The Write Reads Blog Tour: The Pawnshop of Stolen Dreams

Written by Victoria Williamson
Illustrated by James Brown
Published by Tiny Tree Books

Thank you so much to Dave at The Write Reads for inviting me to be part of this blog tour, and to the publishers, Tiny Tree Books, for giving me access to an e-book in return for my honest opinion.

The Pawnshop of Stolen Dreams is a dark, twisty fantasy that is a spine-tingingly delicious treat of an adventure into a richly imagined world where two friends discover that daydreams can quickly turn to nightmares.

Eleven-year-old Florizel lives in the small village of Witchetty Hollow with Gammer Oakenshaw, the kind-hearted and poor widow, who has rented her from Storkhouse Services as no children have been born in over 100 years – except to the very wealthy.  In order to keep the rent affordable, Florizel must hide her intelligence in school, so that her rent isn’t increased putting her in danger of being re-collected and rented to another family.  Her poor performance in school, coupled with her wearing patchwork clothes and eating frogspawn sandwiches, leads to bullying from the other children.  She could do with a friend, and finds one in the most unexpected of ways …

Florizel is the first to witness the arrival of the Gobbelino Corporation at Witchetty Hollow.  Siblings Griselda, Grimalkin and Grendel are intent on offering the villagers their trio of businesses:  the Daydream Delicatessen, a Sack-baby Factory and a Pawnshop.  She also witnesses a sack-boy escape into the woods from a recycling box.  On her way to school the next day, Florizel meets Burble, a sack-boy who denies that he is old enough to be recycled, and who is eager to learn to read and write.  Whilst the other children are horrible to him, Florizel shows kindness to Burble, and it is not long before a friendship begins …

Burble warns Florizel that a ‘strangeness’ overcomes the villages where the Gobbelino Corporation opens for business.  It is not long before the villagers become obsessed with the daydreams being offered through the Daydream Delicatessen to such an extent that they care for little else, including payment of the rent on their children.  Whilst their children are being re-collected by Storkhouse Services, they turn to cheaper sack-babies being offered by the corporation.  When villagers can no longer afford what is being offered in the Delicatessen, they turn to trading their possessions in the sinister Pawnshop which is not what it seems.  Can Florizel and Burble discover the truth behind the ‘strangeness’ brought by the Gobbelino Corporation before it is too late to save Witchetty Hollow?

Wow!  What an absolutely compelling, captivating adventure!  The insidious threat from the Gobbelino siblings sent shivers down my spine and led me into a dark, twisty tale that kept me on the edge of my seat as I learned more about the Gobbelino Corporation and their sinister workings.  I really felt the danger and threat to the villagers as they became pawns to corporate greed, caught up in their obsession with daydreams to the detriment of all that should have mattered more to them. 

I absolutely adored both Florizel and Burble and loved their close friendship where they supported and looked out for each other.  Florizel has to hide her intelligence in order to stay with Gammer Oakenshaw, but uses this, and her courage, to uncover the truth behind the Gobbelino Corporation.  Burble is just wonderful!  I loved his playful use of language, his endless curiosity and enthusiasm and his impetuous nature which did lead him into trouble at times, but also made him incredibly endearing.  He has so much heart and love to give, and just wants to find a family of his own.

The illustrations are absolutely stunning and really capture the dark, eerie nature of the story.

This is a truly mesmerising adventure, filled with friendship, danger and revelations that will make a spellbinding read for those of 9+.

About the Author

Victoria Williamson grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked as an educator in a number of different countries, including as an English teacher in China, a secondary science teacher in Cameroon, and a teacher trainer in Malawi.

As well as degrees in Physics and Mandarin Chinese, she has completed a Masters degree in Special Needs in Education. In the UK she works as a primary school special needs teacher, working with children with a range of additional support needs including Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, physical disabilities and behavioural problems.

She is currently working as a full time writer of Middle Grade and YA contemporary fiction, science fiction and fantasy, with a focus on creating diverse characters reflecting the many cultural backgrounds and special needs of the children she has worked with, and building inclusive worlds where all children can see a reflection of themselves in heroic roles.

Victoria’s experiences teaching young children in a school with many families seeking asylum inspired her debut novel, The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle, an uplifting tale of redemption and unlikely friendship between Glaswegian bully Caylin and Syrian refugee Reema.

Twenty percent of her author royalties for The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle are donated to the Scottish Refugee Council.

You can find out more about Victoria’s books, school visits and upcoming events on her website:

20% of the author royalties for this novel will be donated to CharChar Literacy, a wonderful education charity which works to train teachers in Malawi in phonics education to ensure that their pupils get the best possible grounding in reading from the first years of primary school.

Do check out the other stops on this ultimate Blog Tour which runs from 5th until 20th June:

Review: Until the Road Ends by Phil Earle

Written by Phil Earle
Cover Illustration by Tom Clohosy Cole
Published by Anderson Press

Until the Road Ends is a powerful and heartfelt adventure set during World War II, a story of the enduring strength of friendship, and the incredible journey a devoted dog will take to be reunited with his friend when she most needs him.  Heart-breaking, hopeful and a testament to the courage of the animals who became wartime heroes.

In the days preceding the outbreak of World War II, street-dog Beau is saved from near-death by a young girl, Peggy Alford.  Learning to trust humans is difficult for Beau, but Peggy is protective of him and clearly loves him, and so a strong bond quickly grows between the two as he becomes a part of the family which includes Peggy’s parents, her younger brother Wilf and his cat, Mabel, who is the only one who does not welcome Beau.  Beau, however, is clever and quickly learns how to handle the aloof, sarcastic Mabel whilst remaining a loved member of the family.

When Beau meets Bomber, a homing pigeon intent on helping in the impending war effort, he learns that he may well be separated from Peggy as children will be evacuated from London to keep them safe.  It is not long before his fear of losing Peggy becomes reality as their parents make the difficult decision to evacuate Peggy and Wilf to stay with their aunt Sylvie on the South Coast.  Peggy only agrees to leave Beau behind when her parents promise her that they will do all in their power to keep Beau and Mabel safe from the government’s scheme to put animals down at the start of the war.  Peggy stays in contact with Beau through the heartfelt letters which she sends him revealing how much she misses Beau, but also reassuring him that he is in her thoughts.

Beau soon finds himself helping in the war effort as the Blitz rains its endless terror on the people of London.  He accompanies Mr Alford on his duties as an air raid warden and, with his keen sense of smell, helps find and rescue those who have been trapped by collapsing buildings.  If he senses life beneath the rubble, he never gives up and proves himself a determined and courageous war hero.  The bond of trust which develops between Beau and Mr Alford is incredibly touching as is the reference to Syd and her family from When the Sky Falls. These scenes of life and death on the streets of London during the Blitz are heart-breaking, but are also a testament to the resilience and endurance of all those, including animals, who showed heroic efforts in caring for others, putting their own lives in constant danger.

Following a terrifying night of bombing, Beau finds himself all alone in London and desperate to be reunited with Peggy who he knows will need him more than ever.  And so, he finds himself on an unforgettable adventure, accompanied by an eager, helpful Bomber and a much more reluctant Mabel.  Together, they undertake a journey filled with danger, discoveries and hardship, but one in which they show incredible courage, friendship and teamwork as they fight for what they all need.  On their way, they meet both friends and foe, those in need of help and those intent on causing harm whether they be human, crocodile, foxes or rats.

This story doesn’t shy away from the horrific loss and injustice of war and the harsh, painful realities for those living through it and trying to survive.  The bravery and sacrifice of the animals and humans living through this time was both awe-inspiring and heart-breaking. 

I loved that this story is told from the perspective of three animals who are all very different, all of whom I really liked.  Former street dog Beau is kind-hearted, courageous and tenacious in his efforts to help others and to be reunited with Peggy, the young girl who rescued him, and who he is now determined to save when her world is torn apart.  Bomber, a homing pigeon, is the most loyal friend who is determined to help Beau before serving his country by helping in the war effort.  Mabel, the cat, has more in common with Beau than at first seems.  She hides her fear of rejection and love for Wilf, Peggy’s brother, behind a sarcastic, seemingly uncaring, exterior but she is there for Beau when he needs her most. 

This is an awe-inspiring, poignant story of courage, friendship and hope that completely captivated me, a story that brought both smiles and tears, and is one that I cannot recommend highly enough for readers of 9+. 

May Wrap-Up

What a month May has been – definitely ups and downs, but it ended on a real high with a much-needed visit to Ireland to see my family. My reading month hasn’t been so great as work has been ridiculously busy. This term, I get to write reports and take part in writing moderation not to mention the Year 6 production, our fund-raising week and end-of-term treat. It’s going to be a busy term!


I had the best time catching up with my sister and her family and my wonderful Mum, and visiting the beautiful North Coast of Ireland and the Slieve League Cliffs in County Donegal.

Books I’ve read:

I’ve read 12 books in May: 8 physical books and 4 audiobooks although I did switch some of the audiobooks to physical copies when I read at night as I can really only focus on audiobooks when I’m driving! I’ve also read another 3 books from my Beat the Backlist challenge! (30 left)

Books sent by publishers:

I am grateful to have been sent 2 books by Publishers this month.


My feedback ratio is at 97%. I didn’t request any books in May, but I have two on my shelf to read and review.

Books bought:

I’ve bought three books this month – and two of them are for adults rather then middle-grade!

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

WWW Wednesday

I’ve almost finished Skandar and the Phantom Rider which I think is brilliant. This is a series which is getting better and better. and I’m already looking forward to the next one.

I’ve finished listening to the audiobook of Dead Good Detectives which I really enjoyed. This is both heart-warming and humorous, and I’m now definitely looking forward to the next one.

I’m currently on holiday in Ireland visiting my family so I’m not getting much reading done. I’m hoping to read The Pawnshop of Stolen Dreams next – probably on my flight home!

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

Review: The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig

The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of PIG has been re-printed in a glorious, full-colour edition and, oh my, is it a treat for young (and older) readers who will love the humour, heart and wonderful messages in this adventure – but mostly they’ll just love getting to know Pig who is definitely a new favourite character!

I’ve decided to write a letter to Pig to show my appreciation for how brilliant he is!

Dearest Pig

I’m going to start by saying sorry to you.  I did find your diary and I couldn’t help reading it – even though you clearly told me that it was TOP SECRET and warned me to keep out.  Despite ignoring your instructions, I am not evil (I promise), so I hope you can forgive me.

Thank you for sharing your map of the farm where you live which I think is a very good drawing.  I especially liked the mudhole and duck’s house in the middle of the pond.  What a clever way to keep him safe from those bothersome foxes!  I’m sorry you had to live so close to those evil chickens, and I don’t blame you for getting revenge by FARTING near their house. 

At first, I was so glad to learn that Farmer loved you so much – and what a way to show it!  Yummy slops and special back scratches – very lucky indeed.  I didn’t understand why duck, who is your best friend, told you to eat less, especially as he knew how much you love your food.  Oh no!  It suddenly hit me!  Duck really is a VERY good friend.  Thank goodness you came to the same realisation on that TERRIBLE day! It’s so good to have a best friend who always looks out for you – and helps make you even braver!

I loved, loved, loved reading about your out-of-this-world adventure, and am so impressed by how brave, clever and inventive you are.  You really showed those evil chickens!  You did make me giggle – a lot – especially with how you get revenge and your disguises!  I think everyone needs to read your diary so that they can all see how brilliantly funny and adorable you are. 

I really hope I find another of your diaries soon. 

Your biggest fan       

PS.  I hope you get lots and lots of yummy slops and some back scratches from someone who appreciates how wonderful you are.

This is an absolutely fantastic read:  hilarious, heart-warming and ever so charming.  An oinksome treat for young readers of 7+.

Thank you to Scholastic for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

WWW Wednesday

I’m loving Skandar and the Phantom Rider which I’m now reading a physical copy of rather than listening to the audiobook as I had to return it on my library account, and I couldn’t wait for a re-issue. I think this is even better than the first one. I’m listening to Dead Good Detectives which is spookily fun. Sid Jones and Zen are a great duo, trying to help Bones – the ghost of a 300-year-old pirate – recover his lost treasure. I’m definitely looking forward to picking up the final one in this duology, Ghost Rescue, when it is released in August.

I finished reading The Boy Who Made Monsters which is just as brilliant as all Jenny’s heartfelt, humorous reads. I have posted my review.

I didn’t get to this last week, so I’m hoping to get to it this week. It’s half term and, whilst I would usually get lots of reading done, I’m going to Ireland to visit family so I don’t think there’ll be quite so much reading!

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

Review: The Boy Who Made Monsters

Written by Jenny Pearson
Illustrated by Katie Kear
Published by Usborne

I’m such a huge fan of Jenny Pearson’s heartfelt, humorous stories that have all found a place in my heart:  stories that bring both laughter and tears, written with such tenderness, warmth and hope.  The Boy Who Made Monsters is another absolute belter!   A beautifully poignant, humorous and hopeful story of family, friendships and the courage and strength it takes to face monsters. 

Benji McLaughlin and his older brother, Stanley have been sent to live with their Uncle Hamish on the edge of Loch Lochy in Scotland where he runs a holiday cabin lettings business.  Their parents have been missing-at-sea for over five months and, whilst everyone else believes them to be dead, Benji lives with the hope that they are still alive, and that they will be reunited as a family again.  

He instantly feels the magic of Loch Lochy, the place where his father grew up, and wonders if it could become a home whilst he waits for the return of his parents.  His brother Stanley is much more reluctant to give this new life a chance, especially when he discovers that his uncle is having money problems and is in danger of losing his home and business. 

Being a visionary and a believer in the impossible, Benji is determined to come up a plan to make enough money for his uncle so that he can pay off the debt he owes to the monstrous Gregor McGavin.  And what a plan he devises – all thanks to spotting a monster in the Loch.  What better way to draw in tourists than to prove that Loch Ness isn’t the only Scottish Loch with its very own monster!  The only problem is that the Loch Lochy monster is rather camera-shy …

Luckily for Benji, he has his new friends Murdy McGurdy (what a fantastic name for a brilliant young girl!) and Mr Dog, to help him fulfil his mission.  Can they prove that there is a monster in the lake, no matter what it takes?  Cue action, hilarity and mishaps aplenty as these daring friends attempt to pull off the impossible whilst dealing with mean girls, runaway carts and water dunkings. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but suffice to say that tears of laughter are guaranteed alongside moments of fear and realisation that made my heart ache for both brothers – and Murdy.

Benji is just the most wonderful young boy:  curious, funny, chatty and an eternal optimist.  He is empathetic towards others and is a loving and kind-hearted brother, nephew and friend:  someone who is there for others when they need him.  Whilst his brother has accepted the loss of their parents and is struggling with the pain of grief and with feelings of guilt, Benji is in denial.  He is not prepared to accept that he will never see his parents again and hides his pain and grief deep inside where it sometimes escapes as feelings of sadness that overwhelm him.  His journey to truth, acceptance and the start of healing – with the help of family, friends and professionals – is honestly and sensitively portrayed. Children are shown that grief affects people in different ways and that it takes time, help from others, and taking a first step to allow healing to begin.  This is a story that will speak to anyone who has lost someone they love, and encourage empathy in others.

I just have to mention Uncle Hamish who I absolutely adored. He is dealing with his own grief at the loss of his brother and is surrounded by memories of growing up with his brother in their family home, a connection that Benji also feels keenly. I can’t imagine how frightening and heart-breaking it must be for him to be in danger of losing that home. Despite his own worries, he is determined to make a home for his nephews and make them feel welcomed. He so obviously wants the best for the boys, and treats them with such kindness – even if they do sometimes take advantage of this! There is something else he does that makes me teary just thinking about it!

The Boy Who Made Monsters is a beautifully told story of family and friendship, of truth and acceptance, of love and hope.  It’s a story that utterly captivated me, and left me smiling through my tears with that fuzzy, warm feeling that makes this such a special read, and one I cannot recommend highly enough for readers of 9+.

Thank you to Fritha Lindqvist and Usborne for providing me with a proof copy in exchange for my honest opinion.  I’m looking forward to buying the final copy to see the illustrations which I have no doubt will be gorgeous.

WWW Wednesday

I’m listening to the audiobook of Skandar and the Phantom Rider, and am really enjoying being back with Skandar and his friends. There’s so much happening, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes, especially in relation to his sister. I’ve just started The Boy Who Made Monsters and already have no doubt that I’m going to love it as much as all Jenny’s books.

I absolutely loved The Magic Hour which is a brilliantly action-paced adventure where everything is not as it seems. I’ll be posting my review shortly. I also finished listening to The Day No One Woke Up which I really enjoyed. This is a great science-fiction adventure which shows the importance of making connections and friendships. I also read the full colour illustrated The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig which is so funny. I adored Pig who is completely in the dark about what fate awaits him – so glad he’s got a great best friend in Duck! I will post my review in the next few days.

It’s time! I’m currently almost finished When the Sky Falls with my class which they’re completely engrossed in, so I’m so excited to read Until the Road Ends on NetGalley.

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

Blog Tour: Small Bites Back written by Hannah Moffatt and illustrated by Rory Walker

Published by Everything With Words on 11th May

Thank you to Mikka at Everything With Words for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour for Small Bites Back. Today, I am excited to share a wonderful post from Hannah Moffatt:  Why humour’s a great empathy-builder. I’m also sharing my review of this fang-tastically brilliant story!

Why humour’s a great empathy-builder

by Hannah Moffatt

When I wrote SMALL BITES BACK, I loved challenging fantasy stereotypes:
· Vampires survive on a diet of blood.
· Vampires burn in the sun.
· Vampires are bad. Tooth fairies are good.
In SMALL BITES BACK (spoiler alert!) none of these are true. As a writer, flipping the script is fun. For readers, it’s a chance to flip their own thinking, too.
That’s one of the great things about comedy, and a reason I think funny books are so important: they encourage young readers to grow into open-minded adults.
After all, humour helps us question power – just look how often comedians use it to take swipes at politicians. And comedy plays on surprise, by deliberately not giving you the answers your brain is wired to expect. My boss loves telling us about the vicar in the town where he grew up. Specifically, he likes telling us about the names the vicar chose for his sons: Matthew, Mark, Luke … and Derek. Everyone laughs at the story. But just because we expect the last name to be John, doesn’t make it true. People can surprise us – if we give them the chance.
In SMALL BITES BACK, swamp creatures have grown up believing the tooth fairies’ warnings that they should stay away from the vampire dentists. Harvey has grown up assuming if he ever encountered a vampire, it would bite him. But as the story goes on, Harvey gradually comes to understand the vampires’ world and challenge his assumptions.
In stories humour doesn’t just surprise us, it builds empathy. It teaches readers to question their thinking and see things from fresh points of view – whether those are the views of a vampire dentist or the wobbly new kid who’s just arrived in your class.
I really hope the stereotype switch ups I’ve made in my stories make readers smile. But more than that, I hope they get children questioning the stories they tell themselves about other people. Who knows; that new kid who looks or acts different to you, might just end up being your best friend…


Small! was one of my absolute favourite reads of last year, so I was very excited to see that Harvey is back in Small Bites Back, and what a fang-tastically playful, gigglesome and heart-warming treat it is!   This can be read as a standalone, but I have no doubt that readers who haven’t already met Harvey will be grabbing a copy of Small! for a giant treat after reading his latest adventure!

Harvey has now been accepted at Madame Bogbrush’s School for Giants – even if he’s not actually a giant – but, he is the new Chosen One, responsible for saving his classmates from grave danger – like not having their homework done!  Harvey is worried that even more serious trouble will find him, and he’s not wrong!  Well, I mean, being confronted by zombie clowns is – probably – more dangerous than facing Madame Bogbrush with an excuse for not having homework done. 

The clowns have been sent by the Unspeakable Circus’ Ring Mistress to take Norma Enormous and Twinkle, the football-loving Skelephant to perform there.  Oh, and she wants Harvey too!  If they don’t go, she has threatened to set zombie lions on the school.  Norma and Twinkle have signed Never-Ending Contracts which cannot be broken – or can they?  Could the bite marks that Harvey has spotted be a clue to breaking them, and freeing his friends? 

So begins the MOST brilliant, fast-paced, laugh-until-your-belly-aches adventure as Harvey and his best friend, Walloping Toenail, find themselves heading into the mountains to find a dentist.  And, oh my, do they find a dentist!  Viscount Bloodsucker, who has a penchant for black hair dye and sparkling teeth, runs the Happy Fang Dental Surgery.  Oh, by the way – he’s a VAMPIRE!  But these vampires are more interested in blood oranges and convincing the other creatures of the Stinking Sinking Swamp that dental check-ups are important -if only others would visit them and take their oral hygiene seriously! Overcoming his fear, Harvey asks for help from the vampires.  Can they assist him in locating the source of the bite mark to break the never-ending contracts and save his friends?  Can Harvey outsmart the Ring Mistress before he becomes a zombie lion meal?

Oh my goodness!  This really is the most wonderful adventure, brimming with everything to delight young (and older) readers!  Giggles galore, twists and turns, danger, and astonishing revelations not to mention trouble-making tooth fairies, zombie lions and werewolves!    I loved the inclusion of Bonnie Bonbon’s Vampire Surveillance Reports, Clot’s apprentice notes, the chapter headings, the use of capitalisation and bold text, all of which will appeal to young readers.  And Chapter 4 – genius!   I also adored the many wonderfully warm and sometimes ever-so-slightly yucky illustrations sprinkled throughout the text which complement the story perfectly. 

I adored being back with Harvey and his friends, especially the wonderfully loyal Walloping Toenail who overcomes his own fears to support his friend. I also enjoyed the development of his new friendship with apprentice dentist Clot. Harvey feels the weight of expectation from his parents and school, but proves himself to be a wonderful friend who faces his fears with courage, and whose own kindness brings out the best in others.  As he learns more about the vampires, Harvey finds himself challenging the stereotypes he has, and by doing so, opens himself up to a new friendship. 

Small Bites Back sparkles with friendship and warmth, guaranteed to bring jaw-aching grins of delight to young readers of 7+. 

Thank you to Mikka at Everything With Words for providing me with an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Do check out the other stops on this fang-tastic Blog Tour :

Blog Tour: Away With Words by Sophie Cameron

Thank you to Little Tiger for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour for this stunning book. Today, I am excited to share a wonderful post from Sophie Cameron where she shares her Top 10 Spanish snacks – I just need a trip to Spain to try them out! I’m also sharing my review of this exceptional story.

Top 10 Spanish snacks by Sophie Cameron

My new book Away With Words is about an 11-year-old girl, Gala, who moves from Spain to Scotland to live with her dad and his boyfriend. Gala is initially very homesick, and amongst the many things she misses from Spain are the snacks and sweets. I’ve lived in Spain for almost seven years, so for me it’s the other way around (I have a sweet tooth and there are times I would pay ridiculous amounts of money for a Creme Egg) but I’ve come to enjoy a lot of Spanish snacks too. Here’s my top ten, in no particular order – look out for them next time you’re in Spain!

(Just to note, some of these aren’t exclusive to Spain and are also popular in South America, the Philippines or other parts of the world.)

1. Flaó. This is a type of cheesecake from Ibiza and Formentera, made with goat’s cheese and peppermint. (I’ve been told it has to be peppermint, not spearmint – just FYI for anyone who wants to try making it.) I’m not really a cheesecake fan but I find this delicious.

2. Kikos Gigantes. These are large grains of corn, fried or toasted and covered with lots of salt. I’ve spotted the regular-size ones in the UK, but I’m not sure you can get the giant ones.

3. “Campesina” crisps. Spanish supermarkets don’t have the wide variety of crisp flavours that their UK counterparts offer, but they do have the excellent “campesina” – this means “rural” or “country”, and they’re flavoured with tomatoes, onion, garlic and paprika.

4. ColaCao. This is a type of powdered chocolate drink that you can mix with hot or cold milk, famed for its “grumos” – the little lumps of powder that don’t dissolve properly, which are the best bit, in my opinion.

5. Ensaïmadas. This pastry is originally from Mallorca, and is shaped in a spiral with lots of powdered sugar on top. Gala’s step-dad, Ryan, attempts to make them from her in Away With Words, but he doesn’t get them quite right!

6. Coca. Coca is a type of pastry that’s popular in Catalonia and various other regions of Spain, with a base and toppings, rather like pizza. There are lots of varieties, either sweet or salty – I like “coca de sofrito”, which is made with onions and peppers and is typical of the Balearic Islands, and “coca de chocolate”.

7. Palmeras. These originate from France and are made and sold in lots of different countries – where they’re also referred to as pig’s ears, little hearts or eyeglasses – but they’re so ubiquitous in Spain that I can’t help but think of them as Spanish too. They’re made from puff pastry and covered in sugar or chocolate. 

8. Pipas. Pipas are sunflower seeds, which are of course sold in lots of places, but Spain seems to have a wider range and I’ve heard many Spanish people lament that they’re just not the same abroad. I like BBQ flavour best but you can also get salted, bacon, ketchup…

9. Turrón. This is a Spanish staple at Christmas – a type of nougat made of honey or sugar, eggs and almonds or other nuts. There are dozens of different types, from raspberry and pistachio to crème brûlée or rum and raisin. As I said, I have a sweet tooth but even I have a pretty low limit on how much turrón I eat, as it’s extremely sweet.

10. Dinosaurus biscuits. These are my kids’ favourites but I end up eating them, too, much to their dismay. They’re biscuits shaped like dinosaurs but are weirdly delicious, salty and buttery at the same time.

Thank you to Sophie for sharing these delights. They all sound absolutely delicious – my very sweet tooth is calling out for turrón!


Away With Words is a truly exceptional story that completely gripped me:  a story of family and friendship, of finding a way to be listened to and heard, and of the power of language. 

Gala has moved with her dad from their home in Cadaqués in Spain to Fortrose in Scotland to live with her dad’s boyfriend, Ryan.  Gala did not have a choice in the move and does not want to be there.  She misses her old life, desperate to return to her friends, her flat, her grandmother and to be herself again.  On her first day at her new school, she feels overwhelmed and lonely, barely understanding any of the words that fall from the mouths of those around her, as she is learning to speak English. 

Gala lives in a world where words appear physically as they are spoken and where colours and fonts reflect emotions and give insight into their owner.  Whilst most people ignore the fallen words as they are swept away or fade after a few days, Gala is surprised to find a girl taking someone else’s words.  She discovers that this girl is Natalie who shares that she has an anxiety disorder, selective mutism, which means that she is unable to speak in school.

The girls find ways to communicate, and soon become firm friends.  Natalie is an avid reader of words, and saves the words she collects that others have so easily created, using them to write poetry. When Natalie gives Gala a poem that she has written for her using the words she has gathered from her word-searching, they have a profound effect on Gala, having the power to make her feel better.  The girls decide to write poems and secretly leave them for others who are in need of cheering up.  This has the desired effect until someone else starts sending messages that are full of meanness … can Gala and Natalie prove that they are not behind the nasty messages … can they find a way to communicate which will allow them to be truly listened to and heard?

This is an incredible story that captured me wholeheartedly.  I was completely fascinated by the concept of words manifesting physically, and even more so by the associated synaesthetic perceptions.  The friendship which develops between Gala and Natalie is just gorgeous and I loved how they took risks and supported each other, but also how they reached out to others who they sensed were hurting too. 

Words hold such power – the power to hurt and to heal, to blame and to free, and to hide and reveal.  The courage and strength that both girls show as they unite to fight to have their truth heard brought tears – I found the imagery used beautifully poignant and it is something I will never forget. This is a powerful, thought-provoking and moving story that certainly does have a magical way with words.  A must-read for those of 11+.

Do check out the other stops on the Blog Tour: