ARCACIA – T.A.Barua

Good evening! I was asked to be a part of the blog tour for Arcacia by T.A.Barua, a new children’s fantasy book. It’s been receiving some good reviews! Here’s the premise:

When a beautiful sorceress-queen, Selina, spurns Setanor, a powerful, jealous northern warlock, an invasion of Western Arcacia begins. To save her newborn triplets from death, they are cast down a magical river to the New World, a place called, ‘London, England.’

Thirteen years later in a cold, Victorian London attic… The future of Sophie, an impoverished orphan looks bleak but everything changes, to her astonishment after a young witch arrives through her bedroom window with an incredible message and a warning. So begins her life in a beautiful, enchanted ancient world…

How do Sophie and her four friends summon the tremendous courage to rescue her long lost family while restoring Arcacia from dark, ruling forces? Mystical beasts, sceptres, powerful witches and daemon-trolls are just some of their challenges. Meanwhile, the dreaded terrifying warlock, Setanor and his witch-consort Lilith have sent a secret enemy to plan their downfall…

Check out the rest of the bloggers involved in the tour!

You can get a copy of Arcacia here.

Have you heard of or read Arcacia? What did you think of it?

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Mental Health Awareness Week 2018: Book Recommendations

So, this is after all a book blog and so I would like to spend some time recommending my favourite books that deal sensitively and effectively with mental health. If you want to almost guarantee that I pick up a book, just add that it’s got something about mental health – I’m sold! Here are some of my favourites:

The Goldfish Boy – Lisa Thompson
OCD

You can’t really get away from how much I love this book if you follow me on social media! The Goldfish Boy is a middle grade mystery where the main character Matthew has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and it’s honestly the best portrayal of OCD that I’ve ever come across. Obviously OCD affects people differently, but for me this book was perfect as mine manifests in the same way as Matthew’s. What surprised me most is that it’s not an own-voices book; Lisa has done such an incredible job of writing about OCD.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard
Anxiety

For people with anxiety, this book is perfect to show you that you’re not alone; it’s an illness that can strike anyone, can be totally out of the blue, but it is something that you can survive and it’s okay to have bad days; “Little victories are everything.” There are wonderful people out there who will help you and support you.

Girl in Pieces – Kathleen Glasgow
Depression/Self Harm

Girl in Pieces is filled with such raw emotion, but not to the extent that it is an uncomfortable or triggering read, and, although this is an extreme case of depression/self-harm, it’s one that sheds a very realistic light on the issue. For people who have experienced this, the book is inspiring and easy to relate to, but equally it’s enlightening for people who do not know much about the mentality behind self harm and suicide.This book shows how you can hit rock bottom but it IS possible to carry on and survive despite all the stuff that life can throw at you.

Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
Depression/Suicide

This book is controversial, but I’m firmly in the camp of people who LOVE it. Whilst I do appreciate the flaws that people mention, for me the book is more about how the things people say and do can impact so much on others rather than about the suicide and morals of the tapes. It’s about knowing how the little things we do can have a massive effect on other people; you never know what’s going on in someone else’s life.

See You In The Cosmos – Jack Cheng
Schizophrenia

The first book I’ve come across that deals with schizophrenia, this is one that’s completely unputdownable! Whilst the subject of mental health isn’t the main focus of the book, we see the effect that someone’s mental health can have on those around us.

All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven
Bipolar

All I will say is have a box of tissues handy if you’re planning to read this one! One of my favourite ever books, All The Bright Places totally deserves all the hype surrounding it although it will break your heart. Whilst coming across as a book about suicide, it focuses on the effects of bipolar disorder.

I Was Born For This – Alice Oseman
Anxiety

This one subtly tackles the topic of anxiety and of how utterly terrifying a panic attack can be; whilst mental health isn’t at the forefront of the book, it’s definitely an underlying theme.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies – Louise Gornall
Anxiety

A beautiful own-voices novel, Under Rose-Tainted Skies has such a fantastic representation of anxiety and agoraphobia. It shows just how debilitating living with anxiety can be and how it’s not simply a case of being a bit of a worrier.

Worries Go Away – Kes Gray
Anxiety

One of my absolute favourite picture books, the story is simple enough that for younger children it helps them to open up about things that are worrying them, but it’s also so good and meaningful that older children and adults who suffer from worries or anxiety can relate to the little girl and the feelings she’s experiencing and learn how to cope from this book too.

We Are Young – Cat Clarke
Depression/Suicide

We Are Young touches upon the devastating effects that depression and bipolar can have. Cat Clarke writes about mental health issues perfectly, and We Are Young is no exception.

 

BAD NANA: OLDER NOT WISER – Sophy Henn

3.5/5

A fun new book aimed at more confident readers from the talented Sophy Henn.

As a fan of Sophy Henn’s picture books, I was very excited to see that she has a series for young readers coming out and Bad Nana didn’t disappoint! Bad Nana is such a likeable character that people young and old will love her – she’s always up to mischief!

Older Not Wiser introduces us to 8-year-old Jeanie, our narrator, as she tells us of some of the tricks that her Bad Nana has gotten up to. Jeanie is such a sweet narrator, and, along with Sophy’s distinctive illustrations, she really comes to life through the stories she’s telling. What I liked about the format of this book is that you can dip in and out of it as it’s made up of three parts, which makes this an easy book to enjoy.

I think that younger readers will love this series; it reminds me a bit of Judy Moody. There’s just enough silliness to keep you engaged, but it’s all with a purpose and adds to the warmth of the book.


Thank you very much to Harper Collins via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!

THE LIST OF REAL THINGS – Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

4/5

Another stunning book from the author of The Apple Tart of Hope and Back To Blackbrick.

As soon as I saw that there was a new book from Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, I knew that I had to read it; I adored her other books and how she sensitively but effectively deals with difficult topics. The List of Real Things is no different – it’s a wonderful story that focuses on grief, family relationships and friendship.

One thing I love about Sarah’s books is how they’re on the border of Middle Grade and Young Adult and are very much magical realism books; the characters are not-quite teens but are faced with situations that are difficult and there is an element of fantasy within a contemporary setting.. This makes them the perfect choice for more advanced younger readers, as well as a nice read for older readers.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend The List of Real Things for anyone who’s a fan of Sarah’s other books, as well as people looking for a good book to dive into. Because of the subject matter and style of writing, fans of Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton and Vicky Angel by Jacqueline Wilson should love this one and not hesitate in picking it up!


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

ST GRIZZLE’S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS, GEEKS AND TAG-ALONG ZOMBIES – Karen McCombie

2.5/5

A humorous take on the classic boarding school style of book for younger readers.

St Grizzle’s isn’t your average boarding school; more like a modern St Trinian’s, there is a lack of structure and it’s like one big dysfunctional family. This is the third book in the series, but it was still easy to get into and follow the story.

I do feel a bit let down by this title; it was fairly good to begin with but then just felt a bit lacklustre. I don’t know whether if I was a younger reader I may have enjoyed it more; my main issue was just the lack of story and silliness of the whole thing, but, at the same time, I still adore stories about boarding schools and feel like so much more could have happened.

That all said, Karen McCombie is a good author and her writing style is very easy to get into. I think this would appeal more to reluctant readers in the 9-12 category due to the nature of the story and it not being too challenging a read.


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

THE CASE OF THE DEEPDEAN VAMPIRE – Robin Stevens

4.5/5

Another fabulous mini-mystery from the Wells and Wong Detective Society.

The Case of the Deepdean Vampire is the second of the two mini-mysteries written by Daisy, who is a brilliant narrator! She’s very quick-witted and blows her own trumpet in a way that’s highly entertaining to read.

In this mystery, Daisy investigates the rumours of there being a vampire amongst the fifth-formers. Yet again, despite this not being a murder case, it was full of twists as Daisy tries to solve the case.

I didn’t like this one quite as much as The Case of the Blue Violet, possibly because it’s not as deep a case to solve which made it slightly less interesting. That said, it’s still a solid 4.5/5 read and definitely worth it!

A SPOONFUL OF MURDER – Robin Stevens

5/5

Our favourite schoolgirl detectives uncover another murder, this time whilst they’re in Hong Kong!

Robin Stevens has done it again! Another murder mystery that had me hooked right from page one with two murders and kept me guessing right up until the end. I absolutely adored A Spoonful of Murder!

I wasn’t too sure how I’d feel about the change of scenery to Hazel’s home in Hong Kong (my favourites in the series always take place at Deepdean – stems from my Enid Blyton fangirling), but I really enjoyed the setting and honestly felt like I was in Hong Kong with Daisy and Hazel!

We start off at Deepdean when Hazel receives the sad call from Hong Kong to inform her that her beloved grandfather has passed away and she must return to Hong Kong to visit. Of course she takes Daisy with her (we see a very soft side to Daisy in this book which is very endearing!) However, upon arrival, things start going wrong and it’s not long before the girls are faced with their first murder of this case…

This is one of the first books in a while that I simply haven’t been able to put down and have been totally absorbed in, which is testament to Stevens’ fantastic storytelling ability. I do have to reference one of my favourite quotes from Daisy in the whole book – “It’s always frightfully annoying to have relatives isn’t it? If I could I’d have come out of an egg.” It was little things like this among the seriousness of a murder case that make the Murder Most Unladylike series such a joy to read. I can’t wait for the next installment!

 

 

Six For Sunday: 18th February 2018

Hello! It’s that time of week again – I really enjoy Six for Sunday! Sorry that the formatting is a bit naff this week – I’m using my iPad ’cause I’m away in a log cabin for the weekend! You can find all the prompts here. This week:

Favourite Partners

I’ve decided to go for any partnership – romantic or platonic.

1. Hazel and Daisy from Robin Stevens’ Murder Most Unladylike series

2. Rhysand and Feyre from Sarah J Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series

3. Finch and Violet from Jennifer Niven’s All The Bright Places

4. Elian and Lira from Alexandra Christo’s To Kill a Kingdom 

5. Steffi and Rhys from Sara Barnard’s A Quiet Kind of Thunder

6. Harry, Ron and Hermione from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter

I could put so many more wonderful partnerships on here! Who are your favourites?

THE LIGHT JAR – Lisa Thompson

5/5

A fantastic mystery that is truly about finding the light in the dark and overcoming your fears.

Well, what can I say? Lisa Thompson has done it again.

The Light Jar is simply incredible, unputdownable, and, like The Goldfish Boy, tackles a difficult topic that’s not often seen in Middle Grade books. Put simply, this is another book that I think that everyone should read.

The Light Jar starts off with Nate and his mum escaping to a run-down cottage on the edge of a huge estate. This is where the main topic of the book is introduced and we learn of Gary. Throughout the book there’s an air of mystery as to what’s caused Nate’s mum to want to leave Gary so urgently and as an older reader I could see how this topic would be covered in YA, so was very surprised to see it covered in MG! However, Thompson has done a fantastic job of, whilst not sugar-coating it, making it a book that doesn’t leave you squirming but also shows you that relationships like Nate’s mum and Gary’s exist and that they affect young people today. I wholeheartedly commend and thank her for bringing something like this into the mainstream.

When Nate’s mum suddenly disappears, a whole host of scenarios pop into your head and, as with The Goldfish Boy, they range from the most innocent to the more sinister. This is the magic of Thompson’s writing; the reader is able to think of their own ideas which cater for all different ages. An older reader may think that one thing has happened, whereas a younger reader would never consider that option and think something completely different! We follow Nate as he survives alone without his mum, ends up taking part in a mysterious treasure hunt and ultimately learns to overcome his fears.

“It’s a light jar. A string of lights in a little glass jar. That’s all it is.” 

 

THE SMOKING HOURGLASS – Jennifer Bell, Karl J Mountford

4/5

The eagerly awaited sequel to The Uncommoner’s takes us back to Lundinor!

I can’t begin to describe just how excited I was for this book; book one, The Crooked Sixpence, was one of the best debuts I’ve ever read and so I couldn’t wait to see what Jennifer Bell has in store for us with book two.

When The Crooked Sixpence came out, many comments were thrown around about how it does a good job of filling in the void left by Harry Potter and I can’t disagree with that. Bell’s writing is exquisite and she has crafted a fascinating world that can only continue to grow. I remember being up until 2am reading the first book, being kept on the edge with the suspense of what was to come and being fully drawn into the world of Lundinor.

So, that brings us to The Smoking Hourglass. In all honesty, I did find that this one started off a bit slower than I had hoped BUT, once again, as soon as we’re taken to Lundinor I was lost completely in the world of the Uncommoners. This time, we get to visit Lundinor in Spring and the descriptions really bring it to life – it sounds incredible! The story really began to pick up pace at this point as we discover that Lundinor is once again at the mercy of a dastardly villain and it’s up to Ivy and Seb to get to the bottom of it, but will they be in time to save themselves and the entirety of Lundinor?

Finally, this would not be a proper review without a mention of the simply STUNNING cover and illustrations from the incredibly talented Karl J Mountford. I could sit and admire the cover for hours – it’s full of such detail and beautiful colours that bring the idea of a Spring Lundinor to life! As I was very very lucky and received a proof copy of this book, I have yet to see all of the inside illustrations but, from the one I have seen, they are wonderful and I can’t wait to see them in the finished book and see how my imagination matches up to them!


Thank you very much to the Penguin Huddle for sending me a proof copy of this book!