Midnight Magic by Michelle Harrison

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Black cats born at midnight
Are different indeed
A mischievous, odd
And peculiar breed


And so begins the tale of a little black kitten born at midnight.
Her older brother and sister behave but Midnight is different, she has magical ways, bringing an old broomstick to life and giving it a life of its own. Abandoned by her mother, brother, and sister, she only has her loyal broomstick, Twiggy, as her friend. But then they are befriended by Trixie and her family. Although Trixie’s Dad is not too keen, her Nan is certainly up for an adventure. Midnight does try to behave but it’s boring so she thought she would show Trixie a little bit of magic. But like most magical adventures one thing leads to another. Oops.
I loved this adventure for younger readers. It’s great fun to read out loud as it’s all in verse, but easy to read as an introduction to chapter books. Elissa Elwick’s wonderful illustrations bring Midnight to life and I can’t wait to find out what happens next to Midnight, Twiggy, and Trixie. I was given this book by the publishers for a frank & honest review.

Tamarind and the Star of Ishta by Jasbinder Bilan

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Tamarind, her father, and new stepmother are on their way to India, for Tamarind to meet and stay with her late mother’s Indian family while her father takes his new wife away on honeymoon. Needless to say, Tamarind isn’t keen on the idea of being dumped with people she’s never met for a whole week. The journey to the family house in the foothills of the Himalayas takes forever and Tamarind is amazed to see such a large house, compared to their small one in Bristol. She knows this is the house where her mother Chinty, grew up, her grandmother, Aunt Simran, Uncle Ruben, and cousins Kamaal, Arjun & Sufia still live there.
Tamarind is hoping to find out about the mother she never knew, but every time she brings the subject up, no one wants to talk about it. Storming off in a huff one day she discovers a hut in the very large garden. She’s been told not to enter but when she finds a hidden key the temptation is too much. So unravels the story of Chinty, Tamarind’s mother who died very young, and the clues that she left behind. Finding the Star of Ishta and a willing little helper called Hanu, the truth is gradually uncovered.
Once again Jasbinder has transported us to another part of the world, with wonderful descriptions of the house and a very large garden with all its secrets along with all the smells & colour of the local food. I also loved the map and the family tree as added extras. Who doesn’t love a map?
If you loved Asha and the Spirit Bird, buy, borrow and read this now, you won’t be disappointed.

Kidnap on the California Comet by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman, Illus. by Elisa Paganelli

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It is the holidays and Hal’s Uncle Nat has asked him to come with him on the California Comet. A classic American train journey from Chicago to San Francisco.

As soon as Hal arrives at the great central station in Chicago, complete with a sketchbook, the adventures start to happen. He can’t sketch quick enough trying to get all the little details onto the page. He makes friends with Hadley, who wants to be a magician and her brother Mason, who loves to impersonate Hal’s English accent. But there is a special carriage attached to the train, with a very important person aboard and his daughter. Soon Hal and his new friends find themselves involved in a mysterious kidnap on board the train and Hal keeps sketching every little detail in the hope that his drawings will help solve the case.

The description of the journey, through all the sights and sounds of the different states and countryside, is brilliantly written and once again all the characters are very believable.
I loved this adventure story that rattled along the train tracks at speed, and anything to do with train travel is always that bit special.

I was given this book by NetGalley for a frank and honest review, and I read it on a kindle. I will reread it in book form once it’s published to see Elisa Paganelli’s illustrations on the page.

Book Review: Umbrella Mouse to the Rescue by Anna Fargher

Umbrella Mouse to the Rescue (Paperback)

The sequel to The Umbrella Mouse, this continues the adventures of Pip Hanway, a little mouse on a big mission, to get to Italy during the Second World War. She is still with the Resistance group, Noah’s Arc but who can Pip trust? Not everyone is who they claim to be. A journey that takes the animals behind enemy lines, a tale of friendship and loss. A different view of the world at that time. A great story with wonderful characters.

Find the whole series here: Umbrella Mouse

Book Review – The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

Ship of Shadows

Aleja lives in Seville in Spain. She wants adventure and freedom, but is bound by domestic chores at home. But that changes when she gets a chance to join the Ship of Shadows. A magical ship crewed by female pirates. There are secrets, magic rooms on board ship, and a large library but Aleja feels that she is not being told the real mission of the ship. She is invited to stay for one voyage to Africa as she is speaks different languages. All the crew have different talents, and classes are held on weapons training, using pistols and the right way to use a cutlass. Gradually Aleja is accepted by the crew and taken on an expedition across the Sahara desert with the chance to ride a camel and solve a mystery about a lost city.
It is a great story with believable characters, friendships and following your dreams. It is full of drama, swashbuckling pirates and faraway places. Maria Kuzniar’s description of the high seas, mythical (or real?) monsters and the heat of the desert are wonderfully descriptive. I hope there are more tales of Aleja’s adventures on the horizon.

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