Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts: Ten Tales from the Deep, Dark Woods by Craig Phillips

A fantastic collection of diverse myths and legends from around the world – from Iceland to Poland to Japan, altogether in one graphic novel!!!

Tales include a cobbler girl tricks the Wawel Dragon, after all the king’s knights fail… The Polar Bear King loses his skin… Momotaro, born from a peach, defies the ogres everyone else is too scared to face… Snow White and Rose Red make friends with a bear…

This collection contains 10 tales and are retold as comics that includes adventures with giants, trolls, witches and beasts!!!

The art work is simply amazing, the legends and folktales are so exciting!! It’s one a graphic novel you would read over and over again and keep for collection. This is something I recommend to readers young and old alike who, like me, love myth and legend. I also recommend this for kids storytime – where parents can read to the children. It is pretty easy to follow however some themes may require parental guidance – the artwork is extremely details – such a visual feast!!!

Many thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.

-Annie

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

“It’s easy to poke fun at the world and think yourself clever but it’s much harder to stand silent and endure…”

This story is about Henrietta Howel… The first female sorcerer… The prophesied one… Or is she?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her and as Henrietta “Nettie” discovers the secrets hiding behind the sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s truly the prophesied one.

A magical story of identity and wielding some awesome magic through the elements.

I Loved this read and I recommend this to fans of Harry Potter, magic and fantasy fiction.

Told in first person by the protagonist, “Nettie”, what I liked most about this book was the use of magic to control the elements in a world where magical talent wasn’t just with the wave of a wand (or stave)characters could wield power of the elements through your palms. What I also liked was the journey Nettie has had to take to discover herself and her talent, meanwhile learning of her true heritage and a prophecy that can set her on the trajectory to save the world – or destroy her. I really cannot wait for the sequel now as I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved the character development, world building, style of writing and the storyline with twists and turns!!

-Annie

The Book of Pearl by Timothee de Fombelle

Elegant and Sophisticatedly Complex

This would have to be one of the best books I have read this year!!!

A compelling story of a first love that defines a lifetime which is told with an intricate and beautiful writing style.

The main character who we get to know as the story progresses is Joshua Pearl. He is from a world that our own no longer believes in – a world of Fairytale. Pearl knows that his great love is waiting for him in that distant place but he is trapped in our time. As his memories begin to fade, he discovers strange objects, tiny fragments of a story from a long time ago that help in piecing his life back together.

What I liked about this story is how unique it was – the storyline and how it was so cleverly written.  As Joshua Pearl is trying to piece together his memories to circle back to the one he loves after being thrown from his own world to our world, I felt just as confused as Pearl but each chapter develops – each fragment, pieces together a puzzle that guided me to the next part of the story and so on, which finally came together with an answer!!! A tale intertwines fantasy with historical fiction finding you going through the stages of World War II. This was such an absorbing read.

I recommend this to fans of fairytale retellings, historical fiction and YA fantasy.
-Annie

Everlife Series by Gena Showalter

These are reviews for 2 books in the Everlife Series by Gena Showalter, Firstlife (Book 1) and Lifeblood (Book 2). Having heard and read mixed reviews on both of these, I decided to take the plunge and read it myself to draw my own conclusion – turns out, I thoroughly enjoyed both books and recommend to fans of YA fantasy fiction and Dystopia.

Firstlife, Book 1
ONE CHOICE – TWO REALMS
Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is  17 year old girl who has spent the past 13 months locked up in Prynne Asylum. Her crime was not her obsession with numbers but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live, after she dies… In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon finding herself on the run, Ten has to decide who to trust and which realm to pledge her allegiance..

Although there is a lot of information provided to intricately build this new world, I found it quite easy to read. It call this a dystopian preparation for the afterlife – where our time on earth is only prep for the next life however while we are on earth we are dictated to choose which realm we would go to – Myriad or Troika – those who don’t make a choice are the unsigned and doomed to the Many Ends.. I enjoyed the plot, the way the story was going, the struggles the character faced which did have me on the edge of my seat and I also found the character quite unique with her obsession with numerology during intense times.

Lifeblood, Book 2
I don’t want to say too much about this one to avoid spoilers however this is the continuation of Ten’s journey. “My Firstlife is over, but my Everlife is only now beginning. ” With her last living breath, Ten Lockwood made her choice and picked her realm in the Everlife. Now, as the war between Troika and Myriad rages, she must face the consequences of the decision she made. With an interesting storyline and plot twists, it’s made me want to continue Ten’s journey in book 3!!

Many thanks to Harlequin Publishers for sending me a Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

 

 

 

Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet

These are 2 books I read one after another – a new personal favourite, I am looking forward to book 3!!!

A Promise of Fire: Book 1
Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. A smart-mouthed soothsayer, she has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar but when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice but to tap in to her power. Griffin, another character you meet, is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm and when he discovers Cat’s identity, he abducts her…
An addictive read, one that I couldn’t put down!!! A Promise of Fire is a beautiful way to start a series.
The characters know how to handle themselves and I wanted to know what happens to them next. The characters had the feelings that I’ve known them for a few years and that they were friends.

Breath of Fire: Book 2
Catalia “Cat” Fisa’s story continues as she’s been on the run from her destiny ever since she could crawl but now she’s caught between the shadow of her tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future..

As soon as I started to read Breath of Fire, I was immersed. The only put this book down once and that was to get a couple hours of sleep before I went to work. As soon as I was walking to the train station my nose was straight back into this world. I was ecstatic to be with Cat and Griffin and the other members of the Beta team, again. The relationships between all the characters have been growing. Their pasts are also coming out slowly coming to light. Magic, adventure, action, and the Greek Gods are all part of the fun.

Many thanks to Hachette Publishers for sending me a Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Meredith

Dragonkeeper by Carole Wilkinson

Dragonkeeper is the first book of a series that is set to be released as a big budget feature film animation!!!!

Dragonkeeper: The Book
Set in Ancient China (Han Dynasty), this story is about a slave girl who saves the life of an ageing dragon and escapes her brutal master. An adventurous read that can be enjoyed by children as young as 8 years old and even among adults such as myself, I find this to be a great family friendly read. The adventure continues as the slave girl and the dragon are pursued by a ruthless dragon hunter and they begin an epic journey across China full of magical and wondrous adventure, meanwhile carrying a mysterious stone that must be protected.

What I loved most about this book is the references to Chinese Mythology and a girl who defies her brutal master and does not accept life the way it is – she breaks down the barriers and finds strength within herself to make this perilous journey which I believe is sending a positive message to girls. Not to mention the adventure is a lot of fun!!

Dragonkeeper: The Movie
The movie is being produced by Dragoia Media, Movistar+, Atresmedia Cine and China Film Animation – a member of China Film Group which is the largest and most influential state owned film company in China.

The script has been written by Ignacio Ferreras, Rosanna Checchini, Pablo Castrillo, Carole Wilkinson (author of Dragonkeeper) and Xiamping Wang.

The film will be directed by Ignacio Ferraras and co-ordinated by Zhang Bo.

Scheduled for release: late 2019/early 2020.

Many thanks to Walker Books for providing me with an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

 

“You think good people can’t hate?” she asked. “You think good people don’t kill?”…”Good people do all the things bad people do, Lazlo. It’s just that when they do them, they call it justice.” – Quote from Strange the Dreamer.

 

Strange The Dreamer has to be one of my favourite reads this year. As I’m writing this, I don’t even know where to begin worshipping this original, wondrous fantasy/sci-fi novel. My review will not do it justice. To start off, I loved our protagonist Lazlo – he is definitely more relatable than Karou, the main character from Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. To top it off, Lazlo is a bookworm librarian! What is there not to love about that right? The world building is impeccable and has the same gothic fairytale quality that Laini Taylor does so well, be prepared to hang on her every word about the city of Weep and detailed accounts of its past. The world building is descriptive without being gratuitous, it’s imaginative and transports you to this mythical land and dreamscape! Another element that I loved about the book is the grayness and the blurring of the lines between good and evil characters – their misgivings, their heartbreaks and redeeming moments as the story unfolds. There are so many layers to the characters, it’s just sublime. There are moments when you feel so damn sorry for the characters because of all the pain, suffering and guilt experienced by them, and at other times infuriated by how ungrateful they are or surprised by the choices they’ve made. The themes of diversity, acceptance, forgiveness, power, morality, courage,  hope and love are what you can expect from this novel. The themes also go so much deeper. When you read this book, you will marvel at Laini Taylor’s ability to weave a great story, after all, great novels are all about exceptional storytelling. The mysteries of Weep also unfolds organically so you’re somewhat prepared for the twist but it somehow still surprises and leaves you bewildered after reading it. I highly recommend this imaginative, electrifying and delightful read. The story is mysterious, original and dynamic. There is, of course, a love story in the novel but it does not overwhelm or overshadow the actual story. I am now waiting eagerly for the highly anticipated book two! If there’s a book you must read this year, make it Strange The Dreamer.

 

– NJ