Review of The Hidden Spaceship By Serena Lane Ferrari – Go on an Exciting Outer Space Mission to Help Planet Earth #SerenaLaneFerrari #Kidslit #environment #space #schools #readingforpleasure #libraries #readingrocks #savetheplanet #savetheplanetbooks #Review

The Hidden Spaceship
By Serena Lane Ferrari
Rated: 4.5 stars

About the Author

Serena Lane Ferrari is a mother and an English teacher. She writes books for young children that have the future of our planet at their heart. She passionately believes that children are our last chance to help improve our ecosystems, find solutions to major climate problems and to save the planet. She also believes passionately in the importance of reading to children from an early age, so do hope that my books help engage children (and parents!) and inspire them to believe in a better future.

Click for Website Link: Website

 

The Hidden Spaceship cover

Blurb

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

The book starts with a fun song, just to get readers ready for their adventure.  Amelia and Noah stumble across a spaceship and enter it, thus beginning their adventure to a distant planet.
The illustrations are big, bright and bold throughout, to capture children’s attention. They meet an alien on the planet that shows what humans are doing to the planet. It shows just enough for young children to understand, but not to terrify them.
The story with the intrepid explorers continues as they begin a quest the Ualalumpa (alien) has sent them on…. The treasure is something more magical and wonderful than what readers would expect and it certainly isn’t your usual gold or jewels.

This book would inspire children in the ways that they could help save Earth in a way that they understand and in a really fun way. The mix of fact and story all weaved together is great, alongside the pictures filling the page.

This would be a great asset to a personal book collection or library or school as it is pleasurable to read and has an educational element as in it has meaning and some thought-provoking pages that could be good for stimulating conversation.

At the back there is an important note from the author about how she is passionate about both our eco-system and in young children reading for pleasure. There is also a sneek-peek about her next book.

I recommend this book because it promotes reading for pleasure and in a really fun way, promotes the environment without being preachy and instead being more of an adventure. It is a book that children can have a lovely time with as they get a good story and gain a bit of knowledge at the same time.
I can say that already children and their parents/caregivers are already enjoying it.

*Thank you for donating a copy to the community library in Scotland that I currently lead and for leaving a lovely message inside.

*This review is unbiased.

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

Review of First in the Fight – 20 Women Who Made Manchester Rated 5 stars @inostalgiauk @HelenAntrobus #AndrewSimcock @LoveBooksGroup #Manchester #Scotland #UK #History #Review #BlogTour #Non-Fiction #Culture #Political #Nature #Social

First in the Fight – 20 Women Who Made Manchester
By Helen Antrobus and Andrew Simcock
Rated:5 stars *****

 

I am delighted and very excited to be part of this blog tour for the People’s History Museum for their book – The First in the Fight. Expertly put together by the historian and author Helen Antrobus and Andrew Simcock, this book celebrates women who yes, are important to Manchester, but in-turn, also made a huge impact on the UK as a whole, which we still see today. So, whether you are in Manchester or elsewhere, please do take time to find out what this book is actually all about. It covers more than you would think in the lovely short sections that are just a few pages long. They certainly keep the interest going and that want to read on.

Click here for a link: Nostalgia

Click here for a link for blog tour organiser

Blurb

Emmeline Pankhurst stands proudly in St Peter’s Square, but she stands for so many more… From the women who marched to St Peter’s Fields flying the flag for reform to the first entrepreneurs, the women of Greater Manchester have long stood shoulder to shoulder in the fight for equality and social change. For the centenary of some women being able to vote in 2018, the journey began for a statue to be erected, symbolising the incredible lives and achievements of Manchester’s radical women. Glimpse at the lives of the twenty women who were long-listed in the campaign, who all made Manchester first in the fight for freedom, and feminism.

Manchester Women Cover

Review

Behold these women who stood up for women’s rights. Some for the right to vote, others for workers rights and there are other women who inspire for other reasons as well.

This beautiful book important, influential women who have made a great impact, not just in Manchester, but across the entire UK, your mind may turn to the Pankhursts. The book does cover them, but there are also women who have done great things, who are less known or in the midst of time have been largely forgotten about, with their being at least one, almost being erased from history altogether.

This is a book I would recommend to anyone wanting to know more about social and political history and the women’s lives who were part of change or achieved great things that weren’t within the political sphere too. That’s what is so great here, is the variety of women who are showcased in this book.
The book nicely starts off with a very interesting bit about Manchester and its history before taking each individual women and allowing readers to learn something about who they were and who they became. It certainly is a valuable book full of substance. It is beautifully presented in the way it is written, with each woman just having a just few pages about them. It is also very well illustrated from the cover right down to the pages inside. Even the front cover seems fitting and eye-catching.

Let me take you on a short journey in tim to whet your appetite for reading this book.

The women who have been so well researched for this book are:

  1. Margaret Downes – read about her; discover what happened to her and Peterloo and some other, perhaps more prominent women who would have been around too.
  2. Margaret Ashton – a leading lady from Lancashire who was in the fight for equality and yet later had her name all but erased for quite some time. Find out how her name resurfaced and about her upbringing that brought her perhaps to the Suffrage movement.

  3. Mary Quaile – Born in Dublin, her family and her moved to Manchester and were from a poor working class background. Read about the her and other women who tried for equality in the workplace. Find out more about these women and the TUC here.

  4. Esther Roper – An orphan, she was one of the first women to attend Robert Owen’s College. Scots would know him for championing worker’s rights at New Lanark (now a great museum). She also wanted to continue where Lydia Becker left off (mentioned further below). Delve further into this part and you’ll find out more about her and her connections with suffragettes.

  5. Ellen Wilkinson – one of the first women to be voted into parliament and is also famous for leading the Jarrow March. Read her section to find out how she ended up in parliament and a bit about her life as a child and her death.

  6. Lydia Becker – largely forgotten in the tides of history, she had sympathies with the working class and also wrote a book about the suffragettes and set up a literary society with the focus on science. There’s much to be discovered in this part about her.

  7. Christabel Pankhurst – The Pankhursts played host to many reformers such as Keir Hardie from Scotland, William Morris – the English textile designer, activist etc and many more people, who you can discover in the book. There’s interesting bits about the relationship between Christabel and Emmeline to find out too.

  8. Sylvia Pankhurst – she had artistic and political leanings and led an interesting life in both her achievements and how family relations were with her.

  9. Emmeline Pankhurst – Perhaps not the first in the fight for women, but perhaps one of the most well-known and influential women to fight to gain the vote. There are snippets here and there however that perhaps you may or may not already know, so it’s still worth reading.

  10. Elizabeth Gaskell – One of the most influential authors of her time who also became acquainted to other well-known authors such as Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte. There are other parts of her life however that is perhaps less well-known and yet also fascinating, such as charitable work, other people who she met and life in general that aren’t so well-known.

  11. Enriqueta Rylands – she came across to Manchester from Cuba, other women shouted louder, so sadly she is sometimes overlooked and yet she is just as important. She was the founder of the John Ryland’s Library (perhaps a bit more well-known than herself as it is now a world landmark for literary lovers and historians. The library still exists today). Read more in this section about how she came to being in the UK, the overshadowing and her legacy to the world.

  12. Annie Horniman – she certainly lived a varied life and not one that would instantly spring to mind. Expect the somewhat unexpected here. There are many parts to her life that are very worth reading and is written in such a way that you would really get a good impression of what this woman was like.

  13. Olive Shapley – She presented Women’s Hour in the 1930’s (a radio 4 programme that still runs today) and created a safe house for women. There’s even more to this woman than meets the eye and some of it quite risky for the time. So read on to find out more about this pioneering woman.

  14. Marie Stopes – she fought for birth control and more. She, however, is a controversial woman who had (perhaps unfortunately) eugenics firmly in her sights and more can be found out in the book.

  15. Shena Simon – she championed for better education and active citizenship (however it was Ellen Wilkinson who was the first Minister of Education in 1945), but she nevertheless seemed to do quite a lot, which can be discovered in her part.

  16. Kathleen Ollerenshaw – one of the greatest mathematicians in the country (UK), she advocated for a lot educationally and died in 2014. There’s so much of her life that would have been, perhaps unknown until now…

  17. Louise  Da-Cocodia – the section starts with a great sounding African proverb, before moving onto her time within the NHS and being part of the “windrush” generation and creating a legacy.

  18. Elizabeth Raffald – long before Mary Berry and Nadia Hussain and lots of other people who you can think of today who are bakers, there was Elizabeth Raffald. A woman who was making waves in the business world and unbeknown to her she has left a legacy, of which more can be read about as well as a bit about her life.

  19. Emily Williamson – She was passionate about the conservation and preservation of wildlife. Her passion really shines through and I she would fit well in today’s most influential conservationists etc such as David Attenborough and Chris Packham. Her life is different from that from the social campaigners and worth reading to uncover more.

  20. Sunny Lowry – She swam the Channel. Again different from the social or political activists, but it shows women can do this and also take a moment to read this section as this isn’t just about achieving swimming the Channel (although impressive in itself), this is about much more that came into being afterwards.

To conclude, this is absolutely a fascinating book to read a really worthwhile getting. There are so many interesting parts that aren’t specifically about the women mentioned too, such as how it came about that there would be a statue for Emmeline Pankhurst and the work that went into that. There are well presented photos of this too, which were taken in very recent times. I highly recommend this book for anyone to read.

Manchester Women Cover

Review of Morecambe and Vice -What’s the Worst That Could Happen? @MorecambeVice @lkauthor @cerilowepetrask #CrimeFiction #dystopian #Review

Review of Morecambe and Vice
What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

First thing in the morning of the first day of the festival, the question – “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?” was posed. That very question is totally fascinating in itself, but first thing on a Saturday morning in the Midland Hotel, what was the worst thing that could happen? It turned out a lot. This was actually the title of a fascinating panel of authors who had mixed crime and the dystopian world in a believable way and some of it… well… we aren’t too far off.

The panel was created of Lesley Kelly, Ceri Lowe and Matt Brolly. All of whom were excellent speakers and all seemed so comfortable and natural together. The panel was brilliantly  moderated by Tom Fisher, who seemed enthusiastic and got the authors to talk about interesting topics to do with their books and their writing experiences.

Lesley Kelly is the author of the series – The Health of Strangers, which includes killer flu, food, medicine shortages and unscrupulous politicians. This series also has some humour within it. I have written a full review of the latest book in the series that you can check out on my blog.

Ceri Lowe writes a dystopian The Paradigm Trilogy for YA. Her main two characters are 15 and 11 years old. With one of the main themes being climate change, it is about a huge storm occurs in the UK and the scars that are left. It takes the promise of a small group being rescued and stored by “The Industry Group”. The author posed the hanging question of “Are they corrupt or are they saving the planet?” Read to find out…

Matt Brolly writes the DCI Lambert Novels. He spoke of the setting being in the near future in a city that has zero tolerance of crime, so has the death penalty that is automatic if the perpetrator is caught and yet a detective who is a kleptomaniac.

   Matt Brolly, Ceri Lowe, Lesley Kelly

The discussion that ensued was very interesting. Tom had clearly done his homework and given a lot of thought. The questions were coherent and quite a large range from talking directly about apocalyptic worlds to actual world building, but also beyond the writing of the books to coping with rejection. It was a great way to start off the festival. There was something in it for wanna-be writers, the experienced writers and also readers.

I like to sometimes read dystopian novels, even though it is disturbing how close to the truth they become, but that makes them relevant and thought-provoking.

Dystopian Worlds

Matt talked about being fascinated in exploring the extremes he does of a zero tolerance of crime society. He moved away from world building in some ways and writes more about the characters and how they relate to the deterrent, so the world is essentially built through the characters he creates and is kept as close to the present as possible. The fact his book seemed so close to now made me think of the tv series Years and Years and I should think that in Matt’s books there will be much for the population to ponder and also see where things may be heading if something doesn’t change soon. I find people who can write like that can be quite brilliant in getting certain important messages across and they certainly made people pay attention.

Ceri is different in the fact she loves world building and then culls back on the self-indulgent parts. She reckons she could create a whole family tree as well as a companion book to show all the different relationships etc of her many characters. When she started writing, climate change was there, but there wasn’t the news coverage there is now, when her first book was published. The timing of her books now however, make them more relevant than ever, although, even the first book, in my opinion, would still have been important at that time. When she spoke of how she would like to have a family tree type of companion book of character family trees, well, family trees are always intriguing and help link up people or in this case characters and can add some understanding when there are lots of characters.

The Fascination of Dystopia

Lesley, interestingly works in the voluntary sector and plans for lots of things like the flu and talked about Spanish Flu too and what a pandemic that was, with it killing the least expected of the population. It was thought-provoking when she talked about for her books, she considered, from this being an inspirational starting point, how parents and criminals would react and how “cures would be sold”, as well as the government giving “pointless” health-checks. So, her world is more a controlled world that she has created within her books. It again seems so close to now. Awhile back I had the privilege of reviewing this book and it is very good and has some humour in it too, which works really well within her dystopian world.

Matt thinks there’s something fascinating about the fall of routine, confronting fears and starting again.

Author Tips

The authors had great tips and words of encouragement for other writers and those interested in the process. I always find it fascinating to hear how different authors began writing and what their routines are because each is different.

Matt Brolly basically just never gave in. He was agented after 3 years, but it was 20 years until his first book was published. He says to keep writing and submitting. He was also candid in his answer about getting rejections and initially thought it was all to do with his writing. He said it isn’t you personally, but just may not be their choice of book at a particular time. He also gave advice not to wait for 1 person to get back to you and to instead query as many people as possible.

Ceri wrote some short stories for some competitions and won some. She got an idea for a novel.

Lesley said she wanted to be a stand-up comedian but had children and the hours weren’t conducive for her family life. She highly recommends a professional editor. She got longlisted and got feedback and got published by Sandstone.

Sage advice came from both Lesley and Matt about not comparing yourself to others at it is unhelpful. This I was thinking is something that can be applied to everyone’s lives, whether they are an author or not.

Lesley’s next book is Murder at the Music Factory

Matt Brolly’s next book is The Crossing 

Ceri Lowe also has another book coming soon too.

It was interesting to hear what books the authors read too.

Lesley likes Stephen King.     Matt Brolly also likes The Stand by Stephen King and The Road by Cormac McCarthy.      Ceri likes Margaret Atwood

If you ever get the opportunity to see Lesley Kelly, Matt Brolly or Ceri Lowe, I highly recommend that you do. Thanks to them also for interesting and warm chat after their event.
Below are images of their latest books.

book cover of Dead Water           book cover of Death at the Plague Museum          book cover of The Storm Girl\'s Secret

 

Blog Tour Review of Toletis by Rafa Ruiz – For Ages Seven to 107 #Toletis @rafaruizmad #RafaRuiz @Neemtreepress #RandomThingsTour @AnneCater #AlenaHomiga #BenDawlatly #Spain #UK #Environment #Climate #Adventure #Fiction #Kidslit #YA #Education

Toletis
By Rafa Ruiz
Rated: 4 Stars ****

It is with great pleasure that I present to you my review of Toletis by Rafa Ruiz. The book for people ages 7 to 107 because it has important themes of friendship, the environment and there’s plenty of adventure and some humour, complete with illustrations. This is a book that adults and children can read alone or enjoy together and gain something from it. It is a book to inspire everyone at every milestone in their lives.

Today is happily my turn on the Random Things Blog Tour I was invited on.

FINAL Toletis BT Poster

About the Author

Rafa Ruiz Author PicRafa Ruiz is a journalist and author who has a staunch commitment to culture, art and the environment. He spent 25 years at Spanish newspaper El País and is a partner-founder of the Press Association for Environmental Information (APIA). He has written numerous children’s books, and he codirects the Mad is Mad art gallery in Madrid which gives space to up-and-coming artists. He is one of the partner-founders of the Press Association for Environmental Information (APIA).

 

Toletis Elena Hormiga PictureElena Hormiga is an illustrator with a sense of humour. She studied and worked as an engineer and later turned to illustration

 

 

Ben Dawlatly PictureBen Dawlatly took an MA in Hispanic Studies and Translation Theory at UCL. He translates both technical and literary texts. However, his real calling is in fiction and poetry.

 

Blurb

Trees are disappearing and adults don’t care. Toletis, his dog Amenophis and friends Claudia 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?

Toletis is a positive role model for boys

Toletis is a quiet, sensitive and caring boy who isn’t afraid to show his emotions. His character is a perfect antidote to the expectations of a “typical” boy: loud, boisterous and destructive. This is definitely a book for parents who reject the saying “boys will be boys”.

The ‘big’ real life stuff

One of the things I love most about Toletis is that it touches on big real life events such as the death of a family member in a wholesome and loving way. Sad events in the book are neither taboo nor overly sad; they are expertly touched upon in a way that is both matter-of-fact and empathetic.

Toletis encourages a love of nature

It’s easy to be drawn in by the immersive storytelling and beautiful illustrations. Toletis spends much of the book exploring the hills and valleys around his home, foraging, planting trees and doing all of the things every child should. The book gives just enough detail – the smells, the sounds of the hills are so clear you’re almost there yourself.

Toletis has a good sense of justice

Toletis has a good sense of justice. When trees are cut down to put a wide road through the town, he hatches a plan to stop it. He knows what is wrong in the world and isn’t afraid to step up and change it. 

Toletis Cover

Review

Travel along with the playful mist and meet Toletis who has a love of trees and to get to know them all as well as grow one, especially an apple tree. The book goes into the fascination of this in a lovely amount of detail and enough to feed the curiosity of young minds. Toletis’s friend Tutan also has a deep interest in wildlife and tries to imitate birds such as hen harriers, swifts, tawny owls and more and also animals such as pigs, horses, dogs and more.

In Spring time, also meet the Treenie-weenies, who are all the souls of the trees that had been felled, who then inhabit other trees. There’s an issue though – the town isn’t planting more trees and the Treenie-weenies are bored. Read on to find out what they do in the end. It certainly wasn’t what I expected, it was even better.

In the book you can join Toletis at his school and learn the Wobbegong language, which his teacher doesn’t understand and is reminded to write in English, but he speaks it with Aunty Josifina as they play with words and language and just have fun with it.

It is soon Summer time and there’s more people to meet and things to do.

Meet Alexander Atherton Aitken who comes to see Toletis, Tutan and Claudia on a farm. There visitor just isn’t used to farm animals. There’s fun and tall tales to be had and later in the chapter Lian – AAA as Alexander was shortened to has tales of his own to tell about Julian and whether he went to war or not and whether he was the Lian or not. Read on to find out what happens next and about the mysterious house.

Autumn arrives and Toletis promises hazlenuts for his mum and goes “nutting” a tree. There’s some natural child thoughts about how Toletis imagines his mum not being around anymore. It seems dark, but lots of children, including me, has thought and imagined this in childhood. In this case it sweetly makes Toletis appreciate his mum even more. There’s also a parts of growing up as he looks at his dad’s legs and compares them with his own, just to see if they’re the same. Children will relate to this as they try to make sense of things as they grow. There’s comfort to be gained by this part in the stories.

Behold the rickety mansion that belongs to Claudia’s Granny Ursula with her animal-like eyes. It is atmospheric and a feast for the eyes with its antique furniture and cakes, lots of cakes and then a further surprise of something else edible on the third floor. Read further to find out what…

Enter the Wide Road where people move too fast through their surroundings, never really paying attention to it as they speed along the road, that is also being widened by workmen. Toletis is different. He properly observes the surroundings. It highlights what plant species grow on road verges and their importance. There’s a stark contrast between the hard asphalt and the beauty of the green verges and the destruction of them and the speed on the roads and what harm can be done.

Winter brings a coldness that can almost be felt, as can the comfort of wintry foods. It also gives time for old photographs to come to the fore, which bring intrigue, beauty and fun that is so illustravely written.

Throughout the book there are adventures to have, friendships and a real care for the immediate environment, which is beautifully written. This may not be a book that immediately comes to people’s minds so quickly and yet there are important messages within it and it is a lovely story for children to explore this lovely vivid book alone or with and adult.

There are interesting illustrations throughout the book to assist in telling the story, which will appeal to many children of the ages 7 plus as they are now so used to reading books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Tom Gates, Storey Treehouse series that all have illustrations through them too.

The book will appeal to boys and girls alike and has Toletis, the main character having the qualities of being a positive role model to both. It shows a sensitivity as well as still having humour and adventure throughout it.

Review of The Blue Salt Road by Joanne M. Harris @Joannechocolat @BHHillustration @gollancz @orionbooks @TheWrite_Reads #JoanneHarris #YA #Fiction #Review

The Blue Salt Road
By Joanne M. Harris
Rating: *****


About the Author

Joanne Harris MBE, writes under both this name and Joanne M. Harris and lives in Yorkshire. Her books have been published in over 50 countries and have won a number of British and international awards. This year she celebrates  20 years since Chocolat was first published in the UK. As well as writing books, she also writes stories that she performs to music with her band – Storytime. She plays a bass guitar and studies Old Norse. She also campaigns for libraries and author’s rights.

The Blue Salt Road Joanne Harris

Blurb

Passion drew him into a new world and trickery has kept him there.

But as he finds his path in a dangerous life, he will learn his notions of home, and of his people, might not be quite as he believed.

Illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is an original modern fairytale of love, loss and revenge, against a powerful backdrop of adventure on the high seas and drama on the land.

Review

I was fortunate enough to recieve this book as a Christmas present this year. The person who bought it for me knew I was interested in this book and that I have long enjoyed books by Joanne Harris. This book is rather different from my usual reads, but then that’s the beauty of books, they are easily accessible to try something new and to further expand the repertoire and discover something new. Even if a bit of fantasy is not your usual type of book, this book is relatable to and is worth exploring and in my review, you will see why and also you can see what else Joanne Harris writes, as she has written about every genre there is, which is impressive! Over the years I have come to admire her for many different reasons.

A modern fairytale that is nicely split into 7 parts, each beginning with appropriate verse from the Child Ballads. I had not heard of the Child Ballads before, but that’s the thing with even fiction books, there’s always something to take away with you or there’s some new nugget that readers have learnt about. This is a tale for young adults and adults alike, after all, fairytales were originally meant for adults. It is beautifully illustrated in black and white by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, who also illustrated A Pocket Full of Crows. The detailing is exquisite to say the least with each drawing matching the text very well. Be sure to look just inside the cover too.

The prologue is definitely very interesting and informative as it’s where it is learnt where the story comes from and are invited to take what we need from it and pass the story on. The way it is written is the beginning of being of  the enchantment of this book. It is about a Selkie. For those who don’t know a Selkie is a mythical creature that resembles a seal in the water but assumes human form on land.

Right from the first chapter the tale sweeps you along in its imagery of the islands as we meet the Grey Seal Clan, more precisely a young man of the clan who likes to hear tales of the Folk, who they live alongside, but there are warnings within those tales he is told to heed about the Folk. Despite warnings to take caution, he likes to observe the Folk. The Folk represent humans and are seen as only being concerned about their boats and harpoons. It is so thought-provoking and with such emotion and with such powerful beauty of the setting, there’s much to take in, but it is far from arduous. It’s a book that fits so well for today’s reading audience and is so relevant and it strikes a chord.

Mostly there are no named characters, except for Flora McCraiceann – one of the Folk, a determined young woman who wants to find a man of her own, and not necessarily one from the island. Down by the sea, there lies a bit of a love story. What love, but what pain can accompany it for both a Folk and a Selkie and what choices they must make, that impacts on their lives and the heart and the dreams don’t always match up and there are lost memories of a past life. It’s all beautifully and tenderly written with vast emotion and even though it is a fairytale, there is a grounding of realism within the book, which is relatable to.

We see the contrast between the Selkies and the Folk. The folk and all their weaponry, shows a darker side of this book, a more predatory, realism way that they had, compared to the magical power the Selkie has for readers and far different from the romanticism of them. The dark turn brings a sadness to this book as there’s a realisation of betrayal. It is all such a rivetting read and I found myself almost mesmerised and being pulled along like the waves of the sea. It’s so incredibly well written, it’s such a joy to read.

Throughout the book there is a Kraken, which is so well depicted to tell this story and is great for the imagination, but is written in a way that will be familiar to readers.

This fairytale, twists and turns as it begins to plunge into a tale of revenge later in the book. There is much that will keep readers wanting to turn the pages to see how it all concludes.

This book, although, not my usual genre, is a mythical masterpiece and really took me by surprise. So, I highly recommend this book, even to those who don’t normally read this genre.

Joanne Harris has been enjoying success and working hard on her writing for decades now. There are so many series and all of which I recommend. I have been reading her books for all those years and intend on continuing to do so.

I would like to thank Joanne for all the times I have met her, mostly at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and once at Aye Write in Glasgow and the other in Harrogate at the Raworth’s Literature Festival there. Each time has been a joy. Joanne Harris was the first author I met, when I came to know that authors could be met and signed books. No longer was it a bucket list dream, it became a lovely reality.

Gothic Novels: Sleep Pale Sister, The Evil Seed

Chocolat Series: Chocolat (adapted into an Oscar nominated film),
The Lollipop Shoes, Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure  The Strawberry Thief will be released 4th April 2019.

 Novels Set in France: Blackberry Wine, Coastliners,
Five Quarters of the Orange, Holy Fools

Malbry Novels: Gentlemen and Players, BlueEyedBoy, Different Class

Short Stories: Jigs and Reels, A Cat, A Hat and A Piece of String

Cookery: The French Kitchen, The French Market, The Little Book of Chocolate

Books written as Joanne M. Harris:
Norse Books: Runemarks, Runelight, The Gospel of Loki, The Testament of Loki
Folklore- inspired novellas: A Pocket Full of Crows, The Blue Salt Road

She has featured in many books such as Doctor Who, Dead Letters,
Fearie Tales, Paris to name but a few.

 

Joanne Harris pile of books

*Please note: This is an impartial review.

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Title: The Blue Salt Road
Author: Joanne M. Harris
Illustrator: Bonnie Helen Hawkins
Publisher: Gollancz – an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group LTD
ISBN: Hardback: 978 1 473 22221 2    E-Book: 978 1 473 22223 6
Main Points of Purchase: Available widely in bookshops, libraries and Amazon.