Archives for posts with tag: Book Review

Image result for mermaid school courtenay anderson press

Anderson Press

February 2020

Compared to books in the 9 – 12 genre, there are fewer new good books for this age group. Many have lurid covers and publishers often have a bad habit of producing series of books with an excessive number of a titles in each – with little to commend them.

Image result for delphie and the magic ballet shoes harper collins

There are a few collections that are, however, different. Darcey Bussell has a run of titles published a few years ago – well written and about ballet, as you might expect. Though there are quite a number – it isn’t excessive. The books are accurate with regard to the ballet – and youngsters ‘into’ ballet enjoy them.

Lucy Courtenay too has also produced a number of collections – each with a small run of titles about different characters/themes – pirates, animals and space penguins! This is the first of her new series.

The book reads like a young Enid Blyton title. A school story set underwater with wild seahorses. There are the usual concerns about teachers, other mermaids (some of whom are not friendly) and in addition Marnie Blue’s aunt, the famous singer, went to the school before her – and had a bit of a reputation.

You don’t have to buy just / all of the Daisy Meadows Rainbow series – there are other books coming out for youngsters in this age group.




Image result for the way past winter kiran millwood hargrave

Published by Chicken House

A book for the winter. After the snow has come and it crunches under your feet. An element of Narnia with an endless winter. A winter that came and never left.

Since their parents have gone three girls and their brother have been left to survive on their own. Protected only by the rules their parents gave them. Oskar watching and looking out for his sisters – trying to be a little more than a big brother. Sanna the eldest sister sensible and doing the ‘right thing’. Or trying to. Mila listening to her sisters’ snores and snuffles in the night and missing her brother’s and last, but certainly not least, Pipa – the one whom everyone watches out for. As time goes past Oskar becomes more reticent. More impatient. Then they are visited by men on horseback. Late that night one sister sees her brother at the window. In the morning he’s gone too.

A story of a search though an unnatural winter. A tree cut down before its time and a mage – young and different – perhaps someone to trust…though perhaps too strange for that.

A story of families, siblings and sisters. Atmospheric and magical. A story to be read by a fire as Autumn turns.

Another Kiran Millwood Hargrave to enjoy.


Image result for frostheart jamie littler

Published by Puffin Books.

Initially I was disappointed. Not by the story – which is full of adventure, bravery, excitement and friendships made (and lost) – but because of the binding. Somewhere a mistake has been made. This is a paperback with a double front cover. The outer with a hole to see through, to the second. Which can be a lovely device, however, the second ‘board’ is too thick, which means that unless careful, the spine and hinge can be damaged.

That said the essential thing is the story – and that is a rollicking piece of fantasy fiction – a place of ice, snow and lurkers

The creatures were wet, sleek and serpentine, longer than two men, with six frost-white eyes that blinked, slightly out of order*, and gaping jaws filled with ice-sharp fangs and drool-slick tongues…’

Our hero is Ash, young, alone and a Song Weaver…

The Fira, the people Ash had been left with are so scared of signing and Song Weavers in particular that singing has been banned.

All Ash wants to do is to sing – to develop his strange powers, that might just have an affect against the lurkers. Not being allowed to sing, however, means that he doesn’t know, can’t find out…and then, after his last bout of illegal singing Alderman Kindil persuades Tobu, the mysterious yeti-outsider, to take care of him, outside of the village. Away from everyone and his friends.

A brilliant wild adventure – a book that is the start of a series…as Ash joins the Frostheart – a type of ship crossed with a sleigh in the hope of finding his parents…

This is the book of the month for October. Visit Waterstones Finchley Road O2 – and I will ensure you will benefit from this promotion…

*I thought that was a lovely touch…blinking slightly out of order is even better than blinking out of order…wonderful.

Oh – I forgot – the book is illustrated throughout – superbly…

Image result for frostheart jamie littler



Published by Macmillan

Not yet Published – 5 September 2019


Except for the sound in the ivy, his movements were silent. He prowled like an animated shadow. He smelt wonderful, part smoke, part caramel. His leaps looked like slow motion. When he turned his head to look at Louis, an amber power traced patterns on the nerves beneath Louis’ skin. From his very first visit he had taken ownership of Louis’ room, Louis’ bed and Louis’ mat (on which he sharpened his claws)…

Iffen banished loneliness. His arrogant sorting through the offerings on the windowsill made Louis smile. Either they vanished completely, or were flicked scornfully into the ivy. They were not enough. Lately Iffen had taken to bringing his own supplies…

I have just finished the proof of this quite extraordinary and enticing wondrous book. Really, quite one of the most evocative, brilliant pieces of writing that I have read for years

Everyone should buy copies of this – Magic. When I say magic, I mean the primeval, and dare I say it, real magic of nature – of wildness and of books – how I wish I had been brought up, just for a little while in an ivy-covered house… The power of books, of words and of course of pictures… Absolutely wonderful.

Image result for chauvet cave drawings

The cover to this book, doesn’t reflect the depth, wildness and enticement of this wild, extraordinary tale. Buy it. Perhaps in years to come someone will design another more fitting. In the meanwhile, know that there is something extra to this tale – the English is wonderful – a book of real magic…


Image result for i cosmo

Published by Nosy Crow

This is a lovely tale of the love between a dog and his owner.

Cosmo is a Golden Retriever, reliable and relaxed. Except when his family starts to change. It looks as though he might be parted from Max, the human he is most attached to and he begins to sense things are not well. There’s tension in the air. Raised voices at night. Things aren’t as they used to be.

Max and Cosmo enter a television contest in the hope of proving that they shouldn’t be parted, but things aren’t that easy.

Cosmo is elderly. He suffers from back ache. He has a sore paw.

Then there’s that sheep dog to contend with too. 

Carlie Sorosiak is an American author and this is set there and includes many American references.

It is a lovely tale of the love between a dog and the boy who cares so much for him.



Image result for magic place wormell

Published by David Fickling Books

This is written and illustrated by the phenomenal Chris Wormell. A small octavo hardback stuff-filled with wonderful illustrations.

Image result for magic place wormellIt is the story of an aunt and uncle – ‘who were about as wicked and cruel as you can get’, a grey toy rabbit with floppy ears, a clever & intelligent cat,  named Gilbert and an orphan. It is the story of an escape and a chase across the roof tops, a tale of thefts and illicit gains and is a traditional proper tale of a search for happiness and a safe home…

In case you were wondering, I LOVED it. A book to give for Christmas as a special gift for anyone who likes a story with pictures. I think there’s at least one on every page – and for those who like good stories.

A MUST buy.

I am hoping that I can persuade Chris Wormell to come and sign copies at Finchley Road O2 (Waterstones) – it is a gorgeous book… Keep an eye on the Events Page on….

Image result for darkie and co oxford childrens library

Now out of Print, originally published early 1930’s

I found this on a stall at the National Book Fair near Russell Square Hotel, last Sunday and have spent the intervening week reading it with immense pleasure, between my time at work and doing those things that are essential for sanity and comfort.

It was priced at £4 – but I paid just £2 – as everything on the stall was marked half price.

It has been a joy, not least because of the use of language, which was a pleasure – ‘No imperance,’ the sergeant replied, drawing himself up with dignity. ‘No imperance to the Law, my lad. Which I took to mean no impertinence…

The paper is thick, off white and it is regularly illustrated with wonderful pictures, black and white and full of character. The font is about 12 point and the book has good margins and a nice sized gutter too and, what is more, it has a dust jacket…

It was published by Oxford Children’s Library – I think in 1930/31 which reflects the use of language, particularly in the title which could, in these more recent years be held to be politically questionable. Darkie though is bright and intelligent and his name is given as a term of affection… The story is a proper adventure – our young hero has run away, and becomes involved with a puppet master and gypsies – out to get what they can in the way of a ransom.

Lastly this small volume has that wonderful smell that comes with old books – slightly musty…a comforting sort of smell.

It is a delight.

This post, is by way of a reminder, that one can find good reading (and books that are designed properly and beautifully) for very reasonable prices for very little – if you are willing to try something a little different, that might have a history…

Image result for the girl who speaks bear

Published by Anderson

Once upon a time…

A story of tales. A story of a young girl with memories of a bear. A tale of identity. A tale of beliefs. An adventure story too – a search for family – history.

This has elements of Anderson’s last book (The House with Chicken Legs) – definitely has the same feel. A young girl begins to search for her youth, knowledge of her parents, her adoptive parents and what happened before. She is accompanied by a house weasel – as she searches for the bear that raised her. The call to the woods is too strong…

As she travels and searches she finds herself befriending and travelling with an wonderful array of creatures – a herd of different creatures  – from wolves, a young boy,  through to birds…

This is lovely – definitely one for those who enjoyed The House with Chicken Legs

Due to be published in September – one for reading as the evenings draw in.



Image result for the monster who wasn't

Published by Bloomsbury

I think it was J.M. Barrie who had the idea that fairies are born from a baby’s first laugh. I’m not certain – he certainly had an idea of that sort. I  think it’s in Peter Pan…T. C. Shelley has taken this just one step further. If a baby’s first laugh makes fairies, then perhaps a monster might come from a person’s last sigh. The bigger the sigh, the more formidable the monster. Those with small regrets, begetting smaller monsters. Those who have greater qualms or misgivings creating larger…

What happens then, when a baby’s first laugh is mixed at the same moment with that of a last sigh?

So a monster that looks very similar to a boy – a human boy, but a boy with a monster’s sense of smell for one thing. An imp boy, perhaps it would be the best way to describe such a creature. A being so outwardly similar as to confuse humans into believing he is, just that, a small, rather dirty, ragamuffin of a boy…

This should by rights be read in some great cathedral – it should be read by the boys who attend those Choir Schools – you know the sort – that sing so stupendously at Christmas…a book of monsters, gargoyles and at least one angel…

This is wonderful – I’m only part way through this and I’m finding that I can’t get on with other things as a result.

It is out now – buy it.

Image result for the dead world of lanthorne ghules

Published by Pushkin Press.

Two headed creatures with long investigating tongues…

The tongues explored Edwin’s legs slowly and carefully, peeling themselves away after each touch. They moved up to the hollows at the backs of his knees and then curled themselves around each knee, squeezing it tightly.

A baby kidnapped in the depths of the night.

A jealous sibling, furious and hurt.

Diets of raw and over-ripe food…

A dim world with little colour. Apart from shades of grey.

A people who have a taste for the unusual…especially at times of celebration…

This is a gloriously Gothic, but fun adventure.

A warning to those who think a pen-friend might be just what they want – they may get more than they bargain for.

I loved it – Edwin and Lanthorne are brilliant characters and Aunt Necra – well… I am glad she wasn’t an aunt of mine! I would love, though to have a tame snarghe – I suspect one would be a very useful addition to a household…

‘They can work things out. Good boy.’

One of the heads stopped snarling and fixed Lanthorne with an unfriendly stare.

‘ Good girl, too. Good boy and girl.’

The two heads went back to snarling…

Due to be published October 2019 – just in time for Halloween.

Place your orders now.