Saturday, 1 March 2014

Blog Tour: Oksa Pollock #1 The Lost Hope + Oksa Pollock #2 The Forest of Souls by Anne Pliochota and Cendrine Wolf + Competition CLOSED (Children's, 11 years +, 10E/10E)

Nayu here! I didn't know how much of an honour it would to be on this blog tour for Oksa's magical adventure until I'd read the book - IT'S AMAZING! Here are my reviews for book 1 and the recently published book 2! Enjoy - I've certainly enjoyed reading them! 

Book 1 

13th February 2014 (translated from French), Pushkin Press,  528 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Content: Very occasional mild swearing, some violence, insects, lots of major peril and humour, tissues needed

Summary from Pushkin Press
Oksa Pollock is a normal thirteen-year-old girl, starting a new life in London. New lives, new friends, a new school and new adventures. But bizarre things start happening around Oksa she finds she can produce fire from her hands, move objects with her mind, and even fly.

Finally the truth emerges…her family fled Edefia, their magical, hidden homeland years ago. And more than that: Oksa is their queen… Oksa will be thrown into a wilder adventure than she could ever have imagined. She must triumph over her enemies. The whole of Edefia is counting on her!

Nayuleska's thoughts 

Quick note: usually I do not write this a long a review, but Oksa was worth the extra words! 
I confess to being a bit worried when I saw how long this book is. These days I try to avoid epics because I frequently lose track of plot threads, muddle up who is who, I struggle with the strange names of places, people and find it hard to keep up when surroundings are radically unfamiliar., oh and the enemy can constantly be attacking which is depressing. Imagine my relief as I discovered none of that was true.

It feels like this book was written for me and me alone. Oksa is AWESOME! Her sense of humour is highly appealing, as is that of everyone else in her life who are equally entertaining. Oksa is strongly loyal, brave, adventurous...and what I love most is that she loses her temper, she is mischievous sometimes without thinking through her plan which has serious consequences. This negative side of her personality makes her more easier to relate to. The mistakes she makes are costly, and help her mature a lot faster than if she learnt the lesson through being extremely good.

I love all the revelations that Oksa experiences, some are plot twists that I had figured out with thanks to the hints that I was able to pick up on, others made me blink a lot and feel in awe of the writing duo. Every character is has lots of aspects to them, both likable and hateable (did I just make up a new word?) ones, especially all the strange creatures who provide light relief in the darker parts of the story. Although the dangers to Oksa and those she loves are very real, I didn't feel that they overwhelmed the story with doom and gloom.

A lot of time is spent with the ever inquisitive Oksa training and constantly learning more about the whole situation. I loved this because sometimes heroines don't get to spend much time training because something major happens which pushes them into action rather than learning. Semi-major things which are awful happen to Oksa, but her training manages to continue, keeping me one happy reader. Sure, I did forget what all the creatures look like, but their names are easy to pronounce, and when I see it I can recall a little about them.

To me, this is a better series than the comparable Harry Potter because apart from the things which wriggled, which Oksa had a severe aversion to, nothing scared me too badly to read on, or grossed me out. The very mild swearing is infrequent, there's extremely little teen romance, there is heaps of humour and so much to love about this new series. I raced through the pages, thinking it more like an omnibus than 1 large story. I wanted to keep reading and see what other fun things Oksa can do besides fly, walk on walls, deal with fire, move things where she wanted them, learn how to use an innocent seeming weapon, ride giant hens...I'd better stop here! 

One day I promise I'll read the French version. I first read Harry Potter in  French, just to see what it was all about, then I read the English. There were differences in names which I'm sure will be great fun to see!  (I'm not fluent in French (sadly not bilingual) but my comprehension is high which is why I watch so much anime in French and sometimes read it (although reading in French is slightly more work than English, so since reading can use up the little energy I have I rarely read French at the moment))

Check out more on the dedicated website

Suggested read
Another fun series totally nothing to do with magic but is gripping is the Threads series by Sophia Bennett, book 1 is Threads (Children's, 11 years +, 10E/10E) 

Book 2

13th February 2014, Pushkin Press, 400 pages, Paperback, Review copy 
Content: Major peril, a fair sprinkling of humour, death, mild romance

Summary from Pushkin Press
Oksa Pollock has made some pretty incredible discoveries in the last few months, not least that she’s the queen of the lost magical land of Edefia. As if that wasn’t enough for any thirteen-year-old to be dealing with, her mother is still desperately ill after being attacked by Edefia’s unscrupulous enemies, and now her best friend in the whole world, Gus, has become trapped in the Forest of Lost Souls.

Entering that terrifying place is the rescue party: Oksa and a few fellow Runaways-including the moody, mysterious Tugdual. In the forest the group must all face their own personal demons, not to mention an assortment of horrific creatures, in a desperate attempt to bring Gus back alive.
But even if Oksa and her group make it through the wastelands and the monsters, there are greater threats to face: betrayal, grief, and the end of the world itself. And it’s only just beginning…

Nayuleska's thoughts
I did have a small debate with myself what grade to give Oksa's latest adventure. There's no getting around the fact this is a darker read, with more major peril. There are really gross parts which I glossed over because I read this while not feeling well...and I don't like scary things! There are lots of realistic natural disasters which I try to avoid on the news as I get easily upset by so many people suffering and I'm powerless to be of much help (although prayer is soothing and probably a bigger help than I'll ever know). Oksa has some friends who die - it's that kind of a read, one I usually avoid at the moment but this was Oksa, and her's is a story I must hear. She has her heart stretched in several directions at once as well as being shredded at the edges. I love Oksa like family, and it broke my heart when so much awful stuff happened to her and her friends.

However! The reasons the book gets full marks despite the doom and gloom include humour. Just as I thought it was all too much, and Oksa thought the same (which is part of why I love her because she thinks like me, especially with her temper!), humour would slot in place and give me and Oksa a breather. Then there are the incredible skills of Oksa and her friends, including her father who plays a huge part in this adventure. There's the hope which keeps Oksa going, the hope of making the future better for everyone regardless of how much they annoy her. There are far too many astonishing plot twists to count on two hands which made this read so delightful. Despite all the dark parts I could quite happily reread this right now, which says something, don't you think?

Find out more on the dedicated website. (Still the same as the one linked after book 1)

Suggested read
You must read the funnier and not as dark book 1, Oksa Pollock : The Last Hope where Oksa learns about her true family heritage  which is reviewed above this one! 

Win A copy of Oksa Pollock #2 The Forest of the Lost Souls
This can be yours!
The lovely people at Pushkin Press gave one copy of the newest book in this series, The Forest Of Lost Souls. And the winner is below!

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