RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS

  • Firebird Chronicles, The
    Daniel Ingram-Brown
    The Nemesis Charm's target audience is probably young teenagers but I still found it an enjoyable and easy read as an adult. It follows the characters of Scoop and Fletcher in the fictional world of Mortale where they study as Apprentice Adventurers at Blotting's Academy. Simultaneously we have Libby, a young girl in Leeds who is determined to continue her missing Mother's story; the story of Scoop, Fletcher and the Storyteller. The real strengths of the book are in the world Ingram-Brown has created and in the characters of Fletcher and Scoop. Fullstop Island and the Oceans of Rhyme are part of a rich tapestry of which we see only a little. The world clearly has a great deal of depth to it, and we have only glimpsed the surface. Hints of far off lands and traditions demonstrate the richness of the world, and I'm looking forward to learning more about it as the Firebird Chronicles continue.

    Fletcher and Scoop themselves are well written, both with sufficient flaws and individual motivations that lend the story realism. Libby is a wonderful character, as her grief is increasingly evident throughout the book. She clings ever more tightly to the world of Fletcher and Scoop we begin to truly understand her loss and desperation, evoking real sympathy in the reader.

    The book is slightly let down by the pacing, as although the plot is sound, it takes too long for anything much to happen, and then everything happens at once. I enjoyed the sense of forboding that builds in the middle of the book, and heightens until the climax, but the ending itself was disappointing. While several of the plotlines are clearly going to be tied up in the next book, which I have no problem with, what this book did wrap up felt very rushed. A little more build up to the resolution would have been welcome; as it is, I was left thinking 'wait, was that it?'

    One of the best things about this book for me is the confusion between fact and fiction. I couldn't quite tell for some time whether or not the world of Mortale was solely in the stories of Libby and her Mother, or whether it had gained a life of its own. Libby is the source of this confusion, as she knows that she is writing the story, but Mortale and its inhabitants seem as real as Northern England; her fear that she is slowly losing her grip on reality is a constant worry.


    I haven't read the first book in the Firebird Chronicles, Rise of the Shadow Stealers, but I really want to. There were lots of little references to it that I think would make my inevitable reread of The Nemesis Charm even more enjoyable. I suspect that the finale that I was so disappointed in would have been better had I known more about the character involved, and I know they are a bigger character in the previous book.

    If you like your stories with a dash of pirates, adventure and just a touch of blood magic (and who doesn't?) then you should definitely give this a read.

    The Nemesis Charm will be available on the 27th May in both hardcopy and eBook. There's also a launch event at Waterstones in Leeds. If audiobooks are more your thing the first book in the series, Rise of the Shadow Stealers has just been released. The author's website has details of all of the above.



    ~ Bethany, www.wardrobespareoom.blogspot.co.uk

  • May's Moon
    S.Y. Palmer

    Beating thousands of others, the geeky boy they call 'Micky Moon' at home, is one of ten children from around the world accepted onto the 'Children's Moon Program' in Florida. If he can survive the g-force of a space-shuttle launch, overcome his secret fear of water and pass the other battery of tests, he could win a place on the next mission to the moon! "May's Moon" by experienced children's author S. Y. Palmer is a terrifically entertaining read that will have a special attraction for young boys ages 9 to 12. Very highly recommended for school and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "May's Moon" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).


    ~ Fiction Shelf, Midwest Book Reviews

  • Rise of the Shadow Stealers
    Daniel Ingram-Brown
    When I first saw this book, I thought it would be every young teens dream, but as well as this, I was pleasantly surprised to see it is a great read for us adults too!
    Like a lot of children's films, it has two layers; simple meanings for children to understand, but at the same time an adult storyline that the children won't pick up on. For the teens, they can enjoy the good vs. bad, whilst the adults get to look deeper into things- Dan enjoys writing about spirituality, and you can clearly see that in this book! ~ Single Parent Pessimist , http://www.singleparentpessimist.co.uk/

  • Rise of the Shadow Stealers
    Daniel Ingram-Brown
    This is a well written, highly entertaining book. Whilst aimed at 9-12 I found it read on many levels and could be enjoyed by adults and children alike. The two main protagonists Fletcher and Scoop awaken in the Blotting's Academy with few memories of their lives before and through them you get to learn of the island and its secrets along with the hidden secrets of their own past as the story unfolds. The mythology of the island and its inhabitants, though quite a complicated and a little abstract in concept works well and is written in such a way that it is easy to visualise the story. The chapters are short but draw the reader along the two apprentices' quest with them, often answering many questions whilst revealing others.

    It has been a while since I enjoyed a book and this is one that I found difficult to put down. I look forward to the second chronicle with anticipation. ~ Mr M Kingshott, Amazon

  • Rise of the Shadow Stealers
    Daniel Ingram-Brown
    Rise of the Shadow Stealers is a work of children's literature, but that does not stop it from being enjoyable for an adult audience. It contains a diverse vocabulary that is stimulating for all and ensures that this book will help children develop their reading skills, yet it never loses its accessibility. It is set on the imaginary Fullstop Island, where storybook characters go for training. The story follows Scoop and Fletcher, two Apprentice Adventurers, who wake up with no memories of their life and attempt to discover who they are. It is a tale of good versus evil. Shadow Stealers is well-written and full of positive lessons to empower the reader.

    One aspect of this book that I found particularly important was the emphasis the author placed upon the character's free will; Scoop and Fletcher are encouraged by their tutors and villagers to go forth and create their own story. I feel this is a positive message which lends itself perfectly to empowering children to be able to make their own life choices. This book will be a positive influencer on self-esteem as well as stimulating to the imagination. The main characters are easily understood whilst readers are introduced to a variety of guiding motivations. Another element I found important was that there is a good representation of female role models, making this book accessible to a wide audience. My favourite character was that of Wisdom, who is ever youthful and care-free.

    I would highly recommend this book to anyone, young or old. It is a book full of positivity and more books such as this should be written. ~ LittleGoblinsGob, Amazon

  • Rise of the Shadow Stealers
    Daniel Ingram-Brown
    This book was a great read. It was like Harry Potter meets CS Lewis! You wanted to keep reading it. I enjoyed it a lot, but also think it would be good for kids - maybe secondary school age and up. Highly recommended! ~ Dave P, Amazon

  • Rise of the Shadow Stealers
    Daniel Ingram-Brown
    Loved it! Was drawn in immediately. Loved the characters, the humour, the story. Loved the way Full Stop Island came to life. Loved the magic, the drama and of course, the gush bombs. Hard to fault - perhaps I would have like a bit more danger but i am picking holes. Great read. ~ Lynsey Jones, Amazon

  • Rise of the Shadow Stealers
    Daniel Ingram-Brown
    Although aimed at younger readers, I love this book. It's rare that I can't put a book down, but this one had me gripped. Magical and mysterious, I was always genuinely excited to get back to reading it. I've recommended this to adults and teens alike, it's a great piece of writing. Five stars! ~ Lynette Pickering, Amazon

  • Rise of the Shadow Stealers
    Daniel Ingram-Brown
    Each page is action packed so very difficult to put down. Some fantastic descriptive passages and it's also educational. In fact I've already recommended it to young friends who I'm sure will be as enthralled as I was. Very much looking forward to the sequel. ~ Mo Beynon, Goodreads

  • Rise of the Shadow Stealers
    Daniel Ingram-Brown
    This was a wonderful allegory! Along the lines of C.S. Lewis and John Bunyan. It was a fantastic read and I am hoping there will be more from Daniel Ingram-Brown. The story is all about stories. The world that our two unlikely heroes reside in is filled with plots, twists, tales, both fun and scary. I would recommend as a buddy read with a parent for ages under 10. I give it 4 stars. Good Job. ~ Jodi Woody, http://authorjodiwoody.com

  • Firebird Chronicles, The
    Daniel Ingram-Brown
    The more I read this, the more I wanted to. The words flew out and created a world I both wanted to escape into (and from)! It was exciting, dark and tense at times, with clever twists and turns...and thought provoking at other times. I fell in love with characters. Well worth reading. ~ Rachael Neall, Goodreads

  • Firebird Chronicles, The
    Daniel Ingram-Brown
    I wish I still had children of 8-13 I could read this to. They would love it, as I did. It was a riveting read, really well written and I hope more people get to hear of this series of books - The Firebird Chronicles. I can't wait for the third one now, as the Nemesis Charm ends of a bit of a cliff hanger, but in the meantime I'm going to re-read the first, Rise of the Shadow Stealers. ~ Lynne Strutt, Goodreads

  • Firebird Chronicles, The
    Daniel Ingram-Brown
    What a fantastic and terrifying adventure Fletch and Scoop are on!

    This was a wonderful second instalment of the Firebird Chronicle. The first in the series opened up the world of Fullstop Island and we got to know the characters as they dove into an adventure which unlocked the secret of their existence. Now, in the second book, Fletch and Scoop are really put to the test. The fate of their parents, and all of Fullstop Island is up to them.

    I loved it, it was interesting and tense, while still exploring the characters of the protagonists and the history of this world.

    For me, one of the final scenes was so beautifully unexpected. It involves a sort of revelation for one of the antagonists and was written so perfectly. Major author kudos to Daniel for capturing the moment so well.

    Get swept up into the world of stories and thoroughly enjoy yourself! ~ Auburn Langley, Goodreads

  • Firebird Chronicles, The
    Daniel Ingram-Brown
    I'm not generally a reader of fiction BUT I started one chapter and found that suddenly I was onto the next one...And yes, wait for it...The next one led to the next...I found myself (shock horror) ENJOYING the myriad of characters and subplots and quirky invented place-names and great, great descriptions of events. I have no idea what kids would make of this but as pure entertainment AS WELL as a sense that it's all meant to provoke I was...WHOOOOOOSH...I was suddenly finishing over half the book in just two sittings. That's kinda the highest compliment I can give innit, simply that it whooooshed me naturally to the end and left me absolutely totally utterly ready to read the next instalment...Which, surely, there has to be?! ~ Stewart Thomas, Goodreads

  • May's Moon
    S.Y. Palmer
    Book Review Mays Moon by Sue Palmer

    Fantastic book even though it is less than 150 pages still has a lot of detail in it. The story revolves around the main character Michael May who gets chosen to go to Florida to compete in a space competition with nine other people from around the world.

    The prize is a trip to the moon for the winner! But there are tests and obstacles to encounter before the winner is decided.

    Very good writing and the ending is very humbling.

    Recommend the book for all ten to twelve year olds as they will love it! ~ Paul Barnes, Camberley Chat Book Club

  • May's Moon
    S.Y. Palmer
    5.0 out of 5 starsMotivating and engrossing children's fiction.
    By Eishinas on March 12, 2016
    Format: Kindle Edition
    British teenager Micheal May has always dreamed of being an astronaut going to the Moon. 'May's Moon' is an engaging, fast paced read which will take little young readers through the adventurous journey of Micheal as he gets selected from the thousands of other kids for a journey to the Moon but has to qualify against top ten contenders and be amongst the three who'll be chosen for special training at NASA.
    Life wont be a bed of roses for Micheal as he over comes and deals with the hurdles and challenges thrown in his path by destiny to full fill a dream larger than life.
    Author S.Y. Palmer sure knows how to deal with and keep little inquisitive minds thrilled, engaged and educated at the same time by giving in the right amount of knowledge about science of space weaving perfectly with an intriguing tale of a young boy's struggle of catching over his dreams.
    Will Micheal emerge as a winner and be the first child to travel to moon? Those looking for an answer to Micheal's adventurous life 'May's Moon' is a sure recommendation.
    ~ Eishinas (Book Blogger), Amazon

  • Rise of the Shadow Stealers
    Daniel Ingram-Brown
    Rise of the Shadow Stealers is one of those books that you would never normally find but somehow stumble across – or in my case, get sent a copy after a Twitter connection – and reading it makes your week. The premise is charming, fanciful and wonderfully meta: set on an island where fictional characters are trained to fit their roles in their respective novels, Fletcher and Scoop team up for a quest to restore their lost memories of their lives before they were at Blotting’s Academy and to attend the wedding of the mysterious Storyteller.

    I have to say I found Rise of the Shadow Stealers rather surprising, and not in a bad way. I came to it assuming from the cover and blurb that it would be children’s fiction (not that that’s a bad thing in the slightest. Critics sniffily dismissing something as children’s fiction irritates me no end). It’s actually quite sophisticated for that genre though, interweaving a delightfully whimsical fantasy plot with more mature themes, like maintaining morality in difficult times and finding your purpose, and drawing heavily on religious symbolism and metaphor throughout. This can get a little heavy-handed in places, particularly the religious parallels, but for the most part it’s skilfully interwoven with the fantasy narrative that means you can read it on whatever level you’d like: whimsical fantasy, Christian literature, good old fashioned morality tale and so on. A lot of reviews made comparison to the Narnia series and I can definitely see their point. Rise of the Shadow Stealers stands on its merits as a charming fantasy novel, but it really comes into its own when you delve deeper and think about the messages behind it all.

    While the plot is technically about Fletcher and Scoop’s quest to reach the Storyteller’s wedding, it’s as much about their growth as characters as it is about getting from to B. This is a world inhabited by purposeful stereotypes (the infinitely wise but slightly batty old mentor, the outrageously evil witch, and even one character who proudly identifies herself as a Snob), who can at times feel a little 2-D by themselves, but this does help to emphasise the fact that the two protagonists develop naturally and realistically enough that I was really very fond of them by the end. Their flaws are what make them important as characters, and so they’re nicely fleshed out and allowed to make mistakes. Fletcher in particular undergoes some notable development, and his transformation is well handled and enjoyable to witness, because the characters, like the rest of the book, are charming and you find yourself really rooting for them as they undergo their quest.

    The real triumph of the novel, however, is the world building. You can really tell that Ingram-Brown had great fun creating Fullstop Island (which is just the most adorable name ever) from the ground up to create a setting that lives beyond what we see in the story. It’s my favourite kind of world building too, where tiny details and minor characters are fleshed out beyond just filling their role to advance the plot, even if they just appear in once scene. Particular favourites of mine were the batty and slightly weird ladies who run the tea shop and one very special character who appears at the end, who you will have to read the book to find out about. If nothing else convinces you to give Rise of the Shadow Stealers a go, the joy of it’s construction should be all the persuasion you need.

    You’ve probably noticed the common theme in this review: ‘charming’. You can’t help but enjoy yourself while reading this book, and I would recommend it to anyone out there who needed a little cheer to brighten their week. I’m definitely looking forwards to the sequel and what Daniel Ingram-Brown has up his sleeve for his characters next. ~ , Some Organised Chaos

  • May's Moon
    S.Y. Palmer
    May’s Moon

    From the very first page May’s Moon is a gripping read as we take each small step in the shoes of Michael, one of ten children hoping to win a place to complete a mission to the moon. When he arrives on the ‘Children’s Moon Program’ in Florida Michael learns to face his fears. His courage and confidence build as he survives each heart thumping stage of the assessments and trials required to follow his dream. The action is fast paced and while he adapts to his new environment there are some mysterious mishaps and surprises on the way as he learns about the nine children he has to compete against. Will Michael win a place?
    A Space story with a difference. This is an exhilarating informative and inspiring book. Every child reading it is sure to realise what it is to be braver, stronger and smarter than they could ever have imagined and they too could reach the moon or become the next Tim Peake.

    Carol Botterill
    Librarian
    The Abbey Junior School
    ~ Carol Botterill, Librarian The Abbey Junior School

  • May's Moon
    S.Y. Palmer
    The beginning of May’s Moon BLASTS OFF when Michael May is accepted to the Children’s Moon Programme (CMP) in America. Back at home in England he is nicknamed ‘Micky Moon’ for his love of the solar system. Amazingly, he is chosen as one of the 10 lucky applicants out of over 125,000 who make it on. Michael has always dreamed of going to the moon and now he stands a chance of making that dream come true!
    The plot begins to really TAKE OFF when Michael has to face a battery of daring challenges set by the CMP to see if he is made of real spaceman material. These challenges include trying to control a ‘Canadarm’, a large mechanical arm, underwater while blindfolded and wearing a special spacesuit, to writing a 1000 word essay on what space will be like in the future! Does Michael have what it takes to pass all the tests and make it into the final three candidates who will go on the two-year astronaut-training programme?
    I was ROCKETED at the end of the book when one of the characters is discovered and confirmed to have been eliminating their opponents through sabotage. Then another confesses to have been cheating and lying throughout the whole programme! Can Michael still win a chance of being the first child on the moon with all this foul play in the way?
    The book was a BLAST to read because it made me wish I was there doing and seeing everything the characters were. This exciting novel is about a boy who follows his dreams, overcoming his fears and finding self-confidence along the way. I’d recommend this book for 9-12 year olds who enjoy action and adventure!

    Review
    By Victoria van Heerden ~ Victoria van Heerden (Age 10)

  • May's Moon
    S.Y. Palmer
    May’s Moon is an exciting and moving adventure story about Michael - known at school as a geeky boy called Micky Moon. Ever since he looked at the sky from his bedroom window he became obsessed by space and taught himself a great deal about rockets and astronauts and the technical knowledge that lies behind space travel. When he wins a place on the Florida ‘Children’s Moon Programme’ his dream comes true. Like all good books this story is as much about people and their connections as it is about Michael’s desire to become an astronaut. Sue Palmer subtly reveals the characters of the children who are on the Moon Programme, and the reasons for them being there. The dialogue between the children is very real and alive and their reactions to the obstacles they have to overcome in the programme are vividly described. Michael’s relationship with his Dad and Mum and sisters and Granny is excellently portrayed and is an important part of the story. This book is an exciting read for all children but I think it would especially appeal to boys, many of whom will identify with Michael. ~ Susan Holliday, author of Kingsholt

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