Category Archives: Book Reviews

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend – Release Day Book Review

In case you missed my review of Nevermoor, which was one of my favourite reads of last year you can see it here.

Just as magic under the dust jacket

In this follow up to the magical Nevermoor, Jessica Townsend’s heroine Morrigan Crow, now twelve, has passed the entry trials to the Wundrous Society and is looking forward to beginning an array of exciting classes. However due to her ‘very special talent’ which no one can know about, her teachers, Scholar Mistresses Dearborn and Murgatroyd have other plans for Morrigan and they are mostly boring.

It’s only the conductor of Unit 919’s hometrain, the aptly named Miss Cheery and new teacher Mildmay, who makes exploring the streets of Nevermoor exciting, that save Morrigan from having a completely terrible time. Jupiter is always away searching for missing people, half her unit don’t trust her and then there’s the school bully to contend with.

Her loyal friend Hawthorne and Cadence are both back too, along with the madcap residents of the Hotel Deucalion including my favourite the sarcastic Fenestra.

Halloween returns with a spooky seance, as does the evil Wundersmith Ezra Squall. Will Morrigan escape his clutches this time?

I love this series. If you like Harry Potter definitely pick this up. It’s just as magical, Morrigan faces her own daily battles but is part of a wider battle within her world. Much more of the location of Nevermoor is explored and Morrigan and her friends stumble on some nasty places.

The characters are simply brilliant. So vivid and fun. The only problem with this series is that kids will want to keep reading well past bedtime and adults will want to borrow this whilst younger readers are asleep.

Wundersmith is released today – 30th October making it the perfect Halloween read.

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Jackson Saves an Owl by Darren Garwood & Carl Osborne – Blog Tour Book Review

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42141736-jackson-saves-an-owl

Synopsis

Jackson Superhero might not be a real name, but it is a story about a real boy, and as the name suggests, Jackson is far from ordinary. By day, a rare disease limits his ability to move freely, but at night he is far from grounded. When the sleeping hours come around, and weightlessness takes over, Jackson takes to the skies. He knows what it means to need the support of others, which is why when he hears a call for help, he is quickly there to lend a hand.

Author

Darren Garwood is the father of Jackson, a real boy living with a rare and terminal illness called Krabbe disease. Darren came up with the Jackson Superhero series because as Jackson can’t move during the day, Darren wanted to help him dream at night, when he was free to be anything he wanted to be. Jackson Saves an owl is written in lively, fantastic rhyme, and is the first in the Jackson Superhero series.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jacksons_smile

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jacksongarwoodsmile

Illustrator

Carl Osborne

What I Thought

This is an adorable picture book about helping others simply because you can. It is A4, around 20 pages and is set out in rhyme.

Of course I was touched by the story behind this. See more about Darren and Jackson’s story on YouTube – https://youtu.be/xiZ65fP0u3U.

But, what kid doesn’t want to be a superhero though? Your littlest readers will love listening to this, exploring the pictures, making sounds, and when they are ready, reading it for themselves.

The illustrations are stunning and I love that they look so drawn and coloured in. The pencil shading is a retro touch in this age of computerised drawing. I also love the subtlety of the initial drawing of Jackson sat in his beanbag chair with a stomach tube, a slight prompt for children to talk about but not essential to the story.

The heroics are also something very simple, no laser eye beams, showing children that it may be easier to help others than they think.

All in all this is such a cute picture book, created for one special boy but with much wider appeal.

Do check out the other stops on the blog tour. Thanks to Faye and the publisher for my copy for the purposes of this honest review.

Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek & Dave Philpott – Blog Tour Book Review

“If you don’t like this book, then you’re no friend of mine.” Ivan Doroschuk, Men Without Hats

Synopsis

A collection of hilarious letters to iconic pop and rock stars with fantastic in-on-the-joke replies from the artists themselves: Eurythmics, Heaven 17, Deep Purple, Devo, Dr. Hook and many, many more…

For more than a decade, Derek Philpott and his son, Dave, have been writing deliberately deranged letters to pop stars from the 1960s to the 90s to take issue with the lyrics of some of their best-known songs. They miss the point as often as they hit it.

But then, to their great surprise, the pop stars started writing back…

Dear Mr Pop Star contains 100 of Derek and Dave’s greatest hits, including correspondence with Katrina and the Waves, Tears for Fears, Squeeze, The Housemartins, Suzi Quatro, Devo, Deep Purple, Nik Kershaw, T’Pau, Human League, Eurythmics, Wang Chung, EMF, Mott the Hoople, Heaven 17, Jesus Jones, Johnny Hates Jazz, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Chesney Hawkes and many, many more.

Authors

Derek and Dave Philpott are the noms de plume of two ordinary members of the public, working with help from a worldwide social networking community.

What I Thought

This is a sizeable tome at just under 400 pages and lays out letters from the Philpotts to various pop stars, some responses in kind and a few shorter ‘postcard’ style quips that have yet to be responded too. This last style was generally more puntastic and therefore appealed to my sense of humour. I think the B52s Love Shack ‘floozy hovel’ letter was my favourite.

A number of the bands or songs I was not familiar with and I did find I responded better to those that I knew. I think perhaps googling the lyrics of some songs might have helped me better appreciate some of the references more.

It was sometimes hard to determine how jokey some of the replies were and there were a few questionable responses so this is not a book for particularly young eyes, and to be fair is really best aimed at music lovers. I’m looking forward to volume two with more recent artists?!

This would make a good coffee table book to dip in and out of and an excellent way to start amusing explorations of what song lyrics might mean.

I decided to have a go at my own letter to the artist in the Philpott style.

Although one response in the book by Wang Chung mentions the song below I wanted to explore it further.

Dear Beyoncé

Re Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)

I am a little bemused about your premise that ‘putting a ring on it’ is seen as the ultimate goal of a committed relationship and your presumption that doing that will mean that your partner will not stray. As you might be aware marriage is not now the social construct it once was, the ‘til death do us part’ vow should now more accurately be recited as ‘until I get bored and someone “better” comes along’.


If a man is that fickle perhaps making the next one enter into a joint mortgage might make for a more secure relationship. They are notoriously difficult to get out of and may result in the loss of your music awards room as you try to live in the same house but never cross paths.


The tune to Single Ladies and dance moves in the video are however very catchy and I can’t picture what action would accompany ‘got a mortgage with’. Any ideas?


Kirsty Stanley

Although, my query has seemed to turn out less punerific, more feminist argument so I’d suggest picking up a copy of Dear Mr Pop Star for far funnier versions (btw there are letters to female pop stars in there despite the book’s title).

Ooh and my profession got a mention. A pandemic of OTs is what the world needs I think.

Do check out the rest of the blog tour for other reviews, extracts and more.

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