Pippa’s Island: Kira Dreaming by Belinda Murrell

Pippas Island 3.jpgTitle: Pippa’s Island: Kira Dreaming

Author: Belinda Murrell

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Published: 2nd January 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 240

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: The third book in the gorgeously happy and fun Pippa’s Island series sees Pippa and her friends competing in the school talent quest!

Kira Cove Public School is hosting a talent quest. Cici, Meg and Charlie couldn’t be more excited to perform, but Pippa gets butterflies at the thought of singing on stage. After a disastrous audition the girls get a second chance, but can Pippa find a way to smash her stage fright before the VIP concert?

Meanwhile, at the Beach Shack Cafe a mysterious visitor is causing havoc when backs are turned. When Pippa finds a clue, she is determined to track down the mischievous cafe thief.

Will Pippa sing with the Sassy Sisters?

~*~

Pippa is still waiting for her new home to be built above The Beach Shack Café. Whilst waiting, the school announces a talent contest. CiCi and Charlie are keen to enter, whilst Pippa and Meg are reluctant, yet join their friends despite their stage fright. To keep the peace, Pippa and Meg agree to go along with the audition – nut keep their costumes tame and leave the snazzier ones for the performance. When Tash is injured during the performance before the Sassy Sisters, it appears to throw off their performance, and they’re runners-up.

When they’re offered another chance to perform at the VIP Concert, Pippa must find a way to cure her stage fright and mend bridges with Olivia, who seems to think it is all Pippa’s fault. At the same time, Pippa must deal with her feelings about her father leaving the family, and find out who, or what, the mysterious food thief in the café is.

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In this story, I could totally understand Pippa’s stage fright. The way Pippa reacted would have been just how I would have, so its very relatable for readers to see. The way Pippa’s friends come together to help her get ready for the VIP concert and get over her stage fright was lovely, and this was a great addition to the Pippa’s Island series. I’m looking forward to reading the next two to see where Pippa and her friends go and what they do. Another great installment for all ages to enjoy.

Pippa’s Island: Cub Reporters by Belinda Murrell

Pippas Island 2.jpgTitle: Pippa’s Island: Cub Reporters
Author: Belinda Murrell
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Published: 3rd July 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 240
Price: $14.99
Synopsis: Four best friends are about to discover that writing news isn’t as easy as it looks – especially when puppies, pop stars and photo shoots are involved!
Pippa is settling in to her island home – she’s even learning to surf. School is abuzz when Mrs Neill announces the launch of a new student newspaper. But how will Pippa, Meg, Charlie and Cici decide what to write about when the four friends have such different interests? A fashion photo shoot could be fun – if it weren’t for bad weather, a naughty puppy and other disasters.
Just when things couldn’t get any worse, the cub reporters get a news scoop that could bring the whole town together at the Beach Shack Cafe. Cupcakes for everyone!
Whose story will make the front page?

~*~
Pippa is slowly settling into her new life on Kira Island, at school, and with her new friends, Meg, CiCi and Charlie. When her primary school announces they will be starting a school paper, Pippa and her friends sign up – but when it comes to choosing a story to write for the paper, they can’t decide – each girl has a different idea, and ever the peacemakers, Pippa and Meg try to help the group come to a compromise.
The arrival of a local star causes waves, and when Olivia tries to use it to her advantage – things look as though they will backfire, and it is up to the Sassy Sisters to bring the newspaper together with the few students left from year six – and pull together a series of stories that will appeal to all their interests.

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The second Pippa’s Island book is just as fun as the first book – with the addition of a naughty puppy and takes place within weeks of the first book. This is a good pace, and keeps the links and feelings of the characters working well as the series progresses. I love all the characters – they are well-written and loads of fun. I am loving reading this series, and now have all five, with books four and five ready to read on my shelf when time allows. These are fabulous books that appeal to middle grade readers and older, celebrating family, friends and being yourself whilst showcasing a variety of interests and a spectacular Australian landscape.

Pippa’s Island: The Beach Shack Café by Belinda Murrell

Pippas island 1.jpgTitle: Pippa’s Island: The Beach Shack Café

Author: Belinda Murrell

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Published: 3rd July 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 240

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: A gorgeous new series about friendships, family and seaside adventures, from our beloved bestselling author Belinda Murrell!

Pippa has just arrived at a new school, in a new town, and even living on a gorgeous island isn’t cheering her up. Her arrival causes ripples at Kira Island Primary School – but Pippa soon starts to make friends with eco-warrior Meg, boho-chick Charlie, and fashionista and cupcake baker Cici.

Pippa’s mum plans to buy a rustic old boatshed and start a bookshop cafe, and Pippa worries they’ll lose all their money in this madcap venture – until her new friends come to the rescue to help get the grand opening back on track.

Will Kira Island ever feel like home?

~*~

Starting a new school is always scary – but for Pippa Hamilton, she has had her entire life uprooted, moving from all she has known in England, to a small island in Australia called Kira Island. In between school, she is helping her mum get the beach café/bookstore ready while she lives in a caravan with her mum, brother Harry, and sister, Bella, behind their grandparents’ house. Yet it is school that poses the real challenge: though she meets four really cool girls who will become her best friends – CiCi, Charlie and Meg – Pippa still feels isolated by popular girl Olivia, who seems nice enough, yet when Pippa starts doing better than her, tensions arise.

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At the same time, Pippa is trying to deal with what has happened between her parents, keeping things close until she learns she can really trust her new friends. Pippa is relatable, and fun, and filled with such joy that she shines off the page and dances around. Her story is engaging for all ages over nine. What I loved about Pippa’s Island was the uniqueness each character brought to the series and the way it all unfolded – in a classy, fun and stimulating way that wasn’t too complicated or too simple, and perfect for reading anywhere – on the couch, in bed, at the beach.

There were times when I felt like I was on Kira Island, and living near a beach, it was easy to imagine that some of the things that happened could have happened at the local beach as well – a bookshop café would be awesome to have where I live! So, once I get the chance, I will be heading to my local bookstore to grab the next two or three in the series to follow  Pippa’s adventures on Kira, and these will make for great summer reading.

 

The Lost Sapphire by Belinda Murrell

 

 

Title: The Lost Sapphire

Author: Belinda Murrell

the lost sapphireGenre: Fiction/Historical Fiction

Publisher: Random House Australia

Published: 16th May 2016

Format: Paperback

Pages: 310

Price: $17.99

Synopsis: Marli is staying with her dad in Melbourne, and missing her friends. Then she discovers a mystery – a crumbling, abandoned mansion is to be returned to her family after ninety years. Marli sneaks into the locked garden to explore, and meets Luca, a boy who has his own connection to Riversleigh.

A peacock hatbox, a box camera and a key on a velvet ribbon provide clues to what happened long ago . . .

In 1922, Violet is fifteen. Her life is one of privilege, with boating parties, picnics and extravagant balls. An army of servants looks after the family – including new chauffeur Nikolai Petrovich, a young Russian émigré.

Over one summer, Violet must decide what is important to her. Who will her sister choose to marry? What will Violet learn about Melbourne’s slums as she defies her father’s orders to help a friend? And what breathtaking secret is Nikolai hiding?

Violet is determined to control her future. But what will be the price of her rebellion?

 

~*~

 

The Lost Sapphire is this year’s historical novel offering from Belinda Murrell. Like the rest of her historical novels and time slip novels, it is set in Australia and begins in the present day, before flashing back to 1922 and a story that mirrors what is going on in Marli’s life. In the decades between the wars, Marli’s great-grandmother encounters a Russian chauffeur, Nikolai, when he comes to work for her father. In 2016, Marli discovers that an abandoned mansion is going to be returned to her family, and she starts exploring it with a new friend, Luca, who also has a connection to the Riversleigh property Marli’s family is getting back. As Marli and Luca build a friendship, and explore Riversleigh, they discover its secrets.

Back in 1922, Violet begins to assert her beliefs and discover who she is. Her passions lead her to helping Nikolai and other friends who are less fortunate. In this world of changes in industry and worker’s rights, the echoes of World War One and events of 1917 foreshadow the world that Violet and those she holds dear will be plunged into soon. It brought another layer to the novel that those who know the history can appreciate. The rundown mansion of Riversleigh has echoes of The Secret Garden: a place locked up, that two children in need of companionship restore the house and garden, guided by a fairy wren in place of the robin.

All these layers in the story, and the characters that seemed to mirror each other, though in separate worlds, made for a wonderful story. Ever since I started reading Belinda’s books about a few years ago, I have waited eagerly for new ones to come out. Reading The Lost Sapphire, I was taken away to a different world. I travelled with Marli as she worked to restore Riversleigh, and explored Riversleigh of the past with Violet, explored her world of privilege but also the world of the underprivileged that she sought to expose through her writing and pictures with the help of Nikolai and her maid, Sally. The contrasts of the poor and rich were more apparent in 1922, yet the echoes of them could be seen a little in Marli’s time, in what was expected of her father. Like the other books Belinda has written, The Lost Sapphire has been rooted in a key cause or event in the lives of the characters that drive them on their journey to form their lives and the story. Each novel by Belinda Murrell is unique. I’d say this is one of my favourites, with the other top two being The River Charm and The Forgotten Pearl. These stories introduce younger readers to history in an accessible and interesting way that allows them to see the real events through the eyes of fictional characters, or fictional characters linked to family history, as in Locket of Dreams and The River Charm. I recommend this book to fans of Belinda Murrell, fans of history and mystery and readers everywhere who love a good book.

The Forgotten Pearl by Belinda Murrell

Title: The Forgotten Pearl

Author: Belinda Murrell the-forgotten-pearl

Genre: Children’s Fiction/Historical Fiction

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Pages: 282

Price: $17.99

Published: 2nd February 2015

Synopsis: When Chloe visits her grandmother, she learns how close the Second World War came to destroying her family. Could the experiences of another time help Chloe to face her own problems?

In 1941, Poppy lives in Darwin, a peaceful paradise far from the war. But when Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, then Australia, everything Poppy holds dear is threatened – her family, her neighbours, her friends and her beloved pets. Her brother Edward is taken prisoner-of-war. Her home town becomes a war zone, as the Japanese raid over and over again.

Terrified for their lives, Poppy and her mother flee to Sydney, only to find that the danger follows them there. Poppy must face her war with courage and determination. Will her world ever be the same again?

 

In the two days it took me to read this, I was completely absorbed by the story, day and night, even when not reading it. Starting out in 2012 with Chloe, a young girl talking to her grandmother about an assignment, readers are whisked back to 1940s Australia in the days before the war hits our shores. The peace and carefree life Poppy lives is shattered like glass, and she runs from Darwin to Sydney with her mother, where the fear remains but for a while they are safe. When the threat of war and death follows them, Poppy’s world falls apart again, but her strength and resolve to not let the Japanese chase her away from her new life, and what she knows wins over.
From the first page of this book, I knew it would be one that would stay with me but I didn’t know how it would affect me. Having a brother in the army, and with what is currently going on in the world, suddenly, the reality of war, of what Poppy and her family went through, what she told Chloe, seemed all that more real to me than just images on the television and talks of air raids and strikes and invasions. I found myself crying at times, sometimes having to put the book aside. Poppy’s fear and life had become my own and I was dreaming about the book, about the bombing of Darwin, about finding Daisy and Charlie dead in the bomb shelter. Previously all I had known about these events were the facts: the history books I had had never put a human face to these events. Until I read Belinda Murrell’s The Forgotten Pearl. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, as I have her other time slip books, with one left on the pile to make my way through. I could taste and feel Darwin as well. The heat, the stickiness, the mangoes, and all Poppy’s animals leapt off the page into my arms, especially Honey, her beloved dog. She made me feel safe just as she comforted Poppy.
It is a fictionalised account of very real, and terrifying events as seen through the eyes of a child. Children can relate to Poppy, and her fear for her family, her pets and all she holds dear. She is a remarkable character and I will definitely be revisiting this book when time allows. It has a part of me in it now, and always will. I will not stop fearing for Poppy and her family, or my brother, when I read it or think about what wars my brother could face, but it will be a book that will help me through those moments, as many books have and will.

A five star rating for this book.