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: