WWW Wednesday

I’m continuing with reading The Dark Between the Trees – slowly! I’m definitely intrigued by what has happened to the Parliamentarian soldiers in 1643 and the supernatural vibes. I’m definitely worried about the group of women investigating this! I’ve just started listening to Boy 87 which is utterly absorbing. I’m already completely invested in best friends, Shif and Bini’s story as their life is ripped apart.

I’ve finished Saving Neverland which is classic Abi Elphinstone and just perfect! I’m aiming to write my review this weekend.

I didn’t get to The Magic of Endings this week, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to pick it up this weekend.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these?

Review: Wildsmith: Into the Dark Forest

Written by Liz Flanagan
Illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton
Published by Uclan Publishing

Wildsmith:  Into the Dark Forest is the first, fantastic book in a new fantasy series for younger readers:  a magical, exciting and captivating adventure that is sure to capture the hearts of its readers.

Rowan does not want to leave her home, father and friends but, when war threatens Gallren, she and her mother must go to stay with a grandfather she doesn’t know existed. 

Her maternal grandpa, Inigo Webster, lives in the forest with his white wolf, Arto, but why has Rowan’s mother never mentioned him?  What secrets can she be keeping from her daughter?  Although Rowan misses home and her father, she is an animal lover and soon builds an affinity with both Arto and Grandpa who heals animals that are brought to him.

When she hears a strange noise, she is determined to investigate and runs into the Dark Forest where she makes an incredible discovery:  a baby dragon whose mother is being taken by poachers.  Rescuing the small, injured, frightened creature, she overhears the poachers mention their need to avoid the Wildsmith.  Imagine her surprise when she discovers that Grandpa is the Wildsmith, a healer who can speak to magical creatures and heal them. 

And so begins the most magical, exciting adventure as Rowan finds herself facing danger in the forest; caring for a clutch of baby dragons; and, working with a trio of powerful witches and her new friends, siblings Will and Cam. Can they thwart the threat from the poachers?  Will they be able to bring safety back to the magical forest creatures?  And, could Rowan herself be a Wildsmith?

Rowan is a truly inspirational young girl.  She is naturally curious, courageous and someone who has a close affinity with animals, feeling protective of them, caring for them and wanting to keep them safe. She is selfless in accepting what is best for them, even when this is a heart-breaking choice. 

The illustrations included in my proof e-copy are gorgeous, expressive and complement the story perfectly.

Although this is a fantasy adventure, I adored the pertinent and timely environmental messages linked to poaching, habitat loss and caring for our natural environment which will resonate with young readers.

Wildsmith:  Into the Dark Forest is an enchanting, heart-warming treat for young readers of 7+ who will relish adventuring with Rowan as she fights to save the forest’s magical creatures whilst finding a new home.  I’m so looking forward to finding out which magical creature she will help on her next adventure!

Thank you to NetGalley and Uclan Publishing for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

WWW Wednesday

I haven’t got much further with The Dark Between the Trees but I am enjoying the dual timeline and am intrigued to see how the past seeps into the present. I am listening to the audiobook of The Good Turn as I’m hoping to use it as a reading text with my class in the Summer Term. I am really enjoying getting to know the characters and the writing style. I am reading Saving Neverland which is everything I hoped it would be – a really magical, warm read that I’m absolutely loving!

And, it’s finally arrived! I’ve reached the end of the Spellslinger series with CrownBreaker. I have fallen hook, line and sinker in love with this series and am so glad I picked it up. The audiobook has an author’s note at the end which was wonderful and just a great way to finish off the series. I’ve discovered that there will be a new series by Sebastien De Castell in March of next year which I’ll definitely be picking up as I’ve really loved the style of his writing.

I have so, so many books on my TBR that I’m finding it hard to choose my next one, but I think it will be The Magic of Endings.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these?

Review: Libby and the Highland Heist

Written by Jo Clarke
Illustrated by Becka Moor
Published by Firefly Press

I adored Libby’s first sleuthing adventure in Libby and the Parisian Puzzle, so was very excited to read her next adventure, Libby and the Highland Heist which I very aptly devoured on a visit to Edinburgh.  And it was an absolute delight: an exciting, action-packed and intriguing mystery in a wonderfully vivid setting that kept me utterly captivated.

Libby and her aunt, Miss Mousedale, have been invited to spend the Christmas holidays with Libby’s best friend Connie’s family on their estate in the Highlands.  Expecting a warm welcome, Connie is somewhat dismayed to find her dad working in his study rather than greeting her, and her mum not quite herself.  Libby notices the crumbling brickwork and the patched-up windows.  Could the family’s less-than-warm-welcome be caused by worries over financial troubles?

Whilst exploring the grounds, Libby discovers a derelict bothy in the woods with boarded-up windows.  When she wakes early the next morning and sees a light moving towards the abandoned house, her natural curiosity is aroused.  And when she hears a strange wailing sound and discovers a secret panel in the house, Libby knows that there is a mystery to solve …

And what a brilliantly clever mystery it is!  I was thoroughly engaged and entertained as I followed Libby and Connie as they unravelled clues to discover who has been stealing from the family.  I don’t want to give away any plot spoilers but suffice to say that this is a heist with a tantalising twist or two!  Family secrets, hidden passages, missing paintings, and one determined young sleuth intent on discovering the culprit with the help of some wonderful friends.  An utterly delightful, action-packed, page-turning mystery, and one which I have no doubt younger readers will adore.

Reading this whilst I was in Edinburgh was just perfect and such a treat!  I was exploring New Town, visiting Greyfriars Kirkyard and going on a ghost tour in the vaults, and then joining Libby and her Travelling School companions when I got back to my hotel room. I loved the spooky, wintery atmosphere and the real sense of danger faced by Libby and was just as desperate as she was to find out the identity of the culprit and their motive. 

Libby and Connie are incredibly likeable young girls who are firm friends.   Libby is naturally inquisitive, empathetic and clever.  Even when she faces danger, she is determined to continue to follow the clues, but can she outwit a villain who is just as determined to get way with a seemingly perfect crime? 

The illustrations are simply stunning and are a perfect complement to this wonderful mystery.

This is a cracker of a mystery:  action-packed, exciting and intriguing and just perfect to read cuddled up with a hot chocolate and shortbread. I’m so looking forward to joining Libby on her next sleuthing adventure in the fantastic Travelling School Mysteries series.

Thank you to Firefly Press and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

WWW Wednesday

I’m not sure what has happened, but I’m not currently reading a middle-grade book! I’m listening to Charmcaster which is wonderful – I can’t wait to see how this finishes, but I’ll also be sad to say goodbye to this brilliant cast of characters. I picked up The Dark Between the Trees when I was in London as the synopsis really grabbed my attention. The timeline alternates between events during the Civil War and a group of modern-day historians who want to find out what happened in the past – and it’s set in a forest! I’m loving the folklore, gothic vibes and am expecting to be scared!

I read Wildsmith: Into the Dark Forest on NetGalley which is the start of a series for younger middle-grade. I really enjoyed this which has some wonderful environmental messages told through a fantasy story.

I still haven’t managed to get to this yet, but I’m determined a dedicate time over the weekend to read it!

What are you reading? Have you read any of these?

WWW Wednesday

I’m currently reading The Midnight Howl and am really enjoying being back in the world of the Night Post. I’m also listening to the brilliant Crownbreaker.

I’ve had Skandar and the Unicorn Thief on my TBR since it was published, and don’t know why I waited to long to read it! It is exactly the kind of book I love – action-packed fantasy adventure with wonderful characters. The depiction of the unicorns is fantastic. I’m definitely looking forward to the next one. I also read The Frost Goblin which was just gorgeous, and written in Abi’s wonderfully warm style. This would make a wonderful gift for younger readers.

I’m hoping to read Saving Neverland next.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these?

WWW Wednesday

I really enjoyed my re-read of The Midnight Hour, so am reading the next one, The Midnight Howl as my ‘Reading for Pleasure’ book when my class are reading. I’m listening to the sixth book in the Spellslinger series, Crownbreaker. This is a series that I absolutely loved and will feel a little bereft when I finish this one!

I finished reading Libby and the Highland Heist whilst I was in Edinburgh and really enjoyed Libby’s second adventure. I will post my review in the next few days. I also read Wren which was a darkly atmospheric read which I loved. I have posted my review. I also finished another book for adults. This one took me so long to read as it was my evening read and I was often just too tired to pick it up. But, it is a fantastic book. I ended up becoming so hooked on it that I was getting up at 5am to read instead of trying to read at night.

I have so, so many books on my TBR that I’m finding it harder and harder to choose! I’ve loved the Eerie-on-Sea series, so think I’ll pick up Festergrimm next.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these?

October Wrap-Up

October has been another busy month at work, but I’ve also just had a wonderful half-term where I went to Edinburgh for a few days which was gorgeous. We went to Edinburgh Castle, Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, Dean Village as well as exploring the city and doing a tour through the vaults which was scarier than I thought it would be! Not sure how my reading month has been – about to find out!

Books I’ve read:

I’ve read 13 books this month: 8 physical books, 3 audiobooks and 2 ebooks. I think this is the most I’ve read in a while now. I’ve posted reviews for 6 of these books.

NetGalley:

My feedback ratio is at 97% and I have now given feedback for 92 books. I’m going to try to get my 100 Book Reviews Badge by the end of the year! I have just requested and been approved to read one book this month, and it’s the new Abi Elphinstone which I couldn’t resist!

Books sent by publishers:

I am grateful to Publishers for sending me these books this month:

I was also sent a wonderful package from Farshore with so many fantastic books – and rock!

Books bought:

I really need another bookcase as I’ve gone a little overboard with buying books! 13 this month!

How has your reading month been? Have you read any of these? Have you any of them on your TBR?

Review: Wren by Lucy Hope

Written by Lucy Hope
Cover illustration by David Dean
Published by Nosy Crow

Wren is a mesmerising, dark gothic adventure that completely captured me as I was swept in to the mystery surrounding the ancient castle and Wren’s struggle for freedom. 

12-year-old Wren lives with her Pa, brother Tudur and Aunt Efa in their ancient castle on the island of Anglesey in North Wales.  Her Ma had died two years before following an accident which left her aunt paralysed. 

Wren has an indomitable spirit and longs for the freedom to be herself; however, her father demands that his daughter behaves like a responsible young lady undertaking needlework and studies.  When it seems that he cannot control her, he threatens to curtail her freedom by sending her to the much-feared Anglesey Institution for the Re-Education of Young Women run by the sinister Aireys. 

Angry and trapped, Wren is determined to escape her fate and puts in motion her plan to build a flying machine, an artificial bird, to help her gain her freedom from the constrictions of her home and the possibility of her incarceration in the Institution …

Wren loves being outdoors and especially sailing in her coracle and looking for seabirds.  She is mystified when she hears strange sounds coming from her home, sounds that seem like the house is singing.  Alongside this, the foundations tremble and cracks appear in the thick walls.  What family secrets are hidden within the castle, and will Wren be able to reveal them?

This is a truly incredible adventure which took me on the most unexpected path as I followed Wren and her friend Medwyn as she uncovers her family’s dark past and as she fights for what she believes in, despite the consequences.  I loved the blend of history, myth and fantasy within the story as well as the focus on strong women who fight against the expectations of Victorian society and follow their own path and their dreams.

Wren is the most wonderful young girl whose story is both heart-wrenching and hopeful.  She fights against the boundaries placed on her by her father who appears cruel and uncaring towards her.  She is lonely and finds re-newed friendship with Medwyn who is a kind-hearted, supportive friend with his own secrets.  She feels trapped and longs for freedom, hence her desperation to fly as this symbolises freedom to her.  She wishes to carry on her inventor mother’s legacy and gain success where her mother failed, in honour and memory of her mother.  She shows a great deal of empathy when she finds another who is trapped and in need of her help.

A heart-wrenching, stunning and unforgettable adventure that completely and utterly enchanted me, perfect for readers of 9+.

Thank you to Toppsta and the Publishers for a copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review: Emba Oak and the Terrible Tomorrows by Jenny Moore

Written by Jenny Moore
Cover illustration by David Dean
Published by Maverick Publishing

Emba Oak and the Terrible Tomorrows may not start with a knock at the door – as all good stories do – yet it is most definitely a thrilling adventure:  action-packed, magical and brimming with peril, humour and heart.

Emba Oak hears a thwump, thwump, thwump sound from outside her cave and, armed with her scaring-off stone, decides to investigate … could it be a bear or a boar?  Nope!  It is something impossible … a dragon or rather, a phantom dragon!  Whilst Emba’s friend, runaway blacksmith’s assistant and hero-in-training, Odolf doesn’t believe that Emba has seen a dragon, her guardian, Fred, does.  She decides that it is time that Emba knows the truth of her birth.  Fred had found a dragon egg and had brought it back to her cave to wait for it to hatch and, when it did, Emba was born, a girl with dragon scales covering her arms and legs. 

Fred has protected and looked after Emba all her life and has given her a charm (seriously yucky, but also life protecting) to keep her hidden from a terrifying, dragon-obsessed sorcerer who will stop at nothing to get his hands on her blood for his own nefarious ends.  It’s just a shame that Odolf may have unwittingly revealed her whereabouts to his henchmen. 

Luckily for Emba, Fred also just so happens to be the Wise Hermit of Witchingford Wood and interpreter of the prophecies of the Tome of Terrible Tomorrows which reveals (sort of) that Emba will be safe if she remains in the cave.  Which proves to be another impossibility when Emba wakes up to the discovery that Fred has gone missing and there is blood and a note …

And so begins an exciting, fast-paced and humorous adventure as Emba and Odolf undertake a mission to rescue Fred from the clutches of the evil sorcerer.  And what an adventure they find themselves on!  River monsters, thieves and bears not to mention a duchess with a penchant for executioner blocks.  And then, there’s the twists, misunderstandings and revelations – just wonderful!  Will Emba be able to save herself and her loved ones from a terrible fate? 

Emba and Odolf are both endearing characters who have a close bond of friendship, bickering and teasing included, which brought plenty of humour to this magical adventure.  They are supportive and encouraging towards each other, and are fiercely loyal.  Emba is quick-thinking and clever and is willing to take risks to save those she loves.  Odolf is impetuous and perhaps a little too easily tricked, but he shows great courage in facing his fears in order to help Emba and proves himself a wonderful friend. 

I adored the writing style with its awareness of the ingredients of a good adventure which are then turned on their head to leave an exciting, enchanting adventure.  Just brilliant!  I also loved the chapter headings which are playful, alliterative and brought plenty of giggles – wonderful introductions to each chapter!  And the ending!  I’m so looking forward to Emba’s next adventure in The Beckoning Bones.

An utterly fantastic, fast-paced, fun-filled adventure, perfect for young adventurers of 9+.

Thank you to Maverick Publishing for providing me with an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.