Category Archives: Book Reviews

Monstacademy: The Halloween Parade by Matt Beighton – Blog Tour Book Review

Goodreads Link

Synopsis

It’s not every day that a vampire borrows your pencil. When was the last time you sat next to a werewolf in maths?

Meet Trixie Grimble, the newest pupil at Monstacademy. Unfortunately, in a school filled with monsters, she’s the only ordinary girl and when she’s asked to help prepare for the annual Halloween parade, everything starts to go wrong.

Oh, and she’s also been kicked out of her bedroom to make room for a cat circus.

Fans of Jill Murphy and Isla Fisher will adore the silly humour and loveable characters in this delightful modern classic.

About the Author

Matt Beighton was born somewhere in the midlands in England during the heady days of the 1980s and continues to spend most of his days in the same shire. He is happily married with two young daughters who keep him very busy and suffer through the endless early drafts of his stories.

When he’s not writing, he teaches primary school (Kindergarten to some of you), messes around on canals in his inflatable kayak and supports his beloved Leicester City.

Website: http://mattbeighton.co.uk/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mattbeightonauthor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mattbeighton

YouTube:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs9DBOkwtDpnTFBYZXUhUUw

What I Thought

This was lots of fun and perfectly captures the emotions of starting a new school. It’s ideal for kids to read at this time of year and especially if they are joining a new class where everyone already knows each other.

Trixie not only starts a new school but she is very much the odd one out and having to board there too. Not everyone welcomes ‘her sort’ at the school. Humans at a school for monsters, how very unusual!!!

Having just re-read all of The Worst Witch books by Jill Murphy, I can confirm the comparisons to them are well founded and luckily, like Mildred, Trixie eventually finds herself a couple of good friends to help her settle in … and save the day. There’s a nefarious plot that needs foiling and, can you believe that Monsters don’t like trick or treating?

There are some funny names included, especially for the teachers (Flopsbottom 😂) which will give readers something to giggle about. The illustrations by Amalia Rendon were great and really added to the story. I loved the picture of the school caretaker Grimsby and it was good to be able to visualise all of the teachers.

There is a subplot with Trixie’s mum and some cats, and it was good to see that this wasn’t all focused on school and I liked the hints at how their relationship developed that we got in the extra Christmas themed short story. Initially I would have compared Trixie’s mum to Mrs Wormwood!

Aimed at a slightly younger reader, I think this is the perfect gateway to Harry Potter and I highly recommend it as bedtime story material.

Author Matt is a primary school teacher and he’s included some fun activities in the back of the book too (a wordsearch and spot the difference – I’m still stuck on this btw Matt and there’s no answers 😱😂). I’m such a kid because I also loved the fact the book has its own ‘This Book Belongs to’ page.

The Halloween Parade has set things up well for an ongoing series and I’m looking forward to seeing how the characters develop. It looks like there are at least two more books in the pipeline including a choose your own adventure version (I used to love these).

Today is the last stop on the tour but do make sure you go and check out what everyone else thought. Thanks to Matt and Faye for my copy of the book which I read for the purposes of an honest review.

All of the Monstacademy series are available in both standard and dyslexia adapted format. To celebrate Dyslexia Awareness Week 2018, use the code DYSAWARE to get 15% of any Monstacademy orders at the Green Monkey Press Etsy store. Offer valid from Monday 1st October to Sunday 7th October 2018 at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/GreenMonkeyPress

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Charlie and Me by Mark Lowery – Back-to-School Blog Blitz

The Summer holidays are over but the feelings don’t have to be when you are reading a good book.

Charlie and Me: 421 Miles From Home is a Middle-Grade novel and a poignant story of families and running away. Brothers Charlie and Martin are on a very special trip down from Preston to Cornwall. They’re desperate to see the dolphin that lives in the harbour there. But although Martin’s used to looking after his younger brother, this is a very different journey for both of them – there’s something even bigger than the dolphin waiting for them once they get to Cornwall.

If you’re looking for a book to help you rewind these last few weeks of summer holidays with empathy and joy, this is the one for you!

I’m pleased to be able to share an extract with you as part of the Back-to-School Blog Blitz.

The town was just waking up – the smell of fresh bread from bakeries. Shopkeepers dragging racks of flip-flops and beach balls out of shops called Wild Bill’s Surf Shack or Bob’s Budget Beach Hut. Street cleaners emptying bins and aiming half-hearted kicks at the cocky seagulls that scrounged around the cobblestones.

We’d been roaming about for a few minutes before we caught a glimpse of the ocean – a narrow strip of blue between two cottages. ‘Might as well have a peek,’ Dad said. We followed a steep lane until it opened out onto the seafront, and WOW!

It was incredible.

The town nestled above a bay about a quarter of a mile wide. It was a perfect semicircle, like the sea had taken a great big bite out of the land. Colourful cottages seemed to tumble higgledy-piggledy down the slope towards it. The tide was right in and fishing boats bobbed up and down on a sparkling sheet of turquoise. To our right, the bay was fringed by jagged rocks that concealed the rest of the coast. At the far side over to the left, an old stone jetty stretched out to sea, with a small white lighthouse perched at the end of it.

Dad whistled.

Mum squeezed his hand and said, ‘Beautiful.’

‘What are they looking at?’ said Charlie, squinting at a huddle of people on the other side of the road. There were about seven of them standing by the railings and pointing out to sea.

Charlie didn’t wait for an answer. He darted across the road, right in front of a car that screeched to a halt just in time. The rest of us chased after him. On the far pavement, Mum grabbed him by the arm. ‘Don’t you ever do that again. I couldn’t bear—’

But Charlie wasn’t listening. ‘Wow!’ he said, pointing past Mum. ‘Look at that!’

‘What?’ said Mum, her fingers instinctively relaxing as she turned to look.

Charlie wriggled out of her grasp, peeled off his eye patch and pressed himself up against the railings. ‘That! Behind that big blue boat. Next to the dinghy.’

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham – Empathy Blogswap

In order to celebrate the release of Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham, Walker have organised a blog swap. Throughout August a number of bloggers are hosting guest posts from our peers. Something to give us an insight into an issue we might not otherwise have come across. To step into their mind and empathise. I encourage you to visit other posts across the month to expand your experience.

Today I’m hosting Alba with her post on Acts of Kindness. You can read more from Alba on her blog Alba in Bookland here.

Acts of Kindness

One thing I love about the football World Cup is how it manages to bring people from all over the world together. Last month, we decided to organize an office pool in which you would select several teams and earn points every time one of your teams would score or win a match. Quite simple. But then in the middle of it, a colleague had a brilliant idea: let’s also collect acts of kindness.

So every day, we would check the news all over the world to find those little acts. It was amazing to see how this world event had affected the daily life of so many people, all from different nationalities and backgrounds and brought them a little happiness.

We even started printing our favorites and putting them in our office board, so everyone could read them. They definitely sparked more than one smile and even a few tears between our colleagues. So today I decided to share with you three of these acts of kindness:

1) How a deafblind fan is enjoying the World Cup thanks to his friends. Here is the video, if you haven’t seen it: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-44657259/icymi-how-a-deafblind-fan-is-enjoying-the-world-cup

I actually studied sign language in university and met such vibrant and active people in the deaf and deaf blind community. We used to have weekend excursions to different places in Barcelona and it was always such a especial moment to be able to sign for the deaf blind so they could experience new places too. So this video definitely brought a lot of nice memories back. I should start volunteering again.

2) Mexican and Colombian supporters lift Egyptian fan in wheelchair so he can see screen in fanzone. Here is the photo, if you haven’t seen it: https://www.thesun.co.uk/world-cup-2018/6553124/world-cup-mexico-colombian-egypt-disabled-fan/

3) Japan and Senegal fans help to clean up World Cup stadiums. Here are the photos, if you haven’t seen them: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/06/20/sport/senegal-world-cup-stadium-clean-up-spt-intl/index.html

And a special mention to the fans that created the pride flag with football shirts to let Russian LGBT community know ‘they’re not alone’ (https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/worldcup/world-cup-2018-activists-in-moscow-create-pride-flag-with-football-shirts-to-let-russian-lgbt-a3885161.html)

I hope these kind images brought a smile to your face too. And remember, acts of kinds cost nothing but are worth a lot.

Thanks for sharing these wonderful positive stories Alba. I often think of the more negative side of football so it’s great to see how a common interest can bring people together. Definitely relevant to my job as an Occupational Therapist.

Book 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.

An uplifting story of friendship, unity and hope that highlights the important and topical issues surrounding young carers and young refugees.

I really enjoyed Siobhan’s Moonlight Dreamers and Tell it to the Moon (which I’m just about to loan to a friend’s daughter) so I think this will be a fabulous read. Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow is out now.

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