Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

As my book reviews are now published in the magazine, I can post them here too.

‘Beswitched’ by Kate Saunders is for the 9-12 audience, primarily girls as the main protagonists are female. Kate Saunders is one to watch. This book provides wit, whimsy and a wizard good time…in both senses of the word. Oh and the illustration on the front cover reminds me of The Worst Witch, I just love it:


Flora has a problem – she’s being sent to St Winifred’s boarding school by extremely inconsiderate parents. While Flora reluctantly gets ready for dorm rooms and rubbish food, there’s one thing she hadn’t reckoned on: after falling asleep on the train journey to her school she wakes to find herself in 1935. Flora must come to terms with an unfamiliar time; no history lesson prepared her for this, but having ‘wizard’ friends is a good start.

Beswitched has the same magical quality as Jill Murphy’s Worst Witch series, and is set to be a success. An exciting, whimsical tale, there’s a sadness, too, knowing the Second World War is just round the corner. ISBN: 9781407108971

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Winnie the Pooh too

Winnie-the-Pooh-001I am trying to get my hands on the new Winnie the Pooh book to review it. The world has been enchanted by the ‘silly old pooh bear’ since the 1926 publication ‘The House at Pooh-Corner.’

This new book aptly titled ‘The Return to the One Hundred Acre Wood’ is written by David Benedictus and the just as important illustrations by mark Burgess. The book is published October 5th and i pray the people involved do it justice. Sometimes it’s better having nothing new than having a new sub-standard book.

But I for one wait with much anticipation and hope for this book.

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Admittedly, I have already failed in my promise to post a few blogs a week but I am back on top form now and ready to do my best! So, what was it that caused me to completely ignore my internet obligations? The art of full-time work.

I did work experience at a small publishing house last week, and having just got over swine flu, it completely drained me. However, during my time at Ransom publishing I came across a great range of books which I think are worth a mention as they target such a niche market. This market being high interest, low reading level children. The difficulty publishers have with children who struggle to read is finding something relevant. Whilst a child may have a low reading age of 6-7 when they are actually 12 years old, they are not going to want to read about Spongebob or Peppa Pig. That’s the most pressing thing when it comes to publishing these books and I believe Ransom has succeeded in producing quality books that quite frankly, do not insult the child’s abilities.

One book I was asked to read and review is ‘Stained’ by Joanne Hichens. It is part of a series called Cutting Edge. There are 16 fiction books in these series and they are all classed as ‘quick-reads’. To you and me this means they are formatted to appear like a regular novel but are shorted in length, around 25,000-35,000 words in fact and the font is larger and paragraphs spaced out.

So the issue of presentation appears not a problem for Ransom Publishing. But the most important question remains…is the content any good? Well in all honesty, yes it is. The book is for teenagers and young adults and so it’s important to acknowledge issues with society which these kids may well be going through.

‘Stained’ is set in a poor area of Cape Town and focuses on Grace, an adopted child trying desperately to remain on the good side of the law in a place so tempted into destruction. Grace’s authentic narrative is juxtaposed with the gripping diary of Crystal, who, just having had a baby when she herself is still a child is going through inner turmoil no one could possibly comprehend before it’s too late.

With these two impressionable young girls, the story is lightened somewhat by the endless support and love of Grace’s carer Martha. As the story progresses, what we begin to see is a story of turmoil, of tragedy and destruction but also of hope amongst the fallen.

The story cashes in on such topic of teenage pregnancy, abuse and drugs which so need addressing in the confusing society children are growing up in today. I would not recommend this book for children under 14 or 15 as it features swear words throughout and the topics are very sensitive and I think this book should be chosen at the discretion of the parent.

What makes the novel even more relevant is the authorship by Joanne Hichens. She lives in Cape Town and draws upon her own experiences to produce a novel which is perhaps more a hybrid of fiction and a representation of societal demands, than fantastical fiction which has no relevance to a lost child today.

‘Stained’ is available to order from www.ransom.co.uk

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