BOOKBLOG: Ben Miller

HAPPIEST OF RELEASE DAYS TO BEN MILLER! 

Following the success of his festive debut, The Night I Met Father Christmas, Ben Miller’s second book for children is a cautionary tale about black holes, time travel and broccoli.

‘Stories are often about a good person who does a Bad Thing, and this is no exception…’

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“Harrison tries his best to be good. He doesn’t steal, he always shares with his sister and he never cheats at board games, but Harrison also has a BIG flaw. He can’t control his temper! So when he’s given a black hole instead of a balloon at a party, Harrison jumps at the chance to get rid of everything that makes him cross. But when it’s not just things he hates that are disappearing into the black hole but things he loves, too, Harrison starts to realise that sometimes you should be careful what you wish for…”

As part of the release day celebrations, I was lucky enough to be asked by the brilliant publishers to host some content to help celebrate! 

Below you will find a sketch by the amazing illustrator Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini. The illustration is titled ‘Black Hole’ and I just think it’s brilliant. As someone who isn’t artistic, I am always in awe and wonder at illustrators doing their thing! I love getting behind the scenes of things like this, so to see it in its original form and then what it looked like as a finished product makes me so happy! It’s like a sneak peek into an illustrator’s sketch book! 

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Go follow Daniela on twitter @DJTerrazzini or on Instagram @danielajterrazzini.

I can’t wait to get this book. I really enjoyed Ben’s first book, so I have high hopes for this one! Out TODAY! Go treat yourself! Massive thank you to the publishers for inviting me to host these incredible images! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Abi Elphinstone

Jungledrop: exciting, filled with heart and adventure!

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“Eleven-year-old twins, Fox and Fibber, have been rivals for as long as they can remember. Only one of them will inherit the family fortune and so a race is afoot to save the dwindling Petty-Squabble empire and win the love of their parents. But when the twins are whisked off to Jungledrop, a magical Unmapped Kingdom in charge of conjuring our world’s weather, things get wildly out of hand. An evil harpy called Morg is on the loose. And if she finds the long-lost Forever Fern before the twins, both Jungledrop and our world will crumble. Suddenly, Fox and Fibber find themselves on an incredible adventure in a glow-in-the-dark rainforest full of golden panthers, gobblequick trees and enchanted temples. But, with the fate of two worlds in their hands, will the twins be able to work together for once to defeat Morg and her dark magic?”

Jungledrop is the second book (technically third) in Abi Elphinstone’s incredible Unmapped Chronicles series (Rumblestar being the other novel length one and Everdark being the other one – a World Book Day book!). This series gives me SO MUCH JOY. 

When the amazing humans at Simon and Schuster emailed me asking if I wanted a proof copy, I couldn’t refuse. I am a massive massive fan of Abi’s writing. She writes such incredible stories which are always adventure filled and magnificence that I needed to get my hands on it (plus, my Year 6’s would have lynched me if I had turned it down… they are also massive fans!) 

eq0otw6waaeqkceJust look at this proof man… HOW SHINY AND GORGEOUS. 

Jungledrop tells the tale of the two obnoxious and rude twins (Fox and Fibber) who have an awful lot to learn about themselves and about the world. They’re not the kindest or friendliest protagonists to start with and when they begin their quest to save their world and the Unmapped Kingdoms, you find that in fact, they’re going to have to grow and change to get through it. They have to learn to be kind, to show humility and be brave. They are of course on the quest to save the world from Morg (cruel, mean Morg, who is set on taking over the Unmapped Kingdom with her dark heart). 

This book is a total adventure with an awful lot of heart. Abi Elphinstone writes new worlds and new characters with such brilliance that is hard not to fall in love with the stories straight away. It’s rich in language, setting, characters and messages. 

One of the things that always stands out to me about Abi Elphinstone books is the messages that are delivered through brilliant storytelling. This one delivers a gorgeous message about the importance of being kind and being brave. Bravery comes in all forms in this book. It comes from small acts of kindness and massive acts of a heroic nature. The twins learn a lot about how unkind they can be and how kindness can actually help them to learn about themselves and each other. 

This book is so jam packed with wonderful characters. New and old.

The twins are not very likeable at first: they’re mean, selfish, obnoxious and just plain spiteful. They’re very self-obsessed. They’re not very compassionate. They’re not kind to each other. But when they realise they need each other and they need to be vulnerable and trust other people, they really start to change. They’re devious and conniving at times. You definitely warm up to them in the end though. 

Of course, mean, power-hungry Morg is back and she’s up to her old funny business again. Trying to destroy the world of Jungledrop. Trying to capture the people. Trying to grow stronger after the happenings of Rumblestar. As much as she terrifies me, it was great to be back with her. She’s one of those deliciously evil characters (a bit like Maleficent).

In the lands of Jungledrop, the twins meet a wonderful array of characters. When they end up in their adventure, they are accompanied by Heckle the parrot. He’s very aptly named and he definitely kept the laughs coming. He sticks around despite all rebuffs from the twins (Fox in particular is mean). In these magical lands, the twins come across many other magical animals who lend a hand, even though the twins try and avoid this happening (they’ve been brought up to be hardy and get on themselves!).

There’s another familiar face that appears in this book that made my heart so happy. I loved seeing them again. I’m glad they reappeared. 

My Goodreads review:

Blooming magnificent. A book, like all of Abi’s others, filled with adventure and heart. You can’t read one of her books and not be swept away with the lives of her characters, the depth and richness of her worlds and the brilliance of her baddies. I loved the twins and the journey they go on: kindness really is the bravest thing in the world. As much as Morg terrifies me, it was great to be back with her dastardly ways. And Heckle is a brilliant character (with a perfect name!) bloody bravo Abi Elphinstone!! 

And that’s it! If you like the sound of this, why don’t you consider preordering it?

Amazon Preorder Link

Waterstones Preorder Link

Hive Preorder Link

A massive thank you to the gorgeous Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of Jungledrop – it’s in the possession of one of my Year 6s as we speak! They’re planning to send it around each other! Speak to you all soon! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Matt Haig

Hello!

Now… for those of you who are new around here, there is an important message I need you to take from today:

I am a MASSIVE Matt Haig fan.

I think he writes BRILLIANTLY. He’s one of the few authors who I read ANYTHING they release (non fiction, adult, MG). In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’ve read ALL of his books… I may even OWN them all (if not all of them, MOST of them!) I’ve reviewed quite a few of his books on here, but I recently read Evie in the Jungle (the Worls Book Day 2020 book by him) and thought this was the opportune moment to FINALLY review Evie and the Animals and Evie and the Jungle!

Evie and the Animals: a great story about the importance of kindness

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“Ten-year-old Evie has a talent. A SUPERTALENT. Evie can TALK to animals and HEAR their thoughts. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? One day at school, Evie sets Kahlo the rabbit free from her too-small cage. Evie knows she’s done A Good Thing . . . but it lands her in BIG trouble. Evie’s dad and Granny Flora say her talent is a curse; she must never use it again. Until a year later pets on her street – including Lady Gaga the cat and a hamster named Cheryl – start disappearing. Evie is determined to find them. But it’s dangerous for her to help. Because the villain has a talent of their own, and only wants to use it for evil… Can Evie save the pets before it’s too late, even if it means DARING TO BE HERSELF?”

Evie and the Animals is a gorgeous story where Dr. Dolittle meets modern day issues to do with conservationism and activism! 

Evie has a special talent: she can understand other species. She can talk to them and she can hear what they are saying. Whether it’s the dogs of the neighbourhood, the school rabbit who wants to be set free or even scarier animals, Evie can hear them and talk to them. For so long she’s been ignoring them because she doesn’t want to be different (don’t we all worry about this!?), but when they start to go missing, Evie knows she needs to do about something about it. She knows she needs to use her power to try and help. 

This book has one of those brilliant things that kids are instantly hooked into. It’s exciting and enticing – who wouldn’t like to talk to animals?! We’ve had loads of chats about what animals the children would talk to if they had Evie’s powers (with answers ranging from tigers, to worms and pets, it’s been a topic of hot debate in the classroom!)

This book is full of elements that kept me wanting to read. There’s mystery, talking animals, scary moments (scary big cats at the zoo), bad guys and powers.

Evie is a brilliant main character. She’s full of heart and gusto. She’s got a brilliant message to deliver to children about being kind and the power behind those acts of kindness. She’s caring and gentle to both the people around her and the animals she encounters. Plus, she’s on her way to solving a mystery! 

My Goodreads review of Evie and the Animals:

A lovely story about the importance of being kind (to humans AND animals), being yourself (even when everyone tells you not to be) and looking after the world. I bloody love Matt Haig SO much.

Evie and the Jungle: a new adventure into the Amazon!

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“Twelve-year-old Evie has a talent. She can HEAR what animals are thinking and she can TALK to them with her mind. When Evie goes on a trip to the Amazon rainforest, her powers are put to the test. She makes friends with pink river dolphins, must save an injured sloth, and discovers the secret life of a jaguar. Soon she sees that the jungle is in serious and deadly danger, and comes up with a rather risky plan to help save it…”

Evie in the Jungle is a wonderful addition to the Evie family of books. She’s a brilliant protagonist that children might know from the first book, but I don’t think you NEED to know her as this book stands by itself if necessary.

This second adventure takes us on a fascinating (and sometimes a little bit scary!) trip all the way to the Amazon Rainforest, where we hear about Evie’s adventures in Peru with her dad. Evie and her dad have the chance to meet all kinds of incredibly exotic animals, including an adorable sloth, some very rude monkeys and a downright rude Scarlet Macaw. They go to help save so many of these animals who are affected by the destruction of the rainforest. 

One of the things I loved about this book is that there are so many facts jam packed into it that it appeals to my wonderfully science loving class! I learned that pink dolphins exist (no, I didn’t know that!) There’s some pretty shocking facts to be learned in this book too: humans are destroying enough rainforest to fill 30 football pitches every minute; 35 species of the Amazon Rainforest become extinct every day.

This book is an exciting and fun story, with lots of very important messages about looking after our planet, being kind to each other and the importance of doing good things. It’s got wonderful messages about compassion and honesty too. It’s a perfect length for new readers without being intimidating! 

My Goodreads review:

I really enjoyed this short story about Evie, the girl who can talk to animals. It’s got important messages about saving the rainforests, the importance of nature and kindness. 

And that’s it! Completely and utterly recommend these books (and the rest of Matt Haig’s catalogue of books too, if you’re after some recommendations!)

Have you read any of Matt Haig’s books?
Can you recommend me any more books with similar messages?

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Emma Carroll

The Ghost Garden: Historical fiction done splendidly

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“SUMMER 1914. When Fran unearths a bone in the garden of Longbarrow House on the same afternoon that Leo breaks his leg, it must surely be just a coincidence. But Fran can’t shake the uneasy feeling that the events are somehow connected, and there is a shift in the atmosphere that leaves her troubled and anxious. Roped into keeping wheelchair-bound Leo company, Fran is forced to listen to his foolish theories about the looming threat of war in Europe. But as the pair start to uncover more secrets buried beneath the garden, they dredge up threatening shadows of the future, and Fran begins to fear that Leo’s dire predictions might be coming true…”

The brilliant squirrels over at Barrington Stoke sent me one of their brand new titles and I couldn’t have been more over-joyed to receive it. They have collaborated with Emma Caroll (Queen of all things historical fiction) and created an absolute winner!

Set at the start of World War 1, The Ghost Garden tells the story of Fran: a young girl whose family works at Longbarrow House. She ends up digging up a bone in the garden of the house and then something happens to one of the grand-children of the rich family. She worries that these things are connected (she’s not the biggest fan of Leo and his siblings) and is concerned that there is more to it than just coincidence. She ends up being roped into looking after Leo as he is wheelchair bound and his siblings don’t look after him well. As they spend more time together and go deeper into some well-kept secrets, they discover there’s more to Longbarrow House than they first knew!

I absolutely adored this story. It was one that I picked up and then gobbled up in a very short space of time! Something that I love about Barrington Stoke books is just that: they’re readable and brilliant. Their books are perfect for reluctant readers… and this is one that I would recommend whole heartedly!

Throughout the story, there’s an over riding sense of bad omens and a lot of tension is built up in very subtle but effective ways. I can see a lot of children loving this book for that sense of fear and tension.

I also thought the characters were brilliant too. Fran is a great main character and I think a lot of children will like her! She’s definitely pretty brave – I don’t think you’d find me going on adventures through the gardens of Longbarrow House in search of secrets and history! 

My Goodreads review

This is great! Properly classic Emma Carroll: historical fiction done well. I loved the apparent bad omens and tension throughout. Fran is a great main character. I’d love to visit Longbarrow House. Although I definitely would be as brave as Fran was!

Another massive thank you to Barrington Stoke for sending me a copy of this fantastic read! It’s out in July! You’re all in for a treat!

S x 

Mini MG wrap ups: Spooky edition

Hello!

For all it’s no where near Halloween, I’ve read a few books recently featuring spooky characters: zombies, vampires and even Bigfoot! I thought rather than not share reviews of these books, I would share mini reviews so you can all hear how bloody brilliant they all are and go out and read them yourselves!!

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Sam Wu is NOT Afraid of Zombies – Katie and Kevin Tsang

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“There’s hardly anything that Sam Wu is afraid of. Unless you count ghosts, sharks, the dark and maybe even spiders. But definitely NOT zombies. Except for actual real ones maybe. So when Sam’s arch nemesis, Ralph Zinkerman the Third announces that he has zombie werewolves living in his basement, for the first time ever, Sam really isn’t sure if he wants to be the one to save the day. Ralph has always been pretty mean to him and, well, just one little nibble from the zombie werewolves wouldn’t hurt that much, would it? Common childhood fears dealt with in a hilarious, sensitive and accessible way”

I am a massive fan of these books and this one is another brilliantly fun book in the series. These books never fail to make me smile! Sam and his gang have to work together to overcome their meanest opposition yet: scary zombies. When Sam and co think there’s a zombie hiding in the basement of Ralph’s house, he definitely isn’t afraid of it… until he has to do something about it! I loved the plans they came up with! The children all thought they were going to be eaten by the zombies and they had to work together. I love that these books show the importance of friendship and everyone being different. Plus, as ever, the illustrations by Nathan Reed make me so bloody happy!

Amelia Fang and the Naughty Caticorns – Laura Ellen Anderson

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“Amelia Fang’s mum has a baby vampire on the way! But with the Fang household completely focussed on the new arrival, no one is paying Amelia any attention. Until she is asked to look after three very mischievous caticorns who make it their business to get Amelia in a world of trouble. Now EVERYONE is watching. And not in a good way!”

Another series I am a massive fan of. Amelia and her friends are always getting up to some kind of fun and in this book they are learning what it’s like to look after things… especially when those things don’t want to listen. When Amelia and her friends just want to be helpful, they learn that looking after caticorns is a lot more trouble than they thought it would be! This book is a whole load of fun with brilliant messages about Amelia becoming a big sister. The caticorns get up to some sheer nonsense and all Amelia wants to do is a good job looking after them. The illustrations, as always by Laura Ellen Anderson her very self, are gorgeous and add so much to the story!

The Bigwoof Conspiracy – Dashe Roberts 

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“When twelve-year-old, UFO-obsessed, Lucy Sladan sneaks out in the middle of a thunderstorm to investigate the unexplained disappearances in her hometown of Sticky Pines, she finds more than she bargained for: a huge hairy creature, a thirteen-year-old stranger named Milo Fisher and a deep-rooted secret. Together, Lucy and Milo become entwined in a mystery that threatens to engulf the whole town of Sticky Pines and its weird and wonderful residents.”

I don’t get to read books about conspiracies very often, so when this showed up I was MOST intrigued. And my gosh this was a whole lot of fun. A small little town that’s being taken over by Bigfoot type monsters, a little girl who refuses to accept that the adults don’t have the answers. She comes up against a factory owner who is plying the town with sugar and begins to get suspicious. When she makes herself an unlikely ally, the two of them work together to get to the bottom of what is happening to the town she lives in and some of the people she loves most. This was gorgeously paced with some brilliant humour thrown in. I don’t think I’d like to visit… but I’d love to be Lucy’s friend! A great sci fi mystery! 

Amelia Fang and the Bookworm Gang – Laura Ellen Anderson

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“Amelia Fang is feeling anxious. Everyone in her class has to write their own stories and read them out loud to the class – but for the first time ever, Amelia has run out of ideas! And she doesn’t feel like she can ask for help. So she decides to gets some inspiration from one of the many books in Loose Limb Library. But when Amelia and her friends get there, the gang discovers big bite marks in every book! Bookworms have invaded and they chomp through EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in their path. How will Amelia save all the books – and her friends – before it’s too late?”

The second entry for Amelia Fang into this post and it’s a testament to this series! This is a special World Book Day 2020 book and I was so glad to see an Amelia Fang book on the list. As soon as I knew I could buy it, I dashed out to buy a copy for myself. This was really cute! A brilliant way to explore writers block using Amelia and some helpful bookworms! I loved the messages about asking for help and that not being a bad thing! I love this series and to have it as a WBD book makes me so happy! Plus, you can’t beat these illustrations!

And that’s it for now! Thanks for stopping by! Let me know if you’ve read any of these books, or any you’d like to read! 

S x 

MG round up: Magical, mysical books

I’m here with another round up of 3 MG books that I’ve read this year! I’m sticking by my pledge to review EVERY book on my blog, regardless of length, so here we go with 3 orange and blue books! 

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Otto Tattercoat and the Forest of Lost Things – Matilda Woods

“Otto lives in the frozen city of Hodeldorf, where an eternal winter has fallen. When his mother goes missing one morning, he must join forces with the Tattercoats, a gang of brave orphans, to find her. They will journey into a dark forest where witches lurk and sun dragons lie sleeping, on a heart-racing adventure that will chill you to the bone.”

As a big fan of Matilda Woods’ other books, I had high hopes for this book. PLUS the cover is GORGEOUS. A story that starts with a coat, a missing mam and a lonely boy ends with a boy who learns a lot about himself and about other people. This is a gorgeous story about the importance of friendship, hope, kindness and humanity. There’s stories within stories here and the comraderie between the Tattercoats made me so happy. There’s wickedly bad baddies in this book and it made them even more delicious. I do not wish to visit the polish factory, but I would love to be friends with Otto and his crew. This was like a proper hug in a book

Dragon Detective: Catnapped by Gareth P. Jones

“When detective Dirk Dilly gets a call from Holly, a young girl whose pet cat has gone missing, the dragon ends up with not only a new case to solve but also a self-appointed partner-in-solving-crime. And it turns out that Holly’s cat is just the beginning! As the pair hunt for clues, Dirk spots other dragons flying over the city – and not the good kind. Dirk has a hunch they might just be involved, but will he and Holly be able prevent further cat-astrophe before it’s too late?”

This was a whole load of fun! It’s a great detective book with dragon detective sleuthing done brilliantly well. There’s loads of bits where I laughed aloud at this book. This is full of jokes that kids are going to love, but it would make a great read aloud too. It tells a wonderful story about a young girl who won’t give up and a dragon who really doesn’t want her to be there. This unlikely pair end up solving a mystery about missing cats and become friends. Who knew? I mean, who wouldn’t want to be friends with a dragon who knows all the underground secrets of the dragons around the world? Totally recommend this! 

The Land of Roar by Jenny Mclachlin

“When Arthur and Rose were little, they were heroes in the Land of Roar, an imaginary world that they found in their grandad’s attic. Roar was filled with things they loved – dragons, mermaids, ninja wizards and adventure – as well as things that scared them (including a very creepy scarecrow…) Now the twins are eleven, Roar is just a memory. But when they help Grandad clean out the attic, Arthur is horrified as Grandad is pulled into the folding bed and vanishes. Is he playing a joke? Or is Roar real?”

I properly loved this book. I had heard an awful lot about it on twitter, but never got round to picking it up… when I did, I instantly regretted waiting so long to pick it up! It was so much of what I loved about stories: brilliant storytelling, gorgeous characters and an interesting plot! Plus, there’s a whole load of magic, which instantly makes me happy. I loved that this book talked about the importance of play and using your imagination. There’s some gorgeous explorations of the relationship between the siblings in this book which I loved reading (as someone who has a close with her sibling). This book has a pretty scary baddy, but there’s a massive host of good guys to make it all ok! I can’t wait for book 2… I don’t wanna have to wait til June for it

And there you have it! Another round up of some smashing kids books! 

Have you read any of these books?
ARE YOU EXCITED FOR LAND OF ROAR 2 TOO?
Can you recommend me any more magical books please?

Talk to me in the comments. I’d love your magical recommendations!

S x 

Half term reads…

HELLO!

As you will have seen from yesterday’s post, last week was half term, and as we know, in half term…

I READ ALL OF THE BOOKS. 

I love half terms because it gives me a proper chance to just gobble through a whole load of books. Today, I thought I would share with you what I read and VERY QUICK reviews of them! Some of them I have full reviews planned for in the coming weeks, but if you’re interested in full reviews of any, let me know and I’ll schedule them in! 

This half term I read 10 books and started an 11th. I think that’s pretty impressive for a half term holiday. I read a load of YA books which makes my brain so happy!

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Half term reads meets MG books

The Bigwoof Conspiracy – Dashe Roberts

This was a whole lot of fun. A small little town that’s being taken over by Bigfoot type monsters, a little girl who refuses to accept that the adults don’t have the answers and a factory owner who is plying the town with sugar. I don’t think I’d like to visit… but I’d love to be Lucy’s friend! A great sci fi mystery!

Bad Nana: All The Fun of the Fair – Sophy Henn

Lush to be back with Bad Nana and the gang. As usual, she is up to no good! This book, like the rest of the books in this series, are loads of fun! I love the gorgeous illustrations and this one proper made me chuckle!

The Shark Caller – Zillah Bethell

Well… this was a BEAUTIFUL story filled with love, hope, grief and friendship. I absolutely adored Blue Wing and Mabel’s stories: how they went from being cold to each other to bonded. How important the sea is. How important kindness is. This is a magical story. I just loved it. (Full review already scheduled)

Jungledrop – Abi Elphinstone

Blooming magnificent. A book, like all of Abi’s others, filled with adventure and heart. You can’t read one of her books and not be swept away with the lives of her characters, the depth and richness of her worlds and the brilliance of her baddies. I loved the twins and the journey they go on: kindness really is the bravest thing in the world. As much as Morg terrifies me, it was great to be back with her dastardly ways. And Heckle is a brilliant character (with a perfect name!) bloody bravo Abi Elphinstone!! (Full review already scheduled)

Half term reads meets YA books

Noah Goes Nuclear – Simon James Green

A wonderful short story that I was delighted to get my hands on. Brilliantly funny, quintessential Simon James Green. Poor Noah. I love him so much. “Abort all intercourse” might be one of my favourite quotes from these books. Cackled through this! (The couple opposite me on the train were a bit taken aback by my laughter!)

Into the Crooked Palace – Alexandra Christo

My friend Charlotte gave me this to borrow and I really enjoyed it! Really interesting characters and some interesting relationships going on. Secrets, lies, manipulation, magic (YES) and a battle for power. I am looking forward to the sequel provided the sister isn’t in control cause she scares me a lot.

First Day Of My Life – Lisa Williamson

This book is all kinds of magnificent. It’s heartbreaking and tough and hard to read. It’s revelations and secrets. It’s love in so many forms. It’s doing what’s right for you even when you know it’s going to hurt the people you love. It’s hard hitting and raw at times. I love how intertwined the 3 characters are and how their stories unfolded. The 3 perspectives worked so well. The epilogue made my heart so happy. Massive shout out to the scene between Ram and the policeman: it broke my heart. Bloody bravo! (Full review to come)

The Pieces of Ourselves – Maggie Harcourt

This book is honest and raw and interesting. It’s different and it’s curious. It made me think and it made me feel. I love Flora and Hal’s story so much. There’s so much goodness in their lives and they’re surrounded by questions. I see a bit of myself in Flora. I loved Charlie and Felix so much. Just a brilliant story that made me shocked, made me cry and made me fall a little bit in love. History and the present well and truly overlapping. (Full review scheduled)

Rules for Being A Girl – Candace Bushness and Katie Cotungo 

This made me all kinds of angry, disgusted, happy and sad. I love that Marin’s family were so lovely. Team Grey all the way. The power of believing a person’s truth and their story, versus a battle of power. She was treated so unfairly, but she’s a fighter. There’s so much truth in this book and it made me cross for women all over the world.

Love Is For Losers – Wibke Bruggemann

A great book! I loved the diary entry format and the sarcastic, cynical voice of the MC. She goes through a lot in this book, but she comes out on top. Shout out to the kittens, the representations of love in all its forms and grief in this book. This is a great story told in a brilliant way.

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And that’s it! A very quick, whistle-stop tour of all of the books I read in half term! I’m sure my reading will slow down a bit now that we’re in term time, but I still read EVERY day so I should get through a few books in the next few weeks!

Do you read more during half term?
What did you read in half term?
What are you excited to read in the coming weeks?

Talk to me in the comments. I’d love to know which of these books you’re most interested in hearing about! 

S x 

 

BOOK BLOG: Kirsty Applebaum

Troofriend: a little bit creepy, a little bit scary, but SUCH a good story!

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“Imagine having the perfect friend, one who never steals, lies or bullies. Now you can, with the TrooFriend 560, the latest in artificial intelligence! What can go wrong with a robot buddy? Especially one that’s developing human characteristics and feelings, and who has just run away with her human?”

I AM A TROOFRIEND.
I DO NOT BULLY. I DO NOT HARM. I DO NOT LIE. I DO NOT COVET OR STEAL OR ENVY.
I AM YOUR PERFECT FRIEND. YOUR ONE TROOFRIEND.

Troofriend is the second book from the brilliant Kirsty Applebaum, author of The Middler, which was one hell of a book. I had high hopes when I saw there was a new book and I really enjoyed Troofriend. It was the perfect mix of creepy and thought provoking. 

Troofriend tells the story of a world set in the near future where parents can buy a Troofriend for their child. A Troofriend is the “perfect friend” for their children. They don’t bully, harm, lie, covet, steal or envy. What could go wrong? Sarah is a young girl whose parents do just that: they buy her a Troofriend because they’re very busy and she wants a puppy. When things start going wrong with other Troofriend Mark IVs like Ivy (Sarah’s Troofriend), we see an exploration of what it means to be human, what it means to be friends and some interesting talking points about robots! 

I really enjoyed this book. The story is told from Ivy’s point of view and I found that really endearing. You got to see into the world of the robot. You got to watch as Ivy changed and became something different to what you’re originally led to believe. Sarah isn’t convinced about Ivy to start with – she has Ivy turned off a lot of the time at the beginning, but as she starts to warm to Ivy, things start to change. Sarah wants to use Ivy to show off to her friends at ‘Bring Your Tech To School Day’.

I loved the ending. I thought it was very touching!

I read this book with a very ominous, tense feeling throughout. It was sold to me as Black Mirror for children and I can totally see it! There was always a feeling that something was going to go HORRIBLE wrong with the robots. This is the kind of book that I can see kids absolutely loving. I can’t wait to put it in the hands of some of my Year 5s and 6s.

It is going to create some real good talking points. This book lends itself to some brilliant converstaion starters/PSHE lessons about friendship, is it ever OK to lie and the future of the world with robots and AI becoming more and more prevalent. 

 My Goodreads review:

I really enjoyed this! Lots of brilliant talking points and I really loved the characters! I was tense a lot of the time. A lot of gripping reading!

Are you excited for Troofriend?
Would you want a Troofriend?
Can you recommend me any books like this?

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

Massive thank you to the publishers, Nosy Crow, for sending me a proof copy of Troofriend for review! It;s sat in my classroom waiting to find a new friend after half term! 

S x 

MG Mini Reviews!

Hello friends!

How are you this fine Friday? 

I thought I’d do some mini reviews for some brilliant MG books I’ve read recently because I wanna give every book a space on my website, but sometimes I don’t have time to write full reviews of everything (especially since it seems in January I have been reading like it’s going out of fashion ha!)

Check out my mini reviews of 6 recent MG reads!

Sequin and Stitch – Laura Dockrill

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“Sequin’s mum is a talented seamstress and their little flat is overflowing with beautiful silks, fabrics, buttons and beads. It’s a sparkling sanctuary, like a princess’s wardrobe. While Mum works at her sewing machine late into the night, Sequin takes care of her baby brother, Stitch, and dreams of a place in the spotlight for her brilliant mum. But when tragedy strikes, their shimmering world disintegrates and Sequin is forced to confront the biggest loss of all…”

The brilliant humans of Barrington Stoke sent me a review copy of this and I tell you what it broke my heart. Like in that very quiet way books sometimes do. It’s a gorgeous story about a young girl who wants to stand up for her brilliant mam and a mother who is trying to keep it together all the while dealing with something quite shocking. I definitely didn’t see a lot of the shocks coming. This is a gorgeous story filled with love. It’s a short book which packs quite a punch and I wasn’t expecting it to hit me as hard as it did! 

Guardians of Magic – Chris Riddell

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“For as long as anyone can remember, children have made a wish on a cloud horse, never quite believing that their wishes will come true. But times are changing. The future of magic is in danger. Enemies are working together to destroy it – especially the magic of nature and its most powerful source, The Forever Tree. Unless three brave children fight back and believe in the impossible, soon magic and the cloud horses will be gone. Zam, Phoebe and Bathsheba don’t yet know how powerful they are…”

This was actually my first read of 2020 and what a way to kick off the year! This is a brilliant story about the fight between good and evil. There’s magic, fantsatical creatures and twists on fairytales (which let’s be honest, we all know I am a massive fan of). I love that this story was told through 3 different pairs of eyes, from 3 different perspectives. The three characters battle through their own lives so differently, but what brings them together are enchanted items they never thought they’d own. I loved how the beautiful illustrations added so much to the story – you could give me a book of just Chris Riddell illustrations and I’d be a happy bunny! I hope there’s more to come from this series because these kids have great promise! 

Hotel Flamingo: Holiday Heatwave and Carnival Caper

Holiday Heatwave
The temperature is rising, which can only mean one thing: it’s summer! Bookings are up at Hotel Flamingo and the hotel is getting busy. Anna is excited to receive word from King Penguin royalty asking to holiday in their Royal Suite. But there’s a lot to get done, and it’s not easy to manage the needs of the penguins when there’s a heatwave on and a huge ice shortage. Help! Can Anna get Hotel Flamingo back to its usual shining self and have happy guests all round?

Carnival Caper
 It’s the last of the autumn days before winter sets in, which means it’s time for CARNIVAL! Animal Boulevard is a riot of colour, and every establishment is preparing a float for the procession. Anna is determined to win the prize for Hotel Flamingo for the best display. Things start to get complicated when Anna gets some very unexpected guests – the mega-famous band The Nocturnal Animals! How will she keep their stay a secret? Then on top of this, disaster strikes! Can Anna save the Carnival, the band and the day? 

I’m a big fan of these books. They are jam-packed full of colour and illustrations as well as being such great stories. Anna is a wonderful character to be running the hotel as she just wants what’s best for her guests. Whether it’s the royal family with their very demanding ways or a famous band with their horrible manager, or just every single customer! I’d love to stay in the Hotel Flamingo as you’re guaranteed a good stay. Anna does everything with kindness and with her team at her call, there’s nothing they can’t achieve! 

Bad Nana: Older Not Wiser and That’s Snow Business

Older Not Wiser
Jeanie’s Grandma is BAD. Not bad like a vampire or a gangster or anything, more like . . . up to no good. Sometimes she can be a bit embarrassing but most of the time she’s REALLY fun, especially when she gets Jeanie involved in her mischievous schemes. Everyone says she’s old enough to know better . . . but she doesn’t seem to care one bit. In fact, Jeanie thinks she might quite like it!

That’s Snow Business
There’s a local winter talent show, and the whole town is SO excited. Especially as the SPECTACULAR Bobby Trulove is in charge. He’s an old friend of Bad Nana’s and he’s quite, erm, dramatic! The day before the show, a freak weather storm hits, and leaves the town snowed in. Can Bad Nana save the show?

These books are a whole load of fun (so much so I read them both in the space of about half an hour and then promptly ordered myself the other one because I didn’t realise there was another one!). Bad Nana is a brilliant character: she’s a nana with a twinkle in her eye. She’s got a touch of naughtiness in her but she’s an awful lot of fun! You never know what antics she’s going to get up to and in That’s Snow Business she lets the spotlight get to head and starts to spoil the fun for everyone else. These books are great for beginner readers because they’re brilliantly illustrated and are such fun! 

And there we have it! A round up of some of the MG books I’ve read recently. 

Have you read any of these books?
Can you recommend me any books like this?
What’s been your best read recently?

Talk to me! I’d love to know what you’re all reading! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: ANNA HOGHTON

The Mask of Aribella: a complete victory!

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“On the eve of her birthday, Aribella discovers she has a secret power – when angered, flames shoot from her fingertips. Frightened, she runs away, only to be rescued by a magical organization of masked heroes with their own special skills. Aribella and her new friends have sworn to defend Venice, but can they defeat the evil rising from the Island of the Dead?”

The Mask of Aribella is one of those books with complete shelf appeal. I knew as soon as I saw it that I needed to own it in my life. As soon as I knew Waterstones Newcastle had it, I dashed to buy it and it jumped to the top of my TBR pile. 

If you look at the blurb it has so many things in that I absolutely love: magic, heroes, secrets, a battle between good and evil. And let me tell you it did not disappoint! 

The Mask of Aribella tells the story of Aribella, a young girl who learns she has a secret power. She’s torn away from her life and thrown into an incredibly different one: a one where appearances are not all the seem to be. She learns she has powers and has to learn how to control these powers, build new friendships and learn to trust this new bunch of people around her. She hears stories of murder, magic and secrets. She’s not sure who to trust, but knows that she needs to trust someone. 

This book just completely stole my heart. There’s so much I loved about this book. It’s so many juxtapositions in one book: light vs dark; reality vs appearances; good vs evil; secrets vs lies. It’s written so beautifully. There’s characters who you will absolutely fall for. There’s baddies who were a bit terrifying and goodies who were wonderful. It’s perilous. It’s danger. It’s dark and mysterious. There’s a setting that just oozes with temptation and magic. 

I read this book in a matter of hours and I can’t speak highly enough of it.

Aribella is a wonderful main character: she doesn’t shy away from showing fear, but she’s also incredibly brave. She fights for what she thinks is right. She stands up for her friends. She shows kindness and her fierceness in abundance. She makes mistakes and makes moves to fix them. 

And then there’s Rodolfo. My friends, I think he’s just magnificent. He’s Aribella’s mentor and we all know I love a good mysterious, positive role model in a book. I’d love to know more about him. In fact, I’d love a Rodolfo book. If that could happen, I’d appreciate that. He’s just that perfect mix of mysterious, kind, supportive and strict. He’s got secrets and he’s got a history. I can tell. He’s a brilliant character to read. 

I really enjoyed reading the magic in this story (lol, this is not a surprise to anyone). I loved all of the different portrayals of magic with the different characters and the relationship the magicians have with their masks was gorgeous. (I did read this whole book wondering what MY mask would look like!) It was all just wonderfully fascinating and I fell in love with the whole world. 

THE WORLD. Man, this book made me want to visit Venice. If someone would like to take me on holiday to Venice, I would appreciate that a lot. The descriptions of the city just made me very wanderlust-y (is that right?!). 

My Goodreads review: 

What a complete victory this book is. It’s magic and friendship; dark and light; good and evil. It’s believing in yourself and surrounding yourself with goodness. It’s dark stories of murder and magic. It’s beautiful Venice and not judging by appearances. BLOODY YES. I absolutely adored Rodolfo – he’s my fave. I would LOVE to know more about him!

So yes. Basically this review should tell you one thing… this book is magic and gorgeous AND YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY BUY IT. 

Have you read The Mask of Aribella?
What magic power would you have if you were magical?
What would you want your mask to look like if you went to the mask maker?

Let me know in the comments! I’d love to talk magic!

S x