April Wrap-Up

This has been a better month for reading, helped greatly by the two week Easter break, but I’m finding it very difficult to read in the evenings as I’m just too tired after a day at work! I’m hoping that May will be the first month since January that I don’t have to do online and class teaching simultaneously! Most of my reading and reviewing now happens at the weekends. I have really been enjoying some online reading events this month. I attended our school library Reading Cafe to chat about books, and also attended a couple of Book Launches, one for The Incredible Record Smashers by Jenny Pearson and the other for The Chessmen Thief by Barbara Henderson.

Books I’ve read:

I’ve read 15 books this month: 12 physical copies and audiobooks. I posted reviews for The House of One Hundred Clocks, The Strangeworlds Travel Agency: The Edge of the Ocean, Dragon Legend and The Incredible Record Smashers.

NetGalley:

My Feedback Ratio is currently at 91%. I have only requested one book this month which I couldn’t resist as I absolutely loved The Wild Way Home and I think this one has a familiar character from that book, although now older.

Books sent by publishers:

I have been lucky enough to have been sent these books by publishers this month:

Books I’ve bought:

I have bought books this month. I’m waiting for my pre-order of Otherland to arrive, but I’ve included it as I bought it in April!

How has your month been? Have you read any of these?

June anticipated releases …

There are LOTS of books due for release in June which I am really looking forward to reading. I’ve taken the synopsis for each of these from the Waterstones website, (apart for Danny Chung does not do maths which is from Amazon) and hope that other fans of children’s books will be interested in reading some of these too. I have read and loved books by many of these authors, and have also included a few new-to-me and debut authors whose books have definitely caught my interest.

Release Date: 3rd June

Publisher: Walker Books

Can a birdwatcher outwit an escaped convict? Twitch has three pet chickens, four pigeons, swallows nesting in his bedroom and a passion for birdwatching. On the first day of the summer holidays, he arrives at his secret hide to find police everywhere: a convicted robber has broken out of prison and is hiding in Aves Wood. Can Twitch use his talents for birdwatching to hunt for the dangerous prisoner and find the missing loot?

Publisher: Scholastic

 A hilarious, swashbuckling adventure for siblings everywhere! George isn’t good at anything much. In fact, he’s pretty average. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have BIG ambitions, they are just harder to achieve when your big sister, Jess, is brilliant at everything! Then George inherits a mansion from dear old Mrs Smallbone. Except Hogweed Hall isn’t your average mansion. It’s BRILLIANT, and full of fascinating tenants like Boris the dog, an unusual pastry chef who lives in the basement, a mysterious scientist who works in the attic, and lots and lots of chickens! But Mrs Smallbone’s sisters aren’t at all happy about the situation, and invite themselves to stay. They’re after something, and don’t intend to leave without it. Can George stop them before it’s too late? 

Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd 

It’s 1940, and Joseph has been packed off to stay with Mrs F, a gruff woman with no great fondness for children. To Joseph’s amazement, she owns the rundown city zoo where Joseph meets Adonis, a huge silverback gorilla. Adonis is ferociously strong and dangerous, but Joseph finds he has an affinity with the lonely beast. But when the bombs begin to fall, it is up to Joseph to guard Adonis’s cage should it be damaged by a blast. Will Joseph be ready to pull the trigger if it comes to it?

Publisher: Pushkin Children’s Books 

Mim grew up surrounded by secrets. On the day she was born, her mother died and a mysterious curse was cast on her family. Ever since, she’s been isolated in a walled castle, forbidden from venturing to the Outside. But Mim has never been able to stop asking questions – and when her father enlists the suspicious Madame Marionette to train her in the art of being a princess, her curiosity only gets more intense. Determined to understand, Mim sets out on an epic adventure in which she will break all the rules, encounter strange creatures and use all her cunning to solve impossible problems. But will it be enough to bring happiness back to the lonely castle on the rock?

Publisher: Nosy Crow

When Isobel Petty is orphaned, she finds herself being taken away from her home in India and sent to live with a distant uncle in England. On board the S.S. Mariana, she witnesses a shocking act – somebody being thrown overboard in the middle in the night. But when the ship’s captain insists that nobody is missing, Isobel and her two new reluctant friends must solve two mysteries – the identities of both the murderer and the victim – before they reach England and the culprit has the chance to escape.

Publisher: Nosy Crow

The funny, heart-warming sequel to the acclaimed We Won an Island.When Luna’s family won an island, their dreams came true – Luna opened a donkey sanctuary, her sister flew a plane, and her brother won a sheep pageant. But Luna’s new donkey has a mortal fear of beaches, her mum’s goat-yoga business is on the rocks, and her brother is weirder than ever! Luna’s got a brilliant plan to solve her family’s problems – it’s time to enter the movie-making business… 

Publisher: Barrington Stoke

Anna’s anxious when she’s picked to befriend the new girl in her class. For a start, Ellie is ill and can’t come to school herself. So Anna has to communicate with her through a new kind of robot. But Anna is also worried that her life’s too small and boring to be of interest to her new friend. Compared to the other girls, she doesn’t have anything exciting to talk about and so when Ellie asks her a question, a little white lie pops out. Then another and another. When Ellie finds out the truth, can their friendship survive …?

Publisher: Cranachan Publishing Limited 

12-year-old Lili is determined to defeat her arch rival in front of the Queen during her school’s anniversary celebrations. Adopted from China as a baby, Lili also has personal challenges to overcome, but when her training is thrown into chaos by events outside her control, she realises that she must choose between family and the race of her life. Meanwhile in 1944, Eric Liddell, hero of the 1924 Olympics, finds himself in a war zone. Separated from his family, he is getting ready to run his final race in a prison camp in China when his lifelong principles are challenged by the imprisoned children he is trying to help…

Publisher: Chicken House Ltd 

In a remote Nigerian village, twelve-year-old Simi is desperate to uncover a family secret … City girl Simi is sent to stay with her long-lost grandmother in a remote Nigerian village. There’s no TV, internet or phone. Not a single human-made sound can be heard at night, just the noise of birds and animals rustling in the dark forest outside. Her witchlike grandmother dispenses advice and herbal medicine to the village, but she’s tight lipped about their family history. Something must have happened, but what? Determined to find out, Simi disobeys her grandmother and goes exploring. Caught in the sinking red quicksand of a forbidden lake, her fantastical journey begins …

Publisher: Scholastic 

Caroline Murphy is a Hurricane Child. Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and 12-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She’s hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won’t stop following her, and – worst of all – Caroline’s mother left home one day and never came back. But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline’s luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline’s first and only friend — and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush. Now, Caroline must find the strength to confront her feelings for Kalinda, brave the spirit stalking her through the islands, and face the reason her mother abandoned her. Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline’s missing mother — before Caroline loses her for ever.

Release Date: 10th June

Publisher: Little Tiger

The circus has seen better days, but for Bastjan it’s home. He will do anything he can to save it, even if it means participating in a death-defying new act. But when that fails to draw in the crowds, the ringmaster makes a deal with a mysterious man by the name of Dr Bauer.
In exchange for his help, Bauer wants a box that belonged to Bastjan’s mother and came from her birthplace – the faraway island of Melita. Bastjan is desperate to keep his only memento of his mother out of Bauer’s hands. And as he uncovers more about the strange objects contained within, he realizes it’s not only the circus that’s in terrible danger…

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd 

Where the map ends, the adventure begins . . . 11-year-old Zebedee Bolt is on the run. Again. Only this time it’s not the police who find him. It’s an evil harpy called Morg. And when she hauls him into Crackledawn, an Unmapped kingdom that conjures sunlight for our world, Zeb discovers running away only gets you so far. When magic’s involved, you’ve got to pick a side. And though Zeb vowed he wouldn’t trust anyone ever again, he didn’t expect to stumble aboard The Kerfuffle, an enchanted boat belonging to a girl called Oonie and her talking chameleon, Mrs Fickletint. Suddenly, Zeb finds himself on a voyage complete with silver whales, fire krakens and underwater palaces. Can he muster up enough trust in others, and in magic, to summon a dragon, find the Ember Scroll and defeat Morg once and for all?

Publisher: Pan Macmillan 

Twins Jess and Jude Carter live a dream life sailing from one exotic destination to the next with their guardian, Gabriel. But after Gabe vanishes and a storm smashes up their lives, they’re left penniless and alone. When a wealthy, glamorous family offer them a home, everybody tells them they’re the luckiest children in the world. But the Blakeneys’ stately mansion is full of secrets – secrets that seem entangled with the twins’ own fate. As they race to uncover the truth, Jess and Jude must confront their deepest fears. How do you solve a mystery when that mystery is you?

Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd 

Meet Myrtle Mathers and Sylvia Cartwright: two girls from different worlds bonded by a passion for fashion! They know that the perfect outfit can make dreams come true, and their dazzling designs are the talk of 1920s London… So when Agapantha Portland-Prince wants to escape her glamorous debutante ball for a life of adventure, it’s their magical talents she needs. But can the girls make all their secret dreams a reality, or will this be the most stylish scandal of the century? 

Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd 

Meixing Lim and her family have arrived in the New Land to begin a New Life. Everything is scary and different. Their ever-changing house is confusing and she finds it hard to understand the other children at school. Yet in her magical glasshouse, with a strange black-and-white cat, Meixing finds a place to dream. But then Meixing’s life comes crashing down in unimaginable ways. Only her two new and unexpected friends can help. By being brave together, they will learn how to make the stars shine brighter. 

Publisher: Piccadilly Press

Eleven-year-old Danny Chung loves drawing more than anything – certainly more than maths, which, according to his dad and everyone else, is what he is ‘supposed’ to be good at. He also loves having his own room where he can draw in peace, so his life is turned upside down when a surprise that he’s been promised turns out to be his little, wrinkly, ex-maths-champion grandmother from China. What’s worse, Nai Nai has to share his room, AND she takes the top bunk! Nai Nai can’t speak a word of English, which doesn’t make things easy for Danny when he is charged with looking after her during his school holidays. Babysitting Nai Nai is NOT what he wants to be doing! Before long though it becomes clear to Danny that there is more to Nai Nai than meets the eye, and that they have more in common that he thought possible …

Publisher: Zephyr Books

Meet Erin, her puppy Sausage and friends as they swap recipes and pots for clues and culprits and try to solve the mystery of why their cookery club is closing and save it for everyone. Skipton House Community Centre may look ramshackle, but it is soon at the heart of Erin’s life – especially the cooking club. When the building is suddenly threatened with closure, Erin and her new friends, Tanya, Frixos, and Sam, form The Cooking Club Detectives. Can they, and their four-legged assistant, Sausage, uncover who the mystery culprit is and save Skipton?

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group 

On the day Alex was born, crowds surrounded the hospital. On her first day of school, people spied from the gates. And recently, strangers came to watch her perform in her school play … as the llama. But why? Alex has always been a nobody. Then a mysterious boy named Jasper starts at school and he alone seems to know the answer. But before he can tell Alex, he disappears … into the year 2100. Can Alex brave traveling into the future to discover what’s happened to him and to unravel the secret of her own astonishing destiny … before time runs out?

June is going to be another bumper month for book purchases! Do any of these pique your interest?

MG Takes on Thursday

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

How to take part:

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

This week, I’m celebrating …

Written by Katie & Kevin Tsang
Illustration by Petur Atli Antonsson
Published by Simon & Schuster

This book in three words:

EPIC ADVENTURE, DRAGONS, FRIENDSHIP

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

[Spark’s hoard] contained living plants and fish, as well as stardust, which dragons believed all things were made of, making it more powerful than the other dragons’ hoards, as precious as they were to them.

Dragon Legend is the second book in the Dragon Realm series and follows on from the explosive ending of the first book, Dragon Mountain. This is a scintillating return to this world:  a gripping, fast-paced and exciting adventure that kept me captivated throughout. 

Billy Chan and his friends, Charlotte and Ling-Fei are determined to follow the terrifying, power-hungry Dragon of Death through time to the Dragon Realm in order to save their friend Dylan, who has been taken there after a betrayal by someone they thought they could trust.  They are also intent on defeating the fiendish Dragon of Death before she can unleash her reign of terror on the Human Realm.  Fortunately, they have their dragons with them with whom they have formed a unique and close bond.   After creating a portal that takes them to the same time period as Dylan and the Dragon of Death, they begin their epic quest …

And what an electrifying, action-packed adventure ensues, an adventure brimming with terrifying danger, incredible revelations and heart-pounding twists as the children and their dragons race to collect the eight magical pearls needed if they are to defeat the Dragon of Death and her followers.  Who will reach Dylan and his kidnapper first?  Can the Dragon of Death be stopped, or will her dark magic prove too powerful to be resisted, and impossible to defeat?

The world-building is fantastic as the children venture through the wonders and dangers of the Dragon Realm and the Human Realm, from the Frozen Wasteland where they meet terrifying giant worms to the imperial palaces of Ancient China.  The non-stop action, coupled with the tension, danger and sometimes scary moments, makes it compulsive reading that kept me on tenterhooks as I turned page after page.  THAT ENDING!  That’s all I’m saying except:  I NEED the next book now!

As with Dragon Mountain, I adored the heart bond between the dragons and the children.  They gain strength, comfort and courage through their friendship and bond.  The children and dragons form a formidable team as they resolve to use all their incredible talents and skills in their quest to defeat the Dragon of Death. The personalities of both dragons and children are wonderfully portrayed, and I especially liked the honesty that Billy shows as he battles with his conscience.

Dragon Legend is a perfect continuation of this exhilarating, action-packed adventure series.  Be prepared to be amazed, astounded and excitedly anticipating what happens next as this daring team attempt to save both Realms from a terrifying, relentless and powerful foe.  I REALLY can’t wait to read the next one.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher 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’ve just started this one which is written from a dual narrative. I will have more to say next week!

I finished listening to Anne of Green Gables on Borrowbox and immediately downloaded and listened to Anne of Avonlea afterwards. I have absolutely loved these which have such a sense of community and living life with its ups and downs. I really, really like Anne who is the most wonderful character. I am now totally invested in following this series. I will probably pick up a paperback of the next one – there are quite a few books in the series. I also read The Chessmen Thief which is a wonderfully fast-paced historical adventure with an incredibly sympathetic main character in Kylan who is a thrall who is desperate to escape and return to his home on the Scottish Isles. I will be posting a review and a guest post from the author next week.

I think I’m going to read Harklights next and listen to the audiobook of City of Ghosts.

What have you read this week? Have you read any of these?

First Lines Fridays

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!

‘Nothing’s going to happen, Bradley,” said old Deirdre Gavell to her stuffed squirrel. “Don’t be such a worrywart.” Bradley Cooper didn’t say a word. The clock had already struck seven, but tonight she had the funniest feeling – as though he didn’t want her to go. Which was nonsense. He was just a stuffed squirrel after all.

Any ideas?

The opening intrigued me, and I love the front cover so I bought this shortly after publication.

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Hattie visits her granny for the first time in years, she’s not sure what to expect. Granny has always been unusual. Now she’s gone missing without trace. Hattie is determined to find her. But in the strange little village where Granny lives, nothing is as it seems. Is magic real here? What is the shadowy place known as the Un Forest? And who is the mysterious girl in wooden armour? One thing is certain. An ancient evil is stirring in Brokewood-on-Tandle… and only Hattie can stand against it.

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Blog Tour: Jane Austen Investigates: The Abbey Mystery

Written by Julia Golding
Cover Illustration by Laura Tolton
Published by Lion Hudson on 23rd April

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a young Jane Austen is a formidable heroine, especially when armed with wit, determination and a faithful lapdog.  Sorry – I couldn’t resist!  I am a huge fan of Jane Austen’s works and still have very fond memories of reading them in my early teens, so I was very excited to hear that the lady herself was going to feature in her own series as a young investigator! 

I absolutely loved everything about The Abbey Mystery from the scintillating storytelling to the fascinating depiction of Georgian high society but, most of all, for the perfect portrayal of Jane herself:  more later!  This is a fast-paced, exciting mystery that completely captured me from the opening line (how could it not!) and took me on a fascinating journey into the past, a past filled with charm, intrigue and high society shenanigans! 

Thirteen-year-old Jane and her older sister, Cassandra find themselves – to the horror of their mother – in a carriage accident which has the somewhat unfortunate result for Jane that she must replace her sister as companion to Lady Cromwell at Southmoor Abbey as that family prepare to celebrate their son’s coming-of-age-party.  However, Jane soon finds herself with an intriguing mystery to solve … and a rather spooky one to boot.  Whilst the employees might believe that the old Abbey ruins are haunted by a ghostly monk, Jane is more level-headed and doesn’t believe in such silliness … until she sees a floating lantern!  Jane is determined to unmask the ghost, but is there a greater mystery afoot?  Together with her new friends, Jane finds herself untangling a web of deceit … fire, theft, false accusations, family secrets … such a clever, intriguing mystery that led me on a merry chase that utterly delighted me. 

Quite simply, I adored daring detective Jane from the bottom of my heart.  She has an indomitable and adventurous spirit coupled with wit, kindness and tenacity.  She is a wonderful and true friend to those who need her when they are being treated unfairly.  I especially enjoyed her friendship with the stableboy, Luke and the cook’s Indian daughter, Deepti and how these two help Jane in her mission to uncover hidden truths. 

Jane’s clever, witty letters home to her sister Cassandra are an absolute joy to read and demonstrate her love of writing. 

This story gives a brilliant insight into late eighteenth-century society with its class divisions, imperialism, high society entertainment and living as well as the feeling that change is on its way.  It also shows the restrictions placed on women in a patriarchal society which makes it all the more glorious that Jane, and the other young females, in this story are strong and determined. 

This is a truly delightful, exciting mystery that transported me into a richly drawn quintessentially Austen world with a remarkable young heroine who I can’t wait to meet again in her next investigation.  Singular enjoyment of the highest quality!

And I’m so excited that the next book in the series, The Burglar’s Ball, is due for release this year, and here’s a sneaky peak at the cover which is absolutely stunning:

Julia Golding

Thank you so much to Lion Hudson for inviting me to be part of this Blog Tour, and for providing me with a proof in exchange for my honest opinion.

Please do check out the other posts on this Blog Tour:

WWW Wednesday

I’m going to start reading The Chessmen Thief this evening and am really looking forward to it. I have been listening to Anne of Green Gables on Borrowbox. I can’t believe I have never read this before. I adore Anne with an e!

I read three books this week, including one adult book for a change! I really enjoyed Dragon Legend which is another action-packed, fast-paced adventure in this series with plenty of danger and is one I found a little darker than the last one. I am currently writing my review. After a comment from Rachael at Bellis Does Books, I just had to jump Starfell – Willow Moss and the Vanished Kingdom to the top of my TBR, and I am so, so glad I did. I have really fallen in love with this magical series which has adorable characters and such wonderful world-building. AND it’s got Oswin, ‘I is not a cat’, the kobold! If you’ve read this series, you’ll know exactly what I mean! I also read The Midnight Library which I read over the course of Sunday. I just kept coming back to read it at every opportunity as I was so drawn to the story. Nora makes a decision that she no longer wants to live and, at midnight, finds herself in the midnight library where the librarian is someone who supported her when she was younger. She has a huge book of regrets and is given the chance to undo these by stepping into her other lives, lives of ‘what ifs?’. What if she had made different decisions? What if her choices affect what happens to others? What if the life she is living has so much more potential? I found the idea of parallel lives in different universes utterly fascinating, and this story is ultimately an uplifting one, and just so beautifully written with moments that really made me stop and think.

I was sent an early copy of BigFoot Mountain which is due for release on 29th April, so I’m hoping to read it next.

What have you read this week? Have you read any of these?

Review: The Incredible Record Smashers

Written by Jenny Pearson
Illustrated by Erica Salcedo
Published by Usborne on 29th April

The Incredible Record Smashers is an absolute winner!  It is a wonderfully heart-warming, giggle-inducing, action-packed adventure told in an incredibly honest and authentic voice that makes it such a touching and exceptional story.

Lucy is a fixer, and she’s good at fixing things, but what about a person?  Lucy’s Mum is desperately tired, sad and feeling broken, and Lucy is determined to fix her:  to make her happy again.  Whilst her Mum is spending some time in hospital to help her, Lucy stays with her effervescently eccentric, pink-haired Aunty Sheila who is a whirlwind of brilliance:  ever-prepared, well-stocked and a car boot sale enthusiast not to mention being a no-nonsense, kind-hearted, supportive all-round wonderful person, even if she does make fizzy yoghurt!  To be honest, this actually sounds rather good!

Aunty Sheila invites her neighbours’ Grandson, and Lucy’s classmate, Sandesh, over to spend time with Lucy and they soon become best friends.  When Lucy finds a photo of her Mum with famous singer, Paul Castellini and now head judge on new TV show, Record Smashers, she hatches a plan, a plan to reunite her Mum with the one person she believes can make her happy again.

And so begins Lucy’s mission to appear on Record Smashers.  Of course, there’s a slight problem:  becoming a record breaker takes a lot of time, and Lucy only has ten days to prove that she can smash a record.  Luckily, she has the benefit of Sandesh’s vast knowledge of record-breaking facts to help her on her way.  Cue watermelons, clothes pegs, flipper-hurdling, kumquats, and giggles galore! As if that wasn’t enough to contend with, the best friends also find themselves caught up with two baddies who may not be quite what they seem.  Be prepared for scenes of absolute comedic genius as Lucy and Sandesh get to grip with what it takes to be a record-breaker!

I totally adored both Lucy and Sandesh who form such close bond of friendship.  Sandesh is incredibly supportive, kind-hearted and empathetic – and an absolute fount of knowledge with his weird and wonderful record-breaking facts which kept me thoroughly entertained – and fascinated!  Lucy shows such a touching naivety and innocence through her chatty, witty and sincere narrative, but is also one resilient and determined cookie.  My heart ached for her as she opened up about her Mum’s mental health and shared her feelings with such honesty.  The love between Lucy and her mother really shone through as does the importance of accepting help when times are tough.

Oh my goodness, it takes a special story to make you laugh one minute and cry the next; to care so much for the characters that you become completely caught up in their lives.  This is a such a heartfelt story of friendship and family, of caring about others, and being brave enough to open up and talk to someone when life is difficult.  It is a story that addresses the issue of mental health illness sensitively and gently, and encourages empathy, understanding and gives a route into opening up discussion around mental health problems. 

The illustrations are brilliantly lively, humorous and expressive and complement the story perfectly.  I also just have to mention the chapter headings which share world records very cleverly linked to the story – inspired!

This is an incredibly heartfelt story, sparkling with kindness, humour, friendship and family, and is one I cannot recommend highly enough. 

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

MG Takes on Thursday

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

How to take part:

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

This week, I’m celebrating …

Written by L.D. Lapinski
Cover and map illustration by Natalie Smillie
Published by
Hachette

This book in three words:

PIRATES, ADVENTURE, FRIENDSHIP

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

“Last chance saloon,” he said, as Flick shoved some fruit loaf down into the toaster and took a swig of orange juice directly from the carton on the table.

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency:  The Edge of the Ocean is a breathtakingly brilliant return to this mesmerising, magical world where stepping through a suitcase brings a world of action-packed, nautical adventure, excitement aplenty and frissons of danger … perfect edge-of-your-seat reading at the Edge of the Ocean!

Flick’s parents have grounded her for the entirety of the summer holidays, but fortunately, her situation does not stop her returning to The Strangeworlds Travel Agency after Jonathan works his magic on her Mum in the grocery aisle!  When she turns up at the Travel Agency the next day, she meets Avery, Jonathan’s cousin who is visiting him to help in the search for his missing father. However, before they continue their investigations, they are interrupted by a summons from Captain Nyfe Shaban, Pirate Queen, who wants them to help save her world, The Break, which is in danger of collapsing as its magic is being drained.  As Head Custodian of The Strangeworlds Travel Agency, it is Jonathan’s duty to answer the summons … and he does so, along with Flick and Avery.

Stepping out of their magical suitcase, they find themselves in the flat, water world of The Break where ships are dropping off the edge, and the world is irreparably shrinking.  Will Flick, Jonathan and Avery be able to save the inhabitants of this world by finding them a new world to call home? Will they be able to overcome impossible-seeming dilemmas and find a solution that will save everyone?  

Oh my goodness.  This world!  First, can I just say that I love a book with a map, and I spent a lot of time admiring it, and went back to it throughout as various places were mentioned.  The world-building is incredible from the depiction of a world made almost entirely from water and which is flat to the huge ships sailing the ocean to the pirate and mer-people inhabitants and the different factions and alliances within these groups.  It feels incredibly immersive and I found myself easily losing myself in this richly imagined world of wonder. 

This is a truly action-packed, exhilarating adventure as Flick, Jonathan and Avery find themselves in a race against time to save this disappearing world whilst having to contend with different factions trying to out manoeuvre each other for their own ends.  I loved the twists and turns, the revelations, and the element of danger that kept me utterly spellbound throughout.  The diverse cast of characters are wonderful from the fierce, power-hungry and rather terrifying Nyfe to the mesmerising Queen of the Mer-people.

I loved the continuation of Flick and Jonathan’s friendship which feels really genuine and supportive, especially when things become really difficult.  I also really enjoyed the friendship between Avery and Flick which starts off with uncertainty, but which develops into a deeper bond as they get to know each other, work together and build trust.  Flick is finding out more about herself and her magical ability in this story which makes me VERY keen to read the next book.  Oh my!  I so adore Jonathan!  Quick-witted, clever and utterly wonderful!  At times, my heart ached for him, but it also rejoiced as he showed how courageous, resilient and determined he can be. 

This is an enthralling, magical adventure with a terrific cast of characters who will take you on an unmissable adventure … a perfect delight, and one I can highly recommend.

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!