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Simon & Schuster

I have never learnt to play chess – I could probably give an moderately educated guess at the possible moves for the pieces, but other than that, it isn’t something that has caught my attention.

That said, I know there are young players out there who will enjoy this story about a young boy determined not to learn  with his grandfather…who has made a list of things he would like to teach is grandson.

The challenges his grandfather sets him seem a little unlikely – he’d like to teach him how to (amongst other things) clean brass, the shower curtain and the patio slabs,  how to perform a knee dance, play chess, shred paper and mow the lawn.

In turn Felix decides that he would set his grandfather a challenge, one that he would be sure to turn down…on the understanding that if he tries, then he will (though reluctantly), learn to play chess…

This is a touching story that should entice everyone, chess players or not – though those who don’t play, may find themselves wondering about it and just perhaps…

A story of identity, chess, families and history…

 

 

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Published by Orion / Hachette

This debut novel was one I picked up at work as the cover attracted me to it when it came into the store a few days ago. Sadly I wasn’t sent a proof – otherwise this would have been read and reviewed well before publication.

This is rather different – set in a period that is a curious mix of Georgian and Victorian history. Which you would think would be confusing, however, it isn’t – it’s rather an interesting merge of the two. Filled with characters – a young chimney sweep falls down into what should have been a normal room, in a normal residential house, and finds herself in a cage – set against the fireplace which contains a rather large

tiger…

This is full of colour. Fly attempts to escape (without returning up the chimney – for reasons you will understand if you read her story), and what is more she decides to try to return the tiger to the wild. It’s a story of freedom & equanimity; from avarice, captivity, bondage, and slavery. It’s a roaring, brilliant tale.

Part and parcel, and dare I say beauty of this story – this peculiarly hybrid Georgian and Victorian adventure, is the patois used between Fly and her cullies. For those more unused to the phrases there is a guide to their gutterling…at the back, however, it isn’t necessary to keep referring to it – the story flows without interruption. It is though, a pleasure to read once the story has been finished and should be a source of amusement and perhaps will help such phrases and words such as half-inching, snaffle, termagant, varmint and addlepated to be more widely used…

This is marvellous. It is proper slumdinger of a story with just the right of sorrow and joy mixed…

It reminded me of another book I read some years ago (but don’t seem to have reviewed, for which apologies) – The Boy with the Tiger’s Heart, by Linda Coggin – I think I must have read it before I started this blog. If you like tigers…then this is another for you…

 

Published by Simon and Schuster

This is the second book in the Windershins series of books and is just as enticing and magical as the first – A Pinch of Magic.

I am loving this – though have to admit to supping it gently. I received a special edition proof hardback to read – which is gorgeous, but not one I can read in the bath, or stuff into the top of my bag and carry around without giving it due respect…so it is taking me a while. I have though given it a lovely ribbon and attached a rather important tag, in the shape of a Russian doll to it, as a bookmark.

It is a real pleasure to get back to the three sisters and their grandmother…I often wonder what happens at the end of a book…what happens next.

This is gorgeous. There’s new magic, new characters, (including a wisp of one), the Russian dolls (thank HEAVENS for that set), a hag-stone, a map and of course Oi and Hoppit…the sisters and Granny – without whom…

Charlie gets kidnapped (yes, again)…Granny – well…you will have to read it to find out.

This is positively marvellous.

I love Michelle’s imagination including the little details – a pint of ‘Speckled Pig’ – I don’t drink, but would like a taste of that!

Michelle is coming to sign copies of the new paperback (sorry about that – the hardbacks were a definite limited edition) on the 29th of February – see Waterstones.com site for details! I can’t wait to see her again…

 

 

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Scholastic Children’s Books

This is a story of a lie. Not just a small, little lie, but one of those, spur of the moment, ‘no-one will realise’ lies, that expand and grow expeditiously – till they become all encompassing, all pervading.

Cole it seems, can paint. That’s what everyone is told and everyone believes. His first painting by any stretch of the imagination was a success. The only snag to this tale of joy is that everyone expects another…and he doesn’t know what it is that made the first so successful. What it was that made it ‘the picture’ – what made his ‘talent’ stand out to the artist who visited his school…

This is a story of repercussions. Of pressures. Of trying to do the right thing. Of new trainers…It’s also a tale of a mystery – a painting with a secret never solved…and a story of a sister…

 

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Published by Nosy Crow –

Our heroine is a thief. Our hero, an honest boy who would rather Chaya didn’t steal – and would certainly have advised her not to steal the Queen’s jewels, even if, as she believes, they wouldn’t be missed.

That is, if she had asked. Not that she would have taken any real notice if she had.

Friendship is a complicated thing at the best of times.

Chaya steals for all the good reasons…but, not everyone thinks that they are good enough.

The theft of the  queen’s jewellery has repercussions even Neelan can’t believe, though he might have had some idea. Though perhaps the adventure and theft of an elephant that results, were beyond even his imagination…

A proper adventure – saturated with the colours of Sri Lanka. Wonderful.

 

 

 

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Published by Andersen Press.

Partially it is the language and the descriptive power of this book that has me hooked. Along with the characters too – I have so far only read to page 34 – but this really is an extraordinary volume.

A tale of magic, slums, sewers, rats, old hags, and witches, both old and seemingly young…and a range of enticing characters…It’s gripping and won’t let me go. I want to read, instead of doing things I should be doing.

It is out at the beginning of February. This has calibre – I only review books before I have finished them, if I know, if I can sense that they will be good – this one will be. It is at the moment being compared to Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend. I’m afraid, I have to disagree.

It’s better.

I hope Jessica won’t mind my saying so. Similar, in a way, but better. I hope and trust this will be the start of a series, of perhaps three books – it’s marvellous. As with The Mask of Aribella (Anna Hoghton), I know this one is good – the first taste told me that…

Simply superb.

Once again – go into your local Waterstones and order a copy, or two. It is out on the 6th of February. With luck Ross will be kind and come and sign copies…. Order your copies NOW!

As to the cover, it is as above, though my pre-publication copy has silver highlights – which I’m afraid doesn’t come across in my copy-pasted image…

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Published by Chicken House.

January 2020

My favourite city has to be Venice, in Italy. Atmospheric, beautiful and somewhat dark. A place of intrigue and secrets. A city of many lives: people, seagulls, rats, without doubt ghosts of sorts, cats, and now dogs, and of course water. I have promoted Michelle Lovric’s The Undrowned Child now for a decade or so – it was published in 2009.

To find myself recently in receipt of a new Venetian book and a pre-publication volume was a joy.

This tells the story of Aribella, who suddenly finds that when particularly irritated, her fingers tingle and, if this isn’t sated, she is liable to set fire to anything within reach. She and her father live on an island outside Venice – they live on Burano. Her elderly father making intricate lace to support them both. He appears unsurprised when Aribella returns home to tell him what happened to a local bully when their paths crossed; that his throat had been burnt by her hands…he seems almost resigned… Then he doesn’t respond, as she expects, as she goes on to explain that their name may have been reported; placed in the Lion’s Mouth –  to the authorities along with those who might be subversive, dangerous, or even just a little strange. His attitude along with the day’s events disturbs her greatly.  The authorities arrive not long after.

She escapes with help from a friend, but as they row away in his small fishing boat under a red moon (an ill omen if ever there was one), a skull appears floating out from the mists of the water, that only she can see. It isn’t long though before Theo is made well aware of it, as it reaches their boat…

This is WONDERFUL! I am loving this – haven’t finished it – but am savouring it and enjoying it just before sleep – it’s fantastic to have another Venetian book to sink into – quite marvellous. It is of course, very different from The Undrowned Child. That book takes a nugget of the history of Venice and has a story wrapped around it, which doesn’t happen in this. Further, in some ways The Mask of Aribella is much less dark – though it definitely has veins of blackness flowing through it, as is right for any good story set in Venice. I have only read up to page 131 – but so hope that there will be more to this story than the single volume…

Finished this yesterday at work – I couldn’t leave it at home. Marvellous. Do order your copies as you come in for Christmas shopping, or order from W.com / or ring…nag your parents…or, if you are an adult – don’t be shy. Order one for yourself!

Then collect it on publication day: 2nd January 2020 – just under a month away!

 

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Published by Macmillan Children’s Books

NY Published: Thursday 5th March

M.G. Leonard – the author of the phenomenal Beetle Boy series has collaborated with Sam Sedgman for this new book – a proper adventure – of the old school. Just as good as Beetle Boy – but about steam trains. 

Stupendous – a crime / adventure story for all of  M.G. Leonard’s fans, but also for those out there who are ‘into’ steam trains… It is the start of a series of four books – and you really need to get on to this from the beginning.

Harrison’s adventure starts as he joins a royal train, taking its last run through Scotland, before being retired. He is the only child on the train – and initially he’s really not that interested.

All that changes as the journey progresses and a bracelet goes missing…

You can pre-order copies of this now. It’s brilliant.

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Published by Chicken House

Will’s gran knitted. All the time. After she dies Will’s is given a rather decorative jumper that she made and though initially it seems small, he pulls it over his head to find it fits perfectly.

Then her knitting group arrive. Five strange elderly ladies, their hands clutching their knitting bags and wondering if they could have anything that Gertie had left – they would be very pleased to have anything at all.

It’s not long after that when things begin to be more than a little peculiar, not to say odd.

A man who left the village years ago, returns claiming to have known Gertie in his youth and not long after he leaves Wills house, Sophie, Will’s little sister, can’t her knitted dog, that Gertie had made.

Things are definitely not what they seem.

A story of…well knitting. Grannies. Magic. Jumpers. Woollen dogs. The Isle of Man TT races…of motorcycles…adventure.

Great fun.

Should have been published with a ball of wool and some needles…

Image result for morgan charmey teen witch birchall scholastic

Published by Scholastic

Morgan has never been to school. She has been taught at home by her Mum’s best friend. The one thing she really wants though, is to go, however, she won’t be doing that (or learning to fly) until she has passed her Young Witch Exam…which so far she has spectacularly failed to do.

At the start of this story everything changes and she at last manages to pass her exam. She will be going to school, to make new friends, to be a ‘normal’ teenager. Though one with an extremely annoying familiar (yes, witches do have familiars) and the ability to practice magic. Though obviously she won’t be doing that…

Things though, don’t quite go to plan…

I loved this – funny and thoroughly enjoyable. I particularly loved her shape shifting familiar Merlin…

Lovely stuff.