Book Review: Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest by Matt Haig

Samuel Blink and the Forbidden ForestTitle: Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest

Author: Matt Haig

Genre: Middle grade, fantasy

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Publication Date: June 2007

Hardback: 316 pages

Stand alone or series: First in a

How did I get this book: Borrowed from the library

Let’s start with a brief synopsis from Goodreads:


Samuel and Martha have just moved to Norway to live with their aunt Eda, and she’s taking some getting used to. She has too many rules, no TV, and insists that they eat local delicacies like brown cheese and reindeer soup. And then there’s the most peculiar thing about her-her irrational fear of her own backyard. Sure, Uncle Henrik hasn’t been heard from since he disappeared into it ten years ago, but that can’t be the forest’s fault . . . can it?

Samuel is skeptical, until he disobeys Rule #1-Never go up to the attic-and finds an unusual book: The Creatures of Shadow Forest, which gives scary descriptions of the fantastic creatures supposedly living in the forest. So when Sam starts seeing strange things venture past the treeline after dark, he can’t help wondering . . . could Aunt Eda be right, and what really happened to Uncle Henrik?

What I thought:

Chances are if you follow my blog, you are aware that I kind of (hahaha. Kind of. Yeah, right) LOVE Matt Haig’s The Humans. I also quite enjoyed The Radleys. I’ve been trying to find his other books here in the US, but some of them are a little hard to come by. I found Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest in our library system and immediately checked it out. Just like the other two, I LOVED it.

Matt Haig’s writing style is, well… magical. It is lyrical, full of life and meaning, and completely enchanting. It’s actually pretty conversational and includes two interruptions for the author (I think young kids would like this as it gives them a break and it also tells them what’s coming so they want to keep reading and get to that part – I mean, it worked on me. Ha). The story is full of fascinating humans and creatures alike. The novel felt like it opened its pages and pulled me into them much like the forest does to those who enter it. It didn’t want to let me go (and, honestly, I didn’t want it to anyway). The characters are fully developed and so well-done (just like in his other two books). I loved Aunt Eda especially. On her character: “Aunt Eda had a slight accent that sounded slightly surprised, as if the words had never expected to be used.” Isn’t that an amazing description?

Of course, one of my favorite things was the humor. Matt Haig has an uncanny ability to make me laugh out loud while I read. I think my favorite funny bit was the family of trolls who share only one eye amongst them. It has some dark humor, which I also quite enjoy.

Also, much like his other books that I’ve read, Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest is full of deep feelings. You’d think I’d be used to how much Haig’s books make me feel by now, but I’m not. I always find things I relate to in them in a deep, emotional way that is just wonderful. The story is about Samuel as he goes on a journey to accept the sadness and anger after losing his parents and finding happiness and hope with his new life.

Two favorite quotes:

“Martha Blink, with a universe on every side, to defend herself against all the pain and tears and happiness of the world.” – page 47

“You can find happiness anywhere, son, if you look hard enough.” – page 314

What I want to know is why was the title changed from Shadow Forest (its UK title) to Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest (its US title)? Especially since the forest is always called “Shadow Forest” in the book. So dumb.

You can find out more about Matt Haig on Twitter – I always enjoy seeing what he has to say about life and writing and depression and interacting with him.

The bottom line: This is a wonderful story about moving through some of the most difficult things you can experience which also happens to include some amazing, magical creatures (and two interruptions from the author). Read it. 🙂

Rating: 9 – practically perfect

Reading next: Fables by Bill Willingham


Children’s Book Review: The Happy Owls

I love owls. Love them. I even have an owl tattoo. So obviously when I saw this book at the library, I checked it out. What a lovely story!

The Happy Owls

The theme of this children’s book is to see the beauty in everyday life and in nature.

The Happy Owls is about two owls that are inexplicably happy – inexplicable at least according to the chickens, ducks, and geese who live nearby. They decide to send the peacock over to find out why. After the owls explain, the other birds are skeptical at the response.

This book made me happy. Full stop. It is a lovely story about finding happiness in each other, nature, and life. The owls are just happy with their world, with their surroundings, and with life.

“When everything is green and growing and the trees nod their leafy crowns to us in the warm sunshine, we sit in a shady nook, in the cool forest and are at peace with the world.”

What a beautiful message. It reminds the reader to not be ignorant to life’s beauty. The world is full of beautiful things. The Happy Owls also says that it is okay to be happy being you. Stand apart from the rest of the crowd. If you are happy with your life, it doesn’t matter if anyone else gets it.

Love this one. I’ll definitely be buying a copy for my future kid(s). Plus look at these beautiful illustrations:

The Happy Owls image

Publication info:

The Happy Owls

Written and illustrated by Celestino Piatti

Originally published by Holiday House in January 1964; the copy I read was published by NorthSouth in May 2013

32 pages (hardcover)


Waiting on Wednesday: The Beat Goes On

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

The Beat Goes OnPublisher: Orion

Author: Ian Rankin

Release date: UK Release Date – October 9, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Over the years, Ian Rankin has amassed an incredible portfolio of short stories. Published in crime magazines, composed for events, broadcast on radio, they all share the best qualities of his phenomenally popular Rebus novels.
Brought together for the first time, and including brand new material, this is the ultimate Rebus short-story collection and a must-have book for crime lovers and for Ian’s millions of fans alike.
No Rankin aficionado can go without it.

Why I’m Excited: OH MY GOSH!!!! If you’ve ever been on my blog, chances are you know that Ian Rankin is my favorite author. I own pretty much every single book he’s ever had published. John Rebus is one of my favorite literary characters (if not my favorite), and now I can own all of his short stories plus have some new material?! YES PLEASE. I need this book in my life, and I will pay the ridiculous shipping costs to have this sent over the ocean so I can read it. “No Rankin aficionado can go without it.” How right you are, Goodreads.

The Maze Runner movie – NEW TRAILER and pics

AHHHHHH!! You guys. YOU GUYS. A new trailer for The Maze Runner was uploaded today! Have you seen it?

You can find it HERE on Yahoo Movies.

I can’t really put into words all the feels and fangirling that’s happening as I type this, so if you give me a few minutes, we can discuss in the comments, k? 🙂 Like, there are obviously some changes, but they seem to have kept a lot of things in that I thought they might take out (e.g. Ben being banished).

Also, we got some new posters! Check them out below. (Look at Dylan O’Brien being a BAMF in the last one)

TMR - Never Stop Running TMR - the only way out is within TMR - Thomas JumpsTMR - Thomas

These are amazing, especially that second one. I’m kind of in love with it. Please say there are other people on here who are as excited as I am. Man, I hope there’s a midnight premiere here. I’m going to be all over that.

Comic Book Review: Saga [volume 3]

If you’ve read my review of Volume 1 and Volume 2 of Saga, you know that I’m a little bit obsessed with it. A little bit – haha.

Saga, volume 3 Cover

This volume was no different. I mean, I went out and bought Volume 3 because our library system doesn’t have it yet and I wasn’t going to wait. This guy on Goodreads sums it up pretty well: “This comic is so good it’s starting to piss me off.”

I honestly don’t know the point of this review because I can’t really tell you what happens without potentially spoiling the first two volumes. Honestly, if you have even the smallest interest in getting into comics (and you are open-minded about potentially crude behavior), please check out Saga. It’s funny, imaginative, and amazing. The illustrations are incredible and perfectly match the content of the story. Like, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples didn’t win a Hugo Award for nothing – they won it for the incredibleness that is Saga.

We, of course, get some new characters in this volume, including the two reporters who are hoping to make their career on the story of Alana and Marko. I’m kind of in love with them. There’s also some drama (when old girlfriends resurface or when some of our friends eat some not-so-friendly fruit). I’m kind of freaking out about how this issues ends and I can barely wait for the next volume; I’m almost tempted to start buying the individual issues because I. need. to. know.

This girl sums up my feelings about the next volume: “I’m sure I’ll be totally fine for the next six months as we await Volume Fo- [LYING]”

Saga, volume 3 geek out

Publication info:

Saga [volume 3]

Written by Brian K. Vaughan; illustrated by Fiona Staples

Published by Image Comics; March 25, 2014

144 pages (paperback)


Top Ten Tuesday: authors I own the most books from

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From

There is only one author who I love enough that I have bought (and read) almost every single book he’s ever published – Ian Rankin. When going through my shelves to do this TTT, I found that, while I have one or two books by a lot of authors, there aren’t many that I have several by, which is why I don’t have a full list of ten authors this week. I’m sure there are more authors that I have several books by, but a lot of my books are currently packed up unfortunately. These eight authors are just ones I found readily on my shelves. All names linked to the author’s website except William McIlvanney (because he doesn’t have one).

Ian Rankin – thirty books, I believe, but I actually own more than one copy for a couple of them.

This picture is from when I first met Ian Rankin. 🙂

Me with the lovely Ian Rankin

JK Rowling – ten books

Stephen King – nine books; my dad owns all of them, but I personally own nine books by Stephen King.

Sarah Dessen – seven books

John Green – five books

William McIlvanney – five books

Melissa de la Cruz – five books

James Dashner – five books

Which authors do you own lots of books by?

Children’s Book Review: Chris Van Allsburg books

Today I’m reviewing five of Chris Van Allsburg’s books! Note: all of these books are written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg and they were all published by HMH Books for Young Readers.

CVA - Bad Day at RiverbendBad Day at Riverbend (October 1995)

I really enjoyed the idea behind this book, but overall, I wasn’t a huge fan. Basically, the people of Riverbend are surprised when a strange substance begins to cover their horses, then the stagecoach and town. Sherriff Ned Hardy decides to investigate. I’m sure other readers, and kids, will be surprised when they find out the reason behind the substance. I do want to say that I thought the idea was really quite clever, and it makes sense why the illustrations are so simple once you reach the end. However, the execution just wasn’t my favorite.

CVA - Probuditi!Probuditi! (October 2006)

I enjoyed this one quite a bit more than Bad Day at Riverbend. The illustrations were really, really good. Everything has a brown tint to it which I thought conveyed the time period in which the book is set – 1940s America – really well. I thought the story was really cute. Probuditi! is about a boy who goes to a magic show and then decides to try to hypnotize his sister. I don’t want to give it away, but I absolutely adored the ending. I won’t say I was super surprised with the ending, but I did love it! I think anyone that has a sibling will be able to relate to the relationship between Trudy and Calvin.

CVA - Two Bad AntsTwo Bad Ants (October 1998)

There were things I liked and things I didn’t like about this one – okay, only one thing I didn’t like. Two Bad Ants is about two ants who leave their group after a journey into someone’s house to steal some crystals for their queen (sugar granules). They attempt to make a home with the crystals, but when the person who lives there starts to make his coffee, things go awry! It is an adorable and enchanting story. The ants are thrown into a “boiling brown lake” – which is actually a cup of coffee. It was just very cute. After going through a lot of horrible things, the ants are ready to go home.

The whole theme of the story is being obedient and knowing the comforts and safety of home. I do appreciate that but it also seems as if it’s telling kids that they should never try something new. You will never learn if you don’t try things and fail. It seems a lot of things nowadays are telling kids not to question how they are raised and what they are used to. I do like that it is telling kids to appreciate what they have though.

CVA - The Widow's BroomThe Widow’s Broom (September 1992)

Witch’s brooms don’t last forever. They get old and eventually can lose their ability to fly. This happens one day and a broom is left at widow Minna Shaw’s home. Minna uses it around her house, and then one day she finds it sweeping by itself. She eventually trains it to do many other tasks, but her neighbors are very superstitious and they are afraid of the broom. They want her to burn it.

I loved this story. It was beautiful with wonderful illustrations. The shadowing in the illustrations along with the story make you feel as on edge as the widow feels. I loved how the story told a tale about how people will often destroy what they don’t understand. It looks at bullying and superstition as well. If read to kids, it might make them reevaluate how they treat their peers (hopefully). A very good story.

CVA - ZathuraZathura (October 2002)

Zathura is a continuation of Chris Van Allburg’s Jumanji (which I’m sad to say I haven’t read). Instead of a board game set in the jungle, this one is set in space, and it includes robots, brother-swallowing black holes, and space travel. This book was so much fun! I would definitely say that it is for older kids though.

The illustrations in Zathura were crazy good – ridiculously detailed. The story itself is very imaginative. I think this book could be a gateway book into sci-fi for younger kids; it is the epitome of wonderful, creative science fiction. Kids who have siblings will also be able to relate to the sibling rivalry between the two brothers, and it could teach them to appreciate their sibling – you would miss them if they disappeared.

Loved this one.


So there you go. I’ve read five Chris Van Allsburg books so far. There were ones I loved (Zathura; Two Bad Ants) and ones I didn’t (Bad Day at Riverbend). I’m glad I’ve been able to see the range in Van Allsburg’s work. I need to read Jumanji.

Have you read any Chris Van Allsburg books? Which are your (or your kid’s) favorites?


The lovely Cristina over at Girl in the Pages started Sunday Funday as a way to recap the bookish (and not-so-bookish) things that have happened that week.

July 21 – 27, 2014

This week was relatively uneventful other than work. I did go see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes yesterday, which was alright. I don’t think it lived up to my expectations, and it definitely wasn’t as good as the first one. :/

I posted A LOT on the blog this week, but I’d like to highlight my review of One Past Midnight and The Walking Dead, Volume 1 Review.

Coming up on the blog this week: 2 (possibly 3) children’s book reviews; my review of Saga [volume 3]; my review of Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest by Matt Haig; my review of Arkham Asylum; Top Ten Tuesday; Waiting on Wednesday; Summer Blogger Promo Tour post with Dana Square

Books read: This week I read several children’s books, including The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers and The Incredible Book Eating Boy also by Jeffers; reviews of both of these to come soon.

I read Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison (illustrated by Dave McKean) and HOLY CRAP, did I love it. I need to buy my own copy so I can reread it several more times.

I also read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I’ve got to say that I was pretty disappointed with this book. I don’t think I’m going to be reviewing this one, though I may change my mind in the future. For now, Khanh at The Book Nookery’s review of the book pretty much perfectly sums up how I feel about it.

I tried my first audiobook this week! It was The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig and read by Andrew Dennis. They found the absolute perfect reader. I loved it.

TBR: My wonderful friend Jo (aka Drifting Pages) sent me a package for my birthday that included Ian Rankin’s stage play The Dark Road and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (I’ve already read this, but I wanted to own the beautiful UK cover – with the lobster –  and not the hideous US cover – the horrible yellow one).


I was also approved for several titles on Netgalley that I’m super excited about, including Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday – which I’m kind of freaking out about!

My awesome boss also lent me the first several issues of the Batman & Robin comics.

I’ve got a lot of awesome stuff to read!

Non-bookish things I’m excited about:

Teen Wolf. Always.

I bought some yummy hummus and naan bread. Pretty excited about that. Lol.

I’m meeting Annette aka Booknerderie in less than three weeks! Yay! 🙂

Quote Quoted: Everything Leads to You

Everything Leads to YouI recently read Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour. I absolutely adored this quote, especially because it can be applied to movies as well as books.

We love films because they make us feel something. They speak to our desires, which are never small. They allow us to escape and to dream and to gaze into eyes that are impossibly beautiful and huge. They fill us with longing.

But also.

They tell us to remember; they remind us of life. Remember, they say, how much it hurts to have your heart broken. Remember about death and suffering and the complexities of living. Remember what it is like to love someone. Remember how it is to be loved. Remember what you feel in this moment. Remember this. Remember this. (Page 305)

There’s nothing much I wanted to say about this quote, mostly because I believe it can speak for itself. However, feel free to let me know what you think about it in the comments. 🙂

Summer Blogger Promo Tour: The Book Bratz

Summer Blogger Tour

Today for the Summer Blogger Promo Tour, I’ve got our lovely hosts, Jessica and Amber of the Book Bratz, on the blog with a short little interview about books. Check it out below and then head on over to their blog and say hey. 🙂


1. What is the book you credit as getting you into reading? Or if you can’t choose, which book have you reread the most?

Jessica: I started reading when I was very, very little–so it’s going to sound cliche when I say that the first book I ever fell in love with and read again and again (still to this day) was The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

Amber: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, I actually hated reading but my 6th grade reading teacher told me to try it. Ever since then I have loved reading.

2. Who is your favorite book boyfriend?

Jessica: My book boyfriend is a tie between Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars and James Stark from The House of Night series.

Amber: I can make a whole list. Ummmm… Daemon Black from Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux series or Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

3. If you could live in the world of any book, which would it be?

Jessica: I totally forgot what it was called because I’m horribly forgetful at times, but the city where Divergent took place.

Amber: I read a lot of dystopian so none of the worlds seem very pleasant. I guess I would choose The City of Glass from The Mortal Instruments  by Cassandra Clare

4. If you could pick one book character to be (for a day or for good), who’d you choose?

Jessica: This is a great question! For a day–Tris Prior. For good–Blair from the Gossip Girl series seems like a pretty nice life.

Amber: Katy Swartz from the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

5. Favorite literary hero?

Jessica: Percy Jackson.

Amber: Katniss Everdeen

6. Favorite literary villain?

Jessica: Dorothy from Dorothy Must Die. That girl’s a riot.
Amber: I agree with Jess

7. Which character do you think is the most like you? Or which character can you relate to the most?

Jessica: I’m going to go with Hazel Grace from The Fault in the Stars, but not because of the cancer–her nature and her thoughts and likes and interests are exactly like my own.

Amber: From the books I have read there really isn’t just one. I have found something in each character that relates to me. Whether good or bad, the List is endless!

8. What’s the book you want to buy next?

Jessica: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. I’ve heard nothing but good things about that book.

Amber: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu


We’d love to see your answers to these questions below! And make sure you go say hi to Jessica and Amber on their blog or tweet them.