Cogheart – by Peter Bunzl

Cogheart Cover PictureIt was months ago that I first heard of Peter Bunzl and started to look forward to this book .  And it has truly been worth the wait!

When Lily leaves her ghastly boarding school upon learning that her father is missing after his airship has crash-landed, little does she know what lies ahead…. Her mechanical pet fox is also missing and the housekeeper is running their house as if she owns it.

Meanwhile, Malkin the mechanimal fox is desperately trying to avoid gun-toting men in shadows to get back to Lily with an important message.

This is great adventure story set in Victorian times with the daring Lily and her new friend, watch-maker’s son Robert, taking great risks with their own and others’ lives as they try to unravel the mystery of her father’s disappearance and a missing box.

With a cast of humans, mechanicals and hybrids, heroes, traitors and villains, there is someone for everybody to enjoy!  I was really impressed with the way the mechanicals had emotions and could talk and think they would fascinate readers of about 8-12.

The setting and the pace of the book are great and, with its underlying clockwork theme, it had me gripped from start to finish.

For a debut novel, this is astounding.  I can’t wait for Moonlocket – coming in 2017!

Cogheart, by Peter Bunzl, published by Usborne, release date 1st September 2016.

Robyn Silver – The Midnight Chimes

A fun MG adventure – the start of an exciting new series by Paula Harrison

Published by Scholastic UK 01/09/2016

Robyn Silver cover Paula Harrison

The first in an exciting new series by Paula Harrison, this book release coincides with the first day of term at Hogwarts, and features a school of children, 3 of whom discover they have magical powers and abilities.  And it has a fabulously well-read youngster who made me think of Hermione Granger!

Clumsy middle child Robyn is convinced nothing exciting can happen in her life until she sees a mysterious spiny creature and realises that her family can’t see it.  Sharing the news with her best friend Aiden coincides with their realisation that their school has suffered a freak tree-falling incident.

Being moved out to the local creepy mansion, the wonderfully named Grimdean House, is the start of a series of adventures, challenges and revelations for Robyn, Aiden and the very bright Nora from the year below them.  Can Robyn learn to fight with unusual weapons against weird creatures and monsters – and a rival group of youngsters with special powers?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can imagine many 7-11 year-olds being gripped by the adventure and the characters.  I particularly liked the sly and slithery Miss Smiting – and the realisation of what she is!

It’s great to know that this is the start of a new series, with more mysteries and adventure to come next year!

Swimming to the Moon – Jane Elson

I was really looking forward to reading Jane’s third novel and I was certainly not disappointed.  I love her knack with emotions and her style.

Bee has a sadness and loneliness about her. Her fatherSwimming to the Moon cover91746-medium has a negative attitude to her and to family life, her mum seems oppressed and Bee is finding it difficult to recover from the death of the great-grandmother who seemed to have loved and understood her best.
Life in her small village isn’t easy for her since she fell out with her best friend, who is now the school’s Miss Popular.  Then a new boy starts at their school. Their friendship grows very quickly, based around each promising to help the other overcome their secret problems. When the mayor tries to get rid of the local ‘witch’, who has become important to Bee, the villagers are in for a new way of thinking….

I loved this book, the chapter structures, the language, the character development, the figure-of-eight shaped village, and most of all, Bee, as she gains in confidence under the supportive eye of those who show her they care.


Another great read … Swan Boy

Swan Boy by Nikki SheehanSwan Boy

A book about learning to be yourself – against the odds.

Johnny has moved, with his mum and younger brother Mojo, to a new part of London following the death of his dad.  Settling into a new school, with the extra responsibility of collecting Mojo while mum works, are challenges made harder for Johnny by bully, Liam Clarke.  But neither teenager reckoned on the clever intervention of dance teacher Mrs Cray.

Superbly written by second-time novelist Nikki Sheehan, this book explores forging new friendships, the impact of bullies and of losing a parent, with a quirky underlying theme of swans.

Highly recommended – to suit ages 9+.

My First Blog Post!

I have been wanting to get started on a bookish blog for some time, and this title seemed the perfect one for my first blogged book review!

The OMG Blog by Karen McCombie  


Like in my favourite teen film, The Breakfast Club, detention can throw together a group of youngsters with very different backgrounds.

In this new book by Karen McCombie, we see 4 girls in their first weeks of secondary school being flung together and then working together on a blogging project.  Their developing friendship has them each see their mums through the eyes of others and in a new light.

I loved the way the characters – of the girls and the mums – gradually unfold and the friendships strengthen.  It is a very realist portrayal of settling into a new school and building friendships, through a light-hearted storyline.

As a Barrington Stoke ‘Conkers’ publication, this is an easier to read novel-length book for ‘tweens’ (9-13), with a layout which is fun, but easy on the eye.  The dedication to a former reluctant reader perfectly reflects Barrington Stoke’s ethic of making reading accessible and fun.  The book is dyslexia friendly and has some wise words about online safety at the end.

I’d certainly recommend it to both reluctant and keen readers, especially those just transferring to Secondary school.