Guest Post: Book Swap Challenge with Louise of Book Murmuration 

Hello everybody! 

Today, I have a guest post from my lovely friend Louise about the books she’s chosen for me to read in 2018. We decided to swap a list of 5 for a little challenge, so you can have a look at my selections over there, and I’ll be reviewing them all as and when I read them. Over to Louise! 

Evie’s Ghost – Evie thinks her life is impossibly unfair, until she travels back in time and learns about childhood in the 1800s. You’re a fan of middle grade fiction, and this book is a perfect middle grade read. It is a quick read, and the twists and turns come in the right places. I chose this because I think you will love it.

Spellslinger – One of the best YA fantasy novels of last year, and I would love your opinion because you are the same age as protagonist Kellan. I think you will love the sarcastic, witty animal companion, and Ferius Parfax may be my favourite character of all time. This may take you outside your reading comfort zone, but I hope it will start some great conversations between us. 

Piglettes – I chose this for its protagonist, and because it was my feel-good book of 2017. Mireille has been bullied for too long, and she’s given up fighting back. Her school is a hotbed of teenage cruelty, and never more so than during the annual ‘Trotters’ awards. Every year the student population goes online and votes for the three ugliest girls in the school. For the first time in history, the ‘winners’ join together. They set off for a summer of travel, triumph and sausage-selling. I hope this becomes your feel-good book. 

Kick – A Middle-Grade book which more people need to discover. This is the book you need to help me promote! It is amazing – you will cry buckets, but you will laugh too because Budi is a lovely character. The most important thing when discussing difficult subjects is for people to relate to others as human beings, and this is what Kick promotes. We care about Budi’s situation because we care about Budi. I can’t wait to see your review. 

I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan – Another teenage protagonist. In some ways Muzna is like you. She’s a teenager, she’s intelligent and she is exceptionally witty. I thought this book was the best representation of teenage life I’ve read for a long time, but I need a teenager to verify that! Muzna’s life is also very different from yours, and I think it might be interesting to see how a girl so like you could end up in situations which sound like something from another life. Grooming. Extremism. They sound like words from the news, but these things are happening to our neighbours, our friends and the people we pass on the street. There is a lot for us to talk about and I can’t wait to hear what you think. 

Thank you so much for reading! Have you ever done a challenge like this? What backlist type books would you like everyone to read in 2018? Tell me in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl

Amy xxx

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I Swapped My Brother on the Internet Blog Tour- Jo Simmons on Funny Fiction 

Hello everybody!

Today, I have a guest post from Jo Simmons all about funny books as part of her blog tour for her own VERY funny book which I really enjoyed (and will be reviewing in my January Reviews!)

I’m not often sure what I think about anything. Age has not brought wisdom, just a sense of bafflement and a love of early bed times. But I do know what I think about funny fiction for kids – I think it’s a really, really good thing.

Not all kids are hardwired to read, but most kids are hardwired to laugh. They laugh so much more than adults – 300 to 400 times a day apparently, while grownups manage about 15 times. This makes children a willing audience for funny fiction. In fact, I’d argue that they positively deserve it!

I remember devouring Spike Milligan, Ogden Nash poems and PG Wodehouse as I went into my teenage years. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy dazzled with its cast of curious intergalactic characters and the hilarious fictional small ads in the copies of Viz my brother passed me were just brilliant. That and the Fat Slags, of course.

Once I had my own two boys, I was impressed by their ability to laugh their way through a day and unimpressed by the unutterably dull books I sometimes found myself reading to them at bedtime. So when I sat down to write my first children’s book in 2010, I wasn’t sure what to write, but I knew anything I did write had to be funny.

Funny fiction does so much more than simply entertain. Humour can tempt even a reluctant reader to try another chapter and every time an author makes a child laugh, it’s a little victory for reading. They’re communicating the message that reading funny books is fun, therefore reading must be fun. 

So it’s annoying that funny fiction sometimes gets overshadowed by those heavy books that tackle issues and win prizes, as if a witty story cannot also have meaning or relevance. Writing funny does not mean compromising on narrative ambition. A good funny story is still just that – a story – and can deliver all the truths and meaningful moments a serious tale does. 

My books contain plenty of bonkers scenarios and freaky folk, but also touch on issues relevant to children: friendship problems, anxiety about change, fear of the dark, loss of a loved one and, in my latest, I Swapped My Brother on the Internet the frustration of being inferior in age and privileges to an older brother. Serious stuff, for sure, but all wrapped up in a thick coating of silliness and escapism, ghosts, merboys and doppelgangers, and some seriously grotty pants. Maybe not great art, but hopefully great fun. 

You can follow Jo on Twitter @joanna_simmons and the book’s illustrator Nathan @nathanreed_illo.

Thank you so much for reading! What are your favourite funny books? Did you love this one? I’d love to hear from you down in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx 

Guest Post: My Favourite MG Books by @aimee_louise_l

Hello everybody

Today, I have a brilliant guest post from my amazing friend Aimee, all about her favourite MG books! Enjoy!

Amy xxx

Thank you so much Amy for having me on your wonderful blog. I am so excited to be sharing my favourite MG books with your readers. I’ve had a fab time writing this. So without further ado, onto the books!!

The Dream Snatcher trilogy by Abi Elphinstone

Obviously this is on my list. I’d need my head examining if I was to miss out this feisty, bold spirited trilogy. With Old Magic, the wilderness and a wild spirited heroine, this MG trilogy stole my heart when it burst onto the bookish scene back in 2015.

Winter Magic curated by Abi Elphinstone

With 11 short stories celebrating the magic of Winter, these stories are perfect for sitting by a fire with a cup of hot chocolate. I absolutely love these stories and how they add that extra magic to some of the most wonderful aspects of Winter.

Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone

Are you surprised? Really? If this didn’t make it onto my favourite MG books list then I’d have been shouting about this book for absolutely NO reason. Hope. Friendship. Courage. Loyalty. A sprinkling of love. This book really does have it all. I’ve never been on a more atmospheric adventure that literally has magic spilling out of it’s pages.

Eren by Simon Clark

A tale of a gargoyle that feeds on stories. Erm yes please. Seriously, feed me with ALL of the stories and I’d be happy too. Dark, eerie and filled with glorious story-telling, this MG book has the right dose of dark magic sprinkled amongst its pages.

The Great Chocoplot by Chris Callaghan

Imagine a world without chocolate? Nope. Neither could I until I read this book. There’s some serious work to be done to save chocolate, and that is not because Chris is going to eat it all himself (though I’m sure he’d LOVE to).

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Oh how I love this book. Oh how I love to read. Matilda for me captures the very essence of why books are so important. Without books, we’d not be able to escape reality. Without books, we’d not be able to become more educated and knowledgable. Without books, we wouldn’t know the hidden stories and wonders of the world and universe.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Hogwarts is my home. The Harry Potter books found their way into my heart at the age of 11 years old, Hogwarts letter recipient age to be precise, and have been with me ever since. These books have literally helped me to deal with so much in life and have always been the light in the darkest of times. I am so proud to be a part of the Harry Potter fandom and a Gryffindor at heart.

A Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Milwood-Hargrave

I truly fell in love with Kiran’s story about a cartographer’s daughter who goes on an adventure to save her best friend. Maps. Ink. Stars. That is all this girl needs. Extra bonus if you get to discover the hidden secrets at the heart of the island.

Boy X by Dan Smith

An adventure that follows a boy called Ash who wakes up on a remote tropical island after being kidnapped and drugged. WOW. Hard-hitting stuff right? Well…there’s more. Ash has to trek through the jungle in order to find his mum, who has been imprisoned and infected with a deadly virus. IS THIS NOT ENOUGH FOR THE POOR LAD? Seriously though, a pretty action-packed adventure that tests Ash’s strength and stamina whilst the animals watch on as he crosses the jungle in a bid to save his mum.

The Giraffe And The Pelly And Me by Roald Dahl

Possibly one of the most underrated Roald Dahl books out there. I loved reading this as a child and I still love it now. Basically a small boy who dreams of owning a candy shop (watch out Willy Wonka, I think you’ve got competition on your hands) meets a giraffe, a pelican and a monkey. What’s so special about that I hear you ask. Well, the giraffe, pelican and money are window cleaners. So if you think that the people who clean your windows do a terrible job, then maybe you should consider these guys. They not half do a decent job. Just saying.

Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes

You have not lived, if you haven’t read these absolute delightful and revolting poems which put a twist on the fairy tales that you know so well. So if you wanna find out why you shouldn’t mess with Red Riding Hood and how your other favourite fairytale characters are getting on, then seriously please give these a read.

I have so many more MG books which I love, but I’d be here all day if I was to continue talking about them all. So if you’d like to recommend some MG books that I should look out for then please do tell me, even if my TBR won’t forgive me,

Aimee Louise

Guest Post: Books I’m Hoping to Find Under my Tree by Zoe (nosaferplace)

Hello everybody! 

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome my lovely friend Zoe from the exceptional No Safer Place to chat about the books she’s hoping to get for Christmas, similar to my Top Ten Tuesday post the other day. 

Over to Zoe now, and see you tomorrow,

Amy xxx

I rarely ask for anything at Christmas. Christmas for me is about giving and spending time with my family. But if I do ever drop a hint at what I’d like for Christmas, you can bet it’s going to be a book. There’s just something so magical about opening a brand new book, smelling the pages and wondering which world you’re going to get lost in next. So what books am I hoping for under my tree this year? Read on, to find out.

Origin – Dan Brown

I absolutely adore Dan Brown and the Robert Langdon series. I read The Da Vinci Code when I was quite young, but I was just completely mesmerised by this complex book, and the twists and turns that lurked on every page turn. I have gone into bookshops several times since the book’s release, just to hold it and let me tell you – the excitement is strong.

The Silver Mask – Cassandra Clare & Holly Black

This is the 4th book in the Magisterium series. Cassie is obviously one of my favourite authors and everything she writes is just gold dust to me. The series gives off very strong Harry Potter vibes, but is aimed at a slightly younger audience. I read the first 3 on their release dates, so I’m slightly gutted not to have this yet – but I know it’ll be worth the wait.

Turtles All the Way Down – John Green

I don’t think this book needs any introduction and I’d imagine if you’re a bookworm that hasn’t read this book yet, like me, this will be on your Christmas book list too. I don’t really have any idea what the book is about, but I know John Green has written it, and that alone is reason enough to give this book a go.

 

Harry Potter: A History of Magic – British Library

Harry Potter has been in my life for as long as I can remember. I was never really interested in the illustrated editions of the books but I think there’s something really magical about this one. The illustrations look incredible and of course, I’m always open to learning more about the series that dominated my childhood.

A Christmas Wedding – Paige Toon

Now, would this list really be complete without a Christmas book? Paige Toon is one of my favourite authors and this short story, with a cup of hot chocolate, under a blanket, really sounds like the perfect way to get me into the festive spirit.

What books are you hoping to find under your tree this Christmas? Do we share any? Tweet me your answers at @zcollins1994!

Check out my book recommendations and blogmas posts here: nosaferplace.co.uk 

Guest Post: Christmas With Year 3 by Christina of Chrikaru

Hello everybody! 

Today, I have a lovely guest post from my fabulous friend Christina, who blogs about books and modern languages (aka two of my favourite things in the world) all about books she reads with her class at Christmas. 

Over to Christina and her lovely post now!

Amy xxx 


In my classroom we read everyday, several times day. Any time we have a spare minute we read. Read a story, poem or article together as a class, with a friend or alone, we’re always reading. I like to share my favourite stories with the children in my class and consider one of the most important parts of my job is that children leave my class having identified books as sources of joy, inspiration, comfort and information. Books as ‘ uniquely portable magic’ in the words of Stephen King.

I like to match books with what we’re learning about or link them to things that are happening in the real world. Books have started so many valuable, deep conversations with my class and I have seen the impact with children queuing to borrow their own copy, reading more on that subject or in the reports I hear from parents about their once reluctant reader who is now lost inside a book at every opportunity.

The lead-up to Christmas in school is exciting, yet tiring with lots of things going on. To give you an example, in the month leading up to Christmas we have parent-teacher conferences, Arts Week (where each class spends a whole week creating art, culminating in an installation in and around school), Open House  (where children perform, then show their parents around school), flu sprays, Christmas pudding cooking, etc etc. I could keep going!

In amongst all these activities and excitement, it is important to have the sanctuary of reading as that quiet, calm place we all enjoy spending time in, even when the sculpture we’ve spent two hours building has collapsed in a crumpled mess.

So, what do we read?

Here are a few suggestions for any KS1 or KS2 class (ages 4 – 11).

Little Robin Red Vest by Jan Fearnle -Little Robin has given all his nice warm vests to seven chilly friends in need. On Christmas Eve, with no vest left for himself, he huddles on an icy roof… until someone very special comes to the rescue.

I first came across this when teaching Year 1 and it has been a firm favourite with every class I have shared it with. A really cute story about the importance of kindness and sharing!

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan and Janet Albert- The Jolly Postman brings a batch of wonderful letters for Christmas, including notes from the Big Bad Wolf and all the King’s men.

If you loved the original Jolly Postman book, you will also enjoy this holiday edition where the postman delivers letters to various fairytale characters.

The Polar Express by Chris van Allsburg- A young boy is awakened from his Christmas Eve rest by a train that magically appears just outside his home. 

And so, a magical adventure begins! Truly a classic for Christmas!

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs- Wordless picture book with beautiful soft illustrations – lovely to share with children as you can discuss what is happening on each page.

Yet another classic, The Snowman had charmed and enthralled every child to whom I have introduced him to!

The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child and Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffer

Not traditionally Christmas stories, but the storytelling at home fits well with cuddling up with your family during colder weather and The Gruffalo’s Child is set in winter. Stick Man is also a fun read at this time of year, especially as Santa Claus makes an appearance!

Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs

A cute look at what Santa does before and after Christmas – quirky humour and graphic-novel style illustrations make this a winner!

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

This needs no introduction – remember reading this on Christmas Eve with my parents when I was younger and I’m sure that many other families also have this tradition.

Norman, the slug who saved Christmas by Sue Hendra

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27686688-norman-the-slug-who-saved-christmas

This was recommended to me by a friend who is also a primary teacher – I was a bit sceptical at first but the kids loved it! When a big sack of presents lands by Norman the slug, at first he thinks he must have been a very good slug that year. Then he spots the name labels and realises that the presents must have fallen off Santa’s sleigh…

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

Not strictly a Christmas book, but a beautiful story to share with children at any time of the year!

The Stolen Sun by Amanda Hall

A Native Alaskan story about the changing of the seasons – lovely to share with children who may not be familiar with the original folklore.

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson– This is a classic for a reason and one of my childhood favourites – like most popular fairy tales there have been several different re-imaginings of it, but I always enjoyed Gerda striking of into the snow to save her friend

The Twelve Days of Christmas- A fun way to count down the days with your children – it is just an illustration of the song, but it is fun to read as you sing and talk about what each gift might represent or what they might orefer instead!

The Nutcracker- Another Christmas classic, my family watches the ballet together every year. Did anyone else ever imagine themselves as Clara, dancing with the Sugar Plum fairy?

Walk with a wolf, The Emperor’s Egg and Ice Bear- Brilliant faction (fact but illustrated like fiction) books which have fascinated every class I have ever read them to!

How the Grinch stole Christmas by Dr Seuss- This one probably needs no introduction – the inimitable Dr Seuss takes on Christmas through the eyes of the Grinch who hates everything about it!

Okay, am going to stop here although the more I think about it, the more wonderful books I come up with!

Have you read any of the books above? 

Will you add some to your seasonal reading list?

Let me know!

Christina


My Winter Memories by Jess Butterworth 

Hello everybody!

Welcome to the FIRST day of blogmas! Today, I’m massively excited to welcome Jess Butterworth, whose book Running on the Roof of the World is one of my very favourites of 2017 (and if I had to choose from my top 3, this would be the one I’d pick). Over to Jess, with her beautiful post about her winter memories. 

I love winter and the frosty mornings where grass crunches under your feet and silvery spider webs cling to hedgerows. 

One of my earliest memories of winter is getting snowed in at my grandma’s house in the Himalayas. There was so much snow my parents had to dig tunnels for me to be able to walk through it. The tunnels were deep and I couldn’t see over the top of them. I was surrounded by glittery white snow and it was magical. That year will always be remembered as the year of The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. 

Other stories I adored curling up with in winter months included The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson, The Elves and the Shoemaker by Brothers Grimm and The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. 

From the age of 16, I worked weekends in a vintage furniture and gift shop in a medieval granary building in Bradford-on-Avon, next to a tithe barn. There was no heating and in winter I remember buying a pair of boots 2 sizes too big so that I could fit my thick socks into them. The owner was the key keeper for the tithe barn and some evenings I got to bolt and lock shut the creaky giant wooden doors of the barn, alone by torchlight. Each time, long shadows would creep across the wooden beams and my footsteps would echo off the stones, and I’d leave wanting to read Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. 

The shop transformed into The Christmas Shop every November, filled with orange clove candles and cinnamon pinecones; multi-coloured trees and twinkling decorations. Customers would enter as we were setting it up, nailing garlands to the walls and draping fairy lights, and back out quickly, saying, ‘Oh no, it’s too early for Christmas…’

I always understood what they meant, but I loved it anyway; every day I would come home covered in glitter with the urge to write wintry stories about fairies, woodland creatures and magic. During my last year there I discovered The Snow Merchant by Sam Gayton and read it veraciously during my lunch breaks. 

This year I’m spending Christmas somewhere completely new, in Acadiana in Louisiana. Christmas pudding will be replaced with pecan pie and I’ll be reading the Cajun Night Before Christmas by Trosclair and James Rice, where Father Christmas is dressed in muskrat pelts and pulled along in a boat by alligators.  

I’ll also have wintry reads from some of my favourite authors keeping me company, including Emma Carroll’s The Snow Sister, Mimi Thebo’s Dreaming the Bear and Winter Magic curated by Abi Elphinstone. 

Thank you so much to Jess for writing this post. I can personally recommend both the Emma Carroll and Winter Magic; and I may be rereading both too! What are your favourite winter memories? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl 

Amy xxx
 

Guest Post: The Cake Flavoured Book Tag 

Hello everybody! 

Today, I have a guest post for you from Liv, the fab Cake Flavoured Book Tag, which originated on #bookstagram and was adapted by Paper Fury.

Over to Liv! 


Hi, I’m Liv and I blog at livswonderfulescape.wordpress.com I would like to thank Amy for allowing me to do this post on her blog! This was really fun!

CHOCOLATE CAKE (A DARK BOOK YOU ABSOLUTELY LOVE) 

The Sin Eater’s Daughter is amazing to be honest the whole trilogy is great. Say that though I need to polish off the last one.😬

VANILLA CAKE (A LIGHT READ) 

The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia is such a lovely book that you could polish off in a couple of hours. I highly recommend it!

RED VELVET (A BOOK THAT GAVE YOU MIXED EMOTIONS) 

This is a hard one but I think it’s going to go to Off the Ice by Julie Cross. After reading it I thought I really enjoyed it but the more i think about it the more I’m conflicted and this really makes me sad because I love Julie Cross.

CHEESECAKE (A BOOK YOU’D RECOMMEND TO ANYONE) 

DEAR MARTIN! DEAR MARTIN! DEAR MARTIN! I don’t think I need to say anymore.❤️

COFFEE CAKE (A BOOK YOU STARTED BUT DIDN’T FINISH) 

I honestly can’t remember the last book I did not finish… actually it might have been Kings Cage ( I know,I know don’t hate me)

CARROT CAKE (A BOOK WITH GREAT WRITING)

 Wing Jones by Katherine Webber her writing is incredible and if you haven’t picked it up yet, I highly advise it.

TIRAMISU (A BOOK THAT LEFT YOU WANTING MORE) 

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier one of my favourite books ever written, I could talk about it all day!

CUPCAKES (A SERIES WITH 4+ BOOKS)

The Mortal Instrument series that I have not finished 

FRUIT CAKE (A BOOK THAT WASN’T WHAT YOU ANTICIPATED) 

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater  I enjoyed it but not as much as I wanted to. I’m not sure if that makes any sense but I had heard so many great things that I expected it to be incredible.

LAMINGTON (YOUR FAVOURITE AUSTRALIAN BOOKS) 

Um Paige Toon always incorporates Australia in here books which I love. She’s also one of my favourite authors!


Huge thanks to Liv for her wonderful post! What are your favourite cakes? Do you feel the same way about any of these books ? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx