Escape Room by Christopher Edge

12 year old Ami meets teammates Adjoa, Ibrahim, Oscar and Min at The Escape, an escape room where they need to solve the puzzles before their time runs out.  But what they don’t realise is…it’s not a game.  The Host has chosen their team to save the world and they are locked into The Escape to find the Answer.  Alongside her team (The Five Mind), Ami must solve puzzles in a range of rooms from libraries filled with books from wall to wall and an ancient Mayan tomb.  Can they find the Answer before the end of the world?

Though I know Christopher Edge is widely loved, I’ve only had the pleasure of reading one of his novels – The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day.  Escape Room has certainly persuaded me that I need to read so many more of his stories and I am so excited that I have those ahead of me.  This book was just absolutely incredible; the plot was so fast paced and gripping that I read it in practically one sitting.  Christopher Edge has written some real edge of your seat stuff here (see what I did…) and kids are going to absolutely devour this! 

I loved the Five Mind team – all individually brilliant children with diverse skills that they brought to the team.  They were so observant and cool and collected in the face of danger, even hot headed Oscar brought a much needed role in the group.  Main character Ami is fantastic and I loved her clever mind and the bravery she showed throughout the story.  And no spoilers, but whoa did I not expect the ending and the way these characters developed – really unexpected and so fantastically clever! 

A high stakes adventure story with puzzles – what’s not to like?  Absolute must read, 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to Nosy Crow for providing a review copy.  Escape Room by Christopher Edge is out 3rd February 2022 and you can preorder it from Waterstones here.

The Chime Seekers by Ross Montgomery

Yanni’s baby sister Ari has been stolen by the fae!  Faerie love their tricks and this particular faerie is no exception.  Yanni, along with cousin Amy and a changeling, must navigate the fae realm to find Ari before the portal closes.  They need to outwit the evil Lord Renwin and beat him at his games, whilst traversing goblin palaces, battle swept oceans and discovering ancient treasures.  And they must remember…you cannot give a faerie your name…

Last year, I read The Midnight Guardians to review and I was instantly swept away into a completely magical tale of adventure and mystery and wow does The Chime Seekers do the same!  Ross Montgomery has this fantastic way of creating such a charming, fantastic world and writing stories that just hook you in instantly, with twists and turns that keep you guessing the whole way.  The language and detail are so rich and wonderful throughout.  The plot was perfectly paced, but I must admit after I got to about halfway I couldn’t stop myself reading and had to finish the rest in one sitting!  Truly fantastic writing that I cannot wait to share with upper KS2 classes.

I love the tricksy fae and their mysterious ways so there were so many characters in this fantastic cast that I enjoyed.  Particular highlights include the magical signpost and the stone frog who made me laugh.  Lord Renwin was a completely maddeningly evil villain who just embodied what I know and love of the fae and their games and tricks.  Cousin Amy and her board games and what is essentially D&D (! I know!) was another brilliant addition as a tough female character who won’t let herself be trodden over, especially when she knows she’s capable of helping out.  Main character Yanni’s character development throughout the story was captivating and he really took a journey to discover who he is now he has a baby sister and he’s more grown up in his family.

A magical world of fae and folklore.  Instant classic.  5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Walker Books for providing an e-book review copy.

September Wrap Up

Hello!  I’ve never done a monthly wrap up post, so this is me trying something a bit different and just sharing what I read this month and really the state of my TBR following this month.  I didn’t have a great September reading month compared to my normal reading and I only made it through 7 books (only…I know).  So here goes:

***

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

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 was truly breath-taking!  I rate Nevermoor as one of my favourite books ever and this is absolutely on par, if not better.  I cannot wait for the sequel.  A complete must read and definitely 5 out of 5 stars.

***

Danger at Dead Man’s Pass by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman

A mysterious letter from an old friend asks Hal and Uncle Nat to help investigate a spooky supernatural mystery. Legend has it the Kratzensteins, a family of rich and powerful railway tycoons, are cursed, but there is no such thing as a curse, is there . . .?

Hal and Nat take the night train to Berlin and go undercover. From a creaking old house at the foot of the Harz mountains, they take the Kratzenstein family’s funeral train to the peak of the Brocken Mountain. Can Hal uncover the secrets of the Brocken railway and the family curse before disaster strikes?

I love the Adventures on Trains series and this was no exception.  Danger at Dead Man’s Pass had a much darker vibe to the previous instalments and it was fabulous.  5 out of 5 stars.  You can read my full review here.

***

Once Upon a Crime by Robin Stevens

The Case of the Second Scream: set aboard the ship carrying Daisy and Hazel back from Hong Kong

The Case of the Uninvited Guest: Uncle Felix and Aunt Lucy’s wedding is the target for an unlikely threat

The Hound of Weston School: the Junior Pinkertons investigate a mysterious arrival

The Case of the Deadly Flat: introducing Hazel’s little sister May, who’s determined to be the greatest spy ever

The Case of the Missing Treasure: the detectives crack fiendish codes to catch a daring thief who is targeting London’s famous museums

The Case of the Drowned Pearl: murder follows the Detective Society wherever they go, even on holiday…

Daisy and Hazel are two of my favourite characters and certainly my favourite detectives.  What a fun short story collection coming back to these two and introducing May who will be in her own series soon!  5 out of 5 stars.  You can read my full review here.

***

The Wicked + The Divine Volume 2 by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

The second volume of the award-winning urban fantasy series where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. Following the tragic and unjust death of Lucifer, it takes a revelation from Inanna to draw Laura back into the worlds of Gods and Superstardom to try and discover the truth behind a conspiracy to subvert divinity.

I absolutely adore this comic series.  It’s fun and so brightly coloured – gorgeous vivid artwork!  The story is so much fun and whoa was this volume shocking!  So many massive plot points hit and it was fantastic.  5 out of 5 stars.

***

The Land of Roar (reread) by Jenny McLachlan

When Arthur and Rose were little, they were heroes in the Land of Roar, an imaginary world that they found by climbing through the folding bed in their grandad’s attic. Roar was filled with things they loved – dragons, mermaids, ninja wizards and adventure – as well as things that scared them (including a very creepy scarecrow. . .)

Now the twins are eleven, Roar is just a memory. But when they help Grandad clean out the attic, Arthur is horrified as Grandad is pulled into the folding bed and vanishes. Is he playing a joke? Or is Roar . . . real?

I reread this with the intention of reading the others in the series and also as I’d quite like to read this to my class this year.  I love Roar, it’s such a perfect imaginary world and the story is so magical – all children will love it!  5 out of 5 stars.  

***

Monstress Volume 6 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

War has engulfed the Known World, and Maika Halfwolf is at its epicenter. As she and her friends grapple with the consequences of their actions, long-buried secrets and long-awaited reunions threaten to change everything.

Monstress is my favourite comic series ever.  It’s beautifully illustrated with this gorgeous steam punk world.  There’s so much fantasy and political intrigue and the world building is completely phenomenal.  I love Kippa the fox child more than anything else.  5 out of 5 stars.

***

The Chime Seekers by Ross Montgomery

When an evil faerie steals Yanni’s baby sister and swaps her for a changeling, Yanni is swept into a dangerous race against time to get her back.

For faeries delight in tricks and rescuing her won’t be easy. With the help of his cousin, Amy, and the reluctant changeling, Yanni must travel to goblin palaces and battle-swept oceans, discovering ancient treasures and secrets along the way.

Yanni will need every drop of courage and even a few tricks of his own, if he’s to outwit the faerie and save his sister…

Ross Montgomery creates marvellous books.  The Midnight Guardians was gorgeous and beautiful and lyrical and I loved every second and The Chime Seekers was phenomenal too.  I got to about halfway and then I had to finish the book in basically one sitting.  A full review will follow shortly.  But, 5 out of 5 stars for sure.

***

Despite reading 7 books, my TBR seems to have become longer from all of the books I’ve gained.  Now I’m at 211 and you can check that out below!

***

  1. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
  2. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  3. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
  4. Thief’s Magic by Trudi Canavan
  5. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
  6. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick
  7. Cold Magic by Kate Elliott
  8. History of Midkemia by Raymond Feist
  9. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  10. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
  11. Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
  12. Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
  13. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
  14. Feed by Mira Grant
  15. Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
  16. A Skinful of Shadows by Francis Hardinge
  17. The Paper Magician by Charlie N Holmberg
  18. The Incorruptibles by John Hornor Jacobs
  19. The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred Year Old Man by Jonas Jonasson
  20. Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All by Jonas Jonasson
  21. Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
  22. Live by Night by Dennis Lehane
  23. Heart of the Mirage by Glenda Larke
  24. Tehanu by Ursula K LeGuin
  25. The Other Wind by Ursula K LeGuin
  26. The Hunter’s Kind by Rebecca Levene
  27. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
  28. The Raven’s Head by Karen Maitland
  29. Battlestar Surburbia by Chris McCrudden
  30. Empress by Karen Miller
  31. Nation by Terry Pratchett
  32. Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett
  33. The Watchmaker of Filligree Street by Natasha Pulley
  34. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
  35. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Screenplay by JK Rowling
  36. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald by JK Rowling
  37. This Savage Song by VE Schwab
  38. The Trees by Ali Shaw
  39. The Chimes by Anna Smaill
  40. The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
  41. The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud
  42. Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud
  43. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  44. Slated by Terri Terry
  45. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth E Wein
  46. The Martian by Andy Weir
  47. Artemis by Andy Weir
  48. The Copper Promise by Jen Williams
  49. Shadowmarch by Tad Williams
  50. Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong
  51. City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C Anderson
  52. Through the Golden Door by Kay Solo
  53. Beyond the End by Kay Solo
  54. The Eternal World by Kay Solo
  55. Ghost Walk by Kay Solo
  56. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  57. The Ninth Circle by CA Harland
  58. The Outsorcerer’s Apprentice by Tom Holt
  59. Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault by Candace Robinson
  60. Thinblade by David A Wells
  61. This is the End (a book collection)
  62. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  63. Wool by Hugh Howey
  64. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  65. How to be an Outstanding Primary School Teacher by David Dunn
  66. Foreign Devils by John Hornor Jacobs
  67. The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
  68. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  69. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R R Martin
  70. Fevre Dream by George R R Martin
  71. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  72. The Damned Utd by David Peace
  73. The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
  74. Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James
  75. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  76. Winnie the Pooh by A A Milne
  77. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
  78. Making Money by Terry Pratchett
  79. Paddington at Large by Michael Bond
  80. Paddington Abroad by Michael Bond
  81. Paddington Helps Out by Michael Bond
  82. The Binding by Bridget Collins
  83. The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
  84. The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill bryson
  85. The Becoming by Michelle Obama
  86. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
  87. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
  88. The 100 by Kass Morgan
  89. The 100 Day 21 by Kass Morgan
  90. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas
  91. Reflection by Elizabeth Lim
  92. Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth
  93. Digging in the Stars by Katherine Blakeney
  94. The Eye of Zeus by Alane Adams
  95. The Forgotten Palace by Luke Aylen
  96. Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
  97. The Last Dogs by Joe Siple
  98. The Lost Wonderland Diaries by J Scott Savage
  99. Scythe by Christina Bauer
  100. The Apocalypse Strain by Jason Parent
  101. Hawk by James Patterson
  102. The Empire of Gold by SA Chakraborty
  103. The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller
  104. As Old as Time by Liz Braswell
  105. Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell
  106. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
  107. A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
  108. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  109. Martin the Warrior by Brian Jacques
  110. The Bellmaker by Brian Jacques
  111. Outcast of Redwall by Brian Jacques
  112. The Pearls of Lutra by Brian Jacques
  113. The Long Patrol by Brian Jacques
  114. Marlfox by Brian Jacques
  115. The Legend of Luke by Brian Jacques
  116. Lord Brocktree by Brian Jacques
  117. The Taggerung by Brian Jacques
  118. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  119. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  120. The Go Between by LP Hartley
  121. The Plague by Albert Camus
  122. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  123. Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
  124. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
  125. The Night Bus Hero by Onjali Q Rauf
  126. Wizards of Once: Never and Forever by Cressida Cowell
  127. Dune by Frank Herbert
  128. The Library of the Unwritten by AJ Hackwith
  129. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
  130. The Simarillion by JRR Tolkien
  131. Unfinished Tales by JRR Tolkien
  132. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
  133. Count Karlstein by Philip Pullman
  134. Mort by Terry Pratchett
  135. Vox by Christina Dalcher
  136. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  137. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  138. The Guest List by Lucy Foley
  139. To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
  140. Rogue Planet by Cullen Bunn
  141. The Supreme Lie by Geraldine McCaughrean
  142. Dryad Vol 1 by Kurtis Wiebe
  143. We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
  144. We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal
  145. Otter’s Moon by Susanna Bailey
  146. The Runaway Girls by Jacqueline Wilson
  147. The Underfoot Vol 1 by Ben Fisher and Emily S Whitten
  148. The Underfoot Vol 2 by Ben Fisher and Emily S Whitten
  149. Skin Taker by Michelle Paver
  150. Harklights by Tim Tilley
  151. The Actuality by Paul Braddon
  152. Monstrous Design by Kat Dunn
  153. Bloom by Nicola Skinner
  154. Storm by Nicola Skinner
  155. Starboard by Nicola Skinner
  156. Sweet Sweet Revenge Ltd by Jonas Jonasson
  157. The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox
  158. The World of Critical Role
  159. Going Postal by Terry Pratchett
  160. Rat Queens Vol 6 by Kurtis Wiebe
  161. Maskerade by Terry Pratchett
  162. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
  163. Ex Libris by Michiko Kakutani
  164. The War of the Worlds by HG Wells
  165. The Secret Detectives by Ella Risbridger
  166. The Life and Times of Lonny Quicke by Kirsty Applebaum
  167. The Incredible Talking Machine by Jenni Spangler
  168. Fables Vol 3 by Bill Willingham
  169. Once and Future Vol 2 by Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora
  170. Sera and the Royal Stars Vol 1 by Jon Tsuei
  171. Eric by Terry Pratchett
  172. The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie
  173. The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie
  174. The Bewitching of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes
  175. Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep by Philip Reeve
  176. Fireborn by Aisling Fowler
  177. Campaigns and Companions by Andi Ewington and Rhianna Pratchett
  178. Mouse Guard Fall 1152 by David Petersen
  179. Mouse Guard Winter 1152 by David Petersen
  180. Mouse Guard The Black Axe by David Petersen
  181. Something is Killing the Children Vol 1 by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera
  182. Chew Vol 1 by John Layman
  183. Return to Roar by Jenny McLachlan
  184. The Battle for Roar by Jenny McLachlan
  185. The Beasts of Grimheart by KM Larwood
  186. Uki and the Outcasts by KM Larwood
  187. Uki and the Swamp Spirit by KM Larwood
  188. The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
  189. The Explorer by Katherine Rundell
  190. Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
  191. Twin Crowns by Katherine Webber Tsang and Catherine Doyle
  192. The Book of Stolen Dreams by David Farr
  193. The Song that Sings Us by Nicola Davies
  194. The Beresford by Will Carver
  195. A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll
  196. A Trick of Time by Jenni Jennings
  197. When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle
  198. Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm
  199. Lionheart Girl by Yaba Badoe
  200. Gilded by Marissa Meyer
  201. The Chime Seekers by Ross Montgomery
  202. Frostheart 3 by Jamie Littler
  203. The Trial by Laura Bates
  204. Ghostcloud by Michael Mann
  205. Maggie Blue and the Dark World by Anna Goodall
  206. Kneel by Candace Buford
  207. Fledgling by Lucy Hope
  208. Bunnicula by James and Deborah Howe
  209. Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier
  210. Billie Swift Takes Flight by Iszi Lawrence
  211. Barakah Beats by Maleeha Siddiqui
  212. Escape Room by Christopher Edge

Danger at Dead Man’s Pass by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman

The fourth instalment in the phenomenal Adventures on Trains series sees Hal and Uncle Nat investigating a spooky supernatural mystery – and maybe a family curse?  An old friend contacts Uncle Nat to enlist his help finding out whether the legend that has cursed the Kratzensteins is true.  Nat and Hal head undercover and try to uncover the secrets of the Brocken railway before it’s too late!

I have loved every second of the first three Adventures on Trains mysteries and the fourth was absolutely no exception.  The tone of this story is a little darker and spookier than the other three and that suits this mystery perfectly!  As usual the pace is perfect and many clues kept me guessing throughout.  I’m desperate to try and solve one of these before Hal and Nat, but I guess that’s half the fun – trying to work it out and then being so completely outsmarted in the end!  There was a huge sense of danger in this story, more so than the other three and I felt this perfectly suited this investigation of a curse. 

I enjoyed that there was more of a purpose to this story as Hal and Nat go undercover and have to play at being son and father.  Their notoriety as detectives has started to follow them and this only added to the suspense and my looking for clues throughout the story.  Hal’s determination and drive continues to make him desperate to solve mysteries and he has become keen to work out some of the secrets surrounding Uncle Nat.  I particularly liked finding out more about Nat and hope his past will continue to unravel through the next story.  A whole cast of Kratzensteins filled the story and there was exactly the sort of relationships and dynamics you’d expect in a mystery story involving a family curse. 

An enthralling mystery that you won’t be able to put down!  5 out of 5 stars for the 4th instalment of Adventures on Trains.

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s books for providing an e-book review copy.

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency: The Edge of the Ocean by LD Lapinski

Following the events of the first book, Flick has become a fully fledged member of The Strangeworlds Travel Agency and soon heads off, through a suitcase to a new world.  Pirate Queen Nyfe has urgently summoned them and Jonathan and Flick must help Nyfe with the predicament she is facing.  The Break is beginning to fall apart and the edge of the world is coming closer and closer, collapsing before their very eyes.  

The first Strangeworlds from last year was truly phenomenal and so I jumped at the chance to read the second.  I loved every minute of the first story, a refreshingly original portal story travelling through different worlds, and the second was no exception.  I always enjoy stories involving pirates and The Edge of the Ocean is a fantastic sea-faring adventure story filled with magic and edge of the seat peril!  As well as the excellent and fast paced plot, LD Lapinski continues to write a diverse world enabling children to broaden their perceptions of the world, or to see themselves in a story. 

Flick is a likeable protagonist – she’s fierce and stands up for herself throughout the story.  I enjoyed the development of her character, especially some of the key spoilery moments towards the end of the novel!  (Don’t worry I won’t give anything away).  Similarly, Jonathan continues to delight with his bookish charm and I particularly enjoyed seeing him so flustered near the beginning of the story.  LD delves into his grief and anguish around the loss of his father and writes this so sensitively.  He’s a truly well rounded character.  New addition cousin Avery is dynamic and feisty and a fun way to round off the main trio in this story. 

A magical swashbuckling tale that is completely unputdownable.  This sequel deserves 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Orion Children’s books for providing an e-book review copy.

The Lost Soul Atlas by Zana Fraillon

When Twig wakes up in the Afterlife he knows he’s dead, but he doesn’t know how and he can only remember a few memories from his life.  Soon, armed with only a tatty held together book, a key and a raven, he must set out on a quest to find out what happened, why he’s there and to get himself home.

I really enjoyed this gentle and fantastic story following Twig’s journey through the Afterlife contrasted against his memories of life.  The double threads intertwined throughout Twig’s quest (I won’t give away much of the story) and built a picture of what should have been a bleak existence for Twig.  However, childlike optimism and happiness abound, despite the almost harrowing circumstances that Twig finds himself in in the ‘real world’.  Really this book should have felt much more sad and depressing than it did given some of the content (death and the afterlife, homelessness and begging to survive), but the relationships between the characters and the hope throughout gave this book real heart and soul that made for a warm and comforting read.

The true message at the heart of The Lost Soul Atlas is to do with the friendships we develop in life and Twig’s life is defined by his friendship with Flea.  Flea immediately adopts Twig into a family and the two feel like they are meant to have been friends from the start.  With Flea’s guidance, Twig grows and gains courage becoming someone who is more willing to stand up for what is just and right.  In the Afterlife, Twig bonds with Krukk a skeletal raven guardian who provides some much needed comedic moments throughout Twig’s quest. 

Ironically, The Lost Soul Atlas is a book that is full of heart and soul and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Orion Children’s books for providing an e-book review copy.

Once Upon a Crime by Robin Stevens

A short story collection following the fabulous Detective Society and friends.  Two previously published stories, The Case of the Missing Treasure and The Case of the Drowned Pearl, are joined by four brand new short stories in this fabulous collection of secret mysteries.  The Case of the Second Scream follows Daisy and Hazel as they return from their exploits in Hong Kong.  The Case of the Uninvited Guest sees Uncle Felix and Aunt Lucy’s wedding crashed by a mysterious guest who seems to be some sort of threat.  In the Hound of Weston School we get an insight into the Junior Pinkerton’s lives at school.  Lastly, The Case of the Deadly Flat gives a further introduction to May Wong who will soon be the star of her own mystery series.

Last year, I devoured all of the Murder Most Unladylike Series and I absolutely loved it.  Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are two of my favourite characters and I liken the first book to Malory Towers with murder.  It’s just completely fabulous, so obviously I had to read this short story collection as the last of the Detective Society.  I had only previously read one of these short stories (The Case of the Drowned Pearl), so most were brand new to me.  I am completely terrible at picking up on clues and unravelling plots, although I love to try so I definitely didn’t manage to work out any of the culprits as I read.  These stories were great fun!  I particularly enjoyed seeing the Junior Pinkertons at work in The Hounds of Weston School and seeing more from behind the scenes of Alexander’s point of view. 

Another highlight was The Case of the Deadly Flat as we got to explore more from May Wong who will be back in her brand new series next year!  The character of May is completely splendid as Daisy would put it.  She is fun and quick witted and animated – I can tell that her series is going to be excellent with her desire to solve any mystery that comes her way.  It was also nice to see the contrast between her and Rose who provided some balance to May’s energy with her slower and more thoughtful perspective. 

A firm 5 out of 5 stars to this fun collection of detective stories. Maybe next time I’ll work out the culprit!

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Children’s UK for providing an e-book review copy.

Puffins, plants and plays?

Hello!  Recently, I was lucky enough to be sent three books by publisher Barrington Stoke that I was super excited to read and review, so without further ado:

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The Puffin Portal by Vashti Hardy

Grace Griffin is back and newly qualified as a warden.  She’s excited to get the hang of fighting crime and using the Griffin Map, but her first case seems to have her stumped.  Mysterious and downright weird thefts are happening all over the country and the only connection is a puffin at the scene of the robberies.

Vashti Hardy has done it again!  I loved The Griffin Gate and it was fantastic to be back with Grace in this wonderfully imaginative world of fantastic technology.  The Puffin Portal is a lightning quick and intriguing mystery story that is full of heart and charm.  There’s a real theme of belonging and being a part of something throughout this story which I think will delight readers.  Grace is feisty and cool as she solves the mystery alongside her sidekick Watson who is a fascinating robotic raven!  I can’t wait for more in this fantastic technological world of portals and adventures.

The Puffin Portal is perfect for ages 8+ and can be bought now from Barrington Stoke

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Blossom by Laura Dockrill

Blossom has always been surrounded by flowers and plants at her family’s market stall which has been passed down through the generations.  But the stall is in danger as Blossom’s parents can’t seem to agree about the future – can Blossom find solace with the plants and find a way to save her parents relationship and the stall?

This was a gorgeous story, so simple, yet so poignant and with so many serious issues dealt with sensitively.  Blossom’s sense of grief was so delicately handled and her continuing love for her grandparents through their plants and her aloe vera was beautifully shown.  The layers to this story will hit on different levels with so many different readers and I honestly just thought it was a wonderful story. 

Blossom is suitable for readers 8+ and can be bought now from Barrington Stoke.

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Tripwrecked by Ross Montgomery

Frank and the rest of the drama club are shipwrecked in a terrible storm on their way to performing The Tempest.  Only some of the cast seem to make it to the desert island, but what has happened to the rest of them?  There seems to be something mysterious happening on this island – strange music and some sort of monster on the loose!  They’ve definitely been Tripwrecked!

I love this funny and silly retelling of The Tempest from Ross Montgomery with so many disastrous moments for Frank and his drama club!  I haven’t read Rock Bottom, but Tripwrecked stood alone fine without any need to have read the previous book.  There were lots of laugh out loud moments throughout with clever reveals and funny dramatic scenes that will definitely have children giggling.  As well as the humour, Ross Montgomery shares some important themes of team work and standing up for yourself through the characters of Frank and Rianna.  Lots of overdramatic silliness, but a fabulous book!

Tripwrecked is perfect for ages 8+ and can be bought now from Barrington Stoke.

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Thank you so much to Barrington Stoke for providing these review copies.

My Never-ending TBR

Hello!  This is a slightly different post from the reviews I usually publish.  Here I’m going to list my (neverending) TBR, so that monthly I can keep track of how I’m doing and someone can hold me a little bit accountable for the ridiculous number of books I seem to be gaining!  Some of these are e-books, some of these are NetGalley books, some of these are physical books that I’ve had for years!  If you see something I absolutely should be reading now, let me know and I’ll try to bump it near the top.  Anything I am currently reading I’ve highlighted in bold. 

  1. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
  2. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  3. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
  4. Thief’s Magic by Trudi Canavan
  5. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
  6. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick
  7. Cold Magic by Kate Elliott
  8. History of Midkemia by Raymond Feist
  9. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  10. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
  11. Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
  12. Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
  13. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
  14. Feed by Mira Grant
  15. Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
  16. A Skinful of Shadows by Francis Hardinge
  17. The Paper Magician by Charlie N Holmberg
  18. The Incorruptibles by John Hornor Jacobs
  19. The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred Year Old Man by Jonas Jonasson
  20. Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All by Jonas Jonasson
  21. Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
  22. Live by Night by Dennis Lehane
  23. Heart of the Mirage by Glenda Larke
  24. Tehanu by Ursula K LeGuin
  25. The Other Wind by Ursula K LeGuin
  26. The Hunter’s Kind by Rebecca Levene
  27. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
  28. The Raven’s Head by Karen Maitland
  29. Battlestar Surburbia by Chris McCrudden
  30. Empress by Karen Miller
  31. Nation by Terry Pratchett
  32. Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett
  33. The Watchmaker of Filligree Street by Natasha Pulley
  34. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
  35. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Screenplay by JK Rowling
  36. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald by JK Rowling
  37. This Savage Song by VE Schwab
  38. The Trees by Ali Shaw
  39. The Chimes by Anna Smaill
  40. The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
  41. The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud
  42. Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud
  43. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  44. Slated by Terri Terry
  45. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth E Wein
  46. The Martian by Andy Weir
  47. Artemis by Andy Weir
  48. The Copper Promise by Jen Williams
  49. Shadowmarch by Tad Williams
  50. Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong
  51. City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C Anderson
  52. Through the Golden Door by Kay Solo
  53. Beyond the End by Kay Solo
  54. The Eternal World by Kay Solo
  55. Ghost Walk by Kay Solo
  56. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  57. The Ninth Circle by CA Harland
  58. The Outsorcerer’s Apprentice by Tom Holt
  59. Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault by Candace Robinson
  60. Thinblade by David A Wells
  61. This is the End (a book collection)
  62. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  63. Wool by Hugh Howey
  64. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  65. How to be an Outstanding Primary School Teacher by David Dunn
  66. Foreign Devils by John Hornor Jacobs
  67. The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
  68. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  69. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R R Martin
  70. Fevre Dream by George R R Martin
  71. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  72. The Damned Utd by David Peace
  73. The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
  74. Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James
  75. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  76. Winnie the Pooh by A A Milne
  77. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
  78. Making Money by Terry Pratchett
  79. Paddington at Large by Michael Bond
  80. Paddington Abroad by Michael Bond
  81. Paddington Helps Out by Michael Bond
  82. The Binding by Bridget Collins
  83. The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
  84. The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill bryson
  85. The Becoming by Michelle Obama
  86. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
  87. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
  88. The 100 by Kass Morgan
  89. The 100 Day 21 by Kass Morgan
  90. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas
  91. Reflection by Elizabeth Lim
  92. Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth
  93. Digging in the Stars by Katherine Blakeney
  94. The Eye of Zeus by Alane Adams
  95. The Forgotten Palace by Luke Aylen
  96. Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
  97. The Last Dogs by Joe Siple
  98. The Lost Wonderland Diaries by J Scott Savage
  99. Scythe by Christina Bauer
  100. The Apocalypse Strain by Jason Parent
  101. Hawk by James Patterson
  102. The Empire of Gold by SA Chakraborty
  103. The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller
  104. As Old as Time by Liz Braswell
  105. Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell
  106. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
  107. A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
  108. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  109. Martin the Warrior by Brian Jacques
  110. The Bellmaker by Brian Jacques
  111. Outcast of Redwall by Brian Jacques
  112. The Pearls of Lutra by Brian Jacques
  113. The Long Patrol by Brian Jacques
  114. Marlfox by Brian Jacques
  115. The Legend of Luke by Brian Jacques
  116. Lord Brocktree by Brian Jacques
  117. The Taggerung by Brian Jacques
  118. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  119. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  120. The Go Between by LP Hartley
  121. The Plague by Albert Camus
  122. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  123. Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
  124. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
  125. The Night Bus Hero by Onjali Q Rauf
  126. Wizards of Once: Never and Forever by Cressida Cowell
  127. Dune by Frank Herbert
  128. The Library of the Unwritten by AJ Hackwith
  129. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
  130. The Simarillion by JRR Tolkien
  131. Unfinished Tales by JRR Tolkien
  132. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
  133. Count Karlstein by Philip Pullman
  134. Mort by Terry Pratchett
  135. Vox by Christina Dalcher
  136. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  137. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  138. The Guest List by Lucy Foley
  139. To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
  140. Rogue Planet by Cullen Bunn
  141. The Supreme Lie by Geraldine McCaughrean
  142. Dryad Vol 1 by Kurtis Wiebe
  143. We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
  144. We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal
  145. Otter’s Moon by Susanna Bailey
  146. The Runaway Girls by Jacqueline Wilson
  147. The Underfoot Vol 1 by Ben Fisher and Emily S Whitten
  148. The Underfoot Vol 2 by Ben Fisher and Emily S Whitten
  149. Skin Taker by Michelle Paver
  150. Harklights by Tim Tilley
  151. The Actuality by Paul Braddon
  152. Monstrous Design by Kat Dunn
  153. Bloom by Nicola Skinner
  154. Storm by Nicola Skinner
  155. Starboard by Nicola Skinner
  156. Sweet Sweet Revenge Ltd by Jonas Jonasson
  157. The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox
  158. The World of Critical Role
  159. Going Postal by Terry Pratchett
  160. Rat Queens Vol 6 by Kurtis Wiebe
  161. The Wicked + The Divine Vol 2 by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
  162. Maskerade by Terry Pratchett
  163. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
  164. Ex Libris by Michiko Kakutani
  165. The War of the Worlds by HG Wells
  166. The Secret Detectives by Ella Risbridger
  167. The Life and Times of Lonny Quicke by Kirsty Applebaum
  168. The Incredible Talking Machine by Jenni Spangler
  169. Fables Vol 3 by Bill Willingham
  170. Once and Future Vol 2 by Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora
  171. Sera and the Royal Stars Vol 1 by Jon Tsuei
  172. Eric by Terry Pratchett
  173. The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie
  174. The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie
  175. The Bewitching of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes
  176. Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep by Philip Reeve
  177. Fireborn by Aisling Fowler
  178. Campaigns and Companions by Andi Ewington and Rhianna Pratchett
  179. Mouse Guard Fall 1152 by David Petersen
  180. Mouse Guard Winter 1152 by David Petersen
  181. Mouse Guard The Black Axe by David Petersen
  182. Something is Killing the Children Vol 1 by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera
  183. Chew Vol 1 by John Layman
  184. Return to Roar by Jenny McLachlan
  185. The Battle for Roar by Jenny McLachlan
  186. The Beasts of Grimheart by KM Larwood
  187. Uki and the Outcasts by KM Larwood
  188. Uki and the Swamp Spirit by KM Larwood
  189. The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
  190. The Explorer by Katherine Rundell
  191. Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
  192. Twin Crowns by Katherine Webber Tsang and Catherine Doyle
  193. The Book of Stolen Dreams by David Farr
  194. The Song that Sings Us by Nicola Davies
  195. The Beresford by Will Carver
  196. A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll
  197. A Trick of Time by Jenni Jennings
  198. When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle
  199. Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm
  200. Lionheart Girl by Yaba Badoe
  201. Gilded by Marissa Meyer
  202. The Chime Seekers by Ross Montgomery
  203. Frostheart 3 by Jamie Littler
  204. The Trial by Laura Bates
  205. Ghostcloud by Michael Mann
  206. Maggie Blue and the Dark World by Anna Goodall
  207. Kneel by Candace Buford

Phew…that was more than I thought.  Truly a never-ending TBR!

Shadowghast by Thomas Taylor

As Ghastly Night approaches, eerie and spooky tales fill Eerie-on-Sea.  Legends speak of the Shadowghast, a mysterious shadowy being that eats shadows and shadow puppet shows retell the tale every Ghastly Night.  However, that’s not all that’s strange and mysterious this October in Eerie-on-Sea, a stage magician and troupe have arrived and there’s something odd and strangely mesmerising about them.  After Herbie begins to see shadows everywhere, it’s down to Violet and Herbie to solve the mystery – is the Shadowghast back and what does he want in Eerie-on-Sea?

I loved both Malamander and Gargantis and delighted in finding nerdy references throughout the tales, revelling in reading the mysterious stories.  So I was absolutely delighted to be able to return to Eerie-on-Sea with the much anticipated Shadowghast – I waited anxiously and desperately wanted to be accepted!  Thomas Taylor’s writing absolutely draws readers in and makes them feel a part of Herbie’s mysterious journey.  From the first page, I was hooked and desperate to know more about Ghastly Night and the Shadowghast – what an opening!  And Taylor continues to deliver throughout the tale with strange and creepy mysterious stories hooking the reader left right and centre. 

I don’t want to spoil any of the story, but Herbie’s backstory seems to develop (at least a little!) throughout Shadowghast, even though I am still definitely left wanting more!  Herbie’s mysterious past starts to unravel a little and the reader is kept guessing and hoping for any tidbit that is thrown!  I absolutely love Erwin the cat who remains intriguing, but absolutely a life saver for Herbie and Violet.  New addition to the story is the fabulous Calistra, mysterious and magical, and perhaps with her own connection to Herbie and Eerie-on-Sea.

Dark and spooky, Shadowghast is a must read that will delight and intrigue readers.  5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Walker Books for providing an e-book review copy.