Saturday, June 16, 2012

Kay Lawrence - Billy of Boldre Wood

Billy of Boldre Wood
Boldre Woods Trilogy

By Kay Lawrence 

Kindle Version Available 

Product Description (from Amazon) 

Boldre Wood, a vast, wild, impenetrable forest, stretches from the eastern shores of the continent all the way to the west. Undisturbed by man, the forest is home to a miniature race of people who live in the ancient trees. Theirs is a dangerous world, where even the smallest insect is a formidable foe.
Shielded from these dangers by his parents during his early childhood, Barnaby 'Billy' Billicoot is brutally forced to face the reality of his world when he is orphaned at the age of fourteen.
As his mother lies dying from the viral infection raging through Angloak, she tells Billy of her belief that he will go on to make their world a better place. With his mother's dying prophecy ringing in his ears, Billy sets out to learn more about his home, only to be immediately attacked by the vicious stairway-men who rule the great stairs of the tree.
Can one young boy really make such a hostile world a better place, especially when he learns of a new threat facing Boldre Wood, more deadly and terrifying than anything they have ever seen before?

About the Author (from Amazon)

I always loved writing stories. It was one of the few things that ever won me praise in school. I wasn't good at maths, or catching a ball, or remembering historical dates and figures, but I could spin a yarn. I announced at an early age that I planned to be a writer and keep my parents in style. Now, all these years later I am a writer, though the style I'm keeping my parents in is probably not all they might have hoped for.
As a writer I'm a bit of a butterfly, flitting through age ranges and genre as the mood takes me. My children's fantasy adventure series, The Boldre Wood Trilogy, has now made its debut on Kindle in the form of Book One, Billy of Boldre Wood. Boldre Wood is home to a miniature race of people who live in the ancient trees, fighting for survival in a hostile world. Book Two will follow, hopefully, later this year.
In meantime, I'm working on a collection of short stories for Kindle, 'The QT Anthology', as well as adding to the growing library of shorts on my website:

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Rachel

  This was a surprising book, and in the end I enjoyed it very much, other than one character who used d*** many times.  This one problem may make parents hesitate to allow their younger children to read the book, especially since the more acceptable Darn could have been used in it’s place.  Other than that, I was quite delighted with the story.

What child doesn’t dream of little people, and living in trees – this book has both.  It gets off to a really awkward start, a little girl in a school yard is telling a story to her friends, and then it switches over to a tree and rambles this way and that for a ways before landing with the main character.  I honestly nearly put the book down, the beginning was confusing and I didn’t see what it had to do with the story once it got under way, especially the little girl in the school yard.  But eventually, you arrive at the end of the introduction, and the story gets started.  Fortunately, I rarely let a bad introduction stop me from reading a story, because I found Billy to be a charming character, along with Tommy and Errol.

The story gets started with the three boys in the school yard.  You get to know them a bit before some catastrophe shakes the tree ... everyone runs to investigate.  Billy’s father is the floor hero – and he takes charge of the situation, but as the hours drag on and on, he doesn’t return home.  His father has fallen out of the tree.  They live on the 14th floor.

I do not know how many floors are above, from the wasp invasion, I guessed at least 3 or 4 more, and Billy and his friends eventually travel all the way down to the 5th floor.  It usually takes nearly a full day of walking to go from floor to floor, and the stairways are filled with despicable characters of all kinds, who survive by stealing from people who are foolish enough to travel alone, or too weak to keep up with the others.

There is a plot to this book, but to write out a basic plot as I often do for my reviews, would give far too much of the story away.

Before the end of the first chapter, Billy has lost his father, and life gets a lot harder.  He is a poor boy, but many, if not most, of the inhabitants of this floor are on the poor side.  Through school, you learn a little about the tree and it’s heroes.  Pay attention in school!

You begin to realize how fiercely loyal the boys friendship is, while they fight the war with the wasps.  The entire tree is under attack, and every able bodied man is called upon to do his duty to protect the tree.

Later, a virus rips through the tree, and Billy’s mother is one of the few on floor 14 who catches the virus, and the only one on their floor to die.  Billy decides that it is his duty to go to floor 13 and inform his mother’s parents of her death.  That is when the real adventure starts, up to this point, the focus has mainly been on character development and understanding the lifestyle of the tree people.

As she lay dying, Billy’s mother tells him that he is destined for greatness, and that he will make a big difference to life in the tree.  Through the rest of the book, the reader learns about how different life is on other floors, the overall politics of the tree, form friendships, learn about themselves and each other, and discover that there is a threat to their way of life far more dangerous than anything that they could ever imagine.

In spite of this book being the first of a trilogy, it ends quite nicely.  Their are hints of a new mystery that will likely be the focus of the continuing trilogy, but it doesn’t leave you hanging on the edge of your seat hoping that there are a few more pages to read.

I do look forward to visiting with Billy and his friends again.  They are nice boys with a lot of guts and gumption, who choose the right thing, because it is the right thing to do.  There is enough adventure and action to keep you turning pages.

I think the main disappointment to me, is that this could so easily be a story for parents to read aloud at bedtimes or a voracious young reader would enjoy.  But because of the language and the level of violence, I would not give this to my son to read until he is quite a bit older, maybe 10 or 11.  Most teens will not enjoy this book, as there is not enough action or romance, but as an adult, I found it charming and a delightful story.

Note:  Other than the violence and one character repeatedly using a bad word, this book may appeal to children as young as 5 or 6.  There is a LOT of violence – but it isn’t not so graphically worded that it would be overtly scary to most people.  Definitely a PG.

Parents could read this aloud to younger children, and skip the most squeamish and objectionable parts without the child realizing that they were missing.  Perhaps.

Genre/Theme:   Adventure, Teen, Fantasy, Little People, Best Friends, Loyalty
Reading Level:  TEEN - upper elementary to middle school
Profanity:  MODERATE - mild words & a few stronger expletives (actually, other than a single character, the Colonel, using D*** many times, I don’t remember any really objectionable words.  This was a minor character, and was  mostly in Chapter 11.)
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at
Other: Several deaths, war with wasps, repeated muggings on the stairs and bully on the play yard

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