Children’s Books Inspiration – Quick Reviews for All Ages #ChildrensBooks #PictureBooks #ChapterBooks #Kidslit #Reviews #LinAnderson #DanSmith #LarraineHarrison3 #JaclynMoriarty #CliveMantle #VacynTaylor #RafaRuiz #EmmaLarkin #GeronimoStilton #GraceMcLuskey #JaneyLouiseJones #WilliamAEFord #WendyHJones #Families #Parents

Mini Reviews and Links for Children’s Books, Spanning Across Every AgeBookmark pic

I have reviewed a number of excellent children’s books. I have now put them all together in a small collection here for you to hopefully be inspired and try out. You will find the books at Amazon, Waterstones and some Independent Bookshops. Full reviews and extra info can be found by clicking on the relevant links, marked “Here”. I have included books for all ages of children. I have started off with a terrific chapter books and then some books for younger children. I hope this brings some inspiration for what to try next.

Blaze Dog Detective By Lin Anderson

Blurb

Blaze CoverWhen the famous fairy flag of the Clan MacLeod disappears from a locked room at Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, the police immediately call in Blaze Dog Detective.
After all his scenting skills on the island are legendary.
With his team of Rosa, Rory and wee brother Laoch, Blaze leads the chase to rescue this magical flag before it can be spirited away from the island forever.

Quick Review 

A map, a castle, a secret passage, adventure, cute dogs, robbers, police, a mystery to be solved, this children’s book has it all. There is wonderful mix of mild trepidation and humour and a terrific energy throughout. With all that and excellent characterisation and plot that has red herrings, can you discover who stole the Fairy Flag in Skye? Blaze is actually a real dog in Skye and you can find out more about the book and  see some more cute pics by clicking Here

blaze fae Skye
Blaze from Skye

 

 

 

 

She Wolf By Dan Smith

Blurb

She WolfNorthumbria 866.
Washed ashore on a frozen English beach, Ylva’s survived. She will not cry. She’s meant to be strong. She’s a Viking.

But when her mother dies at the hand of a three-fingered man, and the wolves of the forest circle closer, Ylva will need more than the memory of her mother’s stories to stay alive. Can she shape her own legend? Will it end in revenge – or is there another way?

 

Quick Review –  Primary Schools and Booktrust rate it highly as do I with 5 stars. Immerse yourself in a book that deals with bereavement and courage as you meet Ylva, Locki, Thor and Odin. Discover this immersive and intriguing adventure, which is excellently paced and pitched for older primary aged children. Click Here for more info about it, plus links to Dan Smith’s website and social media.

 

Red Snow by Larraine Harrison

Blurb

Red Snow CoverTwelve-year-old Megan though she knew everything there was to know about her mother’s death, but she was wrong.

Why will no one tell her what really happened and why has she become her father’s carer?

The boy next door has a dangerous secret that could help Megan, but will she be strong enough to pursue it to the end?

A story of danger, hope and perseverance.

Quick Review

Red Snow is great for 8 or 9 year olds plus. Full of atmosphere and emotion, readers meet 12 year old Megan Townsend who tries to follow her neighbour – Ryan into the woods. It is sinister and intriguing as Megan pursues the truth about her mother and was there a big cat in the woods? It is also about Megan being inquisitive and Ryan’s peculiar habits. It is sympathetically written in a child friendly manner, with themes of being a carer, bereavement, loneliness, friendship, family; with an excellent ending that will see everything resolved. Find out more by clicking Here

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone
by Jaclyn Moriarty

Blurb

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte MettlestoneBronte Mettlestone has been brought up in a very sensible way by her Aunt Isabelle and the Butler. So when her absent parents are killed by pirates and she’s sent on a whirlwind visit to her other ten aunts, she takes it all in her stride. But Bronte’s outwardly sensible nature holds a core of steel and courage, and through her adventures, with water sprites, avalanches, elves and dragons, Bronte shows herself to be the kind of heroine we would all wish to be. This wonderful novel is witty, lively and full of magic and surprises – everything readers young and old could ask for. The kind of novel where you need to make a pot of tea (preferably cloudberry), find a really comfy sofa in front of a roaring fire, and settle in for a magical journey of your own.

Review

Let your imagination run wild with this book and find out what the Extremely Unfortunate Events of Bronte Mettlestone are. She’s brave and courageous. She has aunts in Scotland and yet she also ends up in many other kingdoms in this wonderfully written book that children will have their imaginations captured by. There are pirates, a strange library and fantastical creatures that is all just so well pitched for children to sweep them along within exciting chapters that exceeded expectations. Find out more by clicking Here

The Treasure at the Top of the Mountain By Clive Mantle

Blurb

The Treasure at the Top of the World coverClive Mantle has said: “I have woven a tale of adventure in the past and present against the wondrous backdrop of Nepal and its people. I am thrilled that the story I wrote for my own son to pass on the flame has now found a wider audience, who will hopefully have their imaginations stimulated as mine was as a young boy”.

In the first of The Adventures of Freddie Malone series, The Treasure at the Top of the World Freddie receives an intriguing and unusual thirteenth birthday present from his Uncle Patrick. The ancient world map goes straight up on his wall, but Freddie fast discovers that the map is much more than just a decorative historic artefact. Freddie, and his best friend, Connor, are soon plunged into a mountainous adventure, on a path that leads to a long buried mystery, pursued by ruthless adversaries who’ll go to any lengths to get what they want.

 Review

This is more than just a tale to tell, it’s an impressively written adventure of a lifetime. This a story of (in no particular order) adventure, social and land geography, history, present day, travel and friendship and overcoming bullying. This is a book that will excite, inform and captivate children.

There are relics and treasures to be had, people to meet and a country to explore, all within the safety and comfort of your own home. This is an impressive story with adventure, once you’ve met Freddie Malone, who is celebrating his birthday and his magical present transports him to Nepal to meet mountaineers and more…
There is a lovely map and pictures and additional supporting info after the terrific story.
Find out more by clicking Here 

Star Child – The Age of Akra – Book 1 –
There are 5 in the series. I have reviewed 3.

The Age of Akra Cover (1)The foreshadowing of a dark future threatens the seven nations. Mai is selected to train with the mysterious elemental master Sah Dohba who will prepare her to become the protector of the desert lands.  Her brother Long, steps forward to travel with her as her chaperone to the Valley of a Thousand Thoughts.

A chance encounter brings them together with Akra, the Starchild.  The trio travels on into a battle with the elements. Sandstorms. Deadly creatures. Starvation. Then a chance meeting with powerful earthfollower, sets them on a new path where they must each find the strength to face a terrifying foe from the Underworld.

Review

This is the beginning of a new children’s fantasy series for children of ages 7+
The cover is exciting with its dragon, suggesting adventure and action. There are 5 in all in this series.

Covering themes such as child rivalry, there is bravery, action, adventure and emotion within these books, all suitable for ages 7/8 plus. Children who like Marvel and Ninjago and dragons and creatures in faraway lands will enjoy this. It’s an excellent series to get stuck into and to spark children’s imaginations. Check out more by clicking Here

Judy Blume FudgeJudy Blume books are great and have stood the test of time pretty well. I wrote an article as to why her books are still relevant and to showcase her books. Her books span right across children of all ages. Click for the article Here

 

 

Toletis by Rafa Ruiz

Toletis is another book that is perfect for children of all ages.

Blurb

Toletis CoverClaudia and Tutan are on a mission to turn their little valley town, set deep in the mountains, luscious green again. The odds are stacked against them. Can they succeed… with some very unusual help?

Review

This is a book that provides, within Toletis, a positive role model. He has a deep interest in the natural world and has lots of fun, whilst playing in the world around him. He meets characters like the Treene-weenies and learns Wobbegong language along the way. He also has a great friend in Tutan. There are great illustrations throughout, humour, great storytelling throughout, that this makes perfect reading for those who also like The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Tom Gates, Storey Treehouse series. Find out much more about this terrific book by clicking Here

Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure By Emma Larkin

Blurb

Izzy coverIzzy is a seven-year-old girl who lives in Ireland and loves all sport, especially Gaelic Football.

Izzy plays football with her brothers on a regular basis in their back garden and dreams of playing for her county in the All Ireland Ladies Football Final in Croke Park when she is older.

One day, Izzy puts on her great grandmother’s bracelet, which is made of old All Ireland medals that her great grandmother won a long time ago, and something unexpected and magical happens, which may make Izzy’s Croke Park dream a reality sooner than she expected…………….

Review

Are you missing out on football? Whether you are or not, this is a great book of sibling rivalry and inspiration. Meet Izzy, she likes football and dreams of playing for her county one day, but doesn’t see how that can happen, until a discovery is made about relative. This is an excellent, positive book of possibilities. Find out more by clicking Here

Geronimo Stilton – Stop Acting Around By Geronimo Stilton

Blurb

Geronimo Stilton stop acting aroundGeronimo Stilton is Getting into the movies when he is invited by an old filmmaker friend, director E.J. Sprocket, to visit the set Block Cheddar 4, starring Jack Vole. Convinced that this could make for an interesting article, he brings Thea, Benjamin, and Pandora along. But soon they discover that it’s not all glitz and glamour as strange happenings have been plaguing production, causing the film to go off course. Will Geronimo’s acting career be over before it starts? Is there a MOLE on the set? As E.J. would say, “That’s show business for ya baby!”

Review

Geronimo Stilton books have been around awhile in libraries and book shops and they are nicely still going strong. They are graphic novels, with the story told in a well layed-out and illustrated form and often depict an eye-catching cover, with a good paced plot. Stop Acting Around takes Geronimo (a mouse) on-set of a big movie to meet his favourite actor – Jack Vole and reckons this would make for a great article. All is well until disaster strikes when 10 cans of film are mysteriously destroyed. The book has plenty of action and there is mild trepidation when there’s a rickety bridge to get across a ravine and down an old mine as the mystery continues as to what happened to the film reels and unexpected discoveries.

The Hidden Spaceship by Serena Lane Ferrari

Blurb

The Hidden Spaceship cover

When Amelia and Noah stumble across a spaceship, an out-of-this-world adventure begins. The friends have a very special mission – to help the Earth’s eco-system. They must go on a daunting journey on another planet, find a treasure chest, and complete their quest. What secret does the treasure chest hold?

 

Review

There’s a song, a spaceship and humans Amelia and Noah, who embark on an adventure to a distant planet. There’s bright, bold pictures and a great story and characters like the alien Ualalumpa. The book, throughout the story, tells children about the eco-system in a way that is child-friendly and understandable. There are treasures to find that are more magical and wonderful than even gold or jewels. To find out more about this out of this world adventure, please click Here

The Cockatoo From Timbucktoo By William AE Ford

Blurb

The Cockatoo From TimbucktuJoin Kian the cockatoo on his adventures around the world!

Can a childhood song about a shining star help him find his way home?

From the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Wall of China to New York City wonders of the world are explored delightfully in this epic journey!


Review

William has done it again! After sending children on an interactive, rhyming time travelling adventure with the award winning Timothy Mean and his Time Machine, he now sends them on a world adventure with a lost cockatoo who just wants to go home to be reunited with his mum and dad. Children just love the adventure of flying around the world in a book, the illustrations and the repetitive nature of this book, that makes it so interactive and fun. It is a wonderful and perfect book for these different days, where young children, including the early primary school years, will gain value from. Find out more by clicking Here

The Hangry Hamster by Grace McLuskey

Review and Blurb

hangry hamsterMeet Billy. He has a hamster who is hangry and ends up running through London, past a lot of landmarks, which he ends up towering over, like no hamster ever has before. This book is action packed, very funny and brilliantly conceived. It is also about bonding with a pet. Please find out more Here

 

Princess Poppy – Fantastic No Plastic By Janey Louise Jones

Blurb

Princess Poppy Fantastic No PlasticWhen Poppy is invited to a beach party by cousin Daisy in Camomile Cove, she has to help clean up the beach first. There is so much plastic refuse. Meanwhile, her puppy Sidney chokes on a discarded bag. Poppy joins the campaign to rid the planet of one use plastic waste and comes up with an enterprising idea. Poppy is her usual energetic and passionate self as she realises everyone can do a little bit to make a big difference.

Review

Princess Poppy is a great story with a really good mix of positive environmental messages and general fun in the characters setting. These are great books for both boys and girls alike. There’s great illustrations by Jennie Poh and humour within this story about looking after the environment. The story takes place when there’s a competition to create a poster to create an object to replace with that from a plastic one. It also shows friendship and keeping earth tidy, as well as having fun with Sidney – a dog with a bundle of energy. Please find out more Here

Bertie the Buffalo by Wendy H. Jones

Blurb

Bertie CoverBertie the Buffalo is based on a true story of when a Water Buffalo escaped from a Buffalo Park in Fife, near Dundee, Scotland. A rhyming book about the adventures Bertie got up to and how he safely returned home, demonstrating how important each of us is no matter how insignificant we feel. Bertie felt that no one noticed him. But he didn’t need to think that as we are all special. We are all a part of one big family.

Review

Inspired by a true story in Scotland, children will meet Bertie and all sorts of animals, including an alpaca along the way as Bertie the Buffalo ends up straying into unfamiliar territories as he finds himself outside of his usual field. The book is about not feeling small, even if you are small in stature, friendship and family, in this beautifully illustrated book that will take children on an adventure and find some kindness along the way. It also is a story with a moral within it. This book has been read by many children, usually for 4 year olds plus, but has been used my middle grade classes up to and including primary 5 too. Find out more by clicking Here

 

What to expect on the blog #blog #amreading #bookish #theatre

I have many more great sounding books in my To be Read pile. Some by very established authors, some not quite so, but are starting out. All look good!
A thud after the swing of the letterbox usually signals the post is more exciting than a bill. A huge thud that sounds like it is going to go through the floor means its a hardback book. Most are paperback and that too is fine and still sounds more exciting than a bill.

I have children’s books, young adult books and adult books. During February and March, there will be reviews of children’s books that promote the eco-system, take children on an adventure, show children interesting and fun characters.

For Young Adult, there will be coming-of-age and fantasy.

For Adult, there is Crime Fiction, Biography, Humour in Fiction, Families in Fiction, Historical Fiction and more…

I have also been to the theatre recently, so you can expect a review on a terrifically cast play by Alan Aykbourn.

Thanks for following my blog.

Great books from 2019 – Happy New Year and Happy Reading #HappyNewYear #2019books #2019wrapup #MyYearinBooks #BestBooks #MustReads #amreading #readingforpleasure #books #CrimeFiction #Thriller #FamilySaga #Saga #Historical #Kidslit #YA #NonFiction #Fiction #Fantasy #UpLit #Bookish

Great Books to check out and read from 2019

I have read and reviewed so many books this year. I have decided to follow the trend of compiling an end of year list of what I would consider “The Must Read or Top 2019 Books. The list will be in no particular order, but will be broken down into genre. Here you will find great Children’s Books and Young Adult books, followed by all types of crime fiction; followed by general fictional books; followed by family saga/historical fiction; followed by fantasy; followed by non-fiction/autobiographical/biographical.
Firstly, I would like to say a few thanks:

I am incredibly grateful to everyone however who contacts me through my blog or Twitter, interacts with me, sends me books to review, either personally or through publishing houses. I am grateful for the generosity of authors, publishers and bloggers for sharing my reviews on their social media platforms and websites. I thank publishers and authors for considering me and for giving me the responsibility of reviewing their books. Reviewing someone’s work is something I don’t do lightly. A lot of thought goes into it all and also I am so conscious that what is in my hands at that moment is someone’s hard work and, whether I’ve met the person/people face to face or not, I am always aware of them being human too. I must say that I do love writing my blog and I appreciate every opportunity I have ever had that has come with writing it.

I also thank those authors, publishers and bloggers who have been kind and generous in other ways too, such as help with the community library I currently lead. You know who you are and I am eternally grateful.

Now onto the lists. I hope people find something new, some inspiration or are perhaps reminded that they want to check out a book. The books on the list are all on my blog, so feel free to check out the full reviews. The books can be borrowed from libraries, bought from bookshops and are also e-books on the various e-book platforms.

Children and Young Adult Fiction


Princess Poppy – Please, Please Save the Bees by Janey Louise Jones
Timothy Mean and the Time Machine by William A.E. Ford
The Hangry Hamster by Grace McCluskey
Leo and the Lightning Dragons by Gill White
Toletis by Rafa Ruiz
The Age of Akra by Vacen Taylor

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty
10 Things to do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’Keefe (YA)

Crime Fiction , including Thrillers and Political Thrillers

Absolution by Adam Croft
Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver
In the Absence of Miracles by Michael J. Malone

Nothing to Hide by James Oswald
The Poisoned Rock by Robert Daws
Death at the Plague Museum by Lesley Kelly
The Killing Rock by Robert Daws
In Plain Sight by Adam Croft
Sealed with a Death by James Sylvester
Hands Up by Stephen Clark
The Silence of Severance by Wes Markin
A Friend In Deed by G.D. Harper

General Fiction

 


The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris
Birthday Girl by Haruki Murakami
A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft
Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls
Let it Snow by Sue Moorcroft
Summer at the Kindness Café by Victoria Walters
Secret Things and Highland Flings by Tracy Corbett
Sunshine and Secrets – The Paradise Cookery School by Daisy James

Family Saga/Historical Fiction

Bobby Girls coverHeady HeightsTime will tell book

Bobby Girls by Johanna Bell
Welcome to the Heady Heights by David F.Frost

Time Will Tell by Eva Jordan

Fantasy

The Blue Salt Road Joanne HarrisThe Old Dragon's Head Coveer

The Blue Salt Road by Joanne M. Harris (YA and Adult)
The Old Dragon’s Head by Justin Newland

The Longest Farewell by Nula Suchet
Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew
First in the Fight 20 Women Who Made Manchester by Helen Antrobus
The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler

I have some books to review already and working on them for 2020.
I’ve plenty of exciting things to be blogging about in 2020 and hopefully many more exciting opportunities will crop up in the future. I will also be publishing brief resumes of great theatre shows from 2018 and 2019, most of which are still running, going to tour nationally in the UK and some of which come back every so often, so could be ones to look out for in the future.
For now, I hope you enjoy what I have for my 2019 resumes and all else that is on my blog. I hope you all had a great Christmas and I wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best for 2020. Thank you too for following and reading my blog, without such, it wouldn’t exist. I love writing my blog and always grateful to those who give me opportunities to review and to write and to talk to people and to those who read what I write. Thank you!!!!

As I didn’t do this in 2018, here is a quick run down of the best books I read then. 
Fiction – Stealth by Hugh Fraser, Antiques and Alibis by Wendy H. Jones, The Wrong Direction by Liz Treacher, A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft.
Non -Fiction – An Almost Perfect Christmas by Nina Stibbe, Charles Dickens by Simon Callow, Fill my Stocking by Alan Titchmarsh.
Young Adult – Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian by J.M. Smith
Children’s books – The Treasure At the Top of The World by Clive Mantle.
Reviews can be found on my blog. Please note the Christmas books are reviewed within one blog post with quick reviews.

Happy New Year 2020

 

Bookmark pic

Celebrating The Enduring Love of Roald Dahl for Children and Adults #RoaldDahl #RoaldDahlDay2019 @QuentinBlake #ChapterBooks #TalesoftheUnexpected #Kidslit #Fiction #Humour #Fantasy #Family #Friendship

Celebrating the Enduring Love of Roald Dahl

This is a short article on the enduring love of Roald Dahl. Today is the anniversary of his birthday and what we call Roald Dahl Day.

Roald Dahl Pic

In the Beginning

Roald Dahl was born in 1916 in Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales. He wrote from his shed using HB pencils. He wrote for children and adults. His books live on in both book and film form. Sometimes the films are done well and sometimes they are not, that’s always the nature of films however, no matter who the original creator is. Some stories have also been adapted for TV and Radio.

Roald Dahl Day

Roald Dahl Day

Schools and libraries across the country tend to celebrate Roald Dahl every 13th September – his birthday. This year’s theme for Roald Dahl Day is Matilda. She is courageous and has a love of reading, even though it means going against her parents and isn’t seen as being trendy. The book is fun and has magic within it, but it is also sweet and gentle with Miss Honey, but then there is a marked contrast between her and Miss Trunchbull, which makes for great characterisation and story-telling.

The Books and Films

RD books

The books feed into children’s desires and imaginations. Take chocolate for example. There is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and what child wouldn’t want to join Charlie Bucket and the eccentric Willy Wonka in a factory that experiments and creates chocolate and sweets, even in this more health conscious society. The follow-up – Charlie and the Great Glass elevator has some adventure and also takes children a little into the political world and what the USA was like at the time Roald Dahl was writing about.
There is magic in The Witches, The Magic Finger and Matilda and family and school life as themes, that also have mild trepidation and villains and heroes. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was made into live action films – two of them.

James and the Giant Peach also has magic and heroes and villains. There is also friendship and adventure and a need for escape as James wants to escape his two gruesome aunts.

There is fun with The Enormous Crocodile that takes children through the jungle meeting different animals and with just enough scariness that children really enjoy when the crocodile wants to eat children.

Fantastic Mr Fox is also about nature and animals, but this time about the need to understand and look after them. It also has a political element, but on a child level about the landscape and fox hunting. This was also made into a CGI film and there was a song I remember learning when I was in primary school for the baby foxes. We acted it out and I was a baby fox.

There is also Daniel, Champion of the World about a boy and his plans. This was made into a live action film

There’s mischief to be had in the Twits and George’s Marvellous medicine. There’s also elements of inventiveness. George’s Marvellous Medicine was used for a Jackanory story on tv.

The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me shows teamwork, friendship and entrepreneurship as they set up their own window cleaning company and there is also some trepidation with a burglary in a grand house.

The BFG with his good dream catching skills befriends Sophie and the two become lovely friends.

Esio-Trot was the last book to be published in Roald Dahl’s lifetime. For those who haven’t worked it out, it is Tortoise spelt backwards.  Esio-Trot tackles loneliness and is about Mr Hopper trying to make a connection with Mrs Silver, who he has loved from afar. This was made into a film for tv.

Boy and Going Solo are both Non-Fiction and tell of Roald Dahl’s life. It may sit generally in the children’s non-fiction area, but really both children and adults will gain fascinating knowledge from them. There was a documentary style programme about them on tv.

Revolting Rhymes is exactly that and has twisted takes on fairy tales. There used to be a tv series also inspired by this with chef Gary Rhodes showing how to make revolting recipes inspired by the book with his assistant – actor, Pam Ferris.

There are books that are not only for children too, although the main emphasis seems to be on children. He also wrote really dark stories for young adults and adults alike that are twisted tales such as Skins and Tales of the Unexpected, which were on TV. Tales of plants that could talk; tattoos that someone wanted and could have straight from another person; tales of sinister bedsits etc.

There are also other books too that have been and are being produced.

Further Facts

Roald Dahl wrote everyday from 10 am to 12 noon and then from 4 pm to 6pm. His first book wasn’t what people imagined it to be – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it was The Gremlins, those furry, cute characters that change when wet and well, aren’t so cute after that.

This was not the end of his talent. He worked with illustrator Quentin Blake (more about him later) and with James Bond creator Ian Fleming and created Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang and worked on the book for the film of this and of James Bond: You Only Live Twice. He and Ian Fleming worked together prior to this during the second world war, providing information for MI6. Roald had also been in battles during the war too. He was with the Royal Air Force (RAF) until 1946.

Roald Dahl had 5 children and married twice. He has a granddaughter still living – Sophie Dahl. 

Roald Dahl died on 23rd November 1990. He was 74 and was suffering with myeldysplastic syndrome (a type of blood disease). He is buried in the cemetery of St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire. He was buried with some of his favourite things, including: a power saw, HB pencils, chocolate, red wine and his snooker cues.

Inspiration and Importance

Roald Dahl’s stories and screenplays endure as does the love for them. He had a talent for knowing what people like and to be able to us universally broad themes to create magical worlds and fun and adventure. He had a talent to bring about some really dark stories and yet aiming them just right for his target audience. It now also helps that schools and libraries celebrate his life. He is still an important author within this age of computer technology as children and adults read less. Mention Roald Dahl and everyone knows his books, which is a good place to start. Curiosity about authors will hopefully come too as so many have led or do lead such fascinating lives. Roald Dahl is everywhere, in his own work and has inspired other authors and it is seen in their work, such as now there are people like David Walliams and other writers who are similar to him, whom it is evident must have been inspired by Roald Dahl.

Quentin Blake

Quentin Blake Books

Now it wouldn’t be right not to mention Quentin Blake too. He illustrated many of Roald’s books and has many fabulous books of his own creations too that are so full of fun and excellent illustrations. His books are now of many, his most well-known perhaps being Mister Magnolia and Mrs Armitage.

Children’s Laureate and other Awards

The Children’s Laureate seems to have been around forever, or so it is sometimes assumed, but it wasn’t until 1999 this post was created. Today in 2019, as I write, it is Cressida Cowell. In 1999, the very first Children’s Laureate was Quentin Blake.

He has also received so many awards for his books, including the Whitbred award. He has also been personally recognised and has certainly been living an illustrious life. He was made CBE in 2005, is an RDI and has numerous honorary degrees from universities throughout the UK. He received a knighthood for ‘services to illustration’ in the New Year’s Honours for 2013, and became an Honorary Freeman of the City of London in 2015. It is an impressive career and impressive to be recognised so much for all his work that endures and I am sure will also endure, not just through his collaboration with Roald Dahl, but also the work he has produced himself too, which is quite some body of work indeed as he has always worked in illustration and even illustrated for Punch magazine.

An Additional Career

Quentin also has another career. He works as a curator for exhibitions in well-known famous places – the National Gallery, the British Library and the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris. In the last few years he has begun to make larger-scale work for hospitals and healthcare settings in the UK and France where his work can be seen in wards and public spaces.

In Conclusion

So, two great men who inspire and whose work will, I am sure will continue to for generations to come with libraries and schools and parents and children all playing their part. There books I am sure will always be somewhere in bookshops, on library shelves and hopefully also in the hands of readers. I am also sure that they will be inspiring other current and future authors for years to come.

Roald-Dahl

Review of The Old Dragon’s Head by Justin Newland #JustinNewland @matadorbooks #LoveBooksTours #fantasy #review #Fiction #Newbook #history #historical

The Old Dragon’s Head
By Justin Newland
Rated: 4 Stars ****

Today I have the pleasure of closing the blog tour for Love Books Tours with my review for the book The Old Dragon’s Head by Justin Newland. There have been reviews and extracts that can be found online, including the review I am presenting to you today. It was with honour that I received a signed copy of the book and accompanying bookmark. Please note, my review is impartial.

old-dragons-head Banner

About the Author

Justin Newland with copies of his books, at Waterstones book store.After a long career in I.T., Justin’s love of literature finally seduced him and, in 2006, he found his way to the creative keyboard to write his first novel.

Justin writes secret histories in which historical events and people are guided and motivated by numinous and supernatural forces.

His debut novel, The Genes of Isis, is a tale of love, destruction, and ephemeral power set under the skies of Ancient Egypt, and which tells the secret history of the human race, Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

His second is The Old Dragon’s Head, a historical fantasy and supernatural thriller set during the Ming Dynasty and played out in the shadows the Great Wall of China. It explores the secret history of the influences that shaped the beginnings of our times.  

He is currently working on a novel set in East Prussia during the Enlightenment in the 18th Century which reveals the secret history of perhaps the single most important event of the modern world – The Industrial Revolution.

Justin does books signings and gives author talks in libraries in South West England. He has appeared at many Literary Festivals, including Bristol, Weston-super-mare and Exeter. He regularly gives interviews on BBC local radio and local FM radio stations.

Blurb

The Old Dragon's Head CoveerConstructed of stone and packed earth, the Great Wall of 10,000 li protects China’s northern borders from the threat of Mongol incursion. The wall is also home to a supernatural beast: the Old Dragon. The Old Dragon’s Head is the most easterly point of the wall, where it finally meets the sea.

In every era, a Dragon Master is born. Endowed with the powers of Heaven, only he can summon the Old Dragon so long as he possess the dragon pearl.

It’s the year 1400, and neither the Old Dragon, the dragon pearl, nor the Dragon Master, has been seen for twenty years. Bolin, a young man working on the Old Dragon’s Head, suffers visions of ghosts. Folk believe he has yin-yang eyes and other paranormal gifts.When Bolin’s fief lord, the Prince of Yan, rebels against his nephew, the Jianwen Emperor, a bitter war of succession ensues in which the Mongols hold the balance of power. While the victor might win the battle on earth, China’s Dragon Throne can only be earned with a Mandate from Heaven – and the support of the Old Dragon.

Bolin embarks on a journey of self-discovery, mirroring Old China’s endeavour to come of age. When Bolin accepts his destiny as the Dragon Master, Heaven sends a third coming of age – for humanity itself. But are any of them ready for what is rising in the east?

Review

Firstly I love the quotes that are throughout the book at the top of the chapters. I have in general come to like books that have quotes. I think it is the way they are so intelligently used. They are not just used because they sound good, they really fit the story and Justin Newland has also managed to accomplish this well.

This is not just any fantasy book, this is a fantasy with history, murder, mystery, legend, myth and of course the supernatural. There are villains and heroes and action and adventure. All of this works well together to create a fascinating story. It is fascinating to be transported to Chinese culture in this way.

Bolin (main character) and we meet him with Wen who is the maintainer of the most eastern end of the Great Wall of Ten Thousand Li, a Provence in China. It is home to the old Dragon Laolong and they are standing on the Dragon’s Head – the Laolongtou. The wall also belongs to the military, the Monks and the Great Wall Mummers and Wen, especially is fiercely protective of it. I became quickly interested in the wall and where this book was heading. There’s a quest to follow to find out what happened to the Dragon Master and a pearl and action along the way. I liked meeting the variety of characters within this book and getting to know their roles and desires. I liked that the book concluded well.

I wasn’t so sure at first how much potential this book had to be a good one, but once a few pages in, it really is quite some story and I found myself immersed in the world created by Justin Newland. I was impressed by the fact there is a grounding to this world he has crafted, perhaps because the Wall of China is so familiar, but also the way the characters are written. If you are looking for something new within the fantasy world I definitely say try this one out. Even if you aren’t so sure about fantasy, try the book out because this crosses genres and does it very well. I think this is a fantasy author who is worth reading and watching to see what his next creation will be. I felt Justin Newland had done his research and the book feels quite original for this genre.

Below are links to the author’s website and Facebook page.

 http://www.justinnewland.com/

https://www.facebook.com/justin.newland.author/

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls @DavidNWriter @HodderBooks #SweetSorrow #SummerReads #Summer #ComingofAge #NewBook #Review #Fiction

Sweet Sorrow
By David Nicholls
Rated: 4 stars ****

About the Author

David Nicholls is the bestselling author of USONE DAYSTARTER FOR TEN and THE UNDERSTUDY. His novels have sold over 8 million copies worldwide and are published in forty languages. David’s fifth novel, SWEET SORROW, was published by Hodder in July 2019. 

David trained as an actor before making the switch to writing. He is an award-winning screenwriter, with TV credits including the third series of Cold Feet, a much-praised modern version of Much Ado About NothingThe 7.39 and an adaptation of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. David wrote the screenplays for Great Expectations (2012) and Far from the Madding Crowd (2015, starring Carey Mulligan). He has twice been BAFTA nominated and his recent adaptation of Patrick Melrose from the novels by Edward St Aubyn won him an Emmy nomination. 

His bestselling first novel, STARTER FOR TEN, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club in 2004, and in 2006 David went on to write the screenplay of the film version.

His third novel, ONE DAY, was published in 2009 to extraordinary critical acclaim, and stayed in the Sunday Times top ten bestseller list for ten weeks on publication. ONE DAY won the 2010 Galaxy Book of the Year Award.

David’s fourth novel, US, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2014 and was another no. 1 Sunday Times bestseller. In 2014, he was named Author of the Year 

Blurb

One life-changing summer
Charlie meets Fran…

In 1997, Charlie Lewis is the kind of boy you don’t remember in the school photograph. His exams have not gone well. At home he is looking after his father, when surely it should be the other way round, and if he thinks about the future at all, it is with a kind of dread.

Then Fran Fisher bursts into his life and despite himself, Charlie begins to hope.

But if Charlie wants to be with Fran, he must take on a challenge that could lose him the respect of his friends and require him to become a different person. He must join the Company. And if the Company sounds like a cult, the truth is even more appalling.

Sweet Sorrow DN cover

Review

Sweet Sorrow – part of a quote of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare – “Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.” Sweet Sorrow is one of the themes that runs throughout the book and one that David Nicholls deals with great skill to create a story of a man in his thirties looking back at life when he was 16 in 1997.

The beginning is dramatic to say the least: The world would end on Thursday at 3:55pm after the disco. That is what is decided in the world of school leavers on their last day of school. I must say, it certainly grabs attention. The graffiti and the scrawled messages on shirts friends messages is something many will be able to relate to. The last day of term is perfectly described with an almost tangible atmosphere and one which so many people would remember from their school days. There’s the usual teacher and lovers dancing to the slow music. There’s the awkwardness of people too such as between Charlie and Helen and when Charlie Lewis danced with Emily, who has more feelings for him that he does for her, which is such sweet sorrow. There’s also the worrying of exam results and the thoughts of completely failing.

There is some really touching writing when Charlie wishes he spoke to his school friends more. This in itself is thought-provoking about the way society can be now and back then and made me wonder how many people wish they just made that little bit more effort to keep in touch with others, and how in the future, even with all the technology to hand, there may be people who wish they had kept in touch with others more and differently. David Nicholls in his writing just seems so insightful.

Charlie’s life is not an easy one. His mum started a new life and job. This means a lot of caring for his dad, where there is a plenty of worrying times. The book highlights that sometimes life is unfair at times and can be really tough.

David Nicholls does give his main character – Charlie Lewis some hope when he meets Fran Fisher and his life changes. She belongs to the Full Fathom Five Theatre Co-operative, who are rehearsing Romeo and Juliet. He ended up joining the group, not that he really wanted to, he only wanted Fran’s phone number. David Nicholls shows great understanding and observation of young love and writes it characteristically of that age.

Later in the book there’s a party that is attended by Charlie. It is illustrated through the wonderful descriptions. Fran and Charlie do have their first kiss and it is a really lovely , tender romantic scene is painted. The writing is evocative and is so beautifully and tastefully written. As the book moves on readers will find out about what happens within this relationship.

The story twists and turns in the most unexpected ways as incidents happen and the book gathers a bit more pace as the tone changes.

There’s sweet sorrow again, like there was on that last day of school, but this time on the performance days of Romeo and Juliet through the description of mixed feelings of sadness it will be over with, but also glad. There are some heartwarming moments of his dad and what he thinks of his son acting his part out.

The book has a great ending and in its closing pages, it takes readers to years later and it makes for some very interesting reading to see what happened to the characters, now they have grown up.

Ultimately, David Nicholls captures adolescence very well. It is moving, holds some humour within it, amongst some sadness, bittersweetness, sweet sorrow within the big themes of life, which are written exquisitely. It is a vivid book. It is so picturesque in some of the descriptions and yet nothing is over described.  It is written exceptionally well and whether you have read a book by David Nicholls before or not, I recommend you give this perceptive book a read.