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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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#FromDaughtertoWoman by Kim McCabe – Blog Tour Guest Post

Goodreads link

Guest Post – Social Media Safety

by Kim McCabe, author of From Daughter to Woman, parenting girls safely through their teens

My daughter’s phone died.  I braced myself for her panic at being disconnected.  It didn’t come, she quite liked having a social media ‘holiday’… for a few weeks.  Then she needed to get back in the loop, she was missing conversations, photos, gatherings.  But after not having a phone for a while, she was a bit more aware of how easy it was to lose time on it and how it didn’t always make her feel too brilliant.

Teen depression.  We all like to blame social media.  We’re a bit afraid of it when we see the hold it has over our kids.  We’re right to be cautious, it’s definitely having an impact on teen mental health. We don’t want our girls to be basing their opinion of themselves on how many ‘likes’ they can earn.  Or ending up exhausted before the day has begun because they were messaging until 2am.  Or doing things for the boys because that’s what they’ve all seen online.

Our children are growing up in a world that’s populated by digital delights that we never knew.  We’re going to have to learn about how they work before we can teach our kids how to stay healthy in this new culture.  This is nothing new, parents have always struggled with whatever’s the latest craze.  Kids love it and we tend to see the downsides of it.

If you want to be able to influence your child’s social media habits you can’t be completely down on it.  Think about it from your child’s point of view: if you don’t have control over your home, own a car, or have much money and here is a device which puts you in touch with your friends and a world that you don’t have easy access to any other way. What’s not to like?

Here’s the way forward:

• Ask her to teach you about the platforms that she likes.

• Sign up to some yourself so that you can see what’s going on.

• Find out what you need to teach her to stay safe (like turning off location functions, not giving personal details and not meeting people you’ve encountered online; there’s more, find out).

• Ask her what she sees online that bothers her and discuss it without being judgmental or she’ll clam up.

• Find out what happens to everything digital, so you can explain it to her.

• Give her the 1-second-check idea, suggesting she pause before pushing send to ask herself what would my granny or boss think of this?

• Show her videos of how photoshop changes what we’re shown.

• Reassure her that it’s normal to be curious but if ever she sees or hears anything she wishes she hadn’t, she can come to you, no blame.

• Have a night-time parking place downstairs for phones.  No phones at bedtime; buy an alarm clock.

• Suggest a ‘mood check’ after time spent with social media so she’s aware of when it’s doing her good and when it’s not.  Encourage her to notice what feels positive (the connection, the fun) and what doesn’t (comparing, mean comments).

• Set a good example yourself.

Our duty as parents is to take care of our children and gradually to hand that job over to them.  So, when she’s little you install software safeguards and set rules.  As she gets older, the safety filters are going to have to come from inside her, so your job turns into how to help her do that.  First. She’s going to need to understand why she’d want to.  Then, you’ll need to guide her how to use social media safely.

If you think she’s running into difficulties, you need to show that you’re on her side.  If she’s not having a nice time online, chances are she’ll feel like it’s her fault and shame will make it harder for her to tell you.  If she seems to be relying on ‘likes’ to feel good, and then feels low after the high, help her to notice that.  If you think she’s got a bit hooked and you judge her, she’ll just get defensive.  Telling anyone of any age that they’re addicted to something is the last way to get them to stop.  Never make her wrong.  If you want to get through to her, the two of you have to be able to talk to each other without accusing or criticizing.  If you want an easy way to get these conversations going, go on a Mother-Daughter Date once a month.

It’s the way to get real-life ‘likes’ from her!

Wow. What a great post. Thanks Kim. Some useful pointers for social media using adults here too!

Summary:

This book aims to make the adolescent’s journey just that bit safer, kinder, and better supported – so parents and teens can enjoy the teenage years more.

The teen years are tough – for teens and for parents. Many parents dread the moodiness, dishonesty, preference of friends over family, exam stress, and the push for greater independence. Mothers have a pivotal role to play; this is a guidebook for parents and mothers of girls in particular as they navigate the rocky teenage landscape with their daughters aged 8 to 18. It aims to help them embrace the potential of their child’s teenage years by marking this time of growing maturity for girls and celebrating it with them. We celebrate birth, marriage and death, but this important life-transition from child to young adult is nowadays rarely acknowledged within an appropriate community.

Author

Kim McCabe is the founder of Rites for Girls. As the originator and facilitator of Girls Journeying Together groups, she offers guidance to preteen and teen girls and simultaneous support for their mothers. In training other women to facilitate these groups, her dream is that every girl grows up expecting to be supported and celebrated in adolescence. Kim was commissioned to write a section in Steve Biddulph’s latest best-selling book, 10 Things Girls Need Most: To Grow Up Strong and Free.

Kim is a home-educating mother of two boys, one girl, two cats and a colony of aloe vera plants; she is wife to a Kiwi, daughter to itinerant parents, friend to a cherished few, and lover of time alone, too. She lives in the Ashdown Forest in Sussex. She sometimes shouts at her children, accidentally steps on the cat’s tail and forgets to water the plants, but she loves her work, her family and her life. She has always had deep affinity with teenage girls, and by sharing her wisdom and compassion she infects the reader with her enthusiasm for this life stage.

From Daughter to Women is out July 18th published by Little Brown and is sure to be invaluable for those raising teenagers. It includes topics such as puberty, periods, relationships and wellbeing and I love the concept of Mother-Daughter dates.

Do check out the rest of the blog tour.

Thanks to Faye Rogers for also proving a PDF which I’m looking forward to reading.

…Preceded by Chaos Vol -1 by M. Wheeler (Writer) and B. Bicknell (Illustrator) – Blog Tour Book Review

Goodreads Link

Summary:

…Preceded by Chaos is a graphic illustrated series, charting the dramatic past, present and future of a young emergency room doctor, as the stress of saving lives threatens to overwhelm him. Mitchell Weaver is a troubled young Emergency Medicine doctor, orbiting a world of high-stress, intense pressure. It’s a distinguished profession with the burden of a variety of particularly disturbing personal demons that he must battle in order to maintain the façade of sanity and control. The third instalment of the series, Volume -1, takes place before the first book in the series, Volume 0, before Mitchell’s attempt at sobriety and self-awareness. During this chapter Mitchell travels to Spain in an attempt to find a part of himself that his been lost. But ultimately, Mitchell’s trip to Barcelona may be an escape more than journey.

Author:

M. Wheeler has held an eclectic array of jobs – including working as a studio engineer and a teacher — before he entered medical school in his thirties. During his residency in New York City, he wrote the first three books which would eventually become the …Preceded by Chaos series. Wheeler travels extensively for his job but currently calls Miami, Florida, home.

Website: http://precededbychaos.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/precededbychaos

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/precededbychaos/

What I Thought:

I started this book thinking it was going to be a graphic novel. But as it says above it’s a graphic illustrated series so there are some illustrations but also lots of pages of text only. This is actually the third book in the series but is a prequel (I haven’t read the others).

I was drawn to the story of an emergency medicine doctor battling his demons and the cover illustration really demonstrates that concept. The sections that take place within the hospital were the ones I most enjoyed and it was during those that you felt the pressure on Mitchell. There are some quite verbally (and illustratingly) graphic depictions of drug use. The scene with the case of a young boy is realistic and upsetting and the language used definitely reflects the author’s experience as a medic.

I am assuming that the series title is based on the following quote: “All great changes are preceded by chaos” by Deepak Chopra,

and the summary for the next books describes how Mitchell aims to change and battle the addiction and demons that are affecting his life. He is left with a summons that means change is inevitable and this seems to link to an enigmatic case that is alluded to but not discussed in this volume.

The preceding chaos is definitely evident here and I have to admit to being a little confused about what was happening. The majority of the story takes place in Barcelona where he goes on holiday with a mate from work and lots of alcohol is consumed. The foreword is by a fictionalised character from the story who I’m not entirely sure actually exists or if we have a Jekyll and Hyde situation going on. The red eyed bull demon again could be a metaphorical representation of turmoil or a real inner demon.

Unfortunately I wasn’t drawn to Mitchell as a character and I didn’t feel women in the story were treated all that well. There was was a scene that featured a prostitute and a very unusual shopping list that I think I’d prefer to forget – so I’m not convinced I would read on to find out what happens but hopefully the character manages to turn his life around. Despite his irresponsible actions there is clear evidence that he cares for the patients and has become burdened by past events. I think the concept of mental health could be considered more explicitly. I think in this case it was more that my expectations of the story didn’t match what I got.

I believe the print copy I received was the final version and there were a few errors still present, and some of the text on the illustrations was blurred and difficult to read. I wonder if the kindle option makes this easier with the ability to zoom in.

The illustrations were all grayscale except for a couple that included a dash of red. Oddly one chapter was entirely presented in captioned illustration and I do think that the material would lend itself to being presented in this way as a graphic novel.

Do check out the other stops on the tour to see what everyone else thought.

I received my copy from Faye Rogers and the publishers for the purposes of honest review.

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