Thursday 29 September 2016

BOOK REVIEW | 'Everywhere I Look' by Helen Garner

Hey readers, and happy Thursday! Today I am delighted to be able to share with you another book review, this time of the wonderful Helen Garner’s Everywhere I Look. I read this book a couple of weeks back, just before I travelled back up to university, and it definitely got me into a positive mind set for a new term. Everywhere I Look is a fantastic collection of essays, personal diaries and recollections of a life decorated by moments of wonder, grief, humour, regret and the beauty of literature and creativity. Helen Garner is one of Australia’s best-loved writers and Everywhere I Look reveals to the reader the writer behind the novels, and the workings of a mind that has produced such brilliant and renowned works.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here…

Spanning fifteen years of work, Everywhere I Look is a book full of unexpected moments, sudden shafts of light, piercing intuition, flashes of anger and incidental humour. It takes us from backstage at the ballet to the trial of a woman for the murder of her newborn baby. It moves effortlessly from the significance of moving house to the pleasure of re-reading Pride and Prejudice.

Everywhere I Look includes Garner's famous and controversial essay on the insults of age, her deeply moving tribute to her mother and extracts from her diaries, which have been part of her working life for as long as she has been a writer. Everywhere I Look glows with insight. It is filled with the wisdom of life.

I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of Everywhere I Look whilst at my internship at FMcM Associates, and I am publishing my review today to celebrate the UK publication of this book – so make sure you guys head over to your nearest bookshop and pick this up!

Everywhere I Look is an intelligent, poignant exploration of life as a woman in the modern day. Garner touches on almost every aspect of life – from the complaints of old age, the tribulations involved with moving house, the often tumultuous relationship between a mother and a daughter, to emotional reflections on the murder cases that have shocked society and made us question our very nature. Garner writes with unadulterated honesty, wit, humour and acute anger. It is evident that her life lies within these pages, and to the reader she transmits her very soul. At the conclusion of the book you feel as if this is a woman you have known since forever, and the writing is so distinctive that you feel as if Garner is sat right next to you, telling you her story. 

The essays in Everywhere I Look are as a whole wonderfully written, surprising and immensely heart-warming. I never thought an essay about moving house could inspire so much emotion. My favourite essay was undoubtedly the essay about the teenage girl who was put on trial for the murder of her baby, and my favourite diary entries were the ones that recounted Garner’s friendship with a famous novelist she met in a restaurant. The language Garner uses is so intricately detailed and subtle in its beauty. As well as being touched by the elegance of the writing, I also learned so much – each essay was insightful and wise in its exploration of life. Garner is unmistakably someone who is inspired by life, and who writes directly by experience. I have been interested in reading Garner’s books for a while, but Everywhere I Look has made me desperate to sample her fiction for myself. 

Overall, I think that it’s pretty evident that I loved Everywhere I Look, and would recommend it to everyone, whether you normally read non-fiction or tend to avoid it completely. This book has definitely made me want to read more essay collections, and has also inspired me to try writing some of my own. Grab this book for yourself to find out whether it could inspire you too.

Buy Everywhere I Look here

Check out Helen Garner here:

Until next time :)

Tuesday 27 September 2016

RELEASE DAY BLITZ | 'The Last Dance' by Kierney Scott

Hey guys, and happy Tuesday! Today I am excited to be participating in another release day blitz, this time to celebrate the publication of Kierney Scott's new novel The Last Dance, a contemporary romance novel all about ballet, spies and heart-stopping romance.

Sounds intriguing, right? Check out the blurb here...

American born Prima Ballerina Georgina Fairly made a mistake that could destroy her. Saving her career means selling her soul to the Russian government. Now a spy who uses her body to lure men and secure their secrets, Georgina is tasked with seducing Roman Zakharov, the most dangerous Oligarch in Russia.

Roman Zakharov a man with a past as ugly as his disfigured face. An assassination attempt left him horribly burned, but the scars go deeper than the frightening exterior. Jaded and cruel, Roman lets Georgina into his world but only to punish her and teach the pretty dancer that no one crosses Roman Zakharov. He will show her what it means to be used. And he will teach her to beg.

Released today on ebook, The Last Dance is an exciting, sharply written novel that is sure to hold you hostage (haha, get it?!) until the very last page. 

American born Kierney Scott lives in Edinburgh, Scotland with her kilt wearing husband and their daughter. When she is not writing, she is reading or drinking tea or spending far too much time on social media. She is fluent in Spanish, and by that she means she knows all the words to La Bamba. She loves hearing from readers. You can contact her on Facebook or Twitter.

Buy The Last Dance here:

Check out Kierney Scott here:

Until next time :) 

BLOG TOUR | The Million Dollar Blog | My Blogging Journey

Hello readers, and happy Tuesday! Today I am delighted to be on blog tour to celebrate the launch of a fantastic, one-of-a-kind book which will be published this Thursday! As soon as I got an email asking whether I wanted to receive this book for review, and whether I wanted to be involved in the blog tour. The answer was an immediate yes - I have never come across a book like this before and I think it is such a fantastic step in the movement towards blogging and bloggers being taken more seriously with journalists and worldwide media!

Yes, you guessed right, this book is about BLOGGING <3

The Million Dollar Blog is a how-to guide for bloggers of all kinds, on how to make your blog stand out and be the best it can be. The book tackles the most confusing and most difficult of questions, such as: how do you make money from blogging? How can you make your blog a success? The author, entrepreneur and digital strategist Natasha Courtenay Smith shares all the best advice in this wonderfully distinctive book, with help from superstar bloggers Seth Godin, Lily Pebbles, Grant Cardone and Madeleine Shaw.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

In a world where everyone wants to blog and blog posts are ubiquitous, how do you stand out? How do you blog your way from nobody to somebody? How do you, as a business owner, use content to build your brand and drive your success?

Blogging has become the ‘it’ career of the modern world and every business knows that blogging should be an integral part of their marketing and success, but it’s actually never been tougher to be shine in the digital storytelling landscape.

No matter who are you – a mum at home, a budding fashion blogger or a small business owner –The Million Dollar Blog will be your ultimate guide to starting a successful blog or taking your existing blog to the next level.

Through a combination of practical advice and interviews with some of the world’s most famous and successful bloggers, vloggers and content strategists, including Seth Godin, Lily Pebbles, Grant Cardone and Madeleine Shaw, entrepreneur and digital strategist Natasha Courtenay Smith shows you how to build a blog that will increase your profile, create new opportunities, earn money and change your life.

I was kindly sent The Million Dollar Blog by the lovely Grace at Little Brown in exchange for an honest review :)

Across this blog tour bloggers like me are going to be sharing their own unique blogging journey - how we started, what motivates us, what we like about it. If you are a blogger or are thinking of starting a blog I hope you will find this interesting and perhaps feel a bit inspired <3

If I think about it, my blogging journey really started when, at 15 years old, I was spotted on the teen writing website Movellas and asked to write a series of articles for Huffington Post. At the time I didn't really know what I was doing - it didn't sink in at all that I was joining a crowd of talented young writers and that my writing was going to be seen by hundreds of readers every day. But after a while I got into the swing of things and enjoyed writing up an article (almost weekly) about topics ranging from my mother's complaints about my messy bedroom, to Michael Gove's prospected changes to GCSEs and UKIP, to Malala Yousafzai and why she is my inspiration. I continued writing for the Huffington Post until May of last year.

A few months after this I got the fantastic opportunity to attend a book launch of an author in the same agency as my uncle - Sara Grant, the fabulous author of YA novels such as Half Lives and Dark Parties. It was my first experience in a professional environment and at fifteen years old it was pretty unnerving! However, I felt so excited to be surrounded by so many 'book' people and felt at home in amidst of the conversations about books, new publications and my favourite fictional characters. Meeting Sara is still one of the stand-out moments of my blogging career. She not only gave me stellar writing advice but listened to what I had to say and then said 'I know what you should do'. And this, ladies and gentlemen, was book blogging

Sara Grant introduced me to the amazing Nina Douglas, then working for Indigo at Orion, who immediately inspired me and got me thinking about what I wanted to do. We chatted about books and reading trends and she told me about two fantastic new YA novels being published in the next couple of months. These were Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone and Emily Murdoch's If You Find Me - three years on, still two of my favourite novels. 

Aaaaaannnnnnddddd the rest of history! Since then I feel I have grown as a reader, a writer and a person. I have been exposed to books I would never have normally picked up in Waterstones, and had so many amazing opportunities I would never have received if I hadn't have been a book blogger. From meeting and interviewing authors such as  Marcus Sedgwick, Holly Black, Sarah Crossan and Sally Green (I also interviewed Martha Collison off the Bake Off! Just saying ;) ) to being able to attend Hay Festival, London Book Fair and YALC, these past three years have been an absolute blast. Sure, at times it has been stressful when I have had to balance school (and now uni!) work and blogging, but it all has been worth it. I am so, so fortunate that I now belong to this amazing community, with people who inspire me daily. I have made lifelong friendships and professional relationships. Not a lot of hobbies can give you that!

So I hope you have enjoyed reading about my blogging journey and that I haven't completely bored you! Please do check out the other spots on the blog tour, and also buy The Million Dollar Blog when it is released on Thursday - I am sure you will not regret it.

Check out Natasha Courtenay Smith here:

Until next time :)

Sunday 25 September 2016

BLOG TOUR | 'Writing For Children and Young Adults' by Marion Crook | What Makes A Great YA Novel?

Hello readers, and happy Sunday! Today I am thrilled to be on the blog tour of Marion Crook's Writing For Children and Young Adults, which is a fantastic how-to guide of what makes a brilliant YA or children's novel.

5 days ago I took part in the release day blitz, which you can check out here:

Today I am delighted to welcome Marion to my blog, where she will share her thoughts on what makes a great YA novel...

Like any good book a Young Adult novel needs intriguing characters, an interesting setting, and an exciting plot. Because teens are widely and wildly different, we can’t write for as if they share the same interests and ideas.  We write for our imaginary audience, the teens we see in our mind reading our story.  

And there has to be a story. If we ask a teen reader “Tell me about that book” they likely will give us the plot, the action that occurs. “Jeff drove his friend home form a basketball game and his car ran out of gas and he was stuck in the woods and a space ship came along and…” If we ask them “What did you like about the book” they are likely to tell us about the characters. “I liked Jeff because he didn’t always do the right thing. Sometimes he did stupid things and then he had to fix them. I liked that.” The readers must care about the protagonist. They must have an emotional connection to the main character that allows them to enter the story as if they were that main character. It doesn’t mean they must be like that character (Harry Potter is certainly unusual) but they understand that character. For the time they are reading the book, they see the world of the novel from that character’s perspective. Making that connection with the reader so that they enter into the perspective of the protagonist takes skill, talent and practice. 

Writers look for techniques to help them create that connection. They give their protagonist a problem.  That problem has to be personal, difficult, and important and have a time deadline. Suzanne, our main character, has to prove she is not a thief before the coach chooses the team for the regional competition on Friday.  Being labelled a thief is personal, important, difficult to refute and must be resolved before Friday. Giving the protagonist a problem is a rule and like all rules, we can break it, but it is a useful place to start. 

As writers we need to be aware that teens have a sub-culture that demands a separate language from the main adult culture. Teens use that language to keep adults out of their space.  They are adept at switching from adult language to teen langue appropriately, at least intelligent teens are and our protagonist is intelligent. It doesn’t take many words to indicate an “inside” language. The problem with using teen language is its rapid disappearance. By the time our book sis published that language is passé.  Using only a word or two to indicate a change in language is often all it takes to bring the reader into the teen’s world.  On the other hand, stories are frozen in time, so if you inject words that are typical of the times, such as “Golly” in a 1940s setting, readers will accept it. 

Aside from the need for superb, concise writing, well-crafted suspense or tension and appropriate subject matter, the subgenres of the Young Adult literary world have characteristics that writers need to study. There are many subgenres: dystopia, fantasy, thriller, sci-fi, historical, contemporary with typical issues around each genre. Then there are the many appropriate plot lines across genres such as the quest, coming-of-age, the problem novel, family dysfunction, relationships with authorities, reckless behavior of protagonist or friends and issues such as sexual orientation, diversity, and divorce. As is obvious, it isn’t easy to categorize Young Adult fiction. Teen readers are interested in many subjects, written in many styles, set in different worlds and time periods. 

The secret of a great Young Adult novel is vivid and distinctive characters, fascinating settings, and a driving, tense plot. 

Good luck. 

Thank you so much, Marion, for appearing on my blog! 

Make sure you guys check out Writing For Children and Young Adults here: 

Check out Marion Crook here:

Also remember to check out the other stops on the blog tour <3

Until next time :)

Tuesday 20 September 2016

RELEASE DAY BLITZ | 'Writing For Children and Young Adults' by Marion Crook

Hey guys, and happy Tuesday! Today I am very excited to be partaking in a release day blitz for Marion Crook's brand new book: Writing For Children and Young Adults. I don't normally feature non-fiction on my blog but since a lot of you guys are aspiring writers and YA fans, I thought this might be quite interesting for you to check out!

In this vibrant new edition of Writing for Children and Young Adults published on the 16th

 Crook explains some of the nuances and choices about the writing world online. Crook revisits the fundamentals of writing: establishing character, creating lively dialogue and developing plot with updated worksheets and examples. This edition shows the writer how to begin a story, plan plot, develop and hone the work for an agent or publisher, and how to make the crucial submission for a book that agents want to represent and publishers want to buy!

Writing for Children and Young Adults helps you create the manuscript that sells, and is a essential book for any aspiring and published writer who wants to write for young people.

Marion Crook has written many books for young adult and middle-grade readers. Here, she offers advice on writing, publishing, and marketing. Crook’s background in child development education as a nurse and her Ph.D. in education give her solid knowledge, but she maintains that a keen observation of people, places, and events can be the author’s most useful tool. An experienced teacher and writer, she gives her readers clear and practical tips, with humor and obvious understanding of what it’s like to write and publish.

Check out the Goodreads page for more information about Writing for Children and Young Adults: 

Check out the book here: 



Chapters Indigo: 

Check out my guest post with Marion Crook on the 25th for a special excerpt where she shares her tips for writing fab YA!

Until next time :)

Thursday 15 September 2016

DELIGHTFUL KIDS BOOKS | 'Belle and Sébastien' by Cécile Aubry (****)

Hello readers, and another happy Thursday to you as I feature another wonderful children's book!

Today I will be reviewing the wonderful Belle and Sébastien by Cécile Aubry, another children's book recently sent to me by Alma Books in exchange for an honest review :)

Belle and Sébastien is a beautifully told story following the son of a Gypsy woman, Sébastien, who's mother died after she gave birth to him. He has been brought up by Guillaume and his grandchildren Angélina and Jean in a tiny mountainside village in France, and is a boy who is intelligent, curious and doesn't care what the village children think of him. Belle is a beautiful, yet enormous white Pyrenean Mountain Dog, and when the villagers decide that Belle is a risk to the safety and peace of their tiny village Sébastien is intrigued. Is this dog really the dangerous creature the villagers profess her to be? As Belle and Sébastien strike up an unlikely but devoted friendship, the village is forced to reconsider everything they originally believed, and everything they thought they knew about loyalty and friendship and everything that comes with the two.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

The son of a Gypsy woman, Sébastien is found as a newborn baby in the Alps and brought up by Guillaume and his grandchildren Angélina and Jean. Born on the same day, Belle is a beautiful white Pyrenean Mountain Dog who has been neglected and passed on from owner to owner, until one day she escapes from a kennel. When Sébastien rescues the runaway Belle from the wrath of the villagers, the boy and the dog form a lifelong friendship and embark on exciting adventures in the mountains.

First published in 1965 to coincide with the internationally successful television series of the same name, Belle and Sébastien is a heart-warming story of camaraderie, adventure and freedom.

Reading this book in the height of summer, I definitely appreciated the beautiful, detailed descriptions of the French Pyrenees - this and the illustrations by Helen Stephens - which made Belle and Sébastien such a wonderfully atmospheric read. I was gripped from the very beginning of the story, eager to find out how things would end up for Sébastien and if Belle would ever find a place where she would feel safe again. Aubry makes Belle such a vivid character with fears, desires and complex thought processes - which means I cared a whole lot more about Belle and Sébastien's friendship than I normally would, with a typically 2-dimensional animal character. Their friendship was so heartwarming and wonderful to read about. 

I thought the other characters were also fantastically written - in particular I loved César and Célestine - they jumped right off the page and into my heart. César was a French Atticus Finch and Célestine was irritating yet highly lovable. However, Sébastien was no doubt my favourite character - brave, intelligent and wilful - he was so interesting to read about. His determination and loyalty towards Belle drove the story forward and I love how Sébastien made the story his own.

The only reason that this is a 4* review instead of a 5* review is because at times I found the writing quite difficult to understand fully - it might be because I haven't read a classic for a while, it might be because its a translated, but I just found some of the language hard to get to grips with. Although I found the descriptions of the environment beautiful and intricately detailed, general descriptions were slightly clumsy (this is probably entirely due to translation issues, however).

Overall, I really enjoyed Belle and Sébastien and I would highly encourage you to check it out, especially if you love classic children's books. I would recommend this book for children nine years and upwards, but it is such a beautiful story about loyalty, friendship and the dangers of fear, ignorance and prejudice that I'm sure readers of all ages would adore it.

Check back next week for another children's books feature!

Buy Belle and Sébastien here.

Check out Helen Stephens here:

Until next time :) 

Monday 12 September 2016

COLOURING CORNER | 'Pride and Prejudice: A Colouring Classic' by Chellie Carroll (*****)

Hello readers, and happy Wednesday! Today I am so excited to share this 5* review with you, of a totally gorgeous colouring book I was sent by the lovely Charlie at Little Tiger Press, in exchange for an honest review. Yes, I am one of those people who can't get enough of grown-up colouring books, and as soon as I see any I immediately want to own it. When I heard that Little Tiger Press were publishing a new set of colouring books, dedicated to some of the greatest novels ever written, I was so excited. My love for classic novels, coupled with my adoration for colouring books, meant that I couldn't wait to get my hands on some of these titles.

The first Colouring Classic book I want to share with you is the gorgeous Pride and Prejudice edition, which I have spent so much time colouring in this summer. It is simply beautiful, inside and out, and it is definitely one of the most intricately detailed and beautifully designed colouring books I have ever had the pleasure of owning.

Check out book details below!

Fall in love all over again with Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in this wonderful coloring book featuring beautifully intricate patterns and details, classic quotations, and iconic scenes to color in. Includes a fascinating guide to the Victorian language of flowers and a gorgeous foiled cover.

I love the idea of compact or pocket-sized colouring books, however I have to say that I much prefer bigger colouring books. I thought the size of Pride and Prejudice was the perfect size for a colouring book and although all of the drawings were intricately detailed it was much more of a pleasure to colour and less of a chore. It is not only generously sized but also the pages are of amazing quality - nice and thick - and even though I used good quality, highly pigmented markers, none of my colours ever marked onto the back of another drawing. The outside is also beautifully foiled - making it a gorgeous book inside and out. Having read Pride and Prejudice this year, I loved the fact that quotes were included alongside the drawings (some of my favourite quotes as well!) It reminded me of some of the best parts of the novel, and if you haven't read it, the quotes provide a helpful context for some of the scenes in the colouring book. 

Also the terminology for the flowers was such a delightful aspect and I found it really interesting to read about the different meanings of the flowers. I think that the best thing about this colouring book was the fact that that it was so deeply rooted in a literary world, one that I could admire and lose myself in.

I also loved the fact that the drawings varied so much - from intricate, tiny detailed drawings to bigger shapes and patterns to colour - for every mood I was in, there was a drawing I could happily sit down and colour. Some days I felt in the mood to colour something quite detailed and complicated and other days I just wanted to colour something quite simple. Pride and Prejudice provided such great variation in drawings and it is such a delightful colouring book to settle down with, at any time of the day.

Overall, I think it's pretty evident that I adored Pride and Prejudice: A Colouring Classic, and I can't wait to show you guys the other colouring books in the colouring classics series!

Buy Pride and Prejudice: A Colouring Classic here

Check out Chellie Carroll here:

Until next time :) 

Thursday 8 September 2016

DELIGHTFUL KIDS BOOKS | 'The Castle of Inside Out' by David Henry Wilson (*****)

Hello readers, and happy Thursday! Today I am happy to share with you another book review for my children's book feature, which made it's debut last week! I'm really happy with the amount of traffic generated and the feedback I received, so thank you very much for the support <3

I have given today's book a 5* rating, which goes to show that kids books can be enjoyed as much by adults as by kids, and I would highly recommend that you pick this book up no matter how old you are!

I was kindly sent The Castle of Inside Out by the lovely people at Alma Books in exchange for an honest review :)

The Castle of Inside Out follows Lorina, a young schoolgirl who embarks on one of the biggest, weirdest and important journeys of her life. Desperate for information about the Castle that lies beyond the other side of the forest for a school project, Lorina follows a rather pompous and irritable rabbit through a wood, and ends up at the Castle where she she hopes to find all the answers she is looking for. Unfortunately, Lorina's trip to the Castle leaves her with more questions than answers, and she is determined to find a way to restore justice for the green people who live outside the castle, and bring the evil 'insiders' to understand the counteract the consequences of their behaviour.

Intrigued? Read the blurb here...

Lorina, a young schoolgirl, is led by a black rabbit through a wood to a magical land. There she finds a race of green people, who are all overworked, starving and subjected to the toxic fumes billowing out of a nearby castle. She decides to gain access to the castle for the poor green people, and within its walls she meets the insiders , selfish creatures who hoard all the resources and treat the outsiders as slaves. Her quest leads her to encounter the bureaurat, the superviper, the farmadillo and, eventually, the awful Piggident himself. Will she be able to save the green people from the cruelty of these insiders ? Wonderfully illustrated by Chris Riddell, The Castle of Inside Out is an unforgettable and hilarious tale of adventure, set in a world where greed must be fought by the courageous and compassionate heroine.

I didn't know anything about this book prior to reading (apart from the blurb) so I really didn't know what to expect. What I found upon reading was a wonderfully told, hilariously written adventure story with compassion and an important moral message at its heart. The Castle of Inside Out is an adventure book kids of all ages will love, with an Orwell twist that brings this book to the forefront of essential childhood reading, to get kids thinking about what makes a good society, and the issues that we should be concerned about as human beings. 

I was immediately drawn into the story through Chris Riddell's illustrations, which obviously were beautifully detailed and wonderfully atmospheric, brilliant at depicting Lorina's world. As there were a few weird and wonderful creatures that Lorina meets on her quest, and it really helped to be able to visualise what Wilson was describing. I think this really works for kids who prefer visual aid when reading and comprehending a story - one is never too old for pictures in books, in my opinion!

As for the actual story, I loved it. If I was reading The Castle of Inside Out as a kid, I would have revelled in the interesting and caricatural characters, the vivid language and the bravery and determination found in Lorina. As an adult, I adored all of these things, along with the Orwellian characteristics that brought the book to life. The dialogue was hilarious and there were many moments where I actually laughed out loud. The fantastic wordplay and creatively constructed villains (the superviper, the bureaurat, the farmadillo and the Piggident) were fantastic in making this a book I simply couldn't put down. This book has been described as Animal Farm meets Alice in Wonderland and I can see why. With themes such as charity, responsibility, care for the environment and greed running throughout, it would be hard to find a better book for children that encourages care for others and the world around them. And with all the awful things that are happening around the world at the moment, it is important that we teach kids that care for other people is at the heart of a better society and a more hopeful future. 

I would say that this book would be suitable for children seven and up, but I would honestly say that this book can be enjoyed by children and adults of all ages - I adored it and I'm sure that you will too!

Remember to check back next week for another children's book feature <3

Buy The Castle of Inside Out here

Check out David Henry Wilson here:

Check out Chris Riddell here:

Until next time :)

Thursday 1 September 2016

DELIGHFTUL KIDS BOOKS | 'The Emergency Zoo' by Miriam Halahmy (****)

Hello readers, and Thursday! Today I am very excited to share with you a brand new feature I have been working on over the last few weeks - a children's books feature - Delighful Kids Books!

Every Thursday throughout the month of September I will be spotlighting a children's book and giving it a review, along with a little description of the book and who I think might enjoy it - so if you have little people in your life, you can decide if they might enjoy it too. I'm not that experienced in blogging about kids books, so I'm just going to have a go and see if it works. If this feature proves to be popular then I might just turn it into a regular feature, so keep your eyes peeled ;)

Even when I was little I was a ferocious and dedictaed reader, and kids books are some of the best reads out there, even for us adults. In this weekly feature I want to talk about the classics that are everyone's favourites (and should be on every kids bookshelf!) and new releases that I don't want you to miss out on. I hope you enjoy!

For the very first Delightful Kids Books feature, I want to spotlight a fantastic kids book released in May this year:
The Emergency Zoo by Miriam Halahmy. The Emergency Zoo is a gorgeous book about friendship, resilience and bravery, set in the chaotic and fearful atmosophere of the Second World War. Twelve-year-olds Tilly and Rosy have to adjust to unexpected and unwanted changes to the comfortable lives they are used to, but then their world is shattered when they learn that the government is ordering for every pet to be put down by the vet. Tilly and Rosy decide to take matters into their own hands, but what trouble will their bravery cause them?

I was kindly sent The Emergency Zoo by Alma Books in exchange for an honest review :)

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

  When the war comes, who will save the animals?

It is late August 1939: Britain is on the brink of war, and preparations are under way to evacuate London’s children to the countryside. When twelve-year-old Tilly and her best friend Rosy find out that they will not be able to take their beloved dog and cat with them – and that, even worse, their pets will, along with countless other animals, be taken to the vet to be put down – they decide to take action. The two girls come up with the idea of hiding them in a derelict hut in the woods and, when other children find out and start bringing their rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters, their secret den turns into an emergency zoo.

Inspired by real events during the Second World War, Miriam Halahmy’s novel is a touching tale of courage, resourcefulness and camaraderie in desperate times, as well as a stirring defence of animal welfare.

When I was younger I loved reading books about World War Two - Private Peaceful, War Horse, The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, Goodnight Mr Tom just to name a few. Therefore it was great to be able to read another middle-grade World War Two novel, after having gone through seven years of school and one year of university, knowing a lot more about the history of World War Two than I did when I first read these kind of books. 

The Emergency Zoo is a beautifully written book and I was immediately sucked into the story and intricately described world of the characters before the end of the first chapter.  The writing was accessible for children and yet not patronising, and the dialogue was also incredibly enjoyable to read. 

The story was told through the perspective of the protagonist Tilly, which made for a fantastically told story with the innocence and heart of a child. I in particular loved her relationship with her best friend, Rosy. Both girls were really well written as courageous, intelligent girls with a fierce sense of dedication and responsibility towards their own pets, and the people around them. There was a huge sense of adventure in this book, which added to the historical context the story was set in, which would no doubt make a child who was reading it be  interested in learning about the Second World War. 

Along with the fantastically paced, beautifully written story, there were also important issues and themes running through the book. When Tilly befriends two Jewish children, who have been sent to England on the Kinder Transport, Tilly not only protects them against bullies as the other children denounce them as 'not one of us', but also has an important conversation with her parents as they explain to her that the Jews in Germany are treated horrifically and that they are not fighting the war against them, they are fighting the war against Hitler. I think that Halahmy did a great job of including vital moral issues into the story, which are such an important part of a child's understanding of World War Two. There were so many parts in the book that almost made me well up - there was so much heart and emotion included in the story, with the unwavering hopefulness of a child.

Overall, I loved The Emergency Zoo and would recommend it to children aged 9 and up - I thoroughly enjoyed it as a nineteen year old - so there is no reason why you won't!

Keep an eye out for the next Delightful Kids Books feature next Thursday :)

Check out Miriam Halahmy here: