#BookReview by Lou of #YA book – The Witches of Vegas by Michael Rosendorf @MarRosendorf

The Witches of Vegas
By Mark Rosendorf
Rated: 4 stars ****

This is a Young Adult (YA) book that combines glitz, theatrics and magic and young adults in a rather unique and splendiferous way that will lead young adults into a spell-binding story like no other in what is the first of a new series. Book Two is called “Journey to New Salem” and will be coming soon. A third is also being written. So, Isis, Zack and The Witches of Vegas will be back for further adventures.

Thank you to Mark Rosendorf for getting in contact with me to review The Witches of Vegas.
Discover more below…

About the Author

MarkMark Rosendorf is a High School Guidance Counselor for students in the New York City Department of Education’s special education district. He is also a former professional magician. Mark shares his knowledge of magic with his students as part of the school’s Performing Arts program.

Mark is also credited with published novels in various genres including The Rasner Effect series. He eventually decided on an early retirement from writing. When asked why, Mark’s usual answer was because he lost his favorite pen.

Then, one night, at two a.m., a new and unique story shot into his brain like a lightning bolt, screaming for him to write it.  Suddenly, despite the decision to never write again, Mark found himself spending several nights taking notes on the characters and their stories. That is how The Witches of Vegas, Mark’s first young adult story, was born.

The Witches of Vegas 3D cover

Blurb

Where can Witches and their vampire mentor practice their powers without being discovered or persecuted?

By using their magic, the Witches of Vegas become the number one act performing on the Las Vegas Strip—a great achievement for them, but not so much for the magicians—who can’t possibly keep pace.

Isis Rivera is the adopted fifteen-year old daughter of The Witches of Vegas. Zack Galloway is the teenage nephew and assistant to the last magician left in the city. Although they should be rivals, when Valeria, a four-hundred-year-old witch with a long-seeded grudge against humanity arrives in Sin-City, both teens act to bring their families together to stop the evil hag in her tracks.

But can the combined witches’ powers and the ingenuity of the magicians be enough to stop Valeria from taking over the city and possibly the world?

The Witches of Vegas

Review

There’s glitz and glam and magic with the theatre act – The Witches of Vegas at the Sapphire Resort and Casino’s main theatre, where Isis, Sebastian and Luther also are. There’s defying acts of magic, which is surprisingly described well, with the thrills conveyed within the writing.

Zack takes readers away from his Uncle Herb who taught him a lot of what he knows, to the Witches show as he becomes hungry for more ambition in the magc world and to see bigger tricks and defying feats of gravity. He then also stumbles across Victoria Hunter who is a debunker who exposes magic tricks.

Selena is one of The Witches of Vegas who almost hides behind doing magic shows and doesn’t want to tell the world that she a bonafide witch in-case there is a backlash of consequences because they are so different. In someways, in a subtle way this is about identity and being different and the fear of people being scared of something that they do not know, even when shown through more of a supernatural way. It also shows a bit of, perhaps, a second chance at life through Isis, who was It’s also about witches and vampires doing what they do best and putting on a show. There are however some twists and turns when Valerie, a rather more wicked character, comes into it and Isis is in a bit of trouble and elements of action and trepidation that become quite page-turning, come into play.

 

 

#Bookreview by Lou of an enchanting #ChildrensBook – The Castle of Tangled Magic by Sophie Anderson @sophieinspace @Usborne

The Castle of Tangled Magic
by Sophie Anderson
Rated: 5 stars *****

Sophie Anderson, author of The Girl Who Speaks Bear, has another enchanting tale – The Castle of Tangled Magic. It enchants with its richly depicted castle and magical land that provides excellent escapism.

Thanks to Usborne and Sophie Anderson for allowing me to write a review and for providing an e-copy of the book.

Follow further down to the blurb, review and links.

The Castle of Tangled Magic Cover

Blurb

Magic awaits, all you have to do is believe…

When thirteen-year-old Olia, steps through a magical doorway, she discovers another land. A land tangled by magic, where hope is lost, and a scheming wizard holds all the power.

Soon Olia learns that she is destined to save this land, but with time running out and her new friends and family in danger, she must search for the magic within herself – to save everything and everyone she loves.

The Castle of Tangled Magic, the new fairy tale from Sophie Anderson, illustrated by Saara Söderlund.

An enchanting fairy-tale adventure about the power of love and courage, from the bestselling author of The House with Chicken Legs and The Girl who Speaks Bear.

The Castle of Tangled Magic Cover

Review

Castle Mila, built from wood around 500 years ago near the shore of a lake, sounds like so many children’s dream of a castle with it’s majestic stature and hidden passageways and secrets. The writing is amazingly imaginative, in the way Sophie Anderson has captured the castle and takes readers on a tour around it, up each of the stairs to the different rooms and domes, along with Olia. There is so much to feast the eyes upon and to delight and bring a touch of magic to children’s imaginations. It’s all rather splendid. She is also wanting to find some magic, so seeks out an older member of the family – Babusya, who informs about the mysterious Sun Dome that could have magic, but is locked. The mysteriousness that builds is fascinating and enchanting.

There’s great charm and excitement that captures the heart. The ideas of olde of leaving salt as offerings for spirits, such as domovoi (a spirit, in this case a fox who protects) and of the changes of the wind are explored through Babusya. As other family members appear, there is a lovely family cosyiness element, which is heartwarming, as is the talk of ancestry.

There’s a storm, which seems to make looking for a key even more pressing, a gripping, treacherous adventure ensues and there is a lot at stake – the family and the castle to protect from the ferociousness of the weather.

The story continues onwards with Feliks, the domovoi, into a mystical, rather surreal land – The Land of Forbidden Magic, where there the descriptions add to the surrealism as Koshka, a gorgeous cat, is met and a conversation ensues about the witch Nania and Chenomor’s magic. Another unexpected quest occurs as the land and spirits need to be saved. With lots of danger and many different encounters and riddles to solve, it pulls readers further in deeper as the quest becomes increasingly treacherous and on top of that Castle Mila itself needs saving.
Sophie Anderson creates so much for readers to grasp onto and root for in this pacy adventure, that also has an almighty twist.

Throughout, there are lovely illustrations, depicting the story well. At the end there is also “Olia’s Glossary”, which children will benefit well from, to enhance their understanding of the story as there are some words, that may be unfamiliar.

Links

Website: www.sophieandersonauthor.com

Twitter: @sophieinspace

#BookReview by Lou of Tree Magic By Harriet SpringBett @HarriSpringbett @impress_books @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Tree Magic
By Harriet SpringBett
Rated: 3 1/2 stars

Take a journey of nature and life intertwining, with a few magic powers that will sure to pique the interest of any young adult.

Thanks to Impress Publishing and Love Books Tours for inviting me to review.

About the Author

Tree Magic Harriet-SpringbettHarriet Springbett’s childhood on a small farm in West Dorset gave her an early exposure to nature, which continues to inspire her writing.

She qualified as an engineer but, during a Raleigh International expedition in Chile, she realised she preferred words to numbers. She abandoned her profession, moved to France, studied French and then worked as a project manager, feature writer, translator and TEFL teacher. She now lives in Poitou-Charentes with her French partner and their teenage children.

Since her first literary success, aged 10, her short stories and poetry have been published in literary journals and placed in writing competitions, including a shortlisting in the 2017 Bath Short Story Award.

Harriet leads writing workshops, has judged the Segora international short story competition and blogs at https://harrietspringbett.wordpress.com

Synopsis

Thirteen-year-old Rainbow discovers she can communicate with trees.

But that’s just the beginning. Her magic hands can shape trees at her will, but her gift is dangerous and has fatal consequences. An accident that leaves Rainbow unconscious leads her mother to make a confession that will change Rainbow’s life forever. Are her abilities a gift or a curse? Can Rainbow really trust her mother? From England to France, through secrets, fears and parallel worlds, Rainbow’s journey to understand her powers takes her beyond everything she’s ever known.

To find the truth, she must also find herself.

Tree Magic ebook cover (1)

Review

Think of all the components of a tree and you have the parts of the book. Rainbow Linnet and Amrita get this story off with a bang!

Set in Dorset, trees and humans mix in the most extraordinary ways. The components of the trees bring a meaning and new thoughts to Rainbow’s life in a way that all their glorious parts that make up a complete tree, may mean you see them differently and you may look at the people around you differently too.

Rainbow, Bob and Fraser are also into mixing music and making dens in a big way. Then Rainbow discovers her hands are different when she is around trees, like there’s some sort of magic within them. There’s also a perhaps, haunted house, called The Drunken House.

Tree Magic is enchanting and enthralling with a lovely plot. With the enchantment comes a certain comfort as lives and nature bind together in a magnificent way. It seems to be a book that is in-tune with nature, trees in-particular. It’s this that holds the interest most and is the strongest and most beautiful elements of it, rather than the relationships, although some do form a catalyst for propelling the story forward. There are, however some that feel more important than others, that develop more as the story goes on and threads through. The fact that it is set in parallel worlds, which are formed fairly decently, creates a different dimension to the book too.

Rainbow, later, tries to move away to France, which she finds out, could be easier said than done because she needs a job, which, with her magic, makes it even more challenging. There’s also some romance in the air and her admirer takes quite a chance to capture her in his grasp as she works out this stage of her life. The feel of the book changes in this part, as though life is definitely moving onwards. It’s done well, although some of the cosyness that cuts through the consequences of having such powers, is lost a bit, perhaps because I was so enraptured by the entangling of trees and life, in a different way. In France, however there are some lovely moments and some parts when Rainbow is striving to get a job, that I think teens/young-adults will relate to (not with the powers of course). This does work and I like that she had to set her sights just a little lower because it brought a refreshing realism to the book, and yet gives that element of hope and positivity for teens/young adults.
It is a book that I do think Young Adults will find enjoyment out of and will gain something good from it in the end.

The story continues…

Tree Slayer (book 2) and Tree Sacrifice (book 3) are the next installments readers can look out for.

 

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 the stunning novella – ORFEIA by Joanne M. Harris Illustrated by Bonnie M. Hawkins @Joannechocolat @BHHillustration @SueGent @Leanne_Oliver1 @gollancz @orionbooks #NewBook

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.