#Review of Paper Sparrows by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi – A Beautiful book about family, love, civil-war and more #PaperSparrows @EzziAbi @HhouseBooks #Fiction #libraries #readingcommunity #writingcommunity #readingforpleasure

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.

Blurb

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.

Paper Sparrows

Review

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.

#Review of Red Snow by Larraine S Harrison – A story of life, courage and strength of a young girl. @larraineharri3 @matador #kidslit #SchoolLibraries #Bookshops #Libraries #ChildrensBooks #ReadingRocks #ReadingForPleasure

Red Snow
By Larraine S. Harrison
Rated: 5 stars *****

I came across Larraine S Harrison on social media and got interested in her book – Red Snow. The title and the cover grabbed me, so I looked further into it and the blurb interested me even more, so I figured I would chance my luck and ask her if I could review her book. Thankfully, Larraine agreed, so today, I present my review of Red Snow, which tells the story of Megan – a strong, independent girl who wants to resolve the mystery of what really happened to her mother once and for all, so that she may know the complete truth.

I thank Larrine S. Harrison for sending me a copy of her book.

About the Author

Larraine S Harrison is a retired teacher and school inspector who has written several books for teachers on using drama for learning.
Since retiring she has written two children’s novels: Red Snow and Angel’s Child.
She likes to involve children in the writing of her books as much as possible.
When she is not writing, she volunteers as a school governor and also enjoys playing tenor saxophone.
She now lives in Yorkshire.

Twitter link:

Larraine Harrison

Red Snow Cover

Blurb

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.

Review

Red Snow is atmospheric and leaps into action from the start as Megan Townsend tries to follow Ryan from next door into the woods as it would appear he has developed an interesting routine of being out each night. The curiosity of a twelve-year-old girl comes across well, because who isn’t a bit curious when someone has perceived peculiar habits when you’re a child. The story then turns more mysterious and sinister as there’s a trail of blood and possibly a big cat in the woods. It certainly would grab any child’s attention, especially those who are 8 or 9 years old plus.

The contrast between leisurely pursuits such as swimming, the sinister woods and Megan’s desire to find out about her mother works really well. Irene is an interesting character with her closely held secrets. The book becomes even more intriguing and really holds its own when Megan becomes more inquisitive about the death of her mother.

The emotions displayed by Paul – Megan’s dad and Megan herself are exquisitely portrayed. This entire book seems so natural about how each character’s personality and emotions are portrayed. It adds to this book being a really good read for children. The context, the language used and the pace makes it a book that children will be able to get into.

There are big, important themes like life and death, loneliness and being a carer, being strong, but all sensitively written and all at a child’s level of understanding and all wrapped in a fantastic story that will capture children, because, who doesn’t want to know what happened to Megan’s mum. Megan, especially is also a very likeable character. She is certainly a strong, determined girl, but also has a niceness about her. Children will be able to relate easily to this story, whether it is something they themselves have experienced in full or in-part or not as there is plenty to empathise with.

The changes in pace works well and the length means children can have a good chance of getting into it, without it being overwhelming in size (153 pages). The cover is curious. It makes you wonder what Megan is looking out of the window at and also draws you closer to her somehow. This is very much a children’s book in the way it is written and would sit very well in the children’s sections of libraries and bookshops.

The end will leave readers feeling very satisfied as the answers to the questions become apparent and there is hope.

I just had an instinctive feeling that it was going to be a good one and I was not disappointed and I am sure many readers will enjoy this book too.

*Please note that views are my own and are also unbiased.

#Review of Princess Poppy – Fantastic No Plastic @janeyjones23 @JenniePoh @Zoologist_Jess #EdenCooper #Cbeebies #PrincessPoppy #FantasticNoPlastic #Kidslit #ChildrensBooks #Environment #SchoolReadingList #Libraries #Bookshops #Newbook

  Princess Poppy – Fantastic No Plastic
By Janey Louise Jones
Illustrated by Jennie Poh
Rated: 5 stars *****

I return to reviewing for very successful children’s author – Janey Louise Jones. She is doing a great job in bringing the environment to the forefront in her popular Princess Poppy series of books. I previously reviewed Princess Poppy – Please, Please Save the Bees and this time I am pleased to present my review of Princess Poppy – Fantastic, No Plastic. These books are perfect for the times when people of all ages want to know how to look after the earth and what they can do in a practical way. Princess Poppy is also a strong young girl who girls and boys enjoy. The books are endorsed by Environmental Education Consultant – Paul Lawston and by Head of Nature and Biodiversity for Scottish Government – Hugh Dignon. This book also has a quote given by Dr. Jess French – as seen on Cbeebies channel.

janey louise jones author

Janey Louise Jones has been writing the Princess Poppy series for fifteen years. She lives in Edinburgh. She has three sons.

Click for links:
Twitter – Janey Louise Jones
Twitter Link for Princess Poppy

Princess Poppy Fantastic No Plastic

Blurb

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.

Review

Princess Poppy is a great story with a really good mix of positive environmental messages and general fun in the characters setting.

Fantasic No Plastic is the latest in this revamped Princess Poppy series of books. Poppy has been turned into an eco-warrior princess who has a wonderful caring and determined attitude. First came the brilliant Please, Please, Save the Bees – now available in paperback and now there is the new addition – Fantastic, No Plastic. These books are absolutely great for boys and girls alike as their main focus is on the environment and conservation. I can confidently, having read it to both boys and girls, both do really get into these stories about Princess Poppy and gain knowledge and have fun with the story. They are great for the home, libraries, bookshops and the classroom.

With both of these books, the stories have been well-researched to create a great story with a great environmental message, all there for both pre-school and school aged children to enjoy, as they are all on their level of understanding and enjoyment.

The illustrations are as fabulous as ever by Jennie Poh. They are big and assist really well in communicating the story to children.

The story begins with Poppy and her grandpa looking over a poster that’s for a competition to create an object to replace a plastic one. This gets me thinking that this could be an awesome and fun school project. There’s a list of some things that are made of plastic. The story then moves onto the beach with Poppy hanging out with friends, where there is lots of plastic. The book also shows the consequences of there being litter left on the beach. This again could open up brilliant discussions during storytimes in libraries or in classrooms or at home. There is certainly plenty of scope and things to ponder over. The story does also return to the competition and gives examples of plastic replacements for some items.

This is a really positive story about how action can be taken by everyone in a
non-complicated way and has a fantastic end.

There is humour to be found within the book. The balance between getting the environmental message across and some fun is right and works really well together. The humour and fun comes in, primarily in the form of Sidney – an energetic dog; and Princess Poppy and her friends playing on the beach.

I highly recommend that people do get these books in classrooms, school libraries, public libraries, community libraries and in homes. Climate is an important topic. It has been for many years and still is. There are lots for children to both enjoy and learn from in these books in a non-intimidating way. It has become obvious that the way the environmental issue is presented is completely on a child’s level and is so well-thought out. All of the content is relatable and can all be used for Reading for Pleasure and
in-conjuntion with environmental/climate activities.

I thank Janey Louise Jones for giving me the opportunity to review for her again and for sending me her paperback book of Princess Poppy, Please, Please Save the Bees (and again for last year’s hardback copy of this) and for a paperback copy of Fantastic, No Plastic.

        Paperback Princess Poppy please Save the Bees            Princess Poppy Fantastic No Plastic

 

#Review of Star Child – The Healing Stone by Vacen Taylor @VacenTaylor #rararesources #kidslit #fantasy #children’sbooks

Star Child – The Healing Stone
By Vacen Taylor
Rated 4 stars ****

I have been invited by blog tour organiser – Rachel Gilbey, to return to the Age of Akra in the Starchild series, to review Starchild – The Healing Stone. I am pleased to present my review on this, the final day of the blog tour.

The Healing Stone Full Tour Banner

About the Author

The Healing Stone Vacen Passport SizeVacen 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.

The Healing Stone - 9781922200204-Front

 Blurb

A riveting ice adventure full of incredible challenges, bravery and friendship.

When they escape the attacking forces, Mai, Akra, Kalin know they must find a way to purge the evil of the dark peddle that has consumed Long.  But as the news of the Underworld king spreads, gloom and fear begin to sweep over the lands.

The children must face a dangerous adventure across the ice to reach the healing stone. Once they reach the stone they must face the truth.

Have they made the journey in time to save Long ⸺ or is he lost to the Underworld forever?

Review

On this quest, Mai is chosen to take the journey to the Valley of a Thousand Thoughts. The journey by boat is trecherous, but there is hope that the Ice Queen will help and can heal Long from his wounds. She will, however take much convincing if she is to be won round to help. There is also a crowd to be pleased and a tournament to be won.

There are memories and some of them good, such as Mai’s birthday when thoughtbankers brought her kind gifts.

As for Long, he is in a dark place indeed, but Amual wants to rescue him.

Within the book is magic and powers to be able to morph and many other creatures.

The book is moody and the setting is icy and freezing cold, but cutting through is some softer, kinder and warmer elements of characters trying to help each other.

There’s a mission to accomplish and being a Starchild has its burdens and there are dangers that must be faced if the healing stone is to be used to try to get the poison that is within Long. There are Waterclaspers to be saved.

There is enough to capture children’s imaginations and to transport them to different worlds and to think about friendship and being on a journey to accomplish things. There is enough character development from book to book in this series, as well as world building for children to follow.

The final chapter of this book, gives a hint as to what to expect and what type of land/world the Starchild will enter into next.

Social Media Links

Facebook  – https://www.facebook.com/Vacen-Taylor-Author-233611656699562/

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/vacentaylor/

Pinteresthttps://www.pinterest.com.au/vacentaylor/

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/VacenTaylor

Happy World Book Day #WorldBookDay 2020 #Books #Bookish #CrimeFiction #Fiction #NonFiction #Kidslit #PictureBook #HistoricalFiction #History #Romance #Biography #ContemporaryFiction

Happy World Book Day 2020

Happy World Book Day and I hope that everyone is having a fabulous day, however you are celebrating. There are many author events going on around the UK in public and community libraries as well as schools. There are also lots of other bookish events too that can be participated in as you read for pleasure. There are also other ways you can participate in World Book Day, if you cannot attend an event, such as, curling up with a good book and leaving an author a review on Waterstones and Amazon.

Today I am attending a World Book Day Event to hear a talk by rising star Alison Belsham, author of The Tattoo Thief and then it will be my turn to host an event up here in Scotland too on Monday with Liz Treacher – author of The Wrong Envelope and The Wrong Direction.

I also have some great books in my review pile for both adult and children that are being published between this month and summer.

In the pile I am currently reading are fiction and non-fiction books. In no particular order of publication or review dates, look out for book one of a new series by Ben Kane – Made in Battle, Forged in War; Us Three by Ruth Jones (yes, the actor/writer from Gavin and Stacey and author of Never Greener); Eileen – The Making of George Orwell, Eileen was his wife, but not much is known about her, until now…; Paper Sparrows; A Conspiracy of Bones – the latest book by Kathy Reichs; I return to reviewing again for Lesley Kelly for her book Murder at the Music Factory – the latest in the health of Strangers series (read as a series or stand alone); I return to The Bobby Girls series to review the latest book – The Bobby Girl’s Secrets to see what the police volunteers are up to in their second and newest book.

I return to Janey Louise Jones children’s books to see what else Princess Poppy has in store now she has worked out how to save the bees. This time she is tackling plastic. I also will be reviewing for a charity Helping Hands who have had the Duchess of York on board to craete books  about how to tackle bullying, first days at school and strangers. There is a fantasy book to continue the series about Akra The Healing Stone, by Vacyn Taylor and a new book – Snow Child by a new author – Larraine Harrison.

This is just a few of the books sitting on my pile to date that you will start to see full reviews for soon. So, lots of books for you to look forward to exploring and to see what I think of. Coming up very soon are some children’s books and then an adult thriller that Lee Child and many other authors have a lot of praise for.

I of course thank all the authors, publishers and blog tour organisers for all these amazing opportunities to review and of course I thank just as equally, the readers of my blog as without everyone, my blog couldn’t exist.

Review of The Rise of the Rays by Wes Markin @MarkinWes @CazVinBooks #CrimeFiction #Thriller #Review #BlogTour

The Rise of The Rays
By Wes Markin
Rated: 4 stars ****

Today is my turn on The Rise of the Rays blog tour. Thanks to Caroline Vincent and Wes Markin for the invite and the proof-copy. I’ve reviewed most of this series now and there is plenty of suspense, especially in this well-written, fast-paced thriller that will make you want to keep turning those pages.

About the Author

Rise of the Rays Wes Markin Author Image (1)Wes Markin is a hyperactive English teacher, who loves writing crime fiction with a twist of the macabre.

Having finished the fourth instalment in the DCI Yorke series, Rise of the Rays, Wes is now working on the fifth instalment of DCI Yorke’s wild ride. He is also the author of Defined, a prequel to his DCI Yorke novels, which takes the reader back to his blood-soaked university days.

Born in 1978, Wes grew up in Manchester, UK. After graduating from Leeds University, he spent fifteen years as a teacher of English, and has taught in Thailand, Malaysia and China. Now as a teacher, writer, husband and father, he is currently living in Harrogate, UK.

Wes Markin on Social Media  

                                       Links:
Twitter                                      twitter.com/MarkinWes
Facebook Author Page       
http://www.facebook.com/WesMarkinAuthor
Goodreads Author Page     
bit.ly/GRtoWesMarkin

Blurb

Wes Markin’s most heart-pounding and dark thriller yet

They say that lightening doesn’t strike the same place twice. How the people of Wiltshire wished that were true.

When Paul Ray decides to burn down his evil family’s legacy, he falls into the clutches of those he thought gone.

And now Detective Yorke and his team face a race against time to find Paul before Wiltshire again falls under the dark spell of a ruthless family.

Unfortunately for Yorke, the answers lie in the most sinister of places. The beating heart of a long-dead killer.

Can Yorke find the truth before it’s too late? Or will the curse of the Ray family prove too strong?

Rise of the Rays book cover (1)

Review

Today I welcome back the Detective Yorke books. I have had the privilege of reviewing a few in this series now. I thought The Silence of Severance was dark and yet gripping, but wait until you get the chance to read this one. It goes even deeper and darker into what sort of family the Rays were/are. They aren’t a family to be messed around with, nor the type you would want to meet or be involved with. Wiltshire is about to be under this mean family’s spell yet again and it is most definitely a county in trouble if it does. There are some quite chilling scenes and can get pretty gory at times. Even though, perhaps the faint-hearted may find Wes Markin’s books a bit much, they are a compulsive read because there is always enough to make you wonder what is next. There is also plenty of suspense within this book. There is generally suspense within this series, but there seems even more so in this one.
The ending is an intriguing ending. Book 5 is already for pre-order, I am told and I have a feeling the end to book 4 will lead onto book 5, just a bit.

I would say it is probably good to read the series from the beginning, but there is also however, enough written about previous events to remind readers about what happened previously or to be introduced to the series and the characters involved.

The book isn’t all just about the crime, like those previous in the series, it shows the police characters lives outside trying to solve the case. They have their personal issues to deal with. I still like this, it shows they are human and life has many strands to it.

I have been invited to review on blog tours for Wes Markin’s books  from book 2 – The Repenting Serpent and haven’t been disappointed yet. The quality of the writing is good and gets better the more the Wes Markin writes too. The premise of the plots and the characters are very good. All in all, this is a series you can really get stuck into and have that anticipation of wanting to know what will happen next to the characters.
If you like your books fast-paced, dark and intriguing, this is the series for you.
You will also have to check the book out to see if Detective Yorke will find Paul or not…

Below is a list of the series so far:

#1 One Last Prayer for the Rays          
#2 The Repenting Serpent                       

#3 The Silence of Severance

#4 Rise of the Rays

Enjoy following the rest of the tour.

Rise of the Rays Blog Tour Poster 2.0 (2)