A Christmas Book Haul

I don’t often to book hauls, mostly because I don’t really get a lot of books in one go, but I was lucky enough to get so many wonderful books for/around Christmas that I just wanted to share them.

From Publishers

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Before Christmas I got a few exciting booking parcels in the post. One was this lovely set of It Girl books by Katy Birchall from Egmont. I loved the first two books and am excited to see what happens to Anna next. The new covers are gorgeous and I love this new design.

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I also received a copy of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber, from Walker books, which I’m reading at the moment. So many people have been tweeting amazing things about this book and I feel really lucky to have a copy.

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And finally, I have The Fireman by Joe Hill, from Gollancz. When I was emailed about this I’d just finished reading Horns and the offer of another book by Joe Hill was just too tempting.

From Nathan

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The majority of my presents from Nathan were books, which is alright by me! They were a good mix of things he knew I wanted – Noughts & Crosses which I used to borrow off my sister so never had my own copy, Goldenhand because I love The Old Kingdom series, a beautiful illustrated copy of The Lie Tree – and some new things to try as well. I’ve already read Scarlet Witch and can’t wait to get stuck into the rest of them.

From the In-Laws

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Nathan’s parents really know how to do Christmas well, and I was lucky to get a lot of books from them. The one I’m most excited about is The Call by Peadar O’Guilin, which I’ve heard great things about, and The Creeper Man by Dawn Kurtagich, as I loved The Dead House by her.

From my Mom

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And lastly, from my dear old Mom, I got The Muse by Jessie Burton. I read The Miniaturist last year and quite enjoyed it, though I’ll admit I struggled a bit as adult books aren’t really my thing. but it was still an interesting story and I’m looking forward to picking this one up.

This year I’ve decided to prioritise the books I got for Christmas, as last year some of them got lost in all the review books and new books I got throughout the year (I still haven’t read some of them…) So I have my new books in a separate pile and am going to work my way through them, alternating with review books when I have them.

I hope you all had a very bookish Christmas and that the new year holds lots of exciting things for you to read.

Book Review: The Castle of Inside Out (David Henry Wilson)

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

Publisher: Alma Books

Pages: 150

Release Date: July 21st 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Lorina, a young schoolgirl, is led by a black rabbit through a wood to a magical land. There she finds a race of green people, who are all overworked, starving and suffering from the toxic fumes billowing out of a nearby castle. She decides to gain access to the castle for the poor green people, and within its walls she meets the “insiders”, selfish creatures who hoard all the resources and treat the outsiders as slaves. Her quest leads her to encounter the bureaurat, the superviper, the farmadillo and, eventually, the awful Piggident himself.Will she be able to save the green people from the cruelty of these “insiders”?

Review:

When I saw this described as Alice in Wonderland meets Animal Farm I knew I had to read it. Regular readers will know I’m pretty Alice obsessed, and though I haven’t read Animal Farm in ages, I do remember enjoying it (this has made me want to read it again soon). I felt like Lorina’s name, and her sister Edith, were a little nod to the original Alice, whose sisters had the same name. Perhaps Lorina in the story is related to the Alice of the Wonderland story…

The book was everything I hoped for and I adored it. The beginning threw me a little at first as it leaps straight into the story without much introduction, but I soon got into it, and as this is explained at the end as well, I think I’ll like it better next time round (I know this is a book I’ll be re-reading!)

Lorina starts a quest to get food for the starving green people who live outside the castle, and to stop the toxic fumes that are killing them. But inside the castle she meets nothing but obstacles, as an array of creatures reason with her as to why they can’t help the green people.

The word play and puns reminded me of all the best bits of Alice in Wonderland – very clever and funny. This helped to keep the story light enough for children while tackling some dark themes: environmentalism, equality and humanity. The corrupt nature of the insiders perfectly captures and parodies government attitudes and actions in a simple way that children can understand, even if they don’t quite get the comparison. It means the book is fun for adults as well!

A highlight of this book was Chris Riddell’s illustrations, which really bring to life the strange creatures that Lorina meets. I loved the secretary bird the most, but they were all beautifully complex and detailed illustrations.

While a children’s book, this is definitely one that can be enjoyed by adults too, and I look forward to reading this one to the Little Moore when he’s a bit older.

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Book Review: The Sleeper and the Spindle (Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell)

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Pages: 72

Release Date: October 23rd 2015

Summary (From Goodreads):

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

Review:

I thought this book was just wonderful.After reading Gaiman’s Hansel and Gretel a few weeks back, I was expecting something similar – a beautiful retelling of a classic story, but without much else added to it. While I enjoyed reading Hansel and Gretel, I did find it a little disappointing.

This book, however, was spot on.

The title suggests a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, and there are elements of that in this story, but there’s also hints of Snow White and lashings of Gaiman’s own imagination too.

I loved that the story didn’t really follow the classic fairy tale format: the only prince mentioned was blown off by the Queen in the beginning, and it was the Queen who went on the dangerous journey to save a neighbouring kingdom and wake the sleeper. The twist at the end took me by surprise and was just another layer of excellence in this wonderful retelling.

The writing was really beautiful and the illustrations brought it to life perfectly: the level of detail was just incredible and added a really creepy element to the story. Some of the sleepers were straight out of nightmares and I didn’t like to linger on them too long. I loved the touch of gold in the illustrations, it really added something to it.

This was a really magical read that turned the slightly flat fairy tales of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty into complex stories with characters you really invest in. I’d love to see another story like this from Gaiman and Riddell.

My Verdict:
 
 

Copy of an art exhibit