Archive for June, 2016

Release Day Blitz: Random Acts Of Unkindness

In celebration of the release of her new novel, Random Acts Of Unkindness, Jacqueline Ward has permitted us to share a large extract to wet your appetite. NEW Random acts of unkindness v6How far would you go to find your child?
DS Jan Pearce has a big problem. Her fifteen year old son, Aiden, is missing. Jan draws together the threads of missing person cases spanning fifty years and finds tragic connections and unsolved questions.
Bessy Swain, an elderly woman that Jan finds dead on her search for Aiden, and whose own son, Thomas, was also missing, may have the answers.
Jan uses Bessy’s information and her own skills and instinct to track down the missing boys. But is it too late for Aiden?
Set in the North West of England, with the notorious Saddleworth Moor as a backdrop, Random Acts of Unkindness is a story about motherhood, love and loss and how families of missing people suffer the consequences of major crimes involving their loved ones.
Random Acts of Unkindness is the first in the DS Jan Pearce series of novels.

Extract

CHAPTER ONE

I look a little closer and instinctively back away.

Her eyes are hollow holes where the birds have pecked away at her skull and she’s covered in tiny soft feathers and greying bird shit. Fragments of silvered hair lie on her shoulders, pulled out at the roots and exposing pinprick follicles made bigger by beaks. Her mouth is set in a wry smile showing yellow teeth, as if somehow, despite the torn skin and the deeply painful twist of her body, she’s having the last laugh.

The shock is so deep that it hurts more than it should, and tears threaten as I gaze at her. A human life ending in such a terrible, lonely way. It hits me with sadness so intense that I take a moment to sit with her, to tell her broken shell of a body that someone cares. Then fear oozes through the sadness, pushing it under and reminding me of why I’m here. Where are you, Aiden? Where is my son?

(more…)

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Party Invite…

fab-five-logo-e1397403514389I’m not quiet sure how the Big Book Little Book Blog birthday manages to creep up on me each year, but lo and behold, I turned a few pages ahead in my diary and there it was “July 15th Big Book Little Book 5th Birthday!!”

Our firth birthday is the perfect opportunity to revitalize the blog, re affirm our connections in the book loving community and re launch our Fabulous Five feature.

Five Fabulous Books is an original Big Book Little Book.
The aim of the feature is to showcase fabulous books with connecting themes, there by promoting reads we have enjoyed and share recommendations for similar books.

We are looking for people who would be willing to write Fabulous Five guest posts for Big Book Little Book to feature during our birthday month.
Links to your own website/ blogs/ twitter and a bio will be included with your post.

For people who prefer to only write content for their own platforms we are inviting people to post their own Fabulous Five posts in July.

Feel free to copy and paste our Fabulou5 graphic or create one of your own. If you create your own Fabulous Five posts all we ask is that you link back to Big Book Little Book.

Make sure that you leave a link to your post in the comments below or in the Fabulous at five linky we will provide, so that we can check out your recommendations and include you in our birthday wrap up post.

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Self Published Sunday: Interview with Elida May

Please welcome Elida May as she talks about her book Following Evan
Following EvanThree years on from the sudden death of her husband Matt and a subsequent miscarriage, interior designer Laura is still lost in grief, hiding out in the smart London townhouse that was going to be her family home. On the encouragement of her best friend Carla, she signs up to a dating website and receives a message from a mysterious stranger, imploring her to visit him in New York because he has seen her face in his dreams.
Meanwhile, Laura visits an art gallery and is captivated by a painting of a beautiful woman in a flowing dress. It seems to be speaking directly to her, beckoning her to take a leap of faith.
These seemingly disparate events lead Laura on an epic journey to the bustling streets of the Big Apple and the desert landscape of Wyoming, where the clues to her future happiness are waiting to be discovered…

Tell us a little more about Following Evan, where did the initial inspiration come from?

I was inspired by my own life experience and by my hopes and dreams during two very difficult times in my life. In 1993, when I was 18, my father, whom I considered my Guardian Angel, died from lung cancer. A year later, and still grieving, I got married, but I quickly realized that my husband’s view of life and marriage was the complete opposite of mine. I felt suffocated, but I didn’t have the strength to walk out. After 16 long years he died suddenly. I poured years of accumulated thoughts and feelings into my main character, Laura. She stared to live with my pain and hopes.

Laura starts the book struggling with depression. How did you research this mental illness?

I experienced it. I was born in 1972 in communist Albania. It was a poor, repressed and atheist society, which was ruled by the military. I left the country aged 21 and moved to London, but life for me didn’t improve. I had no one to talk to, I was far away from my family and I was forgetting my mother tongue while not yet knowing how to properly express myself in English. I became more and more withdrawn until I was almost incapable of looking after myself. My recovery was a process that took several years and involved medication and the help of a psychologist.
Following Evan came out of all those experiences and the impact they had on me. Writing became a therapeutic outlet. Starting was the easy part, but finishing the novel was much more difficult. I started it as a distraction, but I completed it as a way of proving to myself that I could accomplish what I had aimed to do.

When you started writing this book, did you have a plan for where it would go or did you just put pen to paper and see where it took you?

I knew the beginning and I knew the end, but I didn’t know the route. As the book emerged, I was surprised to meet so many new personalities and characters.

Where and how do you do most of your writing?

I do most of my work in my bedroom. I like it when the window is open and I can see the white clouds embellishing the deep blue sky. I handwrite everything first, then once a week I type up all my notes on my computer. I prefer to write at night when the noises of day have quieted down and it’s only me, a cup of coffee and a clean sheet of paper. It then that the magic happens for me and the words flow. However, sometimes I do sit and write in my favorite coffee shop, where I can people-watch. I love the hustle and bustle of public spaces and hearing the buzz of conversations going on around me.

Do you have any plans to write more books?

I have been writing short stories and poems since I was 12. I started writing them in Albanian and Italian. When I moved to London I didn’t know any English, so it was a major challenge learning the language in order to express my feelings and write my book. Despite these difficulties, I plan to write novels for the rest of my life.

If you had to describe your book in a Tweet(140 characters),what would you say?

After becoming involved with a mysterious artist, depressed Laura is led to another continent and finds a new reason for living and loving.

Who is your favorite character in your book? (we won’t tell anyone! ;))

These characters are my babies and what mother can admit to having a favourite? Each has their own challenges and attractions, and I love them all – even if they are naughty at times!

What was your favorite thing about writing this book?

Surely every author’s first novel is a process of emptying out the accumulated thoughts and feelings of a lifetime. Writing this book gave me a sense of freedom I hadn’t experienced as a child or during my early adult life. It also gave me the opportunity to find my voice…it was almost like a silent song bursting out.

Interview questions by Faye

ElidaElida May was born in Albania in 1972. Growing up in a Communist country, where access to books was severely restricted, helped to nurture her love of the written word, and she avidly read whatever genre she could get hold of, including a lot of European literature. Today Elida lives in London with her son Elidon. Following Evan is her first novel, and she is currently working on her second, Diary of Michael Vica. TO learn more about Elida and her work check out her social media accounts on Facebook (here), Twitter (here) and Instagram (here).

Following Evan is available to buy now from Amazon (here)

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Author Interview: Karen McCombie

We are delighted to welcome Karen McCombie to Big Book Little Book as she talks about her latest novel, The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall.
The Whispers of Wilderwood HallEllis is losing track of time…
After leaving her friends to move to a crumbling Scottish mansion, Ellis is overcome by anxiety and loneliness. Then she hears whispers in the walls…and finds herself whisked back in time to 1912.
At first, she feels like she’s finally home. But the past may not be as perfect as it seems – and is there more to hope for in the present than she first thought?

Wilderwood Hall is just one of many of your books, but can you tell us what your favourite book has been to write?
Erk! That’s a bit like asking me to choose my favourite child*! But okay, since you’re holding a gun to my head (sort of), I’ll say last year’s evacuee novel ‘Catching Falling Stars’, because it was my first historical book and fascinating to research. Though I did love writing ‘Life According to Alice B. Lovely’… the weird and wonderful Alice B. still feels spookily real to me. Oh, and my younger ‘You, Me and Thing’ series was SO much fun to write, and I adored the illustrations Alex T. Smith did for it. And– [large hook appears and pulls Karen away from the keyboard…]

Here at Big Book Little Book, we would love to know how you first got into writing?
I worked as a teen magazine journalist, occasionally writing short stories for the mags. Reviewing books wasn’t part of my job, but I loved flicking through the novels that publishers sent in. The great ones inspired me to have a go myself. The not-so-great ones inspired me too, just in a different way!

Over your time writing you have written both series and standalone books, what is your favourite kind to write and why?
I’m lucky enough to write not only standalones and series, but books for different ages and genres too. I even write for a dyslexia-friendly/struggling reader-friendly publisher, and that’s pretty interesting because you have to think about complex phrasing etc that can trip up less confident readers. And the truth is, I enjoy all these different styles of books. Going back and forth between a long-form novel and then a short early reader, for example, is really great; the change of pace keeps you fresh.

Do you have any odd writing habits? (i.e. having to listen to music?)
Oh, I’d LOVE to listen to music! I’m so envious of authors who talk about the playlists they devised as a background mood for their work in progress… But it’s fatal for me; I just end up tuning into the words instead of my work. Even instrumental music doesn’t help; I start daydreaming and staring out of the window.

Where is your favourite place to write?
I am such a fidget, especially in the mornings; like a dog, I need to go out for a walk. So most mornings, I pack my laptop and head out to work in a café or library, which makes me more settled and focussed for writing in my wee back bedroom office in the afternoons. But my favourite place to write is the local garden centre café. It’s so light and bright, and perfumed by plants…it’s just fab. And most importantly, it has cake.

What is your favourite thing about being an author?
Ooh, there’s a lot of good stuff: dreaming up a new idea; having an editor love it; finding a way to solve something you’re stuck on; the thrill of finishing your novel; going out to schools for events… But my favourite? Well, nothing beats seeing your ACTUAL book in an ACTUAL shop. That’s always a total buzz.

If you had to describe Wilderwood Hall in a tweet (140 characters), what would you say?
I just practised on Twitter! So, here it is…
Ellis struggles with loneliness when she and Mum move to a dilapidated mansion in Scotland. That’s till she hears the whispers in the walls…

Who is your favourite character in Wilderwood Hall?
Ellis; when she struggles with waves of anxiety I want to wrap my arms around her and tell her it’ll be okay. I’d like to tell my 13-year-old self the same, sometimes. (I tell my daughter sometimes too.)

If you could live in any fictional world, which one would you choose?
Could I just visit? I’d love to spend time with author Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family in her autobiographical world of ‘Little House of the Prairie’. To see the prairies and buffalo and unspoilt world of 19th century America… it would be truly amazing. But then I’d like to come back to my sofa and eat crisps and watch ‘Friends’ with my daughter.

What is your next book going to be about? If you’re allowed to let us know!
I’m writing more historical and more funny books (not at the same time, or in the same books!). I’m not sure yet which is going to be published when, so if I say which novel is coming next, I’ll probably get it wrong and look stupid. But hey, looking stupid doesn’t usually stop me doing anything!

* Milly. Phew that was hard**.

** Alright, alright, she’s my ONLY child, so it wasn’t that difficult, I suppose!
Interview questions by Faye
Karen McCombieKaren McCombie is from Aberdeen but now lives in North London with her husband, daughter and one big ginger cat.
Before Karen became a full-time writer she worked for several teen magazines such as Just Seventeen, Bliss and Sugar in a variety roles – everything from Fashion Editor to Features Editor – all very exciting and glam!
Karen has sold over one million books in the UK alone and has been translated into 15 languages.
Find out more at www.karenmccombie.co.uk and take the opportunity to join Karen’s Club!

The lovely people at Scholastic have provided us with one copy of Karen McCombie‘s The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall for one lucy Big Book Little Book reader.

IF you could travel in time, when would you travel to and why?

To enter the giveaway, simply let us know, in the comments below, when you would like to travel to and why.

One commentor will be randomly selected to receive one book.

UK and IRL only

Comments made after the 24th of June will no longer be counted as entries.

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Release Day Blitz: Dropped Third Strike

Hello All!
I’m here today to share with you all Dropped Third Strike by Micah Chaplin!
This book releases today and I am so excited to get my hands on it!
dropped third strikeKate Marks is hitting it out of the park as general manager of the Portland Pioneers. Her childhood friend Reid Benjamin is struggling to hit anything at all and, as a result, has suddenly found himself out of a job. When Kate hires him as hitting coach for the Pioneers, she’s determined to keep everything strictly professional, but she has underestimated Reid’s charm. His proximity has forced her to face a past she would rather forget. Reid wants another chance, but Kate isn’t convinced he’s changed his game.

Doesn’t it sound amazing?

Micah Pic Micah K. Chaplin is an Iowa girl with a passion for writing, live music and Texas Rangers baseball. Sometimes the three loves combine. Micah earned a bachelor of arts degree in mass communication from Buena Vista University in 2002 and published her first novel in 2003.
To learn more about Micha and her work visit her on social media:
Website,Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads authors page and Goodreads book page.

Dropped Third Strike is available to buy now from Amazon UK (here) and Amazon US (here).

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Author Interview: Sylvia Bishop

We are delighted to host an interview with debut author Syliva Bishop as she talks about Erica’s Elephant
erica's elephantWhen Erica Perkins wakes up on the morning of her tenth birthday, the last thing she expects is to find a very confused elephant sitting on her doorstep. So begins an unlikely friendship. But can a small girl and a rather large elephant learn to live together in a tiny terraced house? And when the dastardly owner of the local zoo plots to steal the elephant, will Erica be able to outsmart him?

Erica’s Elephant is such an adorable and charming story, how did the idea for the story come to you?

Thank you! The initial idea came from a friend texting me to say thanks for something-or-other, and promising to send an ‘elephant festooned with tea’. The idea of an elephant turning up on my narrow residential road made me laugh, and that was that. Some later ideas came from facts I later read about elephants, like their amazing long-distance communication. For the most part though, it was a matter of curating ideas I’ve accumulated over Life In General. For example, I’ve always been obsessed with ants, and Miss Pritchett’s ant collection wasn’t so much a new idea as a well-worn dream.

When writing, do you have any particular habits that you do? (i.e. sitting in the dark, listening to music, etc)

Ideally, I will work sit and Think in my favourite armchair first thing in the morning, with tea and porridge, and write my first pages for the day; then turn on the anglepoise lamp on my desk last thing in the evening, and write some more there. But the rest of my life has a bad habit of getting in the way. I wrote a lot of Erica on the bus between Oxford and London: it’s hard to cultivate any habits that are bus-friendly.

Before you wrote the book, did you do a lot of research into Elephants?

I did it as I went along, really, as I was only ever a chapter or two ahead of myself in terms of figuring out the plot. Researching elephants gave me some crucial breakthroughs. It showed me how to get the Elephant into trouble, and how to get him back out again.

Are Elephants your favourite animal? And if they’re not, what is?

Actually, my favourite animal has always been the Noble Rhinoceros. But books and documents about rhinos by themselves are hard to come by: they are always the support act to elephants. So as a child I ended up learning about elephants, whether or not I wanted to!

What advice would you give to a child who wants a pet Elephant?

When I wanted a rhino, I adopted one that was being looked after in a sanctuary. They sent me a video (mostly featuring elephants), a soft toy, a certificate and regular letters. That was really great.

Or maybe you could attach the nozzle of your hoover to a cat.

(Don’t do that).

When it comes to writing, do you plan your books in advance or just pen to paper and see where it takes you?

With Erica, I was generally sketching out plans a chapter or two ahead of my writing. In general I like to know what the ‘problem’ will be, and find out as I go how it will escalate and resolve.

If you had to describe your book in a tweet (140 characters) how would you do it?
Girl gets elephant, or he gets her.

Do you have any plans for another book?

My second book will be coming out with Scholastic in 2017 (hurray!). I have a couple more ideas simmering along – I find it helpful to have more than one, so that one can brew a bit for a while I’m writing some of the other.
Information about the Book

SYLVIA PHOTOSylvia Bishop is 23 years old and has recently graduated from Oxford. She is one half of the brilliant improvised comedy duo Peablossom Cabaret (www.peablossomcabaret.com). ERICA’S ELEPHANT is her first book, and she intends it to be the first of many quirky stories for young readers.You can learn more about Sylvia and her work by visiting her website (here), her Instagram account (here), or on Twitter

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Fangirl

Rainbow Rowell
fangirlCath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.
Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She’s got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible . . .

In a plight to try and make my spot as a ‘proper, grown up reviewer’ VERY IMPORTANT, I have decided that my reviews will now have a level of maturity that may have not been prominent in my former reviews. Eh hem.

Fangirl is a fun, light-hearted, teen read which is not set in an apocalyptic future and no one dies in it so yayyy.

Fangirl is about a girl called Cath who has gone to college somewhere in America with cows (I think its college which is like Uni in the UK, I don’t understand the American schooling system) and she is the quieter, more reserved half of a pair of twins. Cath and her twin sister Wren enjoy the very popular book series ‘Simon Snow’ which is about the world of Mages and is an obvious joke about the very popular ‘Harry Potter’ series. In fact Wren and she are such massive ‘fangirls’ of Simon Snow that they write ‘fanfiction’ about it. Now if you don’t know what fanfiction is, I suggest you Google it because it will be easier.

Cath and Wren have stuck together ever since their mum left them with their slightly insane father and they have done everything together…until now. Wren, as the more outgoing of the two, suddenly decided that although the two twins would be going to the same college (Uni, whatever) that Wren wants to not share the same room as her sister and Cath was pathetically ‘dumped’ by her own twin. Cath being the quieter, more socially awkward one relied on her sister to do the socializing for her and she is slightly freaking out a lot.

The book opens on Cath being worried about there being a boy in her room and then finding that the boy’s name is Levi and he is not her roommate but her roommate Reagan’s ‘friend’ (Cath assumes that Levi is Reagan’s boyfriend, I, as the admittedly embarrassed lover of poorly written romance novels, see Levi as a potential lover for Cath. But we are getting ahead of ourselves). Levi is really annoyingly happy and friendly to everyone and Cath thinks that is threatening. Reagan and Cath are quite happy to ignore eachother and let Levi come in only when Reagan is there; otherwise he has to sit in the hallway. Cath gets on with her life without Wren okay but is struggling and Reagan stages an intervention when she finds out the Kath was ‘dumped’ by Wren and has been living on only cereal bars and peanut butter which she has hidden under her bed because she is too scared to go into the food hall and she doesn’t know where it is. Also she was running low because Levi kept secretly eating them when Cath was in class.

Anyway, as the two make an unlikely but brutally sarcastic friendship, Cath has to juggle her very popular fanfiction account which has thousands of followers; school work and her dad’s sanity decline because he is struggling to cope without the girls. Wren becomes a social butterfly with no time for Cath but a lot of time for alcohol fuelled parties and flirting with boys.

After a while, Cath becomes friends with a boy called Nick in her fiction writing class and they become writing partners and it turns out better for him because Cath is a very good writer and she writes all the best bits, they become writing partners for any assignment they get and eventually tries to claim credit on a piece of work that they both wrote together which causes a massive hoo-hah and the end of their friendship.

After lots of fun (!) school stress, she gets a boyfriend, sorts out life with her dad and Wren gets saved from alcohol poisoning and all is marvellous and dandy.
That was admittedly a very vague synopsis but you get the picture and this review is already too long and my tea’s gone cold.

Verdict: After reading all (most, slight over exaggeration) of Rainbow Rowell’s books, I have decided that this is my favourite. It is witty, full of sass and a generally nice read. I definitely would recommend to anyone of the ages 12 and up, not because of the content but because I think the humour would go over the head of anyone of a younger age.

Reviewed by Daisy

Publisher: Macmillian
Publication Date: September 2013
Format: ebook
Pages: 445
Genre: Contemporary romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Daisy (15)
Source: own
Challenge: None
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