[Book Review] DOCTOR WHO : MYTHS AND LEGENDS by Richard Dinnick

As a die-hard Whovian, it should come as no surprise that I jumped at the chance to read and review Richard Dinnick‘s latest offering, DOCTOR WHO : MYTHS & LEGENDS Epic Tales From Alien Worlds, when it was made available for request on NetGalley.

DETAILS:

TITLE: DOCTOR WHO : MYTHS & LEGENDS Epic Tales From Alien Worlds

AUTHOR: RICHARD DINNICK

GENRE: SciFi & Fantasy, Teens & YA

PUBLISHED BY: Penguin Random House UK , BBC Books

PUBLICATION DATE: 26th September 2017

EDITION: Hardback

ISBN: 9781785942495

PRICE: $16.99 (USD)

DESCRIPTION:

THOUGHTS:

As a long-time lover of Greek Mythology, I was delighted to discover that this anthology was actually a collection of fourteen short stories based on well-known; and much loved; Greek Myths.

During his introduction, Chancellor Drakirid; Historian to the Bureau of Ancient Records on Gallifrey; makes reference to the repeated appearance of an unknown man at various points within the legends.

He is never given the same name twice and always seems to wear a different face.

Now, who does that remind you of?

Each offering is a retelling of a classic tale; such as The Mondas Touch, inspired by the story of King Midas, in which we meet Queen Lydia as she is presented with a legendary metal gauntlet purported to have special powers. On donning the glove, she soon discovers it does indeed have the power to upgrade both the planet’s technology and her Royal guards…. I’m sure you can work out what happens next!

Tales of King Minos, his Labyrinth, and the Minotaur it held, were a firm favourite during my Classical studies class at school (many years ago!); therefore I was looking forward to reading The Labyrinthine Web in which a Gallifreyan colony finds that the arrival of a Racnoss ship brings invasion. Enslaved by Messothel, commander of the spider-like craft, the Time Lords are first forced to build the titular Labyrinthine Web then to draw lots to become tributes within the hatchery it holds. Will the scientific minds of this outpost of Gallifrey be able to outsmart their oppressors? You’ll need to read it to find out!

Another personal favourite was The Angels of Vengeance, a tale based on the story of the three Furies and Orestes. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Weeping Angels, and their use as a means of execution in this tale is an interesting take on them.

Each short story is well-written and offers an intriguing SciFi twist to well-known tales of ancient mythology.

RATINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS:

I rate this legendary anthology 5 out of 5 stars.

I recommend DOCTOR WHO: MYTHS & LEGENDS to readers of all ages; in particular fans of Doctor Who, lovers of myths and legends; especially Greek mythology; and those who enjoy retellings of classic tales.

THE AUTHOR:

Richard Dinnick

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[Book Review] NO SHAME by Anne Cassidy

Stacey Woods has been raped and now she has to go through a different ordeal: the court trial. But nothing in life it seems is black and white and life is not always fair or just. Suddenly it seems that she may not be believed and that the man who attacked her may be found not guilty . . . if so Stacey will need to find a way to rebuild her life again . . .

A tautly told and important book, perfect for readers of Asking for It by Louise O’Neill.

DETAILS:

TITLE: NO SHAME

AUTHOR: Anne Cassidy

GENRE: YA , Fiction , Personal & Social Issues

EDITION: Paperback

PAGES: 192

PUBLISHED BY: Hot Key Books

PUBLICATION DATE: 21 September 2017

ISBN: 9781471406782

PRICE: £7.99

STORY:

NO SHAME continues Stacey’s story which we were introduced to in Cassidy’s previous book, NO VIRGIN; a raw, powerful, moving tale about a girl attempting to deal with the aftermath of a sexual attack.

Written as companion books, both can be read as stand-alones, so don’t be put off picking this up if you haven’t read the other.

In NO VIRGIN, Stacey is the victim of a terrible sexual attack. In the beginning she does not feel able to go to the police, or talk about it to anybody other than her best friend, Patrice. Patrice, outraged, when she cannot persuade her to go to the police, encourages Stacey to write everything down; and the first book is Stacey’s story of how she starts to come to terms with what happened, and her eventual decision to report the crime.

NO SHAME returns to Stacey’s story nine months later, and a week before her attacker; who was subsequently arrested and charged; is to be tried.

Finding it difficult to move on with her life, she has put her social life on hold and is thinking about deferring her university place for the next year.

Although she has the support of her family, best friend, headteacher and Annie; her assigned police officer; she is struggling to come to terms with the impending court case and is increasingly aware of how confused her feelings are for her rapist’s brother, a young man she barely knew but felt intensely attracted to.

The prosecuting team warn her that without evidence or witnesses, it is going to be difficult in court but everyone assumes that justice will prevail.

Putting on a brave face, Stacey attends court but finds her composure rattled when she comes face to face with her attacker; the press become interested in the case, and then she has to go through a brutal cross-examination in court; leaving her scared of the possible outcome.

THOUGHTS:

Anne Cassidy approaches a sensitive and important subject matter head on.

Overall Stacey is shown as a strong character rather than being seen as a a victim and ultimately becomes empowered by the court process; immaterial of the actual outcome. Her strength in adversity and ability to see her quest for justice through to the end is also seen as empowering to others who may find themselves in similar situations.

The court proceedings are relatively true to life and the inclusion of detailed contact information for a number of helpful organisations who offer advice, support, counselling, advocacy, and legal services for anyone affected by rape or sexual assault shows a desire to empower and equip survivors with the tools they require to rebuild their lives.

Whilst frustrating to witness, Stacey’s clouded judgement when it comes to Harry and her belief he was in someway also a victim of his older brother seems like a normal human reaction. Understandably it seems better for her to believe he was not a willing player in Marty’s devious plans.

Before I started reading this book, I assumed that it would be a somewhat harrowing and unsettling read; but I can honestly say that I finished it feeling uplifted, both by Stacey’s decisions to restart her life and not let her experiences define her future, and by the positive support network surrounding her.

RATINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS:

A thought-provoking, and at times uncomfortable read, I rate this ultimately empowering book 5 out of 5 stars.

Recommended for both readers of Cassidy‘s companion book NO VIRGIN, or Asking for It by Louise O’Neill; as well as fans of Juno Dawson and Malorie Blackman.

THE AUTHOR:

Born in 1950s London, Anne Cassidy spent many years in teaching before becoming a full-time writer in 2000, specialising in crime stories and thrillers for teenagers.
Many of her works have been shortlisted for various literary prizes, including LOOKING FOR JJ (shortlisted for both the 2004 Whitbread Prize and the 2005 Carnegie Medal) and MOTH GIRLS (nominated for the 2017 CILIP Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the 2017 Sheffield Children’s Book Award).

She can be found on Twitter using the moniker @annecassidy6.

I received an advanced reader print copy of NO SHAME, via ReadersFirst, for the purpose of supplying an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Hugs,

Crafty xx

NinjaBookBox August Review

If you’ve been here for a while, you’ll probably know that I enjoy treating myself to the odd subscription service (or ten)

There’s something great about the idea of coming home from work and, instead of just finding bills & junkmail, discovering a box or envelope full of surprises is awaiting you.

One of my most looked forward to subscription treats is definitely my Ninja Book Box.

So, What IS a #NinjaBookBox ?

A NinjaBookBox is a particularly special kind of subscription service.

Each bimonthly box is available as either a full box, containing a book and a selection of themed or associated gifts and extras, or as a mini box featuring the book and a few of the ninja-created extras.

The August GOING HOME Box

The book is never revealed prior to box delivery, and the first clue to a box theme is when the name & an associated image is released on social media.

Image © Ninja Book Box

I tend to try and avoid spoilers, so a little clue as to the theme of the book and other associated box contents is enough to whet my appetite!

Finally, delivery day came, and my box arrived.

I couldn’t wait to delve in and discover just how we would be Going Home

The Book Ninjas very cleverly always seal the accompanying newsletter featuring book info, interviews with the authors, and recommended additional reading etc, in a spy-proof envelope.

Just one of many thoughtful touches! So, are you ready? Let’s explore….

  • In addition to the enclosed newsletter, there’s always a little “Welcome to this month’s box” note, which is nice.
  • The book, and some of the other contents of the box are tissue-wrapped. This means the actual book remains a surprise right up until you open it! I like to explore all the other bits first, in an attempt to guess the book, author or genre.

Actually, that brings me to another point that shows just how much care and attention is spent on selecting the perfect items to accompany the books included in Ninja Book Boxes. Did you know that the Ninjas read each shortlisted book, then read it again once chosen, to get inspiration directly from the book? How cool is that?

  • The first thing that caught my eye was this cute little card & envelope with fun quote print from A Spoonful of Sugar & Co
  • Next was an item which is included in every box. Each theme has an associated charm, and you can add to your collection with each box. I’m eager to discover just how this cute little scooter links to the story.
  • Another item which makes a regular occurrence is the Ninja Recipe Card. Again, the Book Ninjas attention to detail shines here, each box including a recipe directly inspired by the book. I spotted another clue to the book here, as the card mentions it is set in Tulsa.
  • Next to be unwrapped was this adorable pouch/pencil case, custom made for Ninja Book Box by Curious Miss Clay. Isn’t that sketchy monochrome print gorgeous?
  • The next wrapped gift is extremely intriguing, this Writing Map promises to inspire writing of all sorts including stories and poems during a trip to an art gallery.

On opening it out, I discovered a large double-sided brightly coloured selection of prompts.

  • Unable to put it off any longer, and quite frankly now beside myself with excitement, it was time for the book reveal…

A Map Of Tulsa, written by Benjamin Lytal and published by And Other Stories, is a book I hadn’t yet heard of; but the blurb sounds like it could be an interesting read.

A stunning debut novel of first love set against the art scene of late-90s Tulsa by a former New Yorker editorial staffer.

The first days of summer: Jim Praley is home from college, ready to unlock Tulsa’s secrets. He drives the highways. He forces himself to get out of his car and walk into a bar. He’s invited to a party. And there he meets Adrienne Booker; Adrienne rules Tulsa, in her way. A high-school dropout with a penthouse apartment, she takes a curious interest in Jim. Through her eyes, he will rediscover his hometown: its wasted sprawl, the beauty of its late nights, and, at the city’s center, the unsleeping light of its skyscrapers.

In the tradition of Michael Chabon’s The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, A Map of Tulsa is elegiac, graceful, and as much a story about young love as it is a love letter to a classic American city.

This is yet another reason I particularly love the #NinjaBookBox. Because the books are always from small presses and/or independent publishers, they are often relatively unknown, thus adding to the surprise and widening my reading horizons.

  • Since it was now safe to do so, I returned my attention to the Spoilers! envelope inside which I found the usual newsletter with a short Ninja Review (& reasoning behind selecting this particular book for inclusion), suggestions for recommended reading either also set in Tulsa or with a similar feel, and a useful list of suppliers and where to find them. Also included was a lovely hand-drawn map that I am assuming was created by the artistically blessed sister of Head Ninja, Bex.
  • Last, but not least, there was also a little teaser slip for November’s box which; as it coincides with Ninja Book Box’s 1st birthday; promises to be something special!

I want in, How do I get one?

That’s simple! Head on over to NinjaBookBox.com and order one!

Ninja Book Boxes ship quarterly (in February, May, August, and November) and each box becomes available for individual purchase on the 1st of the month before (January, April, July, and October).

The site is easy to navigate, and as well as box subscriptions, they have an online store which stocks various books and bookish gifts.

Current Prices:

  • Individual Boxes £29.99 per box (£15 Mini Box)
  • Annual Subscription £27.50 per box (£13.75 Mini Box)
  • Quarterly Recurring Subscription £26 per box (£14 Mini Box)

Subscriptions are always available, except when the current box is sold out.

The Ninjas champion Indies, all the books included in the boxes are from Independent publishers, and all the gift items are either created in-house or sourced from small business makers, so you are guaranteed to find a few unusual little treasures.

DISCOUNT CODE

Do you know what I like even more than a subscription box? A discount code! So here’s one for you to use in the Ninja Book Box online shop.

Enter HEATHER15 at the checkout to receive 15% off any shop purchases over £5.

At present, discount codes won’t work on recurring quarterly subscriptions, but you can use them to get 15% off stand-alone boxes, such as the GRAND ADVENTURE Summer Reading Box, or any of the other goodies instore.

And the best bit? Unlike most discount codes that are one-use only, you can use my referral code as often as you like, so you can claim your 15% off EVERYTIME you shop! (I also receive a point each time you use it, so I can accumulate rewards too)

Have you tried the #NinjaBookBox yet? If not, have I tempted you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, or any other bookish boxes you’ve tried.

As always,

Thanks for stopping by!

Hugs,

Crafty xxx

[Book Review] A PEARL FOR MY MISTRESS by Annabel Fielding

As a bit of a history nerd, I was understandably excited when Annabel contacted me last month enquiring if I would be interested in participating in the upcoming blog tour for her new historical fiction novel; running between the 14th and 28th of September; and today’s the (my) day!

DETAILS

TITLE: A Pearl for my Mistress

AUTHOR: Annabel Fielding

PUBLISHED BY: HQ Digital

GENRE: Historical Fiction

PUBLICATION DATE: 9th August 2017

EDITION: E-book / Kindle

ISBN: 9780008271169

PRICE: £0.99 / $TBC

Currently available from both Amazon UK and Amazon US .

THE STORY

England, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady’s maid in a small aristocratic household.

Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy.

Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital… and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society’s most dangerous secrets…

THOUGHTS

Both Hester and Lucy are inherently likeable characters, any flaws or failures being a byproduct of their respective upbringings or situations.

The author’s choice of lengthy descriptive prose is evocative of the era, indeed there is one particular part early on in the book when the two young women are discussing Lucy’s writing which to my mind sums it up rather nicely;

“My sentences used to take at least five lines each. Otherwise I felt I didn’t do justice to the heroine’s complexion or the fragrance of the garden”.

I feel that the physical attraction between the two was somewhat inevitable, given the somewhat forced closeness between them during their time in the isolated Hebden Hall; Lady Lucy’s foreboding ancestral home; and the romanticed notions they each have of the others life.

At times, I found myself getting somewhat frustrated by the unthinking ways and poor choices that led Hester (and at times Lucy) into difficult situations.

As always I am ever-mindful of not giving away too much of the story in my review, so rather than tell you my take on this wonderfully poignant tale, I’d rather concentrate on the vividly described world that Hester finds herself plunged in. At a time when the upper classes were still trying to cling to all their traditions and rules of proprietary as the world marched on to more modern ways of thinking, Hester could still experience what she saw as the wonder of a different way of life; although ultimately realizes that for all the luxuries afforded to the upper-class they are as much trapped by their situation as those of the working class.

Through her detailed and well-researched writing, Annabel Fielding immerses the reader in the world of 1930s society through her wonderfully evocative descriptions. Sometimes, this level of description and background information does cause the pace of the story to slow; but this makes for a languorous unfolding of the story which somehow feels in-keeping with the era.

RATING & RECOMMENDATIONS

As a lover of historical fiction, I enjoyed this richly woven tale. Whilst the story was somewhat of a slow burner, I felt this added to it’s charm.

I rate this evocative and eminently readable tale of 1930s society 4 out of 5 stars.

I recommend A Pearl for my Mistress to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a touch of romance, and fans of Downtown Abbey or similar.

MEET THE AUTHOR

You can find out more about Novelist, History Geek and International Woman of Mystery Annabel over on her blog History Geek in Town ; where she shares her love of travel, books and tea through her reviews of (mostly) historical fiction and her stunningly photographed travel posts.

Alternatively, you can also follow her, @DearestAnnabel, on Twitter.

DISCLOSURE

I received a copy of this book from the author, via NetGalley & free of charge, in order to read, review and join in with this blog tour. All thoughts are my honest opinions.

Do you enjoy Historical Fiction? Do you have a preferred era?

Hopefully, this review may have piqued your interest!

Thanks for stopping by,

Hugs,

Crafty xxx

I would also like to thank the lovely Annabel for inviting me to read her book, and participate in the blog tour.

The Student Cookbook: a.k.a. “How Do I Make This Mum?” : The Fishcake Edition

Offspring#2 heads off to Edinburgh University next weekend.

He’s going to be staying in a shared flat in the centre of town and is nervously looking forward to it.

Obviously, part of the planning; alongside getting a place (the hardest part of that was actually making a decision, as he received four unconditional offers!!), sorting funding, applying for accomodation, and buying duvets, dishes & desk cacti; is making sure he can feed himself!

Operation: Mum’s Student Cookbook is well underway (although, whilst #1’s recipes were all painstakingly handwritten in her book, he’s gone all high-tech with Google docs) and we’re working on a batch of multi-purpose or mix & match recipes.

Tonight’s experiment was fishcakes, they turned out well, and he has already added a list of possible variations.

We had a couple of tins of red salmon loitering in the cupboard so decided to use those up in these easy Salmon, Spring Onion, Chilli, and Coriander Fishcakes.

Ingredients

  • 2 large or four medium potatoes; peeled & diced (or 250g leftover mash)
  • 1 tin salmon; drained, flaked, & bones removed
  • 1 red chilli; de-seeded & finely chopped
  • 2-3 spring onions, chopped
  • Handful of coriander; roughly chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • Flour
  • 1-2 eggs; beaten
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbspn butter
  • 2 tbspn olive oil

Method

  1. Boil potatoes until soft, drain & mash.
  2. Combine mash, salmon, chilli, spring onion, & coriander; and season.
  3. Form into palm-sized patties.
  4. Coat in flour, dip in egg, & cover with breadcrumbs.
  5. Heat butter & oil in a frying pan, over a medium heat.
  6. Add fishcakes, and fry for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Enjoy with salad & crusty bread, or your choice of vegetables.

Yeild & Storage

This recipe will give 4-6 decent sized fishcake, enough as a main meal for two; alternatively, save half for another day.

Uncooked fishcakes can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days or wrapped and frozen for 2-3 months.
Personally, I prefer to fry until golden then cool añd freeze. Cook from frozen in a preheated 180°C oven for 20-35 minutes depending on the size.
 

Variations

Tinned Tuna & Sweetcorn

Smoked Salmon, with Thai flavouring

Cod & Chorizo

Prawn with Chilli, Garlic, Ginger, and Spring Onion

Smoked Haddock and Mature Cheddar

Omit the fish altogether; and have Cheese, Leek, and Spring Onion Potato Cakes for a vegetarian-flatmate-friendly feed

Are you a fan of fishcakes? What’s your favourite flavour? If you try these, or have any student-friendly recipes, I (we!) would love to hear below!

As always,

Thanks for stopping by!

Hugs,

Crafty xxx

[Book Review] LETTERING WITH PURPOSE by Brittany Luiz

TITLE: LETTERING WITH PURPOSE

AUTHOR: BRITTANY LUIZ

GENRE: NON-FICTION, CRAFTS & HOBBIES, ARTS

PUBLISHED BY: WALTER FOSTER PUBLISHING

PUBLICATION DATE: 1st SEPTEMBER 2017

EDITION: PAPERBACK

ISBN: 9781633223424

PRICE: $21.95 (USD)

Creative techniques and prompts for making meaningful, inspirational hand-lettered art.

DESCRIPTION

Lettering with Purpose is

DISCLOSURE

I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in return for an open and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by! Have you tried your hand at the current trend for hand-lettering yet? I’d love to hear whether you have or inspired to try it after reading this!

Hugs,

Crafty xx

[MailCall Monday] 28th August 2017

Well, the week started off rather nicely with not one but two items of fun mail waiting when I got home from work on Monday!

First up was my #NinjaBookBox.

The Ninja Book Box is an awesome quarterly bookish subscription service. Each box has a theme, this one being GOING HOME.

Each box contains a book related to the theme, together with a small selection of items carefully chosen and created to match the theme.

The books are always from independent publishers, and the curated items are sourced from small businesses and independent makers. This championing of indie suppliers is integral to the Ninja Book Box ethos and is definitely something to be applauded.

There’s always so much to explore in a Ninja Book Box, that it’s probably best that I do a standalone post dedicated purely to my unboxing.

But, in the meantime, if you need a bookish fix; remember code HEATHER15 gets you 15% off orders over £5 in the #NinjaBookBox shop!

Next was a surprise gift:

LUCKY DIP CLUB X HELLO DODO

Mr Crafty actually purchased this for me as a lovely surprise.

I have received Lucky Dip Club boxes in the past, but after taking a baby break, Leona has returned to the subscription market with an update.

I must admit, I was intrigued when I heard about this collaboration with HELLO DODO, as I love their prints.

Inside I found an intriguing soft lightweight item, wrapped in sunshine yellow tissue; and a brightly coloured zine.

When I opened the tissue-wrapped gift, I discovered the most adorable bold flamingo print adorning a fab fabric zippered pouch.

  1. I adore flamingos
  2. I love puns
  3. Summery ice-cream shades are fab
  4. You can never have too many storage bags

I haven’t decided just yet what exactly I’ll be storing in my pouch; make-up bag or pencil case seem good options but I don’t want the inside to get dirty!!

Later on in the week was Boxcitement day…

Boxcitement is a lovely monthly subscription box which features a gorgeous selection of stationery, jewellery, housewares and decorative items; all curated around a theme, which this month is FANTASY ISLAND.

Again, look out for a full unboxing post coming soon!

BookMail

The first BookMail of the week was this fantastic foil-embellished, signed copy of INVICTUS by Ryan Graudin.

I received this Sci-Fi Fantasy; likened to Doctor Who meets the Guardians of the Galaxy; as part of a Twitter Giveaway, hosted by the Bournemouth Waterstone’s store .

Time is running out . . .

Farway McCarthy was born outside of time. With nowhere to call home and nothing to anchor him to the present, Far captains a crew on a dangerous mission into the past. When he collides with Eliot – a mysterious, secretive girl, whose very appearance raises questions about time itself – Far immediately distrusts her. But he must take a leap of faith, following Eliot on a race against time, if he is to protect everything he’s ever loved from disappearing forever . . .

A fast-paced, heart-stopping journey that will leave you breathless.

Via ReadersFirst; I received an ARC of Vince Cable‘s debut novel, OPEN ARMS; a political thriller which spans all the way from the parliamentary buildings of Westminster to the slums of Mumbai.

Kate Thompson – glamorous housewife-turned-MP – surprises everyone with her meteoric rise at Westminster. When Kate is sent as a trade minister to India, she hopes it will be her moment to shine. But, embroiled in a personal scandal, she gets drawn into a dangerous world of corruption and political intrigue… Billionaire Deepak Parrikar – head of an Indian arms technology company – is magnetically drawn to the beautiful British minister. But while their relationship deepens, India’s hostilities with Pakistan reach boiling point, causing more than just business and politics to collide. In the race to prevent disaster, can their conflicting loyalties survive being tested to the limit? Open Arms is an explosive thriller which circles from Whitehall to the slums of Mumbai. Cable’s sweeping tale combines unrivalled political detail with international intrigue, desire, and the quest for power. An electrifying debut.

Published by Corvus, OPEN ARMS is due to be released on 7th September 2017, and I’ll be reviewing it soon.

So, that was the contents of my mailbox for the week, did you receive any fun mail? Share in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

Hugs, Crafty xxx

DISCLOSURE

  • Although I have a referral code for #NinjaBookBox, I receive this box through my personal paid subscription.
  • I also receive Boxcitement via a paid subscription.
  • The Lucky Dip Club item I received was purchased as a gift.
  • I regularly receive Advance Reader Copies of upcoming releases from ReadersFirst, these are sent free of charge, on the understanding I will read and review them; giving my honest and unbiased impression.
  • The signed copy of Ryan Graudin’s INVICTUS I received was won via a randomised draw hosted by the Waterstone’s store.