Blog Tour: Emily Knight I am … Becoming

Written by A. Bello
Cover Illustration by Alexandra Artigas
Published by Hashtag Press

Thank you to Helen Lewis, Literally PR and Hashtag Press for inviting me to be part of the Blog Tour for this wonderful book, and for providing me with a paperback copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

My Review:

As soon as I was invited on the Blog Tour for the third book in the Emily Knight series, I read the first two books, Emily Knight:  I am and Emily Knight I am … Awakened so I was eagerly anticipating the third book.

Emily Knight I am … Becoming can be read as a standalone BUT, I would definitely recommend that you pick up the other books too!  The first book would suit 9-12 year olds whereas this one is better suited to slightly older readers.

I really enjoyed this fast-paced contemporary fantasy which is brimming with danger, excitement and super powers:  expect the unexpected as secrets are exposed, powers are controlled and heroes fight back …

15-year-old Emily Knight is finally reunited with her father and brother, Thomas and Lox.  Thomas is the renowned leader of the legendary Five Warriors who has spent the last eight years trying to find his son Lox who had joined forces with Neci, a powerful adversary who has her own reasons to hate all warriors and wage a battle to see their annihilation.   

Will the remaining Warriors and their elite newest teenage members be able to defeat Neci and her army of followers before she destroys them all?  So begins an electrifyingly gripping story as Emily and her friends find themselves pitted against the full force of Neci and her army, forced to use both their ingenuity and their new-found and growing super powers to confront their nemesis …

I really enjoyed the dynamics of the friendships and fledgling romances between Emily, Michella, Wesley, Jason and Julian which felt authentic and relevant to today’s teenagers even though these teenagers have super powers!  The friends all attend the Osaki Training School to learn how to use and control their powers.  Whilst there, they learn the importance of friendship and teamwork, supporting each other despite the dangers they face.

The friends each have their own unique powers, including healing, telepathy, telekinesis and teleportation, but will these be enough to protect society and each other from a determined and relentless foe?  Will they be able to find and exploit her weakness before it is too late?

Emily is a brilliant character:  it is so wonderful to see diverse characters at the forefront in this story.  She is courageous, determined and fierce, and is incredibly protective of her family and friends.  Emily has not had her father or her brother in her life for many years, so they have to learn to re-connect as a family again.  Not only does she have to handle these sometimes-strained relationships, but she also has to train hard to be ready for a war with Neci.  She handles these pressures from inside and outside with great resilience and tenacity, surrounded by friends who are willing to put themselves in danger to protect and support her.

Emily Knight I am … Becoming is an explosively exciting addition to this fantastic series, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing Emily grow even more in the next book. 

About the Author:

Abiola Bello

A. Bello is an award-winning author and publishing entrepreneur, born and raised in London, where she still lives and works. In2018, Abiola was named ‘Trailblazer of the Year’ by London Book Fair. Abiola wrote her first novel at the age of eight–when she fought monsters and dragons on a daily basis–and experienced her first taste of ‘being published’ after winning a school poetry competition at the age of 12. Seeing her words in print fuelled a passion for writing that remains to this day. The first incarnation of the Emily Knight story can be traced back almost 20 years; Abiola wanted to fill the gaping hole in children’s fiction for an inspirational, strong, black, female, young protagonist. This ‘gap’ in publishing remains in today’s publishing world despite continued calls for more BAME authors and diversity within characters and plot lines. She is the founder of The Lil’ Author School and co-founder of The Author School (short listed for The Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2016 and celebrating its fifth birthday in 2020). A. Bello is regularly asked to contribute to the media; she has been featured in About Time Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Female First, Daily Mirror, BBC1XTRA, The Bookseller, The British Blacklist, Melan Magazine, London Post, and many more. Abiola is also a regular at literary festivals and gives talks to children in primary and secondary schools, as well as to young writers and people wishing to get into the publishing business.

Links:

Website: https://www.a-bello.com/

Twitter: @ABelloWrites

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/abiolabello/

Check out the rest of the Blog Tour below:

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 Ross Welford
Cover Illustration by Tom Clohosy Cole
Published by Harper Collins

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

‘I, erm … I just thought … I was wondering, you know, if … erm …’ Iggy’s not normally like this, but he’s not normally normal anyway, and besides, nothing’s normal at the moment.

This book in three words:

SCI-FI ADVENTURE, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP

I absolutely love watching science-fiction, and would love to see more middle-grade science-fiction stories, so when this one came along, I was very eager to read it – just wow!

This is a completely absorbing science-fiction read which is very cleverly written in four parts from a dual narrative with extra information being presented as newspaper reports.   The short chapters kept me wanting just one more chapter – a genuinely compulsive read! 

The story opens with a news report about missing 12-year-old Tamara (Tammy) Tait from the small village of Kielder.  It then switches to another planet with the shocking revelation that a young girl is being exhibited in a ‘human zoo.’ One of the inhabitants there, Hellyann, makes a dangerous and courageous decision that changes many lives … and leads to an incredible adventure …

There is so much opportunity for discussion based on this story from exploring themes of loss, grief, family and friendship to an exploration of animal and human rights, activism and the nature of society, not to mention the belief in the existence of alien life forms! 

This is a compellingly gripping action-packed, heart-warming adventure: you can read my full review 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 am currently reading the second book in the The International Yeti Collective series, Shadowspring which I’m loving! The youngling yetis are wonderful and I can tell this one will have a strong environmental message. I’m listening to Bloom which is absolutely gorgeous – quirky and humorous. Sorrel is a such a likeable character. I’m really looking forward to finding out what happens as I get further into the story!

I’ve finished reading the third book in the Emily Knight I am … Becoming series. I will be posting my review as part of the Blog Tour later this week. I also finished listening to Orphans of the Tide which is one of the best books ever! I was absolutely blown away by the twists in this and the incredible story-telling. I can’t wait to find out what happens in the next book. I also read After the War which I found incredibly powerful and touching.

I loved the first two books in the Skeleton Keys series, so am very much looking forward to returning for another take from ‘Ol Skeleton Keys!

Middle-Grade releases in October Part 2!

Last week, I posted about LOTS of gorgeous middle-grade books I’m really looking forward to in October. You can read the first part of my October Middle-Grade releases here. It was only when I started the post that I realised there were so many that I decided to do my post in two parts. Last week’s blog post focussed on releases on 1st October. This week’s include a couple more for 1st October and then those for the rest of the month. I’ve included the synopsis from Waterstones website.

For years Grace’s family have been wardens of the Griffin map, using its teleport technology to help people and fight crime across the land of Moreland. At thirteen, Grace is too young become a warden, but she longs to go on missions herself. After all, if her brother Bren can do it, why can’t she? So when Grace finds herself alone with the map when a distress call comes in, she jumps at the chance to prove she’s up to the task. But the map transports Grace to a remote village where nothing is quite as it seems. Has she landed right in the middle of a treacherous scheme?

A gorgeously gothic debut series. Packed with wonderful characters, witty writing and thrilling adventure. STARFELL meets THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Meet Malice Morbid Malign. She’s from Underland, land of sorcery, spooks and skulduggery. But, she and her family live in Topside and mischief is their business . . . And the business of mischief is a very serious matter! The Malign family hate books, they hate bathing, and they especially HATE helping. But when grandad ghosts mysteriously start disappearing, including her own beloved grandad, Malice has no choice but to help. She partners up with her Uncle Vexatious, to solve the case of the missing grandad-ghosts. 

The first rule of the Monstrous League of Monsters is: Keep monsters hidden from humans. But when zombie George and his cat companion Bandit find an abandoned baby, they can’t leave her to be eaten by hobgoblins. So they spirit her home where she quickly becomes part of the family. Fast-forward ten years, and young Theodora doesn’t seem too scarred by her monstrous upbringing. But now a series of anonymous letters suggest that someone is about to reveal their secret. If Theodora doesn’t act fast, she may lose her family for ever…

Morrigan Crow and her friends have survived their first year as proud scholars of the elite Wundrous Society, helped bring down the nefarious Ghastly Market, and proven themselves loyal to Unit 919. Now Morrigan faces a new, exciting challenge: to master the mysterious Wretched Arts of the Accomplished Wundersmith, and control the power that threatens to consume her. Meanwhile, a strange and frightening illness has taken hold of Nevermoor, turning infected Wunimals into mindless, vicious Unnimals on the hunt. As victims of the Hollowpox multiply, panic spreads. There are whispers – growing louder every day – that this catastrophe can only be the work of the Wundersmith, Ezra Squall. But inside the walls of Wunsoc, everyone knows there is a new Wundersmith – one who’s much closer to home. With Nevermoor in a state of fear and the truth about Morrigan threatening to get out, the city she loves becomes the most perilous place in the world. Morrigan must try to find a cure for the Hollowpox, but it will put her – and everyone in Nevermoor – in more danger than she could have imagined. 

It’s the Christmas holidays and Thea is looking forward to spending them with her father. She can tell him all about her plans to become a writer, and maybe he’ll buy her the typewriter she’s been dreaming of. But when Thea arrives in Norway, everything feels … wrong. Her father is as distant as ever and now she has to share him with his new family: his girlfriend Inge and her children. Then Thea makes a surprise discovery. Deep in the snowy woods by the house, is a bear. He’s scared and hungry and he desperately needs Thea’s help. When the town hears about a bear living in the woods, Bear’s life is in even greater danger. Thea needs to show everyone that he’s not dangerous – he’s a Good Bear – if she’s to save him.

Being stuck in an eternal summer is not fun. Especially when you’re Jack Frost’s daughter. Owl’s friend Alberic – who also happens to be the Earl of Autumn’s son – is missing. Determined to find him and end the perpetual summer, Owl and her best friend Mallory embark on an adventure that will take them deep into the magical world of time itself. But Alberic’s disappearance is shrouded in secret, and there’s more going on than meets the eye. As an epic battle of the elements approaches, will Owl and Alberic be able to control their magic and restore the natural world?

This debut middle-grade novel chronicles the harrowing journey taken by Sami and his family from privilege to poverty, across countries and continents, from a comfortable life in Damascus, via a smuggler’s den in Turkey, to a prison in Manchester. A story of survival, of family, of bravery … In a world where we are told to see refugees as the ‘other’, this story will remind readers that ‘they’ are also ‘us’.

Agra 1857, the Indian rebellion. Three children are trying to make their way through a country at war with a circus tiger in search of safety. Jacques is a boy acrobat who has lost his circus; Beatrice ( Bea) and Ping are both orphans. United by a deep friendship and their desire to save Tonton the tiger, find Bea’s lost brother and Kamal the fire-eater, they set out on a wild and dangerous journey. Will they make it? A magical tale based on the true story of a lost French circus during the Indian rebellion.

In snow white covered St. Petersburg, young dancer Stana‘s dreams have finally come true – she has been chosen to play the lead role in Tchaikovsky’s new ballet, The Nutcracker. But with all eyes looking at her, can Stana overcome her nerves and dance like she’s never danced before?

What if somewhere along the way we’ve all got the Santa story a bit wrong…? Join Blanche Claus and her best friend Rinki for a funny festive sleigh ride you’ll never forget! From Sibeal Pounder, bestselling author of the Witch Wars and Bad Mermaids series, this tale of friendship and mince-pie feasts is the perfect book to curl up with this winter. Funny, feminist and with a huge heart, it’s a gloriously Christmassy adventure that will delight even the biggest Grinch.

October is an incredible month for children’s books, and I can’t wait to get all of these wonderful books.

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 Eve McDonnell
Cover & Illustrations by Holly Ovenden
Published by Everything with Words

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

To thank his bird for finding it, Needle stretched a worm from a tuft of frosty grass, taking care not to break it, and offered it whole.

This book in three words:

ADVENTURE, FRIENDSHIP, COURAGE

Those who follow me on Twitter and who read my Blog will know that I’m an avid fan of middle-grade. I’ve read a LOT of books this year, and this has been one of my absolute favourites. I adore time-slip novels, and this one is just so incredibly brilliantly written. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Elsetime  completely captivated me as it took me on a fascinating journey where past, present and future meet in ‘elsetime’, a time where intrigue, danger and revelations swirl amidst friendships, courage and hope. 

Young Mudlark, Needle, and jeweller’s apprentice, Gloria find that their destiny is linked to a terrible disaster that threatens the town of Inthington , where 14 lives will be lost as a result of a flood – unless the children can avert it. They both know the wonderful crow, Magpie who has astounding secrets of her own.

Eve has embroidered a rich tapestry with an intriguing and intricate plot, filled with excitement, peril and the most incredible twists and revelations.  Inspired by the real-life Great Flood of London in 1928, this is a stunningly spectacular read with a beautifully heart-warming ending.

You can read my full review of this gorgeous story here or, better still, treat yourself to this absolute gem of a book.

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 am just about to start Emily Knight I am … Becoming having enjoyed the first two books in this series. I will be taking part in a Blog Tour later this month. I am listening to Orphans of the Tide. OMG!! Why have I left this so long?? It is absolutely riveting. I love when I don’t see something coming … I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

This week, I read Grimm which I really enjoyed. It tells the story of Rory McKenna who becomes famous as a marketing genius who is then called upon to re-brand Hotel Grimm which is not looked upon favourably by the local community. This story has a wonderful depth and some great messages which I really liked. I will post my review shortly. I also read Witch which is a gripping story of witchcraft and persecution and difficult bonds of sisterhood. Again, I will post my review prior to publication on 1st October.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series and am looking forward to reading Shadowspring next.

Review: The Key to Finding Jack

The Key to Finding Jack is a gripping mystery, resonating with warmth and depth, which centres on family, relationships and friendship.  The power of the writing immersed me in the lives of Flick and her family, feeling their pain, their hopes, their closeness.  This is a mystery, but it is a subtle and heartfelt mystery that gently swept me into its entanglement and kept me utterly invested from start to finish. 

Flick has a close bond with her older brother Jack who loves practical jokes and riddles and enjoys sharing them at school and with Flick.  Rather than going to university to study law as his barrister father expects, Jack travels to Peru during his gap year where he is reported missing after a devastating earthquake.  The family are keen to find out what has happened to Jack and live in hope that they will be reunited with him. 

Flick discovers a key which Jack has left behind with a message:  For S.F. to keep until I’m back.  This discovery becomes an intriguing puzzle that Flick is determined to solve as she traces the initials to people Jack knows in the hope that they will lead her to her beloved older brother.

I really enjoyed Flick’s discoveries as she unravels the mystery behind the key, but will this be enough to find her missing brother?  As Flick connects with a range of people who are important in Jack’s life, who he has had a lasting impact upon, their reminiscences stir memories for Flick, and discoveries are made which give her a deeper insight into her brother’s character.  This leads her to question how well she really knows her brother.  How much of himself has he kept hidden from her, and she from him?

Flick is an incredibly sympathetic young girl.  She is hurting at the loss of her brother yet has the strength and courage to continue to hope, and not give up on finding him.  She puts her energy into following the clues opened by the key which takes her on a path to finding out that her brother has hidden depths which give her a new insight into his character.   I really loved that the key gave Flick the opportunity to re-connect with her Grandma through shared sadness and memories. 

I also loved learning about Jack through Flick.  Jack has haemophilia which does not stop him from following the path he has chosen.  He is so much more than the practical joker who gets detention, the riddle-giving doting older brother, and discovering more about him through his relatives and friends is such a wonderful part of this story.  Flick is given an insight into her brother that she already understood at an intuitive level, but has it reinforced through others, and I found this a fascinating aspect of this story. 

I also really enjoyed the mystery within a mystery element with Flick, a keen writer, writing her own Victorian mystery centring on a mother and her missing daughter which helps her escape from her real world and forget her reality for a while, even though there are parallels between her story and her reality.

The juxtaposition between the weight of expectations from family and the strength it takes to live your own life, making your own choices is explored sensitively.  The family’s pain and hope as they search for Jack from afar is heartachingly portrayed, but what really resonates is the closeness and connection they have as they bond over their shared loss.

At the heart of this mystery is finding the courage to be yourself and follow your dreams, even if they don’t fit someone else’s aspirations for you; having the strength not to lose hope in the face of adversity; and, the close bond between siblings even in separation.  A wonderfully heart-warming story.

Thank you to Zephyr and Fritha Lindqvist for a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

1st October middle-grade releases

There are so many wonderful middle-grade books being published on 1st October that I am looking forward to adding to my bookshelf, reading and then adding to my class library. I’m looking forward to a great reading month with these new books. I have been lucky enough to read some of these already on NetGalley, but will be buying the physical copies. I have also been lucky enough to get early access to physical copies of a few of these, so my October reading will start in September! I have included the Goodreads or Waterstones synopsis for each of these. And can I just add … look at the covers … aren’t they amazing … and irresistible!

Here goes …

In an Italian city ravaged by plague, Sofia’s mother carves beautiful mementoes from the bones of loved ones. But one day, she doesn’t return home. Did her work lead her into danger? Sofia and her little brother Ermin are sent to the convent orphanage but soon escape, led by an enigmatic new friend and their pet crow, Corvith. Together they cross the city underground, following clues in bones up to the towers of Siena, where – circled by magpies – the children find the terrible truth …

I’ve read all Kiran’s books including those for children (The Island at the End of Everything, The Girl of Ink and Stars, The Way Past Winter), young adults (The Deathless Girls) and adults (The Mercies), and have loved them, so I’m really, really looking forward to this one.

Olia lives with her parents in an old crumbling castle, filled with hidden turrets and secret doorways. When she follows a mysterious cat to one of the castle’s roof domes, she finds herself stepping through one such doorway into a magical land filled with wonders… But everything is not quite as it seems: the land is under threat from a scheming magician, Chernmor, and the magic is fading away. With the help of an enchanted band of new friends, can Olia find a way to save both her own home, and the land of forbidden magic? 

I’ve been lucky enough to read this on NetGalley, and it is absolutely wonderful. I’ve pre-ordered a signed and stamped copy, so am really looking forward to a re-read. I loved both of Sophie’s previous two books, The House with Chicken Legs and The Girl who Speaks Bear.

Eleven-year-old twins, Fox and Fibber, have been rivals for as long as they can remember. Only one of them will inherit the family fortune and so a race is afoot to save the dwindling Petty-Squabble empire and win the love of their parents. But when the twins are whisked off to Jungledrop, a magical Unmapped Kingdom in charge of conjuring our world’s weather, things get wildly out of hand. An evil harpy called Morg is on the loose. And if she finds the long-lost Forever Fern before the twins, both Jungledrop and our world will crumble. Suddenly, Fox and Fibber find themselves on an incredible adventure in a glow-in-the-dark rainforest full of golden panthers, gobblequick trees and enchanted temples. But, with the fate of two worlds in their hands, will the twins be able to work together for once to defeat Morg and her dark magic?

I’ve been lucky enough to read this on NetGalley, and I loved it so much. I will be posting my review this week. This is the next in the Unmapped Chronicles series following the World Book Day book, Everdark and Rumblestar. I have also read some other fantastic books by Abi including Sky Song, The Dreamsnatcher series and The Snow Dragon (picture book).

Ebenezer Tweezer is a youthful 511-year-old. He keeps a beast in the attic of his mansion, who he feeds all manner of things (including performing monkeys, his pet cat and the occasional cactus) and in return the beast vomits out presents for Ebenezer, as well as potions which keep him young and beautiful. But the beast grows ever greedier, and soon only a nice, juicy child will do. So when Ebenezer encounters orphan Bethany, it seems like (everlasting) life will go on as normal. But Bethany is not your average orphan …

I was lucky enough to take part in The Write Reads Ultimate Blog Tour for this, and got sent a proof copy by the publisher. This is a brilliantly witty read, with great messages. I loved it! My review is here.

Henry is the new boy at Halbrook Hall – a crumbling boarding school in the Scottish Highlands. He thinks the rumours of yeti lurking in the misty hills are nothing more than stories. Until one day he gets lost in the forest… As a young yeti, Tadpole loves living in Shadowspring. But now the precious spring water is disappearing and no one knows why. The situation is serious – surely there’s something she can do to help… When Tadpole accidentally reveals the top-secret location of Shadowspring to Henry, the lost boy she saves, she knows she’s in deep trouble. But what if this human actually has the power to help the yeti not harm them?

This is the second book in the series. I have been lucky enough to have been sent an early copy of this one for review, so am really looking forward to reading it within the next couple of weeks. I really enjoyed the first book in this series – especially the brilliant yeti naming system!

Greetings! My name is Skeleton Keys and these fantabulant fingers of mine can open doors to hidden worlds… Join me for the curious tale of Gap-tooth Jack – thief, adventurer and champion of imagining! When Skeleton Keys banishes Wordy Gerdy from the present using his Key to Time, he thinks he’s seen the last of the troublesome unimaginary. But Gerdy uses her ghostly pen to wreak her revenge, and before Skeleton Keys knows it she’s written his precious keys out of existence. Skeleton Keys and his partner Daisy must follow Gerdy into the past to retrieve her pen and make her restore his keys. But Skeleton Keys has unknowingly sent Gerdy back to his own past and her pen is now in the hands of notorious thief Gap-tooth Jack. As they set off to find Jack, Skeleton Keys can’t help noticing that everything looks strangely familiar. Then he comes face to face with the thief – could it be that the two have met before?

This is the third book in the Skeleton Keys series. I’ve read and loved the previous two: The Unimaginary Friend and The Haunting of Luna Moon. Again, I have been lucky enough to have been sent an early copy of this one for review, so am really looking forward to reading it within the next couple of weeks.

With an invisible girl, a parliament of owls and a pen that writes by itself, the journey to the Garden of the Midnight Swan might be Seren’s most dangerous adventure yet. In this third book of the award-winning The Clockwork Crow series, Seren and Tomos must try to help the Crow find the way back to his human form. But why is Captain Jones enquiring about Seren’s past? How have the sinister Fair Family gate-crashed the Midsummer Ball, and what is the one desire of the mysterious Midnight Swan?

This is the final book in this gorgeous trilogy, following The Clockwork Crow and The Velvet Fox. I was lucky enough to read this on NetGalley, and it’s such a wonderful ending to the series. My review is here.

Ash and the rest of the Frostheart’s brave crew have finally arrived at the majestic stronghold of Aurora – and Ash’s mind is blown. It’s an extraordinary place – unlike anything he’s ever seen – and he can’t wait to solve the next clue that will lead him to his parents. But it’s quickly clear that even Aurora isn’t safe for Song Weavers. A fanatical Pathfinder captain has turned the city against Ash and his kind – and it’s not long before the Frostheart has to make another break for freedom. But when a vicious Wraith attack leaves Ash, Lunah, Rook and Tobu stranded on the ice, they will have to use all their strength and cunning to reach safety. But what they find is even more incredible.

This is the second book in the series. I loved reading Frostheart last year, and am really looking forward to joining the crew again on their next adventure.

George is about to spend his third Christmas without his mum. Since she died, George’s life has felt dull and grey; his dad has thrown himself into his work and has no time for family, and definitely no time for Christmas. Then, George stumbles across Marley’s Curiosity Shop. There he finds a mysterious snow globe, which – though George can’t quite understand how – appears to show a scene from George’s past. A Christmas in which he and his family were together, and happy… That night, George and his dad are swept on an adventure to three Christmases – past, present, and future. With help from new friends, and just a touch of magic, can they begin living life in full colour again?

I have loved Catherine’s Stormkeeper series, The Stormkeeper’s Island and The Lost Tide Warriors and am eagerly looking forward to the final part. I think this re-imagining of A Christmas Carol will be a magical read.

When two journalists are sent to Howlfair to write about the world’s scariest town, they want amateur historian Molly to be their guide. But there’s something creepy about them – they seem a little too interested in a local legend of a phantom known as the Silentman. And they want Molly to help them find a hidden crypt that was never meant to be opened… A madcap horror adventure with spooky tombs, flying skeletons, a wig-stealing cat and a phantom whose touch spells madness!

The first book in this series, The Ghouls of Howlfair is such a brilliant read: spooky and witty. I’m so looking forward to joining the wonderful Molly Thompson on her next adventure.

Imogen should be nice to her little sister Marie. She should be nice to her mum’s boyfriend too. And she certainly shouldn’t follow a strange silver moth through a door in a tree. But then… who does what they’re told? Followed by Marie, Imogen finds herself falling into a magical kingdom where the two sisters are swept up in a thrilling race against time – helped by the spoiled prince of the kingdom, a dancing bear, a very grumpy hunter… and even the stars above them.

This is the first book in a series and sounds exactly like my kind of read, and it comes in gorgeous hardback too.

The town of Spindrift is frequented by pirates, Shadow Mages and charlatans. It’s also home to the Orphanage School, where Finlay lives with Glim, Taya and Eli. Just outside town is the painfully posh Brathelthwaite Boarding School, home to Honey Bee, Hamish and Victor, Duke of Ainsley. When the two schools compete at the Spindrift Tournament, stakes are high, tensions are higher, and some people are out to win at any cost. Before long, the orphans and the boarding school are in an all-out war. And then Whispering Wars break out, and Spindrift is thrust onto the front lines. Children are being stolen, Witches, Sirens and a deadly magical flu invade the town, and all attempts to fight back are met with defeat. Finlay, Honey Bee and their friends must join forces to outwit the encroaching forces of darkness, rescue the stolen children, and turn the tide of the war. But how can one bickering troupe outwit the insidious power of the Whisperers? And who are the two mysterious figures watching them from the shadows?

I loved the first book in this series, The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone which I read over the summer. I loved the writing style so am really looking forward to this one.

Sam might be half-monster and half-fairy, but since finding a loving family with the Kavanaghs, his daily life has been all human. And now he’s facing one of the greatest human challenges – starting secondary school. But Sam barely has time to worry about the strange stuff teachers say (why do they call it the Great War when it sounds like was anything but great?) before he is thrust back into the world of monsters. Sam’s school friends Amira, Hazel and Wilfred reveal that they are shifters: noble twin-souled beings who live half their lives as humans and the other half as dogs. When his new friends are kidnapped one by one, Sam is dragged into an adventure that will force him to confront both halves of his own identity, monster and fairy, if he wants a chance at saving their lives … 

I loved the first book in this series, The Monster Who Wasn’t and am really looking forward to seeing what happens next with Sam.

For Aiden, Chloe, Ava and Josh, holidays at their grandparents’ cottage mean wild beaches, no curfew, Bella the dog, and most of all – adventure! The lead actress in Frost Castle’s winter play is sure she’s cursed! A break-in, a car accident, and now her precious locket is missing. But the cousins suspect a ruthless thief. With a blizzard raging outside and a legendary ghost in the castle corridors, unmasking this villain will take all their bravery and skill… 

I’ve love the Clifftoppers series, and am looking forward to reading this fourth book. I love how wintry the cover is!

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 . . .

I love stories about orphans, and this one sounds a really fun read which I won’t be able to resist!

1899. The Earl of Gosswater has died, and twelve-year-old Lady Agatha has been cast out of her ancestral home – the only home she has ever known – by her cruel cousin, Clarence. In a tiny tumbledown cottage, she struggles to adjust to her new life and the stranger who claims to be her real father. And on the shores of Gosswater Lake, the spirit of another young girl will not rest. Could the ghost of Gosswater hold the key to Aggie’s true identity? 

I love historical fiction and ghost stories, so this sounds like a perfect read for me.

Elsie is not looking forward to the long summer holiday with her creaky, old Uncle John. But then the unimaginable happens as Time unravels and Elsie tumbles back to 1940s India to meet her Uncle John as a young boy on a tiger hunt. Can Elsie stop him from doing what he’s already told her is a wrong he can never right?

I have been lucky enough to have this one on NetGalley so will read it in September, before getting a physical copy for my class library. This sounds like a great historical mystery.

Wow! There you have it! There are some incredible middle-grade books being published on 1st October. Are there any of these you want to read? Have you already read any of these?

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 Gill Lewis
Cover Illustration by Paola Escobar
Published by Oxford University Press

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

The ink had bled into the cloth, but Semira could read the words, The Feather Diaries.

This book in three words:

DREAMS, FRIENDSHIP, CONNECTION

This is such a powerful story, told through the eyes of two brave girls, Semira and Hen. Semira is a refugee, living in London, who feels trapped, helpless and alone. When buying an old hat, she finds ‘The Feather Diaries’, the diary of a young Victorian girl. Her incredible connection to Hen becomes the catalyst for the changes that Semira is brave, and strong, enough to make in her own life.

Hen is surrounded by some remarkable woman, especially her Aunt Kitty, who is brave, fierce and determined enough to go against the norms of society. Her story is both heart-breaking and uplifting, and, I must admit, led to that ‘lump in throat, eye-watering’ moment when I know the story has ‘got’ me.

As Semira develops her friendship with Hen, so too she bonds with Patrick, Chloe and Holly, who all take her under their wings, although, in the end, it is Semira who frees them. There are lot of powerful messages in this story: having the courage to stand up for, and to, others; the choice to make a positive difference to the lives of others; and, the pivotal importance of dreams, living life and not being trapped by it.

The birds are a metaphor for the journey for both girls of entrapment to freedom. In their shared love of cycling, they experience ‘The Closest Thing to Flying’, both finding their inner strength and escaping their respective ‘cages’. This book really was an emotional rollercoaster, but one I felt very privileged to ride.

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 just about to start Grimm, and have started listening to Orphans of the Tide on audio, which I’m really enjoying – such a brilliant opening chapter!

I finished listening to The Last Paper Crane on my way to work this week.  This is such a powerfully written story that had me in tears for different reasons.  It is both heart-breaking and hopeful, a story of broken promises and guilt, but also of a life lived.  Ichiro is one of the most courageous characters I think I’ve ever read about. I also read The Key to Finding Jack. I really enjoyed this clever mystery which is not at all what I was expecting and is not typical of the mysteries I’ve been reading.  I will post my review in the next day or so. I also read The Missing Barbegazi which was a really wonderful story. I loved the Barbegazi family and the relationship which developed between Tessa and Gawion, one of the family. It is a heart-warming read with plenty of action. Tessa is a wonderful character who is keen to continue her Opa’s legacy and protect the Barbegazis from those who would exploit and hurt them.

I hope to read the third book in the Emily Knight series, I am Becoming … next, ready for an upcoming Blog Tour.