Monthly Archives: December 2019

Cover Reveal – Blood Captain by Justin Somper

Today I am delighted to reveal the cover of book three of the revamped new editions of the bestselling VAMPIRATES series, ‘Blood Captain.’ Following on from the reveal of book one, ‘Demons of the Ocean,’ by Justin Somper and book two, ‘Tide of Terror,’ by Authorfy, it’s a real treat for me to share this with you on the blog. It will be published on the 5th March 2020 by Uclan Publishing.

So without further ado here it is…

I just love this stunning cover illustrated and designed by Crush Creative it hints at the dramatic turns of events that await Grace and Connor. The books contain brand new high-quality artwork, interior illustrations and a cutaway diagram of the pirate ship, plus new content including secrets that have never been revealed before. Let’s find out what Justin has instore for us in the third instalment.

Can Grace save Lorcan, as he once saved her?

Orphaned twins Connor and Grace are leading very different lives.
Connor, still aboard the pirate ship Diablo, is faced with a life-changing
decision from which there is no return. Meanwhile Grace is aware that
tie is running out for her vampire love, Lorcan, and she must fid a
way to save him. This means undertaking a quest to the highest
mountain to seek out vampire healer and guru, Mosh Zu. But doing so
reveals the real secrets of the vampirates. What is the truth, and can
anyone actually handle it..?

Thank you to Uclan Publishing for inviting me to host the cover reveal. You can win a set of the first three books by heading over to my Twitter page.


Christmas is coming

One of the best parts of Christmas for me is the arrival of the Christmas books. On the 1st December I take them from storage in school and carefully choose which ones I want to share with children at storytime. I have my favourites that I read year after year but I’m always on the look out for new additions to my Christmas collection. Today I have a wonderful selection of nine new titles, so I will be giving you a mini review of each, just enough to tempt you to the bookshop or the library to buy or borrow them.

Snowflakes, Silver and Secrets – Tracey Corderoy

‘Snowflakes, Silver and Secrets,’ is the latest book in the Seaview Stables adventure series from Tracey Corderoy. Bryony and her friends are looking forward to the Christmas holidays especially as it’s snowing, perfect for a magical horse ride. Bryony and her pony Red meet a family of travellers that have arrived in Brook Dale Manor and are keen to get them involved in the festivities. But when a box of silver goes missing from the manor house, fingers point at the new arrivals. Can Bryony and her friends find the true culprits and save their new friends? This series continues to delight me with it’s perfect mix of friendship and mystery. Tracey has a natural gift for creating characters who you care about and writing the most thoughtful and charming stories.

The Great Reindeer Disaster – Kate Saunders, illustrated by Neal Layton

When the Trubshaw family’s sleep is disturbed by a series of thumps in the night, the last thing they expect to find is a reindeer coming down their chimney especially as it’s July! Percy needs to get home, surprisingly not back to the North Pole as you would expect but the distant planet of Yule-1 where Father Christmas really lives. He accidentally beams the Trubshaw family back to Yule-1 with him and that’s when the fun starts! This lively and fun tale is bound to amuse and entertain younger readers with it’s many humorous moments. Neal’s illustrations capture the chaos and carnage of non=stop Christmas preparations brilliantly. A perfect stocking filler of a book.

The Real Family Christmas – Sue Mongredien, illustrated by Kate Pankhurst

Nothing is quite straightforward when the Christmases are about, as we soon discover in these three short stories featuring the trials and tribulations of our favourite festive family. What happens when Father Christmas gets flu just before the big day? And When Granny turns up with her crazy inventions and manages to upset all the elves, causing chaos at every corner. Oh and not forgetting when the extended Christmas family gate-crashes just in time for the festive season. Find out in this hilarious and heartfelt collections of tales that will definitely bring Christmas cheer to your home. Delightfully funny, featuring humorous illustrations that are bound to captivate early readers, this is a really joyful read!

Angel on the Roof – Shirley Hughes

Lewis Brown is lonely and sad, looking out through the bars of his basement window longing to be part of a world where he doesn’t feel he belongs. When a golden feather flutters down from the sky, he’s the only one who notices this strange and wonderful thing. Curious he goes to the roof and discovers an angel who doesn’t speak but this doesn’t stop them striking up an unlikely friendship. The angel’s presence has a wonderful effect on the people who live in 32 Paradise street, small acts of goodwill, kindness and understanding become the norm and they change for the better. Sublimely illustrated with navy line drawings, this is a perfect story for Christmas highlighting how small acts can bring joy and spread throughout communities. A modern classic, this is a picture book that deserves to be treasured.

Meerkat Christmas – Emily Gravett

I absolutely adore, ‘Meerkat Mail,’ so I was thrilled to discover that Sunny and his family are back in a brand new adventure for Christmas. When Sunny reads a magazine all about the perfect Christmas, he decides the desert fails to tick hardly any of the essential boxes. Leaving his family behind he travels all over the globe desperately hoping to find somewhere Christmassy enough but nothing is quite right. Some places are too hot, others are too cold and some are downright too soggy. Even when he finds a place that should be just right, he know something is missing. Can he discover the true meaning of Christmas before it’s too late? Featuring stunning illustrations and a gorgeous selection of cards to discover and enjoy, this is a wonderfully interactive read. Witty and warm in every way, it’s an absolute joy of a book.

Mouse’s Night Before Christmas – Tracey Corderoy, illustrated by Sarah Massini

We are all familiar with Clement Clark Moore’s ‘The Night Before Christmas,’ where not a creature was stirring but not even a mouse. But what if that’s not quite true and in fact the mouse is wide awake wishing for a special gift this Christmas, the gift of friendship. So when Santa arrives lost in a blizzard, the mouse hears and the mouse sees and goes to his rescue. Together they navigate the night skies delivering presents to all the girls and boys. Will mouse be rewarded with his heart’s desire? A beautifully told tale that will warm even the coldest of hearts. Tracey has created something truly enchanting, wonderfully enhanced by Sarah’s sumptuous illustrations which capture the wonder a joy of Christmas. A festive triumph!

The Night Before Christmas in Wonderland – Carys Bexington, illustrated by Kate Hindley

I adore ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ so was intrigued to discover this Christmas version featuring a very cross Queen of Hearts who has banned all festivities after her letter to Santa remained unanswered. Santa is horrified when many years later her letter is discovered and he’s determined to right this wrong. But Santa gets more than he’s bargained for when he arrives in Wonderland, a place where everything is so out of sorts. Can he find a way to bring to restore the holiday cheer? Brilliantly told with bouncy and lively rhymes, this is a real delight to read aloud. Kate’s illustrations as ever are packed full of intricate details which will enchant and entertain readers. This is a definite addition to my picture book collection and I will enjoy sharing it for many years to come.

A Cat’s Christmas Carol – Sam Hay, illustrated by Helen Shoesmith

Clawdia, the department store’s security cat is definitely feeling very bah humbug about Christmas. Left alone while everyone else goes home she’s feeling decidedly grumpy especially when her peace is disrupted by the arrival of three mischievous mice looking for shelter. Determined to show him the true meaning of Christmas they lead her on a wild mice chase around the store, showing her all the joys the festive season has to offer. Is it too late for Clawdia to embrace the Christmas spirit and have a happy Christmas? A fun filled retelling of the classic, ‘A Chrismas Carol,’ you can’t help but feel for poor Clawdia who feels unloved and left behind. A heart-warming tale, beautifully illustrated that will fill you with festive cheer.

Santa’s New Beard – Caroline Crowe, illustrated by Jess Pauwels

It looks like there will be no Christmas this year after Santa accidentally shaves off his beard, how will children know it’s him? Surely the elves can rescue Christmas, they’re used to being really creative and can make any toy? When bubble, squirty cream and mashed potato beards fail to do the trick it looks like Christmas will have to be cancelled. But one teeny tiny elf is determined to save the day. With a dash of fluff and a little bit of magic, maybe it’s not too late? Bold and bouncy rhymes make this really fun to read aloud, children will enjoy the elves weird and wonderful attempts to create a new beard for Santa. The bright and vibrant illustrations are packed with humour and mischief making for an entertaining and engaging read.

Thank you to Faber, Macmillan, Nosy Crow, Simon and Schuster and Walker Books for my gifted copies of these festive books. All of these books are available to buy now online (just click on the title to buy) or from any good bookshop.


Democracy in Action

With the days counting down to the General Election and with so much at stake, it’s my hope that people will go out and vote. Something that we take for granted these days was once the privilege of the few and yet today there is an apathy amongst some people about voting that fills me with sadness and despair. It feels even more important now that we encourage our children to understand the political world, despite the fact today’s children are often more aware than I was as a child, it really is a minefield of information. Today on the blog I’m sharing with you a selection of books for children of all ages that highlight democracy in action and how each individual voice can make a difference, whilst offering an insight into the political world.

Sofia Valdez. Future Prez by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

‘Sofia Valdez. Future Prez,’ is the latest book in the brilliant Questioneers series featuring the extraordinary children of Miss Lila Greer grade two class. When her beloved Abuelo injures himself on the local landfill while walking Sofia to school, she feels urgent action is needed. Mount Trashmore is dangerous and unsightly and a change needs to be made for the sake of her town. But how can one small voice be heard in a crowd of adults? Sofia must use all of her courage to go to City Hall and share her plans to build a park. Fearful Sofia becomes fearless Sofia when she is dismissed by the grown ups and sets out to prove that one child can make a difference. An excellent examination of community in action that highlights that changes can be made when people work together. This is a joy to read aloud and offers endless opportunities for discussion with children about how small changes can make huge differences. Stunningly illustrated and exquisitely produced this is one of my stand out picture books of the year.

Politics For Beginners – Louie Stowell, Alex Frith, Rosie Hore illustrated by Kellan Stover

In a world of ‘fake news’, 24 hour media and complex political situations, how can we expect our children to grasp the fundamentals of what is actually happening in our world when we are drowning in opposing opinions. Step forward the brilliantly informative, ‘Politics For Beginners,’ which strips back all of the confusion in this no-nonsense, clear guide to what politics is all about. Using bright, bold illustrations and easy to understand diagrams it covers diverse topics from elections and voting, political change and looks at different political ideologies like capitalism and socialism. It also carefully explores the really big questions we face in society in relation to terrorism, human rights and freedom of speech to name a few. This is definitely one of those book that needs to be in every primary and secondary school library, it’s an essential read for all children (and adults) to help make sense of the confusing world we live in.


The Accidental Prime Minister – Tom McLaughlin

‘The Accidental Prime Minister,’ takes a satirical look at political life from the viewpoint of a child. The country is run by a dastardly man called Percival T. Duckholm who after an altercation with Joe, which brings him to the attention of the world media, tricks him into becoming Prime Minister. We then see Joe trying to run the country and implement his manifesto including having a fancy dress Friday (on a Thursday) and cats having to wear hats. It offers a really interesting insight into the world of politics as Joe is given a tour around 10 Downing Street and goes off on summits.  joe has to deal with his arch nemesis Violetta the deputy Prime Minister who is out to destroy him, Inevitably things don’t run smoothly and everything starts to unravel. I think it’s a brilliant way to highlight to children how easy it is for politician’s to make extravagant promises that turn out to be impossible to implement and shows how easy it is to manipulate voters. A humorous and clever tale that is bound to amuse and entertain whilst gently informing children about the true nature of politics.

Things A Bright Girl Can Do – Sally Nicholls

Last year was the centenary of women being given the limited right to vote, although it wasn’t until 1928 that women and men were given equal voting rights. How can we today truly understand the struggles that took place to secure these rights when the right to vote is just part of the landscape in which we live and it’s just something that we take for granted. Luckily for us Sally Nicholl’s has captured a slice of social history in the magnificent ‘Things A Bright Girl Can Do.’ She offers us a uncompromising insight into the lives of three very different young women who each play their part in campaigning for change. From the desperate poverty of the East End to the polite drawing room meetings, they all have to make sacrifices for change. But just how much are they willingly to give up in their fight to secure votes for women. It’s definitely not a romanticised view of how the right to vote was achieved for woman, it’s a honest and sometimes brutal account of the battle that took place. By seamlessly weaving the girls lives into history you feel like you are stepping back in time to see the world through their eyes. Sally has created these strong women who are realistically flawed and who you genuinely care about it. This is such a compelling and inspiring story, it’s one of those books I want to put into people’s hands and demand that they read it!

Thank you to Abrams Books, Andersen Press, OUP and Usborne for sending me gifted copies of these books. They are all available to buy now online (click on the link in the title) or from any good bookshop.

Grab yourself a Graphic Novel


I grew up reading comics and graphic novels mainly because I was only allowed to borrow six books per week from my local library.  Today I can borrow up to thirty books at a time and past self is very jealous of current self. After I devoured all of my own library books I would then move on to the books my brother got from the library and his favourites were Asterix and Tintin. Then I would finally sneak away his ‘Roy of the Rovers’, such was my insatiable appetite for reading. Hopefully he won’t be reading this and find out what tricks I got up to as a child. I think this has hugely influenced the books I enjoy as an adult as I’m still drawn to books with pictures be it highly illustrated picture books for older readers, graphic novels or any books were the story has been brilliantly enhanced by illustrations. So today I’m sharing with you some of my favourite recent releases.

Hilda and the Mountain King – Luke Pearson

We’re huge fans of the Hilda series by Luke Pearson at home and at school, so the arrival of a new book, ‘Hilda and the Mountain King,’ caused huge excitement. After a hectic adventure in the stone forest leaves Hilda, her mum and Twig feeling a little worse for wear, she swears her days of sneaking out are over. That nights, she settles into a deep slumber, only to wake up and find she’s right back in troll territory – and this time without any back up! How did she get there and will she be able to get back to Trolberg? And what does the fearsome Mountain King have to do with any of it? This is another brilliant addition to this series, full of thrills, spills and humour that will keep children thoroughly entertained. I particularly enjoy Luke’s attention to detail, there is so many layers to the story which you can explore every time you read it. He captures Hilda’s emotions brilliantly and creates an incredible sense of drama which builds carefully and will keep your child totally engaged throughout. His use of colour alternating between strong warm colours and dark muted colours add to the tension and  highlight when danger lies ahead. Another joyous read from Luke Pearson.

Kai and the Monkey King – Joe Todd-Stanton

‘Kai and the Monkey King,’ is the latest instalment in the fabulous Brownstone’s Mythical Collection, brilliantly written and sublimely illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton. Kai and her mum Wen have been tasked to help a village to defeat a terrible monster, while Kai wants to rush in and tackle it, her mum insists they bide their time and find out more. Locked away in a library while her mum researches, Kai gets restless and when wandering the stacks discovers an ancient stroll which tells the tale of the Monkey King. Convinced that freeing the Monkey King is the key to defeating the monster, Kai sets off an a dangerous and thrilling quest to prove she has what it takes to defeat the beast all on her own. Perfect for lovers of bold and fearless adventure-seeking children, this book is absolute triumph from start to finish. Each spread is sumptuously illustrated and captures the spirit of the story magnificently. An absolute gem of a book that I know will be hugely enjoyed at school.

Claire: Justice Ninja – Joe Brady & Kate Ashwin

Claire is determined to right all the wrongs in the world from overdue library books to careless droppers of chewing gum, no wrongdoers are safe when she’s about. To complete her mission she must become Justice Ninja and together with her hapless sidekick Nigel she will stop at nothing to see justice served. Sometimes things don’t always go exactly to plan but Claire doesn’t let these small hiccups get in the way of her desire to set the world to right. Brilliantly funny, this is observational comedy at it’s very best, the illustrations capture Claire’s wildly imaginative personality perfectly. I particularly like the Nigel tips section which look like they’ve been ripped straight out of his journal. I can see this being a huge hit at school with it’s crazy plot lines and vibrant comic strips, it’s a really fun and frenetic read.

Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter – Jean-Yves Ferri & Didier Conrad

Having grown up devouring Asterix books I was really intrigued to see if this new adventure from Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad would meet up to my high expectations. It’s always difficult to step into the shoes of such iconic writers and illustrators but they manage to bring Asterix and Obelix back to life superbly, capturing all the quirks and eccentricities of the original characters. When a mysterious girl arrives in the village –  who happens to be the daughter of a brave chieftain who was defeated by the Romans – she is placed under Asterix and Obelix’s watch. But the Romans are determined to capture her and it becomes increasingly difficult to look after her when she gives them the slip. Can our heroes get to her in time? I just loved Adrenalin with her hatred of girl’s clothes and her ardent desire not to be looked after, she makes for a really feisty and fabulous heroine. Once I started reading this I was immediately transported back to my childhood and reminded of the reason why I spent so many hours reading these books. Filled with joyful humour and bundles of mayhem this is an absolute joy from start to finish.

Flember: The Secret Book – Jamie Smart

If there was an award for the author who has created the most arguments in the library then it would have to go to Jamie Smart. We have an unhealthy obsession with Jamie’s Bunny vs. Monkey graphic novels, which wars being raged on a daily basis over who gets to borrow the returned copy. So when I heard Jamie had written ‘Flember: The Secret Book’, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy and I couldn’t be any happier with this hilarious and madcap adventure. Featuring a mysterious island , a strange and mystical power called Flember and a boy-inventor who uncovers a long-forgotten secret, this is a story that demands to be read. Capturing the chaos and creativity of Jamie’s graphic novels, his fans are in for a real treat. I have children who are massively intimidated by books filled with only words but who will devour graphic novels and for me I know that their eyes will light up when they get to see a book that still gives them the joy of a comic but always offers something a little bit different but just as fun. I cannot recommend this book enough and I’m bracing myself for a raft of reservations requests when it hits the library shelves.


Thank you to David Fickling Books, Flying Eye Books and Hachette for sending me gifted copies of these fabulous books. All of these books are available to buy online (click on the title to buy) or from any good bookshop.