Sunday, 14 July 2019

Willowwood Snug by Kitty Irvine (Children's, 5 years +, 10/10E)


March 2019, Independently Published, 30 pages, Ebook, Review copy

Book summary
Welcome to the magical world of Willowwood Snug. Identical twins 'Tippy & Tilly' are excited as it's their first day at school. Come and meet their friends and all of the lovely animals who live in Willowwood Snug

Nayu's thoughts 
The cover is super cute, just like the story inside. Starting school is a big deal for any child, and I love how in Willowwood Snug that importance is focused on in a grand ceremony. I hadn't expected the way children are judged on being ready for school - some may like that, I possibly wouldn't considering how short I am which should give a clue on the judgement method! Tippy and Tilly's excitement is clear to see, everyone is so proud for them. They experience their first day at school which ends with more great news which clearly sets the path for future stories (since the great news doesn't happen in this book).

What I found most charming was how everyone was dressed in Willowwood Snug. Depending on whether you were male or female, young or an adult there was a dress code that was cute and I would have loved to wear. Kind of wish I'd had this book when I was at school because I would have loved dressing up on days where uniforms are ditched for book characters. Regardless of being individuals the community is a friendly one, which Tippy and Tilly experience in their school adventure. I certainly want to read more! 

Find out more on Kitty's website

Suggested read

and one for older readers (the cover has been changed since I read it, but I prefer the one I had) The Trials of Eddi Dutch by Kitty Irvine (Young Adult, 10E/10E)

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Revew + Competition + Guest Blog Post Mr Rainbow by Richard Peters and Tayo Olarewaju (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E)

 March 2019, SJH Publishing, 32 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Book summary from SJH Publishing
Mr Rainbow is the story of two children, Olly and Poppy, who work together to help out their rainbow friend. When the two are playing in the garden, Mr Rainbow appears and is upset that he has lost one of his colours. The brother and sister work together to help fill in Mr Rainbow’s missing colour until he is happy again. This feel-good story aims to inspire children to work together to help others, through a calming storyline and soothing pastel colour scheme that will be the ideal bedtime read

Nayu's thoughts
I read anything with a rainbow on the cover, so this book got an immediate acceptance for review from me. It is cuter than I hoped for! The children are overflowing with kindness, giving me warm fuzzy feelings as I followed Olly and Poppy checking with every single living creature to see who was upset. They are likeable, kind characters, which promotes good behaviour to other children. They keep going until their goal is reached, making the end a touching moment. The inspiration they have on how to help Mr Rainbow promotes craft activities which other readers will enjoy. 

It really does have positive messages wrapped in the story which don't feel preachy. As if to make the book look even better it came wrapped in an envelope made of wrapping paper which is so cute I've kept it! That didn't influence my review - reviewers can't be bribed guys!! This has top marks because it is a brilliant read in all aspects! It has colouring pages too at the back which I can't recall seeing in a picture book before. 

Find out more at the dedicated Facebook page

All about Richard

Nayu: Richard kindly wrote some information about himself and Mr Rainbow:take a read then enter the competition to win a signed copy! 

Hello, my name is Richard Peters and this is my first book, Mr Rainbow.  

I live in North London with my family – super wife / mummy Nicola and our 2 boys Charlie aged 5 and Oscar who is 2.  

The idea for the books and Mr Rainbow evolved over time between me and Charlie who was then just 3. So every night after reading a book or two, I also tell stories that I make up that we call “Daddy’s Once Upon  A Times” Charlie has always since he could sit still, been obsessed (and extremely talented of course) with anything creative and artistic and has always been fascinated by Rainbows.  

One evening, just a few days after Oscar arrived into the world he insisted that from that point on, as Oscar’s big brother and “looker-afterer” that all Once Up A Time stories had to make sure that Oscar was safe and even though they are just stories, he still wanted to make sure his baby brother wouldn’t get hurt. I melted and realised that the days of us saving aliens in rocket made out of marshmallows from an evil planet that had the face of a lion but wore funky glasses and a top hat, are gone forever. However, we came up with Mr Rainbow over the next few weeks who is much better than anything else we had made up already! (I still like the idea of a planet like this though)! 

Since then i have developed Mr Rainbow into a series of different stories. All of them have a message or moral that, as parent, I want my own children to learn. Whether it be the importance of forgiveness or kindness or learning about recycling and nature, each book in the series carries something relevant that is good for a child to understand and know of. My children are a very  important part of creating new stories and how to express them as they see the world in a way that other children will understand which I feel gives the books something that an adult cannot and in turn something special that both parents and children will enjoy  

Also, at the end of the each book we have put some black and white versions of a few drawings used in the story as colouring in pages! 

Extra notes
On Friday's Richard reads to children at schools and nursery's around the London and the Home Counties. He does not charge the school a penny, and the parents can purchased a signed copy on the day - so far he has read to approx 2000 children since Feb this year and we are always looking to go to more schools (as long as they have large amounts of 3-6 year olds) for free :-)

Competition 

If you would like a chance to win a signed copy of the book simply fill in the form below! UK entrants only. 

 

Friday, 12 July 2019

Ship Rats: A Tale of Heroism on the High Seas by Rhian Waller (Chidren's, 9 years +, 10/10E)

 
2018, Independently published, 120 pages, Ebook, Review copy 

Book summary
Ship Rats is an animal fantasy adventure set in the 1700s. It is part of a trilogy charting the voyages of Lu, Rip and Preen, three young rats who end up as accidental stowaways on a Dutch freighter. They face storms, hostile ship rats, drunken sailors and more; and this is only the start of their voyage around the world... Children aged 5-7 may enjoy reading this book with adults. Readers aged 7-9 may enjoy reading independently. This book supports APOPO which trains HeroRATS to save lives. Visit www.apopo.org or www.facebook.com/rhiwaller for details.

Nayu's thoughts 
I love animal tales (& tails!) and was a bit hesitant to review the book because at the moment I am not really in the mood for historical reads, however I read the first few paragraphs and was hooked. The rats are so freaking cute!!!!  The family ties the siblings have on their adventure helps them through the rough patches, which were most of it. They find themselves in the kingdom of a tyrant rat who is beyond cruel to them and others, having usurped the rat throne from another. The siblings have to undergo trials which are constructed in a way that sets them to fail, but by digging deep inside their inner strength they manage to overcome them, after harrowing moments that had me on the edge of my set. It is the first book I've read by Rhian so I wasn't to know if she was mean enough to make them die! She isn't, but there are some close shaves. 
I enjoyed seeing life from Lu and her siblings point of view. Lu wanted excitement and she got it! They all discovered how big and dangerous the world outside their snug and cosy home is. I liked seeing how they viewed humans and human possessions, how agile and sneaky they were in getting food, how they did have some help, they weren't entirely on their own on the strange ship. I liked that they even get to know a human, who does end up being able to help them by the end. I am excited to read the next instalment in the series! 

Find out more on Rhian's website.

Suggested read

Thursday, 11 July 2019

And Then There Were Crows by Alcy Leyva Review + Guest Blog Post (Horror, 8/10E)

 December 2018 and July 2019 , Black Spot Books, 280 pages, Ebook, Review copy 

Content: horror elements, death, grossness, some swearing,

Summary for And Then There Were Crows by Black Spot Publishing 
 New York City has always been a big fat sack of stress for Amanda Grey. From turning herself into knots to evade rubbing ass cheeks with strangers on the train, to round-housing public bathroom door handles to stave off plague contaminations, Grey has always found the simple technique of avoidance best in dealing with NYC. Luckily, the one-bedroom apartment in Queens she shares with her parents has always served as a refuge from a world that’s too loud and too bright for Amanda Grey.

When she inadvertently rents a room to a demon, Grey goes from a woman concentrated on her own personal demons to the woman responsible for recapturing the six Shades from Hell she’s unleashed upon the city. She manages to survive by accepting the help of Barnem, an antisocial seraphim who just happens to reside in an upstairs apartment and the demon she now shares her apartment with—and who is oddly eager to help her vanquish the Shades, though she can't be sure if he’s motivated by roommate loyalty or a secret plot to enslave humankind. Probably the latter.

Together the unlikely trio will have to face off with the devils of New York politics, break the curse of infomercial jingles, and figure out exactly how Grey has become the leader of a cult, all as Grey begins to realize that maybe the end of the world is exactly what her life needed. Now she just needs to figure out how to survive it.


Nayu's thoughts
Oh my word, this book was more horror filled than I thought it would be. After mistakenly thinking it was a thriller (it has a thrilling element to it), I didn't think it would be as horrific in a good way as it was. Not that there's anything good about birds coming forth from creatures, and hideous things happening which I won't mention so as not to spoil the book for you. The grossness was extremely well done, although I did have to skim past some sections that I couldn't handle. 

To be fair there was quite a bit of humour which I enjoyed, especially when opinions were given on a leader of a large country which I fully agreed with. I kept reading because I wanted to know what happened to Mandy, to make sure she stays safe. She doesn't, and is frequently in situations that are the opposite of safe. What the story entailed meant I reached my threshold for horror, and couldn't read the sequel that is out this month, although I did read the final chapter of that book so I knew how things ended. 

I am predominantly not a person who can handle a lot of horror, but Alcy's writing had me hooked and needing to know about Mandy, and also her sister who personally was my favourite character, for her behaviour, her secrets, and just how she ends up being more of a help than a hindrance, which is how Mandy initially feels about it. Just don't ask me to read all of book 2! I had to postpone playing a game with horror elements because of my horror limit overflowing. This is a good thing, it shows how great a writer Alcy is to have freaked me out a lot.

I was intrigued about this book  because I wanted to know what trouble a demon would cause for Mandy. I still loved that aspect of Mandy's life, creepiness aside I thought of the demon as a cute pet, despite it not always looking cute and certainly not always behaving how a pet does, it does care for Mandy in it's own way which is charming, considering most of the book's content. It hid itself to some of the world when it needed to, in a way that made both me and Mandy laugh. Demons aren't all bad! Okay, most are, but I read this because I know that demons can have good in them from books by other authors (see suggested read) and this is true for Mandy's demon, mostly. Her enemies were pure evil, she is put in so many situations where her survivial seems non existant, her hermit ways are tested and she has to deal with people which is a challenge in itself for introvert Mandy. 

Despite the content I do love this story, I won't be rereading it as it is memorable enough in what happens, and I'm fairly sure my brain didn't join some dots together to protect me from the true horror of this tale. Yet I can take horror in books more easily than a horror film, and there are different types of horror, with this book being managable and films like The Exorcist being something I can never ever watch. Ever

You can follow Alcy on Twitter.

Suggested read 

and the other, A Fistful of Frost by Rebecca Chastain (Urban Fantasy, 10E/10E) is why I wanted to read about this demon because others have been good: 



Guest Blog Post from Lindy Ryan, Owner & Publisher of Black Spot Books

 Nayu: Knowing that Black Spot Books is a small and relatively new publisher had me wanting to know more about them, so Lindy kindly wrote this guest blog post.

As an independent press specializing in speculative fiction, we opened our doors at Black Spot Books in January 2018 with a frontlist of engaging novels from fresh American voices, most of which were debut authors. Since then, our catalog has grown to include a range of titles that span from urban fantasy to dystopian futures, historical fiction, and psychological thrillers. During our first two years, Black Spot Books has thrived by carving a niche in the market and building industry partnerships, all while maintaining a collaborative, author-centric culture that sets our house apart from other small publishers.

At Black Spot Books, we operate under the guiding principles of passion, creativity, and investment in the long-term success of our books and our authors. We wanted to forge a new publishing company that focused on bringing great new books to market from authors who may not have found a home with the large publishing houses, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. Our culture as a publisher is based on collaboration, both internally with our authors and team members, and with the industry at large. As we’ve solidified our place in the publishing community, our efforts have been guided by our passions as book lovers first and producers second. We’ve brought fresh new voices to market, published boundary-challenging fiction from new and emerging writers who have stories we believe in—and that’s exactly what we will continue to do.

Building a new small press from scratch is a labor of love, and it truly takes a team of dedicated, creative, and passionate people. As owner and publisher, I couldn’t be happier with how we’ve evolved from the new kid on the block to a sustainable small press, and I am looking forward to continuing to be part of this industry for many years to come as we bring new voices and new projects to our readers around the world. I’m so proud of our authors and our titles—series like Sam Hooker’s Terribly Serious Darkness and Alcy Leyva’s Shades of Hell; strong fiction from bestselling author Seven Jane and hybrid authors like Stacey Rourke; Matthew Binder’s  controversial near-future political dystopian, The Absolved, which has stoked conversations everywhere from Quillette to Quartz; and so many more. As we set our sights on 2020, we can’t wait to introduce more installments in serials, new works from in-house authors, and fresh new voices. We’ve also planned several collaborative multi-author projects from some of our leading in-house authors, including our first anthology, A Midnight Clear, a collection of not-so-merry Yuletide stories available on preorder now for release in November!