Archives for category: Book Review
The Orphans of St Halibut's: 9781529013375: Books

Macmillan Children’s Books

Not yet published – 2020, October 1st.

I haven’t got very far with this – but what I have read so far is so good this has to be reviewed now! A proof arrived! Yes, a proof! A sign of books and book life outside Waterstones at Finchley Road O2 trying to make its way into our consciousness – Marvellous news and WHAT a proof it is turning out to be…I almost don’t want to stop to write about it…

A tale of orphans – though I suppose that is obvious, but what characters these are…in a world where questioning minds are frowned upon – to the extent that to think for yourself could cause an orphan to be moved to The Mending House

The Department for Education, Assimilation, Training and Health (DEATH) was set up by the government to ensure a peaceful population and an end to all wars…which sounds perfect…perhaps. It is known that there are two causes of all arguments: having an opinion and having too much time on your hands and DEATH was set up to prevent these situations from happening.

When there is an terminal accident at St Halibut’s Home for Waifs and Strays, the pupils take steps to allow themselves that little bit of freedom that had been missing from their lives. The Happy Accident, resulted in a secret funeral in the grounds – and the children chose a suitable hymn to be sung at the graveside. Originally, it probably wasn’t meant to be sung with such joy.

All seems well until the orphans receive notification that DEATH is due to visit to ensure they are being educated and prevented from asking questions and are of course, being kept suitably occupied…

I am loving this – it’s absolutely glorious. Just what is needed by everyone – if and I hope we will soon, we are able to have events with authors again – I do so hope that Sophie Wills and David Tazzyman will be happy to come to Waterstones at Finchley Road O2 – when it is published in October… It’s superb!

There are (weirdly) some parts of this book that are reflected in our world of today…which is a little disturbing…

‘Sometimes, however, science said things that were inconvenient, and when this happened, better facts were designed and paid for. For example, the Prime Minister’s husband owned a company that made radioactive health products…unfortunately, top doctors had discovered that these were extremely bad for you, so those doctors were sacked, and different ones hired. The new doctors said actually, the facts proved that drinking radioactive water not only made you feel younger and put a spring in your step, but also that the strange buzzing light that you started to emit was, in fact, a healthy glow…’

Go into your local Waterstones / Independent and order a copy as soon as you can. It will be out in October and will be something stupendous to look forward to…

The Nowhere Emporium wins Blue Peter Best Story Award and Scottish ...

Kelpies / Floris Books

This is one of those wonderfully detailed and well thought out books with an intricate and clever plot. A suitably dark opponent with twists to the tale that keep you reading and wanting to know quite why things happened. Then when you have found that out – you wonder about how our hero and heroine are going to survive… A tale of magic, but a tale of stories too – of imagination. A stupendous book.

I try, on the whole to read the first in a series and then to move on – else I wouldn’t have the range of authors and their books to promote – but I am sorely tempted with this one to buy the next volume, The Elsewhere Emporium, but really shouldn’t. Frankly I wish I’d read this one years ago. It was published in 2015. Mackenzie also wrote Shadowsmith.

Chicken House Books - House on Hoarder Hill

Chicken House.

‘Simon rolled his eyes skywards and muttered, ‘O, the ignominy of death.’

Hedy and Spencer are left with their grandfather, when their parents leave to go on yet another archaeological dig. To stay with their grandfather whom they have never met. Who lives in a strange … not to say spooky house on a hill. He used to be a magician (of the usual every day variety), now he is retired, the house is filled with artefacts – magical and strange – that Hedy and Spencer have to promise to positively never touch.

His behaviour though is a little odd – and then there’s the question of what happened to their grandmother…and the marks on the floor…that seem to be moving…the peculiar messages…the pleas for help…Simon, the ghost and the head of a stag and the rug made from the pelt of a bear…that have the ability to talk, if not to argue…

A book to disappear into – brilliant!




Who's in the Loo?: Willis, Jeanne, Reynolds, Adrian ...

Published by Anderson Press

Essentially this is a book about a queue (not something we should be doing in quite the way it is depicted in this pre-virus publication) and something else that is rather important at the moment – with a couple of youngsters waiting to use the facilities.

They have to wait. The queue is long. They aren’t keeping their distance, but the message in this book is clear for now and after this has dissipated…wash your hands.

The children try to guess who is in the loo and come up with reasons why they are taking so long.

Is it an elephant, doing a poo?

A tiger who needed a tiddle?

A snake who’s just sitting there…sucking a sweet?

The number of strange and rather eccentric characters who might be using the loo is long and rather wild…but the book ends with the current incumbent calling out that ‘I’m in the loo,’ and that he’s just doing what his mother demands, that it takes him a long while…it is Octopus, washing his eight little hands.

A story to encourage hand washing – for the little ones out there…

Keep safe, keep your distance, stay home and read to one another…your cat or to yourself, if no one else is about…

Waterstones are still sending books out – if you don’t have this one – order one today!

Do have a look at Jeanne Willis’ other title too – my favourite (not for the feint of heart) Tadpole’s PromiseMine’s Bigger than Yours (now, I think OP – but worth searching for) – amongst others…



Image result for winterborne home for vengeance

Published by Hachette Children’s Books

Just getting back into reviewing books after the initial confusion that has taken over the world. This should have been reviewed a few weeks ago – came out on 5th of March.

‘But you’re dead,’ she reminded him and

the scary glare

morphed into a mischievous gleam.

A heroine waiting for her Mother to come and collect her. April has lived in several homes over the years. It doesn’t matter, her mother is going to collect her and take her away. There would be some explanation. This is an adventure filled with bravery, friendship and a missing orphan

What’s more – and this is important, it’s the start of a new series! Which is fantastic.

I love the starts of series. The cover (UK cover) of this one, doesn’t really inspire me – the American version is much better – no matter. Order one from your friendly Waterstones / Independent web site today and get it soon – something to enjoy whilst the rest of the world runs in circles.

Image result for accidental wizard kimberly pauley

Published by Scholastic

NYP – Due out September 2020

I read this a little while ago, as a proof (for which many thanks) – and loved it. Since then the world has turned a little nuts for everyone, so I haven’t had a chance to review it.

This is due out in September – you should place an order on – or your local independent bookshop’s site. Something special for when, hopefully this will all be in the past and we are back to the new ‘normal’ – whatever that might turn out to be.

A story of an apprentice magician caught in the cross-fire – and becoming…well – it seems he becomes something quite extraordinary. Many adventures are had – there’s some issue with transfiguration (of the Harry Potter sort) – not to be attempted at home…and wizards – oh, and some fantastic hags too. Including one rather beautiful one. Can you be a hag and beautiful too? There’s a conundrum! A great adventure, funny and uplifting!

Brilliant. Even better this has been beautifully illustrated too – by Jason Cockcroft no less (of Harry Potter fame), and has a map as well – what more could you wish for?


Image result for willow wildthing

Published by Oxford University Press

A charming adventure with a new heroine who has moved with her parents to a new house, to be closer to the hospital, where her little brother has spent most of his life.

At the bottom of the garden is a wild area, forbidding and mysterious. At night there are strange noises and something howls in the darkness.

This is a stupendous new addition for this age group. Filled with wonderful wild illustrations by Rebecca Bagley of the wildness at the bottom of the garden, and the swamp. A brilliant tale with wonderful new characters…a new type of literary witch and ‘Wildthings’…

Just the right size – 15 chapters and super for those just getting into reading themselves, to be read to, or for those of us who enjoy a good adventure. A story of new friends, bravery and mystery…

I really hope we will see more of Willow Wildthing and that this isn’t just a one off tale…

Image result for You won't believe this adam baron

Published by Harper Collins

By the author of Boy Underwater. 

Firstly Veronique Chang did not get a distinction in her Grade 5 Piano examination.

Then there was the issue of the blue jelly in Mrs Martin’s shoes.

Then Cymbeline actually won a game of scrabble…

and at the end of it all there were the sisters.

A story of history. Vietnam. Boats and a school…and one or two heroes & heroines too.

It made me laugh out loud. Made me cross when people would just keep talking to me when I was OBVIOUSLY deeply engrossed… Why DO people do that?

Buy this AND Boy under Water.



Demelza and the Spectre Detectors (Paperback)

Chicken House

Demelza is into inventing. In a big way. She can be found late at night, with a torch fine tuning her latest project, tinkering away until her grandmother hears her walking across the floor and demands she settles down. She’s being doing it for years. Then one night she is woken by weird noises. There seems to be something in her room, something live…

Demelza is not exactly the most popular girl at school – and her only real friend is a boy who is home schooled not far from her. He, though deemed delicate by his father encourages Demelza’s more wild escapades and they both set about investigating what is happening…

A fun tale of inventions, magic and the dead… I was entranced by this brilliant tale with a twist…


Image result for mud emily thomas

Published by Anderson Press.

Lydia’s father drops a rather large bombshell on the family when he tells them that he has sold their family home and bought a boat…an old Thames Barge The Lady Beatrice on which he proposes the family will live along side his girlfriend and her children.

It seems finances are a little tight. There are other things happening too – which aren’t clear. Lydia though, will need to change schools – things are changing and not necessarily for the better.

This is a book that attracted my attention when a customer bought it – I live near the Grand Union Canal – and there are a few old barges moored near me. Larger than the usual Canal Boats – but none the less, not exactly large…and I sometimes wonder about the pressures of bringing up children in a home on the water.

This is brilliant. A touching story of a family struggling to survive from the perspective of a determined and opinionated teenager…