Monday, 19 October 2020

Spooky Reads!

As there’s less than two weeks until Halloween I thought I would pick out some spooky reads! Honestly I’m probably not going to get through all of these but I thought I would be a little ambitious as I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately. I’ve decided on four books I want to try to read so here they are!

1# Howl’s Moving Castle: I have a confession. I’m not really a huge fan of horror books. I’m not sure why exactly but I just tend to not enjoy them that much, which is why one of my choices is Howl’s Moving Castle. I’m a huge fan of the Studio Ghibli adaptation of this book, and I meant to read it last year but I just didn’t have the time. Something that I found out was that this book actually has Welsh themes, which as a Welsh person myself I’m excited for! I’m looking forward to seeing how the book differs from the Japanese themes in the Ghibli movie. As poor Howl has been living on my shelf for so long I’m going to make sure to finally meet him this year! 

#2 Witch: Okay yes this is a proof and I’m a terrible book blogger for not reviewing it on release day, but I think it’s still valid if I read it for Halloween (please don’t hate me Zephyr!). As the title suggests, this is a very appropriate book for the time of year, as it is all about witches and magic! I actually started reading this book last night and it seems really interesting. The writing style is making it a little tricky for me to get into it as it’s written in a very old fashioned way due to the book being set in the 17th century, but I think that as                                                               soon as I get used to it I’ll end  up enjoying this book. 

#3 Carrie: I’ve never read a Stephen King book, so I thought I’d start with his first one, Carrie. Everyone has heard of this book and seen the movies so I won’t explain what it's about. I've always loved the movie adaptations and loved the idea of a girl with psychic powers getting revenge on her bullies! I think the length of Stephen King books is what puts me off reading them ,so I think Carrie being a fairly short read will help me get into his books. As my copy of Carrie is part of an omnibus I might read the other two if I have the time. 

#4 Frozen Charlotte: This book sounds super creepy! I’ve had it on my shelf for a while so figured this was the perfect time to read it. I’ve always found dolls to be creepy, and I used to have a talking doll that would go off in the middle of the night! Maybe that’s why I’ve always preferred plushies. This book is giving me very Annabelle-like vibes so I’m ready to hide under my duvet while reading this one! 

As my country has been put  a two week lockdown I hope these spooky books will help me get into the Halloween spirit. Hopefully I will enjoy them enough to pull me out of my reading slump. If you have any favourite spooky books then please let me know as I’d love to check them out! 

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Review on Life of Riley: Beginner's Luck

Ten year old Riley is most definitely CURSED! He knows this because a fortune teller named Madam Olga said “Curse you chiiiiiiild” after he accidentally smashed her crystal ball, and since then terrible things have been happening. Riley manages to lose the schools pet rabbit, lose his swimming trunks and lose his dignity in the space of a week, and the bad luck doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon. However new kid Brad might just be the good luck charm he needs. Whenever Riley hangs out with Brad, the bad luck seems to be kept at bay. But how do you get a popular cool kid like Brad to want to hang out with you when the whole school knows you're cursed?

I’M SO HAPPY I GOT TO REVIEW THIS BOOK!! Simon James Green Is one of my all time favourite authors, and I’m practically always gushing over how much I love his Noah books, so of course I was over the moon when I was given the opportunity to review his first middle grade book. I knew this book was going to be hilarious before I even picked it up and I wasn’t wrong!

 The book follows Riley, a ten year old boy who is cursed, or so he thinks. After visiting a pretty dodgy fortune teller who curses him, Riley starts to have extremely bad luck with hilarious consequences, which cause him to start looking for ways to either lift the curse, or find a good luck charm that will help to neutralise the bad luck. Riley was an extremely funny and dramatic character, and reminded me a little of Noah. It was hilarious how he made a big deal out of absolutely everything, and how he got himself into every problem imaginable. I loved how Riley was a little different to most of the kids his age, and was a bit of a loner who preferred musical theatre over playing football. I always adore the characters Simon creates and Riley was no different!

 After going through some extremely unfortunate but extremely funny calamities, Riley meets new kid Brad, who seems like everything Riley isn’t. Brad is immediately popular, loves playing football and seems to be able to solve any problem he runs into. Even though Brad and Riley’s personalities were pretty different from each other, they immediately became friends and found out they had all sorts of things in common including a love for musical theatre. Their friendship was honestly adorable and it kind of made me miss being their age when kids were less judgemental and you didn’t have to have absolutely everything in common to be friends with someone. As Riley’s old best friend moved away, it was heart warming to see him finally have someone to hang out with again. 

 Something that I loved about Brad and Riley’s friendship was they always had each other’s backs, and if something horrible or embarrassing was happening to one of them, the other would get involved too. It’s easy to just step back when someone is having a hard time, but it takes bravery to step in and support them. I loved how Brad did dumb things to help Riley out, and how Riley unknowingly helped Brad by thinking his overprotective parents were cool and their safety precautions were a good idea. I loved how Brad went from thinking his parents were an embarrassment to thinking they weren’t so bad once Riley reacted positively. Brad was such a sweet character who was always there for Riley when something bad was happening to him. I did feel a little sorry for Brad, as he trusted Riley 100% even when the evidence was stacking up against him, and was pretty heartbroken when he found out the truth. However I did love how they were able to fix things by talking to each other and explaining their side of the story.

 I adored Riley’s grandma’s idea of creating our own luck, and how this was visualised by her sticking two three leaf clovers together to create a four leaf clover, which I think really helped to explain what she meant. Riley believes that he’s unlucky and Brad is lucky, but we get a glimpse that Brad’s seemingly perfect life isn’t all it seems, and he’s had his fair share of ups and downs too. I loved how Riley realised he was actually pretty lucky to have Brad as his best friend, and how even though bad things had happened, there were a lot of positive things that had come from the experiences too. It’s so easy for us to always see the bad things that happen in our lives and ignore the good, so I loved how even though Riley had gone through some terrible ordeals, he was able to see all the good things that had happened too.

 This book was both hilarious and heart warming and pretty much just what I needed right now! Despite it being a fun silly book, it also gave some important messages about the importance of friendship and how even though we might be having a terrible day, there will always be better days ahead of us. I would love to see more of Brad and Riley’s adventures in the future and I would recommend this book to kids and adults alike who are looking for a good laugh! 

Life of Riley: Beginner's Luck now available to purchase!

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Review on The War of The Snakes

So as I took part in the blog tour for this book I’m just going to dive right into the review. If you haven’t read my blog tour post then I suggest reading that first! Following on from the first book, Sam returns to Magua- Atuai, except this time his stay is a little more permanent. This book all but removed the real-life aspects from the first book and became a full-on high fantasy novel! I think I did prefer how Sam kept world switching in the first book, but doing it this way definitely helped to keep us in the action. I loved how vast this world was, and it was explored far more in this book than in the first one. As the first book was half the size of this one, I felt like the world wasn’t set up fully, but we really see it’s full potential in the sequel.

This book introduces us to a wide range of new characters, which was interesting, but it pushed most of the characters we were introduced to in the first book to the sidelines. As Sam only briefly returns to his world, we barely see Alice, which was disappointing as she was the character who I was most interested in learning more about. As Pania was kidnapped at the end of book one she is absent for the majority of this one, Ma-aka doesn’t return until about halfway through, and even then he doesn’t come up much, and Ngaire is only briefly reunited with Sam before being left behind. The only constant character from the first book was Babu, and although I loved Babu, I missed the other characters. The majority of the characters remained pretty one dimensional. Although fantasy novels often have multiple characters, they usually focus on the protagonist and around five other characters. I think what just didn’t work was all the characters apart from Sam and Babu were focused on equally, so we never got to a point where we knew them well and cared about them. Something else I noticed was how the spelling of certain character’s names kept changing. Honestly it made it seem like the author just threw them in and forgot their names!

There is a severe lack of women in this series which I was disappointed about. I think only four women in the whole book actually had names, and although women fought alongside the men, the book focused on the men. The book was never openly diverse, and although I pictured Ma-aka in my head as being black, the book never actually describes anyone's race. Even though this lets us picture the characters however we want, it also means I can’t openly praise it for including diverse characters. The sad truth is that people often see white as the default when race isn’t mentioned, so even if the author had intended certain characters to be POC, it didn’t come across directly.

Despite the characters lacking detail, I do have to talk about how much I loved Howahkan, a Bjarke who had changed sides to help the Turangai. The Bjarke are a bit like the Slytherins or the Wen Clan (points if you get that reference!) in that everyone thinks they are all inherently evil. However Howahkan was tortured by the Bjarke after he refused to murder a mother and child and was saved by the Turangai. I loved that he went against what was expected of him and realised what the Bjarke were doing was wrong. There were a few hints that he was still secretly working for the Nephillim, but as this was never really confirmed I still want to believe he’s good. Really I’ll be disappointed if he turns out to be evil in the next book!

Although I enjoyed the book it felt like it just wasn’t quite ready to be published. There were some inconsistences such as the first book explaining that the gender of the padme were the same as the person they were assigned to, but in this book some of the Padme had different gender to their charge, and as I mentioned earlier, the spellings of side characters names changed. It made it even more impossible to remember who was who! I am interested in this story enough to want to finish the series, but I do hope more attention is paid to it and that characters other than Sam and Babu have their chance to shine.

The War of The Snakes is now available to purchase!

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!) :

Magical Readathon twitter: