Thursday, 3 August 2017

StarPassage: Heroes and Martyrs | Blog Tour & Book Review

Star Passage: Heroes and Martyrs, by Clark Rich Burbidge
Published: July 2017, by Deep River Books
Length: 304 pages
Genre: Middle Grade, Sci-Fi, Time-Travel

My Rating: 4 Stars!

The award-winning StarPassage saga continues with the relic guiding the Carsons to a new and desperate family. Two brothers, Bobby and Mike, are struggling after a tragic accident turns their world upside down.

Join our heroes on a series of dangerous adventures to solve the relic's riddles, save lives, escape the ever-increasing Tracker threat, and experience some of the most dreadful and exciting moments in history.

Will they learn from the past--should they change it if they can? Is there any hope for survival?

I received a copy of this book from PR by the Book (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review.
This in no way influences my opinions. 


My Review:

This book surprised me in the best way. I read the first book of this series (StarPassage: The Relic) last year (you can read my review of which by clicking here), and while I did really enjoy the story, I don't remember the book as a whole as being especially outstanding. Consequently, while I was interested in the fates of Tim, Martie and the rest of the characters, I was slightly dubious of the execution of this novel.
I felt that every single aspect of the book had been improved upon through the transition from the first book to Heroes and Martyrs, and the majority of the slight issues I'd had with The Relic had been removed from this instalment to the series. As a result, I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it highly.

StarPassage: Heroes and Martyrs begins with the characters Bobby and Mike finding themselves in a life-changing accident, which has devastating impacts on them both. However, it is through this accident that they end up becoming close with Tim and Martie, and their family, and must face the prospects of embarking on their own StarPassages. This initial premise for the story was a really interesting and engaging way of beginning it, and unlike with so many other sequels, I was so glad to find that Burbidge had launched straight into the action as opposed to spending tedious chapters discussing the events of the previous novel. This was much appreciated from a reader's point of view!

The character development in this story was something I also really appreciated. In the first book, I remember thinking that Tim and Martie could've been explored in greater detail, and this novel allowed this to happen. We learnt more about each of them, and were introduced to many more characters who were equally as interesting to read about. I particularly enjoyed reading about Bobby and Mike, and how their fraternal relationship evolved over the course of the novel. I found the new characters of Donna and Kathy really interesting to read about, too, and I was very excited to read about them later in the novel. 

I loved the time travel aspect of Heroes and Martyrs. This was something I'd liked in the previous novel, but I definitely found these historical events more engaging to read about. As devastating as those parts were, I thought the scenes from the war and from 9/11 made a great impact on the story, particularly since they were both more recent events. They were written in an appropriate way too, since they weren't overly graphic (considering that it's a children's book) yet they dealt with the seriousness of the event and didn't glamourize anything. It also added many interesting characters and plot-twists to the story, which were quite fun to read about.

In my opinion, Burbidge's writing style has definitely improved in this book. When I was reading The Relic, I remember thinking that it was the writing that didn't exactly do the book justice, considering how much of a great story the book had. In Heroes and Martyrs, I found the writing to be more sophisticated, which actually made the story easier to read and more enjoyable. 
There were times when I still thought that the dialogue within the book slightly let it down; the way in which family members and friends spoke to each other still felt too formal for me, and I would have personally preferred a more realistic sense within the dialogue. 

The thing I think I love the most about the StarPassage books is that not only are they really entertaining stories with great characters and plot-lines, they also act as great teachers for their readers. Dealing with mental health issues, such as PTSD, these novels provide such a great resource for children to relate to with their feelings. Not only do they get an interesting and completely captivating story, they're also inexplicitly shown how to deal with their feelings and are opened to health issues in a way that makes them less scary and confusing. Therefore, I think these books would be absolutely perfect for children who know somebody who has been affected, or have been affected themselves by a health issue, since the StarPassage books explain these issues in a great way for children to understand, all the while providing an amazing story for them to enjoy.

For this reason, I have given StarPassage: Heroes and Martyrs 4 stars. I really enjoyed it and I'd love to know what's going to happen next in the series, especially after that cliff-hanger of an ending. There were still a few slight niggles I had with certain aspects of the story, but as a children's book, it was great. I would recommend it to all kids between the ages of 9-14, especially those who have been struggling with some of the issues dealt with in this book. 

You can purchase your own copy of this book through the following links:

Thank you for reading this review! I hope to be back with another very soon.

If you've read the StarPassage books, I'd love to know your thoughts!

Charlotte xxx

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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Heavenwood | Book Review

Heavenwood, by Ernest Yungsi
Published: November 2016, by Smashwords
Length: 276 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Married to the prettiest wife in the world, having many loyal friends and his own law firm, Jack Mann is about to receive the Lawyer of the Year Award, when he finds himself outside a movie theatre, face-to-face with a male giant, wearing a skirt who offers Jack videos of his wife and friends' darkest secrets. Jack enters the movie theatre and finds out that he too has done terrible things, some which he forgot to remember. What can Jack do, now that he is dead?

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
This in no way influences my opinions. 


My Review:

Heavenwood isn't really the type of book I'm used to, or one that I might normally read. Most aspects of this novel were completely different to what I'm used to reading, however, this was in no way a bad thing and I really enjoyed this book, particularly for its themes and the twists and turns in the plot line. This was something that pleased me for the entirety of the novel, and also one of my favourite things about the novel as a whole. 
I'll admit, initially I was slightly confused with everything that occurred in the outset of the novel - we see a few different points of view, some of which appear to be told as flashbacks, and straightaway they seem to be completely separate storylines to each other. It was only when I continued reading for a little longer that I realised this was not at all the case. The plot lines interwove really well, and a lot faster than I had anticipated, which I believe the story benefited from. This meant that it didn't take too long for the story to 'introduce' itself and set out the main plot line. 

The characters in Heavenwood were initially slightly confusing people for me, before the plot lines had straightened themselves out. Jack is our main character, who has just died and gone to 'Heavenwood', and Nikka is his wife, now widow. We see Jack's friend Dickson in a few of the scenes, too, who appears to be attempting to get with Nikka following Jack's death, which I think is the part I found to be the most confusing. However, I was happy by the end of the novel when everything was revealed regarding these characters - it was a satisfying reveal and ending and I was content with the character progression, particularly that of Jack, throughout the course of the novel - I definitely found that I liked him as a person more towards the end. 

In terms of the writing in Heavenwood, I have no faults to pick up on. Perhaps the style of writing isn't what I'm used to reading and what I'd necessarily pick when I look for a novel, but in terms of how it told the story, it was pretty fast-paced yet also descriptive. The length of this novel was something that I thought benefited the story as a whole, and since it is a fairly short book it was able to get to the point quite quickly - I liked this. Overall, though, I had no problems with the writing in this book - it definitely did what it needed to and conveyed the story well. 

In the least negative way possible, the story of Heavenwood was slightly confusing from time to time. I did feel that parts of it were difficult to follow, and while the concept behind the story was definitely interesting, it was also strange until I managed to get my head around it. I liked the themes behind the story, particularly the ideas of forgiveness and learning more about yourself, and I also really liked the idea this story proposed about what happens to you when you die, and it was definitely an interesting touch for all of the characters in the story to be dead. 
Some parts of the story did seem slightly far-fetched to me, even for a novel set in an after-world of sorts. I'm not quite sure how I felt about all the murders that everybody had committed. Obviously, murders do happen, and there are murderers who go undiscovered, but for a great deal of the principal characters to have killed someone at some point seemed slightly too far for me, but it definitely was an interesting touch. 

Overall, I liked this book. I liked how deep it was, and how it left me as the reader with so many moral questions and thoughts. This story did touch me a lot, and made me consider things about my life and my choices that I definitely wouldn't have thought of before reading Heavenwood. For that reason, I think it's quite an important book for a wide audience to read, and therefore I would recommend it to (young) adults who are a fan of urban fantasy books, particularly those which deal with death or life after death. I gave Heavenwood 3.5 stars overall, because I did really enjoy it, but like most other books, it had a few minor faults that just prevented it from being amazing, in my opinion. It was still a really good read though, and I'd be interested in keeping an eye on this author for any future work. 

If you're interested in reading Heavenwood (and I really suggest that you give it a go!) you can purchase it from the following sites:

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

I hope you have enjoyed reading this review, and I'll be back with more very soon!
If you've read Heavenwood then I'd love to know what you thought!

Charlotte xxx

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Sunday, 15 January 2017

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child | Review!

This post has been a long time coming, and, due to a massively busy schedule, I had to take a little break from reviewing for the last two months or so, so huge apologies for that. I'm hoping to be able to post a little more regularly now!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany
Published: July 2016, by Little, Brown
Genre: Fantasy, Play
Length: 343 pages

My Rating: 5 Stars!!

Unless you've been living under a sizable rock for the last year or so, you'll be aware of the brand new addition to the Potterverse that has had ever kind of Harry Potter fan impatiently awaiting its release. In July this year, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was finally released as a play, both in the theatres and in bookshops. However, since I had booked tickets for the play in October (you can read about that hellish experience by clicking here) I had vowed to leave the book firmly closed until after I had been to see the play - and yes, I really did have to padlock the book shut in order to do this!

Just under 4 months of waiting did pay off in the end, though, and I am so glad I managed to last without reading the script beforehand as I can honestly say it maximised the experience of the play to an even more incredible level!


"It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places."


Words cannot explain how amazing watching The Cursed Child was. If I could watch it again every single remaining day of my life, I would do so without hesitation.
In fact, the whole experience of going to London to see the play was a magical one, and one that I will never forget.
I had decided to properly get into the spirit of the event (because why not?!) and donned my full set of robes, complete with Gryffindor tie, wand, and time-turner! Accompanying me was a fully-costumed Bellatrix Lestrange, and the pair of us definitely turned a few heads when we travelled on the extremely-busy Underground and walked through the streets of London on the way to the theatre! And even more people gave us some rather strange looks when we sat ordering pizza in a restaurant between the two parts of the play!

I know that many people actually felt quite let down with The Cursed Child, and I have a few friends who have completely disregarded the story as an addition to the series, which I why I believe I made the right choice in waiting until I had seen the play on stage.
There are parts of the criticism that, I must say, I do agree with, despite the unmeasurable amount of love I have for everything Harry Potter. However, I will stand by what I said before the play was released as a script - The Cursed Child was always intended to be a play. It was intended to be seen on the stage, performed by actors, with special effects, music, and going alongside the full theatre experience. It was not intended to be read as a book, as a simple collection of dialogue and stage directions.
Therefore, I cannot understand how people are criticising this as a book when they have not experienced the play as it was intended. It very much frustrates me.

Practically the minute I left The Palace Theatre following the end of Part Two (after I'd composed myself from being an emotional wreck) I unlocked my copy of The Cursed Child script and began to read it for myself, and, as much as I loved being able to relive it, it did not nearly live up to what I had just witnessed.

I couldn't help but feel a little bit disappointed that what was written on the page wasn't even able to nearly describe what I had seen on the stage, so I can understand how people had felt let down by what they had read.
In this respect, I feel so privileged that I was able to get tickets as early as I did and that I was able to attend the play fairly early on in its life.

Absolutely nothing will ever me able to capture the absolute magic that The Cursed Child was. It was beautiful to watch and I really felt honoured to be there. I had expected magic, obviously, with it being Harry Potter, but I never expected it in the full extent that it was - I was just blown away. Wands seemed completely magic, producing sparks, fire and smoke at command, fingers grew to the length of broomsticks (yes, really!), and I honestly can't comprehend how they managed to use Polyjuice Potion onstage and transform into other actors. It was incredible!


The actors who managed to pull off this spectacular performance were completely stunning. They obviously had to have a few different characteristics in comparison to the character we have loved for so long in the Harry Potter films, but this is understandable since they were necessary for the performance. I thought Harry and Ron, in particular, were very realistic and were fairly close to how I imagined them to be in the future.
Hermione, on the other hand, wasn't quite as how imagined her in terms of characteristics. This was quite disappointing for me since Hermione is a character I have aspired to be like since the age of six, and I just didn't feel like I connected with her as much. This could be just due to the larger age gap between us now, but I just didn't feel as if she was likable, and she definitely seemed out of character in my opinion.
This brings me to the issue of the story itself. I'm not going to pretend that I loved every aspect of it, even though I really, really loved the play itself. I thought that the story itself gave off the feeling of fanfiction. And don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with fanfiction; I am a proud reader and writer of fanfiction, so I don't have issues with it. I could tell that this story didn't completely come straight from the mind of J.K. Rowling. It just didn't feel like her story, and there were aspects of the play that I didn't think were all that believable.
Like I've said before, I feel very close to Hermione as a character, and I really can't see that she would've become the Minister of Magic. It doesn't feel like a Hermione-ish job and I can't see that she would've enjoyed it. Obviously people change from when they're a teenager, but it just didn't seem right to me.

That being said, I loved the new characters. Scorpius Malfoy is my new literary love. He was an amazing character and I loved every single part of him. Like I've said before, though, he was captured in the script in an entirely different way to how the amazingly talented Anthony Boyle portrayed him on the stage (which was as an awkwardly hilarious, jittery, caring and loyal wizard, as opposed to the shy and nervous way I had interpreted him from the script).
I also really loved Albus and Rose (of course!) but it was Scorpius who stole the show for me, I think. He was just amazing.
I was a little disappointed at the lack of other characters, like Hugo, Lily Jr. and James Jr., as I would've liked to see a lot more of them, but I suppose this would've been difficult given it being a stage show with limited time to tell the story it wanted to tell.
I really, really, don't want to spoil anything in this post, but I also feel the need to mention the absence of a certain Professor of Herbology, who I was desperate to see grown up!
And also, I would've absolutely loved to see Mr and Mrs Weasley in this addition to the story; it just didn't feel like Harry Potter without them!
But, I suppose, this is something that made The Cursed Child unique, in that it wasn't a continuation of Potter, simply there to tell new stories about all of the old characters; it was definitely its own story, about new characters, or old characters with new personalities. Whether this is a good thing or not, I can't quite tell, but it certainly made the play unique.

Back to my point about the slightly 'unbelievable' storyline, I can't quite describe my feelings towards the basis for the storyline. Without trying to spoil the play too much for anyone who has not yet read or seen The Cursed Child (seriously, guys! Get yourselves to London ASAP!), the play itself was a little confusing, as is anything that messes with time travel and changes history! This is why I thought the storyline was a little far-fetched, since it didn't seem all that original or realistic. I was in a rather torn situation as to whether or not I liked the addition of the character Delphine, either. I mean, she definitely added a lot to the story, but whether I liked what she added or not is another question.
It was just a little bit odd, in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, I did absolutely love it, it was just a little odd.


I was massively impressed by the length of the play as a whole! I was so surprised to find that the entirety of the show would last over five hours! Every single part was as magical and spellbinding as the last and I got goose-bumps just watching!
The ending of the play was honestly one of the most emotional things I have ever witnessed, and even though I managed to control the sobbing so that the never-ending flow of tears was as silent as possible (unlike in many other situations!) the emotions that overcame me were like no other. A lot of it was probably from the build-up and knowledge that this really was the end of Harry's journey, then the rest was made-up of the sadness of the story that I was witnessing, because that last part, where they had to go back to Godric's Hollow and relive a particular event, was sad. Really sad. Heart-breakingly sad.
Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on your opinion of my sobbing!), I didn't get the same level emotion from reading the play again after watching it, but it was still rather devastating.


I really don't think there's a lot else I can say about The Cursed Child. It marked the end of an era for me, as it really gave me the impression that our journey with Harry was over, and over for good this time.
I am in love with the play, both for what it represented for me, and for the experience it gave me.
I cannot fault the way in which it was pulled off; it was absolutely spectacular, and like I said, I feel honoured to have been able to see it. The script and storyline itself I was less of a fan of. That doesn't mean at all that I didn't like it, it just felt to me like it wasn't completely genuine and I don't believe it's the way in which J.K. Rowling intended the story to go. I personally feel that my own made-up continuation for the Potter books could be better for the story as a whole than this was (although I'm probably quite biased)  so in this respect, I wasn't overly ecstatic. I prefer to think of The Cursed Child as amazing fan-fiction that just so happened to be turned into a stage-show, as opposed to it being canon, since it's easier for me to accept that way.


Harry Potter is the series of books that is the closest to my heart. In fact, it's probably one of the closest things to my heart in general. For that reason, I'm fairly protective over it and was worried when I'd heard the massively critical response to The Cursed Child. However, I can assure you that seeing this play was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. It was magical and I think that's the best word I can use to describe it. I will continue to judge The Cursed Child as a play, not as a script, because, like I've said, that's how I believe it was intended to be judged. So, if you read the script and were not impressed, I urge that you don't take it to heart, and instead, just go and see the play! You will not regret it, I promise!

I am desperate to go back to London and watch it numerous times again, and I'm sure that I will end up going again in the relatively near future! It was far too good to only see once!


If you've read or seen The Cursed Child, I'd love to know what you thought so please let me know!

I hope to be back with another post very soon, but until then, au revoir!

Charlotte xxx

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