Sunday, 23 February 2020

#SixforSunday

Hello hello my lovelies,

Another week gone by and still it's stormy out. My half term is over and it's back to work tomorrow.
Whilst I love being at home, it has been a bit of a disastrous week. My car went in for it's MOT. £195 later it passed! Oh my goodness. That meant all my plans for the week went out of the window as I had no money. Then the following day, I left the freezer door open and didn't realise until the next afternoon, so I had to throw everything away. Sad times!

Anyway, enough wallowing in the bad things, let's get on to the Six For Sunday meme. The theme this week is favourite covers or types of cover.

I'm one of those people who is really swayed by a book cover. I was talking to my class about this the other week, and one of my boys said that he isn't interested in the cover, so long as the blurb is good. That's what makes books so interesting don't you think? They mean different things to different people. What one sees in one could be seen differently by another. 
I have an unwritten rule thatI won't read a book if I've seen the film first. This is because I like to use my imagination and picture the scenes the way I want them to be. If I watch the film after I've read the book I can adjust my thinking and try to understand why the producer saw it differently to me. 
Do you have any unwritten rules?

Anyway, back to book covers. I am a sucker for gold foiling, elaborate and beautiful covers. Those that don't give much away so that I want to get on in and read it. I bought a copy of The Binding purely because of the book cover. When I then read the blurb, that was it, I had to dive straight in.

I've decided to go a bit rogue here and choose some book covers of books I haven't read yet but want to just because of the book cover (not having read the blurb) and some I have.

These are my favourite 6.

1. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Image result for middle grade book uk

The title doesn't give much away and the cover doesn't tell us much either. I'm intrigued!

2. Moonlocket by Peter Bunzl
Image result for middle grade book uk
This is one from the Cogheart series. I haven't read any of them yet but I love this cover. Let me in!

3. Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy
Image result for middle grade book uk
 I'm currently reading this on audible. How beautiful is this?

4.Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm
Image result for middle grade book uk
Love this cover! Not read this one.

5. The Turnaway Girls by Hayley Chewins
Image result for middle grade book uk
This cover is just b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. Not read it though.

6. A Sprinkle Of Sorcery by Michelle Harrison
Image result for children's  book uk
Just stunning cover and read it too!

If you want to join in with #sixforsunday, then hop over to alittlebutalot where Steph will guide you through it.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. 

Happy reading,

Allison xx

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Best Blue Peter Award Winning Book of All Time

Hello, hello my lovelies,

I hope you are all well. For us teachers on half term it has been a very welcome break - although I use that term loosely as I have been doing school work for most of it. The weather has been a mix of lovely sunshine and horrendous winds. My mum lives in south Wales where they have been hit quite hard but she is thankful she lives up a mountain so doesn't have to worry about flooding.

So, on with booky business. As the title says, Blue Peter are celebrating 20 years of Blue Peter book awards. They want to know which of their award winning books from those years is the BEST EVER!!

This is a mighty task, but luckily for us, some lovely judges have culled the shortlist to just 10 books. Without further ado, here they are:

1. The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Ralf

The Boy At the Back of the Class (Paperback)

Synopsis:
A story of friendship, hope and the importance of kindness, The Boy at the Back of the Class is a story full of heart and humour, told from a unique perspective. Featuring illustrations from Pippa Curnick, this is an exceptional book by an emerging voice in children’s writing.
When a new boy joins their class, a group of children try to befriend him. They soon learn that Ahmet is a refugee and has been separated from his family. None of the grown-ups seem to be able to help him, so the friends come up with a daring plan, embarking on an extraordinary adventure.
2. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson & illustrated by Alex Scheffler
The Gruffalo - The Gruffalo (Paperback)
Synopsis:
"A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood. A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good."

Walk further into the deep dark wood, and discover what happens when a quick-witted mouse comes face to face with an owl, a snake ...and a hungry Gruffalo! Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's The Gruffalo is an undisputed modern classic and has become a best-selling phenomenon across the world with over 13.5 million copies sold. 

This award-winning rhyming story of a mouse and a monster has found its way into the hearts and bedtimes of an entire generation of children and will undoubtedly continue to enchant children for years and years to come. No home should be without The Gruffalo


3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Paperback)
Synopsis:
Life isn’t much fun at number four Privet Drive, at least not for Harry Potter, living under the stairs in a cupboard full of spiders, but all of that is about to change. On the eve of Harry’s eleventh birthday the letters start arriving; letters written in emerald green ink on yellowing parchment with an unmistakable letter H on purple wax seals. Because Harry Potter is no ordinary boy, he is the boy who lived, the wizard whose name everyone in the magical world knows and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin and life for Harry Potter will never be the same again.
So pick up your broomstick, have your wand at the ready. Waterstones invites you to Join Harry as he discovers the magical world for the very first time at the start of this incredible, multi-award-winning series.
This is where the magic begins!

4. Matilda by Roald Dahl
Matilda (Paperback)
Synopsis:
It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful
That might be true of most parents, but for Matilda Wormwood, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Matilda’s parents hardly notice her at all; they’re much more interested with fiddling customers at Mr Wormwood’s second-hand car business, playing bingo or eating their dinner in front of the TV. Even at school it’s not much better, the headmistress, Miss Trunchbull is a fearsome gorgon of a woman who likes nothing better than throwing small children out of the window at the smallest provocation.
Matilda is no ordinary child though; Matilda is something special and she’s had enough with the grown-up’s bullying ways. With the help of her wonderful teacher Miss Honey, Matilda might just be able to change things for the better.
Waterstones invites you to meet marvellous, magical Matilda and watch as she shows that, with a little ingenuity, even the smallest people can make a big difference.
It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it.
Now the magic of Roald Dahl is brought to life in these new illustrated paperback editions from the imagination of Quentin Blake, Roald Dahl’s own favourite illustrator. With brand new, bold cover designs and Blake’s quintessential pen and ink drawings these are classic editions for every generation to enjoy.
Roald Dahl was a spy, ace fighter pilot, chocolate historian and medical inventor. He was also the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG and many more brilliant stories. He remains the world's number one storyteller.

5. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
Mortal Engines - Mortal Engines Quartet 1 (Paperback)
Synopsis:
It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing an old mining town across the dried-up bed of the old North Sea.
So begins Mortal Engines, launching Philip Reeve's brilliantly-imagined steampunk creation, the world of the Traction Era, where mobile cities fight for survival in a post-apocalyptic future.
Set thousands of years in the future, in the aftermath of the Sixty Minute War which destroyed the civilisation of the 21st century the Mortal Engines series is a modern masterpiece, blending science-fiction, adventure and wonderful strangeness.
Airships storm the skies whilst deep in the oceans submarines lie waiting for prey. In this dangerous landscape the cities and their anti-tractionist enemies race to capture the remnants of perilous technologies to put to use. 

6. The Outlaw Varjak Paw by S. F. Said
The Outlaw Varjak Paw - Varjak Paw (Paperback)
Synopsis:
Having saved the city cats from a fate worse than death, Varjak Paw finds himself the elected and popular leader of a new gang - a gang that supports freedom and kindness for all. But will the pressure take its toll on this brave yet sometimes naive cat?
Soon the city erupts in an all-out gang war as the evil Sally Bones attempts to control the lives of all cats. Horrified and outnumbered, Varjak and the others must fight for their freedom or die trying; can Jalal's Way really be the best way?

7. Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
Private Peaceful (Paperback)
Synopsis:
Told in the voice of Private Tommo Peaceful, the story follows twenty-four hours at the front, and captures his memories of his family and his village life - by no means as tranquil as it appeared.
Full of vivid detail and engrossing atmosphere, leading to a dramatic and moving conclusion, Private Peaceful is both a compelling love story and a deeply moving account of the First World War.

8. Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
Rooftoppers (Paperback)
Synopsis:
Join plucky heroine Sophie, her eccentric guardian Charles, and her intrepid orphan allies on the rooftops of Victorian Paris, as they encounter suspense and adventure that will keep kids of all ages on the edge of their seats right to the heartwarming end.
My mother is still alive, and she is going to come for me one day. Everyone thinks that.
Sophie is an orphan. Found floating in a cello case and swaddled in a Beethoven score, she is the only recorded female survivor of a shipwreck on the English Channel. But Sophie remembers seeing her mother wave for help...
Charles, a fellow survivor and an eccentric scholar, finds Sophie and brings her home to his London bachelor flat. Raised in a quirky home filled with music, words and love (though questionable diet), Sophie grows into a free-spirited tomboy with a taste for Shakespeare and the unshakeable belief that anything is possible. And you should never ignore a possible.
So when the child welfare agency in its bureaucratic wisdom threatens to send Sophie to an orphanage, the optimistic girl and her odd guardian flee to Paris on a quest to find her mother, starting with the only clue she has - the address of the cello maker.
Secured in an attic to evade the French authorities, Sophie escapes through the skylight and meets Matteo and his network of rooftoppers - homeless urchins who tightrope walk above the busy streets below, dining on pigeons and snails alongside the gargoyles and bell tower of Notre Dame. Together they set out on an unimaginable adventure, scouring the city for Sophie's mother before she is caught and sent back to London - and most importantly, before she loses hope.

9. The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson
The Story of Tracy Beaker (Paperback)
Synopsis:
STRICTLY PRIVATE. KEEP OUT ON PAIN OF DEATH.
I'm Tracy Beaker - have you heard of me? I'm stuck in The Dumping Ground just at the moment, but I'm sure my Mum will come and get me soon. A certain Justine-Hateful-Littlewood has stolen my best friend Louise but I don't let it get me down. I never cry. Ever. I've done a bit of screaming and stamping in my time mind you ... I like eating birthday cake. And Smarties and Big Macs with French fries and strawberry milkshakes. I also like story writing. This is a story all about me - so I know you'll enjoy it!

10. You're a Bad Man Mr Gum by Andy Stanton
You're a Bad Man, Mr. Gum! (Paperback)
Synopsis:
'Completely hilarious . . . kind of The League of Gentlemen for kids' Zoe Ball Shabba me whiskers! It's a bold new look for Mr Gum, the best-selling cult classic, ready for a new generation of nibbleheads. `It's time for action,' said Mr Gum to nobody in particular. `Nasty action.' Good evening. Mr Gum is a complete horror who hates children, animals, fun and corn on the cob. This book's all about him. And an angry fairy who lives in his bathtub. And Jake the dog, and a little girl called Polly. And there's heroes and sweets and adventures and EVERYTHING

So there you have them. I have to make 2 confessions here. 1. Don't shout at me it's just my opinion, but I'm not a fan of Harry Potter. There, it's out in the open. 2. I've not heard of Mortal Engines. I must put it on my TBR though as it is obviously a great book.

Voting opened today at 5.30pm and closes at midday on 2nd March. You can vote on the Blue Peter website here.
So hard to choose just one ... I don't know who I'm going to vote for yet. Do you?

Happy reading,

Allison xx

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency - review



Hello, hello my lovelies,

I hope you have all stayed safe during the storm and that you haven't suffered too much damage. 

I'm back with a short review of The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D.Lapinski.

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency (Paperback)

Let's cut to the chase ... this book is going to hit the children's book market by storm. 
It tells the story of the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, a shop that to any other person, looks like it is stuck in time, but to Flick, piques her curiosity so much that she just has to go in. 
Right from the start, we are sucked into this story and are with Flick as she begins her magical journey, jumping in and out of suitcases into other worlds. 

The story isn't as simple as that, there has to be a problem, and boy there really is one. Flick realises that in one of her worlds, the future of it is held in her hands. 

I really enjoyed the race against time, the world hopping, the journey and the sense of adventure that Lapinski has given us through this book. I felt that I was with Flick every step of the way and I'm sure that younger readers will feel that too.

It reminded me a little of Mary Poppins and the children when they jumped into a puddle to adventure in another world. This time the vehicle to and from reality is a suitcase. A genius idea. 

The writing was fast-paced and will keep the reader reading right to the very end in what feels like moments.  

I really can't praise this highly enough; so much so, I'm chomping at the bit for the next one already (Let's hope there is one!). This is definitely one that I will buy a physical copy of when it reaches our shelves in April. I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Happy reading,

Ally xx

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Six for Sunday

Hello, hello my lovelies,

Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry for not blogging just lately. I have been soooo busy with my teacher workload that I just haven't had the time or when I HAVE had the time, I haven't had any oomph!

Anyway, I'm here now so let's see if I can get back on track again.

So, this week on Six for Sunday we are being asked to give 6 reasons about why we love blogging.
#SixforSunday is run by Steph over at alittlebutalot. Click on the link to find all the prompts for the first quarter of the year and details of how to take part.

1. I'm new to this blogging lark and feel that at the moment I am talking to myself. I'm hoping that this is going to become as much of a habit as reading is for me. It's still a work in progress but hopefully I'm getting there!

2. I love books and this is a way for me to talk about the thing I love! Sometimes I think I'm more in love with books themselves, authors, book chat, book shops, anything booky rather than the actual reading (am I alone with this? Does this make me weird?) but I can't help it. Yes I love reading, but I love actual books more! 

3. I'm trying to use this blog as a way of having time for me. My work/life balance seriously needs adjusting as it is heavily on the work side at the moment, but I can see a light at the end of this tunnel.

4. Being new, I find the actual process of writing blogs quite tricky, but I'm looking at it as if I'm learning a new skill. Can I add it to my cv?

5. Having started blogging, I've found lots of other blogs that I really like. Steph, who runs #SixforSunday is one particular blogger that I don't just like, I actually admire. My aim is to be like Steph! 

6. Since I've started blogging I;ve found that I'm interacting more with books and authors. I have to admit that I do get a little star struck when an author that I like replies to a tweet or comment. It's so exciting!

That's it for me today. Catch up with you soon,

Happy reading,

Ally xx

Sunday, 19 January 2020

The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow - review


Hello hello my lovelies,



I'm sending out apologies galore! My school workload has been horrendously busy just lately and I just haven't had time to blog. I have a lovely new NQT in my parallel class now who seems to be the total opposite to the last one (yay!) so I'm hoping I will get more time as she gets more confident and starts to take some planning and jobs from me.

Now onto the book review. I've done a few on NetGalley (I really should link that account to here) but this one I've decided to do a full review for seeing as I don't have that many here on my blog.

The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow by Emma Ilett


The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow - Kelpies (Paperback)













Synopsis
"Shadows were meant to stay stuck, like ears and promises." On the morning of Gail's birthday, she watches her shadow slip under the kitchen door. She's not surprised it decided to leave. Her dad has gone for good. Her big sister Kay, once Gail's best friend, has disappeared into sadness -- and now her shadow has left too. Determined to make things right, Gail chases after the shadows. But her adventures take her to unexpected places and she soon discovers that where there are shadows, there's darkness, and that she's not the only one looking for something missing... In a world of light and shadow, despair and hope sit side by side. Can Gail recover what the sisters have lost? A lyrical, immersive, and luminous tale of sisterhood, The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow tells of bravery, the power of friendship, and being strong enough to ask for help when we really need it. Emily Ilett, winner of the 2017 Kelpies Prize, is an arresting, vital new voice in children's literature.

Review
This book is littered with descriptive phrases that really paint a picture of a wonderful setting. For me, I thought there was a bit much and I felt that the author was perhaps trying too hard. Don't get me wrong, the similes and other literary descriptive devices the author used gave a beautiful lyricism but I just felt that some of it got in the way of the story. 

This is about Gail who, with her sister Kay, have a deep love for nature, especially sea creatures. This is what bonds them. They are extremely lucky to live near to the sea with cliffs, caves and rock pools, full of creatures and fish to learn about. They explore to their hearts content and then draw and research at home, becoming proficient little experts in their field.

Running alongside this backstory is the sadness of how a newly split family can deeply upset the children in the home. The older sister Kay, falls into a depression when their father leaves the family home. At the same time her shadow disappears. Gail feels responsible for the shadow going, so sets off on her quest to find it and bring it back in the hope that it will also bring Kay back to her former self.

There are many twists and turns along the way, with maps, clues, mysterious people, storms and an eerie, yet magical adventure. 

I thought the portrayal of depression in children was covered well and could be quite an eye opener for adults reading this should they have been in a similar parental position and not quite realised the effect this can have on the children, let alone themselves. Mum is having to work extra hard to bring the money in, and keep going for the children's sake as well as dealing with her own emotions straight after her husband has left her. Whilst she acknowledges that Kay is feeling low, to the detriment of Gail, she doesn't fully understand the toll it has taken on her, or how much Gail is being left out. I'm sure there would also be some readers who could easily identify with either mum, Kay or Gail.

Overall this is a lovely book that covers a sensitive issue that perhaps not many others would like to write about. Don't think that from what I've said it is all doom and gloom though. Far from it! We follow Gail's adventurous quest to find Kay's shadow and see just how much of a devoted sister she is.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Keep reading,

Allison x

Friday, 10 January 2020

First Lines Friday and The Friday 56

Hello hello my lovelies,

First up is First Lines Friday. This is a weekly meme hosted by Wandering Words. All you have to do is reveal the first line or so of a book (it doesn't have to be your current book) and then reveal what it is.I think this is my favourite meme out of all the ones I've started doing. It's so much fun.

Here are my first lines:

T__ I___ M__ came to the top of the cliff. How far had he walked. Nobody knows. Where had he come from? Nobody knows. How was he made. Nobody knows.






Ok so I know the first words give it away but I had to do it. I think those are my favourite opening lines to a story ever. It is, of course, The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. 

The Iron Man (Hardback)

Synopsis
The Iron Man came to the top of the cliff. Where had he come from? Nobody knows. How was he made? Nobody knows. Mankind must put a stop to the dreadful destruction by the Iron Man and set a trap for him, but he cannot be kept down. Then, when a terrible monster from outer space threatens to lay waste to the planet, it is the Iron Man who finds a way to save the world.

I am really lucky as I have a copy of this book signed by the illustrator Chris Mould!



Next up is The Friday 56 and is hosted by Freda's Voice.


Simply turn to page 56 or 56% on your ereader and post a snippet. Simple as that!

So here is my snippet from 56% on my kindle:

******* clambered up the jagged rock face. The dragon emerged. Its eyes burned like coals. Its tail thrashed. ******* knew this was the fiercest monster he'd ever faced.







I asterisked the name out as again, it gives it away. Any guesses?



Beowulf retold by Rob Lloyd Jones

Beowulf - 3.3 Young Reading Series Three (Purple) (Hardback)

I've chosen this book as this is what my class are learning and writing about in English this half term. Exciting stuff!

Happy reading

Allison x


Wednesday, 8 January 2020

WWW Wednesday

Hello hello my lovelies,


Today is Wednesday so it's time for WWW Wednesday. The premise is really simple. I need to talk about:


  • What I am reading now
  • What I have just finished reading
  • What I am going to be reading next.
This meme is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

I am currently reading The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow by Emily Ilett.



The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow - Kelpies (Paperback)
Synopsis
"Shadows were meant to stay stuck, like ears and promises." On the morning of Gail's birthday, she watches her shadow slip under the kitchen door. She's not surprised it decided to leave. Her dad has gone for good. Her big sister Kay, once Gail's best friend, has disappeared into sadness -- and now her shadow has left too. Determined to make things right, Gail chases after the shadows. But her adventures take her to unexpected places and she soon discovers that where there are shadows, there's darkness, and that she's not the only one looking for something missing... In a world of light and shadow, despair and hope sit side by side. Can Gail recover what the sisters have lost? A lyrical, immersive, and luminous tale of sisterhood, The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow tells of bravery, the power of friendship, and being strong enough to ask for help when we really need it. Emily Ilett, winner of the 2017 Kelpies Prize, is an arresting, vital new voice in children's literature.

I have just finished reading Pages & Co. Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James.

Pages & Co.: Tilly and the Bookwanderers - Pages & Co. 1 (Paperback)

Next I think I am going to start The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D.Lapinski. This is an ARC and is to be published in April 2020.

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency (Paperback)

Synopsis

Pack your suitcase for a magical adventure! Perfect for fans of The Train to Impossible Places and The Polar Bear Explorers' Club.

At the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, each suitcase transports you to a different world. All you have to do is step inside . . .
When 12-year-old Flick Hudson accidentally ends up in the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, she uncovers a fantastic secret: there are hundreds of other worlds just steps away from ours. All you have to do to visit them is jump into the right suitcase. Then Flick gets the invitation of a lifetime: join Strangeworlds' magical travel society and explore other worlds.
But, unknown to Flick, the world at the very centre of it all, a city called Five Lights, is in danger. Buildings and even streets are mysteriously disappearing. Once Flick realizes what's happening she must race against time, travelling through unchartered worlds, seeking a way to fix Five Lights before it collapses into nothingness - and takes our world with it.
A magical adventure for 9+ readers that will take you to whole new worlds.

That's it for my @wwwwednesday. Hope to see you again next week.

Happy reading,

Allison x