Thursday, 30 March 2017
But, when Midas PR (people who I chat with for Audible credits - they are very kind and lovely people) gave me an extra two credits a month or so bad by mistake, they said I could keep them and use them for any audiobooks that catch my eye. So, I used one of the credits on this (even though I have a ton of audiobooks I really should be listening to instead). And after the drama of trying to get this onto my iPod (don't ask! It was a nightmare and only with the help of Audible.co.uk's Twitter did I figure it out as this has never happened with any of my other audiobooks!)
In this updated version of the Harry Potter textbook, we discover the magical beasts that live in the Wizarding world that was referenced or we have seen in both Harry Potter books/movies and the Fantastic Beasts movie. Because this is updated, we have a new foreword from Newt himself (with information/hints linking to the Fantastic Beasts movie) and addition of six new beasts (why these have been added have been explained in the foreword).
Now, as a Harry Potter fan and as someone who has read and reread this over the years, what i found so enjoyable is how in-depth this "textbook" goes. Plus, it was cool to go back and go "oh! That was in the movie!" and compare to my old edition of Fantastic Beasts.
There was a bit of drama before Christmas when the movie was released and no bookseller could get a copy as publishers in UK/US were publishing the new, updated version in time for DVD release and Comic Relief (which donates a percentage of money towards this charity as well as the Lumos Foundation). So, while it's a bit of the pricy side for a under two hour audiobook, knowing that some of that money is going to good causes makes me feel warm, fuzzy inside and glad the world isn't such a dark place (have you not seen the news the past week?!)
And as for the new six beasts... I only spotted three to my knowledge. Might have to go back when I have an afternoon free and listen to this with my now "out of date" copy in hand and compare...
Wednesday, 29 March 2017
The first is The Fox Wish by Kimiko Aman and illustrated by Komako Sakai, and the second is The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.
In The Fox Wish, we follow a sister and brother who go back to the park to find their jump rope. Only to find a group of fox cubs playing with it and believing it to be the answer to their wish. And in The Giant Jumperee, Rabbit comes home to find a loud voice in his burrow. When his friends (Cat, Bear and Elephant) come to help, they each get scared by the loud voice. But who is the Giant Jumperee?
Both, in my opinion, are wonderful stories to read to little ones, each with a gentle charm to them.
While both do have a charm, there is something on each you need to be aware. While picture books are often glossy in their illustrations, The Fox Wish doesn't have that. It's more ink-stamped and watery in tone compared to other picture books and, with The Giant Jumperee, there were moments when reading it felt a little too close to The Gruffalo in tone (yes, I know both are written by the same author but if your child knows The Gruffalo, they might spot how similar they are. Plus, nothing Julia writes really beats the Gruffalo. Although, What the Ladybird Heard does come close...)
But barring this, both are lovely reads to read to your little ones at bedtime...
Tuesday, 28 March 2017
As Stanly's Ghost is the last book in a trilogy, I don't want to give too much away. So, going to give tiny info from the first book, Bitter Sixteen. Stanly is a typical teenager - expect the fact that his best friend is Daryl, a talking beagle. And expect for the fact that, when he turned sixteen, he gained the power of flight and telekinesis. And seeing as his rural Welsh town doesn't need a superhero, Stanly goes to London. Only to discover a good deal more weird and terrifying. Maybe he should have stayed in Wales...
Now, before I throw you into Stefan's guest post, a few thank yous and some links. I would like the thank Stefan for finding time to write this post. I know he must be super busy at the moment but thank you. Also, would like to thank Emma for asking if I wanted to be involved in this tour.
And now, for links. If you want to check Stefan out, you can check him out either via his website - stefmo.co.uk - or via his Twitter at @stefmowords.
Now we got that out of the way, over to you, Stefan!
Tuesday, 21 March 2017
In this, the third and final book in the trilogy, the Sleeping Prince has taken control of Lormere and with Twylla in hiding and Errin in his clutches, time is running out to them and their band of rebels to stop him taking full control.
But Aurek will stop at nothing to keep the throne and to keep it forever.
Anymore than that and I might spoil a lot of details within the previous two books in the trilogy, The Sin Eater's Daughter and The Sleeping Prince. But it's gonna hit the fan, so brace yourselves...
This is the strongest and my favourite book in the trilogy. Things are put into place and the pay-off worked excellently, characters have grown from when we first met them and we have a climax which left me breathless.
This is how a final book in a trilogy in a dark fantasy trilogy should be: dramatic, badass, tender, creepy as heck (I couldn't stop thinking about the prologue for days after I read it, and those interlude chapters were just ), breath-taking as you want to sped through to the end yet want to savour the writing at the same time. It's been so long since I read a faultless finale, and this ticked every box!
Shame it's taken me so long to discover this trilogy (blame the hype fear and the wrath of nearly EVERY BLOGGER/VLOGGER WHO SCREAMED AT ME TO READ THIS TRILOGY [and Melinda who threatened to send a Dementor at me - I swear she's Voldermort's secret daughter!]) but Mel has a new fan and I await her next book, Floored (which she is co-writing with Sara Barnard, Holy Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood) and her just-announced trilogy with baited breath!
EDIT: Just when you thought I can't mess up the author's name further (have you guys not see me say Mel's surname wrong. I called her a supermarket chain!!!), I then type up her first name wrong! AND IT'S THE AUTHOR WHO TELLS ME ABOUT IT!
MEL, I AM SO SORRY!!! Thanks for pointing it out to me and being very kind and laughing at it (better than my reaction which involved swear words and me blaming auto-correct and a podcast I have recently discovered called My Dad Wrote A Porno [don't ask. Will blog about this in future once all catch up - not sure if that's a good thing or not]). SORRY!
Monday, 20 March 2017
Now, as you know, I have been trying to blitz this trilogy and, since been invited, I have been trying to finish Scarecrow Queen before I got to the party. And I failed. I got a good chuck in but, alas, not completed it.
So, after doing a half day at work, rushed home, changed and on the train to London I went, speed reading (or trying to. You can't rush this book, I found!) Scarecrow Queen. After getting there a bit early (for reasons am going to explain), I popped to Kings Cross to see Platform 9 and 3/4 and the shop (it was MAD!). And bought myself some pens - because that's what this Hufflepuff likes.
But, I had to get there a little bit early because Lorraine from Scholastic asked if I fancied asking Melinda some questions on their Facebook Live feed. I said yes, then panicked because I have no filter. So I had to be professional and control and not panic over the fact that, before I left for the event, I spend ages trying to figure out what to wear! I HAVE TO LOOK ME BUT PROFESSIONAL BOOK BLOGGER/LOVER!
I haven't watched the video. I just can't. Not only because I'm not a fan of watching myself on film, but a little bit because I got Melinda's surname wrong. Of all the things that could go wrong, I didn't think me GETTING THEIR NAME WRONG TO THEIR FACE would be one. And after me panicking over getting the characters's names wrong (how many times I asked how to pronounce Twylla before the interview?). But Melinda has a great sense of humour (as you can see) so, hopefully, she didn't get that annoyed with me. Plus, if we play our cards right, we might be able to annoy Sainsbury's supermarket chain for some freebies (unlikely but you never know!).
Oh, if you want to enter the contest I mention, go to Scholastic UK's Facebook page and like the video. And that's it!
Anyway, after that whirlwind panic, the launch party started! The crypt was creepy and filled with people - family, friends, publishing people (some who needed wine after London Book Fair - apparently, it was manic!) and bloggers! There was (hang on, let me check my Twitter as have a bad memory and I did have two glasses of wine on an empty stomach!): George from @TheGeorgeLester, Kate from @Magic_Kitten, Darren from @ShinraAlpha, Bex from @MyShelfMyself, Jess from @bookendsending, @littlehux (Am positive we chatted very briefly, or am I misremembering), Grace from @_gracelatter & Stephen from @MyBookishLife. I spoke to David Owen (whose upcoming novel, The Fallen Children, is coming out soon) who is very cool and will be helping me out with Zelda if/when I get stuck/find time to play it. I saw (but was too scared to talk to) CJ Daughter (Night School series and Secret Fire duology) and Chris Russell (Songs About A Girl) and I discovered that Katharine Corr (co-author of the Witch's Kiss series), Lindsay Galvin (whose novel, The Breathing Sea, will be out next year) and L.D. Lapinski (not sure if I spoke to you. If I did, yeah! If not, sorry! NEXT TIME, HUNT ME DOWN AND SAY HI!!!).
After small, very sweet speeches, we had tiny cup cakes and got copies signed. And this is what Melinda wrote in mine...
This fits perfectly with what Melinda wrote in my copies of Sin Eater's Daughter and The Sleeping Prince. But, HA-HA! I FINISHED SCARECROW QUEEN YESTERDAY (my reactions to this will be coming soon!)
And then, due to it being a work night and the train journey back, we left. And the crypt looked SUPER CREEPY at night!
Anyway, I would like to thank Melinda Salisbury, Lorraine from Scholastic and everyone at Scholastic for inviting me. It was such a fun evening and can't wait to see what Melinda writes next!
Wednesday, 15 March 2017
This isn't going to much of a review. More of a gush. I found this simply enchanting and utterly heartwarming.
There's not much else I can say about it. But this book - perfect for small hands - proves one of the many reasons he is a well-loved and respected illustrator.
If not, check these out. Aren't they wonderful?
Tuesday, 14 March 2017
And sadly, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is the latest.
Now, before most of you who love this series grab your flaming torches and pitchforks and come after me, let me just say I am not saying this is a bad book. It isn't. I know most of you guys really like this series and I get why from what I listened to. But I just didn't click with it. Or I did, but I would lose interest with it.
And it my main reason why I stopped. I just lost interest.
Red Queen had moments I really liked and would go "This is going to be good/interesting/how unique" but then something else would happen and I would go "That's very cliche/urgh". I would keep jumping back and forth between these two feelings.
And then, something exciting happened. At first, I was "Now, we're cooking" but within a chapter, I lost interest. I just lost it... and I'm not sure why.
I think it's a mix of things: I kept flip-flopping over how I felt over the story, finding time to listen to the audiobook, private life went a bit loopy as did work. But after a while, I listened to it and thought "I've lost it. I've lost that spark to keep going with this. So... why am I pushing myself with this when I have a ton of other audiobooks (which are for review and I bought myself) to listen to?"
So, that's why, if you have been following me on Goodreads/Pinterest, it's move from "Currently Reading" to "DNF". I might return to it one day. Maybe. But not yet.
Friday, 10 March 2017
In this series, Michael goes "What If...?" on us. What if, during the Second World War, women were allowed to join the US army and fight alongside their male counterparts. What would have happened to the war in the USA? What would have happened to the Second World War in general?
So, where can I go with a post about "What If" during the second World War? Well, you can thank a random [contains swear words] youTube video about that... (and please forgive me if I make a mistake. I am not well-versed in US history so had to use the Internet to get information).
For a long time, the United States didn't realise how terrible the Holocaust was in Europe. Americans, at the time, knew the Nazi were encouraging vandalism and hate crimes towards Jews. But the US government didn't feel strongly enough to give refugees a safe place. At one point, the US turned a ship, filled with approx 900 Jews, back to Europe - most are feared to be have died in gas chambers. After this, the US Government reject a proposal to allow 20,000 Jews children to claim sanctuary. Anne Frank and her family were refused asylum. Albert Einsten wrote letters, begging Franklin D. Roosevelt to let Jews in.
The reason? Taken from a speech made by then-President, he said "Today's threat to our security is not a matter of military weapons alone. We know of other methods, new methods of attack. The Trojan Horse... Spies, saboteurs and traitors." (Fireside Chat 15: On National Defence - May 26th, 1940).
But what if... what if the US did allow Jewish refugees in during the Second World War? What if that bill to allow 20,000 Jewish children to stay in the US went through? Or the US didn't order the boat with 900 Jews to turn back to Europe? What would have happened if the American Government was brave enough to help those in need of help? Countless Jewish lives would have been saved, right? The death toll of those who died due to Nazism could have been lower than it is today.
But could this have changed when America joined the war? Japan bombed Pearl Harbour on 7th December 1941 and Germany decaded war on the US four days later. The vote on the bill to allow 20,000 Jewish Children to come and stay in the US was on January 20th 1939, less than 2 years earlier. So, if this bill went through, would have the US joined the war against Nazi Germany and its allies sooner? If so, would the war have ended sooner?
And after the war, what would have happened to the US then? Would the US be more kind toward refugees? Show empathy and compassion? Or would there be more cruelty and a possible rise of white supremacy, all in the name of "America First"?
And far would the effects be felt, both good and bad? Would it be a short period of time (a few years?) or would be we be feeling them today? Would be living in a kinder world for showing kindness and empathy? Or would be living in a crueller world, because people feel that their kindness was abused in some form?
This is the problem with "What If". You ask a simple question and the answer is far more complex than we expected. It's a butterfly effect - a small change could create huge consequences, both good and bad.
So, until we can treat time travel, we can play what if in our heads, in books, in Tv and radio and films. And we can look back into history and make sure we don't repeat the mistakes of our past and, because of this, create a hopeful, better future...