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Book Review: The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow.

A very special book.

The Mystery of the Clockwork sparrowOK, first things first – I loved this book. Everything about it is special: the gold highlights on it’s cover, the lyrical writing style, not forgetting the unique story itself. The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow was published in 2015  but it has a wonderfully old-fashioned feel. I have already ordered, The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth, book two in the series and book three, The Mystery of the Painted Dragon, is due next month. Next month! Yippee.

Right, now I’ve got that out of the way. Let’s get down to business.

The Blurb

You are cordially invited to attend the Grand Opening of Sinclair’s department store!

Enter a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and MYSTERIES around every corner. WONDER at the daring theft of the priceless CLOCKWORK SPARROW! TREMBLE as the most DASTARDLY criminals in London enact their wicked plans! GASP as our bold heroines, Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose, CRACK CODES, DEVOUR ICED BUNS and vow to bring the villains to justice…

I actually think this doesn’t do justice to the book. It makes it seem a little silly and shallow, which isn’t the story at all. Whilst I can see they were trying to set up the feel of a by-gone era, for me, it doesn’t draw the reader into the ‘mystery’ like it should.

The Characters.

All the characters in the book are well-written. Although the story centres on Sophie Taylor, we  actually see the story through four points of view.

mystery of clockwork sparrow artworkSophie Taylor: Sophie’s father has recently died leaving her an orphan with no means of support. As Sophie is fourteen years old, she is too old for an orphanage. She’s lucky to land herself a job in the hat department of Sinclair’s, the newest, most luxurious department store in London.

Even though Sophie was brought up as a typical ‘young lady’, she is clever, brave, kind and resourceful. In short; a great heroine.

mystery of clockwork sparrow artworkLilian Rose: Lilian is an aspiring actress who works as a model at Sinclair’s but she is more than just a pretty face.

Billy Parker: Billy is the young porter at Sinclair’s. He is more likely to be found reading his story paper than working. Will all the tips he learned in those mystery stories help solve the case?

And finally we have Joe.  On the run from the infamous Baron’s gang,  living on the streets, but with a good heart. These four characters work together to solve the clues of who stole the Clockwork Sparrow? And why?

The Plot

No spoilers here but I will say that the stakes for the robbery turned out to be much higher than just the robbery of a jewelled antique. Woodfine scatters the clues cleverly throughout the story until the reader doesn’t know who to trust and the events happen at an ever-increasing pace. The book contains some fights, a shooting and Sophie gets abducted but it’s all handled well so I don’t think it will give even the most sensitive reader nightmares.

the mystery of the clockwork sparrow

A glimpse into a world of times gone by.

“The shop girls there were expected to work fourteen hour days and to sleep in communal dormitories above the shop, but were paid only a few meagre shillings a week.”

It’s a far cry from today. When I started reading, I did wonder what modern day children would make of the language; the duffers, and rotters, the shillings and guineas. But anything that can’t really be guessed from the context is skillfully explained. It’s good writing. Did I mention I loved this book?

British Books Challenge 2017British Books Challenge 2017

I’m adding my review of The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow to the British Books Challenge for January. Katherine Woodfine is a Lancashire lass after my own heart. I’ll definitely be reading more of her work.

Suzie xx



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Annabelle the Reluctant Fart Fairy: book review

Annabelle the Reluctant Fart Fairy: book review.

Annabelle the Reluctant Fart FairyI picked up a Kindle copy of Annabelle the Reluctant Fart Fairy on a whim because the title made me laugh!

OK, maybe there was a little bit more to it than that.

First, I read the blurb:

A Fairy. A Dream. And a Bean Burrito.
Annabelle, like all of her fairy friends, desperately wants to be a rose fairy when she grows up.

But when things go horribly wrong at the Great Selecting ceremony, the fairy queen tells Annabelle she will have to spend the rest of her life as a . . . fart fairy!

Oh, what a logline. Brilliant!

Second, I checked out M.T Lott’s website, forgottenfaries.com.

What is a Forgotten Fairy?

A Forgotten Fairy — or FF for short — is a fairy who has a job that most people don’t want to talk about. Like the snot fairies, the vomit fairies, or the scab fairies.

Without the FFs, people would have a very difficult time existing, but no one seems to care about them.

Forgotten fairies? You got me.

My review

Annabelle the Reluctant Fart FairyThis book was not what I expected. Yes, there are lots of references to bodily functions and Annabelle’s name is Buttocks (“It’s pronouced Bee-you-tocks!“) but there was a clear message: ‘even though you don’t always get what you want, things can turn out OK’. It also touches on important issues like bullying and judging others.

The age range for the book is 9 – 12 years range. Lott does a great job of making Annabelle and her friends sound very typical opinionated tweens. The cover has a modern feel and I liked the artwork scattered throughout the pages. The author does a great job of building up the fairy world ‘rules’ and sets the scene nicely for the other books in the series.

I didn’t always like Annabelle. She wasn’t particularly nice to her brother, and her attitude gets herself put in fairy prison! Is that scary for a 9 year old?

Annabelle the Reluctant Fart FairyAnd then the book takes a completely unexpected turn. There is an asteroid heading straight for Earth. Can the fairies save the planet? Will Annabelle’s idea work?

Well, you’ll have to read it to find out.

I didn’t laugh out loud at this book, and it certainly smashes any ideas of fairies as demure little winged creatures. I’m rounding it up to 4 stars on Amazon because it had some interesting ideas I’m sure kids will like.

Recommended for lovers of bean burrito’s everywhere.

If you’ve read this book, let me know what you think below.

Suzie xx


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British Books Challenge 2017
British Books Challenge 2017

I usually avoid setting New Years goals and resolutions. It naffs me off when I don’t reach them. However, one of the challenges is the British Books Challenge 2017. Reading British Books is definitely high on my agenda and you only have to commit to reading and reviewing just one book per month, so … deep breath … I’m jumping in.

The British Books Challenge 2017.

This years challenge is hosted by Chelle over on Tales of Yesterday. There are even some bookish monthly prize packs and a £25 voucher for Foyles, if you need an extra incentive.

Here are the rules regarding qualifying books and authors.

  • Authors who were born in the UK, live in the UK and are published in the UK
  • Authors who were born overseas but are CURRENTLY living in the UK and his/her books were/are being published in the UK first
  • Authors who were born in the UK are currently living overseas but his/her books are being published in the UK first

Sounds easy enough.

Every month I’ll post a link to the book review on this page so you can keep an eye on my progress.

January’s book for the British Books Challenge 2017

The Mystery of the Clockwork sparrowJanuary’s book will be The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine, a Lancashire Lass born in Preston, so she definitely counts 🙂

I picked this up from the library last month but Christmas got too hectic for me to start it. You can read my review here.

February’s book for the British Books Challenge 2017

it was bedtime in the jungle

There is a new favourite book in our household. It was Bedtime in the Jungle by the super talented author/illustrator John Butler. Find my review here.

March’s book for the British Books Challenge 2017

silly doggy

A hilarious book about mistaken identity by Adam Stower. Check out my review.

April’s book for the British Books Challenge 2017

Mystery of the Disappearing Underpants

A fun debut novel from Nikki Young. Find my full review here.

May’s book for the British Books Challenge 2017

pilot jane and the runaway plane

A rhyming story about Pilot Jane, a fun and fearless airline captain. My review is here.

June’s book for the British Books Challenge 2017

Billy has a Birthday

Billy has a Birthday is a book about bullying by James Minter. Check out my review here.

If you’re joining in the challenge, leave a comment below and I’ll check out the books you’re reading.

Happy 2017. Let the challenge begin.

Suzie xx 


 

[amazon_link asins=’1405276177′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’isdiettheansw-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’0d741be7-d503-11e6-aa7c-39bfecca94a2′]

 

Stacking the Shelves for Christmas

Stacking the Shelves for Christmas

Stacking the Shelves for Christmas

Forget about Christmas pudding, turkey and mince pies, Stacking the Shelves for Christmas is my book haul for my Christmas reading 2016. I added three books to my collection this week and I’ve read two, which I’m pleased about considering the time of year. I’m linking up with Stacking The Shelves over on Tynga’s Reviews, which is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual.

So, without further ado, the first book I bought was…

Fa La Llama La

Fa La Llama La

I got Fa La Llama La by Stephanie Dagg for my Kindle. This is the first Christmas book I’ve got this year that hasn’t been aimed at pre-schoolers. Shameful, isn’t it?

Anyway, Fa La Llama La promises to be “a feel-good, festive and fun romcom with a resourceful heroine, a hero who’s a bit of a handful and some right woolly charmers”.

Sounds like Christmas night reading to me… and look at those cutesy llama’s.

Next up, the library got me a copy of …

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow.

The Mystery of the Clockwork sparrow

I’ve been hearing good things about this book, the first in the series, by Katherine Woodfine and I finally got a copy from the library.

Enter a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and MYSTERIES around every corner. WONDER at the daring theft of the priceless CLOCKWORK SPARROW! TREMBLE as the most DASTARDLY criminals in London enact their wicked plans! GASP as our bold heroines, Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose, CRACK CODES, DEVOUR ICED BUNS and vow to bring the villians to justice…

Not exactly Christmassy but sounds a lot of fun.

My last book this week is…

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe

I won a copy of Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson from the lovely Heidi at Cosmochicklitan. Yay! I was super excited. Thank you, Heidi. 🙂

Becca Fletcher has always hated Christmas but she has her reasons for being Little Miss Grinch. Now, though, she can’t avoid her version of ho-ho-hell – because she’s travelling to the Comfort Food Cafe to spend the festive season with her sister Laura and her family. She’s expecting mulled wine, 24-hour Christmas movie marathons and all kinds of very merry torture.

Looking at the cover the ‘merry torture’ could well be ‘death by whipped cream topping’. But I’m sure everything will work out right in the end.

So, I have my Christmas sorted. What will you be reading over the holidays?

Suzie xx 


stacking the shelves


My Top Five Laughs this week
My Top Five Laughs this week

My Top Five Laughs this week

Melissa over at The Mommyhood Chronicles runs a Blog Hop, “Saturday’s Top Five Laughs”. I’ve had a strange sort of week, so I thought I’d join in.

1. Book I bought because the title made me laugh

Annabelle, the Reluctant Fart Fairy

Annabelle the Reluctant Fart Fairy

With the tagline, “A Fairy. A Dream. And a Bean Burrito.” I had to buy a copy of Annabelle, the Reluctant Fart Fairy by M.T. Lott. Will let you know if the story is as funny as the title.

2. Quote that made me laugh

Giles does show don't tell

I came across quotes from Giles, the paperback writer, whilst trawling through some old files. OK, so this is probably only funny if you’re an author, but I must dig out some more of his words of wisdom.

3. Random misfortunes that made me laugh (or cry)

  • The sudden icy weather caused a burst pipe in my summerhouse which flooded the place and fused all my electric so I woke up to no heating, no hot water and a flat phone battery.
  • It was also responsible for a leak on the mains supply in the road outside. The same afternoon the water board men arrived and turned off all my water. (Shame they didn’t do it before the flood above.)
  • Finally, that night I went to turn off the light in my bathroom but the switch was stuck and I had to resort to taking out the bulb.

Maybe this isn’t funny at all but it’s made me slightly hysterical.

4. Hilarious spelling fail laugh

Sand Witches

My daughter snapped this pic whilst out and about in London. Damn those Sand Witches!

5. Laughs with my grandson

And if all those aren’t funny, here’s my grandson laughing at his mum. Who’d have thought fake sneezes were so amusing?

 

Note: there is no video to this just an audio file but it didn’t seem to upload and play like that. Told you I was having one of those weeks 🙂

Keep laughing everyone.

Suzie xx



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Christmas books for children to win for Free with Goodreads
Christmas books for children to win for Free with Goodreads

 Did you know there are free books to win everyday on Goodreads?

 

If you didn’t know, Goodreads is a great site that lets you connect with other readers, see what books they’re into, and read reviews. It also runs some awesome giveaways. There are books from both the Big Six traditional publishers and books from Indie authors … and they’re all paperback or hardback copies for you to keep. Some are even signed. What’s not to like?

Here are a selection of children’s titles that you could win in time for Christmas.

Christmas Book 1. Christmas at Come-alive Cottage

Christmas at Come-alive Cottage

The Blurb: A fun chapter book for young children.
Aunt Kitty is a witch and sometimes-cat. Kellie never knows what might happen when her aunt is around!
“Christmas at Come-alive Cottage is a book of madcap adventures, spells gone crazy, lovable witches, laughs, fun. “

“Christmas at Come-alive Cottage” is the 4th book in the series by Wendy Unsworth. There are 4 autographed copies on offer to readers in several countries including the US, Canada and Europe. You can enter here.

Christmas Book 2: The Christmas Spirit is Born

The Christmas Spirit is Born

The Blurb:The city of Clausville is hidden away in the mountains of the North Pole, where elves, reindeer, and happy children play all day. Here also live Big Papa Claus and his son, Little Santa. There is so much for Little Santa to learn- from teaching reindeer how to fly to rescuing elven friends! This is the story of how the Christmas spirit was born, and with it, who we now know the wold over as Santa Claus!

Enter here to win “The Christmas Spirit is Born” by Perry Johnson. There are 15 copies available. 🙂

Christmas Book 3: Sally Steamy the Christmas Engine

Sally Steamy the Christmas Engine

The Blurb: Sally Steamy is an engine who doesn’t seem to like Christmas at all.

Sally wants to keep herself busy and believe Christmas is just another day. Can Little Titch and a magical Christmas adventure somehow change her mind..?

Only one copy of “Sally Steamy the Christmas Engine” by Ian Shimwell on offer here but it’s signed by the author and it’s a lovely glossy hardback. Available to readers in the UK, US and Canada.

Christmas Book 4: The Night Before Christmas The Night Before Christmas

The Blurb: ‘Twas the night before Christmas and Santa’s late night visit has a man and his curious kitty investigating. Did you know that Santa can play the guitar? Well, he can! Each page is filled with thoughtful details, luscious color, and a joyful whimsy.

Four and a half years were spent illustrating the mosaics for the book, which were made by hand cutting thousands of pieces of stained glass and fitting them together to form the images.

This giveaway is for a signed copy of “The Night before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore and illustrated by Christine Brallier. It’s available to readers in just about any country you can think of. Try your luck here.

Christmas Book 5: 24 + 1 Christmas Tales: Butterfly Adventures in Santa’s Secret City

Christmas tales

The Blurb: 24 + 1 Christmas Tales tell of the fabulous adventures of butterflies Martha, Darfo, Sonya and Johnny at Santa’s Secret City. They are accompanied by their friends the three electric blue fireflies and the fearful phoenix. Whether it be helping to check wish lists, granting a white Christmas or manufacturing magical Christmas presents, the butterflies can be found everywhere: their mission is to make Christmas bigger, better and more perfect.

Enter here to win “24 + 1 Christmas Tales: Butterfly Adventures in Santa’s Secret City” by Alexander Ruth. Open to readers in lots of countries, there are 5 copies up for grabs.

Christmas Book 6: Santa’s Search for the Perfect Child

Santa's Search for the Perfect Child

The Blurb: Santa finds a special gift that he had put up because he could not find the child who deserved it. His head elf Percy notices that Santa is a little down in the dumps and ask what the problem is. When Santa tells him, Percy offers to go out into the world and see if he can help Santa find this Perfect Child before Christmas, so that Santa can finally give be happy again. So Percy goes out to look for this child and is about to give up until he meets someone he thinks might be the one.

My last book on giveaway on Goodreads Is “Santa’s Search for the Perfect Child” by Donna Faulkner Schulte. There are 10 copies for readers in US, CA, GB, and AU.

So there are six Christmas Books that could be yours for the click of a mouse. If you’re not already a member of Goodreads, it’s easy and free to create a Goodreads profile.

Good luck.

Suzie xx


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Picture Books about the Moon
Picture Books about the Moon

Picture Books about the Moon

In honour of the 2016 Super Moon on November 14th (which I didn’t see because it was too cloudy here in Wales), here are some of picture books about the moon to share with your little star-gazers and would-be space-travelling astronauts.

I Took the Moon for a Walk

I took the Moon for a walk

“I Took the Moon for a Walk” by Carolyn Curtis is a gorgeously illustrated, gentle book which is just right for bedtime.  The moon follows a little boy as he walks round his neighbourhood and then waits outside his window until the morning. And this book contains some seriously gorgeous artwork.

Kitten’s First Full Moon

Kittens first full moon

“Kitten’s First Full Moon” by by Kevin Henkes. Kitten thinks the moon is a bowl of milk in the sky. This cute story follows her attempts to reach it.

The drawings are black and white but they are very sweet, as is the story. Kitten attempts to lick the milk/moon but she gets a bug on her tongue, falls off the porch, gets stuck up a tree and, after seeing the reflection of the moon in the pond, gets terribly wet when she jumps in. Happily, there’s a real bowl of milk waiting for her at home.

Little readers will love the silly kitten.

On the Moon

On the Moon

The books so far have all been fiction but “On the Moon” by Anna Milbourne is a fantastic book which combines artist’s drawings with real life images from NASA which shows what it’s really like on the moon. There are also actual facts that my grandson found really interesting, like it takes four whole days to fly to the moon. He also got very interested in the rocket that takes the astronauts to the moon and we’ve had to re-enact the blast off procedure several times with many of his toys lol.

If you decide to go to the Moon

if you decide to go to the moon

If you decide to go to the Moon in your own rocket ship, read this book before you start … so starts “If you decide to go to the Moon” by Faith McNulty. This book has a lot of advice and hard facts for future astronauts; what to take, how long it will take to get there and the information they’ll need to get themselves back.  There is quite a lot of text in this book but there are also great illustrations to talk about with younger space enthusiasts. It ends with the explorers returning and promising to “protect all life on our beautiful Earth.”

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed this round-up of picture books picture books about the moon, even if, like me, the good old British weather obliterated your view of the biggest super-moon in nearly seventy years.

Suzie xx



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Haynes Thomas the Tank Engine workshop owners’ manual

Haynes ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ Workshop Owners’ Manual by Chris Oxlade.

Haynes Thomas the Tank Engine owners' workshop manual

As firm Thomas the Tank Engine fans, I was interested to get hold of a copy of the Haynes Workshop Owners’ Manual by Chris Oxlade for my grandchildren. I thought it was another great book to share for #NonFictionNovember.

Of course, it was only me that appreciated the fact that the cover looks exactly like the Haynes manuals I’ve used when working on real cars (Yes, I’ve done my share of mechanic-ing in the past). My three year old grandson just thought it was a good book about one of his favourite characters. Mechanic-me was slightly disappointed that the inside didn’t strictly follow the Haynes take-it-apart formula but I can’t imagine how that would work for little ones anyway.

So, whilst you don’t get step-by-step instructions to rebuild your own steam engine you do get a lot of information in a child-friendly way. Such as How a Steam Engine Works.

how a steam engine works

And how to drive actually Thomas.

driving Thomas the Tank

After reading this, my grandson rushed off to check his model. Sadly it didn’t feature the handles and regulators to ‘make it work’ but he conceded it was only a toy. I promised a visit to a real steam engine to see the controls in action sometime soon.

The book’s recommended for readers 3 – 8 although I think it’s probably more suited to the younger age range.  It’s a firm favourite in our house.

Suzie xx

P.S. Forgive the generic pictures of this book. Grandson had taken it home with him!



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Five little Monkeys jumping on the Bed – #PictureBookMonth – Nov 3

picture book month“Five little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” by Eileen Christelow

…#PictureBookMonth – Nov 3

November is Picture Book Month – a celebration of great picture books with a daily theme.

Today’s theme is Monkeys.

My choice of book for today is “Five Little Monkeys jumping on the Bed” by Eileen Christelow.

five little monkeys

This is a fun take on a story that we all know. It has lovely illustrations and a twist at the end that doesn’t usually feature in the words that I remember 🙂 .

Here it is in a great video from Grandma Annii

Five Little Monkeys is one of Amazon’s top selling picture books. A classic for little ones. The only problem is, you may have to read it multiple time.

Suzie x



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Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten #PictureBookMonth – Nov 2

 picture book month“Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten” by Joseph Slate…

…#PictureBookMonth – Nov 2

November is Picture Book Month – a celebration of great picture books with a daily theme.

Today’s theme is school.

books about starting schoolI wrote a post about books for children preparing to start school back in the summer. Hopefully, all those new students (and their parents) are well into the swing of school by now and enjoying it. So, today my book choice has the incredibly long title of “Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten” by Joseph Slate.

OK, so this year’s September starters haven’t been in school for 100 days yet, but this is a fun read on many levels. It won’t be long before they will be having their own 100 day celebrations.

miss Bindergarten

The story starts as Miss Bindergarten tells her students that their homework is to bring

100 of some wonderful, one-hundredful thing.

picture book month calendarIt then documents what each of the pupils (who have names for every letter of the alphabet) will bring, so one builds a fort with 100 lolly sticks, one makes a 100-link paper-chain, whilst another covers themselves with 100 stickers. At the same time, Miss Bindergarten is getting ready for the celebrations with her class. She devises all sorts of great number games for them to enjoy which reinforces the concept of 100 whilst they are having fun.

The book is told in rhyme and the illustrations have lots of detail for you and your child to talk about. As well as that, there are alphabet and number concepts too.

I think the 100 day celebration is a great idea. Hope you enjoy the book.

Suzie xx



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