As published on my Goodreads page.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Vigil by Angela SlatterAh, dark fantasy, how I do love thee, and there’s plenty to enjoy in Angela Slatter’s Vigil. Brisbane, Australia is the home of Verity Fassbinder, our sassy, intriguing heroine, who negotiates angels, sirens, berserkers, an unconventional golem and many other ‘Weyrd’ beings to solve a series of brutal murders and disappearances.

Any book which presents new angles on assorted mythologies is a winner for me and Vigil did not disappoint. Great characters, an engaging plot and buckets of originality. Looking forward to reading Book 2: Corpselight.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

As published on my Goodreads page.

My first thought when coming across this book was ‘sounds like an X-Men rip-off’. Fortunately I was wrong. It’s quirky and creepy and full of unsettling, but wonderful, black and white photos from Victorian times. Miss Peregrine is a fascinating character, and one I’d like to see explored further, although the focus in Book One and, I suspect, in the sequels will probably be on the children.

The reason I gave this book four stars rather than five was due to the central character, Jake. Much of the narrative shows that Jake is anything but stupid, yet in many of his encounters he’s one step behind the action or conversation, which made for plenty of ‘duh’ moments. Also, even within the realms of fantasy and the supernatural, which I love, I found some of the explanations for the existence and motivations of ‘the hollows’ and ‘the wights’ unconvincing.

The above are minor criticisms, and I would still recommend this book as an enjoyable, creepy read with intriguing characters. I’m looking forward to reading the sequels.

Song Bird Superhero by Karen Tyrrell

As published on my Goodreads page.

‘This is SO good. You HAVE to read this!’ said my 9-yr old daughter as she finished Song Bird Superhero. She’s a fickle reader, but she read this book in two days, then took it to school to show her friends. When I asked her what she liked best, she said ‘I loved that the superhero had to discover her superpowers and learn how to use them, instead of just knowing straightaway.’

Song Bird Superhero is such a fun read. Rosella Ava Bird, the heroine, wants to fly and spends her time inventing all kinds of wonderful contraptions, like mechanical wings and a flying Robo-Maid which accidentally washes the cat. As the book progresses she discovers her superpowers, but the boy next door, Frank Furter, seems intent on ruining her life. While struggling with Frank’s bullying tactics, Rosella also has to deal with the reactions and disbelief of her family and peers/teachers at school as she struggles to control her powers.

On you can download Teacher’s Notes and activities, perfect for the classroom. As an ex-teacher, Karen has aligned Song Bird Superhero with ‘Kids Matter’ and STEM science in the Australian curriculum.

A fun, empowering, inspiring read for middle grade children everywhere.

Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins

As published on my Goodreads page.

Magic Fish Dreaming is a magical collection of eighteen poems, bursting with the joy, curiosity and wonder of children as they explore the Australian landscape of Far North Queensland. June Perkins’ evocative verse and Helene Magisson’s heart-warming illustrations offer new delights on every page. Such gems as ‘Gecko’s Dance’, ‘Storm Dancers’, and ‘Giggle Poems’ invite young readers and listeners to laugh and move to the rhythmic verse, while contemplative, soulful pieces such as ‘Secret Spot’ and ‘Magic Fish Dreaming’ celebrate the beauty and serenity of the Australian bush. Themes of environmental pests and the destructive power of nature interweave with many of the poems, such as ‘Rain Song’, ‘Cassowary Chat’ and ‘Pond Pests’, teaching children to respect and care for the land and creatures around them.

Each poem is surrounded by illustrations in warm, gentle colours, presented on expansive double-page spreads. Helene Magisson depicts the interaction of children with the natural world, and each other, with empathy, delicacy and humour.

Magic Fish Dreaming is truly a book to bring joy to the heart of every child and young-at-heart reader. A collection to be enjoyed and revisited in the classroom, at bedtime, on a bushwalk or lying under the twinkling stars.