Publishing tomorrow from Bloomsbury – The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis. Here’s my spot on the blog tour.
About the Book
Cordelia and her triplets Rosalind and Giles have lived safely in the castle at the centre of the forest all their lives, protected by the spells their mother has woven. The only time Cordelia feels truly free is when she turns into a dragonfly or a blackbird and can fly beyond the great stone walls. But then one day the outside world comes to them. Two rival dukes and their soldiers have come for the triplets – because whoever is the eldest is the heir to the throne.
But their mother knows that since the Raven Crown was broken, no one has been able to rule the kingdom of Corvenneand live, and she will not give up any of her children to that death sentence. When she refuses to reveal which child is the eldest, she is taken prisoner, and Cordelia and her brother and sister find themselves on the run in a dangerous new world. And as they set out across Corvenne to rescue their mother, Cordelia begins to see that there is a deep magic at work, driving her towards a destiny that could tear her family apart, take away her freedom forever or, just maybe, heal a kingdom devastated by a war that has raged for generations.
About the Author
Stephanie Burgis lives in Wales with her husband, their two sons and their tabby cat, surrounded by mountains and castles. Shewrites fun MG fantasy adventures, most recently the Dragon with a Chocolate Heart trilogy and The Raven Heir.
What I Thought
Coming in at under 250 pages this was a speedy read, and it was a joyful one too.
This honestly gave me Disney classics vibes with echos of Brave and Sword in the Stone. It is brimming with magic, royalty and rivalry and is a tale of what truly makes a family.
Cordelia and her triplets Rosalind and Giles take centre stage for much of the book and the battle against one’s destiny is omnipresent.
I loved the animal shifting magic that Cordelia had and the quiz at the back of the book helps you work out what animal you’d be (a cat for me).
The relationship with their mother is very interesting and I like how it is dealt with and the growing up the characters do away from her.
The ending was slightly bittersweet and although I think it’s final I’d love to read more in this world.
Thanks to Blue from Kaleidoscopic Tours and Bloomsbury for the gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review. Do check out the rest of the tour stops (follow #TheRavenHeir on Twitter or Instagram to find out more).
About the Book
Beautiful Sophie, with lips as red as blood, skin as pale as snow, and hair as dark as night, is about to come of age and inherit her father’s throne. But Sophie’s stepmother wants rid of her – beautiful she may be, but too weak and foolish to reign. And Sophie believes her, as she believes all the things that have been said about her – all the poisonous words people use to keep girls like her from becoming too powerful, too strong.
When the huntsman carries out his orders of killing Sophie, she finds a fire burning inside her that will not be extinguished, and sets off to reclaim what was taken from her.
Jennifer Donnelly turns her feminist eye to this most delicious of fairy tales and shows Snow White as she’s never been seen before.
About the Author
Jennifer Donnelly is the author of seven novels and a picture book for children. She grew up in New York State, in Lewis and Westchester counties, and attended the University of Rochester where she majored in English Literature and European History.
Jennifer’s first novel, THE TEA ROSE, an epic historical novel set in London and New York in the late 19th century, was called ‘exquisite’ by Booklist, ‘so much fun’ by the Washington Post, a ‘guilty pleasure’ by People and was named a Top Pick by the Romantic Times.
Her second novel, A GATHERING LIGHT, won the Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Borders Original Voices Award, and was named a Printz Honor book. Described as ‘rich and true’ by The New York Times, the book was named on the Best Book lists of The Times (London), The Irish Times, The Financial Times, Publishers Weekly, Booklist and the School Library Journal.
REVOLUTION was named a Best Book by Amazon, Kirkus, School Library Journal, and the Chicago Public Library, and was nominated for a Carnegie Medal. The audio edition was awarded an Odyssey Honor for Excellence.
In 2014, Jennifer teamed up with Disney to launch the bestselling WATERFIRE saga, an epic series about six mermaids on a quest to rid the world of an ancient evil. The first book in the series, DEEP BLUE, was released in May, 2014; the second book, ROGUE WAVE, launched in January 2015.
Jennifer Donnelly lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs.
What I Thought
I love a retelling and this is a doozy with a feminist twist on Snow White.
The writing is divinely fairytalesque and pulls you in no matter whose perspective you are reading from – and there are a number of point of view characters included.
Boy did I empathise with Sophie and her struggle to manage her emotions. This part of the book actually hit me right in the feels. That voice of self criticism at feeling too deeply was all too realistic.
And I loved the addition of the extra layer of villainy, the societal pressure on women to be one way to be successful. The message that there is power in kindness is so important, goodness knows we’ve seen that this year with how Jacinda Arden led New Zealand through the pandemic.
And the seven brothers and their household is A-DOR-A-BULLLLL! Jennifer even got me liking a spider.
With the perfect touch of Grimm’s creepiness, to updating the message for a modern audience this has definitely encouraged me to bump Stepsister up the TBR.
Thank you to Blue at Kaleidoscopic Tours and Hot Key for the gifted copy for the purposes of this honest review. Check out the rest of the tour for some great content.
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.