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.
Happy Book Birthday to The White Phoenix. This is Catherine Randall’s debut novel, a historical middle grade story.
About the Book
London, 1666. After the sudden death of her father, thirteen-year-old Lizzie Hopper and her mother must take over THE WHITE PHOENIX – the family bookshop in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral. But England is at war with France and dire prophecies abound. As rumours of invasion and plague spread, Lizzie battles prejudice, blackmail and mob violence to protect the bookshop she loves. When the Great Fire of London breaks out, Lizzie must rescue more than just the bookshop. Can she now save the friend she wasn’t supposed to have? CAN THE WHITE PHOENIX RISE FROM THE ASHES?
About the Author
Catherine Randall was brought up in Shropshire but has lived in London since graduating from St Catherine’s College, Oxford with a degree in Modern History. Catherine worked as an editor in book publishing before taking a break to bring up her family. She took a Master’s in Children’s Literature at the University of Roehampton, writing a novella for teens as part of her dissertation. Now living in southwest London, she is known in her local area as the writer of two history plays (The Teddington Review and Letters from the Front) performed in 2017 and 2018. As a result of her research for The White Phoenix, Catherine takes workshops about the Great Fire of London into primary schools. She is passionate about encouraging reading and volunteers with the charity Prisoners’ Reading Groups. She is currently working on her second novel.
What I Thought
If you know anything about me you will know that I love books about books and book lovers so when I realised The White Phoenix was a story about a bookshop I was immediately sold.
Our protagonist Lizzie and her mother take over the family bookshop – The White Phoenix and they have to fend off prejudice, sinister suitors, plague and The Great Fire of London!
This book transported me to my childhood and it gave me the same feeling I had reading or watching stories like The Railway Children, The Sound of Music, Pollyanna, Heidi, Little Women, and the early scenes in Great Expectations. There is a strong cast of characters from headstrong Lizzie to *makes me shudder* Mr Pedley.
I loved the detail included about the book binding process and oddly enough I know an artist – who also uses Phoenix in their shop name – who binds/rebinds books. The love that this process shows for the books makes me feel warm inside and I’m certainly glad that publishers and sellers are making more effort with their books bindings. Of course the front cover of The White Phoenix has to include some gold foiling to make it extra special.
There is human drama a plenty that starts for poor Lizzie straight away and there are ominous threats both seemingly far away and much closer to home. The constant mentions of the Plague feel very apt with our current situation. St Paul’s is there too, looming and an omen if you know anything about 1666.
So will Lizzie and the books survive the great fire? You will have to read to find out.
I want to know which book would you save in a fire? You can choose only one.
I was gifted a copy via Kaleidoscopic Tours for the purposes of an honest review.