If You Read This is a book I do highly recommend you read. It is endearing and tackles big subject matters incredibly well for readers of middle-grade and those moving onto YA. Find out more below in my blurb and my review below… Thanks firstly to Pushkin Press for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
A tender, warmly moving story of grief and self-discovery by the celebrated author of When Life Gives You Mangoes.
When Brie was younger, her mama used to surprise her with treasure hunts around their island town. After she died three years ago, these became Brie’s most cherished memories.
Now, on her twelfth birthday, her mama has another surprise: a series of letters leading Brie on one last treasure hunt.
The first letter guides Brie to a special place.
The next urges her to unlock a secret.
And the last letter will change her life forever.
I think this is a fantastic book for children who are going through grief or want to know more so they can empathise with their friends.
The book gives children hope and some positivity through dark times and the main character – Brie is written so well into what is a challenging theme. She is utterly relatable to any child. She treasures the memories of her mama and the treasure hunts she used to create around where their home island. This is a sensible and mature way of showing that there will always be memories to be cherished and in a way, keep her mama alive in a sense. This isn’t to say Brie, nor the other characters are perfect, they aren’t and this makes the book even more endearing. It shows how things can be messed up and how so much can change. It is great to see how the relationships within the rest of the surviving family also change. It really does give a rounded perspective on the impact on everyone, that a death has on a family.
The letters left behind for Brie to discover, sends her off on quite the twisty adventure of discovery of secrets.
Terciel and Elinor -The Old Kingdom 1 is a fantasy book for older children that are about ready to cross-over to YA as well as well into the YA audience, especially from 13. It’s a good escapist book into a whole fantastical world. Discover the blurb and review and what other authors are saying below, thanks to Bonnier books for the proof in exchange for a review.
The long-awaited new novel from multi bestselling Garth Nix, set in the Old Kingdom, now in paperback! For fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo.
In a land where the dead will not stay dead, eighteen-year-old orphan Terciel is learning to wield a mighty and terrible power: necromancy.
For he is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, the latest in a ancient line of necromancers tasked with protecting the Old Kingdom and preventing the Dead from crossing over to the realm of the living.
Across the Wall in Ancelstierre, where magic does not usually work, Elinor, nineteen, lives a secluded life. But when destiny intervenes, she finds herself on a path to love, danger, and an adventure into the dominion of the dead…
She does not know that she is deeply connected to the Old Kingdom until destiny places her on a path of magic, romance and a fight against the Dead who will not stay dead.
The world building is very good and ensures you, the reader is submerged into it, rather than just looking in from the perimeter. Not all fantasy books engage like that, but Garth Nix has managed to do it.
Elinor is an interesting character. She has a mysterious mark on her head and ends up on a journey of discovery as she is no ordinary girl as she increasingly finds out she can do magic.
Her mother is also ailing, which is hard on her, but Terciel comes to her aid. She then ends up on an adventure of a lifetime, that she wasn’t expecting from her secluded life.
Throughout the book, there are sprinkles of humour here and there, which lifts the mood from the darkness of the dead, who are determined not to remain dead. It also has its poignant moments through the magic realms, that keeps it just a bit grounded, which works in its favour. It is a book teens can settle into, be intrigued by and be transported into a different world, but also find something familiar within, making it relatable as well as adventurous in the realms of fantastical magical powers. It’s a book they can relax into and allow its escapism qualities to wash over them as they soak up the immersive story.
As part of my blog in 2023, until it reaches 5 years old in September, I will be celebrating an author or publisher every so often. Join me as I celebrate works of Joanne Harris. Here, after a little about her, are some links to some reviews of books I’ve read whilst writing a blog.
Joanne Harris has written over 25 books, features in many anthologies, has audiobooks, game scripts,the libretti for two short operas, several screenplays, a stage musical, attends book festivals and comic cons, judges competition, holds doctorates to universities, is a member of The Storytime Band and is the current Chair of Society of Authors. She has a great website you can browse here: Website
I have been reading books by Joanne Harris across 2 decades and always been impressed by the calibre of writing and ability to tell so many stories in different genres. She also gives author talks at book festivals, which are always fascinating and it is always an absolute pleasure to meet her. Below is a photo of the books I own. It’s a mixture of books I have bought, been given as a present from family members and those gifted by her publishers – Orion Books and Gollancz. Also, discover what her new book at the end of this blog post… I have not got it yet, but it’s exciting to see that cover…
Joanne Harris has something for everyone. The genres span across cookery books, gothic contemporary fiction, romantic fiction, historical fictionpsychological thrillers, short stories, folklore/fantasy each with compelling plots with human nature, community and issues of the day in many universal themes. The range in-which she writes in is impressive and admirable to say the least, each with much to explore in setting, characterisation and plot in general. There is that je-ne-sais-quoi in every single book that makes them compelling and terribly hard to put down, once opened, from the first to the last page.
Her stories don’t only stop at book or audiobook form, she also writes some short stories on her Twitter account (where she also talks about her shed in the most imaginative ways possible, a series of ten things that often consists of useful tips and advice on writing etc, amongst other things). She formed a band called the Storytime Band. I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing the Storytime band, but it sounds great and another medium of her telling stories. The band consists of Paul Marshall: Keyboards, guitar, vocals, Kevin Harris: Drums, percussion, vocals. Duncan Parsons : Bass, effects, Joanne Harris: Flute, vocals.
As you meander down, I have included links to some reviews I wrote on my blog, they are by no means all the books I’ve ever read by Joanne Harris, but those I read and reviewed from the time I began my blog to the time of writing this blog post.
The Strawberry Thief is part of the Chocolat series. The order of which is: Chocolat, The Lollipop Shoes, Peaches for Monsieur Le Curè, The Strawberry Thief. A series set in rural France, follows Vianne and her daughter, Anouk and later her other daughter Rosette. The series is a feast to the senses and a delightful look into society. It shows certain traditions and attitudes to newcomers, new ideas, different perspectives. There’s a traditional small community feel, friendships forged and naysayers gained and much to win over. The series sees the family’s journey evolve when they go to Paris in The Lollipop Shoes and eventually they return to small town life in Lansquenette-Sous-Tannes in The Strawberry Thief. There’s much imagery in the series. There’s a sense of certain things staying the same , such as Roux staying on his boat, where readers meet him in Chocolat and it is lent again, but there is also change in the air. People mellow and also grow up. There is now Rosette, who is known as Vianne’s “special child”, who is now one of the main focuses in what is another delightful book. I have my full review of The Strawberry Thief, which I remember racing to buy, including the blurb in the link: The Strawberry Thief
A Narrow Door is part of her Psychological Thriller series – BlueEyedBoy, Gentlemen and Players, Different Class, A Narrow Door.
The series follow the characters in an all boys grammar school – St. Oswalds, in England. Every book is immersive and twisty. They all give great insight into the world of a boys grammar school. BlueEyed Boy also has music you can look up to accompany each chapter. As well as school life, it also shows the online world. Gentlemen and Players and Different Class takes you further into St. Oswalds, Roy Straitley and the pupils. As you delve further, you reveal more about the personalities of the characters and how everyone has a story to tell or is part of a story. A Narrow Door however shows a changing of times. A new headmaster – Rebecca Buckfast, but some of the staff such as Mr Straitley is the same and he has his followers in who are dubbed as “The Brodie Boys”. It is a powerful book of strong female character and it tackles patriarchy, but also within this comes a wonderfully sinister, complex and twisty psychological thriller. Each of the books in the series are beautifully written. Find out the blurb and my full review in the link:A Narrow Door Joanne Harris also appeared at Bloody Scotland as part of her book tour with A Narrow Door. Here is the link to the blog tour I took part in for Bloody Scotland championing her: Bloody Scotland
The Blue Salt Road is a modern fairy story and yet also takes on The Child Ballads. Although there are a few – A Pocketful of Crows, The. Blue Salt Road, Orfeia, Honeycomb they are standalone. She writes these as Joanne M. Harris. They are mythical and fantastical with strong themes and storytelling. The Blue Salt Road tells the story a Selkie, The Folk (humans) and the Kraken. There is however, 1 named human. It is thought provoking about the natural world. It is emotional, romanticises nothing. There are gorgeous illustrations by Bonnie M. Hawkins.The drawings are expressive in this and Orfeia and perfectly illustrate and add to the mystique and emotions of the intriguing books that certainly piqued my curiosity and then grabbed me. Check out the blurb and my full review in the link: Blue Salt Road
ORFEIA takes on another Child Ballad. It tackles grief and incredibly well. Queen of May had fallen in love with a man from the Folk and sacrificed a lot, so the tale goes. The grief of the loss of a child hits right to your soul. There is also the intriguing character of The Shadow Man. There are also atmosphere changes as there are jovial moments. It’s a richly, tightly woven story that also brings hope. It is again with more marvellous and dark drawings from Bonnie M. Hawkins. Find out the blurb and full review in the link: ORFEIA
Honeycomb is just one of the short story books Joanne Harris has written. Jigs and Reels and A Cat, A Hat, A Piece of String are others with some humorous tales to tell as well as emotional and rather serious ones. There are a couple of witty recurring characters. Honeycomb – for this particular copy has a rather beautiful tactile material cover. It is enchanting book of 100 short stories. They are full of betrayal, gifts, magic, love, beautiful illustrations, this time by Charles Vess. The book invites you listen to the tales of the bees, each one loosely interconnecting and overarching. Readers have a treat in relatable stories and with characters such as the Honeycomb Queen and the Lacewing King, a Chancellor, a Teacher, the Slightless Folk and the Silken Folk, Death and more…
The book is compelling as well as well as thought-provoking. They may be mythical fairytales, but each makes relatable points and doesn’t steer too far away from the world as we know it as it’s a very grounded book. Discover the blurb and full review in the link: Honeycomb
A compulsive, intensive read for 12-17 year olds that will have their noses stuck in a book until the end. Thanks to publisher – Penguin Random House Children’s UK for gifting me the book to review. Discover more in the blurb and scroll on down to the rest of my review.
Secrets and lies are everywhere in this compulsive page-turner, perfect for fans of TikTok favouritesOne of Us is Lying, We Were Liars and This Lie Will Kill You.
An intense high-stakes story about five friends and the deadly secret that could send their lives up in flames, perfect for fans of Karen McManus and E. Lockhart.
In Gap Mountain, California, everyone knows about fire season. And no one is more vigilant than 18-year-old Hannah Warner, the sheriff’s daughter and aspiring FBI agent. That is until this summer. When Hannah and her best friends accidentally spark an enormous and deadly wildfire, their instinct is to lie to the police and the fire investigators.
But as the blaze roars through their rural town and towards Yosemite National Park, Hannah’s friends begin to crack and she finds herself going to extreme lengths to protect their secret. Because sometimes good people do bad things. And if there’s one thing people hate, it’s liars.
The gang, the teenagers make up – 2 boys, 3 girls, are called The Monsters, are also out to protect each other and themselves when a huge, catastrophic, very destructive fire breaks out in a town, with the wild flames heading towards Yosemite National Park. It’s pretty graphic in some places, especially with the fire, which really highlights the seriousness of the situation.
It’s a dark, twisty young adult book which highlights unhealty, toxicity in some relationships between the characters. There’s also the chase of future life dreams, such as teenagers wanting to become a nurse, work in criminology and more… Each is far, far from perfect. They tried to be good, but they are also far from this too as secrets are kept and many lies are told. Older teenagers and early 20 somethings will find this a gripping read as the story builds as the flames and realisation of the fire does too and there’s nothing much that can be done to fan them as the gang begins to crack here and there, but Hannah tries to hold tight and keep the gang close. As the net closes in on them, one of the gang disappears, creating further speculation and intrigue.
Lies Like Wildfire is about teens, who have their whole lives ahead of them, falling apart and readers can find out how far they are willing to go in their lies, even to the most powerful of authorities in law to try and coverup their terrible secret. There’s the intrigue as to whether they will eventually come good or not and what will happen to them.
Periods, they are the most natural things in the world in a girl and woman’s cycle, but for some can feel a bit of a taboo subeject and this can be a good resource. To a certain extent Own Your Period is empowering. It most definitely helps to increase knowledge about periods and answers those questions 9 year old plus girls may have. Find out more in the blurb and more informative review below. Thanks to Quarto Knows publishers for gifting me a copy to review.
Having a period is an incredible thing – Own Your Period celebrates what the body can do and provides young people (age 9+) with everything they need to be prepared… and empowered.
This fact-filled guide to periods is bursting with positive, honest advice on managing and understanding menstruation, covering every aspect of periods as well as lots of advice on puberty and growing up in a warm, friendly and reassuring way.
Topics covered include the fascinating science behind why things happen, with all the details of menstruation through to the menopause explained, as well as answers to all essential questions like what’s a vulva and what does it look like, what do periods actually feel like, and what happens if blood stains your clothes?
Menstrual expert and educator Chella Quint’s witty text slays superstitions, busts common myths and fights period shame, while providing practical information about menstrual products, tracking cycles and sharingher own personal stories.
Funny, insightful and warm illustrations with friendly chatty text makes this an everything-you-need-to-know essential handbook, which pre-teens can refer to before their periods start, and will appreciate when their cycle is more established.
This complete guide will prove an invaluable companion to any young person about to start their first period, and will help them embrace their cycle with positivity and pride, and grow into healthy, happy people!
Own Your Own Period is a valuable book for ages 9+ and aims it just right at this age group. It’s informative and reassuring. It is warm and inviting and full of illustrations that go with the information provided. It will answer all those pressing questions without scaring pre-teens and teens alike. In doing so it will debunk myths, presumptions, misconceptions. It will prepare older children and teenagers for starting their periods and take away some of the awkwardness. The tone of the book also assists in this and makes it readable for this age group and makes it less text book like. The title is also great because it isn’t anyone else’s period but your own, but what the book shows is shared experiences that some may be able to relate to with their own periods.
There are sections about what you may feel when you get your period as well as the biology so you can understand your body more. The environmental part isn’t quite so well done and could have been done a bit better so it doesn’t feel so pressurised as people try to find what works best and feels comfortable for them. The explanation of how to use some sanitary products is good enough.
There is some wit in some of the anecdotes provided and this lightens the mood and will make it feel more comfortable for readers experiencing or going to experience their periods for the first time. The fun-facts also make this easy for information to digest, as does the structure of the book that also goes some way into encouraging the end of period shame. The cover is also great at showing girls, that whatever your skin colour, you’re likely to have a period and hopefully it can go someway to help break down barriers in all cultures and backgrounds. The chatty layout normalises it to a certain extent and brings some positivity in the fact that this can be used to enhance, gain knowledge in a real way.
The book can also be used as a tool for 9 plus year olds to start a conversation with their parents because when with something like a book, it can make this easier as it arms you with info that you may want to talk about, and the same goes with parents/carers too with their children or young people in their charge.
Today it is my turn to share my review on the blog tour of The Younglings. A spookily good book for Young Adults/Teens in time for Halloween. Find out more in the blurb and the rest of my thoughts in the full review… Thanks to Love Books Group for inviting me onto the blog tour to review. Thanks to Helena M. Cragg for gifting me the book, the Cadbury’s Dark Milk Chocolate (long since eaten) and the pen (now well used).
Humans have no idea what lurks in the shadows.
Mortals don’t expect to see supernaturals. Their minds rarely consider the possibility, even when it’s staring them right in the face. I was one such person … until I met my estranged father.
Let me introduce myself. The name is Carter. Quinn Carter. A witty, laid-back, regular guy, who just happens to be half-demon.
Finding out Dad is a demon king was like a sucker punch to the gut. Seriously, I’m a total biological freak. Meeting him was the catalyst for my life tail-spinning into a new world—a world where things of legend are real.
The one positive about this whole situation is the friends I have made. Good friends. But they too have secrets … big secrets. They’re not exactly your average individuals. Turns out demons aren’t the only paranormal creatures out there.
I also need to mention a Vampire Ministry, evil stab-worthy demons, and troubled spirits stranded on the spectral plane. As a consequence, life for my friends and me became a tad problematic.
Being heroes in the mortal realm hadn’t been on anybody’s to-do list, but we had no choice in the matter, and things were about to get very interesting.
Once you’ve opened the spookily brooding cover, it is found that the book is cleverly written as from the beginning, readers are practically being directly spoken to and then the story unfolds in third-person from there. This technique is captivating.
It comes as a bit of a surprise to Quinn Carter that he isn’t quite the regular teen he thought he was as he discovers he is half-demon and further still, discovers his friends aren’t as average as he first thought either as some of them have magical powers. Even his best friend Eve isn’t exactly who he thought she was as he discovers she is half-angel. There are also witches and a vampire and ghosts, some even with jobs like Lilth who is a nanny, just not your normal sort… There’s a story there about good versus evil. There’s even a Vampire Ministry and rules to get to know. This book has everything you’d want in a supernatural book, plus there is a mention of historical times and witch trials in the North of England.
This is a great read for teens in the run up to Halloween, or indeed any other time of the year. There is humour within the spooks that would most certainly appeal to teens. It is entertaining and fast-paced so grabs attention quick. It has great, realistic characterisation that teens will be able to identify with. Each character has their own trials and tribulations to overcome, sometimes from within. There are also certain relationships brewing that readers can really get behind. There’s romantic chemistry and fight scenes readers can really get into. Most of the time, characters are easy to root for, sometimes they can be frustrating, but it all goes in with teen behaviours and actions, which gives this book a certain grounding.
It’s a strong debut novel that is very much worth getting your vampire teeth stuck into!