Blog Tour- The Magical Sunglasses (Children’s book)

How did I get it?:
Received for the blog tour!

Synopsis:

What would you do if you had one day with magical powers? This fun, bouncy read captures the imagination, and demonstrates the power of courage and self-belief. Inclusive book for early school aged children. Message for everyone.

Thoughts:

This book is SO cute. It’s a short and snappy story with rhyme that explores the inner power that children have. In the story, the children are told by their teacher that there’s magical sunglasses that will help them face their fears. The children all try them on and face their fears. Little do they know that they actually have the magic within them. It’s such a sweet story.

I can imagine that the younger range of primary school children would really enjoy this book. I’ll definitely pass it onto the infant school teachers in my school. I think 4-7 year olds would thoroughly enjoy the short, rhyming story. The illustrations are bright and colourful and it’s such an engaging story!

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Where She Went (If I Stay #2)

Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

It’s been three years since the devastating accident… three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future – and each other.

Thoughts:

I really liked If I Stay and have been meaning to read the sequel for so long now. I finally got around to reading it and I’m pleased I did. It was such an emotional read. It is told from Adam’s point of view which is lovely to read. I enjoyed reading from Mia’s point of view in the first book, but it felt important to me to learn how Adam was feeling.

In If I Stay, Mia loses her family. Adam also struggles with the loss of Mia’s family because he was incredibly close to them too. Since the loss of Mia’s family, Adam rockets to fame in a band. Adam experiences severe anxiety and ends up crumbling under the pressure of fame. Adam is still reeling from Mia disappearing on him. He still thinks of her, despite being in a new relationship. The relationship is not working but Adam is sticking with it, despite his girlfriend feeling he’s still into Mia. It’s so lovely to read from Adam’s point of view. We know that Mia experienced a lot of loss and her life completely changed. Everyone treads on egg shells around Mia, not wanting to upset her. I felt like Adam’s grief is pretty much forgotten. He’s sad and unhappy with what happened. He’s miserable in his current relationship and with the fame he’s experiencing. It’s all so heart-breaking.

One night, Adam comes across Mia playing a show. He goes and then ends up spending some time with her as they get ready to go their separate ways. Adam has to go meet up with his band and Mia is going to Tokyo to play in a concert. This is where the story becomes a little bit predictable. I knew how things were going to end up. Yet, I didn’t mind because I WANTED them to reconnect.

I love Mia and Adam as characters and thought this was a really cute story to read. I’d highly recommend reading this dualogy if you haven’t already!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

A really engaging follow up to If I Stay! Worth reading!

Blog Tour- Invisible Us by Dougie Arnold

Invisible Us

How did I get it?:
Sent to me for the blog tour. This does not affect my opinion of the book!

Synopsis:

Can you imagine being almost invisible? Well, that’s exactly what Gecko felt he was, so decided to set out on an adventure to find some new friends like him. Join Gecko on his journey and you will be amazed at the fantastic creatures he meets. Have fun trying to find them in this magical story.

Thoughts:

I was asked to review this sweet book and I jumped at the chance to explore a new picture book. I’m a primary (elementary) school teacher so I’m always looking out for new picture books. I’m also keen to try authors that aren’t as well known as you can find some real gems.

Invisible Us is a story about a Gecko who doesn’t seem to fit in because he was camouflaged by his habitat. Gecko goes on an adventure and finds other animals that are also ‘invisible’ because of where they live. I loved the story of friendship and how even though the animals looked different, they had something in common. What a lovely message for young children.

Unfortunately, it being the start of the school year, I didn’t have the opportunity to share this book with the children as we’ve been super busy. I am going to take it into school for them to enjoy. There’s so much to look at with the lovely illustrations so I’m sure it’s going to be a book they’ll enjoy!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

A super sweet story about friendship! Perfect for 4-7 year olds.

These Witches Don’t Burn (These Witches Don’t Burn #1)

These Witches Don't Burn

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans. 

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.

Thoughts:

I went into this book not really knowing much about it. I didn’t read any reviews or anything. Just went into it which is the best way to be I think. I really enjoyed reading this book. I don’t think it necessarily did anything different with the witch trope, but it was still a highly enjoyable read that I’m pleased I made time for over summer.

It follows an Elemental witch called Hannah. She lives in Salem, hoping to avoid her ex-girlfriend Veronica over summer. However, dark magic pops up around town and Hannah wonders whether her past has come back to haunt her.

The plot is full of mystery and I thoroughly enjoyed following Hannah and her coven as the story twisted and turned. They had to find out the identity of the person or people behind the dark magic and try to stop it once and for all. Hannah’s also dealing with a crush on Morgan, a new girl in town. I think you’d enjoy this book if you love contemporary. It definitely has a contemporary vibe to it with magical elements which is ideal if you don’t want full on fantasy.

Hannah is a great character. I immediately warmed to her. She’s always trying to do the right thing. For me, she was a perfect balance of being incredibly caring towards others but she definitely had a feisty side to her. I loved seeing that side of her. I loved that there was a really strong friendship between Hannah and Gemma too. I loved reading their interactions. I’m all for strong female friendships in stories.

The only reason I haven’t rated this book any higher, is because despite the ending, I’m fine with not knowing how things end up in future books. There’s something about it that doesn’t compel me to continue the series. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m into standalones at the moment. It is probably a personal thing, so please don’t let that put you off if you’re on the lookout for a magical contemporary read.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic debut! 

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Royal Rabbits Of London (Royal Rabbits of London #1)

The Royal Rabbits Of London

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Life is an adventure. Anything in the world is possible – by will and by luck, with a moist carrot, a wet nose and a slice of mad courage!

Shylo has always been the runt of the litter, the weakest and queitest of all of his family, his siblings spend their days making fun of him for not being like the rest of them. But when Shylo stumbles across a band of ratzis and overhears their evil plan to take a photo of the Queen in her nightie, it’s up to this unlikely hero to travel to London and inform the Royal Rabbits of London about the diabolicial plot! The Royal Rabbits of London have a proud history of protecting the royal family and now the secret society need to leap into action to stop the ratzis… But can a rabbit as feeble and shy as Shylo convince them that Queen is in danger?

Thoughts:

Oh my goodness, this is such a cute book! So cute that I immediately took it into my classroom library ready for my class to enjoy this coming school year.

It centres around rabbits (which are my favourite animals!). Our main character is Shylo, a pretty weak member of his family. His siblings spend most of their time making fun of him for not being as strong as them. Shylo comes across a band of ratzis who are determined to take a photo of the Queen in her nightie. How scandalous! It is up to Shylo, to travel to London to make the Royal Rabbits of London aware of this terrible plot. The Royal Rabbits of London protect the royal family and they need to come up with a plan to protect the Queen… if they believe a meek rabbit like Shylo!

Shylo is such an adorable character and a wonderful role model for young children. Even though he is constantly mocked, he rises above and finds inner strength to save the Queen from a terrible plot. I loved the illustrations, the story line and the perfect balance of adventure and humour. I think it’s one that can be enjoyed by adults and by children. I thought it was utterly adorable.

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (September):
I Capture The Castle- Dodie Smith

Banned Books #61- Whale Talk

Banner made by Luna @ Lunaslittlelibrary

Welcome to the next edition of Banned Books. In August, we read Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher.

Whale Talk

First published: 2001
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2005 (source)
Reasons: racism, offensive language

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: It might be quite clear from our Banned Books Challenge so far that Chrissi and I are against banning or challenging books but we always enjoy checking out stories that have caused a bit of a riot and dissect whether they had good reason for a challenge. I can safely state that without exception, we have found no good reason to ban or challenge a book. Perhaps limit it’s availability in school libraries if there are very young children around – we agree on that but otherwise, we shouldn’t limit literature for anyone. Many reasons we’ve found for challenging a book can be quite exasperating and there’s been very few that we can see why some people may have had an issue. In Whale Talk, released in the early 2000’s, the reasons that they’ve given, I cannot really deny. Yes, there is racism in the book and it might offend people. Nevertheless, I think it’s still important to show different people’s attitudes (no matter how wrong we might personally find them) so we can carry on talking about an important, abhorrent issue.

CHRISSI: I think this is one of the rare books when we can actually get on board with the reasons for banning/challenging the book. There is pretty offensive language in the story- nothing which I’m sure teenagers/young adults haven’t heard before. However, it’s undeniable that it’s there. So would we want our young people to read it? Some may find it anyway and might not be offended by its content, compared to what else is around! It does also include racism. I don’t always think it’s a bad thing to educate young people on racism, but I’m not sure this is the right one to do that with.

How about now?

BETH: As I mentioned in the previous answer, it’s important to talk about racism in the past and in the present. It hasn’t gone away and sadly, some people’s views haven’t changed on the matter. The other reason for challenging is offensive language. Normally, when we get a reason like this I retort with something like: “Where was the offensive language in this book?!” In Whale Talk, I have to admit there was bad language. I wasn’t particularly offended by it but I understand why some people might be. However, it is a book marketed towards a specific audience of young adults and you aren’t going to be able to shelter them from bad language in the real world, as we’ve said many times on this feature before.

CHRISSI: Like I said, I can see why, but I don’t think it’s something that should be taken away from people. As Beth mentioned, it’s targeted towards YA and I’m sure there’s worse language within peer groups or on social media/films. Not necessarily a solid enough reason to prevent them from this book.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: This book was only okay for me unfortunately. I appreciated what Chris Crutcher was trying to do and I really liked the main character, T.J. but it wasn’t a narrative that really grabbed my attention or stuck in my mind as memorable. I thought it did raise some important issues though and I can understand why many readers would really connect with it.

CHRISSI: I thought I was really going to like this book, but for me I didn’t gel with the author’s writing style. I think it brings to light some important issues, so I believe it should be tried!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Our Year Of Maybe

Our Year of Maybe

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone

Synopsis:

Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.

But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.

Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her. Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one blurry, heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.

Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this author’s debut, so knew I wanted to get around to her next book. Goodness knows why I took so long to read this book, considering that I had it from its release date in January. Rachel Lynn Solomon has crafted a beautiful story with Our Year Of Maybe. It really touched my heart.

Our Year Of Maybe centres around Sophie and Peter who are the best of friends. There’s always been something between them and they have such a close connection. Sophie is so close to Peter that she is desperate to help him. So when she’s found to be a kidney match for Peter, she gives him a kidney without a second thought. Peter’s quality of life immediately improves (although the transplant is not a miracle cure!) Even though Peter felt like he had feelings for Sophie, he finds himself attracted to Chase, a guy in the band that just happens to be looking for a keyboardist and Peter fits. Sophie still likes Peter, but different parts of her life like dancing opportunities are pulling her in a different direction to Peter. Both Sophie and Peter struggle with their relationship post transplant. Peter feels indebted to Sophie and Sophie doesn’t know who she is without Peter. One night changes their relationship for good and both of them now consider whether their friendship is worth all the pain.

I loved how Sophie and Peter grew throughout this story. You could feel their individual pain and see where both characters were coming from. I went from wanting them to be together to wanting them to find their own way separate from each other. The author really does take you on an emotional roller coaster.

This book is much deeper than you might think. It covers so many topics not commonly represented in YA like Judaism and bisexuality.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and was absolutely captivated by Sophie and Peter’s story.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A wonderful, emotional read. Highly recommended!