Blissful Weekend Reading

I had been struggling with my reading habits lately and protected my weekend from other commitments so I could spend more time with books. I read dozens of picture books and five chapter books, caught up with some blogging and twitter-verse and feel like it was a balm to my soul.

Four of these are highly illustrated chapter books perfect for ages 7-9 and Fierce, Fearless and Free is myths and legends from other cultures. All were easy to read, enjoyable and ones I would recommend widely.

Written by Lari Don, Illustrated by Eilidh Muldoon
Published by Bloomsbury

Myths and Legends are fascinating and creative stories passed down through the centuries. There has been an influx of books featuring stories from other cultures where it is heroines who save the day and this book would be a brilliant addition to any bookshelf! The title illustrations are beautiful and detailed with strong female characters at the forefront.

Each tale is from a different culture and though I have several books featuring heroines from countries around the world, these tales were unfamiliar and new. I particularly loved the tale from China called The Lace Dragon, and the girl’s skill in creating a dragon made from lace. The tale from Italy, reminiscent of Rapunzel, twists at the end as the girl goes off to explore the world.

A super collection of myths and legends!

Written by Lara Williamson, Illustrated by Becky Cameron
Published by Stripes

These colourful illustrated chapter books are perfect for readers growing in confidence. They offer a brilliant story, beautiful illustrations and Stripes are publishing plenty of titles within this series.

Midget and Mo meet at school. Midge is new, quiet and sad, Mo is loud, fun and keen to be friends. Mo tries lots of things to get Midge to smile, play games and use colours in his drawings but it takes time for her to realise he needs time to adjust. Making him something special and from the heart starts Midge thinking too.

A lovely book about new friends, adjusting to new situations and knowing that the sun comes out after the rain. Beautiful!

Written by Guy Bass, Illustrated by Pete Williamson
Published by Stripes

The Haunting of Luna Moon is the second in the Skeleton Keys series from Stripes Publishing. I can attest to the second being as excellent as the first. They are funny, slightly chilling and full of surprises.

Skeleton Keys is back as he has felt the tingle of an “unimaginary” causing trouble at Haggard Hall. Luna and her family have just buried her Grandfather and they are in the midst of celebrating, as he was not a very nice person. Keys comes just after Auntie Summer is imprisoned in a painting. Luna believes it is her Grandfather come back to haunt them all. Strange things continue to happen and it is up to Luna, Keys and backward headed Daisy to save the family.

A super story with twists and monsters! Already keen for the third!

Written by Jennifer Bell, Illustrated by Alice Lickens
Published by Walker Books

I am a huge fan of highly illustrated adventure stories featuring animals! I love Mr Penguin, Agent Weasel, Mr Tiger and Fabio Flamingo…so Agents of the Wild is totally up my street. Operation Honeyhunt is the first in this new series and it is fantastic!

Agnes lives with her Uncle Douglas and is desperate for a pet. He, however, has strict rules about pets. When Agnes arrives home from the park one afternoon, she sees an animal on her bed. It is an elephant shrew wearing a safari uniform. He is a member of SPEARS, the Society for the Protection of Endangered and Awesomely Rare Species. They want Agnes to follow in her parents footsteps and become a field agent. Exciting training, new animal adventurers and a mission to save a bee take Agnes away from her apartment and into the jungle! Excitement, humour and neon green illustrations make this an incredible book.

This is going to be one of my favourite new series for sure!

Written by Sally Gardner, Illustrated by Nick Maland
Published by Zephyr, Imprint of Head of Zeus

Mr Tiger, Betsy and the Gongalong acrobats are back for a third time. Delightfully written in blue type, with plenty of detailed illustrations this is the perfect book for confident readers aged 8 and older.

After their last adventure, Betsy is spending some time living under the sea with her mother. She knows that when Mr Tiger checks his compass that an adventure is about to happen. When two monsters become rivals, there is trouble brewing in Mermaid City. A seahorse race is set to determine a winner of the silver teapot, and to put an end to the trouble. With plenty happening on land and under the sea, there is never a dull moment with Mr Tiger around.

Adventurous, fun and completely enjoyable!


Blissful Weekend Reading!

I had quite a few books to read on Netgalley, alongside some recent proof copies sent over and Since finishing the 12 Days of Christmas Reading series, I felt I needed a proper rest and time for reading.

With colder weather, it is easy to excuse myself from the bustle of life and cosy up with a book. I consider it a healing time and time for my own mental health to remain strong. Reading allows me to escape the lists, housework and homesickness that inevitably finds me at Christmas.

Here are the books and short reviews from my Blissful Weekend Reading!

Lizard’s Tale
Written by Weng Wai Chan
Published by Text Publishing

Lizard is a boy living in the Chinese district of Singapore around the time of WWII. It is a dangerous time and there are tensions around the British, Japanese and Chinese people living in the city. Lizard is a petty thief until he steals something of incredible value. It plunges him deep within a network of spies, espionage and secret agents. He has to learn who he can trust and fight his way out of dangerous situations. He does this alongside Lili, a friend, who is also a secret agent working for the British. There are plenty of plot twists, links between characters and tense moments of capture. Lizard, Lili, and new acquaintance Georgina, are caught in the middle of a battle over a secret code book that could turn the tide of the war. Lizard had stolen it, realised its danger and tried to put it back. However, Lili wants to steal the book but it gets left behind during the kidnapping of Georgina. With so many plot twists and suspenseful moments, you won’t want to put this book down. I thoroughly lost myself in the splendour of the Raffles Hotel, could picture the tightly packed Chinese quarter and imagined hearing the multitude of languages being spoken in the streets, This is a book to awaken your senses and keep you gripped to the last page!

Cinders and Sparks: Fairies in the Forest
Written by Lindsey Kelk, Illustrated by Pippa Curnick
Published by HarperCollins

It is so great to be back with Cinders and Sparks again. I had been looking forward to this, the next book in the series for some time now. Cinders has found out that her mother was a fairy, making her part fairy and since discovering she has magical abilities, life has become new and interesting. On a quest , or rather exile, from King Picklebottom’s kingdom, she is looking for Fairyland. With her, are Sparks, her talking dog and Mouse, her horse. Her friend Hansel has come along as well. Cinders is much braver than Hansel and rides headlong into the Dark Forest. They meet new creatures, the three bears and Rapunzel on this adventure. I love the links between fairytales in this series. Her fairy godmother, Brian, is as helpful as always and now there is a huntsman on their trail. Ending on a cliffhanger, I am ready for the next in the series! Super illustrations from talented Pippa Curnick keep younger readers entertained and engaged. A brilliant plot full of twists and turns makes it an exciting read. I feel I want to go back and read them all again! There is so much in each one and they make excellent bed times stories!

The Princess Rules
Written by Philippa Gregory, Illustrated by Chris Chatterton
Published by HarperCollins

I am a fan of Philippa Gregory’s adult fiction and was really pleased to see a younger fiction book from her. I requested it and am pleased that I was given the opportunity to read it. Princess Florizella, Florizella and the Wolves and Florizella and the Giant are all short chapter stories pulled together into one book. They are between 6 and 7 chapters each, making them accessible and engaging for the newest of chapter book readers. We are introduced to Princess Florizella and come to realise that she is allowed to do as she pleases. She has not learned the Princess Rules and therefore is not quiet, dainty or prepared to marry a Prince. She is happy, cheerful and bossy. When she is invited to a party, she spends the evening eating as much as possible, avoiding the dance floor and ignoring the other princesses. Princess Florizella is a breath of fresh air….fiesty, fiery and independent- isn’t that how we want our daughters to be? I think so. I loved this book and the three stories within. Perfect for girls and boys alike!

Aggie Morton Mystery Queen: The Body under the Piano
Written by Marthe Jocelyn, Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
Published by PenguinRandomHouse Canada

Aggie is a precocious 12 year old with a penchant for finding trouble. She becomes embroiled in a mystery involving the murder of her neighbour, the unkind Mrs Eversham. She is an unliked widow and no one in the village seems to like her but they are shocked at her murder. Aggie, being the one who first discovered the body, cannot stop thinking about how she looked, was positioned and the clues left behind. A chance encounter with a young Belgian refugee sparks a firm friendship. His name is Hector Perot. He and Aggie share important tidbits of information regarding their list of suspects. Daring night time escapades, surprising twists and turns, not to mention a kidnapping keep the reader guessing into the last chapters. I truly enjoyed Aggie and felt she made a very good detective and tried very hard to be a good girl but trouble just seems to follow her. Hector was perfectly placed to assist, and the family and friends rounded out a brilliant cast of characters. The mystery was well written and will surely inspire young readers to delve into the worlds of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie. I would happily read another Aggie Morton mystery to see what trouble she can spot!

The Pearl in the Ice
Written by Cathryn Constable, Cover by Helen Crawford-White
Published by Chicken House

I finished this in two sittings and it was hard to tear myself away. Marina is bold, courageous and loyal, all the attributes needed on a voyage to the North as a crew member on her fathers ship, The Sea Witch. Running away from the prospect of boarding school, Marina meets Mrs Smith who claims to be from the Admiralty. Marina is enraptured by her and speaks freely. Starting her sea life as an ill stowaway, she must prove herself as a valued member of the crew. Her father will not treat her differently to the rest of the crew and she is to be paid to work. A thrilling adventure begins for Marina and it takes some intense twists and turns. Storms rage, creatures appear and Marina feels a pull towards the sea and without fear of it. There is a great mystery surrounding Marina and her mother who went “home” when Marina was a young girl. There are snippets of memories, all involving water, and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to discover the truth. Perfect winter reading!