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.

______________________________________
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.

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Timothy Mean and the Time Machine By William A.E. Ford – Go on a Cool Interactive Time Travelling Adventure @williamaeford @marcelo_cinica #kidslit #Review #publishers #libraries #school

Timothy Mean and the Time Machine
By William A.E. Ford
Illustrated by Marcelo Simonetti
Rating: 4.5 stars 4.5 stars

About the Author

 

William Ford Author picWilliam has always had a passion for books, writing and story-telling.  William’s favourite way to end a cosy evening is to spend time dreaming up and reading bed-time stories to his five wonderful children.

Just one of his many stories, ‘Timothy Mean and the Time Machine’ was inspired by the spark of his children’s colourful imaginations as they tirelessly created unique, laughter filled days from even the most mundane, everyday objects and situations!

Born in England, William  currently lives in Oslo, Norway with his wife Silje and five children.

‘Timothy Mean and the Time Machine’ is William’s first published work and he plans to publish more books shortly.

William Ford Cover

Blurb

With Timothy Mean’s amazing imagination and time machine, anything and anywhere is possible! Join Timothy on a magical rhyming adventure as he skips through time and pranks with pirates, gets daring with dragons, and even teases a T-Rex.

“It’s Monday, Hip, hip hooray!
Where shall we travel in time today?”

With Timothy Mean, every day is a rhyme in time

Review

This book rhymes perfectly well. Travelling with Timothy Mean is so much fun! I actually had fun myself reading it to some children, who also had lots of fun. Their verdict was “It’s Great!!” So much so that reading it once just wasn’t enough.

Each page is very well illustrated and they all fit into the modern tastes of children in-terms of design, which I was impressed by as they look almost film book like in style. The illustrations are full of life and fun and go perfectly along with the words. The words themselves rhyme exceptionally well and have an excellent rhythm to them.

There is lots to feed children’s imaginations from creating a time machine to travelling in it to meet a viking ship, dinosaurs, his parents when they were children at school, the first moon landing, a dragon and knights, a pirate ship and finally into the future, before returning home.

 


The story takes place during the course of a week and everyday is clear and exciting! When I read it to children I could easily get them to join in and engage. They named the days as we went along, joined in enthusiastically with the hip, hip hoorays and other sentences that are repeated throughout the book, so in linguistic terms and communication terms, it is a book that is great for improving this too.
Each time the red button is pressed to go travelling through time and although it does not say what the sound made, the children decided, without prompting or questioning, it was “bing”, so they too were already creating their own element of fun and interaction with the book. There’s a lot of age appropriate humour throughout this time travelling adventure. It’s a book that children can really have a good time with.

The book is entirely age appropriate and children get to see different things, learn a bit, but mostly have lots of fun too. There’s plenty within the words and pictures to open up further conversations about what the children are seeing, to further their knowledge and feed further into their imaginations. I also love the layout of the entire book. It doesn’t look too daunting and it can be read to children or they can read it themselves and have lots of fun!

There’s a small and it is small observation within the illustrations, is that there isn’t always a visible picture of the red button, although it is mentioned each appropriate moment within the text, otherwise it would be a full five stars.

This book would be excellent for any home, nursery, classroom and library. This is a book for children who love books that rhyme, love adventure and enjoy authors such as Julia Donaldson.

This is an excellent debut book with fun and style with excellent writing from William A.E. Ford. It’s been created and written like he has been writing for longer and I hope there are more to come. It really is worth checking out!

William Ford VikingWilliam Ford Space

William Ford Dragon


_____________________________________________
Title: Timothy Mean and The Time Machine
Author: William A.E. Ford
Illustrator: Marcelo Simonetti
ISBN Number: 978-1-7307-5807-2
Main Points of Purchase: Amazon and Amazon Kindle

 

Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian – All is Not as it Seems in this Unique Book @Jsmithauthor @matadorbooks #fantasy #mentalhealth #kidslit #fiction #crossover @twylie68 @litlemonbooks @EmmabBooks @SueWeedon #Review

Review of Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian
Author – J.M. Smith

Rating – 4 Stars ****


About the Author

J.M. Smith is a retired psychotherapist who worked within the NHS mental health department for many years.

 

Tony Plumb book


Blurb

If Your Mind Housed a Spy, What Secrets Would it Spill?

Harbouring troubled memories of time in care, Tony Plumb struggles to keep his mind on track.

Prone to episodes in ‘Madsville’ and bombarded by thought chariots carrying unwanted baggage from the past, he’s smuggled to Ellodian by the rule dodging social worker, Ms Bendy Legget.

At this spooky, underground facility, Tony’s history intertwines with the present and the task of answering three crucial life-changing questions cannot be avoided.

With help from good friends and therapy, Tony challenges authority, rights and wrongs and makes enemies, until he finally comes to understand the nature of his conundrums, the meaning of the word family and the darkest secret of all:
What really happened at the waterfall

Tony Plumb card

Review

Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian is a fictional book that is perfect for Christmas, but it is also one that can be read all year round. It does mention Christmas, but that’s not the main crux of the story.

There are strong themes of mental health, family relationships, separation, loss, being from the care system, dealing with issues, self discovery, throughout this book. They are all written in a sensitive, tangible and realistic way. There is however some humour to be found within this book too, which really lifts it and adds to the life of the tale.
The story is complex, but not overly so, since it is well plotted. It would hit its target audience of 9-12 year olds who are good readers very well. It is age appropriate for this age group in the way the themes and language used are handled.

This book is firmly in the crossover market because it would suit any child from 9, teenager/YA and adult. It would easily suit people who enjoy either fantasy and/or tales that take you on a journey through life and of mental health.  I would recommend for its target “crossover” audience.

We immediately meet Tony Plumb who is not just thirteen, but thirteen and a half years old to be precise. He is at Evensham Social Services to see Ms Bendy Legget (whose name I just love for its humour). We get to know that he was in a children’s care home in Daisy Bank. I like that there is no hanging around to meet the main protagonist and to get to begin to know and understand him. The story has instantly begun and starts at a good pace, which remains constant throughout the book.

Before long, Tony has entered the mysterious place of Ellodian. The story goes between this world and the world of the therapy he receives.

The thought processes of Tony and the moles are in a different font and style. This is an ingenious idea because it doesn’t detract from the narrative of the story and flows very smoothly. It also looks effective and fun on the pages, making the story easy to read and follow. We actually get to know that Tony has what he calls “thought chariots”. I love this description, already it depicts what is going on and gives a real insight into the state of his mind. It gave a sense of true feeling about what he was going through.

Enter the unique world of Ellodian

The mysterious, dark place of Ellodian is where Tony is sent to, with his parrot – McGurney. It’s an adventure like no other! As a reader I found myself being immersed into this world very easily. We meet new characters, more authoritative adults for Tony to contend with – Miss Frankly and Mrs Sherbet and Prospect . Again, I just love the humour of the names.

The entire world of Ellodian that readers are thrust into is well described and mysterious, with odd uniforms which makes you question: Who or What are The Moles?
As you read on, I am sure you too will find yourself totally immersed because you want to know more and you will discover the significance of the moles. This is a world that I found myself not being able to help myself wanting to know what more curiosities it had to offer.

Tony finds himself on a mission to discover the answers of 3 questions. These aren’t any ordinary questions. They are exploratory questions about himself. Let’s just say, not the types of questions you would normally be asked in everyday conversation. I think this just adds to the mystery of the main character of Tony Plumb and who he truly is as a person. The questions are effectively set out, easy to understand and moves the story onwards very well and is created in such a way that feeds into the curiosity of the imagination. It becomes even more thought-provoking. By this time, I had already invested in the main protagonist, so I needed to know if all the questions were answered, how and what the actual answers are and the truth of Tony Plumb. I also wanted to know by this stage, what Ellodian actually was.

I enjoyed meeting Mrs Heapy – a psychotherapist by profession. In amongst the talk about mole friends, there is a real emotion that comes through from Tony. It is sensitively and realistically written, when we learn a bit more about the relationship between him and his parents. Quickly, I was captured and I think even our younger readers will be too. Tony also at this point, becomes even more likeable than what he ever was to begin with. We begin to get much more of a sense of his life. This isn’t just an adventure/fantasy book with some character or other leading you through many paths. It’s more than that. The main protagonist is 3 dimensional with real issues, real emotions and is a character to invest fully into.

Perfax is an intriguing character with major issues, which we see quickly and get the understanding of his temperament. He is a character that, although comes very much later in the book, is so well written.

Evensham Social Worker Department is returned to in the book. It gives it some grounding and shows the depth of Tony. The story, as it goes between Evensham and the world of Ellodian is written in a way that any reader will be able to follow.

The book concludes very well, it left me satisfied and I am sure it will leave anyone else reading this well written, well paced book, feeling the same. All in all it is a thought-provoking story and the balance between the issues and the fantasy elements are well-balanced. There are also the most unexpected twists and turns that are written in an inspired way of creating more drama. This also develops the story further and adds to the intrigue into how the story can possibly end. I would say –  take a chance on this debut child/YA/adult cross-over novelist and discover what is real and what is not in Tony Plumb’s life. Discover the world of Ellodian and allow yourself to be taken on a journey. You won’t be disappointed!

With thanks for J.M. Smith for writing to me with extra information about herself, for sending me a message/request to review her book and for sending me a copy of her book and an accompanying card/bookplate.

*Please Note – This is an impartial review.

________________________________________________

Title: Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian

Author: J.M. Smith

Publisher: Toubador/Matador – Juvenile/YA Fiction

Pages: 273

Main Purchase Points:  Amazon, WH Smith, The Telegraph Bookshop

ISBN 978 – 1 – 78901 – 503 – 4