The Way Past Winter: Book Review!

I finished reading this beautiful book just the other day. I love Kiran Millwood Hargrave (she is one of my favorite authors) and think she is a compelling writer. Her stories are moving and so strong in their plotlines.

I read this story many years ago when I got it out of the library. However, reading it for the second time it was like coming to it anew and I was blown away by it all over again.

the front cover.

Mila lives with her sister and brother in the forest. The forest is frozen in winter, as is everything else. When her brother disappears along with all the other local boys Mila knows that he has been taken by a stranger who visited them the night before.

She embarks on a journey to save her brother with her younger sister Pípa and the only boy who hasn’t left — the mage Rune. As they travel through the forest and over the snow, Mila finds that maybe by confronting the stranger who stole her brother they might be able to bring back Spring…

I loved this story so much. I was utterly enthralled by its tale of adventure and family, and was completely engrossed by page one. I was captivated by the mysterious ominous stranger who is takes the boys and he strangely reminded me of the Pied Piper. The story is so moving, a fast-paced plotline with vivid characters who grab your attention and such a spellbinding setting too. I could almost feel the forest for myself. Plus a gorgeous new cover! Kiran’s writing is like powerful poetry that sings to my heart and evokes so many deep feelings inside me. I just want to read this book over and over again, to be gripped by its delightful imagination.



Reviewing “A Pocketful of Stars.” by Aisha Bushby.

I got this out of my local library after seeing it in a bookshop and I knew I would love it. I wasn’t wrong! This is such a powerful and emotional story with beautiful detail. I wanted to write this to share with you all how wonderful it is. I actually finished it a while ago but life was busy so I didn’t write this straight away. Anyway, I’m doing now. So here is my review of…

“A Pocketful of Stars.”

by Aisha Bushby.

front cover.

“The seconds that pass feel like an age, and it’s like Dad’s next words are spoken hours later, like I could fit a whole lifetime into those seconds.”

Safiya’s parents live apart and have done for some time. Although Safiya and her Mum used to have lots of fun together, they seem to have drifted apart. Safiya tells her Mum that they have nothing in common and that Safiya’s Dad understands her more. Safiya’s Mum says they do, but Safiya, not listening, storms out of her Mum’s flat. A while later Safiya gets a phone call from her Dad, something has happened, and what follows it changes everything…

This story is such a beautiful tale. I loved Bushby’s language and description, and how the story sees Safiya through a soul-transforming journey. I feel that this is one of those tales that is fresh and new every time you reread it. I know that this is a story that I will enjoy coming back to again and again, to laugh, to cry, and to feel inspired.

the end!


Reviewing “Coraline.” by Neil Gaiman.

I’ve just finished readinf the awesome book that is “Coraline.” by 

Neil Gaiman and I LOVED it! It is so good, so deliciously dark, fast-paced and wonderful.

the end of the book.

The plot moves well throughout the whole story & each character is meaningfully placed. I’d give it four and a half stars out of five.

the book cover.

It was a beautiful story and I really enjoyed all the quirky characters, especially the black cat, as they were all quite fun. I also found it interesting that you didn’t find out the weird guy(with the mice)’s name until the end and then it turned out to be rather an odd name indeed. Miss Spink and Miss Foriceable reading Coraline’s tea leaves was funny for me as I don’t know anyone myself who does that. Anyway, it was a highly enjoyable story and I’m now thinking of watching the film.


Reviewing “The House Of One Hundred Clocks.” by A.M. Howell.

I have read many books before, but none compare with A.M Howell’s fine story of one hundred clocks. And I certainly haven’t read many books with talking parrots in that are quite as special as Orbit! This is a story of adventure, mystery, clocks, secrets, and one father & daughter. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is…

“The House Of One Hundred Clocks.” by A.M. Howell.

The cover of the book.

‘She was certain something rather terrible had happened to Mr. Westcott and his family to make thing the way they were now.’

Helena Graham, her father, and her parrot Orbit are in Cambridge. Helena’s father has got a job working for Mr. Westcott who keeps a vast collection of clocks; one hundred to be precise. There is only one thing that Helena’s father must ensue — that the clocks NEVER stop. It sounds simple enough but is it really? As Helena starts to settle in she can’t seem to rid her mind of terribly thoughts and the tight feeling in her tummy refuses to go away. Also, strange incidents are happening which Helena feels that she can’t ignore. She knows she been told to button in and not ask questions but in these house of intrigue and mystery, is that going to be possible?

This was a very gripping and beautiful book. I really appreciated Orbit’s role in story as a reminder of Helena’s mother and therefore as a part of her soul that must not be lost. And I very much enjoyed Boy(Florence)’s love of planes and habit of dressing as a boy. The book was very nicely set in Cambridge which is near where I live. Also, I loved the description of Mr. Westcott and Mr. Fox’s houses and the contrast between them. And I would never have guessed Katherine’s intentions. A.M. Howell’s style is light enough to be easy, and jolly with good compelling tricks to make the story a page-turner. I think this is perfect for fans of Emma Carroll and Katherine Rundell. And you can’t beat a good talking parrot and a house of one hundred clocks.

Hetty Monksea

My Scary Top Five Children’s Books/YA Novels For The Season.

I know that I’m a little late publishing this post (Samhain and Halloween have both past now). But who doesn’t love some seasonally scary books anyway?

And so, here are my top five books for this time year:

At number five it’s…

“Rose Raventhrope Investigates: Black Cats And Butlers.” by Janine Beacham.

The cover.

Rose lives in Yorke with her beloved butler Argyle. After Argyle is murdered in Rose’s house, she is determined to discover who did it and why. On her journey she uncovers some secrets about Argyle and his butler friends. She makes friends and a very dangerous enemy.

I love this book and I think it is a very good mystery book. I found it so exciting and gripping it made my heart beat fast. It is also a little bit funny, tickling me inside. Also black cats are very Halloween-y.

At number four it’s…

“Mic Drop.” by Sharna Jackson.

The cover.

‘She knew what was coming. Her inevitable end.’

This is a fabulous sequel to “High Rise Mystery.” by Sharna Jackson, a new master of modern crime fiction. I reviewed “High Rise Mystery earlier this year and I thought it was wonderful:

“High-Rise Mystery.” by Sharna Jackson I finished this book a few days ago and absolutely loved it! It’s a tale of crime, set in Modern Times with sister…

This one sees Nik and Norva on another adventure in the Tri with George. And what a mystery ensures! Katarzyna Clarke a former resident of the Tri but now also the sensational TrojKat is back for a video shoot of her lastest song Cusp. But it all goes wrong and with new murder on their hands Nik and Norva get to work. But the police and public know of the death as well and the duo must race to solve it before they do.

I found this sequel compelling. What a mystery it is! With twists and turns Jackson has really got it together in this wonderful return of our favorite crime-solving duo. A great read for this All Hallow’s Eve as the story itself is set around Halloween!

At number three it’s…

“The Howling Hag Mystery.” by Nicki Thornton.

The cover.

I’ve reviewed this book by Nicki Thornton earlier this year so if you want to read the whole review then please do. The link is here:

Review of The Howling Hag Mystery. I recently finished this superb mystery by Nicki Thornton, the incredible author of the Seth Seppi books. I’m now…

‘The Howling Hag made me do it,’ she whispered.

Raven Charming Raven Charming lives in Twinhills with her family. Her mum’s Golden Rule has always been Deny Everything. But with the arrival of the new boy at school, Mortimer Scratch, and that black cat that seems to be everywhere, Raven is not sure that she can keep that rule. Then things start happening at Twinhills and Raven now needs the help of the black cat Nightshade as well as that of Mortimer Scratch, so that they can uncover the mysterious person and stop them.

I loved this new book (published this summer) by Nicki Thornton. It has mystery, family secrets, and magic. WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE?! Another book with a black cat (this one also narrates some of the story) and with a mystery of a witch, this is THE perfect gripping read for this time of year. Anyway, I can highly recommend this fabulous and exciting new novel from the author. I’d give it four and a half stars out of five, I think.

At number two it’s…

“The Deathless Girls.” by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

The cover.

‘Deathless, they said, and their mouths spilled blood. Lay death to rest.’

Lil and Kizzy are twins, and lived their whole lives with their Mama, brother Kem and bear Albu. They are Travellers, journeying from places to place. But as their divining day is born they are tore from what they know placed as slaves to the horrible Boyar Valcan. There they live a miserable and lonely existence. But then they hear that the myths of the Dragon are real and what ensures that will test them all…

This is the book that I am currently reading for this Samhain/Halloween/All Hallow’s Eve. And “The Deathless Girls.” sure is some book! The beautiful language of Kiran is as delightful as ever. But with the darker glimpse it makes it even more thrilling. I can wholly recommend this perfect Halloween read.

And at number one, the best (in my opinion) book for the season is…

“We Played With Fire.” by Catherine Barter.

The cover.

‘You could have told them!’

Maggie Fox has supposedly committed an awful crime. However, no one listens to her side of the story. When she and her younger sister Kate, and their older sister Leah start up some mischief people start to believe them, but can this last forever? And when they know that spirits are actually sometimes responding, the choice of continuing the fakery is questioned in their minds. But they are determined to show everyone the truth and carry on with strange events following them…

The reasons I put this as the top one is for a few reasons. One is that it is perfect for everyone whatever you celebrate because ghosts or spirits are connected with Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, and Samhain. Also, it is an AWESOME book! Another reason is that I want to share it with others. I loved Catherine’s style, and think she is an amazing author. She uses her tools so well that I sometimes I actually thought that I was Maggie and forgot where I was. I hope that other people read it and feel that same spell over them. It was wonderful to cover myself in Maggie and Kate’s story and not care for anything else. Again, it’s another book published this year and a must have for those thrill lovers.