THE STAR-SPUN WEB – Sinéad O’Hart

the star-spun web5/5

RELEASED: 07/02/2019
PUBLISHER: Stripes
GENRE: Middle Grade, Magical Realism

With her passion for scientific experimentation and her pet tarantula Violet, Tess de Sousa is no ordinary orphan. When a stranger shows up at Ackerbee’s Home for Lost and Foundlings, claiming to be a distant relative come to adopt her, Tess hopes to find some answers to her mysterious origins. But as she adjusts to her new life at Roedeer Lodge, it becomes clear that Norton F. Cleat knows more about Tess – and the strange device left with her when she was abandoned as a baby – than he’s letting on. And when Tess discovers that the Starspinner is the gateway between her world and a parallel world in which war rages, she realizes she may be the key to a terrible plan. A plan she must stop at all costs…

Sinéad O’Hart stormed into the Middle Grade scene last year with her fantastic debut The Eye of the North, so there were high expectations riding on her second book, The Star-Spun Web. Aside from the fact that Sara Mulvanny and Sophie Bransby have done a stellar job on the cover again (it’s BEAUTIFUL!), this book was just as engaging and enjoyable to read as book one!

50210701_324361354859487_5763330421077364150_nThe Star-Spun Web is a mysterious story full of magic, science and wonder…and, despite my intense dislike of spiders, I actually began to warm to Violet, Tess’ pet spider! It’s a book that I was always excited to get back to reading; I genuinely cared about the characters and was rooting for Tess! As a character, she is one of my favourites I’ve come across in middle grade books; she’s just the right amount of feisty, vulnerable and intelligent. It’s refreshing to have a female character who is so independent and inquisitive. That said, she also relies on other people at the right times, showing how we can think we can do something alone but actually we need other people sometimes to help, whether that’s from our family or friends.

I’m not sure whether this book is going to be a stand-alone; there is a lot of potential for a sequel in this world! I’d love to revisit Tess and all her friends, and discover what happens to the villains of the story too!


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

 

 

…AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR? – Holly Bourne

and a happy new year?5/5

There’s a reason why people LOVE The Spinster Club girls and this book showcases all three perfectly! Although this is the latest book in the series, it’s a perfect one for people who somehow haven’t yet read the series but would love to see what the hype’s about and who the girls are. I’d love to read more books like this, where you can check in with the girls in a brief story packed with emotion, drama and fun.

I loved this book; it was a quick read taking place on this one night but that doesn’t stop it being an important read for teens and young adults since it’s showing the girls after leaving school/college which is a scary and exciting time! It was so refreshing to read something that shows how not everyone loves uni, not everyone goes to uni and how friendships do inevitably change when people move off to different places and others stay behind, but all of these things are OK!

If you haven’t read The Spinster Club yet, read this and you’ll want to pick up the others straight away to know more about three brilliant characters. If you have…read this one to know what happens next!


Thank you very much to Stevie at Usborne for sending me a copy of this title!

FIERCE FRAGILE HEARTS – Sara Barnard

img_35885/5

So…as I write this review it’s 2018. I’ve already decided what one of the top books of 2019 is, and it’s this one – the sequel to the equally wonderful Beautiful Broken Things.

I was so desperate for a copy of this book, and I’m so glad that I was approved on NetGalley to read it early! The only reservation I had was that it was so long ago that I read Beautiful Broken Things that I thought I wouldn’t remember anything about it and would struggle to get into the new title, but how wrong I was! It’s a testament to how brilliant Sara’s writing and characterisation is that I was thrown straight back into the world with some of the most wonderful characters!

img_3606A key factor that makes Sara’s books so popular and loved is that her characters are real. They’re perfectly flawed, relatable and diverse. For example, as we’ve previously seen in her books, mental health is a key theme that she gets right – in Fierce Fragile Hearts, whether or not you have experience of anxiety, depression or bipolar, there’re parts of Suze (our main character) that are highly relatable to all readers on some level. However, the thing that I love is that those heavy topics that in so many books you have to put them down, such as abuse and mental health, don’t define the book and overshadow the story. I guess what I’m very badly trying to say is that a subject that could be incredibly triggering is presented in a way that doesn’t detract from your enjoyment of the book.

I could witter on about how much I love this book for ages, and as the day has gone on the intensity of that feeling has grown, along with my feelings for Matt *swoon*. Yet again, a five-star read that I urge everyone to get their hands on!


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

AMELIA FANG AND THE BARBARIC BALL – Laura Ellen Anderson

5/5

A stunning young reader book that’s perfect for fans of the not quite ordinary!

I’m not going to lie, I’ve bought the whole of this series without having even read the blurb purely based on the beautiful cover and sprayed edges, and the fact that I love Laura Ellen Anderson’s illustrations. So, I figured that it was about time that I read book one, and luckily I loved it!

amelia fang prince tangine

Baby Prince Tangine

In the Amelia Fang series, we follow the title character, a cute little vampire, and her friends in Nocturnia, where all things glittery and unicorn related are terrifying but blood and darkness are not! In book one, we are introduced to a whole host of brilliant characters from Amelia Fang to her pet pumpkin Squashy (he is so adorable!) as their world is turned upside down by the arrival of the spoilt Prince Tangine. However, all is not as it seems…

I adored this first book which really sets the scene for the series and makes you want to find out more. It is a very unique take on the cuteness of young reader books with the focus being on less traditional creatures for this age range. I would definitely recommend it, and can’t wait to move on to book two!

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!

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!

FLOORED – Various

4/5

Floored brings together some of the queens of UKYA (Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson, Tanya Byrne and Eleanor Wood)

I am a sucker for a good UKYA contemporary, especially when you throw in names such as Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne and Lisa Williamson; I just know it’s a book I will love! So, imagine my delight when I discovered that Floored is a thing and so it was the first book that I sent a begging email for since starting blogging! Despite not getting a copy, I was super lucky to get one straight away through NetGalley (thank you Macmillan!) and bumped this straight to the top of my TBR!

Floored is told from the perspective of six characters, and a narrator. What adds to its charm is how you don’t know which author wrote which parts – this makes for a fun game of “guess the author”! I loved how seamlessly the story seemed to flow between narrators and how all of the different writing styles complimented each other perfectly.

A key thing that makes Floored such a success is how relatable it is; the book spans several years and we “check-in” with our characters once a year, and so we see how in the space of a year so much can change when you’re in your teens and going into early adulthood. It’s during this time that our characters really develop and our friendships are evolving and you are beginning to realise what’s truly important. Floored is all about the ups and downs that these years can bring and it captures this perfectly.

I think that the only thing I really didn’t like was the bringing in of political parties to the story. I think that an unfair light was cast upon one party over another, especially when you consider the character narrating at the time, and this is something that put me off giving this book a higher rating.

Nevertheless, overall this book is a solid 4 stars – it tackles such a range of topics with some very likeable characters. Everyone will find some way to relate to what these narrators go through, you’ll see your positives and your flaws. I’d definitely love to see more collaborations from this group in the future!


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

HOW TO BE A LION – Ed Vere

5/5

The roarsome story of Leonard the lion going against the norm.

With a crunch and a chomp, this story of a poetry-loving lion will have you hooked as we learn that you don’t have to be what people expect you to be; it’s okay to just be yourself.

I can’t wait to see this book with the illustrations; I love Ed Vere’s work, especially Grumpy Frog, and I really want to see his story of Leonard come to life! However, just going on the text alone, this is a fantastic book that little ones will love. I can imagine that reading it aloud is great fun with all the rhymes!

I really enjoyed reading How To Be A Lion and am definitely going to be adding it to my collection of favourite picture books!

 

LEGENDARY – Stephanie Garber

5/5

Sequel to the wonderful Caraval, that’s arguably even better than the first.

I finished Legendary this afternoon. My heart is still racing. This book!

Without a doubt, Legendary is even better than Caraval, which is some feat since Caraval was without a doubt one of the top books of 2017. Somehow, Stephanie Garber has crafted a tale that once again has you doubting what’s real and what’s only a part of the game, full of unexpected twists and turns. Even things that you are fairly certain are real you question, and that really is the true beauty of this book!

Legendary focuses on the story of Tella, who is a much feistier character than her older sister Scarlett, and as such makes the story a lot more fast-paced and unpredictable. I couldn’t help but adore Tella. She takes on everything that’s thrown at her with such a headstrong attitude as she is thrust into the world of Caraval.

I don’t want to make this a spoiler review, so I’m going to try to be as obscure as possible, but know that so many fantastical new characters are introduced in Legendary, as well as some incredible development of existing characters. I finished the book with a new book boyfriend (oh hi Dante!) and a thirst for more!

I have heard that this is just a duology, but, that said, I’m desperate for more and want to know what happens next! So, if you’re reading this, Stephanie, PLEASE can there be more!


Thank you so much to Hodder for my copy of Legendary via NetGalley!