Weekly Big Three: Children’s Books

The Weekly Big Three is a feature created by Fire and Rain Books, and this weeks theme is children’s books. I used to run a children’s department when I worked in a bookstore, so I knew this was something I just HAD to post about. Before I begin, I would just like to give Harry Potter an honourable mention as it is obvious it would belong on this list, but I wanted to explore some other titles! I am also going to try and do one for each age group (toddler, middle-grade and teen!)

So, let us get started!

One.

This one is a slight cheat, as it is basically ANY picture book by Oliver Jeffers… EVER. I know you probably weren’t anticipating me mentioning any picture books here, particularly as there is so many classic children’s book to choose from, but there is something about the beauty of Jeffers’ artwork and storytelling that is so utterly captivating that truly anyone can enjoy. When I used to recommend picture books, I would always try and recommend titles that both the child would enjoy as well as the parent reading to them.

 

Two.

This one will always stick with me. This was the book that my Primary Six teacher chose to read to us, and probably was my first introduction into the horror genre. About a young boy sent to a boarding school that is out of the ordinary, is not a concept we are unfamiliar with, but this does set itself apart somewhat and keeps its originality. I remember being so engrossed during storytime with this book, that I then decided to devour Horowitz’s other stuff like The Falcon’s Malteaser (again, another highly recommended mystery middle-grade book!)

 

Three.

When I first read the book thief it had just been released and was being sold as an adult book. But in recent years I have slowly seen this move into YA shelves as well, which I think is incredibly important as everyone should read this book at least once in their life. This is the first book I remember ever reading and thinking to myself ‘the writing in this is beautiful’. It truly is haunting, as one might expect given Death is our narrator, and educational in a most artful way. Strangely this book is a winter read for me and I enjoy it most close to Christmas time, wrapped in a blanket to beat off the cold, and has remained in my Top 5 books of all time since I first read it.

 

I hope this was insightful! I would love to know yours, so either comment below or link me to your posts. If you do decide to do a post on this, make sure to link back to the original page so that your options can be featured (and to give the creator their due credit as well).

-Lee

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The Zombie Apocalypse Book Tag

So, with thanks to DuskAngelReads, I have been tagged in my first ever book tag – so we shall see how this goes! 🙂

 


 

THE RULES:-

  1. Choose 5 Books
  2. Set the books out in a random order
  3. Randomly set up your books in order.
  4. Flip to a random page in the book and write the first two names you see.
  5. Put the names in the categories listed below in the order you saw them!
  6. Cry at how screwed you are…
  7. Tag some more people to join in the fun

 


 

THE BOOKS:-

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THE CATEGORIES:-

Book One: Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince by JK Rowling

  • The first person to die – Fred Weasley… this is a cruel game.
  • The first person you trip to escape the zombies – George Weasley

 

Book Two: The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

  • The first person who trips you to escape the zombies – Nick… so unlike you, sotnos!
  • The team idiot – Ognena Maria… this is just ludicrous!

 

Book Three: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

  • The brains of the group – Liesel
  • The team medic – Rudy

 

Book Four: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

  • Weapons expert – Wolf… suppose he would be qualified
  • Team brawler – Scarlet

 

Book Five: Dance with Dragons (Pt 2) by George R. R. Martin

  • First to turn into a zombie – Lady Melisandre
  • The team leader – Jon Snow…. all for this one to be honest!

 


 

TAG OTHERS:-

Think I will tag the following three folks (apologies if you have done this tag before):-

New Books for April

So today I have purchased five books which will hopefully be with me for April, and will likely make up the majority of my TBR for April. I have been trying to find a balance between buying new books and completing the ones I already have, and I am in a pretty okay balance (that isn’t to say my wishlist isn’t completely out of control).

For this month, I have been doing some investigating into various book bloggers and booktubers to see what books frequently cropped up in reviews/hauls/must reads so I can get a feel for what is ‘current’. Since I left my job in the bookshop, having a place to discuss recommendations has been somewhat lacking as I don’t know a huge amount of people who enjoy reading quite as much as me. I suppose this has been my motivation behind creating this blog in the first place, and joining a community where I can start getting involved in bookish discussions once again!

Anyway, onto the purchases!

Caravel by Stephanie Garber

So, I have been seeing this practically everywhere and I have to admit the cover grabs me straight away before I even delved into reading the synopsis to see if it would be something I would likely enjoy. I have seen a few people making comparisons between this and The Night Circus which I really enjoyed a fair few years ago. If this book is half as beautiful, mysterious and unique then I am sure it will be a winner!

 

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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This is a book that I have only seen mentioned by PeruseProject on the Booktube community. I have to admit that I may not have really considered this until that video as I shelved enough Anna Dressed in Blood in my bookselling days to have probably presumed Blake’s stuff wasn’t best suited to me. However, after Regan delved into the plot behind this book I was immediately hooked! The concept seems really interesting, and to be honest I will happily delve into anything that explores powers of an elemental nature. Has anyone else read this? I’d love to see some more non-spoilery reviews.

 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

I am sure many will be familiar with Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series, which to me, is one of the best YA fairytale retellings and sci-fi series around! I absolutely loved every single one of the four books and exploring how exactly all the characters were linked whilst retaining the basic elements of the stories they were inspired from. This particular book looks into the retelling of the Queen of Hearts of Wonderland from what I can gather, and to be honest this purchase is mostly my doing just because I am a humongous fan of Marissa Meyer, and I am sure this is unlikely to disappoint just as her other books didn’t.

 

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

So this one is slightly different than the rest in that it is a more contemporary fiction than fantasy. Again, this is one that seems to have done the rounds of every Booktuber and Book Blogger there is and it is very often met with really high praise. The concept to me is very interesting, and I am intrigued to find out how the author keeps this interesting whilst keeping the integrity of the plot – surely there are huge limitations to someone who is allergic to everything? Also, at first it made me think of that old movie Bubbleboy? (Although can barely remember it myself).

 

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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So, this last one won out over Brent Weeks’ Lightbringer Series which I have also been dying to get started on. However, I again see this frequently praised within the book community and to be honest the concept of four different London’s each having their own varying levels of magic really appeals to me. London is one of my favourite places on the planet and I try to go down at least once a year, so it should be pretty exciting to see how the alternate-Londons shape up in comparison to the one I know and love.

So, that concludes this small haul of books that will be keeping me occupied in April. If you have any non-spoilery reviews of any of these, please feel free to link me as I would be keen to see them! If you have spoilery ones, link me anyway but warn me – I can then have a read and discuss with you once I have eventually finished that respective title. If anyone has any recommendations of which one to read first, comment below, or any future purchase recommendations would also be more than welcome!

-Lee

The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

Follow the author: Samantha Shannon

SPOILERS AHEAD!

I learned that humans have a mechanism inside them: a mechanism called hatred, which can be activated with the slightest pull of a string.

I was extremely fortunate to get my hands on a limited edition signed copy of The Song Rising, despite being unable to attend any of the Scottish tour dates. In particular, I love that the limited edition dust jacket is similar to that of the first two novels (I have consistency OCD).

Onto the actual book itself, I was admittedly nervous going into The Song Rising, only because I loved The Mime Order SO MUCH! Thankfully, Samantha Shannon did not disappoint.

From the offset, I did find the tone to be extremely different in this book and it did take a while for me to get into it. Paige seemed to have matured quite drastically within a short space of time, and a lot of change had occurred to our familiar structure of the Syndicate which we aren’t privy to being implemented within the series itself. However, one can assume (having never been involved in a revolution myself), that fast-paced change is an unavoidable necessity when trying to overturn a corrupt governing force.

One of the things that I absolutely adored about this installment was the different locations Shannon took us to explore in this alternate world she has created. Whilst I adore following Paige through the London streets I have visited many a time, it doesn’t quite beat the feeling of reading chapters set in a city that I find myself in once a week. The description of the derelict Edinburgh Castle, to the thought of voyants hiding in the Edinburgh Vaults which used to be home to grave robbers and their like exemplified chills within me that made the story feel more real than it probably should. In particular, the final scenes within Edinburgh were extremely disturbing for me as I was able to visualise with great clarity, the riotous terror Vance was creating within one of MY cities.

Another undeniable strength within Samantha’s series are her characters. Not only are each and every one of them unique in their own way, she makes sure to explore both the good and the bad and none of them are infallible. Paige is often at the mercy of the limitations of her gift, and indeed, she fell multiple times for Vance’s tricks. She gives us enough insight to the supporting cast for us to care for them, whilst at the same time showing no loyalty to their existence within the story. This latter point is something extremely crucial for me when reading a series as I don’t want to feel safety for any of them. Shannon has admitted, at least, that Paige will always be the lead character, so in moments where death may seem inevitable, I find myself questioning how the heck she is going to get out of this one instead of whether or not she will survive, which in a way is more fun.

I want to briefly touch on Jaxon Hall, who was our twist at the end of The Mime Order. He doesn’t come back into the story until nearer the end and he truly is testament to Shannon’s brilliance as he is probably the biggest mystery of this entire series. Is he a goody? A baddy? Is he with the Sargas? Is he double bluffing? Within a piece of dialogue he can have both the reader and Paige utterly confused of his intentions and questioning any theories they may have developed. The only one true thing we can say about Jaxon is that he is self-serving and that is about it. WHAT ARE YOU UP TO JAXON!?

I think my most thought-provoking and impactful part of the entire book was when Nashira and Paige were alone in the Archon and Nashira is discussing the brutality of humankind. Most jarring, I think, due to the fact that she technically isn’t wrong. This whole scene was so well placed too as Paige had a decision to make: fight for survival, or sacrifice for the many.  And in ALL honesty I couldn’t say with certainty what Paige’s move was going to be, and again, this merely highlight’s Samantha’s genius in creating truly human characters.

Other small highlights I feel worth mentioning include:-

  • I appreciate romance very much being a sub-plot within this series and not a driver
  • We get introduced to a transgender character so nonchalantly that it made me smile
  • Lots. Of. Women. Kicking. Ass (for good or bad).
  • Plenty of twist-a-roos to make us gawp and question

Finally, there truly was only one thing I disliked about this installment: NO ZEKE AND NICK (I’m not sure if a ship name exists for these two). This Swedish-Mexican love affair truly is one of my favourite couples in a series and I need more of them in book 4! Although, with the way it ended I might be in for a disappointment here!

Overall, this was a spectacular addition to the series and whilst answered some questions, probably left us with more which makes the anticipation of Book 4 ever more unbearable! The way Samantha tweets about Book 4 would make us believe it could be the best one yet! Gimmie!!!

Happy reading 🙂