There’s nothing that makes an author go “whee!” more than people saying nice things about their books. So I’m going to share some reviews of my newer novels. And yes, I might have done a Happy Author Dance when I first saw each one…
“The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall is a compelling read. I enjoyed being transported to both versions of the Hall; the modern day family dynamics were realistic and readers will relate to the domestic situations and complex emotions. The insights into the past and historical connections added another absorbing layer to the story. Furthermore, the exploration of teenage anxiety and panic attacks gives the book added depth, and the topic is sensitively handled.”
Get Kids Into Books
“Everything about ‘The OMG! Blog’ is massively appealing, from the truly stunning cover to the variety of diverse characters. It is fun and really on-trend and I’m sure it will be very popular in my school library.”
Book Lover Jo
“Despite ‘The OMG! Blog’ being a relatively quick read the characters are well-rounded, the story feels believable and there is humour and warmth in abundance. I particularly liked the way in which the author managed to include a range of diverse families without it feeling contrived.”
By the time I had finished Chapter 2 of Catching Falling Stars I was hooked! I really warmed to evacuee Glory who hides her fear and worry under a veneer of capability. Her relationship with her little brother is touching as she takes on the maternal role in the absence of their parents.
As a school librarian I receive lots of requests for stories set in World War 2 and this is definitely one that I will be recommending in future. I think that readers who don’t normally choose historical books will enjoy this too as there is so much in the book that is relevant to today’s children.
I’m going to rate Catching Falling Stars as a solid 5/5. It sucked me right into it. You know that feeling when you are totally taken away into another world? That was me!
Catching Falling Stars is an absolutely wonderful read; I couldn’t put it down. I adored the relationship between Glory and her younger brother, Rich, who were the only children left in their neighbourhood when London was evacuated in World War 2. The way the storytelling indirectly teaches the reader the importance of not judging people is very clever, and the ending is beautiful. My husband and daughter loved it, too. Truly suited to anyone from 8 to 108!
Glory is evacuated during WW2 to a small and apparently hostile village miles away from her London home. Matters are further complicated by her having to look after younger brother Rich, who has special needs.
Catching Falling Stars finishes in a rush of reconciliation that might well have some readers dashing away the odd tear.
The Independent on Sunday
Catching Falling Stars is a scrumptious historical novel from the wonderful Karen McCombie, focusing on Glory and her little brother in WW2 as they are evacuated to live with grumpy Miss Saunders in the countryside. Glory makes new friends and falls in love, and minutes slid past as I read. I loved it so much I was barely aware I was turning the pages. I hope to see more historical books from Karen McCombie in the future.
It seems to me that you can’t beat a good ghost story – and The Girl Who Wasn’t There IS a good ghost story. It’s also a family story and a school story all wrapped up in one.
This is a cleverly plotted narrative which holds the reader’s interest, not least because the family – Dad, Maisie and her sister Clem – are realistically drawn and likeable. It’s Maisie’s voice that tells the story and she’s an engaging and believable character. We see her at home and at school – and here’s a writer who can depict school life authentically. Karen McCombie also understands human emotion. She directly tackles unhappiness and loneliness. Yet the novel has an upbeat and life-affirming tone. This is a very enjoyable page-turner.
The Bookseller ‘We Love This Book’
The Girl Who Wasn’t There is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Couldn’t put it down. I just read, read, read. The author chose a very interesting plot which I liked very much because I am a sucker for ghost stories. Every time the ghost mysteriously appeared in this book, I wanted to read on to see what happens next!
The Guardian Children’s Books online
Read The Girl Who Wasn’t There as home guided reading with my daughter. We both really loved it! A lovely gentle, very modern day ghost story; sad, but had us laughing out loud throughout. Really enjoyable and totally recommend.
This is the first of Karen McCombie’s books that I’ve read and I was prompted to read this one as I know from experience as a school librarian that they are popular with young readers. Having read The Girl Who Wasn’t There I can now understand why. The combination of engaging lead character, family life, mystery, school and a ghost in a well told story make this a winning combination that ticks all the boxes when I am looking for a book to recommend to readers of about 9 plus.
Karen McCombie deals with the sadder aspects of this story in a sympathetic and yet positive manner so that as you turn the final page you feel glad that you have read this story.
I’m now wishing that I had listened to my pupils a bit sooner!
Angels Next Door is a wonderful, funny, heart-warming and comforting tale – the first in a trilogy – by much-loved Karen McCombie.
The story is told in a dreamy, warm style, with a heroine readers will be able to relate to. The book contains helpful tips on being a good friend, and while it’s a relatively easy read, it’s by no means a simple tale. You cannot have too many of these kind of books in your library!
School Librarian magazine
I adored Angels Next Door, which I bought it for my 10-year-old, who is a reluctant reader. I loved the storyline, the characters and the outcome. It’s a really well written book with just the right amount of words to say what needs to be said (good if your reader is reluctant). I love the perspective it uses to touch on relationships, self-belief and life at the beginning of high school or even life where friends (particularly girl friends) are involved.
Angels Next Door is peopled with instantly recognisable characters who will appear in the rest of the trilogy, giving a sense of belonging and continuity to young readers. Most importantly of all, it wades in chest-high and confronts the fears, preoccupations and problems common to us all – the loss of a friend, the horror of bullying and the loneliness when friends are no longer there. The accuracy and sensitivity with which these issues are explored reveals a writer who knows and likes her audience.
Books For Keeps
Dead roses start blooming, strange trails of silvery dust… will Riley discover the secret of the strange happenings next door? This is THE book you will never forget. It has humour, action and adventure all in one!
The Sun (children’s holiday reading round-up)
As part of my continuing education to increase my knowledge of books for the age group I actually teach (primary), my search has found me attempting to answer that elusive question “My kids loves Jacqueline Wilson – what else can they read?” Karen McCombie seemed a good place to start. She’s obviously very well regarded and established in her genre, writing largely for girls aged 9-12 years; yet I’m possibly the last teacher in England to have heard of her.
Angels Next Door is like a big sister in a book, and McCombie writes her girls with personality. And did I mention it’s funny? I was surprised to find myself laughing out loud on a few occasions.
If I was ten, I’d have definitely felt a GGGG warm glow at the end of it. It’s also an early chance to experience a flavour of YA reading with training wheels on.
With any of McCombie’s books, you know that you’ll get a heart-warming story, with believable characters, fabulous dialogue, and a plot with enough twists to keep you guessing as to exactly how everything will turn out alright in the end. I love everything I’ve read by her, but Life According To Alice B Lovely is the best.
Top 20 MG Books Of The Last 10 Years
Jim at YAyeahyeah.com
So far, every book Karen writes which I’ve read needs a tissue warning. Honey And Me is bittersweet. I wanted to scoop Kirsten up and tell her that everything will work out eventually, which it does. It just has to go very wrong before it can right itself. Feeling out of place isn’t a fun emotion to feel, and can really get you down, which Karen accurately conveys.
The Curse Of The Jellybabies – first in the You, Me and Thing series by best-selling author Karen McCombie – is a funny, rollicking, yet gentle story of friendship and acceptance. Ruby comes off as a genuine, reasonable character, with a love of nature and her quiet, happy family life. Jackson is truly annoying, but he shows another side of his personality in his concern for the newly discovered ‘Thing’.~
There is an environmental message, or perhaps a message about consequences, one that in no way undermines the pure enjoyment of the storyline, but rather it adds to it. An easy, entertaining read, this book will be sure to charm its readers and leave them wanting more.
Mary Esther Judy
This is aimed at a significantly younger age-range than most of the books I review, but I couldn’t miss it because it’s by the wonderful Karen McCombie, who doesn’t write anything except brilliant books. This is no exception, featuring a great central trio, McCombie’s usual engaging writing style, and absolutely beautiful black and white illustrations from Alex T Smith.
McCombie’s words and Smith’s pictures both capture the characters perfectly – Thing is absolutely adorable, while the main human characters of sensible Ruby and Jackson, a pleasant young boy who can just occasionally be a bit of a ‘donut’, interact really well together.
The books in the series are playful, with lots of the fun being Thing’s fairly wobbly grasp of English, picked up from overhearing people in the woods, and the fabulous illustrations really add to them. They’re relatively short, and would make fantastic bedtime reading for younger children, as well as being perfectly pitched for confident readers to enjoy them on their own. Highly recommended for the young and young at heart!
When Flo’s mum enters Big Dreams – the nationwide TV talent competition – it’s not all dreams-come-true. From rags to riches, fame to shame, Flo’s life has never been more exciting. But can Flo really trust her new friends and her new lifestyle? Is it worth giving up Marigold Street for a life with the rich kids?
In The Year of Big Dreams, once again, McCombie brings to the boil another fiery read. She makes the story so realistic and entertaining the whole way through. I loved it, and am looking forward to her next book.
The Guardian Children’s Books online