The Girl Who Saved Christmas (Christmas #2)

The Girl Who Saved Christmas

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

If magic has a beginning, can it also have an end?

When Amelia wants a wish to come true she knows just the man to ask – Father Christmas.

But the magic she wants to believe in is starting to fade, and Father Christmas has more than impossible wishes to worry about. Upset elves, reindeers dropping out of the sky, angry trolls and the chance that Christmas might be cancelled.

But Amelia isn’t just any ordinary girl. And – as Father Christmas is going to find out – if Christmas is going to be saved, he might not be able to do it alone . . .

Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this follow up to the wonderful The Boy Called Christmas. Matt Haig truly writes beautiful, magical Christmas stories. I highly recommend picking them up even if you are an adult. We all like a bit of magic at Christmas time, right?

This story picks up during the 19th century and Christmas is approaching. Father Christmas is getting ready to deliver to the world and bring joy, as he loves to do. Trouble happens up in the North and he finds out that the elves are in trouble. He needs a lot of magic to get through it. Meanwhile, the first girl to receive a present, Amelia, is on her own. She has been orphaned. The only friend she has is a cat and even then they end up being parted. Amelia is certainly losing hope and that is the thing that magic runs on. With appearances from Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens, this book really is action packed.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas is so heart-warming. It has some darker themes which I think are important, especially because life isn’t always sweetness and light. It’s so accessible for young children, yet it still utterly appealing for adults too. It barely took me any time to read at all. It’s perfect for curling up with on a cold winter’s day. I think these books are timeless and definitely deserve to be part of a festive collection.

Feel free to come back to visit my blog on Saturday for the review of the third book in the series Father Christmas and Me. 

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I actually preferred this book to the first in the series which is quite rare for me! A wonderful festive read.

Advertisements

A Boy Called Christmas (Christmas #1)

A Boy Called Christmas

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.
It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.
If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you.
Because this book is FULL of impossible things.

Are you still reading?

Good.

Then let us begin . . .

A Boy Called Christmas is a tale of adventure, snow, kidnapping, elves, more snow, and an eleven-year-old boy called Nikolas, who isn’t afraid to believe in magic.

Thoughts:

I promised myself that I’d binge read Matt Haig’s Christmas trilogy and that is exactly what I have done. Throughout this week, my reviews will be published on this wonderfully charming middle grade series.

A Boy Called Christmas is all about how Father Christmas became Father Christmas. It explores how a human ends up living with elves and how presents began to be delivered to every child across the world on Christmas Eve. It follows Nikolas as he travels through Finland to find his father who has gone on a quest to find a real Elf for the King. The story starts with Nikolas and his father who live in a small cottage. They don’t have much money and life can be a struggle at times. However, overall Nikolas is happy. When his father goes on the quest to find the Elf (and give them some much needed money) he is left alone with his terrible Aunt. Nikolas ends up leaving home to find his father. He isn’t aware that this trip is going to change his life forever.

Nikolas is such a fantastic character. I loved that his life wasn’t easy. Sometimes children’s books don’t focus or dwell on sad moments which is totally understandable. However, I think Nikolas and his struggles made him utterly relatable. He was a character that you instantly rooted for.

I knew that I’d love Matt Haig’s writing because I’ve read quite a few of his books. I didn’t expect it to be as charming as it was though. I loved how magical the story was. I don’t read a lot of Christmas books, but this one really did steal my heart. It had such a sweet message about being good to everyone and passing that goodness on. Certainly not a bad message for any time of year!

This book didn’t take me long to read at all. It’s so easy to read. The reader experiences many emotions as they discover how Nikolas became Father Christmas.

Look out for my review on Thursday of the second book in the series The Girl Who Saved Christmas. 

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A very charming Christmas read! The series gets better as it goes on, so look out for my review later in the week!

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

How did I get it?:
I was sent a copy from the publisher, Walker Books.

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Fourteen-year-old Stevie lives in Lewes with her beloved vinyl collection, her mum … and her mum’s depression. When Stevie’s mum’s disability benefits are cut, Stevie and her mother are plunged into a life of poverty. But irrepressible Stevie is determined not to be beaten and she takes inspiration from the lyrics of her father’s 1980s record collection and dreams of a life as a musician. Then she meets Hafiz, a talented footballer and a Syrian refugee. Hafiz’s parents gave their life savings to buy Hafiz a safe passage to Europe; his journey has been anything but easy. Then he meets Stevie… As Stevie and Hafiz’s friendship grows, they encourage each other to believe in themselves and follow their dreams. 

Thoughts:

It’s been a while since I’ve read Siobhan Curham’s work, but oh my goodness it was lovely to get back to her writing. There’s something about Siobhan’s writing that makes me feel like I’m wrapped up in a cosy blanket. Her books are adorable and so heartfelt.

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow centres around Stevie and Hafiz. Stevie is a bit of an outsider at school. She’s dealing with a lot. Her father died a few years prior and her mother became incredibly depressed. She was unable to look after herself so certainly was neglecting Stevie’s needs. Stevie struggles to get food together and her uniform is a bit small/worn. Stevie does a paper round to try and raise some more funds. She’s also saving for a guitar because music is what makes her feel better.

Hafiz has just travelled to the UK from Syria to live with his Aunt and Uncle. He’s left his family behind and is feeling incredibly worried about their safety. Hafiz has a passion for football as an escape from his problems. He is soon picked for the school team, however, he has some troubles fitting in with some of the team who only see him as a refugee. Stevie and Hafiz are put together on Hafiz’s first day of school. The two become close and develop a friendship that supports one another. They both search for their own stories and attempt to find their purpose in life.

I really enjoyed this book because it felt realistic to the world that we live in today. I really loved Stevie and Hafiz’s friendship. The characters felt so well developed that it felt like they were real people that I was observing. I loved the alternate chapters because I wanted to read more from their points of view. I never felt confused with who was narrating a chapter. Each character had their own identity. This book really makes you think about others. It packs a powerful punch, that’s for sure. I also appreciated the focus on mental health. We do need to be speaking about it more and I was impressed with the representation of depression in this story.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful read! It touched my heart.

Mine

Mine

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

This is not your baby.

You wake up alone after an emergency caesarean, dying to see your child.

But when you are shown the infant, you just know . . .

This baby is not yours.

No one believes you.

They say you’re delusional, confused, dangerous.

But you’re a doctor . . .

Do you trust yourself?

Because you know only one thing – You must find your baby.

Thoughts:

I had heard many good things about Mine so I was super excited to check it out. I’m trying to get through books on my kindle as I just keep buying them and not getting around to reading them. #bookwormstruggles I thought that Mine was an incredibly easy to read book. I was eager to find out what was going to happen right from the start. Goodness knows that cover gives an amazing tag line!

The story centres around Sasha who wakes up in hospital after a caesarean. Sasha doesn’t remember much about the birth but she knows she is desperate to see her baby. Sasha and her husband were so desperate to have a baby so she wants to savour every minute with her newborn. However, when she gets to the hospital nursery, she is convinced that the baby she is shown is not hers. No-one listens to Sasha- even her husband is sure that she’s wrong. Sasha is determined to convince them that a mistake has been made…but how will she get everyone to believe her?

Mine really did have me gripped from the start. It has an interesting pace that is somewhat ramped up at the start and at the end, with the middle moving much more slowly. It’s a highly emotional story which some might find hard to read if you’ve suffered from mental health or fertility issues. I really didn’t know who to believe. I went through stages of thinking that Sasha was a really unreliable narrator and then I changed my mind again. It really was a rollercoaster that made you question whether Sasha was mentally stable or not.

I really enjoyed the time frame of this story. It goes over a week and flips between the past and the present. I don’t always enjoy that narrative, but Susi Fox certainly wrote the narrative well. It was interesting to find out that Susi Fox is a medical professional, I felt like the medical scenes were very realistic. It was clear that Susi was well informed.

The characters in Mine are fantastic. I really felt for Sasha. I immediately wanted everything to be sorted out for her- whether she was right or not. I found Sasha’s husband, Mark, to be a little frustrating. I wanted him to be there more for his wife. However, I did feel some sympathy for him when I read about this past as the reader does find out about some of his family history.

I was really impressed with this debut novel and the only thing that prevented me from giving it four stars, was that I particularly enjoy a consistently paced plot and I didn’t feel like this was. It’s a tiny complaint though. Overall, I thought it was a very promising, well informed, well written debut novel.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A solid debut from Susi Fox. I think that this book would be a great book club read!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Number The Stars

Number the Stars

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It’s now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are “relocated,” Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen’s life.

Thoughts:

I absolutely adore historical fiction based in World War II. I don’t know why, but I just seem to have a fascination with stories based in that time period. It’s not that they excite me, I don’t mean that. I’m just always utterly compelled by that era. I’m always horrified by the things that happened. 😦 I think it’s really important that children/young adults learn about this time period too which is why I’m thrilled that Number The Stars exists.

Number The Stars centres around the Danish family of Annemarie Johansen. Annemarie and her family helped hide their Jewish friends. This story focuses on how the Danish helped smuggle the Jewish people into Sweden which was a free country, thus saving them from an almost certain death.

This book is just long enough to keep the attention of middle graders. It also has the perfect amount of historical detail. A book aimed at middle grade/teenagers doesn’t need to be bogged down with historical detail. That could potentially turn a lot of readers off. This has the right mix in my opinion. It’s also got some very likeable characters within its pages. Our main protagonist Annemarie is a sweetheart and I loved her friendship with Ellen. I absolutely adored how strong and brave the Danish were and how they looked after their neighbours.

I have to admit, that I didn’t know much about Denmark during World War II, so it was a really educative experience to read this book, even as an adult. I think there’s so much to be enjoyed in this short book. I really did enjoy it!

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

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (December):
Time Travelling With A Hamster- Ross Welford

Missing Pieces

Missing Pieces

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

What if the one thing that kept you together was breaking you apart?

All Linda wants to do is sleep. She won’t look at her husband. She can’t stand her daughter. And she doesn’t want to have this baby. Having this baby means moving on, and she just wants to go back to before. Before their family was torn apart, before the blame was placed.

Alienated by their own guilt and struggling to cope, the Sadler family unravels. They grow up, grow apart, never talking about their terrible secret.

That is until Linda’s daughter finds out she’s pregnant. Before she brings another Sadler into the world, Bea needs to know what happened twenty-five years ago. What did they keep from her? What happened that couldn’t be fixed?

Thoughts:

I had heard fabulous things Missing Pieces so I was super excited to read it in-between my commitments with my blogger sister, Bibliobeth this month. It’s a short book at under 300 pages, but each moment was jam packed, yet it never felt too much. I am so impressed that this book is Laura Pearson’s debut, I think she is a very promising writer!

Missing Pieces is a story about a family that used to be super happy, until the loss of their youngest child. It only took a short time for the tragedy to occur. An elderly neighbour needed help, so the two children were left alone for a short time. In that time, the youngest child died and Sadler’s families lives turned absolutely upside down.

Understandably, the guilt and the grief affects everyone in different ways. Linda blames her daughter for not looking after her sister properly. Linda’s youngest daughter Phoebe, was clearly her favourite. She can’t look at her husband as he should have been home. With the discovery that Linda is pregnant, she really doesn’t want another child. She wants Phoebe back. Terrible events occur which I don’t want to spoil. It’s one you really don’t want to know about before reading the book, but trust me it is highly emotional.

The second part of the story is centred around when the new baby is grown up. She’s named Bea and is pregnant herself. Bea wants to know exactly what happened to the sister she never knew. What is being kept from her?

I really did think this was an incredible story. It was emotional, but wonderful at the same time. It centres around how it can take a long time for you to forgive yourself and for some they never can. It’s about love, forgiveness, family and learning to move on despite events in the past.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I thought this was a fantastic debut novel. I look forward to what Laura Pearson writes next!

Banned Books #53- King & King

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month, Beth and I read King & King by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland.

446761

Synopsis:

Once there lived a lovelorn prince whose mother decreed that he must marry by the end of the summer. So began the search to find the prince’s perfect match and lo and behold……his name was Lee. You are cordially invited to join the merriest, most unexpected wedding of the year. KING & KING is a contemporary tale about finding true love and living happily ever after, sure to woo readers of any age.

First published: 2000
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2003 (source)
Reasons: homosexuality

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

BETH: I was surprised to see there was only a single reason for this book being banned. Not because I think there should be multiple reasons for challenging it but because they normally come up with a few reasons, no matter how ridiculous to back up why it should be removed from a certain surrounding, like a library or a school. Now I could POSSIBLY imagine why homosexuality could be used as a reason one hundred years ago (not that I agree with it!) but to use that as a reason in the year 2000. We certainly do not live in the age of enlightenment.

CHRISSI: Like Beth, I can see why this book may have banned possibly way back when…but not 2000. That’s only 18 years ago. Why? It actually makes me really cross that this book is challenged. It’s nothing explicit. Just a gentle love story. The fact that it is challenged gives the impression that there’s something wrong with having homosexual characters. No, just no. That’s telling young children that a homosexual relationship is wrong. What if their parents are homosexual? Argh. It just makes me cross.

How about now?

BETH: Sigh. First of all, why are people challenging picture books for children? Like another of the picture books that we have read in our Banned Books series – And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson, books set in this format for the younger reader are often hugely helpful in bringing an important message to younger ears in a way they can understand and find fun. So no, I don’t agree with challenging/banning it because of homosexuality either eighteen years ago or right now. Why should sexuality be a reason to ban a book, no matter what age it is aimed at? Surely that’s more likely to enforce prejudices rather than accept the diversity of people?

CHRISSI: Definitely not. I feel so strongly about this book being challenged. 😦 I think it’s sad that in 2018, this book can’t be accepted by all. There’s nothing vulgar or explicit in this story. It’s such a gentle love story. I would have absolutely no problems reading this to young children. I think it explains that love is love no matter who you end up loving.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: As with other picture books I have read, King & King was quick and easy to read and I really appreciated the message it was trying to get across. The art was gorgeous and I found there was so much to look at, I could imagine children staring at the pages for a while, enjoying all the bright colours on offer. It felt for me like a quirky style where you could almost imagine you were seeing different fabrics – newspaper, cotton, silk etc and I can imagine this would be an interesting experience for youngsters too.

CHRISSI: It’s a gorgeous picture book with a wonderful, heart-warming message. I think it’s a lovely book to read to any child.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!