'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Review: The Hazel Wood

This is a unique and engaging novel that delves deep into the dark and mystic world of fairy tales, yet is refreshingly told from the perspective of a teenage girl going through the usual teenage issues of fitting in, making friends and her relationship with her single mother.

This book really draws you into its eerie and unsettling world, where at times you’re not sure what’s real and what's not. There’s something mesmerising about it that makes you want to keep reading and reading.

Alice and her mother are always on the move. Alice doesn’t know why they are always moving, except that wherever they go, bad luck seems to follow. Their house floods, the ceiling falls in, and unusual encounters abound. They are always running from the bad luck.

Review: Wundersmith

Wundersmith, the second book in the brilliant Nevermoor series sees Morrigan Crow escape her curse, pass all her Trials and enter the Wundrous Society. 

After being unwanted by her own family, Morrigan has found the family she’s dreamed of at the Hotel Deucalion with all the staff that run it.

But discovering she is a Wundersmith is not all she’d imagined. Magic can be used for good and bad deeds. It is a power that can be manipulated, and Ezra Squall, the only other living Wundersmith, is determined to win her over and into his devious world. 

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Review: The Rift

Rachel Craw has created another absolutely gripping fantasy, but it's nothing like her Spark Trilogy, because The Rift could easily be set today on an island not too far away.

Although the Rangers of Black Water Island have mystical skills, this story is set solidly in the present when a large pharmaceutical company has a contract with the Rangers to harvest the island herd's antlers. The powder from these antlers, which has magical healing powers, is the company's only concern.

While the company pushes for more product, the rangers do their best to prevent the herd from being irretrievably diminished. They also have to protect their stock from supernatural predators that wait to breach the Rift.

Amidst an escalating crisis in which the Rift is being breached when it shouldn't, seventeen-year-old Meg returns to the island. Her only dream had been to become a ranger like her dad, but she was forced to leave after barely surviving a Rift creature attack when she was eight years old, an attack in which best friend Cal saved her life.

12 Curly Questions with author Sally Gould

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
When I was 8, I lived in Canada for a year. Tobogganing, ice skating, snow fights and Halloween are some of my wonderful memories.

2. What is your nickname?
I don’t have one now, but in my first year of university my nickname was ‘Surf-pup’. Back then I spent so much time at the beach my skin was very brown and my hair was sun-bleached.

3. What is your greatest fear?
I have a fear of heights, but I usually deal with it by facing the fear. In June, I zip-lined over the Cloud Forest in South America. But I have never skydived.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Review: Snow Sisters The Silver Secret (Book #1)

Princess triplets Hanna, Magda and Ida live on the mystical island of Nordovia.

On the eve of their twelfth birthday, they eagerly await the return of their parents and the giant celebration that has been planned to mark their coming of age and the arrival of the magical abilities they are destined to develop.

But there's evil in the frosty air, and with it comes a powerful enemy.

If the Shadow Witch cannot be stopped, everyone will be in great danger. 

Hanna, Magda and Ida have always been guided — always had help and assistants.

But now they must find courage, be independent and daring, and take big risks to save their island and the people they love.

Review: How to Nab a Rabbit

In How to Nab a Rabbit, we follow the famous Big Bad Wolf as he presents his book about catching pesky rabbits. He takes the reader on a journey with rhythm, rhyme and funny situations as he demonstrates his methods and foolproof tips for catching a tasty dinner.

With a title to uphold, this wolf is determined to make a catch, so he starts with ‘the stalking strategy’, it doesn’t play out as planned then he discovers a huge inconvenience... bears live in the woods and they eat wolves! Four more methods follow, will rabbit stew really be on the menu? You must read the book to find out!

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Review: First Children's Dictionary

This is a fantastic first dictionary for kids.

Easy to navigate, filled with over 800 illustrations and packed with over 4,000 fantastic words, it’s been designed to appeal to a young audience and entice them to explore and interact with the pages.

It starts with an introduction to dictionaries in general, giving kids the basics on how to look up words in the book. 

Then there’s a lesson on words, which explains things like nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, plurals and tense.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before

For a well-written, can't-put-down summer read, you can't go past To All the Boys I've Loved Before by successful US author Jenny Han. Although published in 2014, I came across it the other day and had a glimpse to see why this novel/series has been so popular. I wasn't disappointed.

In the first of this best selling trilogy, we meet Lara Jean, a 17-year-old of Korean/American background who has kept secret love letters to the five boys she's ever loved, in an old cherished hat box.

One day, somehow, all her letters are posted and Lara Jean has to deal with the fallout of the letters' contents. She is mortified, especially as one of the recipients of the letters is her sister's recent ex-boyfriend and another is one of the hottest, most popular guys at school. Lara Jean has a lot of explaining to do.

Review: Dragons In Love

Drake is in love.

The problem is, Drake is a dragon, and he's in love with his very human friend, Violet who gave him a kiss on the snout.

And a dragon in love can be a dangerous thing. In fact, Drake is a little out of control.

He can't control his fire breathing -- there are flames and sparks flying everywhere, rather like a volcano rumbling to life.

Poor Drake decides that although he enjoyed Violet's kiss, he can't let his feelings cause havoc by setting fire to buildings around him, so he must avoid her.

He struggles to control his feelings, until his dad explains that fire breathing is a dragon's way of showing their love.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Review: Visual Guide to Grammar and Punctuation

If you’re looking for a simple and easy-to-understand guide to grammar and punctuation, this is definitely it.

This book is packed with information, and while it’s been fantastically designed for kids who are learning this stuff for the first time, it’s a book for anyone and everyone looking for a little help or a reminder of the basics.

At the beginning, you’ll find a great overview of how to use the book, so you’ll know what to expect and where to look for information as you read. 

Review: Sing Along With Me! This is the Way We Go to School

Sing Along With Me! This is the Way We Go to School is a strong and sturdy book for babies and toddlers in the stages of early learning. The characters are a happy family of tigers. 

It is created with chunky movable pieces that little hands can push and pull or slide in various directions, to alter the picture and move the actions of the characters.

The book goes through the whole song from getting up, having breakfast, brushing teeth, going to school and waving bye-bye.  

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Review: Colours

I still find myself drawn to board books, even though my youngest has outgrown them. There's something so luscious about them, from the thick, glossy cardboard to the simple, eye-catching artworks.

This board book, featuring the work of renowned Japanese paper-cut artist Chihiro Takeuchi, is surely one to delight young and old.