#BookReview by Lou of Journey To The Moon And Other Stories By Ed Goodwin @whizoap @ConradPress @RandomTTours #JourneyToTheMoon #ChildrensBooks #MiddleGrade #9-12yearolds #Humour #Fantasy #Unicorns #Space #Humour

Journey To The Moon
And Other Stories
 By Ed Goodwin

Rating: 4 out of 5.

3 stories in 1 provide adventure, fantasy, humour, realism all for 9-12 year olds. Find out more in the blurb and my review below…
A little later than planned due to unforseeable circumstances.
Thanks to Random Things Tours and Conrad Press for the book and invite to review.

Journey to the Moon Cover

Blurb

Fantasy, reality and humour are blended in three adventures. Nothing is as it seems as two young girls go to the moon, present a unique style of Punch and Judy and try to look after a unicorn.
In ‘Journey to the Moon’, with the help of a possibly over-optimistic dad and practical mum, two young sisters make their dream visit to the moon and back despite numerous setbacks. In ‘Punch and Judy’ the question of what would happen if violence was banned in Punch and Judy shows is explored. In the story ‘Unicorn Tale’, looking after a unicorn presents more challenges than expected, especially when it disappears into a dream world.

Journey to the Moon Cover

Let’s start with the cover. It’s just so eye-catching and fun. This is a book where children can go and have adventure that will send their imaginations soaring. 3 stories in 1 also makes this fun and rather special.

This hits some trends for children, including unicorns. There’s much fun and humour to have in these stories. The puppet shows that the family perform is great and may well spark the imaginations of its readers. That is possibly one of the best bits as it brings puppets back into the modern sphere again.

The family is one that I think children will have fun within this book during quiet times or bedtimes. It’s great for wherever you want to read.

Each story brings something different. From an adventure to the moon, which brings about a touch of reality to the realms of fantasy, such as in working out how to look after a unicorn. Each story provides entertainment in different ways. that are sure to surprise and give children space to have a laugh.

Journey To The Moon BT Poster

#BookReview by Lou – The Runaways by Victor Canning #RandomTTours #ChildrensBook #Kidslit #MiddleGrade #Adventure

The Runaways
By Victor Canning

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Runaways, has it really stood up to the test of time? Absolutely and this is a gorgeous re-release of this wonderful page-turning adventure story. It even has a great quote by favourite children’s author – Dan Smith on the cover.

It’s a very memorable story, which is great for reading for pleasure. I snapped up the opportunity to review it because even I remember it and all the creative things our primary school teacher (primary 7, Scotland/year 6, England), came up with so we could write creatively and create our own plays. It lends itself beautifully to imaginations that run wild. It is just perfect for children who are reading books at Middle Grade level to escape into. Victor Canning, the author had quite a story to tell too. There’s a short paragraph about him after my review.

Find out more in the blurb and then onto my review. Thanks to Random Things Tours and publishers Farago for inviting me to review and for gifting me the book.

The Runaways Cover

Blurb

On a night of wild storms, two troubled figures escape from captivity. One is a 15-year-old boy, Samuel Miles, a.k.a. ‘Smiler’, wrongly convicted of theft and sent to a young offenders institution. The other is a cheetah, Yarra, a restless resident of Longleat Wildlife Park.

Both are in danger from the outside world – and each other – but somehow their lives become inextricably bound up as they fight for survival on the edge of Salisbury Plain.
A fast-moving and compassionate adventure story, The Runaways is the first book in Victor Canning’s classic children’s trilogy.
Praise:
‘Victor Canning is one of the world’s finest story-tellers’ Good Housekeeping
A delightful tale by a brilliant thriller writer’ Daily Mirror
‘Smiler proves himself to be a resourceful, resilient and very likeable leading character.’
Dan Smith, author of Big Game and Boy X

Review

The Runaways Cover Smiler (Samuel Miles, 15 years and 5 months old) isn’t into school. It just doesn’t appeal to him, so he runs away.  He does get himself into some trouble here and there, starting in Bristol, England, where he lives.

The adventure takes readers to Longleat Safari Park, which is vast and beautifully described and really, all the writing throughout is excellent. The safari park is also where intrepid readers meet Yarra, who is a cheetah, who also wants to escape his confines and explore the great big world. There’s excitement and much trepidation in The Runaways that makes it quite the page-turner, that takes readers on quite the adventure and not just in the safari park, but also to where the army are and onto grounds where land wardens are.

The book is absorbing with great characters that I believe children will really like, and it was many years after its first publication when I first read it and reading it again, it is as relevant and as gripping as it ever was, with likeable characters who have to survive out in the wild. It’s relevant because it shows resoucefulness and resilience in times of trouble and having to do that or I guess the alternative would be to crumble, is as steadfast and necessary now as it ever was and will be, even in the future.

There is a spot of nostalgia for any adults reading this by way of Woolworths, which of course doesn’t exist in the UK in physical stores anymore, but essentially, it is wonderful that this book has been republished for a whole new generation of children, who I believe will get a lot out of it too.

Book 2 is Flight of the Grey Goose, where Smiler is still on the run and jumps on a train to Scotland and sounds just as exciting and another great adventure for readers to persue.

About the Author

Victor Canning Author PicVictor Canning was a prolific writer throughout his career, which began young: he had sold several short stories by the age of nineteen and his first novel, Mr Finchley Discovers His England (1934) was published when he was twenty-three. It proved to be a runaway bestseller. Canning also wrote for children: his trilogy The Runaways was adapted for US children’s television.

 

#BookReview by Lou – A Ship of Shadows Adventure – Secrets of the Stars by Maria Kuzniar #ChildrensBook #MiddleGrade #SecretofTheStars #ShipOfShadows @cosyreads @puffinbooksuk @RandomTTours

A Ship of Shadows Adventure – Secrets of the Stars
by Maria Kuzniar

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Follow the Secrets of the Stars and hop aboard The Ship of Shadows in this riproaring, swashbuckling adventure, that is also about teamwork and friendship. This is the second in the series, the first is Ship of Shadows. So steer on down the blurb and review, not forgetting the magnificent cover that is sure to entice you in.
Thanks to Random Things Tours for inviting me to review on this blog tour and to Penguin for gifting me the book, in return of an honest review.

Secrets of the Stars 3D Book

Blurb

Secret of StarsAdventure Fiction for Children (age 9 – 12 years)
 
PREPARE FOR PUZZLES, PERIL, AND PLENTY OF CAKE IN THE SECOND THRILLING ADVENTURE FOR ALEJA AND THE CREW OF THE LEGENDARY SHIP OF SHADOWS

Aleja and her fellow pirates are eager to embark on a new adventure to find the second piece of the missing magical map. But they soon find themselves panicking, bewildered by a series of confusing clues. And time is running out – fast.

When she starts experiencing strange visions, Aleja realizes that someone is trying to tell her something. But can this new knowledge be trusted? And what will it cost her to find out?

With the crew’s loyalties tested and more secrets to unlock than ever, Aleja must find a way to beat the clock and prove herself truly worthy of her place on the ship’s crew . . .

Review

Catching up with this series and its main character – Aleja is a delight. Middlegrade/J2 readers, will enjoy being captured in such a sumptuous and rich adventure. There’s a terrific map at the start, showing Croatia, The Maldives, India, Lhasa, China, Shanghai and Melaka; which gives you a fair idea where this adventure will take intrepid young readers and Aleja alongside Frances, our explorers, who are on a mission, that isn’t without its dangers. It’s immersive and has an energy and enchantment that you may expect and desire from such an adveture.

It starts in Croatia at a great carnival that has colour and life about it. Readers first see Aleja being a fox for this, with Frances. There, looming, is The Ship of Shadows – a ship full of magic, embodies an air of mystery and captained by pirate – Captain Quint, who will stop at nothing.

The book also oozes with an air of mystery and excitement. There is also something mysterious happening to one of the explorers to do with shadows and hallucinations. There are strange puzzles to work out, to fathom and everyone has to work together to solve them and treasures to seek and to get themselves out of harms way.
There’s also the problem of time not being on their side and the formidable Pirate Lord and his vast crew to contend with, that adds to the trepidation.

There are other, perhaps more subtler and nonetheless important themes of friendship and empathy and some life challenges to overcome.

On a side note, it may make you want to eat cake by the sea.

Secrets of the Stars is even better than the first in the series, although that was needed to get everything established. There’s so much to feast your eyes upon and it is even more of a page turner. This is a series I highly recommend to collect and read as each book emerges from the depths of the sea and into your hands.

FINAL Secrets of the Stars BT Poster

#BookReview by Lou of Dangerous Women by Hope Adams @adelegeras @MichaelJBooks @GabyYoung

Dangerous Women
By Hope Adams
Rated: 5 stars *****

Captivating and original, Dangerous Women expertly tells a tale of fiction and reality, that not everyone may already know about. It weaves, like the threads in the tapestry that inspired this book, words of fiction and real life together to create an epic adventure, laced with crime from the outset that grips and keeps you guessing, as it takes readers on a great advenuture with crime, based on a true-story.
Thank you so much to Gaby Young at Penguin Michael Joseph publishers for adding me to the blog tour and for sending me a book, which has a terrific cover.
Follow onto the blurb and my review.

Dangerous Women 1

Blurb

London, 1841.
The Rajah sails for Australia.
Aboard:
180 convicted women convicted of petty crimes.
Daughters, sisters, mothers –
they’ll never see their family again.
Despised and damned, they only have one another
Until the murder.
As the fearful hunt for a killer begins,
everyone on board is a suspect.
Based on a real-life voyage, Dangerous women is a tale of confinement, hope and the terrible things we do to survive.

Dangerous Women

Review

The book invites willing travellers to hop aboard onto a boat to sail with women branded as dangerous in this story which, even before the book is opened, sounds thrilling on the cover. Then just inside the cover, take note of your fellow travelling companions on the “Register of Convicts.” It will tell you what you need to know of what they’ve been convicted of…

The book takes place between April and July 1841 and what’s interesting about it, is that this isn’t just any historical thriller, this has been inspired by real-life events. It’s inspired by the real life voyage of the Rajah, which set sail in 1841, with 23 year old Kezia Hayter on board as Matron, who features in this book. This gives this book quite some providence and enters a part of history, that, at least in the UK, not everyone may know anything about. It is however a fictional novel too and that’s worth bearing in mind as you travel along on this voyage, but gives inspiration to look into the true facts behind the story afterwards. It may have been nice if there was a bit added at the back about this as I’ve seen it in some other books, but that doesn’t take focus away from what a rip-roaring book this is and there is an interesting Bibliography, which would be a good place to do your own research from, if the mood is upon anyone, who wishes to do this.

Panic fills the book from the beginning and indeed, who has a knife?
There’s a real sense of what it is like onboard of the Rajah and to get a sense of Kezia and why she is onboard is fascinating! The case starts almost immediately and you can almost smell the sea and there’s almost a claustrophobic atmosphere as women grapple with their innocence and yet someone has been murdered and the gallows await whoever has committed such huge crime. Trust has clearly been broken, even amongst these thieves and panic and darkness sweeps across the women in the boat and enters their every waking and sleeping moment. The research that’s then created into story-telling is exquisite and all-consuming as it swallows any fellow voyager/reader whole in a magnificent read.

The pace, you would expect to be a bit slower for such a period piece, but this is quite the opposite and has not too disimilar pacing to a modern day crime fiction book.

As well as the crimes, there is a human interest story weaving throughout, where readers get to know the convicts, their life of crime and their backstory and how some were respectable at certain points in their lives, like Hattie and it is these stories that may well tug at the heart-strings. It tugs at strands of curiosity throughout, including when the convicts meet at Newgate Prison for the first time.

Surprisingly, there’s a bit of glamour and oppoulence that fans of period pieces have come to know and love, injected in the form of stories from the women’s lives before they were onboard the Rajah, especially in Kezia’s life. There’s also sadness, especially in Clara’s life when she was young.

There’s some lightness in atmosphere and a bit of humour, that cuts through, when the women are sewing and there’s a sense of the patchwork being created and building up.

There’s all the supposition adding to the intrigue as to who the murderer is and if the guilty one will be sent to the gallows.

It is absolutely fascinating to read what became of the women and reading the historical note at the end. There is also a comprehensive bibliography for further reading and demonstrates that this has been well researched, so that this work of fiction does have a backdrop of realism to it.

#BookReview by Lou of – In The City of Fortunes and Flames – A Freddie Malone Adventure by Clive Mantle @MantleClive @award_books #ChildrensBooks #YA 8yrs plus

 In the City of Fortunes and Flames
A Freddie Malone Adventure
By Clive Mantle
Rated: 5 stars *****

In The City of Fortunes and Flames is where to find a terrific time-travelling adventure to London, in the times of the plague, slavery and The Great Fire of London. This is book 3 of the Freddie Malone Adventure books and it’s quite the page-turner with lots of adventure and action, which is suitable from ages 8 and into younger YA/Teens.
Be re-acquainted with Freddie, Ruby and Connor and also meet some people from history along the way. There is good news in that there will be a further 2 books coming soon.
Find out more about In The City Of Fortune And Flames in the blurb and review…. I happened to have bought this book. It is available as a physical book and an e-book.

Links to books in order :-    
                                     Amazon – Treasure At The Top of The Mountain
                                     Amazon – A Jewel In The Sands Of Time
                                    Amazon – In the City of Fortune and Flames

Blurb

Freddie Malone adventure 3

The mysterious world map on Freddie Malone’s bedroom wall ripples into life and the swirling vortex begins to form, but is Freddie prepared for where – and when – it will take him? Join Freddie, Connor and Ruby as they travel to the plague-stricken and fire-ravaged London of the seventeenth century, where the streets are ruled by a merciless gang of criminals and kidnappers. Stalked through time by the menacing, shrouded figure of the Collector, can the friends outwit their enemies and save history? It’s all just a question of time…

 

Freddie Malone adventure 3

Review

Having read and reviewed and was very impressed by the calibre of the story-telling and the themes of the first two Freddie Malone books, I figured I would review the 3rd. Clive Mantle, quite rightly so, is The People’s Book Prize Winner Author. The books are suitable for confident readers ages 8 years plus. Very nicely this one starts off with what happened previously…

With the magical map Freddie got for his birthday in the first book, the map has more ideas…
The book starts with the brilliant and never-ageing poem – IF by Rudyard Kipling, it’s as pertinent now as it was in 1895, when it was written. IF is also pertinent to portals in this series.

The setting is London and the time is both the present and 1665/1666. There’s a map with a key chart, which illustrates the events at that time and then readers are reunited with Freddie and his friend Connor on a school production of The Pied Piper of Hamlin before a compelling adventure begins.

There are little references here and there of the Nepal (book 1) and  Egyptian adventures (book 2), but it is okay if you’ve not read that one yet as it does also move onwards to this current adventure. This time the portal takes Freddie to London, 1665, where he meets a slave. Samuel Pepys is in need of a servant who can write, so Freddie is tested. There is, like the other books, a lot that children can gain within these books and that can feed their minds and get them curious about history. There’s also the mystery as to why the map took Freddie to 1665 and readers, apart from getting to know Pepys, also get to know something of King Charles II and the plague on Drury Lane. During the segments of Freddie being back in the present with Connor and Ruby, more is told of his journey. As time flips from the past to the present and back again, it is done in such a succinct way, that is easy to follow and understand. It’s a book that children and young teens can really get into as it is an engrossing page-turner. The facts mixed with the fiction is written in an expressive and exciting way with likeable fictional characters meeting those who really lived. This combination works really well.
As time moves on, Freddie (and readers), then experience the atmosphere of The Great Fire of London and the impact it had. There’s also intrigue within this, as indeed within the whole book.

The Treasure at the Top of the World cover          A Jewel In the Sands of Time              Freddie Malone adventure 3

The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn #Bookreview by Lou @franquinn @jessbarratt88 @simonschusteruk #HistoricalFiction

The Smallest Man
By Frances Quinn
Rated: 4 stars ****

Enchanting, refreshingly original with an uplifting quality, The Smallest Man is a great historical fiction book that eases readers through an amazing journey.

Thanks to Jess Barratt at Simon & Schuster for gifting me a proof copy for review.

The Smallest Man

Blurb

‘I want you to remember something, Nat. You’re small on the outside. But inside you’re as big as everyone else. You show people that and you won’t go far wrong in life.’

A compelling story perfect for fans of The Doll FactoryThe Illumination of Ursula Flight and The Familiars.

My name is Nat Davy. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? There was a time when people up and down the land knew my name, though they only ever knew half the story.

The year of 1625, it was, when a single shilling changed my life. That shilling got me taken off to London, where they hid me in a pie, of all things, so I could be given as a gift to the new queen of England.

They called me the queen’s dwarf, but I was more than that. I was her friend, when she had no one else, and later on, when the people of England turned against their king, it was me who saved her life. When they turned the world upside down, I was there, right at the heart of it, and this is my story.

Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is a heartwarming tale about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together.

The Smallest Man cover

Review

The cover is amazing! It takes you on a journey right there and then, with the inside leading you into the life of Nat Davy – The Smallest Man, which is based on a true story, although this a fictional novel, but there is a strong basis of truth to it.  The first page is just utterly inspired! The narrative of how it tells readers, almost accidentally (although obviously it is cleverly thought out), of a little nugget here and there of Nat’s early life just in where he is not going to start his story, but then it all begins in Oakham.

This isn’t your usual sort of story set in such historical times, this takes readers to the fair and not just any fair – to one featuring freak shows and a decision to be made about whether to sell Nat to it or not has to be made. This makes for some great reading and is so different from other historical fiction novels. There are of course characters to be found like a duke, a queen and a king, lords and more, which adds to the exquisitiveness; but then if that doesn’t capture you, there are also gallows and Catholic martyrs. There are also run-ins with Crofts and his gang of friends.

This isn’t some lavish period piece of a season of dancing, nor is it some romp through the bedcovers, this tells a whole different side to history, and more pertinently, within 1625 and still has a richness to the story and in its textures and scenery. It is through the eyes of The Smallest Man and how his life is and how he is different from other people and seen as a freak. There is a tender emotion within the book as well as a sense of surviving and accomplishing against the odds and also shows that no matter how unlikely a friendship is to be formed, there are possibilities that they can. This book has hope within it and is  which in turn adds  an uplifting quality it.

Going deeper into the royal family and what are essentially death threats changes the tone, but still in keeping with the book and moves this plucky, refreshingly written story onto killer plots and a different layer of intrigue.

The Author’s Note is also fascinating and sheds a bit of light on a man, who perhaps was more on the edges of history, but nonetheless interesting.

Some praise for the book:

I loved this book – a fascinating tale of extraordinary accomplishment, and a story about how anything is possible and how love has always been a beacon of hope’ Phillip Schofield

‘An enchanting tale about a small man with a big heart. Nat Davy is so charming that I couldn’t bear to put this book down. I loved it’ Louise Hare, author of This Lovely City

The finished copy has some lovely green sprayed edges to it