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COME EARLY to make sure you will be able to talk to your favourite authors!

Waterstones Finchley Road O2

O2 Centre, Finchley Road, London NW3 6LU

020 7433 3299

I heard him walking away towards the stairs. Then suddenly the parrot squawked: “I can see a finger! I can see a finger!

Published by David Fickling Books

The physical book is a thing of beauty. Gilt blocked with an image of an octopus in the sea grappling with a small bottle, a large wave rising high over the title with a small pirate ship in the distance. The gilding reaches around the spine and across the back board of the book. An enticing cover. The illustrations by the author are examples of his usual, detailed, wonderfully expressive work – and complement this story superbly. This is, without doubt a Sue Stupendous volume.

An adventure of the old fashioned sort with regular references to both Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Shakespeare’s Tempest too – with pirates, a desert island, magic, mystery, and an extraordinarily observant parrot…it is without any doubt a must buy. Oh, I almost forgot – there are bottles (lots of them) and one, quite extraordinary giant tortoise…

I am pleased to announce that Chris Wormell will be coming to the Christmas Book Festival (Sunday 20th of November) at Waterstones Finchley Road O2 (NW3 6LU) – and will be happy to sign copies for you. There will be 12 authors, he but one – but an essential buy…

…Then Lord Boothby squawked: “There’s a little man in there! There’s a little man in there!” Then: “Too late, you drank ’em!”

Published by Pushkin Books

The second book of Susie Bower’s that I have read. Well to be honest I am halfway though this one. I have been reading at least two children’s books at a time whilst being off from work…

A book for those ‘into’ the theatre! Ophelia’s family are a travelling troop – if you can claim such a word for three people. Her Dad, is very much of the theatre – believes that all Ophelia will need is a good understanding of Shakespeare, and the accruements of a career in theatre. Ophelia would like to go to a regular school, with regular classes. At the moment she is home schooled by her mother…

When an accident means that Bottom’s Travelling Theatre will have to stay in one place, whilst her father recovers, her mother decides that enough is enough and enrolls her in the local school. Then horror of horrors accompanies her on her first day…

‘You have to be registered on your first day,’ Ma leapt down from the cab, her dress – which was practically see-through – swirling around her knees.

Oh, great. Not only would I be turning up for my first day at school without a uniform (you will need to read the book to find out why) and in holey shoes. Ma would be with me, dressed as Desdemona from Shakespeare’s Othello.

I’m loving this – full of mysteries and Ophelia is quite a character…

Just finished this – it’s brilliant – a Sue Stupendous!

Published by Neem Tree Press Ltd

Not yet Published – September.

I can’t say that I have ever heard of Neem Tree Press. I was working on the Christmas Book Festival for this year (Sunday 20th of November), and searching for the latest publications of the authors attending, when I cam across this book – and publisher.

As always I started the proof without reading the blurb and I am loving this.

Max lives on a Scottish Island with his parents and baby sister. He was popular – one of the in crowd, however, after an accident on his father’s fishing boat things change for Max dramatically. He isn’t any more.

His village is not on the Internet, in fact there’s no mobile phone network at all – until the decision is made to place wind turbines just out in the bay – which, not only would be a source of power, but would also enable the village to have Internet and mobile connection. Maybe Max will be able to have the computer that will turn things around for him…

Not long after the turbines are set up, things begin to change and happen…he finds lots of dead bats on the beach, the adults are becoming increasingly tired, snappy – and generally irritable. His uncle’s dog, left with his family whilst he is away, becomes periodically aggressive, for no apparent reason …and the birds have disappeared. All of them, including the all pervading gulls. The island has gone silent.

This is a family story, but also a mystery. What is happening at the wind turbines? Why are there men with guns walking around the perimeter? Why is it that everyone (including the animals) are beginning to behave differently – unnaturally in some cases.

It’s a story of friendship and how people shouldn’t be taken at face value – sometimes those that seem most disadvantaged have a great deal more to offer than those who aren’t deemed to be ‘different’.

It is stupendous. Which is why I have decided to review at just 162 pages in…can’t wait for the ending.

Just finished this – a Sue Stupendous title. Made me a little more aware too. We need to be so careful about our world and each other…

As for Twister – another dog that caught my heart like Manchee in The Knife of Never Letting Go (Patrick Ness) – a book for YA…

Published by Nosy Crow

I nod. ‘But you once said you can’t be brave unless you are scared.’

This has several elements to it – theft of time and a story of a family forced to escape prosecution and terror in their own country being the two foremost. A story of the plight of many refugees, with the added twist of a boy who is able to take 15 seconds from the future – just 15 seconds to see ‘what might happen next’ depending on what he does. 15 seconds isn’t long – its an inherited ‘gift’ – one his father wishes he wouldn’t use – concerned about the responsibility of the choices made.

When life becomes untenable and they have to leave Alex’s terminally ill grandmother behind as they try to reach safety – those small stolen 15 seconds, might be the only thing to keep them safe.

An interesting twist, with the flavour, fear and details of many refugee’s experiences thrown in for good measure.

What would you do with 15 seconds?

Published by Gob Stopper / Cranachan Publishing Ltd

Every weddin, funeral and christenin is iways a beautiful service. It disnae matter if it wisnae, it’s jist whit ye say. Thur’s niver been a mingin service, or a disrespectful service, or an overly familiar service. A beautiful service. It’s jist whit ye say.

That’s just the start of it…

I’m not quite sure what it is, but I love the Scottish dialect. It gives a colour to language and makes this book all the more richer for it. Actually without it, Daisy wouldn’t be the character she is.

She falls drunkenly asleep on the Glasgow subway after making her thoughts clear at her stepfather’s funeral. She never thought he was good enough for her Mum and after being encouraged to say a few words, was more than a little direct, before leaving and taking the last train. Actually taking the train, after the last train.

When she wakes, she finds that not only has she slipped into the past, but her face is different too…

‘The polis asked me tae move on. Said somebdy hud reported a lassie sittin in a balaclava that fit ma description…

To return back to ‘herself’ and her own time, she must save a life – but she’s not sure who, when and certainly has no idea how to do this.

Ah hud a wee mouse once, Squeaker, and ah miss him.

This made me laugh out loud. The dialect isn’t the only aspect of the language in this and so is not suitable for younger readers as a consequence, but it is a brilliant story – rich in texture and taste – I loved it. Definitely a Stupendous title. Somehow made me think of haggis – rich, full of flavour and with more than a little kick to it…

Published by Nosy Crow

Not yet published (September 2022)

And I thought: Yes! Little! Little, but mighty.

This is Carlie Sorosiak’s best book yet. Written as a series of letters, Clementine ‘writes’ to Rosie an lab chimpanzee whom she befriended whilst living as a lab mouse – before she is stolen away. They aren’t letters she can send, she explains, but hopes in someway, that they will get to her.

Richard Adams wrote Plague Dogs in 1977 – a much more visceral volume about animals and vivisection – this by comparison is less ‘immediate’ for want of a better phrase. Touching on the subject, but with a good deal of emphasis on the characters of Clementine, Rosie, Hamlet and the humans who help and hinder them and their adventure.

Even Hamlet’s listening now. He’s stopped chewing the asparagus, cheeks chock-full.

I often have to talk to readers about their preferences, concerns and out look on life before I suggest titles. This is more on the side of a Disney tale – but enjoyable none-the-less and does raise the question of how we treat animals for those who are perhaps not so aware.

I liked Clementine, but somehow – I loved Hamlet, the ‘other’ mouse. It is a story of animals, a young boy and his grandfather and chess. Brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed this.

Good, my mind repeats. A ‘good’ lab mouse. That’s all I ever wanted to be. But I never stopped to think about who was defining the word – and if they were right.

This is a story of friendship, bravery, inventiveness and playing to your strengths.

I think he’d been keeping it for me. Until I needed it. Until I needed the extra bit of bravery, and wisdom that a whisker provides. A whisker says I support you. A whisker says Here is a part of me that I’m willingly giving to you.

I have kept all the whiskers that Pakka dropped and now keep all those Sakka deposits around the house. I wonder…

Plague Dogs is certainly NOT for this age group – it’s not for me either – much too real-life for me. This though, was just right…

Published by Bloomsbury

At first it’s like the air has been punched from my lungs. But I remember from the bath that the feeling will pass and the burn will grow and twist and then it will turn into a low hum in the background of my body. When I start to feel stars whirlin in my brain I roar through the surface and gulp in the sky. I keep swimming, my head bobbing. I kick and twist and my bones are liquid as I streak through the waves.

This book (at least the hardback) should have had a paper crane in each volume to use as a bookmark.

This is another one of those Katya Balen books – by now you should know the books I mean. The books full of emotive life; families, friendship, bravery and so much more.

This then is the latest I have read from this extraordinary author – a tale of loyalties and hope. Stupendous. At the moment in hardback only, but worth every penny.

Published by Pushkin Books

The soft image grew smaller and smaller, until finally, he was gone.

This is about the elephant in the room. There are many people who are accompanied in their lives by over large creatures, often grey, often ponderous. They are all encompassing. Take over their lives.

This is a story of a young girl who watches her father as he tries to live his life, with a large grey elephant pushing him out of the picture. It’s the story of how she tries to rid her father of his elephant, only to find that there are many creatures out there – each unique to their person…as each person is unique to their grey animal.

It is a book about an elephant and a small dog…and a large grey tortoise.

A story of sadness, and a story of hope. Against the darkness that can take over life. It’s by the wonderful Peter Carnavas and illustrated by him too.

Published by Pushkin Books

The boy smirked. ‘A mistake?’ he said. ‘Yeah – like it’s a mistake I’m going in there.’ He jerked his head at the School for Nobodies.

A book of mysteries and puzzles – Claudia was adopted when aged three years old. She has very little idea of who she is – her name was given to her by her new parents – a name that is a combination of theirs.

Her life is ordered, regimented. She doesn’t know what, or how to ask questions as they are usually brushed off by her parents. Questions about the burn mark on her face – that makes her different from everyone else. All she knows is that it happened in a fire. No other explanation is given. She’s lonely.

Then she receives an extraordinary message…which changes everything for her and for Claude (her adoptive father) and Sonia (her adoptive mother) and she finds herself sent to a boarding school after an ‘incident’. She is sent, she believes to the school to be with her sister…her twin sister. Things, however, are most definitely not what they seem…