (I know, the title should have suggested that to me!) which at times just slowed it down far too much. I also have to admit that I found it hard to warm to Isabel; whose main challenges each day come in the forms of a crossword and analysing her own ethical code and decisions in minute detail.
It kept me interested enough to read to the ending, but certainly not enough to seek out any more Isabel Dalhousie novels to read.

The ABC murders

Hercule Poirot is presented with a series of murders that are highly disturbing, committed by a homicidal maniac, in this classic murder mystery from Agatha Christie.

The ABC Murders is one of those stories that I’ve read several times now and even knowing how it ends does not take away from my enjoyment of the book.

One of the best things about this novel is that Christie breaks away from her usual Poirot style. The crime is not personal but apparently random, fuelled by an obsession with the alphabet; Poirot is alerted to it through an anonymous letter challenging him to discover the culprit; and in some unusual segments which move away from Captain Hasting’s first person narrative the culprit is introduced to the reader very early on in the novel. Or is he?

I hope I won’t spoil it too much by saying that, as ever, Christie demonstrates that not everything is as it first appears and that order is soon revealed within the apparent chaos.

As far as Poirot novels go, this is right up there with some of the best (although my favourites still remain as Murder on the Orient Express and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd).