Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fables: Legends in Exile - Bill Willingham

Join the characters you know as you will never recognise them. Their homeland is gone and in Fabletown, New York City, the Fables must keep themselves to themselves. When Rose Red goes missing and her apartment is covered in blood the mundy cops must not be informed. Its up to The Big Bad Wolf to solve the case, along with Rose’s sister Snow White, and keep the Fabletown community from coming apart at the seams. 

***

Fables has been on my wish list for a very, very long time. Thankfully a christmas present helped me on the way towards reading them when it turned out to be the first volume. I am utterly useless though because it then took me until August to finally get round to reading it, and damn why didn’t I read it sooner?! 

I’ve always heard good things about this series and I am happy to say I agree with them. It is brilliant and well worth a read. I loved the way it takes characters we know from fables and fairytales, and makes them into real characters. The gritty atmosphere you pick up from the graphic novel obviously comes from the darker side of some of the stories, as we all know the originals were not nice stories like Disney has turned them into. That darkness transfers to the characters too with the mild, meek women coming across as pretty badass and even the men who are seen as ‘heroes’ in the original stories, having some serious flaws. I think my favourite portrayal was Prince Charming and his womanising ways… serious he was there for them all! 

There were a few references I didn’t know because my knowledge of fables and fairytales isn’t actually that vast but Fables didn’t allow for that fact to me off. It is its own take on the characters with a fantastic storyline that kept my attention right to the end. I loved the way it showed the little clues as to what had happened to Rose Red throughout the book and then how it was revealed at the end. Its not often I come across that kind of thing in the books I read so it felt like proper crime scene tv show or movie! 

I struggle to actually review graphic novels because obviously the images are such a big part of the story and I have no technical knowledge of the images used. I know I like them but cant really go into details as to why a lot of the time. The ones in Fables really grabbed me because of their attention to detail though and I loved that the character’s shadows show up more like their true fable rather than how they looks, for example the Big Bad Wolf’s shadow is a wolf even though he is a man in the story.

One thing I wasn’t expecting from Fables: Legends in Exile is the story at the end. The short story ‘A Wolf in the Fold’ by Bill Willingham was amazing and was so special. The writing was incredible and I loved what insight it gives into the character of the Wolf. I think it added so much to the graphic novel, which was already pretty immense in my eyes, and I also liked the mini strips at the back too. All bonus things that I didn’t expect and really enjoyed from this volume. 

I am kinda kicking myself for not reading this sooner but also for actually reading it because now I want the rest of the volumes and I don’t have them… I know whats next on my to buy list at least! 

Fables: Legends in Exile was published by Vertigo in 2012. my copy was given to me as a present. 

To buy this book or for more info please visit: 

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Girl Who Walked on Air - Emma Carroll

“The bigger the danger, the bigger the crowd. One look at tonights punters said it all. With just minutes till show time, the big top was almost full and I was quite ready to burn with excitement. Every last ticket was sold. And still the queue snaked out of the field and down the lane until all you could see were people’s hats bobbing above the hedgerows.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, Roll up, Roll up, for the biggest circus event of the year! Watch Monsieur Mercury defy gravity on his faithful trapeze! Louie watches as Jasper, not Monsieur Mercury to her, tries to perform his triple somersault but it all goes terribly wrong. Theres a hush and a moment where she believes her friend has passed. Then theres a sigh of relief as he opens his eyes. But the showstopper is done for and Mr Chipchase is not impressed. Despite the fact she's been training for years and can walk the tightrope like no other he won’t give Louie a chance and forces her hand. To get her turn under the the spotlight she must follow her heart, despite it taking her a long way from the only home she has. Her journey will be fierce, she will have to two mysterious strangers, cross the Niagara Falls and look death square in the eye. Can she do it to become the Girl Who Walked on Air?

***

This book was incredible!!! Emma Carroll does historical fiction so well and if you’re a fan of the genre but haven’t read her books yet, do it now! 

The story is fantastic and you will be hard pressed to find a Victorian YA circus story as fitting as this one. Louie is an orphan, left in the charge of Jasper at Mr Chipchase’s circus. She doesn’t know anything about her mother expect that she left her there a very long time ago. Mr Chipchase is an oddball and wont allow her to draw attention to herself so I thought right from the start that there must be a reason for that. Events draw on and she meets a young boy called Gabriel, who leads her, unwillingly, to bigger and better things. Not everything is as good as it seems though and Louie finds out more about herself, her life and who her true family is on a journey which takes her across the atlantic. Its a sad, powerful story full of deceit and bravery on Louie’s part and I absolutely adored it.

Louie has to have been my favourite character because she is so strong and brave. She refuse to take any crap but her attitude does land her in trouble sometimes… like its quite easy to work out how she will react to certain things which is why certain things happen the way they do. She's her own worst enemy in some parts of the story, but she can also be other peoples worst enemy too. I loved her and I loved Pip, her dog, he was such a cute sidekick and I was said he couldn’t join her on her trip. Gabriel was an interesting character who I couldn’t work out at the beginning but he grew on me and I think he was strong in his own way too. The collection of what could only be called misfits at Chipchase’s circus were awesome too and I loved that they felt like family throughout the book, no matter how mean some of them were at the beginning. 

I can’t get over how much I loved this book. It was fully of daring and without many references to the time it was set in it was obvious that was where it belonged. I can’t wait to see what Emma does next but I hope with all my heart she carries on writing historical fiction because she seriously has a talent for it! 

Faber and Faber published The Girl Who Walked on Air on August 7th. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

To buy the book or for more info please visit: 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Letterbox Love (#89)


Letterbox Love is a weekly feature that is hosted by Lynsey at Narratively Speaking and is a way for us to share the books that come through our letterbox, galleys and e-books (through our electronic letterbox) and any other bookish goodies that we want to tell you about.



For Review: 


I loved Wonder, I have waxed lyrical about it on this blog in the past and I continue to do so with friends and family. I even took my copy up to my mum a few weeks ago because I know she will love it. When I heard about a new book from RJ Palacio I knew I needed it in my life and thankfully here it is. But this is a different Wonder book... this is a collection of quotes which will make you sit back and take in life and its little wonders. I can't wait to give them a read. Thanks Random House Children's Books
Published: 28th August 2014


This is the second Tom Moorhouse book to drop through my door and unfortunately they really don't sound like my kind of thing. I am hoping I can get a friend of mine who is a primary school teacher to read and review them for me, otherwise I will try and get round to reading them soon. This one is about two water voles who's uncle visits and informs the family that danger may be on its way. Thanks though Oxford Children's Books! 
Published: October 1st 2014

Bought:

Published: May 10th 2012

Published: 2nd January 2014

I was at a David Levithan event this week and after hearing him talk about both of these books I decided I simply must buy them... with a little prompting from Keris on the Will Grayson, Will Grayson book! I just finished Every Day and am very excited to get round to these knowing more about them! I got them both signed and I think its hilarious that David wrote 'and some other guy' over the 'from the author of The Fault in Our Stars' sticker on Will Grayson! 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

El Deafo - Cece Bell

Starting a new school is always scary. But try being Cece, a first grader going to a school for ‘normal’ kids after spending kindergarden with those just like her. You see Cece is deaf. She needs hearing aids just to be able to hear a person and even then she cant understand them a lot of the time. Now she has the Phonic Ear, which is massive and will make the other kids stare. Whats worse is that the teacher has to wear a microphone and Cece has to explain why in front of everyone. Cece struggles to make friends who see her for her and not for her differences but when Cece notices she can hear the teacher across the entire school it sets off some fun that she didn't think would be possible. Cece is on the way to becoming El Deafo, the superhero of hearing, and the only thing that would make that better is if she could friend a True Friend to be her trusted sidekick. 

***

What an absolutely amazing, adorable graphic novel! I knew I’d love it but now I’ve read it I want to drop a copy off at every primary school in my local area and shout about it from the rooftops. 

El Deafo is based on the authors true accounts of being a child. Cece Bell was four years old when she suffered an illness which resulted in her becoming deaf. During the 70’s technology wasn’t what it was now and the ply option for her to hear at school was the Phonic Ear, a huge hearing aid that had to be strapped to her body with cords running up to hear ears. El Deafo covers some of the things that she can remember happening to her and shows some of the feelings she had when she was a little girl - including loneliness due to being the only deaf kid in the school, frustration at the way some people spoke to her and anger at those who were meant to be her friends yet couldn’t deal with the differences between her and them. I loved every minute of the graphic novel but it clearly shows how difficult living with deafness is and how awful it must have been for Cece at that age to come to terms with. 

The graphic novel format was used brilliantly well in this story because it allowed for Cece to be anything. The character Cece was more humanoid animal than human, and the pictures reminded me of kids TV show Arthur a little bit, but thats not a bad thing at all! I loved the story and its impact on me but I think it was helped by the pictures and I think they will help younger readers think about the situation because Cece could be them, but at the same time she's not anyone. The proof copy I had was in black and white and I understand that the finished version will be in colour and I can imagine it will look great because I loved the illustration in this one, so colour will only add to its brilliance! 

I can’t rave about this book enough. I really want more diverse characters to read about and this is one book that handles differences perfectly. It shows how differences can make a person feel and how to handle them the best way too. I think a lot of kids will love this story for both its realistic portrayal of characters and because of how fun it is to read, with Cece dreaming about her superhero powers every few pages! 

El Deafo will be published on September 1st by Amulet. my copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

To buy this book or for more info please visit: 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Squishy McFluff and the Supermarket Sweep - Pip Jones & Ella Okstad

“One sunny morning, in a house of a hill,
When the sky was quite blue, the air warm and still, 
A young girl called Ava very happily sat 
With Squishy McFluff, her invisible cat.” 

Ava and Squishy have a wonderful day of mischief and mayhem planned in the glorious outdoors when mum gives them a nasty surprise. They are to go to the supermarket with mum and doe other chores. It sounds so boring but never fear, for the world is always fun when Squishy McFluff is near! 

***

Yet another adorable, beautiful and fun book from Pip Jones and Ella Okstad! I don’t care that I got laughed at for reading a babyish book by my partner and stepson (who's 14 so will laugh at anything!) because it was worth it for the awesomeness of Ava and Squishy. 

The story is, well its pretty basic. Ava and Squish get forced to go on a food shopping outing with Ava’s mum and because its boring they make their own fun. I loved the sound of what they were doing and it made me laugh so much but at the same time I know I would go mad if it was my own kids doing that. The whole outing turns into a crazy mess for Ava’s mum and it takes a long time to get the food shopping done! 

The most important thing about this book is to obviously engage with kids with language they will love and that they will want to return to. It really manages that with a brilliant singsong rhyme scheme and I really loved floating through it. Some of the rhymes were a bit forced for me but thats probably more to do with accent and the way that some words are said differently for me than they may be for others. 

The pictures were as wonderful as last time and I love how the invisible Squicky McFluff is portrayed in the book with a translucent colour and a mischievous look in her eye. This book is made for every kid and I am definitely planning on keeping it for my own when they eventually arrive! 

Thanks to Faber & Faber for this book, which was published on August 7th and sent to me in exchange for an honest review. 

To buy the book or for more info please visit: 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Between the Lives - Jessica Shirvington

“I am a liar. 
Not compulsive. 
Simply required. 
I am two people. Neither better than the other, no superpowers, no mystical destinies, no two-places-in-one-time mechanism - but two people. Different in ways fundamental, even though at the most basic level I look the same. My physical attributes, my memory and my name follow me. For the past eighteen years, everything else, everything, about me is different.” 

Every 24 hours Sabine shifts into a different life. In one she has a perfect boyfriend, perfect grades a what would seem like the perfect, all-american life. In the other she is viewed as a reckless delinquent by most, with only her little sister and best friend helping her through the day. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, she shifts each night at midnight, she is the same person but her life has changed completely. Until one day when she shifts and for the first time her physical attributes have changed. She no longer has the broken arm from her other life and it changes everything. She begins a series of increasingly risky experiments that bring her dangerously close to the life she's always wanted. But she must chose one life other then other, which one will it be? 

***

What an incredible, thought-provoking read! Between the Lives is yet another book I couldn’t put down, where I had to keep reading to see what would happen and if there was an explanation as to why these things were going on in Sabine’s life, or lives! 

The story was incredible and I loved the way it was told with the perspective shifting along with Sabine. It was insane that she was almost two separate characters who you follow as one and that is an impressive thing for the author to have done because it was always in my mind that despite the two Sabines being different, they were the same. I knew which life I preferred and that was actually the Roxbury one, even after what happens happens, but I can see why it would be so hard to make a choice. 

The characters were interesting but to be honest they didn’t have much going on about them. The ‘Roxbury’ story turned into a bit of a love story, but with psychological aspect. The things that Sabine experiences in that life are much more shocking and thought-provoking than the other life. However the other life - the Wellesley life - was interesting too, showing the more real side of a teenagers life and how much expectations can weigh a person down and that kind of thing. 

There were a lot of questions brought about within this book and whilst most of them were to do with the idea of having a second life and what it meant and how it was possible - I’m still not convinced whether it was real or not - there were some that could quite possible crop up in an everyday persons life, especially when it came to family and relationships. I like that this book made me think and even though there were some things I didn’t enjoy about it there were a lot I did. 

Between the Lives was published on August 7th by Orchard Books. My copy was sent to me for an honest review. 

To buy the book or for more info please visit: 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Water Born - Rachel Ward

“You need eyes in the back of your head with kids, don’t you? They’re there one minute, gone the next. 
Someone nearby shouts and it brings me back to my sense. I look around and she’s not next to me. Nicola. I can’t work out where she is, but she can’t be far away. I only took my eyes off her for a second, didn’t I?”

Nic has always been drawn to the water. At two and a half she nearly drowns, her parents and grandmother think its best to move away. Then as a teen she shows a natural talent for swimming, her parents aren’t happy but it makes her happy, and what can go wrong with her dad there watching at every training session, every race. But her dad can’t hear the disembodied voice in the pool, urging her to stay with him. When a boy appears in the pool after a spate of girls her age mysteriously drowning she turns to her dad for answers. But its a past he’s not willing to dredge up,  so she’ll have to do some digging of her own. 

***

What an incredible book, the right balance of contemporary with thriller and a little splash of what can only be described as supernatural, Water Born blew my mind in all the right ways. 

Set 17 years after The Drowning, Water Born is a sequel following the daughter of the characters from The Drowning. This is something I have seen only once before, in Rachel Ward’s other series, Numbers, and I must say I love the way she does it. Because I knew Nic’s parents from the first book they felt like more real characters to me than you often find YA protagonist’s parents are. They weren’t some piece of background and I viewed them as just as important as Nic. 

The story was fantastic and really gripped me. I loved the way it was told and how I knew more about the goings on of the book than Nic even though it was told from her point of view because I read The Drowning. I also loved that despite the fact I haven’t read The Drowning for ages, it didn’t matter because you don’t even have to know what happened in that book to enjoy this one. The supernatural element was a lot stronger in this book and it actually creeped me out a bit, I finished it, went to bed and almost didn’t want to brush my teeth because of how creepy the water was in Water Born. There was a lot I loved and the only downside was how much of a loner Nic seemed to be, with few real friends and too much focus on her swim meets. 

This book gripped me in a major way and I struggled to put it down. Its rare I read a whole book in one day when I have work that day too but I honestly couldn’t wait to get home and crack it open. Its well worth a read and I honestly think all teens should give Rachel Wards books a go! 

The Drowning was published on August 7th by Chicken House books. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

To buy the book or for more info please visit: 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Blogger UKYA Award Nominations - Open now!!

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Hello!
Today I am proud to help with the launch of the Book Blogger UKYA Awards! 

These awards will be pretty darn awesome and we want you to vote. The Book Blogger UKYA Award Nominations are now open, so get voting!

Use the form below to nominate the books and authors that you love!
You can nominate up to three books and authors per category - choose wisely!

Nominations will stay open until 24th August. (That's two weeks!)
Then the shortlist will be sorted and voting will begin on the 1st September.

Good luck to all the lovely books and authors!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Letterbox Love (#88)


Letterbox Love is a weekly feature that is hosted by Lynsey at Narratively Speaking and is a way for us to share the books that come through our letterbox, galleys and e-books (through our electronic letterbox) and any other bookish goodies that we want to tell you about.


This weeks letterbox is split into two as I forgot to post last weeks even though I took the picture! 

For Review:


If, like me, you were forced to read Skelig in school you will know who David Almond is. Now I loved Skelig especially when I reread it a few years ago since no longer being forced to read it and I was very excited when I heard David Almond has a new book coming out. A Song for Ella Grey is told from the point of view of Ellas friend following the friendship beginning to break down due to Ella finding love, and then Ella dying. It sounds sad but should be a good read as I believe the characters speak with a North East accent which is where I am from and I love being able to read books with my original accent! Thank you so much Hodder Children's Books 
Published: 2nd October 2014


This is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book into graphic novel format and I can't wait to read it. I loved the novel and I love reading graphic novels but I don't know how well it will adapt, here's to finding out! Thanks Bloomsbury for sending it over! 
Published: 31st July 2014 



I loved Shipwrecked but unfortunately for some reason my review never made it on to the blog.. I don't know how or why! But last week the wonderful people at Electric Monkey surprised me with a copy of both of these books! The second in the series publishing gives me a perfect excuse to re-read Shipwrecked and get a review for both up on the blog! Thanks EM! 
Shipwrecked published: June 3rd 2013
Dark of the Moon published: June 19th 2014


Bought:


I have Keris' new book! yay!! I'm quoted in it! yay! I'm mentioned in the acknowledgements!!!! EEEE! Thanks Keris! I had to grab a copy of this because I read the manuscript and Keris has informed me that its changed a fair bit! I will be reading and sharing my thoughts soon! 
Published: July 22nd 2014


Thanks to my boyfriends mum for giving me pennies for my birthday for these two books!

Bought: 


Finally my books in The Grisha Trilogy will match! I had the 'Gathering Dark' proof of this so I needed a proper matching set and when Indigo said they were publishing the pretty purple cover for this book I knew it was a great excuse to buy it!
Published: 31st July 2014 


I have heard so many good things about this book and when I picked it up Katie at Storytellers Inc looked so excited about it I just had to buy it! 
Published: 5th June 2014


Friday, August 8, 2014

Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret - DD Everest

“Sardines. That was the mystery ingredient in Loretta Foxe’s chocolate cake, and both her children knew it. This particular cake was covered in blueberry icing and had twelve candles on it. It was sitting on the kitchen table in the Foxe family’s house in Oxford. 
As well as the cake, there were heaped piles of sandwiches, smothered with pickled spreads. bowls of colourful crisps and a number of small, unmarked glass pots” 

The Foxe family children have no idea its Archie’s birthday, they don’t even know who Archie is, and he doesn't know them. But when a mysterious package arrives for him on his birthday with strict instructions to take it to a bookshop in Oxford he is packed away to live with them. There Archie will discover that his family has a secret they have kept from him, and its not just that he has more family than just his grandmother. He will discover that magic is real, and that he is to start work as an apprentice at the Museum of Magical Miscellany. And this is just the start of his discoveries. 

***

Ok so this book will definitely be compared to Harry Potter by a lot of people, its inevitable. It is about magic, an orphan who discovers magic as a pre-teen and a secret place where magic is taught that humans do not know about. I just wanted to get that out of the way because whilst there are similarities which a lot of people will pick up on… its also a good book on its own merit! 

The story is fun with lots of twists and turns to keep you on your feet. Its typically a middle grade adventure with what seemed to be quite obvious paths to me but I still loved and think a younger reader will really enjoy. The family relationships was an added bonus with a quirkily extended family who Archie is getting to know as we do. I loved the people Archie met during his time at the Museum and the book has been left wide open for more to come so I am looking forward to meeting them again. 

The characters within the book all had a kind of eccentric kind of feel to them and I liked that. The dialogue was a little basic, and I think it felt a little wooden in places but the descriptions of the characters and their actions made up for that. I loved Old Zeb and wish he was around for more of the book, and I was intrigued by a few of the other characters, especially the elders. Archie himself seemed to just jump into the story and take it along with him, there wasn’t much of a personality there but he seemed just inquisitive enough to take the story forward, without being stupid enough to propel it forward so fast you weren’t sure what was going on. I would like to know more about the main characters, as in Archie and his cousins, because I get the feeling we’ll be sticking with them. 

I loved the inclusion of illustrations in the book but as I had a proof copy I’m not sure if they were the final ones. I would love for them to be in colour but I know thats not always a possibility. 

All in all the book was a great start to a series, there could be some improvements made but the series has real potential and I will definitely be checking out the rest of it when it gets here. 

Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret will be published on September 4th by Faber & Faber. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

To buy or find out more about the book please visit: