READ TO YOUR BABY EVERY DAY – Chloe Giordano, Rachel Williams

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RELEASED: 14/03/2019
PUBLISHER: Frances Lincoln
GENRE: Children’s Poetry, Nursery Rhymes, Picture Book

Science tells us that babies develop best when they are spoken to, sung to and read to. Introduce your baby to a world of words and pictures with these 30 classic nursery rhymes from the Mother Goose collection and beyond paired with images of Chloe Giordano’s delightful hand-embroidered illustrations on cloth.

Even when they’re tiny, the sound of their parents’ voices helps babies make sense of the world and feel comfortable with new people and places. This treasury gives you the opportunity to rediscover just how useful (and calming) these best-loved nursery rhymes are in one, handsome volume.

I adore a good nursery rhyme, and have many fond memories of watching my favourite VHS of nursery rhymes over and over again (I finally found it on YouTube!) and so when I was offered a copy of a new book of nursery rhymes from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for review I jumped at the chance!

Read To Your Baby Everyday is a beautiful addition to anyone’s collection; it’s really unique in the fact that the illustrations are all taken from hand-embroidered cloth! It’s so clever and I really enjoyed taking the time to appreciate every detail in the book. I think that the one thing that held me back on giving it 5 stars is that it’s not always the most engaging book for a child as it’s not as bright as I would’ve liked. Other than that, I can’t fault it and it really would make a perfect gift for a little one.

I would highly recommend Read To Your Baby Everyday as a way to showcase some of the best nursery rhymes that we’ve all grown up knowing and loving, in a new and fresh take on a gift book.


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

 

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NOTHING TASTES AS GOOD – Claire Hennessy

1/5

RELEASED: 14/07/2016
PUBLISHER: Hot Key
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary

What happens when you give in to the voices in your head? Annabel is dead. And she’s not happy about it. Despite having strived to be ‘lighter than air’ back when she was alive, the consequences of that yearning haven’t quite sunk in yet. Julia Jacobs is fat. Which Annabel immediately notices when she’s assigned as Julia’s ghostly helper (don’t even think about calling her a guardian angel). And as her helper, Julia’s problem seems pretty obvious to Annabel. Fat = problem = unhappy. Sorted. The only trouble is that whatever is causing Julia to overeat is hidden deep within her. Annabel will have to get to know Julia to uncover this secret and ‘fix’ her. Annabel can become the voice of reason, Julia’s source of strength. Except. . . all this time spent in someone’s head has got Annabel thinking. Not just about food, but about her family too. And that maybe happiness can mean more than eradicating all the flesh from your bones.

I’ll be honest, I did not finish this book. In fact, I only made it a few chapters in. However, I feel as though I can review this book because I didn’t DNF it because I wasn’t in the mood for a contemporary or a book about eating disorders. Quite the opposite! I really fancied reading this book and wanted to give it a go. It tied in perfectly with Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 being on the theme of body image and so I honestly wanted to connect to this book and, for want of a better word, enjoy it.

Nothing Tastes As Good should come with MASSIVE trigger warnings; I don’t even have an eating disorder (I’ve had a lot of issues with food and body image, but never to the extent that many people suffer) and I found it so uncomfortable and triggering to read. I get that eating disorders take over your life and distort your perception of yourself and others, but to have to read a book where the narration is like that little voice that’s in your head telling you you’re not good enough is not a book that I want to read, and it’s not one that I can recommend at all.

In the wrong hands, this book has the potential to be dangerous.

I’ve read triggering books for all kinds of mental illnesses before or situations that I personally find triggering, and I’m not one to shy away from hard-hitting books, but this book takes it a step too far and, from what I read, it makes the reader not feel good enough. It’s very rare that I don’t give a book a good shot, but for the protection of my own mental health I had to put this one down.

OWEN AND THE SOLDIER – Lisa Thompson

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RELEASED: 15/06/2019
PUBLISHER: Barrington Stoke
GENRE: Children’s Fiction, Dyslexia Friendly

A crumbling stone soldier sits on a bench in the park. Only Owen understands how important he is. At home, Owen and his mum are struggling and there’s nobody he can talk to. Hidden away in the park, Owen feels free to be himself. When the war-weary soldier is listening, his worries slip away. But nobody else cares about the soldier, and the town council want to tear him down. Owen’s the only one who can save him but can he find the courage to speak up before it’s too late? A touching story of loss and remembrance from Lisa Thompson, the award-winning author of The Goldfish Boy. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+

I knew I’d have to have the tissues ready for this one.

Lisa Thompson is one of the most talented writers in children’s fiction today, and she has a knack for crafting stories that, whilst they cover complex or hard-hitting topics, are delivered in a way that’s accessible and completely unputdownable. The Goldfish Boy is one that for the past two years now I haven’t shut up about, and I look forward to every new book by Lisa. So, I was pretty excited to see that a new novella was coming out this year with Barrington Stoke, and even more excited when I was offered a copy for review!

Barrington Stoke have really upped their game in recent years with a steady stream of dyslexia friendly titles from some of the leading authors in children’s and young adult fiction. However, this year just seems to be on a whole new level! I’m very excited about several of their upcoming books, but the first one to really get my heart racing was this one – Owen and the Soldier.

Owen and the Soldier is a really heartwarming and touching tale that I think everyone will love, and there are so many messages and characters that will resonate with different people. For something so small, it’s full of so much, and what I love about this novella is that it is so accessible to everyone. Lisa is the perfect author to work with Barrington Stoke, and I love that her storytelling is being brought to a new audience as well as adding to the collection of beloved favourites that came before it.


Thank you to Kirstin at Barrington Stoke for sending me a copy of Owen and the Soldier!

MALAMANDER – Thomas Taylor

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RELEASED: 02/05/2019
PUBLISHER: Walker
GENRE: Children’s, Middle Grade, Mystery, Fantasy

Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous Malamander creep…

Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl.

No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander. Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up.

And it just got stranger…

This book was a total cover buy; sure it sounded pretty good, but I saw it and I needed it on my bookshelf. That said…

Oh.

My.

Goodness.

I have found a new favourite middle grade book! Malamander is the first book in a long time that I have literally devoured; I couldn’t put it down and read it in one sitting! I think that I just loved the whole setting of Eerie-on-Sea, the characters, the attention to detail and yet so easy to get lost in style of writing.

Fun fact – Thomas Taylor is the artist behind the original Harry Potter illustrations.

With Malamander, he shows that not only is he a dab hand at art, but also at crafting an incredible world full of mystery and intrigue. Herbert Lemon makes for a brilliant narrator; it’s fun and gripping, and the atmosphere created throughout the book really makes you feel as though you’re there in the story!

I’m quite happy with this review just being a gushy length of text saying how much I loved the book! There are so many twists and turns, and this book really is an experience that I’d hate to even spoil one part of; it’s truly special! My advice is to get yourself a copy as soon as possible, admire the cover, check out the map of Eerie-on-Sea and then settle down for one of the best reads of this year.

On a side note, I’ve now decided that I’d like to work in the Eerie Book Dispensary; I mean, I have a qualification as a dispenser…and I love books…the job’s pretty much mine.

STEPSISTER – Jennifer Donnelly

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RELEASED: 15/05/2019
PUBLISHER: Hot Key
GENRE: Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy

‘In an ancient city by the sea, three sisters – a maiden, a mother, and a crone – are drawing maps by candlelight. Sombre, with piercing grey eyes, they are the three Fates, and every map is a human life . . .’ Stepsister takes up where Cinderella’s tale ends. We meet Isabelle, the younger of Cinderella’s two stepsisters. Ella is considered beautiful; stepsister Isabelle is not. Isabelle is fearless, brave, and strong-willed. She fences better than any boy, and takes her stallion over jumps that grown men fear to attempt. It doesn’t matter, though; these qualities are not valued in a girl. Others have determined what is beautiful, and Isabelle does not fit their definition. Isabelle must face down the demons that drove her cruel treatment of Ella, challenge her own fate and maybe even redefine the very notion of beauty . . . Cinderella is about a girl who was bullied; Stepsister is about the bully. We all root for the victims, we want to see them triumph. But what about the bullies? Is there hope for them? Can a mean girl change? Can she find her own happily ever after?

From the instant that I began this book, I was enchanted. Jennifer Donnelly’s writing style is exquisite and feels very poetic as she effortlessly switches between character focus. In Stepsister, we follow the story of Isabelle, one of Cinderella’s ugly sisters, towards the end of the fairy tale we all know and love. It’s about what happens when Cinderella finds her happily ever after.

Oddly enough, I really liked Isabelle as a character – even from the beginning! She came across as a victim in her own way, but underneath there’s a strong young woman. Throughout the book, we see her develop and discover herself, as well as see how, contrary to popular belief, beauty does not define a person.

I loved how this book was a little bit of a fantasy story whilst being very realistic, which makes it a perfect read for so many different types of reader. We meet a whole host of wonderful, and not so wonderful, characters who really come to life, and some remind me of my favourite fantasy leads whilst others could’ve been drawn straight from the history books. I highly, highly recommend Stepsister for anyone who’s after a book that will stay with you long after you’ve finished it and captivate you whilst you read it.


Thank you to Tina at Hot Key for sending me a copy of this book!

THE PAPER & HEARTS SOCIETY – Lucy Powrie

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RELEASED: 13/06/2019
PUBLISHER: Hachette
GENRE: Young Adult Contemporary, Teen

A brand new series from Booktuber Lucy Powrie – about what happens when you give up on trying to fit in in and let your weird out! It’s time to join The Paper & Hearts Society …

Tabby Brown is tired of trying to fit in. She doesn’t want to go to parties – in fact, she would much rather snuggle up on the sofa with her favourite book.

It’s like she hasn’t found her people …

Then Tabby joins a club that promises to celebrate books. What could go wrong? EVERYTHING – especially when making new friends brings out an AWKWARD BUZZING feeling all over her body.

But Olivia, Cassie, Henry and Ed have something that makes Tabby come back. Maybe it’s the Austen-themed fancy-dress parties, or Ed’s fluffy cat Mrs Simpkins, or could it be Henry himself …

Can Tabby let her weird out AND live THE BEST BOOKISH LIFE POSSIBLE?

Ok, so I’m going to be honest; the main reason I wanted to read this book was because of it being written by the lovely Lucy Powrie (if you’ve lived under a rock in the book world, she’s a booktuber and creator of #ukyachat and is just generally a very good bookish person to be aware of!) and because I wanted to support her and to not be the only person not reading this book. The synopsis, whilst fairly good, just sounded too…happy for me. But,

OH. MY. GOD.

I hold my hands up; I was wrong. So completely and utterly wrong.

The Paper & Hearts Society is now one of my favourite books of all time, and if I can throw it at people and make them read it I will. Yes, it was fluffy and happy, but it also had all the feels that make a perfect teen/young adult book! This is exactly the book that I needed when I was a teenager. It makes you feel like you belong and captures exactly how it feels to be a teenager or, in my case, an adult who still feels like a teenager!

The Paper & Hearts Society members are like a little family of people who I instantly took to and they all bring something unique to the group. Please hear me out on the next bit; I’ve tried to word it right! The one thing I was worried about going into this book was having heard about the diversity and I wasn’t sure how that was going to be handled – I like diverse books, but I don’t like it to be the sole focus of the book or character. Personally, for me, it needs to just be a fact of life that doesn’t detract from the main story but adds depth and realism to the characters.

Lucy has mastered this perfectly.

I love how you get to know a character without any judgement and the diversity that’s included in the story is written sensitively and in a way that just makes it normal and accepting, which is how it should be.

So, what are the main things that I took away from this amazing read? Number one has to be the fact that it’s okay to be different and unique and to be passionate about something that you love! Secondly, you have no idea what people go through behind closed doors. Take the time to get to know people, and try not to judge too quickly. We all have our own battles and sometimes not everyone can see that. Finally, books! Above all, this is a book about books for bookworms and I saw books I love, and books I hate, feature throughout this book. It really reignited my love of books.

Now, if you don’t mind me, I’ll be impatiently waiting by my postbox for my preorder and my Paper & Hearts Society member pin to arrive…


Thank you to Hachette via NetGalley for approving my request to read this title!

THE GOLDEN BUTTERFLY – Sharon Gosling

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RELEASED: 02/05/2019
PUBLISHER: Stripes
GENRE: Children’s, Mystery

The Golden Butterfly danced in the air, beautiful and impossible, yet there before their eyes. Then the Magnificent Marko flicked his wand again. There was a shower of sparks, a bang and … the Golden Butterfly vanished. 
It’s 1897 and since the Magnificent Marko dramatically departed the stage, no magician has come close to performing a trick as spectacular as the Golden Butterfly. With her grandfather gone, Luciana feels that the world has lost its wonder. Then the imposing leader of the Grand Society of Magicians appears, searching for something belonging to Marko, and Luciana is drawn into a world of danger and deception. As she battles to protect her grandfather’s greatest legacy, can she distinguish reality from illusion?
A dazzling tale of bravery and friendship in this fast-paced historical adventure for fans of Katherine Woodfine, COGHEART and THE NOWHERE EMPORIUM.

I’m so glad that I got sent this book for review; I’d not heard of it before and it’s now one of my go-to middle grade mystery books. I adored every second of The Golden Butterfly! This is one of the best middle grade books I’ve read in recent years.

In The Golden Butterfly, Sharon draws together all the things that make recent middle grade mysteries so special; a strong female lead, an intricate mystery full of twists and turns and a brilliant setting, in this case Victorian England. I was hooked from page one and instantly liked Luciana as a main character. I liked how determined and forward-thinking she is.

I’d love to revisit Luciana and her friends and family and find out what happens next for them. Towards the end of the book, the points about women and their role in society towards the end of the Victorian era make for an interesting discussion and I’d love to see this explored further with these characters, so I’m definitely hoping for a sequel! That said, this is a brilliant standalone that’s fast-paced and gripping and I can’t recommend it highly enough.


Thank you to Charlie at Stripes for sending me a copy of this book!

Top Ten Tuesday: 23rd April 2019

Hello! Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is:

First Books I Reviewed

  1. THE GOLDFISH BOY – Lisa Thompson
  2. WITCH FOR A WEEK – Kaye Umansky, Ashley King
  3. SUNFLOWERS IN FEBRUARY – Phyllida Shrimpton
  4. THE SMOKING HOURGLASS – Jennifer Bell, Karl J Mountford
  5. THE LIGHT JAR – Lisa Thompson
  6. THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS – Emily Barr
  7. THE TRUTH AND LIES OF ELLA BLACK – Emily Barr
  8. THE HAZEL WOOD – Melissa Albert
  9. ALMOST ANYTHING – Sophy Henn
  10. THE SACRIFICE BOX – Martin Stewart

Some of the reviews that I’m most proud of are included here! I didn’t realise quite how many books I’ve reviewed in the past year or so!

kayleigh

Books I’ve Unhauled

I own a lot of books.

However, that number has decreased a fair amount over the past month or so as I’ve had several book unhauls! I started off small, just removing titles that were duplicates or proofs I’d never read, then I started to go through books with a bit more thought – would I ever actually read it? Did I dislike it when I read it? I’m so proud of how many I’ve got rid of so far; if you’ve read my previous post on unhauling, you’ll know how difficult and at one point inconcevable this was for me! Whilst I can’t remember every book that I’ve unhauled (which probably says something…), there are some that stand out. Linking in to some thoughts I’ve enjoyed reading about on other blogs (Jenn‘s springs to mind!) on negative reviews, the two seem to go hand in hand for me.

First up, one of my least favourite books in the world:

Image result for paper butterflies lisaPaper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield. I received this book back in 2016 when I was a longlist reader for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. Whilst Lisa’s writing style is lovely, and probably is the only reason I made it through this book, the story is horrendous. It’s the first and only book where my mum has even noticed how much I was hating reading it and told me to stop. It was traumatic. I know the topic is supposed to be hard hitting, but it was uncomfortable and I just didn’t get it. When it was shortlisted, I was gutted; there was no way I could recommend this book to anyone! So yeah, unhauled.

Image result for optimists die first

Next, Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen. This book, I did give three stars; it made me laugh and it was entertaining. However, the anxiety representation in it let it down so so badly; it was awful! Who knew that anxiety could be totally cured by romance?

Image result for the journey picture book

I also got rid of a fair few picture books which I either disliked the illustrations or the story of. These included The Journey by Francesca Sanna (just wasn’t for me; whilst it’s beautiful, I found the story tedious and not really the kind of thing I’d read at storytime), Little Red by Bethan Woollvin (simple but bright illustrations with a weird retelling of Little Red Riding Hood going alongside it…not good) and Nara and the Island by Dan Ungureanu (dull illustrations, dull story).

Have you read any of these? Would you agree with me unhauling them?

kayleigh

 

A GIRL CALLED JUSTICE – Elly Griffiths

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RELEASED: 02/05/2019
PUBLISHER: Hachette
GENRE: Middle Grade, Mystery

Missing maids, suspicious teachers and a snow storm to die for… For a fearless girl called Justice Jones, super-smart super-sleuth, it’s just the start of a spine-tingling first term at Highbury House Boarding School for the Daughters of Gentlefolk. For fans of Robin Stevens, Katherine Woodfine and Enid Blyton.

When Justice’s mother dies, her father packs her off to Highbury House Boarding School for the Daughters of Gentlefolk. He’s a barrister – specialising in murder trials – and he’s just too busy to look after her alone.

Having previously been home-schooled, the transition is a shock. Can it really be the case that blondes rule the corridors? Are all uniforms such a charming shade of brown? And do schools normally hide dangerous secrets about the murder of a chamber maid?

Justice takes it upon herself to uncover the truth. (Mainly about the murder, but perhaps she can figure out her new nemesis – the angelic Rose – at the same time.) But when a storm cuts the school off from the real world, the body count starts to rise and Justice realises she’ll need help from her new friends if she’s going to find the killer before it’s too late …

I knew, as soon as I read the synopsis for this book, that it would be right up my street and a book that I’d love. I’ve always been a massive fan of Enid Blyton, and in recent years it’s been all about Robin Stevens and Katherine Woodfine, so as soon as you mention a middle grade mystery set in a boarding school I’m in!

Luckily, A Girl Called Justice did not disappoint!

From the very first page I was hooked and wanting to know more. Highbury House makes for a very atmospheric setting; it’s clear from the beginning that something is amiss and you’re really sucked into Justice’s world. I was very much reminded of the Murder Most Unladylike series in the way that the story was set out and how you never quite knew who to trust and where the next page would take you.

I’m very excited for more people to get their hands on this book so I have people that I can rave about it with; whilst it was a fairly quick read, it was packed with mystery and intrigue and a host of fascinating characters! I’ve heard wonderful things about Elly’s adult fiction books, and she’s proven with this one that she’s also a dab hand at children’s fiction!


Thank you very much to Hachette for sending me a copy of this title!