About the Book
Can you hear the distant dragon’s rumble of thunder? And smell the sweet swampy aroma of the ogre? Can you taste the tangy tarantula tarts? And see the girl who’s really a wizard? From magic carpets and wands to unicorns, potions, creams and lotions, Paul Cookson’s brewing a spell of fantastically magic poems. On this tattered magic carpet You can choose your destination For nothings quite as magical As your imagination
Beautifully illustrated, this enchanting anthology brings together work from a range of classic, established and rising poets including Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, Benjamin Zephaniah, John Agard, Valerie Bloom, Matt Goodfellow, Joshua Seigal and A.F. Harrold. Whether you’re in the mood for a haunting or a spell gone wrong, this collection of mesmerising poems will have you bewitched from beginning to end!
About the Author
The poems were chosen and compiled by Paul Cookson who also appears as an author.
Paul Cookson lives in Retford with his wife, two children, a dog and several ukuleles. He has worked as a poet since 1989 and has visited thousands of schools and performed to hundreds of thousands of pupils and staff. Paul is the official Poet in Residence for the National Football Museum, the Poetry Ambassador for United Learning and Poet Laureate for Slade. He worked as the Poet for Everton Collection at Liverpool Library, was Poet in Residence for Literacy Times Plus and, as part of the National Year of Reading, was nominated a National Reading Hero and received his award at 10 Downing Street. Paul has 60 titles to his name and poems that appear in over 200 other books. His work has taken him all over the world from Argentina, Uganda and Malaysia to France, Germany and Switzerland.
About the Illustrator
The illustrations are by Eilidh Muldoon a freelance illustrator based in Scotland who gained her MFA from Edinburgh College of Art where she now teaches.
What I Thought
From the silly to the spooky, to the sinister this collection of poems is perfect for the witching season. As with any collection of poems some speak to you more than others but there is an excellent mix included between classic and new poems.
The book itself is stunningly bought to life by the illustrations from Eilidh Muldoon. From its striking pumpkin orange, with black block print, cover to the endpapers and the whimsical illustrations such as this one to illustrate ‘A Cold Spell’.
A few of my favourite poems were:
The silly – I once asked a wizard to make me a sandwich by Graham Denton
The sinister – Ooshus Magooshus by Jason Seigal which warns of Stranger danger
The artistic – Magic Love Potion by Liz Brownlee Shaped like a potion bottle
The cute – The Cool Dragon by Jo Mularczyk reminds me of that John Lewis ad
The classic and the pastiche – Song of the Witches by Shakespeare, and the homage which adds the subtitle (when the internet wasn’t working) by Stan Cullimore
The rhyme and atmosphere made by Witchy Magic by Mary Serenc
If you are at all squeamish you might not like Oh How I Love a Unicorn by Paul Cookson!! So follow it up with How to Cast a Spell if you are Vegetarian by Roger Stevens
The Magic Kitchen Carpet by Paul Cookson that speaks of the immense joy and adventure that our imagination brings.
But I think my top two are This is my Library by Angela Topping and Somewhere in the Library by Stewart Henderson which espouse the magic of books and the cast the librarian as a bewitching creature who is ‘a gatherer of magic and a confidante of elves’.
Thank you to Bloomsbury and Blue at Kaleidoscopic Tours for the copy for the purposes of this honest review. Do check out the rest of the stops on the tour.
Way back in April I shared my review of The Book of Koli by MR Carey and now the second part of the trilogy is upon us. Beware spoilers for book one may feature below. I like this quote from Books From Dusk to sum up book one.
About the Book
Everything that lives hates us…
Beyond the walls of Koli’s small village lies a fearsome landscape filled with choker trees, vicious beasts and shunned men. As an exile, Koli’s been forced to journey out into this mysterious, hostile world. But he heard a story, once. A story about lost London, and the mysterious tech of the Old Times that might still be there. If Koli can find it, there may still be a way to redeem himself – by saving what’s left of humankind.
About the Author
MR Carey has been making up stories for most of his life. His novel The Girl With All the Gifts was a word-of-mouth bestseller and is now a major motion picture based on his own screenplay. Under the name Mike Carey he has written for both DC and Marvel, including critically acclaimed runs of X-Men and Fantastic Four, Marvel’s flagship superhero titles. His creator-owned books regularly appear I’m the New York Times graphic fiction bestseller list. He also has several previous novels, two radio plays and a number of TV and movie screenplays to his credit.
What I Thought
I really enjoyed Koli’s voice in the first one so I was eager to delve back in to see what happens next in his journey. I found myself comfortably slipping back into his presence and the story picks up where it left off. Koli is travelling along with Ursala and Cup and Monono to try and find London. His grand idea is to see if it is habitable in order to bring different tribes together to expand the gene pool and keep the human race alive. No biggie.
But in this book we also get the point of view of Spinner, Koli’s childhood friend and one time ‘tumble’ as she settles into her new life with her husband in the Rampart Hold back at Mythen Rood, the settlement Koli was ousted from. Her early chapters go over part of the story from book one so you could potentially pick up at book two but I wouldn’t really recommend it.
The “Everything that lives hates us“ tagline definitely comes into play with killer trees, beasts, warring settlements and now the red death – what is it with 2020 and plagues (check out my review of Hollowpox tomorrow!).
I think the introduction of Spinner’s narrative makes this a stronger book because we get to still see the home that Koli is fighting for.
In my last review I neglected to tell you about my favourite character. Monono is a piece of tech (a Sony Dreamsleeve media player) who develops from a preloaded replica of sugary Tokyo pop star to an AI with her own mind, once she explores the ‘internet’. As someone who has loved the AI characters in the Illuminae Files and Skyward series Monono was a welcome addition and I like how she is used to tell Koli and the reader more about the time before.
Like I said last time if you are a fan of Mad Max, The Walking Dead or MR Carey’s The Girl with all the Gifts, or you simply like your stories post apocalypse then definitely pick this series up.
Although there is plenty of action the book does have a slight meandering pace because it is being told as a story and the book itself features a wonderful analysis of stories.
“There can’t be any rules in the telling of stories. They’ve got to go where they want to go, which is not always where you would want them to and as to the happiness or the sadness of it, that depends on where you are standing…Or you might not know, even after it’s all done, whether it came out well or badly.”
The third book – The Fall of Koli is out in March 2021 so not too long to wait until you can read the conclusion too and then we can see how it came out.
Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for arranging the gifted copy for the purposes of this honest review. Do check out the rest of the stops on the tour.
About the Book
The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.
Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.
An unmissable fantasy debut for 2020 – a captivating tale of magic, revolution and mystery, where a young woman’s sense of identity will make or break an empire. Perfect for fans of CITY OF BRASS, THE POPPY WAR and EMPIRE OF SAND.
About the Author
Andrea Stewart is the Chinese American daughter of immigrants, and was raised in a number of places across the United States. When her (admittedly ambitious) dreams of becoming a dragon slayer didn’t pan out, she instead turned to writing books. She now lives in sunny California.
What I Thought
First things first. Let us talk about that cover. Evocative. Classic. Beautiful. Breathtaking.
The first chapter pulls you straight in, introducing you to protagonist Lin, and immediately gives you a fistful of questions that you want the story to unfold.
What exactly is bone shard magic?
What are constructs?
What happened to Lin’s mother?
Will Lin get her memories back? (She’s 23 and cant remember anything earlier than five years ago).
Why did her father foster Bayan?
Why does Lin believe her father fears her?
What is driving the rebellion?
Who or what are the Alanga?
What does the key open?
And right at the end of the chapter the question every book reader asks – Why do book characters never realise they are holding their breath 🤦♀️
Other than this slightly cliched line the writing is sumptuous. Andrea Stewart knows how to paint a vivid picture with words. Her characters jump from the page into the reader’s heart too. Even the Blacksmith, mentioned briefly feels real enough to care what happens to him. With only a few words and actions you feel the weight of his backstory.
The lure of the locked doors puts one in mind of Bluebeard. But Lin isn’t the only rebellious woman set to smash down doors and the story is told from more than her point of view. It’s an excellently used ploy to keep you reading, with each character’s little cliff hanger making you wait tantalisingly for its pay off.
This book is the beginning of a trilogy in a world that is so richly imagined, the story weaves between the different character’s journeys as much as between the islands of the Phoenix Empire. Who will rise from the ashes of rebellion?
Thank you to Tracey at Compulsive Readers and the publisher for the gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review. The book was also Goldsboro’s SFF pick of September and that copy came with the stunning stencilled edges you see on the picture at the top. It also came with a double sided postcard print with artwork by Andrea Stewart. Doubly talented.
Do check out the rest of the blog stops and order or pick up your copy now.