Review: Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron

Recommendations, Review
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Title: Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron
Author: Anthology
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: Oct 2012
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5
Synopsis from Goodreads

A stellar cast of acclaimed fantasy writers weave spellbinding tales that bring the world of witches to life. Boasting over 70 awards between them, including a Newbery Medal, five Hugo Awards and a Carnegie Medal, authors including Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix and Holly Black delve into the realms of magic to explore all things witchy… From familiars that talk, to covens that offer dark secrets to explore, these are tales to tickle the hair on the back of your neck and send shivers down your spine.

Introduction: Looking Under the Hat”, Jonathan Strahan
“Stray Magic”, Diana Peterfreund
“Payment Due”, Frances Hardinge
“A Handful of Ashes”, Garth Nix
“Little Gods”, Holly Black
“Barrio Girls”, Charles de Lint
“Felidis”, Tanith Lee
“Witch Work”, Neil Gaiman (poem)
“The Education of a Witch”, Ellen Klages
“The Threefold World”, Ellen Kushner
“The Witch in the Wood”, Delia Sherman
“Which Witch”, Patricia A. McKillip
“The Carved Forest”, Tim Pratt
“Burning Castles”, M. Rickert
“The Stone Witch”, Isobelle Carmody
“Andersen’s Witch”, Jane Yolen
“B Is for Bigfoot”, Jim Butcher
“Great-Grandmother in the Cellar”, Peter S. Beagle
“Crow and Caper, Caper and Crow”, Margo Lanagan


Under My Hat is a collection of short stories all featuring WITCHES!!!! Most are set in the present day making them very realistic!!!! Each story is unique, picking out different themes revolving around witches and even delving into the history of witches.

There are so many great stories in this one collection, although my personal favourite was A Handful of Ashes.

A highly recommended witch themed read.


Sensational Science: Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kristen Miller

Sensational Science, Uncategorized

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Title: Otherworld
Series: Otherworld #1
Author: Jason Segel and Kristen Miller
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Publication Date: 31 OCt 2017


The Company Welcomes you To
The new generation of gaming.

Welcome to real life 2.0.
Are you ready to play?

There are no screens. There are no controls.
You don’t just see and hear it—you taste, smell, and touch it too.
In this new reality there are no rules to follow, no laws to break.
You can indulge your every desire.
Why would you ever want to leave?
Step into Otherworld.
Leave your body behind.

Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller have created a brilliant and terrifying view of a possible future that’s not far away. OTHERWORLD asks the question we’ll all soon be asking: if technology can deliver everything we want, how much are we willing to pay?

Focus on Fantasy: Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

Focus on Fantasy, Uncategorized
Court of Fives

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Title: Court of Fives
Series: Court of Fives #1
Author: Kate Elliott
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Publication Date: Aug 2015


On the Fives court, everyone is equal.

And everyone is dangerous.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for the Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Read an excerpt HERE

Hooked on Harry: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Hooked on Harry, Recommendations

Another one to add to your list of books to try if you like Harry Potter:

Last Magician

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Title: The Last Magician
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: July 2017


Stop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future.

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

Review: The Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant

Recommendations, Review, Uncategorized
Messenger of Fear

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Title: Messenger of Fear
Series: Messenger of Fear #1
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Publication Date: 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

I remembered my name – Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, faced with the solemn young man in the black coat with silver skulls for buttons, I could recall nothing else about myself.

And then the games began.

The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear.

But what does any of this have to do with Mara? She is about to find out . . .


I didn’t have any idea what to expect from Messenger of Fear. When it comes to Michael Grant I usually expect violence and deaths, mature content, insane characters and a roller coaster ride of emotions. 

The first 1/3 of this book I felt unsure about where the story was heading, it was quite misleading. I did enjoy the story right from the start and was intrigued by the mysterious boy, the Messenger of Fear.

The story took off in the typical Michael Grant style I love  – bloody, gory, shocking and extreme!!!!!

The character of the Messenger of Fear was mysterious and interesting, a broken soul, and I wanted to know everything about him. Mara, the Messenger’s Apprentice,  was even more mysterious though because as we know next to nothing about her, even though the story is from her point of view. 

Besides the Messenger’s wicked games and his harsh judgment that leads to exciting and often fearful events. The story also made me curious about discovering the background details to Mara’s story. I wanted to  find out why she was the Messenger’s apprentice. These details add to the compelling nature of the plot, it induces you to rush through the book to the point it keeps you up all night in anticipation of uncovering the details you so desperately crave.

I will say Mara’s story comes with an awesome twist!

Even though Messenger and Mara have their shadowy pasts and I wanted to uncover their secrets get behind that, It was all the other characters we get to read about, which I really cared about or caused certain feels. I can imagine that after the end with its surprising revelation, I’m going to care more about Mara in the next book though.

This book The Messenger of Fear is not just a story about Fear and thrill shock value to make this story as exciting as possible. It also deals with interesting and important themes such as bullying. Bullying is a large part of this story and even though I’ve read multiple books about bullying before and have seen it happen in real life, it still made me speechless to see what people are capable of, what they do to other people to feel better, to deal with their own problems. In my opinion, Michael Grant did a great job of dealing with this topic, sending the right message and showing all the different perspectives of the people involved.

The other theme that I think is very interesting within the narrative is that of guilt and bad behaviour in general. It’s about people who drive other people into doing things but will never be judged for it, never be convicted for what they did. I enjoyed reading about this a lot, being in Mara’s head and thinking about these kinds of things.

Messenger of Fear is a dark story that though could have been even darker in my opinion. It’s a great start of a new series though and I hope that the next books will have even more characters that have to play the Messenger’s wicked games.

Review: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

Recommendations, Resources, Review

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Title: The Iron Trial
Series: Magisterium #1
Author: Cassandra Clare and Holly Black
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: Sept 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Most people would do anything to get into the Magisterium and pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. Call has been told his whole life that he should never trust a magician. And so he tries his best to do his worst — but fails at failing. Now he must enter the Magisterium. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister. And Call realizes it has dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.


The Iron Trail is a brilliant, enthralling story which I, for one, could not put down!

It is set in the Magisterium, a magical, underground place where masters of magic train their apprentices in the arts of magic. The plot follows the story of Callum Hunt, a boy with a permanent leg injury, who has grown up being told that magic is never to be trusted. However, when the time came for him to take the test, he even fails at failing. Is magic all that bad? Callum finds out on a journey that will stay with you long after the last page, and make you long for more…

My favourite character is Tamara, because I could empathise with her quite well, and she is very clever, witty, and shrouded in mystery. My favourite part is quite far through the book, so I won’t spoil it for you, but let’s just say, I was laughing for a while. The third person perspective was brilliant, as you could clearly understand what was going on, and I think  a first person point of view from Callum would get really confusing.
Holly Black and Cassandra Clare are both amazing authors. I love the way they created such complex characters, that I could really visualise as people, and the way they wrote about the Magisterium itself, was really quite stunning. Everything made sense, and I loved the ending, which was really unexpected, but entertaining all the same.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed any of Holly Black or Cassandra Clare’s books, or readers of Harry Potter. I hope you really enjoy this wonderful book, and I look forward to seeing the next in the series.

Event: International Womens Day

Events, Recommendations, Resources


International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

#IWD2017 #BeBoldForChange

PARITY – the state or condition of being equal, especially as regards status or pay.
“parity of incomes between rural workers and those in industrial occupations”
synonyms: equality, equivalence, uniformity, sameness, consistency, correspondence, congruity, congruence, levelness, unity, coequality, parallelism, evenness
“parity of incomes between rural workers and those in industrial occupations”

Review: The Front Lines Series by Michael Grant

Recommendations, Resources, Review

Michael Grant Competition


Title: Front Lines / Silver Stars / Dead of Night
Series: Front Lines #1 #2
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Publication Date:
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads


Image from Goodreads

FRONT LINES – 1942. The fate of the world rests on a knife’s edge. And the soldiers who can tip the balance . . . are girls.

Set in an alternate World War II where young women are called up to fight alongside men, this is the story of Rio Richlin and her friends as they go into battle against Hitler’s forces.

But not everyone believes that they should be on the front lines. Now Rio and her friends must fight not only to survive, but to prove their courage and ingenuity. Because the fate of the world is in the hands of the soldier girls.


Image from Goodreads

SILVER STARS – The summer of 1943, World War II. With heavy memories of combat, Frangie, Rainy, Rio, and the rest of the American army are moving on to their next target: the Italian island of Sicily.

The women won’t conquer Italy alone. They are not heroes for fighting alongside their brothers—they are soldiers. But Frangie, Rainy, Rio, and the millions of brave females fighting for their country have become a symbol in the fight for equality. They will brave terrible conditions in an endless siege; they will fight to find themselves on the front lines of WWII; and they will come face-to-face with the brutality of war until they win or die.

33986934.jpgDEAD OF NIGHT – Set in the alternative World War II scenario of his Front Lines novels, Michael Grant, author of the bestselling GONE series, has written this story exclusively for World Book Day 2017.

Rio Richlin doesn’t have superpowers. She is an ordinary young woman. A soldier in the American army, wearing a uniform, carrying a rifle, and fighting alongside thousands who are trying to make a difference, trying to change the world.

At least, that’s the plan. Right now she’s part of a squad on a training exercise in some place called Wales. They’re cold, they’re wet, and Rio’s pretty sure they’re also lost. Spending the night in a creepy old inn wasn’t part of the plan at all…

Rio’s only training. But soon, the fate of the world will be in the hands of the soldier girls.


The Front Lines Series, consists of Front Lines, Silver Stars and the new World Book Day short story Dead of Night, set in the middle of Front Lines. They are all set in an alternative World War Two, where the USA has recruited both women and men into its regular army. The brilliant thing about this alternative history is that almost nothing else has changed, the culture of the army is still realistically sexist and racist, and thus the description of military life is still harsh and true to life.

The main character, Rio Richlin, enlisted with her outgoing friend Jenou after her sister Rachel died in service with the Navy. The two novels also follow the separate but linked stories of the Jewish Intelligence Sergeant Rainy Schulterman and the black medic Frangie Marr. All three clearly develop from pathetic green soldiers to near-perfect professionals through various adventures and battles, with their personal lives covered as well.

The best character for me is Sergeant Schulterman, a serious soldier from the start; and with the most difficult job of all advising senior officers and operating undercover. She also faces additional challenges throughout as a Jew in World War Two My favourite part of the series is the ending, where the efforts of the three central characters are recognised, though they remain cynical and sceptical themselves.

I can find very little to criticise in the series, although I did find the regular name-dropping of historical figures quite annoying. However, overall I enjoyed the Front Lines series, especially the way Michael Grant combines historical plausibility with solid, recognisable characters. I give the series 5 out of 5 stars and I will recommend it to my friends, although I am not planning to read Grant’s other books as they are dystopian rather than historical. Also, the Front Lines books contain lots of violence and quite explicit language so are unsuitable for younger readers.

Specifically, I thought that the World Book Day short story was well-written and my favourite part was the “ghost of war future” with Lieutenant Charles, as it relates to the recently discovered evils of combat. However, the series of ghostly dreams of the main character feels like an uninventive way of creating a short story from the series. Thus I can only give Dead of Night 3/5 stars.

New In: Rugby Runner by Gerard Siggins

Recommendations, Resources

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Eoin Madden is captain of the Junior Cup team, training with Leinster and aiming for Ireland’s Under 16 World Cup team. He also has to deal with grumpy friends, teachers piling on the homework – AND a ghost on a mission that goes back to the very origins of the game of rugby. Books, crooks and rucks – it’s all to play for this term!