Monday MG Mini Reviews

Hello friends! 

How are you all? I hope you had a lovely weekend! I had a wodnderful time celebrating the wedding of one of my loveliest humans, then on Sunday I had a date with my book and breakfast before doing a bit of work and a bit of blogging! Gotta keep those blog posts coming for all you guys. As I write this, I’m listening to Gareth Gates (I know, I’m a cool kid) and sitting in my pyjamas – yay for Sundays!

I’ve read A FAIR FEW brilliant MG books recently and I thought I would share some mini reviews with you all, until I have time to write full, in-depth reviews. I love writing mini reviews because it means I get to share LOADS of books in one post and not just one! All of these books will get a full review, but I couldn’t hold in my thoughts on them any longer! Without further ado…

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The Star Outside My Window – Onjali Q. Rauf

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“On her tenth birthday, Sophie makes a wish — a wish for her mum. After school that same day, Sophie and her brother are rushed out of school and driven far, far away. So Sophie sets out to find out the truth — about the wish and about what happened to her mother. And in doing so she ends up on an adventure she never could have foreseen…one that involves a very clever squirrel, a homeless man named Harry, the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, and the biggest star in Hollywood…”

I picked this book up on the buy one, get one half price table of Waterstones Newcastle and it just kept shouting to be read, so I needed to pick it up. It tells the amazing story of young Sophie who is in desperate need to remember her mam. She knows her mam is the brightest star in the sky, and she needs the star to be named after her mam. This book is full of adventure, friendship and fun, while being moving and charming. The characters are all so bloody wonderful. I finished this on the metro going to my friend’s house and I just had to cry quietly. It’s just wonderful. Some tough issues dealt with beautifully and I can see why it’s been so popular! I devoured the last 100 pages very quickly because I needed to know. Gripping, heartbreaking and filled with love.

Look Both Ways – Jason Reynolds

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“Parents, siblings, teachers, coaches, nosy neighbours, babysitters – there’s not much of your day that isn’t dictated by someone else. Unless you walk home from school – walkers have independence – those fifteen-minutes from school to home, completely unsupervised. What waits for them is the mischief of curiosity, allies and enemies, a taste of freedom, and plenty of humour.”

If you’ve been here for a while, you will know that I am a MASSIVE MASSIVE fan of Knights Of and Jason Reynolds’ books. Ghost and Patina are two of the most incredible books I’ve read recently and I can’t wait for the rest of the series because they have my heart entirely. When I heard there was a new Jason Reynolds book coming out, I was DESPERATE to get it. The brilliant humans of Ed PR sent me a copy and it just made my total half term. This book is a wonderful anthology of stories of the walk home from school. Told from 10 different perspectives, with a thread of commanality running through the stories, this book just is full of personality, charm and love. Jason Reynolds keeps writing absolute winners. This book is jam packed with gorgeous characters and I adored each of them. I’d love to know more about all of them (and that’s the true sign of an amazing book). The friendship, the love, the sense of community in the book gave me such warm vibes. The stories are the perfect length and I think this would make an absolutely wonderful read aloud to my class.

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Frostheart – Jamie Littler

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“Way out in the furthest part of the known world, a tiny stronghold exists all on its own, cut off from the rest of human-kin by monsters that lurk beneath the Snow Sea. There, a little boy called Ash waits for the return of his parents, singing a forbidden lullaby to remind him of them… and doing his best to avoid his very, VERY grumpy yeti guardian, Tobu.But life is about to get a whole lot more crazy-adventurous for Ash. When a brave rescue attempt reveals he has amazing magical powers, he’s whisked aboard the Frostheart, a sleigh packed full of daring explorers who could use his help. But can they help him find his family…?”

This was another book that I picked up because it was in the BOGOHP deal at Waterstones Newcastle (it was Children’s Book of the Month at the time… in fact it was CBOTM for 2 months!). Everything about this book just spoke to me. It was a little bit magic, fantasy, a massive adventure and even a bit of learning on the way. This book just warmed everything about my heart. It’s one of those incredible books that comes along and I just didn’t want to leave the world. The characters, the illustrations, the adventure, the messages: it’s all just SPOT ON. This book deserves all of the love that it is getting. If you haven’t read it yet, please, please do! It is exceptional. It’s fun, daring, dangerous and cool. I absolutely loved my journey on Frostheart with Ash and the crew. A proper icy cold ride, with a massive heart. The illustrations throughout add so much too. Absolute smasher! I’ve already shared this with a few of the kids at school and it is going down a proper storm. PLUS, knowing that book 2 is on its way makes me SO BLOODY HAPPY – you all know I love a series!

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Tilly and the Lost Fairytales – Anna James

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“Tilly Pages is a bookwanderer; she can travel inside books, and even talk to the characters she meets there. But Tilly’s powers are put to the test when fairytales start leaking book magic and causing havoc… On a wintery visit to Paris, Tilly and her best friend Oskar bravely bookwander into the land of fairytales to find that characters are getting lost, stories are all mixed-up, and mysterious plot holes are opening without warning. Can Tilly work out who, or what, is behind the chaos so everyone gets their happily-ever-after?”

I read the first Pages and Co book last year (I think) and I fell in love with it instantly (you can find my review for that book here). It’s one of those special kind of books which shares the love of books, stories and the bookish world with us. Tilly has magical bookwandering powers that we would all want if we’re being honest! I absolutely adored that it took me to Paris and I got to explore Paris as well as exploring fairytales. I loved that. The infusion of many fairytales in Tilly’s story just enriched the whole thing. Anna has a wonderful writing style – you’re looked after, but there’s always a slight sense of danger. There’s fun, there’s friendship, there’s some dastardly actions. There’s loads of talking points in this too. Lots of tangents that you could go down to talk about! The characters in these books are my absolute love. Wonderfully brave Tilly is in another brilliant, book-loving filled adventure with some familiar faces from fairy tales. If you’ve not picked up these books yet, you absolutely should. I wish I was Tilly’s friend. (I wish I was Tilly to be fair… she lives in a bookshop, she’s got magical powers and she’s surrounded by some of the best people ever!)

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Right, that’s it for now! This turned into a longer post than I thought it would, but I just adored these books and it’s only fair that they all get some time and space on this here blog! 

Have you read any of these books?
Are you a fan of a mini review?
What are you reading at the minute?

Shout me some recommendations… I can never have too many! 

Speak to you all soon!

S x 

Mini reviews: MG edition

Good morning! 

How are we all?! Today I come to you with some mini reviews. I’m going to keep them short and sweet, but these are some books that I’ve read recently that I want to shout about that I’ve just not had a chance to yet!

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The Fire Maker – Guy Jones

“Alex loves magic – its glamour, tricks and illusions. He’s good at it, too: he’s reached the semi-finals of a prestigious competition for young magicians. But when he stumbles into eccentric Mr Olmos’s back garden while running from his former best friend, Alex sees something he can’t explain: three tiny flames floating in the air. Fire magic. Real magic. Soon, Alex and Mr Olmos are swept up in a great adventure of secrets, genies and an ancient, bitter rivalry…”

I loved this book. It’s a quick but brilliant story about Alex, a magician, who ends up stumbling across a mysterious old man and his mystifying magical flames. They spring up an unlikely friendship and Alex makes a mistake: one which has some pretty bad consequences! A brilliant tale of magic, friendship, secrets and lies. With interesting charactes and an interesting plot, this is perfect for KS2 readers! 

Good Boy – Mal Peet

Sandie has been battling it since childhood: the hulking, snarling black dog of her nightmares. For years, her precious pet dog Rabbie has kept the monster at bay, but when he is no longer there to protect her, the black dog reappears to stalk Sandie in her sleep … Illuminating the undeniable power of Mal Peet’s pared-back prose, Good Boy is an evocative examination of fear and anxiety that will leave you guessing long after its final page.

I’m not going to lie – the first chapter in this had me a LITTLE bit scared. This book is probably more suited for teens than younger readers, but there’s nothing particularly horrifying in it. It’s a complex and interesting story all about a young girl and her nightmares. It’s an interesting portrayal of what our nightmares look like and what they can do to us. It really made me think and has definitely left a lasting impression. There’s some wonderful illustrations too!

Amelia Fang and the Half Moon Holiday – Laura Ellen Anderson

It’s the half-moon holidays in gloomy Nocturnia which means no school for Amelia and her friends! Instead they are going to spend it with their Rainbow Rangers troop, (lead by unicorns Ricky and Graham) earning badges on Sugar Plum Island. But whilst exploring, Amelia and the gang stumble upon an ancient curse – and are shrunk to the size of bugs! How will they make the bloodcurdlingly BIG journey to break the curse when they are all so very TINY?

I’m a massive fan of the Amelia Fang series! You definitely need to get on this series if you’re a KS2 teacherthey’re fun and filled with great messages! Amelia Fang is such a polite character and these books are filled with humour. This latest installment of the series sees Amelia and her friends going on a camping trip as part of Rainbow Rangers (think Brownies/Rainbows/Scouts). Shout out here for Ricky and Graham – the unicorn leaders of Rainbow Rangers. These books are jam packed with illustrations that add so much to the story. I hope this series just goes on and on. 

Hotel Flamingo – Alex Milway

When young Anna inherits a dilapidated once-grand hotel from her Great Aunt Mathilde, she’s determined to restore it to its former glory. But this is no ordinary hotel – all of her staff and guests are animals! Anna soon rises to the challenge. Whether it’s a flamingo, a penguin or a hippo knocking at the door, Anna is ready to welcome them all – with the help of her trusty sidekicks T Bear the doorman, Squeak the friendly elevator mouse, and Lemmy the lemur receptionist … As she soon finds out, though, running an animal hotel is no easy task. Can Anna make Hotel Flamingo a success once more?

I’m always on the look out for slightly longer books that are perfect for Y2 readers and I can look no further than this! With beautifully illustrated pages and an interesting story, this book is perfect. Here you have a story about the importance of team work, hard work and acceptance. A story about a young girl who needs to do up the hotel she’s inherited (which is in a state of sheer disrepair) and her friends who she helps to give the hotel a new lease of life! I really loved this book. I hope there’s more to come from this author! 

And there we go! 

Let me know in the comments if you’re a fan of a mini review, or if there’s anything you’d like to know about these books. 

S x 

Mini reviews – wrap up!

Hello friends!

How are we all? What is everyone reading at the minute? 

I’m currently reading Someday by David Levithan (in preparation for the event I’m hosting with him and the AMAZING Laura Steven. If you’re knocking about Newcastle on October 30th, come along… you can get tickets from Waterstones or click this link to get your ticket! I know… I don’t know how this is my life either. Come along and see me fangirling so hard)

Anyway… I’m here to wrap up some books I’ve read recently! I had a day last weekend where I just read non-stop and I managed to read like 5 books, so I decided to write a wrap up with mini reviews of them all for you! I want to share these books cause they’re great! 

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Race to the Frozen North by Catherine Johnson
Released: September 15th 2018
Publisher: Barrington Stoke

I’m starting with this one because I absolutely adored it. This would be an INCREDIBLE book to use in the classroom for explorers/biographies. It’s definitely more aimed for Y5/6 but would be readable from Year 4. I loved the story this told – a black man whose achievements were ignored, due to the colour of his skin. This book tells of his life from childhood to old age, focusing on the hardships he faced as a black person in America during the late 19th and early 20th century. I found this a touching and moving story, which outraged me and made me cross at some points. I think this is the point though – it’s a book that is meant to make you feel things. It would be brilliant to use for Black History Month. This book would also open many doors for discussions about racial prejudice and bias in history. Would recommend wholeheartedly.

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The Treatment by C.L.Taylor.
Released: last year
Publisher: HQ 

I’d seen a lot of people talking about this book, so I decided to pick it up. It’d been sat on my TBR for a little while, but I was very much in the mood for something a little bit “scarier” than my usual. I started reading this and I was instantly gripped. A story all about a girl going to save her brother from being “brainwashed”? Yes please! Also, it really helped that Newcastle was mentioned (shush man, I love it, it doesn’t happen very often!). This book is well paced with moments where I was actually pretty scared. The characters are brilliant – there’s a character for everyone! I never want to find myself in the centre!

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The Lost Diary of Sami Star by Karen McCombie
Released: 15th September 2018
Publisher: Barrington Stoke

This story is about Hannah. A young girl who is feeling left out. At home, at school, she doesn’t feel like anyone is paying attention to her. She finds a diary in the park and instantly feels like she’s made a new friend. She really likes the person in the diary and makes it her mission to find this person, to reunite this person with their diary. I really enjoyed this book. It’s super readable (as all of Barrington Stoke books are) and it had a lovely message – look for the good in people, and yourself. 

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The Littlest Witch – Bianca Pitzorno
Released: 1st October 2018
Publisher: Catnip Books

I loved this book. It was a great tale all about the downfalls of greed. A story about a young man who has been left a fortune, but he has to marry a witch and the greed that blinds him! Reading this was a whole load of fun. This will be great for children who love a magical story. There’s some crazy antics with the sisters and the little bit of magic left me with a warm heart.

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Lavinia and the Magic Ring – Bianca Pitzorno
Released: 1st October 2018
Publisher: Catnip Books

Another book by Bianca Pitzorno I read very swiftly! This book has a bit of an Oliver feel about it, a young girl who is poor. Throw in a Cinderella feeling of the “fairy godmother” who blesses Lavinia with a magic ring and you have a tale that kids will love. Lavinia makes some brilliant moves in this book and she ends up outwitting quite a few adults! I really enjoyed this, it made me chuckle at points! There’s some very funny moments involving a lot of poo!

And there you go! 

Have you read any of these?
Would you like to hear more about any of them?
Can you recommend me any books based on these reads?
Do you like these mini review/wrap up type posts?

Talk to me! I’d love to hear from you! 

S x