Blog news

  • The place where I review children's books of all ages & some adult fiction, anime, talk about writing, chocolate, more anime and other fun stuff!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Ellie's Magical Bakery: Perfect Pie for A Perfect Pet by Ellie Simmonds (Children's, 7 years +, 7/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

September 2014, Red Fox, 160 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Content: lost pet, fairy, magic

Ellie's Magical Bakery is a great success. Ellie and Victoria Sponge are having lots of fun baking cakes which Ellie sells in the shop and Basil delivers on his roller skates. Even Whisk is helping out, by decorating the boxes! 

But when a local boy loses his new puppy, Ellie and Basil are desperate to find it for him. Ellie's magical book has a recipe to help them, but it is rather unusual. The recipe leads them to the butcher's, where they find the puppy has stolen some sausages, and to the village green where they find a stick . . . But how will the recipe help Ellie and her friends find the lost puppy?

Nayu's Thoughts 
I was super excited about this book because I like shop based stories, especially food ones. The illustrations matched the cuteness of the cover, so no surprises there. The story didn't live up to my expectations. I hadn't & haven't read book 1 of the series, which may explain a lot of what I don't understand. I don't understand why Ellie is so stuck with her family, why she doesn't try and get away from them. They are vile! They play dirty, trying to discredit her prosperous bakery. 

More than that I couldn't suspend belief that Ellie ran the bakery. I loved and believed in Victoria Sponge's magic (the baking fairy), the magical book which gave Ellie just the right recipe for every occasion. I couldn't figure out if Ellie was on holiday, and able to take care of her store all day. I wondered which adult was supposed to be in charge of it - I know fiction isn't reality, but I like to be able to believe a story could be real, you know? This is a sweet story, I just have certain elements I couldn't gel with. 

Suggested read
Another cute magical read is Hattie B Magical Vet: The Dragon's Song by Claire Taylor-Smith (Children's, 7 years +, 10E/10E)

Monday, 20 October 2014

What are YOU reading? #240

What are you reading on Monday? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys where you post books completed last week and plans for upcoming books. Jump over to her blog and see who else is participating.


The Little Dragon I Can’t by Timo Firtina & Vivien Stennulat
Children’s, Picture book
(Mega cute illustrations teamed with a clever, true to life tale...)

Dizzy Miss Lizzie by R. M. Clark
Children’s, 11 years +
(Spooky friendship is only part of this mysterious story!)

Rainbow Beauty: Blueberry Wishes by Kelly McKain
Children’s, 11 years +
(Another nail-biting read in this fun beauty shop themed book!)

White Horse by Yan Ge
Translated by Nicky Harman
(A story of a Chinese community which has diverse issues to address...)

Action Kids’ Club #1 by Lydia Howe
Children’s, 9 years +
(A fun start to a new series about a club for children which is great fun & includes colour illustrations [my ARC did]!)

Emerson’s Attic: The Blue Velvet + Smoke and Mirrors by Kathleen Andrews Davis
Children’s, 9 years +
(Awesome time travelling new series - not too scary either!)

The Girl With The Sunshine Smile by Karen McCombie
Children’s, 9 years +
Dyslexia friendly
(A change in life-style temporarily makes Meg lose her famous smile...)


Pea’s Book of Best Friends by Susie Day
Children’s, 9 years +
(The ultimate pick me up read when you need a boost. Life centres round a trio of sisters with a mother who’s a writer - trust me, you don’t want the youngest sister Tink annoyed with you! Her mischievous tricks made me smile when I needed to most...)

I haven’t completed anything this week, but have been listening to a bit of murder, magic, mischief, teen angst, baking and somewhere a puffin is included.   ^o^


Medical drama, English version
(Funerals of characters can be melodramatic, as this one was, but equally I was tearing up in parts too as Jeff was a great paramedic...)

Holby City
Medical drama, English version
(Raf was back…and managed to lose the plot & nearly a patient. I was far more interested in poor Jac’s longing to be a part of her daughter’s life, but I do understand why she thinks she can’t be a mother to Emma...)

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Season 2
REWATCH! - Anime
(I love how real life commercial holidays which I don’t believe in are changed into a pony themed fun day, with the 3 Cutie Mark Crusaders determined to find Cheerilee a ‘special somepony’...)

REWATCH! - Anime, Japanese version
(This is at the top of my anime playlists at the moment, & I’m now at the part where Seira appears!)

Avatar: Book 2 Earth
REWATCH! - Anime, English version
(Yay - Thoth has arrived on the scene! Cue happy Nayu as she [Toth] is funny, has pretty outfits, and has phenomenal earth bending powers!)

Spice and Wolf
REWATCH! - Anime, English version
(Holo’s personality quirks never fail to make me smile & laugh!)

I am back in full force trying to level up my Gameloft games which I mistakenly reset, these include...

... Ice Age Village
 I managed to win Stonehenge! Maybe it’s an English thing, but I was stoked to win this in a challenge.

My Little Pony
I love the mine games at the moment, and the apple grabbing.

Littlest Pet Shop
I’ve got the dalmatians back! Happy me as they are adorable.

Remember I mentioned a new game last week, Panda Jam, which is so cute and amazing? Well my rating has gone down to 0. I played a few levels, picked my bonus items for the next level, clicked next and it said I needed to pay some money to carry on rescuing the panda babies for their mummy. I cancelled it, and tried again…and again…and again, until eventually I twigged that the game is not truly free like a lot of games I have, it makes you pay to play all the levels, which really sucks considering how other free games are just as good and manage to stay free, buy providing the opportunity to buy items if you so wish (I do wish, but I don’t have the funds to do so, so I don’t). So no more adorable baby pandas! Stupid game. Deleting it is necessary yet bittersweet.

Final Fantasy 10 by Square Enix
REPLAY! - Japanese Role Playing Game (RPG)
I haven’t played this for a few years - I was going to be continuing Final Fantasy 9 but I managed to delete the data on the virtual memory cards (playing on PS3 means there are virtual memory cards for PS1 & PS2 games). I couldn’t quite face restarting FF9 again, so I went for FF10. One of the female characters, Yuna (full name Yunaleska) should sound familiar as she is how I came up with Nayu & Nayuleska. I adored Yuna (I still do, mostly, although there are a few things that annoy this fangirl about her), and didn’t want to break any copyright laws so I changed the syllables around! So far Tidus has met Rikku, but that’s about it Which means I’m still in the dull part of the game, because the fun parts all involve, Yuna, of course!!!

Secret project work #1: check out this cute brown and orange blanket - I just need to sew up the ends!  

Secret project work #2: I’ve received more yarn for this multi-red & orange blanket so I can crack on with finishing it! 

Secret project work #3: I started a fun blue & green blanket, which is on hold as I finish 

Fingerless gloves #1 I finished some more of these red ones, although I’ve yet to sew them up....Fingerless gloves #2 I tweeted my progress for these, yet again need to sew them up (I have to be in the mood for sewing, which being ill I wasn’t. I simply wanted to crochet)

So far I’m all on schedule to reveal my secret project at the end of this month! It’s a good one, I promise you that! 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Ring of Roses by Mary Hooper (Young Adult, Dyslexia Friendly, 10/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

August 2014, Barrington Stoke, 72 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Content: plague, death, tissues needed

Summary from Barrington Stoke
Abby is delighted to be appointed to the position of nursemaid in the well-to-do Beauchurch household. But it’s the summer of 1665, and soon whispers are spreading through London that the Plague is returning.

Can Abby keep herself and her small charge Grace safe, or will the disaster engulf them?

Nayu's thoughts
I'd learnt a while back that the nursery rhyme 'Ring of Roses' was about the black death. I didn't realise how grim the rhyme, how much the symptoms and the believed prevention (at the time it happened) related to it. Mary makes that clear in this heart wrenching tale. Add children into a deadly disease and you can guess the atmosphere of the story. 

I did say on Twitter that I think Mary teamed up with Teresa Flavin, who wrote a creepy read Jet Black Heart, to have lessons in how to creep readers out and I stand by that! 

Suggested read 
Check out Jet Black Heart by Teresa Flavin (Young Adult, 10/10E) link to follow soon 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

What Are You Playing At? by Marie-Sabine Roger and Anne Sol (Children's, Non-Fiction, Flap book, 10/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

September 2013, Alanna Books, Hardback, Review copy

Summary from Alanna Books
Play for children is a rehearsal and exploration of real life – so limiting their play limits what they can imagine is possible.  Children understand this and these photos will encourage interesting discussions about what boys and girls, men and women can do and be.

Nayu's thoughts
This is a funny and true depiction of turning gender stereotypes around. Each page says what girls or boys shouldn't be doing, then the reader lifts the flap and sees the opposite turn out to be true. In some ways it's amazing the roles both genders taken on considering how they can sometimes be unaware of the options open to them, because of what they taught as they grow up. I feel I'm open minded about gender stereotypes, as in I don't like them, yet I was surprised by some of what the flaps revealed.

Suggested read 
I can't think of a book like this one! Another informative read which I highly recommend is how one boy lives with Cystic Fibrosis: Sticky Icky Booger Bugs by Sherry Frith and Carol Newell Walter (Children's, Non-Fiction, Picture book, 10E/10E)

Friday, 17 October 2014

The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald (Children's, 11 years +, 8/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

June 2014, Orion Children's, 272 pages, Hardback, Review copy

Content: missing person, mild teen romance, 

Summary from Orion 
Oscar Dunleavy, who used to make the world's most perfect apple tarts, is missing, presumed dead. No-one seems too surprised, except for Meg, his best friend, and his little brother Stevie. Surrounded by grief and confusion, Meg and Stevie are determined to find out what happened to Oscar, and together they learn about loyalty and friendship and the power of never giving up hope.

Nayu's thoughts
This wasn't quite what I'd expected for a missing person investigation, not that I knew entirely what that was. The apple tart was almost the sweetest part of this cleverly layered story. A lot of it wasn't overly happy, and with the blurb I knew it wouldn't be. I don't mean that in a negative way either. I guess when I think of apple tart I think of it going with cream and being a happy dish. I thought there might be a bit more happiness for Meg having the memory of the wonderful dessert from Oscar, but her character thought differently than I do. 

There was a lot of dead ends and negative news during the adventure for the truth, which was a bit of a surprise. I'm glad I read it, however I won't be rereading it. There's nothing wrong per se, but because I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped and it veered off in odd directions it gets a lower grade. I hope this review makes some sense - it wasn't a bad read, and I was hooked by everything that happened, it just wasn't quite for me. I can't say for sure, but I might have read it on a day when I wasn't quite in the mood for it which would explain how I felt about it. 

Suggested read 
A heartfelt story of self-discovery after a tragedy can be found in Kite Spirit by Sita Brahmachari (Children's, 11 years +, 10/10E)

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Joe and the Race To The Rescue by Victoria Eveleigh (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

March 2014, Orion Children's, 128 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Content: flooding, tense moments

Summary from Orion
When his family's farm floods, Joe comes to the rescue with the help of two brave Shire horses, in the final instalment in the brand new pony trilogy from Victoria Eveleigh, author of the Katy's Ponies series.

Joe is fascinated by every horse he meets. Lightning is a pony club champion, but new challenges await Joe with his second pony, Fortune. Then he meets Velvet and Sherman, two majestic Shires, who open his eyes to the world of heavy horses. And Joe is about to discover just how awesome Shires can be when they help him in a dangerous and dramatic rescue at the Hidden Horseshoe sanctuary.

Nayu's thoughts
Although I know some knowledge about horse ownership through friends, I'm learning loads through stories like Joe's. I hadn't given it much thought how  hard it must be for children who have to switch ponies/horses when they grow too big for their current. Those like Joe who are privileged to have their own pony go through some pretty tough emotions when it comes to saying goodbye and getting to grips with their next ride. I felt sorry for Joe for having to go through that, for not completely clicking with Fortune, and also for being a boy. 

That sounds odd, but I think that if Joe had been a girl, he'd have talked more than he did about how he felt with Fortune, which would have caused less anguish than keeping it to himself. That's why I prefer female main characters, as I can understand them better, but Joe's story is so engaging that I've loved all of this trilogy. I love watching him struggle to do the right thing and be happy – that may sound weird but as a writer making characters suffer is fun & an important element to any story. Living in the country I know how scary it is to go through a rising flood - it's hard enough in a car which isn't living so won't freak out - Joe has to deal with his own fears and reassure the horses.

I like how through Joe Victoria highlights there are plenty of options for boys with riding, such as training and using working horses, like the Shires who Joe meets. Obviously girls can do those jobs, but, in the strange mind of males it apparently seems more of a manly occupation than dressage. 

Find out more on about horses on Victoria's website.

Suggested read 
Be sure to check out the rest of the trilogy, and other books by Victoria like Katie's Wild Foal (Children's, 7 years +, 10E/10E)

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Ivy and Bean Take the Case by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall (Children's, 7 years +, 10/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

August 2014, Abrams & Chronicle, 136 pages, Hardback, Review copy

Themes: friendship, life with neighbours

Content: mystery, humour,

Summary from Abrams & Chronicle
Watch out, you diabolical masterminds! There's a new detective on Pancake Court: Bean! She laughs at danger! She solves even the most mysterious mysteries! What? There aren't any mysteries? Then Bean and her assistant, Ivy, will make some!

Nayu's thoughts
This is the first Ivy & Bean book that I've read, and I totally love it! I love their close bonds of friendship, how they never give up on what they set out to do. Making a mystery sounds just the thing to do for new detectives - there are mysteries to be found, they just had to look hard. There were a few non-mysterious mysteries before they stumbled across the major one. It was sweet what they considered necessary to be a detective, and how they set about getting particular items. 

The illustrations are like the cherry on a cake, adding even more to an already awesome read, bringing the story to life. Expressions mean so much in a book. It felt like I'd known Ivy & Beans for ages, I didn't feel like a newcomer to their lives. I didn't want the story to stop because I was having fun with them, both from the story and seeing their delight in investigating mysteries.  

The reason this didn't get an E grade is because the mystery doesn't get fully solved. I appreciate that Ivy & Bean learnt they had fun together & with others trying to solve it, which is a good life lesson, but as a reader I wanted to know the truth! It's such an odd mystery I'm feeling miffed not to have an answer. 

Find out more on both Annie's website & Sophie's website.

Suggested read
There are two fun detective series, Eliza Boom's Diary by Emily Gale (Children's, 7 years +, 10E/10E)

and Mariella Mystery Investigates by Emily Pankhurst (Children's, 7 years +, 10E/10E). Both links are to the latest book that I've reviewed.