#BookReview The Little Snake by A.L.Kennedy

About the book

This is the story of Mary, a young girl born in a beautiful city full of rose gardens and fluttering kites. When she is still very small, Mary meets Lanmo, a shining golden snake, who becomes her very best friend.

The snake visits Mary many times, he sees her city change, become sadder as bombs drop and war creeps in. He sees Mary and her family leave their home, he sees her grow up and he sees her fall in love. But Lanmo knows that the day will come when he can no longer visit Mary, when his destiny will break them apart, and he wonders whether having a friend can possibly be worth the pain of knowing you will lose them.

From one of Britain’s most gifted and celebrated writers, The Little Snake is a magical and deeply moving fable about the journey we all take through life, about love and family, about war and resilience, about how we live in this world, and how we leave it.

Published by Canongate Books

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk

waterstones

wordery

MY REVIEW

A random pick from the library – why can’t I resist a black and gold cover?! – and what a charming and touching read it turned out to be!

Only 144 pages long but feels longer as you connect immediately to the character of Mary – a young girl who is a rare soul who sees only good in people and things. She’s happy with her lot it seems, and that’s despite living on the poor side of town and never having much. When in her beloved garden she meets a snake, who becomes a close friend to her and they both learn so much from one another. The snake sees many bad things going on in the world so to find this kind hearted young girl fills him with feelings he rarely experiences and their friendship is both touching and quite profound. It follows their friendship and lives over a number of years and it becomes quite emotional to see how their bond strengthens even after time apart.

This is a dark fable filled with hope and all that I love in fairy stories. It’s aimed at children but is rewarding to readers of all ages as you can see beyond the simple story with many mentions to the modern world we live in – how wealth is idolized, the way chidren are taught things to conform – and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I got from this story.

🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍

#BookReview The Coming of the Spirits by Rob Keeley

About the book

The final book in the award-winning Spirits series. 

Sequel to High Spirits – Georgina Hawtrey-Woore Award winner 2018. 

Rob Keeley is back with the fifth and final instalment in his award-winning Spirits series. The series allows young people to learn more about other times, as well as the time in which they live.

“Nazis alone were dangerous enough, but Nazis with the powers of ghosts… of evil spirits…” 

Britain. The present day. The world we know. Ruled by the Nazis. 
Victorian England. Edward Fitzberranger is soon to become ill and die. But could there be another way? 
The Middle Ages. Sir Francis Fitzberranger is about to marry… but finds himself shifted in time. 

The barrier into the spirit world is finally breaking down and no one in the mortal world is safe. History must be set back on course and prophecies fulfilled. The Grand Defender is needed. 

As Ellie works with an underground resistance movement and with the spirit world too, she is about to discover her true destiny…

Published by Troubador

Purchase Links

Troubador Bookshop

Amazon UK

Book depository

waterstones

MY REVIEW

The boundary of the spirit world is broken – and what a way to finish this fun and educational supernatural series!

The action in The Coming of the Spirits is fast paced and full of intrigue as Ellie prepares to right the wrongs of history being changed by her previous encounters with times gone by! And she gets to meet up with old friends as well as make new allies as she faces up to some troubling times.

I came to this series late but have enjoyed every step along the way as the author has mixed great storytelling with learning about various times in history so well. You end up becoming fully invested in the character of Ellie as she faces challenging decisions, and I have to admit that I may have even shed a tear with certain events in this book! I loved the mix of jumping back to various timelines, with Ellie dealing with her own personal issues with her family and the scary prospect of aging 2 years every night!! Time definitely does fly in this book!

There’s so much for children to learn and take from this series in general, and it’s a perfect book for parents to enjoy with them as The Coming of the Spirits is full of pulsating action and touches of humour to lighten some serious issues and developments. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Ellie, her family and all the characters that became her friends over the years!



My thanks to the author and publisher for sending a copy of the book my way in return for a fair and honest review.

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

#BookReview Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone

‘A shimmering thrill-ride of a book. I loved every page.’ Lauren St John

‘Sky Song made my heart sing – I loved it!’ Kiran Millwood Hargrave

‘A dazzling snowstorm of an adventure, with hope at its heart’ Emma Carroll

About the book

‘Abi Elphinstone’s books are full of adventure, wit, heart, and, above all, bravery’ Katherine Rundell

‘Once an adventure digs its claws in, there is not an awful lot you can do about it. Especially when magic is involved . . .’

In the snowy kingdom of Erkenwald, whales glide between icebergs, wolves hunt on the tundra and polar bears roam the glaciers. But the people of this land aren’t so easy to find – because Erkenwald is ruled by an evil Ice Queen and the tribes must stay hidden or risk becoming her prisoners at Winterfang Palace.

Join Eska, a girl who breaks free from a cursed music box, and Flint, a boy whose inventions could change the fate of Erkenwald forever, as they journey to the Never Cliffs and beyond in search of an ancient, almost forgotten, song with the power to force the Ice Queen back.

This is a story about an eagle huntress, an inventor and an organ made of icicles. But it is also a story about belonging, even at the very edges of our world . . .

Published by Simon & Schuster

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

A stunning read, in the tradition of the classic children’ stories, that had me under its’ spell from the first page!

It’s the story of good vs evil! Poor Eska is trapped in a castle by the Ice Queen who is desperate for her to speak so she can feed on her voice to gain the immortality she craves. There is something different about Eska that leaves the Ice Queen to cherish her voice even more. But Eska knows nothing of her past as she has had her memories taken from her, so she is feeling alone but determined to be free.

Flint is searching for his place in the world too. His brother is the chief of their tribe and Flint wants to do all he can to impress him. Even if that includes crazy schemes to break into the Palace to free their Ma! When he does break in he sees Eska who begs him to help her escape and his kind heart doesn’t know how to say no.

When they both flee the palace, we get to see their friendship bloom while they travel across dangerous territories. Eska just wants to know who she is and where she came from, while Flint is just desperate for his inventions to be praised by his brother.

Add in some amazing animal guides, a magical and fantastical world, brave quests and adventures and you’ll find that this is such a wonderful escapist read for those of all ages! It is full of courage and the message to believe in yourself and it was just a delight to read!

                                                  ❄❄

#BookReview The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

About the book

All 12-year-old Marinka wants is a friend. A real friend. Not like her house with chicken legs. Sure, the house can play games like tag and hide-and-seek, but Marinka longs for a human companion. Someone she can talk to and share secrets with.
But that’s tough when your grandmother is a Yaga, a guardian who guides the dead into the afterlife. It’s even harder when you live in a house that wanders all over the world . . . carrying you with it. Even worse, Marinka is being trained to be a Yaga. That means no school, no parties–and no playmates that stick around for more than a day.
So when Marinka stumbles across the chance to make a real friend, she breaks all the rules . . . with devastating consequences. Her beloved grandmother mysteriously disappears, and it’s up to Marinka to find her–even if it means making a dangerous journey to the afterlife.
With a mix of whimsy, humor, and adventure, this debut novel will wrap itself around your heart and never let go.

Published by Usborne Publishing

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk

Book Depository

MY REVIEW

What an utterly gorgeous book – inside and out!  The perfect book for readers of all ages!! I devoured this magical story of Marinka and her quest to be normal – very difficult in the world she lives in!

This is a re-telling of the Baba Yaga folk tale with its’ own unique twists, and it’s a book I could imagine making the perfect Studio Ghibli film as the premise of a house that can move around at will and has feelings , whilst the Baba Yaga is there to help those who have passed on make it safely through the gates.

But Marinka wants more from her life – she wants friends to hang out but that isn’t her destiny, so when she takes things into her own hands to suit her own needs it leads to some devastating consequences.

I loved the setting, the beautifully illustrated pages and wonderful way that this story was told. It is full of so much magic and fantasy and explores tenderly the importance of honesty, friendship and the subject of death. Absolute gem of a book and I look forward to more from this author in the future as she has a wonderful gift for storytelling!

                                            🏡🏡🏡🏡🏡

#BookReview #GuestPost My Favourite People by Rob Keeley

Delighted to be able to share my review today of this fun new picture book for the little people in your life, alongside a guest post from one of my favourite people in the book world, and that is Rob Keeley!!  

About the book

Rob Keeley’s first picture book!
A book for young children all about the importance of relationships.
Comes complete with suggested activities for bringing the book to life.

Illustrated by Simon Goodway.

My favourite people are…

all in this book. And I’m going to tell you all about them. You can meet my Auntie Meg and Uncle Steve, my best friend Alice, my favourite footballer and the band that’s going to save the world. Then I’ll tell you about a brilliant idea I’ve had…

Following his success as a writer of novels and short stories for older children – including the ongoing Spirits series, listed for the Bath Children’s Novel and Independent Author Book Awards – Rob Keeley makes his picture book debut with My Favourite People, a fun illustrated journey through childhood and the friends and family who make it possible. It’s an amusing and insightful look at the world around its central character, an excellent read-aloud or read-alone. It encourages young people to look at relationships and recognise their importance. It will appeal to girls and boys of lower primary age – and to parents and teachers reading the book aloud.

Paperback, 1st, 24 pages
Published April 28th 2018 by Troubador Publishing Ltd
ISBN13
9781789013313
 
Purchase Links
Amazon UK  £7.99
Hive.co.uk  £6.95
 
MY REVIEW
 
This is the first picture book from the author Rob Keeley, and it is a bright and bubbly book that has plenty of colourful illustrations and educational activities inside to keep young children entertained and engaged with for the duration.

It introduces a variety of characters and their relationships with the central character and all the things they do that make them so special to him! And at the back of the book are a number of suggested activities that make it easy for those reading with youngsters to make the reading experience more personal and to engage with what they are reading and seeing.

Lots of fun!!  And a great way of helping you get more out of a book when reading with children!

 
GUEST POST
Now I get to hand over to Rob for his thoughts on the whole experience of creating this picture book and a little bit more about himself, including where you can find him online!
😊😊😊

Karen is now one of my favourite people following all her lovely reviews of my books for children, so I was delighted to get this opportunity to write a guest post for her blog! I’m so pleased to see that My Favourite People is proving popular. It’s my first picture book for younger children and is aimed at both the preschool and the 5-7 audience. I wrote the text some years ago but have been looking for the right illustrator to bring my characters and fictional world to life. Finally I was thrilled to discover the work of Simon Goodway, a very talented man with wide experience of children’s books as well as other projects (visit http://www.simongoodway.com). His pictures are bright and colourful, slightly larger than life but with a realistic quality to them as well. In other words, a perfect match for my writing style! I would love to do more picture books with him and am already thinking of a follow-up – though I have the final Spirits novel for older children to publish first!

My Favourite People is more of a character piece than a narrative one, and revolves around a young boy who’s the same age as the target audience. He tells us all about the favourite people in his life – family, friends, acquaintances – and then about a brilliant idea he’s had to reward them for their kindness and friendship. It’s a celebration of the pure pleasure we can get at that age from being in the company of someone we love. We get to see, through his eyes, what makes his favourite people special – the Mum and Dad who love him, the best friend who’s there when he’s unhappy, the teacher who inspires a love of music, and the footballer and the pop band who are his heroes, amongst others. I gave Simon notes on all of these characters and he has interpreted them brilliantly.

I did a lot of research into picture books for these age groups and saw that many now end with activities to bring the book to life and build the young reader’s literacy. These can be used by parents reading the book at home, or by teachers in the classroom. I had teaching assistant experience to draw on as well as more recent experience of holding author workshops in primary schools and children’s libraries. I ended up suggesting tie-ins with everything from Food Technology to P.E., taking in English lessons along the way! Reading should be an interactive experience and the four pages of Suggested Activities that end the book allow adults to join children in their reading dream.

Two favourite points in the book? Uncle Steve tinkering at the baking session, and the boy’s big idea at the end. But you’ll have to read it to see what I mean!

For more information on My Favourite People and my other books, visit http://www.robkeeley.co.uk/ and follow me on Twitter @RobKeeleyAuthor.

😊😊😊

Thornhill by Pam Smy #bookreview

THE BLURB

Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as Ella unravels the mystery of the girl next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2016: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past.

Amazon UK

hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore

Book Depository

MY REVIEW

I would have known nothing of this book if I’d not watched the review video of Savidge Reads via BookTube, so i’m extremely grateful for this book being bought to my attention as I adored it!

Wow! Through a stunning mix of beautiful black and white illustrations, often in the form of just black pages, and diary entries from 1982, the world of Thornhill past and present is brought to life in amazing fashion by Pam Smy.  

At the heart of the story is the sad story of Mary who in 1982 was a resident of Thornhill, and was suffering an amazingly lonely life, and being bullied, but she got through every day through by making puppets and creating a safe space for herself with them, to escape the bleak world outside her door.

In the present, we get the story of Ella who moves into a house with her Dad that overlooks Thornhill which has been left as a no go zone whilst they decide what to do with the site.  Her story explores a connection that Ella feels with Mary.

This is a creepy, chilling, haunting and powerful story aimed at readers of all ages. A must read!!