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What’s on your book shopping list?

If you are like me, you will have two massive piles: books to be read and books to buy! Here’s a sneak peek at my current to buy list (or a fraction of it!)

Jewel never knew her brother Bird, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragedy of their family’s past; they say that Grandpa attracted a malevolent spirit–a duppy–into their home. Grandpa hasn’t spoken a word since. Now Jewel is twelve, and she lives in a house full of secrets and impenetrable silence.

Jewel is sure that no one will ever love her like they loved Bird, until the night that she meets a mysterious boy in a tree. Grandpa is convinced that the boy is a duppy, but Jewel knows that he is something more. And that maybe–just maybe–the time has come to break through the stagnant silence of the past.

This synopsis just sounds amazing!! It definitely seems like it’s going to be a tear jerker!

Eleven-year-old Mouse is travelling to see his grandparents on Christmas Eve with his mother and two sisters. But it’s snowing, and visibility is bad, and the car goes off the road, and crashes.

Mouse is thrown from the car.

When he wakes, he’s not in his world any more. He meets a sheep named Bar, who can only say Baaa, and a sarcastic horse named Nonky, who is a surprising mix of his beloved toy horse and his older sister.

So begins a quest to find a castle in a world of wonder – a world of monsters, minstrels, dangerous knights and mysterious wizards; a world of terrifying danger but also more excitement than Mouse has ever known.

But why are they looking for a castle? As the cold grows, we realise it might just have something to do with the family he’s left behind; and that Mouse’s quest is more important than ever.

Another intriguing blurb here! I desperately want to know how Mouse ends up in a fantasy world and I love books full of magic and wonder so this is right up my street!

Wow, something non-middle grade for a change!! My boys and I love the first two books in the series, ‘Oi Frog!’ And ‘Oi Dog!’ So this story of what should sit where is a natural follow on. Surely everyone knows that dogs sit on frogs and frogs sit on logs?!

It is nearly my littlest monster’s 2nd birthday and in a house that loves Julia Donaldson, we definitely need this! Despite it’s name, this book is a celebration of the animals that often get overlooked and I’m sure there will be a great moral in there somewhere!!

Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley- five friends thrown together one hot, sultry summer. When they discover an ancient stone box hidden in the forest, they decide to each make a sacrifice- something special to them, committed to the box for ever. And they make a pact- they will never return to the box at night; they’ll never visit it alone; and they’ll never take back their offerings.

Four years later, the gang have drifted apart. Then a series of strange and terrifying events take place, and Sep and his friends understand that one of them has broken the pact.

As their sacrifices haunt them with increased violence and hunger, they realise that they are not the first children to have found the box in their town’s history. And ultimately, the box may want the greatest sacrifice of all- one of them.

Sometimes you just need an older read and while this sounds intense, I have to uncover the mystery! I will be reading this when my husband is around and the lights are on!

So there are five of the books currently on my to buy list. What is on yours? ☺️📚

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Wonder

Author: R. J. Palacio

Published: 3rd January 2014

Publisher: Corgi

ISBN: 978-0552565974

RRP: £7.99

Age range: 9+

Available at: Wonder

Like, I suppose, many people, I hadn’t heard of this book until I saw the trailer for the movie, starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson. I really wanted to read the book first so bought this and the follow up, Auggie and Me.

Wonder is about Auggie, a little boy with a rare genetic disorder that causes him to look different (or in the words of the mean kids, ‘deformed’). Auggie’s parents decide to send him to school, having home-schooled him until the age of ten. He feels ordinary on the inside but also has to contend with the daily stares and jibes from people shocked by his appearance.

The story is told from several points of view, including Auggie, his sister, Via and Auggie’s friends, Summer and Jack. I loved this as it really gave a full picture of how Auggie’s appearance impacts upon others and how their actions shape him, such as when Summer’s peers try to pressure her into ditching Auggie and she stands by him or how Jack feels about his treatment of Auggie. I particularly loved the Via chapters as we get to see the conflict of her love for Auggie and the resentment and indifference to the situation as she herself works to fit in at a new school. Auggie himself is a funny and loveable character and there is a real sense of development from resignation about his appearance to his positivity later in the novel.

Wonder is so easy to read and I couldn’t put it down. The different points of view really get the message across about being kind. We’ve all been in positions like Jack where we say things to fit in at school, not realising the consequences, but this story just perfectly highlights that. Throw away comments can have a devastating impact and simple acts of kindness can change a person’s direction in life.

I don’t often cry at books but I did with this story. I like to think I’ve always been a Summer kind of girl, I don’t discriminate but reading this made me realise how difficult some people have it from others and how brave they are. It’s definitely a book that should be on every middle grade level bookshelf as it is so uplifting and thought provoking. I can’t wait to read Auggie and Me.

Rating: a definite 3/3, anything that creates more kindness is a winner!

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The Light Jar

Author: Lisa Thompson

Published: 4th January 2018

Publisher: Scholastic

ISBN: 978-1407171289

RRP: £6.99

Age range: 9+

Available at: The Light Jar

I have waited for this book since I finished ‘The Goldfish Boy’ and OMG, it was so worth it! This book is already creating a storm in reviews and on twitter and for all the right reasons.

The story opens with Nate and his mum driving away from home in the early hours with not much more than the clothes on their backs. They arrive at a dilapidated cottage in the middle of nowhere, which Nate doesn’t like but when mum heads out from provisions and doesn’t return, Nate must find a way to overcome his fear and solve the mystery, with the help of a strange young girl, and an imaginary friend.

There were a few really strong motifs throughout the story, the main one being the Light Jar/light and dark. The other one I really liked was the use of Nate’s ‘freaky things’ book, reminiscent of books, such as ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not’. These recurring motifs really strengthened the story, as Nate clings to the familiar for reassurance and to help tell his story.

What I love about the protagonists in Thompson’s books so far is that they are flawed. Despite their own problems and how they have been treat, they are equally as judgemental at times, and I think it is really true to life of children. In the two novels so far, Thompson has dealt with OCD, baby loss and domestic abuse at a middle grade level and with such sensitivity and poignancy that empathy just comes easily.

As an adult reading this book, the domestic abuse theme was clear to see but as a child reader, it might not be something that they have come across. The child’s viewpoint, through Nate, is brilliantly captured and we feel his fear and confusion at everything happening. I love books that challenge the construction of childhood as an innocent and magical time; for many children, this isn’t the case and Thompson really connects on this level, letting those children know they aren’t alone but things can get better.

Like ‘The Goldfish Boy’, ‘The Light Jar’ encompasses different layers so it can be enjoyed by child or adult, with varying perspectives and ideas on what is happening. It kept me guessing until the end, every time I thought I had it figured, Thompson tricked me!

Overall, a heartbreaking yet uplifting tale about facing one’s fears and always looking for the light.

Rating: 3/3, truly unmissable

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What’s on my #MG TBR pile: January

Hi all!

Well, with my new stash of books and existing books, I am set for some time! Uni work and my job both rudely hinder me from reading as much as I would like 😡😂! Still, here’s what is in my January pile!

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome: I’m not going to lie, I am struggling with this! As part of my children’s literature course, we have to study a variety of children’s books and the politics, sociology and other factors behind them. The course is fascinating and I have learned so much but some of the books are hard reading. I understand how the classics have shaped children’s literature and can show us the portrayal of childhood at any given point and while it is nice to read about the middle classes having a jolly good time playing explorers, it’s a bit twee for me!

The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson: I have been waiting for this book ever since The Goldfish Boy (check the contents page for y review!!). I know this will be equally gripping from word on the street and the author herself comes across as a truly genuine and gracious lady. I cannot wait for this!

Wonder by R. J. Palacio: Now a major motion picture, I thought I would do the book first (though the movie looks amazing!). I feel like there is going to be some amazing lessons to learn from this book and there is a lot of buzz surrounding it!

Zorgmazoo by Robert Paul Weston: a Christmas present from a good friend, this book is all in rhyme! I love anything a bit different and quirky so it’s going to be interesting to read this one, I’m guessing it will be quite humorous!

The Polar Bear Explorers Club by Alex Bell: I saw this in Waterstones and it just sounded too gripping and wintery to miss! I hate how sad January feels after Christmas is done so thought this would make the winter blues melt away!

Letters from a Lighthouse by Emma Carroll: I am ashamed to say I have not read a book by Emma Carroll yet but feel like this one needs to be the first. I met her at a school event last month and she was fabulous and so passionate about books and writing. Sky Chasers also looks beautiful (cover by my one of my fave illustrators, David Litchfield), so that will be working its way up my list!!

So that’s my list for this month! What books are you excited to crack open?

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The Girl Who Chased The Moon

Author: Sarah Addison Allen

Published: 17th February 2011

Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks

ISBN: 978-1444706635

RRP: £8.99

Age range: YA+

Available at: The Girl who Chased the Moon

First thing to say is that I read this after finding it in the teen area at Barter Books. It is technically women’s fiction I believe but is definitely acceptable as YA!

I first saw this book on Pinterest and loved the cover. I love stars and blue so it really grabbed me! Don’t judge a book by its cover but in this case, it worked!!

Emily Benedict moves to the town of Mullaby, South Carolina, after the death of her mother. This is no ordinary town though, it is a town of mysterious lights, of wallpaper that changes to match your mood and of the sweet sense, a sense that helps those who possess it to see where cakes are being made!

This book for men was just such an easy read. I grew up watching the film, Practical Magic on a regular basis (it is still one of my faves!) and this book reminded me of that. There were so many secrets I had to know the answer to that I couldn’t put the book down! All factors were in perfect quantities, including romance, humour, feel good factor and intrigue.

I think the only thing that didn’t work for me was that the characters weren’t as developed as I usually like and were a little bit 2D, although Julia, one of the main characters, definitely had a bit more about her.

Overall though, this book adds a little bit of sparkle to your day. Everyone should believe in magic and this book has it in abundance whilst also giving out the fuzzies!!

Rating: 2/3, I will definitely be going out of my way to read more of Sarah Addison Allen’s work!

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I’m back!!

Hello followers!

It has been some time, apologies. Between work, teacher training interviews, university and kids, life got a bit hectic!

I have added contents and a review policy to make this blog more transparent and easier to navigate! I have, after consideration, decided to focus only on books published in the last ten years, as I feel older books will have had a lot of reviews potentially and I really want to provide fresh content!

I have a new post coming tomorrow and hope to post once a week for now, potentially moving to bi-weekly.

Hope everybody had a lovely Xmas and New Year!

Naomi

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Cogheart

Author: Peter Bunzl

Published: 1st September 2016

Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN: 978-1474915007

RRP: £6.99

Age range: 9+

Available at: Cogheart

Recently I feel like all the books I’ve read that are suitable for KS2/3 have been mysteries but all so different and fantastic in their own way! Cogheart follows this trend and is superb!

13 year old Lily’s world is turned upside down by the disappearance of her father, an expert in mechanical people and animals. With the help of the local clockmaker’s son, Robert and her trusty mechanimal, Malkin the fox, Lily must go against the villains trying to thwart her in order the solve the mystery of Cogheart.

I don’t think of myself as a steampunk kind of girl, other than Professor Layton games, but this book revised my opinion. Set in Victorian Britain, this book heavily features air travel and robots, but all operated by traditional means, such as cogs and coal. The historical and futuristic elements merge together perfectly thanks to Bunzl’s fantastic storytelling and it creates an amazing and unique atmosphere in this book’s Victorian Britain.

The characters are well developed and while our protagonist, Lily, is feisty and rebellious, I love that her vulnerability and insecurities often come out too. Robert is a worthy sidekick and realistic. His flits between anger for the situation he is in to knowing he needs to help. I wanted a happier ending for him but while the fate of Lily’s father fit in with the sort, I feel that a happier ending for Robert would have taken the story a bit too far.

The supporting characters are great and I particularly love Mrs Rust and her various emphatic sayings: ‘stopwatches and spinning tops!’ ‘Cogs and chronometers!’ Each time is different and adds a bit of humour to the fast-paced adventure that is unravelling. The villains, unlike some of my recent reads, are mean, violent and not the grotesque, Dahl- style bumbling idiots, adding a touch of darkness to the story but not too much for the intended age.

The vocabulary throughout is varied and  drives the story, as well as enhancing the mechanical and mystery motifs. I also love the idea that the mechs oils be unique and feel, as humans can. Bunzl perfectly captures the discrimination against mechs too, no different to the real world and it’s fear of the misunderstood.

As the tale progresses and we learn the truth, the twist got me and I found the ending really satisfying, which not every author achieves but Bunzl does easily.

My only issue with this book is that I wasn’t clever enough to buy both at once! Definitely going to have to pick up Moonlocket this week!!

Rating: 3/3, bump it to the top of your pile, just make sure you buy both installments at once and avoid my mistake!!