Archive for the ‘Middle grade’ Category

The Princess and the Valley Man

Dorota Kluza and Evan Williams

The Princess and the Valley Man is an enthralling, educational tale of adventure, fantastic creatures, and dashing acts of bravery!
Join Solis and Princess Luna, on an amazing journey through the Earth’s most unusual place: Death Valley. Luna, a princess from a kingdom in a far-away star, is curious to see the sights in Death Valley. And Solis, smitten by Luna’s beauty, is only too happy to indulge her.
They travel through landscapes – from the exhilarating Sea of Sand to the majestic Canyon of Marble to the eerily frightening Mysterious Cave – forming new friendships and gaining a deep understanding of each other.
Meet fantastic creatures – from moving rock formations, to Kiko the talking bird, even mysterious inhabitants of a ghost town – and be with Solis and Princess Luna as they dodge challenges, solve puzzles, craft clever solutions and find a way out of hairy situations.
More important, discover how to love with all your heart, the most seemingly unlovable place on Earth.

Exclusive Extract

There was a place on Earth that was considered most unusual: Death Valley, which was in California in the United States. Now you might be asking yourself: what make’s Death Valley so unusual? Well, it was a land of extremes. While it had towering mountains, it also had below-sea-level salt flats and even sand dunes. All strewn across the landscape were rock formations of many colors, some of which held mystery. Sometimes, when the rain comes at the right time, the landscape would bloom with an explosion of flowers. These mostly grow from the many seeds that had been waiting in the dirt; sometimes they wait many years for the rain to come. Mostly, though, it is the heat that makes this place famous. You see, Death Valley is the hottest place on Earth!

One day, because of Death Valley’s unique terrain and features that focused the sun’s energy upon itself, it reached a temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56,6 Celsius degrees) – the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth. Something very special also happened on that day: a child was born in this place of extremes. This child, some say, got something even more special from the sun on that day, an inexplicable kind of energy that would be with him wherever he went which kept him safe and protected him from harm. His parents called him Solis. He was an extraordinary boy who grew up in this most interesting and unusual place. He was not afraid of anything and he made lots of friends, including local animals that he used to play with. A born explorer who never gets sick, decided one day to take it upon himself to protect and preserve Death Valley, which he loved with all his heart.

As a young man, Solis travelled to many places far and wide and has seen many kingdoms. In fact, as a former soldier in his kingdom’s army, he had fought in many battles. His exploits were famous throughout the lands, especially among schoolchildren who were studying history. Living in Death Valley, he worked by helping those who came to seek adventure and see the amazing sights.

One day, on his way back home after a deeply exhausting day at work, he came upon a group of travelers who had become trapped in their big coach within a massive sand cloud. He sped up his wagon to reach them quickly and to help them get out of it. He knew it was not a typical sand cloud caused by the wind, but a monstrous attack of a deadly sand creature living in this area that could not stand any noise. Luckily for the travellers, Solis was not afraid of it!

“Do not leave your coach!” Solis screamed. “Close the windows and your doors, and be as quiet as possible!”

But the travellers were overwhelmed with fear and panic. “Help us and get us out of here!” They screamed. “Get us out of here, please!”

Solis jumped off his wagon as quickly as he could. He looked like a cowboy wearing an old Western-looking bandana on his face and a special pair of shoes designed to not sink on any surface. He ran to them, then tied a big thick cotton rope from his wagon to their coach. But at this moment, the scary sand creature came out of the sand cloud and started to shake the noisy coach violently from one side to the other.

The travellers were screaming loudly from fear, but Solis was not afraid of the creature at all. He stayed calm, carefully connecting the rope. He made a few quick steps, like he was floating on the sand on his wide flat shoes, and was back in his wagon in a second, pulling the tourists and their coach away from this dangerous sand monster.

Once they all were on safe ground, Solis emerged from his wagon covered in sand. “Are you all okay? Is anyone hurt?” His voice was calm, reassuring. “This was the sand beast living in this area. I hope she did not scare you too much. Next time you must be more careful here and must follow some precautions. By the way, my name is Solis.”

Just as he introduced himself to the travellers, he saw among them the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. He was entranced. But the travellers interrupted his reverie, crying with happiness and saying, “You saved us! You saved us! Thank you so much, Solis!”

“Oh my goodness, you are all covered in sand,” one of them said, helping Solis dust the dirt off his shirt. “We are very sorry for this trouble, but we got confused by the intense heat of this place. Luckily, we found the coach. But when we tried to drive out, the beast attacked us. You know the rest of the story, Solis. You are our hero!”

Solis’s face blushed from the attention. “Oh, I’m not a hero, guys. I am just glad I could help and to make sure you are all fine. Travellers often get confused from the heat here. Ordinary folks could rarely stand the kind of heat we have in Death Valley. Just be more careful next time, wear a hat and drink lots of water, and watch out and take precautions to avoid the sand beasts in this area.” Solis flashed them a smile that was pure charm.

“We would love to thank you, somehow, Solis,” said someone from the group. “Please allow us to invite you for dinner tonight?”

“It is really not necessary,” he replied, but then he could not take his eyes off the beautiful girl. “But of course, I would love to have dinner with you all.”

“Hoooraay!” they cheered in unison. “See you tonight at the Last Kind Words Saloon?”
“See you then,” replied Solis happily.

On the way to their accommodation, the travellers could not stop talking about how Solis fought off the deadly sand creature, and how brave he was for saving them. And among them, the beautiful girl that Solis liked merely smiled, quietly anticipating to meet him again.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: January 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 100
Genre: Adventure
Age: MG
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Archie and the Lawlor Cat Hotel

Jane Lawlor

Congratulations! You have just found the best cat book ever written. I’m Archie and I am a ginger cat and the manager at the most incredible hotel just for cats. I’ve written this book so humans get to meet me and my guests as we get up to all sorts at night including cat rodeo, cat casino night, cat sailing and even skiing. I can’t wait for you to meet my guests and get to know their real personalities, not to mention my team, which includes Dan and Louis the horses and my three faithful hounds Buddy, Dougy and Alfie. Get ready for the read of your life.

A Fun and Engaging Read

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book but I have to admit that I ended up really enjoying it and I am positive that this one will go down well with other cat lovers – and hopefully non-cat lovers too! Archie is the lead cat at the cat hotel and he has such flare that he really makes this book an interesting one to read. I loved all of the personalities of all of the cats, the pony’s and the dogs too. I think this was such a fun read that many children would absolutely delight over. So if you’re looking for a fun and engaging read for your kids, this is definitely a book that you should pick up.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: October 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 168
Genre: MG
Age: Children
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Lucas Ehrenhaus

After one of the most decisive warring campaigns in European history between Barbarians and Romance, the sheer possibility of a full-scale Roman invasion into Barbarian lands launches a lifelong recruitment process, which drives to the re-discovery of old mighty forces in the long forgotten North. The most apolocalyptic pan-tribal conflict amongst central and northern European natives will ensue.

Exclusive Extract

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: October 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 136
Genre: Illustrated MG
Age: Children
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Legend of Sidri

Rauf Khalilov

In the mythical realm of Badalonium, a young boy named Sidri lived happily with his beloved parents. But the family is shattered by an evil figure from the afar, triggering a series of events that lead Sidri on a journey of self-development, friendship, family reunions and retribution.

Rauf Khalilov’s Favourite Books

1. Sans Famille by Hector Malot.
As a child I read this book probably a thousand times. I like this book because it showed the struggles and sufferings of poor people in capitalist France and England. The protagonist was probably the same age as I and I could relate to him and his struggles. I also loved the fact that he was in the end able to overcome his impediments and triumph. Every story must have a positive ending.

2. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.
I like this book for several reasons. This book was very popular in my household and I grew up with various elements that were taken from it. For example, my dad always called my oldest aunt Cossette. I had no idea why this was the case when I was a child. I only found out the reason when I read the book. Les Misérables is a book about human nature. It’s a book about injustice, human suffering and sacrifice. My most favourite characters are Jean Valjean and Bishop Myriel.

3. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
This is one of the first books I read in English. I was fascinated by it because it described the harsh realities of 19th Century England. I was fascinated by Dicken’s writing because he could describe England and the life of people there in such detail that I could picture it in my head. Years later when I arrived in England, I noticed everything I had imagined whilst reading Dickens was exactly the same.

4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevski

A masterpiece touching on a variety of moral and existential issues. One of my favourite moments is when Raskolnikov bows in front of Sonia and kisses her feet. He says “I did not bow down to you. I bowed down to all the suffering of humanity”. Of course, this sounds much better in Russian.

5. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
I love persian poetry especially the ones by Omar Khayyam. I find Khayyam’s poetry very interesting because he talks about deep issues through poetry. As a poet I find this fascinating because I know how difficult it is to philosophise through poetry.

Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 50
Genre: MG
Age: Children
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Amazing Adventures of Wobblin’ Wobin

Tony Rocca

Meet Robin, or rather, Wobin: a metal garden ornament transported from England to the beautiful French Riviera. He’s lonely and can’t speak French. Neither can he fly, which is a bit unfortunate for a bird. This is his story about learning to fly and being brave.


with Tony Rocca

What is your favourite thing about writing books?
It’s being able to shut out the real world around me and escape to another place where I can let my imagination fly (literally so in the case of Wobblin’ Wobin).

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
This has to be Wobin. He’s been bashed and beaten, unwanted and put up for sale on eBay, and then discovers he’s only of value to someone as a scarecrow. It’s all very demeaning for a once-proud little bird. He’s already conscious of a disadvantage, being unable to pronounce his “r’s”; but suddenly he is whisked off to a strange land where he can’t even speak the language, has no friends, and most embarrassingly has a fear of flying. When two turtle-doves and a lady blackbird take him under their wing, so to speak, a transformation occurs. He transcends his disadvantages and takes flights of fancy to discover the great destinations of the French Riviera. He is fearlessly cocky when faced with danger, and emerges in his true colours as a beautiful robin. I hope this theme of triumph over adversity will capture the imagination of children wherever they happen to live and they will want to visit for themselves some of the most beautiful places in France featured in the story.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Black coffee in the daytime. Our local aperitif, pastis, in the evening.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Drinking two glasses of pastis in the evening. Or, I admit, three when writer’s block strikes.

How do you research your books?
I have lived on the Riviera, where the book is set, for more than 30 years so I am very familiar with the destinations concerned and have actually written travel pieces about them for The Sunday Times.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Very definitely a pantser. I like the spontaneity it affords and the freedom to go where the story takes me rather than stick to a specific plot. I know this is a dangerous road to take but I have a broad idea of the direction of travel and if I get stuck I can always U-turn and feel my way around the book another way.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
The happy childhood evoked by Swallows and Amazons, the adventures of children sailing, fishing, camping and exploring the Lake District from their little island. For me, growing up in the north of England, it was familiar territory, but Arthur Ransome managed to imbue it with something magical with references to Robinson Crusoe and turning plain old lemonade into ‘grog’ and tinned corned beef into ‘pemmican’. The story has survived remarkably through the generations from first publication in 1930 to the latest iteration, a film version three years ago. I also like the fact that the author used to be a journalist with what was then the Manchester Guardian. With the book’s initial success he gave up the newspaper business and concentrated on writing more in the series.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Eeyore. He’s so depressed, gloomy and pessimistic I’d like to take the old donkey out of the House at Pooh Corner and cheer him up with a good dose of grog and pemmican on a Lakeland holiday. Wouldn’t that be fun!

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: April 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 182
Genre: Middle Grade
Age: Chrildren
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Last Leaf

Gwyn Ellis Pritchard
The Last Leaf
“You will have to place a small handful of the maggots under your tongue, and must hold them there for a full two minutes,” Jack instructed Isabella . . . .And boy did they wriggle! She struggled not to wretch!
Two worlds collide when a chance meeting brings together Jack and Isabella. Jack, the son of the Head Gardener of the Oakfield Estate, finds himself a friend in the lovely Isabella, the ‘little lady of Oakfield Hall’.
Set in Victorian times in the Southern Counties of England – with an intermittent welsh presence in the form of the Jones’ travelling gypsy family – much laughter, dance, music and cultural challenges lie before the two friends this summer!
How will the delicate Isabella fair among the unfamiliar countryside with its host of creatures and seasonal demands?
Will the rugged, uneducated Jack rise to the challenge of learning to read and write poetry about his beloved countryside – poaching, skinning rabbits and river fishing?
Every day is an adventure and it seems they are meant to be together, always. Or are they?
Read about their exciting adventures and discover the true meaning of friendship with them as they each discover new worlds and new challenges!

A Wonderfully Moving Story

As soon as I heard about this book, I knew that it was one that I wanted to make sure I got a chance to read – and I am incredibly glad that I did. This book is very unique. It’s a lovely tale that I fell into easily and I cannot express how much I loved the friendship between Isabella and Jack. It was such a heart-warming friendship that blossomed throughout the novel. This book is also one that hit me quite emotionally as well, which is always a good thing – in my opinion!

The writing style is quite different but I liked it. It reads as though someone is telling the story to you – sort of like a bedtime story and so I feel that it would work really well when read aloud. Despite that, you were really able to get a good grasp on the characters and their relationship with each other and those around you. If I had one negative to say it would simply be that I wished the book was a little longer and we got a little bit more background information about the two characters – but that’s only because I really enjoyed reading about them!

Overall, this was a quick read but I definitely think it is one that will be loved by a lot of children. I think it’s a wonderful book for not just highlighting how strong and powerful friendships can be, but also how we’re also different but that doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends with those who are other from us. I honestly really enjoyed this novel and hope that many others will enjoy it as well!

The Last Leaf Tour Banner

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: March 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 128
Genre: MG Historical
Age: Childrens
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Dino Knights

Jeff Norton
Imagine medieval times where the dinosaurs never went extinct. When dinosaur stable boy Henry Fairchild stops a vicious T-Rex from attacking his master, he is invited to join the most elite group in Brecklan, the brave Knights of Panterra, the Dino Knights. But before he can prove himself, the enemies of Brecklan attack with a flock of pterodactyls and kidnap Lord Harding. Whether he’s ready or not, Henry and the Dino Knights mount a daring rescue mission…but nothing is what it seems.

Dino Knights by Jeff Norton; Cover Reveal

Today we’re sharing the cover to Jeff Norton’s new book, Dino Knights! The book is being released on 6th June 2019 and you can pre-order a copy here: Awesome Reads Pre-Order.

Cover of Dino Knights

We hope you’re as excited about this book as we are!

Publisher: Awesome Reads
Publication Date: June 2019
Format: Paperback
Genre: MG Adventure
Age: Children
Reviewer: Faye
Source: N/A
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The Stig Plays a Dangerous Game

Jon Claydon and Tim Lawler

An enigmatic racing driver. A bunch of kids. One hell of a ride …
Sam Wheeler may be the new boy in Bunsfold, but he’s got a feeling that all is not well either in the town or at Bunsfold High – and he’s not just talking about the maths teacher with the unfortunate flatulence. A local boy, Buster Mustang, has recently gone missing, and no one seems to care – they’re all too busy playing the highly addictive video game Xenon or getting the town ready for its very first TT race. Both are the brainchild of mysterious local billionaire PT Cruiser. Besides global domination, PT Cruiser wants nothing more than to destroy his nemesis The Stig once and for all – and his TT race is just what he needs to tempt him on to the big stage again …
Sam sets out with his new friends Minnie Cooper and Ford Harrison to uncover the truth behind all the strange goings-on in Bunsfold – but danger has a habit of showing up wherever they do, and soon all that stands between our heroes and disaster is … a taciturn man in a white suit.
Perfect for fans of ALEX RIDER and CHERUB

About the Authors

Jon Claydon
Jon wrote sell-out shows at Edinburgh while at university before plumping for a career in advertising and technology investment that has seen him become a fixture on the Sunday Times ‘Britain’s 500 Most Influential People’ list. One day, while attending to one of many sidelines – as a columnist for Top Gear magazine – Jon had a moment. Alone in a lift, he met The Stig, who non-verbally communicated that it was high time someone wrote a book for his many younger fans. Jon called Tim, they fired up their flux capacitor and returned, sliding-doors-style, to the career they’d always thought they should have had in the first place.

Tim Lawler
Tim Lawler wrote sell-out Edinburgh shows at university before spending many years in ventures such as building and filling a fringe theatre, performing stand-up poetry, living in various parts of the globe and working as an advertising brand planner.

Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Publication Date: March 2018
Format: Paperback
Genre: Adventure
Age: MG
Reviewer: N/A
Source: N/A
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Double Felix

Sally Harris

He skips every second step when he takes the stairs, taps door handles twice and positions objects in pairs. The problem has become so bad that Felix is on the verge of being expelled from school because the principal has had enough of trying to run the school around his very specific rules. Then Charlie Pye arrives and turns his world upside down. She s grown up with very few rules. She eats cereal for lunch, calls a boat home, and has a very loose interpretation of school uniform. The question is, can Felix ever learn to be wrong when he is so obsessed with being right?

What is your favourite thing about writing books?
My favourite part of being a writer is that I get to make things up and get paid for it! I also love the challenge of trying to be relentlessly entertaining in the way that I tell a story and getting to create characters to take on adventures. The hardest part about being a writer for me is creating characters that I really like and then having to give them problems. In my ideal world, everyone would be happy all of the time, but that would make for some very boring stories!

What is your favourite thing about being a MG author?
My favourite thing about being an author for Middle Grade readers is that they are discerning. As a writer you’ve got to respect them as readers or they won’t go along with the journey you have planned for them. There is no talking down to them or trying to pull the wool over their eyes and this really tests you as a writer. Once you have them hooked, however, you can take Middle Grade readers along for the ride to anywhere and they will come along with you. I also love that MG readers enjoy a good laugh and a rip-roaring adventure, yet they are mature enough to tackle some big issues too.

Why did you choose to write a character with OCD traits?
I think that it is really important for readers to be able to see themselves in the characters of the books they are reading. There are lots of children who struggle with various mental illnesses like OCD and I think that they are unrepresented in stories. I wanted to share Felix’s story as a way of showing readers that they are not alone and as a way of helping other students to empathise with their peers. I’m hoping that once someone has read Double Felix, it will help them to understand people around them who are different to themselves and help them to connect in a really positive, inclusive way.

What is your favourite moment in Double Felix? (Without any spoilers!)
That’s such a hard question to answer! I have lots of favourite moments in Double Felix, so I’ve narrowed it down to my favourite three scenes to write:

1. Chapter Two when we meet Felix ‘improving’ Mrs Lovejoy’s Office – because who wouldn’t enjoy messing up their Principal’s Office!

2. I loved writing the scene where Felix and Charlie visit her ‘home’ as I’ve always wanted to live somewhere like that myself.

3. I really enjoyed writing the scene where Felix wants to get into the Library but the door is locked. The image of his bottom wiggling in the air as he tries to squeeze through the window will never leave me!

Where is your favourite place to write?

If I am writing at home, I love to be cosy. Right now it is winter here in Australia, so I’m under a woolly blanket with my dog at my feet acting like a fluffy hot water bottle and my computer on my lap. I also love to get out of the house and write when I can. Taking my laptop to a local cafe for an hour with a cup of coffee is a great way for me to get some words onto the page. Bonus points if I can avoid connecting to the Internet while I’m there and extra extra bonus points if the cafe is in a bookshop!

About the Author

Sally Harris grew up in rural Australia and after graduating from Cambridge with a degree in Children’s Literature, Sally has been busy writing and working as a primary teacher, in both Australia and the UK. Her first book, Diary of a Penguin-Napper, sold over 10 000 copies and her second book, Ruby Marvelous, has inspired children all over the world to try their hand at cooking exploding finger buns! Sally loves animals, including penguins, and, as she can’t have one of those as a pet, she has found that a dog is definitely the next best thing.

Website. Twitter.

Publisher: Wacky Bee Books
Publication Date: May 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
Genre: MG Contemporary
Age: MG
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Curse of the Nomed

B. B. Taylor

Ancient Gods, a cursed Librarian and a battle to save their souls. How hard could the first day of school really be? Welcome to Nomed Academy! An epic adventure for three unsuspecting year seven students as they embark on their first day of school. One they will never forget. But can they really defeat an ancient Egyptian God with nothing but revenge on his mind? All net profits from the sale of this book go to Partnership for Children, a mental health charity supporting the positive mental health of children.

After hearing about how this book came to be, I could not wait to read it. A group of year eight students came up with the idea and B. B. Taylor brought it to life. Now all the profit from the book will be going to a mental health charity. Add to that an enticing summary and I simply had to give this book a try. Fortunately, it is a decision I am glad I made. It is a short read and just over 100 pages but it definitely packs a punch. It’s full of adventure, excitement and danger. It is the perfect book to keep you entertained for a few hours and I am sure it will be loved by lots of teenagers.

In this book, the three main characters start of not knowing much about each other nor having much strength. By the end of the book, you can tell that they will be friends for life and are the strongest trio in the school. This occurs as they use their own personal knowledge and strength to surpass the challenges that they have to face in the midst of their adventures. Together they have to work as a team to save the school from deadly sources. But do they have it in them to succeed?

I absolutely loved the way this book uses Ancient Egypt at the centre of the story. I loved the Librarian, and I just thought the trio were really interesting to read about as well. This was a very quick but entertaining read that I would happily recommend to others. It’s a fast-paced, adventure filled book that will have your heart racing as you hope that the trio will triumph instead of fail. Plus, it’s all worth it to get to the very end of the book too. After all, what will happen next?

Verdict: An entertaining, interesting, and heart-racing book that will keep you turning the page until you know that everything works out okay… or does it?

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Weird N Wonderful Tales
Publication Date: May 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 116
Genre: Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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