Monthly Archives: November 2019

The Nothing To See Here Hotel by Steven Butler, illustrated by Steven Lenton

Today it’s my stop on the Lollies blog tour a celebration of the funniest books of the last year. Luckily for me I get to champion the fabulous first book in the, ‘Nothing To See Here Hotel,’ written by Steven Butler and illustrated by Steven Lenton, which has been shortlisted in the 6 – 8 years category.

You know from the moment you open the pages of, ‘The Nothing to See Here Hotel.’ that this is not going to be your average, run-of-the-mill story. There is nothing that can be described as ordinary in this entire book. In fact, the very opposite is true – everything is truly extraordinary, odd, weird and every other adjective for strange you can think of. Imagine, if you will, a mysterious, enchanted hotel invisible to humans, bursting with grumpy trolls and power-hungry goblins. Throw some revenge-seeking pirates into the mix, and that’s just a small taste of this hilarious and totally bonkers book.

Steven Butler has created the most bizarre but endearing characters, who will really appeal to children. Who could resist the fabulous and somewhat heroic Frankie Bannister, who is – very importantly – 1/36th troll? Or the repugnant and dastardly Prince Grogbah, with his ridiculous and highly amusing demands? This superb characterisation is captured brilliantly by Steven Lenton, with witty and gruesome illustrations featuring the most fun and intricate details that are guaranteed to spark creativity in every child. I’m a huge fan of illustrated fiction books: they allow children to gain confidence without being overwhelmed by pages of text. ‘The Nothing to See Here Hotel,’ stands out from the crowd, with its many comic moments and its original storytelling.

Don’t just take my word for out, find out what the children in my book groups thought about this hilarious adventure,

There are swashbuckling pirates, fire-breathing dragons, human-eating plants, fairies with toothbrushes and, of course, there is Frankie Bannister. Frankie is the main character; he has copper eyes, pointy ears and a great big smile on his face! Steven Lenton is a fantastic illustrator and he brings this book to life.


I found it really amusing and inspiring. It also had lots of excitement and cliffhangers within the book. The illustrations are fabulous, the language was fantastic and, best of all, it is amazingly funny. I would definitely recommend it to others.


I think people would really enjoy The Nothing to See Here Hotel because it’s got loads of made-up monsters. My favourite character is Hoggit the pet dragon, who lives in the fireplace. I wondered if he was going to learn how to breathe fire. The best bit was when the goblin prince didn’t realise what he’d stolen – it was a big surprise. The pictures were really good: they helped explain the story.


This funny story about a magical creature hotel made me giggle. My favourite part of the story was where the goblin Prince Grogbah fainted and they all thought he was dead. I like the fact that there are pictures on most pages, and the characters look just how I’d imagined they would.


Blog Tour

Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more reviews and features on the nominated books?

Thanks to Antonia and the Lollies award for inviting me to join in with the blog tour. You can vote now online for your favourite book in each category and voting closes on the 13th December.


Fantastically Feisty Females

Since I started blogging over four years ago I’ve seen an emergence of books featuring fantastically feisty females. From intrepid inventors, plucky princesses and fearless fairy tale characters there are a plethora of books to inspire and excite a generation of young readers. Their bravery and determination even in the most difficult of circumstances makes for intriguing and enticing storytelling. Today I am sharing some of my favourite new releases, featuring bold and empowered characters who will hopefully inspire children today.

Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention by Pip Jones, illustrated Sara Ogilvie

I was thrilled to discover that Izzy and Fixer are back for a brand new adventure. When Izzy is invited to take part in the Invention Convention, she questions whether she is good. Although her inventions are marvellous, magnificent they sadly often malfunction. With time ticking away, nothing seems to be going Izzy’s way. Everyone else is using all the cogs, wires, belts and wheels, leaving her with a pile of old broken tools. Inspired by Fixer, Izzy decides that success lies in repairing not creating. All she needs to do is just conquer her nerves and embrace her fears. Filled with Pip’s trademark lively rhymes that capture Izzy’s frenetic inventing style, this is a joy to read aloud. Sara’s energetic and humorous spreads capture Izzy’s personality perfectly. Another sublime collaboration from Pip and Sara, this is a triumph of a book.


The Snow Dragon by Abi Elphinstone, illustrated by Fiona Woodcock

‘The Snow Dragon,’ was one of my favourite stories in ‘Winter Magic,’ so I was delighted to discover that Abi was adapting this stunning tale into a picture book, which would be illustrated by one of my favourite illustrators Fiona Woodcock. Phoebe is the only child left at Griselda’s Home for Strays and is hoping that one day might be her miracle day, when she would have a real life family of her own. Locked away in the kennels as punishment by the cruel Griselda, Phoebe is all out of hope when a Snow Dragon appears whisking her away on a extraordinary adventure. This dragon encourages Phoebe to be brave and to never give up hope, even in the darkest of times. Her courage and belief in a happy future despite all the odds helps change her destiny in the most remarkable way.  Abi and Fiona have created something truly magical. Every sumptuous spread is a joy to behold. A perfect partnership of words and illustrations.


Superkitty  by Hannah Whitty, illustrated by Paula Bowles

Kitty is fed up of answering phones at the Sensational Superhero Agency and is desperate to become a real life superhero and is determined to help track down the most fearsome of criminals. When a call comes in about a stolen dinosaur bone Kitty feels this her chance to prove she is just as good as the others. Ignoring their demands to stay at home and iron their capes, she shadows them and watches as they get distracted on their way by bakeries, hairdressers and running races. By the time they catch up with Nefarious Norman there’s only Kitty left to confront him but does she have the courage to stand up to this dastardly dog burglar? Brilliantly told with lots of humour this was a huge hit when I shared it at school during storytime. Kitty is a hero that everyone can get behind and Paula manages to capture her drive and determination wonderfully in her bold and vibrant spreads. Filled with fun and feistiness, this is a real treat of a book.


Heidi by Johanna Spyri, retold by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Briony May Smith

I remember with fondness reading the story of Heidi as a small girl and Nosy Crow have produced an exquisite new version that is bound to captivate young readers today, bringing this story to live for a whole new generation. Heidi is an orphan sent to live with her grumpy Grandpa in the Swiss Alps, instead of feeling sorry for herself she embraces her new life even managing to see through her Grandpa’s gruffness and find the kindness hidden in him. Loving her new life, she is devastated to be sent to Frankfurt to be a companion to a sick girl. But Heidi always sees the good in everything and is doggedly determined to make a difference to Clara’s life when everyone around her has given up. Jeanne captures the true essence of this classic in this beautiful new version, while Briony May’s glorious illustrations wonderfully enhance this story. Every page is filled with the most sublime and intricate illustration, she has a real gift for bringing characters to life. Lovingly produced, this gift edition would make a perfect gift for any young reader in your life who is fond of beautiful storytelling.


The Lost Fairy Tales retold by Isabel Otter, illustrated by Ana Sender

We are all too familiar with fairy tales where females are waiting in towers, glass coffins and in cellars waiting to be rescued by their princes. Luckily for us Isabel Otter has discovered a whole host of overlooked and forgotten fairy tales that she has curated into a wonderful anthology featuring twenty female heroines who definitely don’t need rescuing. Comprising tales from all over the world our heroines refuse to be defined as helpless and while they don’t always make the right decisions, they stay true to themselves. We have wives rescuing husbands, giants being outwitted and impossible tasks being conquered.  What these heroines have in common is their approach to life, they seize the day and are brave and cunning and nobody expects them to be able to succeed. Sublimely illustrated, this is a gorgeous collection of tales that are bound to inspire and empower.

Eight Princesses and a Magic Mirror -by Natasha Farrant, illus. by Lydia Corry

Natasha Farrant has created a collection of original stories featuring princesses who are bold, full of curiosity and looking for adventure. Discovered by an enchantress  who throws her magic mirror into our universe, she sees reflected in it, princesses who are very different. They are determined to be true to themselves in worlds that try to define who they are by the fact they are princesses and expect them to behave in a certain way. Using contrasting modern and traditional styles of storytelling we meet a forest princess who takes on a very unladylike crocodile for a pet and an urban princess who fights to protect her community garden from the hands of greedy developers. I really enjoyed how different the tales are and by including modern tales it makes this story feel really relevant for readers today who want to help protect the world around them. Lydia’s illustrations are truly beautiful, wonderfully capturing the spirit of adventure in these tales. A fairy tale collection for modern children who are looking to inspired to take action in a world that doesn’t expect them to.


All of these wonderful books are available to buy online (click on the title to buy) or from any good bookshop. With thanks to Paula Bowles, Little Tiger Press,  Nosy Crow, Simon and Schuster and Zephyr for sending me gifted copies of the books.

Nevertell – Katharine Orton

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Katharine Orton’s bewitching debut, ‘Nevertell.’ Lina has never left the confines of the prison camp she was born in, after her grandfather was wrongly imprisoned. One night she unwillingly finds herself caught up in a dangerous plot to escape the camp. Despite the chances of success being low, she seizes the chance to see the outside world and together with her friend Bogdan is cast outside in a freezing and relentless world. But there are greater dangers than the cold lurking in the shadows, an evil sorceress with her pack of wolves is tracking them and it’s going to take all of their courage and just a sprinkle of magic if they are going to survive this treacherous journey across the Siberian wilderness.

Katharine has created this imagined world filled with darkness and magic that will delight and chill you in equal measures. She has bestowed upon Lina and Bogdan a seemingly impossible quest to travel across these frozen lands to reach Moscow and the safety of Lina’s grandmother. Each turn and triumph is matched with setbacks and dismay, keeping them just that little bit further from salvation. Katharine continually keeps the reader on their toes with this totally unexpected story and I for one didn’t imagine the surprises and uncertainty that Lina has to face. It gradually builds up, luring the reader into the story and then speeds up to a thrilling and dramatic finale that is thoroughly satisfying for the reader. A perfect winter read, best to be enjoyed under a blanket with a hot chocolate.


Blog Tour

Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more reviews and guest posts?

Thank you to Rebecca and Walker for inviting me to join in with the blog tour. ‘Nevertell,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.

Crater Lake Cover Reveal – Jennifer Killick

Following on from the success of Jennifer Killick’s brilliant, ‘Alex Sparrow’ books, and  ‘Mo, Lottie and the Junkers,’ Jennifer is back with something a little bit different and today I am hosting the cover reveal for her newest book, ‘Crater Lake,’ which will be published on the 19th March 2020 by Firefly Press.

So without further ado here it is…

Illustrated and designed by Anne Glen, this cover gives me proper chills. Declaring proudly on the front, ‘DONT. EVER. FALL ASLEEP,’ we are immediately given a sense of the spine-tingling story that lies beneath this cover. Wonderfully eerie and atmospheric, this looks terrifically terrifying and I can’t wait to read out. Perfect for fans of Stranger Things, this is a real edge-of-your-seat adventure.

Let’s find out what Jennifer has instore for us…

Crater Lake

It could be the mysterious bloodstained man who tries to stop their coach, or the fact no one seems to be around at the brand-new activity centre when Lance and the rest of his class arrive for the Year 6 school trip, but something is definitely not right at Crater Lake! What follows is a fight for survival that sees five pupils band together to save their classmates from an alien fate far worse than death. But whatever happens, they must Never, Ever fall asleep!

This sounds amazing, the children at school are always asking for scary books and I think this fits the bill perfectly!

Jennifer Killick

Jennifer Killick always wanted to be a writer but really started when she applied for a Creative Writing MA at Brunel University, which is where she first got the idea for ‘The Really Big Stink.’ She lives in Uxbridge, in a house full of children and animals. When she isn’t busy mothering or step-mothering (which isn’t often) she loves to read, write and run. Jennifer does interactive writing workshops in schools and festivals.

Thanks to Jennifer and Firefly Press for inviting me to host the cover reveal, ‘Crater Lake,’ is available to pre-order now online or from any good bookshop.



It could be the mysterious bloodstained man who tries to stop their coach, or the fact no one seems to be around at the brand-new activity centre when Lance and the rest of his class arrive for the Year 6 school trip, but something is definitely not right at Crater Lake! What follows is a fight for survival that sees five pupils band together to save their classmates from an alien fate far worse than death. But whatever happens, they must Never, Ever fall asleep!