Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

Witch Wars Review and Author Interview

Sibeal Pounder and Laura Ellen Anderson (illustrator)
WitchWarsCoverFINALWhen Fran the Fabulous Fairy turns up in Tiga Whicabim’s shed to tell her she’s a witch, Tiga doesn’t believe her. Or at least not until Fran points out that TIGA WHICABIM is actually an anagram of I AM A BIG WITCH and magics her away down the drainpipes to compete in Witch Wars – the competition to crown the next Top Witch of Ritzy City.
Filled with silly spells, delectable dresses, ridiculous riddles and a serious shoe problem, Witch Wars is a witch story like no other. Although if you enjoyed The Worst Witch or Witchworld, you’ll love this too

Move aside Hermione Granger! Tiga’s in town…

I was pleasantly surprised by Witch Wars. Despite its menacing title, this was a cheery, funny and light hearted book.

Life as she knows it, is literally going down the drain for Tiga, when out of the blue… well purple fairy dust an extravagant fairy named Fran (or Fran the Fabulous Fairy as she would prefer to be known) appears out of nowhere, to reveal to Tiga a world of magic more commonly known as Ritzy City. Approximately one day before the start of Witch Wars Tiga arrives in an unreal land of good and bad where she picks up many a friend and has a shot at winning witch wars. With nine competitors, all wanting the coveted prize: to rule Ritzy City and beyond, the stakes were high.
With some evil, some good and some plain dumb contestants the competition was hotter than ever but who would win…

Witch Wars has been by far the best book I’ve read this year! Full of action, humour and epicness this book was awesome. The chapters are nice and short and are perfect for flicking in and out of.It is very fast paced and never leaves you bored. Consequently, some of the events aren’t explained as fully as I’d like.

Over all this is an amazing book and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes Harry Potter from 8+ (and feels like a good read.)

Verdict: I’m already looking forward to Witch Switch out later this year!

As a special treat Sibeal has kindly answered some of Izzy’s pressing questions.

Sibéal Pounder Head Shot credit Richard Grassie low res-1Sibéal Pounder currently works as a writer and researcher for the Financial Times’ How To Spend It section and has interviewed everyone from designer Vivienne Westwood to director Sam Taylor-Wood. She also tutors children who want to get into the media industry, helping them to develop articles and documentary shorts and teaching them how to put together magazines. Sibéal has a degree in History, a masters in Publishing and recently completed the Faber Academy’s Writing for Children course. Learn more about Sibeal on the Bloomsbury site here.

Where did your inspiration for Ritzy City come from?

I loved witches when I was little, Izzy! And also I had a bit of a weird obsession with sink pipes. I would say things like, ‘We just don’t know what’s down there!’, even though everyone assured me we definitely did.

I always worried it was something terrible, but after reading Alice in Wonderland when I was about eight, I realised it was almost definitely a world. And maybe it had witches in it. I imagined a bossy little fairy shooting out of the sink, pinching my nose and shouting ‘FINALLY! I knew you would figure it out EVENTUALLY.’

Over the years, Fran (as I later named her) stuck with me – all through school and until I was a wrinkly older human and I started writing snippets of it down, for fun, and began linking the witches to the pipes. Things like, witches hats are only pointy in our world because they’re sucked up the pipes – down in Sinkville they’re flat.

Do you base any of your characters around people you know?

I tend not to because if you base a character on someone (especially someone alive) and then you want the character to do something horrible, it makes it difficult to write it without thinking, Oh no, I hope the person won’t mind me writing this bit about them being DISGUSTING… But, I did name Peggy after my gran and Mrs Clutterbuck is based on a woman called Mrs Maypother, who owned the newsagents in Sandymount, Dublin (she gave me free chocolate, Izzy. She was the best). And Felicity Bat and the way she treats Peggy is based on when I was bullied at school. Luckily the girls who bullied me couldn’t levitate!

Would you say it’s hard to write a book about witchs after the bestseller Harry Potter?

Good question! Yes and no. Yes in terms of making it unique (see next question), but no in the sense that JK Rowling has done wonders for books! Kids love fantasy books more than ever now, and so many kids get into reading because of her. So really, if anything, it’s easier to write a book – even a book about witches – because of JK Rowling and Harry.

If so, do you think it’s hard to not pinch ideas from J.K Rowling?

It can be hard! If you create your own world, like Witch Wars’ Sinkville, it helps because you determine the terrain and can make it very different to somewhere like Hogwarts and Rowling’s amazing wizarding world.

Luckily, my witches are more flamboyant and mad and many of them are caricatures, so that means the content is a lot more of a farce and doesn’t have much crossover with Harry Potter in that sense.
Where I do put in similar references, I love to play around with the fact it’s a pinched idea and make that the joke. For example, a really common construct in kids stories is to have an other-world being meet the kid in the story and take them to a magical world – think of Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and Wendy, the rabbit and Alice in Alice in Wonderland, and Hagrid in Harry Potter. In the opening scene of Witch Wars, Fran (the Fabulous Fairy) meets Tiga and tells her she’s a witch, exactly like, “You’re a wizard Harry.” But in Tiga’s case, when she doesn’t believe her, Fran points out that when you jumble up the letters in Tiga’s name it spells I AM A BIG WITCH. She can’t argue with that. So it’s taking a familiar set-up and messing with it to make a joke.

There’s also some blatant pinching from Mary Poppins – like when Patricia the Producer comes sailing into the scene, flying with an umbrella and Fran says “She saw it in a film once and now it’s the only way she’ll travel.” And Patricia sings “SUPERCALAFRAGI-“ before crash landing. I try to always overtly reference stuff like that rather than being like, “so…this is my character Garry Rotter, he has a star on his head and a crow called Redfig. His nemesis is Mouldersnort…”

Review and interview questions by Izzy (11)

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Publication Date: March 2015
Format: Paperback
Pages: 127
Genre: Fantasy, Magic
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Izzy (11)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut Author
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The Sin Eaters Daughter

Melinda Salisbury
sin eaters daughterSeventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.
She’s the executioner.
As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.
But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.
However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

What were your initial thoughts of the book?
I very much enjoyed this book. I instantly connected with it, found it to be truly fascinating and struggled to put it down. I had been dying to get my hands on a copy of this book because I had heard so much about it and thought that it sounded like a truly brilliant read that I would love. And I did. There were so many things going on in this book and Melinda truly knows how to bring forth emotions in a reader. I’m very much looking forward to the sequel.

What was your favourite aspect of the book?
There were quite a lot of fantastic elements in this book that I adored reading about and choosing just one is proving to be rather difficult but I think I’m going to go with the world. I loved the world that Melinda has created in this book. I loved the idea of the Daunen Embodied, loved the idea of the Sin-Eater and I just loved the different countries that were mentioned. I could really picture this world and that isn’t always easy to do with fantasy books.

Who was your favourite character and why?
Finally, a favourite character that wasn’t the main protagonist! I loved all of the characters in this book but my favourite of them all had to be the Queen. I loved her so much. Melinda has truly created the embodiement of an evil queen. She’s created someone who is evil but also flawed and still human and it was just so great to read. I loved that she reminded me of the Red Queen but also that she felt different from her too. I think this was a really strong character that worked so well in this story.

Would you recommend this book?
Yes. Definitely. This book is fast-paced, addictive and has such a wonderful complex and tantalizing plot. It is full of in-depth characters that you can easily imagine, a beautiful, well thought-out world and is just one of those books that you can’t stop reading. It’ll hook you from the start and will leave you dangling at the end. So if you like fantasy, intriguing plots and lovely, heart-throbbing romance, then you should definitely give this book a go.

Summarize the book in one sentence. (Verdict)
A fantastic read that will keep you entertained for hours… and then begging for more.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: February 2015
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336
Genre: Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book, Debut author
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Finish It February 2015: Week Three Round Up

FinishItFeb1

Personal Target: Finish/get up to date with four series

Books read this week: Half

Total books read: Two

Series completed for challenge: Two

General feedback: With the bigs off for half term I was expecting this week of the challenge to be a struggle. As a result I am actually really pleased that I managed read half a book.

Having taken the last three weeks in to consideration, I know that I am unlikely to meet my personal target of four books. While I am really excited to read This Shattered World by Kaufman and Spooner I have decided to prioritise Ensnared by A G Howard. Finishing this book will allow me to “cross off” one of my outstanding series.

If I do happen to have any additional time this week I will try to finish some of my half written reviews from last years reading and reviewing slump.

Meanwhile, for those of you who are interested, my Downton obsession is still going strong and I am just about to start season three.

Currently reading: Ensnared by A G Howard

Faye’s week:Faye shares her Finish It February update post over at her personal blog (here). I am excited to see that Faye is currently reading C J Redwine’s Deliverance and I can’t wait to sit down with her and discuss it over coffee.

Other Participants:Debbie of @Snugglingonsofa fame is speeding through this challenge with seven books read!

Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan
unmadePowerful love comes with a price. Who will be the sacrifice?
Kami has lost the boy she loves, is tied to a boy she does not, and faces an enemy more powerful than ever before. With Jared missing for months and presumed dead, Kami must rely on her new magical link with Ash for the strength to face the evil spreading through her town.
Rob Lynburn is now the master of Sorry-in-the-Vale, and he demands a death. Kami will use every tool at her disposal to stop him. Together with Rusty, Angela, and Holly, she uncovers a secret that might be the key to saving the town. But with knowledge comes responsibility—and a painful choice. A choice that will risk not only Kami’s life, but also the lives of those she loves most.
This final book in the Lynburn Legacy is a wild, entertaining ride from beginning to shocking end.

Sarah Rees “I feed on the tears of my readers” Brennan’s The Lynburn Legacy trilogy turns me in to a two year old. One minute I’m smiling and laughing and clapping with glee, then in the next I’m shouting, stomping and flinging myself and my toys (the book) on the floor*. Like any fickle toddler I’m easily distracted by shiny things and guided back to the cooing happy version of myself** before, with very little warning , I’m repeating the cycle again.

What I am essentially trying to communicate is that SRB has a way of leading you in to a false sense of security before pulling the rug out from under you. Her use of sparkling dialogue, laugh out loud quips and loveable*** charismatic characters make you wish that you could visit Sorry-In -The -Vale, become a member of the Scooby gang and fight blood thirsty sorcerers. Despite having experienced SRB’s own brand of evil genius before (in the first two books) I was unprepared for each gasp of shock, cringe of horror and snot bubble of sadness. I felt so emotionally involved with the characters, that at one point I actually had to take a break from the book.

I loved this series and will be seeking out more of SRB’s books in the future.

Verdict: A series for people who like their angst sprinkled with snorts of laughter.

*Ok I didn’t actually throw the book across the floor. I would never do such a terrible thing to one of my beautiful, beautiful hardbacks.
** No I’m not exactly sure where I’m going with this analogy either. I blame half term and a continuous child filled week.
*** Also despicable. She writes despicable very, very well

Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: September 2014
Format: Hardback
Pages: 384
Genre: Fantasy, Magic
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own copy
Challenge: Finish It February

Posted by Caroline

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Cover Reveal: Hidden Huntress

Danielle L. Jensen‘s Stolen Songbird was one of my favourite debuts of 2014 (Click here to read my review and an interview with author, Danielle Jensen) therefore I am absolutely delighted to share the cover for its sequel, Hidden Huntress, with you. HiddenHuntress-300dpi
Sometimes, one must accomplish the impossible.
Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.
Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.
To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

I can’t wait to spend more time with Cecile and Tristan!

Posted by Caroline

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Buddy Review: The Girl Who Never Was

Skylar Dorset

the girl who never was coverTHE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS is the story of Selkie Stewart, who thinks she’s a totally normal teenager growing up in Boston. Sure, her father is in an insane asylum, her mother left her on his doorstep—literally—when she was a baby, and she’s being raised by two ancient aunts who spend their time hunting gnomes in their Beacon Hill townhouse. But other than that her life is totally normal! She’s got an adventurous best friend who’s always got her back and an unrequited crush on an older boy named Ben. Just like any other teenager, right?
When Selkie goes in search of the mother she’s never known, she gets more than she bargained for. It turns out that her mother is faerie royalty, which would make Selkie a faerie princess—except for the part where her father is an ogre, which makes her only half of anything. Even more confusing, there’s a prophecy that Selkie is going to destroy the tyrannical Seelie Court, which is why her mother actually wants to kill her. Selkie has been kept hidden all her life by her adoring aunts, with the help of a Salem wizard named Will. And Ben. Because the boy she thinks she’s in love with turns out to be a faerie whose enchantment has kept her alive, but also kept her in the dark about her own life.
Now, with enchantments dissolved and prophecies swinging into action, Selkie finds herself on a series of mad quests to save the people she’s always loved and a life she’s learning to love. But in a supernatural world of increasingly complex alliances and distressingly complicated deceptions, it’s so hard to know who to trust. Does her mother really wish to kill her? Would Will sacrifice her for the sake of the prophecy? And does Ben really love her or is it all an elaborate ruse? In order to survive, Selkie realizes that the key is learning—and accepting—who she really is

Posted by Caroline and Faye

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: June 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye & Caroline
Source: BEA14
Challenge: Debut author
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Buddy Review: Memoirs Of A Neurotic Zombie

Jeff Norton
RGB ZombiecoverFRONT‘My name is Adam Meltzer and the last thing I remember was being stung by a bee while swinging at a robot-shaped pinata on my twelfth birthday. I was dead before the candy hit the ground.’
Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie is narrated by the hilarious Adam Meltzer – pre-teen, worrywart, and now zombie. Adam’s family gets the fright of their lives when he turns up at their door . . . three months after his funeral.
Soon Adam’s back at school trying to fit in and not draw extra attention to himself, but when he sees his neighbour Ernesto transform into a chupacubra, and the beautiful Corina (Adam’s number one mega-crush) turns out to be a (vegan) vampire, undead life is never going to be the same again.
A hilarious adventure caper – if Ferris Bueller met Shaun of the Dead – all about friendship and being yourself . . . even if you’re undead.

Posted by Faye and Caroline

Publisher: Faber and Faber
Publication Date: August 2014
Format: ARC
Pages: 256
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Caroline & Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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Shadow and Bone

Leigh Bardugo
shadow and boneThe Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.
But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

What were your overall thoughts?
Before I started reading Shadow and Bone, so many people told me that I simply had to read it. So many, in fact, that I almost didn’t want to. What if I disliked it? How disappointed would I feel? Bute, eventually I pushed my fears aside and decided to crack open my paperback copy of this gorgeous story. And, I am very pleased to report that I was the oppopsite of disappointed. I loved this book. I fell straight into the story, got truly addicted, and quite simply fell in love with Leigh Bardugo, Alina, Mal, and the Darkling. This story was absolutely brilliant and I am very glad I read it.

What was your favourite aspect?
It is incredibly difficult to choose just one thing about this book that I adored above all else because everything was so inspiring. The plot was detailed, heart-wrenching, and complicated. The characters were all three-dimensional, interesting and truly loveable. The world-building was also fantastic and written in a way that you could really imagine. I guess, if I had to choose, I really enjoyed the magical aspect. I loved the Grisha and all their powers and how unique they are to different characters. I also adore how they use it and the idea of the amplifiers. It definitely helped to make this book more enjoyable and entertaining.

Who was your favourite character and why?
Yet another difficult choice as all the characters were really easy to love but I think that my favourite character has to be Alina. I love that she isn’t this all powerful, all knowing character. She has flaws, weaknesses, and insecurities that her truly human and relatable. Yes she is strong, powerful and incredibly caring and protective but we are also able to see that she is so much more than that. Alina is a character that everyone can empathize with. Second favourite is definitely Mal, but I did, surprisingly, also like the Darkling. Looking forward to seeing what they get up to next!

Would you recommend this book?
Absolutely! I am certain that lovers of fantasy stories would devour this story. It is set in a unique world with amazing world-building and characters that could easily walk off the page and exist in this world. If you’re someone who loves books that are gripping, intense, stunning, and full of magic then you should read this book. It is also a book that is likely to really make you feel so if you like books that you can really connect with, then you must read this book. If fantasy isn’t your favourite thing, this may be a difficult book to start with but I’m certain you’d grow to love it eventually!

Summarize in one sentence. (Verdict)
Shadow and Bone is an adventurous story that is compelling, emotional, and has all the best qualities that make a brilliant fantasy.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Indigo
Publication Date: June 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 308
Genre: Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Own copy
Challenge: None
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The Three Little Witches

Georgie Adams and Emily Bolam
three witchesHubble Bubble!
Meet Zara, Ziggy and Zoe.
The three little witches are having a party, but naughty Melissa is out to make trouble!

This book is about is about three little witches. They made funny spells like this…

“Splitter, splitter, splatter
Sausages and batter
Bake them in a dish for tea
For Ziggy and Zoe and me!”

The story is about the fun the adventures that the three little witches have with their friends.

My favourite part is when they flooded the kitchen because it looked like a swimming pool. I didn’t like when Melissa was always cross, I preferred it when there was lots of fun and laughing.

I was able to read this book by the swimming pool on holiday on my own. I understood most of the words. The spells were written using wriggly letters which were difficult to read, I had to ask Mummy to help me read those bits. The story words were fine though as the lettering used was straight.

Verdict:I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend other children my age to read it.

Review by Avilee Gillett age 6 ½

Publisher: Orion
Publication Date: September 2003
Format: Paperback
Pages: 96
Genre: Fantasy, Magic
Age: Early reader
Reviewer: Avilee
Source: Own copy
Challenge: None
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Blog Tour: Ascension of the Whyte

Ascension of the WhyteWe are delighted to host a interview with Rose, a character in Karen Wrighton‘s Debut novel, Ascension Of The Whyte
Sara Carson did not believe in life after death, Heaven, Hell or even reincarnation. However, what she didn’t know was that some of us are special. For some of us, death is just the beginning of our next great adventure. Sara Carson was one of those special people, and her most incredible journey did not begin, until the day she died.
A magical début novel that will leave you breathless.

In your own words, how would you describe the four different areas of the world you live in?

Well I have only really explored Aurum and Ferrum to any extent yet. I only know about Hydrargyrum and Rhodium from what I have learned from the Sooth and from Cognito class. Aurum is the most eastern of the Afterlands, the land of the golden dawn. The climate in Aurum is temperate, but quite warm and the landscape is generally one of wide open plains, though there are mountainous and wooded areas and a large area of swampland off towards the south west inhabited by the wolf men known as rougarou. The capital city of Aureus is rather grand and its people are intellectuals who are relatively wealthy. There is little evidence of hardship in Aurum from what I have seen, everyone seeming to lead a happy and contented existence, except for the rougarou that is.

When we travelled into Ferrum the landscape changed dramatically to one of green rolling hills, forests, waterfalls and areas of open water. There seemed to be a lot of animals and farm land, the buildings had a more rustic feel and the people were less refined than in Aurum. We ran into some prejudice in one of the small towns and that upset me a great deal. I was disappointed that such a hardworking and unpretentious people could harbour such hostile feelings about people from their own world, many of whom even had Ferrish blood running in their veins.

I learned a little about the southernmost land, Hydrargyrum, from one of its people; the Blood Ascendant, Lady El-on-ah. She described it as a hard land, a barren land, where its people were forced to endure great hardship and had to work in the mines in order to provide for their meagre existence. In the Oratory we were taught that the area was inhospitable because it was mainly volcanic, but that it was also one of the few areas in the Afterlands where dragons could be seen living wild.

Of my own land, Rhodium, I have yet to travel there and I know very little except for what Lord Dux has told me. Rhodium the most northerly of the Afterlands and is a land of snow and ice, its towns and cities were now mainly in ruins after the Great Dragon War of over a thousand years’ ago. No one lives there now; all of the Whytes were destroyed. I am the only member of a long dead race, from a land of ruins frozen in ice and time.

How do you feel about each of the different members in your cell?

When we ascend to these lands, alone and without memory of our past lives or our families, we are told that the members of our cell will become our families, and that is sort of how I see them now.

Auriel is like a sister to me and I regard Ash and Lee as brothers. I love them all dearly; I love Auriel’s strong moral compass and unshakable loyalty, Ash’s sense of humour and his ability to always see the rainbow in every thunderstorm and I even love Lee’s naive insensitivity and cold clear logic, because it’s unashamedly honest. Lee would never lie, he just wouldn’t know how to.

What is your favourite aspect of your world?

I think that my most favourite thing is that being a Whyte ascendant has given me the freedom to be anything that I want to be, to do anything I want to do and to have the chance, despite being young and female, to really make this world a better place.

At first when I discovered that I was the only Whyte I hated it. I felt alone, isolated and powerless to change anything. Now I feel different, because of Eldwyn’s prophecy, being a Whyte has actually given me power, power to make people take notice of me and listen to what I have to say. It has made me realise that I can make a big difference, maybe even save some lives or at least make some peoples’ lives better.

I also LOVE magic and I especially love being good at it!

What is your favourite thing to eat?

In the Afterlands every ascendant’s favourite food is the same; Guilywally Fyre-pot, it’s a traditional dish from Hydrargyrum, a pink stew that is enchanted so that it tastes of whatever it is that you are hungry for. So you could eat it every day and never get bored with it because it would taste different every time you ate it. It really is the most delicious thing ever!

However, In Cognito class we learned that as good quality fresh food was so scarce in Hydrargyrum, that the alchemists devised the charm so that scraps and poor quality food would taste as good as the finest Aurum feast. That way everyone would have enough to eat, there would be no waste, and no one, but especially the children, would realise that they were often eating food that was not really fit to be eaten. It never quite tasted the same after I learned that.

What is your biggest dream?

My dream is that prejudice and inequality be wiped from the face of the Afterlands. That it’s people would live in harmony, each of them, though different, being accepted as equal, and that Lord Ka and the Djinn of Erebus be purged from these lands forever.

Where would you love to live in your world if you could live anywhere?

I would like to live in Rhodium, in my own land, with my own people, but my people are gone forever, so this can never happen.

What do you think about the place you’re studying?

I expect you mean the Oratory? When I first arrived at the Oratory I felt rather overwhelmed by the opulence and grandeur of the buildings and the obvious high status that had been afforded to me and to a lesser extent the other ascendants. The Sooth frightened me and so at first, did Lord Dux, who used magic with such ease and to such effect that it took my breath away. However once I had met my cell and settled in I enjoyed being there. I learned so much about my new world in such a short time that I quickly began to feel a part of it. The classes were amazing and all of the Magisters were such experts in their field that I doubt I could have been schooled by a more qualified group of teachers. Who wouldn’t like learning how to read a whole book in a few seconds, talk to bees, brew charms and cast spells? I struggled a little at first, but Lord Dux helped me and I soon discovered that I had a great aptitude for most of it, especially the magic.

Do you like magic?

Magic is at the core of my soul. It now comes so naturally to me that it is like a reflex… like blinking, I do not have to even think to use it. When I need it I just react, in the blink of an eye, no conscious thought involved, even the incantations are instinctive now. So I don’t like it exactly… that’s like asking if I like breathing, but I don’t think I could live long without it now.

Are you ready?

Can we ever be ready for something as all consuming as a war against evil, against prejudice and cruelty, and against an enemy so powerful that they can take the very essence of what you are and imprison that essence within their bodies for eternity?
I believe I am here for a reason, the prophecy of Eldwyn predicted that I would ascend and tells of my unifying the people of the Afterlands against an old enemy, but the way I read it, it does not predict the outcome of that confrontation.
Am I ready to unify? Yes. Am I ready to fight Lord Ka and the Djinn of Erebus? Yes. Am I ready to lose my friends in battle, to see these lands burned to ash and to be assimilated into the body of a Djinn until I can no longer act for myself and can only bear witness to the horrors that unfold before me? No… no… I will never be ready for that.

karen wKaren Wrighton was born in a small town in the English county of Staffordshire and
began writing prolifically and drawing from a young age. Karen trained as a Psychologist
and Teacher before finally finding the time to pursue her love of writing, firstly by
creating a successful Psychology blog and now by writing her first novel.
Karen’s début novel ‘Ascension of the Whyte’ is a magical epic fantasy novel for young
adults and is to be the first book of the ‘The Afterland Chronicles’ series.
Karen’s style is strongly influenced by the books she loves to read, such as Lord of
the Rings and Harry Potter. This is evidenced by the magical quality that pervades her
writing.
Karen has two daughters and lives in Norfolk, England with her husband John.
To find out more about Karen and her book, or follow her on social networks click on the
links below.
Twitter (here), Facebook (here),Google Plus (here), Website (here),Author blog (here).

There is a tour wide giveaway during the tour.
The prizes include;

– Author signed paperback copy of Ascension of the Whyte
– Themed metal bookmarks
– Postcards with graphics of the book cover and a colour map of the Afterlands
(signed by author if requested)
– Original hand-made Adder stone pendant like the one described in the book.

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Sinner

Maggie Stiefvater
sinnerSinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole’s story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole’s darkest secret — his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel’s life. Can this sinner be saved?

What are your overall thoughts?

Anyone who has spent any time on the blog, or any time with me IRL will know that I absolutely love Maggie Stiefvater ‘s (read my reviews here) combination of poetic prose, breath holding tension and tender emotive scenes( with or without kissing). While Maggie’s work just gets better and better, Shiver and its sequels will always have a place in my heart as the first Stiefvater books, and one of the first YA book series, I read.

The inclusion of Cole’s point of view was one of my favorite aspects of Linger (Shiver #2) and Forever (Shiver #3). The sharpness and acidity of Isabel and Cole’s interactions cut though Sam and Grace’s meant-to-be-together sweetness. Without Cole and Isabel’s feisty relationship the series could have become too clawing.

While I completely understood and enjoyed the ambiguous ending of the Shiver trilogy my one disappointment was that Cole and Isabel’s story felt unexplored and unfinished.

It won’t take much of a leap for you to imagine just how excited I was to learn that Maggie had created a companion novel focusing on Cole and Isabel and how delighted I was to finally get my grabby little hands on it!

I enjoyed dipping back in to the world of Shiver, however I was quite surprised at just how different Sinner is to the rest of Maggie’s published works. I was expecting Maggie’s brand of descriptive- bordering on poetic- narrative, sense of place, twisting turning plot and tear inducing tension. While these aspects were still evident, for me they took a back seat to the sheer force of Cole and Isabel’s personalities and their snarky, energetic chemistry.

While it still contained aspects of magical realism, Sinner had a much more contemporary feel. I have always been aware of the connection between Cole’s wolf and the self destructive, suicidal and addictive elements of his personality. For me it was a deeper layer of meaning in a series I otherwise took at face value as paranormal.

In Sinner the presence of Cole’s wolf felt much more like a devise used to explore Cole and his recovery than as a supernatural element in it’s own right. Maggie even goes as far as to explain the metaphor to the audience through the misinterpretation of Cole’s song lyrics.

What was your favorite aspect of the book?

While initially the style of the book was not what I expected it actually became one of my favorite aspects.

I rather enjoyed being swept away by the tornado of Cole and Isabel’s relationship, much in the same way that I imagine the authors usual style was pushed aside by the characters dominant and distinctive personalities.

While I don’t consider myself much of a mood reader (watch Faye talking about mood reading here), I am very much a seasonal reader. I am attracted to more contemporary, particularly romantic, reads in the summer. While in the cooler months I like nothing better than curling up with an absorbing fantasy series. So to this end, Sinner was a perfect summer read.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I honestly don’t think that I can pick a favorite. I adore Cole and Isabel in equal measure. I loved that although they both had issues to work through they didn’t undergo personality transplants in the process.

I am also surprised to find myself glad that Sam and Grace’s cameos were very, very brief and didn’t reveal much about them post Forever (Shiver#3). We had three books to explore Sam and Grace. Sinner was very much “Isocole” ‘s (do you think it will catch on?) book.

Would you recommend this book?
Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I don’t see any reason why Shiver fans wouldn’t enjoy catching up with Isobel and Cole.

Summarise in one sentence(verdict).
While not a “typical” Maggie book it is classic Cole and Isabel.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: July 2014
Format: ARC
Pages: 464
Genre: Magical realism, Romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Book Expo America
Challenge: None
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