M G Takes on Thursday

This brilliant meme belongs to to Book Craic who hosts it on her blog here . Each week the aim is to celebrate Middle Grade books, those amazing books being written for 9-12 year olds. The idea is that you choose a book, post a picture of the cover and also show the publisher and illustrator. Then turn to page 11 and find your favourite sentence on that page. After that, describe the book in three words ( I always find this really hard) and finally, write your review or post a link to your review of the book. What could be easier especially as there are so many fabulous books being published at the moment?

This week I am celebrating a book that’s been around since 2013 but remains one of my favourite MG books.

Phoenix by S F Said. Illustrated by David Mckean. Published by Penguin. co.uk

My favourite quote from page 11 – She glanced at the burned bedsheet; at the smoke that still hung in the air.

This book in three words – Interstellar, adventure, friendship

The supernova is comng……….One boy alone can save the galaxy

Lucky thinks he’s an ordinary Human boy. But one night, he dreams that the stars are singing – and wakes to find an uncontrollable power rising inside him.

Now he’s on the run, racing through space, searching for answers. In a galaxy at war, where Humans and Aliens are deadly enemies, the only people who can help him are an Alien starship crew – and an Alien warrior girl, with neon needles in her hair.

Phoenix is an incredible adventure set in space which crosses galaxies and has an amazing set of characters. The story is told by Lucky, searching for his father who is fighting the aliens in a war. As he travels, he discovers that the aliens are not what he expected and nothing he believed is true. The story is complemented by brilliant illustrations throughout the book which really add to the atmosphere.

The book is really fast paced with the end of each chapter making you want to read on and the ending is sooooooo good. The story deals with how we need to challenge our preconceptions about different groups of people as well as just being a great adventure story. It’s a great read for 10-12 year olds especially those interested in space and science fiction.


WWW Wednesday 29th September

It’s Wednesday, so it must be time for WWW Wednesday. This is one of my favourite memes and I love reading everybody else’s posts. It’s currently hosted by Sam and it can be found on her blog Taking on a world of words which can be found here. The idea of WWW Wednesday is just to answer three questions about what you are reading, have just finished and are about to read so here goes for this week.

We have just returned from a lovely long weekend down in Richmond on Thames where we ate far too much good food and generally lazed about so had quite a bit of time for reading. We also pulled in a quick trip to Brighton and had a very blustery walk along the beach watching the gulls.

Current Read

What are you currently reading?
This is the 19th in the Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood set in 1920s Melbourne. Three pregnant women have mysteriously disappeared and then the young reporter investigating their disappearance vanishes too. Phryne and her army of minions including the ever faithful Dot set out to find out what is really happening. I enjoy these mysteries and this one has just as many twists and turns as all of the others.

What have you recently finished reading?

Dead Ground was just as good as all of the other books by M W Craven. Washington Poe continues to be as tenacious and determined to solve the crime as ever and the story keeps twisting and turning right up to the last pages. Never think that you have worked it all in an MW Craven novel because he always has one more last twist in the tale.

The Road Trip In common with several other people, I didn’t enjoy this as much as Beth O’Leary’s previous novels. The premise of 5 people, two of whom are exes, being squeezed into a car for a journey to Scotland is a good one and I enjoyed the main four characters. I think that it just jumped around a bit too much and there was a bit too much squeezed into one story. It was still a good read though, just not quite in the same league as the previous two.

The Black Dress I hadn’t read anything by Deborah Moggach before this so didn’t know what to expect but the idea of an elderly woman buying a black dress to attend funerals of strangers in order to find a new husband intrigued me. It was a darker book than I anticipated and maybe not the best read for someone who is approaching that same time of life. I enjoyed the story although the unreliable narrator is always a bit frustrating when you find out that things have been deliberately hidden from the reader.

Next Up!

What do you intend to read next?
This might not be my very next read but I am intending to read it during October and so I will definitely have begun it by next Weds.

That’s my WWW Wednesday for another week. I can’t wait to see what everyone else is reading at the moment.

My Life in Books Tag

It’s Tuesday and so I thought I would amuse myself with a Tuesday Book Tag. I saw this one on @emandherbooks but it’s been around since at least 2016 on The journeys of a girl and others.

So here is my life in books.

Pick a book for each of your initials The set of initials I generally use are JdV which isn’t the easiest set of initials for book titles. However, I’ve gone with the following which are all books that I love.

Count your age along your bookshelf. What book is it?
I have so many different bookshelves at home so I decided the easiest way was to pick the book that was my age in my goodreads books that I have read this year.

A great historical novel set in 16th century Florence

Pick a book set in your city or country
Living in Leicester, it had to be one of my favourite books which certainly ends here.

A glorious account of the life of Richard III

Pick a book that represents a place you’d like to travel to This is really hard as there are so many places I would love to go. However I have always wanted to visit the Cinque Terre part of Italy which is where this book is set.

The Lemon Tree Hotel by Rosanna Ley

Pick a book that’s your favourite colour I love pinks and purples so this cover really stood out for me

Which book do you have fondest memories of? Always Lord of the Rings. I used to read it every Summer as a teenager so it brings back memories of just lying on my bed reading with nothing else that I had to be doing.

Which book did you have most difficulty reading? Germinal by Emile Zola as part of my degree. It was so heartbreakingly sad.

Which book in your TBR pile will give you the biggest accomplishment when you finish it? Probably Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan which isn’t my normal reading at all but I was recommended it by my brother who is generally right in his recommendations.

That’s my life in books. Thanks again to @emandherbooks for the inspiration.

Sundays in bed with ………….The Dead Ground

Sundays in bed with is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl but I came across it this week on Jill’s Book Blog. It is simply a chance to share the book that is by your bed at the moment (or that you wish was by your bed).

This week, the book by my bed is Dead Ground by M W Carver. This book is actually by my bed as we are away from home and staying near Richmond on Thames for the weekend.

I only discovered M W Craven earlier this year when I picked up Born in a Burial Gown from the library. I loved that and have since read all of his novels. They are definitely on the darker side of Crime fiction and some of the descriptions of the violence and injuries suffered can be harrowing. However, the characters are brilliant and the plots always interesting. This is his latest book and the worst thing is that once I have finished it, I will have caught up and have to wait months for another instalment.

The story is fascinating so far. Washingon Poe and Tilly Bradshaw have been brought in to solve a murder in a brothel. This isn’t the usual sort of case that Poe is involved with and for some reason it also involves MI5. As always, things are not as they first appear. The murder victim was living under an assumed name and was actually a war hero in Afghanistan. He also appears to be linked with a bank robbery 3 years ago in which nothing was taken.

I love M W Craven’s writing even though it is really hard to put his books down. He ends every chapter with the reader absolutely having to find out what happens next and I really want to be able to sit down for a couple of hours and finish it right now. Sadly, I’m going to have to wait until this evening at the earliest.

Stacking the Shelves 9

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The weekend has arrived already and it’s time for another post about Stacking the shelves.  This is a meme hosted by Reading Reality and details are on her blog. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the site.

My stacking the shelves posts are all about the books that I get from my local library. Libraries are continually under threat of closure or reduced hours but they are such an important way of getting books into people’s hands that they need supporting. By highlighting the amazing books that I pick up every week, I hope to inspire maybe just one person to visit their library and borrow a book

This week I only had one reservation come in and I picked up another three so have four books this week. That’s OK though as I haven’t read all of last week’s yet.

The Black Dress – Deborah Moggach This was a request. I saw it in a bookshop a couple of weeks and the storyline really appealed. Pru has just been left by her husband so her life has been turned upside down. She attends what she believes to be a friend’s funeral but in fact she’s gone to the wrong one. However, she enjoys herself and nobody seems to realise that she doesn’t belong there. So she decides to go another, and another. This sounds like an intriguing premise for a novel so I’m looking forward to reading this.

The Trawlerman – William Shaw A crime novel set in Folkestone featuring DS Alexandra Cupidi. I have read the previous novel in this series and enjoyed it.

Unnatural Habits – Kerry Greenwood This is another in the mammoth series of Phryne Fisher mysteries set in 1920s Melbourne.

One Winter Morning – Isabelle Broom This was a totally random pick off the shelves as it doesn’t seem right to leave the library with less than four books! It’s a Christmas time story so definitely not my usual reading choice for this time of year. Evangeline lost her adoptive mother a year ago and feels totally alone. But then she discovers the identity of her birth mother and decides to travel to New Zealand to try and find out why her mother gave her up. It sounds interesting so I’ll give it a go.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

M G Takes on Thursday

This brilliant meme belongs to to Book Craic who hosts it on her blog here . Each week the aim is to celebrate Middle Grade books, those amazing books being written for 9-12 year olds. The idea is that you choose a book, post a picture of the cover and also show the publisher and illustrator. Then turn to page 11 and find your favourite sentence on that page. After that, describe the book in three words ( I always find this really hard) and finally, write your review or post a link to your review of the book. What could be easier especially as there are so many fabulous books being published at the moment?

This week I’m celebrating the latest book, The Crackledawn Dragon, by one of my favourite children’s writers, Abi Elphinstone. I was actually introduced to her books by one of my Year 6 pupils years ago who was reading The Dreamsnatcher. She lent the book to me and ever since then, I’ve been hooked by Abi’s writing.

The Crackledawn Dragon by Abi Elphinstone Published by Simon and Schuster

My favourite quote from page 11He left the bustle of restaurants and bars behind him and turned into sleepy side roads lining closed parks, until the neighbourhood began to fray and become a less-visited sort of place.

This book in three words – Adventure, Magical, Hope

“Sometimes all you need to save the world is a dusting of courage”

Zebedee is an orphan who has been shunted from foster home to foster home for all of his 11 years. He is currently running away from his latest unhappy placement when he discovers an abandoned theatre in the heart of New York. He hides away and finds a piano. Music is something he has a real, almost magical, talent for and he plays the piano at night when nobody can hear. However, he is heard, first of all by Fox Petty Squabble, heroine of one of Abi’s previous books, and then by the Morg, an evil harpy.

The Morg persuades Zeb to help her enter Crackledawn with the intention of finding the Ember Scroll which she can use to destroy the world. Once there, Zeb discovers that Morg plans to kill him once he has retrieved the scroll for her. Magic then plays a part and he tumbles into the ocean to be rescued by Oonie and her companion Mrs Fickletint who just happens to be a chameleon. Then follows a chase through the kingdom of Crackledawn as Zeb and his new companions race the Morg to be the first ones to discover the Ember scroll.

This is the final book in the Unmapped Chronicles series and it is every bit as good as the previous books. Zeb is a sad, lonely boy who has learned never to trust any one as they always let him down. At first, this seems to be happening again but gradually he learns that some people can be trusted and that he does actually matter. The world of the Unmapped Chronicles is brilliantly described and contains such wonders as rock gnomes and kraken, an unopenable purse that is full of magical objects and of course dragons.

I absolutely loved this book and am sorry that we probably won’t be visiting the Unmapped Kingdoms again.

WWW Wednesday 22nd September

Today it’s the Autumnal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere marking the day when day and night are equal length. It’s all downhill from now on as the days get ever shorter and the nights get longer. It’s a good job we have all these amazing books to read isn’t it? As it’s Wednesday, it must be time for WWW Wednesday. This is one of my favourite memes and I love reading everybody else’s posts. It’s currently hosted by Sam and it can be found on her blog Taking on a world of words which can be found here. The idea is just to answer three questions about your reading:

What are you currently reading?

What have you recently finished reading?

What are you planning to read next?

I am currently reading The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

The cover caught my eye in the library last week and the blurb definitely appealed. 4 women have been close friends for 40 years. When one of them dies, the remaining 3 gather at her old beach house to clear it out. The story is told from the point of view of each of the characters in turn and you get their internal thoughts on their friendship as well on their lives in general. Each of the characters is very different. I think I identify quite a lot with Jude who is constantly irritated by the actions of the people around her and has to keep reminding herself that it doesn’t matter. That’s definitely me on occasion😃 The story is set in Australia at Christmas which feels very odd as they are in the height of Summer. It’s quite a gentle read with no thrills or scares yet but it is one of those stories that pulls you in and you just want to read one more chapter.

Recently finished – I have just finished Kate Ellis’s The Stone Chamber (review here) as well as The House in the Cerulean Sea by T J Klunes

This was a very gentle fantasy story which I loved about Linus Baker, a civil servant responsible for inspecting orphanages for magical children or simply those children who are ‘different’. He leads a very sad, grey life but takes his job incredibly seriously, only wanting the very best for the children. He is sent to carry out an inspection of the orphanage run by Arthur Parnassus which is located right on the edge of the ocean, something that Linus has only dreamed about. The orphanage houses 6 very different children, one of whom possibly has the power to destroy the world.

The book deals with themes such as being different and the reaction of society to those who are different but it is a lovely read and full of hope and acceptance. I have seen several reviews by people who are very critical of the author writing a fantasy book inspired by the horrific events in Canadian orphanages where indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and many died and I’m honestly not sure what I think about that. I loved the book but can see that point of view.

I am planning to read Beth O’Leary’s The Road Trip next which has finally arrived from the library. I enjoyed both her previous two novels but have heard that this one is not so good. We shall see.

What’s on your past, present and future reading list?

An Autumnal Book Blog Tag

Westonbirt Arboretum

It’s Tuesday which is the day when I sometimes join in with a book tag. I enjoy reading these on blogs as I love finding out a bit more about people and what they read.

Today is the 21st September and historically, it’s the first day of Autumn so it seemed like a good idea to join in an Autumn book tag. I read this last week on A little but a lot and decided to join in.


I want to actually read all of the physical books in my TBR (see post here) as well as any library books I get hold of. I really want to read The Last Graduate by Naomi Norvik too.


I actually really enjoyed Shakespeare. We did Hamlet and I loved the language. I enjoyed Thomas Hardy’s poems too but really didn’t like Tess of the D’Urbervilles. English Lit was always one of my favourites subjects and I also loved my French lessons. My least favourite lessons were Games lessons in the Winter. I hated hockey and cross country running with a passion. I didn’t like Science either especially when they started dissecting rats. I gave up going to Science lessons after that and hid in the library.


I don’t like scary books or films so that’s a definite no. The only book I’ve read lately that was scary was The Woods are always Watching by Stephanie Perkins which was a NetGalley review. It was good but I won’t hurry to read anything similar.


Oooh, this one is difficult. The Wisdom of Crowds has to be the most exciting and gripping book I’ve read lately


I don’t really have a single comfort read. I do reread books so anything by a favourite author would be an option if I want something to really relax with.


I’m not a great drinker of hot drinks. Sometimes in the Winter, I’ll curl up on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate and a book. Generally my go to drink would be a glass of cold white wine together with a bar of chocolate and a new book.


Enjoying my retirement and a weekend in London in October to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It would be nice to go to a firework display too after them all being cancelled last year.

Thanks Steph for the tag.

The Stone Chamber – A review

Book Blurb ,………………………..

DI Wesley Peterson suspects the execution-style murders might be linked to Robert’s past police career – until Robert’s name is found on a list of people who’ve been sent tickets anonymously for a tour of Darkhole Grange, a former asylum on Dartmoor.

Wesley discovers that other names on the list have also died in mysterious circumstances and, as he is drawn into the chilling history of the asylum, he becomes convinced that it holds the key to the case.

When his friend, archaeologist Neil Watson, finds the skeleton of a woman buried in a sealed chamber dating back to the fifteenth century at his nearby dig, Wesley wonders whether there might be a connection between the ancient cell and the tragic events at Darkhole Grange.

With the clock ticking, Wesley must solve the puzzle, before the next person on the list meets a terrible end . . .

I can’t believe that this is the 25th Wesley Peterson mystery. It certainly doesn’t seem that long since I read The Merchant’s House in 1998!! I love these mysteries and the way that the present day crime is entwined with an archaelogical discovery. In this book, there is a third thread relating to a young girl in 1956 and gradually all the threads combine into a brilliant story.

DI Wesley Peterson is a likeable character and it makes a pleasant change to have a leading police officer who has a happy and settled home life. All of the other characters in this series make an appearance including Wesley’s irritating mother in law, Della, who actually has a small but useful part to play. The books aren’t as dark as some other popular crime series but they involve intricately worked out mysteries which I really enjoy.

The different elements of the story are brilliantly plotted and I love following each one and seeing how they all gradually come together. The historical element is inspired by real people and events and the treatment of young women who became pregnant while unmarried is shocking especially in how recently this went on. The ending is a satisfying conclusion especially the final pages although I wasn’t totally convinced by one of the plot twists but I won’t spoil it and give anything away here.

If you already love Kate Ellis, then this is a great addition to the series. If you haven’t read her books yet, then give her a try.

Sundays in bed with ………… The Stone Chamber

Sundays in bed with is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl but I came across it this week on Jill’s Book Blog. It is simply a chance to share the book that is by your bed at the moment (or that you wish was by your bed).

I don’t actually have a book by my bed at the moment as my reading last night was done on the sofa but the book currently lying on my sofa is The Stone Chamber

The Stone Chamber by Kate Ellis

I love Kate Ellis’s novels and the way she intersperses a current day murder mystery with an archaelogical mystery too. The current book has a double shooting and other possibly connected deaths along with a newly pregnant, disgraced girl in 1956 who discovers some old papers in her family’s records room which tell the story of another pregnant girl who might have been walled up alive. The interweaving of the two stories is brilliant and I love the characters in this series. Definitely a great read for Saturday night and Sunday morning.

What’s by your bed this weekend?