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Picture Book Perfect Week- Day 1

It is half term break and I am planning my bookish activities for the week.  I am going to dedicate my week to perfect picture books.  I have some new ones in my collection and they are lovely to read and share.  I have included a non fiction book in this week’s plan as it is wonderful.

This week I am also reading The Midnight Hour by Benjamin Reid and Laura Trinder and The Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher.  I am loving both of these and enjoying their differences.  I can highly recommend them both!

But this week is called Picture Book Perfect!

I am a huge picture book fan and love poring over illustrations and savouring the words and story.

Today’s book is the quirky informative book called Incredible Creatures.  It is written and illustrated by James Olstein.

The text is kept short so all readers can access and enjoy the fun and fascinating facts about animals we know and love.  There are also new animals to learn about and strange facts we didn’t know.  The rich vocabulary lends itself perfectly to learning and understanding more about animals and creatures in our world.  

The illustrations are wonderfully quirky and brilliant for studying.  I loved the camouflage sloth and turtle in a bed.  The colours and design take this from being an ordinary non fiction animal book to being one of extraordinary proportions.  They make the book relatable and fun! There is a great variety of animals and facts and who can resist discovering the answer to the age old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg? I won’t spoil the fun of reading and enjoying this fact.  
This would be wonderful in a class or school library.  I know my own children have loved having it in the house!

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The Closest Thing to Flying

What an incredible feel good story about hope, bravery and freedom.

Semira and Hen may be one hundred years apart and the freedoms they want may have changed but the fighting spirit of women is still fierce.  I love historical fiction, links with the past and finding answers in others stories.  
Semira lives a tough life in a foreign city, with chaos, cruelty and corruption part of her daily struggles.  A new school, new friends and a new hobby help her to become stronger and to see a way out for her and her mother. 
On a market stall, Semira is drawn to a broken hat with a bird seemingly caught mid flight.  She buys the hat and later finds a diary of Hen in the hat box. Hen writes about her brave Aunt Kitty.  We learn about the start of the RSPB, the movement of women fighting for the vote, and living for the moment through the diary entries.  Hen is inspired by her Aunt Kitty and her love of life, and ability to make bold decisions. 
Semira and her mother read the diary together and escape a life with no promise.  
It proves that hope is always there and there is always someone who will listen. 
I loved Semira’s character and the way she bravely faced each day.  She was so strong and vibrant.  I was so pleased she made friends and stood up for what she believed in. 
This is a lovely book to read and I found myself crying and laughing at different parts of the story.  I was also worried, scared and hopeful. A sure sign of a good book is the range of emotions the reader feels throughout. 
I can highly recommend this one! 
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The Boy Who Flew

What a triumph of a book! Murder, mystery and mayhem! Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Athan, the only boy in his family, gets caught up in a mystery surrounding the murder of his friend and employer Mr Chen. Mr Chen and Athan are inventors and creators of many devices, one of which is a flying machine.  They just need the right conditions for flying…but sadly Mr Chen is murdered before they can test their bird.

Athan and his friend Tod, are roof runners and travel around the city via rooftops.  This helps them to rescue the flying machine, the plans to finish it and to escape from the mysterious Colonel Blade. The man is dangerous, murderous and intent on getting the plans all for himself.

A prize of 10,000 guineas is offered to anyone who can fly the first proven flight.  Athan knows his family needs that money and so the pressure is on to complete the flying machine.  Colonel Blade has other plans for Athan and his family.  The race is on to protect his family, the plans for the flying machine and the legacy of Mr Chen.

A fast paced, emotional adventure.  I was glued to Athan, his bravery and love for his sisters.  He is a brilliant character and I was so proud of him for facing up to Colonel Blade.

At the midway point I was worried, scared, hopeful and needed to read just one more chapter.  Then just one more….and on it went until I was finished.  I love books that keep you hooked until the very end.  My emotions were in tatters but I thoroughly loved this book!

Recommending to my 10 year old.  I think he will enjoy the adventure, thrills and chills held within the pages.

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We Won an Island

Bookpost from Nosy Crow this week…..I have been hearing wonderful things about this debut and they were all right!
Join Luna, Margot and Fabien on an incredible family saving island adventure!

Winning a wonderful and slightly impossible competition brings Luna and her family an unexpected change in lifestyle.  They up their lives in London and move north to a small island off the coast of Scotland.  There are bats in the kitchen, goats roaming wild and enough dust to make dust angels but pulling together makes a big difference and positive changes start happening.

There are some excellent laugh out loud moments that make the front page news and hijinks from all three children.  As in any family, the children are all different and they have amazing personalities.  Margot is very cool and smart, loving airplanes and all things flying! Luna loves animals and donkeys in particular and Fabien, the youngest, is a keen knitter and woolly animal fan!

Mum and Dad somehow go along with the plan to move north and although less keen they soon adapt to a new way of life.  Dad needs more time to get over the loss of his mother but the children are working hard to cheer him up! Dad, a former Glastonbury fan, would love a festival! So that is what the children do in secret! Add in more hijinks, funny moments, and an unshakeable bond between the siblings and you have the perfect remedy for a broken heart.

This is a wonderfully uplifting story and I devoured it this afternoon.
Congratulations Charlotte Lo on a happy, stunning debut.  I feel incredibly lucky to have been sent a copy!

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Asha & The Spirit Bird

Asha & The Spirit Bird
Jasbinder Bilan
Published February 2019

I picked this book up last night and within the first page I was hooked.  I couldn’t put it down and therefore needed to stay up late to finish it.  I had tears of joy streaming down my face as I read late into the night.

We meet Asha as she is fondly remembering her father who is away working.  She misses him dearly and is worried about him as the family haven’t heard from him in months.  We meet Asha’s best friend Jeevan, her mother and siblings.  A terrible woman and her henchmen are threatening her family and brave Asha tries to intervene.

Asha shows true bravery at this moment and will draw on this throughout the rest of this adventurous journey.  She learns some hard truths about her family and feels it is her decision to find her father, bring him home and ultimately save her family’s farm.  In the depths of her sadness, a beautiful bird flies into the garden.  It is a lamagaia, and Asha believes it is the spirit animal of her Nanijee.  Asha has been blessed with vivid dreams and connections to the world around her.

Asha has striking green eyes and a local witch tells her she has “been called by the Mountain Gods”.  To find her father she must travel to the most northerly temple in Kasare.  Asha and Jeevan plan their journey and put it into motion.

Danger inevitably follows and Asha is so admirable in her ability to keep going, to protect her friend and to find the path to her father. So much happens to the intrepid duo that you think they will never make it, they won’t find Asha’s father….but Jasbinder Bilan has created such strong characters we grow to love and believe in.

The lamagaia makes appearances throughout the journey and helps Asha to persevere.  Asha’s belief in her spirit bird is unshakable and it helps the friends they meet along the way to see a true path of freedom and happiness.

My heart was in my throat so many times and I had to continue on the journey with Asha.
I love Asha and her bravery, her friendship with Jeevan and the ending is simply glorious.

Buy this book, read it and share it!

A beautiful tale of adventure, friendship and love!

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My January Reads

So it should come as no surprise that I love stationary as much as I love books! Find me a teacher who doesn’t appreciate a new notebook or special pen!

I bought this for myself in December as I wanted a notebook dedicated to my blog and reading habits. 
I knew quite a lot of people who tallied how many books they read through the year and I loved the idea! I started keeping track in December and in all honesty it was hard to do.  I would forget to add a book, misplace my notebook or dither over whether to count picture books.
In the end I have gotten into a routine of keeping my notebook next to my TBR pile so it is within easy reach.  Most of my reading is done at night before I go to sleep. 
I also decided that I am including picture books.  Many of the picture books I read, I am reviewing.  I consider that a more in depth read as I want to convey as much feeling and information about the book.  
In January I have read 21 books.  
12 Chapter books
8 picture books
1 grown up book- The Binding by Bridget Collins.  So different from middle grade fiction but a worthwhile read.  

Try not to focus on the messy handwriting! I have read some brilliant books…many new and ones that  I would highly recommmend.  My top picks from January are…

The Day I was Erased by Lisa Thompson
The Dog who saved the world by Ross Welford
Knights and Bikes by Gabrielle Kent
Hotel Flamingo by Alex Milway
Our castle by the sea by Lucy Strange
The girl with the sharks teeth by Cerrie Burrell
And
Guardians of the Wild Unicorns by Lindsay Littleson
I could not choose just 5! Choosing 7 was a struggle.  
There are so many wonderful books in children’s fiction and I am so grateful that I can spend my time immersed in books! 
Now on to February and I have just started Hazel and Holly: A fantasy Adventure by Sara C Snider. 
I am 6 chapters in and I am lost in the world of witches and warlocks, spells and potions! 
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NetGalley

A few years ago I won a kindle.  The basic one but it introduced me to a new way of reading and enjoying books.  As a family we travel quite a bit and it made life easier when having to think about how many books to pack!
I go through phases of using it a lot to actually forgetting I have it.

Saying that, a few months ago on twitter, someone mentioned netgalley.  I hadn’t heard of it before and it peaked my curiosity.  I signed up, checked it out and was immediately thrilled I did.  Since joining I have read 13 not yet published books, and I have 3 more on the go now.  I am loving it!

I have enjoyed Bridget Collin’s bestseller The Binding.  The book is wondrous and is totally enjoyable.  I did miss holding the book and admiring the design of the cover.

I was also able to read Sinead O’Hart’s The Star Spun Web.  This was one of my top picks for 2019.  I know it will be met with fabulous reviews and perhaps a few awards along the way.

Michelle Harrison’s A Pinch of Magic was also made available and I fell in love with the Widdershin sisters and the curse on their family.  Another one to watch for this year! It has amazing reviews already!

There are obviously many more I have read and loved.  I will continue to use my kindle, netgalley and my blog to review these books.  There have been several times when I missed holding, admiring or passing along the book but I seem to be able to get past these moments. It is reading for pleasure after all.

I would be keen to know the opinions of others using netgalley.  Do you like it? Does it make you still want to buy the book upon publication?