BOOK BLOG: Alex Bell

Explorers on Black Ice Bridge: a rip-roaring adventure through icy cold depths!

explorers

“Ice princess Stella Starflake and her father Felix are in trouble: President Fogg has expelled them from the Polar Bear Explorers’ Club, and banned them from going on any further expeditions. Stella’s not going to be put off by rules and regulations though. She knows her friend Shay is in danger of turning into a witch wolf himself, since receiving a deadly bite on their last adventure. It’s vital that Stella and her friends set out to find the spellbook that could save his life, even if it means travelling over the cursed Black Ice Bridge.”

Anyone who has spent any time on this blog knows that I am a MASSIVE fan of the Polar Bear Explorers series. The first book absolutely blew me away. The second book (of which you can read my review here) was one of the best books I read last year. I had very high hopes for the third book in the series. I’d been sat around ever since last year waiting for this to come out… and my word. What a total winner! 

Explorers on Black Ice Bridge starts with a total bang. Pearl and her dad Felix are in a  LOT of trouble. They got up to a lot of mischief (although I would argue they were doing it for good) in book 2, so they are having to deal with their actions now. The council of the Polar Bear Explorers’ Club are NOT happy with Stella and Felix. Ultimately, Stella and Felix are expelled from the Polar Bear Explorers’ Club (more fool the club in my opinion tbh). This leaves them in a very tricky situation because they still have an exploration they need to go on to save Stella’s friend, but now that they don’t belong to a club, they’re not allowed to. 

Of course, Felix being Felix, he knows that there is no such thing as an explorer who isn’t allowed to explore. He knows that Stella and her friends need to be able to get their mission completed because when friends are in need, it’s down to them to stick together to help. Felix and Stella, with the use of Stella’s ice magic and her friends, make things happen. They get the exploring ball rolling again. What ensues is a complete adventure into frozen lands, a surprisingly charming and funny flamingo who dons a top hat and friendship that always wins. 

Something I loved most about this book was that I was CONSTANTLY surprised. There were things that I wasn’t expecting. Characters you thought were one thing, who ended up being another thing. Choices made which definitely were unexpected. Settings and places I wouldn’t have predicted visiting. Some tiny subtle things which made my heart explode (there’s a wonderful bit about bad memories and it almost made me cry!). There’s a wonderful setting at the end of the story and it just floored me because it was SO out there, but it worked so beautifully for the story. 

There’s some wonderful messages in this book about looking after each other, the importance of kindness, looking after the world and being responsible. We are all responsible for the world we live on – whether it’s Stella in her world, or us in our world. This was a lovely thing to read because it wasn’t preachy, but it was beautifully written. Something which would make children think without intimidating them. 

My Goodreads review:

A rip-roaring adventure through ice, self doubt and friendship. With a flamingo (who is rather fun) and a menacing villain, this book was surprise after surprise. I really enjoyed this! I’m hoping there’s more to come because that ending lends itself to more…

If you’re looking for an icy adventure, perfect for a winter’s day, look no further than Explorers on Black Ice Bridge (but remember to read the two previous books first… they are MOST binge worthy). If you don’t fall for Felix, then we can’t be friends. 

I don’t know if this review does the book ANY justice… so please go out and read it! Then we can talk about how bloody awesome it is. I can’t wait to give it to my own explorers! They’re going to love it! 

Have you read Explorers on Black Ice Bridge?
Do you think you’d make a good explorer?
Where would you explore to if you had the chance?

Explorers on Black Ice Bridge is out now! GO GO GO!

S x 

“Which books should I add to my Christmas list, Miss?”

Yesterday, I shared 10 recommendations for emerging chapter book readers – check it out if you’re after recommendations for 6+ years! Today I’m sharing books that I’ve shared with the kids in my class, school and life! Today is the turn of those who are confidently reading longer chapter books – longer chapter books that are BLOODY BRILLIANT.

None of these books will come as a surprise to ANYONE who knows me, but nevertheless. I think one of the best books you can buy kids is a book. These recommendations are books I’ve loved, but also books that my kids have wholeheartedly taken under their wing!

2018 mg recs

(I know right, SHOCKERS)

Now, some of these are book 1 in a series that I would recommend the whole series of… but if I’d put ALL of the books in the series of, I would have been here forever!

The House with Chicken Legs – Sophie Anderson

The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club series – Alex Bell

A Place Called Perfect series – Helena Duggan

Armistice Runner – Tom Palmer

The Light Jar – Lisa Thompson

Tilly and the Bookwanderers – Anna James

The Way Past Winter – Kiran Milwood Hargrave

Snowglobe – Amy Wilson

The Nowhere Emporium series – Ross Mackenzie

Brightstorm – Vashti Hardy

The Storm Keeper’s Island – Catherine Doyle

Who Let The Gods Out series by Maz Evans (Simply the Quest reviewBeyond the Odyssey review)

And there you have it… my second lot of MG recommendations which are perfect to buy for any budding bookworm in your life!

Have you read any of these?
Do you have any favourites?
Would you recommend any for me to add to my list?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Come back tomorrow for YA recommendations!

S x

 

S4S – Characters you’d love to see together

Happy Sunday friends! 

How are we all? Are we all ready for more #SixforSunday? 

Today’s challenge is a TOUGHIE. Just as I have the past few weeks, I have TOO many options for the 6 I’m allowed to choose! Today I have to only find 6:

Characters you’d love to see together

  1. Jack (from Jack of Hearts and Other Parts) and Simon (Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda)
  2. Jupiter (Nevermoor) and Felix (The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club)
  3. Stella (The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club) and Owl (A Girl Called Owl)
  4. Twylla (The Sin Eater’s Daughter) and Sorrow (State of Sorrow)
  5. Twylla (The Sin Eater’s Daughter) and Kaz Brekker (Six of Crows)
  6. Tilly (Pages and Co) and Property Jones (The Bookshop Girl)

There we go, some MG and some YA choices! This was a lot of fun! My list surprises me… I definitely have a whole chunk of others I’d love to see. If you’re interested, talk to me! I’d love to share more of my ideas! 

S x

S4S – Ultimate panels

Hello everyone!

Sorry for the hiatus this week… there was just a little need for my brain to take a break after a very busy half term! I am back though! And today’s #SixforSunday sees me taking on:

Dream panels/events

So, my dream panels? WELL THIS IS GONNA BE FUN. I’m gonna go 3 MG and 3 YA because LOVE.

“Contemporary YA: Why it matters” with Laura Steven, Alice Oseman, Sara Barnard and Katherine Webber.

“Writing badass characters” featuring Leigh Bardugo, Melinda Salisbury, Alice Broadway and Alwyn Hamilton.

“Writing stories that make our readers cry (we love it)” featuring C.G.Drews, Karen Gregory, Lisa Healthfield and Adam Silvera.

“Creating worlds kids want to read about” featuring Helena Duggan, Maz Evans, Ross Mackenzie and Kiran Milwood Hargrave.

“Writing incredible characters” featuring Peter Brown, Lisa Thompson, Alex Bell and Jessica Townsend.

“Books: an ode to books” featuring Anna James and Piers Torday in conversation.

Side note: I am still waiting for a Floored Seven panel

There we go! I LOVE hearing authors talk about their books, so please GET ME MORE EVENTS IN THE NORTH. I’m more than happy to host any of these *wink*

Remember to share your dream panels using #SixforSunday! I can’t wait to see what you all think! 

S x 

S4S – Rereading books?!

Morning friends!

How are you all on this here Sunday morning? What are you up to today? Anything nice? What are we all reading?

Today’s #SixforSunday is all about:

Books I want to reread

Now, I’m not a regular rereader of books. I am a keeper of books that I love, but I don’t often reread them.

1. The Sun Eater’s Daughter trilogy – Melinda Salisbury

2. Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

3. Nevermoor – Jessica Townsend

4. The Explorer – Katherine Rundell

5. The Exact of Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven

6. A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard

Easiest #SixforSunday in a long time. I love each of these books with all of my heart and for different reasons. The magic of all of them, experiencing them for the first time was just great. Reading them a second time, I might get to witness something new! (Will I ever get round to reading them again? Who knows!)

Thanks so much for popping along! Don’t forget to check out my other posts this week and join me next week for more #SixforSunday! Share your post using the hashtag!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Alex Bell

Explorers On Witch Mountain: bursting with new adventures and new friends

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“Stella Starflake Pearl is eagerly anticipating her next expedition. Suddenly disaster strikes when Stella’s father, Felix, is snatched by a fearsome witch. Stella must bring her magic ice princess tiara to Witch Mountain or she will never see Felix again! But no one ever returns from Witch Mountain… 
Stella, Ethan, Shay, Beanie and reluctant Jungle Cat explorer, Percival, set off into the unknown. They will face terrifying bat caves, poisonous apple groves, outraged vultures, argumentative mushrooms and deranged broomsticks in their quest to rescue Felix.”

Explorers on Witch Mountain is one of my most highly anticipated books of this year. It’s the sequel to the incredible Polar Bear Explorer’s Club, which came out last year and blew me away. I have been sitting patiently waiting for this book to be released as I needed it in my life. I got a lovely surprise when the brilliant humans of Faber sent me a copy early and I quickly devoured it (because let’s be honest, it was of course jumping to the top of my TBR list… sorry not sorry to the rest of my books!)

Explorers takes us back into the world of Stella, Felix and their exploring. After my love for the first book, it was so amazing to be back in their world – despite the fact there’s somewhat of a foreboding witch puppet lurking in the attic! (I was not a fan of this witch who is watching Stella… spooky!) 

This new tale is full of adventure – there’s new friends, enemies, people who fall somewhere in the middle; new settings and new gadgets. You will never be bored reading this book because there is a fair share of new things to discover. I absolutely loved the fact that there’s so much adventure in this book. Stella and her friends meet a whole host of new creatures – fairies, witches, flying sharks, frogs and troublesome dinosaurs to name a few. Pair these great new characters with an interesting new setting for Stella to explore with her friends (because OBVIOUSLY Felix has told her she can’t) and you get an excellent story.

While we’re talking about Felix. Oh Felix. I do love him. (My book review notes say “Felix tho <3) He’s such a wise man. He’s just lush. I love reading him as a character. At the end of the book he has some wise, wise words for Stella and I love it. He’s not preachy, he talks to her like she’s someone he respects and I think that’s such a lush thing for kids to read. 

One of my kids has already nicked Explorers from me! I can’t wait for more of my kids to discover more of Alex Bell’s brilliant world. I can’t wait for book 3 – the ending of Explorers leaves the door wide open for a book 3 and I NEED IT. I think it’s going to be excellent.

Kids need to meet this world full of adventure. And they need to meet Stella, obviously. She’s badass, brave and bold – 3 things that kids should all aspire to be! 

My Goodreads review:

A brilliant adventure taking Stella to an island with terrifying teddy bears, witches and witch hunters, poisonous gingerbread houses, and of course, her trusty friends. I love this series. They’re so much more than just adventure stories – there’s a massive punch of meaning. Felix gives some bloody brilliant advice in these books. I utterly devoured this. It’s safe to say I can’t wait for book 3!

Explorers on Witch Mountain is out November 1st, published by Faber Children’s. It is available for preorder now!

Have you read Polar Bear Explorer’s Club?
Are you excited for Explorers on Witch Mountain?
Would you also love to have a pet polar bear?

A massive thank you to Faber for sending me this book! I loved it! 

S x

S4S – Authors that surprised you

Hello! Happy Sunday all!

How are we all today? What is going on in your Sunday life? Engaging in a little #SixforSunday I hope!

Today’s prompt for #SixforSunday is:

Authors that surprised you

Now, I’m not entirely sure what I meant with this, so it’s interesting to see what everyone else is saying… I’ll give a little explanation for each on

  1. Deirdre Sullivan – her books are dark and tough going, but so incredibly brilliant! Not what I was expecting at all!
  2. Leigh Bardugo – man, I love her books so much. I wasn’t expecting to love them as much (despite the fact ALL MY FRIENDS said I’d love them!)
  3. Stewart Foster – his books are brilliantly meaningful and not just to kids, but to adults too. I love his books a lot.
  4. Sylvia Bishop – I fell for her writing within the first sentence of The Bookshop Girl and they continue to be wonderful as they go on.
  5. Alex Bell – she can write YA and MG and do both incredibly brilliantly, now there’s a skill to surprise me!
  6. Alice Oseman – a bit like Leigh Bardugo, everyone told me I’d enjoy the books, but I didn’t expect to be quite so blown away by Alice’s books as I always am.

And there we go! 6 authors who surprised me. I can’t wait to see everyone else’s answers to see how they’ve interpreted the prompt! 

Remember to share your post using the hashtag #SixforSunday and link up if you fancy it! Thanks for joining in and reading! 

See you next week for: Books people always tell you to read!

S x 

Brilliant MG still to come!

2018 has graced us some EXCEPTIONAL MG so faryet with half a year left there is still some EXCELLENT MG left to come.

Today, in the spirit of sharing exciting things and looking forward, I thought I would share with you 10 books that I’m excited for in the rest of this year

There are SO MANY books I’m excited for, both in YA and MG, that I could actually be here forever and a day and not have told you them all… however, for now I’ve chosen 10 that I’m THE MOST excited for.

Next week I’ll share YA books I’m excited for too!

So here goes…

2018 mg second half

The Elsewhere Emporium – Ross Mackenzie
(follow up from The Nowhere Emporium, one of my favourite books I’ve read this year!)
“The Nowhere Emporium has been stolen. The shop from nowhere has vanished without a trace. Will it ever reappear? As they search for the lost Emporium, Daniel and Ellie encounter magical bookshops, deserted islands in the dead of night, and an array of magicians (both dead and alive). Meanwhile a dangerous force is attacking the Emporium from the inside, waiting for a chance to break free.”

Tilly and the Bookwanderers. – Anna James
(I’ve been excited for this forever and a day, Anna is a LOVE)
“Eleven year-old Tilly has lived above her grandparents’ bookshop ever since her mother disappeared shortly after she was born. Like the rest of her family, Tilly loves nothing more than to escape into the pages of her favourite stories. One day Tilly realises that classic children’s characters are appearing in the shop through the magic of `book wandering’ – crossing over from the page into real life. With the help of Anne of Green Gables and Alice in Wonderland. Tilly is determined to solve the mystery of what happened to her mother all those years ago, so she bravely steps into the unknown, unsure of what adventure lies ahead and what dangers she may face”

The Way Past Winter – Kiran Milwood Hargrave
(I am the BIGGEST Kiran fan ever, she’s just incredible, this is one on my MUST HAVE NOW books)
“Mila and her sisters live with their brother Oskar in a small forest cabin in the snow. One night, a fur-clad stranger arrives seeking shelter for himself and his men. But by the next morning, they’ve gone – taking Oskar with them. Fearful for his safety, Mila and her sisters set out to bring Oskar back – even it means going north, crossing frozen wild-lands to find a way past an eternal winter.”

The Lost Magician – Piers Torday
(As I write this blog post, there is a proof copy of this on its way to me… SO THAT’S EXCITING!)
“1945. They have survived the Blitz, but when Simon, Patricia, Evelyn and Larry step through a mysterious library door, it is the beginning of their most dangerous adventure yet. They discover the magical world of Folio, where an enchanted kingdom of fairy knights, bears and tree gods is under threat from a sinister robot army. The many stories of the Library are locked in eternal war, and the children’s only hope is to find their creator – a magician who has been lost for centuries. What they discover will change not just their own lives, but the fate of the world, for ever …”

Armistice Runner – Tom Palmer
(I love a war book and Tom writes the most brilliant books)
“Tom Palmer will mark the centenary of the end of First World War with a powerful, fictionalised account of the fell-runners who were used as messengers to and from the front lines in the last days of the war. Deftly told in an intertwining narrative of past and present, Armistice Runner follows a young fell-runner called Lily as she discovers the diaries of her great-great-grandfather and his experiences as a runner-messenger in the
lead-up to the Armistice of 1918.” (Taken from Barrington Stoke press release)

Snowglobe – Amy Wilson
(I’ve actually read this book already and it is INCREDIBLE… watch out for my review coming in the next few weeks!)
“When daydreamer Clementine discovers a mysterious house standing in the middle of town that was never there before, she is pulled towards it by the powerful sense of a mother she never knew. The place is full of snowglobes, swirling with stars and snow and each containing a trapped magician, watched over by Gan, the bitter keeper of the house. One of these is Dylan, a boy who teases her in the real world but who is now desperate for her help.”

Wundersmith – Jessica Townsend
(again, this is a follow up from Nevermoor which is just remarkable… this is one of those releases I’ve been waiting for since I finished the last word of the first book!)
“Morrigan Crow has been invited to join the prestigious Wundrous Society, a place that promised her friendship, protection and belonging for life. She’s hoping for an education full of wunder, imagination and discovery – but all the Society want to teach her is how evil Wundersmiths are. And someone is blackmailing Morrigan’s unit, turning her last few loyal friends against her. Has Morrigan escaped from being the cursed child of Wintersea only to become the most hated figure in Nevermoor? Worst of all, people have started to go missing. The fantastical city of Nevermoor, once a place of magic and safety, is now riddled with fear and suspicion…”

Explorers on Witch Mountain – Alex Bell
(another follow up from The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club, another one I’ve been waiting for FOREVER)
“Stella Starflake Pearl is eagerly anticipating her next expedition. Suddenly disaster strikes when Stella’s father, Felix, is snatched by a fearsome witch. Stella must bring her magic ice princess tiara to Witch Mountain or she will never see Felix again! But no one ever returns from Witch Mountain… Stella, Ethan, Shay, Beanie and reluctant Jungle Cat explorer, Percival, set off into the unknown. They will face terrifying bat caves, poisonous apple groves, outraged vultures, argumentative mushrooms and deranged broomsticks in their quest to rescue Felix.”

Into the Jungle – Katherine Rundell
(everything Katherine Rundell writes blows me away…)
“This wise and witty companion to Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 classic is likewise a series of connected stories about the man-cub Mowgli and his adventures among the animals in the Indian jungle. It includes all the original favorites like Baloo and Bagheera and gives female characters, like Mother Wolf, a more prominent role in Mowgli’s upbringing. The timely theme of the possibility of understanding and empathy across species, cultures, and genders will resonate with contemporary readers.”

Death in the Spotlight – Robin Stevens
(I absolutely adore Robin Stevens’ books, and this is one we’ve been waiting for a while!)
“Someone will take their final bow . . . Fresh from their adventure in Hong Kong, Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells are off to the Rue Theatre in London to face an entirely new challenge: acting. But danger has a nasty habit of catching up with the Detective Society, and it soon becomes clear that there is trouble afoot at the Rue. Jealousy, threats and horrible pranks quickly spiral out of control – and then a body is found. Now Hazel and Daisy must take centre stage and solve the crime . . . before the murderer strikes again.”

And there you have it. 10 of the books I AM MOST EXCITED FOR OK.

2018 continues to be a TREAT FOR THE BRAIN. 

Which 2018 books are you still most excited for?
Have you read any of the books on my list?
Are there any books you think should’ve made my list but didn’t?

Share your thoughts with me! I’d love to know which MG books you’re still most excited for!

S x

S4S – 2018 books

HALLO.

It is Sunday again.How did that happen? It’s the Easter holidays! I hope everyone is eating a chocolate egg, or something equally fun today.

Today’s #SixforSunday theme is

2018 books I’m still excited for

Now, lots of the books of 2018 I was excited for are out already BUT of course there are some I am STILL excited for. 

  1. Beyond the Odyssey – Maz Evans 
    (I technically already own this, thanks Chicken House, but it’s not out JUST YET)
  2. Polar Bear Explorers’ Club 2 (I’m not sure if it has a title yet!) – Alex Bell
  3. Floored – an assortment of brilliant UKYA authors
  4. Katherine Webber – Only Love Can Break Your Heart
    (again, I’ve read it but since it’s not out yet, I can be excited for it!)
  5. Wundersmith (Nevermoor 2) – Jessica Townsend
  6. 1000 Perfect Notes – C.G. Drews 
    (another one I’ve read that I can’t wait for EVERYONE ELSE to read. It’s heartbreaking)

And there we have it! Six 2018 releases that I’m still excited for. There are so so many others. 2018 is killing it in the old book stakes! Keep em coming!

Keep sharing your #SixforSunday posts with me on Twitter and linking me! I’m loving all of the posts! You’re all brilliant!

S x

Best of 2017: MG edition

4 days of 2017 left. 4 days of books to add to my Goodreads total. 

However, I have made a decision about the best MG books of 2017, for me. I’m going to give a very short description and leave a link to my review, if you’re interested in more information. If there isn’t a full review on it, there will be one coming, have no fear!

So here goes:

The best MG books of 2017

Best MG 2017(it must be noted that these are not in any order whatsoever!)

Running on the Roof of the World – Jess Butterworth
(review to come)
Adventure filled with incredible colours (and gorgeous chapter pages!)

The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club – Alex Bell
(review to come)
Exceptional. Friendship, equality, fun and gorgeous characters.

Christmas Dinner of Souls – Ross Montgomery 
BOOKBLOG: Ross Montgomery
Another winner from Ross. Devious, delicious and daring.

Nevermoor – Jessica Townsend
(review to come)
Mysterious and magical: I absolutely adored this book.

Letters From The Lighthouse – Emma Carroll
BOOKBLOG: Emma Carroll
Brave, bold and brilliant. I fell in love with this, quickly.

A Place Called Perfect – Helena Duggan
BOOKBLOG: Helena Duggan
Creepy and brilliant, filled with brave characters and an interesting plot.

The Last Wild – Piers Torday
BOOKBLOG: Piers Torday
Heartbreaking, heart warming and brilliant. This book made me cry on a train.

Simply The Quest (WLTGO #2) – Maz Evans
BOOKBLOG: Maz Evans
Excellent sequel to WLTGO. Was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it did not disappoint. Maz is a genius.

The Explorer – Katherine Rundell
BOOKBLOG: Katherine Rundell
This is one of my stand out books of the year. I completely fell for this book. It is just exceptional. 

The Bookshop Girl – Sylvia Bishop
BOOKBLOG: Sylvia Bishop
This is one of those brilliant books that just spark something within imaginations. This world is one of my favourites of the year.

The Island At The End of Everything – Kiran Milwood Hargrave
BOOKBLOG: Kiran Milwood Hargrave
One of those books that comes along every now and again: inspiring, heartbreaking and touching. Kiran’s books are absolute magic.

Who Let The Gods Out – Maz Evans
BOOK BLOG: Maz Evans
The first in the WLTGO series. Sets the tone by being hilarious and moving, with characters you care about and want to see more of!

And there we have it… 2017 has blessed us with hilarious Greek Gods, touching stories of friendship, stories with magical book shops, mothers and daughters separated, children lost in the Amazon jungle with a stranger to help, brave kids pairing up with animals to do some saving, magical lands of mountains and ice, more magic and rescues aplenty. MG books are wonderful. Kid or not, go out there and read them!

What are your favourite MG books of 2017?
Have you read any of my list?
If you could recommend me one more 2017 MG book what would it be?

Happy reading!

S x