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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…

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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.

 

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Published by Chicken House

Marina is the daughter of a Naval Commander and is sent away to boarding school as he leaves to take command of his ship once more. Wanting to say goodbye one last time and seeing a train at the station due to go to Portsmouth, just as she is about to take her train to school – she runs across and joins the sailors embarking to meet their ships.

What should be a relatively easy journey is complicated when she can’t find her father on arrival at Portsmouth. Worse his ship has no record of him…

This is a brilliant adventure story – with friendships made, some not what they seem to be, and promises made and broken. A tale of spies, ice, bravery and dogs…

A book to be read by the side of a fire…

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Published by Head of Zeus

I picked this up as I am a fan of Michelle Paver’s children’s books – dipped into it and became absorbed in this story of medieval history, corrupted power, witchcraft and demons…

A long book in years (it covers five centuries) – a tale of obsession, academia, a diary, darkness, an image of a devil found in a graveyard and the love for a magpie.

I don’t usually read adult books as most will know, I sell children’s books and so need to know the minutiae of those and have little time to delve into the adult world.

This is a darker book than many – but a beautifully described descent into an all-pervading obsession and a life coloured by it.

A hauntingly brilliant book, as one would expect from an author who produced The Ancient Darkness Chronicles. (9-12)

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Published by Penguin

Imagine how we would be if we were less afraid.

This is simply gorgeous. A beautiful book, in itself, the physical book, but the contents too – what is written and so beautifully illustrated inside is just as touching, thought provoking, gentle and wonderful as it could be.

A book Charlie Mackesy suggests you can drop into – and so you can, however, I did that thing of reading it from cover to cover. Which he thinks is impressive, which is lovely. I also dipped, before I bought. I’d love to meet Charlie and will be making contact with him & / Penguin, in the hope that I’m not too late to arrange an event with him.

A book of hope, of quiet sustenance. Peace – philosophy, a proposed way of looking at things.

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Every home should have a copy. I have just tried to find out how many homes there are on the Internet – just in the UK, however, it was way too complicated. I just wanted an estimate… There are lots though.

Make sure your’s has a copy. Penguin may run out.

“Sometimes.” said the horse.

“Sometimes, what?” asked the boy.

“Sometimes just getting up

and carrying on is

brave and magnificent.”

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Published by Macmillan

October 2019

This is a magical book – quite extraordinary.

Stella has been living on the edge of Winterspell for years. In the old days her Nan and she would search the woods, but more recently it has become difficult. Dark. Not to say dangerous. The villagers too won’t visit and avoid the woods whenever possible.

Stella though is curious. Not least as she is bored. She is desperate to enrol in the local school. To have, as much as possible a normal, regular part to her life. That though is highly unlikely, with the way things are.

This is a story of magic. Of the fae. Of a family secret and of friendship.

It is brilliant – wild and mysterious. Everyone should read this one – buy it for an Autumn read as the wind whistles around the house…

Stupendous.

NB. If this is to be the cover – it doesn’t do justice to this wild and extraordinary book. Then again, you never judge a book by its cover – at least I hope you don’t.

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Published by Orion Books

This is the story of Aniyah – who at 10 years old finds herself in foster care after her Mum disappears. She has always had a thing about the solar system – and she knows deep in her heart that special people never really leave – they become stars in the solar system. Which is of some comfort.

When Aniyah hears that a new star, that has been recently recorded, is to be named in London she is determined to make sure it has the right name. Though she appreciates the care of her foster Mum – she knows she only has a couple of days to reach London and with the help of two other children living with her, she plans her trip carefully…

This is a story that deals with domestic violence. Onjali has written another strong story about a difficult subject, both delicately and thoughtfully. Her previous title The Boy at the Back of the Class has also been reviewed on this blog. She is definitely an author to watch.