I’ve almost finished Soulbinder which is absolutely gripping. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Kellen’s separation from Reichis and Ferrius but I coped – just about! There’s just something about this series that is so compelling. I’m glad I have Queenslayer to start when I finish this one tomorrow. I’m about halfway through The Twig Man which is a brilliantly spooky, dark and creepy read, perfect for this time of year.
I’ve finished reading Witchstorm which I really enjoyed. I thought the blending of the environment with magic worked really well. I have posted my review earlier this week.
I will be starting QueenSlayer tomorrow on audiobook. I didn’t get to Operation Nativity this week, but hope to start it next.
Witchstorm is an exhilarating fantasy adventure singing to the wonder of nature’s magic: a tale of long-forgotten witches, of lost treasure and of the heart of family and friendship.
Will believes in magic and in witches and is convinced that his Ma’s recent disappearance is linked to her search for a witch’s treasure, a treasure that is sung of in a song passed down through his family left to them by one of the last Fenland witches, Agatha Crow.
When searching for his Ma, Will discovers an amulet with a missing stone hidden by her and signs that witches have been at their wildlife hide. Have the witches taken his Ma? Why would she keep the amulet from them?
Taking the amulet to his aunt Hera, who is an archaeologist, he is surprised when a young witch crashes into his life. She has been drawn to the power of the amulet and needs the stone that should be at its centre to save her world. Can Will, who has been let down by his best friend, learn to trust Magda? Can they work together to save those that are precious to them, and their homes?
So begins the most incredible, atmospheric adventure as Will and Magda find themselves on a quest to find the Stormstone, a magical stone with the power to summon the mythical storm-lion and unleash terrifying storms capable of great destruction. But someone has awoken from a centuries-old slumber and is determined to control the Stormstone and use it to wreak revenge on the Fenlanders.
Will and Magda find themselves in a race to find the Stormstone before it is used against both the witches and the people of the Fens, a race which has them solving riddles, visiting the clouds, making narrow escapes and battling against a twisting tower as well as using some fantastic modes of transport! There is a real sense of danger, of threat and of time running out as the children realise the peril their worlds are in, and as they fight to save those they love as the villain edges ever closer and closer, and hope seems lost …
Will is a wonderful protagonist, a believer in magic and in stories and in songs. He is struggling to trust after he loses the friendship of his best friend, Alfie. Learning to trust Magda is difficult at first, but they bond over what they are both seeking. Will is kind-hearted, determined and courageous and is close to both his Ma and aunt Hera. He follows his heart, faces his fears and shows himself to be a wonderfully supportive friend.
I loved the ecological message in the story with the contrast between those like Will and his Ma who appreciated nature and want to see it flourish and be protected to those who do not care about destroying it in order to meet their needs. There is an apt warning that, whilst we may not be aware of the importance of what we are destroying, it could open the path for future peril. The natural environment has its own awe-inspiring magic and maybe we just need to take time to cherish it and look after it before we lose forever that which is of great benefit to us.
A magical, nature-inspired and heartfelt fantasy adventure that is a perfect read for cold, dark, spooky evenings … highly recommended for young adventurers of 9+.
Thank you to Usborne for providing me with a proof copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
Well, that has been both the longest and shortest month ever! I’m enjoying teaching my new class, and its so wonderful to see them becoming a class of readers as I share recommendations and chat to them about reading as well as sharing our wonderful class story, Orla and the Wild Hunt. Whilst I work most evenings, I am still determined to keep my weekends free! On to my reading month!
Books I’ve read:
I’ve read 8 books this month: 6 physical books and 2 audiobooks. I haven’t read very many books this month, but they’ve all been ones I’ve really enjoyed.
I’ve now been auto-approved by three Publishers on NetGalley which is wonderful – just one more to go for my badge! My Feedback Ratio is at 97% and I currently have three books on my shelf:
Books sent by publishers:
I have been lucky enough to have been sent these books by publishers this month. Amongst these are three wonderful collections of stories which would make brilliant Christmas presents. I have read and reviews Bedtime Stories: Incredible Irish Tales from the Past. I have also been sent a gorgeous hardback copy of The Tale of Truthwater Lake which is one I’ve already read on NetGalley – a fantastic timeslip novel. I’ve read a couple of the Anisha books and am looking forward to reading Fright Night! I loved Elsetime and am really looking forward to reading The Chestnut Roaster. I hadn’t heard of The Corny Scaredy-Cat Paranormal Investigation Squad, but the synopsis sounds great and I think it will be a great spooky month read!
I’ve bought 8 books this month which are all waiting patiently on my ever-increasing bookshelves!
How has your reading month been? Have you read any of these?Have you any of them on your TBR?
The Spectaculars is a spectacularly dazzling showstopper of an adventure: thrilling, magical and mesmerising.
Eleven-year-old Harper Woolfe is living in the Smoke in the almost deserted, rundown Theatre Borough with her mum, a mechanic, who runs a Fix-It Shop. She has little recollection of the first six years of her life, a life before a terrible tram accident in which she lost her father. Imagine her surprise when she is shoved into a flying canoe, and sees a blue-haired boy who her mother has always told her is just an imaginary friend. As her memories return, she learns that she is a Spectacular: a magical performer gifted with special powers from starlight and stardust, one of a group who were forced to leave the Smoke and seek a new home in the Hidden Peaks, a refuge from persecution for magical people.
The Spectaculars have been looking for Harper for the last five years, and have come to offer her an apprenticeship at the Grand Wondria Music Hall and Theatre, a travelling theatre and boarding school. With her mother’s encouragement, Harper is excited to begin a new life in the hope that she will no longer feel so alone …
But it is not long before she finds herself, alongside her friends Trick and Thief, on a mission to save her school as it is threatened by superstition and a terrifying creature which is not meant to exist. Could Harper be responsible for bringing the ill-luck that has beset the Wondria? Could the Four Curses – Death, Discord, Malady and Misfortune – be more than just a children’s rhyme and have they returned to torment the theatres?
Oh my goodness! If ever there was an adventure to bring the house down, then this is it, and I’m just so excited that there is going to be an encore! I was completely gripped by the frisson of excitement and danger, the revelations and the unexpected twists that left me open-mouthed. Be prepared to be shocked and surprised, astounded and amazed, as you venture with the Wondria through the Hidden Peaks, seeking to solve a mystery with Harper and her friends.
The world-building is breath-taking and a real explosion of imaginative delights! And there’s an intricate and gorgeous map! I loved that the Wondria converts to a tram as it travels around the different districts of the Hidden Peaks putting on spectacularly effervescent performances for its magical patrons, including fae, witches and kobolds as well as other Spectaculars. The onstage performances are enhanced by the performers use of Star-Stuff which allows them to duet with their own reflection, transform their appearance when acting and so much more. This is the Theatrics branch of Spectacular magic, but there is also the behind-the-scenes Mechanics branch which allows Spectaculars to create magical lighting, costumes and objects. I loved that there is a real appreciation of the whole theatrical experience which feels joyous and such an integral part of the story.
This adventure has the most wonderful cast of characters from the tea-loving, kind-hearted Chief Spectacular, Fletcher to the shape-shifting kobold Helja and Lori (who I won’t say anything else about!) but who I’m desperate to find out more about (maybe in the next book!).
Harper is a wonderful protagonist: bold, clever, determined and courageous in facing her fears. She has a love for the Mechanics branch of Spectacular magic and proves to be a talented apprentice. She forms a close friendship with both Trick and Thief, working together as a team when trying to save the Wondria. She is not scared to break the rules and fight with her heart when she is angered by the treatment of others.
The Spectaculars is a sparkling, enchanting adventure which celebrates the magic and wonder of the theatre, perfect for readers of 9+.
Thank you to Fritha Lindqvist and Usborne for providing me with a proof copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
I’m listening to the fourth book in the Spellslinger series, Soulbinder. This series just keeps getting better and better. I am so invested in Kellen’s life now, and am really sympathising with the situation he has found himself in, particularly with the separation from his friends which I really, really hope is just temporary as the rapport between them is one of my favourite parts of the story. I haven’t actually started reading Witchstorm, but I will be later this evening!
I finished listening to Charmcaster which was fantastic. This time they have to contend with a mechanical invention which could lead to war. This is a series which I am absolutely loving hence going straight on to the next one. I also read The Spectaculars which was a wonderfully magical celebration of all things theatrical! I will be posting my review tomorrow. I have also read Bedtime Stories: Incredible Irish Tales from the Past which has some fascinating stories about Irish historical figures, sportspeople and scientists. I posted my review yesterday.
I am a huge fan of Rachel Pierce’s previous book, Ireland: The People, The Places, The Stories, so I was keen to dive into Bedtime Stories: Incredible Irish Tales from the Past which is a brilliantly engaging exploration of historical events in Ireland’s fascinating history. Each historical event is told through short 4-5 page stories, perfect for both bedtime and anytime reading, each introduced by a stunning full-page illustration and a further interior illustration.
This is a wonderful collection of stories, each introduced by an intriguing title and a short introduction often directly addressing the reader before sharing the story in a style that makes them perfect for reading aloud. Each story ends with a reference to somewhere you can visit, or a website/film reference, to keep the story alive and find out more – perfect for young historians!
There are 15 stories written by Rachel which cover a vast period of Irish history from the early 12th century to 2020! I have no idea how these stories were chosen, but I found every one utterly absorbing and read them over two evenings. These stories include historical figures from our distant past, scientists, pirates and slaves, sportsmen, barristers, and a pigeon! I think what they all have in common are courage, resilience and determination – and a little of that Irish stubbornness! This collection is a wonderful way to have their stories heard and remembered.
Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed all the stories and loved the breadth of history covered, I particularly appreciated the stories of the strong Irish women who pushed against the expectations of them in the period in which they were born: Isabel de Clare who successfully defended against a siege on Kilkenny Castle; scientists Mary Ward (nee King) and Maude Delap; Bronze Olympic archery medallist, Beatrice Hill-Lowe; and, the first women to be become barristers in Britain and Ireland, Averil Deverell and Frances Kyle. I also loved the story of Paddy the Pigeon who won the Dickin Medal in recognition of his bravery carrying coded messages during the Second World War.
As well as the 15 stories by Rachel, there is also a wonderful story by a young reader who was a winner in the Children’s Books Ireland creative writing competition. This one really struck a chord with me as I was going through my late father’s coin collection (which I didn’t know he had!) when I was home in Ireland over the summer and, amongst his collection, was an old ‘pingin’ penny from 1941 with a mother hen and her chicks.
The illustrations which are included at the start of, and within, each story are beautiful and complement this special collection perfectly. There is a stunning montage of the main images at the start and end of the collection of stories. There is further information about each illustrator included at the end of the book: Donough O’Malley, Erin Brown, Eva Byrne, Jennifer Davison, Linda Fahrlin, Lydia Hughes, Roisin Hahessy and Una Woods.
This is a fantastic collection of inspirational stories celebrating Ireland’s rich past, both distant and more recent, perfect as a read aloud for younger children and for older children to explore independently. This gorgeous hardback, beautifully illustrated, edition would make a special Christmas gift which I have no doubt would be a treasured and much-loved possession.
Thank you to Harriet Dunlea and Scholastic for providing me with an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
The Girl, the Ghost and the Lost Name is a deliciously dark, spooky adventure filled with intrigue, danger and magic as well as some wonderfully unique, heart-warming friendships. Corpse’s quest to find her memories, her family and her name, whilst battling terrifying villains, kept me utterly spellbound throughout.
Corpse is a ghost who has made herself a body from wax with green seaweed hair and shells for eyes. She believes that possessing this effigy will stop her from facing Death Proper and allow her to stay in the world of the living. She haunts the roof of a shack on the rock-that-doesn’t exist as it is kept hidden from prying eyes by the three witches that live there, witches that Corpse avoids. She stays hidden from the terrifying witches, and is alone except for her rather endearing and loyal friend: a huntsman spider which she has named Simon and who communicates with her through a series of clicks.
When Corpse is visited by a ghost, the Old Man, she is warned that she needs to escape from the rock as the witches are determined to regain their lost treasure, a precious treasure that actually belongs to Corpse, and which will restore her lost memories. The witches need the treasure in order to restore their magic, magic that is being lost to them as the rock dies. Can Corpse find her lost treasure, and stop the witches becoming even more powerful? Can she unlock her memories, and discover the name that has been lost to her?
And so begins the most incredible tale as Corpse finds herself in the eerily atmospheric fishing town of Elston-Fright: a tale of darkness, danger and treachery, with heart-pounding twists and turns, which had me racing through the pages of this brilliantly fast-paced adventure. I loved that Corpse was reunited with a friend she thought she had lost forever, and that she makes some new friends which balances the darker moments of the story as she battles against the chilling cruelty of the witches. I’m going to leave it there for fear of spoilers, but suffice to say that this is a story that will wind its way into your heart, and both warm and chill it, as secrets are uncovered and the past comes to haunt.
There is a darkness in this story that is perfect for spooky nights and a real otherworldly atmosphere with nail-biting moments of tension and spine-tingling frights. There are also some wonderful friendships, and an underlying sense of hope as Corpse comes to realise that the strength of her magic doesn’t come from the magic of the rock, or even her treasure, but from the love she has for her found family and friends. I found the ending beautifully heart-warming – and then there is ‘Elsewhere’ which makes me desperately hope that there will be another visit to Elston-Fright!
This is the most magical, spine-tinglingly spooky adventure to cuddle up with on a dark evening, perfect for readers of 9+ and their adults! An absolute must-devour-in-one-sitting read!
Reece Carter is a high-profile Australian nutritionist who has written two non-fiction books for adults, appeared on many of Australian’s major television networks, and written for magazines like GQ. He grew up in rural Western Australia and now lives in Sydney. He has always wanted to write for children and The Girl, the Ghost and the Lost Name is his first novel, perfect for fans of Tim Burton and Neil Gaiman.
Thank you so much to Kaleidoscopic Tours for inviting me to be part of the Blog Tour, and to Usborne for providing me with a copy of The Girl, the Ghost and the Lost Name in exchange for my honest opinion.
Do check out the other stops on this week’s Blog Tour below:
It’s time for my October anticipated children’s book releases – a wonderful mix of spooky stories, Christmas stories and exciting adventures. There are only two new-to-me or debut authors in this collection, so I’m mostly returning to favourite series and/or authors whose previous books I’ve loved.
I’ve taken each synopsis from the Waterstones website except for Emba Oak which I’ve taken from the Publisher’s website.
It’s the near-future and Britain is having yet another heatwave. Of course, the government have put in the normal curfews for this kind of weather, and shops are forced to shut again. For Polly, it’s the sort of heat that makes her do wild, out-of-character things just to cool down. Like face her fear of deepwater. Essential when she and her brother have been sent to their aunt’s eco lake-side house for the summer. But Truthwater Lake is beginning to dry up. As the water level diminishes, a lost village emerges. Swimming over the rooftops at midnight, Polly dives down and is suddenly able to breathe, to hear church bells and bird song… Polly has discovered an underwater gateway… to the past!
London, 1601. Honesty, a storyteller seeking fame and fortune, befriends Alice, a maid to Queen Elizabeth I. But can Alice be trusted? A tale of intrigue, scheming and plots set in the spellbinding world of the Elizabethan court. A thrilling adventure where nothing is as it seems.
A dark, gothic adventure set on the island of Anglesey in North Wales and featuring a very fantastical beast… Wren lives in an ancient castle in the mountains near the sea. The wind whistles through it and the walls sing to her. Wren is busy inventing things, and her father is busy disapproving. But the castle contains a mystery and as Wren is drawn further into it, she realises the answer lies in the very foundations of her home, foundations that are being shaken to their core…
Theodora, Sherman and Dexter are off to the Big Apple for the holidays, and they cannot wait! However, if Dracula and Mummy thought an overseas trip would keep Theodora safe from bad monsters with sinister intentions, they were wrong. For New York is teeming with Shadowmongers – sly, shadowy creatures controlled by the most sinister foe of all. A foe who wants nothing more than to see the Monstrous League of Monsters brought down … and Theodora with it.
Adam has found something incredible in a rubbish dump in London. A mysterious, mythical, magical animal. A tyger. And the tyger is in danger. Adam and his friend Zadie are determined to help, but it isn’t just the tyger’s life at stake. Their whole world is on the verge of destruction. Can they learn to use their powers before it’s too late?
The Christmas-crazy Carrolls are back – and this time, they have an ice-skating baby penguin! There’s a new family in town determined to steal the Carrolls’ tinselly crown. Can Holly and her family win the Christmas Chronicle’s competition for the Most Festive Family? Or will they discover that there is more to life than perfect Christmas decorations, a personal toboggan run, and more pressies than you can shake a candy cane at?
Harrison Beck and Uncle Nat climb aboard the night train to Narvik, travelling to the Arctic Circle to see the northern lights for Christmas. But as their train leaves Stockholm, Hal and Uncle Nat realize they’re being followed by a sinister figure, and Hal’s powers of observation are tested when Uncle Nat’s past comes back to haunt him. Journeying into the never-ending night of the arctic winter, our railway detectives must outsmart an assassin in their most chilling adventure yet, in which nothing is as it seems.
The beast, who has tried to eat Bethany twice and controlled Ebenezer Tweezer for 511 years, is now in prison. Even better, it seems to have lost its despicable mind and is pinky-winky promising to be a do-gooding beast, vomit out helpful gifts, and be besties with Bethany and Ebenezer. There’s really no sign of the old beast at all any more, as long as you don’t count that hungry belly which still needs feeding…
When Oscar and Molly rush outside to investigate a crash in the night, they’re not expecting to find a dazed Angel Gabriel wandering around their grandparents’ back garden. And they’re certainly not expecting to find themselves in a race to save Christmas. But if they don’t track down a missing shepherd, wise man, donkey and the actual Mary and Joseph, who’ve all crash-landed in Chipping Bottom, not only will Christmas cease to exist, but they will too. Operation Nativity is on.
Every year a Halloween Ball is thrown by the Topunders for their friends in Underland. It’s a big deal – excellent gloating fodder – and every Topunder family wants the honour of hosting it. Finally, it seems as though the Malign family luck has changed; this is their year. Preparations are in full swing when the Underland Mayor is ghostnapped, throwing Underland into turmoil. Worse is to come when the mayor is discovered in the Malign oubliette. It is down to Malice, Seth and Uncle Vex to prove Ma and Pa’s innocence and bring the real culprits to justice. If they don’t, it will be more than just the Halloween Ball in ruins…
The grown-ups all think she’s going to die soon-she can see it in their eyes. Still, when poor twelve-year-old Stina is sent to remote Raspberry Hill Sanatorium she can’t believe her luck. She gets to ride in a real motor car to the hospital, which looks like a magnificent castle hidden deep in the forest. But as Stina explores the long, echoey corridors of her eerie new home, she begins to suspect that the building is concealing a dark secret. How did the old East Wing burn down? Why doesn’t her mother reply to any of her letters? And what are the nurses all so afraid of? Stina is determined to solve the mystery of Raspberry Hil l-but as she edges closer to the truth, she finds herself in terrible danger…
Turn on your torches and join Aveline Jones! Aveline is determined to discover the truth behind her uncle’s mysterious disappearance when she travels to his home with Mum and Aunt Lilian. After years of hoping Aveline’s uncle would return, they have finally decided to sell his house – but Aveline and Harold have other plans. Sneaking into her uncle’s study, Aveline discovers he had been researching possible supernatural activity around an ancient burial mound – and linked this with the unexplained disappearances of other local villagers. Dark, magical forces are at work, and they’ll do anything to remain hidden, as Aveline and Harold soon learn…
It’s a cold winter during the Great Frost of 1683. Thomasina and Anne are the best of friends, one running her father’s sweet shop and the other the apprentice at the family apothecary – together they sell their goods on the frozen River Thames. When a family tragedy turns Thomasina’s world upside down, she is drawn to a mysterious conjuror and the enchanted frost fair. But soon the world of Father Winter threatens to claim everything she holds dear. Will they be able to solve the magical mysteries that surround them…?
Step through the door in the tree and into another breathtaking adventure. . . When Anneshka’s hunt for the greatest kingdom brings her into our world, Imogen and Marie know it’s bad news. But Anneshka isn’t their only problem. Mum’s boyfriend, Mark, is sick and getting sicker, thanks to the monsters he accidentally carried home. Can the girls escape Anneshka and find a cure for Mark before it’s too late? Their quest will take them through the door in the tree and further than ever before, into the magical lands of Nedobyt beyond. But there is more to this kingdom than meets the eye. Miro, Imogen and Marie must learn its secrets if they’re to save their families – and stop Anneshka once and for all. . .
“Starting on All Fools Day, twelve years ago, I remember everything. EVERYTHING. That was a wet Saturday, and that was the day I was born.” 12-year-old Piaf has the ability to (and burden of) remembering everything that has happened since the day she was born. When she discovers everyone in Paris has forgotten the entire last year, 1887, including the disappearance of several gifted children, Piaf and her twin brother Luc embark on a dangerous journey that brings them to the depths of Paris’s underground twin, the Catacombs, to capture the memory thief and find the lost children.
All the best stories and adventures start with a knock at the door… Or the thwump of a dragon’s tail at the entrance to her cave, in the case of Emba Oak. But then nothing about Emba’s story is normal; from the scales on her arms and legs, to the shocking discovery that she hatched out of a dragon’s egg. Even more shocking is the news that an evil sorcerer is after her dragon blood and will do anything to get his hands on it. Can Emba keep herself safe or will her loved ones pay the price?
I think the run-up to Christmas is going to be full of wonderful reads if these are any indication! Have any of these grabbed your interest?
War of the Wind is a powerful, intense, action-packed eco-thriller that completely gripped me both with its edgy mystery, and its authentic portrayal of the lives of children with additional support needs who are central to solving the mystery.
Fourteen-year-old Max has been deaf for two years, following a boating accident on his father’s trawler two years before, and he is finding life really tough. He is excited to learn that wind turbines are coming to Scragness Island, not so much for the cheap energy they will provide, but because they will also be providing mobile phone coverage and internet access, giving him a better opportunity to communicate.
However, after noticing strange lights at the substation and finding dead bats, Max begins to worry that there may be a more sinister reason for the wind turbines on the island. Could they be related to the unwelcome changes taking place on the island, changes that could put the islanders at risk? When Max discovers that the island is being used as part of a secret government experiment, being led by a sinister scientist, he is determined to shut it down before island life implodes. With the help of three classmates with additional support needs, they begin to uncover the terrifying truth and the depth of the danger that the islanders face.
I was absolutely gripped – and fascinated – by the premise behind the experiment, unable to put the book down as the tension built almost unbearably as the calculated manipulations of a cold villain warred with the brave, clever and determined teenagers intent on thwarting him.
This story is told in the first person: Max’s voice is incredibly authentic and honest, flaws and all. Max is a teenager who is fighting a battle both within himself to come to terms with his profound deafness as well as on the outside with his struggle to stop the experiment taking place on his island home. He is angry and frustrated that his hearing has been taken from him; that he has seemingly been replaced in his parents’ affections by a baby sister; that his father is unwilling to communicate with him in writing and accept his disability; and, that his friends have deserted him and are now treating him in the same dreadful way they treated all the ‘specials’.
This would be a fantastic story to open up discussions around a number of themes, including bullying, communication, navigating changing relationships within family and friendship groups, disability and environmental change. It is definitely a story that will encourage empathy and I can absolutely see it being a brilliant Reading Group text.
This is a stunning, thought-provoking and insightful thriller with the intricacies and importance of communication and relationships at its heart. An absolute must-read, and a brilliant addition for secondary school libraries.
Thank you to Neem Tree Pressfor providing me with a proof copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
I haven’t picked up a physical book to read this week yet as work is hectic, and I’m too tired by the time I’ve finished work to read. I am listening to Charmcaster and loving it. I feel so immersed in this world now, and am loving the political intrigue and sharp wit.
I finished two books over the Bank Holiday weekend. I absolutely loved The Girl, the Ghost and the Lost Name and will be posting my review next week as part of the Blog Tour. I also read the young adult book, War of the Wind which was incredible. I loved the mix of eco-thriller and coming to terms with disability. The disability rep was sensitively portrayed, and it was so wonderful to see these characters as central to the plot, challenging stereotypes. I am writing my review and hope to post it in the next few days.