Category Archives: Book Reviews

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.

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Captain Cat and the Treasure Map! by Sue Mongredien (Illustrated by Kate Pankhurst) – Book Review

Synopsis

The First book in a laugh-out-loud, highly illustrated piratical adventure series for newly confident readers and families to enjoy together.

Join Captain Patch the cat and her crew as they sail the seven seas in this puuuurfect piratical story! Patch is the ship’s cat who lives aboard The Golden Earring. Along with her friends, Cutlass the parrot and Monty the Monkey, Patch frequently gets the pirate crew out of trouble – although they never seem to realise just how much she does to save the day…and their skins!

In this first adventure, the pirate crew discover a treasure map and set out to find where X marks the spot. But little do they know the treasure is cursed and it’s up to Captain Cat to stop them… before it is too late!

Author

Sue Mongredien has had over one hundred children’s books published, including the Oliver Moon and Secret Mermaid series for Usborne, and the Prince Jake books for Orchard. She is also one of the authors behind the internationally bestselling Rainbow Magic series, as Daisy Meadows. She lives in Bath with her husband and their three children.

Illustrator

Kate Pankhurst lives in Leeds with her family and spotty dog, Olive. She has a studio based in an old spinning mill where she writes and illustrates children’s books. Recent projects have included the Fantastically Great Women series and Mariella Mystery Investigates series. Kate is distantly related to the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, something that has been an influence on the type of books she enjoys creating for children.

What I Thought

Captain Cat is a fun and pacy story with a cast of loveable characters in both the animal and human pirates aboard The Golden Earring. My favourite was the parrot Cutlass and his awful jokes and puns.

This is a perfect story to read out loud thanks to a whole host of sound effects.

The story itself is fairly straightforward – pirates find treasure map pointing to Cursed treasure. Patch (cat), Cutlass (parrot) and Monty (monkey) realise the curse means death so try and stop their human counterparts getting the treasure. Cue hilarious escapades.

What really bought this to life for me were the illustrations (and in my advanced copy they were only rough pencil sketches).

As a series my hope is that we get to find out more about each character as we go through. For example pirate mate Ginger is ridiculed by Captain Halibut for her poor reading but then is described writing postcards home. It’s odd to hear of a pirate having any home but the ship so I hope we get to hear more about Ginger in future books.

Captain Cat and the Treasure Map! Is out now and the second book Captain Cat and the Great Pirate Race is publishing in July. Thank you to Jo Hardacre at Pan Macmillan for the gifted copy for the purposes of this honest review.

Happy Girl Lucky (The Valentines #1) by Holly Smale – Book Review

In yesterday’s guest post author Holly Smale shared her soundtrack for the first novel in The Valentines series. Today I’d like to let you know a little more about Happy Girl Lucky.

Synopsis

The Valentine Sisters – Hope, Faith and Mercy – have everything: fame, success, money and beauty. But what Hope wants most of all is Love, and it doesn’t matter how far she has to go to find it.

Except real life isn’t like the movies.

Unless of course you’re a Valentine…

Goodreads link

What I Thought

If you are familiar with my blog you will already be aware I’m a huge fan of Holly’s writing and have been a champion of her Geek Girl series, whose protagonist Harriet was the geekiest of adorable geeks and you couldn’t help but love her.

The Valentines Sisters therefore had big boots to fill and it’s a good thing they can afford the best boots out there.

We start with the story of the youngest sister, Hope.

Fifteen year old Hope has grown up in a famous family (her parents met on the set of a film) but out of the limelight. The Valentines have a family rule that have seen her coddled and protected from the media until she turns sixteen, and Hope can’t wait.

She lives out her days fighting with her sisters, stealing their clothes, being tutored at home and daydreaming that she is part of an epic love movie. Hope’s daydreams appear in the novel as mini scripts complete with wistful actions and declarative dialogue. Hope lives up to her name – she falls in “love” freely and frequently. It’s just a shame the boys don’t always follow the script.

Hope is hopelessly naive at times, she is a horoscope devotee and I have to admit, as well as wanting to give her a big hug I also wanted to shake her a few times – you know gently and just so she doesn’t get hurt. Hope herself says it’s a doggy-dog world but she doesn’t seem to quite grasp what that means (Geek Girl’s Harriet’s eye would be twitching at some of the phrases Hope comes out with).

As much as this book is about romantic love it is also about familial love and the relationships with her siblings, parents and grandmother is vitally important to her. Her mum is in rehab, dad is in the US filming and her siblings each have their own public persona to cultivate…

…leaving Hope lonely, and she is reaching out for love wherever it comes from and she has the resources to go all out to get it. And boy does she take things to extremes – including a trip to the Hollywood Sign.

Holly Smale has developed another excellent cast of characters, I’m actually desperate to find out more about Mercy. In Hope she utilises her skill at writing teen girls as they can be, unreliable narrators of their own lives. With a different take on humour than in her first series there are less laugh out loud moments and some serious issues tackled in Happy Girl Lucky including gaslighting (although it’s not explicitly labelled). This was a fast paced and hugely enjoyable read and yes, you will do as the series tagline suggests, and fall in love with the Valentines.

Sisters Faith and Mercy will each have their own story, and I’m not going lie, I already know I’d love to have a story of some sort from brother Max’s perspective (maybe a novella if not a full length escapade).

Thank you to HarperCollins for the Advanced Review Copy I was gifted for the purposes of giving an honest review. I also grabbed my very own finished copy with orange sprayed edges from Waterstones on Thursday – which was release day.

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Yesterday I had an idea and I decided to act on it whilst inspired – so please do go follow #UKYARocks and get involved with spreading the news about all the fabulous UK Young Adult Fiction that we have available to us. My first creation had to be based on Happy Girl Lucky.

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