WWW Wednesday

I’m almost finished Legends and Lattes and have really enjoyed this. I love that Viv’s visit to a goblin coffee shop has led to her fulfilling her own dream. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything works out perfectly for her. I’m about three quarters of the way through listening to the audiobook of Ghostlight which is just incredible. This is brilliantly scary and tense. Just as I thought things might work out ok for Gabe and his friends, the plot took an unexpected twist and now I don’t know if they’ll all be ok, so not sure what to expect, but am desperate to find out. I’ve just started Away with Words which is so different to anything I’ve read before, but I think it’s one I’m going to enjoy, and learn from!

I read Emba Oak and the Beckoning Bones which is the second in this wonderfully heart-warming and humorous adventure: I have posted my review. I also read My Name is Sunshine which I absolutely loved. It brought smiles and tears. I am currently writing my review. I also read The Kingdom Over the Sea which was exactly the kind of adventure I enjoy. I really liked the fantasy element with sorcerers and alchemists and loved the elemental magic, but I also enjoyed the underlying themes rooted in the modern world. I have almost finished my review! Finally, I devoured Small Bites Back and loved being back with Harvey and his giant friend, Walloping Toenail as they try to save their friends from a never-ending contract performing in the Unspeakable Circus, not to mention the school being over run with zombie lions. This is a joy of a story: playful, genuinely funny with gorgeous friendships. I will be posting my review as part of the upcoming Blog Tour later this month.

I’ve had a proof of this on my TBR for a while now, and it’s one I’ve really been looking forward to, so I’m aiming to get to it over the weekend!

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

April Wrap-Up

This feels like it has been a good reading month. I’ve had the Easter holidays which meant more physical copies read, but less audiobooks as I only listen to them when driving to and from work.

Books I’ve read:

I’ve read 20 books this month (I think this is the most I’ve read in a month!): 16 physical, 3 e-books and 1 audiobook. I’ve also read another 5 books from my Beat the Backlist Challenge (33 left!):

Books sent by publishers:

I am grateful to have been sent 6 books by Publishers this month.


My feedback ratio is at 97%. In April, I requested and was approved to read three books. I have already read two of them: Jodie and The Silver Road.

Books bought:

This has been a quiet buying month for me: I’ve only bought 6 books!

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

Review: Emba Oak and the Beckoning Bones

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

Emba Oak and the Beckoning Bones is the second thrilling, action-packed adventure in this fantastic series which starts with Emba Oak and the Terrible Tomorrows.   

Rather than being able to rest after their long journey home – from defeating the evil sorcerer Necromalcolm – Emba, Odolf and Fred discover that there are intruders, and a red crack has appeared in the sky:  a warning that danger is not far away.  When they enter the cave, they discover that their home has been wrecked, but luckily the Tome of Terrible Tomorrows has not been taken.  Worried that intruders in their home means that the threat from Necromalcolm has not gone, they decide to consult the Tome for a helpful prophecy.  It rather cryptically points them towards the legend of a hidden crypt holding lost treasure in the Petrified Peaks …

And so begins another fast-paced, exciting adventure as the trio find themselves on a quest to find the missing treasure, a quest that takes them to both scary and friendly places, but where trouble is never far away.   As if facing the dangers presented by these places wasn’t enough, they fear that they are being followed.  Could Necromalcolm’s henchmen be on their trail?  Will they reach the Petrified Peaks safely and, if so, what awaits them there?  And why are Emba’s dreams being haunted by beckoning dragon bones – do they mean harm or help?

I loved the twists and turns as the trio ventured into danger and discoveries with an ending that has made me desperate to find out what happens next.  There are so many brilliant locations visited which are all so aptly named from the Screeching Swamp to the Stone Circle of Certain Doom to the Pretty Pond of Peace and Pleasantness.  There are also some really rather terrifying creatures and some not-quite-so-terrifying creatures, especially a certain buzzing wasp-snake with a penchant for lizards.  I also really enjoyed the camaraderie and humour between Emba, Odolf and Fred and loved how familiar their relationships felt to me which made this such a delight of a story, and is one of the reasons I love books in series.

I absolutely loved following this daring, loyal and courageous trio who might not always agree, but who always look out for each other.  I adored the loving relationship between Fred and Emba with Fred always being quick to reassure Emba when she questions herself.  Odolf is a wonderfully loyal and supportive friend who is not scared to share his suspicions with Emba, even when this causes issues in their friendship.  Emba is an incredibly sympathetic young girl who is facing both emotional and physical changes which she doesn’t fully understand.  She fights to control the dragon fury which burns within her, a fury which can both cause harm and protect.  Emba knows she is different and, when she meets another who readily accepts, and even seems to admire, her differences, she is keen to develop a new friendship, despite her friend’s apprehension.    

An absolutely fantastic, fast-paced adventure, brimming with humour, heart and friendship, sure to captivate young readers of 9+. 

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

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!

Rebecca Strand was sixteen the first time she saw her father kill a ghost. She was woken by a hand on her shoulder, and opened her eyes to Papa’s face, flickering in the glow of his lantern. He held out her shawl and said, “Get up. I need your help.”

Any ideas?

This is my current audiobook, and I’m absolutely engrossed.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Rebecca Strand was just sixteen when she and her father fell to their deaths from the top of the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse in 1839. Just how they fell—or were they pushed?—remains a mystery. And their ghosts haunt the lighthouse to this day. . . . Gabe tells this story every day when he gives the ghost tour on Toronto Island. He tries to make it scary enough to satisfy the tourists, but he doesn’t actually believe in ghosts—until he finds himself face to face with Rebecca Strand. The true story of her death is far more terrifying than any ghost tale Gabe has told. Rebecca reveals that her father was a member of the Order, a secret society devoted to protecting the world from “the wakeful and wicked dead”—malevolent spirits like Viker, the ghost responsible for their deaths. But the Order has disappeared, and Viker’s ghost is growing ever stronger. Now Gabe and his friends must find a way to stop Viker before they all become lost souls. . . .

Blog Tour: The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei

Written by  Christina Matula
Illustrations by Yao Xiao
Published by Inkyard Press

The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei is a wonderfully warm-hearted, gently humorous story of navigating friendships, of self-discovery and of finding your way in a new place. 

12-year-old Holly-Mei is attending summer camp, but she has been rejected by her friends after her keen sense of fairness gets her blamed not only for the cancellation of their end-of-year pizza party, but also for losing them the field hockey game.  When her parents tell her that the family are moving to Hong Kong as her mother has got a promotion, she is at first reluctant to leave her friends, despite their falling out.  However, the more she learns about the move, the more excited she becomes, confident that a fresh start will easily lead to new friends.  Her only regret is leaving her beloved Ah-ma behind in Toronto.

But will making new friends come as easily to Holly-Mei as she expects them to, or will her tendency to speak without thinking, lead to friction?  Will she find settling into a new life in Hong Kong easy, or will she have a lot to learn about new expectations and rules?  And, how will she cope when one member of her new friendship group makes it obvious that she doesn’t want her in the group? 

Holly-Mei is an incredibly likeable young girl, and I loved joining her on her path to forming new friendships, fitting in to her new private school and exploring the sights and foods of Hong Kong as she learns more about her heritage and culture.  I really admired how she stands up for herself; how she deals with the pressures and expectations that are unwittingly put upon her by others; and, how she is determined to help heal a broken friendship with her group whilst coming to realise the importance of old friendships alongside new ones.  I loved her optimism, her kindness and her consideration for others. 

I really enjoyed this own voices story and learnt so much from it as Taiwanese-British, Holly-Mei, adjusts to life in Hong Kong – a life amongst the wealthy and elite which brings pressures, opportunities and rewards.  I love the ‘realness’ of this story:  the day-to-day life of hanging out with friends, going to school, exploring the local area, overcoming difficulties and adjusting as a family to a new life away from the familiar. 

This is a gorgeously heart-warming story of navigating friendships, self-discovery and finding your place, perfect for readers of 9+.

Thank you to Tatti for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour, and for providing me with a copy of The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei in exchange for my honest opinion.

Do check out the other stops on the Tour:

WWW Wednesday

I’m still reading Legends and Lattes as my evening read and I’m so enjoying it – definitely fits the cosy vibes. I’m listening to Ghostlight which is brilliant – so spooky with wonderful characters.

I’ve read The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei which is a wonderfully warm-hearted story of a young Taiwanese-British girl moving from Toronto to Hong Kong. I really enjoyed this one, and will be posting my review on Friday. I also read a brilliant non-fiction book, The Greatest Show on Earth and have posted my review.

I’m going to aim to get two books read by next Wednesday as there is a bank holiday weekend!

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

Review: Jodie written by Hilary McKay and illustrated by Keith Robinson

Published by Barrington Stoke on 18th May 2023

Jodie is a spine-tinglingly haunting and eerie ghost story that kept me enthralled throughout.  Utterly compelling, and so beautifully written.

Jodie is on a residential trip to a field centre with others from her school, but she does not want to be there.  She has been through a lot, and is a loner at school, so spending time with others on the residential is the last thing she wants.  Against the rules, she goes out alone to find a little dog who has been constantly barking and finds herself trapped in an old pickup truck which has been stuck in the cold, thick mud of the saltmarsh – and the tide is coming in!  Will anyone hear her screams?

The story then goes back in time to Jodie’s arrival at the field centre and shares how she has found herself in her current situation.  What has led to her running from the centre?  Can she find a way to save herself, and free both herself and a trapped soul?

This is not only a hauntingly poignant ghost story, but also the story of a young girl struggling to find her voice again after so much difficult change in her life including her brother being sent to prison, losing her home, and having to move to a place where she does not know anyone.  She feels like she doesn’t belong and seeks places where she can be on her own, away from having to interact with others.  Can she find her voice – and friendship- with the girls she has to share a room with?  I really liked the friendships between the other girls which felt natural and real, and was really hoping that Josie would open herself to the possibility of finding friendship with them.

The structure of this story, with its use of different timelines, really drew me in, and I loved the slow reveal of clues, the building of tension and the revelations which really added to the haunting atmosphere. 

The illustrations are absolutely stunning, and complement the haunting, isolated atmosphere of this novella perfectly.  The images of Josie are heart-breaking and really show her loneliness and pain, her feeling of being apart from others.  This contrasts with the joy and closeness shown in the illustrations of the friends she is sharing a room with.  And the final illustration – just perfect!

Jodie is a masterfully written ghost story that is both poignant and hopeful, a story of finding your voice … a powerful and stunning read for 9+.

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

Picture Book Review: The Greatest Show on Earth written and illustrated by Mini Grey

Roll up!  Roll up!  The Greatest Show on Earth is about to begin … and what an extravaganza it is!  The performance takes place in the Shoebox Theatre and is hosted by Rod the Roach and his troupe of incredible insects as they share the story of Life on Earth from 4.6 billion years ago …

Meet a young Earth finding just the right conditions to support life; learn about the evolution of life on Earth in all its awe and wonder from microbes and fish in the seas to plant and animal life on land including the era of dinosaurs and the first appearance of people; and, look to the future of what’s in store for Planet Earth.

This is a fantastically engaging non-fiction text for curious young minds which is both wonderfully entertaining and brilliantly informative.  I loved the appealing layout, set out as a theatre.  Each double-page spread has the Main Stage with lots of bright and expressive illustrations with interactions from the insect narrators and a conversational, humorous writing style. In the Wings, there is more detailed information which I found absolutely fascinating.  Along the bottom of each page, in the Orchestra Pit, is a Tape Measure of Time which provides a pictorial and written timeline of key events in Earth’s evolution.

I think this is a book that will appeal to both younger and older children in primary schools who, I have no doubt, will enjoy learning and sharing so many engaging facts.  I definitely intend to use it when I am introducing our Evolution topic in science.  I love how this gorgeous book gives a wealth of fascinating facts about the evolution of life on Earth in such a creative, imaginative and fun-filled way.  It is one I would highly recommend to any primary school.

Thank you to Puffin Books for a copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Blog Tour: The Rescue of Ravenwood

Written by  Natasha Farrant
Cover Illustration by David Dean
Published by Faber & Faber

It’s my turn on the Celebrating #EarthDay Blog Tour with the wonderful The Rescue of Ravenwood. Thank you to Bethany Carter and Faber Children’s Books for an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Rescue of Ravenwood is just sublime storytelling:  an incredibly special story that weaves together nature, home, family and friendship, keeping me utterly captivated throughout. 

Bea and Raffy share a deep-seated love for the special place that they found as young babies.  Bea arrived first with her father and, when he left, she stayed with her uncle Leo.  When Raffy’s mum was looking for somewhere to live, Leo offered to let them stay at Ravenwood.  Eleven years later, and both adults and children have grown into a close family unit with a heartfelt love for their idyllic, sprawling home, surrounded by ancient trees and close to the sea. 

Bea is expecting a visit from her parents, with whom she has a rather fractured relationship, and is disappointed when they change their minds.  Her hurt causes her to uncharacteristically lash out at Noa, a young girl who has been invited to stay with them for the summer as her mother has gone abroad.  Whilst Raffy loves Bea, he can see that she has been unkind to Noa and offers his friendship. 

When Bea’s dark mood lifts and she sees Noa’s appreciation for nature, she finds herself offering to show her something very special:  Yggdrasil, an ancient ash tree, perfect for climbing.  The children envisage a wonderful summer spreading out before them where they can build a tree house in the branches of Yggdrasil, where they can hope to see more seals when they swim in the cove, and where they can hang out in Skidbladnir, their Viking ship. 

But changes are coming, and the children are in danger of losing their precious Ravenwood.  Can they work together to save it when others are conspiring to separate them from each other? Do they have the strength and courage to fight for their home when another is equally determined to take it from them?

This is such a thrilling and deeply satisfying adventure, and one that kept me eagerly turning the pages, completely invested in the children’s mission to save Ravenwood as they faced dangers, manipulations, separation and loss.  I can totally understand their affinity with Ravenwood and their determination to save it, no matter the risks they had to take.  This wonderful home has endured through many, many years; it has changed and witnessed much; and, along with the natural environment surrounding it, offers comfort and joy to those who live there. 

Bea, Raffy and Noa are incredibly sympathetic characters.  They unite in their love for Ravenwood, in their pleasure at enjoying the simpler things in life when other parts of their lives are more complicated and cause pain.  They have a real connectedness with nature that brings them together, a connection that sees them work together to try to save the place that means so much to each of them.

This is a truly fantastic adventure:  exciting, heartfelt and empowering with family, friendship and the importance of nature at its heart.  A definite must-read and one I cannot recommend highly enough!

Do check out the other stops on the Blog Tour to read more about this fantastic book from these wonderful bloggers.

WWW Wednesday

I’m currently reading Legends and Lattes as it’s been a while since I’ve picked up a book not aimed at children, and this one was a Christmas present! I’m really enjoying it.

I finished reading Wendington Jones and the Missing Tree which I really liked – I’ve posted my review. I also finished The Sky Over Rebecca which was a really wonderful timeslip story with a difference. It was both heart-warming and heart-breaking as Rebecca’s situation, and that of her little brother, is so poignant. As soon as I saw that The Silver Road was available to request on NetGalley, I had to request and read as soon as my request was granted. I adored this story – and have posted my review. I also read Jodie which is an eerie, beautifully told, ghost story with the most gorgeous illustrations. I will be posting my review shortly.

I didn’t get to this last week, so I’m going to try to get to it this weekend.

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