How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

A great book: 4.5/5 Stars

let me just start by saying.. I LOVE TOOTHLESS!!!

I had a lot of fun reading this book but having to work, I wasn’t able to finish this book in the time I had wanted to – it is a book you wont be able to put down.

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is a truly extraordinary Viking hero known throughout Vikingdom as “the Dragon Whisperer” This story takes us back to what one may call historical Scotland when the mighty warrior was just a boy, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans. The challenge Hiccup is to face is to capture a dragon and train it without being torn limb from limb. Hiccup embarks on an adventure and tries to find a better way to train his dragon and become a hero.

My word of advice is do not start reading this book with the expectation that it’s just like the movie, this book is very different so best to treat this as a stand alone read and do not think back to the movie.

Meredith

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Nathalia Buttface and the Most Embarrassing Dad in the World by Nigel Smith

A great children’s book I rated 4.5 stars out of 5

About the book – as seen on Goodreads.com:
The Most Embarrassing Dad in the World was embarrassing Nathalia even before she was born. He went and married Mum, didn’t he? Mum’s last name was De Montfort. Thanks to Dad she wasn’t Nathalia De Montfort. She was Nathalia Bumole. “It’s pronounced Bew-mow-lay,” Dad would tell her patiently, time and again. “If anyone says differently, the joke’s on them.” But as Nathalia knows only too well, the joke will not be on them. It will be on her. Massively. If Nathalia can just keep The Most Embarrassing Dad In The World away from her new school, then maybe he won’t ruin everything this time. Maybe

My thoughts:
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. As a library technician, I am given a whole selection of books to familiarise myself with for the students – and this was a lot of fun!!! The humour in Nathalia Buttface is well placed and had me smiling and even chuckling while reading it, even in public places where I am sure passers by thought strangely of me. The characters were quite funny just like the story. I highly recommend this to younger readers aged 7-12 years.

-Meredith

Caramel Hearts by E.R Murray & Read3r’z Re-Vu Exclusive Blog Interview

Bloomsbury Publishers contacted me to be part of the launch and blog tour of Elizabeth Rose (E.R) Murray’s debut novel “Caramel Hearts”. Having accepted to be part of this special event, I have no regrets!!! Caramel Hearts is a beautiful and thought provoking coming of age story, one I have rated 5 stars. E.R Murray lives in Ireland where she fishes and grows her own vegies. Caramel Hearts is her first novel.

caramel hearts

Caramel Hearts is mind blowing though I felt depressed reading this book, it was so insightful! A beautiful coming of age story however it’s realistic as it’s not just about teenage girls crushing on teenage boys or girls stressing about what to wear to their next party. This book focuses on Liv Bloom, whose life is more complex than other 14 year old girls as her father abandons the family and her mother is a recovering alcoholic, Liv’s older sister struggles to take care of her family and complete her studies. Through the madness, Liv discovers a book of recipes written in her Mum’s handwriting which Liv uses for her journey to self-discovery and reconciliation. As this book is structured around real cake recipes you find throughout the book that adds a light touch to an otherwise depressing storyline, it gave me the urge to get into my baking again. What I liked most about this book (besides the recipes) is it tells a realistic story and focuses on real socio economic issues that teens face and others forget or ignore. I recommend this to all Contemporary YA readers. Special thanks to Bloomsbury Publishers for sending me an advanced review copy in exchange for my review – also thankyou very much for introducing me to the lovely E.R Murray – although she’s oceans away, we still keep in touch by email and it has been a pleasure to read your book and get to know you!!!

Now, let’s meet the author – Elizabeth Rose (E.R) Murray…
ER Murray 1

When did you first get inspiration to write?
I always wrote as a child, mainly short stories and epic poems that would fill entire notebooks. I was very inspired by ancient myths and legends! I would also tell myself stories when I went to bed at night, revisiting them the following night to recap and continue on the adventure. These tales could last weeks, even months – so I guess it was an initial foray into creating book-length tales. I had a few things published at school, but then life got in the way; I put myself through uni, jumped onto the career ladder, and forgot all about writing until my mid/late twenties when it started calling me again.

What is the title of your debut novel and what inspired you to write this book?
Caramel Hearts is my debut young adult book, and it’s the first released in Australia, but it’s the second book I’ve had published. The first was a middle grade fantasy published in the UK and Ireland, The Book of Learning – Nine Lives Trilogy 1 (Book 2 is out in September!). The Book of Learning was inspired by my move to Ireland and a sighting of a ghost, while Caramel Hearts was driven by a desire to write something more real, looking at the effects of addiction and growing up in an underprivileged area – with real cake recipes!

Is there any particular reason you chose this genre?
I love young adult fiction, it’s so brave and honest and heartfelt. But to be honest, when I write, it’s all about the characters, and they combine to choose the genre for me. Story always comes first and the genre falls into place somewhere along the way.

Do you like to read? What’s the first book you ever read?
I adore reading – along with travel and writing, it’s my favourite thing! I don’t remember the first book I ever read; I’m one of those people that barely remember anything before the age of seven! It’s like reading was always there, an integral part of my world. But I did love pouring over the Brambly Hedge series and by the age of ten, I’d fallen in love with Charles Dickens.

Where did you grow up and where are you currently based? (Just city and country name)
I was raised in Southbank, Middlesbrough (North East of England) and I now live on the Southwest coast of Ireland, in an idyllic area called West Cork.

If you’re not reading or writing, what would you be doing?
Growing vegetables, catching fish, moving cows, hiking around the countryside, watching a band play live music; these would be typical of everyday life. But I also love travel, so you’re highly likely to find me on a train or about to board a plane.

What was the secret to getting your work done in writing this book? Did you constantly snack on chocolate or have a photo of an inspirational person on the wall of your room?
I’m extremely disciplined, so the key is just to turn up to your desk every day. But I do love to burn scented candles as I write; I have several to choose from, to suit my mood. Another big help is my dog, Franklyn, because he’s great company but also makes sure I break for walks. Changing walls really helps too; I love travelling to new places, surrounded by different languages, food, weather, and experiences – I find it energising. I hate routine – it saps my energy. I can’t bear to stay in one place for too long.

What was the last book you read? (title/genre/author/rating out of 5 stars)
I always have more than one book on the go, so I’ll give you two. First, Claire Hennessy’s Nothing Tastes As Good – and I rate it 5 out of 5. You have a snarky anorexic ghost on a reluctant mission – what’s not to love? I also read Jan Carson’s short story collection Children’s Children, also 5 out of 5. That woman can write!

If your life was turned into a movie, who would you like to play you?
I’d go for Ellen Page because when Juno came out, everyone commented on the similarities in terms of attitude, so she’s already nailed me, apparently!

As an author, what was the best piece of advice you were ever given?
I guess it’s that writer’s write – that’s the simple ingredient you need to be a writer. It can be difficult to admit you’re writing, especially at first when you have few or no accolades to your name, and it’s also difficult to see yourself as an actual writer. But the truth is, writers write – simple!

I would also add: never give up! Persevere and you have a chance of getting published, give up and you’re out of the game. I’d say 80% of the people that I met when I first started out – those that have continued writing – are now published or have an agent or book deal, or they’ve been asked to send in their full manuscript. It’s all about determination and dedication.

The Top 10: This or That
Ice cream or Ice Block? Ice cream, preferably sea salt flavour (I had to google ice block – we call it an ice lolly!)
Library or Bookstore? Both – as often as I can.
Vegemite or Peanut Butter? Both – just not together.
Chicken or Beef? Beef. And it has to be as rare as possible. Blue steak is perfection
Winter or Summer? Summer! I love wintry weather but here it gets dark around 4.30pm and stays dark until 8am. It can get depressing!
Tea or Coffee? Tea. Including herbal.
Favourite Chocolate: I don’t really like chocolate so can I swap for Turkish Delight?
Favourite Colour: Blue.
Ultimate Holiday Destination: I’ll choose two I haven’t been to yet – Japan or Canada (though you can’t beat Australia for landscapes and wildlife).
When reading, I love to eat/drink: pickled chillies.
Famous last words: Never give up!

ER Murray 2

Blog Review and Blog Interview Completed by Annie

Play School: The Useful Book (50th Anniversary Edition)

**5 STARS** 
Highly recommended to all children…
…and all young at heart who grew up with Play School…

A fantastic picture book illustrating 50 years of Play School commemorating the adventures and characters I grew up with, combined with great arts and crafts ideas and even some delicious recipes as seen on TV by Play School!!! Highly recommended to those who, like me, watched Play School as a child and wish to reminisce – also highly recommended for young children of today.. With great arts and crafts ideas and recipes to try, this beauty is sure to keep kids entertained and away from TV and video games for awhile!!!

Special thanks to Harper Collins Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review..

-Annie

Dance Demons by Juliet M. Sampson

WOW!!!! what an awesome read!!!!
I have rated this 5 stars!!!

I have had the privilege of reading this author’s debut novel and sequel, as much as I love those stories, this one takes the cake!!!
When reading Dance Demons, I suddenly want to learn salsa lol.. I have to say, I got goosebumps reading this book!!
An interesting story of a woman whose passion for dance takes her on the roller coaster ride of her life when she falls in love with what she may consider the right kind of wrong..
As you turn the page, the plot thickens..
A thriller mystery deriving from dance – a great read!!!

For full synopsis of Dance Demons can be found on Goodreads.com.
Special thanks to the author for noting me in her acknowledgements page *fangirl moment*

-Annie

Elementals: Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

This is a book I rated 4.5 stars,  A book I thoroughly enjoyed…

I am torn about this book as I wanted it to finish so I finally get an answer in the end but then I get to the end and I don’t want it to finish. Looking forward to continuing this series now.

Earth, Fire, Air, Water – they have more power than you dream.

The first book in the Elemental series, Storm is interesting take on those with the “powers of the elements” and the fractions within the community.

Brief Overview:
Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys—all the ones she doesn’t want. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water—just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

A start to a series I think I may invest in, you should read it too!!!

-Meredith

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

“When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?” – Graceling, Kristin Cashore

5 stars! Heart pounding and heart warming read! 

Graceling is a dynamic, action-packed read. I liked the concept of a medieval fantasy world containing individuals born with special abilities known as Graces, which is both deadly and exploited. I feel that the author has put a lot of thought into the world and the main character Katsa, who had to come to terms with her grace (the grace of killing) and her identity. I loved all the elements in the story from world building, the quests, characters, dialogue, plot and themes about individualism and independent choices. The story had the right mix of pace, interesting abilities and unforgettable characters that stays with you until the last page. I enjoyed the coming-of-age aspects of Katsa’s character, the highlight for me was seeing her character grow and confidence in making her own choices. For the romantics, the romance element was endearing, heartwarming and memorable – Po is a charming, incredibly caring and courageous character deserving of our protagonist’s love, read it and tell me if you feel the same! I also didn’t see all the twists and turns, but for the few that I did see – I had to read on and see if my theory held. I want to thank Jacky who told me about this marvellous novel. 

– NJ

Click here to read the book blurb on Goodreads

Other interesting quotes:

“Katsa sat in the darkness of the Sunderan forest and understood three truths. She loved Po. She wanted Po. And she could never be anyone’s but her own.”

“How absurd it was that in all seven kingdoms, the weakest and most vulnerable of people – girls, women – went unarmed and were taught nothing of fighting, while the strong were trained to the highest reaches of their skill.”

“It seems better to me for a child to have these skills and never use them, than not have them and one day need them,” she said.