Saturday, 29 August 2015

Horses and Friends #2 Silver Spurs by Miralee Ferrell (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E)

  June 2015, David C Cook Books, 240 pages, Ebook, Review copy from NetGalley

Content: families, friendship, horses, competition, humour

Summary from David C Cook
Kate's dream of owning a horse has finally happened. but now her best friend, Tori, has no money to buy a horse. So Kate comes up with a plan- she'll raise money by boarding horses and hosting a show in her family's barn.

It seems the perfect solution until Melissa, the girl who disses Kate and Tori at school, show up to board her horse, determined to compete in their show and win the silver spurs. Will their plan be ruined- or does God have something better in store for them all?

Silver Spurs is a tale of overcoming fears and trusting God with your dreams.

Nayu's thoughts
Although I plunged in at book 2 I was able to understand the relationships between the characters fairly quickly. There's some foul play which is never pleasant in the horse world, but there's also a lot of friendship and forgiveness. I love how Kate gets a bit carried away with wanting to make others happy, and doesn't think through the consequences of her actions if the worst case scenario happened, which it almost does. I felt myself blushing with shame and guilt as she gets told off for an incident, it was ever so easy to step into her shoes.

What I did enjoy was the place that God held in Kate's life. Religion is not pushed down the reader's throat, it's an integral part of Kate's life which feels natural. Kate prays for guidance and strength, something which anyone who believes in God can relate to, regardless of whether or not you're Christian. Kate's beliefs help her when she has to deal with an enemy who repeatedly acts unpleasantly, it makes Kate take a decision which will change her life forever in a good way.

Find out more on Miralee's website

Suggested read
Come back tomorrow when I review Book 3, Mystery Rider! 

The Gift by Wanda E. Brunstetter (Amish fiction, Romance, Christian fiction, 10E/10E)

 July 2015, Shiloh Run Press, 320 pages, Ebook, Review copy from NetGalley 

Content: family, faith, humour

Summary from Wanda's website
Follow the heart-wrenching story of Adam Beachy, whose mother walked out on him and his family—and away from the Amish faith. Now he balks at the idea of ever marrying and having a family of his own. But when tragedy strikes, Adam is suddenly a father figure to his three nieces and finds himself needing a wife. Despite their differences over her practice of reflexology, Leah Mast seems the best option to fill that role. Can they make it work in a modern-day marriage of convenience?

Nayu's thoughts  
I've yet to find an Amish book which I don't like! While the exact end was a bit obvious (happily ever after), this never detracts from my enjoyment – if anything it heightens because as Adam and Leah kept clashing I wondered how they would ever figure out how to live in harmony. Leah is strong hearted, she knows what she wants, she doesn't understand why Adam is so against her reflexology work. 

As the story unfolds and Adam's past is revealed it sort of makes sense why he holds the views he has, although they are narrowminded and don't take into account Leah's true nature, how much she loves her Amish faith and wants to serve God. The children provide some mayhem, Leah provides something called a chocolate chip cheeseball which I'd never heard of but is basically a cheesecake ball – a recipe is provided so rest assured I'll be trying it out! 

Available from bookstores including NRC affiliate Foyles.

Suggested read 
If like me you enjoy Amish fiction (& even if you don't) check out Lorie's Heart by Amy Lillard (Amish fiction, Romance, Christian fiction, 10E/10E) 

Where do Fairies Go When it Snows? by Liza Gardner Walsh and Hazell Mitchell (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E)

Mega cute!
1st December 2015, Down East Books, 32 pages, Ebook, Review copy from NetGalley

Content: fairies, cuteness, humour

Summary from Amazon (I don't benefit by mentioning them) 
Everyone knows fairies love spring flowers and summer sun, but what happens when autumn comes and the days get shorter and colder? Now, Liza Gardner Walsh, acclaimed author of the Fairy House Handbook and Fairy Garden Handbook, explores the matter in a charming children's picture book of rhyming questions. Combined with delightful illustrations by Hazel Mitchell this whimsical book will help children discover just where fairies go when it snows and offer a subtle lesson about the importance of helping one another.

Nayu's thoughts
Before reading this book I hadn't thought about where fairies may go when winter comes, but now I most definitely have! It's a read teaming with imagination and cuteness, which will delight readers of all ages. I could happily have spent hours imagining what happens next to the background characters on the page, and what the other seasons are like for the fairies. The ways they hid from snow made me smile, and I image younger readers would go peeking in those places when it snows. The colourful illustrations took the story to a higher level, and are why I'll be rereading the tale many times over. 
For more of Liza's work check out her website

Suggested read
More fairy fun can be had found in the Posie Pixie series, including Posie Pixie and the Fireworks Party by Sarah Hill and Sarah Mauchline (Children's, 5 years +, 9/10E)

A Thousand Nights by E K Johnston (Young Adult, 11 years +, 10E/10E)

The ARC cover which I had is on the right, the left is the published cover
22nd October 2015, MacMillan Children's Books, 256 pages, Ebook, Review copy from NetGalley
Content: mild romance, magic, danger, tissue needed

Summary from Pan MacMillan
Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village, looking for a wife.
When Lo-Melkhiin - a formidable king - arrives at her desert home, she knows that he will take her beautiful sister for a wife. Desperate to save her sister from certain death, she makes the ultimate sacrifice - leaving home and family behind to live with a fearful man. 

But it seems that a strange magic flows between her and Lo-Melkhiin, and night after night, she survives. Finding power in storytelling, the words she speaks are given strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. But she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king . . . if only she can stop her heart from falling for a monster.

Nayu's thoughts  
I've always been in awe of the concept behind the original Arabian nights, and E K takes the famous tale, retelling it in a more magical way than the original (which I've read a bit of thanks to Penguin Classics). It's a slightly different style of book to the kind I'd usually read, but I was captivated from the first page. The strength, courage and sheer determination which the un-named protagonist has. She does everything to save her sister because she feels that she (not her sister) is more dispensable. 

The magic is woven into a story in a way that made it easy to both understand and believe – and trust me when I say some of the situations are more than a little strange! I have to smile as unusually I've peeked at other reviews, some which aren't impressed by the lack of a strong romance. Me? I loved it! 

The protagonist does develop feelings for her new husband, to some extent, which are sweet and subtle. I loved how she gets treated in the palace, the longer she is a live the more the reserved servants start to relax just a little bit. Her desert life was beyond harsh, but I think it's part of what made her able to survive Lo-Melkiin's normally deadly power. She goes from being an ordinary desert girl to a lady that an incredible amount of people revere. 

The customs of her people were fascinating to learn about, especially the smallgods, and once finished I wanted to reread it straight away. I hope this becomes an audiobook! It is amazing, and has definitely worked its magic on me.

Find out more on E K's website

Available to pre-order from bookstores including NRC affiliate Foyles.

Suggested read
For a book filled with mystery and involving the protagonist being away from her family is Florence by Ciye Cho (Young Adult, 9/10E) 

Poo in the Zoo by Steve Smallman and Ada Grey (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E)

July 2015, Little Tiger Press, 32 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Content: poo, humour

Summary from Little Tiger Press
There was tiger poo, lion poo, prickly porcupine poo, 
Plummeting giraffe poop that landed with a splat. 

Dollops of gnu poo, bouncy kangaroo poo, 

A trail of drippy droppings from a fat wombat!” 

Zoo Keeper Bob is exhausted. There’s too much poo in the zoo – and he’s the one who has to scoop it up. Then one day, a mysterious glowing poo appears! Could it be alien poop from outer space? And what on EARTH will Bob do with it?

Nayu's thoughts  
This is an absolutely hilarious read which will appeal to younger readers because there is poo everywhere in the brightly coloured pages. Literally. I liked how the zoo keeper, who I expected would be older looks rather young, making it easier for the readership the book is aimed at to pretend they are taking care of the zoo. 

The twist at the end was unexpected and made me smile (although I did wonder how long it would be before the solution to cleaning all the poo would go wrong). Readers are introduced to a variety of animals, and on the inside pages there's different types of poo in jars (various shapes and sizes) which is interesting to see and teaches readers animals are not all the same. There are some extinct animals' poo thrown into the mix too. 

Available at bookstores including NRC affiliate Foyles. 

Suggested read
For more poo causing problems reading check out What A Naughty Bird! by Sean Taylor and Dan Widdowson (Children's, Picture book, 10/10E)

Friday, 28 August 2015

The Magical Animal Adoption Agency #2 The Enchanted Egg by Kallie George and Alexandra Boiger (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E)

This cute cover gives a clue about the gentle nature of the story!
  November 2015, Disney-Hyperion, 320 pages, Ebook, Review copy from NetGalley

Content: magic, animals, humour, 

There's a new resident at the Magical Animal Adoption Agency-but this one hasn't hatched yet! Mr. Jams brought home an enchanted egg from his last journey, and Clover can't wait to find out what kind of creature the polka-dotted shell contains.
But one morning when Clover checks on the cozy nest of feathers she's made for the egg, she finds it empty, and the baby animal is nowhere in sight!
Clover is anxious to find the creature, but the Agency is full of visitors looking for pets of their own. Will Clover be able to match them with their perfect companions and save the mysterious animal before Mr. Jams returns from his trip?  
Nayu's thoughts
Ah, Disney-Hyperion, how I'm loving all the girly reads I'm slowly discovering from you! While I haven't yet read the first book in this cute series, I didn't feel that I was missing anything by being plunged into Clover's world. It is so cool that she gets to help out with magical creatures, taking care of them, having a great deal of responsibility which in our world probably wouldn't happen to one so young.

I liked how certain characters weren't as I expected they would be (from my own experience of similar characters in other books). I could feel Clover's panic when things started going a little wrong, and liked how she managed to cope when disaster struck. The creatures are cute and funny, and has me wanting Clover's job. I guess I'll settle for my cat and birds, and reread this a lot so I can care for mischievous animals from the comfort of a sofa. 

Find out more on Kallie's website and Alexandra's website

Available to pre-order from bookstores including NRC affiliate Foyles. 

Suggested read 
Another magical read which just so happens to be published by Disney-Hyperion is Eden's Wish by M Tara Crowl (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E)

Killer Game by Kirsty McKay (Young Adult, 10E/10E)

July 2015, Chicken House Books, 352 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Content: teen romance, murder, death, boarding school, scary parts

Summary from Chicken House
At Cate’s isolated boarding school, Killer Game is a tradition.
Only a select few are invited to play. They must avoid being ‘killed’ by a series of thrilling pranks, and identify the ‘murderer’. But this time, it’s different: the game stops feeling fake and starts getting dangerous – and Cate’s the next target. Can they find the culprit … before it’s too late?

Nayu's thoughts    
I think my advice to readers is don't be too put off by the start of the novel, which is rather creepy and gross. There are plenty more thrills and scary moments, but it's not a super duper creepy read, if that makes sense. Because I wanted to finish this in one day, but knew I wouldn't finish before dark (I can get quite freaked out by dark books after sunset) I did peek at the end so I knew who did it. It doesn't take much of the surprise away because I had no clue when the pranks would come, and when the pranks get serious no-one is safe and I spent the rest of the book wondering how the killer set it all up.

I like Cate, her viewpoint is fun, she wants to fit in but thanks to a newbie to the school but not to her life she stands out a bit too much. This creepy game on an island boarding school will keep you guessing until the end if you don't peek at it (I had to!), and has a high rereadability due to the likable characters and key elements which are part of a boarding school story (sneaking about, drama, strange goings on). Not too creepy for me which was a plus! 

Find out more on Kirsty's website

Available at bookstores including NRC affiliate Foyles

Suggested read
More boarding school murder and mayhem of the funnier kind can be found in The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry (Children's, 11 years +, 10E/10E)