WWW Wednesday 30/9/20

WWW Wednesday is hosted by ‘Taking on a World of Words’ every Wednesday.

What are you currently reading?

Crater Lake by Jennifer Killick

I’m liking this well enough, although it’s taken a more sci-fi turn than I was expecting. I don’t think it’ll end up being one I love, but it’s likely to be one I continue to recommend at work.

The Sinclair’s Mysteries: The Painted Dragon by Katherine Woodfine, audiobook read by Jessica Preddy

I’ve nearly finished this now and, while I guessed the who in the whodunit at the very start, I’m intrigued as to how they’ll reveal it and how things will play out.

What have you just finished reading?

The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

I loved this, and was very excited to find out there’ll definitely be a sequel next year. You can read my review here.

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

I enjoyed this. Our narrator, Adunni, brings a voice of hope and humour to some otherwise heartbreaking experiences, and in doing so gives a voice to many young girls and women still suffering from similar cultural and traditional beliefs and customs.

The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips

Erin from My Shelves Are Full very kindly sent me her copy if this to try. It was a quick and enjoyable read, with plenty of humour to balance its more macabre themes of a child-eating Beast and the 512 year old who’s finding one to feed it.
I think kids will love a lot about this, but for me I couldn’t help but wish it was darker, especially towards the end when it veered closer to silly than scary. A solid book I’ll recommend but dudbt love personally.

What will you read next?

I have put together a TBR for October here, but totally forgot about Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s new book (I don’t know how I forgot it either!) A Secret of Bird and Bone so that is jumping straight to the top of the pile!

Have you read any of these?

What are you currently reading?

October TBR

So I started the year with grand plans of picking a TBR each month, then with one thing and another this fell by the wayside.

I’ve decided to start again this month, although depending on certain work-related things it may also end up abandoned…but for now, here is my

October TBR

Excuse the hurried, on the way out of the door photo please!

Crater Lake by Jennifer Killick

I have had this for SO long and heard SO many great things about it, but still haven’t read it. This month seems a good time to rectify that!

The Forest of Moon and Sword by Amy Raphael

By contrast this is a brand new reading copy I’ve just received ahead of a January publication date. I don’t know much about it other than that it involves the witch trials and folklore, so that’s me sold really.

The House on Hoarder Hill by Milli Lish and Kelly Ngai

Another I’ve had for ages and what better time to enter a haunted house mystery than on these dark, autumn days?!

October, October by Katya Balen

I know nothing about this. I bought it because of its gorgeous cover, illustrated by Angela Harding, and as if I could not include it in my October reads with a title like that!

Witch by Finbar Hawkins and The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

I have these on netgalley and am looking forward to both!

I have a few others on the periphery as possibles if I get through these, but know there’ll be others that pop up to throw it out too!

What do you think if my choices? Are there any spooky reads you’d add?

The Ship of Shadows

I was lucky enough to request and be approved to read a copy of this on netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own.

The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar, cover art by Karl James Mountford

I absolutely loved this.

Aleja lives near the port in Seville and longs to sail, to travel, to see the world. Aside from her older brother Miguel, her dreams are treated as exactly that – with reactions ranging from fond impossibility to outright ridicule and bullying the fact remains that the idea of a girl or a woman working on a ship is preposterous.

Or is it?

Late one night, while sneaking out to ‘borrow’ books from the University Library (in secret of course – everyone knows girls shouldn’t waste time reading!) she spies a strange ship coming into the port, and sets out to investigate.

And so it is that Aleja finds herself in the midst of a pirate crew sailing away from her home and embarking on a mysterious quest.

And what a crew they are! From the steely and shrewd Captain Quint herself to Malika – calm, cool, collected…and deadly – to Frances, always ready with a yarn to spin and with a talent for thieving and a penchant for cake, this is an all-female crew to be reckoned with. A mixture of skills, personalities and nationalities, they’re a truly terrific bunch.

It’s only fitting then that such a formidable bunch crew no ordinary ship. The Ship of Shadows is made of magic, of legends and stories and rumours; it has secret passages, ghosts and of course shadows, not to mention rooms that change, appear and disappear. It’s fantastic stuff, simply fizzing with magic and imagination.

Then there’s the mysterious quest Captain Quint is on, which sees them battling Kraken, riding camels across the desert in search of a lost city and fighting a skeketon army, which is delightfully frightful.

The places we travel through – and it really does feel as though we’re in there travelling across them too – are rich in detail and vividly described. Aleja is in awe as she experiences them and you really feel that with her.

If krakens and skeletons aren’t enough, there’s added danger from pirate hunters, one in particular who is intent on chasing The Ship of Shadows down, providing some real tension and drama.

And amidst all the excitement, there are more poignant themes of family, friendship and belonging. Of being torn in two directions, of leaving – and missing – home, of following your dreams.

With pirates, magic, exploration and a writing style and sense of place that I loved, this book is definitely one of my highlights of the year and has shot straight into my favourites.

There’s been no word on a sequel but the plot and the ending mean there must be one…surely?! I for one very much hope there is – I’ve been transported across the seas and swept up in adventure and, much like Aleja, I am left desperate for more!

Peapod’s Picks/KLTR – Charlie and Lola

Peapod’s Picks is a weekly(ish) round up of some of the books we’ve been enjoying recently.

This week we’re also linking up with the monthly Kids Love to Read, hosted by by Book Bairn, Acorn Books and Laura’s Lovely Blog.

This week, we’re loving Lauren Child’s Charlie and Lola books, specifically ‘But Excuse Me, That is My Book‘ in which Lola repeatedly chooses the same, favourite book from the library until one day they go and she can’t find it.

Lola loves reading and she really loves books. But at the moment there is one book that is extra specially special…

Just substitute Peapod’s name here. We have read this for bedtime every night (at least three or four times per eve) for the last couple of weeks.

And then he woke up at 3am the other night, sat straight up and immediately asked for “Charlie Lola”.

We have put all his Charlie and Lola books in his current bedtime basket in the hope of at least varying which C&L story we read, but ‘But Excuse Me, That is My Book’ (or Beetles, Bugs and Butterflies as it’s known in our house) remains his favourite and his best.

He loves Lola demanding to go to the library “now, now, now, now, now” and Charlie telling her to be quiet – he takes great delight in “shhhhh-ing” through the library pages. He likes them looking for books that begin with “B, b, b…” and his dad and I then listing all the things we can think of that start with ‘b’ (all ideas welcome!)

He can finish pretty much all the sentences in it now and when we walk past our local library he cries “shhhhh! Li-ree” delightedly!

It’s safe to say this book is going nowhere anytime soon!

Here are some of the other Charlie and Lola books he’s also enjoyed…

I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed

Peapod loves seeing all the animals doing everyday things as Charlie coaxes Lola into getting ready for bed, especially the lion brushing his teeth and the whale in the bath!

I Will Never, Not Ever Eat a Tomato
Peapod enjoys hearing the long list of food Lola won’t eat and hearing the imaginatively redesigned dinner Charlie prepares instead! He especially likes the idea of cloud mashed potato and enjoys joining in with big “nooooo”s or pretending to enjoy it unexpectedly like Lola – “oh, yes!”

We Honestly Can Look After Your Dog
It has a dog in it. That alone means it passes the Peapod test, though he does especially like it when there are two Sizzleses at the end!

Luckily, I enjoy a bit of Charlie and Lola – I love the illustration style the most and I like how Lola actually sounds like a small child. But they’re long and repetitive for multiple reads every bedtime, so I am ready for something new to steal the spotlight soon…

Are there any Charlie and Lola fans in your house?
Which picture books have you read recently?

MG Takes on Thursday – Strangeworlds

#MGTakesOnThursday was created by Mary over at Book Craic and is a brilliant way to shout about some brilliant MG books!

To join in, all you need to do is:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence.
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D.Lapinski, cover art by designer Samuel Perrett and illustrator Natalie Smillie, published by Hachette

I know everyone else read this forever ago. It has sat in my TBR patiently being the next read then for one reason and another having to wait just one book longer for so long. But I’ve finally read it and loved it, so it seemed a good time to remind those of you who have read it of how ace it is and bring it to the attention of anyone who may have missed it!

I’ll be honest, this was one of those books I always intended to read and desperately wanted to like, but really wasn’t sure I would…well I needn’t have worried! I loved it.

The world building and magic system are incredibly imaginative and unique.

The characters are very likeable and feel fresh and a bit different while still being relatable and recognisable.

And the way the adventure twists, the pace increases, the tension grows and the plot, as they say, thickens is excellent.

Flick has just moved house. Before we go any further, I want to take a moment to say I was really impressed with the portrayal of Flick’s family. There was a depth and realism often missing in MG as parents are divided between doting, absent/disinterested or dead.

Her parents are absent in a lot of ways – they work early morning/late night shifts and she has a baby brother who of course requires a great deal of their time, but she is loved and cared for; they attend her parent’s evenings and plays, do things as a family and worry about her. It felt really refreshing to see real parents that kids will relate to.

But I digress… they’ve just moved house and Flick is exploring her new surroundings when she finds a very strange, old travel agency.

Inexplicably drawn to it, her yearning for adventure is about to be more than fulfilled as what she’s stumbled upon turns out to be a rather more magical travel agency than most.

With suitcases leading to different worlds, this begins as a hugely enjoyable exploration of some fantastic places. With bouncy floors, food fights, tree houses and a sweet shop that makes Wonka’s look dull these worlds are an absolute treat to visit.

Fans of Abi Elphinstone’s Unmapped Chronicles or Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor – you need this in your life. Every bit as wonderfully imaginative.

However, there is also a mystery to solve, a tentative friendship to form and a world(s) to save.

This does start slowly. But it really works. It picks up pace like a snowball down a hill, with more and more being revealed as we go. By the end, there’s vanishings, captures, escapes and injuries, and we’re left on tenterhooks with time of the essence, blind faith, hope and luck getting us through.

An inventive, exciting and wondrous adventure. I cannot wait for the next book!

My favourite quote from page 11:

“‘Don’t Lose Your Luggage,’ Jonathan snapped. ‘That’s Rule Number One…'”

This book in three words:

Magic. Travel. Adventure.

WWW Wednesday 22/9/20

WWW Wednesday is hosted by ‘Taking on a World of Words’ every Wednesday.

What are you currently reading?

The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

I’ve nearly finished this and I am absolutely LOVING it!

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

Technically as I write this I’m not quite reading it, but I’m planning to start it this eve which means that by tomorrow (Wednesday) I will be!

The Sinclair’s Mysteries: The Painted Dragon by Katherine Woodfine, audiobook read by Jessica Preddy

I’m enjoying this, more so than The Jewelled Moth, I think because of its arty themes. BUT it has made me think of another book about a girl (well, young woman really) who paints a mural in a tea shop and has a thing for her art tutor but discovers he’s also seeing one if the others in the group. Can’t for the life if me renember what it is though – anyone??!

What have you just finished reading?

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by LD Lapinski

I can’t believe how long it took me to read this s, but I really enjoyed it and I’m all ready for book two now! Full review to follow.

The Sinclair’s Mysteries: The Jewelled Moth by Katherine Woodfine, audiobook read by Jessica Preddy

I liked this but the whole debutante thing combined with the narrator grated a bit.

What will you read next?

I’m going to attempt an October TBR in the next few days, so watch this space!

Have you read any of these?

What are you currently reading?


Wrecked by Louisa Reid

Louisa is an author local to my work and launched her previous book, Gloves Off, there last year. I have to admit I was still finding my feet and desperately catching up on reading after Mat Leave then so still haven’t read it, but I definitely plan to after reading this one.

Wrecked is a verse novel (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – verse is going to explode I think!) which tells Joe’s story as he faces charges for death by dangerous driving after his involvement in a late night car crash that sees the driver of the other car killed.

As the trial approaches, we look back at Joe’s relationship with Imogen (who was in the car with him) and see them move from something seemingly ‘perfect’ to something corrosive and self-destructive that neither of them can/will walk away from.

It’s hard to say too much about this without spoilers; even talking more about their relationship, the court case or Joe himself feels like it would give away too much – part of what’s great about this book is how all its small parts, all the seemingly incidental events gradually drip, drip, drips into something bigger.

And with hindsight at the end if the book, its easy to reflect on the events that led up to it and see them for what they were.

Challenging stereotypes and tackling ingrained and often unspoken about prejudices and ideas in a very clever way, the book also addresses manipulation, mental health and the often insidious nature of both.

It comes as no surprise that Louisa is a secondary school teacher – the young characters she’s written all feel and sound incredibly real.

Moving, believable and tense, this is an absolutely gripping read that had me silently willing Joe on and desperate to see how everything played out, although I almost couldn’t bear to read the outcome to his trial.

A cleverly written and compelling book that will have you angry, emotional and on the edge of your seat.

#MGTakesOnThursday – Skunk and Badger

#MGTakesOnThursday was created by Mary over at Book Craic and is a brilliant way to shout about some brilliant MG books!

To join in, all you need to do is:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence.
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen, published by Scholastic

Anyone who knows me will surely know by now what a huge Jon Klassen fan I am, so I can’t lie when I say I picked this up based solely on his illustrations.

But I’m so glad I did, as I absolutely loved it. It’s one of those books that’s a bit quirky and refuses to sit neatly in any kind of category – age, genre or otherwise – and I love it all the more for that.

Badger is a creature of habit, living an almost reclusive life in the house Aunt Luna has kindly let him stay in to pursue his career in rocks. The living room is his Rock Room, given over to the study of them, and Badger is happy in his rather set and solitary ways.

Until Skunk arrives.

Skunk is everything Badger isn’t – outgoing, friendly and wanting to experience everything. He throws Badger’s world upside down with his deliciously extravagant breakfasts (no more cold cereal and milk), chicken parties in the Rock Room, philosophical bedtime stories (so clever!) and general upheaval!

Badger is sure that Skunk can’t stay (although those breakfasts are delicious, and the stories are good, and the chickens are actually a likeable bunch…) and things come to a head.

Lets just say, you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.

This is a simply wonderful story with everything from chickens to quantum physics, roasted peppers to Shakespeare and a truly fantastic chicken-run bookshop (that only features briefly but that I would love to see a whole book set in!).

And of course, the illustrations are fantastic. Unmistakably Klassen, they complement this completely unique book superbly. Even the endpapers are lovely. It’s a truly beautifully presented gift of a book.

As well as being a perfect bedtime read, Badger and Skunk would make a lovely, quirky KS2 class read. Short enough to squeeze in easily but with plenty of meat on its bones for talking about, sowing a seed or pondering.

My favourite quote from page 11:

“Badger raced in front of Skunk and said what needed to be said: ‘Oh, you’re that Skunk! Come in, come in! It’s so good to finally meet you!”

This book in three words(ish)

Unlikely friendships, comfort zones…& chickens!

Peapod’s Picks – All Sorts of Lost Property!

I’ve talked briefly about The Lost Property Office by Emily Rand before, but we’ve revisited it this week as I popped it in Peapod’s downstairs book basket near the trains he’s been playing with and he’s really taken to it.

As luck would have it, I’d also just bought another Emily Rand book – All Sorts (this time illustrated by her and written by Pippa Goodhart) – after Mathew Tobin posted about it on Twitter, and he’s really enjoying that too.

So, it’s an Emily Rand double today.

The Lost Property Office is a lovely story which sees a little girl leaving her teddy on the train, and I’ll be honest we don’t always get much further than this page when reading it!

Peapod is fascinated by this part of the story, pointing out the teddy on the train and saying they’ve left him, then “Choo-Choo! Gone!”

Please excuse my morning hair!!

When we do manage to read on, we see the little girl staying at her Grandpa’s overnight (with a teddy who’s just not the same) and dreaming of finding her Teddy – along with lots of other long lost belongings.

This is a simply wonderful spread and I challenge anyone not to start hunting for the objects listed in the glorious jumble Emily has created!

And it’s these pages and those at the Lost Property Office I love best about the book.

There’s so many different things to spot, find, talk about and notice – it’ll never get boring! Collections of things the same but not quite, oddities and the everyday all jumbled in together and several “how could anyone lose that?!”s!

One of those books you’ll see something new in every time.

And the same can be said of All Sorts, perhaps even more so.

Frankie likes to sort things. She sorts all sorts of things in fact. But when it comes to people, things get trickier and she starts to realise that sometimes things are best all mixed up.

With minimal text, a lovely message and an upbeat vibe, this is a lovely book to share and Emily Rand’s gorgeous illustrations really sing.

There is something ever so satisfying and aesthetically pleasing about the sorted objects, and yet the unsorted assortments are just as appealing!

And, as with The Lost Property Office, I really love her portrayals of everyday life and people. They always seem so real and I love that they have a distinctly urban feel too.

Two truly brilliant books. Perfect for poring over and super for sharing! Bring on more Emily Rand!

WWW Wednesday 16/9/20

WWW Wednesday is hosted by ‘Taking on a World of Words’ every Wednesday.

What are you currently reading?

The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

I have only read the first chapter but I have really taken to the writing style, which is, usually my biggest deciding factor, so I think this will get a big thumbs up.

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by LD Lapinski

I know I’m late to the party here, but better late than never! I’ve only just started this too but I think I’m going to enjoy it.

The Sinclair’s Mysteries: The Jewelled Moth by Katherine Woodfine, audiobook read by Jessica Preddy

I’m nearing the end of this now and while I didn’t love it as much as the first book, I have still enjoyed it and I can’t wait to see how it ends.

What have you just finished reading?

Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Absolutely brilliant. You can read my review of it here.

Eight Pieces of Silva by Patrice Lawrence

I wasn’t sold on this in the end. Patrice’s writing was as pitch perfect as ever – written with a real knowledge and understanding of her readers, and with believable characters and a setting dye clearly knows well. However the story itself didn’t work for me.

Wrecked by Louisa Reid

Louisa is a local author so I squeezed this book in as soon as it came into work and I really enjoyed it. A verse novel (which you know I always love!) about Joe, his corrosive relationship with Imogen and the awful place it leads him to. Review to follow, but highly recommend!

What will you read next?

It’ll be a while before I finish most of these and my TBR seems to be changing (and growing!) daily so we’ll see…

Have you read any of these?

What are you currently reading?