The Castle of Tangled Magic by Sophie Anderson Rated:5 stars *****
Sophie Anderson, author of The Girl Who Speaks Bear, has another enchanting tale – The Castle of Tangled Magic. It enchants with its richly depicted castle and magical land that provides excellent escapism.
Thanks to Usborne and Sophie Anderson for allowing me to write a review and for providing an e-copy of the book.
Follow further down to the blurb, review and links.
Magic awaits, all you have to do is believe…
When thirteen-year-old Olia, steps through a magical doorway, she discovers another land. A land tangled by magic, where hope is lost, and a scheming wizard holds all the power.
Soon Olia learns that she is destined to save this land, but with time running out and her new friends and family in danger, she must search for the magic within herself – to save everything and everyone she loves.
The Castle of Tangled Magic, the new fairy tale from Sophie Anderson, illustrated by Saara Söderlund.
An enchanting fairy-tale adventure about the power of love and courage, from the bestselling author of The House with Chicken Legs and The Girl who Speaks Bear.
Castle Mila, built from wood around 500 years ago near the shore of a lake, sounds like so many children’s dream of a castle with it’s majestic stature and hidden passageways and secrets. The writing is amazingly imaginative, in the way Sophie Anderson has captured the castle and takes readers on a tour around it, up each of the stairs to the different rooms and domes, along with Olia. There is so much to feast the eyes upon and to delight and bring a touch of magic to children’s imaginations. It’s all rather splendid. She is also wanting to find some magic, so seeks out an older member of the family – Babusya, who informs about the mysterious Sun Dome that could have magic, but is locked. The mysteriousness that builds is fascinating and enchanting.
There’s great charm and excitement that captures the heart. The ideas of olde of leaving salt as offerings for spirits, such as domovoi (a spirit, in this case a fox who protects) and of the changes of the wind are explored through Babusya. As other family members appear, there is a lovely family cosyiness element, which is heartwarming, as is the talk of ancestry.
There’s a storm, which seems to make looking for a key even more pressing, a gripping, treacherous adventure ensues and there is a lot at stake – the family and the castle to protect from the ferociousness of the weather.
The story continues onwards with Feliks, the domovoi, into a mystical, rather surreal land – The Land of Forbidden Magic, where there the descriptions add to the surrealism as Koshka, a gorgeous cat, is met and a conversation ensues about the witch Nania and Chenomor’s magic. Another unexpected quest occurs as the land and spirits need to be saved. With lots of danger and many different encounters and riddles to solve, it pulls readers further in deeper as the quest becomes increasingly treacherous and on top of that Castle Mila itself needs saving. Sophie Anderson creates so much for readers to grasp onto and root for in this pacy adventure, that also has an almighty twist.
Throughout, there are lovely illustrations, depicting the story well. At the end there is also “Olia’s Glossary”, which children will benefit well from, to enhance their understanding of the story as there are some words, that may be unfamiliar.
The Beast And The Bethany By Jack Meggitt Phillips Illustrated by Isabelle Follath Rated: 5 stars *****
Fun and totally grossed out with this absolutely terrific children’s book that has heart and warmth!
It’s being made into a big budget Hollywood Movie with Warner Brothers already and I can see how it can lend itself terrifically well to the big screen.
I’ve been one of the lucky people to get my hands on a copy of the book to review and it gives me great pleasure to share with you.
The Beast And The Bethany is one of the biggest middle-grade children’s books to be published this year, with a film going to be made of it, this is the perfect chance to get your hands on the book first. Excited? It’s worth getting excited about. It was published 3rd September. Today is my blog tour slot for the tour and I have a review for this treat of a book thanks to Egmont Books, who sent me a proof physical copy out after the proof of the e-book. Thanks to the Write Reads for inviting me onto the blog tour.
Follow onwards to the Synopsis, Review, Buy Links and about the film and About the Author and Illustrator…. before the Beast captures you… Eek!!!
The most exciting new children’s book of 2020 and a modern classic in the making.The Beast and the Bethany has all the classic macabre humour of Roald Dahl with the warmth and charm ofDespicable Me, finished off with a gleeful bite of Little Shop of Horrors! This book should be on every little monster’s birthday and Christmas list.
Ebenezer Tweezer is a youthful 511-year-old. He keeps a beast in the attic of his mansion, who he feeds all manner of things (including performing monkeys, his pet cat and the occasional cactus) and in return the beast vomits out presents for Ebenezer, as well as potions which keep him young and beautiful. But the beast grows ever greedier, and soon only a nice, juicy child will do. So when Ebenezer encounters orphan Bethany, it seems like (everlasting) life will go on as normal. But Bethany is not your average orphan…
Ebenezer Tweezer is an age you can only ever imagine. He has 1 week to go until his 512th birthday. Has he the wrinkles of an old man? No, not him. He looks around 20 years old… I figure a lot of adults now reading this are wondering what his beauty secrets are and a lot of children having fun and in awe of his age. He lives in the most amazing house with a rare parrot. He then goes to an orphanage where he meets Bethany, who has some pretty gross habits. Children who like Roald Dahl, will really enjoy this book. Still, Ebenezer wants to adopt her from Miss Fizzlewick. She’s a handful and what she can’t do with superglue and chilli powder isn’t worth knowing! I think many children will find some pretty grossed-out humour in this book. Bethany is pretty obnoxious. Then… There’s The Beast to contend with. Ebenezer has gone to great lengths to get the beast what it wants, including the Titanic. Now a child, who unfortunately may not be to its taste after-all and what can be done to remedy it. Readers will have to find out why not in the book…
Ultimately, Ebeneezer needs to change Bethany, so she becomes less of an obnoxious brat. The beast has also promised a very special potion to Ebenezer in return.
There are some parts that children may find thought-provoking and could be good for discussion, such as what it may feel like getting older and also transformation in behaviours, including that of the beast. The book has a heart and soul to it with a certain, unexpected warmth.
Ultimately this book will have children wrinkling their noses and perhaps being vocally disgusted at where things like the worms are, laughing so much at the humour and wanting to run from the beast. I reckon this is an absolutely terrific book for reading for pleasure at home and in the classroom. It’ll certainly be a book that lots of fun can be had from anyone who reads it.
Jack Meggitt Phillips is an incredibly exciting new talent. He is an author, scriptwriter and playwright whose work has been performed at The Roundhouse and featured on Radio 4. He is scriptwriter and presenter of The History of Advertising podcast. In his mind, Jack is an enormously talented ballroom dancer, however his enthusiasm far surpasses his actual talent. Jack lives in north London where he spends most of his time drinking peculiar teas and reading PG Wodehouse novels.
Isabelle Follath is an illustrator who has worked in advertising, fashion magazines and book publishing, but her true passion lies in illustrating children’s books. She also loves drinking an alarming amount of coffee, learning new crafts and looking for the perfect greenish-gold colour. Isabellelives in Zurich, Switzerland.
The Inheritance Games By Jennifer Lynn Barnes Rated: 4 stars ****
Let the Inheritance Games Commence in this enthralling enigma of a story!
1 school girl, 1 philanthropist, 1 Will, 1 mysterious mansion and a family who are out for what they think should be their inheritance in the games you need to read but don’t want to take part in. There could be consequences!
I thank The Write Reads for inviting me on their Ultimate Blog Tour and for the team at Penguin for sending both an E-book and a physical copy.
Please do read on to find out more about this enthralling book.
Let the games begin: an utterly addictive and twisty thriller, full of dark family secrets and deadly stakes. Perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying, Riverdaleand Knives Out.
She came from nothing. Avery has a plan: keep her head down, work hard for a better future. Then an eccentric billionaire dies, and leaves her almost his entire fortune. And no one, least of all Avery, knows why.
They had everything. Now she must move into the mansion she’s inherited: Hawthorne House. It’s filled with secrets and codes, and the old man’s surviving relatives – a family hellbent on discovering how Avery got ‘their’ money.
Now there’s only one rule: winner takes all. Soon Avery is caught in a deadly game that everyone in this strange family is playing. But just how far will they go to keep their fortune?
A teenage school girl, a whole lot of money, a mysterious mansion bequeathed to her in a Will. This is not ordinary young adult story. This is one that leads you into places of enigma. What’s the truth, what’s the lies? Secrets and games are afoot that make for a great YA book indeed. One that will get teens wanting to read. It’s good to see one that isn’t pure fantasy and isn’t pure romance; it has elements of a few genres within it.
Avery Grambs, the smart kid at school also likes games. Fun, innocent made-up ones, is how she found out she liked games. She’s just a normal teenager, well, almost, in these short-sharp chapters that entice you to read on as the story moves quickly into its first part of the mystery. Tobias Hawthorn has sent a note to Avery, a person to her knowledge, she has never met. Instant worries of scams flee around the conversation.
Imagine being at school thinking of science and statistical information and studying Romeo and Juliet when a mysterious billionaire philanthropist leaves you a mansion in his Will? That’s what began a whole different type of journey for Avery. She meets the family and the Will is read out, enough to make any reader sit-up and take notice. It is staggeringly jaw-dropping!
James Hawthorn, who prefers to call Avery – Mystery Girl, pops up here and there and seems a bit of an enigma himself, almost as much as why would someone, a stranger to him and his family, inherit what should have been there property from Tobias. There is also Grayson who is convinced that Avery used manipulation to get it… He is also quite a deep character in his thoughts about money, the world and responsibility.
No one is going to make things easy for Avery. Let the games commence! Riddles, puzzles and secret passageways abound, which is a rather thrilling aspect to the story.
Emily brings a certain thought-provoking aspect to this family’s story in her bravery and also some empathy with her parent’s reactions to her.
Going back to the mansion, the big question that makes turns this book into something of a sinister mystery, is the big question – will everyone survive? The way the book takes some twists, just at the right moments is great! Just when you think it might all be lost, up comes something else and reels you further into the mansion, that anyone staying there would have to be very brave indeed! The twists ramp up in scale right to an ultimate page-turning crescendo!
Mini Reviews and Links for Children’s Books, Spanning Across Every Age
I have reviewed a number of excellent children’s books. I have now put them all together in a small collection here for you to hopefully be inspired and try out. You will find the books at Amazon, Waterstones and some Independent Bookshops. Full reviews and extra info can be found by clicking on the relevant links, marked “Here”. I have included books for all ages of children. I have started off with a terrific chapter books and then some books for younger children. I hope this brings some inspiration for what to try next.
Blaze Dog Detective By Lin Anderson
When the famous fairy flag of the Clan MacLeod disappears from a locked room at Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, the police immediately call in Blaze Dog Detective. After all his scenting skills on the island are legendary. With his team of Rosa, Rory and wee brother Laoch, Blaze leads the chase to rescue this magical flag before it can be spirited away from the island forever.
A map, a castle, a secret passage, adventure, cute dogs, robbers, police, a mystery to be solved, this children’s book has it all. There is wonderful mix of mild trepidation and humour and a terrific energy throughout. With all that and excellent characterisation and plot that has red herrings, can you discover who stole the Fairy Flag in Skye? Blaze is actually a real dog in Skye and you can find out more about the book and see some more cute pics by clicking Here
She Wolf By Dan Smith
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?
Quick Review – Primary Schools and Booktrust rate it highly as do I with 5 stars. Immerse yourself in a book that deals with bereavement and courage as you meet Ylva, Locki, Thor and Odin. Discover this immersive and intriguing adventure, which is excellently paced and pitched for older primary aged children. Click Herefor more info about it, plus links to Dan Smith’s website and social media.
Red Snow by Larraine Harrison
Twelve-year-old Megan though she knew everything there was to know about her mother’s death, but she was wrong.
Why will no one tell her what really happened and why has she become her father’s carer?
The boy next door has a dangerous secret that could help Megan, but will she be strong enough to pursue it to the end?
A story of danger, hope and perseverance.
Red Snow is great for 8 or 9 year olds plus. Full of atmosphere and emotion, readers meet 12 year old Megan Townsend who tries to follow her neighbour – Ryan into the woods. It is sinister and intriguing as Megan pursues the truth about her mother and was there a big cat in the woods? It is also about Megan being inquisitive and Ryan’s peculiar habits. It is sympathetically written in a child friendly manner, with themes of being a carer, bereavement, loneliness, friendship, family; with an excellent ending that will see everything resolved. Find out more by clicking Here
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty
Bronte Mettlestone has been brought up in a very sensible way by her Aunt Isabelle and the Butler. So when her absent parents are killed by pirates and she’s sent on a whirlwind visit to her other ten aunts, she takes it all in her stride. But Bronte’s outwardly sensible nature holds a core of steel and courage, and through her adventures, with water sprites, avalanches, elves and dragons, Bronte shows herself to be the kind of heroine we would all wish to be. This wonderful novel is witty, lively and full of magic and surprises – everything readers young and old could ask for. The kind of novel where you need to make a pot of tea (preferably cloudberry), find a really comfy sofa in front of a roaring fire, and settle in for a magical journey of your own.
Let your imagination run wild with this book and find out what the Extremely Unfortunate Events of Bronte Mettlestone are. She’s brave and courageous. She has aunts in Scotland and yet she also ends up in many other kingdoms in this wonderfully written book that children will have their imaginations captured by. There are pirates, a strange library and fantastical creatures that is all just so well pitched for children to sweep them along within exciting chapters that exceeded expectations. Find out more by clickingHere
The Treasure at the Top of the Mountain By Clive Mantle
Clive Mantle has said: “I have woven a tale of adventure in the past and present against the wondrous backdrop of Nepal and its people. I am thrilled that the story I wrote for my own son to pass on the flame has now found a wider audience, who will hopefully have their imaginations stimulated as mine was as a young boy”.
In the first of The Adventures of Freddie Malone series, The Treasure at the Top of the World Freddie receives an intriguing and unusual thirteenth birthday present from his Uncle Patrick. The ancient world map goes straight up on his wall, but Freddie fast discovers that the map is much more than just a decorative historic artefact. Freddie, and his best friend, Connor, are soon plunged into a mountainous adventure, on a path that leads to a long buried mystery, pursued by ruthless adversaries who’ll go to any lengths to get what they want.
This is more than just a tale to tell, it’s an impressively written adventure of a lifetime. This a story of (in no particular order) adventure, social and land geography, history, present day, travel and friendship and overcoming bullying. This is a book that will excite, inform and captivate children.
There are relics and treasures to be had, people to meet and a country to explore, all within the safety and comfort of your own home. This is an impressive story with adventure, once you’ve met Freddie Malone, who is celebrating his birthday and his magical present transports him to Nepal to meet mountaineers and more…
There is a lovely map and pictures and additional supporting info after the terrific story.
Find out more by clicking Here
Star Child – The Age of Akra – Book 1 –
There are 5 in the series. I have reviewed 3.
The foreshadowing of a dark future threatens the seven nations. Mai is selected to train with the mysterious elemental master Sah Dohba who will prepare her to become the protector of the desert lands. Her brother Long, steps forward to travel with her as her chaperone to the Valley of a Thousand Thoughts.
A chance encounter brings them together with Akra, the Starchild. The trio travels on into a battle with the elements. Sandstorms. Deadly creatures. Starvation. Then a chance meeting with powerful earthfollower, sets them on a new path where they must each find the strength to face a terrifying foe from the Underworld.
This is the beginning of a new children’s fantasy series for children of ages 7+ The cover is exciting with its dragon, suggesting adventure and action. There are 5 in all in this series.
Covering themes such as child rivalry, there is bravery, action, adventure and emotion within these books, all suitable for ages 7/8 plus. Children who like Marvel and Ninjago and dragons and creatures in faraway lands will enjoy this. It’s an excellent series to get stuck into and to spark children’s imaginations. Check out more by clickingHere
Judy Blume books are great and have stood the test of time pretty well. I wrote an article as to why her books are still relevant and to showcase her books. Her books span right across children of all ages. Click for the articleHere
Toletis by Rafa Ruiz
Toletis is another book that is perfect for children of all ages.
Claudia and Tutan are on a mission to turn their little valley town, set deep in the mountains, luscious green again. The odds are stacked against them. Can they succeed… with some very unusual help?
This is a book that provides, within Toletis, a positive role model. He has a deep interest in the natural world and has lots of fun, whilst playing in the world around him. He meets characters like the Treene-weenies and learns Wobbegong language along the way. He also has a great friend in Tutan. There are great illustrations throughout, humour, great storytelling throughout, that this makes perfect reading for those who also like The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Tom Gates, Storey Treehouse series. Find out much more about this terrific book by clicking Here
Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure By Emma Larkin
Izzy is a seven-year-old girl who lives in Ireland and loves all sport, especially Gaelic Football.
Izzy plays football with her brothers on a regular basis in their back garden and dreams of playing for her county in the All Ireland Ladies Football Final in Croke Park when she is older.
One day, Izzy puts on her great grandmother’s bracelet, which is made of old All Ireland medals that her great grandmother won a long time ago, and something unexpected and magical happens, which may make Izzy’s Croke Park dream a reality sooner than she expected…………….
Are you missing out on football? Whether you are or not, this is a great book of sibling rivalry and inspiration. Meet Izzy, she likes football and dreams of playing for her county one day, but doesn’t see how that can happen, until a discovery is made about relative. This is an excellent, positive book of possibilities. Find out more by clickingHere
Geronimo Stilton – Stop Acting Around By Geronimo Stilton
Geronimo Stilton is Getting into the movies when he is invited by an old filmmaker friend, director E.J. Sprocket, to visit the set Block Cheddar 4, starring Jack Vole. Convinced that this could make for an interesting article, he brings Thea, Benjamin, and Pandora along. But soon they discover that it’s not all glitz and glamour as strange happenings have been plaguing production, causing the film to go off course. Will Geronimo’s acting career be over before it starts? Is there a MOLE on the set? As E.J. would say, “That’s show business for ya baby!”
Geronimo Stilton books have been around awhile in libraries and book shops and they are nicely still going strong. They are graphic novels, with the story told in a well layed-out and illustrated form and often depict an eye-catching cover, with a good paced plot. Stop Acting Around takes Geronimo (a mouse) on-set of a big movie to meet his favourite actor – Jack Vole and reckons this would make for a great article. All is well until disaster strikes when 10 cans of film are mysteriously destroyed. The book has plenty of action and there is mild trepidation when there’s a rickety bridge to get across a ravine and down an old mine as the mystery continues as to what happened to the film reels and unexpected discoveries.
The Hidden Spaceship by Serena Lane Ferrari
When Amelia and Noah stumble across a spaceship, an out-of-this-world adventure begins. The friends have a very special mission – to help the Earth’s eco-system. They must go on a daunting journey on another planet, find a treasure chest, and complete their quest. What secret does the treasure chest hold?
There’s a song, a spaceship and humans Amelia and Noah, who embark on an adventure to a distant planet. There’s bright, bold pictures and a great story and characters like the alien Ualalumpa. The book, throughout the story, tells children about the eco-system in a way that is child-friendly and understandable. There are treasures to find that are more magical and wonderful than even gold or jewels. To find out more about this out of this world adventure, please clickHere
The Cockatoo From Timbucktoo By William AE Ford
Join Kian the cockatoo on his adventures around the world!
Can a childhood song about a shining star help him find his way home?
From the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Wall of China to New York City wonders of the world are explored delightfully in this epic journey!
William has done it again! After sending children on an interactive, rhyming time travelling adventure with the award winning Timothy Mean and his Time Machine, he now sends them on a world adventure with a lost cockatoo who just wants to go home to be reunited with his mum and dad. Children just love the adventure of flying around the world in a book, the illustrations and the repetitive nature of this book, that makes it so interactive and fun. It is a wonderful and perfect book for these different days, where young children, including the early primary school years, will gain value from. Find out more by clicking Here
The Hangry Hamster by Grace McLuskey
Review and Blurb
Meet Billy. He has a hamster who is hangry and ends up running through London, past a lot of landmarks, which he ends up towering over, like no hamster ever has before. This book is action packed, very funny and brilliantly conceived. It is also about bonding with a pet. Please find out moreHere
Princess Poppy – Fantastic No Plastic By Janey Louise Jones
When Poppy is invited to a beach party by cousin Daisy in Camomile Cove, she has to help clean up the beach first. There is so much plastic refuse. Meanwhile, her puppy Sidney chokes on a discarded bag. Poppy joins the campaign to rid the planet of one use plastic waste and comes up with an enterprising idea. Poppy is her usual energetic and passionate self as she realises everyone can do a little bit to make a big difference.
Princess Poppy is a great story with a really good mix of positive environmental messages and general fun in the characters setting. These are great books for both boys and girls alike. There’s great illustrations by Jennie Poh and humour within this story about looking after the environment. The story takes place when there’s a competition to create a poster to create an object to replace with that from a plastic one. It also shows friendship and keeping earth tidy, as well as having fun with Sidney – a dog with a bundle of energy. Please find out moreHere
Bertie the Buffalo by Wendy H. Jones
Bertie the Buffalo is based on a true story of when a Water Buffalo escaped from a Buffalo Park in Fife, near Dundee, Scotland. A rhyming book about the adventures Bertie got up to and how he safely returned home, demonstrating how important each of us is no matter how insignificant we feel. Bertie felt that no one noticed him. But he didn’t need to think that as we are all special. We are all a part of one big family.
Inspired by a true story in Scotland, children will meet Bertie and all sorts of animals, including an alpaca along the way as Bertie the Buffalo ends up straying into unfamiliar territories as he finds himself outside of his usual field. The book is about not feeling small, even if you are small in stature, friendship and family, in this beautifully illustrated book that will take children on an adventure and find some kindness along the way. It also is a story with a moral within it. This book has been read by many children, usually for 4 year olds plus, but has been used my middle grade classes up to and including primary 5 too. Find out more by clickingHere
Self-Confident Sandy by Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino Illustrated by Sally Huss
Today I present the blurb for Self-Confident Sandy. It may interest you for your reading list. Check it out, along with finding more about its author and contributor as well as a link so you can purchase, if you so desire. Thanks to Kelly and LoveBooksTours for inviting me to showcase this book.
Sandy was full of self-confidence. Where did it come from? She could do anything, but why? Ah, she had a special mantra that she used to explain herself. ‘You may ask me why I can do anything I try… and the only answer can be: all these things are inside me!’ Yes, I can do most anything. Once I set my mind and heart to it, I find that there is nothing to it. Still, I keep my mantra handy,” explained Self-Confident Sandy!
Here is a little about the creators of this new book.
About Sally Huss
Author/Illustrator Sally Huss creates children’s books to uplift the lives of children. She does this by giving them tools to overcome obstacles; by helping them value themselves and others; and by inspiring them to be the best that they can be. Her catalogue of books now exceeds 100.
“Bright and happy,” “light and whimsical” have been the catch phrases attached to the writings and art of Sally Huss for over 30 years. Sweet images dance across all of Sally’s creations, whether in the form of children’s books, paintings, wallpaper, ceramics, baby bibs, purses, clothing, or her King Features syndicated newspaper panel “Happy Musings.”
Sally is a graduate of USC with a degree in Fine Art and through the years has had 26 of her own licensed art galleries throughout the world. sallyhuss.com.
About Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino
Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino is one of America’s foremost personal and corporate development consultants. She is the creator of The Best Ever You Network (or Best Ever You), a leading multimedia provider of lifestyle and self-help content. While participating in the Harvard Business School for Leadership program, Elizabeth serves as a Leadership Advisor for the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute.
In 2020 Elizabeth joined Sally Huss to create the best-selling children’s book A Lesson for Every Child: Learning About Food Allergies. Living with life-threatening food allergies for many years, Elizabeth added her personal experience and her expertise to the project. She also sits on several boards of organizations and foundations that bring awareness to this life-threatening condition.
Elizabeth is also the best-selling author of Percolate – Let Your Best Self Filter Through (Hay House Publishing). elizabethguarino.com.
Paper Sparrows By Nathalie Abi-Ezzi Rated:5 stars *****
Thank you to Holland House Books for trusting me and my blog enough to approach me to choose a book to review. I chose 2 and one of them is Paper Sparrows by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi, which is highly praised by The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, Sunday Business Post, The Financial Times and more… The book is definitely, in my humble opinion worthy of such people praising it. It’s a fabulous book that will take you on a journey out of London to Lebanon to Beriuit. It will also take you on a journey of a perhaps, different life, but one that will have some resonance. It is emotive, powerful and yet subtle at the same time about what was going on in 2006. The book was published early March 2020.
About the Author
Nathalie Abi-Ezzi was born in Beirut, and has lived in Lebanon, Austria and the UK.
It was while working on her PhD in English Literature at King’s College London that she realised that she wanted to write her own novels, rather than just analyze other people’s. So, while working variously with an editor, teacher and tutor, she wrote and published several prize-winning short stories and her first novel, A Girl Made of Dust, was widely praised, and was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize and te Author’s Club Best First Novel Award, and was the winner of the liBeraturpreis in 2011.
Back to Lebanon – to family, love and war… Layla, a 19 year old music undergraduate, travels from London back to Lenanon for the summer holidays, only to find that her brother has gone missing. Without a second thought, she sets off to find him in Beirut. On her way, she picks up a stray dog, falls in love with Joe, another student, and sees her country through entirely new eyes. But just as she is beginning to pick up clues about where her brother might be, the July war breaks out and turns everything on its head.
What can I say? Amazing, Must Read, Beautifully written. The author captures music, love, civil war, family strains, compassion, warmth, anger incredibly well. I thought I would take a chance on this book and I am so pleased I did. Discover Layla, her family, the country she grew up in and what happens in her life and to the place she called home, all within this fantastic book. This is one of those books I hope many people read. It is more than what you may initially think it is. It is gently written, but the themes are anything but gentle. This is a book with substance and one I find myself hoping everyone takes a chance like I did and read it.
I cannot help but mention is the wonderful cover art. I absolutely love it, with the sparrow and pattern. It is so fitting for this book as, apart from it being called Paper Sparrow, it is set in London, Lebannon and Beirut. From the outset, this is a beautifully written book . It’s a book I felt caught up in and really hope others try reading this amazing and lovely book. This isn’t to say it is a cosy read. The words may drift easily along, but there is bite in this book as the plot builds and builds. It’s a book I highly recommend.
There is life, music and love in the air with the backdrop of civil-war. The way it is all written and joins together is encapsualting, beautiful and sensual. Wherever you live in the world, there is something that people will find relatable or familiar to what they’ve seen on the news, but written so much more subtly as this is also about the spaces in-between the war, where ordinary civilians lives go on.
19 year old Layla is the main character in this book. She is an under-graduate at the Royal College of Music in London and returns to Lebannon to attend a wedding. Imagine being away from your home country and returning to find things are just not quite the same? Layla did. She has been away for quite some time and people have changed. The book pronounces these changes and the feelings about them empathetically. There are also some wonderful and warm memories from her childhood that she reflects on from time to time, especially music.
Ziad – Layla’s brother goes missing. There’s been the pressure of exams put upon him, on-top of a worrying job-market situation and he may or may not want to take over the pharmacy. Something everyone, the world over can relate to, perhaps not the pressure of taking over a family business, but the rest of it. So, Layla goes on a road trip to Beirut to find him, picking up a stray dog along the way. It sounds trivial, it isn’t. The dog becomes more like a friend and she needs it. There is the desperate worry of what could have become of her brother.
This however is no ordinary story about growing up and life changing, this is a story taking place when there is civil war.
It is so well told and a great demonstration of how life can seem quite average and yet have different challenges from many other western countries as there are checkpoints to contend with, soldiers around and the news of what Hezbollah’s leader will do next and where his army will encroach on. This isn’t also your usual political story either. Find out the effects of civil war and family has on a person and find out where Layla goes and her geographical and life journey here. The book may be fiction, but the conflict in 2006 was very real. There is something for most readers in this book.