Posts Tagged ‘Publisher- Hodder Children’s Books’

Songs About a Girl

Chris Russell
songs girlCharlie Bloom never wanted to be ‘with the band’. She’s happiest out of the spotlight, behind her camera, unseen and unnoticed. But when she’s asked to take backstage photos for hot new boy band Fire&Lights, she can’t pass up the chance.
Catapulted into a world of paparazzi and backstage bickering, Charlie soon becomes caught between gorgeous but damaged frontman, Gabriel West, and his boy-next-door bandmate Olly Samson. Then, as the boys’ rivalry threatens to tear the band apart, Charlie stumbles upon a mind-blowing secret, hidden in the lyrics of their songs…

This book follows Charlie Bloom, a budding photographer who is asked to take behind the scene pictures of the biggest teen boy band in the world – Fire and Lights. Charlie finds herself in the unfamiliar world of paparazzi, celebrities and tabloid gossip and soon becomes caught up with the gorgeous lead singer and teen heartthrob, Gabriel West and his incredibly sweet band mate, Olly Samson. Her newfound celebrity status sends shock waves through her everyday life as Charlie discovers a shocking message hidden within the bands new album – Songs About a Girl.

Above all this is a book about growing up and dealing with friends and family. It not only explores relationship dynamics but also looks at bullying and a variety of issues present in everyday life. Not to mention the very exciting and swoon worthy romance that captivates the reader from page one and had me squealing intermittently throughout the book.

Chris Russell successfully creates a very likeable protagonist- Charlie – who is an ordinary yet real character and whose qualities made the narrative that bit more relatable whilst contributing to the light nature of the novel. The characters of Olly and Gabriel had considerable depth for a novel of this nature, although at times their angst came across as quite forced and somewhat clichéd.

I did, however, think the plot was interesting and constantly evolved throughout the novel. The twists and turns in the storyline kept me constantly engaged whilst the cliffhanger at the end definitely ensured I will purchase the second instalment of this series. Additionally, I thought the book was surprisingly hilarious whilst delightfully heart-warming and Chris Russell’s love for music oozed from every page – making the narrative have a somewhat authentic vibe.

Although this was by no means the most well written book I have ever read, I did find it wonderfully uplifting and immensely satisfying. I found the plot to be of a great rhythm that had me glued to every page whilst the writing style was incredibly easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable.

Verdict: To put it simply this was an addictive story that I would recommend to everyone who is looking for a light and extremely fun read. Chris Russell has created a truly loveable world with a captivating plot and relatable characters. I would recommend this if you enjoyed Open Road Summer by Emery Lord and I think it is suitable for 10+ readers as there is little to no mature content

Reviewed by Evie (14)

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Publication Date: July 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 496
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Music
Age: YA
Reviewer: Evie (14)
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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The Secret Seven

Enid Blyton

secret sevenIt’s their very first adventure, and the Secret Seven super-sleuths are already on the trail of some really weird clues. It’s snowing and the Seven are dressed in disguise, following a lead to a spooky old house – and a mystery.

This is the start of the Secret Seven’s adventures. In this story we meet the children for the first time (in this setting) and they solve their first mystery. I loved these books as a child and have been looking for chapter books to engage my 6 1/2 year old daughter, as soon as we started on these she was hooked. In fact not only do we get the usual “can’t I have one more chapter, pleeeeeease” requests she has actually been so excited by them that she has picked them up to read for herself, and has persisted despite the fact that some of it is quite difficult for her to read. It has been such a pleasure to see her start to engage in books for herself in this way.

These books have short chapters (good for us) and even though my daughter finds them very thrilling they do not have the same kind of excitement as the Famous Five, the villains are less rough and there isn’t as much danger to the children. The slightly tamer content suits us well and she is really enjoying all the talk about meetings, passwords, disguises, drinking home made lemonade and keeping everything a secret, especially from Jack’s annoying sister Susie. They are a great introduction to mystery books as the children look for clues and work out how to overcome the various problems they encounter.

As you would expect reading Enid Blyton today there are some things that grate a little (at least as an adult)! The boys get to do things that the girls do not and some attitudes that have changed somewhat, but for me there is nothing too bad in this book, there is far more that is fun and enjoyable. If you read a book written in in the 1940’s it is going to be different – and it certainly isn’t stopping my daughter’s enjoyment of it.

Verdict: So as the Secret Seven go on the trail of thieves and eventually come up trumps this is an adventure book with plenty of action and excitement for a younger reader to listen to or to read themselves.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Publication Date: March 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 144
Genre: Mystery
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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A Room Full Of Chocolate

Jane Elson

a room full of chocolateGrace’s fun loving Mum has found a lump. Her north London world of sleepovers, tap dancing and playing the clarinet fall apart when she is sent to live with her grumpy old granddad on his farm in Yorkshire while her mother goes into hospital to get better.
Grace misses her mother so much it hurts, and doesn’t quite understand what is happening to her. And things go from bad to worse when she starts school and becomes the bullies newest target.
But Grace is no longer alone when she meets the wild Megan and her pig, Claude – when she’s with them she feels as if she can confront anything. At Easter time when Grace misses her mum the most, she knows she must find a way to get to London. With Megan’s help, she hatches a plan to run away that involves Claude, chocolate Easter eggs and a risky ID swap. But it’s all worth it if it means that she finally gets to see her mum.

I started reading A Room Full Of Chocolate with the expectation that I was going to love it. The synopsis had caught my attention the first time I come across it, while the extremely positive reviews of bloggers I respect had me moving it swiftly to the top of my TBR. While there was so much that I loved about this debut middle grade novel my biggest issue was that I was unable to disengage my adult, or more correctly parental brain.

I was immediately drawn to Grace and her seemly contradictory story. Her innocent, artless voice, filled with imagination and fuelled by love felt completely genuine.

I was blown away with the author’s exploration of Grace’s emotions. There was a really authentic quality to the experience and I found that I was able to fully empathise with Grace’s feelings of bewilderment, frustration and at times, anger. The descriptions used to express Graces emotions were simple enough for the target audience to comprehend and yet fully encapsulated the experience and the emotion, I couldn’t help thinking, “yes, that’s exactly how that feels”.

Megan, the rainbow girl, was a fantastic character. She really was a refreshing splash of colour in Grace’s otherwise gloomy grey world. She was unique, confident in herself and a fast but loyal friend.

However, this story created such conflict within me. On the one hand, I felt my heart break a little each time Grace attempted to deny to herself what was really happening to her mother. I just wanted to wrap her up and protect her from ever having to find out the hurtful truth. Yet I also felt her frustration at the adults around her for doing just that.

While I enjoyed the journey Grace and Megan undertook to get to Graces mother in London, willing them to succeed and feeling tension at the obstacles they encountered, as a parent I couldn’t help feeling disappointed at the absence of repercussions for such a journey. While I could probably overlook this issue had the book been a fantasy, as a contemporary book grounded in realism, I felt that more reference should have been made to the safety issues associated with a 10 and 11 year old taking off on their own for hundreds of miles.

The bullying storyline escalated quickly and resolved violently. I found the bullying scenes difficult to read as they really engaged my emotions. The use of technology to aid the bullies was an interesting and modern twist. Although I would have preferred Grace to have dealt with the situation differently – by confiding in a trusted adult – I am content that through her mishandling of the situation the message, to talk to someone and to not keep harmful secrets, will be received by the reader.

I felt uncomfortable with the way adults were generally portrayed within the book. The teachers came across as incompetent and far too shouty with very little regard to Grace’s situation as a new student or her family circumstances, and completely oblivious to the bullying she was experiencing.

Though her behaviour occurred through her attempts to protect Grace, Grace’s mother was secretive and dishonest. Grace’s father was completely selfish and her grandfather cold, strict and judgmental against Megan’s family – the only “nice adults”. Considering they plied Grace with chocolate, smoked “funny cigarettes” and encouraged Grace to be deceitful to her grandfather (sneaking out at night) I really don’t blame his misgivings.
My conflicted feelings persist. There is so much to love and treasure about this book; the friendship, the voice, the emotional expression, that I would never deny my child the opportunity of reading it. However, the middle grade category covers such a broad spectrum developmentally that I would be more comfortable recommending this book to an 11+ year old experienced reader than I would a nine year old.

Regardless of the personal nit picks I have expressed A Room Full Of Chocolate addresses some very serious themes; parental illness, honesty between parent and child, bullying and personal safety, which I would be reluctant for my (hypothetical) nine year old to explore on their own. Subsequently, I think that this would be a fantastic book for parents to share with their child, sparking dialogue about the issues and emotions raised and allowing the family unit to explore alternative courses of action.

Verdict: Unlike chocolate, this one is for sharing.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Hodder
Publication Date: February 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 256
Genre: Contemporary
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
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Bookish Brits Book Club: Witch Finder

In January the Bookish Brits Selected Ruth Warburton‘s Witch Finder as their Book Club read.
witch finder coverLondon. 1880. In the slums of Spitalfields apprentice blacksmith Luke is facing initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum, the fearsome brotherhood dedicated to hunting and killing witches.
Luke’s final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. Luke knows that tonight will change his life forever. But when he picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, Luke has no idea that his task will be harder than he could ever imagine.

Publisher: Hodder Children’s
Publication Date: January 2014
Format: eARC
Pages: 374
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Age: YA
Reviewer: Bookish Brits
Source: Via Netgalley
Challenge: British book
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Claude On The Slopes/At The Circus

Alex T Smith
claude-slopesClaude on the Slopes
In this latest adventure, on a winter’s day, Claude goes from throwing snowballs and making snowmen to causing an all-out avalanche!

Claude-CircusClaude at the Circus
A walk in the park leads to a walk on a tightrope when Claude joins a circus, throws custard pies, and becomes the star of the show!

Publisher: Hodder Children’s
Publication Date: Oct 2013/Jan 2012
Format: Hardback/PB
Pages: 96/96
Genre: Humour, Animals
Age: Early reader
Reviewer: Ava (6)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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