BOOKBLOG: Guy Jones

The Ice Garden: a beautiful story of freedom and belonging

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Jess is allergic to the sun. She lives in a world of shadows and hospitals, peeking at the other children in the playground from behind curtains. Her only friend is a boy in a coma, to whom she tells stories. One night she sneaks out to explore the empty playground she’s longed to visit, where she discovers a beautiful impossibility: a magical garden wrought of ice. But Jess isn’t alone in this fragile, in-between place…”

The Ice Garden tells the story of Jess who is allergic to the sun. She has no friends, everyone thinks she’s a bit weird as she has to protect herself from the sun – covering herself fully, wearing protective hats, staying indoors during the day. The only people she gets to talk to are the doctors at the hospital, her mum and her neighbours. Night time is her only solace, away from the burning sunshine.

Her story starts to unravel one night when she decides to go for a walk, unbeknownst to her mum, and she discovers a magical, wonder-filled Ice Garden. In this ice garden she can’t be harmed, there’s no sunlight, she’s safe (or at least she thinks she is). Whilst she’s in this new, harmless land she meets a young boy. She finally has a friend, someone to talk to, someone to play with in her newly discovered land, but as their friendship develops, things start to go awry. Jess is given a priceless gift, and must make a choice: one which could have disastrous consequences

I really enjoyed this story. Jess’ story was a really intriguing one. She is a girl constantly battling with belonging and solitude. She has this exceptionally tough choice to make. She needs to choose something for the good of others, or for herself. She’s a brave young girl, constantly looking out for others – she doesn’t want others to have to suffer the way she does. There’s a thread throughout the book of Jess, who writes stories to entertain herself through her loneliness, reading her stories to another young man who is poorly in the hospital. This ends up being an important part and I loved that. It showed Jess the power her stories have and the solace they provide for her, and others. 

I can’t wait to take this to school as I think the children will love this as much as I did. The writing is brilliant, there’s some gorgeous descriptions and plenty of things to think about throughout. Would you leave your house in the night time? Would you make the same decision Jess did? Are you the kind of person who would risk everything to better yourself? 

Thank you so much to the publishers, Chicken House, for sending me a copy! I’ll be passing it onto my kids! 

Would you like to visit an ice garden?
How would you feel if you met a boy made of ice?
How would you cope if you had Jess’ condition?

Talk to me on twitter. Comment on this post. Send me a postcard. Send me a pigeon. I’d love to talk! 

S x

 

BOOKBLOG: Emma Carroll

Sky Chasers: an incredibly fun adventure with a chunk of Science and History thrown in!

dssbxltw0aacwna(I took Sky Chasers with me on a VERY chilly day in the park. I feel Magpie and Pierre would approve)

“An encounter with a boy dangling from the sky changes pickpocket Magpie’s life forever. Like her, the boy dreams of flying over the rooftops of Paris. His family, the Montgolfiers, are desperate to be first to discover the secret of flight. Together with Pierre, Magpie is soon caught up in a world of inflatable bloomers, spies and a trio of unruly animals in a race to be the first to fly a hot air balloon – in front of the King and Queen of France.”

Sky Chasers opens with the most incredible, pacey 2 chapters that I couldn’t wait to read on. In the first 2 chapters you are introduced to the brilliant Magpie, a young woman who is stealing to keep herself and her pet cockrel alive. She’s asked to steal a box from a very fancy house. There’s a mysterious woman who hires her to steal this box. Unfortunately for Magpie, she doesn’t manage to steal the thing that she’s been hired for, and the mysterious woman is not happy. She threatens Magpie. She says she will keep an eye on Magpie. And man, from that I WAS HOOKED.

This amazing book tells the story of the Montgolfier family and their race to beat the British to be the first to achieve flight. You meet the young Pierre and his father at the beginning of the book, innocently attempting to fly something and Magpie (our brilliant, charismatic thief) stumbles upon them and has to save the day. What ensues is a brilliant mix of friendship, kindness, science and a some special guests from history!

Through reading this you’ll have these questions answered:

  • How does Marie Antoinette end up with a lamb?
  • Why are there so many poultry in this book?
  • Why is Pierre’s uncle so mean?
  • What do ladies underwear and fire have to do with hot air balloons?
  • Why are there English spies in France?
  • How can Magpie be an incredible role model for young girls now?

Emma Carroll is a relatively new author to me (I know, I have no idea HOW either!) but I absolutely fell in love with Letters from the Lighthouse (based in WW2: review here) so when I found out she was writing another book, I had to get my hands on it. Now I need all of the Emma Carroll books as I’m totally gripped.

There’s an incredible sense of BEING in the book with the characters. I felt like I was in France with Magpie. It’s amazing when you feel like you’re in a story, or when you want to be friends with the characters in the story. I definitely wanted to be Magpie’s friend. She’s one of those excellent little gems you find in stories.

This book is just great. The kids at school are really loving it. There’s already a very long list of Year 5s and 6s who want to read this… so here’s hoping! I might have to get another copy of it for them to share! It’d be a great book to link in some history of 18th Century France, or some Science linked to Forces, but I mean. READ IT BECAUSE IT’S BRILLIANT… 

I must take a moment here to appreciate the incredible cover, designed by one of my favourite illustrators David Litchfield (of The Bear and the Piano fame!). I think it encapsulates the book so brilliantly. It is definitely one I would pick up! It has total shelf appeal! There’s also some incredible pages throughout the book with the “One for sorrow, two for joy” magpie poem which I thought was a brilliant addition. 

The idea for Sky Chasers came from an original idea by Neal Jackson (winner of The Big Idea Competition) based on the true story of the first hot air balloon flight over Paris!

Thank you so much to the incredible people over at Chicken House for sending me a copy of this book. You guys are brilliant!

If you could go back to any period of time in history, when would it be?
Do you have a favourite book based in history to recommend to me?
Have you read Sky Chasers? Do you love Magpie as much as I do?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter! I would love to talk about this amazing book with you!

S x

 

 

BLOG TOUR: The Fandom

Two blog posts in one day? Aren’t you guys lucky!! AND another GIVEAWAY. A MG and a YA giveaway in one day? OH I SPOIL YOU.

The Fandom: brilliant, clever and original!

Fandom

“Cosplay ready, Violet and her friends are at Comic-Con.

They can’t wait to meet the fandom of mega movie, The Gallows Dance. What they’re not expecting is to be catapulted by freak accident into their favourite world – for real. Fuelled by love, guilt and fear, can the friends put the plot back on track and get out? The fate of the story is in their hands…”

Imagine the scene… you’ve gone to a convention, seen your favourite movie star and then BAM THE CEILING COLLAPSES. You wake up and you’re not quite sure what’s going on. You’ve checked your little brother is OK, your friends are around you. Everything seems to be alrite, except you’re now INSIDE the story. You’re INSIDE the story you’ve been fangirling over for ages. You’re actually THERE. You’re in the world. It’s not fake. It’s real.

That’s what happens to Violet. She and her friends (and her little brother) end up inside their favourite world. What follows is an incredible story with a brilliant cast of characters. Ones I love and adore massively. 

I really, really, really loved this book. It properly hit me in the face with its brilliance. It’s a story within a story and Anna pulls it off brilliantly. I loved the way both stories unfurl in parallel and you see the story of The Gallows Dance (which btw I would totally read if someone wants to write it… Chicken House, get on it), alongside the story of Fandom. You see Rose’s story and Violet’s story pan out side by side. Violet following in Rose’s footsteps. There are some CREEPY bits in this book – the creepy pods? Hello. Made an impression though. It made a massive impression on me this book. It’s properly good. 

The characters are just brilliant. Violet and her merry bunch of friends made my heart very happy. I don’t want to give too much away about the characters because I want you to experience it how I did. There’s Katie though, Katie is EXCELLENT. You’ll probably love her and her swearing. A bit of swearing is always a plus. Made me chuckle indeed. 

The emotions are real with this book. I cried. I laughed. I rooted for people. I was freaked out. I was shocked. You’ll feel ALL of the emotions. I guarantee it. But you’ll LOVE it. I certainly did. 

Plus. Can we just talk about that cover? *swoon*

(Plus, Anna is a Geordie. YAY GEORDIES!)

Alrite, now time for the exciting bit… THE GIVEAWAY. 

Rules: Follow and RT the tweet about this post to be entered. Entries close 12th Jan, winner announced 13th Jan. Extra entry: comment and tell me which film you’d love to be thrown into!

While you’re here, check out the bloggers for the rest of the tour and make sure you go check them out! Some of my most favourite people are on this blog!

Fandom blog tour banner

S x

BOOKBLOG: Anna Day

The Fandom: unique, exciting and brilliant.

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“Cosplay ready, Violet and her friends are at Comic-Con.

They can’t wait to meet the fandom of mega movie, The Gallows Dance. What they’re not expecting is to be catapulted by freak accident into their favourite world – for real. Fuelled by love, guilt and fear, can the friends put the plot back on track and get out? The fate of the story is in their hands…”

I was very lucky that the lovely Jazz over at Chicken House sent this over to me a while back and it’s sat in my TBR ever since, so when I finished a book and saw it staring at me, I knew it was time to finally pick up The Fandom. I am so very glad I did pick it up in the end! 

The Fandom tells the story of Violet, Nate, Katie and Alice, 4 bookish people (just like me) who go to Comic Con and something happens and they’re magically transported into the world of their favourite book – The Gallows Dance. Imagine that, your favourite book, and you’re transported into the story, the setting, the characters and you have to live it. The characters can barely believe it and don’t believe it at first… until things start to get real. There are moments of disbelief in the beginning, with the characters just thinking they’re on the movie set, but then they come to the realisation and panic sets in. (They certainly react better than I would!)

What I loved about this book was the duality of Violet carrying out the story versus the way that Rose lived out the story. The man Rose falls in love with versus the man Violet falls in love with. The characters in The Gallows Dance versus the characters that Violet and co meet. How things have so much more depth than just on the page. There’s back stories of The Gallows Dance that Violet didn’t even know about, that she discovers having been thrust into this life.

Another thing I loved about this book is that you get 2 books in one. You learn the story of ‘The Gallows Dance’ through the story of ‘The Fandom’ and I have never come across that before. I absolutely loved it. Seeing the evolution of one book within another. Using Violet’s knowledge of The Gallow’s Dance to get her through The Fandom. So so clever. 

I loved the characters. They made the story for me. I want to marry Ash. I want Katie to be my best friend (she’s sweary and I love it). Violet is fierce and bold, without realising her own brilliance. Saskia is one of those dark, mysterious characters. Nate is just the lushest thing ever, I really loved him. The characters and their relationships with each other are pretty incredible.

I met lovely author Anna at YALC this year and she’s a Geordie. This makes the book even better for me. I am the proudest Geordie you will ever meet, so for there to be this incredible book written by an incredible Geordie makes it even better! (I am not biased or ANYTHING). 

I hope there’s a sequel to this. I really want to see what happens next!

If you had to be thrust into your favourite book, where would you end up?
Are there any books you’d hate to be thrown into?

Talk to me on twitter (@eenalol) or leave me a comment! I would love to find out the books you love!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Maz Evans

Simply The Quest: simply the best. 

STQ

“Elliot and Virgo’s troubles are far from over: death-daemon
Thanatos and his scary mum are at large and determined to
destroy the world. As even more immortal allies and enemies
emerge, Virgo and Elliot must learn how to be heroes …”

Simply The Quest is the second book in the ‘Who Let The Gods Out?’ series and I was OVER THE MOON when I got an email from the lovely humans at Chicken House asking me if I wanted a copy… NATURALLY I SAID YES. (Look at my happy face. This is the face of OMG THIS BOOK HAS ARRIVED I AM SO HAPPY I COULD CRY) So yes, I was a little bit happy that the book was with me, finally. I had waited since the end of Who Let The Gods Out to get my hands on this book. Now it was in my possession I was a happy bunny. It was SO WORTH THE WAIT. 

STQ face

‘Simply The Quest’ follows Elliot and Virgo on their journey to try and find the Air Stone, whilst battling with Elliot’s teacher and former neighbour, on top of trying to keep Josie-Mum safe and in check at home. 

Just as WLTGO introduced us to some incredible gods – Hermes, Athene, Aphrodite, Zeus – STQ introduces some new faces and they are SO GOOD. I loved the original gods and totally loved these new additions, they added something special to what is an incredible series already. To earn her kardia back (and therefore become immortal again) Virgo has to become a hero – so naturally Maz wrote in some of the brilliant Ancient Greek Gods. Hercules makes an appearance, as does Jason and Theseus – each of them giving Elliot a gift that will come in very handy on his quest. You see these heroes in a brand new light as they’re all following new career paths – all very funny and chuckleworthy! 

In every story there’s good and there’s evil. And the evil in this book is most certainly evil. Thanatos and his mother Nyx certainly do not make Elliot’s life easy. They try to manipulate him, use the one thing he loves the most against him, all to get him on their side to reveal the location of the Chaos Stones.

There’s glimpses of Elliot’s dark side in this book which were interesting to read. To see a selfish, dark side of a character I have come to totally love. He’s selfless, brave and driven. His mother is his world. His family (extended as far as the gods!) mean everything to him. You see him struggle with his emotions in this book; there’s more anger and doubt; he discovers new things about his life; there’s a MASSIVE surprise at the end – it actually made me gasp. Elliot remains throughout this young boy who is struggling to juggle a house full of gods, people trying to separate him from his mother, school and controlling the chaos stones. A bit much for a teenager, right?

Simply The Quest manages to be funny, silly, serious, touching, honest, tough and uplifting all in one go. There’s some brilliant messages there too that even made me think. Naturally I cried. There’s a moment with Josie and Hermes which just punched me in the gut. Took me totally by surprise. There’s moments with Virgo trying to figure jokes out that made me laugh out loud. 

I love this series so much. Maz is an absolute genius. Please go out and buy it, borrow it from your library, get it for your classroom/school. You won’t regret it. 

My goodreads review:

“Another absolute winner from Maz. WLTGO was an exceptional start to this series and STQ just blew me away. It deals with Elliot’s issues with his mum, introduces him to a new family member and discusses morality – what is good? what is bad? 
I loved having these characters in my life again. I laughed a lot. Virgo is one of those bloody rays of light in books like this – her trying to understand jokes is one of those gorgeous things about this book. There’s some very touching moments between Josie and a few of the characters – there’s one with Hermes that had me bawling. 
I absolutely adored this. I implore you all to read it. Please.”

Have you read this series?
IF YOU HAVEN’T, WHY HAVEN’T YOU?
What do you think will happen next? 

I’d love to know what you thought of STQ! Let me know in the comments or on twitter – I have so much love for this series that I need to share it with all of the people.

S x