WWW Wednesday 17/4/19

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

What are you currently reading?

A Witch Come True by James Nicol (ebook)

I had thought I was going to have to wait for this as it wasn’t available as an ebook from the library, but I found kobo which had £3 off your first book so got it as a bargain ebook from there! I just couldn’t wait when book 2 ended as it did! I’m only a couple of pages in so far…

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J K Rowling (audiobook read by Stephen Fry.)

I’m still really enjoying the Harry Potter audiobooks. I’m right near the end of this and have just reached that ‘no…no…surely not…but it can’t be…NO’ point (if you’ve read it you’ll know, if you haven’t I don’t want to give it away!) As I mentioned last week, I really haven’t remembered this book at all but as this part approached all the familiar feelings of disbelief and hope against hope from the first read were well and truly back!

The Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher, illustrated by Sam Usher

I started this last night after much deliberation over what to read next! I’m only a couple of chapters in but very much enjoying the tone and feel of it so far.

What have you just finished reading?

Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone

Oh, this book! It is incredible. Its gone straight into my favourites from this year, last year, possibly just ever. The sheer imagination in it is wonderful and it seems to take all the best aspects of Abi’s previous books and put them together with a new magic too. I’ll review it in the next week or so, but honestly – you can’t fail to love this book.

The Bookshop Girl by Sylvia Bishop, illustrated by Ashley King (ebook) .

I read this in a night (so those of you who know me will know this makes it a very quick read indeed!) and I LOVED it! What a fun, funny and generally fantastic book. Brilliant characters, a bookshop to die for (the imagination that’s gone into the book emporium is phenomenal and I really, really wish it existed in real life!) a snappy, pacey adventure and a rather grumpy but very clever cat – it’s simply fab!

A Witch Alone by James Nicol

I enjoyed this even more than the first book – just as easy and enjoyable a read but with more drama, more dark magic and more secrets and suspense. I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out in book 3!

What are you planning on reading next?

It’ll be a while before I finish anything I think, but when I do:

Audio

I’ll be on the last of the Harry Potter books, Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows, soon!

E-book

Murder Most Unladylike is available from the library from early May so depending on how long A Witch Alone takes me, I’ll either go straight onto that or squeeze in Erica’s Elephant, another Sylvia Bishop, in between if I have time.

Physical copy

To be decided on…Peculiar Peggs, A Darkness of Dragons, Scavengers, The Dog Runner, The Girl With Shark’s Teeth…plus I have a couple of YA proofs on the way that I’m actually looking forward to (I know, shocking!)

Have you read any of these?

What are you reading at the moment?

Advertisements

WWW Wednesday 3/4/19

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

What are you currently reading?

The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol

I mentioned last week how I’d chosen to read the e-book of this (from the library) on my phone so I can read in bed without waking Peapod!

It’s been a perfect choice for these overnight reading and feeding sessions. It’s fairly short (I should finish it in the next couple of nights, if not overnight tonight) and an easy read that maybe won’t be in any of my ‘Top….’ lists but is nevertheless very, very enjoyable.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling, read by Stephen Fry.

I’m still really enjoying the Harry Potter audiobooks and this is one of my favourite books in the series. Mostly because it makes me so angry (Dolores Umbridge especially, but Cornelius Fudge and Percy Weasley, I am also looking at you!) but also because of The Order itself which is filled with some of the best people. (How under-rated is Lupin in the series?!)

Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone

I feel so lucky to have been sent a proof of this, I have been looking forward to it for ages having read her books and, though I’m only a chapter in, it is well and truly living up to expectations! Magical!

I’ve got the proof version, but the real cover (designed by Carrie May and Jenny Richards) was revealed on twitter last week and it’s stunning. I’m a big fan of a map in a book and this has that feel on the cover.

As an Abi Elphinstone aside, I found out this week that she has a picture book coming out in late October too! How flipping exciting!

What have you just finished reading?

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi.

I don’t even know where to begin trying to talk about this book! It was fantastic, in both senses of the word. I’ll be reviewing it (as best I can!) this week or next, in the meantime I’ll leave you with the knowledge that it was excellent but with the advisory note to redd it in big chunks if you csn – it’s much easier to follow than if you’re only managing little snippets at a time!

What are you planning on reading next?

I’ll definitely be continuing with Harry Potter on audio. I’ll be starting Half Blood Prince this week.

I’m going to read the next Apprentice Witch book – A Witch Alone – as an overnight ebook too!

It’ll be a while before I finish Rumblestar, so I don’t know what physical book will be next. I have an absolute stack to get through! Scavengers by Darren Simpson and the final installment in Alice Broadway’s Ink Trilogy, Scar, are both hig on the list though.

Having finished Gingerbread, I’d also really like to find time (hahaha, I know!) to read some of the adult fiction titles sat patiently waiting on my shelf too, but I have no idea yet how I’ll manage this!

Have you read any of these?

What are you reading at the moment?

The ‘Unrateables’

I know there is great debate within the blogosphere on the posting of negative reviews. Personally, I choose not to. I’d prefer to spend my time writing about books I enjoyed and sharing the book love.

However, that sometimes leaves me with a bit of a ‘grey area’, with books I like to think of as ‘Unrateables’. (This is not, I promise, a back-handed compliment!)

You see, another thing I see quite often (on twitter and the like) are children’s books being given rubbish reviews (on a****n, goodreads etc) because “it’s childish” or “it’s ok for kids”…well, um, yeah…its a *children’s* book.

Which leads me to my quandary (we got there in the end), which is that usually when I read the kids books I choose to read (MG for the most part) I love them as me, an adult.

However, sometimes I read books that I didn’t particularly fall in love with, but that I know are absolutely spot on for their intended audience (kids) and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend at work etc to young readers.

Books that are well pitched and written for that age. Books that often tackle thorny subjects or feelings incredibly well and at just the right level. Books that balance serious stories with humour or fantasy or a pinch of the unlikely. But books that don’t grab me on a personal level.

Today’s books are two like this. The Boy at The Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf and The Closest Thing to Flying by Gill Lewis.

There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it.

He never talks and never smiles and doesn’t like sweets.

But then I learned the truth: Ahmet really isn’t very strange at all. He’s a refugee who’s run away from a War. And the more I find out about him, the more I want to help.

This book is a great way of opening up discussion about war, refugees and – more generally – differences, prejudices, fairness, right and wrong.

I thought the way we were introduced to Ahmet, and the way we see his integration into the classroom and relationships with others unfold was brilliantly written and paced.

Ahmet’s situation is described perfectly – there are some very difficult themes written about, but all are addressed sensitively and age-appropriately, and the author uses small, everyday things to really make it understandable and bring the message home (I thought the pomegranate storyline was lovely).

Likewise, the bullies at school not only introduce another, likely more familiar issue, but also cleverly highlights both how refugees are treated and mirrors the larger issues in the book.

A book which makes helping others – against the odds, in the face of obstacles and when we have no real reason to – seem obvious.

With strong themes of friendship and loyalty, and including a fast-paced, very funny adventure, this takes on some heartbreaking issues but with humour and a heart-warming touch.

Present day: Semira and her mother were brought to England by a man who has complete control. Always moving on, always afraid of being caught, she longs for freedom.

1891: Hen’s trapped in a life of behaving like a lady. But her Aunt Kitty is opening her eyes to a whole new world. A world of animal rights, and votes for women, and riding bicycles!

When Semira discovers Hen’s diary, she finds the inspiration to be brave and to fight for her place in the world.

Semira and her mum have had to flee their country, and the way not just this but the surrounding issues – the reasons they fled, the way they had to do it, the control and power someone else now has over them, the constant moving – are explored sensitively and age-appropriately.

This Victorian narrative – that we see through Hen’s diary, found by Semira – likewise highlights issues of that time too, not least some very sexist and prejudiced attitudes, but also the very beginnings of change and a glimmer of hope.

The use of birds and cycling to draw parallels between the two times, and between the characters really drew them together as well as creating powerful metaphors for the feelings of being trapped and free was very cleverly done. And of course, there was the link between Semira and Hen. Both feeling trapped and powerless, both find the courage to do something about it – Hen drawing on the spirit of her Aunt Kitty and friends, Semira on turn drawing on Hen.

Another thing I thought was very clever about the telling of Semira’s story was the way it drew on things both good and bad – ice cream, cycling, birds and homework; being an outsider, domestic abuse and bullying – that helped draw the characters together in spite of outward differences, and which in turn will help readers from all backgrounds relate to, empathise with and understand them.

Empowering and inspiring, this is a book filled with brave, determined and strong female characters. It is a book of solidarity, trust and friendship. It is a book about helping others, but also allowing others to help you. It is a book about standing up for your beliefs and for each other. It is a book full of hope, power and action in the face of adversity. It is a book about finally flying free.

 

WWW Wednesday 20/2/19

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

What are you currently reading?

Monsters by Sharon Dogar.

I’m still chipping away at Monsters. I have mixed feelings on this one but I definitely want to see it through to the end.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J K Rowling, read by Stephen Fry.

I’m nearing the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on audiobooks too…which is disastrous as Prisoner of Azkaban isn’t available for another 2 weeks…! As you can tell. I’m still really enjoying these!

What have you just finished reading?

Flights of Fancy – Children’s Laureates

I thought this was a lovely book – perfect for aspiring writers, illustrators, creatives everywhere. I’ll post a full review this week.

Little Bird Flies by Karen McCombie

Amy at Golden Books Girl recommended this and I’m so pleased she did as I might not have picked it up otherwise and I loved it. With a remote, rural, historical setting it felt do well rooted and it was such a joy to read – I really liked the writing style. I’ll be reviewing it soon.

What are you planning on reading next?

I’ll definitely be listening to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as soon as its available. In the meantime I might give something else a go but I’m not sure what yet…

I’m just about to start The Closest Thing to Flying by Gill Lewis too which I have high hopes for.

Have you read any of the books here?

What are you reading at the moment?

Top Ten Tuesday…

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

I’ve seen this on a few blogs now and thought it would be fun to join in. This week it’s ten books…

… I love that have fewer than 2000 Goodreads ratings.

The Wolf, The Duck and The Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

“I may have been swallowed, but I have no intention of being eaten.”

Hilarious and highly original.

There is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith

“There is a turn of turtles.”

A narrative of collective nouns (and stunning illustrations!).

Hansel and Gretel by Bethan Woollvin

“Because Willow was not ALWAYS a good witch.”

A witty take on the classic take with fantastically expressive and stylish illustrations. Read more here

Pea-Pod Lullaby by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King

“I am the small green pea, you are the tender pod.”

A beautiful, lyrical message of kindness in trying times.

The Murderer’s Ape by Jacob Wegelius

Sally Jones is not only a loyal friend, she’s also an extraordinary individual. She’s also an ape…

A dark, dry and utterly unique book. There’s nothing else like it.

The Skylark’s War by Hilary McKay

When the Great War breaks out, their lives are forever changed.

A classic in the making. A tale of growing up, family and war that is much more than the sum of its parts. Read more here.

The Legend of Podkin One-Ear (Five Realms book 1) by Kieran Larwood. Illustrated by David Wyatt.

The terrifying Gorm are on the rampage, and no-one and nowhere is safe.

An original and immersive adventure cleverly told with wonderfully atmospheric and detailed illustrations. Read more here.

Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth. Illustrated by Rob Biddulph

There are two words that are banned in Tibet…Dalai Lama.

Transports you across the Himalayas on a perilous but picturesque journey. Read more here.

Sea (Huntress Trilogy #1) by Sarah Driver

In the sky, fire spirits dance and ripple, but a deathly cold is creeping across Triannuka.

A brilliant start to a fantasy series with incredible world building and a wonderful use of language. Read more here.

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

Hope can set you free.

Heart-breaking, but uplifting. Difficult but important. Everyone should read this.

5Ws Wednesday

Since I only tend to do a WWW Wednesday post every other week, I thought I’d use today to get some more Ws out there – this time the ‘5 Ws Book Tag’ which I pinched from Amy over at Golden Books Girl!

1 – WHO? Who is an author you’d love to have a one on one with?

There are so many for so many different reasons (Kiran Millwood-Hargrave, Katherine Rundell, Shaun Tan, Zana Fraillon, Helen Oyeyemi, Frann Preston-Gannon, Morag Hood, Rob Biddulph…) but honestly, I think I’d be so shy that I’d just stand there and be fidgety and awkward not knowing what to say or saying something stupid, so maybe it’s best that I don’t have a one on one with anyone!

2 – WHAT? What genre or style do you most gravitate to?

Hmm, this is a tricky one. With picture books I like anything quirky and fun – nothing smushy and sentimental or moralistic please! With MG, I definitely read more fantasy than anything else, but really anything with great world-building and that little bit of magic (whether real or just in the feel of it!). With this and YA I’m less keen on the contemporary/funny/everyday life stuff, but it means when I read one in that style I do like I usually rave about it! With YA and adult I do still like some fantasy, but nothing TOO fantasy-y, I prefer historical fiction, magical realism or contemporary stuff with social issues as a theme.

3 – WHERE? Where do you prefer to read?

This definitely used to be bed – well, it still is, but I can’t read in bed anymore as Peapod sleeps next to us and I’d wake him with a light on, so now I read on the sofa in the evening or stood up in the kitchen when he naps in the sling during the day (I daren’t sit down!)

4 – WHEN? What time of the day do you prefer to read?

Definitely evening before bed – I think it just feels cosier. But really, I find it so hard to squeeze any reading in now that I prefer to read whenever I have two minutes to do so!

5 – WHY? Why is your favourite book your favourite book?

My absolute favourite book is Shaun Tan’s ‘The Red Tree’. It puts into pictures (and words!) a feeling I could never articulate but know so well. It’s both an explanation and a comfort.

BONUS! How do you go about selecting what you’ll read next?

I look at what I’ve been sent to review and which are out/out soon/have been out for ages because I’m way behind (always), use this to narrow it down then pick one I fancy from those. Usually I try to mix it up a bit, so if I’ve just read a YA or 2, I’ll switch to MG or adult, or if I’ve read a fair bit of fantasy, I might read something more historical or contemporary.

Do we share any of these answers or reading habits? What would your 5 Ws be?

Swimming Against The Storm

Swimming Against The Storm by Jess Butterworth.

Illustrated by Rob Biddulph.

I’ve written before about how much I love Jess Butterworth’s books (and the absolutely stunning artwork Rob Biddulph produces to accompany them), and her newest is no exception!

Twelve-year-old Eliza and her sister Avery have lived their entire lives in a small fishing village on the coast of Louisiana But now, with sea levels rising, their home is at risk of being swept away.

Determined to save the land, they go searching in the swamp for the dangerous, wolf-like loup-garou, sure that if they find one, the government will have to protect its habitat – and their community.

But with a tropical storm approaching, soon it’s not just their home at risk, but their lives as well…

My favourite thing about both Jess’ previous books was the description and world-building. With each book, she transports you right to the heart of a place and its people, and Swimming Against the Storm is no different. I felt I was really getting to know the lives, culture and traditions of Avery and her community.

Likewise, as the children venture into the swamp hunting for the loup-garou, I was surrounded by marshes, mosquitoes, humidity, greens, browns and plants – not to mention all the alligators!

The landscape here (as in her other books) is a rich tapestry built up of the characters experiences and knowledge of their home.

The characters themselves are likeable and well-written and the dynamics between them are relatable and familiar – from siblings and close friendships and the tests growing up puts on these to wider family and community relationships.

The children’s journey through the swamp land as the book unfolds is rough, raw and ragged – a real adventure which sounds every bit as mentally and physically demanding as it would be – this is no scout expedition through the local woods.

With themes of friendship and growing up, the environment and social responsibility, I love how the book balances the emotions of the characters (Avery in particular) and real environmental issues with action, humour and adventure. And the way the issues in the book are explored is incredibly well-written to both inform and engage younger readers.

A midnight hunt through a swamp for a mythical creature in the midst of a storm – this is one exciting, nerve-wracking and perilous escapade, not to mention a true test of friendship!

With a flavour of Stand By Me and a dash of Disney’s The Rescuers* (there’s two films I never thought I’d be saying in the same sentence!), this is yet another brilliant book from one of my favourite MG authors.

*you may or may not get this – it could just be me 😂

Swimming Against the Storm is released in April. I received this copy in exchange for an honest review.