Recently, I felt as though I was in a reading slump. I enjoyed reading picture books but didn’t feel I had the attention span or focus to dedicate to a novel. This weekend I decided to make time for reading….I found myself reading while making breakfast, while the kids were watching a movie and through every evening! It was BLISS!

I now feel as though I am back in the swing of things, and I reduced my TBR pile by 5! All of these books are linked by my immense enjoyment of them, powerful and imaginative plot lines and characters who leap off the page with courage and determination.

Published by Andersen Press, Faber, Walker Books and Scholastic

Holly Webb is a brilliant author and I can honestly say that I have l loved so many of her books. I particularly liked Evie’s War, The Princess and the Suffragette and Return to the Secret Garden. The Runaways is another feather in her talented hat!

Publishing 3 October by Scholastic

Molly’s mother makes the bold decision not to evacuate Molly when the orders come through. She wants to keep her home so she can do her bit for the war effort. As war is officially declared and people begin to panic buy and stock pile, Molly learns that families are unable to take care of their pets. Molly has a pet dog called Bertie and knowing that her mother dislikes the dog and is making terrible plans for him, Molly decides to runaway.

I was amazed throughout the story of Molly and her ability to survive without her family. She takes care of Bertie, meets new friends and finds a new “family” that help each other. Molly, her resilience, determination and courage in the face of war is admirable and I found myself liking her very much. “Adopted” into the home of a pregnant woman, Molly, John, Rose and Bertie learn how to survive together. Almost a year later, a knock on the door changes everything.

This book is heart warming, sad and paints a very true picture of war time England. The quote on the front speaks for itself; “A moving story of love and loss during the Second World War.” Most Stories we hear from either war are exactly that. Full of love and loss, but also full of courage, valour and hope.

Published 5 September by Scholastic

I was immediately drawn to the idea of “mysterious forces…tearing up the earth like mini-hurricanes.” A town sinking, a boy called Gran and working together to lift the town out of danger. Fascinating!

Granite Flowerpot and his family move to the town of Carousel. Chapter One, in its entirety says, “Gran did not want to move to Carousel”. I love the short bursts of chapters. There are 113 chapters but they are short, snappy and so easy to devour. This would make an incredible class book!

Gran and Catalina form a lifting duo, striving to save Carousel from The Hollows which are devouring the town from the earth up. Sinkholes are everywhere and anything from hockey sticks to surfboards are being used to prop the town up. Is it enough? Can they save the town?

This is honestly one of my new favourite books. The short chapters make it easy to read, the fast paced plot races along and the characters are brave, determined and hard to ignore.

Publishing 7 November by Walker Books

An entirely original beginning where we meet Lina, born to her mother in a Russian prison camp. Rumours abound that her father is the cruel Commandant Zima. Lina is encouraged to escape with a band of untrustworthy men, leaving behind her mother.

Before long, the cold, hunger and distrust grows amongst the group and threats are made. Running away, Lina and best friend Bogdan, narrowly escape a pack of shadow wolves chasing them. An evil sorceress traps them in her palace and they must escape her too. The sorceress seems to be everywhere and when they learn her true identity they are shocked and the story twists again.

As a debut, this is wonderfully written and thoroughly enjoyable. I felt cold throughout the icy story and was struck at how brave Lina was. She takes every opportunity to do the right thing, when faced with shadow wolves, a cruel father and saving her friends lives.

I loved the idea of shadow servants, people trapped by the evil sorceress, and being wolf bound….all very spooky and it adds to the allure of this tale.

Publishing February 2020 by Andersen Press

This arrived in the summer and has been at the top of my TBR pile. It always beckoned me and I wanted to wait for the right moment. This weekend was perfect. I could not put it down. It is full of murder, witches and hags. Set in the slums, the main character, Larabelle Fox, is a tosher, a sewer rat, looking for treasure under the city streets.

Mrs Hester, Shadow Jack and the King are looking to rid the world of hags, the slums and anyone who gets in their way. Releasing the Evernight, they sit back and watch as the darkness and Painted Men take over the world. This is stuff of legends….yet now it is true.

Finding a much sought wooden box, containing the one spell to break the darkness, Lara becomes the hunted. She must travel to learn of her powers and those of her parents.

Can Lara and her hag friends protect the world? This book is quick, scary and so full of adventure that you will be gutted when it ends. I am so pleased that the cover promises it to be a “spellbinding new series”….but how long must we wait for book 2?

Publishing 3 October by Faber Children’s

Any Emma Carroll book is hugely anticipated, intensely coveted and highly enjoyed. This is no exception. She has a true gift of making history come alive and the characters leap off the page.

Fortune Sharp creates a boat out of a fallen tree. Little does she know this will seal her fate. Fearing for her daughter’s life, Fortune is hastily sent to town to find work, as a boy. Landing with a rich family, her secret is guarded and she learns secrets belonging to the children.

One fateful day, the sea all but disappears, and then comes rushing in obliterating all in sight. Fortune survives but must quickly run as she is now being hunted as a witch for bringing devastation to the county.

Superb writing ensures you feel as though the waves have hit you, the men in black hats are hunting you and the water wants to hold you under. I could feel myself holding my breath, urging Fortune to run faster, and the King to see the true Dr Blood.

All brilliant, imaginative and awe inspiring books.

I am so thankful to the publishers for sending these along to me. They pulled me out of a reading slump and made me actively seek new books to read. A blissful weekend of reading…check!

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