blog tour · Young Adult Reviews

Blog Tour: Kim Curran’s ‘Slay’ Playlist

All about Slay:

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Synopsis:

They’re world famous, epic musicians and recognised as the cutest boy band on the planet. Conner, JD, Niv, Tom and Zek make up Slay. They are also demon killers. 

When Milly has the demon-encounter of a lifetime, the last thing she expects is help from a boyband. She finds herself on the road with the guys, hunting demons including the sinister Mourdant who has a plan to take over humankind. 

Can they figure out his plan in time to stop him? 

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Introduction: 

With Slay 2: On Tour hitting the shelves, I was delighted to have the chance to catch up on the first novel. My blogger friends had told me it’s a good story. What they didn’t tell me was how totally epic this book is. 

Slay takes a familiar narrative – evil dude with evil plan searches for object of all doom – and tells the story in a way that feels totally fresh.

As a mid-millennial, I grew up in the boy band era. Boyzone, N Sync, Busted, McFly, that other one, thingummy. Busted aside, I wasn’t a fan, but it is nice to see a teen book which acknowledges the importance of manufactured bands in young lives. Love them or hate them they are part of the landscape. Slay shows the ups and downs of life as a mega-star, but it also puts a twist on the whole thing. The only reason the band exists is as a front for the demon-hunting. 

The demons are scary, but the plot is fantasy rather than horror. It strikes the right balance in a way which reminded me of films like The Little Vampire and Casper The Friendly Ghost. The setting is a little more modern, with boys who create vlog diaries for their fans, but it has the same timeless appeal. 

Kim Curran kindly shared the playlist she created when she wrote Slay, and I am delighted to share it with you. (Note: I remember Busted: The Year 3000 on repeat.)

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Slay playlist by Kim Curran 

I can write anywhere: in my office at home, on the sofa, in cafes even on the bus. But I really struggle to write in silence. Music is an essential part of the process for me. So, whenever I set out to write a book, I always create a new playlist to write to. That way, as soon as I put it on, I’m sucked straight into the world!

My Slay playlist (or slaylist if you will) is entirely taken up by boy bands!

Kim Curran’s Ultimate Boy Band playlisthttps://open.spotify.com/user/kimecurran/playlist/0BZTOczZZCMSgCyyo2cQoO

http://bit.ly/UltimateSLAY

To hear Kim’s Slay: on Tour playlist, checkout Golden Books Girls’ stop on the Slay: On Tour Blog Tour!

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blog tour

Blog Tour: Shadow Of The Fox by Julie Kagawa

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Blog Tour: Shadow Of The Fox by Julie Kagawa

Shadow Of The Fox is one of my favourite YA reads this year, and it is your new YA fantasy addiction. Set in a world of demons and tree-spirits, ghosts and shapeshifters, it follows a girl on her quest to prevent a terrible power from falling into the wrong hands. 

I was delighted to be invited on to the blog tour and I particularly wanted to hear how Japanese mythology had shaped the book. My friend Christina has lived and worked in Japan and knows the language and culture well. When I visited her in October, she introduced me to a whole landscape which I had never known before. Shadow Of The Fox took me further into this landscape and made me hungry for more fantasy inspired by world mythology. 

A big thank-you to Julie Kagawa for taking the time to tell us how mythology shaped your story. birdbreak

About Shadow Of The Fox and Japanese mythology – Julie Kagawa. 

Shadow of the fox’s main protagonist is Yumeko, a girl who is also half-kitsune.  Kitsune are the magical, shapeshifting foxes of Japanese legend, and one of their most beloved creatures of myth.  Kitsune appear everywhere in Japan: in anime and manga, folktales, toys and video games, even in food.  Kitsune udon (noodles) and Inari zushi (tofu sushi) are tied to foxes, as both have a sweet fried tofu pouch that is said to be a kitsune’s favorite food.  Fox statues can be found at Japanese shrines, particularly the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto, as kitsune are also messengers of Inari, the god of rice.    

In Shadow of the Fox, Yumeko struggles with the two sides of herself.  She wants to be a good human, but she is also mischievous and loves playing pranks due to her kitsune nature.  Having lived in an isolated temple all her life, she is very innocent and naive to the world, but she has a fox’s intelligence and learns quickly.  Which will come in handy when she flees her home and runs into all manner of Japanese monsters and yokai.  Yumeko isn’t a warrior, but she is kitsune, and will have to use all of her cunning, magic and fox talents if she wants to survive.

blog tour · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Blog Tour: Maybe The Moon by Frances Ives

Blog Tour: Maybe The Moon by Frances Ives

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‘Maybe the moon, so high above, 

Is shining on me and the friends I love.’ 

Eric loves his life in the forest, especially living so close to his animal friends. When Eric moves away from the city, he worries he will never be happy in a place so far away from his friends. 

As Eric explores his new home and makes new friends, he takes comfort from the fact that all the people he loves are under the same moon. 

A gentle but profound story about moving away from our loved ones. 

This book is extraordinarily beautiful, from the shiny-moon on the cover to the bright double-page spreads. The words are beautiful too – the gentle story is framed by the moments Eric looks at the moon, and his changing emotions about moving away from his country home. 

The story is like an inversion of Town Mouse and Country Mouse. Although Eric does return to the country, he does so with the new understanding that wherever he travels there will be new friends to make and old friends who still love him. The message of the story is clear – we may leave a place behind but we don’t have to move on from the people

img_7018I also loved that Eric’s first friends are animals. He is perplexed by the city, and initially thinks there won’t be any animals, but soon he finds pockets of nature (as well as other children to go exploring with). This could stimulate some great discussion about what might make an environment hostile to nature and what we can do to encourage and protect wildlife. 

I adore the design – double-page spreads which are dedicated to illustration are balanced with other spreads where the background is white. The variety means our eyes are drawn to the different illustrations. It never feels predictable or sameish. 

This would be especially appropriate for children facing a move or a change of schools. It would be a lovely gift to give to someone to tell them that, however far apart, you will always share a connection. 

One of the most beautiful picture books I have seen this year and one with a gentle story and a strong theme. 

 

Thanks to OMaraBooks for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my copy of Maybe The Moon. Opinions my own.

 

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Blog Tour: Memories of His Dark Materials stage production

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Today is my blog spot on the Theatrical blog tour. The story follows Hope, who dreams of working behind stage at a theatre. My favourite thing about the story was the atmosphere. It captured the unique experience of watching a stage production. 

To celebrate the book, bloggers have been asked to recall their memories of going to the theatre. Let me take you back to 2005 and the stage adaptation of His Dark Materials. 

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His Dark Materials premiered at the National Theatre in 2003 and was revived between November 2004 and April 2005. It condensed Pullman’s trilogy into two three-hour plays. I saw the production in March 2005.

Theatre Critic Michael Billington described the experience as a clipped hedge compared to Pullman’s forest but that’s not how the play appeared to my young eyes. It was like being swept inside Pullman’s magic. It was the closest I will ever come to cutting a window into the fabric of the universe and stepping into another world.

The story began at the end. Will and Lyra sat on a park bench. Although they spoke to each-other, they were having separate conversations. They could neither see nor hear each other. It was a fantastic hook. If you hadn’t known Pullman’s work you would have been intrigued about Will and Lyra’s circumstances.  

The adaptation brought out Will and Lyra’s character arcs. It is the story of their quest to embrace knowledge and reason against the rule of the Church. Side-stories and characters who might take the reader’s attention from this central arc were cut from the theatre production. Although this meant whole sections of the trilogy were lost – notably the sections which follow Mary Malone – it made a tighter story within the six-hour time-frame.

The actors I remember particularly are Adjoa Andoh as Serafina Pekkala, David Harewood as Lord Asriel and Lesley Manville as Mrs Coulter. The complex relationship between Coulter and Asriel was dramatised to perfection. Their final sequence in which the pair entered an eternal fall was met with standing ovation.

The puppet Joey from the National Theatre’s production of WarHorse has gone down in British cultural history. His Dark Materials deserves a similar legacy. The puppets were designed by Michael Curry, the same person who designed puppets for the stage version of The Lion King. The puppets used for the daemons and armoured bears did not recreate a whole animal but suggested their movements and behaviours. It would have been worth booking tickets twice-over -once to follow the story and once to watch the puppetry with wonder.   

Michael Billington’s criticism, which I referenced at the start of this post,  compared the production directly to the books. A play is never going to be the same as a novel. It is a different form of storytelling which embraces visual and audio magic to draw the audience into the story. Accept that a play will never replicate a novel and it is fair to say that the stage production of His Dark Materials was magical. It was an experience which will stay with me for life.

 

Have you seen a theatre production which stayed with you for life? Let me know in the comments below.