Month: December 2020

A Castaway in Cornwall Book Review

In A Castaway in Cornwall, Laura Callaway lives with her uncle and his disapproving wife in North Cornwall. There she feels like a castaway, always viewed as an outsider even as she yearns to belong.

About A Castaway in Cornwall

Set adrift on the tides of fate by the deaths of her parents and left wanting answers, Laura Callaway now lives with her uncle and his disapproving wife in North Cornwall. There she feels like a castaway, always viewed as an outsider even as she yearns to belong.

While wreckers search for valuables along the windswept Cornwall coast–known for its many shipwrecks but few survivors–Laura searches for clues to the lives lost so she can write letters to next of kin and return keepsakes to rightful owners. When a man is washed ashore after a wreck, Laura acts quickly to protect him from a local smuggler determined to destroy him.

As Laura and a neighbor care for the survivor, they discover he has curious wounds and, although he speaks in careful, educated English, his accent seems odd. Other clues wash ashore, and Laura soon realizes he is not who he seems to be. Despite the evidence against him, the mysterious man might provide her only chance to discover the truth about her parents’ fate. With danger pursuing them from every side, and an unexpected attraction growing between them, will Laura ever find the answers she seeks?

My Thoughts

A Castaway in Cornwall is a beautiful story from start to finish, a story of loss, heartbreak, hope, second chances and forgiveness.

I adored Laura’s character. She is a young woman who carries a lot on her shoulders but still shows others compassion and kindness. She lost her parents at a young age and holds regrets tied to the way they parted before their deaths. She was taken in by an Aunt, who also passed away but her Uncle kept her in his life. She is craving something – answers, family, belonging but feels stuck in a town where they don’t really accept her for she is, especially being an outsider. She spends her time gathering items that have come to shore after shipwrecks, attempting to reunite these items from dead sailors to their families. This is how she saves a young man that she soon finds herself connected to.

This young man has a strange accent, doesn’t quite appear to be telling the truth and seems to have his own painful past. But there is something about him that Laura trusts and slowly begins to fall for. They are both just like the castaways that Laura saves and you keep praying for them to find the peace and happiness that they deserve.

The plot is unique – I have never read a story quite like this before. Our characters are strong in their beliefs but they carry a lot of pain in their hearts from their past. They are searching to make their past right but they need each other in order to move forward. They are caught in a complicated time – where both France and England are at war, families and neighbours can turn on each other and where laws can be broken, while others turn a blind eye. I loved the suspense, urgency, the healing and the hope for the future (I would love to see a part two of their story!). I loved every moment of this book and could not put it down.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane–Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for 16 years and now writes full-time. Her novels have sold over a million copies and three of her books, The Silent GovernessThe Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for genre fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing’s Best Award, and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and ACFW’s Carol Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Copycat Science Book Review

Step in the shoes of the world’s greatest scientists in Copycat Science.

About Copycat Science

This unique book of simple and safe STEM-related experiments and activities is presented in fun comic strip style. Each experiment or activity follows a cartoon life history of a figure from science, math’s or engineering so that the reader can relate their experiment to science done by actual people.

This graphic, comic style book puts an emphasis on fun, and encourages readers to try it out at home, while the diverse range of scientists included will inspire all readers to become hands on.

Our Thoughts

I love the sciences and feel strongly that it is so important for children to be exposed to the topics at a young age. Science should be fun (because it is!) and age appropriate, find what engages your child and go with it.

Copycat Science is a fun, engaging book for youth that connects with them in a way they can appreciate – a comic/cartoon style. It is written in a fun and easy style that makes it easy for young readers to follow along with (and parents too!) but still provides key concepts and figures. Each two page spread features a scientist on the first page and an experiment on the second page. Visually the illustrations are excellent and typical of a comic strip.

Some of the scientists you may know, but others will be new to you – I never knew about Laura Bassi ‘the First Lady of Physics’ or Ibn Al-Haytham, the ‘Arabian Visionary’ (so not only were we learning about science but also about history). The experiments were easy to re-create and for the most part, you can complete them with items found around your home. I loved this aspect, because there is nothing worse than coming home with a book of experiments to have to go back out to get supplies.

Copycat Science is a fun, engaging new way to get your child interested in the sciences and getting hands on at home.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Mike Barfield is a writer, poet, performer, songwriter, ukulele player, and cartoonist. He has written extensively for TV and radio – with credits as diverse as Spitting Image, The Dennis the Menace and Gnasher Show and five years on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. His cartoon feature Apparently has appeared in the pages of Private Eye for over 20 years, and his drawings have been on display in the Cartoon Museum, the V & A, the Museum of London, and Nigella Lawson’s downstairs loo.

His Destroy This Book series (published by Buster Books) has been sold around the world, starting with the Destroy This Book In The Name of Science! The Element in the Room (Lawrence King, 2018) which was shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2019.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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A Natural History of Fairies

This enchanting natural history of fairies, compiled in the 1920s by the botanist Professor Elsie Arbour for her niece, is now unveiled for readers of today in A Natural History of Fairies.

About A Natural History of Fairies

Featuring a gold foil–embossed cloth cover, a ribbon marker, and sprayed gold edges, this book is full of colorful sketches and precise notes detailing the secret life of fairies and their important role in the natural world.

Inside, you will discover the wide and wonderful array of different species of fairies around the globe and explore where and how they live. Delight in this world as you learn all about:

  • The anatomy of a fairy (Land-based fairies have individual, separated toes, just as humans do. However, many species of water fairies have webbed feet.)
  • The life cycle of a fairy (When walking in the heather, be careful of the tiny flutterpillar of the Wicklow Fairy, decked out in greens and purples.)
  • Clever fairy camouflage (Reed fairies living in wetlands usually wear striped clothes to hide among the tall reeds.)
  • Fairies around the world (Meet the Lily Hopper of sub-Saharan Africa, the Queen Fairy of New Guinea, the Penguin Fairy of the Antarctic, and many more.)
  • Fairy habitats (Fairies make their homes in all types of places: woodlands, jungles, deserts, the Poles, and even human homes.)

Concluding with a reminder that we must protect the endangered habitats of fairies, and all other creatures too, this is a book to be treasured for a lifetime.

My Thoughts

I love learning about folklore and the beliefs of others when it comes to mythical creatures, like fairies. How can you not want to believe that these beautiful creatures are real? I love the authors approach to fairies – so many times in history, science has thought something has not been real but later proven to be real (platypus and the giant squid as mentioned in this book!).

First, I have to say how stunning this book is – the cover of the book is just incredible and hard to put in to words. It is gold foil-embossed and you will find yourself running your hand over each line. The beautiful fairy in the middle of the cover, is just a preview of what is to come. The illustrations are stunning and bring the fairies to life page after page in their gentle, earthy tones.

I loved learning all fairies – from their anatomy, to their life cycle, fairies of the world, their connection with animals and plants, language and so much more. It is approached in such a wonderful way that reminds us that sometimes we have to believe (and how can you not believe in such wonderful, magical creatures).

A Natural History of Fairies is a stunning, incredible gift for young readers – they will fall in love with the knowledge sharing and the stunning illustrations. It is a special gift that will be treasured for years to come.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Emily Hawkins is a writer and editor of children’s books for all ages. She wrote the New York Times bestseller Oceanology, as well as several other titles in the Ology series, which has sold over 16 million copies worldwide. She holds a first-class English degree from Nottingham University, and now lives in Winchester with her young family.

Jessica Roux is a Nashville-based illustrator and plant and animal enthusiast. She loves exploring in her own backyard and being surrounded by an abundance of nature. Using subdued colors and rhythmic shapes, she renders flora, fauna, food, and many other things with intricate detail reminiscent of old world beauty. Her first book with Frances Lincoln is A Natural History of Fairies (September 2020).

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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50 Maps of the World Book Review

Travel the world with fifty country maps that showcase the history, culture and personalities.

About 50 Maps of the World

Spanning from Spain to Singapore, Colombia to Canada, Turkey to Tanzania, discover all you need to know about some of the most amazing places in the world.

Geography, history and culture can be found in the treasure trove of travel knowledge. Each two page spread is dedicated to a different country, providing quick facts and the chance to delve deeper into what makes every nation unique. Natural wonders, bustling metropolises, storied pasts and cultural icons are presented in detail.

Our Thoughts

Do you have a budding traveler in your home? Or maybe a child who loves learning about new places, their history and cool facts? This is the book for them.

50 Maps of the World is an incredible, information packed journey around the world. When I first read maps of the world, I assumed a literal map but each two page spread dedicated to the country, features an outline of the country shape along with a smaller map showing where the country is located on a world map. The book instead focuses on special features, sites, people, animals and so much more. They also include key facts about the country and what makes the country unique, along with a timeline that contains important moments to remember specific to that country.

50 Maps of the World is a stunning book dedicated to showcasing some of the most beautiful countries in the world and their history and culture. It features many places, moments and people that you would never have known about (I never knew that Sabiha Gokcen, from Turkey, was the first woman in the world to fly as a fighter pilot at the age of 23!). We read the book a few pages at a time, sometimes jumping to countries that we wish we could be on a flight to right now. The pages are slightly busy but still easy to follow along with your child. I loved how we both learned so much from this book and were able to create our own bucket list. 50 Maps of the World will make a great gift for the little traveler or the child in your house who loves to learn and explore the world around them.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

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Elton John, Little People, Big Dreams Book Review

Discover the life of Elton John, the piano wizard who rocketed to stardom with his music.

About Elton John

As a child, Elton started playing his grandmother’s piano in Harrow, London. He could pick tunes out by ear and was attending lessons at the Royal Academy. After answering an advertisement in a newspaper, Elton teamed up with a lyric-writing buddy: Bernie Taupin. And the rest was history.

Elton’s songwriting talent, musical skill, and dazzling outfits have made him one of the all-time greats. This book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the musician’s life.

Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.

Our Thoughts

I love these powerful books in this series, they focus on one person and how everything starts from a dream. This book inspires our youth, brings them together with the power of music and gives youth hope for their own future.

My Dad loved Elton John and we listened to his music growing up quite frequently. I am a bit ashamed to admit, I did not know much of his history so I found this story fascinating. I had no idea that his real name was Reggie and how music was his refuge growing up when his parents would fight. I also wasn’t aware of his struggles with depression.

What I really loved was how the book didn’t shy away from how he felt – he was adored by millions of fans, had so much money, clothes but he felt alone. Sometimes this can be so hard for children to understand, that someone can appear from the outside to have everything in the world but still be so alone and feel sad on the inside. But it was a brave hero named Ryan, who gave him hope and inspired him to live his life to the fullest. And what came from this? A happy marriage and two kids!

This is a beautiful, vibrant book that is a tribute to a vibrant man. His path wasn’t easy and the book approached this in an age appropriate level but also showed how this can be overcome and provide hope. The illustrations are perfect for the tone of the book, and match his personality perfectly. This is a must have novel for your home and school library, this series is so important for youth.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, born in Barcelona, Spain, is a writer and creative director in constant search of new concepts for children’s books and the author of the multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series of picture books that explore the lives of outstanding people. Working for more than fifteen years for clients in top advertising agencies, her books combine creativity with learning, aiming to establish a new and fresh relationship between children and pop culture. ​

Sophie Beer (née Blackhall-Cain) is an award-winning illustrator/author living in Brisbane, Australia. She completed a dual degree in Law and Creative Industries with distinction at Queensland University of Technology, but found the whole law thing unutterably dull and now works primarily in children’s and editorial illustration. Reveling in color, shape, and texture, she lives by one simple rule: art should never be boring. When she’s not illustrating and writing, she thinks a lot about plants, animals, music, and books.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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