Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Review on Date Me, Bryson Keller

Bryson Keller thinks that dating in high school is pointless, so when he is dared to date anyone who asks him he accepts. The rules are simple, he must date the first person who asks him out on Monday morning and date them until Friday afternoon, then it all starts again the next week. What Bryson isn’t expecting is for Kai Sheridan to ask him out. Kai is still in the closet and has his heart set on another boy in his class, but when Bryson’s antics cause him to be late for class, he decides to get his revenge by making Bryson date him for a week. However, as the week progresses, Kai soon learns there’s more to Bryson than being the popular jock. Kai’s feelings for Bryson soon change, but falling for the captain of the soccer team will only end in disaster right?

I was pre-approved for this book on Netgalley, and as it sounded super adorable I just had to read it! I was a little skeptical when I found out it was based on a yaoi manga, as yaoi is written for teen girls who fetishize gay men and is usually super problematic. I read some yaoi and watched the anime adaptations when I was around 14, and looking back on it now it was pretty problematic, and I pretty much avoid yaoi like the plague now (if you want manga or anime with good gay rep I recommend Given and Yuri on Ice). However, as the book is own voices I thought I’d try to put my thoughts on the book's roots aside and give it a chance!

The book follows Kai, a boy in his senior year of high school who is still in the closet. Kai is witness to a dare given to his classmate Bryson, who has agreed to date someone new for a week for the rest of his senior year. If at any point he breaks up with someone early or no one asks him out, the dare is over and he must ride the school bus for the rest of the year instead of driving his snazzy white jeep. The plot is somewhat silly but I found it completely adorable. A lot of this book is just straight up fluff and I loved it!

The relationship between Kai and Bryson developed naturally, and although the whole book happens over the course of two weeks, nothing felt rushed. The boys feelings for each other grow over the course of the book, but there are no proclamations of love, which I adored as I hate instalove. I feel like you need to get to know a person for an extended period of time before you can truly be in love with them, so I loved that there were no ‘I love yous’ and both boys wanted to take the relationship slowly.

Something I loved was that Bryson never labeled himself. He has feelings for Kai, but he is still figuring things out and isn’t sure which label fits him. I feel like we put too much pressure on young people to label themselves when they’re still figuring everything out. I actually went through a few labels before finding one that felt right, and honestly, I wish I hadn’t felt so pressured to choose one as a teen. I feel like we need more characters like Bryson so teens know it’s ok to not have everything figured out yet. Teens should be free to come to terms with their sexuality on their own rather than feeling pressured to accept a label that doesn’t feel right.

Even though I knew it was a coming out story, I was disappointed with how it was executed. As the romance was adorable fluff I was hoping the rest of the book would go the same way, and Kai would have a positive coming out experience. I was disappointed when Kai’s religious mum reacted negatively and made Kai feel horrible. So many YA coming out stories have the characters go through a bad experience, and I feel like this could put LGBT+ teens in a negative mindset. Having to read about a character who is like you have a bad coming out experience over and over again can easily make you believe the same thing will happen to you. The sad thing is that these negative experiences happen, but if that’s all they ever see in books and the media, they will assume the same thing will happen to them and be reluctant to come out.

Another thing I didn’t like was that Kai was outed against his will, and was forced to come out first to his family and then to his whole school. It felt like this was added just to create some drama, and I honestly hated it. Kai was bullied both verbally and physically, and I felt like it just wasn’t needed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing a cute fluff romance just because, and sometimes that’s exactly what LGBT+ teens need rather than the constant reminder that some people hate them for something they can’t control. The outing and bullying is the one thing that stopped me giving the book a 5 star review as I was hoping to get away from this negativity for a while!

Even though I had issues with the book and it didn’t turn out to be the escapism I was looking for, it did give an overall good message about the importance of accepting those who are different from you, and I loved the first 75% of the book. It was just a shame that the adorable romance I thought I was reading had to take a dark turn. I would definitely recommend this book, but it’s probably best to avoid it if you’re not in the right headspace for darker subjects like homophobia and bullying.

Date Me, Bryson Keller is now available to purchase!

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Review on Lumberjanes #2 The Moon Is Up

After discovering some very smelly unicorns and people who live in the clouds, the Lumberjanes are ready for their next adventure! The scouts of Roanoke cabin are ready to compete in Galaxy Wars, a space-themed competition where they will be competing against the other cabins. However, Jo has even bigger things on her mind than space. When a letter arrives inviting her to a summer camp for aspiring scientists, she is torn. Jo must decide if she is going to accept the invitation or spend the rest of her summer with her fellow Lumberjanes. However she must decide quickly, and with mysteriously disappearing cheese and moon moles to contend with, time is running out.

I adored the first Lumberjanes book so I was looking forward to reading this one! The book starts a few days after the first one left off, with Jo debating if she really had seen a moon like spaceship. I loved how the book got right back into the action, with the girls planning for Galaxy Wars, a space-theme  competition filled with arts, crafts, planets, and giant hamster balls. The Lumberjanes always make me wish I had gone to a summer camp when I was younger!

Along with the same fun silliness of the first book, this one also had a more serious subplot, which was Jo trying to decide what to do about her future. From a young age, children are told that they must decide on a career, and are often put under pressure. This was evident with Jo, who felt as if she had to accept the place onto the summer science program even though she really wanted to spend the summer at camp with her friends. I loved how Jo was free to make this decision for herself, as parents can often be pushy and try to influence their children. It's important to let children be children, as all too soon they will be burdened with adult responsibilities and miss out on having a childhood. I was glad that Jo ended up deciding to stay at the camp, and realized there would still be career opportunities for her in the future.

I loved that the book started to give us hints that some of the girls were LGBT, which is something that seems to be plainly stated in the comics, but not in the books. I loved how it was made clearer that Mal and Molly were in a romantic relationship, and there were some sweet moments between them. I loved how healthy their relationship was, and how they were constantly supporting each other. Although it was hinted that Jo is transgender, I was disappointed that it was never said outright. As these books are aimed at preteens, I felt as if this wouldn't have been picked up on by most children, and although it was a good thing that Jo's story didn't revolve around her being trans, it is important for that representation to be visible and not just hinted at.

This book didn't seem as magical as the first one, but I still loved the storyline with Castor, a mouse from the moon. Although Jo's parents allowed her to make her own decisions, Castor wasn't so lucky, and was made to follow her mothers orders. I loved how although a moon mouse was a silly and fun addition, there was also an important message that sometimes parents should just allow their children to play and have fun rather than being constantly strict. It is important for children to play with others in order to develop their social skills, and it's equally important to let them have fun. I loved how the girls taught Castor what fun meant, and that sometimes it is okay to do something just because it is fun.

Although I enjoyed the first book more, this one was still a fun read that brought up some important messages. Something that I love about these books is how they show that girls can do anything that they put their mind to and that there is nothing that a boy can do that a girl can't. The end of the book hinted that the next one would be about dinosaurs, and as a huge lover of all things dinosaur, I am looking forward to reading about the Lumberjanes next adventure! 


Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up is now available to purchase!

Amazon Book Depository 

Monday, 15 June 2020

Blog Tour- Midnight's Twins

When Fern King starts being saved from her nightmares by a mysterious woman, the last thing she expects is for her to be real. Fern soon finds herself in Annwn, a dream world parallel to our own, where dreamers create both beautiful and terrifying things. However, Fern soon discovers her hated twin brother Ollie has also been recruited, and after they are both made knights, they have no choice but to work together. However, things are about to get much worse, as the twins discover that something much more terrifying than any nightmare may be responsible for their mother's death, and the twins are next on its list. Fern and Ollie must set aside their differences and work as once if they are to ever get out of Annwn alive!

Today is my stop on the Midnight’s Twins blog tour! I thought I would share my thoughts on the book, and I have a lot to say so portal on over to a squishy chair and grab a snack!

The book follows Fern King, a 15 year old girl who is a bit of a loner. As Fern got bullied in her previous school, she is reluctant to let people into her life as she assumes the worst. I actually related to Fern, as when I was her age boys would dare each other to ask me out so they could laugh at me, or someone would talk to me while their friends mocked me from a distance. Like Fern, I came to believe people were only being kind to mock me or because they felt sorry for me, and even now I question why people are talking to me. I was definitely able to empathise with Fern, as I’ve always been made to feel like I’m the odd one out. I loved how even though Fern’s school life didn’t change, she eventually came to trust her new acquaintances in Annwn and allowed them to befriend her. It was heartwarming to see such a shy girl who had been through trauma open up to people, and see that not everyone was bad.

Fern initially despises her twin brother Ollie, who is everything she’s not. Charismatic, good looking and popular, Ollie shares non of her struggles, or so she thinks. As the book is told from Fern’s point of view, we don’t really know Ollie’s side of the story until much later in the book, so we are initially led to believe that Ollie helped Fern’s bully to tie her to a tree and light a fire, leaving Fern with a disfiguring burn scar on her face. I loved how although we initially believe Fern’s story and hate Ollie, we start to see the truth unravel as the twins are forced to spend time together in Annwn, and work together to discover the cause of their mums death.

I can’t talk about everything just because so much was happening in this book, but I do of course have to talk about Annwn, the dream world. I loved the idea of there being a parallel world where we go when we’re asleep, and I adored that it was based off Welsh folklore. As a Welsh person I love finding anything like this in books! As Fern lives in London, that is where she is based in Annwn, and I loved seeing it from the dreamers imaginations! There
was so much going on and it made me want to be a thane so I could experience it all. However along with the good dreams come the bad, and Fern soon discovers that the lore she is put in have the job of protecting dreamers from their nightmares, which if extreme enough are able to kill them both in Annwn and the real world. It was a little bit like a cross between Sword Art Online and Nightmare on Elm Street so I of course loved this idea!

The one negative thing I have to say about the dream world is that I just didn’t understand some of the lores well enough. I was especially confused about the Harkers, who’s main job seems to be talking to knights who are on mission and guiding them. It wasn’t made clear just how the Harkers were able to see everything that was happening, and my mind jumped from security cameras everywhere to something similar to the marauders map. If there was an explanation I completely missed it, as it irked me to the point I went back in the book to see if I could find an explanation but found non. I felt as if the other lores would have been clearer if Fern had actually made friends with anyone outside of the knights, as I felt like I was lacking knowledge on practically all the lores except the knights.

Something I wasn’t expecting was the murder mystery part! Fern and Ollie have always believed their mum died in her sleep, but they soon find out she was actually murdered in Annwn by a treitre, a terrifying creature with metal skin. I loved how Una’s murder was slowly unravelled, and even though more clues were revealed, it still took me by surprise when it was finally revealed who was behind everything! I always love a good plot twist, especially when they manage to take me by surprise.

I thought the main villain of the book was brilliant and well thought out. In our world, Sebastian Medraut is an up and coming politician who is gaining followers for his party, One Voice. I thought his party name was really clever, as although it initially gives an idea of unity and togetherness, the real reason behind the party name is much more sinister. Sebastian’s real goal is to remove free will and take away the voices of the people so they will follow him without question. As a side effect, Annwn will fall into chaos as dreamers lose their imaginations. As we have seen for ourselves, politicians often get away with doing terrible things, and Sebastian is no exception. I won’t spoil what he does, but there is no denying he must be stopped. I loved how Fern was constantly comparing her morals to Sebastian’s and finding similarities. The twins are far from perfect, and can even be labelled as anti-heros, as although they are trying to save the world, their way of doing things is not always 100% ethical. For me this made the twins more interesting and made me wonder how far they would go to win.

There’s still so much more I could talk about, but this review is already getting too long so I’m going to end it here. Although it was a little confusing at times, I really enjoyed this book, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the rest of the series! 

Midnight's Twins is now available to purchase!

Thursday, 21 May 2020

OWLS Readathon 2020- How did I do?

So last month I decided to take part in this years OWLS readathon! If you didn’t see my post announcing my TBR then check that out first, as this post will be about how many OWLs I completed and if I finished my TBR.

I initially set myself a goal of three books as I wanted to do the Seer career, but I also added an extra three just to be over-ambitious. Being an animagus obviously isn’t essential to be a Seer, but it would be pretty cool. Honestly I don’t think I’d go through with it in real life as it just seems to be so much work, so props to every animagus out there for the dedication!

So starting with my Seer OWLS… I managed to both complete the three OWLs needed for this career and actually stick to my TBR! Honestly I’m terrible at sticking to a TBR so I’m actually quite shocked I didn’t switch the books round last minute. I’m going to review each book I read during the readathon individually so I’m not going to talk too much about my thoughts on each book, but I loved that I’d chosen a good variety to keep things interesting. I particularly loved reading Run, Rebel, as it was the first time I’d ever read a book in verse before and I found it really interesting. I also loved Heartstream and practically flew through it. It usually takes me about a week to read a book but I finished this one in just two days as I just couldn’t put it down! The biggest challenge for me was Astronomy, as even though I did enjoy the book it was a 600 page high fantasy that seemed to take forever to read. I chose Astronomy first and this was probably a bad idea, as I saw everyone being on their fourth book while I was still on my first. When I take the NEWT’s, I think I’ll start out with shorter books so that I’m not worrying and feeling like I’m falling behind.

I sadly didn’t manage to read all the books needed to complete the OWLs to be an animagus, so I’m just going to have to stay a boring human. I did however complete my potions OWL, but I ended up diverting from my original TBR for this, as I ended up downloading The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky from borrowbox and reading that instead. This was a short story following Monty and Percy from The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, and I loved getting to read a sweet and funny story about these two characters who I love. Honestly I adore Monty and Percy and this book took less than an hour to read so I’m actually ok with deciding to change books last minute.

So how did I find my first OWLs? Honestly I think I could have joined in more. There were plenty of reading sprints and quizzes to take part in, and even Quidditch matches (I was glad to see that Slytherin came out victorious) I’ve never actually taken part in a readathon this huge before, so I did feel like my messages were getting lost in the crowd and I wasn’t really getting many interactions from other people. I was hoping to find some new interesting people to follow but I think I actually only ended up following a handful of new people. Part of this is my fault as I really didn’t do everything I could have such as joining the discord, but I do feel like I prefer smaller readathons overall as I enjoy feeling like I’m part of a community. I’m definitely planning on doing the NEWT’s, and only having four OWL’s might actually turn out in my favour. I definitely want to participate in OWLs again in the future, and I’m looking forward to the NEWTs!

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Review on Simply the Quest

Elliot Hooper may have recovered one of the Chaos Stones, but his problems are far from over. Thanatos is still at large, and if Elliot is to stop him he must find the other three stones before Thanatos does. To make matters worse, Elliot’s mum’s health seems to be getting worse, and Thanatos’ promise to make her better is always at the back of Elliot’s mind. Elliot must decide if he is going to trust the God’s, or go behind their backs and join Thanatos.

After reading Who Let the God’s Out?, I just had to continue this series! The book continues a few weeks after the first one finished, with Zeus extremely reluctant to talk about who was at the door on Christmas Day. Usually, when a book ends on a cliffhanger we have a continuation almost immediately in the sequel, so I actually loved that we were made to wait a little longer before finding out. I loved Zeus’ overreaction to their unwanted visitor, and the majority of the God’s being unable to leave Home Farm meant things became even more difficult for Elliot and Virgo.

Speaking of unwanted guests, Elliot hasn’t got rid of his horrible neighbour for good, and she is still determined to get her mits on his house. Although she is more of an annoyance in this book than a real threat, Mrs Porshley Plum is still pretty obnoxious, especially when she teams up with the equally horrible Mr. Boil, Elliot’s history teacher. They reminded me of the villains in Home Alone as they were funny and over the top and were outsmarted easily.

The characters continued to be developed in this book, and I particularly loved the growing friendship between Elliot and Hermes. Hermes became like an older brother to Elliot, and was always there for him when he started to feel down, and I particularly loved the scene where Hermes took Elliot flying. I loved that Hermes helped to lessen Elliot’s burdens and was always around to help with looking after his mum. I also loved the friendship that was developing between Elliot and Virgo. These two are always hilarious together, and I loved the scenes where Elliot tried to explain jokes to her.

Something I loved about the first book was that despite all the adventures, Elliot’s home life isn’t perfect. Along with worrying about his mum’s health, Elliot has even more to worry about when a letter from his dad arrives. As Elliot had presumed he had died, he is surprised to learn his dad is actually in jail and has been for the past ten years. This was an interesting addition to the story, and Elliot goes through a range of emotions from hating his dad for being a criminal to wanting to find something that would justify his actions. Even though the God’s do their best to help, they are a little out of touch with reality and don’t understand all of Elliot’s problems. It’s easy to sympathize with Elliot, as he is only thirteen and should have a responsible adult to take care of him, but instead, he is the one taking care of his mum.

 Elliot starts to have intrusive thoughts which he refers to as his “dark voice” which include thinking that his mum is a burden and wondering what it would be like to give Thanatos the Chaos Stones in exchange for his mums health. I found this quite relatable, as I think everyone has thoughts like Elliot’s when a situation is particularly upsetting or stressful. I loved the scene towards the end of the book where Elliot was clearly torn about what to do for the best. It was brilliant at bringing to light the internal struggle Elliot has been going through, and how things aren’t always as simple as good vs evil.

Like the first book, this one was packed full of jokes and hilarious moments, but I particularly loved Elliot’s second meeting with the Queen and getting to meet the rest of the Royal Family. I won’t spoil what happens, but the interaction between Prince George and Nyx was amazing. Speaking of Nyx, she was terrifying! I find Hypnos and Thanatos to be quite silly, but Nyx had a completely different attitude and felt like a real and terrifying threat. Honestly, I would take Thanatos over Nyx any day!

This was a fantastic sequel, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series. As there are four books, my guess is that Elliot is going to find a new chaos stone in each book and wield the power against Thanatos, but of course, things are going to go horribly wrong before then! I’m also looking forward to meeting Elliot’s dad and seeing what kind of impact he makes. I feel like this series will only get better!

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Blog Tour- The War of the Snakes

After the death of his older brother, Sam just wants to be left alone. His parents are practically ignoring his existence, making him feel guilty for being the surviving brother, and he’s started to have some very strange dreams that seem almost a little too real. His dreams always involve the same place and the same people, where everyone believes he is “The One,” a prophesied hero who is going to save them all, and restore peace to their world. As the dreams become more vivid, Sam starts to wonder if there is more to these dreams. They couldn’t be real… could they?

So today I am on the War of the Snakes blog tour. I’m going to be focusing on reviewing The Awakened, the first book in the series, but I’m going to briefly share my thoughts on the second book too. I will post a full review on the second book later this week so please look forward to that!

The idea of this series immediately caught my interest, and the dreaming aspect made me think of Ronan Lynch from The Raven Cycle. However, it soon became obvious that this book was nothing like Ronan’s dream world, as we learn that Sam is actually travelling between worlds when he falls asleep. I found this really interesting, and I loved learning about Maunga-Atua and it’s culture. Watamka in particular reminded me of Wakanda from Black Panther, and as the two names even sound similar it made me wonder if this was deliberate. As there were so many places to keep track of, I think the book would have benefited from having a map to refer to as it was confusing to keep track of Sam’s journey at times. I do have to say though that this problem was rectified in the sequel, as the book actually had multiple maps! Honestly I wish I’d took a peek inside book two while reading The Awakened, as it would have probably helped me to figure out where Sam was in book one.

The book started out quite confusing, as each time Sam finds himself in Maunga-Atua, he wakes up in a different spot from last time. We do learn in book two that time moves differently in the two worlds, so this was probably the reason for this, but I felt that it should have been explained in book one to lessen the confusion! We never really know how much time has passed between the visits or how Sam arrived at his current location, and this is never really explained. I felt like this was something that should have been explained, as the plot was difficult to get to grips with without unexplainable travel. We soon learn that Sam has been here before and posessed great power, but after facing Lord Elim head on, he disappeared only to appear weeks later with his memory wiped. I loved how we were kept in the dark with Sam about why everyone seemed to know him and had high expectations for him to save everyone. Sam has no idea how to navigate this strange new world, and yet everyone sees him as their saviour. It was easy to feel sorry for Sam for having to bare such a great burden.

I loved the mixture of fantasy and reality. Along with having problems in his dreams, Sam and his parents are grieving the loss of his brother David. I was wondering if David’s death was linked to the dream world, but alas it seems to be completely unrelated. I think it would have been more interesting if David had been able to travel to Maunga-Atua too, and died as a result of that, but I can also respect that Sam’s two lives were separate with separate issues. Sam seemed a little naive when it came to the dreams, as each time he woke up he just brushed them off as weird dreams and didn’t start to question them until near the end of the book. I’d like to think that if I was having elaborate dreams in the same world every night, I’d probably actually question them! I loved how Sam’s two worlds started to collide towards the end of the book, finally forcing him to accept the truth.

Although the characters had potential, I felt as if non of them were properly fleshed out apart from Sam and Babu, and to some extend Alice. Ma-aka was an interesting character, a young man who had befriended Sam before Sam had lost his memories. The problem was he just wasn’t in the book enough to get to know him properly, and although there was the potential for him and Sam to form a strong bond like they had had in the past, it just wasn’t executed. Ma-aka had the potential to be a great friend and ally, and I felt like this was built on a little in the second book, but again despite the book being almost 600 pages long, Sam and Ma-aka just didn’t interact enough. They were often travelling separately, and even when they did travel together they barely talked. As they were constantly referring to each other as soulmates, talked about staying together forever and had practically adopted a child together I did at one point think there was going to be a romance between them, but sadly this didn’t happen. I’m usually fine with there being no romance in a fantasy series, but I think a romance between Sam and Ma-aka would have helped to break up the constant slaughter a little!

The only relationship that seemed well developed was between Sam and his padme, Babu. Padme’s are animal companions that reminded me of daemons from His Dark Materials. Although Sam was initially afraid of Babu, he soon came to trust him and accept him as his companion. Babu was an interesting character and seemed like a cross between a raccoon, a lizard and a bush baby. Honestly I couldn’t properly picture Babu in my head he seemed so strange! I loved how Sam and Babu were able to communicate telepathically, and how Babu explained a lot of things that Sam still didn’t understand. Honestly I think having a padme would be pretty awesome!

Although there were some issues with this book that needed ironing out, I enjoyed it overall and thought it was a good start to the series. The ending left us in an exciting place to go forward from, and made me want to immediately pick up the next book! After reading the first two books I definitely want to finish this series and find out how everything ends.

And the sequel?
So as this blog tour is for The War of the Snakes, the sequel to The Awakened, I just want to briefly share some of my thoughts on it. There’s so much to unpack that I’m planning on writing a full review, but I thought I’d give a watered down one here!

I was surprised that the story telling completely changed in this book! The first book alternated chapters between our world and Maunga- Atua, but this one took place mostly in Maunga- Atua. I felt like the first book threw us out of the action quite a lot, so I loved that this didn’t’ happen in this book, as Sam spends the majority of the novel in Maunga- Atua, and only briefly goes back to his world. It did make me wonder what was going on in Sam’s family though. How long was he gone? Were his parents missing him? So many unanswered questions!

We were introduced to quite a few characters in this book, with only a couple from the first book staying with Sam for a good portion of his journey. I loved the new characters especially Ba- Shem, a Monk who was a bit of a pyromaniac! I did miss the characters from the first book though, as some of them only appeared very briefly. Honestly I wanted more Alice! I was also disappointed that Ma-aka, who ended up being my favourite character in the first book was absent for a large portion of it. I hope he gets a lot more attention in the last book to make up for it ⁽ᵖˡᵉᵃˢᵉ ᵇʳᶦⁿᵍ ʰᶦᵐ ᵇᵃᶜᵏ ᴶᵘˡᶦᵃⁿᵎ⁾

I think I did overall enjoy the first book more, as this one was a little too long and seemed to drag in places. However I did love getting to see more of this world, and learn more about the Bjarke. I’m assuming the last book will take place mostly on Earth, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that pans out, although I am secretly hoping that Sam returns to Maunga-Atua at some point!

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Owls Readathon

This is it! The year I'm going to finally participate in Owls rather than watching others have fun with it. For the past two years I've looked on as others participate in this readathon but no more! Honestly, the main reason I've never participated before was that it all seemed too confusing. I would see people say they were reading a book for Defence Against the Dark Arts and have no idea what they were talking about. Were they reading Gadding with Ghouls? Maybe Wanderings with Werewolves? Alas no! The point of OWLs or Ordinary Wizarding Levels is to read a book based on a prompt related to a Hogwarts subject. For example, if the prompt for Herbology was to read a book focusing on a man-eating succulent we would... struggle immensely to find one. But don't worry! The prompts are far easier than that. I'll link to all the info you'll need to take part in the readathon for yourself at the bottom, but for now, I want to share with you what career path I'm choosing, along with what books I'm planning to read for each OWL.

So drum roll please. The career path I will be choosing is... SEER! I was torn between Seer and Magizoologist for a long time. I love magical creatures and would love to be the next New Scamander, but the prompts for Seer seemed a little easier and I wanted to use books that were already on my shelves rather than having to buy new ones. Besides I've been told I look like Trelawney far too many times. 

So onto the OWLs themselves! The Seer career requires three OWL's, which are Ancient Runes, Astronomy and Divination. Along with careers, there are extra training or seminars you can do, which require more OWL's. I was going to ignore this and just stick to my career, but then I saw it... ANIMAGUS TRAINING! Wouldn't it be amazing to just turn into an animal at will and throw away all your responsibilities? Of course, you could end up turning into a beetle and be trapped in a glass jar forever but I digress. The point is being an animagus has the potential to be awesome. However the fact is becoming an Animagus requires time and dedication. It doesn't just happen overnight! By doing this training I would be doubling the books I had to read from three to six, so my plan is to do my OWLs for my career first, and then if I have extra time I'll do the OWLs I need for the Animagus Training too. So with that I present you... my TBR! 

 So these are the books I've decided on for my Seer OWLS! I'll go through each one individually and explain my choices for each prompt because why not?

Ancient Runes- Heart Rune- Heart on the cover or in the title.

So turns out I have a lot of books with hearts on the cover or in the title as I had so many choices for this one! I decided to go with Heartstream by Tom Pollock. I read White Rabbit, Red Wolf a while back and although I found it confusing I found it really interesting! This one seems to be similar to Black Mirror so I'm really looking forward to reading it.

Astronomy-  Night classes: read majority of this book when it's dark outside 

So as I have a blog tour coming up this month, I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone (or snakes in this case) and make the book I'm going to be reviewing part of my OWLs. Also I'm a Slytherin so the book cover is actually quite relatable to the readathon. I'm honestly pretty nocturnal with being in lockdown due to the Coronavirus so I don't think reading when it's dark is going to be too much of a problem for me! 

Divination- Third Eye: assign numbers to your TBR pile and use a random number generator to pick your read

This one was so fun to do! My TBR is huge so I couldn't add everything, but I assigned a number to 20 books and this is the one that came out! This is a fairly new book as it only came out last month and it's written in verse which has already grabbed my attention! I don't think I've ever read a novel in verse before so I think this will be an interesting read!

So there we go! That's my TBR so I can have a career telling the future... Honestly I just want to get into the department of mysteries and this might be a stepping stone towards that... if what I see in my future is accurate. Anyway what's the point in being a Seer if you can't turn into a cat right? Here's where I've tried to challenge myself by adding an extra three books which I may or may not get round to. The OWL's required for Animagus Training are Arithmancy, Potions and Transfiguration so let's get on to that!

Arithmancy- Magical qualities of number 2 balance/opposites- read something outside your favourite genre

I'm sure I've mentioned this hundreds of times before but my favourite genre is fantasy! Therefore I've chosen The Boy at the Back of the Class, a Middle Grade book about a refugee boy who has escaped his war-torn country and finds himself in a brand new environment in a brand new school where he knows nobody. This seems like a sad but heartwarming story about acceptance and I'm all for that! 

Potions- Shrinking Solution: book under 150 pages

I struggled a little with this one. Turns out I don't have all that many short books! I did however find this on my shelves, which is a short story about Magnus and Alec from the Shadowhunters books going on their first date. Honestly this just seems like pure fluff and as I'm complete trash for Malec I'm sure I'll enjoy this one! 

Transfiguration- Animagus lecture: book/series that contains shapeshifting

This is the one I struggled with the most! I couldn't for the life of me find a book on my shelves with shapeshifting, and thought I'd have to actually buy a new book for this prompt. However, I found this book adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, and of course, most of the characters in Beauty and the Beast are various household items that used to be people... It sounds so weird when you describe it like that. This book seems to be an adaptation of the movie, and as Beauty and the Beast is probably one of my favourite Disney movies, I'm sure I'll enjoy reading this despite knowing what's going to happen

So there we go! I'm going to try to get through all of these books, but I'm really not going to beat myself up if I don't manage to become an Animagus. As I'm very new to all this I'll probably be struggling over on twitter, so feel free to chat to me there about how OWLs is going for you! If like me you're completely new, I'll link to a few things to help you get started. OWLs start today, so make sure you have parchment, a quill and ink, and remember that Dumbledore is checking to make sure no Auto-Answer quills are brought into exams!

G's announcement vid: (all links are under her vid!) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRuZ4EBkiKA&

Magical Readathon twitter: https://twitter.com/MagicalReadthn

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Review on Who Let the God's Out?

Elliot is just a normal twelve year old boy. That is until the constellation Virgo crash lands in his cowshed, leaving a gaping hole in the roof! If that wasn’t bad enough, Elliot accidentally releases an extremely dangerous daemon which gets Virgo in trouble with the zodiac council. Banned from using her powers, Virgo has only one option, she must make contact with Zeus, king of the Gods. However Zeus is far from what Virgo and Elliot were expecting. Instead of being mighty, Zeus is more on the chubby side, and spends his time getting married multiple times, and even manages to double book weddings! With the help of Zeus, Pegasus and Zeus’s children Hermes, Aphrodite and Athene, Elliot must stop Thanatos from collecting his chaos stones and becoming more powerful than Elliot could imagine.

As reading more middle grade was one of my resolutions, I thought I would start off the year by doing just that! Usually when I visit the library, I go straight to the YA section, but on my recent visit I actually stopped by the Middle Grade section and picked this up. The book follows Elliot, a boy who lives on a farm near Stonehenge with his mum. When Virgo comes crashing down to earth, Elliot must help her give ambrosia to a mysterious prisoner living under Stonehenge. However, Elliot makes a big mistake with even bigger consequences when he frees the prisoner, who turns out to be an evil daemon called Thanatos. As a huge Greek Mythology geek, I loved the idea behind this book. There were so many interesting characters from Zeus and Pegasus to Charon, the ferryman of the underworld and Hermes, the messenger of the Gods. I particularly loved Hermes, who loved social media and fashion. I thought it was particularly clever that since he is the messenger God, he kept track of everyone through an app and always knew where everyone was. It put a funny and modern twist on Hermes’ character which I loved. I thought he was the funniest character and he was definitely one of my favourites!

If the God’s weren’t enough, we also had the Zodiac Council, which is exactly what it sounds like! As we all know, each sign of the Zodiac has it’s own symbol, and things were taken pretty literally here with Pices being a somewhat angry fish, Leo being a lion, Cancer being a crab and- well you get the idea. This was all as overwhelming as it sounds for poor Virgo, the youngest member of the council, who’s main job was to make sure the stationary cupboard was well stocked, a boring job for anyone never mind a young constellation who was trying to prove her worth! We don’t see much of the other council members seeing as Virgo is on Earth and the story focuses on her and Elliot, which is a shame really as they were all pretty hilarious! Really I hope we get to see more of them in the rest of the series.

Something I adored about this book was how it managed to perfectly combine fantasy with reality. Not everything is talking horses, magical wishing stones and creepy daemons for Elliot, as we learn his mother is sick and they are in danger of losing their home. We aren’t told exactly what’s wrong with Elliot’s mum, but it seems to be early onset dementia. It was pretty heartbreaking seeing Elliot have to care for his mum by himself, as he was terrified he would be taken away from her if anyone found out. As my mum was a carer for her nan for years I’ve seen how challenging it can be, and I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for young carers. It was heart warming to see some of Elliot’s worries being lifted once the Olympians were around to help. Elliot didn’t have to worry so much when he knew someone was at home to take care of his mum while he was in school, and he even saw an improvement in his grades. Even just knowing you’re not facing everything alone can help a great deal.

I loved how silly and funny this book was! I don’t tend to read many funny books as my sense of humour can be different from other people’s, but I actually loved the humour in this book. I did think there were a few funny moments that young children might not understand, but I actually love when jokes are thrown in that might go over the heads of young readers but would give parents reading the book with their children a laugh. The humour and Maz’s take on all the God’s personalities were probably my favourite thing about the book!

I overall loved this book and I’m definitely planning on reading the rest of the series. Honestly I think reading more middle grade this year was a great decision as I’ve been missing out on amazing stories like this for years! I’m looking forward to reading more about Elliot and Virgo’s adventures.

Friday, 13 March 2020

Q&A with P M McCormick

So today I have a Q&A with P M McCormick, author of The Fish with a Wish, a brilliant picture book that focuses on our impact on the environment!

 Hi Paula! Tell us a little about your book and the inspiration behind it.

It has always been my ambition to have a book published and I am in the process of writing a novel. However, in recent years the growing plastic crisis in our oceans and seas and watching the media coverage of this problem is very upsetting. I am not an expert in this field but would like to feel that by writing this book I have helped to raise awareness. I think that it is important for children to learn from an early age about how they can help to reduce the amount of plastic that we use and to think carefully about how it is disposed of. I hope that this book is both fun and at the same time plants a very important seed in the mind of our future generations.

Having future generations care about the environment is extremely important. What can parents do to make sure their children are aware of their environmental impact?

Children have access to the most wonderful information about the environment through books, the internet, schools and TV. Parents can encourage their children to learn about the effects that plastics are having on our seas and oceans and all the creatures that live in them. 

Sadly, we can’t all be like William and personally save sea creatures! What can we do to make sure that plastic doesn’t end up in our oceans?

We can try to buy less plastic and use the facilities that our Local Authorities provide us with to enable recycling of our plastic waste.

What are some things we can do to reduce our plastic waste?

Taking your own shopping bags to the supermarkets.  Take your own drinks bottle or cup to restaurants and say no to plastic cutlery of drinking straws.  When in the supermarket try to avoid weighing your fruit and veg in plastic bags.

William was such a fun character to draw!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! Finally just for a bit of fun, if Angel Fish could grant you three wishes, what would you wish for?

No problem, my first would be the same as William, for everyone to look after our seas and oceans.

My second wish would be to save all the beautiful creatures especially the orangutans in the rainforests that are losing their homes through deforestation and the palm oil plantations.

My third wish would be to raise awareness of the melting ice caps caused by global warming.

Perhaps these wishes will come true through my next two books that I have written which I hope are enjoyed as much as The Fish with a Wish

My Thoughts

As you probably know, I don’t normally review picture books, but this one had such as important topic I had to make an exception! I loved how Paula made a serious topic fun for children to learn about by showing how plastic pollution hurts Wiliam and his friends. By following William’s examples, even young children can start to learn about plastic pollution and think about where they are putting their litter. I loved how the book was in rhyming couplets, making the words flow. It made the book fun to read and perfect for reading out loud! I also have to mention the wonderful illustrators at Austin Macauley who really brought the story to life with all the wonderful pictures. Young children can often react to a picture more than to words, so seeing the seagull with plastic wrapped round it’s beak could really help them to understand better. I thought the book was a fun way to educate young children on plastic pollution and getting them to care about the environment!

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Old Books, New Year

So this post is 99% an attempt to motivate myself into reading some books that have been on my shelf for a while! I am completely disgusted in myself that I've had unread books gathering dust on my shelves for years and this is the year I'm going to finally read them! Realistically I'm not going to get through them all, but here are a few that I finally want to read!

Ok so I know I probably should have read this by now. Caraval was the book everyone was talking about back when it was released, and since then it's become a whole trilogy! The different covers for this are gorgeous, and I remember when everyone was collecting every different version! Really that was such a great marketing campaign. I've seen this book be compared to The Night Circus a few times, and although I didn't completely love The Night Circus, I did think the imagery was absolutely gorgeous, so if Caraval's imagery is anything like The Night Circus, along with having a good plot, I'll probably be sold! 

Why oh why haven't I read this book yet? I've managed to collect the whole series and even have some pretty snazzy postcards, but I still haven't got round to actually reading them! I've seen so many good things about these books that I do want to finally read them this year. I think I'll probably end up getting addicted and binge reading the whole series in about a week.

I've had a Lord of the Rings book boxset since I was about eleven, but I've only ever made it past the first book. Honestly both the book and movie for fellowship are a little slow, and as it's my least favourite movie in the trilogy odds are it would be my least favourite book too, but the problem is I just haven't read the other two books to find out! The movies have been favourites of mine ever since they came out, and I really do want to read the books. I've seen people say they're difficult to read which has put me off a little, but I'm going to do my best to get through this trilogy this year! 

I've honestly been wanting to read Six of Crows for YEARS! I finally managed to read the Shadow and Bone series towards the end of last year, so this year will finally be the year that I fall in love with Kaz. To be honest Kaz has been so hyped up that I will actually be pretty disappointed if he doesn't become one of my favourite characters. I did have mixed feelings about Shadow and Bone, but I've seen people who didn't like the Shadow and Bone books much but loved Six of Crows so I'm just going to have to wait and see! 

So for some reason I just never read the Percy Jackson books. Honestly, it's probably because I'm a hag and was more interested in YA than Middle Grade by the time these books started to get popular. Something I've been doing over the years is buying the books in this series from charity shops whenever I see them, and by doing this I've finally managed to collect the whole series so I honestly have no excuse not to start them now. I adore Greek mythology so I'm pretty sure I will love these books!

There's so many books on my TBR for this year, but I honestly think I'll be focusing more on books that are already on my shelf as I really don't have the shelf space or the money to buy too many new ones! That being said I would still love some book recommendations be it old or new books, so feel free to let me know what books I just HAVE to read this year!