Monday, 4 May 2015

Blog Tour: Review + Q&A: Chopstix by A. T. Raydan (Young Adult, 9/10E, short 'n' sweet review)


You won't want to mess with Wendy!
 April 2015, Unique Inspiration, 224 pages, Ebook, Review copy 

Content: some fighting, major peril, tissues needed

Summary from Unique Inspiration
Wendy Wu is an ordinary teenager who lives with her parents. She has always been taught about the virtues of peace, tranquility and respect, always to use spoken word instead of violence.

When fate delivers a cruel blow, her life is turned upside down. Mentally and emotionally Wendy struggles to come to terms with the changes and pretends that nothing has happened.

Each evening, Wendy hides away in her room and passes time by continuing to make chopsticks for the family restaurant that is no more; the very same chopsticks that are soon to become a weapon for serving justice... 


Nayu's thoughts
 Right up until I wrote this blog post Chopstix was due to have a lower grade. From both the summary and the first part of the book I thought it would be fast paced all the way through, with Wendy fighting way more bad guys than she did. I was all geared up for non-stop action, which was probably why I was both a bit surprised and a bit annoyed by slower pace, since my expectations weren't met. 

However, and this is a big however, writing up this post, instead of feeling annoyed I feel excited about the thought of rereading Wendy's tale, and excitement in the dangers and triumphs which will face her. Learning from the Q&A below that Wendy undergoes character development (which on reflection she really does) made me sit back and think about Wendy. She may not have fought heaps of baddies yet (the ones she does fight had me staring at the page with a massive thought bubbles of 

COOL!!

above my head. I wish I was her! Well, not the bad bits, but training with Chopstix sound like fun, there's the thrills of the chase, the unexpected discoveries of hidden talents and so much more, even though it comes with a huge responsibility. I loved how Wendy tries to be strong on the outside, when really she is crying in side. I promise she isn't entirely alone, and I won't say much because I don't want to spoil the story but Wendy has the coolest aunt! She's undergone so much sorrow, and it must be hard for her losing her sister, but she's there for Wendy, and does her best to take care of her niece.

I'm super eager to learn more about Wendy's heritage, about that tattoo, and her developing relationship with her aunt in the forthcoming books, as well as the whole being a Gate Keeper thing. It's amazing how much a bit more knowledge (from the Q&A) plus perspective changed my view to what is a great start to Wendy's adventure. I'm definitely recommending this to everyone who loves fun heroines and unusual weapon choices, as well as destiny and family centred reads ^o^  

Be sure to check out the fun dedicated website.


Q+A with A.T. Raydan, Author of Chopstix
And here's the cover again because it's so pretty!

Nayu here! It's a real pleasure to have my questions about Chopstix answered by A. T. Raydan -  thank you for answering them and writing a fun read! 
 
Nayu: The front cover seems to depict exactly how I feel Wendy is as a character. What made you pick using her instead of a guy? And why chopsticks?

A. T. Raydan I felt females were heavily underrepresented in the world of superheroes! It was time we gave the world a modern heroine that is very now. Wendy was created by fusing together many influences, life experiences and journeys that I have enjoyed. It was important to reflect this in her character and also make sure that she looks and dresses the part. Why Chopsticks? Well, for a start, they can double up as a hair accessory, but the reason is deep rooted within where the story will take her...

Did you ever consider Wendy as coming from a different background, in a different restaurant business (like Italian or Indian)?

Yes - But I could never envisaging it working, especially in terms of how the story will unfold. Wendy is an interesting girl. She has grown up in western society and is hopefully someone that everyone can connect to. Her roots are firmly Chinese. She isn’t a violent girl at all.

What’s the most important message you hope readers will take away with them after reading Wendy’s tale?

In terms of Wendy’s character, that is meant to be a light-hearted and honest story. It may revoke memories from readers' own lives. It’s full of strong family values. But deep inside, there is a notion that we all have a limit, an alter ego and a destiny.

Will there be more adventures with Wendy?

Yes, of course. Book 1 is just setting the scene and getting her adventure off the ground. She learns more about the world around her, the people around her and more importantly, her destiny!

Where’s your favourite place to write? Do you have a preferred food/drink you like to nom on while writing?

In bed. In the kitchen. On a plane. To be honest, I enjoy writing and whenever I get the chance to do so, I put pen to paper. It’s hard juggling it around my hectic lifestyle so I make the pen and paper work for me. Preferred drink is definitely a cold can of Irn Bru or a hot chocolate! (Nayu: hot chocolate rules!)

Chopstix by A.T Raydan is published by Unique Inspiration (paperback, £6.99). Available online from Waterstones here.

NEXT STOP: Death, Books and Tea will be hosting a guest post by Chopstix bad guys – ‘The Chi’
YESTERDAY’S STOP: Read a guest post on Much Loved Books by Chopstix alias Wendy Wu!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Mermaid winners announcement!


I've been eagerly awaiting the end of this competition just because I want to see which of you will get to win Mermaid by Cerrie Burnell and Laura Ellen Anderson. Alongside the entry I asked what 3 things you would do if you'd become a mermaid. Mine are: 

Go racing/riding with orcas, because despite their diet they are magnificent creatures. 

Make pictures of cute things like Hello Kitty from sea shells on the sea shore. 

Get to know sea horses and jelly fish because they have always fascinated me. 

You said you would: 

swim/learn to swim to survive/swim with dolphins/swim with confidence

lose weight to look good with a tale. 

Eat more fish as it's healthy 

sing/sing out loud/sing in public

sunbathe 

collect lots of pearls 

enjoy the big open space of the sea/explore the seas

The two winners are both outside the UK, but that will be no problem as I'll get the UK one sent to me so I can send it on to it's new home across the sea. The winners are... 

Majima! 
Mary Preston!

Congratulations both of you, expect an email from me shortly to organise sending the book out to you. Thank you to all who entered, please do keep an eye out for future competitions!

Very Little Cinderella by Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

Cutest Cinderella ever!
 February 2015, Doubleday Children's, 32 pages, Hardback, Review copy

Just like her pal, Red Riding Hood, Very Little Cinderella is little. Very little. But she's got a very BIG personality and one way or another she usually seems to bend others to her will. Albeit very charmingly.

Join Very Little Cinderella on her very important mission: to go to the party that her Ugly Sisters are off to and to wear the outfit of her choice – however crazy it may be!

With a Big Blue Scooter, an array of fabulous frocks and a Fairy Godmother for a babysitter what could go wrong?

Nayu's thoughts
A very stubborn yet cute Cinderella tale, definitely a Cinderella I've never met before! She is utterly adorable, had my laughing so much with her phrases and her actions. She is strong minded, has stubborn as her middle name, and is sweet too. I actually felt sorry for her step-sisters at one point, which was a first for a cindrella tale (well, for the book version. The anime tv series version had me a tiny bit sorry for a moment or two). I loved the clothes which the Very Little Cinderella wears, and the way cleaning fits in her life, even though it's not actual cleaning! Definitely a fantastic alternate tale to the well loved fairytale.

Suggested read
Read another book in this cute fairytale series, Very Little Red Riding Hood (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E)

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Alfie in the Bath by Debi Gliori (Children's, Picture book, 10/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

Fun time!
  March 2015, Bloomsbury Children's, 24 pages, Hardback, Review copy,

Summary from Bloomsbury
Alfie Rabbit is splashing around in the bath. His world turns from real to imagined as a gatefold spread is opened. Now he's on an amazing deep-sea adventure. Alfie is a deep-sea monster waving his tentacles, a little pink crab snapping his claws, a whale spouting water high in the air .. - See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/alfie-in-the-bath-9781408853511/#sthash.YBQUNMFI.dpuf
Alfie Rabbit is splashing around in the bath. His world turns from real to imagined as a gatefold spread is opened. Now he's on an amazing deep-sea adventure. Alfie is a deep-sea monster waving his tentacles, a little pink crab snapping his claws, a whale spouting water high in the air...

Nayu's thoughts 
I can count on Debi's books cheering me up. Alfie is a cute bunny, and absolutely hilarious in the bath. His imagination is huge, and I loved how the pictures changed depending who or what he was pretending to be. I can see readers wanting to re-enact certain scenes – although I hope they don't get too much water on the floor like Alfie does. Bath time can be such fun, and can be carried out on land or even in a swimming pool (if there's space to muck about).Alfie's father is on hand for mopping up duties, which shows that reader that having an adult around isn't just about safety – they can join in on the fun too. 

Find out more on Debi's fun website.

Suggested read
For another bath themed story check out Pi-Rat! by Maxine Lee which I've read but somehow not reviewed (it was over a year ago) (Children's, Picture book, 10/10E)

Friday, 1 May 2015

The Origami Nun by Lori Olding (Children's, 9 years +, 9/10E, short 'n' sweet review)


September 2014, Untreed Reads, 44 pages, Ebook, Review copy

Summary from Untreed Reads
Seven-year-old Ruth can't speak, but that doesn't mean she can't think. She knows her birthday is going to be good as her beloved great-aunt has exciting plans for her. What she doesn't expect is a magical paper nun, an encounter with a bully who may not be what she seems, or a school day to remember. Because, before her special day is over, Ruth is in for some very big surprises.

Nayu's thoughts 
This is a short but sweet tale of finding courage and the power of hope. Readers can understand Ruth's anticipation of her birthday, and probably will be baffled by the appearance of the nun. The nun wasn't how I expected her to be, which affected the book's grade, but the issue of bullying that gets covered in Ruth's story is one far too many readers will be able to relate to at some level. It makes me think of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol in the sense that the unexpected happens from ordinary objects, it's got that mystical feel to it. I probably won't reread it, but that's because it's made such an impression I don't need to. 

Find out more on Lori's website.

Suggested read
Check out another of Lori's books, Queen of the Fluffy Pens (Children's, 7 years +, 9/10E)  
 

Princess Poppy: Storytelling Princess by Janey Louise Jones (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

Cute and girly cover + illustrations!
 February 2015, Picture Corgi, 32 pages, Paperback, Review 
Poppy and her friends dress up as their favourite fictional characters to celebrate reading week. Poppy becomes Alice in Wonderland, Honey is Little Red Riding Hood, Sweetpea is Cinderella and Mimosa is the Little Mermaid.

But Poppy is so distracted by thoughts of fairytales and fantasy that she forgets all about her special book presentation -- what will Miss Mallow say?

Nayu's thoughts 
I can relate all too easily to Poppy getting carried away with one aspect of reading week and not getting stuck into reading her allocated book (although to be fair this would be for a different activity as I love reading). I enjoyed seeing which characters Poppy's friends pretended to be – as ever Janey's sweet detailed illustrations made me smile and spend time looking at them. 

It's all too easy to procrastinate from tasks which we know we have to and should be doing, when we can focus on other tasks which appear more enjoyable (until the task at hand gets tackled). I liked the way that the teacher helped Poppy. Poppy felt the guilt of not doing what she should have done, yet with a bit of helped realised why the book was recommended to her, and grew as a person from the experience of not doing her homework. 

Find out more on Princess Poppy's dedicated website 

Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Ceruleans #1 Death Wish by Megan Tayte (Young Adult, Paranormal Romance, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

February 2015, Heaven Afire, 305 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Content: death, teen romance, tissue needed

Book summary
 Seventeen-year-old Scarlett Blake is haunted by death. Her estranged sister has made the ultimate dramatic exit. Running away from school, joining a surfing fraternity, partying hard: that sounds like Sienna. But suicide? It makes no sense.

Following in her sister’s footsteps, Scarlett comes to the isolated cove of Twycombe, Devon, with grand plans to uncover the truth. Alone. But she hasn’t reckoned on meeting two boys who are determined to help her. Luke: the blue-eyed surfer who’ll see the real Scarlett, who’ll challenge her, who’ll save her. And Jude: the elusive drifter with a knack for turning up whenever Scarlett’s in need.

As Scarlett’s quest for the truth unravels, so too does her grip on reality as she’s always known it. Because there’s something strange going on in this little cove. A dead magpie circles the skies. A dead deer watches from the undergrowth. Hands glow with light. Warmth. Power.

What transpires is a summer of discovery. Of what it means to conquer fear. To fall in love. To choose life. To choose death.

To believe the impossible.

Nayu's thoughts 
This is a riviting read which isn't what you think. I had ideas about who certain people in Scarlett's life were, as well as what her slowly emerging power was, and I was mostly wrong. Happily wrong though! There's so much heartache for Scarlett, so little is understood about why her sister died it's only natural she seeks answers. Nothing prepared me or her for what the reality of her life (ha! Sorry, that is funny once you read the story. Or maybe it's only funny to me) will mean for her future. It's the kind of book that made me want to reread it again straight away, just to understand all the events knowing what's revealed at the end. It also makes me want the next book right now!

All the characters are likeable, and I know a lot focuses on the teen romance between Scarlett & other characters but I was paying attention to how she thought about her sister. How she reacted around others when they spoke of her. She goes a little bit wild, with nearly tragic consequences, and although the end brings loads of questions I like the hope which clings to Scarlett. I felt that by her investigating her sister's death she allowed hope to bloom, hope for understanding and peace in the future, once she knew the truth. I'll be rereading this when I get my hands on book 2, just because I can! 

Find out more on Megan's website