ALL ABOUT MIA – Lisa Williamson

5/5

One of the best UKYA contemporary releases in recent years.

All About Mia focuses on Mia as we see her develop from this self-centered teen into a more mature teen/young adult over the course of this story. What’s so likable about her is that she isn’t perfect; she’s very much her own character and she’s very real, and that is something that is so important for teens and young adults to connect with. To top off an awesome book, Lisa Williamson’s writing style is flawless and touches upon so many important/diverse topics in such a way that it isn’t thrust in your face like many other books can be – in this book there are hints of feminism, multiculturalism and relationships to name a few.

I didn’t expect to love this book quite this much, but honestly I couldn’t put it down! Mia is such a lively character who literally leaps off the page – whilst I probably have more in common with Grace, I could totally relate to Mia, and I think that everyone (whether or not they’re the middle child, or even have siblings) can understand how she’s feeling and why she acts like she does. We get to learn so much about all three sisters, who are all at different stages of their teen years and all have feelings that we can all connect with or remember from being those ages.

It’s been a fair while since I read this book, and I still think it’s a firm five star read that I would highly recommend.


Thank you to David Fickling books for my copy of this title!
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THAT’S NOT MY UNICORN… – Fiona Watt, Rachel Wells

5/5

A magical addition to the That’s Not My… series that doesn’t disappoint!

I have been so excited for the 50th title in this series for months since I heard about its release, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint! Easily my favourite book in this series, That’s Not My Unicorn is the perfect book for little ones to love, bigger children to love, and grown ups to love. Basically, it’s perfect for everyone. As an adult, I just had to buy a copy of a touchy-feely book for myself, and I have no regrets.

That’s Not My Unicorn, like the other books in the series, follows a simple yet fun format of discovering each unicorn through the touchy-feely pages and trying to find the right one at the end. What makes this one so special is just how shiny it is; inside, the cover, even the page edges – everything about this book screams unicorns and magic!

THE STORY ORCHESTRA: FOUR SEASONS IN ONE DAY – Jessica Courtney-Tickle

4/5

The beautiful first title from The Story Orchestra series.

This book is simply gorgeous, with a lovely story to accompany Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. It is a bit more of a wordy book, but it’s fun to be able to press the buttons and hear different parts from the music which correlate to what’s happening on that page – this makes it a really good introduction to music for little ones and for the understanding of how music can tell a story. It’s definitely more of a gifty book and older children will probably appreciate the music leading the story and the facts about the orchestra and score itself a lot more than younger children.

Personally, I really hope that there are even more stories to come from The Story Orchestra (Beethoven please!) as it is something different, I’d have to say it’s probably the best noisy book available (it’s not just sounds…I can deal with my sister pressing all the buttons. It’s good!), and it can help to spark a love of music as well as reading!


I received this book when I was a bookseller from the publisher, Quarto – thank you!

THE BEAR, THE PIANO, THE DOG AND THE FIDDLE- David Litchfield

5/5

A stunning sequel to The Bear and the Piano from one of the brightest talents in children’s books today.

Generally, if a book involves David Litchfield illustrations, you can be guaranteed that it’s a good one, especially when he’s also the author. Grandad’s Secret Giant was my picture book of the year for 2017, and The Bear and the Piano is definitely a favourite and very much deserving of all the love surrounding it. The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle, no surprise, is just as good.

I actually love this sequel more than the first book; it was heartbreaking and heartwarming with a very clear and meaningful message about friendship and sharing, and how things may not always work out how you expect but true friendship will always shine through. It is such an important book for adults as well as children to read and love.

I can’t recommend The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle enough and it’s one that I hope finds as much love as the first book! Fans of David Litchfield will not be disappointed, and I hope that he finds many more new fans with the release of this title!


Thank you so much to Christopher and Ellen at Quarto for my copy of this book!

TO PIXAR AND BEYOND – Lawrence Levy

5/5

A fascinating insight into the beginnings, ups and downs of Pixar.

*DISCLAIMER – I am a borderline obsessive Disney/Pixar fan.

I loved the idea of a brand new book all about Pixar, but I didn’t realise that this was a business book. So, when I picked it up I was a tad hesitant about whether I’d enjoy it and how long it would take me ’cause it would probably be a heavy slightly dull book.

I WAS SO WRONG.

I couldn’t put this down. Seriously, I got home from work and just read, read, read. It was addictive, entertaining and fascinating. I thought I knew a fair amount about Pixar (someone who wears Hawaiian shirts…I know exactly who you’re on about!) but this book truly opened my eyes. Pixar is such an incredibly innovative company, full of some of the most talented people in the world who are so passionate about Pixar that that emotion literally leaped from the page. Levy takes you on a journey from him joining the company during the production of Toy Story where you see a floundering company full of creativity but a lack of momentum, and we see this life injected into it. I felt transported back to 1995 and I cried at their triumphs and worried for Pixar during their difficult times. I honestly didn’t expect to cry at a business book. But there you go.

Taking aside the element of being a Pixar fanatic, this book was highly interesting to read to gain a better understanding of business and the insane money involved in finance and Hollywood. Pixar’s success has been aided by people taking chances and risks, and it could so easily have been a completely different outcome! It was fascinating to learn about how fundamental Pixar is to the world as we know it today – without Pixar, Disney would be a totally different company (my life would certainly be very very different!), Apple would be totally different or possibly not even exist and lots of the technological advances we saw in the 90s wouldn’t have happened.

I did think as I came towards the end that I was going to have one criticism, and that’s the way that after the Disney takeover is covered this book seemed to lose momentum. However, it turns out that those philosophical chapters were actually important, and carry one of the main messages of the book and of Pixar’s legacy.

Pixar definitely can be a way of life (I’m taking this book as evidence).


Thank you to Oneworld Publications for my copy!

UNLOCKING FRENCH/UNLOCKING SPANISH – Paul Noble

5/5

An essential addition to your Collins languages collection.

As a languages student, I was so excited to find these books on NetGalley and absolutely had to read them! I have studied French for 17 years and Spanish for 10 years, and whilst I am at a fairly advanced level in both, I’m rubbish at studying and because of being a part-time student am unable to devote as much time as I would like to my languages, so these books sound perfect for me!

I started reading these books almost as soon as I got copies, and I found them so engaging and easy to get into the flow of. Each chapter is of a reasonable length and doesn’t try to cram in too much. I like how the books emphasise the importance of not having to learn everything you read off by heart and instead use repetition to help you remember words and phrases.

unlockingfrenchUnlocking Spanish and Unlocking French are yet more fantastic additions to the Collins language collection, and are ones that I will be thoroughly recommending to people wanting to improve on their language learning. It’s such a unique take on learning a language that really explains why you’re doing a certain exercise and focuses more on how we naturally learn a language rather than expecting you to remember everything you learn.


Thank you to Collins via NetGalley for the eBook of these titles!

LOOKING FOR JJ – Anne Cassidy

5/5

One of my favourite books of all time from my personal Queen of Teen Crime.

Looking For JJ starts with the story of Alice Tully, a 17 year-old girl living and working in Croydon. She seems to have it all – a job she enjoys, a loving boyfriend, prospects for university, a caring home…but all is not as it seems and we soon learn that Alice is hiding a dark secret.

Flash back 7 years, and we are introduced to Jennifer Jones, a 10 year old girl living a very dysfunctional life with her mother, a model of sorts, and struggling to deal with growing up in an environment where she is left to fend for herself. Jennifer is quiet, reserved and seemingly innocent, but all that changes when she and two friends go out to play…but only two of them return.

This book crafts the story of JJ perfectly – it’s so hard to actively dislike the young girl who we know does a terrible thing. It’s a book that makes you question rapidly judging people and whether we should give people second chances. The writing is exquisite, grips you from the get-go and draws you into the lives of the characters in such a way that it really does feel as though you know them. I can’t recommend this book highly enough!

DANIEL DANIELS AND THE WORLD’S WORST ZOO – Robbie Yates

3.5/5

A fun first chapter book filled with animals and mischief.

I love a good early reader book; they’re just so easy to get into and, as an adult, they create a sense of achievement when you can read a whole book in under an hour! So, when the opportunity to be involved in the blog tour for Daniel Daniels and the World’s Worst Zoo came up, of course I had to read this one, and I wasn’t disappointed!

Daniel Daniels is a very likeable narrator who, despite having a hard time both at school and at home, is very optimistic and caring. We soon learn of his love of the local zoo, even though it is definitely the World’s Worst Zoo, and get to meet all the animals he encounters there. But, the story takes an unexpected twist…

Robbie Yates’ writing style is very fluid and makes the story very easy to get lost in, and I also liked how his love of poetry shines through making this an enjoyable read for readers of all ages!


Thank you to Shalini at Digital Reads Blog Tours for the eBook of this title and for involving me in the blog tour!

THE NIGHT DRAGON – Naomi Howarth

3.5/5

A beautiful look at how it’s okay to be different and on the importance of trying.

I know you shouldn’t judge a book on its cover, but, seriously, look at this one! It’s such a beautiful illustration that I just had to read the book!

The Night Dragon is a gorgeous story that’s perfect for people to read to young children, all about how we are all different and unique in our own ways, and how you don’t have to be the same as everyone else. It also highlights the importance of trying and not giving up, and believing in yourself and others.

I really enjoyed reading The Night Dragon, especially for the illustrations which were so beautiful and colourful! The end of the story was so heartwarming and the illustrations complimented that perfectly.


Thank you to Frances Lincoln via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!

JOSEPHINE BAKER – Isabel Sánchez Vegara

4.5/5

One of my favourite additions to the Little People, Big Dreams series!

I adore the Little People, Big Dreams series, and, since looking into the titles in this series, Josephine Baker is one that I really wanted to learn more about and read! So, I was very excited to see it go up on NetGalley and just had to read it straight away.

So far, this has been one of my favourite books in the series; the illustrations compliment the story beautifully and are simplistic without being boring. It was fascinating to learn about a brave and inspirational woman who I hadn’t heard of before.

This book is definitely aimed at older children; it covers some of the trickier periods of history to explain to young people, but, nevertheless, it is an important one for learning about race, the Second World War and following your dreams in the face of adversity.


Thank you to Frances Lincoln Children’s via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!