Beck Valley Book Review: Into The Air by A. K. Downing

Like everyone else in the world, Mia Bryn lives in the dark. Buried in an underground compound, her life is spent in brief allotments of florescent light and dwindling food supplies. But when a letter arrives, Mia and her father are invited to embark on a journey that no one else has been allowed to take for over a hundred years. They are asked to leave the ground and travel into the air. But the outside world is more surprising and dangerous than Mia could have ever imagined. To survive, she must trust her instincts, learn about a world she knows nothing about, and accept her destiny.



Available to buy from….
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble    Kobo   Paperback

“Downing’s Into The Air is that fresh take on the YA post-apocalyptic vision we’ve all been waiting for. Mia Bryn is a wonderful character—one who starts out charmingly mortal but soon becomes the heroine we, and her people, need her to be. Can’t wait for the next Mia chapter!”
Bruce McAllister, Author of the Cybils-nominated The Village Sang to the Sea: A Memoir of Magic

“There’s a new star in the Young Adult firmament—A. K. Downing’s series, beginning with Into The Air, is sure to be a reader favorite right up there with The Hunger Games and The 100 trilogy.”
Richard Snodgrass , Author of There’s Something in the Back Yard

WHAT IF YOU ENTERED A WORLD YOU DIDN’T KNOW

“Did you ever feel so lost that you didn’t know if the ground was above your head or below your feet?”


My Review

Despite the fact that this is story is written for young adults, I have to say I barely noticed, I was so engrossed with this debut novel.  My resolution this year has been to read a wider range of fiction and I am enjoying the challenge immensely.  

Set in a post apocalyptic world where the air has been contaminated and the population forced to survive underground, change is afoot and whilst mutants roam the forests, the government has plans to rebuild and regenerate their world.  

The heroine, 17 year old Mia, is feisty, brave and determined to stand up for herself.  Let loose from the compound in which she has been forced to survive with her father Marshal, she finds herself a fugitive on the run from unseen forces, desperate to find him at any cost to her own safety.  

Her flight takes her deep into the forest where she rescues a little girl and joins forces with a band of renegade guards who find her more than a challenge.  Are they helping her or just waiting to hand her over to the authorities?

I loved that Mia is a well-drawn, modern female character and although the ending of the novel didn’t answer all my questions, I suspect Mia’s story may continue in further novels.  As the mother of a 9 year old daughter, I would be perfectly happy for Caitlin to read Mia’s story.  There is a hint of romance but it is entirely appropriate to the story and not overdone.

I thought the novel was a refreshing change from many of the more saccharine and traditionally ‘female’ stories available for young adults. This one is certainly an adventure with a bit more bite.

About the author

A. K. Downing is the author of the young adult, adventure novel Into the Air. She grew up in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania and spent her summers exploring the fields, woods and orchards of her grandparents’ farm. She studied graphic design at Kent State University and currently works as a Creative Director. She enjoys history, camping, and walking through fields of tall grass, and feels there is no better way to see the world than from the top of a horse. She currently lives in the woods with her husband, daughter, two cats and five chickens. Into the Air is her first novel.



Find the author on the following sites…

Website   Facebook   Twitter   Goodreads   Amazon author page

 


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I received this book through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own.

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Kids Big And Small Will Want To Join David Walliams’ “The Midnight Gang”.

Santa always includes a book or two in Caitlin and Ieuan’s Christmas presents and I suspect that this one will find its way into many a child’s stocking – and a great read it is too.

David Walliams' The Midnight Gang Front Cover

David Walliams has followed up the biggest selling children’s book of 2015 – his “Grandpa’s Great Escape” with his ninth fiction novel, The Midnight Gang.

David Walliams head and shoulder photo
David Walliams

This is the story of five children in a wonderfully inventive and eccentric hospital whose midnight adventures combine friendship, theatre and magic in the face of adversity.

Tom has been brought disoriented into Lord Funt Hospital after being hit on the head by a cricket ball at his posh boarding school. He ends up on the children’s ward with a collection of long-term residents, some in plaster, some very ill.

Soon Tom notices that there is something very strange going on. The children sneak out from the ward at night, past the controlling Matron. But where are they going? And what is the Midnight Gang??

We discover that, as well as 12 year old Tom, there’s the unofficial leader of the group, Amber, Robin, also 12 who wants to be a famous composer, 11 year old George who wants to fly like a superhero and terminally ill 10 year old Sally.

There’s a matron who doesn’t like children, the mysterious and ever-present porter, 99 year old Nelly, the hospital’s oldest patient and the strange old chemist, Mr Cod, who runs the pharmacy.

Caitlin reading David Walliams' The Midnight Gang
Caitlin loved “The Midnight Gang”

Caitlin (9) read “The Midnight Gang” at speed and devoured the story.  Here are some of her highlights.

Favourite Character

Amber because she was a bit bossy and she ruled the midnight gang.

I also liked Robin and George.

Robin keeps banging into stuff and George can’t pronounce his words very well.

Funniest moment

When Amber said “it’s a good job my legs and arms are already broken or they would be broken”

Happiest moment

The happiest moment was when Tom was taken home by his family at the end of the story.

Caitlin would love to have her own midnight gang.

It’s great to find inventive, engaging stories which capture kids’ imaginations and keep them reading. The text is broken up with quirky illustrations so that the reader isn’t faced with a wall of words.  This is important for younger ones because “The Midnight Gang” is quite a big book!

Promotional shot:  Out Now - David Walliams' The Midnight Gang

Published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, The Midnight Gang is available in Hardback (currently just £5!), ebook and audiobook format.

You can find out more at www.harpercollins.co.uk or www.worldofdavidwalliams.com.

*I received a complimentary copy of the book courtesy of HarperCollins Children’s Books through the BritMums Book Club. This post contains some affiliate links.

Children’s Book Review: The Little Boy Who Lost His Name By David Cadji-Newby & Pedro Serapicos

As parents, we all know how important it is to spend quality time reading to our children.  It’s a chance within a busy day to create a safe space and a pocket of time just for parent and child to bond over a shared story.

And what better way to make the story even more special than by giving a child a book that is personalised with a message just for them?  It adds an extra bit of mystery and fun.

As we go towards Halloween and start to focus on all things mystical and spooky, younger children may prefer a story that is a little less scary and a little more magical.

The Little Boy Who Lost His Name fits the bill nicely. (Or The Little Girl …)

This lovely story is about a child (boy or girl) who loses their name and goes on a magical journey to find it. They find their name again by being given each letter by a magical or mythical creature – and when the letters are put together their name is spelt out.

So, for example, on Ieuan’s journey he meets an Imp, an Elephant, a Unicorn, an Aadrvark and a Narwhal whale.

I would say that the story is suitable for children up to about Ieuan’s age (7) but probably better suited to children a little younger who are just beginning their reading journey.

The book can be further personalised in the front page with a letter from their parents (or a message from the giver of the book which would make a lovely Christmas present, or a non-sugary Halloween gift).

It also comes in a beautiful paper wallet to keep the book in good condition.

The Little Boy Who Lost His Name is independently published and produced in as environmentally friendly a way as possible.

The story has really resonated with parents and children and the book has sold over 1.7 million copies in 176 countries.

The book retails at £19.99 with free shipping worldwide and you order and customize online at the Lostmyname website.  You enter the child’s name and gender, pick an avatar which reminds you most of them and enter your dedication.

A preview is then generated for you to check and approve before checking out.

Although the price isn’t cheap, the quality is superb and the book is really designed more as a special keepsake with a personal touch. I think it would even make a lovely Christening / naming gift to be kept for the special moment when bedtime stories begin.

Before settling down for the night with Yoda (who needs lots of early nights because he’s 900 years old apparently), Ieuan remarked that the dedication in the front was “really cool” and he enjoyed the story.

High praise from a 7 year old.

Seven Natural Wonders of The Earth, A Othitis

This is a lovely little book and is the second in an on-going travel series My First Travel Books, for children.  Author Anna Othitis, originally from Zimbabwe and now living in America, introduces us to her son, Captain Frankie of Angelic Airlines and the story sees him fly us around the World to visit our planet’s “seven natural wonders”.

These span all four continents and whilst I had heard of some of them (for example, Mount Everest in the Himalayas and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef), others I had not (Paricutin Volcano in Mexico) or would not have thought of (The Grand Canyon in Colorado, USA).

Written as if Captain Frankie is talking to us over the plane’s intercom, each wonder is introduced by a poem and then there is some age-appropriate factual information, together with a simple quiz for the children to do.

At the end of the book, Captain Frankie asks the children to name out loud the seven natural wonders they have just visited.  There are also pictures of the countries’ national flags at the beginning of the book and then again as a test at the end.

I have to say that I learned quite a bit.  I did get my Geography ‘O’ Level (remember them?!) but aside from the fact that there were lots of orange groves in California and Ox bow lakes were quite easy to draw, I find my geographic knowledge is slightly sketchy!

The Husband, of course, gets to fly around the World quite regularly (although he claims he only sees airport lounges and hotel rooms). We have not yet ventured abroad with the kids but they already have their suitcases packed in anticipation!

For example, did you know that the Victoria Falls water drops 354 feet down?  Or that the Paricutin Volcano stands at 1353 feet, which is higher than the Empire State Building in New York? What about that there are 1500 species of fish in the Great Barrier Reef or that the Grand Canyon is 18 miles wide?

I particularly liked the environmentally friendly emphasis – we are reminded to take care of our earth and the way that Anna’s books can be used as teaching aids to encourage conversation between parents and children. Captain Frankie’s light, friendly tone makes you feel as if he really is talking to you.

This is a great way to teach our kids about the wonders of the Earth in a fun and engaging way.  I’ll be checking out the rest of the series for Caitlin and Ieuan.

Follow Captain Frankie on his adventures…

Are you ready to take to the skies?
Then welcome to Angelic Airlines!
Come join the adventures of Captain Frankie and the Angelic Airlines flying angel as they travel across the world to the Seven Natural Wonders of the Earth. Captain Frankie is waiting for you to book your ticket, safely stow your bags, and open your eyes to the beautiful places created for all of us to visit in My First Travel Books.

This is Anna Othitis’s second trip with Captain Frankie and the crew. Originally from Zimbabwe, Africa, her home port is now Wanaque, New Jersey, and she has flown across the world in her travels.

Book available at

Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble

“My daughter and I enjoyed these books. We took a trip around the world without leaving the house! We saw things and places we will probably never see in real life.” – review from Amazon

“Beautifully illustrated, amazing little ‘first travel’ adventure book for children. A great way to get children interested in the geography of the world and the delights of travel.” – review from Amazon

“Another gem from this consistant author. She is making quite a name for herself. You will not be disapointed!!” – review from Goodreads

“This book is in its simplest form: fun, educational and informative, which plays an important part in connecting our children with our world.  So come on and fly the skies with us on Angelic Airlines to some popular world destinations with your friendly Captain Frankie”

Check out the other My First Travel Books…

My First Travel Book (My First Travel Books) (Volume 1) 

Are you ready to take to the skies?
Captain Frankie welcomes you on board.
Come join the adventures of Captain Frankie and the Angelic Airlines flying angel as they travel across the world to some of the most popular, entertaining, and educational places in the world.

Captain Frankie is waiting for you to book your ticket, safely stow your bags, and open your eyes to the beautiful places created for all of us to visit in My First Travel Book.

Book available at

Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble

The Seven Wonders of the World (My First Travel Books) (Volume 3)

Are you ready to take to the skies?
Then welcome to Angelic Airlines!
Come join the adventures of Captain Frankie and the Angelic Airlines flying angel as they travel across the world to the Seven Wonders of the World. Captain Frankie is waiting for you to book your ticket, safely stow your bags, and open your eyes to the beautiful places created for all of us to visit in My First Travel Books.

This is Anna Othitis’s third trip with Captain Frankie and the crew.

Originally from Zimbabwe, Africa, her home port is now Wanaque, New Jersey, and she has flown across the world in her travels.

Book available at

Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble

About the Author
I lived and was raised in the beautiful land and country of Zimbabwe, Africa (home will always be home). We relocated to Wanaque, New Jersey, USA, our new home and where our younger son, Frankie, took up his “American Dream”.

My husband George, sons Johnny, Elia and Frankie encouraged me to write my first children’s book titled My First Travel Book, which was inspired by Frankie (Captain Frankie). Given a wonderful opportunity, he graduated in his Masters degree in Aeronautical Science and is successful in his career as a professional pilot. My favourite saying is: “Be Bold Be Brave”.

My dream is to be given the opportunity for my book to reach each and every less fortunate child who will have the opportunity to fantasy travels through our book to see our lovely world destinations, and to one day to give back and assist the needy in Africa and beyond, to keep giving care and love to the less fortunate. Whilst in Zimbabwe I was involved with many charitable organizations and groups where my greatest passion and love was with the primitive, simple people of Zimbabwe, Africa and will still continue to reach out to the many beautiful children of the world.

Now living in the USA, after having travelled some short and some long journeys, to get to our final destination, we realize how small this world really is, yet is also so big and so beautiful in each and every corner. Still so much is untouched by humans, which will hopefully remain sacred in many areas. We have to cherish every and all the beautiful things that our planet earth has to offer to us.

Find the author on the following sites…

Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Goodreads   Amazon Page

I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.

Review: Angry Birds Playground Ca-Cool Masks

GIFTED: I have to say Angry Birds is a bit of a mystery to me, although the rest of the family seem to be totally up to speed.  So when I was sent a copy of Angry Birds Playground Ca-Cool Masks to review, Sunday afternoon became a lot more fun.

Angry Birds Playground Ca-Cool Masks
Angry Birds Playground Ca-Cool Masks

The book brings to life, via 8 different 3D masks, not only favourite Angry Birds but also Bad Piggies characters. In addition, you can learn fun facts about them. For example, Bad Piggies don’t always know what’s going on but they are always happy and cheerful. (I think I’d find them highly annoying if I ever met them on that basis).

Each character masks comes with a page of specific instructions to guide you through assembling the mask. Caitlin and Ieuan were a bit too young to do the actual assembling and I’m a complete DIY duffer (although I gave it a go) so it fell to The Husband to assemble whilst I handed him the various pieces.

How to make an Angry Birds Matilda Mask
The Matilda Mask

Caitlin chose the leader of the Angry Birds, Red (no surprise there) and Ieuan chose Chuck, Red’s best friend. Much like Ieuan, Chuck always wants to win and being the fastest, he often ends up in a lot of trouble.

Caitlin & Ieuan in their Angry Birds masks

You can see that the quality of the masks is excellent. Don’t they both look, er, cute?

We had a lot of fun with “Angry Birds Playground Ca-Cool Masks” but younger kids may need a responsible (cough) grown-up to help them to assemble their mask.

This is one of a number of Angry Birds books by Rovio Learning (Rovio Entertainment Ltd) and is available on Amazon.

Check out my other book reviews.

Review: The Tragic Tale of Dwayne The Eating Monster – A Lift-The-Flap Book By Valentina Mendicino

Just occasionally, when reading to your children, you are introduced to a character who automatically wins your heart. As a refreshing change to the somewhat saccharine short stories in Caitlin’s latest “Princess Compendium” and Ieuan’s “Guide to Train Spotting For The Under 5’s”, readers I bring you Dwayne in “The Tragic Tale of Dwayne, The Eating Monster”, a lift the flap book written and illustrated by Valentina Mendicino published by Imagine That Publishing.

The Tragic Tale Of Dwayne, The Eating Monster book front cover

Dwayne, it has to be said, has a pretty limited skill set but he does love to eat. One day, however, (and we’ve all been there), he finds he just can’t stop. He eats… and eats… and eats everything in his path. And, of course, he gets bigger, and bigger and bigger, with catastrophic consequences. I won’t spoil the ending which contains a funny twist, but suffice it to say that my children really enjoyed the story.

The book is a ‘lift the flap’ book and as Dwayne eats more and grows bigger, children are able to lift the flap to discover the contents of Dwayne’s latest meal – which are weird, wacky and very funny.

The Tragic Tale Of Dwayne, The Eating Monster - inner pages

Like all the best children’s stories, “The Tragic Tale of Dwayne The Eating Monster” contains a valuable lesson – being greedy can have unfortunate consequences.  Caitlin (5) and Ieuan (4) loved it, particularly the flaps which allow the children to join in with the story and suggest alternatives for what might be in Dwayne’s tummy.  Obviously, I was hoping that the story would inspire Ieuan to actually eat some vegetables but I’m not sure it’s succeeded with that.

Ieuan impersonating Dwayne The Eating Monster
Ieuan, impersonating Dwayne The Eating Monster.  Nice.

The Tragic Tale of Dwayne, The Eating Monster is available from Amazon.co.uk.

*A PR sample was received for the writing of this post which contains an affiliate link.