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I Swapped My Brother on the Internet by Jo Simmons – Blog Tour Book Review

Synopsis

‘I can get a new brother? On the internet?’ Jonny muttered. ‘Oh sweet mangoes of heaven!’

Everyone has dreamed of being able to get rid of their brother or sister at one time or another – but for Jonny, the dream is about to become a reality with SiblingSwap.com! What could be better than someone awesome to replace Ted, Jonny’s obnoxious older brother.

But finding the perfect brother isn’t easy, as Jonny discovers when Sibling Swap sends him a line of increasingly bizarre replacements: first a merboy, then a brother raised by meerkats, and then the ghost of Henry the Eighth! What’s coming next?! Suddenly old Ted isn’t looking so bad. But can Jonny ever get him back?

About the author

Jo Simmons began her working life as a journalist. Her first fiction series for children, Pip Street, was inspired by her own kids’ love of funny fiction, and two Super Loud Sambooks followed. In addition to children’s fiction, she co-wrote a humorous parenting book, Can I Give Them Back Now?: The Aargh To Zzzzzz Of Parenting, published by Square Peg. Jo lives in Brighton with her husband, two boys and a scruffy formerly Romanian street dog. I Swapped My Brother on the Internet is her first book for Bloomsbury.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/joanna_simmons

About the Illustrator

Nathan Reed has been a professional illustrator since graduating from Falmouth College of Arts in 2000. He has illustrated Christopher Edge’s How to Write Your Best Story Ever and the Elen Caldecott’s Marsh Road Mysteries Series. His most recent picture book is Samson the Mighty Flea by Angela McAllister. He was shortlisted for the Serco Prize for Illustration in 2014. When he’s not illustrating he can be found with his two boys and a football on Peckham Rye Common.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nathanreed_illo

Website: http://www.nathanreedillustration.com/

What I thought

From the phrase Oh sweet mangoes of heaven, to this sentence in praise of naps, I knew I was going to love this fun and charming book.

Of course I love and adore my sister and never once wanted to swap her!!! Um… whilst that is true now when we were younger we fought so much that I’m sure both of us may have been tempted to try the service offered by Sibling Swap. Johnny and his brother Ted have just had a fight when he spots their advert and he fills out the form not really thinking about the consequences. What follows is a series of swaps with siblings that aren’t quite what he’d bargained for. I think my favourite was the ghost of Henry the Eighth and adults will love the little history nods in that section. And if you are a fan of 80s film Splash you’ll love Mervyn the Merboy.

Kids are going to love the silliness, burping, adventure but mostly… The Hanging Pants of Doom!!!

The story was naturally far fetched – especially the Mum’s reaction to her missing older son- but it made me smile a lot and comes to the inevitable realisation that perhaps our siblings aren’t altogether bad after all.

Definitely one to read out loud at bedtime with the whole family enjoying. (Note – parents may wish to study Meerkat noises before reading).

Now – which one is Fred and which is George again?

Thanks to Faye Rogers and Scholastic for the copy of the book for the purposes of this honest review.

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Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend – Book Review

What a jacket synopsis! Intrigued? You should be. Now this is one of the first books that’s been compared to Harry Potter that I feel lives up to the expectations. I loved it.

And just pause again to look at this stunning hardback – as gorgeous naked as with the dust jacket.

Now I received a review copy through Netgalley but I was enjoying it so much and I spotted the beauty that was this edition, and I knew I would regret not owning it, so I bought it and switched to reading from real paper.

Now. Because of the comparisons to Harry Potter there will inevitably be some comparisons made but in my view they are all positive.

Child gets whisked away to a wonderous world from a not particularly pleasant life. Check. Although, unlike the muggle world the world that Morrigan leaves is just as intriguing as the world she moves to. Cursed Children? The Hunt of Smoke and Shadow?

Genial magical man to guide our young protégée. Harry had Dumbledore. Mog, as he decides to call her despite her protestations, has Jupiter North. Is he as conflicted as Dumbledore, only time will tell.

Fierce friendships and fantastical foes. One main friend Hawthorne and some allies who may or may not become closer as the series progresses.

He who must not be named. The Wundersmith has a whole creepy parade float dedicated to him. Take that Voldemort.

The Hotel Deucalion becomes Mog’s Hogwarts with fun rooms to discover. Far too much smoking and lots of whacky residents to engage with.

And what are the trials of which the title speaks? Think of it as the Triwizard Tournament with a Talent Show at the end. All to get INTO the Wundrous society. If she doesn’t the Hunt may come for her yet.

This is a brilliant book full of magical world building, very very colourful characters and a form of transportation previously popularised in Mary Poppins, The Life and Death Brigade (Gilmore Girls) and Practical Magic. Move over broomsticks umbrellas are making a comeback.

Joking aside Harry Potter will Always remain in my heart (I know you see what I did there). But there is room in readers hearts for plenty of books. This one is going to snuggle alongside it. The one thing this book did that the Philosopher’s Stone didn’t was grab me from the first sentence. It took the introduction of the Wizarding World to draw me in. Once I was there I loved it. I loved this from : ‘The journalists arrived before the coffin did.’

So as Jupiter North does I invite you to Step Boldy into Nevermoor.

Spellchasers by Lari Don – Series Review

A week or so ago I was part of the blog tour for the release of the final book In the Spellchasers trilogy by Lari Don. Lari shared an awesome post about witches and I let you know what I thought about the first book in the series.

I’ve finished books 2 and 3 now so below is my review of these, which will contain spoilers for book 1, so if you haven’t read that go back to the original post linked above instead.

Reading Order

Book 1 – The Beginner’s Guide to Curses

Book 2 – The Shapeshifter’s Guide to Running Away

Book 3 – The Witch’s Guide to Magical Combat

So in book one our protagonist Molly is cursed by a witch and has to join a Curse Breaking Workshop with a group of other teens all trying to break the curses set upon them. Some are successful, some find ways around their curse and poor Molly no joy for her. Like I said in my original review it was a great introduction to the magical world and the characters and I definitely wanted to read on.

In book two Molly’s curse gets worse and she is less able to control turning back into a girl. In an effort to find out what has happened the group delve more into the world of the Curse-Hatched Crows and we realise that it isn’t only Molly who is danger. Those who have cast curses are too, and that includes one of the group. Once the group find out what is happening they are sent on a challenge to find an item to save the Promise Keeper (controller of curses).

Finally in book three Molly’s curse gets even worse. Now she finds herself turning into the prey of whatever predator she hears. Being a speedy hare was bad enough but a worm?

Turns out the Promise Keeper is now a teenager and is after a bit of entertainment.

Still holding to their promise to help Molly break her curse the original curse breaking class work together once more but Dryad Beth is struggling with the use of dark magic amongst them and really doesn’t want Molly to transform into a witch to break her curse. But with Molly’s safety ever more at risk it doesn’t look like she has many other options other than magical combat.

I really enjoyed the series. All of the main group of characters were really interesting, and Molly in particular as the human girl thrust into a magical world was a very empathetic character. The baddies were a bit more stereotypical although there were some characters introduced in the last book that definitely worked more with shades of grey.

The story arc between the three books was cleverly plotted to build upon the previous book and the action was well paced. I liked the way the internal and external threat of Molly’s curse ramped up between and within books and I thought the ending was satisfying and a little unexpected.

All in all a great UK based middle grade fantasy series. Thanks once again to the publishers and Lori for the copies provided for the purposes of this honest review.

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