Happy Publication Day to Joanne Harris, Bonnie H. Hawkins, Sue Gent @Joannechocolat @BHHillustration @SueGent @Leanne_Oliver1 @gollancz @orionbooks #Review of the stunning novella – ORFEIA by Joanne M. Harris Illustrated by Bonnie M. Hawkins

ORFEIA
By Joanne M. Harris
Rated: 5 stars *****

ORFEIA is based on a couple of the Child Ballads. It’s immersive and incredibly moving. It is a powerful and enchanting book. It is also very hard to put down once it’s started.
It is a emotional, beautiful, thought-provoking, moving and poignant tale of loss that I highly recommend.

I was so, incredibly pleased and full of joy and excitement, to receive a proof copy of the novella – ORFEIA at the request of Joanne Harris after a lovely chat. It was all very kind. I thank Bonnie Helen Hawkins and Joanne Harris for this amazing opportunity to write a review of ORFEIA after having read nearly all her books over the last 20 years. I thank Leanne Oliver at Gollancz/Orion for adding me to the review list and for sending me a copy of the book.

Below you can discover more about Joanne Harris, the blurb, review and social media links. This book is available for pre-order and will be published on 3rd September 2020.

About the Author

Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French writer, whose books include fourteen nevels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic, realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. In 2000, her 1999 novel CHOCOLAT was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. CHOCOLAT has sold over a million copies in the UK alone and was a global bestseller. She is an Honorary Fellow of St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded and MBE by the Queen. Her hobbies are listed in Who’s Who as ‘mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion’. She plays bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16 and runs the musical story-telling show Storytime. Joanne Harris lives in Yorkshire, about 15 miles from where she was born.

ORFEIA Cover 2

Blurb

From No1. Bestselling Author – Joanne Harris –
Orfeia is a gender-flipped retelling of the Orpheus Myth

When you can find me an acre of land,
Every sage grows merry in time,
Between the ocean and the sand
Then will you be united again’

So begins a beautiful and tragic quest as a heartbroken mother sets out to save her lost daughter, through the realms of the real, of dream, and even into the underworld itself.

But determination alone is not enough. For to save something precious, she must give up something precious, be it a song, a memory, or her freedom itself . . .

ORFEIA spine

Review

ORFEIA is tragic, emotional, beautiful, thought-provoking, moving and poignant.
It’s an all consuming, immersive book in the most fabulous way. It wraps you up in its depths of emotion and takes you on a journey that I, certainly didn’t want to leave until the end, and even then, I know this won’t totally leave me. There are few books that remain with me so strongly after I’ve read them. This is one of them that does.

Queen of May had fallen in love with a man from the Folk and sacrificed a lot, so the tale goes. The grief of the loss of a child hits right to your soul.

Daisy Orr is 6 years old and plays the ‘pavement game’. A game familiar to many children or memories to many adults of not standing on the cracks, until she falls between them.

There are parts about identity from being a mother to suddenly, not being one and trying to make sense of that.

The way death and grief is described is beautifully written, in a way I’ve not seen it being done before, and yet it resonates and I am sure it will for so many people who have lost someone, especially a child.

Fay, who has lost her child comes across a few people near at Tube station in London and the dreams and reality is interestingly described and creates a very compelling tale.

Cobweb, Mabs, Moth, Peronelle are introduced to Fay by Alberon, they are found to be sleeping rough and the jovial atmosphere in contrast to the grief is striking. All is richly woven together, but then there’s the question of whether the people she met were real or if it was all a dream.

The story takes readers between reality and dreams where there are travelling people, silken people and the Shadowless Man and wild animals, such as the tiger. It’s all very atmospheric as both states are woven, seamlessly together to bring a fantastic story.
There are also some beautiful songs throughout. It’s all quite rhythmic in a sense.

There are warnings about travelling to ‘London Beneath’, even though it is richly enchanting with all its tribes and wares, but there is trickery all around as the tale layers up even more.

Fay has an interesting philosophy about memory, that’s very thought-provoking and beautifully tender.

The closing chapters are dark as the Hallowe’en King has something in the reflections to show Fay. There’s also in contrast, what the power of love can do.

The final page is one that I think may give a certain amount of comfort in times of grief.

The cover is beautifully created by Sue Gent. There are absolutely fabulous illustrations inside to accompany this story, produced by Bonnie Helen Hawkins. They are striking and evocative; sometimes dark, sometimes filled with beauty and emotion and always atmospheric and outstandingly drawn. She expertly interprets the written word in the most artistic way. How each character is captured and each picture also tells a story is pretty awe-inspiring as they leap off the page (almost). Between Bonnie Helen Hawkins and Joanne Harris, they are creating the most wonderful and beautiful books together. Others are A Pocketful of Crows and The Blue Salt Road; also based on the Child Ballads. Through Joanne Harris bringing the Child Ballads to light by writing books inspired by them, I feel I am also learning more about them.

Social Media Links

You can follow Joanne Harris on
Twitter: @Joannechocolat    Website     Tumblr

You can follow Bonnie Helen Hawkins on Twitter:
 @BHHillustration

written by Louise

OREFIA

#Review of dystopian book – DeadHeading by Paul Cristo @PaulCristoWrite #dystopia #DystopianFiction #Fantasy #DeadHeading

Dead Heading
By Paul Cristo
Rated: 4 stars ****

I am at it again. I find myself reading and reviewing a book about a global pandemic, during a global pandemic. These books can either be unfortunate in timing or perfect-timing. I tend to say they are more perfect in their timing. Can’t get much more contemporary and current than that at this moment in time. So, I thank Paul Cristo for filling out my contact form on my blog with his request for a review from me, in this intense, very “Now” book.

Blurb

A bizarre sickness is infecting the planet, turning its victims into contorted piles of flesh. Lewis barely notices though, rarely looking up from his number-crunching job and voracious appetite for streaming entertainment. But his life changes forever after waking up one morning to find the world’s population eradicated. Stranded without food or water, he’s forced to use ingenuity to survive, foraging resources from the desolate city around him.

Until he discovers he’s not alone.

Lewis’s new life is threatened by a violent gang of gun-wielding scavengers. He learns these men are harvesting survivors, inflicting slavery and torture for a horrifying purpose.

Outmanned and outgunned, Lewis and some newfound friends must band together, employing their collective wit and cunning against a deadly foe to avoid being killed. Or worse… captured.

DEADHEADING is a post-apocalyptic journey of survival, ingenuity, and a dollop of vengeance.

Deadheading

Review

Intense and fairly graphic in parts is what instantly strikes. This is full-blown global pandemic territory. Put it this way, if you’re ever in any doubt what a virus that isn’t a cold or any other usual ailment feels like, definitely read this book to find out. This isn’t Covid 19, but it does practically show that global pandemics have to be taken seriously.

It is a dark, dark read and so visually written. It isn’t just about a pandemic in the virus sense, but also in a firearms sense as well as the human condition. This is a book that is about as dystopian as it gets, and yet there are recognisable behaviours from what we see in the world today. There’s vandalism, looting as well as those who do want to survive.

There is also the strange Heinrika in the lab, either creating something good or something that could be distastrous. Cristo creates pace, intensity and action well.

The world created is  somewhat brutal and most definitely post-apocolyptic; but creatively, there does seem to be a sense of place, just not in any of your usual ways as there does seem to be a very deliberate sense of timelessness.

The main character – Lewis and others have to survive. After the shocking beginning,  he meets and rescues Frankie, who has been enslaved and together they have to figure out a way to survive in what is left.

There is hope given. Really positive hope as survivors are organised with tasks to start re-building everything from infrastructure to re-planting food and sorting out the lawlessness. It’s quite a “human story” of emotion and facing extreme turbulent times that can cost you your life and facing adversity.

It may not have been a book I would immediately picked up to read, but it is in actual fact better than what I thought it would be and tells a complete story from the beginnings to the throes of the pandemic to giving hope. I do think many readers will also get stuck into this fantastical, dystopian world that the characters are transported into as a virus rampages on… If you like the film Contagion, you’re going to like this.

#Review of The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons @andyjshepherd @PiccadillyPress #TheBoyWhoDreamedOfDragons #childrensbook #middlegrade #kidslit #parents #edutwitter

The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons
By Andy Shepherd
Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
Rated5 stars *****

Thank you to my surpise post of The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons, sent to me by Andy Shepherd, spanning from a quick chat some time ago. So, today, I am delighted to present my review on this great story that is just 263 pages and also has some terrific illustrations throughout, within its vibrant cover. It also, when the book is fully closed, has a special look as the subtle lines going down the pages look rather smart.The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons cover

Blurb

We dream of dragons. Soaring, roaring, fire-flickering dragons. While we’re tucked up in bed, they light up in our sleep. Sparking, glittering, aglow.

But dreams are only the beginning of an even greater story.

Because the truth is, our dragons don’t just visit us in our dreams…

Review

At some point, lots of children (including me when I was a child) have dreamt about flying on a dragon’s back, swooping and soaring through the sky.

Dragon races, friendships, sock puppets, a wormhole in a fridge, a jungle family, humour, warmth, a super hero squad, illustrations, this book has it all in only 263 pages that is  amazingly adventurous, fast-paced and sparky.
This book captures imaginations perfectly. Every page has something to make you smile.

Did you know dragons grow on trees? No? Enter this enchanting tale to find out about them and meet the beautifully coloured dragons called Flicker and Sunny. There’s a race with a difference – it’s a dragon race. It’s also used as a clever way of introducing the characters, such as Thomas and his Lolli, who have the most terrific fun with their games. There’s also great friendships within the characters.

Not everyone knows about dragons, but endearing and very fun grandad does. Grandad hasn’t been too well and had a hospital stay, but back on his feet, he’s as positive as ever with his grandchildren helping out with his vegetable patch and just having fun. I like the positivity around this part of the story.

This book is funny, heartwarming and is just perfect for sparking the imaginations of children and for reading for pleasure. It is also perfect for nature-lovers too, or just lovers of humour. On a deeper level, there is plenty about the world around you to have fun with. There’s also themes of having to move on as Thomas’s mum hears of a new job, meaning the family have to move. The emotion of having to leave what was known and loved behind is captured so naturally as it plays out and Flicker, the dragon also leaves. It’s another big theme for children, but handled so well and not completely negatively, which is thoughtful of Andy.

At school, secrets are inadvertently blurted out by Thomas himself to the new girl – Aura who proudly proclaims herself to be a dragon expert, which really throws Thomas into confusion as his emotions really take over and a chain of further events happen.

This book is great for schools, libraries and within homes. Children can have so much fun with it and within schools, there are subjects within the themes that can be discussed or used creatively within activities, as well as generally being good for reading for pleasure.

#Review of The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons @andyjshepherd @PiccadillyPress #TheBoyWhoDreamedOfDragons #childrensbook #middlegrade #kidslit #parents #edutwitter

The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons
By Andy Shepherd
Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
Rated5 stars *****

Thank you to my surpise post of The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons, sent to me by Andy Shepherd, spanning from a quick chat some time ago. So, today, I am delighted to present my review on this great story that is just 263 pages and also has some terrific illustrations throughout, within its vibrant cover. It also, when the book is fully closed, has a special look as the subtle lines going down the pages look rather smart.The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons cover

Blurb

We dream of dragons. Soaring, roaring, fire-flickering dragons. While we’re tucked up in bed, they light up in our sleep. Sparking, glittering, aglow.

But dreams are only the beginning of an even greater story.

Because the truth is, our dragons don’t just visit us in our dreams…

Review

At some point, lots of children (including me when I was a child) have dreamt about flying on a dragon’s back, swooping and soaring through the sky.

Dragon races, friendships, sock puppets, a wormhole in a fridge, a jungle family, humour, warmth, a super hero squad, illustrations, this book has it all in only 263 pages that is  amazingly adventurous, fast-paced and sparky.
This book captures imaginations perfectly. Every page has something to make you smile.

Did you know dragons grow on trees? No? Enter this enchanting tale to find out about them and meet the beautifully coloured dragons called Flicker and Sunny. There’s a race with a difference – it’s a dragon race. It’s also used as a clever way of introducing the characters, such as Thomas and his Lolli, who have the most terrific fun with their games. There’s also great friendships within the characters.

Not everyone knows about dragons, but endearing and very fun grandad does. Grandad hasn’t been too well and had a hospital stay, but back on his feet, he’s as positive as ever with his grandchildren helping out with his vegetable patch and just having fun. I like the positivity around this part of the story.

This book is funny, heartwarming and is just perfect for sparking the imaginations of children and for reading for pleasure. It is also perfect for nature-lovers too, or just lovers of humour. On a deeper level, there is plenty about the world around you to have fun with. There’s also themes of having to move on as Thomas’s mum hears of a new job, meaning the family have to move. The emotion of having to leave what was known and loved behind is captured so naturally as it plays out and Flicker, the dragon also leaves. It’s another big theme for children, but handled so well and not completely negatively, which is thoughtful of Andy.

At school, secrets are inadvertently blurted out by Thomas himself to the new girl – Aura who proudly proclaims herself to be a dragon expert, which really throws Thomas into confusion as his emotions really take over and a chain of further events happen.

This book is great for schools, libraries and within homes. Children can have so much fun with it and within schools, there are subjects within the themes that can be discussed or used creatively within activities, as well as generally being good for reading for pleasure.

Kith and Kin – A Graphic Novel – A Review, plus links to the well depicted in graphics #KithandKin #GraphicNovel #SpittingImage @brittanymatter @thisquietcity @__helloheather

Kith and Kin A Graphic Novel
By Sally Cantarino, Brittany Matter and Heather Ayres
Rated: 4 stars ****

I am so pleased and enthused to present a review of part of Kith and Kin – Spitting Image. I got chatting to Brittany Matter who is a journalist and has work published in award magazine Image+ and her work can be found on Marvel.com as you’ll see in the part about the authors. It works best when looked at horizontally on your screens.  It has already been published by Vanderbilt University’s Nashville Review publication, NR31!

Below you will see the blurb, the review and I have been given permission to share with you, the link to the strip itself for free Vanderbilt University’s Nashville Review. The link can be found after my review as can more info about the people involved in Kith and Kin.

Blurb

Spitting Image follows immortal twins as they process the implications of an eternity spent together and how they will exert their individuality through any means necessary.

 

KK_Spitting_Image_01.jpg

Review

From the imagery to the wording at the end is powerful and, especially the wording at the end, is all so poignant. Follow the main character in the understated and yet scenes that tell the story so clearly, in black and white, from the house and all that is seen inbetween, down a path to a graveyard. The images inbetween and the end depict what eternal life may be like. Spitting Image may be short, but it is thought provoking as tells a tale that depicts family and memories and was even better than I first thought. As you can look at it now for free, using this link Graphic Novel  why not give it a go?! You will be able to read it horizontally, which is when this is at its best.

About the Creators

 Sally Cantirino is a comic artist and illustrator from New Jersey, currently living in Philadelphia, PA. Her recent work includes “Last Song” from Black Mask Studios, “We Have To Go Back” with Jordan Alsaqa, and illustrations for “Protest Singer” and “Cobwebs” from World Champ Game Co. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram Twitter account is @thisquietcity

Brittany Matter and Heather Ayres are, by day, journalists who cover the release of upcoming comics, and, by night, comic book writers seeking to tell their tales through the medium they love. Their comics journalism has been published in the award-winning magazine IMAGE+. Find more of Brittany’s writing on Marvel.com
Twitter link is  @brittanymatter

Review of Sons of Secrets By N.J. Simmonds #fantasy #blogtour #Review #NewBook

Sons of Secrets
By
Rated: 4 stars ****

After an early morning conversation with the author, I was invited to read Son’s of Secrets and then I was subsequently invited onto her blog tour. It was a very fruitful and interesting conversation that led me decide to lend my support. Thankfully the book actually turns out to be a pretty good and entertaining fantasy book. I thank the author for giving me this opportunity and for also sending me an e-book version of her book to review from. This is an author that is worthwhile giving a chance.

SoS

About the Author

Sons of Secrets Nat_PR_0253I, Natali, write dark fantasy books full of magic, drama, suspense, a bit of history and lots of kissing.

Being an author is all I’ve ever wanted to be. At the age of 5 I used to sit at the dining table while my dad drew me pictures and I’d write stories to go with them. Ever since, my tales have been filled with fantastical worlds and strong girls going on big adventures.

Originally from North London with Spanish parentage, I’ve lived all over the world including Australia, Spain and the Netherlands. That’s probably why my characters never keep still – and why London features so heavily in my work.

When I’m not writing, I’m a public speaker and guest lecturer, as well as run my own brand consultancy business. I’ve written articles for various publications and in 2015 I co-founded online magazine The Glass House Girls.

I live with my family in The Netherlands, where I spend my time apologizing that I still can’t speak Dutch or ride a bicycle very well – although my heart will always remain in sunny Spain, and my soul forever in those wondrous, grimy, magical streets of London. 

Son of Secrets cover.jpg

Blurb

In A  fight against destiny – who will win?

Ella has been waiting for Zac for three years. She’s convinced he’ll return for her, but fate has other plans. When Josh is thrown back into her life, Ella has a choice: step back on to her rightful path, or wait for the one who dared her to rebel.

But Ella’s not the only one missing Zac. Luci has been searching for her blue-eyed boy over two millennia and will stop at nothing to get him back. Even if that means hunting down the only girl he ever loved.

From Tuscany 5BC to 17th century witch hunts, Ella, Zac, Luci and Sebastian’s lives have been forever intertwined. The time has finally come to complete the circle.

Review

The book is so beautifully written and with some humour, lovely scenery. There are some dark bits, but mostly it is an entertaining read as it weaves the real world and fantastical characters together to create The Indigo Chronicles World.

The author has painted a good picture of realism and fantasy. There’s romance, adventure, action, great locations like Highgate and Gibraltar, there are pure angels, dark angels, trepidation, intriguing lives as well as deaths and emotion, magic powers; and all isn’t always what it first seems, which all makes a pleasurable and fun read that spans across millenia.

Meet Ella and Zac and Josh in a place where the Mediteranean and Atlantic Ocean meet. Pizza and wine, it’s a wonderful combination and yet Ella just doesn’t know quite what she is doing with Josh.

Zac is no ordinary person, readers will discover. Not anymore as he finds himself in Highgate Cemetery.  His mission? To find and be with Ella with use of his powers. Powers enough to make you shudder. It’s a bit creepy when you’re a woman reading about a guy who lived 2000 years ago who can sense every part of you. In saying that, it’s fantastic for this fantasy book as I found myself wanting to find out more as this book gets more and more interesting and very quickly so. He meets up with Ylva as they reminisce about a party and discuss Ella.

Fantasy is a genre I can take it or leave it, but this book is good in the way the real world and fantasy elements all collide. It’s grounded in a good way. It has good, strong themes and likeable characters. There’s a bit of a will they, won’t they going on with Josh and Ella and revelations of Ella’s step-brother and the effect he has on how he hurt Ella. Josh is a film star and a bit of a flirt.

Zac is fun as he discovers tattoos because apparently his appearance hasn’t changed in 2000 years and he has now decided to alter it a bit. It’s intersting how Zac is perceived and there’s a wonderful written paragraph that is essentially the butterfly effect. He’s full of dark, creepy intrigue.

There are secrets as to how the characters are connected and who they really are, that are revealed as Arabella, the narrator of this story tells as she’s heard of demons and of the shadows before and she’s on the run over the city walls and it is intriguing to see what she is up to as she comes across Zadkiel. Later on, back home, Arabella, back home is then left by her mother, with Sabinous, a soldier, and knew she needed to follow her destiny…

The feminism notes that are there can be a bit overly strong at times, as much as the passion does come across.

The author’s note is an interesting one about the author’s one experiences and says about the book being a tribute to those who have been hunted and hurt and struggles. This does come through in the book, but written in a creative way.

SON OF SECRETS blog (1)