9+, Adventure, Children's Fiction, Fantasy, Middle Grade Fiction, Summer Reads

Summer Reads – The Maker of Monsters

Books to be swept away with this summer…

There are SO MANY great books around at the moment and so I’d like to share a few that I think are particularly exciting.  I’m not going to plop them all together in one post but give each the opportunity to shine in it’s own right…

Hold on to your hats… here are my summer 2019 recommendations.

The Maker of Monsters by Lorraine Gregory

Recommended for Middle Grade (9+) & above…

Unknown-2

 

Here’s the synopsis:

Brat has always lived in the isolated castle on the island, taking care of the vicious creatures that his master creates, waiting in terror for the moment when they are ready to be put to use. But then the unthinkable happens. The monsters get out. Now Brat must overcome his fears, and venture into the world he has hidden from his whole life. For the fate of everyone rests on his shoulders alone. . .

A thrilling new standalone adventure from Lorraine Gregory.

*

The Maker of Monsters was published in by Oxford University Press in May and you can find where to buy it here (also your local indie will be able to get hold of it too if they don’t already have a copy.). It’s also available on eBook.

ISBN: 978-0-19-276883-4

*

Read it already?  Please feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Happy reading and I hope you have a fabulous summer!

IMG_20180723_161859

Advertisements
9+, Adventure, Children's Fiction, Magic, Middle Grade Fiction, Summer Reads, Witchcraft

Summer Reading – Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day

Books to be swept away with this summer…

There are SO MANY great books around at the moment and so I’d like to share a few that I think are particularly exciting.  I’m not going to plop them all together in one post but give each the opportunity to shine in it’s own right…

Hold on to your hats… here are my summer 2019 recommendations.

Starfell by Dominique Valente

Willow Moss and the Lost Day

Recommended for Middle Grade (8+) & above…

51QvXJik0TL._SX309_BO1,204,203,200_

 

Here’s the synopsis:

The most spellbinding new children’s fantasy series of 2019, in a stunning hardback edition with beautiful black-and-white inside illustrations by Sarah Warburton. Perfect for fans of Cressida Cowell and Nevermoor.

Willow Moss, the youngest and least powerful sister in a family of witches, has a magical ability for finding lost things – like keys, or socks, or wooden teeth. Useful, but not exactly exciting . . .

Then the most powerful witch in the world of Starfell turns up at Willow’s door and asks for her help. A whole day – last Tuesday to be precise – has gone missing. Completely. And, without it, the whole universe could unravel.

Now Willow holds the fate of Starfell in her rather unremarkable hands . . . Can she save the day – by finding the lost one?

*

Starfell  was published in hardback by HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks in May and you can find where to buy it here (also your local indie will be able to get hold of it too if they don’t already have a copy.). It’s also available on both eBook and Audiobook.

ISBN: 9780008308391

*

Read it already?  Please feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Happy reading and I hope you have a fabulous summer!

IMG_20180723_161859

9+, Adventure, Children's Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Magic, Middle Grade Fiction, Thriller, Witchcraft

Summer Reading – The Merrybegot

Books to be swept away with this summer…

There are SO MANY great books around at the moment and so I’d like to share a few that I think are particularly exciting.  I’m not going to plop them all together in one post but give each the opportunity to shine in it’s own right…

Hold on to your hats… here are my summer 2019 recommendations.

The Merrybegot by Julie Hearn

Recommended for Middle Grade (9+) & above…

51+35lZj8BL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

 

Here’s the synopsis:

In a remote west-country village, all is not as it seems. Rumours of bad magic and witchcraft are spreading. The piskies are whispering in the orchard and an ill wind is blowing. The fingers of blame are all pointing to Nell, the cunning woman’s granddaughter.
With the Witchfinder General on his way, Nell is alone, trapped, and in fear for her life. Who can she trust? And who will save her?

This amazing story has been reissued with a stunning new cover by Karl James Mountford for a new generation of readers to enjoy.

*

The Merrybegot was first published in 2005.  Did you read it when it originally came out or are you new to it just like me?  The new cover design is stunning and will hopefully attract many new readers to this enchanting novel.  This new edition also includes reading notes and discussion points at the end.

The Merrybegot  was reissued by Oxford University Press in May and you can find where to buy it here (also your local indie will be able to get hold of it too if they don’t already have a copy.). It’s also available on eBook and Audiobook.

ISBN: 978-0-19-276958-9

*

Read it already?  Please feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Happy reading and I hope you have a fabulous summer!

IMG_20180723_161859

9+, Adventure, Books that adults should read, Children's Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction, Summer Reads

Summer Reading – The Dog Runner

Books to be swept away with this summer…

There are SO MANY great books around at the moment and so I’d like to share a few that I think are particularly exciting.  I’m not going to plop them all together in one post but give each the opportunity to shine in it’s own right…

Hold on to your hats… here are my summer 2019 recommendations.

The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble

Recommended for Middle Grade (age 9+) and above! 

Unknown

 

Here’s the synopsis:

‘We’re gonna starve if we stay here, Emery said. ‘If we’re gonna go, best go now.’ And he said it like going was something easy.  Like all we have to do is walk away.

Ella and her brother, Emery, are alone in a city that’s starving to death.  If they are going to survive, they must get away, up-country, to find Emery’s mum.  But how can two kids travel such big distances across a dry, barren and dangerous landscape?

From the author of How to Bee, an intense and thrilling adventure with an important environmental message, set in an all-too-possible dystopian future Australia.

*

Bren MacDibble is a writer to watch.  Her novels look at the effect we are having on our environment and just how it might just all come back to bite us.  I reviewed her first novel How to Bee, her writing style is fresh and although her stories are set in a dystopian future they are very much seeded in the here and now. These books are important for our children to read but also us too, they encourage us to look at the consequences through the eyes of a child.  But despite the seriousness of their subject matter they are also exciting stories filled with hope.

The Dog Runner was published by Old Barn Books in May and you can find where to buy it here (also your local indie will be able to get hold of it too if they don’t already have a copy.). There are also teachers notes on the website so do take a look. 

ISBN: 9781910646489

*

Read it already?  Please feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Happy reading and I hope you have a fabulous summer!

IMG_20180723_161859

9+, Adventure, Children's Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction, Summer Reads

Summer Reading – Malamander

Books to be swept away with this summer…

There are SO MANY great books around at the moment and so I’d like to share a few that I think are particularly exciting.  I’m not going to plop them all together in one post but give each the opportunity to shine in it’s own right…

Hold on to your hats… here are my summer 2019 recommendations.

Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Recommended for Middle grade and above (or age 9+)…

51B8KaSOAZL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

Here’s the synopsis:

Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous malamander creep…

Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl. No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander. Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up. And it just got stranger…

*

Yes I know it’s summer but there is never a wrong time to go on a chilling adventure!

Malamander was published by Walker Books in May and you can find where to buy it here (also your local indie will be able to get hold of it too if they don’t already have a copy.)

ISBN: 9781406386288

*

Read it already?  Please feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Happy reading and I hope you have a fabulous summer!

IMG_20180723_161859

 

9+, Children's Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction

How to Bee by Bren MacDibble

Last year I discovered How To Bee by Bren MacDibble, a fascinating middle grade title that looks at the effects of climate change and poverty.  I felt it was insightful and dealt with important issues wonderfully.  This would make an interesting choice for classroom or book club discussion.  I originally reviewed this for Lovereading4kids but I’m delighted to share it again today in celebration of #WorldBeeDay.  I’m now excited to have a copy of Bren’s latest novel, The Dog Runner which was published earlier this month, also by Old Barn Books .  A review will follow for that asap.  For now lets get back to How To Bee.

51+IOUVTIWL.SR160,240_BG243,243,243

Set in a future Australia in a time when there are no bees and children are employed to scramble through the fruit trees with feather wands, much like the pear farmers of Hanyuan in China are forced to do today. Peony wants to be a bee, a hand pollinator: she’s light, she’s fast, and even though she’s a year too young, she’s going to be the best bee the farm has ever seen…except when you’re only 9, it’s hard to get everyone around you to go along with your plan. A beautiful and fierce novel for middle grade readers, ‘How to Bee’ explores an all-too-possible dystopian social landscape with an intensely compelling and original voice.

How To Bee is unlike any story I have ever read. The narrative voice is heartfelt and the author uses a mild form of dialect to bring both her characters and setting to life. Seen through the eyes of eight year old Peony, we see great hardship and brutality but also friendship, courage and determination. This is at times a harsh and truthful read, tackling difficult issues of environment, poverty and abuse, unafraid to hide the cruelty and yet finding within the beauty of nature, family and what really matters. It’s a story about standing true to your dreams, and that with hard work, love and kindness we can help those dreams come true. It is also a reminder of how precious our natural world is and how we must do all we can to protect it for both us and future generations.

Peony is a pest who dreams of becoming a Bee. It’s a simple life centred on the trees and family. In a world where pesticides have destroyed the bee population it now falls to children like Peony to save the harvest from pests and other dangers that may destroy their precious produce. The best workers who are light and quick become hand-pollinators. Armed with feather wands they climb from tree to tree pollinating the flowers in the hope that they will bear fruit. Peony lives on the farm with her sister Magnolia and Gramps. Her Ma lives and works in the city, coming home every now and then with cash and fresh bruises. At eight years old Peony can’t understand why she doesn’t stay, they live a simple life but they have everything they need. But Ma thinks Peony would be better off working in the city for cash so they can save and build a better future. Strong willed and courageous, Peony is determined to remain in the place she loves and earn her stripes to work as a Bee on the farm.

How To Bee shows that even the smallest person can make a big difference in a challenging world.

How To Bee was published by Old Barn Books on 3rd May 2018.

Visit Bren’s website here to find out more about this fascinating author.

Review coming soon for…

51XF50ET-JL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_

 

Blog Tour, Children's Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction, Tales Before Bedtime Juniors

A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison

Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the latest spell-binding novel from Michelle Harrison – A Pinch of Magic. I’m also thrilled to share a piece from Michelle herself on the inspiration behind the story. Read on dear reader, read on.

How stunning is this cover? Believe me it’s even more beautiful in the flesh, shimmering with gold foil. The detail is amazing and you’ll catch many glimpses of the story on this eye-catching cover.

I absolutely adored reading A Pinch of Magic, it’s a wonderful story full of adventure, courage and magic. Betty Widdershins is a sparky young lady desperate for travel and adventure but she might just get rather more than she bargained for. This is a story about magic but it’s also a story about family, love, and that nothing good can come from jealousy and hatred. Recommended for age 8+, I think this is a joyous read for anyone. Michelle is a mesmerising writer and I was completely held within her spell from the moment I picked the book up.

Synopsis

It was on Betty Widdershins’ thirteenth birthday that she first learned of the family curse…

Living on the isle of Crowstone, surrounded by eerie marshes and a formidable prison, the Widdershins sisters: Betty, Fliss and Charlie, are desperate for adventure. But when Betty strays too far from home, she learns the awful truth: a deadly curse has haunted her family for generations. If Betty and her sisters leave Crowstone, they will be dead by sunrise.

But the knowledge of the family curse comes with a bit of excitement too! Each sister inherits a magical object, been passed down the family: A scruffy carpet bag, a set of wooden nesting dolls and a gilt-framed mirror – none of them are what they seem.

Will they be enough to help the Widdershins break the curse? Or will the sisters have better luck with a mysterious prisoner who claims he can help them?

And now lets here a little from the author herself…

Author, Michelle Harrison

Widdershins and Witches: the inspiration for A Pinch of Magic – by Michelle Harrison

I came across the wonderful, whimsical word ‘widdershins’ in one of the spell books I often leaf through when researching magic for my stories. It’s a word commonly associated with witchcraft, and means the witches’ path/ the wrong way/ anti-clockwise. In the past, even observing someone walking ‘widdershins’ was enough to warrant an accusation of witchcraft. These days, when it is used by modern wiccans it’s usually for the purposes of banishing or eliminating something. It’s also believed to be unlucky. Naturally, I fell in love with the word immediately, and decided it had to be the name of the family in my next story.

Originally, A Pinch of Magic was based on witches, a subject I find endlessly fascinating. In the first three chapters and synopsis which I sent to my editor, Betty Widdershins discovered she was a witch on her thirteenth birthday and had to master a signature spell linked to an ordinary object of her choosing.


The idea stemmed from a snippet of local folklore linked to the Essex village of Canewdon. According to legend, there will always be six witches in the village, and whenever a stone falls from the church tower walls it signifies that one of them has died and been replaced within the coven.

img_0160

While I loved the idea of all this, there was a problem. My publisher already had several other books about witches lined up, so my editor asked if we could rethink the witch element but retain certain parts of the folklore. Following some discussion and brainstorming I came up with the idea of a family curse, which allowed me to keep the ‘fairy tale’ aspect of the falling stones. Of course I then had to give Betty some siblings to ramp up the tension and danger of the curse, so Fliss and Charlie were introduced. As the youngest of three sisters myself, it felt like a good dynamic and the ‘power of three’ fits with my liking of fairy tales.

The witch became a sorceress, the church a tower, and the stones falling from it a warning of imminent death for the cursed girls. Finally, the ‘signature spell’ became a set of three magical objects handed down the family – after all, gifts and curses go hand in hand. The name of ‘Widdershins’ still worked perfectly with the idea of being cursed; being both unlucky and symbolic of the girls trying to ‘banish’ the curse from their lives. But I have to admit that it’s such a favourite word of mine that I was intent on using it – and I’m thrilled that it continues to be part of my working life, because I’m already working on the Widdershins’ next adventure . . .

***

 

So there we have it, the synopsis and the inspiration. There is already so much buzz surrounding this book. It is also a Waterstones book of the month (with some absolutely gorgeous special purple edged copies). This is a story to entrance young readers and add fuel to reading for pleasure, a story that will be treasured. I am so happy to hear there are more Widdershins’ adventures coming our way, these characters have found their way into my heart and I can’t wait to see where their story takes them next.

If you’d like to discover more about Michelle and her writing then take a look at her website here.

Thank you to Michelle for sharing Widdershins and Witches and her stunning photographs for me to feature on my blog.

Thanks also to Olivia Horrox at Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy for review and for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.