Today’s blogpost is a review + journal spread for Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim. I got super excited when I got the chance to read an Advanced Readers Copy of this book as I’ve been meaning to read Elizabeth Lim’s work for a while now. I have not been disappointed and I can’t wait to pick up more of her work!
Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy Publishing Date: July 6, 2021
Meet Josephine, the most loveable mischief-maker in Barbados, in a magical, heartfelt adventure inspired by Caribbean mythology.
Eleven-year-old Josephine knows that no one is good enough for her daddy. That’s why she’s desperate to make it onto her school’s cricket team. She’ll get to play her favorite sport AND make sure her fisherman daddy is too busy attending her matches to date.
But when tryouts go badly, the frustrated Josephine cuts into a powerful silk cotton tree and accidentally summons a bigger problem into her life . . . The next day, Daddy brings home a new catch, a beautiful woman named Mariss. And unlike the other girlfriends, she doesn’t scare easily. Josephine knows there’s something fishy about Mariss–she sings in a strange language, eats weird food, and seems to exert mysterious control over everyone she meets.
Josephine knows that Mariss isn’t what she seems … she might not be human! But who’s going to believe her? Can Josephine convince her friends to help her and use her cricket skills to save Daddy from Mariss’s clutches before it’s too late?
Enter the world of Caribbean magic and fantasy as Josephine battles against forces bound in superstition, all in an attempt to keep her father safe. The author did a fantastic job of sucking me into the protagonist’s world. But the book kind of lost me when Miss Mo didn’t believe Jo. That rang inauthentic to me that Miss Mo, with all her beliefs in spirits and superstitions, wouldn’t believe Jo about a Sea Mumma? Josephine Against the Sea is rich with Caribbean folklore, and the mystery of Mariss’ true identity will keep kids turning pages until the very end. I simply loved this book, and will shout about it to kids of all ages. Many thanks to the author and to TBR and Beyond for the ARC. A high 4 star read for me!
There are a lot of amazing bloggers and bookstagrammers participating on this tour. Click here for the full schedule to see all of these amazing posts.
About the Author
Shakirah Bourne is a Barbadian author and filmmaker. Her first feature film, the comedy-drama, PAYDAY, was screened throughout the Caribbean, USA and UK. She has written three films since its debut in 2013: Two Smart (writer/co-director), Next PAYDAY (writer/producer) and A Caribbean Dream (writer/director). A Caribbean Dream is distributed by Verve Pictures and had a cinema release in London in 2017. The film won several awards, including Best Drama at the National Film Awards UK, Best International Feature at the Charlotte Black Film Festival and best UK Feature at the London Independent Film Festival.
Her short stories have been featured in many literary journals (see below). Her self-published collection of short stories, IN TIME OF NEED (2013), won the prestigious Governor General Award for Excellence in Literary Fiction. She was a finalist for the BURT/CODE Award for Caribbean Literature in 2018. The Caribbean edition of her middle grade novel, MY FISHY STEPMOM, was published by Blue Banyan Books (2019) and the North American edition, JOSEPHINE AGAINST THE SEA, will be published by Scholastic in 2021.
She was a Part-time Lecturer at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, and is a Part-Time Lecturer in Screenwriting at the Barbados Community College. She currently holds Certificates in Screenwriting from the Barbados Community College and the University of Edinburgh, and an MA (Hons) in Arts and Cultural Management from Queen Margaret University.
Today I’m back with another book tour hosted by TBR and Beyond Tours. This week there’s a tour for The Edge of Strange Hollow by Gabrielle K. Byrne and I got to interview the author! So keep on reading to find out more about this book and what questions I asked Gabrielle!
The Edge of Strange Hollow by Gabrielle K. Byrne Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy Publishing Date: May 18, 2021
Welcome to Strange Hollow. Beware the Grimwood.
Poppy Sunshine isn’t like everyone else in Strange Hollow. She’s not afraid of the Grimwood, home to magical creatures like shape-shifters, fairies, witches, and even a three-headed dog.
Banned from the wood by her parents, Poppy longs to learn everything about it and imagines joining her mother and father as they hunt the forest’s cursed magical objects. So when her only family disappears on a routine expedition, she and her friends must break every rule to save them. But Poppy soon discovers that things in the Grimwood are rarely what they seem.
And the monsters who took her parents may not be monsters at all…
Hi Gabrielle! First of all, thank you so much for doing this interview with me, I’m so honoured! Could you introduce yourself and your book a bit?
Hi! Thanks so much for having me. THE EDGE OF STRANGE HOLLOW is about Poppy Sunshine (a girl who’s not very sunny) and her adventures in the Grimwood. Poppy Sunshine isn’t like everyone else in Strange Hollow. She’s not afraid of the Grimwood, home to magical creatures like shape-shifters, fairies, witches, and even her three-headed dog. Banned from the wood by her parents, Poppy longs to learn everything about it and imagines joining her mother and father as they hunt the forest’s cursed magical objects. When they disappear on a routine expedition, she and her friends must break every rule to save them. But Poppy soon discovers that things in the Grimwood are rarely what they seem…and the monsters who took her parents may not be monsters at all.
How did you get the idea for The Edge of Strange Hollow?
This book is really an homage to my love of fairy tales, folktales and mythology. I spent hours and hours immersed in the Grimm brothers’ stories, and in Anderson’s fairy tales from the time I was very young until now! I’ve also always loved Greek, Norse and British/Gaelic mythology. I wanted to write about a girl who had a deep love of learning and exploration, and put her in a forest full of all the beings of my girlhood, along with a few that I made up out of whole cloth – where I could play with the reader’s expectations, along with Poppy’s.
Why did you want to write this story?
This is the life I wanted to live as a kid–a life of fairy tale adventure. Poppy is headstrong and a bit reckless (my favorite kind of character) and has to come to terms with her expectations, of herself, of others, and of her world.
What is your favourite scene in the story?
This book was SO much fun to write. It’s really hard to pick just one scene! I loved writing the Kelpie attack. I adore when Jute the hob contacts Mack’s parents via penny whistle. And there’s a scene toward the end with Eta-Two-Brutus (Poppy’s three-headed cerberus) that made my heart pound…but no spoilers!
What’s your favourite fairy tale?
Another tough question! I think I’d have to choose either Rumpelstiltskin or The Robber Bridegroom (Bluebeard). I just love a clever heroine and tricksy magic! There are so many good ones though… and also so many spin offs. I love Undine, the 1811 Little Mermaid inspired book by Fouque. In mythology, I love the stories that involve the Fates, and of course, Chiron from Greek myth inspired my boatman who makes his rounds in the Grimwood.
What is something you hope your readers will get from reading The Edge of Strange Hollow?
I want my readers to feel empowered! I want them to feel it’s okay to want and pursue anything. I also want them to see that even though our expectations (of the world, of ourselves, of others) are sometimes wrong, that we can reassess, learn, and keep moving forward toward our goals.
What is an author dream of yours that you’re hoping will be fulfilled?
I’m so grateful for the support of all my readers. Of course, I want to keep writing more stories! I’m also a very visual person, so I love seeing fan art! It would be really fun to see one of my books become a webtoon or a movie. Seeing images of my work, in any form, is a total thrill!
If you’re curious about what others thought of this book then click here for the full tour schedule. You can see all of the other amazing bloggers and bookstagrammers that are participating on this tour!
About the Author
Gabrielle Kirouac Byrne lives in the rainy wilds of the Pacific Northwest, where she writes fantasy for kids of all ages. Gabby studied opera in Philadelphia, medieval studies in New York, literature in Scotland, and marine biology in Washington. Stories are the common thread that tie all her interests together. When she’s not writing, you can find her fishing spineless zooplankton out of the Salish sea with her family. In Gabby’s debut MG fantasy, RISE OF THE DRAGON MOON, the princess of a frozen Queendom fights to free her mother from the clutches of treacherous dragons. Gorgeous world building, and lush prose will immerse readers in this coming-of-age adventure in which a fierce girl tackles insurmountable odds with wit, strength, and heart.