Title: The Enchanted Hour – The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction

Author: Meghan Cox Gurdon

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Piatkus

The Blurb

A Wall Street Journal writer’s conversation-changing look at how reading aloud makes adults and children smarter, happier, healthier, more successful and more closely attached, even as technology pulls in the other direction.

A miraculous alchemy occurs when one person reads to another, transforming the simple stuff of a book, a voice, and a bit of time into complex and powerful feel for the heart, brain, and imagination. Grounded in the latest neuroscience and behavioural research, and drawing widely from literature, The Enchanted Hour explains the dazzling cognitive and social-emotional benefits that await  children, whatever their class, nationality or family background. But it’s not just about bedtime stories for little kids: Reading aloud consoles, uplifts and invigorates at every age, deepening the intellectual lives and emotional well-being of teenagers and adults, too.

Meghan Cox Gurdon argues that this ancient practice is a fast-working antidote to the fractured attention spans, atomised families and unfulfilling ephemera of the tech era, helping to replenish what our devices are leaching away. For everyone, reading aloud engages the mind in complex narratives; for children, it’s an irreplaceable gift that builds vocabulary, fosters imagination, and kindles a lifelong appreciation of language, stories and pictures.

Bringing together the latest scientific research, practical tips, and reading recommendations, The Enchanted Hour will both charm and galvanise, inspiring readers to share this invaluable, life-altering tradition with the people hey love most.

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

As a person who writes book reviews it seems a bit redundant for me to read a book extolling the pleasures of reading. It seems to be pretty much a given. At times, I could be accused of pushing my book agenda on everyone else. Read because it is boss. It is almost like my life motto – my own version of Hakuna Matata…or something like that.

However, one of my favourite types of book is a book about books and reading. Is that a little warped? I don’t know why but I absolutely love them ad find them fascinating. They are almost memoirs told through h books. This was one of the reasons that I wanted to read The Enchanted Hour. Unlike other books I have read about this topic, The Enchanted Reader by Meghan Cox Gurdon the therapeutic qualities of reading – although this is discussed, it also loves and the neurological development that reading produces. It is the scene behind it that is truly fascinating. The blend of these two features really make The Enchanted Hour a fascinating read. It is enlightening and one that all educators should read. 

The Enchanted Hour is fascinating look at the importance of reading and creating an atmosphere of stories that is enjoyable – the impact of which will be felt far into adulthood.

The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction by Meghan Cox Gurdon is available now.

For more information regarding Meghan Cox Gurdon (@MeghanGurdon) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Piatkus (@PiatkusBooks) please visit www.piatkusbooks.net.

Title: Inkheart

Author: Cornelia Funke

Pages: 563 Pages

Publisher: Scholastic

The Blurb

From internationally acclaimed storyteller Cornelia Funke, this bestselling, magical epic is now out in paperback!

One cruel night, Meggie’s father reads aloud from a book called INKHEART— and an evil ruler escapes the boundaries of fiction and lands in their living room. Suddenly, Meggie is smack in the middle of the kind of adventure she has only read about in books. Meggie must learn to harness the magic that has conjured this nightmare. For only she can change the course of the story that has changed her life forever.

This is INKHEART–a timeless tale about books, about imagination, about life. Dare to read it aloud.

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

What a gorgeous story and shame on me for not having read it before. I have to admit, I read Inkheart because a student of mine recommended it. He was reading at and I wanted to encourage him to carry on with the chunky book. What happened was that I got lost in the world of Inkheart. That was pleasantly unexpected.

I have often wanted to live in the world of my my books. I want my Hogwarts letter and I frequently check wardrobes just in case I get to go to Narnia. After reading Inkheart and knowing that it may not go the way that I want it to and that in fact living in a book world may end completely awfulIy for me I am starting to rethink that decision…but still how exciting would it be?

What I am most grateful for is that I have two other books in the series are already waiting for me to read. I would be stressed out if I had to wait for the sequels.

If you are looking for a beautiful series of books to fall in to then I thoroughly recommend Inkheart. It is a must for anyone who loves book and to celebrate the whole world of literature. 

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke is available now.

For more information regarding Cornelia Funke (@CorneliaFunke) please visit www.corneliafunke.com.

For more information regarding Scholastic (@scholasticuk) please visit www.scholastic.co.uk.

Title: Speechless

Author: Hannah Harrington

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: HarlequinTeen

The Blurb

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

I firmly believe that it is better to have your nose in a book and not in someone else’s business. Someone would have given this advice to gossipy Chelsea Knot before she found out the hard way.

At a New Year’s Eve party, Chelsea’s love of gossip lands her in a lot of trouble and she has fallen from the top the social pyramid to being a social pariah.

What Chelsea learns from this is that there are more important things than being popular and that it takes a whole lot more to be someone’s friends.

I really liked Speechless. It is one of the better YA novels that I have read recently. It had everything – social issues and realistic responses. Furthermore, Harrington showed the ugly side to her characters. We are flawed and for Chelsea to recognise that about herself was refreshing. It wasn’t twee and super happy but you did leave the Speechless feeling hopeful. With Speechless, Hannah Harrington has a really, really good story.

Speechless by Hannah Harrington is available now.

For more information regarding Hannah Harrington (@)hharrington_ please visit www.hannahharrington.com.

For more information regarding HarlequinTeen (@HarlequinBooks) please visit www.harlequin.com.

Title: The House of Impossible Beauties

Author: Joseph Cassara

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

The Blurb

Inspired by the real House of Xtravaganza in the seminal documentary Paris is Burning, and set in New York City from the late 70s–early 90s against the backdrop of the impending AIDS crisis, The House of Impossible Beauties follows a cast of gay and transgender club kids navigating the Harlem ball scene and the Christopher Street Pier as they flee their traumatic pasts and band together to form the city’s first all-Latino House.

Told in a voice that brims with wit, rage, tenderness and fierce yearning, The House of Impossible Beauties is a tragic story of love, family and the resilience of the human spirit.

The Review

I think my heart is a little bit broken. The House of Impossible Beauties centres on the trans community in New York during the 1970s onwards. It looks at the lack of understanding outside of the LGBTQIA+ community. It navigates familial breakdown and looks at how a person can create their own family – they may not be blood but it shows that you don’t need to be related by arbitrary blood types to look out for one another. 

The House of Impossible Beauties couldn’t exist in this time period without looking at the AIDS crisis. The story shows how it ravaged those who were infected and how the negativity surrounding sexuality was juxtaposed to the narrative of the day. 

Mainly it looks at loss. That comes in the form of loss of innocence but mainly through the loss of those that you love. The House of Impossible Beauties was in fact a beautiful, heartbreaking story.

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara is available now.

For more information regarding Joseph Cassara (@josephbcassara) please visit www.josephcassara.com.

For more information regarding Oneworld Publications (@OneworldNews) please visit www.oneworld-publications.com.

Title: The Cheerleaders

Author: Kara Thomas

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Delacorte Press/Macmillan Children’s Books

The Blurb

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

Oooh The Cheerleaders is a clever little book. It is a murder mystery meeds psychological thriller wrapped in YA fiction and it is a stonking good read. 

Five years ago 5 girls – all part of the same cheerleading squad – all die in mysterious ways. Monica, the sister of one of the victims, cannot shake off the loss of her sister. She cannot lay it to rest and she spends the majority of her final year trying to figure it out. She knows that there is something more to it and she is determined to uncover the truth.

I got lost in The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas. I am the perfect reader for this kind of novel because I never see who the killer is, I never guess ahead of time and everybody is a suspect. I literally had everyone down for the culprit. The Cheerleaders is twisty and turny and every time you think you have it figured out Thomas throws in something new to make you question everything you believe.

I cannot wait to share this novel with my students because I know that they will love it to.

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas is available now.

For more information regarding Kara Thomas (@karawrites) please visit www.kara-Thomas.com.

For more information regarding Delacorte Press (@DelacortePress) please visit the Twitter page.