Six for Sunday

The November theme for Six for Sunday, hosted by A Little But a Lot is Ooky spooky bookys and today’s prompt is for Orange Books. I’ve had a look at my bookshelves and chosen six books with at least some orange on the cover that I have yet to read!

Have you any books with orange covers? Have you read any of these?

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 Alex Bell
Illustrated by Tomislav Tomić
Published by Faber & Faber Limited

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

Ursula looked out the porthole again and saw that Bess wasn’t facing off against the pirate fairies, as she’d first thought.

This book in three words:


If ever there was a series to lose yourself in, then The Explorers’ Clubs is it:  go on thrilling adventures, explore richly imagined worlds, meet the most fantastical creatures, and venture with wonderful characters as they face the excitement and danger of standing up to vile villains.  There’s no denying it:  I’m a MAJOR fan of this fabulously fantastic fantasy series.

Explorers at Pirate Island, the fifth book in the series, is another triumph with its dazzlingly imaginative underwater world-building, brilliantly engaging characters and exhilarating fast-paced action.  I read this in one joyous sitting.  A book that truly sings to my heart, and one that I cannot recommend highly enough. 

This adventure follows on from the events in The Ocean Squid Explorers’ Club in which the Collector, Scarlett Sauvage, has not only locked The Ocean Squid Explorers’ Club in a magical globe, but has also kidnapped a group of children.  The young crew of the submarine, the Blowfish, have discovered that she is on Pirate Island, and are determined to rescue the Club and the children, and, oh my goodness, what a heart-pounding adventure they find themselves on …

Ursula, Jai, Genie and Max have arrived at Starfish Island where they discover an abandoned pirate fairy fort on the beach.  Returning to the Blowfish, they discover Captain Zara Silver, a fairy pirate (I know – how fantastic!) with her own pirate parrot.  She discloses that half her fleet are being held prisoner by the Collector, and offers to help with the rescue mission.  Will the crew be willing to accept a pirate as a crew member?

This is a quest that takes the young explorers on a magical, dangerous and thrilling adventure as they visit the most incredible places including the awe-inspiring mermaid city, Mercadia where half-mermaid Ursula is entrusted with a powerful mermaid trident.  As they get ever closer to Pirate Island, they seek help from a sea witch who runs a business with a difference and who gives them a rather mischievous delivery!  They must face party-loving zombie skeletons, make an intrepid rescue from the clutches of a whirlpool, and venture to a dinosaur burial site where they make an astounding discovery!  I mean, just how amazing does this sound?  Because, trust me, it is!

I was absolutely captivated by this scintillating, fast-paced adventure as I followed the action with bated breath, blown away by the twists and turns, the danger, the revelations, but also really enjoying the exquisite world-building and interactions between the characters. 

I absolutely adore the camaraderie between Ursula, Jai, Genie and Max who have such a strong, supportive friendship.  They each have their own unique traits and personalities which they use to brilliant effect when facing the many obstacles which they meet on their quest.  I just have to say that there are also two new crew members who are an absolute delight, but I’m not sure the crew would agree entirely with me, especially about one of them! 

The double page illustrations scattered throughout are absolutely stunning and complement the superb world-building perfectly.

This is a wondrously exciting, action-packed adventure that kept me engrossed throughout, immersing me in a world I was reluctant to leave.  After that ending, I simply cannot wait for the next adventure with Ursula Jellyfin and her friends, and I love the sense of anticipation this brings!

Thank you to Bethany Carter and Faber & Faber for an early copy. 

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 currently reading Shadow Town. It’s been a slow reading week for me as I’ve had three late evenings at work, so its taking me a while to get into this one. I’m definitely intrigued by where it is going, and think that the difficult family dynamics are written brilliantly.

I finished listening to The Shadow Keeper, and absolutely loved it! It is much darker than Abi’s other books with scary villains and a gorgeous group of children who are helped by supportive adults. I’m hoping to pick up the final one in this trilogy soon. I also read Ghostcloud which I really enjoyed. I have posted by review. Finally, I read Time School – We Will Stand with Them which is the third in a time-slip series. I have posted my review.

I absolutely loved The Beast and the Bethany and am so looking forward to reading Revenge of the Beast. I’m also going to be starting a book of adult ghostly tales, The Haunting Season.

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

Blog Tour: Hag Storm by Victoria Williamson

Written Victoria Williamson
Illustrated by Elise Carmichael
Published by Cranachan Publishing

Hag Storm is a truly thrilling and superbly spooky historical adventure steeped in folklore, mystery and witchcraft that kept me utterly entranced throughout, reading with bated breath as I lost myself in this richly atmospheric, action-packed and tense story … ideal reading for a dark, cold evening when a scary tale is a perfect choice!

Twelve-year-old Rab spends his days toiling on his family farm rather than going to school with his friends.  One day, he is clearing stones from one of the fields when he finds a hag stone, a discovery that changes his life.  Looking through the hole at the centre of the stone, he sees a gathering storm, and a stooped and hunched figure in black … Shocked and scared by what he has seen, he throws the stone away, and rushes home, only to have his path blocked by an old woman dressed in black:  his mother’s cousin, Betty.

When Rab is tasked with going to their Landlord’s house in Doonholm to beg the factor who manages the estate for extra time to pay their rent, he meets the new scullery maid, Morven who offers him kindness, and tells him that there are rumours of witchcraft relating to Cousin Betty.  Not willing to believe that these could be true, Rab visits her to warn her of the rumours, but is shocked by what he sees …

Rab thinks he has rid himself of the hag stone, but it has other intentions, and he once again finds it, and this time when he looks through it, he sees witches on broomsticks.  Could Cousin Betty’s tales of witchcraft be true?  Could the witches be preparing to gather at the old kirkyard for All Hallows Eve, and have they set their sights on his sisters?  Will Rab be able to save his sisters from the threat of the coven, or will he inadvertently lead them into danger?

There is a real sense of foreboding as this deliciously dark tale unfolds which is perfectly portrayed through the tense atmosphere, the approaching storm, and Rab’s ominous sightings through the hag stone which brings the supernatural into his reality.  I really enjoyed the way the danger for the family builds surely but slowly with sublime apprehension; the portrayal of the power struggle at the heart of the story and the effects of this on the Burns family; and, Rab’s growing courage and dreadful realisation as he faces his fears in order to save his sisters.

I really liked the depiction of the relationships within the Burns family who, despite the hardships of life on the farm, are a close-knit and loving family.  Rab is keen to protect his younger brother, Gil, from the hardest work on the farm – their relationship is playful and teasing.  He looks out for his youngest siblings, often allowing them to take his food.  But I found his relationship with his sister Agnes the most interesting, and it made me think of my own sibling relationships.  Rab comes from a large family of siblings as do I.  He is the oldest of the boys, and his sister Agnes is the oldest of the girls.  He expects more of his sister as more is expected of him, both of himself and by his father.  I grew up on a working farm with three older brothers, and two younger sisters.  I can definitely see expectations on older male and female siblings being different to that of younger siblings.  Rab is sometimes hard on Agnes, but also feels the weight of guilt with how he sometimes treats her; however, when she is threatened, he shows the depth of his love for her.

The Rab Burns in this brilliant adventure is none other than Scotland’s much-loved poet, Robert Burns, and I really enjoyed the historical context that this gave the story.  The supernatural element references one of his most famous poems, Tam O’Shanter and, having read the poem before reading the story, I loved how aspects of the poem are so cleverly interwoven into the narrative.

Hag Storm is an exceptional historical supernatural mystery, a story of the strength of familial bonds, of struggle and survival in hard times, and of dark powers determined to tear those bonds apart.  I cannot recommend this highly enough … absolutely incredible!

Thank you so much to Anne Glennie and Cranachan Publishing for inviting me to be part of this Blog Tour, and for providing me with an early copy of Hag Storm in return for my honest opinion.

Please do check out the other stops on the Blog Tour for this brilliant book!

Review: Ghostcloud

Ghostcloud is a dark, thrilling adventure set in a dystopian future London which absolutely gripped me from start to finish.  It is a brilliantly engaging and exciting read for those of 9+ who don’t mind their reads a little more on the scary, supernatural side!

Twelve-year-old Luke has been working as a shoveller for two years at Battersea Power Station where he was taken after his kidnap two years before.  He and his best friend Ravi live in the hope that they will be given a precious amber ticket which is their way to freedom.  However, when a new girl, Jess, finds herself facing the wrath of the Power Station’s cruel owner, he shares the blame and finds himself sharing the punishment.  Jess and Luke are taken to the dreaded East Wing where Luke makes a discovery that changes his life … he can see ghosts!  After rescuing ghostcloud Alma, she shows him what he is capable of, and takes him on an adventure on a cloud above the city.  He is half-human and half something else that allows him to travel with Alma. 

This sense of freedom which Alma gives Luke makes even more determined to escape, but in his efforts to find freedom, he learns a terrible truth, the truth of why children are being kidnapped to work in the power station.  Could the smog which is choking the city have anything to do with the Power Station?  Will Luke be able to save the children, and find freedom and his family, before Tabatha’s appalling plans come to fruition?

I really enjoyed the richly imagined atmospheric, smog-filled future London with landmarks which are familiar, but ruined.  I enjoyed following the trail of what had happened to cause this disaster and how this links to what is happening in the present. 

This is a fantastically action-packed adventure with some unexpected twists and so much danger for the main characters that makes it a real page-turner.

Luke is an incredibly sympathetic character who is living in terrifying conditions as he faces the threat of almost constant danger, yet he is prepared to put himself at risk in order to help his friends, Jess and Ravi.  These two give him hope and strength as together they face, Tabatha Margate.  She is coldly cruel, sees the children as commodities, and is keeping terrifying secrets that threaten everyone.  I really liked Luke’s friendship with the ghost Alma who shows him the city outside of the Power Station and opens his eyes to the possibility of a different route to escape. 

This is a brilliantly exciting, action-packed adventure. with dark and scary moments, which children of 9+ will enjoy. 

Thank you To Toppsta and the Publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Time School: We Will Stand with Them by Nikki Young

Time School:  We Will Stand with Them is the third book in the fascinating Time School time-slip series which follows four friends as they travel to periods in history to which they are connected through their families. Each book can be read as a stand-alone.

Twelve-year-old Ash Mundair is all too aware of the prejudice that his Dad has suffered after coming to England as a Ugandan Asian immigrant in the early 1970s.  After all, he keeps telling him about it, but Ash finds it hard to sympathise as he sees a successful businessman who has such high expectations of him that he fears he cannot live up to them.  This leads to an act of defiance on Ash’s part, and a terrible family argument with harsh words being spoken …

When Ash wakes up on Monday morning ready for school, he discovers there has been a power cut and, when he meets his friends at the train station, they end up on board an old-fashioned steam train which takes them on a journey back in time to their school, Hickley School, in a past time, and so begins another gripping and shocking adventure for the close friends …

Making their way to Hickley School for registration, they soon discover that they have travelled back to the 1970s, and it is not long before Ash is subjected to racist abuse.  In the assembly hall, Ash sees a group of Asian boys and discovers that they have come to Yorkshire after being forced to leave Uganda by its President, Idi Amin. 

Ash becomes both witness to, and subjected to, the racial prejudice and abuse that these boys face.  When one of the young boys is pushed beyond endurance and decides to fight back, will Ash be able to help him in a dangerous situation? 

Through his experiences travelling back to the 1970s, Ash comes to understand the profound feelings of fear and rejection that his father must have felt on coming to an England which did not want him.  This enables him to empathise with his father’s upbringing in England, and to understand more about his heritage, strengthening his relationship with his father.

The friendship between Nadia, Jess, Tomma and Ash feels incredibly authentic, and I really enjoyed spending time with them again.  They always support and protect each other, and have a wonderful camaraderie. 

“Words can be just as powerful as actions you know. 

And they stay around for much longer.”

This is a compelling story which uses words in a powerful and thought-provoking way, a story which deals with difficult themes of racism, prejudice and intolerance.  It is also a story of family and friendship, connecting to the past and understanding how it impacts on the present.  Perfect for Upper Key Stage 2 and beyond.

Thank you to Nikki Young for an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

October Wrap-Up

I’ve had a pretty good reading month in October which has been massively helped by having the last week off for half-term which I used to catch up on reading – sheer bliss! I’ve settled back into the routines of school life, and am really enjoying teaching my class and introducing them to lots of new books! Right, let’s see how I’ve done in October!

Books I’ve read:

I’ve read 14 books this month, 10 physical copies, e-books and 2 audiobooks. I think this has been my best reading month for a while.


My Feedback Ratio is has stayed at 97%. I have two books to read on my NetGalley Shelf, both of which are released next year. I requested Grandpa Frank’s Great Big Bucket List, and was then lucky enough to be sent a proof copy.

Books sent by publishers:

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

Books bought:

I’ve bought 14 books this month and have managed to read three of them, and start another one which I think might be a bit of a record for me!

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

Review: Skeleton Keys: The Wild Imaginings of Stanley Strange

Skeleton Keys:  The Wild Imaginings of Stanley Strange is the fifth adventure in this brilliantly fun series.  More shenanigans ensue as ‘Ol Skeleton Keys returns for another fantabulous tale of daring and mishaps and, this time, he’s going out of this world … 

Stanley Strange has unimagined his imaginary friend, Lucky, and then promptly disappears, leaving Lucky to face the wickedly sharp-witted Skeleton Keys and his partner, the backwards-headed, Daisy.  The rather suave ‘Ol Mr Keys offers to help Lucky find his best friend which takes them through The Door to Nowhere, and into an incredible adventure …

Through this Door is the Kingdom, a world where no humans are allowed … oops … cause someone let a human enter!  Who lives in a world like this?  Only the most weird and wonderful creatures like the hedgehog with a unicorn’s horn, and it’s about to get even stranger!  Luckily, the inhabitants of the Kingdom can only imagine good things, so what’s up with the dinosaur attack, the destructive robot and the space invaders!

The Kingdom is ruled by Lady Byrd who soon summons help from an old acquaintance of Mr Keys, ImagiNathan who is not exactly welcomed with open arms!  In fact, the normally perfectly level-headed and reasonable Mr Keys might be about to show his more competitive tendencies.  Will they be able to find Stanley before his wild imaginings destroy the Kingdom?

I really do love ‘Ol Mr Keys with his unique way with words, uber confidence and polite manner BUT then there’s Daisy.  She is so unapologetically rude, wickedly funny and direct, but she also has hidden depths, well-hidden, and I love when I get a glimpse of the kind-hearted Daisy, the Daisy who cares about others.

The full- and partial-page illustrations by Pete Williamson are absolutely stunning, full of expression and capturing this strange and wonderful world brilliantly.

This is such a playful, humorous and exciting adventure, with unexpected twists, that it is sure to capture and delight the imagination of its readers.  As with the other books in this series, I have no doubt that the children in my class will be desperate to get their hands on this new adventure. 

Thank you to Little Tiger for a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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 Kieran Larwood
Cover Illustration by Fernando López Juárez
Interior Illustration by David Wyatt
Published by Faber & Faber Limited

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

The points of the raised spears waver a little in the air, picking out juicy parts of Jori that they might land in.

This book in three words:


Firstly – wow, wow, wow! And, if that isn’t enough to make you instantly want to read the spectacularly stunning Uki and the Ghostburrow, then read on …

This is epic fantasy writing at its pinnacle: a story for anyone who longs to be swept into a richly-drawn world of breath-taking adventure, excitement and danger with heroes to root for, heroes who form heart-warming friendships, and who show great courage and strength to overcome evil. I was absolutely gripped from start to finish, starting it late in the evening, reading until my eyes wouldn’t stay open any longer (the sign of a great book) and then getting up early to finish it. Perfection!

This is the sixth book in the Five Realms series and is Uki’s third adventure. It is a series that has captured my heart, and taken me back to a time when I devoured books like Lord of the Rings and The Belgariad. This is a very popular series in my class, and I know that there will be many eager hands ready to pick this one up when I put it in my class library.

The bard and his friends are taken by a tribe of Arukh rabbits who are fiercely protective of their mountain territory and do not welcome strangers in their midst – in fact, they take the ears of those who encroach on their territory. However, Rue has been poisoned by the Endwatch, and these rabbits are the only ones who can provide the antidote. The bard has a tale to tell them, one that they are keen to hear, and one that may not only save Rue’s life … the tale of Uki and the Ghostburrow.

Uki has captured the spirit Charice, and needs to trap the final, and most dangerous spirit, Mortix, the spirit of death. Uki senses her in the great city of Eisenfell alongside an old enemy who has a connection to him. He soon discovers that Mortix has taken control of the City’s Emperor Ash, and is creating a terrifying army from his citizens.

Determined to stop Mortix before she takes control of the whole Five Realms, he makes his way to the City with his friends, Jori and Kree. With the help of some wonderful new friends, they find themselves beneath the City and in the Ghostburrow, and so begins the most engrossing, exciting and action-packed adventure …

This is an epic battle between good and evil, a fight for survival against tyranny. I was utterly absorbed in the quest, gasping out loud at the revelations and twists, and holding my breath as the danger reached a crescendo. My goodness, I have come to adore Uki, Kree and Jori, who are written with such warmth, depth and heart. Their friendship is so beautifully captured and feels completely natural offering strength, trust and support when most needed.

The illustrations are absolutely wonderful, and complement the scope of this fantastic adventure perfectly.

Finally, I’ll take you back to where I started: wow, wow, wow! This is a phenomenal, unputdownable masterpiece that I cannot recommend highly enough. After that ending, I’m crossing everything that there is another book in this series … I’m nowhere near ready to leave this world behind!

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 trying to do some baking (not very successfully!) and whilst doing that, I have been continuing to listen to The Shadow Keeper which I’m really enjoying.

I’m on half-term this week, so I’ve been enjoying more reading than usual. I finished Hag Storm which I really enjoyed. I will be posting my review next week as part of the Blog Tour. I also read The Red Gloves and Other Stories which I did like, but they weren’t quite as spooky as I was expecting. I then read a book I’ve been approved to read on NetGalley, Fledgling which is a powerful and unusual story that I really enjoyed. Not sure I’ve read anything quite like it – maybe Skellig is the closest! I was unexpectedly sent a copy of Explorers’ at Pirate Island which is a series I absolutely love for pure escapism and enjoyment. I dropped everything to read it, and am so glad I did. I will be posting my review shortly. Finally, I read the next book (I NEED there to be more!) in the Five Realms series, Uki and the Ghostburrow: WHAT A BOOK! I’ll say more tomorrow IF I can get wordpress editor to work!

I think I’m going for a complete change with my next read. Time School: We Will Stand with Them is a time adventure story where the main characters travel back into the past to find out about their family. I really enjoyed the last one, so am looking forward to this one.