Tag Archives: books

TwoSpells by Mark Morrison

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TwoSpells by Mark Morrison, e-book, 574 pages, published in 2018.

Twins, Sarah and Jon have travelled to Wales to spend the summer with their maternal grandparents, whom they have only met once before. They’ve barely landed in Wales when they begin to encounter some odd things; was that a werewolf they hit on the road? Things only get stranger at their grandparents’ farm, where there’s a creepy handy-man with a wooden leg, a magical book, and Sarah is sure those garden gnomes waved to her. They are giving a swift introduction to the magical world, learning much about themselves, and how they fit into that world, along the way. Sarah and Jon are excited to enter the ancient castle, TwoSpells, which is actually an humungous magical library, where one can enter the books and view the story from within. It also acts as a refuge for magical folk, where the “regulars” cannot go. Unfortunately the library is experiencing some rather frightening disturbances, and an illness is also affecting the magical populace. Sarah and Jon must help to save the library and all those who are sick.

This book is Awesome! TwoSpells had me hooked from the first chapter; that’s where the action started, and it just kept coming. It was a rollercoaster ride of magical creatures, book characters and a villain intent on controlling not just the world, but all worlds and realities. I could hardly put it down, I just had to read the next chapter, and then the next!

The battle at the library was wonderfully told. It was detailed and energetic; the highlight of the story. The diversity of creatures, magical, historical and mythical that emerged during the battle was incredible. Many of them were terrifying, but all came to life, rampaging about, creating a swirling mess of the library. I love the idea of being able to enter books, but the possibility of unleashing something big and dangerous was somewhat alarming!

All of the characters were strongly developed and described. I really felt like I got to know Sarah and Jon, and their grandparents. Grandpa was such a funny old man, but completely loveable. His relationship with Grandma was lovely, and I enjoyed their interactions. Their banter, and Grandpa’s propensity for “nicking” stuff, made me laugh. I loved when he fooled the security system at the exit of TwoSpells. Grandma standing up to the Golems was also quite funny.

I liked Sarah better than Jon; he was a bit too happy about slaying dragons and swinging swords. I preferred Sarah’s more cautious approach to their new-found magical identities. She was more likely to think before acting, and was very compassionate towards others, even those that were very different to her. I liked the relationship she began to form with Liam, one of the Junior Guardians at TwoSpells. While Liam, and his brother, Seth, were more minor characters, they were both very likeable.

The handy-man at the farm, Clyde, was an interesting character; he seemed pretty shifty, but also had kindness behind his exterior grumpiness. He had a strange back-story, and I’m still wondering what happened to his dog. I liked his gruffness, in the same way that I liked the abruptness of the Golems. Though the Golems were all made the same, the ones in charge of security about Sarah and Jon, were developing their own personalities nicely.

TwoSpells ended with many of my questions unanswered, and the fate of several characters unknown. I really hope that means there will be a follow-up book! I want to know about so many things! There are still lots of connections to be fulfilled, and I feel that there must be another great adventure coming.

TwoSpells is suitable for upper primary and high school students. I recommend it for fans of fantasy and action. Read it, it’s fantastic!

 

*I received this book as a digital book from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

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My First Book Box

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Recently I had seen a few places advertised online that were selling book box subscriptions, but they were not available in my area, or the postage costs were prohibitive. Then I ran across The YA Chronicles, an Australian based book box subscription service specialising in young adult literature. I could hardly have been more excited! I love YA and read it as much as I can, so this was just perfect.

Each month, a new release YA book is chosen to develop a book box. It is then accompanied by several themed goodies, which make it a truly fun experience. A subscription would make an excellent gift for a lover of YA.

Book box

Book box

My first box arrived during the week, yay! I got an email from Australia Post early in the morning to say it was on board with the driver for delivery that day. I waited impatiently all day for it to arrive, but it didn’t show up until after four, by which time all the kids were home from school, so I had to sneak off to my room to open it in peace!

I was tingling with anticipation as I opened the box to find black tissue paper surrounding the wonderful contents. Inside was the book, Valentine by Jodi McAlister, along with a lovely smelly and glittery soy candle, a pin, some tea and a bookmark. And I love it all!

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Already looking forward to the next box! Thanks to The YA Chronicles for giving me such joy!

New Library Additions May ’16

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Added some books to my home library this month!

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Physical Books:

E-books:

What new books did you get in May?

CBCA Shortlist for 2016

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The Children’s Book Council of Australia announced their Book of the Year shortlist for 2016 on Friday. I get so excited waiting for this every year!

Congratulations to all the authors and illustrators of these wonderful books!

I am looking forward to reading as many as I can. Unfortunately there never seems enough time to get through all of them.

 

In the early childhood category;

  • Piranha’s Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey
  • The Cow Tripped Over the Moon by Tony Wilson and illustrated by Laura Wood
  • My Dog Bigsy by Alison Lester
  • Mr Huff by Anna Walker
  • Perfect by Danny Parker and illustrated by Freya Blackwood
  • Ollie and the Wind by Ghosh Ronojoy

 

In the picture book category;

  • My Dead Bunny by James Foley with text by Sigi Cohen

 

In the younger readers category;

  • The Cleo Stories: A Friend and a Pet by Libby Gleeson and illustrated by Freya Blackwood

 

In the older readers category;

 

Information books;

 

I am quite keen to read The Flywheel, it sounds interesting. I’m also looking forward to sharing the early childhood and picture books with my kids, they are always worth a read. We already love The Cow Tripped Over the Moon and Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, so now I am excited to discover the others.

Which of these books have you read? Which ones do you think will be Book of the Year?

 

“New Books” Space

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On Mother’s Day my lovely children and their lovely dad set up a “New Books” area for me. It is a small space within our play-room, which also houses a wall of books. Each of my girls made signs for the space, indicating what it is for, and then they laid out the new books I got for Mother’s Day, and added my e-readers and book-seat. I was quite surprised, but also delighted. It was very sweet of them.

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If you’re an avid reader, you will know the pull of every bookstore that you have ever come across. It is virtually impossible for me to pass a bookstore without going in. I love browsing the shelves of my local Dymocks, seeing what’s new and picking up books I’ve heard good things about but not yet read. I love the crispness of the covers, the unblemished pages and unmarked spines of new books. With four rugrats I rarely get to experience the pleasure of going to a bookstore on my own, which kind of shatters the leisurely perusal of the shelves that I would like. So in recent years I have started buying more and more books online, from places like Book Depository and Dymocks Online. It’s a somewhat more sterile way to buy, but I still love searching through the various categories and booklists, and I can shop at any time of the day or night, such as when all my kids are asleep!

As nice as new books are, I have always loved secondhand or pre-loved bookstores the most. Books stacked haphazardly from floor to ceiling, piles of books everywhere, the wonderful smell that only used books have, and the delight of finding a real gem among the stacks or grabbing a bargain on a book I’ve wanted for ages. I love that I’m giving these books a new life, another reading, a new home, and a chance to share them with my family. I could spend hours wandering the aisles and perusing the shelves…. except I have children. Children who knock stacks over, pull books from shelves, and run through the narrow aisles disturbing the peace.

So I had a conundrum, wanting to buy used books, but having the inability to get to a used bookstore during daylight hours by myself. Then a couple of years ago I discovered the most amazing online store, a store that allows me to shop at all hours, any day of the week without the “help” of my kids, but still allows me to buy secondhand and used books. As a bonus it has a search function for when I’m looking for something in particular, not as much fun as physically searching stacks and shelves of books, but it does save time!

This wonderful store is called Better World Books. A truly unique online book store, they not only have thousands and thousands of used books in a searchable database, they have free shipping to most parts of the world, and they have plenty of sales and deals throughout the year. A browse in the bargain bin is an absolute must! Each book is listed with a description, including the condition, such as used good or used acceptable. And the best bit? I know, it’s hard to imagine it getting any better, but it does! For every book that they sell they donate a book to a person in need, and each sale supports literacy and libraries around the world. Any books they can’t use are recycled. How totally awesome is that!

Make a difference when you buy books in the year ahead, and give Better World Books a go.

Best Pre-loved Bookstore Ever

Book Advent Calendar

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Each December as we count down to Christmas, the kids like to have an advent calendar to mark the days. There are many types of advent calendars available for purchase, but this year I was vaguely thinking about making one. Before I had decided on what I was going to make, I saw a picture of an advent calendar that someone had made up with books (I don’t know where the photo originated). I thought this was brilliant, as L and A love books. The picture I’d seen was using Christmas themed books, but I ended up just using books that I thought the kids would like.

Some of the books ready to be wrapped.

Some of the books ready to be wrapped.

A lot of the books came from my favourite secondhand bookshop (Canty’s Bookshop in Canberra), and some I bought from the Scholastic Book Club at the kids’ school. A few of the books were mine when I was a child, and I am now giving them to my kids. There is a mix of fiction and non-fiction, with a couple of Christmas themed books. I think L and A will enjoy these books, and they will form part of their Christmas presents.

 

All wrapped up.

All wrapped up.

I took 24 books and wrapped them in Christmas wrapping paper. Then I randomly sorted them and numbered them from one to twenty-four. I placed them all into a cardboard box with the numbers facing forwards. On the first of December, L will open the parcel numbered ‘1’, with one parcel for each day leading up to Christmas.

This is an advent calendar that you can really customise to your own child, by choosing books to their reading level and interests. It would be a lovely present for an adult too. Library books could be a good alternative to buying the books, especially if you want to use picture books or Christmas books, but don’t forget to return them!

Ready to be opened.

Ready to be opened.

Book Review Index

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IMG_0436I was staring at the pile of books I’ve read but haven’t had a chance to review yet, and realised that I have written quite a few book reviews for Today We Did now. Going to the book review category I also realised how difficult it was to navigate them, so I decided to compile a Book Review Index.

I split the books into novels, chapter books, pictures books and non-fiction to make it easier to look at reviews from these categories. Within each section I have listed the books in alphabetical order based on the authour’s last name. I will try to add each new book to the index as I publish its review, if I miss one, please point it out to me!

I’d also love to hear what you thought about these books too 🙂 And if you have a suggestion for a book you think I might like, let me know, if I can find it, I will read it!