Book Review · Books

The Silent Stars Go By by Sally Nicholls

The Silent Stars Go By by Sally Nicholls [BOOK REVIEW]

★★★

The Silent Stars Go By by Sally Nicholls is a beautifully written book. It takes you back to a 1919 Christmas setting and leaves your heart warm, days after you’ve finished it. Thank you to Kaleidoscopic Tours and Andersen Press, for sending me a copy of this book, alongside all the amazing goodies as well.

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Margot Allan was a respectable vicar’s daughter and madly in love with her fiance Harry. But when Harry was reported Missing in Action from the Western Front, and Margot realised she was expecting his child, there was only one solution she and her family could think of in order to keep that respectability. She gave up James, her baby son, to be adopted by her parents and brought up as her younger brother.

Now two years later the whole family is gathering at the Vicarage for Christmas. It’s heartbreaking for Margot being so close to James but unable to tell him who he really is. But on top of that, Harry is also back in the village. Released from captivity in Germany and recuperated from illness, he’s come home and wants answers. Why has Margot seemingly broken off their engagement and not replied to his letters? Margot knows she owes him an explanation. But can she really tell him the truth about James?

My Thoughts:

I loved The Silent Stars Go By as a whole. Margot is an amazing character, and I felt for her many times throughout the book. The love story between her and Harry was so beautiful and pure. A love like that is so hard to find in today’s world, and this is perfect for those romantics out there, that strive for loves like their grandparents had. I loved the letters and the communication between them. It’s so refreshing, compared to today’s relationship drama. It reminded me of my late grandparents, who would always have something to talk about, and do little things about each other. Not for the public, or for their social media, but just for their significant other.

Considering the secret Margot and her family had, I was expecting more emotions, drama and pushbacks. But I am glad things happened the way they did. And even though the ending was emotional and painful, it’s also heartwarming and full of hope.

“Father once said,” she said thoughtfully, “that it never does to compare your troubles to other people’s. That grief is grief, and you can’t know how heavy someone else’s is unless you carry it.”

A certain topic floated to the surface in this book. And even though not a main plot discussion, it’s a very important one to mention. There were times, before 1926, when adoption was illegal in Britain. Even though orphanages excited, the mother always remained the legal guardian of her child. Sadly, many of the mothers weren’t told this information, and they believed they lost all rights to ever see their child again. The book briefly touched on this topic, and I really wish that it focused a bit more. Nevertheless, it was mentioned, and it is worthy of noting.

The Silent Stars Go By is a book that I wholeheartedly recommend. It’s so beautiful and real, with a Christmas to top it all up.

Purchase Links:
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Book Review · Books

Books About The Avengers To Help Your Child Read More

Books About The Avengers To Help Your Child Read More

I bought a whole bundle of books about The Avengers, believing that they’re graphic novels. They are, in fact, series to support children in developing their reading habits. So I thought to myself, this would be a perfect opportunity to share them here, and perhaps it will be your child that it may help.

There are 14 books in this bundle, and the theme of these books are The Avengers and the Marvel Universe. The books are split into three levels (Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4 – in which I’ll go in more details below), and they all encourage young readers to read more. The books are published by DK publishing. I have included images and purchase links where it was possible. These books came in a bundle, and many aren’t on the website. Don’t forget to check the official DK website, to find out more titles that match the level preference.

The child will read about the heroes, their back stories, their abilities and their biggest enemies. The writing is simple and concise, supported with images. Almost every page has a special part that is separated from the main paragraphs, including “special important information” about the hero/villain etc. This is a nice way to break long paragraphs and to intrigue the readers. Also, at the end of each book, there is a glossary page, and occasional quiz or additional fascinating facts.

Level 2 – Beginning To Read

A child should:
be able to recognize a bank of common words quickly and be able to blend sounds together to make some words.
be familiar with using beginner letter sounds and context clues to figure out unfamiliar words.
sometimes correct his/her reading if it doesn’t look right or make sense.
be aware of the need for a slight pause at commas and a longer one at full stops.

Spider-Man: Worst Enemies by Catherine Sanders (L2)

Books About The Avengers To Help Your Child Read More

Meet Spider-Man’s worst enemies and what makes them so powerful and dangerous. Here you’ll find the Green Goblin, Venom, doctor Octopus, the Scorpion, Electro, the Lizard and many more.

Marvel: Ultimate Villains by Cefn Ridout (L2)

Books About The Avengers To Help Your Child Read More

In this book, you will find many famous and not so famous villains that our heroes fight against, such as Loki, Red Skull and Madame Hydra. You’ll also find the names of some villainous teams and locations.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Level 3 – Beginning to Read Alone

A child should:
be able to read many words without needing to stop and break them down into sound parts.
read smoothly, in phrases and with expression, and at a good pace.
self-correct when a word or sentence doesn’t sound right or doesn’t make sense.

The Avengers: Avengers Assemble by Victoria Taylor (L3)

Books About The Avengers To Help Your Child Read More

Learn more about the Avengers, and meet the heroes. These are the stories of Iron Man, Captain America, Wolverine, the Incredible Hulk, Ant-Man and many more.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Marvel: Amazing Powers by Catherine Saunders (L3)

Books About The Avengers To Help Your Child Read More

Get ready to find out more about the powers of both the heroes and the villains. This book also contains information such as how the Avengers were formed and how the Civil War happened. I found that slightly off topic, but it was an interesting read.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Iron-Man: Friends and Enemies by Michael Teitelbaum (L3)

Books About The Avengers To Help Your Child Read More

Welcome to Iron Man’s world. Find out more about Iron Man, also known as Tony Stark, how he became Iron Man and who are his friends and enemies. My favorite story was the one with his chauffeur.

Purchase Link:
Amazon UK

Level 4 – Reading Alone

A child should:
be able to read independently and silently for extended periods of time.
read aloud fluently, with expression, with the listener in mind.
respond to what they are reading with an enquiring mind.
be discriminating about what they like to read and what they don’t, and be able to explain the reasons why.

The Avengers: Amazing Superpowers by Matt Forbeck (L4)

Meet The Avengers and get familiar with their superpowers. There are also some awesome facts, like Hawkeye’s different arrows and Iron Man’s different suits.

Spider-Man: Terrible Foes by Simon Hugo (L4)

Books About The Avengers To Help Your Child Read More

Spider-Man has many enemies, and he has fought thousands of battles with them. In this book, we will meet them and find out more about who they are, what are their superpowers and why they hate Spidey.

Spider-Man: Super Origins by Simon Hugo (L4)

You probably already know how Peter Parker became Spider-Man. However, it’s never a bad time for a little reminder. There were some details in this book that even I have forgotten about.

Spider-Man: Spidey’s World by Simon Hugo (L4)

Meet Spidey like you’ve never met him before. If you were ever curious about how Spider-Man made his suit, this is the book that will spill the beans. Find about his professional career, from photography to teaching and working in a lab.

Spider-Man: The Story of Spider-Man by Michael Teitelbaum (L4)

A book which tells the story of Spider-Man, but in a different way. This book has dialogues as well as a comic book style images. For young readers, this book will give the “original Spider-Man” vibe, and you’ll feel as if you’re reading a comic book.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

The Avengers: Join the team by Matt Forbeck (L4)

Have you ever thought of joining The Avengers and being part of their team? This book will tell you all you need to be able to join. It will also introduce you to some less-known heroes too, and how they became part of the squad.

The Avengers: Heroes in Action by Alistair Dougall (L4)

Do you know what The Avengers Charter is? Find out the rules that The Avengers must agree to respect before they join the team. Also read about some interesting battles, such as the battle between Red Skull and Captain America.

The Avengers: Origins of the Avengers by Simon Hugo (L4)

Meet the Avengers team in even more depth and find a special media snippet of the Daily Bugle, from the moment Captain America was discovered in the ice.

The Avengers: Enemies Beware by Simon Hugo (L4)

We all know our heroes, but who are the Avenger’s enemies? Find out some of the scariest villains the team had to fight against.

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Book Review · Books

Together By Christmas by Karen Swan

Together By Christmas by Karen Swan [BOOK REVIEW] Together By Christmas is the perfect book to set you into a Christmas mood.

★★★★

Ever since I participated on the Tandem Collective readalong for the Hidden Beach, I knew I would be reading more books by Karen Swan. This is my third book so far, and I am still eager to read more from her. Her writing is so captivating! So when the team at Tandem Collective , together with the team at Pan Macmillan asked me to participate to the readalong for Together By Christmas, I immediately said yes!

Synopsis:

Together By Christmas is set in Amsterdam. When Lee first came here, she had a newborn baby and a secret. Five years later, Jasper is a big boy, and Lee’s photography career is a big success. They are getting ready to celebrate Christmas with their close friends, but something unexpected happens.

Lee finds a book in her bicycle basket. And inside the book – a cry for help. Who left it there for her, and why? Lee feels the need to help and tracks down the author of the book, Sam. What she doesn’t expect though, is an instant connection with him, and a possible future. Something she has actively been running away from.

And when everything appears to be going in the right direction, Lee’s old secret comes back to haunt her. And right in time for Christmas. Suddenly, her whole life she built in Amsterdam is on the verge of collapsing. Will Christmas be able to make it all better?

My Thoughts:

Together By Christmas is not your typical Christmas story. The Hidden Beach and the Greek Escape are both set in summer, so this is the first Christmas book I read by Karen Swan. And it was exactly what I hoped it would be. The writing was beautiful, and the plot twists kept coming. It kept me on the edge until the very end.

Lee is a very complicated character and it took me a while to warm up to her. I could immediately feel the consequences of her trauma, and could understand her fear of getting attached to people. Her passion for photography is explained so well, and her love towards her son is so strong and beautiful to witness.

“As a pack race, humans have to see in order to believe and that includes photographers with both a power and a responsibility to use their craft wisely. Photographs have the power to change the world – they can spark a protest, a riot, a revolution. It is the truth in photography that keeps us all connected, keeps us accountable -“

I love that the book is set in Amsterdam, during winter. I have been to Amsterdam and the Netherlands many times, but never during winter, so this was a wonderful experience for me. The descriptions are so vivid and I felt I was there. It was wonderful to find out about Sinterklaas, as well as The Elfstedentocht – the famous ice-skating race. I also enjoyed the Stroopwafels and smiled every time they were mentioned in the book.

I loved Jasper so much! He was my favourite character in the book! For his age, he behaved so maturely and was able to emotionally understand and support his mum, which really helped her during her struggles. His excitement was so contagious! Whenever he would get excited over little things, it would make me melt.

“If we’re going to make meaningful change in our society, then we can’t keep on turning the other cheek.”

Even though I have mixed opinions about certain scenes and actions, I really enjoyed this book. And considering that this is a book about second chances, I will let this slip. It’s the perfect book to set you into a Christmas mood. Perhaps because it’s moderately Christmassy, so it won’t be too much too soon. It had beautiful Christmas scenes, a wonderful mother-son relationship, trauma, mystery and a very heartwarming romance as well. I definitely recommend it.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

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Book Review · Books

Precious and the Zebra Necklace by Alexander McCall Smith

Precious and the Zebra Necklace by Alexander McCall Smith [BOOK REVIEW]

★★★

Precious and the Zebra Necklace is the fourth book in the Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Cases series. However, it can be easily read as a standalone. We enter a world of the young 9-year-old Precious Ramotswe, before she becomes the detective that we know and love. I really enjoyed this book, and as all of Alexander McCall Smith’s books, it left a warm feeling in my soul after I finished it.

Synopsis:

At the age of 9, Precious has already solved a few cases, but this new one is very intriguing. A new girl arrives at school and sits next to Precious. Before the end of the day, they become best friends. Just like her, Nancy has no mother. All she has left of her mother is a beautiful Zebra necklace and a photo. This is where their adventure starts, as Precious starts investigating. They try to find a remote village, but instead end up lost in the jungle, and danger starts to loom.

My Thoughts of Precious and the Zebra Necklace:

I listened to the audiobook and it was a short, but very exciting experience. I have recently found that I do love listening to audiobooks, and really enjoy them. But they have to fall into a specific genre, and I think this book matched that part. Even though I couldn’t see the illustrations, the narrator let me into this amazing world and it felt as if I was there, together with Precious and Nancy, solving the mystery. The writing was beautiful, but I didn’t expect anything less from Alexander McCall Smith anyways. I love the original Mrs Ramotswe books, and this one fit perfectly into the whole atmosphere.

Precious and the Zebra Necklace by Alexander McCall Smith is definitely a book I’d recommend!

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

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Book Review · Books

The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling [BOOK REVIEW]

The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling [BOOK REVIEW]

★★★★

When I found out that J.K. Rowling is writing a story for children during lockdown, I didn’t really care. But they were releasing a new chapter each week, and I decided to give it a try and read the first few chapters. Maybe it was the beginning of The Ickabog, or perhaps it was J.K. Rowling’s writing that reminded me of my first time reading Harry Potter. Whatever it was, it hooked me to this story, and I kept coming back for more.

Synopsis:

Once upon a time there was a tiny kingdom called Cornucopia, as rich in happiness as it was in gold, and famous for its food. From the delicate cream cheeses of Kurdsburg to the Hopes-of-Heaven pastries of Chouxville, each was so delicious that people wept with joy as they ate them.

But even in this happy kingdom, a monster lurks. Legend tells of a fearsome creature living far to the north in the Marshlands… the Ickabog. Some say it breathes fire, spits poison, and roars through the mist as it carries off wayward sheep and children alike. Some say it’s just a myth…

And when that myth takes on a life of its own, casting a shadow over the kingdom, two children — best friends Bert and Daisy — embark on a great adventure to untangle the truth and find out where the real monster lies, bringing hope and happiness to Cornucopia once more.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed The Ickabog. It is very descriptive and full of adventure, from the very first start. From the first chapters, I immediately warmed up to Bert and Daisy, and their everyday lives. I also loved the scenes inside the castle, with the kind and guards.

The world building was amazing, the Kingdom and the Marshlands were so vividly explained, it’s no wonder so many children were inspired to draw them and share those drawings. The intriguing plot twists and backstabbing scenes left me pleasantly surprised as well. What I loved the most, though, was the story about the legend of The Ickabog. This mysterious monster that everyone in the Kingdom fears. The terror that people feel as soon as its name is mentioned.

This story is obviously targeted for the young readers. And for what it is, this book does deliver. There are plenty of adventures, battles between good and evil, scenes that will prompt a discussion with the children and an ending that has a lesson to teach. I recommend it to every child that loves reading about adventures and foreign kingdoms.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

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