Wednesday 29 November 2023

Yesterday Crumb and the Storm in a Teacup

 Author: Andy Sagar

ISBN: 978-1-510-1094803

Hi Everyone

It has been a long time since I last posted! It seems like a long time since I got to sit down with a book in hand and read with depth enough to write.  It has been a busy year for my students with many of them taking NCEA (my country's senior-level exams). Hence, life has been students,  more students, and adventure in between.  Yes, I remembered to add in a little adventure, like cycling the West Coast Wilderness trail and Otago Rail trail in New Zealand.  It is a beautiful country and there are many ways to see it.

Now that the school exams are finished and there are only two more weeks left of school for the junior levels and primary-aged students, I have books lined up and I will get some read ahead so there will be plenty for you to look in on here. 

So to Yesterday Crumb and the Storm in a Teapot...

Of course, this is another book that was purchased because of the cover. Never tell me that a cover is not important because it is the most important part of any book. It is what makes me pick it up in the first place. Boring covers are left on the bookshop shelves when it comes to my shopping. I try to be practical but I just can't help purchasing colourful attractive covers!

This one has not let me down. I am nearly finished and I have decided to review it early. With only a few chapters left and an evening where I feel like writing, it is time to give my review.

From the very first page this grabbed my attention. It is full of just the right amount of suspense balanced with friendship, mishaps, and laughter. The imagination in these pages is brilliant, it amazes me that authors can come up with these ideas and keep them flowing from chapter to chapter like this.

I became attached to more than one character as they all seemed to play their part in the story. Many books give me one or two characters to lean on but this one gave me an entire book family to hang out with and brew up magical tea :) 

I am happy for any one of my students to pick up this book and have full confidence that they will enjoy it. There is more than one in this series and I am seriously thinking that they will need to be added to my bookcase too. 


Yesterday Crumb has always felt cursed by the fox ears she was born with. Forced to work in a circus, her origins are a complete mystery. But when she's recused by Miss Dumpling and her magical, walking teashop, Yesterday learns she's a strangeling who's lost her magic.

Surrounded by fantastical customers, a flying teapot-turtle and incredible spells, Yesterday rediscovers her powers and finally starts to fell like she might belong.

But a mysterious figure of darkness is working hard to ensure her new life comes crashing down - and it all starts with a deadly shard of ice in Yesterday's heart...

Happy reading

For private tutoring with Richelle

Tuesday 13 June 2023

Maddigan's Quest

 Author: Margaret Mahy

ISBN: 1-86950-602-2

Hi Everyone

This book has been on my daughter's bookshelf for quite a while. I have always wanted to read this one. Recently I noticed it once more and it beckoned me to take it in my hands and read it. After all no book should be left unattended for too long on any bookshelf.

I was quickly transported to a world that has been left destroyed and in chaos since the 'Chaos'. Garland, her family, and the travelers of the Fantasia group travel from place to place, putting on shows to earn their living. And, they also have a mission to get a converter to Solic. This in itself isn't too hard, but incorporate the inclusion of a deadline date and three new members (who aren't as they seem), tracked by two men from the future, and you have a plot that will keep you turning the pages until the very end.

Nothing and no one is as it/they seem!

It is no surprise that this novel's plot is extremely well thought out, the characters well formed and engaging, and the world-building done to perfection, when we have an author such as Margaret Mahy.

Margaret Mahy (1936-2012) wrote more than 100 picture books, 40 novels, and 20 short stories. New Zealanders and the rest of the world have enjoyed these picture books and novels for decades. This is only one piece of work that graces her masterpiece list. So much so, that it has been produced as a TV series.  I have below, a link to Margaret Mahy's Wikipedia page and a link to an easy-to-read Biography page which will be beneficial to my younger audience (and students) that check in on what I have been reading.


Wikipedia link to Margaret Mahy - Wikipedia - Margaret Mahy


In a time not far from our own, a colourful group of travelers brave the twisting tricksy landscape of the Remaking after Chaos ripped the world apart. They are the magicians, clowns, trapeze artists, and musicians of Maddigan's fantasia, healing the injured land with their gifts of wonder and laughter. 

Garland Maddigan, the 12-year-old daughter of Ferdy, the Fantasia's ringmaster, has made the trip before, but this journey offers frightening new challenges. Three mysterious children join the Fantasia and the sinister strangers who follow them become a dangerous enigma as Garland slowly unlocks their secret origin.

Happy reading

Friday 21 April 2023


Author: George Orwell

ISBN: 9871785996313

Hi Everyone

Since being made to study the Classics and analyze them down to the last sentence, I have developed an enjoyment for the richness of their writings. George Orwell's - 1984, has been on my bookcase for over a year now so I thought it was time to read it. I was avoiding reading this during the pandemic because political views ran rampant and I didn't want my enjoyment of reading a novel to become a look into the government's ways of handling a situation like the pandemic, which our generation has not had to handle before. 

Although 1984 could be read as a politically based book, I found myself seeing it like many young adult books on the market. One that comes to mind is 'Divergent', there was even a movie that followed the book. I read 'Divergent' and went to the movie. Both novels grounded themselves on the ability of a higher structure to control the foundations of their society. Like 'Divergent', 1984 had me locked into the character's life. There was one part in 1984 that I closed my eyes because I could see the happenings too vividly in my mind.  This is an example of excellent 'show don't tell' writing which puts this novel into the masterpiece of literature category.  No wonder it has become a classic.

I made the mistake of looking up reviews on Youtube only to find myself adding 'A Brave New World' to my reading list.  There are debates all over the internet, debating these two books and which one... whatever the debate. How could I not add another book to my reading list? Hence, I have spent the last week listening to an audio reading of 'Brave New World' - I will put up a review for that one soon. It was in listening to 'Brave New World' while '1984' was still fresh in my mind that I found myself reflecting on 'Divergent'. These books together could make many fantastic essay questions.

I would encourage anyone reading these books to read them for enjoyment, not to find political arguments to serve one-self's reasonings. To read a great novel is to find enjoyment and/or self-reflection. I for one have enjoyed all the dimensions that '1984, Divergent, and Brave New World' bring to our world of reading.


Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past. 

Arguably the 20th-century's most famous novel, 1984 is a dystopian study of political tyranny, mind control, paranoia and secret mass surveillance.

Set in Oceania, the ultimate totalitarian state, it describes a society tyrannized by a ruling party led by Big Brother. In the furtherance of eradicating all expressions of individuality, people' lives are constantly monitored. Telescreens are everywhere, helicopters hover around buildings, spying through windows, and the Thought Police are constantly on alert.

Despite the threat of severe punishment, Outer Party Member Winston Sith takes a break from his job rewriting history. At home, in the one corner of his apartment that is hidden from the telescreen, he sits down to write a diary.

The cultural impact of George Orwell's masterpiece continues to resonate to this day.

Who was George Orwell?

According to Benet's Readers Encyclopedia 4th ed:

(pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, 1903-1950) English novelist, essayist, and critic. An independent socialist in adult life, Orwell was born in India, where his father was in the civil service. He won a scholarship to Eton but was financially unable to go on to Oxford or Cambridge. Instead he spent five years with the Imperial Police in Burma (1922-27). Much of his early work was at least partly autobiographical.... Orwell was known as a superb prose stylist who took a lucid, documentary approach to fiction. His Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters (4 vols) appeared in 1968.


For my review on Divergent follow this link.  It dates back some time now but still gives you a little view of what I thought when I originally read it 😁   Divergent

Happy reading

Sunday 9 April 2023

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency

 Author: L D Lapinski

Hi Everyone

Here is a series worthy of every young reader's time.  I have now made my way through reading all three in the series.  In book 1 you will meet Flick and her friends while you discover the worlds within a store full of suitcases.  It is an interesting concept that I was quickly dragged into wanting to purchase all three books to have them available for my students to borrow from my tutoring library.

Description: Book 1

Welcome to the Strangeworlds Travel Agency where every suitcase transports you to a different world. All you have to do is Step inside...

When 12-year-old Flick Hudson is invited to join the secret Strangeworlds Society, she's thrilled - but quickly realises that something isn't right in the magical multiverse. Blizzards are hitting in the middle of summer, entire city streets are disappearing, and one suitcase leads her to a world that has been completely abandoned.

Soon, Flick is breaking all sorts of society rules and pushing the very limits of magic to try and figure out what's going on. But will she be able to fix things before all the worlds - including her own - vanish completely.

Pack your bags for a magical adventure!

Flick is now a badge-wearing member of the Strangeworlds Society, so when an urgent summons arrives from the world of The Break, she and Strangeworlds guardian Jonathan immediately hop into a suitcase to take them there.

The Break is a flat water world, filled with unpredictable mer-people, mysterious water creatures and enormous ships sailed y frightening pirates. And it's shrinking. The edge of the ocean is coming ever closer. The people of The Break need to leave - and soon.

But how do you sail a ship through a suitcase? Or rescue a Mer-Queen the size of a blue whale? Will Flick and Jonathan be able to find a way... before time runs out?

This is the third book in the Strange Worlds Travel Agency series of books. All the characters come together from the previous books to stop the Seren. It is high action and adventure through the final suitcases and to save the entire multiverse.  It is an adventure well worth embarking on with Flick and her friends in which many answers will be discovered.

I have made my way through all three books now and highly recommend them for all young readers.


Since Flick Hudson joined Strangeworlds, she has faced more danger than most other people see in a lifetime. But nothing has prepared her to learn that the entire multiverse is at risk, under threat from a mysterious group called the Serne.

The Seren are on a hunt for the most powerful suitcase of all. A suitcase that some simply call: The Final Doorway.

It's up to Flick and her friends to find this suitcase first. But their journey will take them to ever more perilous places and reveal troubling secrets about the travel agency itself. And worst of all, there's no guarantee that all of them will survive...

Happy reading

Monday 13 March 2023

Aggie Morton Mystery Queen

 Peril At Owl Park

Author: Marthe Jocelyn

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6551-6

Hi Everyone:

I spilled my coffee on this book!  

Yes, I sat down and read it during my afternoon tea break and managed to forget I was holding a cup of coffee. How on earth can an adult get so tied up in a young person's book? Well, I can 😄 and I recommend that if you don't pick up a young person's book from time to time then you should!  You are missing out if you don't. 

This book took me into a time past and a time present all at once.  How you ask? In three ways:
  • It reminded me of Nancy Drew mysteries but a modern version for today's readers
  • It was linked to Agatha Christie because young Aggie likes Agatha Christie
  • The story is based in 1902.
This story is gripping and delightful.

Trust me the pages of my book now show a book worth reading.


Aspiring writer Aggie Morton has just solved a murder and survived a brush with death in her small town on the coast of England. Now she is eager to spend the holidays with her sister Marjorie, the new Lady Greyson of Owl Park, along with Grannie Jan and Aggie's Belgian friend and fellow sleuth, Hector Perot. An enormous manor house in the country, Owl Park holds many delights, including Aggie's almost cousin Lucy, a troupe of traveling actors, glamorous visitors from Ceylon, a secret passage and... an emerald with a curse!
When Aggie and her friends discover a body instead of presents on Christmas morning, things take a deadly serious turn. Aggie and Hector will once again put their deductive skills and imaginations to work in finding a murderer on the loose. And maybe this time, the local police will have a keener appreciation of Aggie's theories?
A thrilling and masterful whodunit, full of new faces and old, Peril at Owl Park will delight readers of all ages and Agatha Christie fans everywhere!

This was available from: Paperplus

Happy reading

 For private tutoring

Tuesday 7 March 2023

The Book of Stolen Dreams

 Author: David Farr

ISBN: 9781801215135

Hi Everyone

This is a middle-grade read and I quite enjoyed the journey through its pages.

There are a lot of themes entwined in the plot of this novel. It would be an interesting one to read aloud with your children and form discussions along the way. It is quick-paced and well-thought-out, making it a thought provoking page turner.

The characters are easy to relate to and I quickly formed a liking for more than one of them. At the same time, I quickly formed a dislike for some of them. No matter what your own personality or character traits lean towards, I am sure you will connect with at least one of these characters. This makes the book easily readable/relatable for any young person.

I was very impressed by the way this novel ended. Right to the end, every theme was accounted for. The characters each had their part to play and each character was thought about in the final pages. Credit goes to David Farr for the way in which he connected every page together right to the final pages.

Overall, this is worth reading.  It will get you thinking while you try to outrun time with the characters as they endeavor to close a chapter on the past or risk opening a new unchangeable chapter for the future.


When Rachel and Robert help their librarian father to steal a forbidden book, they are plunged into a dangerous world. Everyone is hunting for The Book of Stolen Dreams and, with their father imprisoned, Rachel and Robert are forced to go on the run. Desperate to survive, they must uncover the Book's secrets and track down its mysterious missing page. 

But the cruel and calculating President Charles Malstain is on their trail and will do anything to seize what they have. When the children discover the astonishing magical truth about the Book, they resolve to do everything in their power to stop it falling into his hands - for if it does, he could rule for ever.

Step inside the pages of an immortal adventure...

"I have always taught you to have a strong moral compass. You must use it now to save your father. There is a reason he wanted to seal the book.

Find out Why!

Do whatever you can to help him. I know you, more than anyone can do it."

David Far writes for film and theatre. He is perhaps best known for creating the BBC adaption of The Night Manager, starring Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston, his work on the long-running TV series Spooks and his feature film, Hanna - now a hugely successful Amazon Prime series.

David lives in London and The Book of Stolen Dreams is his first novel. It is the story he has always wanted to write, and he has always wanted to write it for children.

This was available from: Paperplus

Happy reading

Link for: Private Tutoring

Thursday 16 February 2023

The Taylor Turbochaser

 Its a Road-Trip Rollercoaster!

Author: David Baddiel

ISBN: 978-0-00-836538-7

Hi Everyone

As we roll into 2023 and back into lessons, we have a good range of new books on the bookcase.  Here is the first one I have read this school term. 'It's a Road Trip Rollercoaster', definitely.

I laughed my way through this book.  One of my students is now laughing her way through it.

My impression of this novel is beyond words. It is unique. That is what I would describe this novel as, 'unique'.

Take a girl, and add her brother and friends. Take a family broken by an accident that put the girl in a wheelchair. Add to the equation - that girl loves cars. She also needs a new wheelchair.... 

Now add to the mix, one of the friends being an inventor...

What do you have?

An adventure like no other.

I am sure this book will have many young readers wanting more.  There are illustrations the whole way through that will keep the reader glued to the pages.  This book is well worth adding to any young reader's bookcase.


Well, a Ford Transit van. Which might sound strange. You'll have to read this book to find out why.



Happy reading

Private Tutoring:

Tuesday 7 February 2023

The Famous Five - Collection 1

Author: Enid Blyton

ISBN: 9781444910582

Hi Everyone

A classic the not to far past which I just had to purchase and read.  I have only read the first book so far but I will be reading the other two!  Such a pleasure to read. Wo who are are the Famous Five and why are they still selling copies of their adventures?

Georgina hates being called Georgina, let's get that out in the open first.  Call her Georgina and you are doomed in the friendship ranking.  George, it is!  She is an only child and it seems to be an important part of the story as it is emphasized more than once. 

Anyway, when George's cousins come to stay she has no plan to like them. It doesn't take long for Julian, Dick and Anne to make friends with George.  I can see why; they are likable characters which great manners and they accept George and all her annoying little ways. 

Then who is Timmy?  

George's dog who isn't allowed to live with George but that doesn't stop her from still having Timmy as her very own.  You will come to see the important part Timmy plays in the Famous Five group.

In 'Five on a Treasure Island' the five go to George's island to find hidden treasure. (Yes George owns an island)  Their adventure is full of enough suspense and adventure for any young reader to be drawn in and left wanting to meet up again for another adventure. 

I really enjoyed this book.  It was first published in 1942 and is still standing the test of time. I can see why because I have to admit I enjoyed the adventure.


Meet Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy

It is the race against time as the Five hurry to find Kirrin Island's hidden treasure before trespassers can. Then the hunt for a thief turns dangerous after Uncle Quentin's papers vanish. And why has a mysterious trunk been smuggled onto Kirrin Island?

Happy Reading

Link for private tutoring

Tuesday 31 January 2023

2023 is here!


Hi Everyone

Most of you my students are returning to school this week and there are a few that commence next week. I am ready to have you back on board for tutoring again as of next week. It is going to be a good year! 

I have spent the holidays cycling the West Coast, kayaking in Southland, swimming in the lakes of Central Otago, and collecting great resources to support your learning.  I am looking forward to having all of my students either bounce back into my tutoring room or tune in online next week. I want to hear all about the fun adventures that you have had over the Christmas holidays and wait eagerly to see all of your smiling faces again.

Welcome back also to those beyond the land of my county, who connect here to read the book review, poetry, and quotes that I put out for each and every one of you. I have plenty to give to you also, and with our next season here being autumn the books will be picked up again. I have a huge of TBRs to read and report on so keep checking in.

Looking forward to a great year of learning and sharing

Happy reading

Friday 23 December 2022

What a year!

Hi Everyone

What a great year we have all had learning together!

I have had students of every level come for support with their learning journey this year. I have taught from addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to algebra and higher level geometry. I have seen students gain 'most improved awards' and prepare for NCEA. 

There have been simple sentences learned, parts of speech recognized, essays written and analyzed, along with poetry, structure, and style. I have read alongside students all sorts of books from picture books, Geronimo Stilton, Sir Gowan and the Green Knight, and Frankenstein - new literature and classical literature have all graced the learning experience of students.

There have also been some very competitive sessions as you all gave me a challenge in the 'Brain Break' sessions... You know who you are 😄

Every single student has given their best! 

Well done to each and every one of you.

I have had such a great time supporting these young people, and look forward to seeing you all again in 2023. Welcome to the new students who will join the fun of learning with me.

Happy holidays

Friday 25 November 2022

Dear Diary


Dear Diary



Shh, shh, shh,

Tell me your secrets,

Bound between parchment,

Unlock your private pathography.

Entrust it to me?


Friendship to friendship,

Soul to Soul,

Pen to parchment,

Restricted, restrained, contained,

Vowed to silence.


Trusted until scandalous eyes,

Seek to deviously devour

The human’s emotional habitat,

Privately bound between

Pretty parchment pages.


Shh. Shh. Shh.

Stay silent


Richelle M.F.

Hi Everyone

I hope you are all having a great week. As many of you know I love poetry. Somehow, somewhere, sometime in my teenage years, I found poetry. It was one thing that I easily understood in English class. I loved that I could read between the lines and see hidden secretive meanings just waiting to be discovered. 

Who else enjoys poetry?

Who shares my joy of words; play with words; sounds and metaphors?

Happy Reading

For private tutoring sessions

Friday 18 November 2022


Author: Mary Shelly

Hi Everyone

Initially, I avoided every possible opportunity to read this novel. I have managed to avoid any movie allocated to the name, ‘Frankenstein’. I don’t find any pleasure in horror movies, and I always envisioned Frankenstein as such.


Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Studied with the eye that I read this novel through, channeling into the depths of human nature, this book is far from a horror story.  It is a story of rejection and the damage that it does to human character. As I read the pages of the ‘monsters’ experience, I was left silenced by my own thoughts. Reading his experience showed the cruelty and neglect served upon him because of the way he looked.

First impressions are a natural survival setting that we all have implanted into each of us from birth. Society then moulds that instinct as we judge ourselves and experience hurt and fear. But do we take that too far? Do we stop listening to ourselves and place our judgment on the society we have come to be a part of? I don’t only mean the prejudices that are commonly spoken of through media either. I am thinking much deeper. I don’t even know how to express the hurt and isolation we place on people unknowingly. Words spoken, looks given, even words unspoken. The outcomes of isolation and the feeling of rejection are often… quiet.

I have heard many say this book is life-changing.

Frankenstein is a ‘classic’ for a reason.  I recommend that this book be read, and an examination of humans that the  character looked at from between the lines of each page.



Frankenstein is the classic gothic horror novel that has thrilled and engrossed readers for two centuries. Written by Mary Shelley, it is a story that she intended would ‘curdle the blood and quicken the beating of the heart.’ The tale is a superb blend of science fiction, mystery, and thriller. Victor Frankenstein is driven by the mad dream of creating his own creature. Experiments with alchemy and science to build a monster stitched together from dead remains. Once the creature becomes a living breathing articulate entity, it turns on its maker and the novel darkens into tragedy. The reader is very quickly swept along by the force of the elegant prose, the grotesque, surreal imagery, and the multi-layered themes in the novel. Although first published in 1818, Shelly’s masterpiece still maintains a strong grip on the imagination and has been the inspiration for numerous horror movies, television, and stage adaptations.


Happy Reading

Private Tutoring Link