Wonder Light by R.R Russell

wonderlight
Title: Wonder Light
Author: R.R Russell
Series: Unicorns of the Mist
Edition: e-Book 248 pages
Publication Details: May 7th 2013 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Genre(s): Fantasy; Children’s
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Amazon

Deep in the heart of a mist-shrouded island, an impossible secret is about to be discovered.

Twig is used to feeling unwanted. Sent to live on a pony ranch for “troubled” girls on a misty, haunted island, Twig is about to discover the impossible — someone who needs her.

Jolted awake from a bad dream, Twig follows the desperate whinny of a terrified horse out to the stables. There in the straw is a bleating little scrap of moonbeam. A silver-white filly with cloven hooves and a tiny, spiraling horn.

A baby unicorn.

Now Twig knows what secret is hiding in the island’s mist: the last free unicorn herd. And a mysterious boy named Ben who insists that this impossible creature is now Twig’s to care for. That she needs Twig’s love and protection. Because there’s something out there in the deep, dense shadows that’s hunting for them…

Review


I read the second book in this series last year (over-zealous Netgalley request fail) and really wanted to love it but I didn’t know what the hell was going on. After seeing my review, the author got in touch and asked if I wanted the first book to see how the story began – and it might have taken me a lonnnnnnng time to get round to it, but I’m so glad I did.

Wonder Light is the story of Twig who is on her way to a secluded, potentially haunted island to live on a pony ranch for troubled children following an unknown incident.

Twig doesn’t expect to have a good time, fall in love with the ponies, or even make friends, but she does, and slowly she not only comes out of her shell, but also realises that she’s not a terrible person, in fact, she’s pretty cool.

A lot of this is down to Ben, a boy who seems to appear and disappear into the mist. And that’s not the only strange thing going on; there’s a herd of wild, vicious horses out there…but are they just horses?

I did have some issues with this book in the beginning, and I was worried that I would never get into it, but thankfully I did. Initially I found the world-building lacking and felt like some things should have been explained and described in more depth, especially considering the target audience, but this got much better as the book went on.

I wish that we got to understand Twig a lot sooner – I felt like I didn’t really know her or her story until mid-way which was frustrating. I really loved her by the end though!

From the cover, I was expecting this book to be kind of cutesy, but it’s really not. Wonder Light has moments of intensity, and even some scary ones. It’s full of action and felt like a real adventure. Sometimes however, it did feel like there was a lot going on. Good unicorns, bad unicorns, portals to another mysterious island, unicorn hunters, herders… I could go on!

I loved that it had a bit of everything and I was really surprised by how dark it was in places. I actually think boisterous boys would love this, and would look up to Ben and Merrill, and girls will want Twig as a BFF and be entranced by the ponies, unicorns and magic. Something for everyone!

unicorn rating 3

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts #7

This meme is hosted by the Bookishly Boisterous and the idea is simple. It’s a round-up of your week, in and out of book world. A place to store your thoughts, and basically anything you’d like to share on your blog.

Highlights and notable findings of the last few weeks have included…

1. A Day by the Seaside: I went to Brighton and marched with some mermaids, ate the best fresh mackerel I’ve ever had and found an amazing antique bookshop. Bliss.
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2. Wedding Bells: My friend’s wedding last weekend was amazing, and the reception at Brocket Hall was stunning. Way too much wine was consumed, and definitely too much dancing like an idiot happened, but that’s what it’s all about right? Also, what did people do at weddings before the photobooth craze? So brilliant!
wedding

3. Blogging Perks: When one of your favourite authors emails you…mind blown. I got an email from James Frey after he saw my rant about the Goodreads Trolls slagging off his new book before they’ve even read it. Insert fangirling here. I’m stunned that he saw my blog in the first place never mind caring so much to get in touch with me, and saying nice things, AND sending me the book. 🙂

4. Filmage: I’ve seen two awesome but very different films at the cinema so far this month. The Purge Anarchy was ridiculous and violently epic – just how I like it, and Guardians of the Galaxy was hilarious and unexpectedly my film of the year so far. When did Chris Pratt get ALL THE BITS?
chris-pratt

5. The Cutest Thing Ever: I can't draw at all. But maybe this will help? I need to find the time to sit down and perfect my own unicorn, for if there’s one thing I should be able to draw, it should be a unicorn.

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6. Book Slump: OK so being in a book slump isn’t a highlight but it does mean I’ve been watching more TV than usual. I watched both series of Hannibal in the space of two weekends. Oh man, it’s so good. I’m totally in love with Will Graham, obviously. He’s unhinged and hot – lethal combination.

hannibal

7. Twitter Lolz: Inigo Montoya started toying with me on Twitter. Inconceivable!

8. To Prologue or Not to Prologue: I really enjoyed this article on prologues. I’ve always hated prologues and been told that publishers hate them too, but this article explores when it’s OK to use a prologue, as well as when it’s not.

9. Sloth Cam: I’m kind of obsessed with this. Having it open on my computer at work makes me happy. Not productive, but happy.

10. Join In!

The Unicorn Thief by R.R. Russell (Released 06.05.14)

uniA dangerous thief is at work in the land of the unicorns…
Twig and Ben are hard at work taming the last free unicorn herd on Lonehorn Island when Ben’s loyal unicorn, Indy, disappears. When their search leads them to the island’s secret passageway to Terracornus, the land of unicorns, they discover a bold thief at work.

There Twig learns the tangled truth about Ben and the evil queen who’s enslaved all of the unicorns. Now all of the captive unicorns are in danger and only Ben and Twig, the last unicorn riders, can save them.

Like Twig and Ben readers will be drawn to a beautiful and mysterious world where unicorns roam wild. R.R Russell’s storytelling is sure to captivate unicorn lovers of all ages.

It saddens me to say that I didn’t enjoy this book very much, but I don’t think it’s the book’s fault really. When I requested it from Netgalley I didn’t realise it was the second book in a series. I wanted to give it a go anyway…because UNICORNS…but I just couldn’t get into it at all.

I was kind of confused about how Twig and Ben had ended up on The Earth Lands instead of Terracornus, and why they keep some unicorns with them but not others. But that being said, there were some things I did enjoy about The Unicorn Thief.

Once Twig and Ben move into the cave to be herders, (which I assume is like a birthright?) and then set out to find Indy the missing unicorn, the pace increases and I did eventually feel involved in the story. It’s a story that’s full of adventure and action, and a quick read to boot.

If I’d been up to speed with the first book, I’m pretty sure I would have loved that this book gets straight into the action, but as it was, I was just a bit lost.

I enjoyed the characterisation here too. Ben and Twig have a nice relationship which is tested throughout the book, and the bond between unicorn and rider was evident, making it realistic that Ben would go to such lengths to find Indy.

All in all, don’t be put off by my rating, I just felt like I was coming into the middle of a story with no background, which I guess I was. I’d really like to go back and read the first book to see if that’s all it was preventing me from loving it.

unicorn rating 2

Disclosure?: Yep, I received a copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an HONEST review
Title: The Unicorn Thief (Unicorns of the Mist #2)
Author: R.R. Russell
Details: Hardcover, 288 pages
Published: May 6th 2014 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
My Rating: 2/5

WWW Wednesday 30.04.14

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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?

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Currently Reading: The Unicorn Thief by R. Russell. I requested this from Netgalley without realising that it’s the second book in the series…but it just looks so cute.

Recently Finished: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – so SO good. I’m finding it hard put together a review that isn’t just OMG THIS IS AMAZING, but I’ll try! I also finished Insurgent, which was pretty amazing too. I haven’t reviewed it (4/5), but Di did…when she was drunk.

Up Next: I really have to catch up on ARCS again…first on the list is After Wimbledon by Jennifer Gilby Roberts, plus I’m waiting on The One by Kiera Cass to arrive next week!

Leave the link to your post and I’ll come and visit 🙂

Zombies Vs Unicorns…if only it were that simple!

A Short Story Collection Edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

zomIt’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths–for good and evil–of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

For me, the question of who is better Zombies or Unicorns is pretty ridiculous. I’m fairly renowned for my obsession love of unicorns so when I found out that Holly Black had compiled this collection of short stories I had to put it on my wishlist, even though I’m not a huge fan of the short story.

There were a lot of things I liked about this book, the set up for one. Holly Black is in charge of Team Unicorn (Yesssss) and Justine Larbalestier, Team Zombie (Boooooo). The stories are alternated between TU and TZ and have a little introduction (sometimes more like a pep rally cheer) by each respective Team Leader followed by a rebuttal from the opposing team. At first I found this a bit too kitsch. It felt like two friends playing up to a crowd. Oh aren’t we funny, how we love to bicker with each other…that kind of thing. But I warmed to them eventually. If you can’t beat them, join them, right!?

And the collection itself? It was definitely a mixed bag for me, as most short story collections are, and it really, really pains me to say that I found myself enjoying the zombie stories more than the unicorn ones. In fact, it really made me want to write a good unicorn story to prove that it’s possible.

That might be a bit harsh, they weren’t all bad. I really enjoyed The Care and Feeding of Your Killer Baby Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund – a spin-off to her Killer Unicorns series which I haven’t read but want to now. In Peterfreund’s stories ‘real unicorns are man eating beasts with razor sharp fangs and a fatal venom in their lethal horns. And they can only be killed by the virgin descendants of Alexander the Great’. Fun!

As for the Team Zombie stories, there were a few stand-outs but Maureen Johnson’s The Children of the Revolution was my favourite. A girl who had followed a boy out to England to pick berries all summer long finds herself needing to get away from him. Homeless and jobless, the perfect solution arises when she is offered the job of nannying the children of a Hollywood superstar. But of course, they are not normal children. Johnson totally nails the satire of the rich and the famous, and the celebrity in question bore more than a passing resemblance to Angelina Jolie. Picturing her amused me no end.

I also really enjoyed Alaya Dawn Johnson’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, a cute boy/boy zombie romance in a similar vein to Warm Bodies, and also Scott Westerfeld’s Inoculata which reminded me little bit of the film Stakeland, but with Zombies. See, there’s something for everyone!

Overall, I’m really glad I own this book, and not just because it looks pretty and sounds badass. I’d definitely like to revisit a few of these stories, and I feel like it’s getting me one step closer to embracing the medium of the short story.

I feel like maybe I should switch to a Zombie rating for this book, but alas, I cannot. Unicorns til I die!

unicorn rating 3

Disclosure?: Nope, it was a gift!
Title: Zombies Vs Unicorns
Author: Various
Details: Paperback, 418 pages
Published: April 3rd 2012 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
My Rating: 3/5

The Hunter, The Bear and The Seventh Sister by B.I Woolet

hunterWhen a beautiful and powerful stranger throws Jackson into the world of Arcas, his predictable midwestern life instantly vanishes into an all-consuming adventure.

The last kingdoms of Arcas possess enduring youth, beauty, and wealth but have slowly crumbled under the weight of endless apathy and a painful past.

The rising evil of Gurges Ater now threatens to reopen the ancient kingdom pillars created long ago as passageways between Earth and Arcas. With access to both worlds, Gurges Ater will quickly conquer the weak kingdoms and establish his own throne.

Can Jackson along with a paranoid bear, a lone hunter, and the surviving seventh sister work together to protect both Earth and Arcas?

Or will the unlikely heroes allow their own fears, pain, and past to paralyze them as Gurges Ater opens the pillars and claims the throne?

Leave your own world behind, dive through the shimmering portal, and join Jackson to discover the beauty, danger, and adventure awaiting you in the World of Arcas!

The Hunter, The Bear and The Seventh Sister is like an amalgamation of all my favourite childhood reads.

The way Jackson is transported into the World of Arcas with its three suns and rich history, and put on a quest to save both Arcas and Earth from the evil of Gurges Ater reminded me of both The Neverending Story and Narnia.

Then, throughout his quest, Jackson meets is a plethora of witty, magical and down-right bizarre characters like Otava, the paranoid yet loveable talking bear, the Hunter who guides him, centaurs, winged beasts, Unicorns (yay!) and not forgetting Cygnus, the angel-like being who put Jackson on his quest in the first place – all 100% reminiscent of Narnia with some splashes of The Book of Lost Things, and Alice in Wonderland in there too. Some of these characters help Jackson along the way, and some are sent to stop him.

I absolutely loved that this book was so action-packed from the beginning, the very first chapter showcases the scale of imagination that has gone into the story and it just gets better and better. I did get a bit lost from time to time, as they were between Pillars, but the writing, and inventive landscapes bought my attention back quickly.

I especially fell in love when Jackson & co reached the castle:

The castle looked as if it were under siege by the jungle around it. Moss crawled up the stone walls; vines twirled around the towering conical spirals. Untrimmed multi-coloured roses sprang wildly from the outer garden […] the inside of the castle displayed a complete contrast to the bright colours, encompassing greens, and lively disorder of the jungle outside. The world became a mirror: floor tiles, walls hangings, and chandeliers; nearly every part of the inner palace reflected back on itself”

MAGICAL!

It is here we also meet Queen Cassiopeia, with her “rainbow-colored hair…intricately woven around the diamond crown, not a strand out of place.” and “clusters of tiny, shiny ornaments sparkled off her bare arms and the sides of her eyes like stars”. Seriously guys, the descriptions really blew me away.

The Hunter, The Bear and the Seventh Sister is an epic journey, and one I couldn’t put down. I wanted to rush through it to find out if Jackson completed his quest, and if he found his way back to earth (no spoilers here, do not fret), but I do think at times there was too much going on, and I felt like the plot lost its focus slightly in parts. But that being said, this is such an enjoyable read, and one I can imagine being much loved by children and families in the same way that I still love the Narnia books.

Roll on the next book, I say!

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure: I received a copy from the Author/Publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.
Title: The Hunter, The Bear and the Seventh Sister
Author: B.I Woolet
Details: E-Book, Paperback
Publication Date: January 28th 2014, by ArcasArts
My Rating: 4/5

Bargain Books: Car-Boot Sale Finds

Today, for once I actually got up early enough to go to my local bi-monthly car-boot sale. Check out my BARGAINS.

All of this for under £2. UNDER £2. Including the cute glass espresso cups.

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I haven’t read this since I was little…I can’t believe this is the first copy of it I’ve owned! MAGICAL!

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