Tag Archives: mg fiction

Book Review: All About Pumpkin by Natasha Farrant

The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby #3 | Read my review of book one, After Iris, here

Published September 2015 by Faber.

24321595Goodreads Synopsis: It’s the summer holidays and Flora has gone off with Dad to the exotic set of his new film and Mum is at home having a much-needed rest with baby Pumpkin. Bluebell, Twig and Jas have been sent to stay with Grandma at Horsehill in the countryside.

With Grandma keen that the children get as much fresh air as possible, they are sent off on bikes to go wild swimming and befriend the boys next door. With so much freedom, they can’t help but get into trouble, and Grandma doesn’t seem to be as capable as looking after them as she should be…

My Review: I’ve been a fan of Natasha Farrant since the first book in this series, After Iris – so I was really excited when I was offered the chance to review the third title, especially as it’s being published in the new cover style that the whole series is being re-modelled with. Isn’t it pretty?!

Like the previous two books in the series, All About Pumpkin is half transcripts from Bluebell’s filming, and half diary entry. I love the format so much, and I always say that when I’m talking about these books – I just think it’s such a good idea, and Farrant writes both formats so brilliantly! The film transcripts are so much fun, and always very witty.

In this instalment of the series, the latest member of the family, Pumpkin, has been born – and he’s taking up everybody’s time. Bluebell’s dad and eldest sister are in New Zealand, and unable to cope, her mum sends her and her younger siblings off to their grandma’s so she can cope with just the new baby – but inevitably, being the Gadsby family, things always end up going a little wrong.

I honestly can’t find the words to describe how much I love the Gadsby family, and these books – each one has a completely fresh-feeling, fun plot. Natasha Farrant is leading the way in children’s fiction – her books are so entertaining, and I love escaping into the fictional family’s antics for a while so much. Although the Bluebell Gadsby books have their fair share of emotional bits, there’s an equal amount of hilarious moments – Farrant has got the balance of the two perfect. I also really enjoyed the way that Farrant explored the Gadsby family in All About Pumpkin, as I feel like it put a lot of focus on the younger siblings, like Jasmine, who is so loveable.

Overall, I really enjoyed All About Pumpkin – it was actually the one book that managed to get me out of a month-long reading slump! It’s such a joy to revisit these characters, and I’m really looking forward to the next in the series – they feel like such timeless classics and I love to read them no matter what mood I’m in. I really recommend All About Pumpkin, and all three books so far if you haven’t tried them yet – as they’re just such fantastic reads, no matter what genre or age category you usually might stick to.

My Rating:

four

I received a copy of All About Pumpkin from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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Anti-Bullying Week: #ChooseKind & GIVEAWAY!

I’m really excited about today’s blog post!

Anti-Bullying Week starts today, the seventeenth, and runs until the 21st. It’s celebrated in schools across the UK to raise awareness of bullying, and how to prevent and solve it. (Last year, I made a blog post for Sophie’s themed week.)

Penguin Random House are the publishers of the fantastic WONDER by R J Palacio, and they’ve teamed up with the Anti-Bullying alliance to bring the #ChooseKIND campaign to schools (find out more here). It’s a brilliant scheme to raise awareness of bullying and promote kinder behaviour, especially in youth – and inspired by Wonder, which is a beautifully written tale of bullying, bravery and kindness.

I read Wonder at the start of 2013, and was completely blown away by its raw emotion and beautiful narratives. It’s marketed as a Middle Grade book, but can be read and adored and treasured by anyone of any age. It’s a novel about a boy called Auggie, who’s just about to start middle school after years of being home-schooled, and his ups and downs of navigating a new life while being labelled as different because of the way he looks. It’s unforgettable, moving and inspiring.

365 Days of Wonder is a tie-in gift book that was released earlier this year. It was inspired by precepts and quotes given by Mr Brown, Auggie’s teacher in Wonder – and all of the inspirational quotes readers sent in response, to R J Palacio. There’s a quote for each day of the year – it’s such a beautiful book to treasure.

To coincide with Anti-Bullying Week, and the #ChooseKIND campaign, I’m running a giveaway! One person will win Wonder & 365 Days of Wonder. Entry by the Rafflecopter link below…

PicMonkey Collage

click on the link below to go to the Rafflecopter widget!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Bibliomaniac/330168953761504?sk=app_228910107186452

 T&C’s, etc.: Unfortunately I can’t cover the cost of sending the prize overseas – this is a UK only giveawayThe giveaway prize was provided for me by the publisher, and I will be posting it myself: I’ll let the winner know when it’s been posted. The giveaway will end on Monday, 24th November. To be completely fair, I’ll pick the one winner through Random.org. I’ll try to post it before December 10th, so it doesn’t get lost in all the Christmas-post madness!

 Good Luck! You can check out more about #ChooseKind by using the hashtag on Twitter or clicking here.

Book Review: My Brother’s Secret by Dan Smith

Published May 2014 by Chicken House books.

20554182Goodreads Synopsis: Germany, 1941. 12-year-old Karl Engel is looking forward to joining the Hitler Youth, like all boys his age.

But when his father is killed, his rebellious older brother Stefan shows him things that leave his faith in the Führer shaken. Who is the real enemy? What is the meaning of the flower sewn inside his brother’s jacket? Karl soon finds out, as he becomes involved in a dangerous rebellion.

My Review: I really got into Historical YA Fiction last year, but this year I haven’t really gotten the chance to read that much! That’s a big reason why I was really excited to read My Brother’s Secret. I really wasn’t let down; it was a really enjoyable book, with lots of twists, and packed with emotion.

My Brother’s Secret reminded me a lot of The Book Thief: if you’re a fan of Markus Zuzak I definitely recommend this. It’s got similar themes of friendship, and rebellion, and is set in World War Two Germany. The story follows Karl Friedmann, a boy who is passionate about the Hitler Youth and serving his country. But after his father is killed in action, his thoughts about and pride in his country start to change, and he begins to discover that Germany has its rebels, and that he might be becoming one of them.

Right from the beginning I was really stuck into the story. I loved how the setting was described. Dan Smith’s writing is really likeable. I could almost feel like I was there, in Karl’s underground bomb shelter, riding across the fields with Karl’s best friend. The writing is really captivating and brought a lot of imagery.

The characters were all well developed. Karl’s personality changes a lot over the course of the story and I found it really interesting, to see him transition from being so passionate about Germany and the Fuhrer to committing rebellious acts. One character I would have liked to hear more about, though, definitely would be Karl’s brother. The story is centered around Karl’s discovery of his sibling’s rebel Edelweiss Pirates group, but for some reason I don’t think I saw… enough of him? The plot is mainly centered around Karl discovering the ‘other side’ of his village. I think I would’ve liked to hear how his brother joined the Edelweiss Pirates (The really interesting, real life group of rebels).

Overall, My Brother’s Secret was a really well written novel! I really loved Dan Smith’s writing. The plot was pretty unpredictable, and the last few chapters were so action-packed and shocking, I couldn’t put the book down. Karl was a really great main protagonist. I really loved how much he developed over the course of the plot. My Brother’s Secret really captures the impacts on German people in WW2. I’ll definitely be looking out for Dan Smith”s other title, My Friend the Enemy, now!

My Rating:

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I received a copy of My Brother’s Secret from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.