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Blog Tour – Dream Magic (Shadow Magic #2) – Joshua Khan

Published April 6, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

In a world ruled by six ancient Houses of Magic, a girl and a boy begin an epic and dangerous journey of discovery . . . Lilith Shadow, princess of darkness, is struggling with her growing powers. Castle Gloom is filling with ghosts, zombies roam the country and people throughout Gehenna are disappearing. Then Lily is attacked in her own castle by a mysterious sorcerer known as Dreamweaver and his army of jewel-spiders whose bites send victims to sleep. Thorn, and his giant bat Hades, must save Lily from the realm of sleep and help her overcome the evil Dreamweaver in order for her to reclaim her kingdom.

What did I think?:

Welcome to my post on the blog tour for Dream Magic, the second book in the Shadow Magic series by British author, Joshua Khan, a series that Rick Riordan has quoted on the covers: “I defy you not to love this story.” Well, with an endorsement like that, what else could I do but read it? I read the first book, Shadow Magic recently, check out my post HERE and definitely recommend reading the series in order to get the back story of the characters and an introduction to a beautiful fantasy world that I just loved.

So, as mentioned in the synopsis, this world involves a number of different lands, ruled by six Houses of Magic. In the first story, it focuses on the House of Shadows and the thirteen year old ruler, Lilith Shadow who takes up the mantle of ruler after her parents and brother were murdered. She makes friends with Thorn, a peasant boy who is currently a squire at Castle Gloom and along with his giant bat, Hades, helps her deal with an attempt on her own life shortly after ancient enemies, the Solars from Lumina come to Gehenna after she becomes engaged to their heir, Gabriel. Here’s where we are now. Lily is no longer engaged to Gabriel and is somewhat weakened after the surprising events at the end of the last story but is gradually growing stronger with the help of her father, now a ghost but managing to appear to her in the library of Castle Gloom and helping her amass the skills she needs to defend her land and her people.

For there is a new threat in Gehenna. The trolls have started marching, determined to create a war as their people have started disappearing and they blame the House of Shadows. However, villagers from all over the lands, inside and outside Gehenna are going missing, including Lily’s protector and faithful executioner, Tyburn. When Lily and Thorn investigate, they uncover a strange plague of jewel spiders that put everyone they bite into a seemingly endless sleep. After many frightening incidents, they discover that a powerful sorcerer is controlling these jewel spiders for his own dastardly reasons. What is his connection with the House of Shadows and why is he so hell-bent on revenge? Can Lily and Thorn solve the puzzle of what’s going on before they lose any more of her people or become embroiled in a bloody war with the trolls?

Once again, Joshua Khan knocks it out of the park with an amazing fantastical world that was so exciting to read about and was a genuine roller-coaster of a reading experience. He has a huge, seemingly endless imagination for creating new worlds and it was another magical story that I thoroughly enjoyed. We learn a lot more about the characters back stories, especially Thorn and his family in this book which I appreciated and even a tid-bit into the stoic Tyburn’s past which only made me hunger for more! Of course, it was wonderful to see the return of Hades the giant bat who has to be one of my favourite non-human characters and I hope to see lots more of him in future books in the series. Finally, I also love that the author doesn’t shy away from using potentially scary creatures, like zombies and massive spiders, which is exactly what I wanted from authors I chose to read when I was younger. I would suggest that because of this it might not be suitable for much younger children but if you have a particularly precocious reading child – go for it, it’s certainly a wonderful series to read!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Joshua Khan was born in Britain. From very early on he filled himself with the stories of heroes, kings and queens until there was hardly any room for anything else. He can tell you where King Arthur was born* but not what he himself had for breakfast. So, with a head stuffed with tales of legendary knights, wizards and great and terrible monsters it was inevitable Joshua would want to create some of his own. Hence SHADOW MAGIC. Josh lives in London with his family, but he’d rather live in a castle. It wouldn’t have to be very big, just as long as it had battlements.
*Tintagel, in case you were wondering.

Website: http://www.joshuakhan.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/writerjoshkhan

Thank you to everyone who invited me to be a part of this blog tour, I’ve had a great time doing it. Dream Magic, the second book in the Shadow Magic series was released on 6th April 2017 by Scholastic Books and is available from all good bookshops now!

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34740944-dream-magic
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dream-Magic-Shadow-Joshua-Khan/dp/1407172093

Want to know more? Why not check out all the other stops on the blog tour from my fellow bloggers?

Shadow Magic (Shadow Magic #1) – Joshua Khan

Published April 5, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

In a world ruled by six ancient Houses of Magic, a girl and a boy begin an epic and dangerous journey of discovery… After her parents’ murder, 13-year-old Lilith “Lily” Shadow rules Gehenna from Castle Gloom, an immense and windowless citadel. Once Lily’s ancestors commanded spirits, communed with the dead, and raised armies from out of the grave. But now her country is about to be conquered by the Shadows’ ancient enemies – the Solars, the lords of light. Thorn is a peasant boy, wily and smart, sold into slavery and desperate to escape. So when he’s bought by Tyburn, executioner to House Shadow, he’ll agree to just about anything – even to serving Castle Gloom for a year and day in order to earn his freedom. When Lily is nearly poisoned by a ruthless and unknown assassin, she and Thorn embark on a dangerous quest to save Gehenna, a weird and wonderful land of haunted castles, mysterious forests and an unforgettable giant bat. Together they must unravel a twisted plot of betrayals, pride and deadly ambition.

What did I think?:

When Faye Rogers contacted me and asked me to be a part of the blog tour for the second book in this amazing middle grade fiction series, Dream Magic, I jumped at the chance, especially when I read the exciting synopsis. Of course that meant I needed to catch up a little bit and read book one, Shadow Magic first and I’m ever so glad I did. Joshua Khan is a brilliant new voice in children’s literature and one I’m thrilled to discover. His characters are well drawn and instantly appealing to both younger and older readers and his world-building is nothing short of fantastic. A huge thank you to Scholastic Books for sending me a copy of both books in the series so far in exchange for honest reviews and as part a blog tour.

This series is steeped in fantasy and involves a number of magical lands of which we learn more about as the series continues into the second book. For the first however, we are introduced to the House of Shadows, rulers of a land called Gehenna from the (relative) safety of Castle Gloom. I say safety…but Gehenna is probably the darkest of all the lands with a number of ghosts resident in the castle, no windows within the castle to let in light (hey, they didn’t call it the House of SHADOWS for no reason!) and the potential to raise the undead in the form of zombies. The current ruler of Gehenna is thirteen year old Lily Shadow who has been thrust into the role when her parents and brother were brutally murdered by unknown assassins, one of whom has never been caught, by her loyal executioner, Tyburn.

Lily’s Uncle Pan and the rest of the nobility are attempting to arrange a marriage for Lily, to happen in a couple of years when she is old enough. The bridegroom of the moment is heir to the Solars known as the “land of light,” in direct contrast to Lily’s ancestors and, in fact, the two houses have been at war for years. The marriage between the son, Gabriel and Lily Shadow is an attempt to bring about peace between the lands. When the Solars arrive however, Lily is disgusted by her future husband Gabriel and his behaviour. Worse still, after an assassination attempt, Lily’s life and the future of the House of Shadow is in terrible danger. With the help of a young boy called Thorn and his giant bat Hades, Lily must uncover the villain who may want to end her life and protect her beloved Gehenna from certain doom.

I mentioned at the start that I instantly wanted to begin this series because of the synopsis but can I just take a moment to mention the cover? That giant bat (Hades, if you please!) and the two children riding on him made me one hundred percent certain that this was a book that I needed to read. I was delighted to discover a brilliant story within with such fascinating characters, like the smelly, grumpy and ever so loveable Hades and the wonderful main characters of Lily and Thorn themselves. It’s action-packed and broken up with a few pages of beautiful illustrations which I really appreciated and felt really added to the momentum and atmosphere of the story. Best of all for me personally, there was a two page map at the beginning of the book. Now, I do love a map in a book and this one was one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was so detailed and intricate that I could really understand how much work the author has put into developing this world and the characters in it. I’m so excited to get to the next book in the series now, Dream Magic so look out for my post on the blog tour coming tomorrow!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2017 – MARCH READ – Awful Auntie by David Walliams

Published March 31, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A page-turning, rollicking romp of a read, sparkling with Walliams’ most eccentric characters yet and full of the humour and heart that all his readers love, Awful Auntie is simply unmissable!

From larger than life, tiddlywinks obsessed Awful Aunt Alberta to her pet owl, Wagner – this is an adventure with a difference. Aunt Alberta is on a mission to cheat the young Lady Stella Saxby out of her inheritance – Saxby Hall. But with mischievous and irrepressible Soot, the cockney ghost of a chimney sweep, alongside her Stella is determined to fight back… And sometimes a special friend, however different, is all you need to win through.

What did I think?:

Chrissi and I first put David Walliams on our Kid Lit list a couple of years ago when we read the amazing Gangsta Granny. We enjoyed it so much that we’ve continued to feature his books on including The Boy In The Dress last year. After now having had some experience with his writing, I was really looking forward to diving back into his wacky but wonderful mind accompanied with some brilliant illustrations by Tony Ross, who is remarkably like Quentin Blake. A lot of people compare David to Roald Dahl and I can definitely see why (it’s not just the Quentin Blake connection!). He is incredibly witty and has an amazing imagination for things that children of the target age group love to read and laugh about.

I may have started my other reviews of the author’s work by stating that the one I’m writing about is my favourite David Walliams book and I’m afraid here I go again! Awful Auntie is easily the best one I’ve read so far, I loved the plot, the characters and the jokes and found myself thoroughly charmed by the whole thing. Our main character is a little girl called Lady Stella Saxby, only surviving heir to Saxby Hall after her parents were killed in a horrific car accident. However, there is a relation of the family that her father specifically did not want to ever inherit Saxby Hall, his sister, Alberta. Alberta is not your regular kind and loving auntie I’m afraid. She’s mean, self-obsessed, a bit crazy and only devoted to one thing – her pet owl Wagner who assists her in her wicked deeds. She’s determined to find the deeds to Saxby Hall and force Stella to sign them over to her by any means necessary. Lucky Stella has the ghost of Saxby Hall, a chimney sweep called Soot on her side so that Aunt Alberta can be stopped before anything too terrible happens!

This story was just fantastic. Absolutely hilarious, I loved the character of Aunt Alberta and all her little quirks and villainous ways and I really enjoyed how Stella stood up to her, played tricks on her and remained brave and proud of her heritage despite having suffered the loss of her parents and been lied to and treated abominably by somebody who was supposed to be her close family. Once again, the illustrations were out of this world and really added to the magic and atmosphere of the story although David’s gift with words and humour did give them a major run for their money! I laughed out loud at many points and was constantly delighted by an exciting, fast-paced story that I know children would adore. Two words for you – Owl Urinal. Could they really be a thing? Aunt Alberta seems to think so!

Image from https://www.worldofdavidwalliams.com/book/awful-auntie/

For Chrissi’s fabulous post, please visit her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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COMING UP IN APRIL ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: A Snicker Of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid Lit 2017 – FEBRUARY READ – The Cuckoo Sister by Vivian Alcock

Published February 26, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

“Since the day I found out about Emma, I seemed to have gone to the bad. I was rude. I told lies. I listened at doors and read other people’s letters if they left them about. I was always losing things . . . watches, cameras, and silver bracelets. And whenever my mother reproached me, I screamed at her, ‘Look who’s talking? Who lost her own baby? Who lost my sister? Just because you wanted a new dress?'”

Convinced that her family’s problems will end if only Emma is returned by the person who snatched her from her baby carriage, Kate longs for the older sister she never knew. But when a thin, spiky-haired stranger with hard eyes shows up with a letter claiming she’s the long-lost sister, there’s more trouble than ever. This “Emma” is certainly not the sister Kate imagined.

What did I think?:

The Cuckoo Sister appeared on our Kid Lit list for this year after a strange, nostalgic moment experienced by my sister, Chrissi Reads. This book was one of our (many) favourites from childhood but we hadn’t thought about it for years. One day, she suddenly remembered it and had such a clear picture of what the cover looked like from the copy I had owned leading me to go on a frantic Google search for that exact cover and led to us placing the book on the list for 2017.

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It follows a young girl called Kate who finds out that her parents had another baby before she was born – a little girl that they called Emma. Tragically, after leaving the baby in a pram outside a shop while her mother went hunting for a new dress, the baby disappeared, ruining her parents life. Well, now a girl two years older than Kate has appeared on the family doorstep with a letter from the woman who raised her saying that the child was her sister Emma (although she now went by the name of Rosie) and apologising for taking her all those years ago. Kate has had a picture in her head about what her sister looked like and often fantasised about what would happen when her sister finally returned. However, what turns up on the doorstep is the furthest away from what Kate or her parents could ever have imagined. Is this really Emma, Kate’s long lost sister? And can they learn to be a family again, despite their huge differences?

Well, this book brought back a wave of wonderful memories from when I used to read it to myself and to my sister when we were younger. It was lovely to see the old cover again and it was odd how much I remembered certain sentences, phrases, incidents of text all these years later. For nostalgia’s sake alone, I’m really glad we re-read it. I have to admit however to feeling slightly disappointed regarding the story. So far, with other books we’ve re-read, a case in point being The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, all those old feelings about the novel came flooding back. Not so with this book unfortunately. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved re-visiting a story that I clearly loved as a youngster but for some reason, it doesn’t seem to have stood the test of time. I felt more anger towards Kate for being a spoilt brat in regards to her reaction to her sister and at times, the abominable way she treated her parents and found Rosie herself very difficult to get to know and love as a character. Perhaps it’s one of those children’s books that you can only read and enjoy when you’re a certain age? I’m not sure but it was an interesting re-reading experience and I’m still glad that we chose to put it on the list for this year.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

COMING UP IN MARCH ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT 2017: Awful Auntie by David Walliams

The Girl Who Walked On Air – Emma Carroll

Published February 14, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Abandoned as a baby at Chipchase’s Travelling Circus, Louie dreams of becoming a ‘Showstopper’. Yet Mr Chipchase only ever lets her sell tickets. No Death-Defying Stunts for her. So in secret, Louie practises her act- the tightrope- and dreams of being the Girl Who Walked on Air. All she needs is to be given the chance to shine.

One night a terrible accident occurs. Now the circus needs Louie’s help, and with rival show Wellbeloved’s stealing their crowds, Mr Chipchase needs a Showstopper- fast.

Against his better judgement, he lets Louie perform. She is a sensation and gets an offer from the sinister Mr Wellbeloved himself to perform in America. But nothing is quite as it seems and soon Louie’s bravery is tested not just on the highwire but in confronting her past and the shady characters in the world of the circus . . .

Fans of Frost Hollow Hall will love this epic adventure, where courage takes many different forms.

What did I think?:

The Girl Who Walked On Air is the wonderfully talented Emma Carroll’s second novel for children, aimed around the middle grade reading age but… (and this is a big BUT), I truly believe that her books can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, especially those adults who love an imaginative plot and beautifully drawn characters like Louie Reynolds, our heroine for the story.

I first came across Emma’s writing with her fantastic debut, Frost Hollow Hall which completely captured my heart and I can’t recommend highly enough. Well, if she hasn’t gone and done it again with The Girl Who Walked On Air! Set in the grounds of a Victorian circus it features a young girl called Louie who was abandoned by her mother at Mr Chipchase’s circus and is looked after by the kindly Jasper, a trapeze artist and her guardian angel. She has big dreams of being a performer, or to be exact – a “showstopper,” on the tightrope wire. She practices constantly, watched over by her loyal little dog Pip, but Mr Chipchase is determined that she is only good enough to sell tickets and mend costumes.

This sends her and new arrival at the circus Gabriel, straight into the clutches of Mr Wellbeloved, who manages a rival circus and insists on only the most death defying stunts to bring in the punters. As Louie learns more about who she is as a person, where her heart lies and just what lengths she will go to in becoming a star, she also discovers a lot about friendship and just who can be trusted in a fickle world where money and pure greed is, sadly, the only yardstick by which success is measured.

Once again, Emma Carroll has given us some brilliant characters which have stayed with me long after finishing the book. Louie, just like Tilly in Frost Hollow Hall is beautifully drawn. She is impetuous, independent, brave and indeed flawed but ever so realistic as a young girl which in turn, made her infinitely more loveable as a result. I really enjoyed reading about her relationships with Jasper and her friends Ned and Gabriel and was touched by the dark side of her past and her desperation to find out where she came from and where she belonged. The setting of the circus that the author chose was just as stunning and so descriptive that I felt I could picture events scene by scene, character by character, which led to many difficulties putting it down!

As I mentioned earlier, please don’t be dissuaded that the author writes for children, I do believe that this book can be enjoyed by adults just as much. The Girl Who Walked On Air took me right back to my childhood when I used to just sit in a room and read right until the book was finished (and if this went past my bedtime, it was continued under my duvet with a torch!). I didn’t need the torch as an adult, but I certainly read from the beginning to the end in one sitting and loved every moment.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit – The Titles For 2017 Revealed!

Published January 2, 2017 by bibliobeth

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Welcome 2017! Welcome to a new year of Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit. Without further ado, here are the titles we have chosen for the year ahead:

JANUARY- Prince Caspian- C.S. Lewis
FEBRUARY- The Cuckoo Sister- Vivian Alcock
MARCH- Awful Auntie- David Walliams
APRIL- A Snicker of Magic- Natalie Lloyd
MAY- The Sea Of Monsters (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #2)- Rick Riordan
JUNE- The Prime Minister’s Brain- Gillian Cross
JULY- The Reptile Room (A Series Of Unfortunate Events #2) by Lemony Snicket
AUGUST- Fortunately, the Milk- Neil Gaiman
SEPTEMBER- Saffy’s Angel – Hilary McKay
OCTOBER- Black Hearts in Battersea- Joan Aiken
NOVEMBER- Witch Child – Celia Rees
DECEMBER- Finding Jennifer Jones- Anne Cassidy
So much to look forward to this year. We are carrying on with a couple of series we have really enjoyed like the Narnia series which we have been reading since 2013. I am particularly looking forward to Prince Caspian as it’s one of the Narnia books I don’t really remember. We also have The Prime Minister’s Brain following up from The Demon Headmaster in 2016, Finding Jennifer Jones which is the sequel to Looking For JJ by Anne Cassidy and of course another book from David Walliams, an author whom we are really enjoying! There are some stand alone titles on here too that we thought looked intriguing and an old favourite – The Cuckoo Sister, which we both remember fondly from our childhood. Bring on Kid-Lit 2017, we’re ready for ya!

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid Lit 2016 – The Round Up

Published January 1, 2017 by bibliobeth

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Image from http://www.parentspartner.com/childrens-literature/

Hello everyone and welcome to Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2016 The Round Up where we’ll be talking about our highlights (and lowlights) of our Kid Lit year. As always, we’ve read some fantastic books and series, some of which we will be continuing into 2017. Please find below all the books we read and the links to my reviews. For Chrissi’s reviews the link will be at the bottom of each original post.

JANUARY- The Demon Headmaster- Gillian Cross

FEBRUARY- Carrie’s War- Nina Bawden

MARCH- The Boy In The Dress- David Walliams

APRIL- Noble Conflict- Malorie Blackman

MAY- The Horse and His Boy- C.S Lewis

JUNE- The Borrowers- Mary Norton

JULY- Maggot Moon- Sally Gardner

AUGUST- Looking For JJ- Anne Cassidy

SEPTEMBER – The Wolves of Willoughby Chase-Joan Aiken

OCTOBER- Ballet Shoes- Noel Streatfeild

NOVEMBER- A Series of Unfortunate Events- Lemony Snicket 

DECEMBER- The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair- Lara Williamson

So, in the style of the “Talking About…” reviews we normally do, we thought we’d answer a quick few questions about our fourth (!!) year of Kid-Lit blogging.

1) What was your favourite Kid-Lit book of 2016 and why?
BETH: Tough choice this year as there were a few books I really, really loved. If I had to choose one though it would be The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase. Totally surprised me with how much I enjoyed it and it had such a classic, old-time feel to it which was fantastic.
CHRISSI: Mine would be The Wolves of Willoughby Chase or The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair. I can’t pick… sorry! Both had such charm.
2) What was your least favourite Kid-Lit book of 2016 and why?
BETH: Hmmm…..Ballet Shoes. Definitely the most disappointing. I struggled to get through it if I’m honest and got a bit bored about halfway through.
CHRISSI: I would say Ballet Shoes as well. I really thought it would be a book that I loved because I’m a massive fan of books that involve dance and love that era, but no, it wasn’t for me.
3) What was the Kid-Lit book of 2016 that surprised you the most?
BETH: The Horse And His Boy for sure. I didn’t have fond memories of it as a child. In fact, it was my least favourite of all the Narnia books. I was surprised to discover that it wasn’t as bad as I remembered and I actually really enjoyed it!
CHRISSI: It would be Looking for JJ for me as I didn’t expect to be as gripped as I was by the story. I devoured it!
4) Have you been inspired to read any other books from a Kid-Lit author of 2016?
BETH: I fell completely under the spell of Lara Williamson after reading The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair and would really love to read her debut novel A Boy Called Hope.
CHRISSI: I will definitely continue with the Percy Jackson series. I don’t know if I can wait each kid-lit year to read the series though!

For anyone who reads these posts, thank you so much for your continued support, we love doing this challenge and hope to continue it indefinitely. Coming tomorrow – the big reveal for Kid-Lit 2017! Which titles made it this year? And which titles are we going to have to do er…. another year?!