Forgotten Faves: MG edition

Hello!

How are we all today?

Today, I thought I would share with you some of my “forgotten” faves.

What is a “forgotten fave” I hear you say?

For me, a “forgotten fave” is a book that I loved reading that I don’t really ever talk about because there are 70294723940 books that instantly come to mind when I am asked for a recommendation. They’re those quietly loved books. They’re the books you love talking about when people are reading them, but they don’t come to mind instantly. They’re the books that you JUMP about when you see someone else recommending them. They’re the books that get forgotten, but that you love so.

Why am I taking to my blog and sharing my forgotten faves?

I think it’s important that books aren’t forgotten about. There are SO MANY BOOKS that are recommended to us and they’re usually either BRAND NEW BOOKS or they’re books that are recommended over and over again. It’s important that we remember books that were published more than the past few months. I am the most guilty about shouting about books that are BRAND NEW because they’re at the forefront of my mind, so this is my way of saying hello and I love you again to the books I read a while ago that I loved.

So here we go, today I’m taking on my middle grade forgotten faves (or at least 10 of them!)

Image result for A Girl Called Owl

A Girl Called Owl (and all of Amy Wilson’s books tbf) is full of magic, friendship and beauty. This is one of those books that just give you a tap of magic that remains with you forever.

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A Boy Called Hope is a gorgeous book. It’s one of those wonderful warm, funny and quirky books that comes along. I remember reading it in the sunshine and thinking “this is gorgeous, but also a little sad”. Canny Dan and his search to find his Dad

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A Darkness of Dragons is an amazing story – a retelling of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Anyone who loves a folktale and a brave main character will be gripped by this. I properly loved it and I can’t wait for the second book!

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A Place Called Perfect. Man, this book. I think it’s one of the best kids, spooky, mysterious books around. I devoured this book in a matter of hours AND then the sequel too. I miss these characters, I do hope there will be more!

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I truly believe this is one of those books that is NOT talked about enough. I devoured Storm Witch quickly. It’s an incredible tale of coming of age, identity and belonging. I would LOVE to be a Storm Witch, but I truly believe I am not cool enough for a title like that hah!

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This book was an absolute delight to read! Imagine Charlie and the Chocolate Factory met Bugsy Malone – that’s what you get here. Candy sees a world where sweets have been banned and there is a black market for them. I just adored this.

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The Buried Crown is a brilliant historical book. It’s got amazing characters and a memorable plot! Who wouldn’t want to read a story about a young man trying to protect the crown from Hitler?

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I read The Company of Eight almost 2 years ago now and I STILL recommend it to people. It’s one of those fantastic fantasy adventure story with old-London themes, pirates and mysterious spies. Totally one that younger me loved (grown up me absolutely did!)

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When I first read Eye of the North, I was blown away. This is the best kind of adventure. It’s filled with messages about being brave and being kind. If you’re after something with wonderful main characters, family secrets and pretty terrifying villains, you can not go wrong with this!

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Another wonderful mystery story that I don’t talk about enough. The Goodly and Grave series is a firm favourite in mine – I love seeing a new book announced. This series is a brilliant tale of magic, mystery and menacing characters.

And there you go! Ten of my “forgotten faves” for now!

If you’d like to share your forgotten faves, please do! I’d love to see some of the lesser talked about books being shown some love!

See you soon!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Lavie Tidhar

Candy: brilliantly fun adventure in a town where sweets are illegal

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“In a city where all chocolate and sweets have been banned, Nelle Faulkner is a 12-year-old private detective looking for her next client. So when notorious candy gangster Eddie de Menthe walks into her office (her dad’s garden shed) and asks her to find a missing teddy bear, Nelle takes the case. But as soon as the teddy turns up, Eddie himself goes missing. Can Nelle track them both down… before she comes to a sticky end?”

Candy tells the story of Nelle, a young detective who lives in a ciy where sweets have been forbidden. There’s definitely dealings with sweets going on. Nelle is asked by a client of her detective agency to track down a missing teddy bear. What is the relevance of this missing teddy bear? Why does she need to track it down? What does it have to do with the sweets? 

Imagine living in a city where sweets are banned. Not just chocolate, but ALL sweets. I don’t want to live there. I’m a fan of a sweet (sweets over chocolate for me pals!) Now, there’s definitely a black market situation going on in the town. There’s some turf wars going on. There’s dirty dealings and sabotage definitely happening between sweet sellers. I chuckled quite a lot at some of the scenes between rival sweet sellers. They’re like mini adults. Alongside all this there’s a missing chocolatier, some dirty dealings from government agencies and a fire. How is Nelle going to get to the bottom of all these goings on?

What I loved most about this book is that it was funny. As an adult, it’s so amazing to read kids books because they do GENUINELY make me laugh. The ridiculousness of the main character being a child detective, but that she was SO serious about her business made me chuckle. Along with the amazing main character, you have a book here filled with other brilliant characters and a plot that’s fast paced and will make you want to read on.

With a book about sweets, you’re going to get Charlie and the Chocolate Factory vibes. I loved that. Kids who read Roald Dahl will love this. Adults who read Roald Dahl as a child will also love this. You can’t get away from some of the similarities and spotting them for me was another total win. 

This book delivers a packet of fun with a sweet edge of a messagedo the right thing, stand up to bullies and be a good friend. Nelle has to certainly overcome some things, but ultimately she’s a character who lots of kids will get along with.

Shout out to Mark Beech for that amazing cover and illustrations in this book too *heart eyes* the illustrations are just wonderful. They add SO much to the story!

Check out Lavie’s post from the blog tour all about his film noir inspirations behind the book – and check out Candy to see if you can see any of the shout outs to film noir! 

Have you read Candy?
What sweet would you miss the most if it were banned?
Do you think you’d be a good detective?

Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

S x

BLOG TOUR: Candy

Hello!

Today I have the absolute joy of introducing you all to Lavie Tidhar, author of the amazing ‘Candy’ released a few weeks ago (7th June) from Scholastic. Lavie is here today to talk about his brilliant novel Candy and the inspirations from film noir. I hope you all enjoy his post and go check out the rest of the posts on the blog tour! 

On Candy and Film Noir

A few years ago I watched the movie Brick, written and directed by Rian Johnson. What Johnson did that was so clever was to take the hardboiled formula – the hard-bitten detective, the femme fatale, informers and cops, corruption and mystery – and transpose it into a high school. It wasn’t played for laughs – it was perfectly straight-faced and very noir, and I thought it was great!

I love the hardboiled formula. It has certain quirks and ticks that you expect, certain beats to hit, but at the same time the fun is in somehow subverting the expectations, of using the skeleton frame to tell a story not necessarily concerned much with the plot. The point of it, as Raymond Chandler once said, is that you can read the story even if the last eight pages are missing. In other words, it really isn’t about the solving of the mystery (like in the old Golden Age English detective stories) but about the people and the place they live in.

In my adult books, I often use noir and hardboiled motifs in one form or another. The truth is, I find great delight in parodying the style. I love starting a book on a variation of the “femme fatale walks into the detective’s office”. In Candy, the detective is 12-year old Nelle Faulkner, and the client is Eddie de Menthe, a cynical candy bootlegger of the same age. Already, the expectations from the scene are turned. And I love writing hardboiled dialogue. As Nelle says early on: “The truth was I was out of pocket money again, I was behind on my luck, my hat was older than I was and I needed a job even worse than I needed a caramel fudge.” There’s a certain rhythm to the prose even – especially when – you parody it. And there’s actually a lot of humour in Chandler, too. It’s impossible to do it like Chandler did, of course, but at his best the lines simply sing.

Candy takes these adult tropes and throws them into the world of children. It’s funny – but not to the kids themselves. For them the game’s the game – to quote The Wire. For them it’s serious and real. The stakes are high. And just like in the best noir novels, the adult world is revealed as compromised.

“Growing up was serious business,” Nelle reflects at some point, “and so was candy.”

I think the very best children’s writers know this. They know the darkness that lies just out of sight, there on the edge of vision. Growing up isn’t easy. And becoming an adult means compromise. What I love about the hardboiled detective is what I love about Nelle Faulkner. She believes in doing the right thing. Whatever the cost. She believes in fairness, she believes in justice. She wants to make the world a better place.

And I had a ridiculous amount of fun packing in as many classic references as I could get away with! Not just Raymond Chandler – whom Mayor Thornton is named after (Thornton was Chandler’s middle name) – but at various points you might spot a hidden reference to The Godfather, Goodfellas, Justified, The Big Lebowski (itself a brilliant parody of Chandler, of course) and numerous others (even I forget which!). And there’s a pie fight – there should always be a pie fight!

So my hope, too, is that the book works both ways. That it works for kids, but will have an extra dimension for their parents, too. It certainly does seem to be an unusual take, or so I’m told.

But you know what? Ultimately, I just had so much fun writing it, that if nothing else I hope that’s what comes across.

Check out the rest of the posts on the blog tour! Watch this space for my review of Candy coming! Spoiler alert: I loved it!

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S x