The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D Lapinski

Pack your suitcase for a magical adventure!

This as such a charming adventure, one that is suitable for readers aged 8 and up. At the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, each suitcase transports you to a different world. All you have to do is step inside. What I enjoyed most about this was how it starts off in the real world, where we get to know Flick (Felicity) and her life and family at home then we are mesmerised as she stumbles across the Strangeworlds Travel Agency where she meets a quirky character by the name of Jonathan-  the agency’s head custodian which sets them off on several adventures to different worlds via.. a suitcase!! But, unknown to Flick, the world at the very centre of it all, a city called Five Lights, is in danger. Buildings and even streets are mysteriously disappearing. Once Flick realizes what’s happening she must race against time, travelling through unchartered worlds, seeking a way to fix Five Lights before it collapses into nothingness and takes our world with it.

With a hint of Narnia, a touch of Jumanji and a pinch of fairytales, this was a wonderfully adventurous read that made me smile, gasp and laugh. It was a lot of fun to get lost in. A fast paced and very easy to read story, I highly recommend this if you’re looking to get lost on a fun fantastical adventure.

Pitched as perfect for fans of Nevermoor and The Train to Impossible Places… I would have to agree…

-Annie

As Fast as I Can by Penny Tangey Blog Tour

One girl. One dream. A few hurdles.

Ten-year-old Vivian is determined to win a medal at the Olympic Games one day. Problem is, she hasn’t found a sport she’s any good at yet. But everyone says if you work hard enough you can achieve anything, right? So when Vivian discovers she has a talent for cross country running, finally, her Olympic dream might actually come true.

But then a family illness is uncovered and all of Vivian’s plans begin to unravel.

Can she keep her dream alive?

Or will she be stopped in her tracks?

First of all, I need to say that this book made me feel old (lol) as it brought back memories of my school days – particularly the sports carnivals. I as never much of an athlete but I was a fairly good long distance runner and even made it to district/regional competitions. Although I didn’t aspire to become an athlete, as children, we all have dreams and what really touched my heart about this story was our main character – Vivian – and her dream to make it big in the Olympics only to have it snatched away from her on account of her chronic illness. I don’t normally enjoy books that feature illnesses as it is too harrowing for me to read at times but I felt the author really covered this important theme very well and weaved it into a beautiful and engaging story.

The story was easy to follow, touching and the character was very likeable.  I feel this story can be enjoyed by readers of all ages whether still in school or whether they farewelled those days long ago – it brings back a lot of memories (and understanding – imagine if this was you).  Although this was left with an opening ending, I feel it was still a good story and hey – that’s how life can be, this story is regarding a portion of someone’s life, our futures remain an open pathway.

With special thanks to Aus YA Bloggers + UQP Books Publishers for having me on board for this Blog Tour.
-Annie

Kidz Korner School Holidays Special Recommendations

These school holidays, check out these great books highly recommended for children ages 4 and up…

Taking the Lead: How Jacinda Ardern wowed the World by David Hill, illustrated by Phoebe Morris.
Meet Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, who hopes the things she’s done will help everyone, especially children, to believe that they can do great things too.

An inspiring illustrated story for children about Jacinda Ardern, and her meteoric rise to become the world’s youngest female leader.

This was a wonderful picture book that can be enjoyed by adults and children alike. I have always been fond of Jacinda Ardern, I honestly wish she was our PM here in Australia. I admire her leadership and her humbleness. Learning about her life before politics was quite interesting and I enjoyed the quick read in the form of a picture book. It’s very easy to follow and recommended to school aged children, I believe this picture book should be in school library shelves. With special thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me an Advanced review copy of this book.

Roo knows Blue by Renee Treml
This was such a cute read that could not have come at a better time, with Australia burning and many Australian animals lost, this cute book is a way to teach children how to count, various colours through fun rhymes sung by Australian animals. It’s a lot of fun to read aloud and can be enjoyed by children as young as 3 years old. It makes a great family read. With special thanks to Penguin Random House Australia for sending me an Advance review copy of this book. 

 

Total Quack Up! Again! Edited by Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck, Illustrated by Jules Faber
Following the success of “Total Quack Up” we are back with “Total Quack Up! Again!” Another collection of short stories written by Australian Authors to endorse reading among children with all proceeds of this book going directly to Dymocks Charities. The short stories are a lot of fun to read, a compilation of criminal cats, daring superheroes, footy-obsessed pigs, disastrous birthday parties, crazy robots and beach loving hippos. Such an entertaining light read – highly suitable to children as young as 6 years old, a fun read to keep the kids occupied during the holidays… keep an eye out for the first book too! With special thanks to Penguin Random House Australia for sending review copies of these books.

-Annie

Golden Unicorn: Rise of the Mythix Book 1 by Anh Do, illustrated by Chris Wahl

Published by: Allen and Unwin

Some heroes are legends. Some legends are real.

The tyrant known as the Soul Collector hunts down anything that is beautiful, unusual or unique.

Kelly Swift is trying hard to be an average teenager, to fit in. But every day her powers are growing: she can run faster than the wind, she can hear people’s thoughts, she is not normal.

When her mother is taken by the Soul Collector, Kelly can’t linger in the shadows any longer. But who is she really? Can she be the one in the prophecy? Is she…the Golden Unicorn?

The Golden Unicorn, the Minotaur and the Griffin –
Only these three united to a common purpose
can fell him who seeks to triumph over all…

I read this in one sitting! This is the first time I have ever read a MG fantasy book written by Anh Do and wow he nails it! Such a great story and written so well that even targeted for a younger audience, this book can be enjoyed by older readers too. I loved the plot, how the characters developed even the illustrations were very impressive. I found this book helped me for my own MG book writing too (thank you Mr Do) highly recommended to readers from ages 9 and up.. very enjoyable and adventurous.
-Annie

Under the Stars: Astrophysics for Bedtime by Lisa Harvey-Smith, illustrated by Mel Matthews

Want to take a fun and educational journey throughout our night sky?

Explore our solar system from the comfort of your cozy bedroom… Find out why the sky is blue… Fly around a black hole and peer inside! Learn why Jupiter has stripes…

I was first intrigued by this book because I read that an actual astrophysicist wrote it so I knew this book was going to be beneficial as well as fun to read. Having read this with a young audience, I found it quite exciting and clever how the author approached mysteries of outer space. The illustrations were beautiful and I see this book to be an ideal gift for children ages 6 and up or for curious adults such as myself.

With special thanks to Melbourne University Press for sending me a copy of this book for review.
-Annie

Kidz Korner School Holiday Special Round Up of Recommendations

Easter is here which means the kids are on school holidays!! We really enjoyed these children’s books so we hope you have fun with these titles over the break!!


It’s a Book by Lane Smith

Playful and lighthearted with a subversive twist that is signature Lane Smith, It’s a Book is a delightful manifesto on behalf of print in the digital age. This satisfying, perfectly executed picture book has something to say to readers of all stripes and all ages. This title has Common Core connections.

Interesting way to introduce someone to a real life book. Where you don’t need to recharge, scroll internet or even click the mouse. Within “It’s a Book” we get to see one fall in love with reading.

Recommended to younger readers from aged 4 years and up.
-Meredith

Little Green Donkey by Anuska Allepuz
Little Donkey loves to eat grass. And only grass. Nothing else. He has grass for breakfast, lunch and dinner. YUM. Will his mum ever persuade him to try some new food?

This was such a cute picture book very suitable to reading to young kids as young as 2-3 years old. Its a story that teaches a valuable lesson – when too much of something may have its ramifications. In this case, when the little donkey eats too much grass, he turns green! Not a lot of sentences on the page which holds a toddler’s attention. Cute artwork featuring fruits, vegetables, donkeys and other animals! It was fun and highly recommended as a good kids read.

Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Annie


Imagine a City by Elise Hurst

Imagine a world without edges . . . where bunnies and bears ride bicycles, lions read books, and buses are fish that fly through the clouds. In the city of imagination, anything is possible, and an outing with their mother brings a world of adventure to two lucky children.

The illustrations are beautiful and the words only enhance the illustrations.

With each new page, I was wishing that I was in the world. Where fish were buses or having gargoyles having tea next to you. Or even rabbits reading the newspapers.
-Meredith

Moonwalkers by Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton
Dream astronaut dreams, and celebrate Australia’s role in one of humanity’s greatest achievements, the moon landing of 1969. Moonwalkers is a joyous story of imagination and play – the greatest bedtime story ever told. When Apollo 11 blasts off for the moon, the whole world is watching. On the other side of the planet, Billy, Mickey and Buzz decide to be astronauts too.

It was such a joy to see children enjoy this insightful story of one of history’s greatest moments!! The story and the illustrations kept their attention and it is highly recommended as a family read to children as young as 3 years and up.

Special thanks to Penguin Random House Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Annie

Why I Love Summer by Michael Wagner and Tom Jellett
There are four seasons in a year, and they’re all awesome, but only one of them gets to be summer!
Sunny days, weekends at the pool, games in the backyard, daylight until late and long, lovely holidays . . . that’s summer, the best season ever.

“Why I Love Summer” goes through the joys of Summer that children see and go through. We get to see the beach, the pool and games such as backyard cricket.

Oh! the joys of summer holidays!!!

Special thanks to Penguin Random House Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Meredith

Extraordinary Life of Michelle Obama – The Extraordinary Lives Puffin Series
A bold new non-fiction series that focuses on the lives of inspirational historical and modern figures. This one in particular focuses on the extraordinary life of a lawyer, writer, activist and First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama. It explores how she has become a role model and modern icon all over the world. From her childhood in Chicago, to her role as an advocate for women and diversity, via her incredibly influential time in the White House, be inspired by her determination, her voice and her story.

“As ever, there were people who criticised Michelle for her work. No matter how much she did or didn’t do, there was always someone out there who had an opinion.”

Although a book written for a younger audience that is definitely recommended to young readers from ages 7 years and up, this book can be read and enjoyed by an older audience who have an interest in getting to know Michelle Obama’s life without having to invest in extensive reading or research. This book is a snapshot or summary of the former U.S First Lady’s life, achievements and passions. She is one remarkable and inspirational woman, I have always liked the Obamas but since reading this book and gaining a little more insight into Michelle’s life, I have an even greater respect for her. I love her strength, her courage, her passion for education and equality, her love for family and her determination in life. I loved her resilience as she herself experienced racism at a young age – she didn’t let that get her down, it was always on wards and upwards with her. I found it was very interesting to see how hard she worked to become who she is and to see her status was not simply given to her on a platter – she earned it. How she met her husband Barack Obama for the first time was a sweet and funny story. I highly recommend this to young readers as Michelle Obama is an inspiration and I also recommend this to older readers who do have an interest in her life and would like a quicker insight.

Special thanks to Penguin Random House Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Annie

Junior Fiction Round Up of Recommendations

Here is a round up of books that are highly recommended to the younger readers…
These were great we hope you enjoy them!!!

Children of the Dragon: The Relic of the Blue Dragon by Rebecca Lim
Although this book can be enjoyed by adults and children alike, this is highly recommended to readers aged 8 years and up. Thoroughly enjoyable full of culturally infused adventure, fun characters and a lot of action – very cool magic and martial arts that holds the attention of an 8 year old reader.

When Harley Spark accidentally releases Qing, one of five dragon sisters, from the ancient vase she’s been trapped in for centuries, he is soon on a dangerous international mission with Qing to find and free her four sisters. Harley gave a little shiver as he peered at the mysterious girl’s message. She’d written: DRAGON KING RETURNS. So when Harley finds an antique Chinese vase on the footpath, something compels him to stuff it under his school jumper and run for home. Little does he know he’s about to reignite a centuries-old war between two ancient, supernatural families…  The Relic of the Blue Dragon is the first book in the action-packed Children of the Dragon.

Special thanks to Allen and Unwin Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book
-Annie

Good Rosie! by Katie DiCamillo, Illustrated by Harry Bliss
Picture book suitable for young readers aged 5 years and up.
A swet tale of a lonely dog, who only wants a friend or two. Rosie is shy and a bit hesitant when it comes to meeting other dogs. But Rosie overcomes her shyness to help another dog. Rosie shows us that you can make friends even if you are shy.
Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Meredith

Brimstone: Fire Watcher Chronicles, Book 1 by Kelly Gardiner
December 1940: Christopher Larkham finds an ancient Roman ring inscribed with a phoenix on the banks of the Thames. As he takes shelter from the firestorm of the Blitz, the ring glows, and pushing open a door, he finds himself in 1666 and facing the Great Fire of London. Fire-and-brimstone preacher, Brother Blowbladder, and his men of the Righteous Temple have prayed for the ancient gods of fire to bring flames down upon London, a city of sin. Could Christopher be their messenger? And why do the Righteous men wear the same phoenix symbol as the engraving on Christopher’s ring.

This is a great middle great read and a promising start to a new series. A lovely blend of time travel and, magic and mystery, suitable for readers aged 8 years and up. Fast paced and a real page turner, loved the adventure it was very easy to get into this book and read it to the very end. Excited for book 2 now.

Special thanks to Scholastic Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Annie

 

A Soldier, a Dog and a Boy by Libby Hathorn, Illustrated by Phil Lesnie
Picture book suitable for young readers aged 7 years and up
A young soldier far away from home, a boy orphaned by war, and the stray dog that brings them together.
A beautiful illustrated story that tells us the tale of a soldier, a dog and a boy.
The illustrations in this book bring the words alive.
-Meredith

Kidz Korner Special: Junior Fiction Recommendations

This post is a special dedication for our young readers aged 8 years and up… The following have been read and enjoyed by young and old alike – we hope you will tap into these and enjoy them too…

(Please note some reviews have come from children – names not published to protect their privacy)

Lintang Series by Tamara Moss – Books 1 and 2.
 

This was interesting as it was the first time we saw Indonesian character names in a junior fiction novel. The first 2 books are full of adventure and I am invested in the series I want to read the 3rd one when I can. What I liked was there wasn’t a lot of dialogue but more story and adventure. Both books had a serious story but it was funny, it was a bit scary but kids won’t get nightmares which is great. Recommend this to adventure fans and school friends but beware of Malam Rasha Night Terrors (hehe). Special thanks to Penguin Random House for sending review copies of these books – was a lot of fun to read!!

Jake Atlas and the Hunt of the Feathered God by Rob Lloyd Jones

I really liked this book as it was adventurous and very fast paced. It was an exciting adventure as the characters had to find an ancient tomb in the hidden temple but the secret passage was supposed to stop them but the characters are too sly for the puzzles they are very clever. The story was very clever I liked the mystery and the problem solving. At times it made me confused but that’s what made it very cool. Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.

Annie and Simon – Banana Muffins and Other Stories

A 3 in 1 book. This book really made me want to eat banana muffins but there wasn’t any!!!! The funniest part of this book was the Bobo – it’s a baby dummy (hehe) she tried to say everything but she said Simon and it came out Thymon Bobo, it was really cute and really funny. Special thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me a review copy of this book, now I’m off to make banana muffins!

The Institute of Fantastical Inventions by Dave Leys

This was fantastic and awkward hahaha!!! I loved it, it was so much fun and I think all my friends should read this because it was really funny and very exciting. My favourite bit – they made a girl float because she wanted to float in a bubble but the bubble didn’t pop unless she was in a safe place – she took a pill, very much like Willy Wonka. I wont show this to my brother, he will want to try these inventions at home!! Special thanks to Harbour Publishing House for sending me a review copy of this book.

Polly and Buster Books 1 and 2 by Sally Rippin
Book 1: Polly and Buster, the Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster
Book 2: Polly and Buster, the Mystery of the Magic Stones

 

Who ever heard of a witch and a monster being friends? Everyone knows that witches don’t mix with monsters. Witches are educated, clever, sophisticated. But monsters? Monsters are just uncouth. Some are even dangerous. But Polly the witch and Buster the feelings monster have been best friends forever.  It’s the sort of friendship that makes your heart squeeze with happiness. Somehow, they’ve managed to keep their friendship a secret. Until one day, when everything changes… This was a great story about friendship, secrets and lies and I found the book to be daring and mystical – it was very cool because the adventures the two characters went on were dangerous. It’s a cool series. Special thanks to Hardie Grant Egmont Publishers for sending me the review copies of these books.

Blog post reviews compiled and published by Annie

Kidz Korner Round Up of Recommendations for the Younger Read3rz!!!

It’s been a great haul with some wonderful recommendations for our younger readers.. enjoy!!!

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and The Bears by Alastair Chisholm, Illustrated by Jez Tuya

A bed time story between father and son. A story that keeps getting interrupted by question after question. But the questions are patiently answered by the father.

Even though the father finishes the story to his son, he gets asked another question about the… and the father replies that we find out them tomorrow night. I really want to know.

The witch and her best friend are my favourite characters.

Many thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Meredith

 

The Boy who grew Dragons by Andy Shepard, illustrated by Sara Ogilivie

When Tomas discovers a strange old tree at the bottom of his grandad’s garden, he doesn’t think much of it. But he takes the funny fruit from the tree back into the house – and gets the shock and delight of his life when a tiny dragon hatches! The tree is a dragonfruit tree, and Tomas has got his very own dragon, Flicker.. Tomas soon finds out that life with Flicker is great fun, but also very … unpredictable. Yes, dragons are wonderful, but they also set fire to your toothbrush and leave your pants hanging from the TV aerial. Tomas has to learn how to look after Flicker – and quickly. And then something extraordinary happens – more dragonfruits appear on the tree. Tomas is officially growing dragons – very adventurous and a lot of fun!!!
-Annie

 

Sad, The Dog by Sandy Fussell, Illustrated by Tull Suwannakit

A clever little dog christens himself “Sad” when his humans fail to give him a name. Although they feed him and wash him, they don’t appreciate his many gifts, like his love of singing. When the people move away and leave Sad behind, Sad is heartbroken. But then a new family with a young boy arrives at Sad’s house in a big truck.

A beautiful written story where the illustrations bring the words to life.

I would love to have this puppy as part of the family. Who wouldn’t?

Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Meredith

 

The Story Orchestra: The Sleeping Beauty  by Jessica Courtney Tickle

A stunning retelling of the classic ballet story brought to life by music! On each page you press the music button and the sound of Tchaikovsky’s original music plays in the background as you read this beautiful ballet story which features the King and Queen as they throw a party for their new baby, Princess Aurora. But when a terrible guest arrives and places a curse on princess, the kingdom must find the one special person who can defeat it… We have it on good authority that it captivates readers as young as 2 years old!!! It’s such a stunning gift book, special thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Annie

 

Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra

It’s homework time for the little red chicken, who has just learned about something every good story should have: an elephant of surprise. Or could it be an element of surprise!! As they dive in to story after story, looking for the part that makes a reader say “Whoa! I didn’t know that was going to happen,” Elephant or element, something unexpected awaits Papa in every story, but a surprise may be in store for the little red chicken as well.

A sweet tale of a child who misheard/misunderstood the saying ‘element of surprise’.

An entertaining read for anyone who has ever tried to explain a saying to a young child.

Special thanks to Walker Books for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Meredith

 

Old Hat by Emily Gravett

Harbet likes his comfy knitted hat, but the others keep jeering at him – OLD HAT! OLD HAT! No matter what headwear he buys – be it a towering fruit platter hat, an old-boot-on-the-head hat or a brightly lit traffic cone hat, Harbet cannot keep up with the latest fashions. As soon as he gets a brand new hat it is already an . . . OLD HAT! It seems that Harbet will never fit in. But when one day he decides to go his own way, Harbet discovers just how much more fun it is to stop following others and think for yourself

A fun read for anyone. Where Harbet tries to keep up with the latest hat trends, but always seems to be one step behind.

It takes a little while for Harbet to come into his own. And it’s fun to see his friends trying to match him.

Special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Meredith

 

Such a great haul- watch this space, more for recommendations for our junior readers coming soon!!!

Kidz Korner Round Up: Some picture books you MUST read!!!

Here are some of the picture books we had the pleasure of reading and recommending to our youngest members, the following are recommended to readers aged 3 and up – also recommended for family reading time.. We hope you enjoy them!!!

“The Knight who said No” by Lucy Rowland & Kate Hindley

A sweet tale of being lonely and making friends. Realising what is missing and working out how to fix it and capture the missing link. Special thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Meredith

 

“Puffin the Architect” by Kimberly Andrews

This is such a cute story with beautiful animal characters, intriguing houses and amazing ideas for storage solutions and architectural design!!! Yes the interior designer is Puffin is an architect who always exceeds her clients’ expectations, that is, until she takes on the toughest clients ever – her own pufflings! So cleverly written, cute illustrations and a storyline that not only gives you interior décor tips but warms your heart. Special thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Annie

 


“Tropical Terry” by Jarvis

This is an acceptance story – to accept who you are and who others are. With friends who will always accept you and not fake it. Tropical Terry is one I will recommend to anyone who.. well.. ANYONE!! Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Meredith

 

“Ocean Emporium” by Susie Brooks and Dawn Cooper


This is a beautifully illustrated compilation of our wonderful marine life. Bringing out the creatures of the deep from hermit crabs to great white sharks to fish to octopus it’s just one visual feast of the sea and an ideal introduction for children to explore creatures of the sea and nature. Special thanks to Hardie Grant Egmont Publishers for sending me a review copy of this beautiful book.
-Annie

 

“Ping VS Pong” by Mauro Gatti

This book is about two beans wanting to be the best at table tennis. Ping and Pong learn a lot as they go through their story such as the nature of rivalry, importance of friendship, winning and most importantly good sportsmanship. Special thanks to Penguin Random House Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Meredith

Stay tuned for our next children’s books recommendations!!!