The Invisible Hand by James Hartley #BookReview #YA

 

Title: The Invisible Hand theinvis
Author:
 James Hartley
Series: Shakespeare’s Moon #1
Format: Paperback, 168 pages
Publication Details: February 22nd 2017 by Lodestone Books

Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

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The Invisible Hand is about a boy, Sam, who has just started life at a boarding school and finds himself able to travel back in time to medieval Scotland. There he meets a girl, Leana, who can travel to the future, and the two of them become wrapped up in events in /Macbeth/, the Shakespeare play, and in the daily life of the school. The book is the first part of a series called Shakespeares Moon. Each book is set in the same boarding school but focuses on a different Shakespeare play.

Review

I’ve always really liked Shakespeare – even at school – which is strange because I remember hating most things I was forced to read for school. Shakespeare always seemed more interesting though. I enjoyed having to decipher the language to discover the meaning, but I also totally understand why people dislike it, and why children and young adults find it difficult.

I’m therefore always pleased to see more accessible books based on Shakespeare, and its modern-day retellings. The Invisible Hand is the first in a new series to be set in the same boarding school, with each book based upon a different Shakespeare play. In this case it’s Macbeth.

In this short novel, Sam is quite perturbed about his strange, vivid dreams where he finds himself in Scotland in what seems like medieval times. Whilst trying to make sense of the dreams, he’s also trying to keep his head down at the boarding school but is finding it increasingly harder to concentrate in the present day. Especially when the girl he has a crush on in his dreams starts to turning up at school.

Things get even weirder when Sam starts studying Macbeth in English and the events of the play bear more than a passing resemblance to Sam’s dreams that may not be dreams after all.

The Invisible Hand was a great introduction to Macbeth. It was a simple but action-packed story which uses some of the events in Macbeth and gives them a modern relevance. I enjoyed it a lot. It was fun and speedy. If I had one thing to criticise though, it would be that I wished Hartley had taken it further. I wanted more Shakespeare, more detail. It was too short!

The Invisible Hand has certainly piqued my interest however, and I would love to see what they do with other Shakespeare plays. I definitely think there is room for more Shakespeare inspired YA novels like this to show that it’s not all about archaic language and ruffled collars.

unicorn rating 4

 

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Lost & Found: Adventures in Book Hunting #1

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As some of you may know I sell antique and vintage books on Etsy. It’s a hobby that allows me to do one of my favourite things – buy old books – without feeling too guilty. It’s not really about making money (although that’s nice too), it’s about the joy of finding beautiful old / rare books, researching their history and giving them a new home. In this new feature I will be sharing some of my finds with you!

The Jewel of Kasr-Ed-Shendi (1973) by Penelope Fletcher

Found: Tiffin School Car Boot Sale, Kingston-Upon-Thames

 

 

Synopsis

Before setting out at the beginning of her first term at boarding school in Scotland, Pat is entrusted by her father with the care of a valuable diamond. Although she knew she would have to face danger, the events of that term were to become more horrifying than she thought possible. It proved to be a time she would never forget, when her character, strengthened by her Girl Guide training, was to be tested to the limit.

Although she had little in common with her room-mate Muriel when they first met, their adventures together revealed sterling qualities of unsuspected depth, and welded a bond of friendship between them. 

History

Girl Guiding has a long and rich history of empowering girls and young women, and this book is a lovely product of that history. Written by Penelope Fletcher and published in 1973, this first edition is a sought-after book for Girl Guide aficionados.

Penelope Fletcher was born in Birkenhead in 1907 and became extremely interested in the Girl Guides during her school days. She joined her School Company and the Blackbird Patrol and later became the Lieutenant in the Girl Guides Y.W.C.A Birkenhead. After her marriage, Fletcher became Captain of the 1st Hollesley Girl Guides until they disbanded in 1938.

The Jewel of Kasr-Ed-Shendi is a Girl Guide School Story full of outdoor adventure and friendship aimed at celebrating the female of the species in line with the true spirit of the Girl Guides.

Inscription

One of the main things I love about old books is finding inscriptions. This one has a lovely inscription which just adds to its rich history as far as I’m concerned. It reads ‘To dear Josie, Lambert & family, with love & best wishes for health, wealth & happiness now & always from auntie Pene. Dec 1973.’

I’ve tried to research this to no avail, but it’s quite a coincidence it’s signed auntie Pene – perhaps the author herself!?

Purchase

I can only find 3 copies of this rare, collectable book online. Sunrise Books are selling one on AbeBooks and Amazon Marketplace for £164.99. There is another copy on Amazon marketplace for £95, and one on Ebay in France for 194.99 Euros.

I’m selling my copy for £75, which you can view in full here

Does this book mean anything to you? I’d love to hear more about the history of this book and Penelope Fletcher. 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin #BookReview #Christmas

a9Title: Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky
Author: Holly Martin
Series: A Town Called Christmas #1
Format: Digital ARC, 332 pages
Publication Details: September 22nd 2016 by Bookouture
Genre(s): Romance; Christmas
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

This year spend a wonderful Christmas on Juniper Island, where love can melt even the iciest of hearts…

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.

So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.

But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

Curl up with this gorgeously romantic tale and let the glistening snow and the roaring fires of Stardust Lake Hotel get you in the festive spirit this Christmas.

Review

I can’t tell you how happy I am that Winter and Christmas is fast approaching. It’s my favourite time of the year and I love everything about it, especially festive reads. 

I knew from the moment I saw it that Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky would be my first festive read of the year, and after a very busy Horror October it was just the light, heart-warming story I needed. 

The story centres around Piper, or Pip, a mystery guest who travels the world reviewing hotels and resorts. Her final assignment before taking a sabbatical sends her down memory lane to a remote Shetland island where she once spent a holiday with her best friend Gabe and his family. 

Pip is completely charmed by the winter resort from the off, that is until she realises that Gabe is the owner. We discover their complicated past, and why they haven’t spoken in 12 years, but a reunion in a magical place over Christmas might be just what to two of them need to put the past behind them…maybe!

I loved a lot of things about this book, but especially the setting. For a winter lover like me, Stardust Lake Hotel sounds like Heaven with its glass igloos for watching the Northern Lights, its miniature town called Christmas where the inhabitants sell homemade crafts and food, and of course, the Ice Palace. It’s literally like Holly Martin has taken all of my favourite things about Christmas and put them in this book. It was magical.

I was also intrigued by Pip’s character. She’s a bit of loner with no family or friends but a successful job and passion for photography. I found it interesting that her job was a way of life for her that made it easier to never have to make friends or put down any roots. She didn’t even have a home for ten years, choosing instead to stay in the hotels she was reviewing, even over Christmas.

I thought Gabe was sweet and you could see how the sudden break-up of their relationship and dissolution of their friendship affected them in very different ways. I was rooting for his success with the hotel and with Pip!

It certainly wasn’t a perfect book. I felt like there was a bit too much repetition of Pip and Gabe’s feelings, especially her turning over what had happened in the past again and again. It was also all a little bit too good to be true. Although I read in the author’s notes that the resort is based on a real hotel in Lapland, it didn’t quite fit with my image of Shetland. It was all a bit too perfect and glitzy -like it would have been more suited to Las Vegas than a remote Scottish Island, but that was all part of the fun I guess!

I couldn’t put this book down, and it certainly gave me that lovely warm and fuzzy feeling that I only get from reading festive books like this. The story itself wasn’t all that special, but the setting certainly was. I want to live there, even if it sounded too amazing to be true. 

I ordered the second book in the series as soon as I finished this one. Need. More. 

unicorn rating 4

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky is available now in paperback & ebook, as is book 2, Christmas Under a Starlit Sky. 

End of Summer SALE now on in my Etsy Vintage Book Store! 30 % Off Everything!

icon6-shop

Hi guys, I’ve decided to celebrate the Bank Holiday by having a sale in my Etsy Store.

I’ve been busy adding new stock (and continue to do so over the weekend) and working on a range of handmade gifts to sell at a later date too. I’m currently in ‘perfecting’ mode as I don’t want to sell anything that isn’t the highest quality!

You can get 30% Off anything in store until the end of Tuesday 1st September. Simply use the code L1P5YY30 at checkout.

 

 

Here’s what’s been going on since my last post, two weeks ago…

Added to the shelves

Click on the book titles to view in store.

Ghosts and Two Other Plays (1949) – Henrik Ibsen
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Scottish Scenes Drinking Set (1950/60s)
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OK so it’s not a book, but look how awesome these little whisky/shot glasses are. So kitsch!

Sold

What Katy Did at School ~ Susan Coolidge (1920s)
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I’m so glad this has gone to a good home!

About the Shop

I opened the shop because I love nothing more than scouring second-hand bookshops, markets and car-boot sales for vintage books. I love the way they look, the way they smell and the way you can imagine the history of them.

I can’t however keep buying books indefinitely. I have limited space, and limited funds, and therefore I opened this shop in order to generate a bit of a return in order to carry on doing what I love – buying books! And the way I look at it, if they don’t sell I get to keep them – DOUBLE WIN!

30% Off anything in store until the end of Tuesday 1st September. Simply use the code L1P5YY30 at checkout.

Horror October, The Finale: You’re Next (Part 1)

When I asked my good friend Graeme to write a review of the film You’re Next (a film that we’ve watched together and enjoyed immensely) for Horror October, he was all too happy to get stuck in. I’m not sure he really needed to spend an entire week watching horror films in the dark in preparation, but who am I to argue?

What Graeme, affectionately known as Biggie (it’s not what you think…no, not that either), actually came up with was a whole lot better than just another review

yourenext3

You’re Next (Part 1)

It was back in 2007.

Deep in my postgraduate lull, I am holed up in my parents’ cottage in the remote Scottish countryside. It’s a cold, quiet night, but then it always is. The closest neighbours are the cows in the back field, who only really cause a stir when their calves are being taken from them (and whenever that happens, it’s the worst noise imaginable).

Since being here, when I’m not complacently watching hours of sitcom reruns, I half-heartedly tend bar at a local pub, serving pints to grizzled farmers who physically recoil at the mere mention of ‘London’.

It’s fair to say that post-grad bemusement at my circumstances has allowed the stench of complacent superiority to settle around my shoulders. I indulge this most every evening, pithily mocking my listless, bumpkin existence to the delight and curiosity of Big City friends on MSN Messenger, a bottle of something strong at my side.

It was business as usual on this fateful night, except I had been left alone to babysit two West Highland terriers. The elder was lolled by the study door, her old deaf ears sagging on the carpet. The pup insists on my lap, which is fine as long as I can reach the keyboard and the whiskey bottle.

A light comes on.

Somehow too near or too bright to just be the security lights out front.  Then the pup leaps noisily (and painfully) from my lap, 0-60 in seconds, rumbling urgently through the corridor. I follow, annoyed. The kitchen light is on. The kitchen light that I remember turning off after I let the dogs out earlier. Flies and moths gather otherwise, you see.

Just as I rationalise that maybe I did leave it on, the pup springs past my legs and starts clawing at the back door. When I crack it open, she noses herself out and swoops through the night, to all intents and purposes chasing something.

Now, I’m no fool. I’ve seen horror movies.

I don’t leave the house in such circumstances without picking up a weapon of some description. So, armed with a broom, I follow the little furry barker out the door.

It was only when the back door was out of sight – a mere ten steps – that I realised that I was, in fact, a fool. You see, I’ve seen horror movies. If someone wasn’t already inside, they will be now.

Or maybe they’re in the garage, outside of which the puppy has planted her puppy-hind. Specifically, three safe metres away from the wide open garage door, giving her options. Still noisy. Still aggressive. Making one hell of a stink, but no way is she shortening those three safe metres.

What was previously assertive, scattershot yapping, like usual, is now one long, strangulated growling; a noise caught midpoint between fear and the instinct to attack. Held in that indecisive spot, drawn out, but decidedly aimed in the same direction, at one target.  Something inside the cavernous black of the open garage.

As I move tentatively closer to the garage, every step incenses the puppy more. She’s flipping out. Almost literally flipping, like those toy dogs that used to be Christmas presents.

Now, I’m no fool. I’ve seen horror movies.

I know the dog always senses the malevolence first. I know the dumb human about to have their head hacked off always shushes them ignorantly, assuming superiority to their canine wisdom.

I discard my broom and make a sharp right turn to the greenhouse, blindly knocking over several things before I pull out a garden fork. It’s not an axe, but it’s weighty enough.  Thinking about it, a garden fork is probably easier to retract and re-stab into an assailant; I’ve cooked baked potatoes before.

Armed, I rejoin the pup, although she’s less intent upon the garage door than she was, instead scrambling at my leg, moaning, giving off a whole understudy-for-Lassie vibe. Telling me something. Bravely, I shout into the cavernous black – ‘SHOW… YOURSELF!’ – and immediately realise how underprepared for my impending doom I am.

No-one shows themselves. I tentatively approach. My fingers search the wall inside and I flip on the garage light. Nothing. And then – BAM! – a fucking bird flaps straight into my face and soars out towards the stars. I shake my head, laughing.

But then, a light turns on from inside the house.

A howl of pain electrifies the silence of the night. A cloaked figure appears at the window. A white mask, an immobile yet somehow taunting expression.

The window creaks open.

The figure raises an arm, and tosses out the severed head of an old, deaf West Highland terrier. Bouncing once, her head lands at my feet, her dry pink tongue lolling out of her open jaws. I find myself noticing how, even with her head detached from her body, her old eyes don’t really look much deader.

And then I fall back in disgust. I feel the vomit rise from my gut and then I watch it splatter out of me, onto the puppy who is scratching at my chest, begging me to do something.

When I look back up at the window, the figure has disappeared. But he’s let me know one thing:

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That story is partly true. You can decide when it starts being fictional (although I will tell you that the dogs survived). But that realisation – that severed head, those two-and-a-half words, the moment that suspense gives way to terror – are the key to horror for me.

In the aftermath of my “ordeal” I realised just how deeply home-invasion horror had registered with me, how its rhythms and clichés – however hokey – dictated my behaviour and accelerated my grim imagination in a real-life situation. It’s been a durable genre, and one that has attracted a lot of pop psychology attention as to why, when it comes down to it, we feel so paranoid about our own homes.

In the next post, I’ll revisit some of the most unsettling home invasion movies, movies that keep us double checking our front doors. 

Sometimes, Graeme Reid likes his movies to be as cheap as his wine. When I asked him what I should write in this bio he described himself as ‘an erstwhile blogger and full time nurse person who would like to see what your insides look like’. At the very least, two of those things are true.

Upcoming Release & Book Giveaway Klaxon!

17745703I just stumbled across this STUNNING cover over at http://aliceinreaderland.com and I can’t stop looking at it. It also sounds like everything I would want in a book…Scotland, Enchanted rings, a mysterious boy…can not wait.

Veronica doesn’t think she’s going crazy. But why can’t anyone else see the mysterious blond boy who keeps popping up wherever she goes? When her best friend, Mackenna, invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Veronica jumps at the opportunity to leave her complicated life behind for a few months.

But the Scottish countryside holds other plans.

Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Alloway, she and Mackenna uncover a strange set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna’s great aunt—and when the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation. Doon seems like a real-life fairy tale, complete with one prince who has eyes for Mackenna and another who looks suspiciously like the boy from Veronica’s daydreams. But Doon has a dark underbelly as well. The two girls could have everything they’ve longed for…or they could end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that has become a nightmare.

DOON is loosely based on the premise of the musical Brigadoon, with permission from the ALan Jay Lerner Estate and the Frederick Loewe Foundation. Follow the journey at http://www.DoonSeries.com

~Destiny awaits!(less)

Expected Release date is Aug 20th. Image and synopsis from Goodreads where you can also enter the giveaway!