I had quite a few books to read on Netgalley, alongside some recent proof copies sent over and Since finishing the 12 Days of Christmas Reading series, I felt I needed a proper rest and time for reading.

With colder weather, it is easy to excuse myself from the bustle of life and cosy up with a book. I consider it a healing time and time for my own mental health to remain strong. Reading allows me to escape the lists, housework and homesickness that inevitably finds me at Christmas.

Here are the books and short reviews from my Blissful Weekend Reading!

Lizard’s Tale
Written by Weng Wai Chan
Published by Text Publishing

Lizard is a boy living in the Chinese district of Singapore around the time of WWII. It is a dangerous time and there are tensions around the British, Japanese and Chinese people living in the city. Lizard is a petty thief until he steals something of incredible value. It plunges him deep within a network of spies, espionage and secret agents. He has to learn who he can trust and fight his way out of dangerous situations. He does this alongside Lili, a friend, who is also a secret agent working for the British. There are plenty of plot twists, links between characters and tense moments of capture. Lizard, Lili, and new acquaintance Georgina, are caught in the middle of a battle over a secret code book that could turn the tide of the war. Lizard had stolen it, realised its danger and tried to put it back. However, Lili wants to steal the book but it gets left behind during the kidnapping of Georgina. With so many plot twists and suspenseful moments, you won’t want to put this book down. I thoroughly lost myself in the splendour of the Raffles Hotel, could picture the tightly packed Chinese quarter and imagined hearing the multitude of languages being spoken in the streets, This is a book to awaken your senses and keep you gripped to the last page!

Cinders and Sparks: Fairies in the Forest
Written by Lindsey Kelk, Illustrated by Pippa Curnick
Published by HarperCollins

It is so great to be back with Cinders and Sparks again. I had been looking forward to this, the next book in the series for some time now. Cinders has found out that her mother was a fairy, making her part fairy and since discovering she has magical abilities, life has become new and interesting. On a quest , or rather exile, from King Picklebottom’s kingdom, she is looking for Fairyland. With her, are Sparks, her talking dog and Mouse, her horse. Her friend Hansel has come along as well. Cinders is much braver than Hansel and rides headlong into the Dark Forest. They meet new creatures, the three bears and Rapunzel on this adventure. I love the links between fairytales in this series. Her fairy godmother, Brian, is as helpful as always and now there is a huntsman on their trail. Ending on a cliffhanger, I am ready for the next in the series! Super illustrations from talented Pippa Curnick keep younger readers entertained and engaged. A brilliant plot full of twists and turns makes it an exciting read. I feel I want to go back and read them all again! There is so much in each one and they make excellent bed times stories!

The Princess Rules
Written by Philippa Gregory, Illustrated by Chris Chatterton
Published by HarperCollins

I am a fan of Philippa Gregory’s adult fiction and was really pleased to see a younger fiction book from her. I requested it and am pleased that I was given the opportunity to read it. Princess Florizella, Florizella and the Wolves and Florizella and the Giant are all short chapter stories pulled together into one book. They are between 6 and 7 chapters each, making them accessible and engaging for the newest of chapter book readers. We are introduced to Princess Florizella and come to realise that she is allowed to do as she pleases. She has not learned the Princess Rules and therefore is not quiet, dainty or prepared to marry a Prince. She is happy, cheerful and bossy. When she is invited to a party, she spends the evening eating as much as possible, avoiding the dance floor and ignoring the other princesses. Princess Florizella is a breath of fresh air….fiesty, fiery and independent- isn’t that how we want our daughters to be? I think so. I loved this book and the three stories within. Perfect for girls and boys alike!

Aggie Morton Mystery Queen: The Body under the Piano
Written by Marthe Jocelyn, Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
Published by PenguinRandomHouse Canada

Aggie is a precocious 12 year old with a penchant for finding trouble. She becomes embroiled in a mystery involving the murder of her neighbour, the unkind Mrs Eversham. She is an unliked widow and no one in the village seems to like her but they are shocked at her murder. Aggie, being the one who first discovered the body, cannot stop thinking about how she looked, was positioned and the clues left behind. A chance encounter with a young Belgian refugee sparks a firm friendship. His name is Hector Perot. He and Aggie share important tidbits of information regarding their list of suspects. Daring night time escapades, surprising twists and turns, not to mention a kidnapping keep the reader guessing into the last chapters. I truly enjoyed Aggie and felt she made a very good detective and tried very hard to be a good girl but trouble just seems to follow her. Hector was perfectly placed to assist, and the family and friends rounded out a brilliant cast of characters. The mystery was well written and will surely inspire young readers to delve into the worlds of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie. I would happily read another Aggie Morton mystery to see what trouble she can spot!

The Pearl in the Ice
Written by Cathryn Constable, Cover by Helen Crawford-White
Published by Chicken House

I finished this in two sittings and it was hard to tear myself away. Marina is bold, courageous and loyal, all the attributes needed on a voyage to the North as a crew member on her fathers ship, The Sea Witch. Running away from the prospect of boarding school, Marina meets Mrs Smith who claims to be from the Admiralty. Marina is enraptured by her and speaks freely. Starting her sea life as an ill stowaway, she must prove herself as a valued member of the crew. Her father will not treat her differently to the rest of the crew and she is to be paid to work. A thrilling adventure begins for Marina and it takes some intense twists and turns. Storms rage, creatures appear and Marina feels a pull towards the sea and without fear of it. There is a great mystery surrounding Marina and her mother who went “home” when Marina was a young girl. There are snippets of memories, all involving water, and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to discover the truth. Perfect winter reading!

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