SEVEN GHOSTS – Chris Priestley

5/5

RELEASED: 15/10/2019
PUBLISHER: Barrington Stoke
GENRE: YA, Ghost Story

Jake and the other finalists in a writing competition have been invited to a stately house for a tour like no other. As their guide leads them through grand rooms, hidden nooks and magnificent grounds, they hear the stories of seven ghosts who haunt the halls. But strange shapes and shadows follow Jake as he journeys through the house and with each tale that Jake hears, he begins to feel more uneasy. All is not as it seems and soon Jake will discover that something is very, very wrong … Old ghosts are stirred-up for Halloween in this spine-tingling, multi-narrative horror. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 8+

It’s been a while since I’ve sat and read anything more than a picture book in one sitting, but Seven Ghosts just gripped me from the very beginning! I expected to like this book because I do love a good YA ghost story and I know that Chris Priestley is an example of a fab author for these books, but what caught me off guard was just how much I loved it. I finished Seven Ghosts and immediately wanted to pick it up again and revisit the story!

This review will be short and sweet because I honestly think going into this book knowing as little as possible is the best way! It’s so well written and the story flows perfectly keeping you gripped throughout. It’s chilling and spooky and makes for the perfect Halloween read. I will definitely be picking up Seven Ghosts every year to read in October, and I highly recommend that if you’re after a good scary YA book that you do the same!


Thank you to Kirstin at Barrington Stoke for sending me a copy of this book!

LIGHTS ON COTTON ROCK – David Litchfield

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RELEASED: 03/09/2019
PUBLISHER: Frances Lincoln
GENRE: Children’s, Picture Book

Heather is a little girl who wants to go to Outer Space, where the stars sparkle with magic and wonder. When a spaceship lands at Cotton Rock, it seems that all of her dreams have come true. But soon the alien has to leave. Will the spaceship ever come back? And if it does, is Heather ready to leave everything on Earth behind? This beautiful story for ages 4-7 about family and dreams travels through space and time to show us that what we are looking for might be closer than we think.

I’m a huge fan of David Litchfield’s work, and so, naturally, I was very excited to see that he had a new beautiful book coming out! And wow, this one certainly doesn’t disappoint!

Lights on Cotton Rock is full of David’s usual wonderful illustrations where your imagination can run wild as the artwork and the words complement each other perfectly. Rather than have writing to explain every illustration, there are pages where the pictures are the sole thing telling the story and that makes you appreciate the talent that David has even more! I adore the message of family with this book and can’t recommend it highly enough.

A must for fans of David Litchfield, and a must for anyone who has yet to discover this incredible storyteller and artist!


Thank you to Chris at Quarto for sending me a copy of this book!

Six for Sunday: 29th September 2019

Okay…so I still haven’t got my blogging mojo back, and I finally have a little bit of time to sit and write some posts. What better one to start with than a favourite – Six for Sunday! However…I haven’t taken part all month which meant that I missed a theme that I would love to do, so I’m going to go back to September 8th. Six for Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by A Little But A Lot! Today’s (September 8th) theme is:

Back to School Realness: books set in schools

  1. Malory Towers – Enid Blyton
  2. St Clare’s – Enid Blyton
  3. The Year After You (Hope Hall) – Nina de Pass
  4. Trebizon – Anne Digby
  5. Murder Most Unladylike (Deepdean) – Robin Stevens
  6. Midnight for Charlie Bone (Bloor’s) – Jenny Nimmo

Well, this list was easy to put together! I could’ve gone on; I’m a sucker for books set in schools! Have you read any of these?

kayleigh

 

NO BIG DEAL – Bethany Rutter

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RELEASED: 08/08/2019
PUBLISHER: Pan Macmillan
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary

It’s not my body that’s holding me back. It’s more of a problem that people keep telling me it should.

Meet Emily Daly, a stylish, cute, intelligent and hilarious seventeen-year-old about to start her last year at school. Emily is also fat. She likes herself and her body. When she meets Joe at a house party, he instantly becomes The Crush of Her Life. Everything changes. At first he seems perfect. But as they spend more time together, doubts start to creep in.

With her mum trying new fad diets every week, and increasing pressure to change, Emily faces a constant battle to stay strong, be her true self and not change for anyone.

No Big Deal is a warm, funny inspiring debut YA novel from Bethany Rutter: influencer, editor and a fierce UK voice in the debate around body positivity.

I wasn’t too sure at first as to whether I wanted to request to read this book before publication; I’m not a huge fan of the cover (it just isn’t something I’d pick up off the shelf and it’s pink…) and books about weight can be a bit hit and miss for me. However, I am so so glad that I did decide to hit that request button and grateful to the publisher for sending it to me!

From the very beginning I was hooked; Emily is a brilliant narrator and it was so easy to get lost in this book. On the surface it ticks all the boxes for a great YA contemporary, but it goes so much deeper than that with the whole body image storyline. Add to that there’s a whole host of interesting and diverse characters who didn’t just fit into their stereotype.

The main theme of body image is handled brilliantly and in a way that isn’t triggering. It’s about acceptance and feeling comfortable in your own skin rather than about trying to change yourself and be someone you’re not. The thing that really pushes this over to a 5 star book is this aspect because it promotes positive body image and this is something that’s extremely important to get across in YA books at a time where teens and young adults do tend to struggle with these issues. However, I do love that it also showed how negative body image can be something that impacts upon later life. This really is a book that I could’ve done with when I was younger, but even now I’ve found it to be so beneficial in making me feel more comfortable about myself!

I’d find it quite interesting to hear what a male’s take on this book would be; whilst it is very much catered for young females with its narrator and themes, without giving too much away there are aspects where it touches upon how guys respond to girls and how a girl’s body image can be impacted upon by their reactions and what they do and don’t do/say.

It’s without hesitation that I give this book five stars; days after reading it I still can feel its impact and would love to read it again in the near future! Highly, highly recommend.


Thank you to My Kinda Book via NetGalley for sending me the eBook of this title!

BECAUSE OF YOU – Eve Ainsworth

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RELEASED: 15/07/2019
PUBLISHER: Barrington Stoke
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Dyslexia Friendly

Poppy’s having a nightmare at home. Her parents have split up and her mum’s new boyfriend is moving in. Dad is the one who’s always been there for Poppy, but now he’s drifting further and further away. It seems like things can’t get any worse until it all goes wrong at school as well and Poppy finds herself being targeted by spiteful bullies. As the vicious online comments keep coming, who can Poppy turn to for help? Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 12+

Eve Ainsworth is a staple author for fans of UKYA contemporary books, and so I was very excited to see that she’s releasing a novella with Barrington Stoke this year! The thing that I love about Eve’s books is how she doesn’t shy away from difficult topics but also creates stories and characters to love. Because of You is no exception.

I think that Eve has really hit the nail on the head with all the emotions that go with being a teen in a non-nuclear family, as well as dealing with some difficult topics such as parents separating, rejection and bullying.  Change is something that can be so difficult to deal with, no matter what age you are, and so to see it handled so positively and constructively is brilliant. I also like how this is suitable for the younger teen market which is an area where there are few books.

This is a standout title from Barrington Stoke for me; it’s full of what makes UKYA so brilliant, but in a way that’s accessible to a wider range of readers, and so I’d highly recommend it!


Thank you to Kirstin at Barrington Stoke for sending me a copy of this book!

WORK IT GIRL: J.K. ROWLING – Caroline Moss, Sinem Urkas

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RELEASED: 07/03/2019
PUBLISHER: Frances Lincoln
GENRE: Children’s Non-Fiction, Biography

In this new series for aspiring future girl #bosses, discover the life of JK Rowling, the famous author. Be inspired by her remarkable story, and learn 10 key lessons from her life and work. Featuring inspiring quotes and mantras, this is a book for all girls wanting to forge their own career path.

I’m absolutely a Potter nerd, and I find the whole history of the world and of the books fascinating, and so I was very keen to get my hands on this book all about the lady behind the magic!

Boss The Bestseller List Like J.K. Rowling makes for a really interesting read. Although I knew that she had a difficult time before Harry Potter got published and on the road to publication, I didn’t realise a lot of the things that this book mentioned. That said, it was all put across in such a positive way, and it wasn’t hard to finish this book feeling very inspired and empowered.

This book makes a wonderful gift; it’s bold and engaging, and I flew through it! This series is a fabulous idea that shows young girls that they too can achieve regardless of the difficulties life may throw their way.


Thank you to Ellen at Quarto for sending me a copy of this book!

RETURN TO WONDERLAND – Various

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RELEASED: 27/06/2019
PUBLISHER: Pan Macmillan
GENRE: Children’s Fiction, Middle Grade

Return to Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland with this stunning collection of original stories from today’s biggest children’s authors – Peter Bunzl, Pamela Butchart, Maz Evans, Swapna Haddow, Patrice Lawrence, Chris Smith, Robin Stevens, Lauren St John, Lisa Thompson, Piers Torday and Amy Wilson.

Tumble down the rabbit hole again to find out what happens in Wonderland without Alice there. Is the Queen of Hearts still ruling with an iron fist? Does the Mad Hatter still have to go to tea? And will Tweedledum and Tweedledee ever resolve their argument?

More than 150 years since Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first published by Macmillan, revisit Carroll’s amazing cast of characters – including the Queen of Hearts, the Mock Turtle, the Dormouse, the Cheshire Cat and Alice’s Sister in these brand-new stories, that will bring a new generation of readers to Wonderland.

I’ll start off this review with a confession; I’ve never read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (I’ve had a copy since I was about 9…it’s still on the TBR, although I’ve read bits!). Alice in Wonderland isn’t even in my top 20 Disney films. That said, I’ve been very excited about reading Return to Wonderland; some of my favourite children’s authors have contributed short stories to this collection and I couldn’t resist finally immersing myself in Wonderland!

I really enjoyed this book; I love how each author’s unique style of writing and voice came through in their stories, and how even for authors I’ve not read before I could pick out what makes people love their writing. The introductory paragraph at the beginning of each story was a really nice touch to introduce you to the author and their story.

Onto the stories themselves; they were magical and wonderful and completely bizarre! The thing that I loved about having modern day authors contributing was that their writing really brought Wonderland to life and in a way that didn’t, for me, come across as stuffy or dated, but at the same time they stayed fairly true to Lewis Carroll’s original.

I’d definitely recommend this book as a brilliant introduction to Wonderland and to classic children’s literature; I think that if I’d read this when I was a child I would’ve been keen to go on to read the original story that it follows on from! It’s amazing that 150 years on from the original, people are still reading about Wonderland and this book is a brilliant addition to that world.


Thank you to Macmillan via NetGalley for the eBook of this title.

My Audible Favourites

I love audiobooks and have done since I was very little! Today, I’d like to share some of my favourites for both story and narration. Now, this list is by no means an exhaustive list because I have a very large collection of audiobooks spread across cassette tapes, CDs and Audible but all of the ones I’ve mentioned below are available on Audible. I’d highly recommend all of these, and I’m sure that there’s something for everyone among them!

ME BEFORE YOUJojo Moyes
narrated by Jo Hall et al.

I adore Me Before You anyway, both the book and the film, and so I was sure that I was going to love the audiobook too. The narration is brilliant and really absorbs you in the story – Jo Hall really does justice to the character of Louisa.

HARRY POTTERJ.K. Rowling
narrated by Stephen Fry

It wouldn’t be a list of my favourite audiobooks without this series featuring. I love the Stephen Fry and the Jim Dale audiobooks and have listened to them over and over again! One of my favourite Audible memories is driving in the Welsh countryside with my bestie listening to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – it’s divine!

CARAVALStephanie Garber
narrated by Rebecca Soler

Caraval gets a lot of hype, and rightly so; it’s brilliant. Although I did receive a proof copy of this book way back when, it was listening to it as an audiobook that really made me fall in love with this story. I was captivated, and the narration is really good.

ENCHANTÉEGita Trelease
narrated by Justine Eyre

I love Enchantée and as soon as I finished reading I was hoping that there would be an audiobook! I was hoping for a good narrator to bring this story to life, and Justine Eyre is just that.

MIDNIGHT FOR CHARLIE BONEJenny Nimmo
narrated by Simon Russell Beale

This one is up there with Harry Potter for its soothing narration and magical story; I remember listening to this over and over growing up when I had it on cassette!

THE NIGHT CIRCUSErin Morgenstern
narrated by Jim Dale

Whilst I haven’t finished reading or listening to this one, I already know that I love The Night Circus, and Jim Dale is the perfect narrator to bring it to life. As soon as I saw who the narrator was I decided to buy it!

REASONS TO STAY ALIVEMatt Haig
narrated by Matt Haig

I wasn’t sure what this would be like as an audiobook; it’s a highly important book, but I’d never really listened to non-fiction or self-help books before. However, it’s hands down one of my favourites and is surprisingly easy to listen to, and, like the physical book, I’d recommend it highly to anyone who struggles with their mental health and to anyone who would like to understand the difficulties some people face with regards to mental health. Matt Haig makes for a brilliant narrator and it adds a new and personal level to his book.

LOVE LESSONS Jacqueline Wilson
narrated by Finty Williams

My favourite Jacqueline Wilson book by far, Love Lessons is just a good book and Finty Williams does well at narrating it. I had a lot of Jacqueline Wilson audiobooks when I was younger, and this one was by far the best for narration too.

MALORY TOWERSEnid Blyton
narrated by Esther Wane et al.

I got Audible purely to download this collection. Growing up, my favourite cassettes were my abridged Malory Towers ones, and so I needed to be able to listen to it on the go in the modern age! Esther Wane is a brilliant narrator and the cast really support that, and I love that you can recognise some voices from other Blyton audiobooks!

What are your favourite audiobooks? If you’ve not tried Audible, I’d definitely recommend signing up for a free trial to see how you get on! In addition, if you fancy any of the books I’ve mentioned and haven’t received a book from someone on Audible, I can send you a copy!

NEW CLASS AT MALORY TOWERS – Enid Blyton

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RELEASED: 27/06/2019
PUBLISHER: Hachette
GENRE:

It’s time to welcome new girls to Malory Towers, the famous boarding school by the sea, in four brand-new stories by outstanding authors, set in Enid Blyton’s much-loved school.

YA and Waterstones Book Prize-winner Patrice Lawrence introduces us to proud Marietta with her magnificent head of braided hair. A dormitory argument reveals something unusual about Marietta, and something equally unexpected about Alicia.

In Guardian and Stylist columnist Lucy Mangan’s story, student librarian Evelyn is wary of her lively, lacrosse-playing classmates. When one of them becomes a regular visitor to the hushed domain of the library, can Evelyn really trust her?

Sunita Sharma joins Malory Towers surrounded by a sense of mystery, in Narinder Dhami’s fabulous story. But is Sunita really as glamorous as Gwendoline imagines?

In Rebecca Westcott’s heartwarming story, Darrell and friends fear the worst when spoilt Gwendoline’s cousin joins the school. But Maggie is very different from her stuck-up relative . . .

I’ve just devoured this book in one sitting and it’s taking a lot of restraint to not write this whole review in capitals and a jumble of excitable letters! I credit Enid Blyton with being the author who made me into the reader that I am today, and one of the series that I love in particular is Malory Towers. So, when I saw this latest addition I immediately picked it up and couldn’t wait to start reading.

I’ve not read anything by any of these authors before, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Authors such as Pamela Cox and Anne Digby in particular have done an amazing job of taking hold of the reins with some of Blyton’s most loved series and so, with New Class at Malory Towers, Patrice Lawrence, Lucy Mangan, Narinder Dhami and Rebecca Westcott had some big shoes to fill! All four have crafted new stories for the 21st century that are set in the world of Darrell Rivers and her friend’s Malory Towers and it felt like being back home. Familiar faces and stories from the original series are referenced throughout although we have the pleasure of meeting a whole host of new girls. I read this book with a warm fuzzy feeling.

I think that my favourite story was Narinder Dhami’s The Secret Princess; it had me laughing along with the girls and I was so entertained. It wasn’t the story that I expected and I raced through it! That said, I did enjoy all of the stories and they all rated either 4 or 5 stars for me.

I do also have to point out the excellent cover illustration from Pippa Curnick. Many of my friends will recall my frustrations growing up as new covers were released of Blyton’s books and illustrations were either just awful or not true to the books. Pippa’s have breathed a breath of fresh air into the series and have made it one that will appeal to readers today as well as to fans of Blyton like me!

I’d highly, highly recommend this book for fans of Enid Blyton both old and new, and I also think that this would make an excellent introduction to Blyton’s books for younger readers who may find the language and setting of the original series a little old fashioned. I adored every second!

YOU GOT THIS – Bryony Gordon

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RELEASED: 02/05/2019
PUBLISHER: Hachette
GENRE: Young Adult, Teen, Non-Fiction

I wanted to be a unicorn. I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be an astronaut.

But the thing I really wanted to be more than anything else, was a little less like me.

It was only recently that I realised not wanting to be me was at the heart of every dumb decision I ever made. And so now I am writing this book containing all the life lessons I wish someone had taught me.

A book for the teenage girl in me. And for every teenage girl out there. Because the most powerful thing you can be when you grow up is yourself.

Frank and fearless, You Got This openly explores topics like self-respect, body image, masturbation and mental health, making it the perfect companion for young women.

I’ve been keen to read a book by Bryony Gordon since I heard about how she tackles the stigma around mental health and OCD in a fresh way, and as someone who struggles with both of these it’s definitely something that interests me. However, I also feel like a teenager in my head and find grown up books difficult so I’ve not picked up her bestseller Mad Girl (crazy I know).

Then along comes You Got This. Aimed at teens and covering all the difficulties of growing up, which, let’s face it, even us “grown ups” haven’t mastered yet! The comment from Fearne Cotton on the back about this being “A book that every teenage girl needs to read…and every grown woman will wish she had read.” could not be more true. I could seriously have done with this book in my teen years to explain everything that was happening and how you don’t have to have everything mapped out and that it’s okay to just be you.

The main message that I took away from You Got This was exactly that; I have got this! Yes, things don’t always go according to plan and mental health conditions have made things pretty rocky but, ultimately, I’m doing a blimming good job of being myself and that’s the most important thing to be.


Thank you to Team BKMRK for sending me a copy of this book as part of a Twitter competition!