Author Archives: kirstyes

Who Let the Gods Out? By Maz Evans – Book Series Review

The fourth and final book in the Who Let the Gods Out? series was recently released and I’ve whipped through all four books this week.

  • Who Let The Gods Out?
  • Simply The Quest
  • Beyond the Odyssey
  • Against All Gods

Book 1 Synopsis

When Elliot wished upon a star, he didn’t expect a constellation to crash into his dungheap.

Virgo thinks she’s perfect. Elliot doesn’t. Together they release Thanatos, evil Daemon of Death. Epic fail.

They need the King of the Gods and his noble steed. They get a chubby Zeus and his high horse Pegasus.

Are the Gods really ready to save the world? And is the world really ready for the Gods?

Each book sees a quest to find one of the four Chaos Stones. Will Elliot get them and everything else he wants?

Select Characters

Elliot – 12 year old Elliot is our protagonist and he is a boy who, like Atlas, has the world on his shoulders. Kind, considerate and conflicted.

Virgo – 1,000ish year old Constellation in the body of a young girl sneaks down to earth trying to do an optimal job but discovers that maybe she’s not always right.

Hermes – the messenger god is I think, my favourite character. Hippy surfer dude type. Substitute older brother. Catchphrases includes Bosh and Boom.

Josie – Elliot’s mum. Josie Hooper is a single mother by circumstance, but she’s not well. Clearly experiencing an early onset dementia she cares for Elliot deeply and he for her. His love for Josie drives the whole story.

Zeus – King of the Gods. Flirt, womaniser but really a softie with a good heart of not the most strategic mind.

Thanatos – Our big bad. Daemon of death. Finally released from his imprisonment in Stonehenge he is now after the Chaos Stones to take over the mortal world, and get rid of most of the mortals.

Patricia Porshley-Plum – The real big bad. Umbridge’s posher sister. Mortal. Wants to buy Home Farm Elliot and Jodie’s home, and she doesn’t really mind what she has to do to get it. Nicknamed Horse’s Bum but deserves worse.

Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family – once you’ve read Maz’s take on the Royals you will never look at them in quite the same way. Like Dahl’s Sophie and the BFG seek support from the Queen, now she’s obviously had some practice and is more prepared to handle the supernatural than ever before.

Puns

From the titles which are all punny takes on song titles to accessories such as iGods, literal toilet humour and Ares Sean Connery accent there is plenty to raise a smile for children and adults. And if your kids don’t go around crying Snordlesnot after reading this I’d be very surprised. It’s also beautifully British.

Greek Mythology

As well as the characters named above there are a whole host of others from Greek mythology and they are highly recognisable with their unique characters and situations slotted perfectly into the plot. From morose emo-rocker Jason to poor Sisyphus battling with his boulder, every character earns their place on the page.

Topical

As an adult reading a book series aimed at the 8-12 year old reader there is much to enjoy. The Zodiac council is a commentary on modern politics, and if you are a fan of Marvel’s Avengers the gods have to be the original superheroes.

Totes emotional with ocular leakage

I expected this series to be funny and it is. There were numerous laugh out loud and big grin moments whilst reading but I wasn’t expecting the emotional rollercoaster I got towards the end of book 3 and I think I spent around one third of book 4 in tears. Maz made one particularly brave decision which I was hoping she would make and then was really emotionally taken aback when she did. This series is full of heart and I urge you to read it to/with kids or alone.

Nice touch

Barry Cunningham on behalf of the publisher Chicken House adds a message to the front of each of their books explaining why they picked the book and what the reader has to look forward to. I think this is a lovely and really unique touch and helps build excitement through the series.

The Author

Maz is as humorous and full of energy in real life as her books might indicate. She narrated the audiobooks herself and having heard her talk at a couple of signings I think she will have done a cracking job. Maz is an author keen to undertake school visits and will provide an entertaining and educational opportunity discussing writing craft and generally making the kids smile. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

And that’s my review. In short. I loved them. Read them. Boom!

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Beauty of the Wolf by Wray Delaney – Blog Tour – Beauty and the Beast Retellings

Welcome to my spot on the Beauty of the Wolf blog tour. Wray Delaney is a pen name for author Sally Gardner. I’ve read both Maggot Moon and Tinder – her “retellings” of the moon landing and the fairytale The Tinderbox.

In Beauty of the Wolf she tackles Beauty and the Beast with a gender twist, faeries and an Elizabethan setting. Sounds marvellous, and just feast your eyes on this beautiful hardcover 😍.

Synopsis

‘What some might call beauty, I find monstrous’

In the age of the Faerie Queene, Elizabeth I, Lord Francis Rodermere starts to lay waste to a forest.

Furious, the sorceress who dwells there scrawls a curse into the bark of the first oak he fells:

A faerie boy will be born to you whose beauty will be your death.

Ten years later, Lord Rodermere’s son, Beau is born – and all who encounter him are struck by his great beauty.

Meanwhile, many miles away in a London alchemist’s cellar lives Randa – a beast deemed too monstrous to see the light of day.

And so begins a timeless tale of love, tragedy and revenge…

A stunning retelling of Beauty and the Beast

Beauty of the Wolf is out now, and if your appetite for Beauty and the Beast retellings has been whet, you might like to check out the following too. I appear to have a number of them – not all read yet.

Books

The Original by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (1740)(not yet read 😱) – this edition designed by MinaLima has interactive pages and is a work of beauty.

A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR) /A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOMAF) by Sarah J Maas – ACOMAF has to be one of my favourite books of all time and the first and the second books in this series are loosely inspired by B&tB with Faeries making the perfect beasts.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – a contemporary YA fantasy with a human girl sucked into a world where a Prince is cursed to relive his 18th year and turn into a beast every autumn. This is a recent release, and first in a series.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (not yet read) – our beauty in this one is betrothed to an evil ruler and has been trained to kill him. Will she?

The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross (not yet read) – this one is told from the Beast’s point of view and reviews suggest he is extremely sympathetic in this version.

Disney

2017 Film novelisation (Read)

Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly (Read) – story centred on an adventure with the magical book that appears in the 2017 film.

As Old As Time (not yet read) is part of the Twisted Tales series and has the tagline – What if Belle’s mother cursed the beast?

The Beast Within (not yet read) is part of the Villains Tales series focusing on the Beast.

Film/TV

Disney animation (1991) – Belle is my favourite Disney Princess and every bookworm I know just wants the Beast’s library, and a number prefer the cartoon beast to the cartoon human. Plus Chip is the cutest teacup ever.

Disney live action (2017) – I actually really enjoyed this live action remake staring Emma Watson especially the little feminist twists that were added.

Beauty and the Beast TV series (1987 – 1990) – I was in love with this series as a teen. Linda Hamilton of Terminator fame starred as Catherine who finds romance with Vincent (Ron Perlman) who lives below the city in the sewers.

Beauty and the Beast TV Series (2012-2016) – Smallville’s Kristin Kreuk is a detective who falls for an ex-soldier hiding from the government who experimented on him. I started this series and really enjoyed it. Must watch the rest.

Beastly (2011 Film) – Vapid pretty boy Pettifer gets cursed by an Olsen twin and needs Vanessa Hudgens to fall in love with him. Cheesy but fun.

Are there any other B&tB retellings I’m missing?

What strikes you most about the synopsis of Beauty of the Wolf?

I was gifted a copy of Beauty of the Wolf from HQ/HarperCollins and I think I’ll be having a Beauty and the Beast themed read/watchathon in March.

Guardians of the Wild Unicorns by Lindsay Littleson – Author Guest Post

I’m pleased to be hosting a guest post from author Lindsay Littleson today. Her newest middle grade novel Guardians of the Wild Unicorns was released on 21st February. When I read the synopsis I was struck by the conservation angle that the book was taking. With a number of animals recently confirmed as extinct, Japan’s whaling, production of palm oil threatening orangutan habitats, this is a timely topic.

Guest Post

Guardians of the Wild Unicorns explores themes of friendship, adventure and conservation. The story emphasises the importance of caring for wildlife, and is particularly relevant for today’s world, when we are facing a huge variety of environmental challenges, from the large scale ecological disaster that is the deforestation of the Amazon, to the woodland habitat loss suffered by the critically endangered Scottish wildcat.

In Guardians of the Wild Unicorns, Whindfall Forest is the refuge of Scotland’s last remaining herd of unicorns. The two protagonists, Lewis and Rhona, must endeavour to keep the herd safe from a gamekeeper who has hatched an evil plan to capture and kill the unicorns for their beautiful spiralled horns. Comparisons are made in the novel to the poaching of elephants for their tusks and of rhinos for their horns. Like the unicorns in the story, rhinos are targeted by poachers because some people mistakenly believe that the horns cure ailments and are willing to pay huge sums.

Her brain filled with images she’d glimpsed on television: heaps of tusks, white as bone, long as spears; muddied elephant corpses buzzing with flies; tiny orphaned calves; blank-eyed poachers with guns slung over their shoulders. When terrible stuff like that came on the news, Mum tended to flick channels, back to the safety of celebrity quiz shows or cooking programmes, where ugly, tragic real life wasn’t allowed to intrude. And now animal poaching had come here, to this beautiful Highland moor.

My unicorns might be wild and dangerous, with horns like spears, but no animal is a match for armed poachers. Endangered animals need the help of humans who are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect them. To save the unicorns, my protagonists have to be both courageous and determined, but I wanted them to be as real as my setting. Neither Rhona nor Lewis would describe themselves as brave, but the definition of courage in the Oxford Dictionary is ‘the ability to do something that frightens one’ and both children are willing to put themselves in danger to save Scotland’s last herd of wild unicorns.

Thanks Lindsay – this sounds like an excellent story which will be both thrilling and educational. I hope there will be plenty of children – and adults – inspired by this post to take action to help endangered species.

Synopsis

Lewis is cold, wet and miserable on his school residential trip in the Highlands of Scotland. The last thing he expects to see is a mythical creature galloping across the bleak moorland. Unicorns aren’t real… are they?

Lewis and his best friend Rhona find themselves caught up in a dangerous adventure to save the world’s last herd of wild unicorns. Fighting against dark forces, battling the wild landscape, and harnessing ancient magic, can they rescue the legendary creatures in time?

Author

Lindsay Littleson is a primary school teacher in Renfrewshire, Scotland. After taking up writing for children in early 2014, she won the Kelpies Prize for new Scottish writing for children with her first children’s novel, The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean.

Thank you to Kirsten at Floris Books/Discover Kelpies who #gifted me a copy of Guardians of the Wild Unicorns which I’m hoping to read and review very soon.

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