Archives for category: Chicken House


Published by Chicken House January 2018

A tale of sacrifice. Of ice. Friendship and love. This slim volume published by Chicken House is a little different. This is the story of a young girl who is allergic to the sun. She can never go out without cover, never bask in its light, or stroll around a garden. She couldn’t play with other children as a child, and has to go ‘full hat’ if she goes anywhere at all, covered and sheltered from the sun, irrespective of how hot it might be. Her life has revolved around doctors including one who refers to her mother as ‘Mummy’. Life is to be endured, not enjoyed. Her life is curtailed. Controlled.

Until the night she slips out after dark…

A remarkable story, its ending not as many would expect, but the right ending none-the-less.

It is a cold story – full of ice.

It is a story of fears: fear of change, fear of life, but also one of hope and promises and sacrifices…

A book to read in front of a roaring fire.



Published by: Chicken House

Since I wrote my post about this volume one of my customers has been in touch and sent me the following email:

Firstly, I’m very grateful that you recommended The Girl of the Ink & Stars to me. I found it REALLY interesting and wanted to tell you some of the parts I most enjoyed.

Next, what really pleases me about this book is that it hooks you in as you read along. Karen Millwood Hargrave (the author) is brilliant in the style she writes in – it’s funny but also sad and terrifying! All mixed into one book! This is only the first book I’ve read of Hargrave’s and I think I will start to read more!
And like I said before, I really am grateful that you recommended the book.
Kind regards,
Anya Daniels
I asked Anya if she would be happy to have her name and review quoted on my blog and following her confirmation I am now posting it here for her.

Published by Chicken House

This is the second book written by Kiran Hargrave – the first The Girl of Ink and Stars has just won the Waterstones Book Prize for 2017 – it was good, but not as good as this.

Ami lives on an island with her sick mother. She does most things for her as her condition worsens, however, life is good – the island is beautiful, there is fresh water, fruit, butterflies and they are together. When Ami is taken from her island to an orphanage as a result of a directive, she worries about her mother, but soon finds herself also worrying about the other children. They also have been taken from their parent’s and families to protect them; as their beautiful home is designated as a leper colony.

Moving, and rather beautiful this is the story of love, friendship, bravery and ultimately people. It is a much better book than The Girl of Ink and Stars – though that one shouldn’t be missed either. It is just that this one has much more depth.

Enjoy both – they are not connected (apart from being written by the same author), so it is no matter in which order you read them.


Published by Chicken House

There are not many books where you can visit the skeleton of one of the main characters in a museum. This is the story of Maharajah who walked from Edinburgh to Manchester in 1872 and whose remains are to be found in Manchester Museum.

This fictional account of a true story relates the adventures of a young boy who becomes involved in a wager which has far reaching consequences for this urchin of the streets. It is a story of friendship, rivalry, bravery, and a tale of treachery too.

This is the story of an Indian Elephant – the elephant whose remains are in the museum. The story relates the story of an African pachyderm – but otherwise, in all essentials, the story is a true one. Jane Kerr has just added quantity of good quality adventure into the mix.

This is a wonderful book – sensitively and well written – a must buy. Then we must all travel up to Manchester to visit the original Maharajah.

NB. Just a small note – the wonderful elephant illustrated on the cover was done by Chris Wormell – a superb artist who has ‘done’ many other books too – and this one is one of his best… See also George and the Dragon / Two Frogs….to name just two beautiful picture books written & illustrated by him.

Published by Chicken House

This is a mix of a piratical escapade, science fiction, fantasy and pure adventure. The story of Bert who on a school trip to a museum finds himself drawn into the glass and then into a world of danger and intrigue. It is a story of a boy who goes ‘magic’ as his fellow pupils like to refer to those who believe in such phenomenon – it is Bert’s story and it’s a story of an unlikely friendship between him, a pirate and a girl with two metal legs. It is a wild adventure, with magic, a city in the clouds and airships…There is something for everyone in this extraordinary story.

Another good book from Chicken House…

Sadly the picture of the cover failed to stay…


Published by Chicken House

I have only relatively recently started my blog in earnest. I am, I suppose a cautious beast – particularly since some person destroyed my computer some while ago – which meant I lost a lot of work and photographs. What particularly angered me, though wasn’t so much the loss, I think, (though that still makes me grind my teeth), but the fact they got absolutely nothing from it. Nothing at all*.

This books is essentially about the responsibility we have when using blogs and similar social media. This time, its not the teenager who is abusing the social niceties – it is Scarlet’s mother. She is doing what all parents do – talking about her daughter. What she has done. What she hasn’t done. What she eats. What she doesn’t. The fact that she went out. That she didn’t. What her gym kit smells like at the end of a day of sports. The difference is that all of it is on Scarlet’s mum’s blog, along with photographs to make it more interesting.

Scarlet is beginning to retreat – to disappear, when she investigates a noise from the house next door and finds a cat, an empty house, a modern kitchen and a cook book…

This is a wonderful read about friendship, responsibilities and families…a lovely book to snuggle down with.

* I must admit though to having had two witches in my ancestry. I like to think that those who do such things are cursed – after all I must have inherited something from those two ladies.

I may never know what has happened to the computer abusers, but then again, they never knew the trouble and distress they caused me.

It still happened though, so you never know…



Published by Chicken House –

A slim volume, the story is only 156 pages, not including some notes about the blitz and the Second World War at the back.

Atmospheric, and historical. The story of a family both in the war and also in the 21st century. Rose sees her Great Aunt leave the house and follows her down into the Underground and finds herself back in the 1940s – and the beginning of the blitz, tracking and becoming quite involved with her own history.

It is a solid adventure – detailing some of the worst occurrences of the war. Rose seems, on the whole not to be overly concerned about how her involvement might affect history, or for that matter whether she will be able to return to her ‘own time’, however, that aside it is a very good read and a beautifully described introduction to this rather horrific time in our history.

Not yet published (Chicken House) – October 2016 –

Its just after the first World War. Henry (Henrietta) is living at home with her family.  All is not well. Henry’s mother is ill, and the doctor comes regularly, but she doesn’t seem to improve. ‘Piglet’ – the baby, is unsettled and cross, and Nanny Jane just has too much to do to spend much time with Henry. Her father is far away, working abroad and her brother, Robert…though encouraging, seems ephemeral…

The house is set in the shadows of a wood, in which periodically Henry has spotted the flame from a bonfire, glinting between the tree trunks. There is the smell of wood smoke in the air. Henry sinks into a time of reading, of stories, exploring the house, and an old attic, and watching the coming and going of the doctor and his wife.

There is mention of a place called Helldon, as Henry’s mother becomes less and less aware. Henry is unsure about what Helldon is, or why the idea of her mother going there bothers her. She just knows its not something she wants to happen.

This is an atmospheric story of families, secrets and friendship.

The proof I read was illustrated with simple line drawings – beautifully done – as chapter headings, which reflect the content of the story. It is a story to read in the evenings, preferably in front of an open fire…


Published by Chicken House

Remember, remember the fifth of November…




I have just started this book (page 46) and I know its going to be one of the best stories of the year – without any doubt. It has a superb cover, which is extremely striking – and I seem to have managed to download it to this post…somehow…

We all remember the fifth of November and Guy Fawkes. What he attempted to do, and what happened to him as a result of his failure. There are numerous books on the subject.

This story though is set in 1605 and Tom sees his father slip out from their farm to meet a man in the shadows. When he asks who he is, Tom realises this isn’t just any man – this is a papist priest, trying to escape from the authorities and he also realises that his father is going with him to guide him to his next ‘safe house’.

Tom is left to defend his mother and baby brother against the forces who arrive searching for the priest and his father, and, in attempting to protect them, Tom lets out that the priest had been sheltered overnight at the farm…

This period of history was dark, full of treachery, danger, death and murder. A time of distrust. It was a time where when trouble started neighbour didn’t necessarily support neighbour. This was a time when families were split…a time of suspicion.

For us, it makes a wonderfully colourful part of our history. I sometimes wonder though about the priests, hidden in their priest holes…of people printing banned religious tracts on hidden printing presses, and many dying for their faith.

Sadly it seems history is ever repeating itself. It is surprising what is done in the name of religion. Some extraordinarily bad, and some, extraordinarily good. We are a very weird species of animal.

To return to this book – it is a must read. A traditional, well written, adventure story suitable of everyone from 9 or so to…well adult, shall we say.

If this book does finish as its start indicates it will – as a superb story, I will contact Chicken House and ask if they can arrange for Ally Sherrick to come and ‘do an event’ – which would be marvellous…

I must stop writing this now and get back to Tom who has just managed to reach Buck Hall…


lydia-websitePublished by Chicken House – Not yet published due September 2016

I am slightly embarrassed in that I don’t believe I have read a Jane Austen novel. For that matter, I’m not sure I have even seen a BBC production of any of the books – that is without going out for a mug of tea, or leaving before the end. They are books I ‘should have’, but haven’t. Many years ago I went through a period when I read many of Thomas Hardy’s novels; I don’t suppose that would count though, for die-hard fans of her novels.

So, we come to this ‘adaptation’ if you will – Lydia – The Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice written by Natasha Farrant in a diary form. Lydia was / is the youngest of the Bennett family – about whom Jane Austen’s novel is based. She is the daughter who causes the rest of the family to sigh – she is impetuous, bright, and a little daring. She, is one of five sisters and is willing to try most things, particularly in her attempt to find herself a good looking viable, and interesting husband. This is her story. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is centred around the whole family (as this is), but the main character I believe is one of her elder sisters. In this, Lydia is centre stage. Her diary is full of successes and disappointments, observations (some not so polite) about her family and the circle around her, and details a year in her life.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope that you will too – a very good period tale. Natasha Farrant makes the following observation at the back of the book, that should be noted for those of you who are Austen fans –

When the idea for this book was first mooted by the team at Chicken House, I sought advice from pickering_-_greatbatch_-_jane_austen_-_pride_and_prejudice_-_this_is_not_to_be_borne_miss_bennetan academic friend who specialises in the works of Jane Austen. Lydia, who in my mind was already a living, breathing person, was skipping about, twirling her bonnet and crying “At last! My side of the story!” but I was less certain.

“Don’t even try and copy Jane Austen,” my friend said. “Just be yourself, be respectful and know that whatever you do, she is sitting up there in author-heaven laughing at you.”

To have managed to write such a story, based on such a classic is a remarkably brave undertaking. Particularly with such an author as Jane Austen. I was not, however, one who would know if any errors were made with the book, having, as I have said, not read P&P.

I must state though, that to have written such a book in such a way as to make me for one, consider reading Pride and Prejudice, must be a success. Further, it must be one that Jane Austen would be pleased to acknowledge as a result of that, if nothing else.