New(ish)Picture Books: Mini Reviews #PictureBookReviews

I’ve recently started paying attention to picture book releases, and existing picture books because I’m trying my hand at writing a couple. I requested the following books on Netgalley so I thought I had better write reviews for them, albeit very teeny ones 🙂

Pirates in the Library ~ Nadia Ali & Jake Tebbits

 

piratesHardcover, 40 pages
Published October 15th 2016 by Star Bright Books

Prepare to set sail for the adventure of a lifetime with fierce Captain Jake when he discovers a treasure map that leads him, his crew (and a parrot, too), right to the library. Ms. Benitez, the librarian, welcomes them—as long as they behave! The pirates’ search is on! 

Soon they discover—with the aid of Dread Pirate Dewey’s map—treasures galore on the shelves. Now the dilemma: Can they keep these treasures? Ms. Benitez has the answer.

Pirates in the Library is a lovely little story to introduce the wonder of libraries and books to children. They will be sure to love Captain Jake and his parrot too!
The text is nicely rhythmic and repetitive so that children can recite it with glee. The illustrations are bright and simple with a nice warmth and humour to them. I really liked the balance of fun and learning in this story, and the important message of supporting your local library because they really are full of the best kind of treasure – stories and knowledge.
unicorn rating 4

Princess Lemonella ~  Saarein te Brake & Sassafras De Bruyn

princesslemonella

Hardcover, 32 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Clavis
Princess Lemonella is born angry. She always looks sour and never smiles.
When the king and queen try to find a prince for her, she sends all the candidates away.
Until one prince just rides past her …
 

A funny and romantic fairy tale about how love can make you smile. 


For princes and princesses aged 5 years and older.

 

I was torn by this one. On one hand I loved the beautiful illustrations and some of the themes of the story such as that everyone is different and that there is someone for everyone.

However, I’m not a huge fan of modern children’s stories that are based solely on a princess having to find a prince. I love fairy tales but I do think that they need to be modernised to reflect and embrace diversity. I’m not sure how healthy it is for little girls to constantly read about the need for a Prince Charming, or in this case, a Prince Grumpy!
unicorn rating 3

New Picture Book Releases: Mini Reviews

I’ve recently started paying attention to picture book releases, and existing picture books because I’m trying my hand at writing a couple. If anyone would like to be my beta readers -email me!

I requested the following books on Netgalley so I thought I had better write reviews for them, albeit very teeny ones 🙂

Dreaming of Mocha ~ An Swerts

mocha

Hardcover, 32 pages
Expected publication: November 15th 2016 by Clavis
Florence wants a dog. It doesn’t matter what kind of dog. Just any dog. To take care of, and to pet. To run with, and to play with. If she gets a dog, she will NEVER whine again and she’ll always be good. That’s what she promised Mom.
One day there’s a little dog in Florence’s garden. He came out of nowhere.
“Mocha” it says on his collar. Mocha and Florence become the best of friends.
But then Mocha’s owner is suddenly at the door. And he is a very nice man.
What will Florence do now?An endearing picture book about loving animals and loving people.
For pet lovers ages 4 and up.
I can’t really review this book properly because the epub I downloaded only had the illustrations! Only after reading some reviews on Goodreads I realised that it is supposed to have text. However, the illustrations went a long way in telling the story, which is a great thing! The illustrations were simple but very cute, and I’m sure young children will love them and fall in love with Mocha as much as Florence did.
unicorn rating 3

Baba Yaga ~ An Leysen

babayaga

Hardcover, 56 pages
Published September 13th 2016 by Clavis
Once upon a time, in a land far away from here, lived a girl named Olga. Olga lived with her father in a beautiful house, and they were very happy together. Until Olga’s father one day fell in love again … His new wife was cruel and mean. And her sister Baba Yaga, who lived in a dark forest, was even meaner. Baba Yaga was a real witch! There was a rumor she was fond of children … on her plate! One day Olga’s stepmother sent her to Baba Yaga. What was she supposed to do now?
Baba Yaga, the witch from Slavonic mythology is coming alive in this fairy tale. An Leysen takes you on a journey in an imaginative story about a wicked witch and a sweet and brave little girl.
 
I absolutely loved this book. It’s exactly the kind of picture book I’d love to write. It had just the right balance of adventure, magic, and creepy/scary that children will love. Baba Yaga is terrifying but I don’t think it will worry young children too much – plus, the happy ending will be sure to put them at ease.
I’d not heard of this fairy-tale before, and I’m desperate to read the original now. But what I loved most of about this book is the stunning illustrations. They took my breath away, really! Perfect! 
unicorn rating

Gracie Meets a Ghost ~ Keiko Sena

gracie

Hardcover, 32 pages
Expected publication: October 1st 2016 by Museyon
Gracie hasn’t been able to see very well recently, so she decides to get some glasses. But, after playing on the mountain one day, she realizes that night that her glasses are missing. She heads straight out to look for them on the mountain–where a bored ghost is hiding in the darkness, waiting for someone to scare. Although Ghost tries to scare her, Gracie doesn’t react by being frightened, not even little–because she can’t see Ghost well enough to be scared without her glasses! Ghost really wants to see Gracie scared, so he helps in her search all night long and finally finds her glasses. But what happens when Gracie puts them on...
This is an adorable story that kids will love in the run-up to Halloween. It’s cute and silly, and just ghoulish enough without being scary. I liked that Gracie wasn’t at all scared of the ghost because she couldn’t see him without her glasses. I’m sure this book will make having to wear glasses seem a lot less terrible to young children. The illustrations are lovely and quirky too.

unicorn rating 4

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Fairy Tale Inspired Books #TTT

icon4-ttt

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is: Top Ten ALL TIME Favourite Books of X Genre. I’ve chosen fairy-tales.

Ok so confession time. I have done list before for an actual fairy-tale TTT but I really couldn’t decide what genre to do and when I compiled the list the first time round I hadn’t read what are now some of my favourite books… so I have at least changed it a bit. Promise. 

I LOVE fairy-tales and really like modern re-tellings but they don’t always work. Here is my ultimate list of my favourite books that have been inspired by fairy-tales, as many of them aren’t actually re-tellings. 

The Lunar Chronicles

fairyt1

Each book entails a new take on an old fairy tale, including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White. The story takes place in a futuristic world where humans, cyborgs, and androids all coexist. 

I love them all, including Winter (not pictured).

Poison

w1A brilliant, twisted, spirited anti-fairy tale from the amazing Chris Wooding.

Poison has always been a willful, contrary girl, prone to being argumentative and stubborn. So when her sister is snatched by the mean-spirited faeries, she seeks out the Phaerie Lord to get her back.
But finding him isn’t easy, and the quest leads Poison into a murderous world of intrigue, danger, and deadly storytelling. With only her wits and her friends to aid her, Poison must survive the attentions of the Phaerie Lord, rescue her sister, and thwart a plot that’s beyond anything she (or the reader) can imagine. . . .

This one was a complete surprise. It has taken so many different fairy-tale elements to create a completely fresh, almost sinister world. 

The Darkest Part of the Forest

ng2Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

I can’t rave about this book enough. It.was.Amazing. Holly Black is the Queen of the modern fairy-tale! Love, love, love!

Blood Red, Snow White

bloodredsnow
It is 1917, and the world is tearing itself to pieces in a dreadful war, but far to the east of the trenches, another battle is breaking out – the Russian Revolution has just begun…

Blood Red, Snow White captures the mood of this huge moment in history through the adventure of one man who was in the middle of it all; Arthur Ransome, a young British journalist who had first run away to Russia to collect fairy tales.

Told as three linked novellas, part one captures the days of revolution but retells the story as Russian Fairy Tale, with typical humour and unashamed brutality. Part two is a spy story, set over the course of one evening, as Ransome faces up to his biggest challenge, and part three is a love story, full of tragedy and hope, as every good Russian love story should be.

I wasn’t sure if anyone could pull off a story about the Russian Revolution as a fairy-tale, but mannnnn, Marcus Sedgwick smashed it out of the park. Again!

The Princess Bride

800388What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be…well…a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad’s recitation, and only the “good parts” reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He’s reconstructed the “Good Parts Version” to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it’s about everything.

I saw the movie before reading the book and I don’t usually enjoy doing things that way round, especially when it’s been such a staple in my childhood, but I really loved the book too!

Beauty

fairyt3When the family business collapses, Beauty and her two sisters are forced to leave the city and begin a new life in the countryside. However, when their father accepts hospitality from the elusive and magical Beast, he is forced to make a terrible promise – to send one daughter to the Beast’s castle, with no guarantee that she will be seen again. Beauty accepts the challenge, and there begins an extraordinary story of magic and love that overcomes all boundaries. This is another spellbinding and emotional tale embroidered around a fairytale from Robin McKinley, an award-winning American author.

Not all of Robin McKinley’s re-tellings have worked for me, but I really loved this one. 

The Looking Glass Wars

fairyt2Alyss of Wonderland?

When Alyss Heart, newly orphaned heir to the Wonderland throne, flees through the Pool of Tears to escape her murderous Aunt Redd, she finds herself lost and alone in Victorian London. Befriended by an aspiring author named Lewis Carrol, Alyss tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusts this author to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere will find her and bring her home. But he gets the story all wrong. He even spells her name incorrectly!

Fortunately, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan knows all too well the awful truth of Alyss’ story – and he’s searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland, to battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.

The Looking Glass Wars unabashedly challenges our Wonderland assumptions of mad tea parties, grinning Cheshire cats, and a curious little blond girl to reveal an epic battle in the endless war for Imagination.

This was the first Alice re-telling that I ever read and it was great. Utter batshit, but great. I have no idea why I didn’t finish the series. Sigh. 

The Book of Lost Things

bookof
High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own — populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.

Taking readers on a vivid journey through the loss of innocence into adulthood and beyond, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly tells a dark and compelling tale that reminds us of the enduring power of stories in our lives.

This is such a beautiful book inspired by so many different fairy-tales you would recognise and lots of new ideas too. 

Shadow and Bone

summer16.7Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

I loved that this book is clearly inspired by Russian fairy-tales. I’d love to know more about them.

What are your favourite fairy-tale inspired books?

Book Blitz: The Neverland Wars #BookPromo #Giveaway

Welcome to another book promo on Lipsyy Lost & Found. The wonderful Xpresso book tours have arranged the blitz and giveaway for this new Peter Pan retelling. Check them out if you haven’t already.

The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse

neverlandwars-cover

Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: May 9th 2016
Genres: Fairy Tales, Retelling, Young Adult

Magic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That’s what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.

However, Gwen doesn’t know this. She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn’t know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she’ll discover she’s in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.

She’ll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won’t be the only one. Peter Pan’s constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she’s going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she’s going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.

Goodreads // Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Smashwords

Excerpt

A chill crept down Gwen’s spine, and her eyes could not refocus fast enough. She clutched fistfuls of Rosemary’s quilt, instinctively preparing to throw herself under it if there was a monster lurking in the dark. Gwen wasn’t afraid in the normal sense of the term, but her heart raced as she noticed the boy sitting on the rocking chair in the corner of the room.

The chair rocked with a squeak as he stood up from it. Walking slowly toward the window, he came into view as he entered the moonlight. He stared at Gwen, and she stared back.

His eyes were steady in their intensity, but impish in all other manners. They impulsively surveyed the room, never lingering on any particular aspect of it, but always coming back to Gwen. A vine of ivy was wrapped around his waist and strewn across his shoulder like a belt and sash, just barely holding his tattered shirt and shorts to him. His clothes seemed held together with bits of twine and magic. He moved fluidly in his own skin. Gwen wasn’t even conscious of how much she envied his playful motion. Even with his gangly, broad shoulders, he stood tall with a childish sense of confidence.

Gwen wasn’t sure, but he looked like a freshman. He couldn’t have been younger than fourteen.

He wore hemp bracelets and braided jewelry around his wrists; pine-cone chips and wooden beads were woven into his necklace. They jangled as he walked.

“This is your sister?” he asked, his question seemed rudely incredulous. “Hollyhock, let me see her.”

Before Gwen could make sense of this remark, an exploding light burst from an inexplicable place in the darkness. Gwen was disoriented when the light came so quickly at her. Circling up around her, the golden light left a trail of fast dissolving glitter that rained down on her. What little of it touched her glowed faintly on her skin before disappearing. It felt like a pins-and-needles numbness in the best possible way.

The bright light that radiated from Hollyhock’s little body half-blinded Gwen in the otherwise dark room, but Hollyhock flitted in front of her, and Gwen caught a glimpse of the creature. Her eyes were unusually wide, and her massive irises were an otherworldly color for which Gwen had no name. Her ittybitty lips and nose were hardly there at all, but her sunny hair was pulled back in two long, dangling braids. Her limbs were like twigs, and she wore a leaf draped over her like a tunic. Gwen didn’t need to be told that she was looking at a fairy.

“Huh,” he responded, sitting down on the hardwood floor of Rosemary’s room. “You said your sister was a kid.”

“She is, Peter!” Rosemary defended. “I told you—she’s a big kid.”

Finally addressing her properly, Peter spoke to Gwen in a condescending tone. “I expected you to be younger.”

“As did I of you,” Gwen curtly returned.

Peter, the young man, shrugged with his eyebrows and looked away, indicating that he was not going to bother engaging a hostile girl.

Gwen didn’t care. She couldn’t have cared. While Hollyhock played in the fish mobile above the bed like an aquatic merry-go-round, Gwen clutched Rosemary close to her. “Rosemary, we were so worried! Thank God you came back.”

“I had to come back, Gwenny,” Rosemary told her. “I had to come back for you.” Hollyhock, tiring of the mobile, zipped back down and buried herself in Rosemary’s hair, poking her head out of it and trying to part it like curtains. Rosemary giggled, taking Gwen’s hand. “Let’s go.”

“Whoa, wait, no.” Gwen grabbed hold of Rosemary’s arm. “We’re not going anywhere. Mom and Dad are worried about you. The cops were here… You can’t go—where?”

Hollyhock, on Rosemary’s shoulder, said something that sounded like a sneeze and a hum. Rosemary translated the one word she had already learned in the fairy tongue. “Neverland.”

Meet the Author

audeyAudrey Greathouse is a lost child in a perpetual and footloose quest for her own post-adolescent Neverland. Originally from Seattle, she earned her English B.A. from Southern New Hampshire University’s online program while backpacking around the west coast and pretending to be a student at Stanford. A pianist, circus artist, fire-eater, street mime, swing dancer, and novelist, Audrey wears many hats wherever she is. She has grand hopes for the future which include publishing more books and owning a crockpot. You can find her at audreygreathouse.com

Facebook // Goodreads // Twitter

GIVEAWAY!

Enter the Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL) and you could win a Clean Teen Mystery Box

mysterybox

Huge thanks to the author/publisher and Xpresso Book Tours. 


Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here

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The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen #BookReview #FairyTales

snowqueenTitle: The Snow Queen
Author: Hans Christian Andersen
Illustrator: Sanna Annukka
Format: hardback, 92 pages
Publication Details: October 22nd 2015 by Hutchinson (first published 1844)
Genre(s): Fairy Tales
Disclosure? Nope, it was a Christmas gift.

Goodreads // Purchase

Hans Christian Andersen’s magical tale of friendship and adventure is retold through the beautiful and intricate illustrations of Finnish-English illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in deep blue, with silver foil embellishments, The Snow Queen is a unique work of art. 

Sanna Annukka is familiar to many from her collaborations with Marimekko and her artwork for Keane’s album, Under the Iron Sea. For her second book project, she illustrates Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale, The Snow Queen.

Review

This edition of The Snow Queen is absolutely beautiful, complete with Scandinavian style illustrations.

I was always more of a Grimms gal than an Andersen one, but this has made me think that perhaps I’ve been missing out. I didn’t expect Andersen’s fairy tales to be dark and twisted, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that one certainly has an edge to it.

The Snow Queen has had a lot of interest since Frozen was released, being the text that inspired it, but the similarities are relatively small, and the links often tenuous.

The Snow Queen is about the friendship between a young boy and girl, Kay and Gerda. When Kay is infected with icy evil from the shards of shattered magic mirror he changes, becomes mean, and is taken by The Snow Queen. Despite his recent behaviour, Gerda’s love for Kay never falters, and she sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue him meeting a variety of strange characters on the way.

The themes of unconditional love and sacrifice, along with the stunning Scandinavian winter landscape are what clearly inspired Frozen, but don’t expect much more of a connection than that.

I enjoyed this story, but I loved the illustrations more. It’s a lovely book for a gift.

unicorn rating 4

Top Ten Tuesday: Inspired by Fairy Tales

icon4-ttt

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is: ‘Ten Fairytale Retellings I’ve Read/Want To Read (or you could do fairytales I want to be retold or fairytales I love).’

Love, love, love, love, love fairy tales! My top ten features books that have been inspired by fairy tales, which I have read in the last 2-3 years. Most of these aren’t actual retellings but a mixture of lots of different fairy tales.

Cinder/ Scarlet/ Cress

fairyt1

Poison

w1A brilliant, twisted, spirited anti-fairy tale from the amazing Chris Wooding.

Poison has always been a willful, contrary girl, prone to being argumentative and stubborn. So when her sister is snatched by the mean-spirited faeries, she seeks out the Phaerie Lord to get her back.
But finding him isn’t easy, and the quest leads Poison into a murderous world of intrigue, danger, and deadly storytelling. With only her wits and her friends to aid her, Poison must survive the attentions of the Phaerie Lord, rescue her sister, and thwart a plot that’s beyond anything she (or the reader) can imagine. . . .

The Darkest Part of the Forest

ng2Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

Blood Red, Snow White

bloodredsnow
It is 1917, and the world is tearing itself to pieces in a dreadful war, but far to the east of the trenches, another battle is breaking out – the Russian Revolution has just begun…

Blood Red, Snow White captures the mood of this huge moment in history through the adventure of one man who was in the middle of it all; Arthur Ransome, a young British journalist who had first run away to Russia to collect fairy tales.

Told as three linked novellas, part one captures the days of revolution but retells the story as Russian Fairy Tale, with typical humour and unashamed brutality. Part two is a spy story, set over the course of one evening, as Ransome faces up to his biggest challenge, and part three is a love story, full of tragedy and hope, as every good Russian love story should be.

Princess Bride

800388What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be…well…a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad’s recitation, and only the “good parts” reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He’s reconstructed the “Good Parts Version” to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it’s about everything.

Beauty

fairyt3When the family business collapses, Beauty and her two sisters are forced to leave the city and begin a new life in the countryside. However, when their father accepts hospitality from the elusive and magical Beast, he is forced to make a terrible promise – to send one daughter to the Beast’s castle, with no guarantee that she will be seen again. Beauty accepts the challenge, and there begins an extraordinary story of magic and love that overcomes all boundaries. This is another spellbinding and emotional tale embroidered around a fairytale from Robin McKinley, an award-winning American author.

The Looking Glass Wars

fairyt2Alyss of Wonderland?

When Alyss Heart, newly orphaned heir to the Wonderland throne, flees through the Pool of Tears to escape her murderous Aunt Redd, she finds herself lost and alone in Victorian London. Befriended by an aspiring author named Lewis Carrol, Alyss tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusts this author to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere will find her and bring her home. But he gets the story all wrong. He even spells her name incorrectly!

Fortunately, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan knows all too well the awful truth of Alyss’ story – and he’s searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland, to battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.

The Looking Glass Wars unabashedly challenges our Wonderland assumptions of mad tea parties, grinning Cheshire cats, and a curious little blond girl to reveal an epic battle in the endless war for Imagination.

The Book of Lost Things

bookof
High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own — populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.

Taking readers on a vivid journey through the loss of innocence into adulthood and beyond, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly tells a dark and compelling tale that reminds us of the enduring power of stories in our lives.

Lazy Saturday Review: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer

fair
Title: Fairest
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles
Edition: Paperback, 272 pages
Publication Details: January 27th 2015 by Feiwel & Friends
Genre(s): YA; Fairy-tale Retellings
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

Goodreads // Purchase

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

Review

I was reeeeeeeeeeeeally excited about this book just because I always NEED MORE LUNAR CHRONICLES, but I also wasn’t sure if I wanted Levana’s back story. She’s such a great villian, I was worried this spin-off book would endear me to her or at least feel sorry for her.

But, I glad that I didn’t. Yes, in Fairest we see Levana as a teen and the events that helped spark the madness in her, but Levana was well and truly messed up before her story starts in this book.

Fairest is a fast-paced, often uncomfortable read about a haunted, complex character who chooses to use her gifts for her own gain, to the detriment of those around her… and that’s an understatement. Levana is one batshit-crazy, evil madam, even at the age of fifteen. I loved it!

If you’ve enjoyed the series so far, I’m sure you’d love this one too. It also gives us more information on Winter, the eponymous character of book four, so I’d definitely recommend giving Fairest a go before the release of that one. Let’s face it, we have time. TOO MUCH TIME! 😦

unicorn rating 4

Fairest is available in paperback from Waterstones now.

Blood Red, White Snow by Marcus Sedgwick

bloodredsnow
Title: Blood Red, Snow White
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 304 pages
Publication Details: July 6th 2007 by Orion Children’s Books
Genre(s): YA; Historical Fiction; Fairy-Tales
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from Dora, thanks Dora!

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It is 1917, and the world is tearing itself to pieces in a dreadful war, but far to the east of the trenches, another battle is breaking out – the Russian Revolution has just begun…

Blood Red, Snow White captures the mood of this huge moment in history through the adventure of one man who was in the middle of it all; Arthur Ransome, a young British journalist who had first run away to Russia to collect fairy tales.

Review


Only Marcus Sedgwick could successfully write a spy-thriller-cum-fairy-tale-cum-love story written in the Russian Revolution. I mean seriously, I don’t know how he does it.

It’s no secret that I love Sedgwick. I’m currently trying to work my way through his books that I’ve missed and Blood Red, Snow White was at the top of my agenda.

The book is told in three parts, all of which are written beautifully yet different in styles. The first, is written as a fairy-tale and depicts the early days of the revolution, using a great bear as a metaphor for Russia.

The second, is based on the real life of Arthur Ransome, a writer who went to Russia to learn more about Russian fairy-tales but who ended up working as a journalist and getting unwittingly involved in the surrounding war, and seen as a potential spy. Here, the lyrical fairy-tale style of writing gives way to a more suspenseful spy-thriller.

In the final part, Ransome falls in love with Evgenia, Trotsky’s secretary, which presents all kinds of problems, not to mention his estranged wife and daughter at home. This part of the book raises more questions as to where Ransome’s allegiances lie. Should he choose the woman he loves, and turn his back on his own country? Or should he use his position to try and keep the peace?

I’m so glad I loved this book, because I was pretty dubious about how a book could be all of these things. But it is, and the way Sedgwick adapts his writing to the different parts is what makes it a success. I’m also glad because I don’t always find historical fiction that exciting, but mix in a fairy-tale and bam! So good!

I thought Blood Red, Snow White was such a clever book; using a relatively unknown historical figure who wrote fairy-tales, and turning his life into a fairy-tale itself is a genius idea, and Marcus Sedgwick pulls it off so well.

unicorn rating

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

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Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 336 pages
Publication Details: January 13th 2015 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

Review

YES! This is what I’ve been waiting for by Holly Black.

Since absolutely loving The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, I knew I needed to read more by her. I had planned on reading her back catalogue but you know how it is…so little time. Therefore, I was pretty thrilled when I got approved for an advanced copy of this one. And rightly so!

The Darkest Part of the Forest is a fairy book with bite. It reads like a deliciously dark classic fairy tale, but it’s thoroughly modern too.

In the small town of Fairfold, humans go about their days like any average community, but there’s just one difference, faeries also exist. On the whole, faeries have come to be accepted and their magic is seen as harmless. However, many people in Fairfold continue to abide by certain rules and superstitions in order to make them immune to their magic, making you raise an eyebrow as to whether they are as harmless as everyone thinks they are.

The town has an interesting history to say the least. And at the centre of it all, is the horned boy who sleeps in the glass coffin in the middle of the forest. He’s been there for as long as anyone remembers and he never wakes up, or ages.

Protagonists Hazel and Ben have fawned over the horned boy since they were little, naming him their Prince, they both dream of kissing him and they long for him to wake up.

But then he does…. and Hazel and Ben’s lives soon start to unravel. Can they protect themselves and save their Prince, or will their secrets come between them and destroy everything ?

To show your regard, you give each other other lovely bouquets of lies.”

I’m finding it so hard to review this book, which is always a sign that I loved it! There are just so many things I liked about it, it’s hard to put into words.

For starters, I found the writing style beautiful. It’s one of those books where I just wanted to highlight passage after passage. It was honest and heartbreaking, and magical all at once.

Hazel never cried. She was forged from iron, she never broke. No one was tougher than his sister. The worst part was how quietly she wept, as if she’d taught herself how, as if she was so used to doing it that it had just become the way she cried.”

Hazel and Ben really stand out as great protagonists for me. I loved how close they were but that they had so many secrets from each other which twisted and tainted their lives. I loved that they were both in love with the horned boy, and that there was never any hoohaah about Ben being a young gay character – which is exactly how it should be – but you still rarely get gay characters in stories without their sexuality being a big issue, or the driving force of the plot.

I was blown away by how Holly Black built this world of fae but made it so modern. It felt like such a perfect juxtaposition, something I haven’t seen pulled off so well before. For example, she uses age-old folklore such as the residents of Fairfold filling their pockets with iron and oats to protect them from faery magic and in the same breath, the horned boy attracts tourists wanting to take selfies with him.

I loved that Hazel was a Knight. I loved that the kids of Fairfold seemed so normal despite living amongst faeries. I mean, they get wasted  and dance around (and on top) of the the horned boy’s coffin… so much to love.

I can’t even get started on the romances. Seriously. I’ll just stop now.

The only reason I’ve given it 4 unicorns instead of 5 is because it took me quite a few chapters to get into it. But that’s the only tiny grumble I have.

unicorn rating 4Available now in hardback!

WWW Wednesday 13.08.14

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

Holy Crap! How is it Wednesday again already?

That aside, here are my answers this week.

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Currently Reading:
I’m almost finished with Ever Near by Melissa MacVicar, which is a really easy and enjoyable read about a girl who is being troubled by ghosts.

Recently Finished:
Godmother by Carolyn Turgeon. I didn’t get on with it at all and gave up about 50 pages before the end. My rather grumpy review will be up tomorrow.

Up Next:
I really don’t know what I’m in the mood for, but probably either Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead, She’s Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick or Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence.