Julie Kagawa Discusses her Favourite Creatures from Asian Folklore // Guest Post

Julie Kagawa guest post

To celebrate Julie Kagawa’s new YA release, the action-packed, fun-filled, Asian fantasy, Shadow of the Fox, I have a guest post today from the lovely lady herself!

Today, and on theme with Shadow of the Fox, I’ve asked Julie to chat with us about her favourite creatures from Asian folklore.

Personally, this is an area that fascinates me. I love fantasy and fairytale creatures with all my heart, but I especially like learning about new creatures or different cultural interpretations of famous creatures.

I don’t know much about Asian folklore, but I am desperate to explore it more because these tales are so filled with wonder, magic and fascination! I’m also making an active attempt to read more diverse fantasy reads based in different countries because I want to support Own Voice authors. So Bring. It On!

Julie, welcome to Blogs of a Bookaholic, it’s an absolute pleasure to spotlight you here today!

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Book Review: Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

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Shadow of the Fox was my first Julie Kagawa book, and it did not disappoint.

With a blurb full of things like DRAGONS, and SCROLLS and MISCHIEF, where could it go wrong, really?!? This diverse read takes place in a beautiful Japanese setting which is utterly immersive, beautiful and unique.

Thank you to HQ young adult for giving me the opportunity to review a copy!

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A single wish will spark a new dawn.
Every millennium, one age ends and another age dawns…and whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers holds the power to call the great Kami Dragon from the sea and ask for any one wish. The time is near and the missing pieces of the scroll will be sought throughout the land of Iwagoto.
The holder of the first piece is a humble, unknown peasant girl with a dangerous secret. Demons have burned the temple Yumeko was raised in to the ground, killing everyone within, including the master who trained her to both use and hide her kitsune powers. Yumeko escapes with the temple’s greatest treasure – one part of the ancient scroll. Fate thrusts her into the path of a mysterious samurai, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan. Yumeko knows he seeks what she has and is under orders to kill anything and anyone who stands between him and the scroll. Continue reading

5 Reasons I Couldn’t Stomach The Price Guide to the Occult (Plus, 5 Reasons You Just Might Like It?)

5 Reasons I didn't like The Price Guide to the Occult

Oh man. The disappointment of this book. I can’t even handle it.
The thing is, I thought this was a slam dunk for me because:

a) GORGEOUS COVER. Doesn’t it just make you want to pick it up and stroke it immediately?
b) I love stories about witches, curses and forbidden spellbooks and I rarely find a book focussing on these things that I dislike.
c) The author’s debut book was SUPER POPULAR and highly praised.

Um, well I hate to be the one to burst everyone’s pumkin, but while The Price Guide to the Occult may look cute on the outside, it’s kinda rotten, smooshed and disorganised on the inside.

Not only was this my first 1-star read of the year, but it’s also the first ARC I’ve ever disliked. So while I’m thankful to the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review, I am unfortunately unable to say much that’s positive about this novel. However, I am going to do my best to both outline the issues I have with it, and also highlight some reasons why you might get on better with it than I did!

*TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains self-harm and child abuse and I will be discussing it.*

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So, what’s it all about?

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6 Books on My Autumn TBR // Mythical Creatures, Supernaturals & Magical Kingdoms

6 Books on my Autumn TBRThe wind is howling, leaves are turning that gorgeous shade of orange as they float down to the frosted ground, and your coat and tartan scarf have been taken out of the wardrobe and dusted off. We all know what this means, it’s autumn.

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I had so much fun collating my top 7 Books on my summer TBR pile a couple of months ago and I was surprised by how well my reading went. I have always been a mood reader and I was unsure how I would get on with a list, (in fact, I thought I’d end up going totally off-script and not read anything I expected to) but I READ ALL THE THINGS GUYS, AND IT WAS SO SATISFYING. I really enjoyed changing up how I picked my reads, so I thought I would give it a go for Autumn too! As noted previously, my reading tastes definitely change with the seasons, so you’ll find a lot of fantasy novels on this list! 

So without further ado, here are 6 books I’d like to get to this Autumn (AKA, the books I’m getting crazy grabby hands for!) 

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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness Review 5/5

Overall Impression: A unique and powerful book unlike any other I have read. It’s raw, emotional and haunting.

A Monster Calls by Patrick NessA Monster Calls is a book that has received multiple awards. It’s one of those that is praised everywhere and I have yet to read a single negative review of it. This initially made me petrified to pick it up because I was worried it couldn’t possibly live up to my preconceived expectations. But it turns out I didn’t need to worry because this book was phenomenal.
I was told it was dark.
I was told there would be a sad young boy.
I was told there would be tears.
But none of this prepared me for the sledgehammer of emotions I was hit with as I made my way through its gorgeous illustrated pages.

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.
But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.

I want to preface this review by saying that I feel like it’s impossible I will be able to do this book justice, so much of the magic in this story lies in reading it, experiencing and uncovering its truths for yourself. But, as always, I will do my best (and waffle on for far too long)!

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Quoting the Quill #48

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“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.’

– G.K. Chesterton

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I adore this quote! The dragon imagery is probably quite a big factor in that…but the thought behind it is brilliant as well. I find it so interesting when I look back on all of the books I’ve read and what I’ve learnt from them. Sometimes you don’t even realise it’s happening until you look back years later, but there are characters that have taught me courage, Continue reading

DAY 3: The Longest Book You’ve Read.

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You can never get a cup of tea large enough, or a book long enough to suit me – C.S. Lewis

Hear hear C.S. Lewis! I am the kind of person who isn’t afraid of long books, as far as I am concerned, the longer the book means the longer the fun! That is, as long as there is a legitimate reason for it being long rather than using filler to bulk it out. Long classics I will admit, are more intimidating. Something about the idea of committing to such a long novel that will take hard work and concentration to get through can be a little scary. However, for the most part I am one of those people that revels in the challenge. I want to read that long classic on the shelf to prove that I can, that I have the willpower and maturity to tackle it! And hopefully, along the way I will really enjoy reading it….if I don’t, well, it’s a long painful slog to the end. 😛 Continue reading

The Gemstone Chronicles: The Carnelian by William L. Stuart Review 4/5

Overall Impression: Fun fantasy for all the family. 🙂 Magical Elves, terThe Gemstone Chronicles Book One by William L Stuartrible trolls and mysterious gemstones.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to sink my teeth into a fantasy book, and I’d forgotten how much I like them! I always state fantasy as my favourite genre, and yet lately I have been leaning towards a bundle of YA as the stories are easy to follow when you’re balancing deadlines. I’m glad that this book was able to remind me of my love for the genre. 🙂
The Carnelian is the first book in The Gemstone Chronicles series, and was offered to me in exchange for an author interview, book giveaway and an honest review. I really enjoyed the book and am looking forward to seeing what will happen in the next installment!

When Aidan and Maggie find a fairy cross while rock-hunting with their grandfather, it’s just an oddity. But when they discover there is an elf imprisoned in the stone and set him free, they and their grandparents, Nana and Beebop, are attacked by some Dark Elves and have to flee to the magical world of Celahir where they join the quest to recover the gemstones stolen from the Elven Bow.

Beebop, Nana, Aidan and Maggie are your stereotypical loving family, they don’t have to worry about anything except school and what they might be having for dinner. Yet when Beebop and the kids go rock hunting they come across a mysterious stone in the shape of a cross. Intrigued, they take it home with plans to study it further. But there is something unusual about it, and one evening before Maggie goes to sleep a spectral figure appears begging to be released. Alarmed, Nana insists they get rid of the stone, but the children cannot quell their curiosity. They smash it freeing an elf named Findecano, he tells them of a word of magical creatures, feuding clans and ancient gemstones. The family cannot believe their ears, but when their house is ransacked by an angry troll Continue reading

Christmas Book Haul: In which I foam at the mouth from all the literary goodness.

I really love doing these haul posts. I get all super happy looking at pictures of so many books, and the fact that they’re MY books, well, that just makes it even better!

The title may be a little misleading, because although all these books apparated into my home around the Christmas period, not all of them were actually Christmas presents. This is where I have to tell myself off for potentially breaking one of my New Years Resolutions already, or at least severely hindering it! As you can see, I’m doing excellently at reducing my tbr pile by buying more books. :L

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These were a real surprise for me, I had no idea I was going to get them! I’ve heard that they’re really good from various people, but because I read Cornelia Funke’s Reckless and found it really boring I was a little unsure about putting these on my wishlist. But now I’ve got them anyway, and I’m really excited to read them! 🙂
The book series – or the first book anyway, is about a man who if he reads aloud brings the world within the book alive! Now doesn’t that sound awesome?! 😀 Continue reading

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Film Review

SDC13786Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!! It’s here! It’s here! EVERYBODY CELEBRATE. The Hobbit is finally out in cinemas!!
Ahem. I’m calm, I’m calm.
BUT SERIOUSLY!!! 😀
Sorry.

I have been waiting impatiently for this film… well, pretty much since I first watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy and fell hopelessly in love with it, but I thought it would never happen. Then, when I heard the news that The Hobbit was going to be made I could barely contain my excitement. After, as if fate was somehow in my favour, my dream film suddenly turned into three films! Curse or blessing? I wasn’t sure, but since seeing the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey I am almost certain that Peter Jackson made the right decision.

I’m utterly horrified by the idea that some people out there might not know the plot, but just in case…

The Plot
‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…’
Bilbo (Martin Freeman) is a Baggins, and Baggins’ are respectable Hobbits; they never do anything unexpected or go on any adventures. That is, until one fine day Gandalf the wizard (Ian McKellen) shows up with an unusual proposal. To Bilbo’s dismay a party of 13 dwarves ransack his home, getting mud on the carpet, eating everything in his parlour and drinking all his mead. They talk of dragons, stolen treasure and a kingdom lost; Lonely Mountain.
It just so happens that they need a burglar, one agile and small enough to sneak past the dragon Smaug to reclaim their home.
Three guesses who.
Bilbo, Gandalf and the thirteen dwarves must embark on the journey of a lifetime across Middle-earth, but will they ever return?

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Stardust by Neil Gaiman Review 3/5

Overall Impression: Questionable world building with lacklustre characters; held together by imagination and flair.

I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one handstardust by neil gaiman it was innovative, quirky, and magical, not to mention a lot of lighthearted fun. But on the other hand…I just felt like it could have been so much more.

In the sleepy English countryside at the dawn of the Victorian era, life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall. Young Tristan Thorn has lost his heart to the beautiful Victoria Forester, but Victoria is cold and distant as the star she and Tristan see fall from the sky one evening. For the prize of Victoria’s hand, Tristan vows to retrieve the star for his beloved. It is an oath that sends the lovelorn swain over the town’s ancient wall and into a world that is dangerous and strange beyond imagining…

Tristan Thorn is an awkward teen living in Wall, a secluded village which acts as the border between our world, and faerie (and contrary to popular culture these faeries do not fly around with the help of wings, nor are they small.) One day every nine years, the Faerie Market appears and the residents of Wall are allowed to cross the boundaries and revel in the mysteries and oddities of Faerie. However by the next day the land behind the wall is once again off limits, and a rotation of guards keep it impregnable.  Continue reading

The Complete Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm Review 3/5

Overall Impression: An endless book of fabulous fantasy and childish imagination.9780099511441

Way back in February after completing a set of exams I decided to reward myself with a book spurge. The Complete Fairytales by The Brothers Grimm was one of those books. Since then, fairytales seem to have become some sort of trend, making appearances in both the TV and film industries. Which does make me wonder, why did I decide to pick up the Brothers Grimm this year? Was it really on a whim? Or did it get into my subconscious?
Another reason I chose this book is because two of the stories are on The Rory Gilmore Challenge (Rapunzel, and Snow White and Rose Red) and being the type of person who never likes to do things half way, I though hey, why not read ALL the Grimm fairytales?! 🙂

‘The stories have immense vitality…no punches are pulled…no emotion is unrepresented’
– Margaret Atwood

Wolves and grandmothers, the seven dwarfs, a goose made of gold…the folk tales collected by the Grimm brothers created an astonishingly influential imaginative world. However, this is also a world where a woman cooks her stepson and an evil queen dances to death in a pair of burning shoes. Violent, funny, disturbing and wise, these stories have intrigued both children and adults for generations.

I actually had to do some research before purchasing this book so I would like to warn anyone interested in reading the Grimm Fairytales to do the same. The reason for this is that there are a lot of books out there claiming to be the complete version, when in actual fact they are not. There are a lot of different volumes due to the fact that the Brothers Grimm didn’t publish them all in one go. The official number of tales is 210, so this is the number you should look for. My version however boasts on it’s back cover 279 stories, and claims to be the only complete edition available because it also includes The Omitted Tales, Selected Tales from the annotation of 1856, Jacob Grimm’s Tales, Published Tales and finally Selected Tales from the Posthumous Papers of the Brothers Grimm. These are extra bonus stories for those that are interested. So if your looking for the best book to go for, I would say this is definitely the one to pick! 🙂

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Snow White and the Huntsman Film Review 5/5

One of my favourite aspects of going to the cinema is seeing the adverts. Many people find this strange; but I love the build up, the anticipation. As you sit Snow White and the Huntsman ticketthere shuffling in your seat, you begin to wonder with a twinge of nervousness if the film will be any good. I’m always the one saying ‘hurry up we’ll miss the start’ people reply ‘it’s alright, we’ll only miss the adverts’ to which I whine ‘but I LIKE the adverts!’
When I went to see The Hunger Games with my friends we got there early so we saw every advert. And amongst the mix of Orange Network, Haribo and War Horse was a theatrical trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman which immediately caught my attention. Well that advert stuck with me, and here we are three months later. See; cinema adverts RULE 😉

The Plot
Once upon a time, in the middle of winter there was a Queen walking in the castle gardens. While admiring a rose she pricked her finger and three drops of blood fell on the snow. The red looked so beautiful on the white that she thought to herself:
If only I had a child with skin as white as snow.
Lips red as blood.
And hair black as ebony.
– The Brothers Grimm
When Snow White’s (Kristen Stewart) mother passes away the kingdom mourns in sorrow. But when King Magnus saves a beautiful woman named Ravenna (Charlize Theron) from a dark army he falls in love once again, and decides to marry. The kingdom rejoices in celebration of his happiness. However all is not well, Continue reading