#Bookreview by Lou of #Travelogue of In SatNav We Trust – A Travelogue by Jack Barrow @JackBarrowUK @RandomTTours #InSatNavWeTrust

In SatNav We Trust –
A search for meaning through historic counties of England
By Jack Barrow
Rated: 4 stars ****

This is a wonderfully adventurous book. It’s enough to have people yearning for travel and maybe aspire to exploring the UK.

I thank Anne Cater at Random Things Tours and Jack Barrow for inviting me onto the tour and for sending me a physical copy of the book.

Find out more about the book, my review and the author below.

Synopsis

In SatNav We Trust – a search for meaning through the Historic Counties of England is a journey through ideas of science and belief, all the while searching for meaning and a bed for the night. Or was that the other way around?

On May 1st 2013 I set off from Oxford on the trip of a lifetime. It wasn’t a trip around the world or up the Himalayas, I set off to visit every one of England’s 39 historic counties. These are the counties that used to exist before all the boundary changes that chopped Yorkshire into bits, got rid of evocative sounding names such as Westmorland, and designated the big cities as metropolitan boroughs. I wanted to visit England as it used to be, although that’s not quite how it turned out.

In SatNav We Trust started out as a travelogue exploring all the usual suspects, spectacular landscapes, architectural or engineering wonders, historic towns with their cathedrals and castles. However, it soon developed into a journey through ideas and beliefs, an exploration of how the rational and the apparently irrational jostle for position in human experience. The book discusses our fundamental scientific understanding of the universe when, deep inside us, we might be as irrational as a box of frogs. This context, the exploration of England—the places stumbled across with no day to day plan, created the backdrop for these ideas.

In Sat Nav Cover

Review

Firstly, what a fabulously witty title. It catches the eye pretty well. It promises a journey through historic counties of England and certainly delivers as it begins in Oxfordshire and goes to Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Suffolk, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, and many more.

He tells things how it is when travelling and in each place in his 4×4, and has even included the everyday places and items. He is also very honest in how he feels and how he almost gave up early on in this mammoth trip. Campsites seems to be the order of the day for accomodation. This isn’t just about all the tourist things that you can do, it’s very different from a travel book like that. It is indeed a full travelogue of the actual journey and what can be seen en-route, that some people may miss when passing through, the roads that are taken and the people who he meets, as well as the accomodation.

There is some humour within the trip that weaves in and out the interesting philosophising of life of the mix of rational and irrational anxieties that occur within people’s lives, including his own as he does some reflection. He manages, which seems like no mean feat, to think creatively about how to fit in Maslow’s theory of heirarchy, whilst in Rutland with what he is actually doing and expecting, in a way that is far from heavy reading.

The attention to detail in each place is great and it certainly is a fun trip, that becomes something more than just that with the observations of not just the places, but of life. It’s how this all binds together that makes the book engaging.

If you’ve travelled around England before, you’re certain, as I was, thinking, “been there, done that” and then finding places that may just have to go on that travel to-do list. If you’ve not done staycations before, then this book may inspire you to travel around England to visit many of the counties and discover for yourself what they hold.

About the Author

In Sat Nav We Trust Jack Barrow Author Pic. jpgJack Barrow is a writer of books and blogs about ideas based on popular philosophy in modern life. He is a critical thinker but not a pedant. He has an interest in spiritual perspectives having been brought up as both a Mormon and a Jehovah’s Witness. He’s not sure, but he believes this particular  ecclesifringical upbringing makes him a member of a pretty exclusive club. He is also fascinated by science. At the same age as his parents were taking him to church services, he was also watching Horizon documentaries and Tomorrow’s World, becoming fascinated about science and technology. Perhaps around the time of the moon landings, when he was six or seven, he came to the conclusion that, sooner or later, people would realise that the sky was full of planets and stars, science explained the universe, and that there was no God looking down. He really thought that religion’s days were numbered. Declining congregations seemed to back that up, but since then there has been a growth in grass roots movements that seem to indicate people are looking for something to fill the void left by organised religion. He now has a particular interest in the way people are creating their own spiritual perspectives (whatever spiritual means) from the bottom up using ideas sourced from history, folkloric sources and imagination. Rather ironically it was members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who first introduced him to the landscape of Wiltshire, with its stone circles and ancient monuments, which later kindled his interest in spiritual beliefs taken from more ancient perspectives.

He has also written a novel; The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil is a story of a group of magicians who discover a plot to build casinos in Blackpool and so turn the resort into a seedy, tacky, and depraved town. During this hard-drinking occult adventure, with gambling and frivolous trousers, Nigel, Wayne and Clint travel north on Friday night but they need to save the world by Sunday evening because they have to be back at work on Monday morning.

Jack lives in Hertfordshire, England, where he earns a living writing about things in engineering; this usually means photocopiers and bits of aeroplanes. He shares his home with R2D2 and C3PO, occasionally mentioned in his blog posts. People used to say he should get out more. At the time of writing he is currently shielding from the apocalypse, having been of a sickly disposition as a child, and wondering if he will be able to go to a live music pub ever again.

In Sat Nav We Trust BT Poster

 

#Bookreview by Lou of an enchanting #ChildrensBook – The Castle of Tangled Magic by Sophie Anderson @sophieinspace @Usborne

The Castle of Tangled Magic
by Sophie Anderson
Rated: 5 stars *****

Sophie Anderson, author of The Girl Who Speaks Bear, has another enchanting tale – The Castle of Tangled Magic. It enchants with its richly depicted castle and magical land that provides excellent escapism.

Thanks to Usborne and Sophie Anderson for allowing me to write a review and for providing an e-copy of the book.

Follow further down to the blurb, review and links.

The Castle of Tangled Magic Cover

Blurb

Magic awaits, all you have to do is believe…

When thirteen-year-old Olia, steps through a magical doorway, she discovers another land. A land tangled by magic, where hope is lost, and a scheming wizard holds all the power.

Soon Olia learns that she is destined to save this land, but with time running out and her new friends and family in danger, she must search for the magic within herself – to save everything and everyone she loves.

The Castle of Tangled Magic, the new fairy tale from Sophie Anderson, illustrated by Saara Söderlund.

An enchanting fairy-tale adventure about the power of love and courage, from the bestselling author of The House with Chicken Legs and The Girl who Speaks Bear.

The Castle of Tangled Magic Cover

Review

Castle Mila, built from wood around 500 years ago near the shore of a lake, sounds like so many children’s dream of a castle with it’s majestic stature and hidden passageways and secrets. The writing is amazingly imaginative, in the way Sophie Anderson has captured the castle and takes readers on a tour around it, up each of the stairs to the different rooms and domes, along with Olia. There is so much to feast the eyes upon and to delight and bring a touch of magic to children’s imaginations. It’s all rather splendid. She is also wanting to find some magic, so seeks out an older member of the family – Babusya, who informs about the mysterious Sun Dome that could have magic, but is locked. The mysteriousness that builds is fascinating and enchanting.

There’s great charm and excitement that captures the heart. The ideas of olde of leaving salt as offerings for spirits, such as domovoi (a spirit, in this case a fox who protects) and of the changes of the wind are explored through Babusya. As other family members appear, there is a lovely family cosyiness element, which is heartwarming, as is the talk of ancestry.

There’s a storm, which seems to make looking for a key even more pressing, a gripping, treacherous adventure ensues and there is a lot at stake – the family and the castle to protect from the ferociousness of the weather.

The story continues onwards with Feliks, the domovoi, into a mystical, rather surreal land – The Land of Forbidden Magic, where there the descriptions add to the surrealism as Koshka, a gorgeous cat, is met and a conversation ensues about the witch Nania and Chenomor’s magic. Another unexpected quest occurs as the land and spirits need to be saved. With lots of danger and many different encounters and riddles to solve, it pulls readers further in deeper as the quest becomes increasingly treacherous and on top of that Castle Mila itself needs saving.
Sophie Anderson creates so much for readers to grasp onto and root for in this pacy adventure, that also has an almighty twist.

Throughout, there are lovely illustrations, depicting the story well. At the end there is also “Olia’s Glossary”, which children will benefit well from, to enhance their understanding of the story as there are some words, that may be unfamiliar.

Links

Website: www.sophieandersonauthor.com

Twitter: @sophieinspace

Go travelling with The Ship of Shadows Maria Kuzniar by @thecosyreader @PuffinBooks #childrensbook #kidslit #edutwitter #parents #families #SummerReading

The Ship of Shadows
By Maria Kuzniar
Rated: 4 stars ****

The Ship of Shadows is a mysterious vessel. Travel with Aleja from her imagination to the library to actually being on a ship, just like she always wanted. This is a great book, especially for tweens to go on an exhibition of the high seas, where not all is always as it seems. There’s a Kraken and some pirate magic about.
Thanks to The Write Reads group for inviting me to review and to Puffin Books and Maria Kuzniar for supplying a print copy of what really is a beautiful book. The cover is incredibly eye-catching.
Discover the blurb and review below.

The SHIP of SHADOWS_final (1)

About the Author

The Ship of Shadows Maria Kuzniar jpg

Maria Kuzniar spent six years living in Spain, teaching English and travelling the world, which inspired her debut novel The Ship of Shadows. Now she lives in Nottingham with her husband, where she reads and writes as much as she can and bookstagrams at @cosyreads. She is always planning her next adventure.

 

Blurb

Aleja whiles away her days in her family’s dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she’s only ever read about in books. After all, she’s always being told that girls can’t be explorers.

But her life is changed forever when adventure comes for her in the form of a fabled vessel called The Ship of Shadows. Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend. And it wants Aleja.

Once on board its shadowy deck, she begins to realize that the sea holds more secrets than she ever could have imagined. The crew are desperately seeking something, and their path will take them through treacherous waters and force them to confront nightmare creatures and pitch-dark magic. It will take all of Aleja’s strength and courage to gain the trust of her fellow pirates – and discover what they are risking everything to find.

The Ship of Shadows cover.JPEG

Review

The stunning cover is enough to feed anyone’s curiosity into picking it up. The content is enough to want anyone to want to sail away with it on a voyage. Where to? You can see on the map provided within it.

Aleja has an insatiable appetite for adventure, with an admiration for explorer – Thomas James. She has siblings – Miguel and Pablo. Where they liked doing the average things such as baking; Aleja dreamed of ships and pirates. It sounds exciting from the start.
She wishes to follow in the footsteps of intrepid explorers and sets off to investigate many books and comes to the absurd belief that girls can’t be explorers or pirates. I’m glad she ignores this momentary belief and starts to think of cozy libraries and ships; where she studies more about Thomas James and ‘The Most Dangerous Pirates Who Sailed the Seven Seas’. The ship, belonging to Thomas James is The Ship of Shadows. Cleverly, the author has written some passages of what Aleja is reading. It adds to the intrigue of it all. In someways its also championing reading books, as well as giving an insight into what is inspiring Aleja. The book also joins the raft of books over the years that gives their characters courage and independent minds.

Aleja gets her adventure as she joins the mysterious ship, full of women and meets Captain Quint on-board as they head out to sea and discovers an encrypted book, which she begins to work out what it could be from another book she has read. The Ship of Shadows seems to be, to show that girls too can be explorers, which can be encouraging to those who don’t think they can be, as it seeks to dispel that. It is also quite a swashbuckling adventure that would certainly feed into many imaginations. I think however, the book is suited for both boys and girls as boys too can enjoy the exploration of different places and creatures on the high seas.
It also shows that reading is key to knowledge that you never know can come useful.

The Ship of Shadows also holds secrets and perhaps even a curse!

The scenes with the Kraken add excitement and are superbly written, as trepidation is upped as it stretches out its tentacles and a posed threat from Francois Levasseur who wants to find the elusive Ship of Shadows

Overall it’s a very good adventure that will feed curious minds and it’s nice to see books of such adventure around. It certainly brings another element back to reading genres, which I view as being welcome in expanding choice.

#Review of The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons @andyjshepherd @PiccadillyPress #TheBoyWhoDreamedOfDragons #childrensbook #middlegrade #kidslit #parents #edutwitter

The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons
By Andy Shepherd
Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
Rated5 stars *****

Thank you to my surpise post of The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons, sent to me by Andy Shepherd, spanning from a quick chat some time ago. So, today, I am delighted to present my review on this great story that is just 263 pages and also has some terrific illustrations throughout, within its vibrant cover. It also, when the book is fully closed, has a special look as the subtle lines going down the pages look rather smart.The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons cover

Blurb

We dream of dragons. Soaring, roaring, fire-flickering dragons. While we’re tucked up in bed, they light up in our sleep. Sparking, glittering, aglow.

But dreams are only the beginning of an even greater story.

Because the truth is, our dragons don’t just visit us in our dreams…

Review

At some point, lots of children (including me when I was a child) have dreamt about flying on a dragon’s back, swooping and soaring through the sky.

Dragon races, friendships, sock puppets, a wormhole in a fridge, a jungle family, humour, warmth, a super hero squad, illustrations, this book has it all in only 263 pages that is  amazingly adventurous, fast-paced and sparky.
This book captures imaginations perfectly. Every page has something to make you smile.

Did you know dragons grow on trees? No? Enter this enchanting tale to find out about them and meet the beautifully coloured dragons called Flicker and Sunny. There’s a race with a difference – it’s a dragon race. It’s also used as a clever way of introducing the characters, such as Thomas and his Lolli, who have the most terrific fun with their games. There’s also great friendships within the characters.

Not everyone knows about dragons, but endearing and very fun grandad does. Grandad hasn’t been too well and had a hospital stay, but back on his feet, he’s as positive as ever with his grandchildren helping out with his vegetable patch and just having fun. I like the positivity around this part of the story.

This book is funny, heartwarming and is just perfect for sparking the imaginations of children and for reading for pleasure. It is also perfect for nature-lovers too, or just lovers of humour. On a deeper level, there is plenty about the world around you to have fun with. There’s also themes of having to move on as Thomas’s mum hears of a new job, meaning the family have to move. The emotion of having to leave what was known and loved behind is captured so naturally as it plays out and Flicker, the dragon also leaves. It’s another big theme for children, but handled so well and not completely negatively, which is thoughtful of Andy.

At school, secrets are inadvertently blurted out by Thomas himself to the new girl – Aura who proudly proclaims herself to be a dragon expert, which really throws Thomas into confusion as his emotions really take over and a chain of further events happen.

This book is great for schools, libraries and within homes. Children can have so much fun with it and within schools, there are subjects within the themes that can be discussed or used creatively within activities, as well as generally being good for reading for pleasure.

#Review of The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons @andyjshepherd @PiccadillyPress #TheBoyWhoDreamedOfDragons #childrensbook #middlegrade #kidslit #parents #edutwitter

The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons
By Andy Shepherd
Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
Rated5 stars *****

Thank you to my surpise post of The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons, sent to me by Andy Shepherd, spanning from a quick chat some time ago. So, today, I am delighted to present my review on this great story that is just 263 pages and also has some terrific illustrations throughout, within its vibrant cover. It also, when the book is fully closed, has a special look as the subtle lines going down the pages look rather smart.The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons cover

Blurb

We dream of dragons. Soaring, roaring, fire-flickering dragons. While we’re tucked up in bed, they light up in our sleep. Sparking, glittering, aglow.

But dreams are only the beginning of an even greater story.

Because the truth is, our dragons don’t just visit us in our dreams…

Review

At some point, lots of children (including me when I was a child) have dreamt about flying on a dragon’s back, swooping and soaring through the sky.

Dragon races, friendships, sock puppets, a wormhole in a fridge, a jungle family, humour, warmth, a super hero squad, illustrations, this book has it all in only 263 pages that is  amazingly adventurous, fast-paced and sparky.
This book captures imaginations perfectly. Every page has something to make you smile.

Did you know dragons grow on trees? No? Enter this enchanting tale to find out about them and meet the beautifully coloured dragons called Flicker and Sunny. There’s a race with a difference – it’s a dragon race. It’s also used as a clever way of introducing the characters, such as Thomas and his Lolli, who have the most terrific fun with their games. There’s also great friendships within the characters.

Not everyone knows about dragons, but endearing and very fun grandad does. Grandad hasn’t been too well and had a hospital stay, but back on his feet, he’s as positive as ever with his grandchildren helping out with his vegetable patch and just having fun. I like the positivity around this part of the story.

This book is funny, heartwarming and is just perfect for sparking the imaginations of children and for reading for pleasure. It is also perfect for nature-lovers too, or just lovers of humour. On a deeper level, there is plenty about the world around you to have fun with. There’s also themes of having to move on as Thomas’s mum hears of a new job, meaning the family have to move. The emotion of having to leave what was known and loved behind is captured so naturally as it plays out and Flicker, the dragon also leaves. It’s another big theme for children, but handled so well and not completely negatively, which is thoughtful of Andy.

At school, secrets are inadvertently blurted out by Thomas himself to the new girl – Aura who proudly proclaims herself to be a dragon expert, which really throws Thomas into confusion as his emotions really take over and a chain of further events happen.

This book is great for schools, libraries and within homes. Children can have so much fun with it and within schools, there are subjects within the themes that can be discussed or used creatively within activities, as well as generally being good for reading for pleasure.

A Jewel In The Sands of Time – A Freddie Malone Adventure by Clive Mantle – A fast-paced Egyptian Adventure @MantleClive #review #childrensbooks #kidslit #YA #Adventure

A Jewel in the Sands of Time
A Freddie Malone Adventure
By Clive Mantle
Rated: 5 stars *****

After being highly impressed by The Treasure At the Top of The World – the debut novel of the Freddie Malone Adventure series, I thought I would review the second – A Jewel in the Sands of Time. I will say that they are stand-alone books, although feature the same character throughout them and there are mentions of the previous adventure in Nepal. A third will also be published, not sure when. This is a series that is really worth following, with interesting facts after the story that consolodates what is read in the story really well. There are likable characters and enough fictional adventure that weaves through facts and all is at a great pace.
Clive Mantle is a People’s Book Prize winner.
The book is great for upper primary school and lower high school age groups.
Take a look at who Clive Mantle is, the blurb and full review below. 

About the Author

About the Author

Clive Mantle photoClive Mantle, Born in Barnet, is a well-loved British Actor and has been for nearly 40 years. As a boy in the 1960s, he sang with St. John’s College Choir, Cambridge, went to the National Youth Theatre and trained at RADA in the 1970’s and has been a fixture on stage and screen ever since.
Clive Mantle is best known for playing Little John in Robin of Sherwood, Greatjon Umber in Game of Thrones, Mike Barratt in Casualty and on stage as Tommy Cooper, and Lennie in Of Mice and Men. His voice is also well known from his work on over 180 audio books, and voicing animated characters, including Gator in Thomas the Tank Engine.
He is an avid reader and has been ever since his parents handed him Stig of the Dump. His favourite children’s book are the Noggin the Nog sagas by Oliver Postgate and he has a passion for walking in the Wiltshire Countryside. Clive Mantle’s inspiration to write what is the first in the series of Freddie Malone adventures came during a trek to the Everest Base Camp for the charity Hope and Homes for Children. He has since returned to the Himalayas and completed the Annapurna circuit. Everest has been his passion since childhood, when his Father enthused him with its many tales. Years later, he realised a lifetime’s ambition and set foot on the mountain himself, and the magnificence of the experience is with him everyday. 

A Jewel in the Sands of Time cover.jpg

Blurb

When the mysterious map given to him by his eccentric Uncle Patrick sweeps Freddie into another astonishing ��me-travelling adventure, he finds himself in ancient Egypt – and discovers a terrible plot against the boy king, Tutankhamun.
Join Freddie, his best friend Connor, and their feisty new neighbour, Ruby, as a dangerous figure threatens to foil their
efforts to save the young king. — A compelling tale of time travel, epic adventure and unsolved mysteries in ancient Egypt.

Review

Travel to Egypt and meet a Collector, studying a mysterious gemstone. The Collector wants to turn back time to steal a priceless artifact and a precious, legendary elixir to prolong his life.

The book reunites Freddie and Connor after their Nelpalese adventure, as they decide on Egypt as their next destination from the magical map Freddie got for his birthday in book 1. Suddenly, after a bit of research and looking at the map, it starts to split and sounds and scenes of Egypt start to emerge. Near the beginning of the book, there’s a lovely map and the poem IF by Rudyard Kipling. These also fit very well as an essential piece in the actual story in a very meaningful way, which I like, so worth remembering.

Time travel is involved as Freddie travels back in time to 1328 BC. Clive Mantle has done it again and managed to create absorbing and captivating settings and atmospheres. Freddie ends up watching charioteers and learns what about what they used to do. It’s written well in a way that isn’t too graphic, but just enough to give older children and younger teens a flavour of what happened. It’s good because it’s a bit about Egypt that isn’t always talked about when kids learn about the country.

Freddie re-counts to Conner about meeting Tutankhamun and how he was a King from the age of 9. This is the great thing about this book, children, as well as having fun with the adventure are going to be inadvertently picking up useful bits of history from it as they go along, in the most relaxed way as Clive tells of kings and lords and The Valley of the Kings, tombs and some plunderings, all in this action-packed adventure.

Freddie and Connor have another issue to deal with in their new found friend Ruby as in excitement Freddie blurted all about his secret map to her.

Back in Egypt there’s treachery afoot as a feast is coming to end and the fact Freddie went home with a Scarab and needs to return to Kha’s dynasty. There are portals and further adventure. Freddy also finds things that he doesn’t find palatable (and nor would anyone) like servants and slaves.

At home, there are bullies to contend with and standing up to them. The solidifying of new friendships is a heartwarming part in the book. Like in the first, bullying and tackling it is written sensitively, realistically and well. There’s enough to show kids that things will be alright and you won’t be left alone and friends back you. The aftermath is also realistic with all manner of thoughts spinning round Connor’s head. Clive Mantle has a talent for exploring issues like bullying when his characters are in Britain and the adventure and what occurs in another country very well in a way that children will understand and can also get excited by.

Like in The Treasure at the Top of the World, there is, after the story, a part called “Authors Notes: The Facts Behind the Story”, where readers can find out more info about, in this case, Egypt and Tutankhamun and Ay and other people mentioned within the book as well as the tombs, the temple complex and workers, bartering, language etc. It’s fascinating stuff and a great way of showing the facts that back up the story and introducing children and young adults to this period in Egyptian history.