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Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble: Magical Poems – Paul Cookson Blog Tour Book Review

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!

Front cover

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54968419-fire-burn-cauldron-bubble

About the Author

Paul Cookson


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.

Endpapers

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’.

Illustration by Eilidh Muldoon


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.

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The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Hunter – Book Review

Synopsis

In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented – and highest born – sons of the kingdom are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…

Gray’s Britain is a fragmented kingdom of many tongues, many gods and many magicks. But all that concerns Gray right now is returning to his studies and setting right the nightmare that has seen him disgraced and banished to his tutor’s home – without a trace of his powers. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.

Although she has no talent of her own and has been forbidden by her father to pursue it, Sophie Callendar longs for a magickal education. But she started a bookish rebellion in her father’s library long ago, and her sheltered upbringing conceals a mysterious past and what may prove a catastrophic future. Her meeting with Gray sets off a series of events that will lead them to uncover a conspiracy at the heart of the kingdom and into the legend of the Midnight Queen, who vanished without a trace years before.

What I Thought

I was immediately drawn into this British alternate history fantasy world that author Sylvia Hunter has created. Men are the only ones allowed to study magick, even though women can possess it too. The magick system seems to be quite complex and some can be taught and other aspects need to be harnessed. There’s shapeshifting (the front cover might give you a clue into what), scrying, elemental and summoning magicks. There’s an awful lot to learn. Cue a library and books and also practical demonstration.

We are first introduced to Gray who has got himself, through no fault of his own, thrown out of Oxford and – not all that kindly – invited to his tutor’s house for Long Vacation. He meets Sophie and their instant connection is apparent and she is particularly intriguing to both Gray and the reader. She is definitely a feminist who wants to challenge the status quo.

But then she learns that her own status quo isn’t exactly all she thought it was. Thus begins a thrilling journey to find out the truth and foil an assassination with a little burgeoning romance thrown in for good measure.

The other character I adored was Sophie’s younger sister Joanna who is a handful, and a half.

The pace is a pleasantly odd mix of regency travel and society with added crime busting and magick but it kept me reading and comfortably entertained. Near the end is a scene that personally I felt was surplus to requirements – it was a little like Hercule Poirot explaining how a crime had been committed but we and most of the characters already knew most of the information. That being said I still loved this book, the character and the world, and it had a satisfying conclusion. Some elements introduced I would love to see explored more (the worldbuilding is masterful and hints st lots of aspects, religion etc without being an info dump) and the story is left open for more adventures but the main plot is completed and I would say it could be read as a stand alone.

Books 2 and 3 in the series are also out now – Lady of Magick and A Season of Spells – I’ll definitely be checking them out. Fans of Zen Cho, Leigh Bardugo and Jane Austen should enjoy.

Thanks to Allison & Busby for the finished copy for review. It is beautiful inside and out and all opinions above are my own.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend – Book Review

What a jacket synopsis! Intrigued? You should be. Now this is one of the first books that’s been compared to Harry Potter that I feel lives up to the expectations. I loved it.

And just pause again to look at this stunning hardback – as gorgeous naked as with the dust jacket.

Now I received a review copy through Netgalley but I was enjoying it so much and I spotted the beauty that was this edition, and I knew I would regret not owning it, so I bought it and switched to reading from real paper.

Now. Because of the comparisons to Harry Potter there will inevitably be some comparisons made but in my view they are all positive.

Child gets whisked away to a wonderous world from a not particularly pleasant life. Check. Although, unlike the muggle world the world that Morrigan leaves is just as intriguing as the world she moves to. Cursed Children? The Hunt of Smoke and Shadow?

Genial magical man to guide our young protégée. Harry had Dumbledore. Mog, as he decides to call her despite her protestations, has Jupiter North. Is he as conflicted as Dumbledore, only time will tell.

Fierce friendships and fantastical foes. One main friend Hawthorne and some allies who may or may not become closer as the series progresses.

He who must not be named. The Wundersmith has a whole creepy parade float dedicated to him. Take that Voldemort.

The Hotel Deucalion becomes Mog’s Hogwarts with fun rooms to discover. Far too much smoking and lots of whacky residents to engage with.

And what are the trials of which the title speaks? Think of it as the Triwizard Tournament with a Talent Show at the end. All to get INTO the Wundrous society. If she doesn’t the Hunt may come for her yet.

This is a brilliant book full of magical world building, very very colourful characters and a form of transportation previously popularised in Mary Poppins, The Life and Death Brigade (Gilmore Girls) and Practical Magic. Move over broomsticks umbrellas are making a comeback.

Joking aside Harry Potter will Always remain in my heart (I know you see what I did there). But there is room in readers’ hearts for plenty of books. This one is going to snuggle alongside it. The one thing this book did that the Philosopher’s Stone didn’t was grab me from the first sentence. It took the introduction of the Wizarding World to draw me in. Once I was there I loved it. I loved this from : ‘The journalists arrived before the coffin did.’

So as Jupiter North does I invite you to Step Boldy into Nevermoor.

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