Blog Tour Review: The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips

Hi friends! I’m so excited to be back for another @WriteReads blog tour for The Beast and The Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips. Special thanks to Netgalley and Egmont Publishing for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to check out all the other bloggers participating in this tour here.

Goodreads: The Beast and the Bethany
Publisher: Egmont Publishing
Published: 01 October 2020
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Panda Rating:

The most exciting new children’s book of 2020 and a modern classic in the making. The Beast and the Bethany has all the classic macabre humour of Roald Dahl with the warmth and charm of Despicable Me, finished off with a gleeful bite of Little Shop of Horrors! This book should be on every little monster’s birthday and Christmas list.

Ebenezer Tweezer is a youthful 511-year-old. He keeps a beast in the attic of his mansion, who he feeds all manner of things (including performing monkeys, his pet cat and the occasional cactus) and in return the beast vomits out presents for Ebenezer, as well as potions which keep him young and beautiful. But the beast grows ever greedier, and soon only a nice, juicy child will do. So when Ebenezer encounters orphan Bethany, it seems like (everlasting) life will go on as normal. But Bethany is not your average orphan . . .

BUY NOW: Amazon

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Blog Tour Review: The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

Hey, hey friends! I’m so excited to be back for another @WriteReads blog tour for The Ship of Shadows. This was such a fun and fast-paced read and I’m so glad this was put on my radar because of this tour 😍 Be sure to check out all the other bloggers participating in this tour over here.

Super big thanks to Dave for organising these tours and to NetGalley and Puffin Books for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! Let’s get to it…

Goodreads: The Ship of Shadows
Publisher: Puffin Books
Published: 16 July 2020
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Panda Rating:

Aleja whiles away her days in her family’s dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she’s only ever read about in books. After all, she’s always being told that girls can’t be explorers.

But her life is changed forever when adventure comes for her in the form of a fabled vessel called the Ship of Shadows. Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend. And it wants Aleja.

Once on board its shadowy deck, she begins to realize that the sea holds more secrets than she ever could have imagined. The crew are desperately seeking something, and their path will take them through treacherous waters and force them to confront nightmare creatures and pitch-dark magic. It will take all of Aleja’s strength and courage to gain the trust of her fellow pirates – and discover what they are risking everything to find

Buy a copy: Amazon

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Review: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1) by Jessica Townsend

Goodreads: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1)
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Panda Rating:

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks–and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart–an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests–or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

Unsurprisingly with everything going on right now it has been more than a little difficult to focus on reading*, but apparently middle grade books are really working for me! I still remember the first time I read Harry Potter when I was 9 and this book gave me those exact same feelings. This was such a wonderful adventure and I’m really excited to continue it in the upcoming books!

*Also I apologise in advance if this ends up being a windy-non-sensical review because aside from finding it difficult to focus on reading, my brain’s also not having it with writing reviews 😂

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Jack Janson and the Storm Caller by Andrew Marsh Blog Tour – #BookReview

This year is definitely the year of the blog tours for me as I’m back with another one for you and this time it’s for Jack Janson & the Storm Caller. Special thanks to Heather Fitt from Overview Media for asking me to be part of this blog tour and to author Andrew Marsh for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review! Don’t forget to check out the other bloggers on tour.

Goodreads: Jack Janson & the Storm Caller
Published: 05 August 2019
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Panda Rating:

Jack Janson is nearly fourteen, an only child living with his parents who hate him almost as much as they hate each other. The only good things about his life are the girl next door, Sarah-Jane Farmer, whom he adores, and his Granny Jean in Cornwall who he spends the summer holidays with.

His gran is cool but she has been hiding a HUGE secret. As her health fails, she decides to share the secret with Jack.
Gran leads Jack to a cave.
“Boom Tom tum” a loud voice echoes and a rock opens up to reveal a young giant called Winfred Storm Caller. Gran has been looking after the friendly giant since pirates killed his mother, but she now needs Jack to care for Winfred.
Sarah-Jane arrives to help and they uncover The Book Of Lore hidden in the cave.

What magic does it possess?
Have they found a way to get Winfred home to his own lands?
Are Sarah-Jane and Jack brave enough to use the book to save Granny Jean’s life?

Amazon US | Amazon UK

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Malamander (Malamander #1) by Thomas Taylor – #BookReview

Goodreads: Malamander (Malamander #1)
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Panda Rating:

Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous malamander creep…

Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl. No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander. Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up. And it just got stranger…

What a delightful and fantastical read! I haven’t read MG books in a very long time, this might be my second this year, but I’d seen this all over the blogosphere and not only did the cover capture my eye, but the story sounded great too. I’m so glad that I decided to pick this up because it was such a fun read! It’s full of atmosphere, mystery, friendship, danger and perhaps just a little dash of magic–enough at least to make you wonder what’s real or not.

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On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga #1) by Andrew Petersen – #eARC #BookReview

Goodreads: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga #1)
Publish date: 10 March 2020
Publisher: WaterBrook & Multnomah
Genre: Middle Grade, Children’s Book, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Panda Rating:

Janner Igiby, his brother, Tink, and their disabled sister, Leeli, are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that they love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang, who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice. The Igibys hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.

Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to enjoy discussing for its many layers of meaning. Extra features include new interior illustrations from Joe Sutphin, funny footnotes, a map of the fantastical world, inventive appendices, and fanciful line art in the tradition of the original Frank L. Baum Wizard of Oz storybooks.

It’s been a very long time since I read any middle grade books but I’ve recently added a few to my shelves that have been well praised by many book lovers, and when I saw the cover for this book I immediately wanted to read it because it’s simply a really attractive cover (yes, I’m judging a book by it’s cover so hard now). Plus, the blurb sounded good and I enjoyed the excerpt I read of it!

That said, while I was generally entertained by the book, I also found myself unexpectedly bored for certain periods of time (off-pacing), and I think that the story was going on for a lot longer than it should’ve. I was also unsure about the use of the footnotes. While some of the footnotes were interesting, I found that even if I didn’t read them, I wasn’t missing out on anything other than a humorous story or anecdote. I’m also wondering if footnotes are something young readers (especially middle graders) would appreciate? I don’t recall ever reading a book with footnotes in it when I was younger unless it was non-fiction or a textbook, and as an adult reader, I’m still not always a fan of footnotes; unless they really added key/important elements to the world building and the story itself.

I think one of the things I struggled with was not being able to form a connection with the story overall and in particular with the characters. I liked the Igiby family well enough–Janner, Tink and Leeli were interesting characters–but I just didn’t feel as invested in their journey as I hoped to be. Perhaps my favorite characters in the story were Peet and Nugget (the doggo, reasons for which go without saying. He’s a loyal companion to the Igiby children, particularly for Leeli)!

Peet was a courageous side-character who suffered from (what I can tell) possible mental health issues and a disability. He was pitied in town and was treated pretty awfully by the Igiby heads of house (Podo and Nia) for a reason that only becomes apparent at the end, but to me never justified the unfair treatment of his character. While I started off liking Podo’s character, his awful treatment of Peet was so distasteful and made me like him a lot less (it says a lot about a person’s character IRL just as much as in a book)! The Fangs of Dang were obviously awful characters we were meant to hate and the author did a great job of stoking those feelings against these characters. I thought the disability rep with Leeli’s and Podo’s characters was really great. Leeli was such a strong female character that had a fierce independent streak. I loved that her disability didn’t stop her from having adventures and getting up to mischief with her brothers; her disability was normalized (as in, it didn’t hamper her in any way) and it was nice to see that being shown in books to such a young audience.

As this was an e-ARC, most of the illustrations and maps were not yet included, so that was also a little bit disappointing because the illustrations that were already included in the story were pretty amazing! I can only imagine how much fun these illustrations will be to look at once it’s done (and in color too)! Overall, while I was really pulled in by the premise of this story, I found it a bit difficult to get into and that’s what made me remove stars. I wish that the pacing was more consistent but it was still an enjoyable enough read. I think many young middle grade readers would enjoy it too!

Thanks to NetGalley and the author for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This new hard cover edition is out March 2020.
Have you read The Wingfeather Saga books? Let’s
chat in the comments!

Elma: A Bear’s Life: The Great Journey (Vol 1) by Ingrid Chabbert – #ARC #GraphicNovel #Review

Goodreads: Elma: A Bear’s Life: The Great Journey (Vol. 1)
Publish date: 17 July 2019
Publisher: Europe Comics
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Comic, Graphic Novel
Rating:

Elma is a joyful, free-spirited child who is being raised by her father. But Papa Bear is hiding a secret, and the close-knit duo must make a long and perilous journey to begin a mysterious new life beyond the forest. Adventure and danger are in store as they discover the secrets of Elma’s past and future.

Um, OKAY. How dare this graphic novel end on such a cliffhanger!? Nooo… I want to know what happens to Elma and Papa Bear! Do they make it?! Where are they going? Is he bringing her back home? Why is the fores seemingly conspiring to take Elma away from Papa Bear? SO MANY QUESTIONS! I kind of feel a little bit like Elma right now because the curiosity and need for answers is strong!

I adored this graphic novel. First of all, that cover is a wonderful representation of the stunning art work that you’ll find inside the pages. The colours are autumnal, so they’re warm and very comforting. I could seriously just look at the pages all day because the work is beautiful, and I enjoyed that there was limited dialogue so it didn’t detract from the art. This is targeted at children, however, at one point Elma does lose all her clothes and her full body (including genitalia) can be seen. It’s one scene and then she’s covered up again in the next. I don’t think it was done distastefully, but I just thought I’d leave a warning anyway.

I found the start of the storyline just as enjoyable as the art. It obviously has “Jungle Book” vibes (of course, abandoned child in forest raised by an animal that’s meant to be a predator) and although I admittedly am not the biggest fan of that story (don’t hate me), I really enjoyed this one! I’m a little sad this was only the first volume/chapter, as reading the blurb led me to think it might be the full story. Still, I’m glad I stumbled across it because so far it’s a sweet story, although it does raise many questions I hope will be answered in the next volume!

The relationship between Elma and Papa Bear was very sweet, and you can feel through their dialogue, interactions and the art that they really care for and love each other like father/daughter. Elma is full of life and so much sass and Papa Bear is this big calming force looking out for her. I love a story where animals can talk and this was definitely no exception! I thought their story really fit with the art work because it effused the same warmth the colours in the art work gave me. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on more of this graphic novel and I would 100% add this to my physical shelf because it’s beautiful book and the story is shaping up to be too!

Thanks to NetGalley and Europe Comics for providing the e-ARC for an honest review. This book is out now! Have you read Elma: A Bear’s Life? What’d you think? Let me know in the comments below and let’s chat!

Sparrowhawk #1 by Delilah S. Dawson – #ARC #GraphicNovel #Review

Goodreads: Sparrowhawk #1
Publish date: 20 August 2019
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Comic
Rating:

Teen Victorian fairy fight club! As the illegitimate daughter of a Naval Captain, Artemesia has never fit in with her father’s family, nor the high class world to which they belong. However, when she is targeted by the Faerie Queen and pulled into another realm, she has no choice but to try and save the world that has always hated her. Writer Delilah S. Dawson (Hellboy: An Assortment of Horror, Star Wars: Forces of Destiny) and artist Matias Basla (The Claw and Fang) present a beautiful, gripping tale perfect for fans of Labyrinth and Princeless. 

Sparrowhawk is a fast paced, well drawn comic. The artwork is full of bold colors although the style itself is not one that I’m usually drawn to or prefer. That said, I thought it suited the strangeness of this story. I liked the artwork on the chapter/title pages more than I did the artwork throughout the comic, but I loved the contrast of the colorful against the brutal, gruesome and dark faerie world story. The plot itself reminded me of elements of Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland, which the author also mentioned as her inspiration in the afterword.

I found the story interesting. Artemesia is the daughter of a colonizer and a slave woman who grew up in a family that was cruel and didn’t want her. After being forced into a situation she doesn’t want to be in, Art finds herself being pulled into the faerie realm, having been replaced by the Faerie Queen in her world. In faerie, Art meets a demonic bunny (reminiscent of the cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland) who makes a pact to help her get back home, in exchange for one of Art’s memories. Art must go through faerie slaying monstrosities in order to get back home, and along the way she encounters both the good and evil creatures of faerie, including the gentle faerie prince, whom she falls in love with. How far will she go to get back home?

Art was a strong willed character who was fiercely determined to go home. Her transformation from a thoughtful human, to a monster who enjoys killing as much as any unseelie, was disturbing. It begs the question: how far would you go to do what you think is right, even if it turns you into someone who you don’t like. The side characters were all very interesting as well and although he was an evil, twisted thing I really enjoyed the demonic bunny’s character.

I liked the sinister vibes of the ending and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next and how Art will deal with the repercussions of her actions.

Thanks to NetGalley and BOOM! Studios for providing the e-ARC for an honest review.
Have you read Sparrowhawk? Loved it? Hated it? Meh about it? Come let me know in the comments and let’s chat!

The Tea Dragon Festival (Tea Dragon #2) by Katie O’Neill – #eARC #BookReview

Goodreads: The Tea Dragon Festival (Tea Dragon #2)
Publish date: 17 September 2019
Publisher: Oni Press
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Comic
Rating:

Rinn has grown up with the Tea Dragons that inhabit their village, but stumbling across a real dragon turns out to be a different matter entirely! Aedhan is a young dragon who was appointed to protect the village but fell asleep in the forest eighty years ago. With the aid of Rinn’s adventuring uncle Erik and his partner Hesekiel, they investigate the mystery of his enchanted sleep, but Rinn’s real challenge is to help Aedhan come to terms with feeling that he cannot get back the time he has lost.

The Tea Dragon Festival is another beautiful graphic novel by Katie O’Neill. The style and use of color in the artwork is gorgeous and really brings to life this wonderful world of dragons, tea dragons, magical forest creatures and village life. The story takes places before The Tea Dragon Society, and I really enjoyed meeting the younger versions of Hesekiel and Erik, two loveable characters from that book.

In this comic, we follow the story of Rinn, a young village girl who’s an aspiring cook and talented forager, who stumbles upon Aedhan, a young dragon who has been asleep for 80-years. Aedhan is plagued by guilt for having not done his duty of taking care of the village residents, but he was put under a sleeping spell by a magical forest creature. Rinn brings Aedhan to the village and the two quickly form a strong, sweet bond as Aedhan picks up his dragon duties and reintegrates to village life. I loved how this story was even more diverse and inclusive than the first book. We have characters who use sign language, different ethnicities, and diverse sexualities, and none of these elements in the story feels contrived.

The tea dragons were just as freaking adorable as in the first book. I want to live in this world and I want to take care of those tea dragons, no matter how pesky they’re claimed to be! At the end, O’Neill also included additional information about the tea dragon varieties, and more wonderful history about dragons like Aedhan.

This was a very quick read full of sweet and fluffy things! And I mean, super cute good looking dragons. Come on, isn’t that all you really need to know? Recommended to everyone who wants to experience all the good and happy feels!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing the e-ARC for an honest review.
Have you read any of the Tea Dragon graphic novels? Love em? Hate em? Meh about them? Come let me know in the comments and let’s chat!