So pleased to be one of the bloggers kicking off the blog tour for – the next big MG series – which releases on 21.1.2021.
About the Book
“Sharp, funny and brightly imaginative – a big adventure filled with magic and heart”
Jessica Townsend, New York Times bestselling author of the Nevermoor series
An epic middle grade supernatural adventure series, soon to be a major movie starring Marsai Martin. Perfect for readers aged 8+ and fans of Percy Jackson, Nevermoor and Men in Black!
Amari Peters knows three things.
Her big brother Quinton has gone missing.
No one will talk about it.
His mysterious job holds the secret . . .
So when Amari gets an invitation to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain this is her chance to find Quinton. But first she has to get her head around the new world of the Bureau, where mermaids, aliens and magicians are real, and her roommate is a weredragon.
Amari must compete against kids who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives, and when each trainee is awarded a special supernatural talent, Amari is given an illegal talent – one that the Bureau views as dangerous.
With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is the enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton . . .
About the Author
B. B. Alston lives in Lexington, SC. Amari and the Night Brothers is his debut middle grade novel. When not writing, he can be found eating too many sweets and exploring country roads to see where they lead.
Cover artwork/illustrations from rising star artist Brittany Jackson
What I Thought
When a book is blurbed by a favourite author you go in with high expectations and I was not disappointed.
The Men in Black vibes are strong with this one but with the added familial drama the stakes are personally high and that makes for a gripping read.
For me this was like reading a total mash up of Skulduggery Pleasant, Nevermoor, Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter with a dash of lots of other things. It is at once familiar and original.
In this hidden world, magic and technology collide. For everyone who was confused about why the wizarding world didn’t embrace muggle technology this one is for you, and I have a feeling we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to both of these elements.
The cast of characters is strong, although you are never quite sure who to trust. The Night brothers of the title are not the only challenge our heroine has to face.
New roommate and best friend Elsie is the trainee Q to Amari’s trainee Bond. And there are plenty of punerific names for the side characters. Love a good pun so found myself highly amused on a number of occasions.
Amari Peters herself is one determined girl and her pre supernatural world experience sets her up well for what she faces at the Bureau. There were more than a few moments where she describes her experience, without naming it as such, as akin to facing racism and I felt my throat hitch. And how she chooses to prove everyone wrong about her is just Amari-Amazing. I really enjoyed Marsai Martin’s performance in Little and I think she’ll make an awesome Amari and depicting this moment needs that quiet surety she has. This has the potential to be a huge movie franchise with big budget special effects, a thrilling plot and moments of tenderness.
The ending opens up a greater crossover between her two worlds and I can’t wait for book two. In the meantime I’m trying to find a signed mega fancy first edition because this is one I’ll be re-reading and adding to my list of MG (and all time) favourites. It’s also got me itching to get back to editing my first NaNoWriMo novel – though I’ve promised some friends I’ll finish a more recent one first. It’s got to be a good book when it has me itching to pick up my writing pen again.
Thank you to Dave at TheWriteReads and the publishers for the gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review. I loved the shiny ARC and there was no way I was sending it back unread. Great marketing btw! Do check out the rest of the stops for features and other reviews. The blog tour runs from today until 3rd Jan with multiple stops a day.
Happy Book Birthday to The White Phoenix. This is Catherine Randall’s debut novel, a historical middle grade story.
About the Book
London, 1666. After the sudden death of her father, thirteen-year-old Lizzie Hopper and her mother must take over THE WHITE PHOENIX – the family bookshop in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral. But England is at war with France and dire prophecies abound. As rumours of invasion and plague spread, Lizzie battles prejudice, blackmail and mob violence to protect the bookshop she loves. When the Great Fire of London breaks out, Lizzie must rescue more than just the bookshop. Can she now save the friend she wasn’t supposed to have? CAN THE WHITE PHOENIX RISE FROM THE ASHES?
About the Author
Catherine Randall was brought up in Shropshire but has lived in London since graduating from St Catherine’s College, Oxford with a degree in Modern History. Catherine worked as an editor in book publishing before taking a break to bring up her family. She took a Master’s in Children’s Literature at the University of Roehampton, writing a novella for teens as part of her dissertation. Now living in southwest London, she is known in her local area as the writer of two history plays (The Teddington Review and Letters from the Front) performed in 2017 and 2018. As a result of her research for The White Phoenix, Catherine takes workshops about the Great Fire of London into primary schools. She is passionate about encouraging reading and volunteers with the charity Prisoners’ Reading Groups. She is currently working on her second novel.
What I Thought
If you know anything about me you will know that I love books about books and book lovers so when I realised The White Phoenix was a story about a bookshop I was immediately sold.
Our protagonist Lizzie and her mother take over the family bookshop – The White Phoenix and they have to fend off prejudice, sinister suitors, plague and The Great Fire of London!
This book transported me to my childhood and it gave me the same feeling I had reading or watching stories like The Railway Children, The Sound of Music, Pollyanna, Heidi, Little Women, and the early scenes in Great Expectations. There is a strong cast of characters from headstrong Lizzie to *makes me shudder* Mr Pedley.
I loved the detail included about the book binding process and oddly enough I know an artist – who also uses Phoenix in their shop name – who binds/rebinds books. The love that this process shows for the books makes me feel warm inside and I’m certainly glad that publishers and sellers are making more effort with their books bindings. Of course the front cover of The White Phoenix has to include some gold foiling to make it extra special.
There is human drama a plenty that starts for poor Lizzie straight away and there are ominous threats both seemingly far away and much closer to home. The constant mentions of the Plague feel very apt with our current situation. St Paul’s is there too, looming and an omen if you know anything about 1666.
So will Lizzie and the books survive the great fire? You will have to read to find out.
I want to know which book would you save in a fire? You can choose only one.
I was gifted a copy via Kaleidoscopic Tours for the purposes of an honest review.
It’s my spot on the Lost for Words #bookstagram tour organised by @darkroomtours today and I thought I’d share my review here too.
Dallas’s life was turned upside down the day her mum was killed in a traffic accident. Now she lives with her brothers, step-sister and her mum’s partner Gemma in a too-small house filled with bickering and grief. As the end of primary school approaches, Dallas learns that the local library has run out of funding and will soon be closing. Dallas decides she cannot let another thing she loves be lost. Together with her friends Aiza and Ruby, and her freewheeling American aunt Jessi, she starts a campaign to save the library for everyone.
A beautifully told tale about family, grief and growing up.
Aoife Walsh lives in Oxford with three nice children, a nice fellow and a sweet cat. Her previous books are Look After Me and Too Close To Home. Like Lost For Words they are about families, but then in her opinion hardly any families are the same, whatever Tolstoy reckons.
What I Thought
Although eleven year old Dallas takes on the council in her attempt to save the local library this is really a story about family. And Dallas’ family has been rocked by tragedy.
This story is told from Dallas’ point of view and through her we explore grief, challenging family dynamics, friendship and a dabbling in politics. From her very first school debate on Brexit 😂, to her clashes with the council, Dallas grows in confidence – but will it be enough?
This is a middle grade story but with Dallas on the verge of leaving primary school and moving up to secondary school. With the arrival of her aunt Jessi from Texas she is offered an even bigger move, and when you feel like the spare tyre in your family, feeling wanted is very comforting.
After her mum’s death, partner Gemma is left in charge and she’s got a job, two 4 year olds (one with autism), an 18 year old and Dallas to contend with, all within the confines of a small house on the river. The sense of lack of space is expressed well and I love how Dallas uses this to express why libraries are so important, even though she hasn’t used hers for months.
The dynamic between Dallas and her two best friends, Ruby and Aiza is an escape for her. They have a few adventures, challenging bullies, walking the line between becoming bullies themselves, a trip to London gone wrong. I particularly liked the scenes where Ruby asks Aiza more about her Muslim Faith after hearing negative comments at home. I love that the girls are able to have this dialogue. I would definitely be interested in reading stories from each of their perspectives too. Ruby in particular is so quiet, whilst I’m sure she has lots to say. Neither of these girls has the most stable home life but they look after each other, and also have the ability to be honest with each other too. This is a great example of female friendship.
I highly recommend this read, it’s empowering for kids to be shown how to stand up for something and Aoife Walsh has written a dynamic and imperfect family or three. I really hope to read more about these girls.
Lost for Words is released this Thursday – 4th July. Goodreads link.
Thanks to Darkroom Tours and Anderson Press for gifting me the copy of this book for the purposes of an honest review.
Do check out the rest of the tour stops