Title: A Kind of Spark

Author: Elle McNicoll

Pages: 192 Pages

Publisher: Knights of Media

The Blurb

A KIND OF SPARK tells the story of 11-year-old Addie as she campaigns for a memorial in memory of the witch trials that took place in her Scottish hometown. Addie knows there’s more to the story of these ‘witches’, just like there is more to hers. Can Addie challenge how the people in her town see her, and her autism, and make her voice heard? A story about friendship, courage and self-belief, perfect for fans of The Goldfish Boy.

(GOODREADS BLURB)

The Review

A Kind of Spark is a lovely story about difference and about acceptance. It tells the story of Addie. Addie is autistic and finds life a bit difficult sometimes. Things that neurotypical people take for granted Addie struggles with on daily basis. 

When she and her classmates start to learn about the persecution of women considered to be witches she sets about to change people’s opinions and wants to memorialise them. 

Elle McNicoll has done a fabulous job in which she uses the witch trials as an allegory for the misunderstanding that surrounds autism. As we are seeing the story from Addie’s perspective we feel her sense of unfairness and especially feel her frustration at being on the outside of a world that solely caters for neurotypical people.

I can honestly say that A Kind of Spark broke me at several points in this novel. I laughed, I cried and I desperately wanted to make the world right for Addie. I really think this book is a must read for every school teacher and should be given to all school children to read. It is the kind of book that makes you want to be a kinder person. 

A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll is available now.

For more information regarding Elle McNicoll (@BooksandChokers) please visit her Twitter page

For more information regarding Knights of Media (@_KnightsOf) please visit www.kinghtsof.media.

Title: An Eye for an Eye 

Author: Malorie Blackman

Pages: 99 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

In a world where the two classes are divided by colour and never treated as equals, Sephy – a Cross and daughter of a top politician – is six months pregnant. The child’s father, Callum, is a Nought, but worse, he is dead and Callum’s brother is out for revenge. Can two wrongs make a right?

(GOODREADS BLURB)

The Review

An Eye for an Eye is the short story follow up to Noughts and Crosses that prepares us somewhat for the full length sequel Knifes Edge. 

In this short we see Jude, Callum’s brother, determined to act out his vengeful justice on Sephy. He blames her and all other Crosses for his brother’s death. What he isn’t banking on is Sephy feeling the exact same way.

Even though this is only a short story we see so much development in the character of Sephy. She has been forced to grow up and she now knows that life isn’t always fixable especially if you are a nought. 

We are also given a close up look at Jude who was relegated to a secondary character in Noughts and Crosses even though it was usually his actions that incited the most drama.

Blackman has been very clever in setting up Knifes Edge. The hope from Noughts and Crosses has been firmly stripped away and we are seeing a much darker and sinister story lingering. 

An Eye for an Eye by Malorie Black man is available now.

For more information regarding Malorie Blackman (@malorieblackman) please visit www.malorieblackman.co.uk.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: Failosophy – A Handbook for When Things Go Wrong

Author: Elizabeth Day

Pages: 112 Pages

Publisher: 4th Estate

The Blurb

‘Most failures can teach us something meaningful about ourselves if we choose to listen’

In Failosophy Elizabeth Day brings together all the lessons she has learned, from conversations with the guests on her award-winning How to Fail podcast, from stories shared with her by readers and listeners, and from her own life, and distils them into seven principles of failure. Practical, reassuring and inspirational, these principles offer a guide through life’s rough patches.

From failed exams to romantic break-ups, from career setbacks to confidence crises, from navigating anxiety to surviving loss, Failosophy recognises, and celebrates, the fact that failure connects us all. It is what makes us human.

With insights from Malcolm Gladwell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Lemn Sissay, Frankie Bridge, Nigel Slater, Emeli Sande, Alain de Botton, Mabel, Fearne Cotton, Meera Syal, Dame Kelly Holmes, Andrew Scott and many, many more, Failosophy is the essential handbook for turning failure into success.

The Review

I really like Elizabeth Day. I enjoy her writing – both fiction and non-fiction and I enjoy listening to her podcast. When I was given the opportunity to read How to Fail I jumped at the chance. The same goes for Failosophy. When you get so much from a writer you gorge yourself on all of their works and fortunately for me I have yet to be disappointed. 

Failosophy is an extension of both he book and the podcast How to Fail. Whereas the book How to Fail was about Elizabeth Day’s journey and the podcast invites us to listen to a plethora or diverse and interesting people and their journey what you get from Failosophy is guidance for your own journey. I’ve said journey far too much and now I feel like I am in a montage at the beginning of The X Factor.

This pocket-sized guide is great to dip in and out of and helps to remind you that not all failures are failures. It really is a joyful things to read 

Failosophy – A Handbook for When Things Go Wrong by Elizabeth Day is available now.

For more information regarding Elizabeth Day (@elizabday) please visit www.elizabethdayonline.co.uk.

For more information regarding 4th Estate (@4thEstateBooks) please visit www.4thestate.co.uk.

Title: Wundersmith

Author: Jessica Townsend

Pages: 404 Pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group

The Blurb

Return to the magical world of Nevermoor, where Morrigan Crow’s adventures continue.

‘An extraordinary story full of magics great and small’ Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS

Morrigan may have defeated her deadly curse, passed the dangerous trials and joined the mystical Wundrous Society, but her journey into Nevermoor and all its secrets has only just begun. And it’s important to remember that not all magic is used for good . . .

Perfect for fans of the Harry Potter series and His Dark Materials, this series takes readers into an extraordinary world, setting hope and imagination alive.

The Review

When I first read Nevermoor it completely blew my mind. Here it was. That new series that I had been waiting for. A fantasy book that didn’t leave me feeling disappointed or a bit flat. I wanted a one way ticket to Nevermoor.

And then Wundersmith was announced and I was in my applecart of happiness. I pre-ordered my copy and I waiting patiently by the letterbox on release day and then it was delivered. Hurrah.

And then I put it on my bookshelf and forgot to read it. 

I know. I am a terrible person. 

However, with the release of the third book in the series Hollowpox happening imminently I decided to grab Wundersmith and get lost in the wonderful world of Nevermoor once again.

In Wundersmith we see Morrigan beginning to grow up. She has started attending the Wundrous Society and has to deal with the everyday problems of being a kid and people being mean but also with the deathly blackmail that is being sent to her friends. They have to decide whether they will keep Morrigan’s secret even if it comes at a cost.

I really enjoyed Wundersmith. Morrigan has to learn to stand on her own two feet. Jupiter – her mentor – is otherwise engaged with serious Nevermoor situations and hasn’t got time for what Morrigan believes to be school girl problems. She has to toughen up. 

Whilst she is toughening up we still see her vulnerability and her need to feel included. It is her vulnerability that makes her so likeable. 

Townsend also uses Wundersmith to reveal more and more of this magical world she has created and the more you learn about it the more you wish you were a character in the novel.

Whilst I probably enjoyed Nevermoor more than Wundersmith I can say that Townsend has kept the magic alive with her second descent into this fictional world and it has made me even more keen to read Hollowpox. 

Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend is available now.

For more information regarding Jessica Townsend (@digressica) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Hachette Children’s Group (@HachetteKids) please visit www.hachettechildrens.co.uk.

Title: Noughts and Crosses

Author: Malorie Blackman

Pages: 479 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Two young people are forced to make a stand in this thought-provoking look at racism and prejudice in an alternate society.

Sephy is a Cross — a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought — a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as far as it can go. In their world, Noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum — a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger. Can they possibly find a way to be together? 

The Review

I work in a high school library. I have walked past the B shelf a hundred thousand times (probably more) and yet I never picked up Noughts and Crosses. I had read other books by Malorie Blackman and really enjoyed them – Pig-Heart Boy has stuck with me since reading it – yet I just never picked up the book that she is probably best known for. How stupid am I?

A year 9 class that I work with are reading Noughts and Crosses as their set text this year and I wanted to get a head start on it. Only, I couldn’t put it down. I soared through it, barely stopping to eat and drink. Blackman had me on the edge of my seat, my heart was constantly in my throat, I cried, I yelled, I lost the ability to breathe. That is how powerful a writer Blackman is. I have never known a writer to build tension the way she does and man alive she got my heart racing.

Noughts and Crosses is sensational. There are so many amazing ways I could describe it but I would come across as hyperbolic and insincere. The only thing I can say with absolute certainty is that you must read it. It is as relevant know (if not more so) than when it was originally released. 

It should be a crime that a book that has racism as a central theme can be so relevant 20 years after its initial release. Hopefully, stories like Callum’s and Sephy’s can have an impact on today’s youth and make positive changes for the future.

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman is available now.

For more information regarding Malorie Blackman (@malorieblackman) please visit www.malorieblackman.co.uk.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.