Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

Fire Lines

Cara Thurlbourn

When your blood line awakens, how do you choose between family and freedom?
Émi’s father used to weave beautiful tales of life beyond the wall, but she never knew if they were true. Now, her father is gone and Émi has been banished to the Red Quarter, where she toils to support herself and her mother – obeying the rules, hiding secrets and suffering the cruelties of the council’s ruthless Cadets.
But when Émi turns seventeen, sparks fly – literally. Her blood line surges into life and she realises she has a talent for magick… a talent that could get her killed.
Émi makes her escape, beyond the wall and away from everything she’s ever known. In a world of watchers, elephant riders and sorcery, she must discover the truth about who she really is. But can the new Émi live up to her destiny?

What were your initial thoughts on the book?
It’s been a while since I last read a fantasy book but when I heard about this one, I was instantly intrigued. It sounded very interesting – and fortunately it was! From the very beginning I found myself quite addicted to this book and found it pretty difficult to move on. Fortunately this book was also an easy read, the descriptions were written so well that images of the world filled my brain. I connected with the characters and could not wait to find out what would happen and where the book would take us. It’s not a truly complex fantasy novel but that was absolutely perfect for me. This made it easier to imagine and read, it allowed the characters to take full control of the story, which is something I absolutely love in books.

Who was your favourite character and why?
This is actually a bit of a tough choice for me but I think my ultimate favourite character was Tsam. I can’t quite put my finger on why except that I was instantly drawn to him and his protective nature. He felt like a safety net in the book. It’s hard to describe but I just felt safe whenever he was there. Second to Tsam would obviously be Emi. She was such a strong, powerful character. She goes through so much in the book and has lived a hellish life but she takes it all in and doesn’t let her weaknesses or her history define her. She is definitely a very interesting and unique character.

Would you recommend this book?
Definitely. I am certain that this book might not be for everyone but if you love fantasy and YA, mystery and adventure then you should definitely make sure that you read this book. It’s vivid and vibrant, taking you on a truly exotic adventure. I loved the lay of the land that Cara has come up with in this book, I loved the different creatures and beings that we meet throughout the book too. So if you’re looking for a book with all of these elements, then don’t miss this one.

One Sentence Summary (Verdict)
A vivid, vibrant, easy and addictive read that will pull you in from the first sentence.

Publisher: Bewick Press
Publication Date: September 2017
Format: eBook
Pages: 300
Genre: Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by Author
Challenge: None
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Royal Bastards

Andrew Shvarts
Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.
At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.
Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.
Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.
The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey

What are your overall thoughts?

I have to admit rather predictably that it was the title that first grabbed my attention; among the residents of my monstrous inbox (if only it was due to popularity rather than inept email management) it certainly stood out. The synopsis seemed right up my street, courtly intrigue, fantasy, magic, an epic journey- so far so Caroline.

The title should have given me some clue that the author was not going to pull his punches. One minute I’m floating along, very contently I might add, on a familiar cloud of hooped skirts, banquets and a gathering of unlikely companions about to impark on a risqué nocturnal excursion, which will undoubtedly trigger the aforementioned travel …

…then KABOOMB (literal explosions) sh*T gets real, and from that moment the book flips from a predictable band of teenagers hiking across the country to thwart a dastardly plot, to something more.

Sure, there is a collection of young adults with powers and ability’s beyond their years, there’s hiking across the country and there’s even evil to foil. But this book was so much more than I anticipated; it had more energy, more action, more gruesome ends and more pulse raising horrors- from the shuddering inducing cave dwellers to the horrific aftermath of war.

From the moment the group made their clandestine trip to the cove I was so caught up in the non-stop action and griped by the adventure, that I risked developing a DVT from immobility. Thankfully aside from a numb bum and a mild case of sleep depravation I am no worse from reading the novel in a single sitting.

What was your favorite aspect of the book?
My favorite aspect was the main character, Tilla. While I don’t claim to know many royal bastards to form a truly informed opinion, Tilla felt authentic and she was easy to relate to. Tilla, is no chosen one, she doesn’t suddenly discover immense magical powers, her badassary is developed through weeks of training and she questions why she has even gotten involved with events.

I liked that she didn’t blindly follow some pre ordained destiny, allow herself to be used as a political pawn or take up a moral crusade without questioning why on earth she had gotten involved in the first place. In fact she strongly considers taking the easy option and getting out of dodge. Her reasons for staying the course felt relatable and believable.

Who was your favorite character and why?
Probably our protagonist Tilla, although I enjoyed getting to know all of the characters and I look forward to getting to know them further as the trilogy progresses.

Would you recommend this book?
Yes, it was a gripping, fast paced read. Fair warning- parts of the book make uncomfortable reading, particularly those with a gentle disposition and a completely understandable aversion to our eight legged friends *shudders*

Summarise in one sentence.
Not your predictable fantasy road trip

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: June 2017
Format: ARC
Pages: 346
Genre: Fantasy, magic
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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Foxcraft: The Taken

Inbali Iserses
Isla and her brother are two young foxes living just outside the lands of the furless — humans. The life of a fox is filled with dangers, but Isla has begun to learn mysterious skills meant to help her survive.
Then the unthinkable happens. Returning to her den, Isla finds it set ablaze and surrounded by strange foxes, and her family is nowhere in sight. Forced to flee, she escapes into the cold, gray world of the furless.
Now Isla must navigate this bewildering and deadly terrain, all while being hunted by a ruthless enemy. In order to survive, she will need to master the ancient arts of her kind — magical gifts of cunning known only to foxes. She must unravel the secrets of fox craft.

What were your initial thoughts on the book?
When I started to read the first three chapters I was really enjoying the book until the one horrible accident that changed the entire story and as I read on I started to feel less absorbed in to the story however, I still want to carry on reading through the series to see what happens next.

Who was your favourite character and why?
My favourite character is Isla because she is a very fierce and brave fox who cares for her family. Isla is very playful and great at imitating birds. Every day is a new adventure for Isla as she travels through different places for one special adventure…

Would you recommend this book?
I personally didn’t like this book like I liked others but I would recommend it to girls and boys who like fox books and are interested in adventures from age 9 up.

Summarise the book in one sentence.
A heart-breaking adventure to search for the one thing she loves…

Jimena Gutierrez-Reviriego (10)

Publisher: Scholastic press
Publication Date: September 2015
Format: Paperback
Pages: 257
Genre: Animal, Fantasy
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Jimena
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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Harper and the Night Forest

Cerrie Burnell

Total fantasy bliss! Magical birds, dark forests and fairytale cities: there’s no better book to get lost in. Harper is on a mission! Rumours tell of the mysterious Ice Raven who lives among the ebony trees, singing a magical song that can melt hardened hearts. Now the Wild Conductor wants to capture this mythical bird and create the greatest orchestra ever known. So Harper and her friends set off to find the bird. Their journey takes them from the mysterious Night Forest to the City of Singing Clocks. But soon Harper realises she faces a dilemma. Should a wild, free creature like the Ice Raven ever be tied down?

What were your initial thoughts on the book?
This book is one of those lovely, cute and entertaining reads that I absolutely wish that I had as a child. Harper and the Night Forest is the third book in the Harper series but it was by far my favourite one. Cerrie Burnell’s imagination knows no bounds and I really loved reading about Harper and her friends on their journey into the Night Forest. It was not what I was expecting and I found that to make the book even more interesting to read. I loved the fairy tale aspect and how it all came together in the end. Along with the wonderful story, came the beautiful illustrations by Laura Ellen Anderson. These really brought the story to life in a magnificent way. A truly perfect match between words and pictures.

Who was your favourite character and why?
While I am sure most people would probably choose Harper, I think that my favourite character is actually Nate. He is such a fascinating character and I think it is wonderful to find someone with a sight impairment in a children’s book. Nate can only see shadows and because of it he has a companion wolf who helps to guide him. It means that he can never see the expressions on his friends faces but he can feel when they’re happy or sad. He knows who is near by how they walk and he is excellent at leading his friends when it is dark as it is always dark for him. I really, really loved him as a character and would love to read more.

But really one of the best things about these books are that all of the characters are so vibrant and all work together as a team. Including the “villain” of the books. By the end of each adventure he is always shown why his ideas aren’t so great after all. I think that Cerrie has down a smashing job of creating realistic and likeable characters in all of the Harper books.

Would you recommend this book?
Definitely. These books are magical, and quite literally full of magic. They’re lovely stories. They have heart and emotion and a wondrous childish feel to them. I am certain that both adults and children alike will be blown away by both the adventures that the children go on and also the characters and how they all react. Cerrie has truly created an interesting world for these books to take place in and I just cannot recommend them all highly enough. If you haven’t yet read these books, what are you waiting for?

Summarize the book in one sentence. (Verdict)
Harper and the Night Forest is a splendid book that will steal your heart and fill you with hope all at the same time. It is magical, cute and full of adventure and fun too.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: March 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 240
Genre: Fantasy
Age: MG
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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The Graces

Laure Eve
the gracesEveryone said the Graces were witches.
They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.
They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.
All I had to do was show them that person was me.
Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

The Graces follows (you guessed it) the Grace family, but more specifically River. The rich, beautiful and powerful Graces captivate River, as they do with every one in her town. Why? – Because everyone believes Summer, Thalia and Fenrin Grace can do magic. So when the family seem to take River under their wing, welcoming her to where everyone has tried but failed to be, she commits herself to being a Grace. However, as River grows closer to the family she learns that becoming a Grace has a price and carries consequences she could have never imagined.

I went into this hoping it would either be a twilight-esque frustrating romance but nevertheless an unput-a-downable read or a kickass witch book with mind-blowing magic. Unfortunately though, this book was neither and all in all I found it rather underwhelming.

Although beautifully began I found the latter stages of the novel painfully slow and lacking clear direction. I felt the main character was very depressing and just not an enjoyable narrator. Additionally, I felt her obsession with the Graces was disturbing and to be honest I didn’t really want to learn more about them.
My main problem with the book was the lack of plot; it read like it hadn’t been planned and lacked any real climax. I also felt it was quite forced in trying to be dark and mysterious and therefore didn’t really create the atmosphere I was looking for.

One thing I did quite enjoy was the dialogue, which at times was sharp and easily read. Furthermore, I did like Summer’s character as I thought Lauren Eve had constructed her well, with her dimension being well written.

To conclude, I did find the beginning of the book quite enjoyable but once we were past the opening stages the plot lost most of it’s intrigue and thus failed to captivate me.

Verdict: What disappointed me the most was how much potential it had, the synopsis sounded so intriguing and I therefore went in with high expectations only to be let down.

Reviewed by Evie (14)

Publisher: Faber and Faber
Publication Date: August 2016
Format: eBook
Pages: 352
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Age: YA
Reviewer: Evie (14)
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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Blog Tour: Shadow Magic

Joshua Khan

Thorn, an outlaw’s son, wasn’t supposed to be a slave. He’s been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they’re headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire.
Lilith Shadow wasn’t supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But following the murder of her family, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?
Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky.

First up, can you tell us something unique about you?
I have no birth certificate.

What was your favourite part about writing Shadow Magic?
The scenes in Castle Gloom. It was great to create the spookiest haunted house ever, but one where people lived in, and loved. I loved writing about the characters who lived there, all the way from lily who rules it down to the old servants who moan and groan but you know, deep down, would never wish to be anywhere else. And of course the ghosts who’ve been there longest of all…

Where is your favourite place in the world?
Oh, that changes all the time. This year it was a balcony in Croatia, at night, watching the lights of the boats on the sea.

If you could have one fictional character as a best friend, who would you choose and why?
Superman. He’s my favourite superhero and I’d like to know how he remains good in such a world. It must be nigh-impossible.

Who is your favourite character in Shadow Magic?
Gabriel. He’s horrible, selfish, nasty and completely useless. But by the end you sort of feel sorry of him.

When you’re in the writing zone, do you have any peculiar habits? (i.e. writing in a dark room, drinking bizarre drinks).
I like writing in cafes. I write better when there’s some background activity. Ok, it’s not that odd. The study at home is south-facing, so sometimes during the summer I write with my trousers off. Is that better?

What was your favourite book as a child?
The Hobbit. It’s still my favourite book.

If you had to describe Shadow Magic in a tweet (140 characters) what would you say?
Take one princess of darkness. Add an outlaw boy. Shake in some giant vampire bat. Then give them the job of saving the kingdom of undead!

Questions by Faye

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: October 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336
Genre: Fantasy
Age: Upper MG
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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Barefoot On The Wind

Zoe Marriott
29235197There is a monster in the forest…
Everyone in Hana’s remote village on the mountain knows that straying too far into the woods is a death sentence. When Hana’s father goes missing, she is the only one who dares try to save him. Taking up her hunting gear, she goes in search of the beast, determined to kill it – or be killed herself. But the forest contains more secrets, more magic and more darkness than Hana could ever have imagined, and the beast is not at all what she expects…

Before I begin to tell you my thoughts and feelings about this lovely book I have a big fat and horrible secret to admit to you all…. this is my first Zoe Marriott read.
Yes I know shock horror and I should probably be burned at the stake for this treachery and massive YA offence; but before you get your pitchforks let me tell you what I thought, and let me solemnly promise that I will be making amends to right this terrible wrong!

Barefoot on the Wind is a wonderful and clever retelling of one of the best (in my humble opinion) fairy tales: Beauty and the Beast.
As with many retellings Zoe Marriott put her own imprint on this story. The transposition and adaptation of the original story line to a Japanese environment, lay out and way of life was incredibly faithfully done. The village, the villagers, the rules and regulations of that period in time down to the Japanese denominations for each member of society and status were respected, making me feel like I’d actually stepped into a Japanese mountain village that was being plagued by a beast and I was about to witness the unfurling of this story.
I was all geared up with my cup of green tea to sit back and enjoy what I thought was merely a transcribed and slightly altered fairy tale to suit the new set up, when Zoe decided that actually she hadn’t quite finished with her adaptation.
It soon became clear that from the original tale, all that was taken were the bare bones, in a manner of speaking.
Now before I go any further I should tell you all that I am a massive fairy tale fan, and will happily read any retelling and any new story that comes my way, but what I came across here was pretty wonderful and a very original take on fairy tales with a pinch of modern thinking.
Although you will catch a glimpse of Belle in Hana-San’s kindness and love for her family, and you will perceive some of the Beast’s hard earned humility in Itsuki, these two sets of characters are as different as they are alike. Zoe Marriott’s Belle is a fighter, a hunter and does not fear the dangerous dark woods that have claimed many a life. She is proud and strong and although her hierarchical society does not approve, she holds her ground steadfast and fights for what she believes is right even if that means going into the beast’s lair alone. Zoe’s Beast, that Hana dubs Itsuki, is the gentlest creature you will ever meet. He cares for all those that are harmed regardless of by whom and why. He has a big heart and has worked hard to learn what patience, humility, true love and respect mean.
Although initially perplexed I soon came to love these two characters and how their interactions were so similar and yet so different from those that I have loved and grown up with.

As I mentioned before Zoe merely used the bare bones of the classic and then built her own story giving it flesh and thoughts to shape it differently and make us readers reflect.

As per all fairy tales there is a lesson to be learned, and whilst deconstructing and recreating her tale our lovely author did not forget this vital part. Whilst the Disney we all know and love focused on romance and the signature happily ever after, Zoe Marriott decided to centre her story around Hana-San, her journey to self discovery, forgiveness and its ripple effect on the surrounding characters and, indeed, the story. Although romance and love is undoubtedly a main thread to it, Zoe Marriott reminds us that the types of love that can change someone also include the love between a family, siblings and friends. She reminds us that love’s close counterpart and partner in crime is hate and the line between these two at times has been known to be thin, thin and full of its own emotions ranging from anger to sorrow.

You might ask be asking yourself what else is different aside from the characters, the set up, the nature of the beast, the strength of the belle and the society whose rules they live by?

Well I will let you figure that one out for yourself, but what I will tell you is that this is a very cleverly constructed Japanese fairy tale retelling, and that like Hana-San you will have to walk into the dark woods and tread lightly on the dark magic that has cursed more than just a man, and you will have to heed the advice of the trees and the wind that blows through them because a monster, a beast roams the woods but the two are not always one and the same and every individual is capable of monstrous things.

Barefoot on the Wind proved to be more than just a simple fairy tale with a different back drop. Zoe Marriott brought with it her own set of characters and morales to teach us. Despite the simplistic story, she managed to build into it new thoughts and feelings giving it a new dimension and complexity that I had not previously appreciated.

Verdict: I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this tale and will happily be getting lost in these dark woods again with Hana-San and Itsuki.

Reviewed by Pruedence

Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: September 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 313
Genre: Retelling, Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Pruedence
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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Author Interview: Paula Harrison

We are delighted to welcome Paula Harrison, author of Robyn Silver: The Midnight Chimes.
The Midnight ChimesLife was very ordinary for ten-year-old Robyn Silver. The often-ignored middle child in a big family, the most excitement she had was the dash to the dinner table to reach the last slice of pizza. Until… she begins to see creepy creatures around her town – creatures that are invisible to everyone else. And when her school is forced to decamp to mysterious Grimdean House and she meets its equally mysterious owner, Mr Cryptorum, Robyn finds herself catapulted headfirst into an extraordinary adventure – with more excitement than she could possibly have imagined. Be careful what you wish for…

Robyn Silver sounds like a really fun and adventurous character, how did you come up with her and what is your favourite aspect of her personality?

I wanted to write about a girl who thinks she’s nothing special – someone who doesn’t have any particular skills or talents. Then she’s put in an extraordinary situation and she finds out she has tonnes of grit and determination. That’s my favourite thing about her.

Where is your favourite place to write your books?

It would be so awesome to say a little house by the sea! I love the coast but I live nowhere near it. I write at my computer in my dining room. It’s near the kettle which is important.

What is your favourite part of being a Children’s author?

Meeting readers! It’s so much fun to talk about books to children. I used to be a teacher so I did this even before I changed profession. Seeing my story brought to life inside a fantastic book jacket is amazing too.

Do you plot your novels or just see where they take you?

I plot them but once I start writing that plan often goes out the window. That’s OK though. It’s important to listen to where the characters are taking you – as long as the characters are being true to themselves you won’t go wrong.

Why do you think books for children are important?

They’re part of the process of learning about the world and literally growing an imagination. Also, to put my teacher hat back on, research shows that children who read for pleasure do better in all subjects at school including maths. I wish there was even more of a drive to get children reading. I know there’s great work going on but I’d love to see a big government backed drive that would recognise the power of reading to benefit children’s futures.

If you had to face one of the supernatural creatures in Robyn Silver, which would you prefer to face?

Oh tricky! A kobold would be the least dangerous but they look like a goblin crossed with a porcupine and they have a very nasty temper.

Do you possess any of the same personality traits as Robyn Silver?

I’m persistent to the point of being down-right obstinate. I’m not sure how endearing this is! I’ll ask my husband.

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

Born on the stroke of midnight, Robyn Silver is drawn into a world of monsters. Luckily she has friends and a hidden talent at sword fighting
Interview questions by Faye

Paula Harrion profile photoPaula Harrison is a best-selling children’s author, with worldwide sales of over one million copies. Her books include The Rescue Princesses series. She wanted to be a writer from a young age but spent many happy years being a primary school teacher first. you can learn more about Paula and her work by visiting her Website (here) or her Twitter account (here).

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Five Fabulous… Auto Buy Authors

fab-five-logo-e1397403514389Five Fabulous Books is an original feature here at Big Book Little Book. The aim of the feature is to showcase fabulous books and bookish things, with connecting themes, there by promoting reads we have enjoyed and sharing recommendations for similar books. We love to share contributions from fellow bibliophiles, bloggers, vloggers and twitter users. We love to hear from you too, so don’t forget to comment with your favourite themed books. You are very welcome to use the Five Fabulous feature on your own blog just be sure to link back to Big Book Little Book and leave your link in the comments below so we can check out your recommendations! Feel free to copy and paste our Fabulou5 graphic or create one of your own.

Every bibliophile has as least one.

An author who’s work is a automatic must buy.

One author who’s work inspires joy and excitement, WANT and NEED. MY PRECIOUS.

We don’t need a cover image or even a blurb.

We only need the the promise of hours of escapism and guaranteed reading satisfaction to reach for the preorder button.

In no particular order I present to you my top five must buy authors.

Zoe Marriott
Zoe is one of the most reliable authors on my bookcase. Now I realize that on the surface referring to Zoe’s work as reliable might seem like a luke warm complement. For me reliable is that friend you can call day or night, who will be there without fail, laugh with you until you need to pee and hold your hand, or your hair back, through the tough times.

I honestly don’t think that you can underestimate the pure joy of finding an author who’s work you just click with, who’s work that is guaranteed to enthrall, entertain, and even educate. I have loved every single Zoe Marriot book I’ve read and I cant wait read her next book Barefoot On The Wind (due for publication in September).

Check out Zoe’s Goodreads author page (here) to learn more about her work, including Barefoot on the wind.

Maggie Stiefvater
Maggie writes one of my favorite genres Speculative Fiction (read about it on Wikipedia here), unapologetically and seamlessly combining magical, fantastical, historical and horrific elements with complex characters and beautifully, poetic prose.

I credit Maggie with being one of the authors that got me completely hooked on the Young adult storytelling as a not so young adult. Maggie is one of my favorite authors and as such I’ve written about Maggie’s work many times (here) but you don’t even need to take my word for it, you can read some of her work for yourself, for free ,over at the Merry Sisters of Fates site (here)

V E Schwab
ARRRGGGG I can’t tell you how much I love Victoria’s characterisation. Not that her plotting and world building isn’t also first class, but she creates such three dimensional, interesting and at time surprising characters that I can’t help but squee at the thought that I have her new book sat on my shelf right now with at least two wonderful new beings to meet and two interesting new lives to explore.

Stephanie Perkins
Not only is Stephanie a talented writer, who’s contemporary romances are guaranteed to put a smile on your face, she is also a fantastic editor. Her My True Love Gave To Me, Christmas anthology has already become a part of my seasonal ritual, I re read it last year and have every intention to re read it again this year. I enjoyed the collection so much that when I saw that she had edited a Summer anthology, Summer Days and Summer Nights, I one clicked and ordered the hardback without even looking to see who else was involved in the project.
Click here to visit Stephanie’s Goodreads authors page to learn more

Melinda Sailsbury
I don’t think that it is premature to add Melinda to my must buy list. She may have only published two books, but I was so completely blown away by both of them that I don’t have any doubts that I will immediately buy whatever she publishes, particularly if it is the third installment in the Sin Eaters Daughter trilogy. If I enjoy it as much as the second instalment I will be a very happy book worm.
You can read about how much I and my fellow Big Book Little Book team members love her work here. If that isn’t enough of a recommendation you can learn even more about Melinda and her work by clicking here to visit her Goodreads authors page

Posted by Caroline

Who are your auto buy authors?

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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.

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