#BookReview The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

About the book

All 12-year-old Marinka wants is a friend. A real friend. Not like her house with chicken legs. Sure, the house can play games like tag and hide-and-seek, but Marinka longs for a human companion. Someone she can talk to and share secrets with.
But that’s tough when your grandmother is a Yaga, a guardian who guides the dead into the afterlife. It’s even harder when you live in a house that wanders all over the world . . . carrying you with it. Even worse, Marinka is being trained to be a Yaga. That means no school, no parties–and no playmates that stick around for more than a day.
So when Marinka stumbles across the chance to make a real friend, she breaks all the rules . . . with devastating consequences. Her beloved grandmother mysteriously disappears, and it’s up to Marinka to find her–even if it means making a dangerous journey to the afterlife.
With a mix of whimsy, humor, and adventure, this debut novel will wrap itself around your heart and never let go.

Published by Usborne Publishing

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk

Book Depository

MY REVIEW

What an utterly gorgeous book – inside and out!  The perfect book for readers of all ages!! I devoured this magical story of Marinka and her quest to be normal – very difficult in the world she lives in!

This is a re-telling of the Baba Yaga folk tale with its’ own unique twists, and it’s a book I could imagine making the perfect Studio Ghibli film as the premise of a house that can move around at will and has feelings , whilst the Baba Yaga is there to help those who have passed on make it safely through the gates.

But Marinka wants more from her life – she wants friends to hang out but that isn’t her destiny, so when she takes things into her own hands to suit her own needs it leads to some devastating consequences.

I loved the setting, the beautifully illustrated pages and wonderful way that this story was told. It is full of so much magic and fantasy and explores tenderly the importance of honesty, friendship and the subject of death. Absolute gem of a book and I look forward to more from this author in the future as she has a wonderful gift for storytelling!

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#BookReview The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale #20booksofsummer

About the book

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open! 

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

Published by Del Ray

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk

Book Depository

MY REVIEW

A very original, magical and dark story!! And a gorgeous cover!! I started off reading this completely lost in a magical world in Papa Jacks’ Emporium full of the most wonderful toys – toy soldiers that fight their own battles, instant trees and animals who appear that they are alive – but behind the toys is a family fighting their own battles, and a girl who is running away.

Cathy is a young girl who is pregnant and has brought shame on her family so they are ready to send her away, but she takes matters into her own hands and boards the train from Leigh On Sea to London where she goes for a job interview at the Emporium – it has a way of taking in waifs and strays so she is the perfect employee for them. You just have to not stop remembering what it is like to be a child and see the magic in everything. She loves her new life there and is taken to the heart of the family very quickly.

Brothers Emil and Kaspar both work for their father at the Emporium and are always trying to outdo one another with creating the most wonderful new toy. But Kaspar soon has to go off to War while Emil stays behind to help run the business and life soon takes a darker twist for them all.

I loved the magical elements to this story and wasn’t really prepared for the darker sides to the story which did feel a little out of place at times as they were quite serious issues. Seeing someone dealing with PTSD – as we now know it – was a little heartbreaking to read and the effect it had on those around him.  Because of this I’m finding this book difficult to sum up adequately as it often felt like 2 separate stories that shouldn’t really have worked together – but for the  most part it does work and adds a different element to the reading experience you have with this book.  And maybe that was the point! On one hand you have a true fantastical element in the Emporium and all it stands for and how it wants to see the use of toys as a wondrous thing, and that is up against the harshness and brutality of the real world – somewhere we all like to escape from every now and then.

The characters were all well put together in their development and it was interesting to see they dynamic between them all, especially towards the end.

I did enjoy reading this overall but would have loved more of the magical elements for more of an escapist read!

 

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Would love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read this book!

#BookReview The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan #20booksofsummer

Mara’s island is one of stories and magic. She knows she’ll eventually end her days atop the cliff, turned to stone and gazing out at the horizon like all the villagers that went before her, drawn by the otherworldly call of the sea. Her whole family will be there too, even her brother Bee and her sister Islay. 

But the island and the sea do what they want, and when they claim a price from her family, Mara’s world changes forever.

As years pass and Mara grows into herself and her scars, a chance meeting with the magnetic Pearl brings magic to life once more in ways that Mara never thought possible, in a story that she never would have dreamed for herself before.

The enchanting spiritual prequel to The Gracekeepers, Kirsty Logan’s The Gloaming is a present-day fable that brims over with dazzling imagination and captivating language

Published by Harvill Secker

Purchase Links

Amazon UK  £11.34

hive.co.uk  £10.25

Book Depository  £11.34

MY REVIEW

I was a fan of The Gracekeepers, but think I actually preferred this story as I felt it was better structured and felt more emotional and easier to connect with. But I will be going back to read The Gracekeepers now this story is fresh in my mind as the prequel.

The cover is stunning, and the story is full of magical realism, beautifully written and is one of those books you can just pick up and lose yourself in! And that is exactly what I did!

Signe and Peter are the parents to 3 children – Mara, Islay and Bee – and live on the Island knowing they will die there, no matter how hard they try to get away. The 3 children are all so different and we see their stories unfold – there is a lot of sadness in the family and this is exquisitely imagined by the author and helps you to connect with the family more as they face the demons that loss brings to their lives and also allow new experiences to change their outlooks and perceptions of the world around them.

The pace of the story played a big part in my enjoyment – things never felt rushed, but were allowed to evolve in a more realistic way and especially the way it allowed flashbacks to various memorable events in all their lives play out on the page and just made me want more from this unorthodox family!

Beautiful!

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#BookReview The Story Collector by Evie Gaughan

About the Book

A beautiful and mysterious historical romance from the author of The Heirloom and The Mysterious Bakery on Rue de Paris. Thornwood Village, 1910. Anna, a young farm girl, volunteers to help an intriguing American visitor, Harold Griffin-Krauss, translate ‘fairy stories’ from Irish to English. But all is not as it seems and Anna soon finds herself at the heart of a mystery that threatens the future of her community and her very way of life….. Captivated by the land of myth, folklore and superstition, Sarah Harper finds herself walking in the footsteps of Harold and Anna one hundred years later, unearthing dark secrets that both enchant and unnerve. The Story Collector treads the intriguing line between the everyday and the otherworldly, the seen and the unseen. With a taste for the magical in everyday life, Evie Gaughan’s latest novel is full of ordinary characters with extraordinary tales to tell. Perfect for fans of Jess Kidd and Eowyn Ivey.

Publisher Urbane Publications

Publication Date   14th June 2018

Purchase Links

Hive.co.uk

Amazon UK

Book Depository

MY REVIEW

What a stunning book! Both inside and out!  It was the cover that initially drew me to pick this book up, but once I’d read the blur and it promised folklore and myth, I was convinced this was my kind of book – and I was right!

The story is set in 2 timelines – 2010 with the character of Sarah who has recently split from her husband, and is at that point in her life where she doesn’t know what is next for her – and also 1910 with the character of Anna whose story we hear of through her diary entries. The way these stories blend together is extremely clever and enthralling and I loved both characters for the ways they dealt with the issues that faced them.  

Set in the village of Thornwood over the years, the stories of ‘The Good People’ have always been part of the folklore and there has always been a huge interest in the ways of the fairies – some curse them, others see them as a good power watching over them, and as Sarah traces the steps of Anna and Harold, the American who is in the village to collect stories of local folklore, she begins to see similarities between her own life and finds herself falling under the spell of Thornwood herself.  With the help of Hazel, a local, she finds herself using the thoughts and experiences of Anna to understand her own life and how to move on.  

This was a beautifully written story that had me captivated from start to finish.   It was full of the magical elements that I love alongside some fascinating characters and that the power of belief is such a powerful thing to many.

Highly recommended!!

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My thanks to the publishers for the advanced review copy in return for a fair and honest review.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang #bookreview

THE BLURB

“Exquisite and adventurous” — Bustle, “11 New Fiction Books You Need”

Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.

That tornado was the first of many strange events that seem to follow Weylyn from town to town, although he doesn’t like to take credit. As amazing as these powers may appear, they tend to manifest themselves at inopportune times and places. From freak storms to trees that appear to grow over night, Weylyn’s unique abilities are a curiosity at best and at worst, a danger to himself and the woman he loves. But Mary doesn’t care. Since Weylyn saved her from an angry wolf on her eleventh birthday, she’s known that a relationship with him isn’t without its risks, but as anyone who’s met Weylyn will tell you, once he wanders into your life, you’ll wish he’d never leave.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance tells the story of Weylyn Grey’s life from the perspectives of the people who knew him, loved him, and even a few who thought he was just plain weird. Although he doesn’t stay in any of their lives for long, he leaves each of them with a story to tell. Stories about a boy who lives with wolves, great storms that evaporate into thin air, fireflies that make phosphorescent honey, and a house filled with spider webs and the strange man who inhabits it.

There is one story, however, that Weylyn wishes he could change: his own. But first he has to muster enough courage to knock on Mary’s front door.

In this warm debut novel, Ruth Emmie Lang teaches us about adventure and love in a beautifully written story full of nature and wonder.

Publisher;  https://us.macmillan.com/smp/

Author Website;  https://www.ruthemmielang.com/

Online Shopping Links

Amazon UK

Book Depository

Abe Books

MY REVIEW

Magical.  Captivating.  Wonderful.  Absorbing.  Enchanting.  Enthralling.  Whimsical.  Spellbinding.  Charming.  Delightful.  

Just a few words I noted down as I read this book! It’s fair to say I adored every single page of this book!!  This is a book that was brought to my attention by the BookTuber Simon Savidge, and I’m so glad I saw him rave about it as it’s one of the most wonderful books I’ve ever read!

It’s the story of Weylyn Grey.  Raised by wolves from the age of 4 he has always spent his life on the outside, not fitting with the norm.  But this book shows us how his life impacts on people who come into contact with him, and how it changes them and him!  Plus there’s a magical pet pig called Merlin – what  more could you want?!!

As I knew very little of what to expect from this book when I started it, I think this made it even more of a magical read and the way the story was told was also really clever and allowed you to see the story from different views of the people he came into contact with and over so many years.  The character Weylyn is such an extraordinary being, that it is difficult not to fall in love with him almost immediately, and the way he touches the life of others just by being himself is enchanting.  

It’s a story about belonging, trusting, believing, hope ….. I frigging love this book!!!

#BookReview The Lustre of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller

In this story for readers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and A Man Called Ove, when all seems lost, he finds what matters most.

Walter Lavender Jr. is a master of finding. A wearer of high-tops. A maker of croissants. A son keeping vigil, twelve years counting.

But he wouldn’t be able to tell you. Silenced by his motor speech disorder, Walter’s life gets lonely. Fortunately, he has The Lavenders—his mother’s enchanted dessert shop, where marzipan dragons breathe actual fire. He also has a knack for tracking down any missing thing—except for his lost father.

So when the Book at the root of the bakery’s magic vanishes, Walter, accompanied by his overweight golden retriever, journeys through New York City to find it—along the way encountering an unforgettable cast of lost souls.

Steeped in nostalgic wonder, The Luster of Lost Things explores the depths of our capacity for kindness and our ability to heal. A lyrical meditation on why we become lost and how we are found, from the bright, broken heart of a boy who knows where to look for everyone but himself.

Publisher;  Allison & Busby

Publication Date; August 2017

Amazon UK     £12.99

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support a local bookstore   £8.49

Author GoodReads page

MY REVIEW

I found this to be an entrancing, magical read of a boy who finds meaning in the world by finding lost things. He suffers with a speech disorder which stops him from communicating with the world in the normal way, but his silent life allows him to listen and helps him witness more than the rest of us normally see. He lives with his mother in a bakery that they’ve turned into a magical world that is thriving, until the special copy of a book that came into their possession goes missing. Then their luck seems to change. That really puts his finding skills to the test and as he travels across New York on the trail of the missing book and pages, he uncovers some amazing characters and finds out things about himself that he never knew possible.

It really is a feel good read that has you looking for all the good in the world. It isn’t about how much you have or what you’re doing, but what you notice and the meaning and memories behind treasured possessions, however big or small. His journey is enlightening both for him as a character, and for the reader as well and it all comes down to life being a surprising journey for us all.

The characters he meets along the way all add their own special take on the world and Walter Jr is such a special soul that he learns so much and becomes braver and more confident and transforms.

Walter Jr is a very methodical thinker and is completely charming and it doesn’t take long before you fall in love with him as he goes on his finding quests! You also see that while he’s searching for things for others, he’s searching for answers for things that have happened in his life.

Highly recommended for those searching for a book full of hope and warmth

Thank you to Nudge Books for the copy in return for a fair and honest review