Monthly Archives: May 2020

Asking For a Friend – Kate Mallinder

Today I am delighted to kick off the blog tour for Kate Mallinder’s second teen book, ‘Asking For a Friend.’ After loving Kate’s confident and assured debut, ‘Summer of No Regrets,’ I was excited to get my hands on an early copy of this book and it didn’t disappoint. Agnes is desperately missing her sister Rose who has moved to Weston Super Mare, no longer can she rely on the structure that she provides and she feels adrift. When she discovers her bus companion Hattie’s aunt has a guest house there, a plan begins to formulate in her mind and she soon convinces Hattie and Jake to come away with her for a ‘study break.’ But none of them will admit their true motivation for wanting to escape from normality. In this week they’ll discover things about each other and themselves, whilst finally understanding the meaning of true friendship.

Kate has assembled an intriguing and diverse cast of characters whose lives the reader immediately become caught up in. Once again she writes from each of their points of views in an insightful and thoughtful way, seamlessly weaving their stories together. She doesn’t shy away from dealing with the difficulties that teenagers face growing up, from friendship issues, fear of illness,  to being bullied on social media. Each of the character’s circumstances is explored with the most wonderful empathy allowing us to feel truly immersed in their journeys.  Kate has a real talent for getting into the hearts and minds of teens, understanding their vulnerabilities and the challenges they face. There are so many moments of sadness, joy and drama that make this book a compelling and uplifting read. It’s the perfect escape and is bound to delight young teens looking for something true to life.


I have two signed copies of, ‘Asking For a Friend,’ to giveaway, to enter comment on this blog post and for an extra entry RT the review on Twitter. UK only Ends 4th June 2020.


Blog Tour

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

Thank you to Kate and Firefly for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a gifted copy of this wonderful book. ‘Asking For a Friend,’ is released on 4th June and is available to buy online or from you local bookshop.


The Book of Mysteries – J.R. Wallis

Today I’m sharing with you, A Tale from the Badlands, ‘The Book of Mysteries by J.R. Wallis. Although this is the third book in the series, it works incredibly well as a stand alone and despite not having read the first two, the world is established quite quickly and I soon became lost in the Badlands. The Badlands is a place full of monsters and creatures that hide in the shadows waiting on their prey. These fearsome beasts are not the stuff of fairy tales and nightmares but real life and they are kept at bay by the Badlanders who are sworn to protect mankind. Ruby is determined to prove that she is worthy to be a Badlander but despite her record of defeating monsters the order is reluctant to admit her because it is the preserve of men. When a divided vote casts Ruby’s fate into uncertainty she is challenged with an impossible task to prover her worth, she most solve a unsolvable case from The Book of Mysteries. Together with her friend Jones they must travel to Great Walsingham, a place where no Badlander has ever returned. Can they solve the mystery before it’s too late?

This is such an intriguing and compelling story, that I was immediately swept away into this brilliantly imagined world of the Badlands. I love when two worlds collide and the thought of living in a place where monsters hide in the shadows makes this story more chilling and believable, allowing the reader to feel on edge throughout. The characterisation is excellent, Ruby is a well thought out character with an interesting mix of flaws and strengths which make her frustrating and endearing in equal measures. Both Ruby and Jones are dealing with inner turmoil as well as external threats, creating a more complex and layered story that makes you race through the book desperate to know if they will succeed in this impossible task. Compelling storytelling meets superb world building in this frenetic and thrilling adventure.

The Book of Mysteries – J.R. Wallis

To celebrate the release of this marvellous book, J.R Wallis is sharing chapters from his book and I’m delighted to share one on the blog today from the home of:

University of Cambridge Centre for Creative Writing

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me a gifted copy of the book. All of the books in the series are available to buy now online or from your local bookshop. Click on the title to find out more:

The Boy with One Name

The Black Amulet

The Book of Mysteries

Young Fiction Reads

Regular readers of the blog will know I’m a huge fan of young fiction books, they bridge the gaps between illustrated fiction and full length middle grade books ensuring children don’t become overwhelmed with pages of text. Here is my round up of my favourite recent releases all guaranteed to enthral and entertain children. We have a fabulous mix of witches, monsters, vampires, zombies, dragons and ghouls in the line up today.

The Monster in the Lake – Louie Stowell, illustrated by Davide Ortu

I loved, ‘The Dragon in the Library,’ so was excited about going on another adventure with the unlikely wizard Kit and her fab bunch of friends in, ‘The Monster in the Lake.’ Kit is still trying to come to terms with discovering she’s the youngest wizard in the world and the training is a LOT of hard work. Frustrated when her magic starts to go wrong, she suspects something isn’t quite right with the world. When they discover a strange beast in the local park, she feels there has to be a connection to all the strange happenings around her. Can they find a way to uncover the truth and save the world again? Louie deftly mixes humour and magic in this wonderful tale filled with merfolk and loch beasties. I particularly love Kit’s friendship with Josh and Alita, this story shows the reader that we all have our own unique talents – that are equally valid, even if they’re not magical!  This series goes from strength to strength and I can’t wait to read the next instalment in Kit’s adventures.

Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Zombies – Katie & Kevin Tsang, illus. by Nathan Reed

Sam Wu is back in what for me is his funniest adventure yet! Sam’s arch nemesis and kind of friend Ralph Zinkerman the Third is being kept awake by loud howling from his basement, convinced that there are zombie werewolves locked down there he reluctantly seeks Sam’s help. We al know that Sam Wu is not afraid of anything, together they must formulate a plan that Spaceman Jack would be proud of! Wonderfully chaotic and packed full of hilarious humour and downright genius illustrations this book is an absolute triumph from start to finish. Katie and Kevin totally get childhood dynamics, from the fast flowing dialogue to the vivid imaginations, it’s so well observed and witty. As usual Nathan’s illustrations are full of joy capturing the chaos and carnage unfold brilliantly. This continues to be one of my favourite young fiction series and is hugely popular at school.

Ghoul Scouts: Welcome to Camp Croak – Taylor Dolan

‘Welcome to Camp Croak,’ is the first in the new series of ‘Ghoul Scouts,’ by indie publisher Guppy Books. When Lexie Wilde is dropped off at Camp Croak instead of the Happy Hollow Camp for Joyful Boys and Girls, she soon discovers she’s not anything like the other scouts. Undeterred by the fact she’s sharing a room with a werewolf, a zombie and a ghost, she soon get stuck into all of the ghoulish activities. But the arrival of Euphemia Vile from Happy Hollow camp signals some very weird happening on the camp. Can Lexie and her new friends find a way to thwart her dastardly plans? Beautifully produced with bold one colour illustrations it’s really eye-catching. A quirky and entertaining read which is bound to delight young readers with it’s mix of humour and gruesomeness.

Amelia Fang and the Naughty Caticorns – Laura Ellen Anderson

The delightful Amelia Fang is back in her sixth adventure, this series has been a huge success in my school with fans eagerly devouring each new release. In ‘Amelia Fang and the Caticorns,’ Amelia is about to become a big sister so when the opportunity to look after three very adorable caticorns she leaps at the chance to prove she is a responsible and trustworthy. Unfortunately the caticorns aren’t quite what they seem, behind their innocent smiles lies the heart of three very naughty creatures who are intent in causing chaos and damage wherever they go. Laura’s illustrations capture the chaos and carnage the caticorns create in their quest to being noticed. It is another fun filled adventure which will complete charm and delight Amelia’s fans. Packed full of humour and heart this is a joy from start to finish.

Dragon Detective: Catnapped – Gareth P. Jones, artwork by Scott Brown

Detective Dirk Dilly is a rather unusual private detective, he’s a dragon. Luckily for him he keeps a low profile, so nobody has uncovered his true identity. That is until one day, Holly sneaks into his life under the guise of being his niece and his secret is revealed. Holly is desperate to find her missing cat and uses her powers of persuasion to convince Dirk to not only hunt for her cat but allow her to become his partner. But this isn’t simply a case of one missing cat, they soon discover that something sinister is at work, something that could threaten the whole of mankind. And it’s up to them to foil their dastardly plan before it’s too late. An entertaining and energetic read with a really intriguing plot at it’s heart. I was completely surprised by how events unfolded within the story and was hooked all the way to the thrilling ending. A solid start to this newly released series, which is a must for mystery and dragon fans.

Scribble Witch: Notes in Class – Inky Willis

Molly is devastated when she discovers her best friend Chloe is moving schools and if that isn’t bad enough, it’s her last day TODAY. Completely despondent Molly inadvertently releases a magical witch who has been living in a pen pot. Notes is determined to put a smile on Molly’s face but her gently interfering causes even more problems for Molly, it really is turning out to be the worst day EVER! A really fun mix of notes and doodles, this story will be hugely appealing to younger readers. Inky has assembled a fab cast of characters who children will instantly like (and dislike) allowing them to engage with the story. Although this is completely entertaining it also deals with friendship problems and how confusion and upset can happen as well as reassuring children about they can deal with change positively. Such an exciting and fun start to this new series.


Thank you to Egmont, Guppy Books, Hachette, Nosy Crow and Stripes for sending me gifted copies of these books. You can buy all of these title online (click the title for the link) or from your local good bookshop.

Iggy Peck and the Mysterious Mansion – Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘Iggy Peck and the Mysterious Mansion,’ by Andrea Beaty with illustrations by David Beaty, that takes us on a new adventure with Iggy Peck with a haunted twist. When Iggy’s friend Ada Twist’s Aunt Bernice, inherits a mansion from world-famous ice cream baron Herbert Sherbert it’s the start of a brand new mystery for The Questioneers to solve. When priceless antiques start to go missing, everyone claims the house is haunted. If they can’t find the missing treasure then Aunt Bernice will lose the house, Can Iggy and his friends solve the puzzle and recover the antiques before it’s too late? I’m a huge fan of the Andrea Beaty and David Robert’s marvellous Rosie Revere, Iggy Peck and Ada Twist picture books so I was thrilled that ‘The Questioneers,’ would be making their appearance in a new illustrated fiction series.  Perfect for inquisitive minds, this is the third book in the series and it delves into the world of architecture and marvels at it’s mystery.  Exquisitely produced with sublime illustrations this book is wonderfully stimulating and filled with fun.

To celebrate the release of this book I have a special guest post from author Andrea Beaty on where she likes to write…

‘Where I Write’ by Andrea Beaty 


“Where I write depends on where I am in the process of the book. If I’m brainstorming or outlining plots, I often go on long walks or work in the garden. I might take a notepad to a restaurant or sit on my porch. At that point, I try to avoid using technology because I’m so easily distracted by the latest shiny thing! Eventually, I have to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Then, I spend a lot of time in my office. Sometimes, I’m at my desk. Other times, I’m in my cozy chair by the window. Sometimes, I close my eyes in my cozy chair and emit strange growly noises. These are not snores. They are thought grumbles. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

My writing space includes images from The Questioneers books. They inspire me to ponder who the kids are based on the details David Roberts includes in his beautiful illustrations. I also have a blue pen, a spiral notebook, and a Rhyming Dictionary which I use to compile a list of viable rhymes. Listing possible rhymes often helps me find a new direction for the story.

The other resource I use is the Flip Dictionary. It helps me find all the terms associated with a specific topic. For instance, if I was writing about horses, it would tell me breeds, equipment, running styles and other wonderful words associated with all things horse.

I like quirky things and old maps and typewriters so my space is filled with something to study. I find that moving around to a new spot or even turning my chair in a new direction can help break up writer’s block and inspire me. Sometimes, I reshuffle everything on my desk and rearrange my bookshelves. That activity is usually followed by chocolate and thought grumbles in my cozy chair. Some people call that procrastination. I call it my “process.” That is the rest of my story and I’m sticking to it, too!”

Thank you to Andrea for this lovely post, I love having a sneak peek around the places where authors write. It’s really intriguing to see the objects they like to surround themselves with.

Blog Tour

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

Thank you to Lorraine and Abrams for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a gifted copy of this marvellous book. ‘Iggy Peck and the Mysterious Mansion,’ is available to buy now online or from your local bookshop.


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