Barty and Darcy by Mo Bird | Review

About The Book

How often do we come across a couple who are complete opposites and yet bond brilliantly?

This book tells of a pig and a duck who suffer similar fates. Both of them run away from home and by chance meet up where they create a bond which proves unbreakable. Together they decide to seek a new future which is reliant on the pig finding a cure for his affliction.

Like a lot of mothers who encourage their children to pursue their talents Barty Hog’s mother was convinced her son was going to be a World famous singer. Unfortunately, neither she or Barty were aware of a serious problem he had with his voice.

There was also a similar situation with Barty’s new friend Darcy. The problem with Darcy was the fact that her legs were too long to pursue her first chosen career. Follow them both as they journey through their young lives trying to overcome what they call their handicap.

There could be a tear at the end, not only from Barty and Darcy but also you the reader!

My Thoughts

What an adorable, simple, little book! “Barty and Darcy” is a sweet and entertaining tale of a piglet, Barty, that aspires to be an opera singer and a duck, Darcy, a budding ballerina.

When I opened this wonderful book, my first thoughts were how beautifully it had been illustrated by Brenda Howden.

Bartholomew (Barty) lives on Gentle Farm and anyone who lives there is certain to have a long and peaceful life. He also has a magical voice and his dream is to sing at the most famous opera house in the world.

His mum, Elsie, makes it her mission to give Barty every opportunity to become a world famous singer.

Unfortunately, Barty suffers from Aqua Voce, a non-life-threatening condition that renders him unable to sing unless submerged in water.

In order to achieve this Elsie creates the Gentle Farm Symphony Orchestra with the help of the other farmyard birds and animals.

However, Barty’s fellow animals mock and boo him and embarrassed and upset, he runs away.

He meets Darcy at a pond some miles away, who, having failed at becoming a synchronised swimmer, empathises with him. Long-legged Darcy now hopes to become a ballerina.

The couple find out from a wise old owl that there is a cure for Aqua Voce but they have to travel to Italy to find it.

“Barty and Darcy” communicates a positive message of perseverance and eventually finding solutions to problems, no matter how big they might seem, in order to realise your dreams. The pig and the duck eventually became world-famous, but they never forgot the support of those who believed in them.

This story, as well as being very amusing in parts, was beautifully and vibrantly illustrated using different animals throughout and I would definitely recommend it. The book would make a lovely addition to a family library.

Thank you to NetGalley and Troubador Publishing Limited (Matador) for the complimentary ARC. This is my honest and totally voluntary opinion.

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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Apple Of My Eye by Claire Allan | Review

About The Book

‘Utterly addictive. Compulsive, twisty, tense.’ CLAIRE DOUGLAS, author of Local Girl Missing

Just how far is a mother willing to go?

When a mysterious note arrives for seven months pregnant nurse Eliana Hughes, she begins to doubt every aspect of her life – from her mixed feelings about motherhood to her marriage to Martin, who has become distant in recent months.

As the person behind the note escalates their campaign to out Eli’s husband as a cheat, she finds herself unable to trust even her own instincts, and as pressure builds, she makes a mistake that jeopardises her entire future.

Elsewhere, someone is watching. Someone who desperately wants a baby to call their own and will go to any lengths to become a mother – and stay a mother…

My Thoughts

“Apple Of My Eye” is a compulsive and digressive thriller that has been beautifully put together, with motherhood at its core.

This is my second time of reading a book by this author and I was not disappointed! I have previously read the outstanding ‘Her Name was Rose’ which was a five-star read for me, so there was a lot for Claire Allan to live up to.

“Apple of My Eye” brings to life an incredible family account of mistrust, jealousy and suspicion. It is a book about motherhood and all that it means to all of womankind. In this novel, the reader is categorically and unequivocally made aware of how it affects the lives and relationships of different women. It is also a divulgence of desperation, loneliness and all the different layers of love.

As always, I am having a run of strong, inspiring thrillers and this is on the list, along with my other favourites. The plot for this book is awesome and incredibly thrilling. I’m always looking for something in a book in this genre that makes it more notable than the rest. This could be amazingly drawn characters, a super plot, great originality or something entirely different that I couldn’t even imagine.

This book has many of the components that make a really good story: from the mood and undercurrents to the very clever writing and the experience of family secrets, jealousy and incredibly tense relationships.

For myself, the one thing that made this a memorable read was Claire Allan’s ability to send me off course in nearly every chapter. Narrated from three different perspectives – that of Eli, her mother Angela and the mysterious Louise – I found that it was the chapters told from Louise’s angle that added a real sense of apprehension to the plot. Claire Allan managed to create so much suspicion and mistrust through her story-telling and there was an overpowering sense of menace that emanated from the pages of this addictive read which is chock full of mystery. I found that I had no idea who or what I could trust. The emotional, distressed and pregnant wife or the mother who wanted to protect her daughter from an adulterous husband, or the revealing anonymous notes? 

Another of my favourite aspects of this novel was the fluidity of the writing. The details and twists of the plot were brilliantly executed and every chapter left me with a compelling need to read on.

”Apple Of My Eye” is a supreme accomplishment, mixing women’s fiction with a chilling, sharp slice of thriller, culminating in an emotive and fulfilling ending. I absolutely adored every chapter of this pacey novel and I would certainly recommend it.

Thanks to NetGalley, Avon Books UK and the author, Claire Allan, for my free ARC of Apple of My Eye in exchange for an honest review.

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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Tales From Nature: Ladybug by Magali Attiogbé | Review

Book Synopsis

Join ladybug as she helps gardeners with their aphids and camouflages herself from a swooping bird. But where should she hide her little eggs? Introducing nature to little ones, Tales From Nature provides simple, entertaining story-lines with an animal character as the focus. Bright and colourful illustrations are sure to engage young children as they learn about each animal’s day, from a cute description, to what it eats, and where it lives. Simple, engaging text explains nature in a playful way for little ones. Each page includes a window or a flap to encourage children to read on and discover more.

My Thoughts

This colourful and delightful, little book introduces very young readers to the life-cycle, appearance and eating of a ladybird. The text is straight-forward and easy to understand for small ones and it is nicely complemented by modern, strong artwork. It is sweet, pleasing and positively told with its bright and eye-catching colours and smiling, happy creatures. This book would be a great addition to a family library.

{Thank you to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group for the free ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.}

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Four Stars

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A Flicker of Hope by Julia Cook | Review

Book Synopsis

HOPE is our children’s window for a better tomorrow. In terms of resilience and well-being, hope is a critically important predictor of success. This creative story from the best-selling author of My Mouth is a Volcano!, and Bubble Gum Brain, reminds children that dark clouds can be temporary and asking for help is always okay. We all have times when we need to borrow a little hope from someone else.

When your clouds get too dark,
and too heavy to push away,
Reach out and ask,
“Can I borrow some light?”
“I’m having a really bad day.”

It’s always okay to admit to yourself,
“I just can’t do it today.”
Everyone needs somebody sometimes,
to help them find their way.”

Sometimes the dark clouds overhead seem too heavy and you feel like giving up. Little candle knows all about this. Bad grades, blasted on social media, worried about making the team, and wondering who her real friends are—so many hard things to deal with! All she can see is darkness. But her story begins to change when someone notices she needs a boost of hope. As little candle is reminded she has purpose and her own unique gifts, and that she isn’t the only one with dark clouds, her dim light begins to shine brighter.

This hopeful story emphasizes for children (and adults) the many different ways to ask for help, and their ability to be a hope builder for others, too.

Advance Praise

A Flicker of Hope is a much-needed resource for our times. As an international speaker on resilience, mental health, and suicide prevention, I have noticed diverse populations struggling with how best to reach out when times get tough. This book gives readers both the language and mindset of how we can build caring communities everywhere. Together we can build the emotional intelligence needed to create a more supportive world.~ Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, Psychologist and Mental Health Advocate.

My Thoughts

This is a lovely book primarily intended for children about never giving up hope no matter how dark things may seem. The main message of the story is characterised by a candle whose light is very dim and gradually becoming dimmer. The candle receives some help from another very bright candle who gives it more light, or in other words, hope.

The book gives a clear message about asking for help, finding the courage to keep on going and to never give up. It shows that it is possible to push away the dark clouds that are only visible to you and no one else. “A Flicker of Hope” shows the reader that hope is very important, no matter what your own personal dark clouds might be, such as anxiety, low self-esteem, depression or loss. Beautifully written and illustrated very nicely, this book enhances  that message.

This is a great little book for both adults and children and one I would definitely recommend.

[Thanks to #NetGalley and the publisher for a free ARC of #AFlickerOfHope in exchange for an honest review.]

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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Ada Lovelace by Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Zafouko Yamamoto | Review

Book Synopsis

This board book version of Ada Lovelace—an international bestseller from the beloved Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the world’s first computer programmer.

As a child, Ada had a big imagination and a talent for mathematics. She grew up in a noble household in England, where she dedicated herself to studying. Her work with the famous inventor, Charles Babbage, on a very early kind of computer made her the world’s first computer programmer. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating mathematician, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own.

Little People, BIG DREAMSis 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.

This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children.

Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

My Thoughts

This is a non-fiction book about the life of Ada Lovelace. Part of the series, ‘Little People, BIG DREAMS’, “Ada Lovelace” is the tenth book and the first one I’ve read.

Ada’s mum liked maths and her dad liked poetry and when she was still very small, Ada and her mum had to go and live with Ada’s Grandma and her cat. Encouraged by her mum, Ada, too, liked maths and problem-solving and, much later, she meets inventor, Charles Babbage. They worked together developing a machine that led to the computer as we know it today.

The wonderful illustrations in “Ada Lovelace” really complement the text and I am sure both adults and small children will delight in this book as much as I did!

[Thanks to #NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group for my ARC of #AdaLovelace in exchange for an honest review.]  

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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Baby Bird by Andrew Gibbs | Review

Book Synopsis

“All birds are born to fly,” thinks Baby Bird, watching the other hatchlings leave the nest. “I suppose it’s now or never…” But one of Baby’s wings is twisted and shrunken and not at all like the other one. Instead of flying, Baby plummets to the ground. There, Baby makes a new friend, and learns that sometimes you have to find unexpected ways to achieve your dreams. A moving story about the power of friendship and the importance of accepting yourself just the way you are, this lovely watercolor picture book shows how friends can help you overcome difficulty.

My Thoughts

A delightful and adorable tale illustrated with eye-catching watercolour. A little bird is trying to learn how to fly. But one of Baby Bird’s wings is twisted and shrunken and not at all like the other one. Instead of flying, Baby plummets to the ground. Baby Bird meets another bird, Cooter, who helps Bird accept that, even if you can’t fly, you can still get around and enjoy life!  

“Baby Bird” by Andrew Gibbs is a sweet tale about friendship and acceptance which is also an important reminder for both adults and children. I really enjoyed reading ”Baby Bird.” The lovely illustrations will keep young children engaged in the story and it is a fantastic bed-time story for them.

{Thank you to #NetGalley and Quarto Publishing for the free copy of #BabyBird and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.}

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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The Cottingley Fairies by Ana Sender | Review

Book Synopsis


“…an intriguing, enchantingly rendered real fairy tale.” – Kirkus Reviews 

Elsie and Frances feel sad for adults who simply can’t see the magic in the forests around them. If only they could see what we see. 

In 1918, Elsie Wright and her cousin Frances Griffith photographed fairies in their garden, in the small village of Cottingley (Yorkshire). Without expecting it, many people paid attention—including renowned writer and spiritualist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is the story, narrated by Elsie herself, of the true events that led to the Cottingley Fairies becoming a international phenomenon.

My Thoughts

This wonderful book fully deserves its gorgeous five stars! If you didn’t believe in fairies before you read this magical children’s book, then you will afterwards.

Based on true events, it tells the story of cousins Frances and Elsie who live in Cottingley, Yorkshire and their encounter with fairies in their garden.

The beautiful illustrations in “The Cottingley Fairies” outclass many I’ve seen in other fairy stories. There is even some background provided in the back of the book that explains the origins of the tale.

Any small child would be delighted to have this as their bed-time story and I know that I would have done.

My heartfelt applause to the author, Ana Sender for writing this sweet little book.

{Thank you to #NetGalley, North South Books and Ana Sender for the free copy of #TheCottingleyFairies and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.}

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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AYA and PAPAYA Meet the Big Little Creatures by MQ | Review

Book Synopsis

Join Aya and Papaya on their latest adventures in MQ’s second bright and fun children’s picture book!

Morning has broken and as the sun peaks through her window, Aya gently opens her eyes and gives Papaya an enormous hug. Jumping out of bed and pulling back the curtains, a big smile spreads across her face. Today will be a great day because Aya’s best friend, Samy, is coming to play!

Aya and Samy, with Papaya and Bamboo, decide to go on an adventure to the big castle at the end of the garden. But first, they must be brave and make their way past the big little creatures that live in the garden. As their journey progresses, Aya and Samy learn an important lesson about bravery and being kind.

You can read MQ’s other AYA and PAPAYA adventures, AYA and PAPAYA Find Happiness, also available from Amazon and Apple’s iBooks Store.

My Thoughts

A delightful, sweet tale with colourful and vibrant illustrations. Aya and her friend Samy along with their respective look-alike dolls, Papaya and Bamboo are going to play together. Their adventure leads them outside into the garden where their imaginations start to run awry. The theme for children in “AYA and PAPAYA Meet the Big Little Creatures” is that things may not be as scary as originally thought and that fears shouldn’t prevent anyone from enjoying their adventures. There is an additional message in the story about treating nature with respect which is also an important reminder for both adults and children.

A fantastic bed-time story for the little ones!

{Thank you to #NetGalley, Troubador Publishing and the author for the free copy of #AyaAndPapayaMeetTheBigLittleCreatures and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.}

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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The Boy and the Egg | Ellen DeLange | Review

The Boy and the Egg by Ellen Delange

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an adorable, simple, little book! “The Boy and the Egg” is a sweet tale of the different animals or birds that could be hatched from within an egg that small children might find, from turtles to dinosaurs.

Told from the child’s viewpoint, it is beautifully and vibrantly illustrated using different animals throughout the story. Focusing on children’s expectations and their own investigations, there is also a discussion question at the end of the book.

[Thank you to #NetGalley, #ClavisPublishing and #EllenDeLange, for a free ARC of #TheBoyAndTheEgg in exchange for an honest review.]

View all my reviews

The Boy and the Egg

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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My Mommy and Me | Liesbet Slegers | Review

Book Synopsis

From bestselling author-illustrator Liesbet Slegers, a cheerful book with interactive flaps about the love between a mother and a child.

What do you love to do with your mommy?
There are so many things you can do together!
Will you come and take a look?

A cheerful book with flaps that make animals appear in a surprising way. For toddlers ages 18 months and up, with a focus on the child’s emotions.

My Thoughts

“My Mommy and Me” is an adorable, simple, little book and follows the same format as ‘My Daddy and Me.’ It’s a cute and delightful tale of the different activities that Mummy often does with her small children, from playing Hide-and-seek to  going to the seaside together.

Told from the child’s viewpoint, it is beautifully and vibrantly illustrated using different animals such as cats, mice, panda bears and rabbits throughout the story. As with ‘My Daddy and Me’, it focuses on children’s emotions and there is also a discussion question at the end of the book. I read an e-book version, however other versions include lift-up flaps for interactivity.

[Thank you to #NetGalley, #ClavisPublishing and #LiesbetSlegers, for a free ARC of #MyMommyAndMe in exchange for an honest review.]

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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