Monthly Archives: December 2017

2017 Booksy Review

I chose to take part in three challenges this year – Goodreads (set at 100), The Better World Challenge and the A-Z Reading Challenge. I completely forgot to plan/keep proper track of what I had to read so that left me scrabbling to read a number of books in the last few days of the year. As I schedule this on the 30th I still have one and a bit to go. I will get there though!

Here are the books I read for each challenge

A-Z of Reading

A All the Good Things

B The Bookshop Girl

C Caraval

D Days of the Bagnold Summer

E Eliza and her Monsters

F The Fandom

G Geekerella

H Heartless

I Ink

J Just One Damned Thing After Another change

K Kindness

L The Last Namsara

M My Best Friend’s Exorcism

N The Night Circus

O Otherworld

P The Power

Q The Midnight Queen

R The Reader

S Storm

T Tower of Dawn

U Unconventional

V The Vile Village

W We Can Me Mended (Divergent 3.5)

X MoXie

Y The Yellow Room

Z Zenith

Better World

A Collection of Short Stories – The Language of Thorns

A Young Adult Novel – Truth or Dare

A Book with a Colour in the title -The Taste of Blue Light

A book that’s more than 100 years old – The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

A book you picked based on its cover – Anna Dressed in Blood

A book set in a place you want to visit – Night of Cake and Puppets (Prague)

A book based on a fairytale – Hunted (Beauty and the Beast)

A National Book Award Winner – Holes

A book that takes place in a forest – Spellbook of the Lost and Found

A romance that takes place during travel – The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (travel in space)

A book under 200 pages – I Am Bat

A book over 400 pages – Ink & Bone

A banned book – The Hate U Give

A non-fiction book about nature – Jeremy & Amy

A fantasy novel – Strange The Dreamer

A book by a person of colour – Out of Heart

A book by a female writer – The Witch’s Tears (by two actually )

A book of poetry – hummingbird

A book set in Asia – Flame in the Mist

A book about immigrants – The Bone Sparrow

A book about a historical event – The entire Chronicles of St Mary’s series!!!

A book with a child narrator – Wonder

A book translated from another language – Maresi

A book that’s been adapted into a movie (bonus watch the movie and compare) – Everything, Everything

Goodreads

Will be 209/100 – slightly off last year’s pace, once again boosted by audiobooks. I did write 50,000 words in Nov though (Yes I achieved Nanowrimo for the 3rd time).

Worst Read – The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (Borian!!!)

Best Reads – lots of 4.5/5 star reads but these new to me reads of 2017 were my ultimate favourites:

Godsgrave, Nevermoor, Strange the Dreamer, Heartless, Forever Geek, Geekerella, Ink, The Night Circus, Spellbook of the Lost and Found, A Court of Wings and Ruin, Moxie, Tower of Dawn, It Only Happens in the Movies, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Lord of Shadows, Night of Cake and Puppets, The Language of Thorns.

And I was lucky to read these 2018 releases which made the list too.

How Do You Like Me Now? and The Fandom

Other booksy highlights of the year

YALC with my besties, and winning the bookish quiz as part of #TeamBarnard.

Talking at a local school about book blogging and having author of Days of the Bagnold Summer Joff sketch me doing it and draw Harry Potter in my book.

Meeting and getting writing advice from Joe Hill at Gollanczfest.

Sarah J Maas event and continuing my LeakyCon LONDON 2013 friendship with Elizabeth and Rachel – and meeting Brittany.

Meeting and interviewing lots of fab authors at Waterstones Castlepoint and introducing Jacqueline Wilson – loved seeing the excitement of the next generations of readers (Thanks to Louise for the opportunities).

Introducing my sister and mum to Rhysand and making my own ACOMAF Chapter 55 funko pops!!!

Also LeakyCon in Dublin was awesome – “actually” staying in the Leaky Caulron! meeting film actors, getting Chris Villain to sign my Teddy Lupin custom funkopop as he was dressed in the same outfit! Running a Cursed Child (aka Scorpion King fan club) session with Janine and Kathleen. And wonderfully re-meeting a person I had randomly sat next to at my first trip to The Cursed Child. Johanna thanks for having the better memory and saying hi. And seeing all my fellow Potterheads again.

And I was a book fairy and gave out free kids books at the New Forest Fairy Festival.

I also added to my booksy tattoo.

I’ve become a lot more involved in Bookstagram – here are a few of my fave pics and I luckily won a free month’s Fairyloot with the yellow picture.

And I met my cat nephew who has joined my bookstagram making it about cats too. He may even have made me a cat person or a Denny person at least!

I finally finished my Hogwarts painting and pottered up my house a bit more including half of the Christmas tree.

And I got round to replacing my custom Phoenix patronus shoe that I lost of the London tube and had a purple book patronus with Nevernight quote one made to go with it.

It’s been another excellent bookish year for this Hufflepuff. What have your highlights been?

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my “reading and doing” hopes for 2018 but just a note about my reviews.

I’ve started not adding star ratings to my blog reviews because I’m a qualitative fan. You can see my star ratings on Goodread if you really want to. I give half stars all the time. Sometimes I change my mind. On a re-read ratings can go up and down. I’m much more about writing what a book makes you think and feel and admiring the craft than allocating a number.

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The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Hunter – Book Review

Synopsis

In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented – and highest born – sons of the kingdom are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…

Gray’s Britain is a fragmented kingdom of many tongues, many gods and many magicks. But all that concerns Gray right now is returning to his studies and setting right the nightmare that has seen him disgraced and banished to his tutor’s home – without a trace of his powers. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.

Although she has no talent of her own and has been forbidden by her father to pursue it, Sophie Callendar longs for a magickal education. But she started a bookish rebellion in her father’s library long ago, and her sheltered upbringing conceals a mysterious past and what may prove a catastrophic future. Her meeting with Gray sets off a series of events that will lead them to uncover a conspiracy at the heart of the kingdom and into the legend of the Midnight Queen, who vanished without a trace years before.

What I Thought

I was immediately drawn into this British alternate history fantasy world that author Sylvia Hunter has created. Men are the only ones allowed to study magick, even though women can possess it too. The magick system seems to be quite complex and some can be taught and other aspects need to be harnessed. There’s shapeshifting (the front cover might give you a clue into what), scrying, elemental and summoning magicks. There’s an awful lot to learn. Cue a library and books and also practical demonstration.

We are first introduced to Gray who has got himself, through no fault of his own, thrown out of Oxford and – not all that kindly – invited to his tutor’s house for Long Vacation. He meets Sophie and their instant connection is apparent and she is particularly intriguing to both Gray and the reader. She is definitely a feminist who wants to challenge the status quo.

But then she learns that her own status quo isn’t exactly all she thought it was. Thus begins a thrilling journey to find out the truth and foil an assassination with a little burgeoning romance thrown in for good measure.

The other character I adored was Sophie’s younger sister Joanna who is a handful, and a half.

The pace is a pleasantly odd mix of regency travel and society with added crime busting and magick but it kept me reading and comfortably entertained. Near the end is a scene that personally I felt was surplus to requirements – it was a little like Hercule Poirot explaining how a crime had been committed but we and most of the characters already knew most of the information. That being said I still loved this book, the character and the world, and it had a satisfying conclusion. Some elements introduced I would love to see explored more (the worldbuilding is masterful and hints st lots of aspects, religion etc without being an info dump) and the story is left open for more adventures but the main plot is completed and I would say it could be read as a stand alone.

Books 2 and 3 in the series are also out now – Lady of Magick and A Season of Spells – I’ll definitely be checking them out. Fans of Zen Cho, Leigh Bardugo and Jane Austen should enjoy.

Thanks to Allison & Busby for the finished copy for review. It is beautiful inside and out and all opinions above are my own.

The Christmasaurus: Musical Edition by Tom Fletcher – Book Review

This Christmas tale by Tom Fletcher of McFly fame was released last year and has got a musical makeover this year. It even had a limited run on stage in London this Christmas season (I’m hoping for a UK tour next year).

The middle grade story is an exciting tale of a lucky but lonely dinosaur and a young boy who is extremely dinosaur obsessed and, thanks to a new girl at school who is a bully, finds himself without his friends.

The cast of characters is great. William is actually a wheelchair user and Tom has worked with charity Whizz Kids to get his disability representation right. That’s not to say there isn’t some nasty attitudes to him displayed (from the nasty characters of course).

The Christmasaurus himself is a loveable character whose loneliness lands him in trouble but his luck in making friends comes in handy.

Willypoo’s Dad – Yes, that’s what he embarrassingly calls him – is a Christmas fanatic, and we find out why in the satisfying conclusion

Nasty girl Brenda Payne gets a whole story arc of her own and in the musical edition her songs are sung by Tom’s sister and fellow author and musical theatre star Carrie Hope Fletcher. Her rendition of I’ve Been a Good Girl reminds me a bit of Verruca in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Check out Carrie singing at the secret launch here.

Then there is Santa and the elves who all talk in rhyme much to Santa’s annoyance. The focus on Santa’s fatness was the low point of the book for me personally. But I loved all his magic and his toy making prowess.

Brenda isn’t the only one on the naughty list and there is a Hunter who after deciding eight flying reindeer aren’t rare enough goes after Christmasaurus.

Afraid of Heights is the song of the soundtrack for me. Tom Fletcher has a lovely tone to his voice and he mentions in the book loving The Snowman and this track gives me ‘Walking in the Air’ feels whilst being its own awesome song. Check out the official music video here.

This is going to become an annual Christmas favourite and I love the addition of the songs which you can listen to along with the story or on their own. I additionally listened to the audiobook (which audible was selling for 99p as part of their 12 days of Christmas) so was switching between my phone and CD player so would love them to do a version of the audiobook that had the songs including in the relevant places.

Song List

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