Tag Archives: Anthony Horowitz

Boy heroes

I’ve feasted on this boy hero (or killer….) stuff all week. Meeting Andy McNab (or not?) and finally reading Joe Craig’s Jimmy Coates, and now I’ve polished off my active week with the latest Alex Rider. I suppose he’s proof that I’m not entirely sequel-proof, since I think this one might have been Anthony Horowitz’s eighth.

At first I found the ‘warming-up’ adventure in Scotland a little boring, to be honest. Although I was on a hot and crowded train for 100 pages, and maybe being slow-roasted made me slightly irritated. But it was soon back to normal, with Alex skipping school and almost getting killed in ten different ways in a very brief period of time. Again.

I suppose it’s what we like? Daughter wondered if the fact that Alex turns 15 means there will be no more? He could settle down with Sabina and grow wheat, or something.

Wouldn’t be surprised if charities now hate Anthony for opening our eyes to how easy it is for them to manipulate us and our feelings and more importantly, our wallets. Mind you, as your resident cynic I didn’t have far to go.

Crocodile Tears (that’s the title, btw) has yet another mad baddie, of the kind who conveniently sits down to boast to Alex at the end, so that we all learn exactly what’s been going on. Why do they all do that? From gambling in a Scottish castle to a GM lab in southern England and on to Kenya for the big finale. Even Mr Blunt is getting a little bit soft, and I wonder who Anthony based his new Prime Minister on? He’s an idiot.

Unlike Jimmy Coates, Alex may not set out to kill people, but he does, regardless. And for a blonde he’s quite intelligent and resourceful. Could we have him as a brunette next time, if there is a next time?

City of Ships

I’m in despair. I clearly went wrong somewhere with Daughter. Why isn’t she reading Mary Hoffman’s Stravaganza series? It’s got everything she wants in a book, with the possible exception of David Tennant. (Mary, perhaps you could fix that?) Mary’s teenagers in today’s London could be cousins to Cathy Hopkins’s Mates Dates girls. And boys. Her boys are seriously fanciable. Definitely cousins of Tony’s.

The historical setting could be from Theresa Breslin’s historical and romantic books. Or from Mary’s own standalone novels. And then you take the people and the settings and throw a little Alex Rider adventuring into the whole thing. In City of Ships, add a tablespoon of Johnny Depp.

What’s not to like?

Every time a new Stravaganza enters the house, the Resident IT Consultant is there, nosing around like a puppy just waking up to some intriguing smell. And then he’s off reading. This is the man who can be quite scathing about reading which isn’t serious enough, so although Stravaganza falls into my category of settling down with lots of comfort foods, with dessert, it has a lot of merit.

I suppose we all want to be one of those teenagers in Barnsbury. The one who thought they were nothing special, who wakes up somewhere very strange one morning, and discovers they are very special indeed. A whole new life in Talia, four hundred years ago, and with an important role to play in Talia’s history.

In City of Ships, which is Mary’s fifth, it’s Isabel who carves out a new life, away from her leading twin brother Charlie. Double trouble. Isabel wakes up in Classe, the Ravenna of Talia, and she meets the very handsome pirate Andrea.

Mary has also come up with some new travel arrangements for the stravagantes, which means they no longer need to ‘buy’ return journeys, but can make single trips to almost anywhere. And they may not have mobile phones in Talia, but those canny old men have come up with Talia’s answer to Skype.

Fabrizio is up to no good, and war on two fronts is on the cards. Thanks to Isabel and a two-timing spy, things work out in the end. Mostly. Some people have to die, but it wasn’t my primary suspect which was good. And I do like the fact that old enemies can reform and become good guys. We’ll soon be one big, happy family.

If we could only tie up a few loose ends in London?

Last night I dreamed

that I sat next to Ann Pilling. My dream was set somewhere holiday-ish where the whole witch family had gathered, and there were loads of children’s authors. I ended up sitting next to someone by the name of Ann, but it took me ages to find out who she was.

I wouldn’t be telling you about my dream, if it wasn’t for what Daughter did next. She needed occupying, so being a bookwitch I suggested reading. Of course. I also suggested Michelle Magorian’s A Little Love Song, but sadly it has turned into one of these suggestions where Offspring have to say no, just to keep up tradition. So she went off to see what else there might be and came back with Vote For Baz, by none other than Ann Pilling. Witchy.

I don’t know the book myself, as it’s one of the review cast-offs from Librarian Husband of Cousin, which has been hanging around for a few years. But it was good enough to result in Daughter not doing anything else for a whole day. But she would like it known that the cover sucks.

When Son and Dodo arrived, they proudly mentioned they’d brought a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, with a view to reminding themselves what it’s about. I told them they were idiots, as it’s the only Harry Potter we already have here on holiday, so a waste of a kilo of luggage allowance. They remedied this by reading a copy each, side by side. Then they went to the library for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The library had no other Harry Potters in English except The Deathly Hallows, and they even had two copies of it. So they have side-by-sided HP7 as well.

The library has been useful in other ways too. Daughter had to have some more audio books to listen to at night, so she found an Alex Rider and Philip Pullman’s The Scarecrow on CD. It’s free and you can keep them for four weeks.

Other than this, we have tidied the book collection a very little. Over the years we have carried spares and jumble sale books for those desperate days when you just have to have something else to read. But unless we are to hang on to lots of old books for any grandchildren we may have, we have quite frankly outgrown some of them. They are now sitting in the Salvation Army bag, waiting to go.

Holiday shelves

Daughter wanted to relieve the Salvation Army of a second-hand bookcase to put them in, but I felt we didn’t need more shelves. We need fewer books. I prune and re-order every now and then, and we have a passable collection by now. In fact, my former neighbour used to let herself in with the spare key and borrow books every winter. Well, I always wanted to be a librarian.

One book that is going nowhere, is I Am David, which Daughter read a few days ago, at long long last. She asked about the title, which she thought she had overheard when her brother listened to the audio book. They are the last words of the book, and just thinking about it made me want to cry a little. She finished the book and then told me she could find nothing sad…

What’s a witch to do?

The graphic Alex Rider

Can you have too much Alex Rider? As I’ve said before, we quite like him around these parts. Like so many other fast paced stories, Stormbreaker was made into a film. It was OK, though I’m not sure how well it did, as I’ve not come across any evidence that there are more films on the way.

I’ve just been road testing two graphic novels about Alex. Stormbreaker is exactly like the film, rather than the book. The changes made to the plot, etc, for the film are in the graphic novel as well. That’s not necessarily bad – just interesting. It probably made the job easier to take the film almost frame by frame.

Talking about taking – that’s what happened to the book once it got here. You’d think Daughter would have had enough with book and film, but oh, no. Alex Rider quietly disappeared off the kitchen table, and I only found him a week later. When I did, I carried him back downstairs, only to find him gone again (if you can say that). The Resident IT Consultant is not the type to read comics, so what was he doing with Alex? (Rumour has it that when he was six and got put on the train to Glasgow to visit his grandmother, he was given some money to buy the Beano, or equivalent. It appears that he was found with a copy of The Times.)

Point Blanc carries on in much the same vein, though as I have no film to compare it with, I don’t know how they decided to adapt it. One thing that feels a little wrong is that both Alex and Sabina look far too young. More like twelve than fourteen. But even the cynical witch found it quite addictive. That could be why this book also disappeared. I warned him that it was not to be taken out of my sight, so he read it standing right next to me. It could be that if he had read the Beano that time long ago, he wouldn’t have needed Alex Rider. On the other hand, the witch bought two comics regularly during her teens. No serious side effects.


Rather than comment on the comments about hardbacks, I’ll follow up on Adele’s and Peter’s thoughts.

Adele first – I suppose Alex Rider fans are so desperate that they will buy the hardback, and Anthony gets richer still. (Saw his house in a house magazine a while back, and very nice it is too.) From a green point of view I feel paperbacks are better, and they allow for more books on my shelves, because they are smaller.

However, when School Friend’s Daughter E came to live with us one autumn some years ago, she was shocked that so many of the new books here were paperback only. E thought it looked cheap and not very proper, and that was coming from a 19-year-old, whom I’d expect to want to live simply and cheaply.

The story of me and Artemis Fowl – No, Peter, Artemis came as hardback first. I’d kept seeing the ads for Artemis long before the book arrived and thought to myself I’d never buy anything that sounded that stupid. And certainly not in hardback, as I am (was) an economical sort of person. But Christmas came; the witch was standing in a bookshop, and before she knew what was happening, Artemis in hardback came home for Christmas.

And the next Christmas it was more a case of Artemis having turned into a Christmas tradition, and the hardback looked rather nice, after all. After the first Artemis I wasn’t even sure I liked him (which apparently is exactly the reaction Eoin had hoped for) so I can’t account for my reasoning here. And here we are with a very nicely matching shelf, full of hardback Eoin Colfer books. I’ve probably paid for his house conversion, or whatever he’s been up to, too.

I think Picador’s idea of paperbacks is excellent. The only books that need to be hardback are those were the book would collapse if not firm. Cleopatra’s jewels, for instance.


I knew I was missing something when I overheard two female members of staff at Offspring’s school discussing the then latest Alex Rider book. I knew young readers devoured the books, as I had one at home myself. One who had almost exploded when his friend got to the library copy of the new book first. But the idea that grown women would also be so keen, had me carry home a copy to see. That first one only lasted the evening, and after that I read them all. If it’s good enough for the Geography teacher…

Snakehead is number seven for Alex Rider, and it’s not a disappointment. I wish Anthony Horowitz had avoided the Sirius Black character, but never mind originality. It’s the action that counts.

Daughter got to the book first. She is the biggest Alex Rider fan right now. Then I settled in my armchair with the book, only to have to leave it later for household type chores. I came back to find someone in my chair. Very Goldilocks. Moved him on. Sat down. Very empty feeling. The book was gone too. “Give me back my book!” Sheepish look. This happened several times. I think grown men should know better.

So, quite good. Gets the pulse going.

One complaint, though. It’s now out in hardback first. I think this is cheeky, and wrong. Alex Rider used to come out in paperback, at an OK sort of price. Neither its readership nor the type of story it is, makes it a hardback kind of book. They may say it’s the price of a CD, but you listen to a CD more than once. And my neat (autistic?) trait says it looks bad in the bookcase. First six paperbacks, and then a hardback. Uneven.

The Greek Who Stole Christmas

This was my first encounter with Anthony Horowitz’s Diamond Brothers. I’d noticed the wittily titled series before, but never got round to reading any of them. Decided that a Christmas story would fit the bill.

Anthony has been having fun with the hard boiled style and with the exceedingly bad puns. “‘An anonymous letter!’ Tim exclaimed. ‘Who from?'” Intelligence isn’t the strongest point of the elder Diamond.

There’s a brief story in there, and it should be perfect for the less confident reader, who still likes something exciting. And if I’d paid more attention to the cover, initially, I’d have found out more about the plot, too.

I suspect the target audience can’t ever fully appreciate either the titles with their puns, or the use Anthony makes of classic hard boiled PI fiction. Never mind. It may make the parents smile and convince them to get the books.