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

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

The Silent Invasion by James Bradley

“Heart-Poundingly-Un-Put-Downable!!!” (if there never was such a phrase, there is now after reading this book!!)

The Silent Invasion: Futuristic.. and.. Possible!!

Set approx. 10-20 years from today in real world Land Down Under (Australia), where Australia has fallen victim to the silent invasion of a bacteria.. or spores from space that has choked the earth killing plants and living things and has taken over mankind. In response to this invasion, cities are now in lockdown under martial law and Quarantine officers are authorised to capture those who have been infected and are going through the “Change”.

Callie is the protagonist in this story who will stop at nothing to save her little sister from being captured by Quarantine once she was in contact with the spores and has been on the run ever since. Their journey is a heart pounding one that really keeps you turning the page as they are fugitives of Quarantine, in hiding from their own family trying to get to a safe zone and have no idea who to trust. They are running through places that were once known as suburbia, but now known as “zones” facing walls and blockages upon every turn and having to throw themselves into hiding every time they see a drone hover nearby.

While reading this, I had a “Tomorrow when the war Began” meets “The Hunger Games” vibe and like the time I read John Marsden’s Tomorrow series, I couldn’t help but keep thinking “what if???” Yes.. I was thinking.. this sort of silent invasion is actually possible but as in a silent invasion of strains of flu getting worse/stronger each year or new diseases that appear out of nowhere as though someone has re-opened Pandora’s box. Who knows if Australia will end up like that and be subject to this sort of Quarantine. 

The book is written very well and keeps you hanging for more especially with the twist right at the end!!! This book is suitable to readers young and old alike and I highly recommend it to those who enjoy YA dystopia – or like me, who are a fan of the Tomorrow Series too!!! I really hope the sequel wont take too long to be released now…

Many thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for approaching me to be part of this reading/review tour and for sending me an advanced review copy in exchange for my review.

-Annie

Frogkisser! by Garth Nix

The Last Thing She Needs Is a Prince – The First Thing She Needs Is Some Magic

Advanced Review Copy Blog Duet with Annie and Sarah S. rating this book 4.5 Stars!!

Frogkisser!
Princess Anya is forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss and forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own. Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Princess Anya sets off on a Quest to hopefully free her land and teach her a thing or two about the use of power.

I have to say, I really enjoyed this fun retelling of “The Tale of the Frog Prince”. The story was full of fun adventure that would instigate the fright, magic and humour of readers of all ages. Frogkisser! starts out with detailed world building that really shapes your understanding of the protagonist, Princess Anya, rightful heiress to the throne, who, like me, would rather spend her days in the library reading and expanding her knowledge however she is approached by her sister, Morven, who begs Anya to help her get her beloved prince back once he was transformed into a frog by their evil stepstepfather who is attempting to usurp the throne. Reluctantly, Princess Anya agrees and what do you know – Princess Anya must embark on a Quest in an attempt to create a lip balm that will give Princess Anya’s lips the strength to kiss frogs back to human life. I loved the imagination the author put into creating such interesting human and non human animals and the way the land was built and told to the reader was so intricate, it really places you there. I also enjoyed the amusing quest Princess Anya had to endure – when focusing on one goal, she’s roped into several.  I also found the story brought back fond memories of my childhood and my love for Fairytales and elements of “The Wizard of Oz”. Frogkisser! is very well written, very imaginative with such innocent adventure, I would most probably read this again. I recommend this to fans of fairytales of all ages!!!
-Annie

Frogkisser covers familiar fantasy ground: an evil step-parent, a princess in a tower, a frog transformed into a prince, a fearsome creature in the castle moat and a threat to the rightful succession of the throne. Fortunately, Garth Nix takes these basic ingredients and transforms them into a surprising and whimsical tale, which thwarts readers’ expectations in nearly every respect. Our protagonist is Anya, the second-oldest princess of Trallonia, who is much concerned with her burgeoning education in sorcery and would like nothing more than some quality time in the library. Anya’s studies are sadly interrupted by a request from her sister (Morven, the crown princess on the cusp of coronation) to turn a frog back into a handsome prince, the result of their evil stepfather’s interference. What should have been the work of an afternoon unfolds into a much larger quest to reunite a divided kingdom and return civil rights to the people. The book offers strong growth of its protagonist as well as welcome and necessary representation of women in traditionally male roles, such as wise wizards, knights, leaders and heralds. Frogkisser is appropriate for audiences from 8-88 years, providing all of the magic, friendship, excitement and charming animal companions any child could ask for. The prose style also has shades of Terry Pratchett and Diana Wynn Jones, and with its many subversions of classic fantasy tropes adult readers will find much to enjoy here.
-Sarah S.

Special thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers for sending us an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for our honest review.