Review: The Midnight Queen

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Summary: In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented—and highest born—sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…(more here)

Pages: 417

Published: 2014 Ace

 

I’m not going to lie to you here. I requested to review this book (from Blogging for Books) because of the cover. If you’ve been around awhile, you probably already know of my obsessions with owls. Well…that explains that right? It probably wouldn’t have mattered what the book was about, honestly. However, I have happy to report that it turned out to be a fabulous historical fiction/fantasy novel.

This book delights with a beautiful mixture of historical fiction and magical elements, adventuresome bits and slow romance, and some strong leads of both female and male variety. The scholarship and work of magic delights me to no end, and Ms. Hunter’s work here is no exception. Well done, delightful, and interesting.

This book gets a 4 out of 5 dragons. If you enjoy adventure, fantasy, and historical fiction all rolled into one very European bundle, I suggest you go grab your very own copy and give it a read.

When God Made You | Picture Book Review

When God Made You

by Matthew Paul Turner

Illustrated by David Catrow

A picture book of verse all about how God made,

and is proud of, the child reading it.

This  book is well written, beautifully illustrated, and just a bit too repetitive for my taste. It felt as though the author had a great idea and then pushed to hard, stretched too far, and made something that should have been beautiful and reassuring into something that felt forced and too long. Had the book been a few pages shorter, we (my daughter and I) probably would have given it 4.5 stars/dragons. As it stands, I give the book 4 dragons for the whimsical and adorable illustrations, and 2.5 dragons for the elongated storyline.

Overall, we are rating this book 3 dragons. It is very cute and an interesting read for young children, but ultimately too long and redundant for my taste.

*I received this from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own*

Review: A Boy Called CHRISTMAS

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Written for Middle Grade Readers (Ages 7-12/Grades 3-6), this book is an origin story, a fable, a history, a drama, a family tale, and much more. In this adorable story we meet and follow a boy who grows up to be Father Christmas.

I read this via the audiobook (provided by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review) and the story is amazing, grabs you right off the bat and keeps you in its grips…and the narrations by Stephen Fry are so spot on it feels like the smoothest and most natural thing in the world.

There are some difficult issues addressed within the folds of this story: loss of parents, extreme poverty, and violence…but along with that are the trappings of Finnish mythology, the impossibilities of life, and magic (LOTS of magic!).

I am not the biggest fan of Christmas stories, they often seem to be formulaic and cheesy as all get out. This is not one of those stories. This is an adventure, a fable, a legend in the making. This is a story to listen to every year, for all the years. Haig has created a story with a life of its own, and I loved it.

4.75 dragons (stars) to this beautifully written phenomenon.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living: Review

Louise Miller, a pastry chef who knows her way around cooking up words as well, has created a yummy look at small time life and big time choices. Take her delicious descriptions, her cozy set up, and the charm that oozes in layers and add to it the slow melting chocolatey goodness of Jorjeana Marie’s voice and this is an audio book that will have you coming back for seconds!

I don’t often read books in this contemporary, cozy, adult genre but this book drew me in and bade me stay to curl up with some hot tea and a piece of cake. a solid 4 stars to Louise Miller, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

*I was sent this book by Blogging for Books for free in exchange for an honest review*

Besties: Leah Reena Goren

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Ladies, have you ever wanted to try to explain your relationship with that Best Friend you’ve had forever? Well this adorable, bright, and fun picture book does it for you! Or, at least, for me. While I have more than one bestie, and some of them weren’t around for the elementary school snack time, there is a page in this book for every one of them (well…except for my brother. But who needs to count him anyway?)

There are so many important and special things in our relationships with our BFFLs (Best Friends for Life) and this book portrays those for us beautifully. If you’re looking for a heartfelt and quirky gift to hand over to your own BFF, look no further!

 

*I was sent this book free in exchange for an honest review, the opinions stated within this blog are my own*

The Fir Tree – Review

The Fir Tree is a story I had heard before, but did not know well. The sad tale is a cautionary fairy tale with traditional Hans Christian Anderson tropes and an ending that will bring a tear to your eye. In this beautiful green, cloth bound edition, the illustrations of Finnish artist Sanna Annukka elevate the story to new heights of beauty and devastation. Gorgeously rendered and written, this book is definitely worth the read. 4152frzf4cl-_sx282_bo1204203200_*this book was sent to me in exchange for a fair and honest review by blogging for Books*

The Snow Queen – Cloth Bound and Beautiful

This cloth bound, silver foiled, illustrated edition of Hans Christian Anderson’s timeless tale is even more beautiful than I expected it to be. The tall, skinny hardback feels gorgeous in your hand and the illustrations by Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka create an atmosphere that combines with the beloved words into something that will stick with you. 41zbzfrlyul-_sx282_bo1204203200_

Published by Ten Speed Press, translated by Odense City Museums, this book brings to life the classic story of The Snow Queen with imagery that makes me feel a part of the story, and reminds me of the ancient picture book edition my mother no longer allows me to play with. Five out of five Dragons to this gorgeous book.

*I received the book in exchange for an honest review from blogging for books*

Artsy Animals

Do you like random facts? Do you enjoy animal artwork? Do you love tiny little books that can conveniently be carried with you virtually anywhere???

THEN I HAVE JUST THE BOOK FOR YOU!!

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*Slightly smaller than actual size*

Maja Safstrom is an architect and illustrator from Stockholm who has worked with Ten Speed Press to bring us a small book with a big impact. Coming at a mere 6.3×0.7×7.8 inches in dimension, The illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts combines pen and ink/black and white drawings with facts about several different animals, all seemingly hand lettered. This book gives us not only  peek aat nature, but  look at the author’s nature journal (of sorts).

The book is very well made, the cover binding feels nice and fits very well into a hand, the interior pages have the look and feel of thicker art paper, and the entire piece feels like a work of art lovingly created for the audience.

If you enjoy Maja’s style of artwork, as I do, I highly suggest also following her on Instagram!

I’ll leave you with a  fact to ponder while you’re waiting on that page to load.

“Penguins laugh when they are tickled.”

You’re welcome and have a marvelous day!

Coloring with Wonder

I love to color. There is something creative and almost freeing in the act of choosing colors and finishing pages. I find so much inspiration in coloring, in fact, that I often incorporate it into my own writing process. So is it any wonder that I jumped at the chance to review another coloring book? Not really. Especially not since this particular coloring book is an imagining of Lewis Carroll’s world of Alice in Wonderland.

While I was expecting a fun and whimsical coloring book, the reality was so much more. Artist/Author Amily Shen not only created a gorgeous new reimagining for us to color, she included us in the story. Separated into 9 chapters, each section begins with a title pulled from Carroll’s Alice, followed by a few paragraphs that read as though you are, in fact, the one that followed the rabbit down into Wonderland.

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I love the artwork in this book. The style is distinctly whimsical and fun, showcasing wonderful imagination and inspiration from the artist  and for the color-er. Not to mention the fact that it came with a dust jacket that, when removed, revealed a cover ready to be colored on AND the inside of the dust jacket as a long poster waiting to be colored. SURPRISE!

Some of the pages are almost a little disturbing in their difference from my own imaginings or memories of the illustrations and movies. But my biggest complaint is that this doesn’t have more pages. I vote for a full Alice novel with coloring borders and illustrations.

**I received this book in exchange for an honest review**

Review – Be Different

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Written by John Elder Robison as a series of short stories from his childhood and meant to give the reader a peek into the Aspergian mind, this book is a mix of memoir, education, mental health, and even self help.

Originally published: U.S. March 22, 2011

Blurbed by Temple Grandin and Mark Roithmayr (president of Autism Speaks) and sporting a beautiful cover, be different draws the audience in and prepares them for some quirky fun as they learn more about Aspergers, a form of autism.

When I requested, and was subsequently sent, this book for review from Blogging for Books, i was expecting something that looked more into the technical bits of Aspergian life. I saw that it was a series of advice/short stories and was honestly expecting to see articles, anecdotes from other Aspies (Robison’s word for those diagnosed with Aspergers), and maybe even some notes from a teacher or two. However, this book was not at all what I expected. While I was looking for the ‘advice’ part promised to me in the title, what most of the book entails is actually the other part, the part where he details his own adventures with Asperger’s. Except Mr. Robison was not diagnosed until his 40s. Which means that the stories we get in this book are actually told to us as an acknowledged Aspergian looks back at his childhood and discusses what happened in the light of having NOT KNOWN he was Aspergian. Sound confusing? It isn’t really.

What Mr. Robison does well in this book is, among other things, detailing what he did and what happened to him and then spending a sentence or two describing whether that was or was not a good way to handle it in the light of Aspergers.

The writing style is fairly clear and well done. The stories are mostly memoir with very little advice thrown in until the final chapter, but the advice seems like something most people can easily discern without explicit directions. (Unless you’re one of those Aspergians who NEEDS explicit directions. Hmm…)

However, Mr. Robison only mentions females as ‘girls’ to be learned about, feared, and, hopefully, dated. The only instance of women otherwise mentioned (besides offhand mentions of his mother) were of Little Bear, his son Cubby’s mother. She also has Aspergers…but he offers no advice or comments TO females. In fact, all of his stories and advice is written with an obvious slant to males. While this is understandable since he is, in fact, a male, AND the advice is applicable to both genders, someone with autism might not feel they ‘belong in/reading’ a book that doesn’t mention their gender. As someone dealing with a form of autism, I felt that he should have known and dealt with that at some point. He is also very self involved, which is typical for Aspergians and comes across well. I haven’t decided, and likely never will agree with myself, on whether this is frustrating, annoying, and a poor writing choice (especially in the times when he completely condones physical violence and leaving schools) or if it is necessary.

On the whole, I found this book to be well written and interesting. Though I would have liked more advice and possibly less repetition on the themes, I feel like this is a solid book for helping teen Aspies, Prot-Aspies (people with traits but not full on Aspergers) and Nypicals (neuro-typical or non-autistic people) understand how to handle their side of the spectrum and possibly how to help others.

I am rating this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars.