Review: Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce

Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce with Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, and Megan Messinger. Illusrtared by Eva Widermann

Title: Tortall: A Spy’s Guide
Author: Tamora Pierce with Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, and Megan Messinger
Illustrator: Eva Widermann
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books (31st October 2017)

The secrets of Tortall are revealed. . . .

As Tortall’s spymaster, George Cooper has sensitive documents from all corners of the realm. When Alanna sends him a surprising letter, he cleans out his office and discovers letters from when King Jonathan and Queen Thayet first ascended the throne, notes on creating the Shadow Service of spies, threat-level profiles on favorite characters, Daine’s notes on immortals, as well as family papers, such as Aly’s first report as a young spy and Neal’s lessons with the Lioness. This rich guide also includes the first official timeline of Tortallan events from when it became a sovereign nation to the year Aly gives birth to triplets. Part history, part spy training manual, and entirely fascinating, this beautiful guide makes a perfect gift and is ideal for anyone who loves Alanna, King Jonathan, Queen Thayet, Kel, Neal, Aly, Thom, Daine, Numair, and the unforgettable world of Tortall! (Blurb from

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)

TORTALL: A SPY’S GUIDE by Tamora Pierce with Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, and Megan Messinger is a compilation of information about the Tortall universe, illustrated by Eva Widermann. The guide is split into around ten sections and it contains a variety of information about the Tortall universe, covering events from around the beginning of the reign of Jonathan IV – in effect information covering all the books published (to date) set in the Tortall universe.

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Review: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz adapted by Eric Shanower and illustrated by Skottie Young

Title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Marvel’s Oz Comics, 1)
Author: L. Frank Baum
Author: Eric Shanower
Illustrator: Skottie Young
Genre: Classic, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Young Adult
Publisher: MARVEL WORLDWIDE, INC (15th April 2014)


With Marvel’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, an American fantasy comes to life in a classic comcis retelling! Shortly after its initial publication in 1900, author L. Frank Baum put his children’s literature in context: It was written “solely to please children of today. It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and the nightmares are left out.” Baum died 19 years later, but only after leaving behind a legacy of Oz-inspired fantasy 13 sequels long – a legacy that was augmented by the 1939 MGM picture starring Judy Garland that took an already beloved story and turned it into a cultural institution.

Writer Eric Shanower (Age of Bronze) and artist Skottie Young’s (New X-Men) adaptation is the kind of artistic achievement that proves – if any proof was further needed – that the story of Dorothy and her journey down the mythical yellow brick road is just as magical, entertaining and relevant to the children of today as when it first entranced a generation 110 years ago.

Delving into some of the less familiar elements of Baum’s story, Shanower and Young reveal new and exciting layers – while still translating its most timeless elements.

The Scarecrow’s still looking for a brain, but did you know how it was he got stood up in the cornfield to begin with? The Tin Woodman is still searching for a heart – but for many, his tragically humorous tale of cursed romance has remained untold. Readers whose only exposure to Baum’s mythos is the film will be pleased to discover that Shanower’s script honors the original text. And Young makes his move into the upper echelon of comic artists – a moment his loyal core of fans have been waiting for – with his revelatory work on Shanower’s script. His fearless portrayals of Dorothy, her travling companions, and the alternately dark and charming world of Oz – in particular the Wizard himself – in sum amount to a modern masterpiece.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)

THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ by L. Fank Baum in this edition has been adapted by Eric Shanower and illustrated by Skottie Young. It tells a recognisable story to those familiar with the film The Wizard of Oz (1939) but remains true to Baum’s original work, with Shanower and Young still managing to add their own touch to the story. The story follows the story of a girl called Dorothy who lives in the middle of the great Kansas prairies with her aunt and uncle, and her dog Toto. A tornado hits her uncle’s farm and Dorothy gets caught in the house with Toto, which gets blown away and ends up in a fantastical place called Oz.

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Review: One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus (UK edition)

Title: One Of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin Books (1st June 2017)


Yale hopeful BRONWYN has never publicly broken a rule.

Sports star COOPER only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond.

Bad boy NATE is one misstep away from a life of crime.

Prom queen ADDY is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.

And outsider SIMON, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again.

He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it was no accident. All of them are suspects.

Everyone has secrets, right?

What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)

ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen M. McManus is a cross between the film The Breakfast Club (1985) and a who-done-it. It tells the stories of five high school students who end up in detention together and one of them ends up dead. There’s Bronwyn who wants to go to Yale, Cooper who has a promising career in baseball ahead of him, Nate who the gossip mill claims is on probation, Addy the prom queen, and Simon the creator of the notorious Bayview High gossip app. He dies twenty-four hours before he could lift the lid on the other four’s darkest secrets, and the police say it’s no accident.

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Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (UK edition)

Title: Wintersong (Wintersong, 1)
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Publisher: Titan Books (7th February 2017)

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her spirit and inspired her musical compositions.  Now eighteen, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl must journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds – and the mysterious man who rules it – she soon faces an impossible decision. With time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

WINTERSONG by S. Jae-Jones is at its heart a fairy story. Eighteen-year-old Liesl has heard stories of the stunning and perilous Goblin King all her life, she even played with him as a child. But as she grew older, she drew further and further away from his magic as she was forced to grow-up. Yet his influence still lingered in her music. When the Goblin King takes her sister, Liesl risks everything to follow her into the Underground to try and win her back. Despite the warnings, Liesl finds herself drawn to the Underground and the Goblin King. With time running out and the old laws against her, Liesl finds herself with an impossible choice.

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Review: The Queen’s Readers edited by Amanda Diehl and Holly Vaughn

The Queen’s Readers: A Collection of Essays on the Words & Worlds of Tamora Pierce ed. by Amanda Diehl and Holly Vaughn

Title:  The Queen’s Readers: A Collection of Essays on the Words & Worlds of Tamora Pierce
Editors: Amanda Diehl and Holly Vaughn
Genre: Anthology, Essays, Fantasy
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (25th August 2004)

Over the course of her career, Tamora Pierce has created two worlds that continue to inspire readers more than 30 years after her first book was published.

In The Queen’s Readers, contributors explore a myriad of topics as only fans can: with love and a critical eye. With more than 30 essays covering topics from feminism to Pierce’s mythical creatures Stormwings, no fictional stone is left unturned.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️ (2 stars)

THE QUEEN’S READERS: A COLLECTION OF ESSAYS ON THE WORDS & WORLDS OF TAMORA PIERCE edited by Amanda Diehl and Holly Vaughn contains more than thirty essays about Tamora Pierce’s books. The essays cover a variety of topics from the author’s experiences with the book, to feminism and other academic based topics; each essay varies in length. They are described in the introduction as being “by her fans, for her fans.”[1] The collection also contains a foreword by Mark Oshiro about his experiences in the Tamora Pierce fandom where he says fans “want to make sure that people are enjoying the books”[2].

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Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Title: Moxie
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books (21st September 2017)

Vivian Carter is fed up.
Fed up with sexist dress codes.
Fed up with gross comments from guys during class.
Fed up with her high school teachers who let it happen!
But most of all, Viv is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mum was a punk rock Riot Grrrl, inspiring Viv to create MOXIE a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her class mates.

She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond and begin to spread the MOXIE message:

And before Viv knows it, she has started a girl revolution.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

MOXIE by Jennifer Mathieu tells the story of high schooler Vivian Carter who lives in East Rockport, Texas. Vivian is fed up with certain attitudes that seem to permeate East Rockport High School: the sexist dress code and the gross comments some of the guys make during class – and, to make matters worse, the teachers let them get away with it. Vivian is used to following the rules and being ‘good’, but the things she sees happening in her high school make her more and more uncomfortable. Inspired by her mum’s love of the punk rock Riot Grrrl movement, Vivian creates MOXIE – an anonymous feminist zine – that resonates with other girls who are just as unhappy as she is.

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Illumicrate Unboxing 8 – August 2017

The August 2017 Illumicrate.

As you can no doubt tell from the date, I am late (and not just a little) getting this post up on the blog. I was ill from mid-June to September, and then I just kept putting it off.  As we are edging ever closer to box 9, I thought I should probably get on with it and put up my thoughts about this quarter’s box. If you are thinking of signing up for a box you can find out more details on the Illumicrate website here.

I was pleasantly surprised by this quarter’s box. The book was actually one I had been thinking of buying anyway, and I almost asked for it for my birthday. So I am really looking forward to reading it. I also really liked all the items in the box, and I’m curious about the ARC.

The contents of the August 2017 Illumicrate.

Doesn’t it look pretty?! I’m also really happy with the packaging, as nothing broke in transit. The box may have been a little battered and bruised, but the contents themselves were fine.

The contents of the August 2017 Illumicrate (part 1).

  • The Red Church Tea by T-ology, which was exclusive to the box.
  • A Shakespeare Zip Bag with artwork by Miss Phi, which was exclusive to the box.
  • The Wisdom Journal designed by Hey Atlas Creative, which was exclusive to the box.
  • The Alethiometer Coaster with artwork by Hannah Hitchman Art, which was exclusive to the box.
  • The Book Money Jar and Sticky Bookmarks were by Blossom Books.
  • Ringer (Replica 2) by Lauren Oliver bookmark.
  • After the Fire by Will Hill bookmark.
  • Harper 360 autumn releases postcard.
  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden bookmark.
  • Moxie badges/pins.
  • A Wonder Woman pin/badge, which was exclusive to the box.

The contents of the August 2017 Illumicrate (part 2).

  • An exclusive edition (with red sprayed edges) of Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, 1) by Leigh Bardugo (Goodreads)
  • An exclusive edition advanced reader copy of Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad, 1) by Scott Reintgen (Goodreads)

Congratulations for making it this far down the post. Let me know in the comments if you’re thinking of signing up for an Illumicrate (you can sign-up here), and what your favourite item from this quarter’s box is.

Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, 3)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy, New Adult, Romance, Sword and Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (2nd May 2017)


She has left the Night Court – and her High Lord – and is playing a deadly game of deceit. In the Spring Court, Tamlin is making deals with the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees and Feyre is determined to uncover his plans. But to do so she must weave a web of lies, and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As mighty armies grapple for power, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.


Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

In A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN Sarah J. Maas brings the events that have unfolded in her previous two books to a head. This book starts several weeks after the events of A COURT OF MIST AND RUIN and continues Feyre’s story. The return of the King of Hybern threatens to bring Prythian to its knees; to reignite an old war that has already seen lands split. With everyone she loves threatened Feyre must find out what this king is planning, and discover if any of the High Lords are trustworthy and willing to stand with her against such power.

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Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Title: Geekerella: A Novel
Author: Ashley Poston
Genre: Contemporary, Fairy Tale, Re-Telling, Young Adult
Publisher: Quirk Books (4th April 2017)


When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her step-mother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all – not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws hear, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake – until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, GEEKERELLA is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)

GEEKERELLA by Ashley Poston is a young adult re-telling of the fairy story Cinderella, but set in the world of the fictional fandom of Starfield. The story is split between Elle, who grew up in the Starfield fandom as a young child and who now runs a blog, and Darien, the actor playing the main character in the new Starfield reboot and a fan of the original series. The producers of the Starfield reboot sponsor a cosplay contest at ExcelsiCon, and Elle sees it as a way for her to escape a seriously dire situation even if she is unimpressed with the reboot. Darien meanwhile is trying to deal with feeling more and more like a fake, as he hides his own history with Starfield, until he meets a girl who reminds him what he loves about the series and fandom.

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Review: A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab

A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab (UK edition)

Title: A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, 3)
Author: V. E. Schwab
Genre: Alternative Universes, Fantasy
Publisher: Titan Books (21st February 2017)

The precarious equilibrium among the four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving space for another London to rise. Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – theif, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry.

Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery and the Night Spire crew are attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible, as an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown and a fallen hero is desperate to save a decaying world . . .

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

A CONJURING OF MAGIC is the third and final instalment of V. E. Schwab’s brilliant Shades of Magic series. This book deals with the fallout of events that started in A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, as the precarious equilibrium between the four Londons reaches its breaking point. Kell and Lila find themselves in the thick of it, as darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire. An ancient enemy appears to claim a crown, and a fallen hero desperately tries to save a dying world. All whilst Captain Alucard Emery races against time to acquire the impossible. They all stand on a knife’s edge; the shadows are hungry.

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