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Books we've read through our Indie Author Review System. If you're looking to give an independent author a chance, look no further.
Tom Johnson's fantasy novel 'Silver Planet' is a book to instil hope in it's young adult readers. As a teenager with no religious belief to fall back on, I felt the weight of the crushingly depressing realisation that I was mortal. This story might have saved me from a lot of misery and heartache at that time in my life. The author wrote it in response to loss in his own life and the book is the first in a forthcoming series. The action is set on Opus-Earth and it's sibling planet, Centurian, a universe away. When humans 'pass' on their home planet, their souls are transported to Centurian, where they attach to another, carefully chosen, human and live through them under a new regime in which magic is an everyday, though strictly regulated, occurrence. The secret of human eternal consciousness is kept by birds and their friends and allies, the Grandmasters. The souls journey to their new homes is, however, threatened by the Skulls and their Arc of Darkness, who snatch souls whenever possible and subject them to eternal torture and suffering. Into this scenario, the aptly named Jonathan Powers erupts, with his unique magical powers, and it takes all the efforts of the birds, the Grandmasters but above all Jonathan himself, to eliminate the Destructive Interference and put the worlds back into kilter. This thoughtful and enjoyable read is thoroughly exciting yet comforting, and could be a great boost to young adult mental health. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
'Eve's Ducklings', written by Maria Monte and illustrated by Emelie Wiklund, is a lovely picture book aimed at three to five year olds. It starts with an experience that almost every young child will relate to, that of going to the park with a much loved older family member, and takes us through all the emotions Eve feels there and how she learns and grows because of them. When Grandpa takes Eve to the lake for the first time, they are delighted to see that the duck family has two ducklings. Eve runs to try to catch and hold them, hug and pat them but grandpa warns her that their mother will not be happy about that. On every visit she still tries to show them her love in the only way she knows but the ducklings just retreat to the middle of the pond until one day Eve falls in the water in her efforts to reach them. This makes her really start to think about her approach and, taking a step back, she scatters sunflower seeds for them instead. Before long, the ducklings come for the seeds and Eve is at last able to see them close to. This book is an excellent encouragement for children to start thinking about their relationship with wild creatures, how to show them respect, give them their own space and love and care for them in a suitable and responsible way. A charming and inspiring story. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Absolutely beautiful! First of all, the illustrations are superb. They are bright, colourful and draw the eye wonderfully. They help to tell the story well and I adored them. The animals all came to life through the vibrancy and lines of the illustrations. Now to the story. I read this book with three hats on. First, my mum hat, second my primary school teacher hat and finally my bibliophile hat. This book ticked every single box. It was written well, using simple enough but engaging language. It made you want to turn the page to see what was going to happen next. It made you think about possible scenarios, for example what sorts of things might other animals be asked to do? And most importantly, it ended with a big happy smile on my face and a little chuckle. This is definitely a book I would read to my children and also to my class. I love the fact that some of the proceeds go to helping literacy in the Caribbean as well. Amanda O'Dwyer, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
The Cloud Children is a fantasy story for I’d say younger children. We meet brother and sister Simon and Katie and they are quickly whisked away on a cloud to start their year of adventures as Cloud Children. I found that everything moved quite quickly at the beginning, and I think there is some room for more detail early on, I would have liked to know more about Simon and Katie and their personalities as the story started. The interesting quirk to this storyline is that the siblings are chosen to serve as Cloud Children for a year, but when they arrive back home no time has passed at all (think Peter Pan but time stops so the parents can’t miss them?). I think that this has been included in the storyline as a reassurance for younger readers about Simon and Katie disappearing for a year of adventures. Part of their role as Cloud Children is to travel the world and help people. I think that this aspect of the novel is nice and allows for morals to be integrated into the story. There are also illustrations dotted throughout the book which I thought were a nice touch. In all, I think it is a nice adventure story. It’s a chapter book, although the chapters are quite short and I think that the story itself would appeal most to younger readers. Perhaps this is a book for readers looking to gain their independence, with some support from a parent or teacher.
Maya enjoys going to the beach and is especially fond of swimming with her friend Finn, the parrot fish. Thanks to her magical webbed feet, she is able to rescue three of her marine friends who have become unwell through environmental issues. Turtle has ingested plastic bags, the water has become too hot for Coral and Dolphin has become trapped in a fishing net. This delightful little picture book is part of a series that the author Lucy Munday is creating in order to highlight the effects of environmental damage to our planet. Illustrated attractively in bold and bright colours, the message is clear but is not communicated in a way that would be distressing to young children. Each time Maya encounters a problem, the question DO YOU KNOW? follows, enabling discussion. At the end of the story there is further information about the three threats to the environment visited in the book, together with a useful website. This book would be a very useful addition to an infant school library, providing a helpful introduction to this subject matter in a gentle way. Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Absolutely loved this! I couldn’t put it down and actually lost sleep reading it. It is written so well and descriptively that you actually feel as if you are on the ship with Bart and his friends Jonah and Sebastian. There are parts which are particularly gruesome and there are also parts which describe how black people were treated back in the 1700’s, which is hard to read, but I feel it needs to be written about and discussed, not just omitted because it’s uncomfortable. The story moves at a fast pace and keeps you hooked right to the very end. It gives a great insight into life at the time and in particular how life was on ships. I can see this being the beginning of a fabulous series of books about Bart and the boys. It’s also a great way to learn about history and about ships. I loved the fact there is a glossary of terms at the end as well, just so you know what you’re reading about. An absolutely brilliant book that will hopefully set lots more children on the road of reading enjoyment. Amanda O'Dwyer, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Necropolis is a Young Adult dystopian fiction with a thrilling concept. In a time where society is becoming more restrictive and segregated, Wyn embarks on a perilous quest to prove the gender divide imposed by her society wrong, as she goes undercover in the army. Will the challenges she faces as a recruit on top of her fight to remain undercover derail her ambitions before she’s had time to achieve her goal? With mention of ‘The Breakdown’ and the illusive nature of the Necropolis, you are immediately drawn in to a different world. As I read I was keen to learn more about this world and Wyn’s journey. The plotline progresses quickly and this is a story that you could enjoy easily over a weekend. In a society that is quite this strict about the gender divide, I think that there could have been a bit more tension built as Wyn enquired about joining up, and I found Mrs Clay’s critical outbursts in History and eagerness to help Wyn a little bit overzealous and at odds with my expectations of a restricted society within a dystopian novel. Regardless of this I found the plotline enjoyable and Wyn very endearing. This is an interesting story.
I wanted to read this novel as even as a grown up I like reading a variety of reading genres including junior and young adult fiction. And what an experience meeting Bucky and the hierarchy of felines turned out to be. A thrilling escapade through physical & far away places combined with touches of fantasy and science fiction. An exhilarating read for confident readers of any age including adults! The author has a vivid and descriptive writing style with which this novel grows and grows holding the readers attention all the way. I found it very well written with creatively-worded sentences and chapters. I also loved the actions of the cats; some powerful, some enigmatic, but even if you're not a cat lover give this story a go-you wont regret it! I was engrossed from the very beginning where the action is centered on strange goings on at London's Natural History Museum. But that's just the start of a great adventure. Add in some episodes of tele-porting, tunnels, caves, jets and even pyramids then you're all set for a rocketing ride. If you're a Londoner or familiar with the layout of the city then even better as you'll be able to picture where the action happens. Caroline Highy, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
The Rainbow Blots are a delightful little family; each member is a colour of the rainbow with his/her own distinctive personality. Mummy Blot encourages them to have fun and they each do so by immersing themselves into activities linked with their specific colour. They have another little trick that they are able to perform as they can change themselves into a colour related object. Written in a rhyming format, this charming little book is illustrated in bright and bold colours which would appeal to young children. I like the fact that each colour character is unique and Indigo baby is my favourite! I especially liked the illustration of them tucked inside their little beds. The names and order of the colours of the rainbow are reinforced in the middle of the book - the child is encouraged to say them aloud - and there is the opportunity of drawing one's own rainbow blot at the end. This would be a very useful addition to an infant school library and a book which would be reread frequently if owned at home. It is certainly one which I would have made use of when teaching Reception aged children. Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Hop the Kangaroo dog, daughter of the Roo family, finds it hard to learn to hop but bravely enters a race to Squish Mountain, hopping past many of her animal friends en route. Although she does not win, she is delighted with her achievement and discovers that it is the taking part, and not the winning that is important. I loved this book! It is one of the best children's books I have reviewed for ages. The art work is superb as its colourful illustrations convey the expressions of the characters and the ambiance of each scene so delightfully. The rhyming format is professional and offers just the right amount of text to accompany the informative pictures. Although it is essentially a simple tale, its message is one which is always supportive for young children and I would suggest that the book would be an excellent addition to any infant school library and a helpful resource for PSHCE lessons. Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
This sweet, from-the-heart picture book pamphlet is a moving homage to a lady called Diane, the beloved grandmother of its young illustrator, Elsie. Elsie was only five when her Nanny passed away. Having been very close, the loss was deeply felt. Nanny was “someone who painted your life yellow and asked for nothing in return.” She was “a love beam sent directly from the sun,”, “a very special lady, whose kindness changed the world”. As a result, when it was time for her to leave, “the world seemed slightly more dreary, a little less hopeful.” But, as this poignantly personal book reminds readers, “she had never really left.” That is to say, once a person has touched our lives so profoundly, they always remain with us. Transforming the darkness of loss into a radiant homage, The Lady Who Came From the Sun will strike a chord with those who’ve lost someone special, and could inspire valuable conversations with children about death and how to remember those we love. Elsie’s illustrations are an absolute joy. Joanne Owen, LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
'Grandpa and the Robin' is a moving picture book for children of 4 to 8 years, written by Eva Applecross and beautifully illustrated by Shelley Ashkowski. Dedicated to her late Grandpa Richard, it's a tale of loss and loneliness but also of joy and pleasure. Grandpa lives in a remote country farmhouse and is devastated by the passing of his wife, Doris. His only remaining relative, his granddaughter, Ana, lives too far away to visit regularly. But grandpa makes good use of his time and keeps busy tending his garden and watching the birds coming to feed. One in particular, a robin, visits often, which cheers grandpa up immensely. After being scared away for a time by a stray cat, the robin returns on Christmas Day and, even better, grandpa is blessed by a surprise visit from Ana and the two of them have great fun feeding the robin mealworms from grandpa's hat. This story is lovingly told and brings home the plight of many elderly people who live alone and far from their families. In a few short pages we find we care about grandpa as the story immerses the reader in a rollercoaster of emotions as grandpa loses what brings him hope but then finds it again in what we sincerely hope is a happy ending. A wonderful book to share with youngsters. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
The Little Red Kite is not only a beautiful little story but one so wonderfully illustrated. With a simple premise at its centre, the heart of this book is immense. A basic premise, the tone is happy and the rhyming flows off the tongue and so naturally throughout. This is a joy to read out loud but is also manageable enough for emerging readers to grasp and read alone. A tale of friendship and the mere pleasure of just being happy with life, I had initially felt a little apprehensive about reading about a kite as the main character! I did wonder how you could actually build enthusiasm and indeed empathy with such a choice – but I was proved wrong. This is a lovely book that I’m sure readers will want to return to time and time again. Perfect as a pick me up, and a book for the shelf, it’s also a great comforting bedtime read. Clair Chaytors, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
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