Review: The Time Traveller and the Tiger

This is a truly wonderful action-packed and heartfelt timeslip adventure that gripped me from the start, and kept me entranced throughout as it took me from modern England back to 1946 Central India.

The story opens in Central India, 1946 with 12-year-old John Lassiter feeling the wrongness of his killing of a tiger during a hunt which leaves him with a limp.  This is a feeling of regret that will remain with him throughout his life.  The story then moves forward to modern-day England where an elderly John is being visited by his great-niece, Elsie who is staying with him for a week.  She soon finds a tiger skin rug in his house, and John tells her of its origins.  There is an air of sadness about John as he tells Elsie that his best friend, Mandeep, had given him a rare seed on his last day in India:  the flower that catches time. 

When visiting John’s wonderful greenhouse, Elsie witnesses the magical flower bloom and is transported back in time to 1946 Central India where she meets a young John on the morning of which he is going to hunt the tiger.

Elsie introduces herself as Kelsie Corvette, the strong and courageous heroine of the adventure she has been writing and rather different from the real Elsie who is often overlooked by others.  She is determined to stop John making a mistake he will regret for the rest of his life, but will she be able to overcome his stubbornness, and his single-minded focus on tracking and killing the tiger?

John is not very welcoming of Elsie, and only begrudgingly accepts her presence.  Has she been sent back in time to save John, the tiger or both?  As the children hunt the tiger, will the hunted become the hunter?  The tiger’s viewpoint is powerfully portrayed showing its instinctual need for survival, its desire to return to its territory and its rage that it has been banished from its Kingdom by men.

When John’s determination to follow the tiger gets him into serious trouble, he is rescued by his friend, Mandeep who is an animal lover, willing to put himself at risk to save animals from hunters.  When Mandeep is confronted by a furious hunter, the children find themselves at the heart of a powerful deception … will the children be able reveal the terrible and heart-breaking truth and so save those in danger?

I loved the rich description of the Indian landscape with its animals and plants and the portrayal of both the danger and the awe-inspiring beauty in nature.  I also enjoyed the authenticity of the character voices, especially that of a young John whose set mindset is challenged by Elsie and by what he witnesses.  This story also gives an insight into British colonisation of India and the social inequalities and unrest of the time. 

This story has a very powerful conservation message woven throughout especially with regard to the decline of the tiger population due to being hunted for medicine, habitat loss and especially trophy hunting. 

I loved how the threads of this story came together at the end of the book as they wove through history, showing what happened to the 1946 participants as a result of Elsie’s time travel. 

This is a powerful and heartfelt story which captured me completely and transported me into a remarkable adventure in a richly described Indian landscape with its majestic creatures. 

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

Top Ten Tuesday

This is a weekly meme now hosted by That Artsy Girl Reader.  This week’s theme is a Halloween Freebie. I’ve decided to post five books on my TBR with ‘Witch’ in the title and five books with ‘Ghost’ in the title – perfect spooky reading!

Five books on my TBR with ‘Witch’ in the title

Five books on my TBR with ‘Ghost’ in the title

Have you read any of these, or are they on your TBR?

Blog Tour: Midnight Magic – Chapter Extract and Review

Thank you to Charlie Morris at Little Tiger for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour for the gorgeous Midnight Magic, written by Michelle Harrison and illustrated by Elissa Elwick. Today, I’ll be sharing a chapter extract and my review.

The chapter extract I am sharing is from the second half of Chapter 1 and follows on from the first extract shared yesterday by the wonderful Veronica at V‘sViewfromtheBookshelves.

My Review

Hubble bubble, this cat’s trouble …

Midnight Magic is a real treat of a story, brimming with warmth, humour and the most adorable kitten who brings a sparkle of mischievous magic which will delight young readers of 5+.

Midnight is a rare type of cat, one born at midnight with magical powers which she puts to good use at once – by enchanting a broom! Unfortunately, her magical ways are not appreciated by her mother or two siblings who fear that she will only bring trouble.  One day, Midnight wakes up to find that she is on her own, with just her broom Twiggy for company.  Saddened, she begins her journey to find a new family, and soon meets kind-hearted Trixie who may just be the friend she needs.

Trixie instantly adores Midnight and takes her home.  It is not long before Midnight is causing mischief with her magic to the delight of her new friend, but will she be welcomed by all in the family?  Are they all ready for magic and adventure in their lives?  I mean, how could anyone not adore this ridiculously cute and cheeky kitten who just wants to be loved and accepted into a family?

The vibrant and fun illustrations are absolutely gorgeous in two tone colours:  a wide range of purple tones with a sprinkling of greyscale colours which are just perfect for a witchy book, and will make young children fall even more in love with this magical story.

This is an enchanting story written in verse that is sure to delight young readers.  It is filled with mischief, magic and humour and has a real warmth that is perfect for reading aloud to a child or for newly independent readers.  A story which will be enjoyed again and again until it is a treasured favourite.  I’m so looking forward to many more adventures from this mischievous kitten!

Thank you to Charlie Morris and Little Tiger for an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

You can follow the Blog Tour by checking out the posts below:

MG Takes on Thursday

This is my weekly meme celebrating amazing middle-grade books. I hope others will enjoy taking part in this too!

How to take part:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence. 
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

This week, I’m celebrating …

Written by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Illustrated by Helen Crawford-White
Published by Chicken House

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

Since Mamma had stopped taking commissions, their days stretched into long, unformed expanses of time, wide as the views from the top of the hill.

This book in three words:

MYSTERY, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP

I am such a huge fan of Kiran Millwood Hargrave stories, and have loved all of them and dare I say it: this one is now my favourite.

The writing is exquisite and completely and utterly drew me into this richly drawn world. Sofia lives with her younger brother, Ermin, mother and pet crow Corvith outside the city of Siena in Italy. Her mother is a bone-binder who makes items from bone including their home. She has also been working on reliquaries for saints’ bones and is about to complete the final one when she is arrested on Sofia’s twelfth birthday. The children are taken to an orphanage run by the Duchessa Machelli, but there is something sinister occurring there. Sofia has no intention of staying as she is determined to find her missing mother.

In the orphanage, they meet Ghino, an intriguing and complicated young boy who has fallen on very hard times, and who has stolen Sofia’s precious locket. He helps them escape and accompanies them on their mission to find their mother. The changing dynamics of the relationship between the children as they learn more about each other is powerfully portrayed.

This story is breath-taking and took me on an incredible journey filled with danger, secrets and revelations above and beneath the city. It flows beautifully just like the hidden river within, and captured me completely. It both chilled my heart and warmed my soul. This is a story of love, of family, of forgiveness and hope. There is a perfect composition of darkness and light, played through the words of a master storyteller.

Both Sofia and her younger brother Ermin are wonderful characters. They show incredible courage, overcome fears and give each other strength when most needed. They judge others on their inner character rather than physical appearance. The story does explore the importance of physical appearance and its relationship to perceptions of power and belonging and I found this fascinating: do we judge ourselves more harshly than others would judge us based on our actions rather than our appearance? I also loved the children’s relationship with their crow Corvith, and the part he played in helping the children.

This is a story filled with mystery and intrigue which will compel you to read it, but is is also one of family and friendship which will capture your heart. An absolute must-read!

I’d love if anyone who wants to give this meme a go would comment in the comments box and include a link to your post so I can visit, comment and find some great middle-grade recommendations. If you do create a post and are on Twitter, and would like to share your post, please use the hashtag  #MGTakesOnThursday so I can find it, read it and share it!

WWW Wednesday

I have just started The Orphans of St Halibut’s which I think I’m going to enjoy. I have also just started listening to my next audiobook, Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found.

I’ve finished listening to The Subtle Knife which was just extraordinary. The ending has made me download The Amber Spyglass which I’m hoping to listen to as my next audiobook.

I also listened to The House of Clouds which was just wonderful. It is a short book, published by Barrington Stoke who are a dyslexia-friendly publisher. The story is beautifully crafted, heart-warming and poignant. It really struck a chord in these difficult times, and shows the importance of holding your family close and spending time with them.

I’ve also finished A Secret of Birds and Bones which has become my favourite book by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. I will have more to say later in the week.

I had a lovely lazy early start to Sunday so read The Silver Arrow which I loved. Siblings Kate and Tom are in need of an adventure and, when their Uncle Herbert, gives Kate a train for her birthday, they find themselves on the most incredible adventure with some wonderful animal companions. If you liked The Train to Impossible Places, this one is probably for you. I really liked the environmental message within this one.

I also managed to finally read The Time Traveller and the Tiger which I enjoyed. The description of 1946 India is really evocative, and the environmental message a powerful one. I will post my review soon.

I’m definitely going to listen to The Amber Spyglass on audio next. I’m also going to read a physical copy of Malice in Underland which sounds perfect for a late-October spooky read! I’m hoping to get a few more books read as well as its half-term next week, but I haven’t decided which ones yet!

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

Review: The Castle of Tangled Magic

Oh my heart!  This is another absolute triumph of a story written by the wonder that is Sophie Anderson!  The language is exquisite and immediately enveloped me in its magic and warmth, keeping me absolutely mesmerised as I immersed myself in Olia’s stunning adventure. 

Olia lives in Castle Mila with her parents, baby sister and Babusya.  Her Babusya has warned her that a huge storm is approaching the Castle, which may well destroy it.  Battling through her fears, Olia finds herself travelling through one of the Castle’s Domes into a world of tangled magic, a world beyond the Castle where she must venture to save her family and her home from a magical storm. 

So begins the most incredible adventure into the Land of Forbidden Magic, an adventure that will require all of Olia’s courage, strength and self-belief to overcome the challenges and dangers she will face …

The world-building is simply stunning brought wondrously to life by beautiful imagery as Olia finds herself in a world which has been entangled in silver thread.  Will she be able to find the source of the thread and free both worlds from enchantment, or will deception and trickery thwart her attempts? 

I loved the story of Olia’s heritage and how the world beyond the Castle came into existence.  The references to Slavic folklore permeate and enrich the story, and I especially loved Koshka (having read James Mayhew’s wonderful Koshka’s Tales, recommended by the author).  I also loved the part that the nature-spirits played in the story and, of course, the wonderful domovoi, Feliks who offers Olia encouragement, friendship and hope.

This is a truly incredible action-packed story imbued with a real sense of urgency as Olia races to save both worlds, learning more about magic and her own abilities.  She is a wonderful young girl who feels a heavy burden of responsibility to undo the wrongs of her ancestors.  She feels anger and shame, but she is a strong and courageous young girl who defends the weak, even when it puts her in danger.  She is resilient and determined, but she is also impetuous, makes mistakes and doubts herself.  Will she be strong enough to believe in herself, and reunite with her family? 

Belief is one of the few things more powerful than magic.

This is an intricate, magical and truly beautifully told story that transported me to a world I didn’t want to leave, a world inspired by Slavic folklore and daring adventure where family and friendship triumph, and where the goodness in others overcomes prejudice and fear.  The ending brought the biggest smile of contentment I think I’ve ever experienced on finishing a book – sheer perfection!

Thank you to NetGalley and Usborne for approving me to read an early copy of this in exchange for my honest opinion.  I have now bought a signed and stamped copy which I will be re-reading during a long winter evening.  I have to add that the images in the final copy by Saara Söderlund are absolutely stunning.  I adored the style of these illustrations which complement the folklore and magical quality of the story perfectly.

First Lines Friday

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

When Herc woke up in the middle of the night, his first thought was of the cake, which had already been stolen twice. His second thought – that he had most definitely heard a noise downstairs – should probably have come first, but his brain had firm ideas about what sorts of things were important and there was no point in fighting it.

Any ideas?

This looks like such a fun read which is just what I’m looking for! The illustrations by David Tazzyman are wonderful.

Goodreads Synopsis:

There’s something fishy going on at St Halibut’s Home for Waifs and Strays . . .
Life at St Halibut’s Home has been idyllic for two months, ever since the children buried their matron (don’t look like that – it was an accident!) Helpfully, the not-so-dear departed matron left behind a surprisingly large stash of money, which will keep them in black-market lemon sherbets for the rest of their lives. Tig, Stich and Herc just have to make sure nobody finds out they’re on their own. But when they find out that St Halibut’s is to be inspected by DEATH (the Department for Education, Assimilation, Training and Health), they start to panic. They’ll need to convince the inspector that everything is peachy or they’ll be sent to the Mending House – where badly-behaved orphans go, never to return. As the big day approaches, the children start to think they might just pull it off. But when the inspector arrives, things don’t just go wrong, they get spectacularly out of hand . . . Join Tig, Stef and Herc in this hilarious and quirky adventure about friendship and the power of the underdog from debut author Sophie Wills, illustrated throughout by the million-copy bestselling David Tazzyman. 

MG Takes on Thursday

This is my new weekly meme celebrating amazing middle-grade books. I hope others will enjoy taking part in this too!

How to take part:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence. 
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

This week, I’m celebrating …

Written by P.G. Bell
Illustrated by Flavia Sorrentino
Published by Usborne Publishing

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

It was tough going, but she had the sense that she and Fletch were slipping through reality at incalculable speeds, and she couldn’t help the joyous tingle that ran down her spine and made the hairs on her arms stand up.

This book in three words:

MAGICAL, ADVENTURE, FRIENDSHIP

I’ve absolutely loved this series and have been lucky enough to have been approved to read Suzy’s next adventure, Delivery to the Lost City which is due to be published on 7th January.

This second book in the series starts two months after Suzy’s first adventure into the Union of Impossible Places, the events of which are told in The Train to Impossible Places.   She has missed her friends from Trollville, so is incredibly excited to receive a secret invitation to re-join The Impossible Postal Express. When Suzy arrives in Trollville, she is reunited with her friends, the crew of the Postal Express, and is overjoyed to be taking on her role as Postie again!  But, of course, things do not run smoothly.  Just as the train is about to be inaugurated by the wonderfully eccentric Troll King, the first earthquake ever to shake Trollville occurs, and chaos ensues as everyone in the city is put in danger.

This is an incredibly fast-paced, magical adventure which utterly enchanted and delighted me as it led me on a thrilling journey, full of danger and discoveries which are just so cleverly interspersed throughout the story that I had just had to keep reading, especially as many chapters ended on cliff hangers which made this an unputdownable book.  The world-building is incredibly rich and fizzing with inventiveness; it is enhanced even further by the delightful images by Flavia Sorrentino. 

You can read my full review of this gorgeous book here.

I’d love if anyone who wants to give this meme a go would comment in the comments box and include a link to your post so I can visit, comment and find some great middle-grade recommendations. If you do create a post and are on Twitter, and would like to share your post, please use the hashtag  #MGTakesOnThursday so I can find it, read it and share it!

WWW Wednesday

I’m listening to The Subtle Knife and am absolutely loving it – nearly finished. The narration is great and I’ve become completely immersed in this world, like I’m watching a movie play in my mind. I’ve also started one of my most anticipated reads, A Secret of Birds & Bone. OMG! The start of this story is just incredible! I haven’t got as far as I thought I would as I’ve been busy at work, but I just know I’m going to love this one.

I’ve finished reading the brilliant Molly Thompson and the Crypt of the Blue Moon which I absolutely loved. I so hope that there is another mystery for Molly to solve. I’ve posted my review. I was in Waterstones at the weekend and was browsing the shelves for adult books for a change! I spotted Ghost Wall and couldn’t resist getting it, and reading it on Sunday. It is a short book but my goodness does it pack a lot in! It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but it was a very powerful read which kept me engrossed.

I’m aiming to read The Time Traveller and the Tiger next. I had hoped to read it last week, but work got in the way!

Review: Molly Thompson and the Crypt of the Blue Moon

Molly Thompson and the Crypt of the Blue Moon was one of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year as I adored Molly Thompson’s first sleuthing adventure in The Ghouls of Howlfair.  Molly’s second adventure is spine-tinglingly good:  fast-paced and action-packed, sparklingly witty, and with just the perfect dollop of scariness and tension to keep me on tenterhooks as I eagerly devoured every page. 

12-year-old Molly Thompson, Howlfair’s self-appointed sleuth and historian is not completely convinced that Howlfair has rid itself of their ghoul problem.  But she has another problem to solve:  she is determined to save her Mum’s Guesthouse from going out of business. 

When an opportunity to save the guesthouse comes knocking, Molly finds herself agreeing to become tour guide to a couple of journalists who intend to put Howlfair on the map! It just may not be a map the town wants to be on!  Journalists, siblings Lucinda and Orson Corches are not quite what Molly was expecting, and seem to have an insatiable appetite to investigate an old legend which originated in Howlfair, one relating to the sinister phantom known as the Silentman.  Of course, Molly is the perfect choice to help them in their mission, but will her desire to save her home put the town in danger?  And do the deliciously creepy siblings have more on their agenda than writing a feature on the world’s scariest town?

Oh my racing heart!  This was such an exhilarating and fast-paced read with tantalising twists and revelations that kept me utterly gripped as I ventured through Howlfair with Molly and her friends as they unravelled the truth behind the legend whilst discovering some other truths closer to home. Dark prophecy, the threat of old adversaries, swinging skeletons and a hidden crypt waiting for unsuspecting readers:  humour, horror and heart … sheer brilliance!

Molly is the most amazingly strong young girl!  She is brave, tenacious and clever and is determined not only to save her Mum’s Guesthouse from financial ruin, but also her town from ghoulish disaster.  This does not mean that she doesn’t make mistakes along the way which made me like her even more!  Luckily, she has help along the way from her wonderful friends Lowry and Felicity who each offer her support and honesty in their own inimitable styles!  Cue some brilliantly hilarious moments!  Molly also has to decide whether or not she can forgive and learn to trust another former friend, but I won’t say too much about that in case some readers have not yet read The Ghouls of Howlfair and, if you haven’t read it, you need to and then read this!  Of course, there is another important friend in Molly’s life and that is the adorable Gilbert who has an uncanny way of sensing trouble, warning Molly and coming to her aide just when it is needed.  I need to know more about Gilbert!

This is a brilliantly spooky, humorous read surrounded by the warmth of friendship and family which is just perfect to cuddle up with on a cold evening – just be prepared to be giggling one minute and spooked the next!  I so hope there’s going to be another mystery for Molly to solve – the ending makes me so yearn for another adventure!