Book Review: The Secret Fire (C. J. Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK

Pages: 424

Release Date: September 10th 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

French teen Sacha Winters can’t die. He can throw himself off a roof, be stabbed, even shot, and he will always survive. Until the day when history and ancient enmities dictate that he must die. Worse still, his death will trigger something awful. Something deadly. And that day is closing in.

Taylor Montclair is a normal English girl, hanging out with her friends and studying for exams, until she starts shorting out the lights with her brain. She’s also the only person on earth who can save Sacha.

There’s only one problem: the two of them have never met. They live hundreds of miles apart and powerful forces will stop at nothing to keep them apart.

They have eight weeks to find each other.

Will they survive long enough to save the world?

Review:

This is probably one of the first co-written books I’ve read and I’m really impressed. It doesn’t feel like two separate people writing their own stories, which is something I was worried abut. The two narratives work well together, they feel different but not part of a different story.

I loved Sacha’s story and the way it was introduced. I can’t imagine the exhilarating rush that would come from not being able to die – like living in a video game and knowing you can do what you want because you always have another life. But then there’s the ticking clock against you, the knowledge that you’re going to die on a certain date and there’s nothing you can do about it.

I was a little less interested in Taylor: she was a bit bland to me at first and I didn’t connect with her until late on when she started rebelling a bit. It’s not that I don’t like ‘good girl’ characters – I was probably fairly similar to Taylor at that age, but I just found her a little too perfect to be true.

The introduction and explanation of alchemy was done well: I think it can be really hard to explain and make the characters understand in a reasonable amount of time: you need a certain amount of disbelief, but no one wants to hear a constant back and forth of denial. Luckily I think the pressure of Sacha’s situation makes acceptance a little easier and helps to hurry things along.

I got to a certain point in the book and realised that it was too late for them to solve everything, which meant a massive cliffhanger was coming. So now I can only hope that the sequel comes out damn fast! It’s an interesting read and I look forward to seeing where it goes next.

4

If you enjoyed this, you might like Watersmeet by Rachel Cotterill

 

Return to the Secret Garden Blog Tour – Interview with Holly Webb

Today I am excited to be taking part in the Return to the Secret Garden blog tour. Having joined in with the re-readalong for The Secret Garden, I was really excited to receive a copy of the book and get the chance to interview author Holly Webb on influences and decisions on writing a sequel to a classic children’s story. Plus keep reading until the end to find a giveaway where you can win a copy of The Secret Garden and Return to the Secret Garden!

 

Hi Holly and welcome to my blog. First off I’d like to ask, was it daunting to write a sequel for such a well loved classic?

Yes, very! I’m still quite surprised that I dared to do it…

Despite being sour and unpleasant, Mary and Colin are very lovable character. What do you think makes them so well liked?

Perhaps that they’re so believable? And you can hardly blame them for being horrible, when you think how lonely they must both have been. They work so well together in the book, too, they spark off each other brilliantly.

What was the hardest thing about writing Return to the Secret Garden?

Making decisions about what was going to happen to characters from the original book. I didn’t like some of the decisions, even though I knew they were right for the sequel.

Do you have a favourite classic children’s book (aside from The Secret Garden?)

Oh, lots. I really love A Little Princess, though.

What made you want to set the book at the outbreak of WWII?

When I first thought about a sequel, I realised that Mary, Colin and Dickon would have been in their teens at the outbreak of WWI. I didn’t want to continue their story so directly, but I realised that the war would have had a such a huge effect on their lives. So it would be particularly tragic for them to face another war. Also, making Emmie an evacuee was a very useful way to get her to Misselthwaite!

Does the ‘Magic’ of the garden make a return in this book?

There’s not as much emphasis on it as there is in the original – it’s mentioned in Mary’s diary entries, and Emmie wants to believe that the garden is magic. I felt it was there, and I so hope readers do.

What would be in your own secret garden?

When I was about eight or nine, we went to the Royal Horticultural Gardens at Wisley, and there was a summer house with wisteria growing all round it – so you could sit inside a curtain of wisteria. I would have one of those. In the book, Emmie daydreams a honeysuckle house for herself and Lucy, her cat. And I would have auriculas – they’re strange little relatives of primroses that come in amazing colours!

And here are my quick fire questions to round off with:

What are you reading at the moment?

The Cricket Term by Antonia Forest

Favourite book as a child?

Hmm. Most re-read book was probably A Little Princess.

Favourite writing drink and snack?

Coffee and chocolate.

5 desert island books?

  1. Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones
  2. Night Waking by Sarah Moss
  3. Lirael by Garth Nix
  4. Traitor’s Purse by Margery Allingham
  5. Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers

Favourite place to read?

Bed.

Any hidden talents?

I can bend the top joints of my fingers. (Useless but fun.)

What fictional world would you love to live in?

Narnia.

About Holly Webb

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Holly Webb was one of the World Book Day authors for 2012 and has received high praise for her previous standalone fiction Looking for Bear, A Cat Called Penguin, The Chocolate Dog and A Tiger Tale. She published her 100th book, The Truffle Mouse, in August.

Website: http://www.holly-webb.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HollyKateSkeet

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HollyWebbOfficial

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/887961.Holly_Webb


About Return to the Secret Garden

Return to the Secret Garden

Summary:

It’s 1939 and a group of children have been evacuated to Misselthwaite Hall. Emmie is far from happy to have been separated from her cat and sent to a huge old mansion. But soon she starts discovering the secrets of the house – a boy crying at night, a diary written by a girl named Mary and a garden. A very secret garden…

Title: Return to the Secret Garden

Author: Holly Webb

Release Date: October 1st 2015

Genre: Historical MG

Publisher: Scholastic UK

Format: Hardback and E-book

On Goodreads and Amazon UK 


Giveaway Information

Scholastic are giving away a copy of The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett and a copy of Return to the Secret Garden by Holly Webb to one lucky blog tour follower! [UK AND IRL ONLY]

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Follow the Tour

To keep up with the blog tour for the rest of the week and catch up on any you might have missed, check out the tour poster and follow the links below.

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Monday 5th October

Ya Yeah Yeah

This Fleeting Dream

Tuesday 6th October

The Little Munchkin Reader

Powered by Reading

Wednesday 7th October

Serendipity Reviews

Maia and a Little Moore

Thursday 8th October

Pretty Books

Tales of Yesterday

Friday 9th October

The Bookish Outsider

Big Book Little Book

Saturday 10th October

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts

Sunday 11th October

Kirstyes

YA Under My Skin

Book Review: Colour Me Mindful (Anastasia Catris)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Orion Books

Review:

This is my second set of Colour Me Mindful books, and I was really looking forward to them. Anastasia Catris asked for ideas for the Enchanted Creatures book and I immediately knew I wanted it. I’m a big fan of fantasy creatures!

So that was the first book I started with, of course. The first picture caught my eye straight away as some kind of Cthulhu monster:

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I think the pictures have the perfect mix of large and smaller parts to colour in, which is great for me: I know I can get frustrated if it’s too fiddly some time, as I’m not the most careful of people yet still hate going outside the lines!

The Butterflies book is full of stunning pages and just feels like the perfect thing to colour in. You can’t go wrong with butterflies and flowers, though as a lot of these are more intricate I feel I need better/sharper pencils before I can tackle these.

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The third book, Seasons, is one I’m going to take my time with, as I want to colour everything in when it’s the right season. I think it’ll be lovely to be colouring in some Christmas pictures when the tree is up and the lights are on and it’s freezing cold outside. There’s something very nostalgic about time/season appropriate pictures, as it’s something you always get as a kid: Easter Eggs to colour in at Easter and such. I kept it fairly neutral for now by colouring in some delicious looking cocktails (and feeling envious as I can’t drink!)

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Once again, these books offer some quiet, relaxation time for adults with busy, stressful lives. I was such a fan of colouring as a kid and I do find it really soothing to do again as adult, especially after a long day of work and travel. I’m so happy to have more pages of Catris’ beautiful designs to work through, and I look forward to what she brings out next!