She Wolf by Dan Smith @DanSmithAuthor #SheWolf #Education #Libraries #NewBook #Review #Kidslit #Schools #Adventure #Historical #Vikings #Norse

Review

She Wolf
by Dan Smith
Rated: 5 stars *****

Today I have decided to publish my review of the excellent children’s book – She Wolf by award winning author Dan Smith. This is a book I highly recommend to children and already Dan Smith has quite a following from primary schools. Young teenagers would also like this book too. I hope after reading the review, you will also check Dan Smith out. Below, after my review of She Wolf, you will be able to find a few links to pages within his website. Whether he is a new to you author or one you read a lot of, this book and his website is worth checking out.
For schools, there are also resources to accompany this book (see links below for his website and Twitter).
Dan Smith’s books can be found in many physical and online shops and within libraries.

About the Author

Dan Smith is an  award winning author of adventure stories for younger readers, and thrillers for adults. He loves to hear from readers.

Growing up, he led three lives. In one, he survived the day-to-day humdrum of boarding school, while in another he travelled the world, finding adventure in the paddy fields of Asia and the jungles of Brazil. But the third life he lived in a world of my own, making up stories . . . Which is where some people say I still live most of the time.

He has lived in many places that inspire his writing – including Sierra Leone, Sumatra, northern and central Brazil. I’ve even lived in Spain and in the Soviet Union, but now has settled in Newcastle with his wife and two  children to keep him on his toes.

Past jobs have varied from dishwasher extraordinaire (or, perhaps, just ordinaire), social security fraud (detecting it, not committing it), to working on giant-sized Christmas decorations, and a fistful of mundane office jobs, but throughout all of those things, he always loved stories, he always loved a good adventure, and he always kept writing.

She Wolf

Blurb

Northumbria 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?

Review

Primary schools have rated Dan Smith highly and I can see why. His writing is terrific! It has character and he really understands that writing in historical times can also be relevant and relatable for readers in present times within the themes.
First look at the maps of the journey Ylva will take. There is also much to be learned as below one of the maps is the AD 866 place-name and the modern place name. At the back is an excellent glossary and “Did You Know” section so children can learn a bit more. This is a fictional book that is also excellent for “Reading for Pleasure” or for any reading challenges. I have seen that where this book is in primary schools, children are loving and devouring it. This is a book that all children can get into. With the chapters being short and snappy, this book lends itself so well to school teachers or parents reading it out loud and for individuals to read. This book is also rated by The BookTrust. The book can be bought or borrowed from libraries.

From page 1, there is atmosphere, placing readers right in the centre of Ylva’s life. There’s action and adventure and legends of Thor, Odin and Loki within these wonderfully written pages. This book is for all genders. It deals with bereavement and courage.

Ylva is a young, fierce, independent, strong and brave heroine . Readers will first meet her by a trader’s hut as a lost, orphaned Dane in cold England, with only her dog, Geri now left for company. Her mother has died and her initial reaction is one of revenge. There’s depth to this book, but not too complex for older primary school aged children. The book goes along at an excellent pace, nothing lingers too long.

The characters are intriguing, especially the three-fingered man and there is plenty of snow and wolves within this book. Don’t be fooled by the title “She Wolf”, this is a book to delight both boys and girls alike.

The landscape is harsh and Ylva has to decide who to trust. The question of trust is important and it is a quest with many dangers. There are pearls and people who she has to decide whether to trust or not. She does however decide to trust Cathryn enough, who is a Saxon who offers her shelter.

There are beautiful tender moments too.
This is an emotional book and one, although set in 866AD is relatable, even though the times and some experiences are different.

The end is an unexpected one that will leave readers feeling satisfied.

History and fiction are expertly woven together to create an immersive story with rich descriptions. There’s a real sense of what the atmosphere was like. This feels like it could be made into a film. The story is dark, but an adventure like none-other that has the scope of interesting so many readers looking for a new, original adventure.
Readers who enjoy adventures that conquer adversity with strong characters, vikings, Norse Gods and mythology and who want to explore history would love this brilliant fictional book. Remember to read the glossary to and the “Did You Know” section to expand you understanding of some of the words of the story and your knowledge of the viking period.

Links to Dan Smith’s Website for you to explore:

Twitter:   @DanSmithAuthor

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 – Leo and the Lightning Dragons – A positive adventure rated 5 stars @FledglingPress @leolightdragons #lovebooksgrouptours #Kidslit #CHAS @SchoolReading #Scotland #UK #SEN #Education #Epilepsy #Charities #Libraries #Picturebook #Christmas

Leo and the Lightning Dragon
By Gill White
Rated: 5 stars *****

It is with thanks to Love Books Tours that I have been invited to review this wonderful, brave and magical book – Leo and the Lightning Dragons. I was delighted to review it and when I read through it before reading it to children, I was even more glad I had the opportunity to do so. It exceeded expectations. It would make a fabulous Christmas gift. This book isn’t however specifically Christmassy so can be bought as an all year round story to add to your child’s or school or library collection. Today I am pleased to be closing this blog tour with my review of Leo and the Lightning Dragons.

leo-dragons-2.jpg

Blurb

Sometimes You Just Need to Have a Little Faith in Yourself!

Everybody in the kingdom is supporting the brave knight Leo in his battle against his fearsome dragons. They try lots of different things to help him defeat them but eventually Leo realises that the most important thing to do is to believe in himself.

 

Leo Lightning dragons cover.jpg

Review

There is a lot more to this short book than meets the eye.

Meet Leo, a very brave boy. Leo does exist beyond this book. This is a lovely picture book for 4 years old to at least 7 years old because children would get different things from it. All proceeds go to the charity – CHAS – Children’s Hospices Around Scotland. You see, Leo in real life has epilepsy and a rare form at that, called Ohtahara Syndrome and sadly it is, despite many treatments, it remains uncontrolled at the point of writing.
Leo is a determined boy who just won’t give up on life. Read the very beginning of the book before the story begins to find out more. This book is however fun and bursting with kindness, friendship, bravery, adventure and positivity.

Meet Leo in this brightly illustrated book. He is a knight in shining armour. His demons are the dragons, not any ordinary dragons for these dragons attack his head within lightning. He isn’t alone though. He has magical friends like witches and a wizard mixing potions to defeat the dragons. The townsfolk protest against the dragons and his parents try to cuddle them away. None of which work, but Leo, well, he is a determined knight in a suit of armour and the dragons can’t get away with it forever. Read this small adventure of this brave knight to see if he can defeat the dragons so they can be gone for good.

The book doesn’t labour over anything. The bright illustrations fill up each page, the text is large and only a few words on each page, so the pace is great for any attention span.

This is a positive and hopeful book. Whether your child has epilepsy or not or is SEN (Special,  Educational Needs)  or not, it is enough to inspire any child to be brave through any illness.

At the back of the book it gives you ideas of where and how to turn this book into a sensory book in very simple ways. They really are worth doing.

I read this book to children who are classified as being SEN and they loved it. They loved it so much that I’ve now read it several times by request and they’ve looked at it many times themselves too. Children who aren’t SEN are also enjoying this book and are getting a lot out of it.
This book has so much scope to it. It can be read as is, or as said before, as a sensory/interactive book and also it can be a conversation/discussion piece within any school (or home).

So what’s not to like? This book is perfect for Christmas and indeed all year round. You get a great story and know that you are contributing to a great cause that supports children’s hospices in Scotland.

Review of Star Child – Book 2: The City of Souls @VacenTaylor @OdysseyBooks #Fantasy #dragons #bookish #review #blogtour @rararesources #kidslit

Star Child – Book 2: The City of Souls
By Vacen Taylor
Rated: ****

 

About the Author

Author Vacen Taylor picVacen Taylor is a children’s author with a portfolio of screenwriting and stage play achievements.  A selection of her poetry has been published in Art and Literature Journals. One of her plays was selected to be part of the Playwrights Program 2017 and then directed and performed as a performance reading at HOTA (previously the Gold Coast Arts Centre).

Her feature film script received a special commendation for Best Unproduced Screenplay titled Grandfathers at the British Independent Film Festival in 2018.  The logline can be found under Special Commendations for Unproduced Screenplays here.

Her TV pilot for a series (teleplay) was selected as a semi-finalist in the Hollywood Just4Shorts Film and Screenplay Competition in Los Angeles, CA. This pilot was listed in the top 50 for the Cinequest Screenwriting Competition in 2018.

She presented the first mental health panel at OZ Comic-Con in 2017. This panel was a fantastic opportunity to discuss openly and honestly about artists and their mental health to help support wellbeing, foster connectivity and provide a culture of support.

In 2018 she presented the panel, ‘An artist’s guide to creative happiness: How to strengthen your creative performance’ at Oz Comic-Con in Brisbane. Her panels are extraordinary opportunities to explore ideas with people who are currently working in the industry. She aims to discuss subjects like individualism, the community, mental health, wellbeing, happiness, creativity, co-creating and self-awareness which often leads to interesting questions from the audience.

What else does she do? Vacen is also a creative workshop facilitator and proficient in, teaching, speaking and concept creation. Guest Speaker. Workshop Presenter. Creative Panel Facilitator. Mentor. Support Worker. Counsellor. Social Welfare Advocate.

Blurb

With a new addition to their journey, a sealer boy who is bound by the collar of slavery, Mai Long, and Akra escape the clutches of the sand slaveer and then vicious Melkarie beasts.

They travel to Naroan – the forest lands of the soulbankers, the regulators of life and death.
Against the backdrop of rules and suspicion, the children are challenged with unravelling the mystery of the Silvershade, which has been calling to Akra from the moment he arrived in the forest city.
But Long is tormented by his own doubts – he must face a deadly power from the Underworld before it takes him in to the darkness.

The City of Souls (Starchild Book 2) by [Taylor, Vacen]

 

Review

I reviewed the first one a little while back, now we re-join the quest in this second in the series. This is a series that older primary school children will enjoy, especially if they like some fantasy and travel. This is a series that children can really get into and also expand their own imaginations.

The book is adventurous as it takes intrepid readers on a journey through this land, so get ready to travel with in a land of dragons and other creatures. With a bit of trepidation and parts of it holding some complexities, this has the potential to stretch children in their reading, which is positive. I would say the book is for age 9+ and will certainly hold their attention throughout this series that has lightness and darkness throughout it, which adds to the excitement and emotions that children love to feel, even the scarier parts as that’s partly what keeps children going back and wanting more.

The book is quite well written and well-thought out and as there is a series, it’s one that could be considered for a Christmas present as this is a series to watch out for more of as the quest unfolds.

Starchild book 2 blog tour

Review of Home Alone Harry by Jerry Rhodes and Rachael Messiter – Have educational fun with Harry the dog and the Thunkies @rararesources #Review #HomeAloneHarry #libraries #doglovers #kidslit #Blogtour

Home Alone Harry
By Jerry Rhodes and Rachael Messiter
Rated: 4 stars
****

I am delighted to present my review and excited to be closing the blog tour of this practical, yet lovely and fun story called Home Alone Harry. Come and meet Harry the dog and the Thunkies and find out if they can help Max out. This is with thanks to Rachel at Random Resources who invited me onto this blog tour. Read on to find out about the authors and illustrators, the blurb and my review.

Presenting the full tour details:

Home Alone Harry Full Tour Banner

About the Authors and Illustrator


Jerry Rhodes AUTHOR 

Author Jerry (2)Jerry Rhodes’ life-long research and teaching is the inspiration behind ‘Home Alone Harry’, this first book in a series for children featuring the cartoon characters, Thunkies®. After completing his degree and teacher training at Oxford University, Jerry’s career as a school-master was cut short by polio. He changed course to a management career in industry, discovered his talents for creativity, and formed his world-wide consultancy to collaborate with international organisations. A special project with Philips led to the discovery of ‘Thinking-Intentions’, to which he has now given the playful name, Thunkies®. Jerry writes his books from his weather-beaten old farmhouse in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds.

Rachael Messiter AUTHOR

Author Rachael Rachael Messiter. Author and Dog Listener with Magpie at Mission Wolf ColoradoRachael Messiter, a Dog Listener, uses the approach known as Amichien® Bonding pioneered by Jan Fennell. Rachael has her own practice, Talking Paws, based in Staffordshire. Previously she lived with wolves for close on two years in Colorado, USA, to learn how packs work. She has identified a group of issues that dog owners experience that are due to the well-meaning but flawed behaviours of owners, rather than ‘nuisance’ dogs. How to properly avoid and resolve such troublesome issues will be the theme of each book in the series Thunkies® love Dogs.

Nicky Hill ILLUSTRATOR

Home Alone Harry Illustrator Nicky and her dogsNicky Hill is an illustrator and storyteller from Winterbourne near Bristol. Her artwork is featured throughout the Thunkies® Love Dogs books, bringing a bright, vibrant style that captures the imagination. A great lover of animals both wild and domestic, Nicky also illustrates and writes her own series of books about ‘The Wotton Pack’; a group of inquisitive pooches who spend their days and nights having many adventures. She currently lives with her own pack of three dogs in Wotton-under-Edge, a small town in Gloucestershire, where she also co-runs the shop called ‘The Collective’.

Home Alone Harry Cover

Blurb

Harry is a mischievous young dog, adored by his family, Dad and Mum, Maisie (8) and Max (5). When the family leave him on his own he creates chaos. Dad demands, “That bad dog must go!” Alone and sad in bed that evening, Max asks, “Can anyone help?” How will the Thunkies respond to his call?

Review

The illustrations by Nicky Hill are bold and fun throughout the book and depict the story very well. The dog is especially cute.

The family go to the zoo without their dog Harry, who then creates havoc in the house due to being anxious about being left behind. The family don’t know what to do. This is a real issue faced by many families with dogs.
Meet The Thunkies, which are really cool symbols who give ideas of how to help the dog in the best possible way, so the dog can become less anxious and also learn that it is not in-charge of the family too.

It’s a great concept, all put in an easy to follow story, with real solutions as to how to handle the issue.


This book is incredibly child friendly with solutions children alone or children with adults can read and enjoy, and if they have a dog in the family, can also put the dog teaching method used for Harry to the test with their own dogs very easily and no equipment required.

At the back of the book are excellent questions for dog owners to ponder.

Also meet the Thunkies characters right at the very back of the book, just on the inside cover and discover what they do.

The authors/creators of this book have certainly done their research and also have the knowledge and experience behind them when it comes to dogs and their behaviours and in resolving any issues, in this case anxieties displayed at times by some pet dogs.

I would recommend looking just inside the front cover and discover the aims of the book within its educational, science yet fun and games concepts. Look at the back inside cover to discover who the Thunkies are and the wise things they do and then read the story and hopefully enjoy and at the same time gain some knowledge that you will hopefully find useful, so you can play the “game” with your dog.

Home Alone Harry The Creative Team Jerry, Rachael and Nicky

Website and Social Media Links:

Website – https://thunkies.com/

Shop – https://shop.thunkies.com/

Facebook – @thunkies

Instagram – @thunkies

Pinterest – thunkiesteam

Libraries Matter in the 21st Century #Article #LibraryMatters @CressidaCowell @PhilipArdagh #libraries #education

Libraries Matter in the 21st Century

Why, you should ask, when there are Kindles and other online platforms, do libraries matter now in the 21st Century. I have heard people saying that they may be becoming a thing of the past and don’t really matter. There are also people who don’t realise, even after the existence of libraries for many years, that they are free. That is one of the beauty’s of libraries – they are free. Whatsmore books can be borrowed and new books can be obtained for free. Librarians can also introduce you to a whole new author based on what you like. If you don’t know what you like, they can find out by different means through a nice chat.

Libraries have the latest books and follow the latest trends. Pick up a book and escape into different realms, away from reality for a bit, whatever age you are. Some adults think libraries are only for children, they are for every age. Reading for Pleasure isn’t just a trend however, it is for all ages and all it requires is time to be made to relax and unwind with a book. Books are proven to help de-stress after a hard day at school or further education or work.

Books, whether they are fiction or non-fiction all have something that can expand people’s knowledge, language, imagination, exploration of the world, expand tolerance, understanding and well-being.

Libraries have computers and apps with the latest technologies as well as WI-FI. There are also often great study areas within them for all ages.

Libraries offer more. They offer sanctuary through tough times and a source of joy when times are good. They also offer times to socialise and meet you friends. They offer places to unwind. A library is many things.

Libraries offer more even still:

They offer Bookbug Sessions in Scotland and equvelent of sessions such as Rhyme Times south of the border.

Libraries look at STEM and Lego Clubs and Builders Days are popping up across the country.

Libraries give people exciting opportunities to meet an author, get a book signed, hear a talk. In Scotland it is Bookweek Scotland coming up week beginning Monday 18th November. Check your local library to see how they are celebrating it and keep a look out to see how your child’s school is celebrating. Events happen nationally within schools and public library and some community libraries throughout the year, check with your library to see what is planned and how to attend (usually with consumate ease and most are free).

Think Netflix is the greatest thing? The next greatest thing to follow at libraries is Bookflix, cropping up in libraries and school library/book corners.

Books are lovely to share, whether they are children, young adults or adults and there are many benefits from doing this, including forming new friendships.

Libraries and their books and events really are for the youngest of babies to the oldest of adults.

School libraries have been disappearing, but Cressida Cowell and Phillip Aardagh seem to be on the case to work on getting them re-instated because they matter. School visits to local libraries also matter and count. Experiences matter as does making them as positive as possible.

Libraries in both the public and school domains matter. They need people to support them by using them. There seems to be a swath of people who still think libraries are lifeless and are all about stern librarians telling them what to do or not do etc. Libraries changed quite a number of years ago and are ever evolving. Yes, they suffer from lack of funding too, but passionate librarians work many hours to deliver a great service and are always striving to do their best for the public. Support them and enjoy them! They are not a luxury, but a necessity after all and not something to be taken for granted.
So, instead of walking by a library, whether at school or in an area that has a library open to all, why not pop in and see what is going on and what is on offer, you may be pleasantly surprised.

What I worry about the future of libraries is that one day in some places, people may wake up to their being no library in any form. Once something is lost it can be forever. Let’s try and keep libraries for the present and the future. Enjoy them by using them, having a chat with your librarian and seeing what is on offer.

Your library may have closed down already. My local library has and now sits within the third sector. I used to work for the local authority libraries. Jobs go though don’t they. I ironically only worked a couple of times in the library where I actually live. I now work there a lot, bringing it up to scratch and using every inch of experience to lead it and to bring it as close to the local authority run libraries as possible. I and other in other community libraries that try to compliment a council run library ensure we have a great selection of books, in every genre and that they are new, have school class visits, have (in Scotland) Bookbug sessions (I was trained under the council run libraries when I worked with them and the Bookbug co-ordinator for the area allows me to continue). Authors also kindly visit too.

Am I still passionate about libraries, even though I do not get paid anymore? Yes, although it is rather a worrying trend because always, I, anyway am wanting to deliver the absolute best possible library to people because libraries really do matter and can make a difference to people’s lives in many forms. Community libraries can be less recognised where and when it matters and I hope that changes soon, or people may find community libraries also ever more challenging to run, if they want to do it to compliment a local authority library. I feel that’s a whole other subject for another time.
Enjoy libraries and support them and reap the benefits from them before there is nothing left to pass on to present people and future generations.