Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- A Snicker Of Magic

A Snicker of Magic

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.

But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck’s about to change. A “word collector,” Felicity sees words everywhere—shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog’s floppy ears—but Midnight Gulch is the first place she’s ever seen the word “home.” And then there’s Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity’s never seen before, words that make Felicity’s heart beat a little faster.

Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she’ll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that’s been cast over the town . . . and her mother’s broken heart.

Thoughts:

I saw this book around everywhere a few years back, but for some reason never got around to reading it. I’m pleased that we picked it for our kid-lit challenge. It’s a really cute, magical realism, middle grade read. I don’t think it will be for everyone, but I do believe so many readers will enjoy it!

A Snicker of Magic is about a girl named Felicity who sees words everywhere. She sees them above people, in the air, around the house etc. Felicity lives with her family, but they travel around a lot as her mum can’t settle down for some unknown reason. Felicity and her sister just want to call somewhere home. When they arrive in their mum’s hometown, they wonder if it’ll be the place they finally settle down in. The town has history. It used to contain magic, and some residents believe it still contains ‘a snicker of magic’. As Felicity gets to know the residents, she finds out there’s more to the town and her family than first meets the eye.

This story is incredibly cute. I thought it was so easy to read and the magical realism was fun. It doesn’t have major amounts of plot development, it’s more about the characters. This didn’t bother me though as I liked to read about the characters and their back story.

Natalie Lloyd’s writing is descriptive and whimsical. I think you’ll either really enjoy it or it’ll frustrate you. It really depends on your taste. I think it’s so worth checking out though!

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

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Reading next in Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (May):
The Sea of Monsters- Rick Riordan

George

George

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

BE WHO YOU ARE. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not….

Thoughts:

I had heard SO much about this book from fellow bloggers that I just knew I had to check it out. I was immediately pulled into George’s story. It’s such an engaging, touching read that I do highly recommend. I can totally see why so many people love it!

The story centres around George who identifies as a girl. At school, they’ve been studying Charlotte’s Web, they’re going to perform the story and George is desperate to be Charlotte. George’s love of the book helps her to show everyone that she identifies as a girl. In George’s eyes, she is a girl, she just has to make everyone else aware of that.

I loved George’s friendship with Kelly. Kelly just accepted George for who she was which was absolutely heart-warming. This book felt realistic to me, because it did have hard moments within it. Everything wasn’t easily accepted and I imagine that’s true to George’s situation. George’s mother wasn’t accepting to begin with and I feel like this is how it could possibly be for many that identify as transgender.

Another thing that I really loved about this book, was that George did feel 10 years old. The writing was incredibly lovely and simplistic. It really felt like I was living George’s life as he struggled with his identity. She was so brave! I think it’s such an inspiring story.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

An inspiring story which I think is truly wonderful!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Cuckoo Sister

The Cuckoo Sister

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

“Since the day I found out about Emma, I seemed to have gone to the bad. I was rude. I told lies. I listened at doors and read other people’s letters if they left them about. I was always losing things . . . watches, cameras, and silver bracelets. And whenever my mother reproached me, I screamed at her, ‘Look who’s talking? Who lost her own baby? Who lost my sister? Just because you wanted a new dress?'”

Convinced that her family’s problems will end if only Emma is returned by the person who snatched her from her baby carriage, Kate longs for the older sister she never knew. But when a thin, spiky-haired stranger with hard eyes shows up with a letter claiming she’s the long-lost sister, there’s more trouble than ever. This “Emma” is certainly not the sister Kate imagined.

Thoughts:

This book is a real blast from my past. I remember thinking about books I read as a child/young teen last year and for some reason this book came to mind. I immediately text Beth (my sister) and she recalled it too! We then decided it had to go on our kid-lit challenge. We had to rediscover it. The feelings of nostalgia were strong as I read this book. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped, but it was still a lovely blast from the past. Books are certainly different now for teens!

The Cuckoo Sister centres around Kate who finds out that she had a sister named Emma who was taken. Emma was never found, until one day a girl lands on their doorstep with a letter explaining that she’s Emma. This ‘Emma’ knew nothing about her family and it’s a shock to everyone. Kate soon finds out that Emma isn’t the sister that she imagined.

I enjoyed reading this book because it felt quite innocent in its nature. Sure, the characters aren’t the nicest and I don’t think they’re amazingly well developed, but they’re interesting to read about. Both characters frustrated me at points but I loved reading about their interactions with one another. I feel like this book is definitely an old-school coming of age story. It’s about finding out who you really are and learning to accept it.

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

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars.

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (March):
Awful Auntie- David Walliams

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit: The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair

The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
A Boy Called Hope

Synopsis:

All Becket wants is for his family to be whole again. But standing in his way are two things: 1) his dad, his brother and him seem to have run away from home in the middle of the night and 2) Becket’s mum died before he got the chance to say goodbye to her. Arming himself with an armchair of stories, a snail named Brian and one thousand paper cranes, Becket ploughs on, determined to make his wish come true.

Thoughts:

I was pleased that we picked this book after thoroughly enjoying Lara Williamson’s debut. I was especially intrigued by the title. Although there are some similarities between this book and Lara’s debut they are different stories with different but wonderful characters. The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair is about emotions. It’s about bereavement and difficult family situations.

The story starts with brothers Becket and Billy trying to work out why their Dad has left his long term girlfriend Pearl who they really loved. Becket and Billy are also dealing with grief after their mother died of eclampsia when giving birth to Billy. Becket is especially struggling as he never got to say goodbye to his mother. The book deals with the relationship between Pearl, the boys and their Dad.

It deals with much deeper content than I had anticipated but in a sensitive way. There’s humour which is much appreciated in a rather deep book. Lara Williamson realistically portrays family life and how it’s not always easy. There are so many humorous moments that adults can enjoy as well. I certainly don’t think it’s just a middle grade children’s book. There’s so much to think about.

Being a fan of magical realism, I really enjoyed the paper crane elements of this story. I was really intrigued by the origami cranes and the idea of the butterflies. That made my heart happy.

Whilst this book is about bereavement, it’s not a book that breaks your heart. It’s a hopeful book about acceptance and moving forward. The bond between the brothers is absolutely beautiful and I loved the moments when Becket sat Billy down in the armchair and took him for an adventure. So imaginative, so sweet.

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

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit: The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1)

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1)

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

Dear Reader,

I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

Thoughts:

I am one of those who hadn’t read The Series of Unfortunate Events as a child. I know, I know. I don’t know what I was thinking! 😉 However, the wonderful thing about the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge is that I get the opportunity to rediscover books I should have read when I was younger. I really enjoyed this book even though there were some parts that did grate on me after a while. I liked how dark it was. I personally don’t see why middle grade/children’s fiction can’t be dark!

It centres around the Baudelaire siblings who have had an awful few days. They go through something tragic and then things go from bad to worse! I really didn’t think it could get any worse for them…but I’m pretty sure it will continue to be not all sweetness and light considering the name of the series. The siblings are so strong and brave. I really enjoyed their characters and immediately liked them. They weren’t whiny. I can’t stand whiny children. I particularly liked Violet. I thought she was a strong and highly likeable character.

I liked how short the story was and I thought it was well paced. I think it will capture the attention of children and adults alike. The writing style is simple but really descriptive and evocative. I have to say that the only thing that really irritated me with the story is when the narrative seemed to halt for a moment to explain or provide a definition for a word or a saying. I thought it was sweet at first, but then it got a little too repetitive for my liking and I felt that it disrupted the flow of the story.

That aside, I do think this series is well worth exploring and I think we’ll probably pop the next book in the series on our list for next year.

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

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Reading next for the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit challenge (December):
The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair- Lara Williamson

Strange Star

Strange Star

How did I get it?:
I received a copy from the publisher and I bought my own!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

They were coming tonight to tell ghost stories. ‘A tale to freeze the blood,’ was the only rule. Switzerland, 1816. On a stormy summer night, Lord Byron and his guests are gathered round the fire.

Felix, their serving boy, can’t wait to hear their creepy tales.

Yet real life is about to take a chilling turn – more chilling than any tale.

Frantic pounding at the front door reveals a stranger, a girl covered in the most unusual scars.

She claims to be looking for her sister, supposedly snatched from England by a woman called Mary Shelley.

Someone else has followed her here too, she says. And the girl is terrified.

Thoughts:

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love Emma Carroll’s books. I always find myself pulled into her stories before long and become completely immersed in the world. I thought Strange Star was a fantastic addition to her repetoire. It’s creepy but not too creepy for the middle-grade audience that it is geared towards.

Strange Star is mainly narrated by Lizzie, who appears at Villa Diodati. Felix is serving Lord Byron and his guests including Mary Shelley. Some of the narration is also told by Felix, who we hear from before and after Lizzie tells her tale. Strange Star explores the story of Lizzie’s sister, Peg, who has been taken by Mary Shelley, a scientist. I absolutely loved how Emma Carroll used Frankenstein to explain Lizzie’s story and explore the possible reasons for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It was incredibly clever and very compelling.

Emma Carroll is absolutely fantastic at creating characters that I really come to care about. This was especially the case with Lizzie and Peg. I loved reading about the sisters and the special bond that they had with one another. I also really liked Felix and particularly enjoyed reading his narration.

As soon as I started Strange Star,  I really didn’t want to put it down. It was a real page turner and a pleasure to read. Strange Star is unnerving without being scary which I really appreciate. I shall certainly be recommending it to the Year 5-6 team at my school (10-11 year olds) as I think they’d lap up this highly atmospheric book!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful book! Emma Carroll is such a fantastic author, I highly recommend her books!

Blog Tour: Robyn Silver- The Midnight Chimes (Robyn Silver #1)

The Midnight Chimes (Robyn Silver 1)

How did I get it?:
I received it from Scholastic through Faye, for the blog tour. This has not affected my opinion of the book!

Synopsis:

Life was very ordinary for
ten-year-old Robyn Silver. The often-ignored middle child in a big family, the most excitement she had was the dash to the dinner table to reach the last slice of pizza. Until… she begins to see creepy creatures around her town – creatures that are invisible to everyone else. And when her school is forced to decamp to mysterious Grimdean House and she meets its equally mysterious owner, Mr Cryptorum, Robyn finds herself catapulted headfirst into an extraordinary adventure – with more excitement than she could possibly have imagined. Be careful what you wish for…

About the author:

thumbnail_Paula Harrion profile photo

Paula Harrison is a best-selling children’s author, with worldwide sales of over one million copies. Her books include The Rescue Princesses series. She wanted to be a writer from a young age but spent many happy years being a primary school teacher first.

Thoughts:

When Faye approached me to be part of the blog tour for this book, I was very excited. Reading the synopsis had me sold and I love to read children’s literature, especially because I’m about to teach the age range that this book is aimed towards. I thought Robyn Silver:The Midnight Chimes was a fun, action-packed read which I can imagine many children (and adults!) enjoying.

The Midnight Chimes centres around Robyn Silver who is the middle child in a very big family. Robyn doesn’t have much excitement in her life. However, one day she begins to see some very creepy creatures in her home. Robyn is amazed that her family can’t see what’s going on. She’s intrigued and a little scared. Her school is forced to close down one day after a very strange incident. The school moves to Grimdean House which is another mystery in itself. Robyn meets the owner, Mr Cryptorum, who is certainly a strange character. She finds out that there’s a reason why she and two other children can see the creepy creatures. The three children start to work closely with Mr Cryptorum heading into a crazy adventure involving creatures, sweets and wishes!

I was immediately drawn into Robyn’s world. I found her to be a wonderful protagonist. She was strong and engaging to read about. I loved reading about her adventures with the two others. I enjoyed reading about her interactions with her family, especially her sisters. The story itself, is well paced and easy to read. I loved the titles of the chapters which gave you a clue as to what the chapter would be like.

The Midnight Chimes is full of adventure and some wonderfully creepy creatures. I loved the glossary of creatures at the back of the book. I can imagine that many children will be quickly catapulted into the imaginative world that Paula Harrison has created.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Information about the Book
Release Date: 1st September 2016
Genre: MG Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31444713-the-midnight-chimes
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1407170589

 

Next Stop on the Blog Tour (Sunday) – A Daydreamer’s Thoughts and Heather Reviews