BOOK BLOG: Ali Sparkes

Night Speakers: a magical tale of finding friends and allies in unsuspecting places

Night after night Elena, Matt and Tima wake at exactly the same time, with no idea why. It’s messing them up and fracturing their lives … until they venture out into the dark and find each other. And then the sleepless trio realize their astounding power – they can speak any language; they can even communicate with animals. But something is happening over on the industrial estate – something which is emitting sounds that only they can hear, and killing any winged thing that crosses its path. There’s nobody to fight it but themselves, for only they can possibly understand it and what it means to do … 

Imagine being woken up at 1:34am every day (I hate waking up at any point during the night, so knowing that I was going to wake up at 1:34 every night would DRIVE ME MAD). Imagine not knowing WHY you’re waking up. Imagine there being a strange feeling around. There’s something not right. Someone’s watching you. Or is it something? You’re not really sure. 

This is what is happening to the teenagers in this book. They’re all awake in the middle of the night. Initially, there’s nothing to think of it… but when they get their heads together, they share that they’re all awake at the same time. Things start to happen. They meet in the dead of the night to try and figure out why they’re awake. What is going on to make them be awake? Why just them? Why do they all feel like they’re being watched? Why do they feel like they need to fight?

Not only do the teens have to contend with this waking up lark, but there’s also a discovery that they can communicate with things they’d not been able to before. Imagine being able to speak to animals. Imagine them understanding what you were saying. That’s some power that is. These brilliant teenagers have that. It so easily could be used for bad, or good… the battle between good and evil roars on. An ability to communicate with nature, not just animals, is explored in this brilliant book too. (I can’t decide if I’d embrace or shy away from this ability…)

The characters are brilliant. They’re each very defined and distinct. Some conflicting personality traits, but like everything, seeing the overall picture is the one important thread. They were gutsy and brave. They made decisions that adults definitely wouldn’t. They took risks. I read this book with a bit of admiration for them. Kids are brilliant protagonists as they still have this awe and wonder about the world – sometimes lacking in adult characters. I distinctly remember one scene making me cry too… 

I absolutely adored the imagery and the use of language in this book too. It was one of those cases of “getting lost in the world” and I think it’s exceptionally well written. The slow and steady feeding of information and images through the book keeps you wanting to read, to find out what happens next. To find out what this big evil is. To find out if the kids manage in their quests to overcome the evil. 

I’m massively looking forward to more from this series… I’m hoping it is a series! I’d love to meet these kids and their friends again. 

Thank you so much to OUP for sending me a review copy! 

Would you like to be able to talk to animals?
Which animal would you like to speak to most?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter! I’d love to talk about this magical book! You know how I feel about magical books… 

S x


#EasterReadathon round up

During Easter weekend, the brilliant Kate (of Reading Through Infinity fame) was hosting the #EasterReadathon. I don’t know if I ever officially signed up… I didn’t have a TBR. I’m very much a mood reader. However… I had a VERY productive #EasterReadathon, so I thought I would share the books I read with their synopsis and short thoughts about the books! Full reviews will come in time, do not fear guys. 

During #EasterReadathon I managed to read 7 books. 7 books in 4 days is not bad going!

Book 1
The Company of Eight – Harriet Whitehorn 

(left: my proof copy/right: finished cover)

“When Ravellous’s Circus Ship comes to Minaris, Cass is determined to audition despite her guardian Mrs Potts’s disapproval. But when her chance is snatched away from her, Cass refuses to give up. She sets out to follow the Circus Ship and the journey leads her into dangers that challenge even her adventurous spirit. Will she succeed in following her dream, or is her destiny something altogether different?”

I really enjoyed this. It was fast paced and full of danger and peril. The main character was really likeable, I want to be her friend! The language was beautifully rich. I want to join the company! Sword fighting and badass women? SIGN ME UP. Thank you so much Stripes for my proof copy!

Book 2
Spark – Alice Broadway


“Leora is reeling: questioning everything she has ever known about her family and herself. As half-Marked and half-Blank, can she ever wholly belong in either fractured community? Mayor Longsight wants to use her as a weapon: to infiltrate Featherstone, home of the Blanks, and deliver them to him for obliteration. Leora longs for answers about her mysterious birth mother, and Featherstone may reveal them. But will she find solace and safety there or a viper’s nest of suspicion and secrets?”

Man. I have COMPLEX emotions about this book. I love Leora so much. I just can’t process how I feel about this book yet. A full review of this is to come because I can’t put into words how much I loved it. The story telling, the world building, the interwoven fairytales (comnpare these to Ink and your brain will explode). It’s just majestic. I love Alice so much. I can’t wait for book 3 of this trilogy… I only have to wait a year!

Book 3
The Storm Keeper’s Island – Catherine Doyle

(left: my proof copy/right: finished cover)

“Fionn Boyle and his older sister Tara have been sent to stay with their grandfather on the remote island of Arranmore for the summer. Though Fionn has never met his grandfather before – an eccentric old man who lives in a tiny cottage filled to the brim with candles – he knows he comes from a long line of brave lifeboat men, who wear the sea behind their eyes. Fionn is scared of the sea. He has no interest in adventure or shipwrecks or the restless wind that rustles through the island, as though in search of something. But an old magic is stirring deep inside the layers of Arranmore, and it is calling out to Fionn.”

This book is INCREDIBLE. I read it in a matter of hours. I just adored it. Fionn is a remarkable young man – his progression from scared young man, to quite a brave and bold man is wonderful. The magic, the island, the mystical nature of the situation, the relationships with his family. I can’t wait for this to come out (July, I believe!) and everyone to experience this wonderousness. (A full review will come closer to release!) Thank you so much to Kids Bloomsbury for my proof! 

Book 4
Skylarks – Karen Gregory

“When she was little, Joni used to have dreams that she could fly. But these days her feet are firmly on the ground – they have to be when money’s tight and her dad can’t work and the whole family has to pull together to keep afloat. Then she meets Annabel. Annabel is everything Joni isn’t, and yet there’s a spark between them. Though Joni barely believes it at first, she thinks they might be falling in love. But when Annabel’s parents find out about the relationship, it’s clear they believe there are some differences that are impossible to overcome…”

This was an interesting one! I absolutely ADORED Countless by Karen Gregory (even now it makes me blub thinking about it!) and was looking forward to this! Skylarks explores social class, injustice and the power of money. It’s refreshing to read something where the person is a little bit more real. It packs a punch too. I love the Cooper family a lot. Thank you so much to Kids Bloomsbury for my proof!

Book 5
The Buried Crown – Ally Sherrick

“It’s World War Two and Britain is on the brink of invasion. Londoner George has been sent to live in in the countryside while his brother and guardian, Charlie, fights overseas. But the war is closer than he thinks. An ancient burial ground nearby contains a priceless treasure, a magical Anglo-Saxon crown Hitler is desperate to possess. Alongside Kitty, the granddaughter of a Jewish archaeologist, George must find and protect the crown from the Nazi invaders before it’s too late…”

This was a SURPRISE entry. The lovelies of Chicken House sent it over to me and the gold made me pick it up. AND MY WORD, WHAT A BOOK. I absolutely adored it. It was full of adventure. I’m a sucker for a WW2 book, so this was RIGHT UP MY ALLEY. A brave young man protecting something unique from the hands of Hitler himself? YES PLZ. Memorable characters and a brilliant plot – watch out for a full review coming up!

Book 6
Me Mam. Me Dad. Me

“Danny’s mam has a new boyfriend. Initially, all is good – Callum seems nice enough, and Danny can’t deny he’s got a cool set up; big house, fast car, massive TV, and Mam seems to really like him. But cracks begin to show, and they’re not the sort that can be easily repaired. As Danny witnesses Mam suffer and Callum spiral out of control he goes in search of his dad. The Dad he’s never met.”

I don’t want to say too much about this because I have a blog post coming up about it, but I need to tell you guys how much I loved it. Look, I’m a Geordie. There are VERY FEW books set in Geordieland. To read a book written by a Geordie, set in Geordieland, with a LIKEABLE Geordie main character is a rare occurance for me. This story had my guts in knots for 99% of the time. I love Danny. So much. Thank you so much Head of Zeus for sending this to me. It’s made an imprint in my heart.

Book 7
Max the Detective Cat: The Disappearing Diva

“Max, chief mouse-hunter at the Theatre Royal, is up to his whiskers in his first mystery! Max is a pampered cat, used to the finer things in life, until a fun mouse chase goes badly wrong and he finds himself scruffy and alone and hiding out at the Theatre Royal. It’s here that Max takes on his first case as a detective cat, when he notices that famous singer Madame Emerald is acting strangely. Why is her maid so terrified? And what kind of singer doesn’t like to sing in public? Soon Max is trapped in a complicated web of crime, dashing round dancers’ legs and over the rooftops of London in a race to catch a clever thief…”

The lovely Nosy Crow gang sent me this book and it was a properly fun caper. It gave me such Aristocat vibes too, in the very best way. I really enjoyed it. Super readable and interesting. The illustrations were great too! A detective cat, living in a theatre, foiling a theft? Yes please! 

And there you have it! My haul of #EasterReadathon books! I don’t always get through 7 books in one weekend, I’ll have you know! It’s a testament to how brilliant these books were that I got through them all! Thanks so much Kate for hosting! 

Did you join in #EasterReadathon?
How many books do you reckon you could get through in a weekend?
Are there any on this list you’ve read, or would like to read?

Speak to me! Comment me, tweet me! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Simon Philip

I Don’t Know What To Call My Cat: a funny and charming exploration of importance of names

img_2089(I’m chuffed that the book matches my cat bedding… blogger win!)

“Every cat needs a name. One name, one word, just a sound… It should be easy to choose one, right? WRONG!!! I just don’t know what to call my cat! Choosing the right name for a new pet is very important! Find out just what this cat’s name turns out to be in this clever and witty story from an exciting debut author and talented young illustrator.”

I Don’t Know What To Call My Cat explores the story of a young girl who gets a pet cat and worries about all of the things that come with owning a pet, but mostly… what can she call the cat? She goes through a whole host of names, with no luck. Then the vet throws a spanner in the works, highlighting the fact her cat is in fact a tomcat and not a queen. Her cat disappears and she gains a pet gorilla, named Steve, obviously. Now she has a pet who has a name, but she misses her cat. Whatever will happen? Will the cat ever have a name? 


I absolutely adore the illustrations in this book. They’re so beautiful and a particular favourite of mine is the one below. LOOK HOW UNIMPRESSED THAT CAT IS. It made the kids at school proper chuckle: “Miss, that cat looks SO STUPID” “Miss, why would you dress your cat up as a Queen? Cats aren’t meant to have crowns!”. So yes, the illustrations are definitely a hit!


This book is full of humour and has gone down an absolute pleasure with the kids at school! We thought about pets and names, and our names after reading this book. The kids loved thinking of their own new pet and what name they’d give it! 

PLUS. Look at those end papers man *heart eyes*

Thank you so much to Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of this book! It’s a firm favourite in our school!

What would you call your cat if you got one?
What’s your favourite cat name? 
(I’m fond of human names for cats).

Let me know your ideas in the comments or on twitter! Speak soon!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Malcolm Duffy

Me Mam. Me Dad. Me: touching, hard-hitting and brilliant


“Danny’s mam has a new boyfriend. Initially, all is good – Callum seems nice enough, and Danny can’t deny he’s got a cool set up; big house, fast car, massive TV, and Mam seems to really like him. But cracks begin to show, and they’re not the sort that can be easily repaired. As Danny witnesses Mam suffer and Callum spiral out of control he goes in search of his dad. The Dad he’s never met.”

I was sent Me Mam. Me Dad. Me by the lovely publishers Head of Zeus and guys, IT’S A GEORDIE BOOK. IT’S WRITTEN BY A GEORDIE, WITH A GEORDIE MAIN CHARACTER, SET IN GEORDIE LAND. As an exceptionally proud Geordie, this made my heart so happy. It was so refreshing to read something that was in my dialect. It’s nice, every now and again, for a book to “get” youto see yourself in the book. While I’m not Danny, I’m a Geordie, I say the words he says, I speak the way he does, I know the places he goes… it was SO LOVELY to see MY WORLD in a book. 

Me Mam. Me Dad. Me tells you the story of Danny, a young man who has grown up just him and his mam (I loved seeing the word mam throughout this book, that’s what I call my mam, not mum or mom… mam). As the book goes on his mam falls for Callum, who seems like a nice enough fella to start with, but who’s not a nice man at all. He’s abusive, manipulative and down right horrid. His mam brushes it off, but it bothers Danny a lot. Eventually, Danny decides that finding his dad and getting his dad’s help is the only solution to the Callum problem… which ends pretty disastrous. 

It’s so nice to read a Geordie character who is actually likeable. I’ve only read one other – Juno Dawson’s short story in I’ll Be Home For Christmas! (Here, I’m going to keep saying this, so get used to it). Danny is one of those just good kids. He wants to look after his mam. He just wants her to be happy and safe, and who would blame him? I’d be doing the exact same thing. He’s so normal: he goes to school, has a girlfriend, has mates. He’s so brave. He’s naive and foolish too. His plan isnt foil proof if we’re honest. Going to find the dad you’ve never met? Good shout Danny. But I really liked him. I really felt for him. 

Then you’ve got Callum. That deplorable man. I just have no time for him. He’s condescending, abusive, mean, manipulative. Watching his character change over time was fascinating however. He starts as this generous, happy fella and in the end, he’s not that at all. His separate relationships with Danny and Danny’s mam are interesting – shouldn’t he treat her with the respect someone deserves who you love? Well, you’d think. 

I really liked the family element to this book. You see Danny’s mam’s family, Danny’s dad’s new life and Callum’s family. All 3 very different. All bringing different vibes to the book. 

This books deals with dark topics I can’t deny that. There are scenes which are really hard to read. There’s moments where my heart hurt for Danny. I say this but there’s also a lightness about it. Finding yourself, finding your family, standing up for what’s right, teenage naivety. I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone and anyone. 

I hope this just inspires more Geordie books, because I endorse this massively. 

My goodreads review:
A Geordie voice? A tough topic? A book which will make your gut wrench but also make you laugh at times? 
I’ll keep going on about this BUT ITS SO NICE TO READ SOMETHING IN MY DIALECT. Man, we need more Geordie MCs. This was just so refreshing.

So yes, if you can, please go out and buy this/request it from your library. It’s so brilliant, it’s hard-hitting and it’s authentic. We need more voices like Danny’s (and not just the Geordie voices!). 

Have you read Me Mam. Me Dad. Me?
Would you like to see more books in different dialects?

Let me know in the comments! 

S x

BOOK BLOG: Ross Montgomery

Max and the Millions: adventure filled and laughter a-plenty!

“Max is used to spending time alone – it’s difficult to make friends in a big, chaotic school when you’re deaf. He prefers to give his attention to the little things in life… like making awesome, detailed replica models.
Then Mr Darrow, the school caretaker and fellow modeller, goes missing. Max must follow his parting instruction: ‘Go to my room. You’ll know what to do.’
There on the floor he finds a pile of sand … and in the sand is Mr Darrow’s latest creation… a tiny boy, no bigger than a raisin, Luke, Prince of the Blues. And behind the tiny boy… millions of others – a thriving, bustling, sprawling civilization!”

Max and the Millions starts with one of the most intriguing first chapters I’ve read for a long while… I knew that I was in for something very fun and interesting from that opening chapter. Reading on did not disappoint!

Max tells the story of young Max, a boy who doesn’t have many friends, just trying to keep going at boarding school. This boarding school has possibly the world’s worst headteacher (genuinely despised the man… he bothered me a lot) and Max does not fit in. He wears hearing aids and his headteacher is not very subtle about it. He’s singled out a lot. He doesn’t feel included in school life at all. He has a friendship with the school janitor, they bonded over building miniature replica models. However, when the janitor disappears it is up to Max to try and save the world which has been built before it can be ruined. 

Max, having found a secret message in Mr Darrow’s room, has to leave school for the summer. This makes him worry. Will the janitor’s room and all of the things inside still be safe after the summer holiday? When Max arrives after the summer holidays, he is amazed to find that there are now millions of little people living in Mr Darrow’s room, in this little world which was created there. 

There’s some hilarious moments with the 3 warring camps which are living in the room – the Reds who are led by the Queen; the Blues, led by a pretty lazy son of the deceased king, and the Greens, ran by a pretty mean man. The descriptions of where they live within the room (under the bed, in the bin) made me chuckle. It amazes me that authors can see everyday things and come up with such extraordinary little worlds! 

Max knows he needs to get these 3 camps to agree and he needs to get them to safety. He eventually finds an ally in one of the boys at school. The friendship between Max and Sasha was brilliant to see. Max learns to trust people and, in time, builds a friend. 

I’m a massive Ross Montgomery fanPerijee and Me is one of my favourite books. This one is a great book to read next. The kids at school are loving it! 

My goodreads review: A great book filled with adventure and laughter! Certainly made me laugh out loud more than once. Brave main characters, an excellent portrayal of disability and a mean head teacher. This is accessible and fun, kids will love it!

Have you read any Ross Montgomery books?
Would you like millions of little men and women living in your room?
Did you have any disastrous teachers growing up?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter! I’d love to talk good/bad teachers!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Jess Butterworth

When The Mountains Roared: a book with threads of grief, friendship and the importance of looking after our world.

img_1474-1(this was the proof cover and I just ADORE it!)

“When Ruby’s dad uproots her from Australia to set up a hotel in the mountains of India, Ruby is devastated. Not only are they living in a run-down building in the middle of the wilderness surrounded by scorpions, bears and leopards, but Ruby is sure that India will never truly feel like home – not without her mum there.Ever since her mum died, Ruby has been afraid. Of cars. Of the dark. Of going to sleep and never waking up. But then the last remaining leopards of the mountain are threatened and everything changes. Ruby vows to do all she can to protect them – if she can only overcome her fears…”

(finished cover, I absolutely love it!)

When The Mountains Roared explores the upheaval of life from comfortable and familiar, on a ship, over to a brand new and scary life on a brand new continent. Telling the story of Ruby, a brave young girl who is trying to cope at a tough time. She’s lost her mam, she’s lost her friends, she’s lost all familarity in life. Her dad is preoccupied. She’s in this brand new world, surrounded by new people, new problems and she can’t quite understand what’s going on.

Ruby is what’s so brilliant about MG characters being written lately: she’s not afraid to stand up for what she knows is right, she’s brave, gutsy and she’s curious. She asks questions. She tries, fails, but keeps trying. It’s so brilliant for kids to read characters like Ruby. Characters who are real. 

Moving to another country and dealing with a whole new set of rules and customs is a tough thing to go through. Ruby, who has lost her mum, has moved with her dad and her grandmother. They move to a hotel which is in need of more than a lick of paint. Her dad paints this as an adventure. An adventure it is, but it has seriously dark undertones. 

img_1476-1(I love love love these chapter pages! So much!)

This book deals so brilliantly with an issue lots of kids may never come across: poaching. Ruby is now in this incredible landscape surrounded by animals. She meets snakes, big cats and all sorts of exotic wildlife. The animals become her familiarity throughout the book. When she finds out that there’s poachers, her worst nightmare comes to light – her dad is somehow involved. I loved this exploration of quite a serious subject, at a level that doesn’t undermine the knowledge children have, isn’t preachy – it’s just right. The relationship Ruby has with the animals is honest and I properly felt for Ruby. 

There’s also a brilliant thread of dealing with Ruby’s grief too. It’s dealt with so delicately. Ruby isn’t ready to let go of her mam, her home, her memories. She’s afraid to make new memories in case she forgets her mam. There’s a level of worry and panic about Ruby that comes because of the loss of her mam. However, she’s brave and determined. It’s obvious that her family are a massive part of her story, so she keeps going.

I really loved this book. It was one that I sat down and just devoured. The descriptions are vivid and beautiful. The kids at school are loving it too. Pair this with Jess Butterworth’s first book Running on the Rooftops of the World, and you’ve got a winning combination. I’m excited to see what’s next, Jess is proving to be an author who writes complete winners!

Have you read When The Mountains Roared?
How do you think you’d cope being upheaved to India?
Can you recommend any books similar to this?

Thank you so much to publishers for sending me a proof copy! Let me know in the comments, or on twitter. I’d love to talk!

S x



Beyond The Odyssey: well worth the wait, the pain and the TEARS!


Hello, I’m Steph and I’m a self confessed Maz Evans super fan. Her books are EXCEPTIONAL. Like… properly great. Who Let The Gods Out and Simply The Quest are some of my favourite books of recent years. I own 3 copies of STQ, for what reason? Who knows! I made all of my friends go on a massive hunt for sprayed edges STQ last year, and I am on HIGH ALERT for sprayed edges BTO this year. But anyway, we are not here to talk about my hunt for sprayed edges books… we are here to talk about Beyond The Odyssey…

Imagine the scene, I’m (impatiently) waiting for a Chicken House parcel. I’m still waiting. It’s been snowing, the postman hasn’t been for days (it’s like a post apocalyptic world) I’ve been off work with nothing to read (in reality there’s 700 books for me to read, but I want to read BTO). When I eventually go back to work, there is still no sign of the book. I start to think my postman is holding the book hostage (I feel Nyx would approve of my postman doing this)… I come in from a HORRIFIC day at work and to my sheer joy there is a parcel from the House of Chickens. IMAGINE MY DELIGHT… LOOK AT HOW CHUFFED I AM.


I have no shame. I was so excited.

(If you haven’t read Who Let The Gods Out/Simply The Quest, then get on it. THEY ARE SO GOOD OK? My reviews are here and here)

But anyway… onto my review…

“Elliot’s life is spiralling out of control and his mum’s health is worsening. The gods are determined to embark on the quest for the third chaos stone. But Elliot has heard of a mythical potion rumoured to cure all ills … could he save his mum, even if it means sacrificing the fate of the world?”

Beyond the Odyssey (let’s call it BTO from now on in this review, because that’s FAR FEWER letters for me to have to type, and you to have to read!) follows the life of our trusty protagonist Elliot, who is naturally struggling with lots of things. He does have his trusty Greek Gods by his side, and his ever faithful best friend Virgo to help him too. The battles he faces this time are MUCH BIGGER than in the 2 previous books. This time… there’s Titans on the loose, a hunt for a potion that could heal Josie-Mum and some pretty tough characters to face too. 

BTO introduces us to Elliot’s dad, Dave, who is around the farm, but things aren’t quite right. Josie-Mum is getting worse, she doesn’t seem to trust Dave and she wants to be nowhere near him. Elliot doesn’t think anything of this, just that Josie-Mum is getting used to change. Dave tries to keep out of the way as much as he can. 

It’s going to be so hard to write this review without it being spoilery. I will aim not to be spoilery. I’ll be a good book blogger. (LOL)

So Elliot has to combat dealing with Dave, people at school meddling in his business, trying to find another Chaos Stone and finding this magical potion he has heard of. There’s SO MUCH here for Elliot to deal with. He’s an amazing young man. I have grown properly attached to him. There are moments in BTO where I was like NO ELLIOT DON’T DO THAT MAN THAT’S SO STUPID, but he does everything with one thing in his mind: get his mum better. I know that if I were Elliot, I’d want my mam to be better too

Seriously though, how I write this review without just telling you what happens is hurting my brain.

I need you to know a few things: 

Elliot is a wonderful young man.

The gods have his best interests at heart. I absolutely love seeing how much their relationships have grown. The gods make these books even more special. Especially the good ones.

There’s obviously baddies. They make for deliciously wicked reading. There’s a MASSIVE twist towards the end and I GENUINELY gasped. SO SO GOOD. Maz is a wicked queen who wants us all to feel pain.

These books are hilarious. These books are so fast paced and wonderful. There’s some absolute comedic genius lines thrown in there. I genuinely chuckle SO HARD at these books. There’s an incredible line about kebabs that made me laugh for a good 10 minutes. The balance of BREAKING YOUR HEART to PROPER LAUGHTER is perfect. There’s scenes aboard disastrous planes in this book which just are wonderful. 

I’ve learned SO MUCH about Greek mythology through these books. I genuinely find myself spouting random things about Greek mythology having read these books. You don’t realise you’re learning, but you are. 


This is just a snippet of the messages I sent to Maz while I was reading. Seriously. There’s a WHOLE TON of others, but they’re spoilery. SO MUCH HELP NEEDED. I finished BTO and was like “what have I just read? what just happened?” but in that exquisite, brilliant, book hangover kind of way. You know when you read a book that is just SO GOOD your brain doesn’t quite know how to process what happened?

My goodreads review is far fewer words, with the same message:

Can I give this book more than 5 stars? 
Gods it’s brilliant. More emotions than I can list. The exceptional humour of the past two, more twists and turns than you can count, a massive dollop of sadness, some more exceptional Greek mythology. New characters, old favourites, new places, old haunts. I just… yes. Maz is exceptional

This review so far has just been a lot of ramble. Trust me when I say it is EXCEPTIONAL. I am SO READY (but so NOT ready) for book 4. I am GENUINELY terrified about what it holds for us. I am team purple cover though (for book 4). 

Have you read any of this series yet?
Are you a fan of mythology in stories?
Are you also team purple cover?

Please come and talk to me about this book, this series, what is to come, because I need to talk about it more. I am yet to think coherent thoughts about this book. I loved it and would absolute recommend EVERYONE reads it. Leave me a comment, send me a tweet, a carrier god, whatever!

S x


BOOKBLOG: Peter Brown

The Wild Robot – an incredible story, encompassing a brilliant mash up of nature and technology

“When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz’s only hope is to learn from the island’s hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her….”

I picked up The Wild Robot because of its cover and due to the fact a few of my primary twitter pals recommending it to me. Recommend it they were absolutely right to! It is wonderful. I finished it feeling so brilliant.

The Wild Robot tells the story of Roz, a robot who ends up stranded on an island. She knows no different. This is her life. She’s a robot. She’s woken on this island. This must be home. Right? Home? What ensues is this incredible discovery of nature, technology, life, love and family. 

The animals of the island are initially VERY apprehensive about Roz’s arrival, they meet it with suspicion. Watching their relationships change and warm was just gorgeous. Roz ends up becoming an absolute asset to the islandlooking after the animals during the winter, helping them out and looking after an orphaned gosling. There’s incredible moments of shows of humanity from this very definite robot. She warmed my heart a lot of times.

As well as being a gorgeously sweet book, there’s an incredible humour about the book. I remember vividly reading and laughing OUT LOUD. I’m an emotive reader. I will laugh and cry. I will gasp. I love books that make me feel things. When kids books can make me (an adult) laugh, that’s something special. This book has humour and charm in the bucket loads. I need to take a moment to mention the illustrations too. They add so much to the story. If the cover was what I had to go off, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed! They are just brilliant.

It’s charming, it’s funny, it’s sweet… there’s this incredible balance of all things wonderful in this book. There’s a MASSIVE chunk of science thrown into this book which I thought was brilliant. So much science learning could go along side this book. It is absolutely spot on for primary schools. Our kids have taken this book entirely under their wing and they can’t get enough of it.

When I heard there was going to be a sequel, I was delighted. However, I am SO SO SO VERY SAD that the sequel isn’t out here until August though… what’s that all about!? (Lucky America getting it first!!)

Following my review on twitter, the author tweeted me after I posted that I’d read it to link me to a blog post he wrote himself about the story. I thought it was fascinating! Check it out here.

Have you read The Wild Robot?
What would you do if you found a robot emerged where you lived?
What would you do if you woke up on a strange island?

Let me know your thoughts, and we can talk about how far away August is together. *weep*

S x


BOOK BLOG: Ross Mackenzie

The Nowhere Emporium – magical, fantastical and sheer brilliant.

“When the mysterious Nowhere Emporium arrives in Glasgow, orphan Daniel Holmes stumbles upon it quite by accident. Before long, the ‘shop from nowhere’ — and its owner, Mr Silver — draw Daniel into a breathtaking world of magic and enchantment. Recruited as Mr Silver’s apprentice, Daniel learns the secrets of the Emporium’s vast labyrinth of passageways and rooms — rooms that contain wonders beyond anything Daniel has ever imagined. But when Mr Silver disappears, and a shadow from the past threatens everything, the Emporium and all its wonders begin to crumble. Can Daniel save his home, and his new friends, before the Nowhere Emporium is destroyed forever?”

You know you’ve read a special book when you just keep asking the children at school if they’ve read it yet. Most of them are like “OBVIOUSLY MISS”, but when I come across one who hasn’t read it yet, my general reaction is “GET IT READ NOW IT IS SO GOOD MAN”. 

The Nowhere Emporium tells the tale of Daniel and his weird and wonderful run in with The Nowhere Emporiuma place people visit, but don’t remember anything about it. It’s a place filled with magic, imagination and sheer wonder. When Daniel first discovers the Emporium, it’s just a normal building… but once he’s inside the world you see this incredible magic and fantastical world that Mr Silver has created

(Side note: as a MASSIVE fan of The Night Circus, this book is like a kids’ version and that made my heart SO INCREDIBLY HAPPY. I’m always on the lookout for books like The Night Circus… so please holler if you have any!)

I don’t know that I have the words quite yet for how much I loved it. There’s so much that makes this book ABSOLUTELY incredible. The characters, the plot, the Emporium itself, the back story, the remarkable world, Daniel’s journey… so much and SO FEW words to talk about how much I loved it. 

Inside the Emporium is just room after room of sheer wonder. People come in, leave their imaginations and their incredible visions behind, and then have NO idea they were ever there. The Emporium never stays anywhere too long. It’s like a mysterious circus. It’s like it’s very own incredible caravan that can move around.

(How I write this review without just going PLEASE JUST READ THIS! I’M SO SAD I WAITED SO LONG TO READ THIS! SERIOUSLY THOUGH! READ IT! is beyond me!)

The characters are all interesting – from the people who work at the Emporium, to mysterious Mr. Silver, Ellie, or the infamous baddie. The thing I loved most was that you actually got to know the history of the characters. You find out Mr. Silver’s history (there’s a pretty tragic story that comes with his story, that did leave me pretty gutted!)

There’s a scene towards the end of the book that just blew me away. I don’t want to spoil it, but the imagery, the imagintion and the clever manipulation of the Emporium just made my heart really happy. 

This book is clever. Like properly clever. I would LOVE to use this as a class novel. I think you could get SO SO much from it. There’s so much potential for some incredible description and some brilliant art work that could come from this! I’d love to see what kids would create as their own room in the Nowhere Emporium. Seeing the creations would be amazing! 

(I realise my review is SO RUBBISH at conveying the things I actually loved about this book, but I genuinely did love it… wholeheartedly).

My goodreads does this book SO MUCH MORE JUSTICE, in far fewer words!

Absolutely incredible. I just don’t have the words for this. The evil villain, the tragic back story, the brilliant background characters, magpies, friendship, family… ALL INCREDIBLE. Throw in a massive dollop of magic and a writing style that you just can’t help but devour and you get this special book. I need more NOW.

PLUS… there’s a sequel coming out and I GENUINELY CAN’T WAIT. Bring it on. I love a sequel. The Elsewhere Emporium, guys. I’m excited.


What would your room in the Nowhere Emporium look like?
Can you recommend me any other books (kids or YA) that are swimilar to The Night Circus?

Please share all recommendations or thoughts in the comments or on twitter, I’d love to squee over this book with someone! 

S x




BOOK BLOG: Steven Butler

The Nothing To See Here Hotel – perfectly good fun!


Welcome to The Nothing to See Here Hotel! A hotel for magical creatures, where weird is normal for Frankie Banister and his parents who run the hotel. When a goblin messenger arrives at The Nothing to See Here Hotel, announcing the imminent arrival of the goblin prince Grogbah, Frankie and his family rush into action to get ready for their important guest. But it soon becomes obvious that the Banister family are going to  have their work cut out with the demanding prince and his never-ending entourage, especially when it turns out the rude little prince is hiding a secret…”

The Nothing To See Here Hotel is one of those great books that comes along and is just sheer fun. As an adult, I sometimes miss things that kids find hilarious (which is natural, I don’t necessarily expect to find kids books hilarious… I’m not your target audience after all), but there was definite moments here where I actually laughed out loud. It’s just one of those great funny books. The kids at school are loving it

Add to this, the fact that the cover is GORGEOUS and you have an utter winner. I know, I know, you shouldn’t judge a book on its cover. We all do it though. A bit of shelf appeal is a GREAT thing. The cover reflects the book brilliantly – an interesting mix of characters, a bright and bold style and the gorgeous hotel at its centre! The illustrations of this book are gorgeous too! They add a brilliant level to the story. I take my hat off to Steven Lenton, I wish I could draw that beautifully!

You meet a whole host of different characters in this book. From the gorgeous main character, the staff who work at the hotel, Frankie’s brilliant grandmother and the great hotel guests. There’s guests of all shapes and sizes! When the Troll prince comes along, hiding from something, bringing along with him secrets, there are a whole host of panic, hilarity and problems for the hotel staff. 

There’s a great pace to this book and it keeps kids gripped. I’d definitely recommend it for 6+ years! I’m loving seeing all the children discover it and share their joy of it with each other!

Would you like to stay in a magical, hidden hotel?
Which fantastical character would you like to meet?
Have you got any recommendations for children of this age?

S x