Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

moonriseTitle: Moonrise

Author: Sarah Crossan

Genre: YA

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 1st September 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 400

Price: $16.99

Synopsis: The astonishing new novel from Carnegie Medal, CliPPA Poetry Award, YA Book Prize and CBI Book of the Year Award winning author Sarah Crossan.

They think I hurt someone.
But I didn’t. You hear?
Cos people are gonna be telling you
all kinds of lies.
I need you to know the truth.

Joe hasn’t seen his brother for ten years, and it’s for the most brutal of reasons. Ed is on death row.

But now Ed’s execution date has been set, and Joe is determined to spend those last weeks with him, no matter what other people think …

From one-time winner and two-time Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this poignant, stirring, huge-hearted novel asks big questions. What value do you place on life? What can you forgive? And just how do you say goodbye?

~*~

Moonrise is the latest extraordinary offering from Sarah Crossan. Another novel told in verse, something Sarah pulls off extremely well, it tackles another story of the underdogs, the ones who are disadvantaged by a justice system, and other systems skewed in the favour of others and those who hold the fate of innocent people in their hands. Through the eyes of Joe, in poems that occasionally flashback to a childhood before his brother went to jail, and the years in between his journey to Texas to save his brother, Joe tells the story of what it was like growing up with a mother who didn’t care, a brother and sister who did, and who did everything they could to keep him safe, and an aunt who, after his mother left, refused to help his brother, Ed. It is a story that has few rays of hope and happiness within it, showing the gritty reality of a broken justice system that shackles and condemns people without proper investigation, and that varies from state to state, as Joe says in one of the verses, that the crime his brother had committed in Texas and earned him the death penalty would have carried a life sentence in another state.

Throughout the novel, which is solely seen through the eyes of Joe, we catch glimpses into his family members and how he responds to them. He is closest to Ed and his sister, Angela, whilst his mother has gone off. His aunt cares but in a harsh way – in a way that at the time, Joe sees as repressive and cold. She brings religion and a strict nature into the house, ensuring Joe and Angela will not end up in the same place as Ed, but as Joe relates through his poetry, people still associate what Ed has supposedly done with them, and they become isolated.

It is a poignant novel about the injustice of a justice system that serves to punish based on circumstance and misfortune of a casual link to a person, without evidence, leading to an inevitable conclusion that the reader hopes won’t happen. The grim reality that the Moon family face is something that many families face in America, and Sarah Crossan has done a sensitive job taking on a challenging topic that may not be understood by those not affected. Through the eyes of a teenager, she has shown how something like this can not only change the life of the accused, but the life of a family, and those who come to know them and who try to help them.

It is a powerful story that does have an effect on the reader, making your mind tick over about the issues dealt with in the book. To date, I have read two of Sarah’s books told in verse, and in both she has taken characters who are not fully accepted by society and not properly seen, and has told their story, opening up a world beyond what many readers might know, and evoking empathy and sympathy for those less fortunate, and those whose lives are affected by events that not everyone will experience. Telling it in verse makes it all the more powerful, and though it is a quick read, you still get the gist of the story, and the emotions that drive it.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by JK Rowling (Newt Scamdander)

fantastic beasts text.jpegTitle: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Author: JK Rowling writing as Newt Scamander

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 14th March, 2017

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 144

Price: $24.99

Synopsis: A brand new edition of this essential companion to the Harry Potter stories, with a new foreword from JK Rowling and an irresistible new jacket by Jonny Duddle and line illustrations by Tomislav Tomic and six new beasts.

An approved textbook at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry since publication, Newt Scamander’s masterpiece has entertained wizarding families through the generations. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an indispensible introduction to the magical beasts of the Wizarding World. In this comprehensively updated edition, eagle-eyed readers will spot a number of new beasts and an intriguing new author’s note. Scamander’s years of travel and research have created a tome of unparalleled importance. Some of the beasts will be familiar to readers of the Harry Potter books – the Hippogriff, the Basilisk, the Hungarian Horntail…Others will surprise even the most ardent Magizoologist. Dip in to discover the curious habits of magical beasts across five continents.

‘No wizarding household is complete without a copy’ – Albus Dumbledore.

~*~

hp20_230The Hogwarts textbook that inspired the movie of the same name, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has been res-issued, with the addition of six beasts that Newt discovered during the course of the movie. Writing as Newt Scamander, JK Rowling brings the magical creatures of the wizarding world to life. From the treasure seeking Niffler to the water horses and kelpies, to the breeds of dragon that populate the world, and the American Creatures that Newt was forbidden from revealing after his 1926 visit to New York, including the Thunderbird, Horned Serpent and Wampus Cat, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them brings to life a new facet of the world of Harry Potter.

Each creature is included because they have been classified as beasts and not beings, even ones who can speak such as centaurs, who opted for this classification. And then each is given a Ministry of Magic classification form one X to XXXXX:

X- Boring

XX – Harmless/may be domesticated

XXX – Competent wizards should cope

XXXX – Dangerous/requires specialist knowledge/skilled wizard may handle

XXXXX – Known wizard killer/impossible to train or domesticate

In this new edition, we are sans the delightfully amusing annotations about Acromantulas from Ron and Harry, and the addition of “anything Hagrid likes” to the dangerous classification. It is nonetheless a delightful addition to the Harry Potter and Hogwarts libraries of fans of the series, and Tomislav Tomic’s illustrations add to the beauty of the book and for several creatures, gives the reader a chance to get an idea of what the larger and sometimes more dangerous creatures look like.

Each animal has a short description based on Newt’s observations, and the American creatures reference MACUSA – the Magical Congress of the United States of America and hint at the secrecy of these creatures and only publishing them now being related to the stringent fears of magic that the film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them shows.

As a fan of Harry Potter, I enjoyed reading this and seeing the new additions to the new publication were enjoyable. They gave more depth and interest to an already established world, and was nice to see that Newt is still going within the Harry Potter universe, and staying true to his character as presented in the 2016 film based on the text book.

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