#BookReview by Lou of Fireborn @flowler_aisling @HarperCollins @The_WriteReadsTours #UltimateBlogTour #Fantasy #Adventure #ChildrensBook #MiddleGrade 8-12years #ReadingForPleasure #PrimarySchoolReading

Fireborn
By Aisling Fowler

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Fireborn is an immersive and exciting adventure into a fantasy world for 8-12 year olds. Go on an adventure down to the blurb and the rest of my review to find out more. Thanks to The Write Reads Tours for inviting me and to this group and Harper Collins for gifting me a book.

Fireborn banner

Blurb

Set in the snowy northern forests of an imagined prehistoric world, Fireborn is the middle-grade debut of the decade. At turns exciting, funny and heart wrenchingly sad, it marks the introduction of an unstoppable new voice in children’s storytelling.

Twelve has spoken the Pledge and now she is a Huntling. She has given up her name to train in the art of fighting monsters and keeping the peace, and she won’t get to choose a new one until she has earned it.

But when the Lodge’s walls are breached for the first time, and a little girl is taken, Twelve is the only one interested in going after a child . . .

Teaming up with Dog, the Stone Guardian of the Lodge, Twelve ends up on an epic adventure that will change her life, her name – and her entire world.

Review

Fireborn coverFireborn is an epic adventure for 8-12 year olds. It has twists and turns and great characterisation, but with a difference. The characters are known by numbers, it sort of works to bring about something different to fiction, but once into the story, it isn’t the names that matter quite so much as the world of Ember takes over as do the characters lives. I think children will get into it though because above the giving up of names is a world for adventurous middle-grade readers can step into. For a debut novel, this is an author children would want more of, after reading this one. It has humour and breathtaking excitement as well as some of the saddest storylines. All this in one book makes it totally full on and the deeper you read, the deeper children will want to go into Ember, a fantastical world that builds on the page in wide ranging, indepth descriptions. It means readers can be totally immersed in Ember whilst reading it.

There are heroes and villains. The heroes are characters who have given up their names. They are known as Five, Six, Seven and Twelve. The villains are an array of monsters. There is the lodge where the young trainee Hunters go to hone their skills. These trainees land themselves a mission which takes them on a trail to The Fozen Forest. There are clans, who the Hunters have to act as protectors of, but it isn’t an easy task.

Twelve is the most promising Hunter but has issues and is far from friendly or a team-player as a result of making more enemies. The others also have their own issues. The book, in a way, shows that even heroes are not perfect and are not infalliable. This, even in such an all encompassing fantasy tale, this brings a bit of realism to it as the characters all find out a bit more about themselves in many ways, sometimes positive, other times negative and in some ways, in being resilient in times of trouble. It brings added interest to the otherwise, adventureous book, with a bit of magic within it. There’s a lot for children to dip their toe in and to be entertained.

#BookReview by Lou – The Runaways by Victor Canning #RandomTTours #ChildrensBook #Kidslit #MiddleGrade #Adventure

The Runaways
By Victor Canning

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Runaways, has it really stood up to the test of time? Absolutely and this is a gorgeous re-release of this wonderful page-turning adventure story. It even has a great quote by favourite children’s author – Dan Smith on the cover.

It’s a very memorable story, which is great for reading for pleasure. I snapped up the opportunity to review it because even I remember it and all the creative things our primary school teacher (primary 7, Scotland/year 6, England), came up with so we could write creatively and create our own plays. It lends itself beautifully to imaginations that run wild. It is just perfect for children who are reading books at Middle Grade level to escape into. Victor Canning, the author had quite a story to tell too. There’s a short paragraph about him after my review.

Find out more in the blurb and then onto my review. Thanks to Random Things Tours and publishers Farago for inviting me to review and for gifting me the book.

The Runaways Cover

Blurb

On a night of wild storms, two troubled figures escape from captivity. One is a 15-year-old boy, Samuel Miles, a.k.a. ‘Smiler’, wrongly convicted of theft and sent to a young offenders institution. The other is a cheetah, Yarra, a restless resident of Longleat Wildlife Park.

Both are in danger from the outside world – and each other – but somehow their lives become inextricably bound up as they fight for survival on the edge of Salisbury Plain.
A fast-moving and compassionate adventure story, The Runaways is the first book in Victor Canning’s classic children’s trilogy.
Praise:
‘Victor Canning is one of the world’s finest story-tellers’ Good Housekeeping
A delightful tale by a brilliant thriller writer’ Daily Mirror
‘Smiler proves himself to be a resourceful, resilient and very likeable leading character.’
Dan Smith, author of Big Game and Boy X

Review

The Runaways Cover Smiler (Samuel Miles, 15 years and 5 months old) isn’t into school. It just doesn’t appeal to him, so he runs away.  He does get himself into some trouble here and there, starting in Bristol, England, where he lives.

The adventure takes readers to Longleat Safari Park, which is vast and beautifully described and really, all the writing throughout is excellent. The safari park is also where intrepid readers meet Yarra, who is a cheetah, who also wants to escape his confines and explore the great big world. There’s excitement and much trepidation in The Runaways that makes it quite the page-turner, that takes readers on quite the adventure and not just in the safari park, but also to where the army are and onto grounds where land wardens are.

The book is absorbing with great characters that I believe children will really like, and it was many years after its first publication when I first read it and reading it again, it is as relevant and as gripping as it ever was, with likeable characters who have to survive out in the wild. It’s relevant because it shows resoucefulness and resilience in times of trouble and having to do that or I guess the alternative would be to crumble, is as steadfast and necessary now as it ever was and will be, even in the future.

There is a spot of nostalgia for any adults reading this by way of Woolworths, which of course doesn’t exist in the UK in physical stores anymore, but essentially, it is wonderful that this book has been republished for a whole new generation of children, who I believe will get a lot out of it too.

Book 2 is Flight of the Grey Goose, where Smiler is still on the run and jumps on a train to Scotland and sounds just as exciting and another great adventure for readers to persue.

About the Author

Victor Canning Author PicVictor Canning was a prolific writer throughout his career, which began young: he had sold several short stories by the age of nineteen and his first novel, Mr Finchley Discovers His England (1934) was published when he was twenty-three. It proved to be a runaway bestseller. Canning also wrote for children: his trilogy The Runaways was adapted for US children’s television.

 

#BookReview by Lou – A Ship of Shadows Adventure – Secrets of the Stars by Maria Kuzniar #ChildrensBook #MiddleGrade #SecretofTheStars #ShipOfShadows @cosyreads @puffinbooksuk @RandomTTours

A Ship of Shadows Adventure – Secrets of the Stars
by Maria Kuzniar

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Follow the Secrets of the Stars and hop aboard The Ship of Shadows in this riproaring, swashbuckling adventure, that is also about teamwork and friendship. This is the second in the series, the first is Ship of Shadows. So steer on down the blurb and review, not forgetting the magnificent cover that is sure to entice you in.
Thanks to Random Things Tours for inviting me to review on this blog tour and to Penguin for gifting me the book, in return of an honest review.

Secrets of the Stars 3D Book

Blurb

Secret of StarsAdventure Fiction for Children (age 9 – 12 years)
 
PREPARE FOR PUZZLES, PERIL, AND PLENTY OF CAKE IN THE SECOND THRILLING ADVENTURE FOR ALEJA AND THE CREW OF THE LEGENDARY SHIP OF SHADOWS

Aleja and her fellow pirates are eager to embark on a new adventure to find the second piece of the missing magical map. But they soon find themselves panicking, bewildered by a series of confusing clues. And time is running out – fast.

When she starts experiencing strange visions, Aleja realizes that someone is trying to tell her something. But can this new knowledge be trusted? And what will it cost her to find out?

With the crew’s loyalties tested and more secrets to unlock than ever, Aleja must find a way to beat the clock and prove herself truly worthy of her place on the ship’s crew . . .

Review

Catching up with this series and its main character – Aleja is a delight. Middlegrade/J2 readers, will enjoy being captured in such a sumptuous and rich adventure. There’s a terrific map at the start, showing Croatia, The Maldives, India, Lhasa, China, Shanghai and Melaka; which gives you a fair idea where this adventure will take intrepid young readers and Aleja alongside Frances, our explorers, who are on a mission, that isn’t without its dangers. It’s immersive and has an energy and enchantment that you may expect and desire from such an adveture.

It starts in Croatia at a great carnival that has colour and life about it. Readers first see Aleja being a fox for this, with Frances. There, looming, is The Ship of Shadows – a ship full of magic, embodies an air of mystery and captained by pirate – Captain Quint, who will stop at nothing.

The book also oozes with an air of mystery and excitement. There is also something mysterious happening to one of the explorers to do with shadows and hallucinations. There are strange puzzles to work out, to fathom and everyone has to work together to solve them and treasures to seek and to get themselves out of harms way.
There’s also the problem of time not being on their side and the formidable Pirate Lord and his vast crew to contend with, that adds to the trepidation.

There are other, perhaps more subtler and nonetheless important themes of friendship and empathy and some life challenges to overcome.

On a side note, it may make you want to eat cake by the sea.

Secrets of the Stars is even better than the first in the series, although that was needed to get everything established. There’s so much to feast your eyes upon and it is even more of a page turner. This is a series I highly recommend to collect and read as each book emerges from the depths of the sea and into your hands.

FINAL Secrets of the Stars BT Poster

#Review by Lou – Noah’s Gold by Frank Cottrell-Boyce #MiddleGrade #ChildrensBook – Happy Publication Day! @frankcottrell_b @MacmillanKidsUK

Noah’s Gold
By Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I was excited to see that I had been accepted to review Noah’s Gold. I’ve seen Frank Cottrell-Boyce’s work before in books and on screen and been impressed. Noah’s Gold did not disappoint and middle-grade readers of 9 years plus will have a great adventure in their hands with this book. It is perfect for the home, classrooms, libraries, bookshops. This is the book children who enjoy humour and trepidation, will find hard to put down. I am feel so excited for the children who may pick this book up, as my fingers fly enthusiastically across my laptop as I write the review.
Find out more in my review and the blurb and then check out what other top, very popular children’s authors have to say about it. Then find out more about this exciting author and illustrator and some social media and purchasing links. I thank the publisher – MacMillan Children’s Books for gifting me a book.

Noah's Gold

Packed with mystery, adventure and laughs, Noah’s Gold is the exciting novel from the bestselling, multi-award-winning author of Millions and Cosmic, Frank Cottrell-Boyce. Fully illustrated in black and white throughout by Steven Lenton, this is perfect for readers of 9+.

Being the smallest doesn’t stop you having the biggest ideas.

Eleven-year old Noah sneaks along on his big sister’s geography field trip. Everything goes wrong! Six kids are marooned on an uninhabited island. Their teacher has vanished. They’re hungry. Their phones don’t work and Noah has broken the internet. There’s no way of contacting home . . . Disaster!

Until Noah discovers a treasure map and the gang goes in search of gold.

Review

Noah's GoldNoah’s Gold is story-telling at its best! Frank Cottrell-Boyce has produced an absolutely terrific book for middle-grade readers of aged 9 plus, that’s entertaining, attention grabbing from the start, humorous and one fabulous adventure and mystery!

I love that the chapters become letters, this is ingenious! This book will feed right into children’s imaginations as they join a rip-roaring adventure, that starts as a normal school trip, but there’s so many issues with the sat-nav and all starts to go wrong.
Meet Noah, Ryland, Lola, Dario and Ada as they unexpectedly end up on an uninhabited island. Mr Merriman, the teacher, then mysteriously disappears!
The characters wild imaginations take hold of them and their theories are most entertaining. There’s also the issue of there being no phone signal, which would be the stuff of nightmares for children.
There’s some neat references to faeries and Katie Morag and Paddington 2 that come into play, as they work out what to do next, to resolve their mysterious predicament. There’s also commaraderie amongst the class and some team work as they pull together to create and light a fire and more… as they try to survive together. The book may be thought-provoking to children, who may turn their attentions to what they may do if they found themselves in a similar situation. For all that, it’s a sparky tale, full of energy and wit.

There’s also the fun discovery of a treasure map, with clues that are found in the most curious of places as they magically appear as they go on this further adventure to try and find the gold and then to find out where Mr Merriman can be.

The book is the opposite to Lord of the Flies, which has its merits, which are still important for today, Noah’s Gold has humour and also shows children coming together and pulling all their knowledge and resources together in a positive way. It also puts me in mind of a modern Famous Five or Secret Seven in some ways, and has a bit of a nod to Roald Dahl too, which is so wonderful in this riveting adventure.

The book is fully illustrated in black and white pictures that make it all accessible for children who are still into pictures in their books. I was impressed by the artistic nature of the writing too, as tunnels are found, the colours of the text changed. There’s even a recipe for children who like to bake. The book has absolutely everything! 

Children can read this themselves and it would also work well in a class situation, being read out loud.

Praise for Noah’s Gold

Brilliantly entertaining & thought provoking . . . I am in total awe.’ David Walliams

‘Proper, sparkly, witty, enticing storytelling . . . It’s perfect.’ Hilary McKay

About The Author

Frank Cottrell-Boyce is an award-winning author and screenwriter. Millions, his debut children’s novel, won the CILIP Carnegie Medal. He is also the author of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies AgainCosmicFramed, The Astounding Broccoli Boy and Runaway Robot. His books have been shortlisted for a multitude of prizes, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Whitbread Children’s Fiction Award (now the Costa Book Award) and the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth was shortlisted for the 2017 CILIP Carnegie Medal and selected for the inaugural WHSmith Tom Fletcher Book Club.

Frank is a judge for the 500 Words competition and the BBC’s One Show As You Write It competition. Along with Danny Boyle, he devised the Opening Ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics. He has written for the hit TV series Dr Who and was the screenwriter for the hit film Goodbye Christopher Robin. @frankcottrell_b

Steven Lenton is a multi-award-winning illustrator, originally from Cheshire, now working from his studios in Brighton and London with his dog, Big Eared Bob. He has illustrated many children’s books including Head Kid and The Taylor Turbochaser by David Baddiel, The Hundred And One Dalmatians adapted by Peter Bently, the Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam series by Tracey Corderoy and the Sainsbury’s Prize-winning The Nothing To See Here Hotel series written by Steven Butler. He has illustrated two World Book Day titles and regularly appears at literary festivals and live events across the UK. Steven has his own Draw-along YouTube channel, showing how to draw a range of his characters. He has also written his own picture book Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights’ and his new young fiction series Genie and Teeny. For more info visit stevenlenton.com

Purchase Links

Amazon         Waterstones         Bookshop.org

 

#BookReview by Lou of Dangerous Women by Hope Adams @adelegeras @MichaelJBooks @GabyYoung

Dangerous Women
By Hope Adams
Rated: 5 stars *****

Captivating and original, Dangerous Women expertly tells a tale of fiction and reality, that not everyone may already know about. It weaves, like the threads in the tapestry that inspired this book, words of fiction and real life together to create an epic adventure, laced with crime from the outset that grips and keeps you guessing, as it takes readers on a great advenuture with crime, based on a true-story.
Thank you so much to Gaby Young at Penguin Michael Joseph publishers for adding me to the blog tour and for sending me a book, which has a terrific cover.
Follow onto the blurb and my review.

Dangerous Women 1

Blurb

London, 1841.
The Rajah sails for Australia.
Aboard:
180 convicted women convicted of petty crimes.
Daughters, sisters, mothers –
they’ll never see their family again.
Despised and damned, they only have one another
Until the murder.
As the fearful hunt for a killer begins,
everyone on board is a suspect.
Based on a real-life voyage, Dangerous women is a tale of confinement, hope and the terrible things we do to survive.

Dangerous Women

Review

The book invites willing travellers to hop aboard onto a boat to sail with women branded as dangerous in this story which, even before the book is opened, sounds thrilling on the cover. Then just inside the cover, take note of your fellow travelling companions on the “Register of Convicts.” It will tell you what you need to know of what they’ve been convicted of…

The book takes place between April and July 1841 and what’s interesting about it, is that this isn’t just any historical thriller, this has been inspired by real-life events. It’s inspired by the real life voyage of the Rajah, which set sail in 1841, with 23 year old Kezia Hayter on board as Matron, who features in this book. This gives this book quite some providence and enters a part of history, that, at least in the UK, not everyone may know anything about. It is however a fictional novel too and that’s worth bearing in mind as you travel along on this voyage, but gives inspiration to look into the true facts behind the story afterwards. It may have been nice if there was a bit added at the back about this as I’ve seen it in some other books, but that doesn’t take focus away from what a rip-roaring book this is and there is an interesting Bibliography, which would be a good place to do your own research from, if the mood is upon anyone, who wishes to do this.

Panic fills the book from the beginning and indeed, who has a knife?
There’s a real sense of what it is like onboard of the Rajah and to get a sense of Kezia and why she is onboard is fascinating! The case starts almost immediately and you can almost smell the sea and there’s almost a claustrophobic atmosphere as women grapple with their innocence and yet someone has been murdered and the gallows await whoever has committed such huge crime. Trust has clearly been broken, even amongst these thieves and panic and darkness sweeps across the women in the boat and enters their every waking and sleeping moment. The research that’s then created into story-telling is exquisite and all-consuming as it swallows any fellow voyager/reader whole in a magnificent read.

The pace, you would expect to be a bit slower for such a period piece, but this is quite the opposite and has not too disimilar pacing to a modern day crime fiction book.

As well as the crimes, there is a human interest story weaving throughout, where readers get to know the convicts, their life of crime and their backstory and how some were respectable at certain points in their lives, like Hattie and it is these stories that may well tug at the heart-strings. It tugs at strands of curiosity throughout, including when the convicts meet at Newgate Prison for the first time.

Surprisingly, there’s a bit of glamour and oppoulence that fans of period pieces have come to know and love, injected in the form of stories from the women’s lives before they were onboard the Rajah, especially in Kezia’s life. There’s also sadness, especially in Clara’s life when she was young.

There’s some lightness in atmosphere and a bit of humour, that cuts through, when the women are sewing and there’s a sense of the patchwork being created and building up.

There’s all the supposition adding to the intrigue as to who the murderer is and if the guilty one will be sent to the gallows.

It is absolutely fascinating to read what became of the women and reading the historical note at the end. There is also a comprehensive bibliography for further reading and demonstrates that this has been well researched, so that this work of fiction does have a backdrop of realism to it.

#BookReview by Lou of – In The City of Fortunes and Flames – A Freddie Malone Adventure by Clive Mantle @MantleClive @award_books #ChildrensBooks #YA 8yrs plus

 In the City of Fortunes and Flames
A Freddie Malone Adventure
By Clive Mantle
Rated: 5 stars *****

In The City of Fortunes and Flames is where to find a terrific time-travelling adventure to London, in the times of the plague, slavery and The Great Fire of London. This is book 3 of the Freddie Malone Adventure books and it’s quite the page-turner with lots of adventure and action, which is suitable from ages 8 and into younger YA/Teens.
Be re-acquainted with Freddie, Ruby and Connor and also meet some people from history along the way. There is good news in that there will be a further 2 books coming soon.
Find out more about In The City Of Fortune And Flames in the blurb and review…. I happened to have bought this book. It is available as a physical book and an e-book.

Links to books in order :-    
                                     Amazon – Treasure At The Top of The Mountain
                                     Amazon – A Jewel In The Sands Of Time
                                    Amazon – In the City of Fortune and Flames

Blurb

Freddie Malone adventure 3

The mysterious world map on Freddie Malone’s bedroom wall ripples into life and the swirling vortex begins to form, but is Freddie prepared for where – and when – it will take him? Join Freddie, Connor and Ruby as they travel to the plague-stricken and fire-ravaged London of the seventeenth century, where the streets are ruled by a merciless gang of criminals and kidnappers. Stalked through time by the menacing, shrouded figure of the Collector, can the friends outwit their enemies and save history? It’s all just a question of time…

 

Freddie Malone adventure 3

Review

Having read and reviewed and was very impressed by the calibre of the story-telling and the themes of the first two Freddie Malone books, I figured I would review the 3rd. Clive Mantle, quite rightly so, is The People’s Book Prize Winner Author. The books are suitable for confident readers ages 8 years plus. Very nicely this one starts off with what happened previously…

With the magical map Freddie got for his birthday in the first book, the map has more ideas…
The book starts with the brilliant and never-ageing poem – IF by Rudyard Kipling, it’s as pertinent now as it was in 1895, when it was written. IF is also pertinent to portals in this series.

The setting is London and the time is both the present and 1665/1666. There’s a map with a key chart, which illustrates the events at that time and then readers are reunited with Freddie and his friend Connor on a school production of The Pied Piper of Hamlin before a compelling adventure begins.

There are little references here and there of the Nepal (book 1) and  Egyptian adventures (book 2), but it is okay if you’ve not read that one yet as it does also move onwards to this current adventure. This time the portal takes Freddie to London, 1665, where he meets a slave. Samuel Pepys is in need of a servant who can write, so Freddie is tested. There is, like the other books, a lot that children can gain within these books and that can feed their minds and get them curious about history. There’s also the mystery as to why the map took Freddie to 1665 and readers, apart from getting to know Pepys, also get to know something of King Charles II and the plague on Drury Lane. During the segments of Freddie being back in the present with Connor and Ruby, more is told of his journey. As time flips from the past to the present and back again, it is done in such a succinct way, that is easy to follow and understand. It’s a book that children and young teens can really get into as it is an engrossing page-turner. The facts mixed with the fiction is written in an expressive and exciting way with likeable fictional characters meeting those who really lived. This combination works really well.
As time moves on, Freddie (and readers), then experience the atmosphere of The Great Fire of London and the impact it had. There’s also intrigue within this, as indeed within the whole book.

The Treasure at the Top of the World cover          A Jewel In the Sands of Time              Freddie Malone adventure 3