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Find the latest books for fans of fantasy stories and magical tales! We have extracts to download for most of our books plus expert reviews.
This is book three in the Mermaid School series which is already a firm favourite with lots of young readers. In this episode, mermaid Marnie Blue and her friends have a new PE teacher, Mr Marlin, aka snarlin’ Marlin, motto ‘if you don’t come first, you lose!’. He reinstates the old Golden Glory sports day competition, and though to Marlin winning is everything, Marnie is more concerned with making sure her friends are happy, and with tracking down the whereabouts of the long-lost Golden Glory Crown. The set up allows for lots of fun and games, friendly and not-so-friendly rivalry, and a gentle emphasis on the importance of fair play. The story also moves along the sub-plot, involving Marnie’s glamorous auntie Christabel and her romance with a handsome human! Spending time with Marnie and her friends is fishy fun, and their undersea world will be very tempting to young landlubbers. Pretty illustrations by Sheena Dempsey add to the charm. One to recommend to fans of The Worst Witch and readers who like Marnie should get to know Lyla, star of Rebecca Patterson’s new Moon Girl series too. There are some great reviews from our Kids Reader Review Panel for the first in this series - Mermaid School - read them here!
This is a reinvention of the most radiant, vital kind; an inspirational re-working of The Twelve Dancing Princesses to devour over and over, and to share aloud. Following the death of his wife, Queen Laurelia, King Alberto “became the sort of person who ate a whole cake without offering anyone else a slice, and who punished his girls for things that weren’t their fault at all.” While Queen Laurelia had “been the one watching them, nurturing their imaginations, their educations”, the King takes away his daughters’ freedoms in the name of keeping them safe. The palace is transformed into a tomb, and “only melancholy was allowed to illuminate the girls’ days”. But brave, clever Frida stands up to her father. “This isn’t fair, and you know it,” she protests. “You cannot tell us how to grieve”. And then, with the grace and strength of a lioness and the potency of her imagination, Frida leads her sisters in a fight to re-find life. The writing pirouettes with the lithe power of a devoted dancer, with Angela Barrett’s elegant illustrations in perfect accord. What a sumptuous, stirring celebration of sisterhood this is. For more books with a feminist feel check out Work it Girl - Inspiring and Informative Books on Feminism.
It’s more than 150 years since the publication of Alice in Wonderland and it is delighting today’s readers as much as it ever has. Both a tribute to and a celebration of Lewis Carroll’s story, this collection includes new adventures by eleven favourite contemporary children’s authors, each of whom has been inspired by Alice. With such an extraordinary set of characters and scenes to take as starting points, the stories are wonderfully varied. Pamela Butchart chooses to write about the Queen of Hearts in a follow up story, while Swapna Haddow picks the Mock Turtle. There’s an environmental message in Lauren St John’s lively story ‘Plum Cakes at Dawn’, while Robin Stevens puts the real Alice into her Oxford set story. Together they make for a sparkling collection, one well worth tumbling back down the rabbit hole to enjoy.
August 2020 Debut of the Month | It's 200 years since Cinderella found her prince, but the fairytale is over. Sophia knows the story though, off by heart. Because every girl has to recite it daily, from when she's tiny until the night she's sent to the royal ball for choosing. And every girl knows that she has only one chance. For the lives of those not chosen by a man at the ball ... are forfeit. But Sophia doesn't want to be chosen - she's in love with her best friend, Erin, and hates the idea of being traded like cattle. And when Sophia's night at the ball goes horribly wrong, she must run for her life. Alone and terrified, she finds herself hiding in Cinderella's tomb. And there she meets someone who will show her that she has the power to remake her world ... An electrifying twist on the classic fairytale that will inspire girls to break out of limiting stereotypes and follow their dreams!
Steggie Belle & The Dream Warriors is an interesting fantasy tale which leads us into the dark world of dreams. Reminding me slightly of a darker Peter Pan, the main character and “author” of the story you’re reading is Zoofall and is hurrying to recollect the tales of his travels in the dream worlds. Tying in the concepts of lucid dreaming with mythology, Steggie Belle & The Dream Warriors is an adventure story with a Good vs Evil Battle at its heart. I liked the style of writing throughout, Zoofall’s written account is conversational in tone, giving it the feel of a spoken story. It reminded me of the style of Homer’s Odyssey, with moments when the storyteller addresses you directly interspersed throughout the plotline of events that have already happened. I also like the threads of Greek Mythology and scientific explanation which run through the book. I think that these elements make Steggie Belle & The Dream Warriors multi-faceted and adds a believable edge to the story as a whole. There’s scope to add more to this story, to discover in more detail what happens after Zoofall finishes writing. However, I also think that this book is perfectly well-rounded as it is. It leaves you with questions, but this adds to the mystery of the book and allows the reader to draw their own conclusions.
The Amazing Adventures of Jimmy Crikey is a fast moving fantasy children’s book following the many, many, many adventures of one Jimmy McGellan, nicknamed Jimmy Crikey due to people’s reaction to his unusually large feet. This is a nice story about a boy who travels to a number of different worlds where some of the characteristics that he was bullied for at school, come in handy and allow him to solve problems and overcome obstacles. A great story of friendship and teamwork at its heart with occasional but beautifully detailed black and white illustrations. I think that this book would be best for middle grade readers, the story is well-written, the descriptions of the different worlds and the characters are wonderfully clear and detailed and the plot does move very quickly. Jimmy travels to lots of different places and has a multitude of adventures in this book. In all, I think that The Amazing Adventures of Jimmy Crikey is a brilliant little fantasy story that I think would work very well as bedtime reading or simply a book for children to enjoy.
A fabulous book. Granny Franny is a great character, every child would love a granny like her. She takes her grandchildren on a big red bus to see the sights of London for a birthday treat. As a granny myself, it reminded me of playing 'buses' with my own grandchildren when they were younger. Maybe the Big Red Bus could do future trips around some other places. Big, bright illustrations and a story told in rhyme, makes this a really fun book to encourage children to make their own 'buses' and go on their own adventures. Chris Woolfenden, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
On first glance this seems to be a short book with a very simple storyline but upon reading and reflection it offers much more. Illustrated in bright and bold colours, the story focuses upon a young boy called Eddie and his dog, Kenny. Eddie thinks about animals and their special qualities, envisaging what it would be like if he himself had those physical attributes. He transforms himself into a wondrous creature consisting of a variety of animal body parts and succeeds in avoiding dangerous situations by calling upon one of the animal traits. After his adventures, he finally decides that he would actually rather be himself. This would be the perfect story for a teacher to read to a class when celebrating the uniqueness of one's own individuality. Its fantasy element would appeal to young children, yet its underlying theme enables the opportunity to encourage self-worth and confidence. Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
The Moomintrolls are all tucked up in bed, sleeping their long winter sleep when the Hemulen falls into their attic and tells them they need to get ready for Christmas. With no experience of Christmas, the Moomintrolls are a bit rattled, but manage to prepare everything in time – tree, presents, a feast. They share it with the little creatures of Moominvalley, who appreciate it all very much indeed. Funny, cosy and reassuring, this charming little story will put everyone in the mood for Christmas and the new paperback edition is just the thing for winter bedtimes.
The colourful illustrations are so vibrant. It helps bring the characters to life for little children. They will see the funny side of the Imps. This book helps children to learn to be polite and have manners all the time, even when being tempted by outsiders who are just plain rude, like the Imps. But Granny had her magic wand to help get the Imps outside where they belong. It is a wonderful story for young ones and the colourful characters make it believable for them. Diana Mason, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
March 2015 Debut of the Month An astonishingly different and chillingly striking tale that envelops the pages in a cloak of darkness and mystery. The author hurls the reader straight into the middle of the story, waiting before making introductions and explaining friendships, which effectively ensures you feel Ayla’s shock at the unknown world she finds herself in. The friendship and bravery of the children on their quest holds a torch of light to the fear, the author leaves you on the brink of doubt as you literally will the light to stay true and strong. The scarily real illustrations reach out as pages are turned, knowing that they come directly from the authors mind, as he is the illustrator, connects them even more strongly to the story. This has the feeling of a modern fairy tale about it, full of the scarily weird and vibrantly wonderful, as you turn the last page you are left standing on the edge of wanting more! ~ Liz Robinson A Piece of Passion from the editor Susan Houlden Every once in a while a first chapter lands on your desk that is simply compelling. Matt Griffin’s A Cage of Roots opens with orphan Ayla discovering herself trapped deep beneath the ground, in total darkness, with no idea of how she came to be there. We are instantly drawn into this epic fantasy adventure, and soon we meet Ayla’s mysterious giant uncles and her closest friends, Sean, Finny and Benvy, who set out together to rescue Ayla.What follows is a magical blend of this world and an ancient past. Old Irish figures rise up as the magic that lies beneath our feet and in our landscape stirs into life. Ayla and her friends face pure evil in a life-and-death quest. Matt creates some truly demonic and terrifying creatures, and he plays on our fears and hopes as he spins his tale of deep, dark secrets, awakening powers, betrayal, tests of true character and friendship, and ultimate destinies.As a graphic illustrator, Matt has added rich atmospheric images to each chapter. His storytelling style is fast-paced, hugely imaginative and, at times, humourous. A book to read well beyond midnight.
Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can't keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated--scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.
Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people. Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms - and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future - and the future of a world cleaved in two. With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.
*** Suitable for 16+ due to some explicit content. Pure and completely engaging escapism in the form of high fantasy. Feyre; stubbon, independent and loving has taught herself how to provide for her impoverished family, however on a winters day, one arrow changes her life forever. The world in which Feyre finds herself is a biting fusion of folk and fairy tale, the author takes your imagination on a breathtaking and on occasion chillingly wild ride. This has an otherworldly hint of a ‘Twilight’ series feel to it, however the romance has a decided edge and the ferocity of the violence is more explicit and therefore suited to an older reader. A gloriously spiky and feisty tale, full of the weird and wonderful, the second in the series will be awaited with bated breath.
Sarah J. Maas devotees certainly have a treat in store with this luxurious collector’s edition of the first book in her outrageously popular A Court of Thorns and Roses series. The story that spurred the series is here presented in a beautiful black slipcase that’s embellished with gold foiling. The book itself features a stunning gold foil depiction of a forest scene on its cover, lavish metallic ink endpapers, intricate fairy tale-esque illustrative detail on every page, plus a handsome newly drawn map of the Faerie Lands of Prythian. It’s a beguiling package that befits the tale itself, an enchanting story that follows nineteen-year-old Feyre’s magical, epic quest through the beautiful, dangerous faerie lands. Reeling with romance, intrigue and outright “immortal horror”, Feyre’s journey feels timeless in setting and atmosphere, and contemporary in much of its straight-talking delivery.
Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit - and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords - and hunt for allies in unexpected places. In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all. Contains mature content. Not suitable for younger readers.
September 2014 Book of the Month A fabulous fantasy adventure (with a dash of romance) where the writing literally bombards your senses. Independent and tenacious Izzy unexpectedly finds herself in a different Dublin; Dubh Linn is aligned just to the side of her known world and is full of the fae, people and creatures who should belong in folklore. The fae are not sweet and syrupy, they live on the edge of battle and are sharp, chilling and capable of much cruelty. Long writes in such a way that you can see, hear and feel this Dubh Linn and the people that live there. Excitement and jeopardy become constant companions and encourage you to join and support Izzy every step of the way - it’s all too easy to lose yourself in this breathtaking world. ~ Liz Robinson
Masterfully melding the contemporary world with a richly evoked fantasy realm, this is a fairy tale re-telling of the finest order. Harper has lived a tough life, what with her mom being sick and her brother forced to take on their absent father’s violent debt collection work. She has cerebral palsy but “can move quickly when I want to”. She’s a fighter too, so when she’s snatched by a stranger and deposited in Ironrose Castle, in the heart of a parallel realm called Emberfall, her captors are thrown off-guard. “Most of the girls Grey drags from her world won’t touch a blade or a bridle,” Prince Rhen observes with admiration. And Rhen has seen plenty of girls in his time. Blighted by a curse inflicted by a spurned enchantress, he’s forever fixed at the age of eighteen until someone truly falls for him. This curse has seen his kingdom all but disintegrate and many die and, if he fails with Harper, Rhen will be “condemned to spend eternity as a monster.” With Harper adamant she’s not going to fall for him and Rhen certain the curse will never be broken, they make a pact: “I’ll help you save your country and you’ll help me get home,” Harper agrees. The road ahead is paved with pulse-quickening perils, alongside Harper’s tortuous conflict between love for her family and doing the right thing in Emberfall, not to mention her growing feelings for Rhen. There’s a tangible frisson between them, but is it love? As time ticks on and the powers of the malevolent enchantress heighten, worlds collide to take the stakes even higher. Replete as it is with romance, relatable coming-of-age conflicts and all-out action, fans of Cassandra Clare, Marissa Meyer and Sarah J. Maas will relish this novel, the first in the Cursebreakers series, and its cliffhanger climax will leave readers aching for the sequel.
A whopping adventure with some thrilling chases, heart-racing paranormal moments, unexplained criminal activity, a robot with the unlikely name of Gustav Klimt, a secret enterprise called Unicorne and Michael, a great schoolboy hero, at its heart. When Michael saves a husky from jumping off the cliff he unleashes an unstoppable flow of events which looks as if it will help him to find an explanation for his father’s mysterious disappearance. Did his father have special powers? And does he? . and who is the mysterious Klimt? A Piece of Passion for A Dark Inheritance by Barry Cunningham, Publisher, Chicken House We all know there are dark forces. Right. No question – and thank goodness some people have powers that can alter stuff so we can at least get a twist on reality to stay ahead. Right. No question. Chris d’Lacey knows the whole story – he’s just not telling us yet. Get reading. Before it’s too late. You’ll love it.
In a Nutshell: Intrigue and artisanal invention in an Alice in Wonderland world An endlessly inventive adventure through the twisting tunnels of a subterranean city that’s sent reeling by the arrival of a girl like no other. Caverna is like no place ever imagined. It has passages so twisty they make a person go mad. Wines that make you forget. Perfumes that provoke trust. And there are dark cheese tunnels in which expert artisans create incredible delicacies, none more committed to the craft than Master Grandible: “the cheeses were Grandible’s only friends and family, their scents and textures taking the place of conversation.” Then the unexpected arrival of a girl shifts Grandible’s life onto a different path, and sends Caverna into a spiral of fear and danger, for Neverfell is not like other girls. She’s certainly not like others in Caverna, whose faces bear no expression until the Facesmiths teach them how to express anything. Neverfell is issued with a mask to hide her face, for it reveals emotions with terrifying transparency, and that way madness and murder lies…And so an utterly compelling tale of political intrigue, revolution and truths unfolds, with as many unexpected, complex twists as the tunnels of Caverna itself. Hardinge is a truly distinctive writer, from the mind-bogglingly unique concepts and worlds she conjures, to her pithily elegant language, and this is a jewel that defies convention, and sparkles at every turn. ~ Joanne Owen
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