Review: Wishyouwas

Wishyouwas is an endearingly heart-warming, spellbinding adventure that completely enchanted me from start to finish:  an absolute treat of a story, perfect to cuddle up with on a colder evening!

It’s December 1952, and 10-year-old Penny Black is staying with her postmaster Uncle Frank as her mother, who is an airmail pilot, is stuck in France due to the thick smog that is permeating London. 

Feeling lonely and missing her Mum, Penny is writing a letter to her when she is disturbed by what she thinks is a rat entering the Post Office through its letterbox and, plucking up her courage, she follows it … and discovers, not a rat, but the most adorable tiny creature caught in a rat trap.  Taking pity on the creature, she frees it, and he introduces himself as Wishyouwas, a Sorter, Second Class!  He is part of a secret Bureau hidden in the underground tunnels who, unbeknownst to Royal Mail, help them with the delivery of undeliverable letters.

Her Uncle also notices that letters are going missing and believes that the culprits are rats.  He calls in Royal Mail Rat Catcher, Stanley Scrawl who is determined to make an end to the rat problem, but rat traps can also catch other small creatures …

Penny soon follows Wishyouwas into the tunnels beneath the London streets, and finds herself on the adventure of her life as she discovers that the Sorters are in terrible danger.  Will she be able to protect them and keep them safe from the sinister Rat Catcher who is sneaking closer and closer …

This is a brilliantly fast-paced, thrilling adventure with plenty of heart-racing action, twists and tense moments as danger unfolds and risks are taken, balanced perfectly with moments of heartfelt tenderness which made this an unputdownable read.

I loved the magical world created in this story, both the atmospheric cold, smog-enveloped London and the secret world of the Sorters in the tunnels beneath its streets where they make use of items discarded by humans such as shoe boxes, paper clips and food.  They have their own social structure, rules and regimes which they adhere strictly to in order to carry out their self-appointed duty as Guardians of lost mail.  I loved learning about the different roles of the Sorters, and meeting so many wonderful personalities.  I especially liked Thiswayup.  I also loved the character names with their reference to letters:  Penny Black, Uncle Frank, Handlewithcare and Withlove to name a few. 

I absolutely adored both Penny and Wishyouwas who form the most gorgeous bond of friendship and trust.  They are kind, loyal and courageous, and are always there for each other, regardless of the risks and danger they find themselves in.  I must admit I’d love to find a Wishyouwas whilst collecting my mail!  He is absolutely adorable from his imperfectly perfect speech (I is NOT a rat!) to his kind heart.  I also really enjoyed how the relationship between Penny and her Uncle Frank develops.

The cover illustrations by Penny Neville-Lee both on the proof copy I have and the final cover are stunning.  This will be released as a hardback, and I can’t wait to get a copy so that I can see the interior illustrations before adding it to my class library.

This is a truly mesmerising, heartfelt story with a classic feel that is sure to be enjoyed time and time again by readers of 9 to 90+!  Definitely one not to be missed!

Thank you to Beatrice May and Bloomsbury for a proof copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

October anticipated releases …

There are LOTS of books due for release in October which I am really looking forward to reading. I’ve taken the synopsis for each of these books from the Waterstones website. Some of these are continuation of series I’ve loved; some are by authors whose previous books I’ve really enjoyed; and, others are by new-to-me or debut authors whose books have caught my interest!

Release Date: 7th October

I’ve absolutely loved following the adventures of Podkin and Uki, and can’t believe that this is the last one!

After capturing Charice, there is only one spirit left for Uki to find: Mortix, the most dangerous of all. With his friends Jori, Cole and Kree, Uki heads to Eisenfell – the greatest city in Hulstland – only to find that Mortix has taken control of Emperor Ash and is plotting to conquer the whole Five Realms with her terrifying army. Uki must dodge the Endwatch, the Shrikes, Clan Septys and the guards and find a way to complete his quest before all is lost. 

I really enjoyed reading Theodora Hendrix and the Monstrous League of Monsters which is a fast-paced, action-packed and humorous adventure with wonderful messages about the importance of friendship and family, so I’m definitely looking forward to her next adventure!

After facing down an evil hag, a thieving skele-crow and an army of the undead, ten-year-old Theodora Hendrix is certain she can handle anything – that is, until she meets the unpleasant Inspector Shelley and her even more unpleasant pet rat. Shelley and Ratsputin have come to spy on the MLM, and are determined to make trouble at every turn. Then Theodora makes a discovery of her own: a cursed beetle. She needs to destroy it without attracting the attention of the inspector – and fast. The stakes couldn’t be higher: if Theodora fails, her beloved monster family will rot in the dankest, darkest prisons of Transylvania…

I adored By Ash Oak and Thorn earlier this year which is the most delightful wander through, and celebration of nature and the environment, and the need to appreciate and look after it. It follows the adventures of three tiny, ancient beings – Moss, Burnet and Cumulus who have to leave their home in the ash tree when it is destroyed and travel to find others like them, taking them through the countryside and into the city. 

As autumn arrives, Moss, Sorrel, Burnet and Dormer decide to return home to Ash Row to unravel a riddle that might explain why their kind are fading from the Wild World. When you’re only one-hand high, it’s a journey filled with both danger and delight: golden leaves, shiny conkers and the brightest of berries, but also storms and the first frost of winter. They have friendship, good sense and humour on their side, but will it be enough to secure a future for the Hidden Folk? Or will they need to go further, and find a way to work with the most unreliable of creatures … humans? 

This is a new-to-me author but, when I read the synopsis, I couldn’t resist this as I absolutely love Christmas stories!

What would you do if Santa put you on his Naughty List? A magical Christmas adventure like no other, with an Elf called Jiggles, a race to save Christmas, and lots of cat food! When Aisling and Joe antagonise their tough new babysitter, she writes to Santa asking for them to be put on the “naughty list”. Determined not to be denied their Christmas presents, the pair seek help from the school bully – who always gets presents, no matter how badly he behaves! Unfortunately this leads to them stealing the Santa List. After all, if Santa doesn’t have the list then he can’t tell if you’ve been naughty or nice, can he? But when the kids have a change of heart, they face a race-against-time adventure to return the list to Mr Claus, before Christmas is ruined. And when they are stopped by someone who absolutely hates Christmas . . . Christmas may not be saved after all! 

This is written by a debut author and is one I have been lucky enough to win on Toppsta. I’ve been hearing lots of wonderful things about it and it has certainly captured my interest!

Kidnapped and forced to shovel coal underneath a half-bombed, blackened power station, 12-year-old Luke’s life is miserable. Then, he discovers he can see things others can’t. Ghostly things. Specifically, a ghost-girl named Alma. Alma, who can ride clouds through the night sky and bend their shape to her will, befriends Luke. And with Alma’s help, Luke discovers he is in fact a rare being – half-human and half-something else … Then Luke learns the terrible truth of why children are being kidnapped and forced to work in the power station, and he becomes even more desperate to escape. Can Luke find out who he really is … and find his freedom?

I’ve read The Midnight Library (for adults), Evie and the Animals and The Girl Who Saved Christmas. I’m definitely looking forward to reading another by Matt Haig!

The epic adventure of a teeny-tiny hero. This is a tale of mice and magic. It is also a tale of great love (of cheese) and great danger. And learning the lesson that what matters most – when it comes to cheese and life – is not how strongly you smell but how strong you are on the inside.

I have been lucky enough to take part in a poetry workshop with Joseph Coelho and have a signed copies of If All the World Were and A Year of Nature Poems. I enjoyed Zombierella, the first book in this fun series, and am looking forward to the next one.

Joining the family business, animal-lover Bryony proves to be an extraordinary taxidermist, whose tender fingers create displays which comfort, educate and astound. But when Byrony’s proud father boasts of her skill, who should come calling but the secretive King of all Mythica. Locking her away, he gives her three horrible tasks … three impossibletasks! It’s only then that a strange, sinister creature emerges from the shadows of the castle, offering Bryony a helping hand… But at what cost?

I read Another Twist in the Tale last year, an absolutely wonderful twist on the story of Oliver Twist, so am really looking forward to reading a re-imagining of Frankenstein.

Sometimes I was jealous of the monster of Frankenstein. I grew up believing my father cared more for him than he did for me. And was I wrong? Maggie Walton’s father has dedicated his life to a single pursuit: hunting down the monster created by Victor Frankenstein. It has cost Maggie and her family everything – and now her father is staking everything on one last voyage to the Arctic, with Maggie secretly in tow, where he hopes to find the monster at last. But there they make a shocking discovery: Frankenstein’s monster has a son…

Release Date: 14th October

I recently read the first book in this series: A Clock of Stars: The Shadow Moth, a magical read which I devoured in a day, despite it being one of the longest middle-grade books I’ve read in a while. I’m so looking forward to this next one!

Imogen and Marie return through the door in the tree to a whole new Yaroslav. Miro is king, but hates it. Anneshka is no longer Queen. . . and hates it. When Anneshka hears a prophecy that she will rule the Greatest Kingdom, she seizes Marie, believing her to be key to fulfilling it, and heads over the mountains. Imogen and Miro chase after them, in hot pursuit. But what they find in the lands beyond will change everything again, and see them facing dangers they could never have imagined, both human and otherwise.

Another Christmas story by a wonderful debut author. I have been sent a copy of this through our Authorfy creative writing club, run by Mel. I’m resisting reading it until I can purchase my own copy as the book is a prize for a child in the Club!

Wish it could be Christmas every day? Well, for nine-year-old Holly Carroll and her family, it is! Living her merriest life in a house with year-round fairy lights and Christmas trees, a carol-singing toilet and a diva donkey who thinks he’s a reindeer, home-schooled Holly tries to spread cheer wherever she goes. But when she goes to a new school with a singing Santa backpack and first day Christmas cards (during a heatwave in September!), she realises not everyone shares her enthusiasm for spreading cheer. In fact, when the neighbours try to remove the Carrolls from the street and Holly discovers a group of children that may not get a Christmas at all, her snowglobe world begins to crack. Is the world’s most Christmassy girl about to lose her Christmas spirit?

Release Date: 22nd October

I absolutely loved the first book in this series, The Abbey Mystery, and have been lucky enough to get a proof copy of this one, so I will be reading it very shortly.

When the headmistress invites her past favourite pupil to attend their end of term ball, Cassandra brings her younger sister, Jane, along too. Cassandra plunges into the feverish excitement of preparing for the biggest event of the year – the dresses, the dances and the boys expected from the neighbouring school. Feeling rather excluded, sharp-witted Jane unearths the reason for the fuss – the headteacher wants to impress a rich family returned from India as the school is at risk of going bankrupt. Jane also befriends the dancing master’s assistant, a former slave, called Brandon, who is as quick to notice things as she. At the ball, a diamond necklace is stolen from a locked room and they are propelled into a race to uncover the burglar and save Brandon from gaol. With the ever-present Austen spirit, Jane with notebook in hand, boldly overcomes the obstacles to finding the truth.

Release Date: 28th October

I’ve read and enjoyed stories by so many of the 13 authors in this book, so I’m really looking forward to this collection which sounds perfect in the run-up to Christmas!

Sleuthing through the snow, on a merry mysterious day, in disguise we go, investigating all the way . . . This gorgeous Christmas hardback gift of a collection brings together thirteen of the bestselling, award-winning and exciting debut authors: Abiola Bello, Annabelle Sami, Benjamin Dean, E.L. Norry, Elle McNicoll, Dominique Valente, Joanna Williams, Maisie Chan, Nizrana Farook, Patrice Lawrence, Roopa Farooki, Serena Patel and Sharna Jackson. Join them as part of the Very Merry Murder Club as they lead you on a snow-covered wintery journey of Christmassy crimes, festive foul play and murderously magnificent mysteries!

This is written by a debut author and is one I am very excited to read as it sounds like exactly the type of magical wintery story I will enjoy.

When Bela’s mother dies, she is summoned to deepest Siberia to stay with an uncle she’s never met. Exploring his strange scientific workshop, she uncovers a secret she was never meant to find – a doorway that opens an to icy land, frozen in time and full of legends come to life. But this frozen land is in danger, and it’s up to Bela to find a way to save it. To succeed, she must join forces with the impossible: a long-lost sister she never knew she had, born 40,000 years before . . .

I haven’t yet read any of this author’s books although I do have A Most Magical Girl on my bookcase. I can’t resist a book with a dragon, and this sounds like it will be a beautiful read.

Pip never wants to be at home nowadays. There’s no laughter anymore and her mum isn’t happy. She spends most of her time alone, daydreaming and digging for treasure by the dirty creek. But one night, Pip finds something incredible – a dragon. Tiny, possibly dying, but definitely a dragon. She quickly realises that dragons don’t come with instructions: what do you feed a dragon? Where could it have come from? And how can Pip cope with the enormous changes this creature will bring into her life? Full of enchanting magic and poignant truths, Dragon Skin is a moving story of friendship, family and finding a way to fly.

As well as dragons, I can’t resist book with witches! I’ve been lucky enough to have been sent an early copy of this one by the publisher, and am really looking forward to reading it soon.

In 1771, Robert Burns, future national poet and folk hero of Scotland, has big problems. 12-year-old Rab spends all of his time doing backbreaking work on his family’s farm instead of attending school, but when he finds a hag stone in one of the fields, everything changes.
Looking through its circular hole, he sees witches gathering in a coming storm, and they’ve set their sights on his family. Can Rab save his sisters from the clutches of the witches’ coven before their Halloween ceremony in the old kirk?

October is going to be a wonderful month for middle-grade releases! Do any of these pique your interest?

MG Takes on Thursday

This is my weekly meme celebrating amazing middle-grade books, now with a re-vamped banner!

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 M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman
Illustrated by Elisa Paganelli
Published by Macmillan Children’s Books

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

‘What do you think about the Kratzenstein curse?’

This book in three words:

MYSTERY, TRAINS, ADVENTURE

Hal and his Uncle Nat are back for their fourth sleuthing adventure in Danger at Dead Man’s Pass.  This is a wonderfully exhilarating addition to the brilliant Adventures on Train series which kept me gripped from start to finish.

Hal and his Uncle Nat receive a letter from an old friend who wants their help to investigate a death in the family, a death that some believe could be linked to a family curse.  They find themselves aboard the Eurostar to Paris to meet the sender of the letter, Baron Essenbach, who asks them to go undercover as distant relatives of the rich, railway owners, the Kratzenstein family in order to uncover the truth about the unexpected death of Alexander Kratzenstein.

Taking the overnight train to Berlin, they meet their ‘family’ and travel with them to Schloss Kratzenstein, a huge manor nestled at the foot of the Harz mountains, aboard the family train in order to attend the funeral which is due to take place in the family mausoleum at the peak of the Brocken Mountain.

So begins an action-packed, intriguing adventure as Hal, together with some new friends, investigate the truth behind the death of Alexander Kratzenstein at Dead Man’s Pass.  Did he die of natural causes, was his death caused by an old supernatural curse, or is there another more recent reason for his untimely demise?  I LOVE the way Hal still manages to use his well-honed drawing skills to gather and analyse evidenceto help him solve the mystery even though he doesn’t have his sketchbook this time in order to maintain his disguise.  Hal finds himself following a trail of evidence leading to suspects, misdirection, clues and unexpected revelations.  Will he be able to uncover the truth behind the death before more misfortune strikes the family?

I loved the setting of Schloss Kratzenstein with its tower, indoor miniature railway and own railway station outside with old steam engines.  Having a meal delivered by a miniature train venturing around the table sounds wonderful, and drinking hot chocolate in a tower room with a snowy mountain view sounds idyllic! I also loved the historical and folklore references in the story and how these linked together to build tension within the mystery.

Hal is an incredibly likeable character who quickly develops friendships with others.  He is clever, inquisitive and determined, but he also enjoys having fun with his new friends, Herman, Ozan and Hilda who help him with his investigation, albeit unaware that they are in the company of the young train detective who is becoming well-known.  Hal and Nat also work more independently of each other for reasons I will refrain from mentioning for fear of any spoilers, but I will say that I love how the strands come together in this incredibly intriguing, suspenseful mystery.

The detailed illustrations which are scattered throughout the story are absolutely stunning and perfectly evoke the atmosphere and setting for this adventure.  I really appreciated the floorplan of Schloss Kratzenstein, and the inclusion of the names of the guests and family when they are sitting down for dinner!

I was definitely all aboard for this incredibly clever mystery which utterly engrossed me and kept me guessing until the end, and I can’t wait to get on board again for the next adventure! 

Thank you to Antonia and the Publisher, Macmillan Children’s Books, for an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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 started listening to The Week at World’s End on audio this week, and am really enjoying it, and am definitely looking forward to finding out what happens. I’ve also started reading WishYouWas which is just gorgeous!

I’ve finished Keeper of Secrets which is a wonderful story of the connection between a young girl, Emily and a lynx kitten Lotta both of whom are dealing with loss. It also deals with the issue of re-wilding. I am hoping to post my review at the start of next week.

I’m hoping to read The Book of Stolen Dreams next.

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

Review: How Not to be a Vampire Slayer

How Not to be a Vampire Slayer is a delightfully charming and heart-warming adventure, perfect for readers of 9+ who are sure to adore this enchanting, humorous tale of friendship between a vegetarian vampire and a new girl in town!

Eleven-year-old Maggie Helsby has moved into Skeleton Lodge with her Mum and Dad, a spooky, old house surrounded by woods which the family have inherited from her Dad’s uncle Bram who had a penchant for garlic (if you know, you know!).  She is fascinated by scary stories, so is immediately interested in the folklore associated with the woods … which is just as well as the family are being watched by a cloaked figure …

On her first day at Goreway School, Maggie meets best friends Ari and Miles, who immediately befriend her, and tell her that there are stories of monsters and vampires living in an abandoned castle in the woods, but there is a town rule that no one is allowed into the woods …. 

Maggie is not put off by a little rule-breaking, so is determined to visit the woods, ideally with her two new friends, to discover if there is any truth to the stories.  However, when they get to the woods, something frightens Ari and Miles, so Maggie finds herself alone …

Deciding to explore further on her own, she discovers a ruined castle and, upon entering it, meets a girl with silver hair, blood-red eyes, a black cloak – and fangs!  This first encounter between human and vampire is simply wonderful and sets the gorgeously warm and fun tone for the story, as Sharptooth, the beetroot-juice drinking vegetarian vampire, helps her escape from the other vampires.

So begins an exciting, action-packed adventure with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments as Maggie’s friendship with Sharptooth blossoms.  Will Maggie and her friends be able to protect Sharptooth and the other vampires from a pompous town Mayor who is determined to tear down the forest for his own ends?  Can Maggie ever really become friends with a vampire when she has been named as the latest Helsby slayer?

This is such a feel-good story that I was left feeling that I was cuddled in a blanket of warmth as I read it, sighing with contentment and giggling as I followed the adventures of this wonderful group of friends.  The friends are all different, yet have the most wonderful camaraderie and supportive friendship.  Ari and Miles seem like chalk and cheese with Ari being much more mischievous and a brilliant artist whilst Miles is more serious and easily scared.  I really loved that they accepted Maggie so readily, especially as she is wary of making friends in her new school, having had bad experiences in her previous school.  She feels she can be herself with them from the start.  And what can I say about Sharptooth:  one of my favourite characters ever!  She is so full of joie de vivre:  friendly, curious, kind-hearted, funny – and she loves reading!  Oh, and did I mention that she has the most adorable bat, Bat-Ears? 

This is a gloriously fangtastic treasure of a story which is perfect for those who like their spooky stories with rather more of the rib-tickling moments than the shiver-down-the-spine moments.  An absolute delight from start to finish!

Thank you to Harriet & Scholastic for an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

WWW Wednesday

I’m currently reading Keeper of Secrets as my evening read whilst on our Year 6 residential. I’m really enjoying this so far.

I’ve finished reading Danger at Dead Man’s Pass which is another brilliant mystery in the Adventures on Trains series.

I’m hoping to read ‘Wish you Was’ next which sounds just magical!

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!

Steady drifts of rain blew in from the sea against roof tiles and window panes, rainwater trickled inside drainpipes and from somewhere in the sleeping city came the howl of a dog. The dog was crying to be let in. The shadow stopped and listened.

Any ideas?

The prologue for this one has definitely intrigued me, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Waterstones synopsis:

In a dangerous land enslaved by the cruel Regent, where the Dreamers have the magical power to turn dreams into reality, Toby meets Tamurlaine, a strange girl who has lost her memory. To uncover the mystery of her identity and get Toby back home, the pair must go on a thrilling journey to the heart of the kingdom, the castle of the Regent. A haunting piece of Gothic magical realism.

MG Takes on Thursday

This is my weekly meme celebrating amazing middle-grade books. This week I’ve decided to revamp the banner to include the book I’m celebrating.

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 Phil Hickes
Illustration by Keith Robinson
Published by Usborne

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

As Aveline stared, the girl paused, then shot a look in her direction, a glint of a smirk flashing across her dark features.

This book in three words:

SPOOKY, FRIENDSHIP, WITCHY

Aveline Jones is back for another superbly spine-tingling adventure in The Bewitching of Aveline Jones, a spookily witchy tale that is a perfect autumnal reading treat.

Aveline Jones is on a late summer holiday with her Mum, staying in a remote rundown cottage in the village of Norton Wick.  With her natural curiosity relating to all things supernatural, she is keen to visit the ancient stone circle, known as The Witch Stones, close to the cottage, and learn more about their history. 

It is not long before she meets Hazel Browne, a cool, confident and friendly girl who is keen to become Aveline’s friend and introduce her to the magic of the stones which she seems to know a lot about.  Although Aveline is wary, she is also fascinated by her mysterious new friend, a friend who may not always be telling Aveline the whole truth …

Aveline’s friend Harold, who we met in The Haunting of Aveline Jones, comes to visit and brings with him some books Aveline has asked for, books that might reveal more about the Stones, the mysterious bottle that Aveline has found buried in her garden, and even her new friend, but will these revelations come too late to protect the friends?

This is a thrilling, dark mystery, laden with suspense, a brilliantly evoked eerie atmosphere, and deliciously sinister moments that sent a shiver down my spine.  There is a constant sense that things are not quite as they may seem in Norton Wick, and that danger may never be far away.  The past has a way of invading the present, but will Aveline and Harold discover the truth of someone’s past before it is too late?

Aveline is just as wonderful as I remember her from her first adventure.   Even though she is spellbound by Hazel, her natural instincts warn her to be wary, to question and to investigate, just as I would expect from this strong, curious and determined girl. 

The cover and inside illustrations by Keith Robinson are stunning and complement the spooky atmosphere of this story perfectly.

This is a wonderfully spooky middle-grade read that is perfect for readers of 9+ and is one I cannot recommend highly enough.

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

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 reading Danger at Dead Man’s Pass which I’m really looking forward to as I’ve loved the first three books in the Adventure on Trains series. I’m also going to start listening to The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow on my way to and from work.

I’ve finished listening to Never and Forever which is a brilliant end to the series – and I found out who the narrator was! I’ve also read The Bewitching of Aveline Jones which is another brilliantly spooky adventure. I will post my review in the next day or so. Even though I’m not very good at reading in the evening when I’m at work, I couldn’t put How Not to be a Vampire down – it is such a gorgeous story, full of heart and humour and I absolutely adored Sharptooth – definitely a new favourite character. I aim to write my review this weekend.

I’m hoping to read Keeper of Secrets next although I’m on a residential with Year 6 next week, so not sure how much reading I’ll get done!

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

Review: Diary of an Accidental Witch

Diary of an Accidental Witch is a gorgeously charming, magical adventure that sparkles with humour, warmth and friendship that completely captivated me.

Bea Black has moved to Little Spellshire where her weather scientist Dad intends to write a book about its unusual climate.  She soon makes a new friend, Ashkan, who gives her cake and offers to show her around her new school, Spellshire Academy.  A promising start!  BUT things don’t quite go to plan for Bea when she discovers that her Dad has accidentally enrolled her in The School of Extraordinary Arts instead.  It’s a school for witches which would not be a problem except that Bea isn’t aware of any hidden witchy powers!  She is given her own wand, a frog called Stan to look after and sent to levitation class – what could possibly go wrong?

This is written in the style of Bea’s diary, giving a wonderfully heartfelt and witty insight into her life as she navigates some rather unusual lessons, learns to ride a broomstick and finds herself on the Committee for the upcoming Halloween Ball.  Will she be able to keep her school life a secret from her Dad and Ashkan?   Will she find friends in this magical school, or is she destined to spend her time hiding in the broom cupboard?

Bea is an incredibly likeable young girl who is coping with some of the usual worries about settling in to secondary school like whether she will fit in or make friends which is sure to offer support to young readers feeling the same whether they are going to another school or starting in a new class.  Bea also shows a great deal of resilience as she works hard to practice her witch skills, sometimes with unexpected consequences. 

I loved the diary-entry style of this story which will appeal to lots of young readers with its use of bold and capital letters, crossing outs, lists and footnotes.  The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and complement the humour and charm of this story perfectly.

This is a wonderfully warm-hearted, fun-filled story that is sure to enchant young readers of 7+.

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