The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston – Blog Tour

The Stranger's Guide to Talliston Cover .jpg
ratingiconratingiconratingiconratingicon

Abandoned and alone, thirteen-year-old Joe’s world is shattered when he enters a deserted council house and becomes trapped within a labyrinth protecting the last magical places on earth. There, Joe discovers a book charting this immense no-man’s land, without time or place, its thirteen doors each leading to a different realm. Hunted by sinister foes, the boy is forced ever deeper into both the maze and the mystery of his missing parents. What will he find at the labyrinth’s centre, and can it reunite him with the family he so desperately needs? 
Crossing through diverse landscapes from Victorian Britain to fifties New Orleans, The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston is inspired by the internationally famous house and gardens dubbed ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’ by the Sunday Times. It is a classic YA tale of adventure that introduces readers to an otherworld hiding in plain sight, cloaked in magic and steeped in imagined history. Yet beyond its fearsome huntsmen and battling magicians dwells the secret that lies within all of us – the power to live extraordinary lives.

Book Information:
PRICE: £14.99
ISBN: 978-1-78352-724-3
FORMAT: Hardback
BINDING: Royal HB
EXTENT: 384 pages
SIZE: 240 × 159 mm
CATEGORY BIC: FM

 

My Review

Starting this novel, I wasn’t sure what I was in for, and I’m glad of that. This book had so much to offer and I was really pleased with Tarrow’s take on this YA fantasy.

In Joe we find a young boy who is alone and struggling to follow the rules his parents made to keep him safe. With his parents not around and the hiding place no longer safe, Joe finds himself starting an adventure that he never imagined could even exist as he tries to locate his parents and get ‘home.’ Wherever home is.

There’s so much depth and research put into this and the creativity was fun to watch unravel if not a bit anxiety fueled as I kept wondering what’s in store, when is it, and where in the labyrinth is he in regards to Joe and his journey.

This is a classic Fantasy in a lot of ways, we have a child who has had greatness thrust upon him in a sense. Joe must travel through Talliston to get home, but as he ventures to each new room and time, there’s the sinking realization of just how much is at stake. There’s betrayal, young love [though not too much and it’s not the focus], kinship, family found, family lost, and magic, and of course the battle between those both good and evil [and in between]. It’s a recipe for a tale that will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.

The guardians of Talliston’s rooms that Joe encounters are some of my favorite parts of the book not to mention getting to go through so many different times, future, current, and past! You can go from 1950s New Orleans to futuristic Japan!

Where Joe starts off afraid and just wanting to go home, he has great character growth thanks to the people he meets along the way both good and bad, he becomes stronger and realizes that he must make his own decisions in regards to Talliston. The question at the end of the day for him isn’t how can get he get home, but, how can I help -where Talliston is concerned- and he finds his answer. Joe also learns that though rules are in place to protect, some rules, are meant to restrict and are made to be broken.

I adored every side character both good and bad and Tarrow does a great job fleshing them out and I think the way Joe progressed through the story was one my favorite aspects to the book.

I actually look forward to my daughter reading this in a couple of years when her reading level is more advanced. I good 4/5 cups of coffee read for me.

It also doesn’t hurt that this book is absolutely drop dead gorgeous/stunning. Honestly, it’s like holding a magical tome in your hands.

A few other neat notes:

The house and gardens featured in the story are real. The author spent twenty-five years transforming an ordinary house in an ordinary street into what the Sunday Times called ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’. The project is internationally famous. 
Talliston House is featured in the Netflix-commissioned programme Amazing Interiors, which will reach an audience close to 100 million in 120 countries. 
The ‘Stranger’s Guide’ journal mentioned in the novel is a real entity; a leather-bound, hand- calligraphed volume that could appear as a companion publication (like The Spiderwick Field Guide).

Thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour and thank you to John Tarrow and Unbound for sending me a copy and allowing me to honestly review this!

 

About the Author

John Tarrow Author Pic .jpg

John Tarrow is a novelist, poet, storyteller and award-winning writer. His fascination with folk and faerie tales has taken him around the world, gathering threads of story and legend to weave into his own mythologies: his extensive studies in Lakota Sioux and Druidic traditions offer readers stories resonant with magic, folklore and the wonders of the natural world. He spent twenty-five years transforming a three-bedroom, semi-detached, ex- council house in Essex into the world-famous Talliston House and Gardens. 

Author Links

Website [Includes Purchase Links]

 

The Rest of the Tour Schedule

The Strangers Guide BT Poster .jpg

My Top 5 [YA] Fantasy Series

Hey guys, today I’m bringing you my favorite YA fantasy series. These are all favorites of mine so, there’s not really a particular order this time! Here we go…

5. The Gemma Doyle Trilogy

ratingiconratingiconratingiconratingiconratingicon

This trilogy was one of the first as a teenager to just suck me in,  break me, put me together again, and then repeat. I loved it and it’s something that I recommend with such, like, hope, I truly wish those who decide to read it love it as much as I do but it’s so not for the faint of heart. I only rec this to those who love darkness and beauty all wrapped in one. I have Libba Bray’s Diviners but I haven’t gotten around to it yet and I hope to. I honestly think Gemma is one of my favorite protagonists ever. (I WILL GO DOWN WITH THAT SHIP)

4. The Chronicles of Narnia

ratingiconratingiconratingiconratingiconratingicon
I need to be upfront, I only got to book four as a child, but, I plan on reading the rest. I ended up just pausing and forgetting as I went on to read other things at that time. My favorite so far had been The Magician’s Nephew. There was something extra magical about it for me and I actually read it first as well so I didn’t read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe first like some do. One thing though I know, I always feel like Susan gets a bit of a crap outcome, so, that may have been why I dragged my feet with reading the rest. Still a land of magic that has stayed in my heart.

3. His Dark Materials

ratingiconratingiconratingiconratingiconratingicon
Honestly, this one rocked my world to its core. Philip Pullman doesn’t mind about doing things that can cause an uproar in the real world. People were not happy with this book but I was, I was thrilled. And not to mention his world building just floored me. Lyra is another favorite protagonist of mine and the fact that we get to see her again in the second Book of Dust just has me screaming like a fangirl, and oh yes, I totally preordered it. This is one of the few series I also could get my husband to read, he hated me afterwards due to who his favorite characters was, but, it was totally worth it because he loved it as much as I did. Still can’t get him to read La Belle Sauvage though, bahah.

2. Immortals 

The Immortals was one of my favorite and first forays into proper fantasy. I mean I read others but this was one of the first YA/Middle Grade, aside from Harry Potter. And also like HP, it is also one of the handful of series that I reread frequently. In fact I’m due for another reread but I have so many things to read this. year, we’ll see what happens haha. This quartet focuses on a girl named Daine who has wild magic. Her powers remain my favorite out of all the magical powers I’ve read about and that’s impressive. Not to mention Tamora Pierce just dominates at writing strong women, and Daine is no exception to being a strong female in Pierce’s writing-verse. And it’s a book where I love the couple. Yes, that’s right, me, the cynic.

1. Harry Potter 

Am I that predictable? Yes. Do I care? No. I was the generation that grew up with HP books coming out, doesn’t make me a bigger fan than anyone else, it just means that I had to deal with waiting for the books to come out, so really, the rest that discovered it afterwards are awesome for that reason haha. But no really, like anyone can, I discovered this as a child, in fact I read the first book when I was 11, I had refused to read it the first two years it was out because it was all my friends would talk about, but afterwards, I was hooked like everyone else. There’s still nowhere I would rather be than Hogwarts or Diagon Alley, or even the Burrow. They all feel like home to me.

There we have it, my top 5 for this week! Next top 5 will be Manga. And don’t be put off, these were the ones I read as YA and you can bet my Fantasy picks will be including so many more diverse books, I already know Descendant of the Crane will be a favorite, halfway through and it’s gripping and engaging and all around amazing!

Toodles!

La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust #1)

[Artwork ^ the property of David Fickling Books (Penguin Imprint) and Knopf Books]

ratingiconratingiconratingiconratingiconratingicon

I really don’t know how informative of a review this is going to be as I sit here like a hyper fangirl, unable to type because all I can think is ‘YAAAAS.’

[Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault/Rape Scene, though not very in-depth, still feel the need to warn those who could still be affected]

Okay, let’s give it a go!

If you haven’t read HDM (His Dark Materials), this is a prequel/sequel to it. We’re given the story of Malcolm (and Alice!) and his fantastical journey.

Honestly, I love almost everything Pullman writes, there’s something about his prose that makes my cold little heart so happy.

I’ll break it down in Pros and Cons so that way I can try to be more critical/helpful.

Pros:
– Though it makes it better in a way to have read HDM first, it’s not really necessary you could say [I would argue though that if you hadn’t, you would think this is a crazy amount of stuff to do for a baby]
– Malcolm is a precious nugget who I want to feed chocolate chip cookies too with a glass of milk.
– Alice is pretty cool, I really like her honestly
– It’s a sit on the edge of your seat kind of book for like 3/4 of the book.
– The children are clever, they’re smart and feel real
– I love that someone made fun of the little boat and called it Sausage. [*gigglesnorts*]
– The order of St. Alexander is terrifying but easily feels like something we would face even in our world.
– Pullman makes you invested in everyone
– More Lord Asriel
– Unnerving Mrs. Coulter
– Dr. Relf and Oxley Street are so intriguing!
– He really knows how to give us some creepy antagonists.
– Everything he writes is amazing and I just wanna read this book over again.

Cons:
[- If you haven’t read HDM some elements might be confusing]
– We didn’t get enough Lord Asriel
– He could have fleshed out Bonneville more
– Would have been also nice to get some more stuff on Oxley and Dr. Relf, especially because the next book is propelling us ahead 20 years.
– I felt a little slighted by the ending concerning Malcolm (and Alice!)
– I think it would have been good to expand on St. Alexander more but knowing Pullman, this could easily pop up in something else!
– You really just wanted to give poor baby Lyra some diaper ointment half the time
–  I didn’t think that the last violent scene was necessary in some ways.
– As good as it is, if you’re a HUGE HDM fan, it’s still not HDM, it’s new, it’s going to be different. [But I loved it so very much as a huge fan of HDM myself.]

So there we have it, five cups of coffee for that amazing read!

Also!!! Here’s an extract from Book of Dust #2

[***It is also available for pre-order and comes out in October (the pre-order thus far is cheaper on Waterstones for fellow UK peeps and like Amazon, they will match the lower price, but, also you know, Amazon will probably lower their price too, either way, just passing on the info!***]