Review: Dragon Detective: That’s a Wrap

Dragon Detective:  That’s a Wrap is aptly named as it wraps up this wonderful series in perfect style:  with fast-paced adventure, oodles of humour and a frisson of danger.  This can be read as a standalone, and is perfect for younger readers of fun-filled, exciting mysteries. 

Holly Bigsby has been grounded for her entire summer holidays so imagine her relief and excitement when her Mum, who works for billionaire Brant Buchanan, is invited on a work-trip to LA – and she gets to go too! 

The family have not long arrived in LA before Holly makes a worrying discovery, and one that will require the help of her rather unusual – but utterly brilliant – friend, Dirk Dilly, dragon detective extraordinaire.  What disaster must be averted at all costs?  Only the possibility that dragonkind could be exposed to humanity!  Unfortunately, a pair of Desert Dragons have been captured on film by a famous movie director and, even worse, the film has disappeared … will Holly and Dirk be able to catch the thieves and retrieve the footage before the bickering stars of the film become the talk of Hollywood?

Oh my goodness!  The intrigue … the twists … the laughs:  I’m still giggling at the visit to the theme park where Dirk isn’t fooling anyone that he’s a dinosaur, and the alien cat conspiracy – genius!  I adored all the twists and revelations in this fast-paced, clever mystery as Dirk and Holly use their ingenuity to follow the trail of the stolen film which leads them to a deeper problem and both old and new enemies.  Without spoilers, I loved how the threads of a much bigger plot come together; how we as readers are led on a merry chase to discover who the culprits are; and, the Hollywood movie-making vibes sprinkled throughout as a famous director is making a rather disastrous movie with a precocious child-star already known to Holly.  These threads are woven together with brilliant imagination, pace and wit which kept me turning pages to see how Dirk and Holly solved the mystery. 

I loved the easy and comfortable friendship between Dirk and Holly who are, by now, old hands at the sleuthing business!  Dirk really reminds me of a debonair, laid-back detective from an old black-and-white film (drinking his orange and blackcurrant squash neat) and being master of the witty one-liners, so it is just perfect that he ends up in Hollywood.  There were some very touching moments between them that were just perfect. 

I must admit though that my favourite characters are the absolutely fantastic Desert Dragons, Putz and Kitelsky who are the unwitting stars of the missing film. They are territorial, tetchy and argumentative and, dare I say it, perhaps not the brightest duo around.  They leap into situations without thinking but deep, deep down, they have hearts of gold (probably) and I like to think a little burning flame is flaring in Putz which will help him reach his ambition of being able to generate fire as well as poison.  The other character who I adored is Mrs Klingerflim, Dirk’s elderly landlady who is somewhat of a dragon expert having helped her husband study, and create a definitive guide, to dragonkind. 

This is a fantastically exciting, fun and fast-paced adventure that I can’t wait to share with my class as, I have no doubt, they will love it as much as I have.  A perfect wrap-up to a brilliant series. 

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

December Wrap-Up

I can’t believe it’s time to wrap-up another month – and year! It was not the year I expected, but I feel grateful to have coped and to have my husband with me who is my ultimate support. He makes me smile when I want to cry; has listened to me complain and explode on many an occasion; but, most importantly, he has played computer games and left me to read in peace! :-). There have definitely been lows with the loss of my Dad in April and my sister being hospitalised in November. But there have also been highs. Being back in the classroom in September after so long teaching online during lockdown was definitely a high as was the support from colleagues in school. I’ve got a brilliantly wonderful and supportive team who have helped me survive this past term. Whilst I want to be back in class teaching, this is the first time I’ve actually felt sad and scared as cases are rising so quickly but I’m not going to think about that … instead, I’m going to be spending New Year’s Eve drinking champagne and facetiming with my sister in Ireland.

Goodreads Challenge:

I managed to read more than the 120 books I’d set as my target. I feel very lucky to have found the time to read so many wonderful books this year, and I really hope to be able to continue this next year.

Books I’ve read:

I’ve read 11 books this month which includes 8 physical books and 3 e-books.

Physical books read:

e- books read:

NetGalley:

My Feedback Ratio is currently at 89%. This month I’ve only requested one book, A Tangle of Spells which is one of my most anticipated books for 2021.

Books bought:

Despite the fact that I was put on a book-buying ban by my husband (as he was getting me books for Christmas), I still managed to buy 8 books – don’t know how that happened! The first five are not released until 7th January but I managed to get my hands on early copies from my local Waterstones. I also managed to buy a couple of adult books!

Christmas gifts:

I was rather spoiled for books by my husband this Christmas – some were on my wish list and some he managed to surprise me with. I got a mixture of adult and middle-grade books, all of which I’m very much looking forward to reading in the New Year.

  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  • October, October by Katya Balen
  • The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
  • Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
  • 13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison
  • Leo’s Map of Monsters by Kris Humphrey and illustrated by Pete Williamson
  • Twelve Minutes to Midnight by Christopher Edge (this was by Reading Rocks Secret Santa)
  • The Creature Keeper by Damaris Young
  • The Nowhere Emporium by Ross McKenzie
  • Owl and the Lost Boy by Amy Wilson

Right, I’m off to start with Prosecco and then move to champagne. Wishing all of the wonderful bloggers who visit my little Blog a Happy New Year! I appreciate your support and comments more than you can imagine – thank you!

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 Hanna Alkaf
Cover Illustration by Anastasia Suvorova
Published by HarperCollins

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

FOR A WHILE after the witch drew her final breath the ghost sat very still, wondering what to do next.

This book in three words:

MALAY FOLKLORE, GHOSTS, FRIENDSHIP

I’ve read a few really brilliant spooky middle-grade books this year which genuinely scared me including The Haunting of Aveline Jones, Small Spaces and The Jumbies. The Girl and the Ghost is another fantastic addition to my list of spooky, scary children’s books.

This is an incredibly powerful and gripping story which I absolutely adored and devoured in a couple of sittings. It is based on the Malaysian folktale of the pelesit which I knew nothing about, but I did enjoy finding out more during reading the book and in some of my own research afterwards, especially how pelesits are created as the story of how it was made in this book shocked me, but it also made the discovery of something else about the pelesit (no spoilers) towards the end of the book incredibly poigant.

This is a story of love, jealousy and enduring friendship and is both chilling and heart-warming. Suraya becomes the master of her witch grandmother’s pelesit after her death. The pelesit feeds on her blood and she becomes his master, although he definitely makes hos own decisions as well.

Suraya names the pelesit Pink and they become firm friends, especially as Suraya does not have friends of her own and is cruelly bullied by others. This is something that Pink can’t bear and so he seeks revenge showing his dark spirit. Suraya is a kind-hearted girl who doesn’t want anyone hurt so commands him to stop, but this goes against his nature. Pink’s inner fight with himself, struggling to go against his nature, is beautifully written and I found this very touching, especially with the incredible twist.

When a new girl, Jing, joins the school, Suraya makes a friend which makes Pink jealous and drives a rift between the two. However, when Pink is in danger, jealousies and pain are forgotten and their deep friendship and love for each other leads them, with Jing, on a journey to find the truth and save Pink.

This is a powerful, heartfelt and dark read with a twist that brought tears. I didn’t know anything about Malay folklore so the origins of the pelesit came as a shock. This is one I would highly recommend for anyone interested in Malay folklore and for mature children in Year 6 and above.

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!

Review: The Forest of Moon and Sword

The Forest of Moon and Sword is a fascinating historical adventure set during the English Civil War which centres on the persecution of women who practised herblore, and one courageous girl’s determination to fight back in order to save someone she loves.

It is June 1647 and twelve-year-old Art Flynt is hiding alongside her mother and a small group of other women who have been accused of witchcraft when they are discovered by the Witchfinder General’s soldiers.  Art escapes and witnesses the cruelty of the soldiers towards the accused women.  She discovers that her mother will be taken far from her Scottish home to Essex where she will be executed with many others at the summer solstice.  She has promised her mother that she will stay with her Aunt in Scotland, but this is a promise that Art is unable to keep …

Feeling the strength of hatred and prejudice against the accused women in her community, Art makes a determined and courageous decision to travel to Essex, disguised as a boy, and rescue her mother, but she only has eight days before the summer solstice:  will she be able to make the perilous journey, avoid discovery and save her mother before it is too late?

Stories about witchcraft in its historical context both fascinate and horrify me.  I thought that the blend of historical fact, air of mystery and building of tension worked really well.  The sense of injustice, hatred and prejudice against these women who helped in their community as herbalists and healers permeates the story.

It is into this world that Art undertakes her rescue mission, showing great inner strength, courage and determination.  I really liked that there is a thread of other-worldly mystery woven into the story as well as the historical background of Matthew Hopkins relentless hunt for witches during the English Civil War. 

On her journey, Art rescues a young girl accused of witchcraft and they soon become firm friends.  Mercy proves herself to be a loyal and true friend who is willing to take great risks to help Art in her daring and dangerous rescue mission.  The friends also meet a boy called Elijah, but will he prove to be friend or foe?

This is a powerful, exciting and immersive historical adventure where fierce, daring girls fight against the prejudice and hatred being shown towards those they love. 

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

WWW Wednesday

I’m just about to start A Tangle of Spells which is definitely one of my most anticipated reads for 2021. I definitely feel the need to escape into another adventure with the Widdershin sisters!

I’ve actually read an adult book! And what fantastic book it was! The Once and Future Witches completely and utterly captured me from start to finish. It is such a powerful story that for me really honed in on the strength, endurance, love and friendship of a group of women who stood up to the inequalities and discrimination levied against them. I loved the use of traditional rhymes and fairy tales as spells and the ‘realness’ of the witchcraft; the fairy tale elements were brilliantly woven into the story. All three sisters, Juniper, Agnes and Bella were all fantastic characters, torn apart by cruelty and seeming betrayal and brought back together through the call of witchcraft and sisterhood. My heart broke for them, sang for them and worried endlessly for them even though they were such resilient characters. Even though I know this is a fantasy story, it was so real for me and made me feel so much emotion: anger, pride, worry, fear, hope. An unforgettable story that still has me thinking about it.

I also read an e-book of The Girl and the Ghost on Borrowbox. This is an incredible story which I absolutely loved. It is based on the Malaysian folktale of the pelesit. This is a story of love, jealously and enduring friendship and is both chilling and heart-warming. Suraya becomes the master of her witch grandmother’s pelesit after her death. She names him Pink and they become firm friends especially as Suraya does not have friends of her own and is cruelly bullied by others. This is something that Pink can’t bear and so he seeks revenge showing his dark spirit. Suraya is a kind-hearted girl who doesn’t want anyone hurt so commands him to stop. When a new girl, Jing, joins the school, Suraya makes a friend which makes Pink jealous and drives a rift between the two. However, when Pink is in danger, jealousies and pain are forgotten and their deep friendship and love for each other leads them, with Jing, on a journey to find the truth and save Pink. This is a powerful, heartfelt and dark read with a twist that brought tears. I didn’t know anything about Malay folklore so the origins of the pelesit came as a shock. Definitely one for the top end of middle-grade.

I’ve just finished Dragon Detective: That’s a Wrap which was a really fun mystery as Holly and Dirk head to LA to stop the existence of dragonkind being revealed to an unsuspecting world. This will be published in 7th January, so I will post a review before then.

I have so many books to read that it’s really hard to choose! I think I’ll go for Another Twist in the Tale next.

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

Top Ten Tuesday

This is a weekly meme now hosted by That Artsy Girl Reader.  This week’s theme is  Favorite Books of 2020. I read mostly middle-grade, so I’ve made my selection from the 134 middle-grade books I’ve read this year, and I must admit, it was NOT easy as I’ve been so lucky to read so many amazing books this year. These are in no particular order and are mostly fantasy as that is where my heart lies with reading.

What an absolutely superbly spine-tingling story!  The Haunting of Aveline Jones is a satisfyingly chilling, tension-filled and eerily atmospheric story, and is the perfect read for a cold, dark evening. I absolutely loved this story which is just a really brilliant ghost story. I can’t wait for the next in the series.

Darkwhispers is the absolutely gripping sequel to Brightstorm where we once again join the Brightstorm twins and the crew of The Aurora on another action-packed, thrilling adventure, but this time into the heart of the jungle, on a mission to rescue Ermitage Wrigglesworth, a famous explorer who has gone missing. Vashti Hardy is an absolute must-buy author for me; I can’t wait to read her next two books, Harley Hitch and the Iron Forest (out in April) and Crowfall (out in July).

I loved the first adventure to Eerie-on-Sea, Malamander and Gargantis is even better. This is a thrilling, edge-of-the-seat adventure to discover the truth of an intriguing ancient legend … a superb mystery that kept me on tenterhooks throughout, trying to second guess the ever-twisting plot, which was just as electric as the storm.  I cannot recommend this highly enough, and can’t wait for the next legend of Eerie-On-Sea to unfold. Shadowghast is being released in September, and I can’t wait to return to Eerie-on-Sea to solve another mystery with the wonderful Herbie and Violet.

Boy, Everywhere is such a powerful story that utterly captured me, broke me and opened my eyes. This tells the story of Sami and his family who become refugees in order to escape their home city of Damascus after a bombing. They lose so much in order to make a harrowing journey which is heart-breaking to read. The courage, strength and resilience shown by the family is incredible. This is a story that will stay with me for a long time.

The Midnight Guardians is an exciting, heart-warming and humorous adventure which seamlessly blends history and fantasy into an unforgettable, magical story. I adored the three Guardians who are Col’s childhood imaginary friends come to life. It has the feel of a classic and is one I will definitely want to re-read.

I have loved all of Sophie Anderson’s books and The Castle of Tangled Magic is no exception. This is an intricate, magical and truly beautifully told story that transported me to a world I didn’t want to leave, a world inspired by Slavic folklore and daring adventure where family and friendship triumph, and where the goodness in others overcomes prejudice and fear.  The ending brought the biggest smile of contentment I think I’ve ever experienced on finishing a book – sheer perfection!

I am such a huge fan of Kiran Millwood Hargrave stories, and have loved all of them and dare I say it: this one is now my favourite. The writing is exquisite and completely and utterly drew me into this richly drawn world. This story is breath-taking and took me on an incredible journey filled with danger, secrets and revelations above and beneath the city. It flows beautifully just like the hidden river within, and captured me completely. It both chilled my heart and warmed my soul. This is a story of love, of family, of forgiveness and hope. There is a perfect composition of darkness and light, played through the words of a master storyteller.

A Kind of Spark is such a powerful story which I really couldn’t put down and devoured in a single sitting. There was definitely tears, anger and frustration but also an overwhelming admiration for Addie. She is the most inspirational young autistic girl who is determined to fight for a memorial to commemorate the women who were killed as witches in her town. The Finally, on Empathy Day, I read A Kind of Spark which is such a powerful story which I really couldn’t put down. There was definitely tears. Addie is the most inspirational young autistic girl who is determined to fight for a memorial to commemorate the women who were killed as witches in her town. The parallels between how she is treated and how the witches were treated are brilliantly drawn, and I so loved that she had the inner strength and determination to fight for what she so strongly believed in.

Wundersmith is exhilarating, brimming with action, tension and some dark moments.  I loved the relationships between Morrigan and her patron, Jupiter who believes in her goodness, and with her loyal friend Hawthorne who adds some lightness to the darker tone of some of this story. This book absolutely epitomises the wonder that comes from a story that immerses the reader in an incredible reading experience, and transports them into a world which they don’t want to leave behind.  I now need to read Hollowpox!

Jungledrop is an exhilarating, magical adventure brimming with action, excitement and warmth which is set in a stunning glow-in-the-dark rainforest.  It is the second book in the Unmapped Chronicles series after the equally superb Rumblestar. This is an absolute must-read: a heart-warming magical fantasy that swept me into an incredible, action-packed adventure in a sumptuously rich world, and kept me enthralled throughout and left me, as always, in awe of Abi’s sheer story-telling brilliance!

Have you read any of these? What have been your favourite reads this year?

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 Sibeal Pounder
Cover Illustration by Sarah Warburton
Published on 29th October

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

It looked like she’d been all over London picking up stray bits of Christmas.

This book in three words:

GIRL-POWER, CHRISTMAS, CAROLS!

For my last MG Takes on Thursday, I’m celebrating one of my favourite Christmas books which I have loved reading to my class who adored it just as much as I did!

If you thought you knew the origins of Santa Claus, think again!  Bursting with warmth, humour, friendship and adventure, Tinsel is an absolute joyous story, and one I loved reading to my class who adored it. I loved that some couldn’t wait for me to finish it, so got their own copy. One boy in my class even told our Book Penpal author that this was his favourite book this year.

This story completely entranced me, wrapping me in a cosy blanket of warmth and joy as I adventured with Blanche to a magical and snowy North Pole.  I met wonderful new friends (the many Carols and Eggnog the fir tree are joyous – and they gave me so many laughs!).  I discovered just how easily the truth of Santa’s origins have been misunderstood:  a mean-spirited villain with a penchant for controlling the news, tinsel-mail, and just a little completely unintentional elfish error …

Tinsel is a perfect read to snuggle up with at Christmas and I have no doubt will fill every reader with festive cheer:  heart-warming friendships, exciting adventure, wonderfully funny, and a brilliantly imagined origin story with such inventive twists on many Christmas traditions.  Bliss!

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!

As this will be my last post before Christmas, I’d just like to wish everyone who has visited my Blog over the year a wonderfully relaxing Christmas/holiday period.

WWW Wednesday

I read a LOT of middle-grade, but I’ve decided to read a few more adult books over the Christmas break. I’ve just finished a middle-grade book about witches, so I’m going to start an adult one, The Once and Future Witches. This is one that comes highly recommended by the wonderful Rachael at Bellis Does Books, so I’m really looking forward to reading it.

I’ve finished reading North Child which I absolutely loved. I’m so glad I picked this up one as it has been on my TBR since last Christmas. I adored Rose who has the heart of an adventurer and is filled with courage and inner strength. This gave me Beauty and the Beast and Snow Queen vibes. I don’t know the Norwegian fairy tale on which it is based but I have seen that the wonderful Jackie Morris is releasing her version on 18th March next year. I found the whole story magical, at times both heart-breaking and heart-warming. This really did have the feel of an epic quest which was beautifully orchestrated throughout. I do have the sequel, West, and am hoping not to leave it quite so long to read!

I also read The Miracle on Ebenezer Street which is pure Christmas joy! George and his family are grieving the death of his mother at Christmas three years previously. His father is still grieving and cannot bear to celebrate Christmas, throwing himself into his work at the expense of his family. George meets Marley in his Curiosity Shop and finds a magical snow globe which will grant him wishes. He wants to bring Christmas and warmth into his home again, and to have his mother’s presence still felt in the house. This is a truly gorgeous, magical story, filled with humour, adventure and warmth where George, his father and his wonderful Nana Flo are taken on an adventure into three Christmases – past, present and future. I adored Tricksie the elf and Randolph, a purple reindeer and brother of Ruldoply (touchy subject!) who infuse the story with so much humour – they absolutely deserve a story of their own!

I also read Chill which my husband bought me as a birthday gift. I really enjoyed this ghost story set in the Scottish Highlands with an historical link to the Jacobite uprising. It wasn’t quite as spooky as some other middle-grade books I’ve read recently, but the story definitely kept me interested as Samuel Cunningham and his new friend Fiona Morton uncover the mystery behind the Weeping Lady who haunts the Morton home. I definitely want to pick up the next one, Shiver.

I’ve just finished The Forest of Moon and Sword which I was approved to read via NetGalley. This is being released on 7th January. This story starts in Scotland and tells the story of Art Flynt who witnesses her mother being taken by soldiers hunting witches under the command of the Witch Finder General. Feeling unwanted and desperate to rescue her mother, who has been taken to England, Art undertakes a mission to rescue her. I will post my review before publication.

Was I keeping my fingers crossed that this would be released on NetGalley? Yes! Did I keep checking every day? Definitely! Did I request it at super-fast finger-tapping speed? Oh yes! And, was it the fastest approval I’ve got – yeah – Happy Christmas to me! This is one of my MOST anticipated releases for 2021 as I loved the first two Widdershin sisters’ adventures in this series, A Pinch of Magic and A Sprinkle of Sorcery and I have signed copies of both! Hopefully, I’ll get a signed copy of this too when it is published on 4th February.

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

New Year middle-grade releases Part 2

This is the second part of my anticipated children’s book releases for January. I’ve already posted the books I’m looking forward to which are being released on the  first Thursday in January which is going to be a bumper release day for children’s fiction. This post includes the books I’m looking forward to which are being published during the rest of January (apart from one which is also 7th January!)

I have included the Goodreads or Waterstones Synopsis for each book.

Published by Faber & Faber on 7th January

I’ve adored The Five Realms series, and am so looking forward to reading Uki and the Swamp Spirit. This is also a really popular series in my class. I love that when children read The Legend of Podkin One-Ear, they always ask for the next one!

Uki had the sensation of a sickly green light, spreading out through the networks of water. Of tendrils connecting all the creatures of the marsh in a web . . . Linking itself so it could poison it all and destroy it. Uki and his friends have two more spirits to find and capture. After defeating Valkus, they make for Clarice, who is spreading disease through the swamps. Can Uki and his friends outwit him – all whilst they themselves are being chased by the Endwatch and Jori’s clan of assassins? 

Published by Nosy Crow on 14th January

I LOVE The Dragon in the Library Series. This is the third book in the series, and I was so excited to see that I don’t have too long to wait until its release! I can’t wait to join Kit, Josh and Alita on their next adventure.

Kit, Josh and Alita are heading back to school – and they’re excited to discover that they’re getting a brand new library, which also means getting their own wizard librarian… and a dragon! But when something VERY BAD happens at the new library, it’s up to Kit and her friends to save the world one more time. 

Published by Nosy Crow on 14th January

I loved Nizrana’s first book, The Girl Who Stole an Elephant, and read it to my class last year. Her new book sounds like it will be another fantastic adventure.

Razi, a local fisherboy, is watching turtle eggs hatch when he sees a boat bobbing into view. With a chill, he notices a small, still hand hanging over the side… Inside is Zheng, who’s escaped a shipwreck and is full of tales of sea monsters and missing treasure. But the villains who are after Zheng are soon after Razi and his sister, Shifa, too. And so begins an exhilarating adventure in the shadow of the biggest sea monster of them all…

Published by Harper Collins on 21st January

I read The Kid Who Came from Space at the beginning of this year and absolutely loved it, so I’m very keen to read Ross’ next book. I have a child in my class who is a big fan, so I’m looking forward to sharing this one with him.

When 12 year-old Malky and his younger brother Seb become the owners of a “Dreaminator”, they are thrust into worlds beyond their wildest imagination. From tree-top flights and Spanish galleons, to thrilling battles and sporting greatness – it seems like nothing is out of reach when you can share a dream with someone else. But… impossible dreams come with incredible risks, and when Seb won’t wake up and is taken to hospital in a coma, Malky is forced to leave reality behind and undertake a final, terrifying journey to the stone-age to wake his brother… 

Published by Egmont Books on 21st January

I’ve already been lucky enough to read a proof of this supernatural fantasy, and am looking forward to getting a final copy for my class library.

Amari Peters knows three things. Her big brother Quinton has gone missing. No one will talk about it. His mysterious job holds the secret … So when Amari gets an invitation to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain this is her chance to find Quinton. But first she has to get her head around the new world of the Bureau, where mermaids, aliens and magicians are real, and her roommate is a weredragon. Amari must compete against kids who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives, and when each trainee is awarded a special supernatural talent, Amari is given an illegal talent – one that the Bureau views as dangerous. With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is the enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton …

Published by Pan Macmillan  on 21st January

My class study the Vikings as part of their history, and I’m always looking for books to link to the topic. I think this one will be perfect for my Year 4 class.

A no-good viking thief. The worst-ever trainee valkyrie. An ungodlycase of mistaken identity. When failing trainee valkyrie Lotta mistakes an unconscious viking thief, Whetstone, for a fallen hero and takes him triumphantly to Valhalla, things are definitely not turning out to be epic or glorious. Having lost a precious talking cup, Whetstone is also desperate to cover up his mistake and the two embark on a quarrelsome journey to find it and regain their heroic status. But Loki the trickster God is desperate to get his hands on the cup with a plan to unleash chaos across the nine worlds. Can Whetstone prove himself a hero after all when it matters most?

Published by Simon & Schuster on 21st January

I read Check Mates when it was first published and loved the relationship between Felix and his Grandfather. I’m definitely looking forward to reading The Perfect Parent Project which I’m sure will include laughter and tears!

All Sam wants is a family of his own, a home instead of a ‘house’ and parents he knows will still be there when he wakes up. Because Sam has been in and out of foster care his whole life and he can’t imagine ever feeling like he truly belongs. Then his best friend Leah suggests that rather than wait for a family to come to him, he should go out and find one. So begins The Perfect Parent Project … But Sam may just discover that family has a funny way of finding you. 

Published by Harper Collins on 21st January

I’ve really been enjoying reading mysteries recently so, when I saw the release of a new series, I immediately decided I wanted it – not too long to wait!

Violet Veil wants nothing more than to prove her worth and become her father’s apprentice at Veil Sons Undertakers. And one rain-soaked night she gets her chance when she meets a boy, Oliver, who is wandering around the graveyard. Only, the last time Violet saw Oliver, he was indoors and very much dead, waiting to be buried. Victoria has just found her first case, and it doesn’t get bigger than this: can she, with the help of her dog, Bones, help Oliver solve his own ‘murder’?

Published by Puffin on 21st January

Ever since reading The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates, I’ve been keen to find and read more books which are both hilarious and heart-warming. I think I’ve found one with Uma.

Uma Gnudersonn has a head full of questions: How can I save my home from being sold? Will my dad ever start talking again? And how do alpacas get drunk? But since her mum died, Uma’s life has been short on answers. Then she finds a genius artificial intelligence called Athena who knows everything. Suddenly Uma has the answer to any question she can imagine – from the capital of Mozambique to the colour of her headteacher’s underpants – and she’s going to use them to save her home and her father. Along the way, Uma will have to confront the sinister inventor who will stop at nothing to get Athena back – and face up to the fact that not all questions have answers . . .

Published by Firefly Press on 28th January

The title of this poetry collection completely captured me and the illustrations look fantastic. I’m looking forward to reading the poems and adding this one to my class library.

From forgotten jellybeans to sparking daydreams, Alex’s poems, written for primary school age children, are both funny and thoughtful, and aim to spark familiarity and inclusion. And the illustrations from Katy Riddell will focus on the fun and dreamlike quality of the poems’ engagement with the natural world. These poems use rhyme, rhythm and free verse and are ideally suited to performance in a school setting, nurturing a love of language, reading, confidence and self-expression.

There you have it! There are some incredible middle-grade being released throughout January from authors I already know and from some who are new to me! Are there any of these you want to read? Have you any other recommendations?

Top Ten Tuesday

This is a weekly meme now hosted by That Artsy Girl Reader.  This week’s theme is a Books I Hope Santa Brings. I do treat myself to a lot of books over the course of the year, but I still can’t help asking for some from Santa! I’m hoping I get some of these on Christmas Day!

I’ve read previous books by each of these authors, and am really keen to read other books by them. SO many people have been raving about October, October that I just had to put it on my Christmas list. I loved The Switching Hour by Damaris so am really looking forward to reading her next book, The Creature Keeper. I really enjoyed A Girl Called Owl by Amy Wilson and am really looking forward to going back into this magical world.

If I Were Other than Myself is a collection of poems filled with ‘magical fantasy and dreamlike inventions’ which sounds perfect! I really enjoyed The Children of Castle Rock, so am looking forward to Voyage of the Sparrowhawk which is set after the First World War. The Nowhere Emporium is the first book in this fantasy trilogy which sounds I’ve been wanting to pick up for a while now.

The wonderful Rachael at BellisDoesBooks brought Splinters of Scarlet to my attention, and it sounds like just my sort of book. As soon as I read the synopsis for Cold Tom, I knew I wanted it! Tom is both elfin and human and has been cast out from his Tribe to live amongst the humans – this one has really intrigued me.

I don’t often read adult books, but I’m hoping to get these two for Christmas.