BOOK BLOG: S.A. Patrick

A Darkness of Dragons: a brilliant adventure!

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“After playing a forbidden spell-song to save a village from rats, 12-year-old piper Patch Brightwater is thrown in jail. But there he meets Wren – a noble girl under a rat-shaped curse – and together they befriend Barver, a fearsome dracogriff, and set off on a grand adventure filled with sorcerers, dragons, bandits…and one very deadly enemy.
From the depths of the Tiviscan dungeons to the highest peak of Gemspar Mountain, this stunning book reminds us of the soaring joy of adventure, the captivating danger of magic, and of the delight of finding friends in unexpected places.”

The brilliant humans of Usborne sent me a copy of A Darkness of Dragons a while back, but I’ve been in a bit of a state of reader’s block (as I explained in my November wrap up post). I’ve just been unable to read/do anything bookish of late… blame it on tiredness/SAD/general life. I read the first five chapters of this before said reader’s block started. Then, on Saturday, I picked this back up and within the space of a few hours I had CONSUMED the whole thing – that’s how good it is! 

This book is based in the world of the Pied Piper of Hamelin (which for me made my heart SO SO HAPPY – I love when books are based around traditional tales. If someone could write a book like this based on Rumplestiltskin, that would be incredible! I am a massive Rumplestiltskin fan!). Obviously, the Pied Piper is a terrible man and in this world, pipers are well loved and respected people. I loved the world of the pipers – the thought that music and magic were very much intertwined was a sheer delight to read. This was one of those books that once I was there, I was immersed in the world. I was walking through the forest with Patch and co. It’s an incredible world to be part of too… although I don’t know that I’d survive ha!

As well as this book being an incredible adventure, a young man, his dragon friend, his rat friend and an adventure to save their world, it features some absolutely incredible characters. Patch (the main character) is an incredibly brave and somewhat stubborn protagonist that I think kids will absolutely adore. Throw in Wren, a brilliant young girl who has been hexed into being a rat, and an incredibly sarcastic and dry dracogriff in the mix and you have this excellent bunch of characters who I just wanted more from. (I can’t wait for book 2 because I am a SUCKER for sequels!)

There’s some brilliant themes of friendship in this story. Unexpected friendships particularly. I loved the friendship that grew between Patch and Wren in particular. It showed that friends are there to support and guide each other through everything. These friends don’t have it easy, but they stick through the thick and the thin with each other! I mean, how many friends would stick by you when you’re thrown into one of the worst prisons imaginable?!

I think this book is going to go down a STORM at school. I can’t wait to hand it to some of the readers in my class. 

Have you read A Darkness of Dragons?
Can you think of a story you’d love to see revived?
Would you like a dragon friend?

Talk to me! Send me a dragon… please… someone?! Massive thanks to Usborne for sending me a copy!

S x 

November wrap up!

It may be December 10th, but I still am yet to round up my (rather pitiful looking) November reads!

In November, I:

Only read 3 books!
Started a few books, but my brain wouldn’t let me read.
Suffered from some pretty bad SAD.
Was a bit poorly.
Slept a lot.
Started rehearsing for the Christmas play at school.
Experienced my worst reading block for a while.
Did some Christmas shopping!

My November in books is a pretty TINY pile comapred to some months… but hey, when you’re not in the mood, you’re not in the mood!

The books I managed to get through were:

2 YA books and 1 kids book. 

I was SO VERY FORTUNATE to be send a proof copy of Fierce Fragile Hearts and I consumed it in a matter of hours a few weekends ago. I’m currently still trying to process my thoughts on it, but I tell you this guys, you NEED to get on it. It’s out next year and I just think Sara Barnard has yet again written an absolute winner. She is 100% one of my faves.

I’ve written a review of The Boneless Mercies here and my review of Fortunately, The Milk is to come!

What about my book challenges?

#BritishBooksChallenge: 105/12 (maybe more!)
#52books2018: 92/52 (just kids books!)
Goodreads challenge: 152/52

Now, for all this month wasn’t a GREAT success reading wise, I am still streets ahead of my yearly goal… which pleases me to no end! I’m hoping to read 4 books in December, so that I’m on 156 books (300% of my original target). Bring on the Christmas holidays!

How is your yearly goal looking?
Are you looking forward to Christmas festivities too?
What’s on your Christmas to read pile?

Let me know in the comments!

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

 

“You know books… can I have some recommendations?”

The amount of times I’ve been asked for recommendations over the past few weeks is LUSH. Whether it’s from my kids for what to read next, for parents on what to buy their kids for Christmas or from my colleagues on what to read, it’s all lush to talk books.

Over the next 3 days I’m going to collate 3 different lists for books I’d recommend – be it to read or to buy someone for Christmas!

Today I’m tackling 7+ (ish) recommendations

Tomorrow will be 8+ish and then Wednesday will be YA recommendations! There are LOADS of recommendations out there, I just decided to collate my favourite 10 from the past year (or so)!

If you have a reader who is just starting to read chapter books, or likes the look of illustrated chapter books, these books are brilliant.

2018 recs

Violet and the… series by Harriet Whitehorn

Fabio – The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective by Laura James

Royal Rabbits of London series by Santa Montefiore and Simon Sebag Montefiore

The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig

Amelia Fang series by Laura Ellen Anderson

Max – The Detective Cat series by Sarah Todd Taylor

The Wild Robot series by Peter Brown

The Twitches series by Hayley Scott

Sam Wu series by Katie and Kevin Tsang

Horace and Harriet series by Clare Elsom

There you have it! 10 of the best books for Y2+ I’ve read recently. I’d love to know your thoughts! Let me know!

Have you read any of these?
Do you have any recommendations that I could add?
Which of these would you like to pick up most?

Talk to me!

Remember to come back tomorrow for recommendations for books for those 8+ years!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Sam Usher

Snow: the perfect addition to your shelves for the wintery season!

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“Every child loves a snow day—no school and snowball fights galore! But Sam has to wait for Granddad, even though all the other kids have already gone to the park . . . and all the dogs . . . and all the zoo animals! Only when the two finally arrive does Granddad see why Sam was in such a hurry—and they have the best time playing with everyone in the snow.”

As a massive fan of the book Storm, when I saw there was another Sam Usher book (with a very festive snowy theme) I knew I needed to treat myself to it! I mean, just look at that cover. Who wouldn’t want to know more about the penguin casually strolling down their street? 

Snow tells the story of a very impatient young boy who wants to go out into the snow, while his grandfather thinks they should stay in for a little while. There’s so much joy in the young man’s face when he sees the snow. We’ve all been there. Wanting to be the first one to stand on snow – is there anything more irresistable than a patch of freshly fallen snow? 

When they do eventually get outside, they wander down to the park and end up having an awful lot of fun with a new bunch of friends. It’s all a bit silly, but this would make a perfect readaloud. Kids will love this story. What’s more fun than snow ball fights? Snowball fights with animals… obviously! 

With gorgeous illustrations, characters who are realistic and a brilliant portrayal of family (I loved seeing this story of a young man and his grandfather, rather than a mam/dad or sibling), this book is going to be a great one to read aloud to kids (and adults alike!). I am loving this Weather series from Sam Usher and can’t wait to get even more! I would recommend wholeheartedly getting on the series! I own Snow and Storm so far, I need to check out Rain and Sun. 

Have you read any of Sam Usher’s books?
What’s your perfect wintery read aloud?
Are you a snow lover, or not a fan?

Let me know your thoughts! Speak to you soon… fingers crossed the snow stays away! I don’t want to run into a bunch of animals throwing snowballs at me! 

S x

 

BOOK BLOG: David Long

Egypt Magnified: the perfect book for any Egypt loving bookworm! 

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“Grab your magnifying glass and explore the sights and sounds of ancient Egypt in this fascinating search-and-find adventure, packed with over 200 things to spot.”

When I was approached by the publishers as to whether I would like a copy of this book for review, I knew instantly that I would ABSOLUTELY LIKE A COPY FOR REVIEW. I am constantly on the lookout for engaging and brilliant non-fiction books. We all know that non-fiction books of the past could be dull and just collect dust… but recently non-fiction books are becoming more and more desirable. And this book does not disappoint! This would make the perfect Christmas gift for any non-fiction loving wannabe historian in your life! 

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Egypt Magnified comes with a brilliant magnifying glass so you can play a “Where’s Wally?” type game in the book. With sections covering everything from The Nile and The Desert to Tutankhamun’s Tomb, this book is just brilliant. (Why yes, I did in fact take about half an hour of my time when this arrived to play with the magnifying glass… unfortunately, I never was any good at Where’s Wally!)

With gorgeous illustrations by Harry Bloom and JAM PACKED with facts, this book is educational and fun – a perfect mix! I learned a fair few things when I gave this book a read… and I’ve taught the Egyptians before! Each page is about a different topic, and along the top is the “10 things to spot” section. The pages are filled with information, illustration and intrigue! 

I can’t recommend this book enough – to parents, teachers, librarians and ANYONE ELSE. It has such a brilliant place in homes, schools and libraries. I can’t wait to pass it on to Year 4 for when they study the Egypians – I just know it’s going to go down SO well. (So well in fact, I’m jealous that they get to have it! If there could be a Greek edition, that’d be awesome!)

What period in history would you most like to delve deeper into?
What’s your favourite type of non-fiction book?
Can you recommend me any new non-fiction books?

A massive massive thank you to the publishers over at Quarto for sending me this absolute delight! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Emma Yarlett

Dragon Post: a whole lot of fun and friendship! 

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I’d seen this on my friend’s Instagram and as I’m a lover of The Day The Crayons Quit and the trusty The Jolly Postman, I knew I needed to get my hands on this book. With beautiful letters inside and an endearing young main character, Dragon Post was an absolute delight to read! 

Alex finds a dragon living under his stairs and knows that the most sensible thing to do would be to write to different people to get their advice on the whole situation. (Alex is very sensible, in my opinion! I don’t know what I would do!)

This is where the humour for adults comes in. There’s puns a plenty with the names of the people Alex writes letters to. I read this book aloud to my mam, and she and I had many a chuckle! Not all of the letters are positive… with one suggesting that the writer of the letter would like to eat the dragon. Most of the letters Alex receives give him good advice however! 

The final letter Alex writes is to his best friend (who he calls one of the best people he knows) and I absolutely adored this! I love the idea that the person Alex thinks is the smartest person in his world is another child – I think this can have quite a profound effect on kids. The very last letter Alex receives is from a very special someone indeed and I know kids are going to ADORE seeing the letter to Alex! 

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This book, just like The Day The Crayons Quit and The Jolly Postman, is going to be taken in my classrooms and children alike. With the inclusion of the letters, the incredible illustrations and the brilliant story, this is one that will inspire writers of letters, stories and illustrations (I only wish I could come up with something this brilliant!) I can see this working in so many houses, minds and ways. As a Y5 teacher, I’d love to use this book, but it equally has a very important place in every classroom. I know the KS1 teachers in school will love this book… and I can’t wait to read it to Reception for their Advent Story time! 

Would you like a dragon as a pet?
Have you read Dragon Post? 
Who would you write to if you found a dragon under your bed?

Speak to you all soon!

S x

October in books!

Well hello November, you snuck up on me indeed.

I’m not sure where October went (it took half of my half term with it too!), but here we are… the end of another month, around for another bookish round up!

In October, I:

Visited Edinburgh with my favourite.
Spent most of my half term poorly.
Loved every second of being a teacher.
Got to interview David Levithan and Laura Steven at Waterstones (!!)
Went out to breakfast with my best friends.
Finished my first half term as an NQT.
Sang a lot of Livin on a Prayer.
Read 15 books (!!)

October was a pretty incredible month! I NEVER expected to have read 15 books! That’s blown my mind a little bit!

What MG did I read?

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A Chase in Time – Sally Nicholls *
Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters – Andrea Beaty *
The Dog That Saved Christmas – Nicola Davies *
Isadora Moon Makes Winter Magic – Harriet Muncaster *
Max the Detective Cat: The Phantom Portrait – Sarah Todd Taylor *
The Boy Who Lived With Dragons – Andy Shepherd *
The Truth Pixie – Matt Haig
A Pinch of Magic – Michelle Harrison *

* reviews to come!

What about YA?

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Thunderhead – Neal Shusterman*
And The Ocean Was Our Sky – Patrick Ness*
Jack of Hearts and Other Parts – L. C. Rosen*
Someday – David Levithan
Firebird – Elizabeth Wein*

Anything else?

I also read The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. I am a massive Mitch Albom fan. My review of this is to come!

I’m really chuffed with how many books I managed to read last month! There were definitely some stand outs! Keep your eyes peeled this week for a round up of reviews and some more in depth reviews too!

What about my book challenges?

#BritishBooksChallenge: 104/12 (maybe more!)
#52books2018: 91/52 (just kids books!)
Goodreads challenge: 148/52

Now that it’s November, we will be in for full swing Christmas mode at school! I am also  sticking to my pledge of reading every night before bed.

How are you getting doing with your book challenges?
What was your favourite read in October?
Do you prefer my in depth reviews or my round ups?

Don’t forget to let me know in the comments/on twitter if there’s anything you want to see me read/want to see on my blog. I love your suggestions!

S x

 

BOOK BLOG: Matt Haig

The Truth Pixie: poetic, charming and inspiring.

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“From number one bestselling author Matt Haig comes a hilarious and heartwarming story, brilliantly illustrated throughout by Chris Mould Wherever she is, whatever the day, She only has one kind of thing to say. Just as cats go miaow and cows go moo, The Truth Pixie can only say things that are true.”

Anyone who has been here for a while will know that I am a MASSSSSSIVE Matt Haig fan (he’s probably one of my most read authors). I’d heard whispers of a new kids book a few months ago and this made me so happy! The Truth Pixie just seems to have shot up on me and come in no time at all, but I am so glad it’s in my life! 

The Truth Pixie tells the story of a young pixie who was blessed/cursed with only being able to tell the truth. She has very few friends because no one wants to hear the truth. Her family don’t want to know her because of her truth-telling, so she lives alone and dreads going out into the wide world. One day, when shopping for groceries, she comes across a troll who changes everything for her. (He’s not a nice troll…)

img_3938(look at that spine man… swooooon)

I think my favourite thing about this book is that it delivers quite a few MASSIVE messages to kids in ways that they’re going to understand. If you’ve ever read one of Matt’s books, you’ll know they’re books that will restore your faith in humanity and this one delivers just that. It has some important messages about being yourself, being sad (and that being ok) and the truth being something that we should embrace. 

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I read The Truth Pixie aloud to myself laid in bed and it’s such a glorious one to read aloud. I might have to reread it a few times before I read it aloud to any kid though – it made me cry, quite a lot. It’s pages like these 2 above that just turn me into a bumbling mess. Adults and kids alike will love this book. It’s written in a beautifully rhyming style that made it so easy to read aloud. It’s going to be a firm favourite for me to use in the classroom – as a story, as a book with a message. The illustrations (by the incredibly talented Chris Mould) are just wonderful too. They add so much to the story. 

This book is a total victory. I will continue to champion Matt Haig books forever. This book is already on its third print run and it’s been out less than a week! 

My goodreads review:

Just incredible. I love the poetic, rhyming style of this book, the incredible illustrations and the absolute championing message of this book. I definitely cried when I read this (aloud to myself, so what of it?) because no one is too old to hear this advice, ever. Off to buy another copy for school.

(And yes, I have bought a second copy for school… one for me, one for school!)

Have you read The Truth Pixie?
Do you also love Matt Haig?
What’s your favourite book to read aloud?

Talk to me! I’d love to know your thoughts!

 S x

BOOK BLOG: Peter G Bell

Today, I have the utter joy of hosting author Peter G Bell on my blog, talking about the story opening in The Train to Impossible Places. You’ll also get to hear about his wonderful main character, Suzy, and her rationalist beliefs and how these relate to the action of the story and the reader. Hope you enjoy!

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Reason Vs Weird

Most of us would love to discover that magic is real. Imagine if you came downstairs one night to find a trans-dimensional train, crewed by fantastical creatures, waiting to whisk you off to uncharted realms were anything was possible. You’d be thrilled, right?

   This is exactly what happens to Suzy, the main character of The Train To Impossible Places. And she is not thrilled at all.

   On the contrary, she feels positively offended. Because, as an eleven year old rationalist, she knows full well that magic can’t be real, and that trolls can’t exist. The laws of physics are sacrosanct. In short, the train shatters her understanding of the world. How she chooses to deal with that will determine both her fate, and the fate of everyone she meets on her adventure.

   I made Suzy a rationalist because I knew the train and its crew were going to be fairly anarchic and unpredictable, and I wanted a main character who would push back against that. In doing so, Suzy keeps the story grounded, even when she’s out of her depth (which is most of the time) and always asks the questions the reader needs answering.

   When it comes to science, the trolls’ rule of thumb is this: the laws of physics are all well and good, but as soon as they become inconvenient, a dash of magic is needed to help grease the wheels. This is fuzzics (like physics, only fuzzier), and it drives Suzy up the wall. Sometimes literally.

   I’m no sociologist, but I suspect many of our culture’s current problems stem from the conscious uncoupling of reason from the other human faculties; a nasty habit we picked up during the Enlightenment, and which has been indulged to a greater or lesser extent ever since. On the one hand, this culminates in people choosing to dismiss the valid spiritual, philosophical and emotional foundations of so much human experience. On the other, it leads to a suspicion of empirical knowledge, which opens the door to all manner of charlatans eager to present us with “alternative facts”. Neither condition is good for us.

   That’s why, in the midst of all the fantasy elements, I made sure never to undermine Suzy’s belief in science. It is never shown to be untrue – on the contrary, she uses Newton’s Laws of Motion to save herself from danger at one point – but she also discovers that science isn’t the neat and tidy solution to all life’s problems that she thought it was. She is never tempted to reject it, but she does have to expand her thinking beyond it and, to her credit, that’s exactly what she does.

   She makes room in herself for a broader perspective. And that’s what sees her through in the end.

You should definitely check out The Train to Impossible Places! It’s such a great story and the cover is JUST EXCEPTIONAL. 

Massive thanks to Peter for this blog post! I love getting an insight into authors and their characters – authors really do know their characters inside out! 

S x