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Fierce, Fearless and Free by Lari Don (Illustrated by Eilidh Muldoon) – International Women’s Day Blog Tour Book Review


Happy International Women’s Day everyone.


Today I have a review of Lari Don’s collection of fierce, fearless and free girls from myths and legends around the world.


About the Book


A brilliant, inclusive collection of traditional tales from around the world featuring amazing women and girls. Once upon a time, there was a handsome prince who – no, that’s not right! Once upon a time, there were strong, fierce women who plotted, schemed, took action, showed kindness, used magic and trickery, and made their own destiny. From the long-haired Petrosinella who escaped the tower and broke the spell that the ogress had cast over her and Nana Miriam who beat a hippo using politeness and magic, to Kate Crackernuts who tried to save her stepsister from her mother’s curse, these are stories of girls doing it for themselves! With stories drawn from all over the world, including China, Scotland, Armenia, Italy and Nigeria, Lari Don presents heroine stories that don’t leave girls sitting around waiting to be saved by the handsome prince.

About the Author


Lari Don is an award-winning writer for young people of all ages. She loved Scottish traditional tales as a child, and now loves gathering myths, legends and folktales from all over the world to inspire her novels. Since becoming a full-time author, she has written more than 30 children’s books, from picture books and early readers to middle-grade adventure novels and a teen thriller. Lari is passionate about visiting schools and libraries to share the traditional tales she loves, to show how those old stories can be used to inspire new stories, and to encourage young people to create their own adventures. Fierce, Fearless and Free is her fifth collection of traditional tales for Bloomsbury, returning to the theme of her first, the bestselling Girls, Goddesses and Giants. She lives in Edinburgh with her husband and two fierce, fearless and free daughters.

Website: www.laridon.co.uk

Twitter: http://twitter.com/LariDonWriter

About the Illustrator


When Eilidh Muldoon isn’t drawing she’s thinking about drawing and she loves nothing in no more than to immerse herself in the world of traditional stories. Her sketch books are packed with detailed drawings and plots and plans. An illustrator and designer, she loves the variety of working one day on one of her popular colouring books or city-scape prints, and the next on one of Lari’s extraordinary heroines. This is her first book for Bloomsbury.

What I Thought


I really enjoyed the fact that there were tales inspired by local and international myths and seeing how fairytales such as Rapunzel and Red Riding Hood have a different spin in different areas.


Each story opens with a beautiful black and white illustration, with title and locality of the stories inspiration. Then comes Lari’s version of the tale. They are perfectly bite sized for a bedtime story or for readers to read independently.
At the back of the book Lari also briefly looks at the tale’s origins and I love how she highlights how and if she has adapted the stories. Each one has always been about the girls taking things into their own hands though – and the only thing Lari has usually changed is removing the trite “and she married a prince and lived happily ever after” endings. They aren’t needed – the resourcefulness and determination shown by the girls is the end goal.


My favourites were Neringa and the Sea Dragon (Lithuania – where you can visit the peninsula inspired by the tale), Bridget and the Witches (don’t leave your feet water out!), The Lace Dragon (even lace dragons breathe fire) and Medea and the Metal Man and now I’m just wondering how to slip that latter tale into my own Medea retelling.


I have one criticism and that is we needed a gorgeous hardback edition with full colour illustrations by Eilidh. After all girls deserve the best.


Fierce, Fearless and Free also has the well deserved title of hive’s Children’s Book of The Month – https://twitter.com/hivestores/status/1235572450647146496?s=21


Thanks to @fayerogerspr and @bloomsburyed for the #gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review and to @laridonwriter and @EilidhMuldoon for giving us some fabulous #FierceFearlessAndFree tales for #IWD. Do check out the rest of the stops on the tour.

The Blighted Fortress by David Dresner – Blog Tour Book Review



The Blighted Fortress is the second book in The Allies of Theo series by David Dresner.

Summary

This story begins in modern Chicago then moves to fifth-century Transylvania.

 

The teenage protagonists, Glenda and Traveler, are sent by Theo, their sanctuary god, deep into the primeval forests of the Carpathian Mountains. They must locate then neutralize an ancient demi-god called a “fire beast”.

 

The two must also survive the daunting challenges of isolated fifth-century Transylvania. Rome is now in its final death throes and the hoof beats of Attila the Hun echo across Europe. Civilization and Pax Romana are distant memories.

 

Magic, wits, and youthful courage must combine to face the fire creature. Survival, much less winning, is up for grabs.


Author

David E. Dresner was born and raised in rural Ohio. He was an Eagle Scout and later high school president in both his junior and senior years. The social mores, the friendships, and the rivalries of his youth were character building and era defining and have stayed with him into adulthood. Dresner studied physics and mathematics at Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Mellon, earning a B.S. and M.S, before training to become an actuary. Dresner enjoyed considerable professional success, working at major business consultancy firms at CEO and COO level before taking early retirement and starting a family. He has since dedicated himself to giving back to hiscommunity, supporting small businesses, churches and schools by developing their strategic plans, as well as tutoring children in core academic studies. Having travelled extensively and lived in France, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, today David and his wife Nancy live in a rural part of Virginia, near Charlottesville. He is currently working on the fourth instalment of The Allies of Theo series; he will publish his third novel in 2020.

What I Thought

Prologues can be tricky things, but in this case it was useful to ground the story meaning that you could read The Blighted Fortress without having to read book one first.

For me, Book One, The Discovered Sanctuary took time to get into. I think mainly, because although publicised as a young adult book, the early part of the story was told from an adult’s point of view (the father of one of the characters). There was also a great deal of tell rather than show.

However the first chapter of The Blighted Fortress, now in the middle of a story shows development. The language seems more authentically teen and the relationship between the main characters show their level of intimacy having already been through adventures together. 

This is a high concept series with a mix of geographical and historical locations. It was full of lots of detail enabling the reader to fully visualise the world created.

My preference is for pacy reads and I don’t always get on with historical language because it tends to slow things down, so the modern day dialogue between the two teens and the humour in their relationship were more enjoyable for me.

I was sent both books for the purposes of an honest review. Thank you to Faye and the publishers for the gifted copies.

The Alphabet For Life by Fran Norris

Summary:

An alphabet book with a difference! Who said A is for Apple? Why not A is for Acceptance?! Let’s learn the alphabet using words that will inspire and empower everyone to thrive in life! Packed with fun illustrations and thoughtful quotes and themes, The Alphabet For Life is a unique children’s book the whole family can enjoy and learn from for a lifetime.


Author Information

Fran Norris is a mother of two living in Devon. Like most parents, her daily life largely involves coming up with creative approaches to making the good-for-you stuff enjoyable and appealing to children. She believes that education should nurture our natural curiosity and empower each individual to reach their fullest potential. Inspired by the playful way children approach any task, from brushing their teeth to eating toast, Fran is convinced that fun should be at the core of all learning.

As a former scientist, Fran approaches life as a wonderful experiment and loves to question everything. Her children provide a never-ending source of mystery and challenges to be solved. Creating THE ALPHABET OF LIFE reconnected Fran with her love of drawing and painting, encouraging her to work as an illustrator now.


What I Thought

What a wonderful take on the alphabet. With vividly coloured illustrations, quotes that illustrate the concepts, and a host of words that should be in every person’s vocabulary. This could be used with pre-school children to explore concepts such as courage, kindness etc. I even learnt a new word for U and I’ve recently read a whole book about I. 

Thank you to Faye Rogers and Authoright for a gifted copy for the purposes of honest review. 

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