Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

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.

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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Blog Tour: Soldier by Julia Kagawa

We are delighted to host the latest stop on the blog tour for Julia Kagawa‘s Soldier. Today she shares how a visit to London informed the setting of Soldier.
SOLDIER_Full layout.inddThe thrilling next story in the The Talon Saga, the incredible new YA fantasy series from New York Times bestselling author Julie Kagawa.
When forced to choose between the sinister Talon organisation and being hunted by her own kind, dragon-human hybrid Ember fled. Even if it meant losing Garret, the dragon-slaying soldier she shares a deep bond with.
Now Garret has uncovered secrets that will shake the foundations of dragons and dragon-slayers alike. Can the danger reunite them?

In the spring of 2015, I visited London for the first time. Partly for a vacation, but partly because I knew the next book of the Talon series, Soldier, would prominently feature the city as the birthplace of the ancient Order of St. George. I fell in love with the city and, because I was looking for them, I began seeing the flags and symbols of St. George everywhere.

It was on signs, churches, bridges, and countless flags throughout the city. The red cross on the white shield. The symbol of England’s patron saint, and also the mark of Order of St. George. There was even a St. George’s Day that celebrated the famed knight. I was ecstatic. London was the ideal birthplace for the Order of St. George; everything fit together perfectly.

I returned home and eagerly began writing Soldier, knowing that Garret would soon walk the same streets I did, see the same sights. He would pass Big Ben, the Thames River, and the London Eye. He would be in the same neighborhoods, and notice the many symbols of the Order, just like me. It was a faintly surreal feeling, the knowledge that this character would soon follow my footsteps into the heart of a very real city, where an ancient order of knights might very well have lived for hundreds of years.

Though perhaps his first impressions were not quite as excited as mine…

‘I had arrived. In London. The Order’s largest and most influential territory. Though I’d been to the city only once, I could be sure of one thing: I would find no dragons here, or in any of the surrounding towns. St. George’s presence in the city was huge and obvious. The Order’s symbol, the red cross on a white shield, was everywhere throughout London, on signs and churches and building walls. Though St. George was the patron saint of England itself, and we shared his flag with the rest of the city, the message to Talon was very clear: no dragons allowed.’
-Garret in Soldier

Dragon London Bridge 2JULIE KAGAWA was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects and frequent hurricanes. She is the New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Fey series, the Talon series and the Immortal Rules trilogy.

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The Sleeping Prince

Melinda Salisbury
Sleeping PrinceReturn to the darkly beautiful world of The Sin Eater’s Daughter with a sequel that will leave you awed, terrified . . . and desperate for more.
Ever since her brother Lief disappeared, Errin’s life has gone from bad to worse. Not only must she care for her sick mother, she has to scrape together rent money by selling illegal herbal cures. But none of that compares to the threat of the vengeful Sleeping Prince whom the Queen just awoke from his enchanted sleep.
When her village is evacuated as part of the war against the Sleeping Prince, Errin is left desperate and homeless. The only person she can turn to is the mysterious Silas, a young man who buys deadly poisons from Errin, but won’t reveal why he needs them. Silas promises to help her, but when he vanishes, Errin must journey across a kingdom on the brink of war to seek another way to save her mother and herself. But what she finds shatters everything she believed about her world, and with the Sleeping Prince drawing nearer, Errin must make a heartbreaking choice that could affect the whole kingdom.

Having read The Sin Eater’s Daughter I was quite eager to get my hands on Melinda Sailsbury’s sequel. What I did not expect was for it to match if not almost rival its predecessor. A rare occurrence in the world of sequels, where although good, a sequel does not usually quite compare to the initiating chapter of the story.

The world I’d previously encountered was already perilously fragile and hanging on by a diplomatic thread, surrounded by mystery and alive with the promise of rebellion and so much more. I didn’t think much else could be added to make it more enticing but naturally I was wrong.

Errin’s tale added alchemy, magic, and more impossible love. The stuff of fairy tales, if you will. But not the nice ones. The dark ones. Where the prince does not bring salvation but damnation, where courage springs from the most unlikely of sources, love grows even though it is forbidden, sacred vows are broken and we are once again reminded that history is written by the victorious and therefore not always a true recollection of that which has actually happened.

I devoured this book in less than 24hrs and am now wishing I hadn’t. Needless to say it all ended far too soon and am now left wanting more dark magic, more alchemy, and well just generally more!

Melinda’s narrative technique made me feel as though I’d been plunged into a world falling apart in every aspect, where kindness has long been forgotten and considered weakness but magic still happens and the power of plants and alchemists has not completely vanished. Although for all intents and purposes this YA has everything a fairytale requires, each member and each scene is overcast by shadows, darkness and the threat of impossible obstacles. And I loved it!

The unfurling darkness that surrounded the ever so feeble light at the end of the tunnel tantalised me all the way through this story, and now that I’ve finished it remains there taunting me to find out what happens next, and whether despite its distance will the light come back to this world and good overcome evil.

Each character had light and dark in him/her, and the returning characters were further enriched and had new depths added to them. Everything felt like a new story even though technically I was coming back to somewhere I had kind of already partially visited. The seamlessness with which one character’s tale finished, whilst a new one started, whilst equally carrying through an overall story, pulling on several threads and important chess pieces was wonderfully done, and I take my hat off to the author for it.

Melinda has undoubtedly done a fantastic job at creating something new whilst continuing this saga. I’m only sorry that I’ve turned the last of its dark pages. But the chance of a “happy ending” remains, and although I’m fairly certain it won’t be pink and fluffy I remain hopeful that a perhaps darkened pink but not quite shadowed final page awaits us all in the next book. And I cannot wait for it to come!

Reviewed by Pruedence

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: February 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336
Genre: Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Pruedence
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book

The Sleeping Prince and it’s predecessor, The Sin Eaters Daughter, are available to buy now. Click here for a short cut to Amazon. Alternatively , learn more about The Sin Eaters Daughter series and its author by visiting Goodreads here

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Blog Tour: The Out Of Orbit Series

We are delighted to welcome self published author, Chele Cooke

dead and buriedYou are an inmate, not a medic. You should get used to that.”
On the planet Os-Veruh, the native Veniche have endured a decade under the oppressive rule of a race of invaders, the Adveni.
When Georgianna Lennox, a Veniche medic, discovers her childhood friend has been sold into slavery, she seeks help from a revolutionary outlaw group.
As Georgianna’s struggle to save one life ignites a battle to liberate her homeworld, is she about to discover that it is better to be dead than ‘buryd’?

Where is your favourite place to write?

I really want an office. I think, if I manage to go full time, I’ll need to make myself an office somewhere. At the moment, I write at a small desk in my bedroom. Forget all that house with a garden and a dog stuff… I just want an office I can organise.

I do like my little desk and it’s currently my favourite place to write. I have spreadsheets and character lists pinned up on the wall in front of it, and with nothing else to distract me, it’s easy to get in the zone there.

Are you a plotter or a panther?

A plotter. Definitely a plotter. I pantsed for almost ten years and rarely finished anything. Then, one year for NaNoWriMo, my friend and I switched. I had to plan, she had to pants. That was the first year I completed NaNo, and now I have about 10k in plots, chapter plans, and character information before I write a single word of the manuscript.

Alright, let’s be honest… I have about five different projects with full planning done, just waiting to be written. I might have a bit of a plotting addiction.

Who is your favourite character and why?

Of my own characters, or someone else’s? Either way, this is an evil question.

Other people’s characters: I’m going to go with Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby. I love the fact that he’s removed from the main story and how much we see of his character through his reactions to the things going on around him. That whole book is filled with morally grey characters, and Nick is no different.

Of my own characters, I’m going to have to go with Dhiren Flynn. I fell in love with him unexpectedly. He was supposed to be a character who was around for five or so chapters at the end of book one and the beginning of book two, but instead he took over and I couldn’t push him aside. He’s fiercely protective and, like Nick Carraway, morally grey on how he goes about it. The more I write him, the more I find out, which is so much fun to write.

What made you decide to write a sci-fi series?

I never really thought I’d be writing Sci-Fi. Growing up I was always more of a Fantasy person. When this story came along, it wasn’t that I’d intended for my next project to be Sci-Fi, it just happened that it was the most fitting genre. My Sci-Fi is definitely more on the Dystopian end of the scale. I focus on the characters and how the events change and shape them.

Once I started writing this series, the ideas just kept coming. Now, I’d say about sixty percent of my ideas would be classed as Sci-Fi, though usually they’ll have other elements mixed in. One of my works in progress is a sci-fi mixed with a nineteen twenties circus and some western elements. They’re all a bit different.

Do you know what is going to happen at the end of the series? – don’t tell us, we’re just curious if you know!

I’m currently planning the final book, so while I’ve had the destination in my head since the beginning of the series, I’m now working out exactly how I’m going to get there without hitting too many roundabouts or traffic jams.

There are certain scenes I know I want to have, and subplots that need to reach a specific conclusion, but the meat of the final book is still up in the air.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author? Especially from a self-published perspective?

My biggest piece of writing advice is to remember that what works for one person won’t work for everyone. Never feel bad if what works for you doesn’t work for someone else, just keep doing what works for you.

As for self-publishing, my advice is not to rush it. Take your time and do things to the best of your ability. Hell, this works for writing too. Don’t feel like you have to put out a book every six months just because that’s what some people are doing. Take the time to get your book properly edited and covered professionally, to do the proper marketing and give your book the best start it can possibly get.

Also, when it comes to writing and self-publishing, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The Indie community is incredibly friendly. They will celebrate your successes and help you through the rough patches (because most likely, they’ve been there already.) People say writing is a solitary process, but in this day and age, you have a much better support system. Don’t be afraid to use it.

Thank you for the wonderful questions! These have been really fun to answer, and I hope you’ve got a little more insight into my writing, and me in general.

Interview questions by Faye

chekecookePart time author and full time fantacist, Chele Cooke is a sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal author living in London, UK.
While some know they want to write stories since childhood, Chele first started writing as a teenager writing fanfiction and roleplaying. Before long playing in other people’s worlds wasn’t enough and she started creating her own. Living in San Francisco at the time, she found a lot of inspiration in her favourite city, some of which can be found in her books.
With a degree in Creative Writing, Chele’s first novel was published in 2013. She currently has three books published: two books in a sci-fi series, Out of Orbit, and the first book of a vampire serial, Teeth.

To find out more about Dead and Buryd, the first book in the Out Of Orbit Series, check out it’s Goodreads page here. Dead and Buryd and two of it’s sequels, Fight or Flight and Rack and Ruin, are available to buy now from Amazon.uk (here) and Amazon.com here.
Giveaway

Chele is hosting a giveaway to celebrate her Out of Orbit tour!
The prizes include;
A full set of Out of Orbit series in paperback and a £25 Amazon giftcard
Ten ebook sets of the Out of Orbit series
To enter the giveaway visit Chele’s website here

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Pan’s Revenge

Anna Katmore

pan's revenge“Are you ready to be kissed?” he breathes against the corner of my mouth.
My knees start to tremble and there are butterflies in my belly now. Way too many. “I don’t think this is a good idea.”
“I think it’s the best idea I had in a long time.”
Desperate to leave Neverland and find his love in this notorious town called London, James Hook makes a grave mistake. He puts his own wishes above those of his half-brother and once-arch-enemy, Peter Pan.
The consequences alter Peter’s life in a way no one could have foreseen. The boy who wouldn’t grow up swears revenge, and what better way than by stealing Hook’s girl?
The first to arrive in London, Peter finds Angel once again without any memory of ever being in Neverland. That gives him time to plant the idea of a ruthless pirate captain in her mind—someone who tried to kill her once and is now on his way to kidnap her again. If only this stubborn girl would stop playing with Peter’s head. He’d completely forgotten how beautiful she was. Or is it only because he sees her through different eyes now?
Through a shower of falling stars, a loop around the moon, and then a hard left at the Clock Tower—when James Hook finally arrives in London, he has to fight with a vengeance for his love and face a boy who grew up after all…

*this is the review of a sequel so inadvertent spoilers may be present*

I delved into this sequel not long after reading Neverland as I had enjoyed it so much, and I have to say it did not disappoint!

Having never really come across a sequel to Peter Pan’s story except for what Disney presented to me as a child, and might I say it did not seem like a likely plot-line option, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The only thing I was certain of was that Peter Pan was going to become darker than before, Angelina had lost her memory and poor Captain James Hook was going to have to prove himself all over again after it had already taken him 300 odd pages the first time!

My hunch was correct and the book delivered more upon that.

The alternate point of views for each chapter once again gave the book a little more depth, and I was pleased to see that Peter Pan himself had a stronger voice this time. Seeing the story unfold from the supposed “good” and “evil” characters is always very interesting and makes for a good read but especially when the latter get a voice as it is so uncommon.

Needless to say romance was a strong theme as poor Jamie was left to prove his love again, restore lost memories and save Neverland. But equally a strong thread of family, trust, betrayal and forgiveness was laced through the book. Infact I would almost dare say that it was as important if not almost more so than the romantic theme, as a reminder that love is familial too and just as important. And although I am a declared sappy and romantic saddo through and through, I will happily admit that I was not at all disappointed or saddened by this. The equal sharing of this made the book that much more of an enjoyable and interesting read.

The pace was initially slow but picked up as the story unravelled and I flew from Neverland to London and back again. Anna Katmore threw several rather unpredictable twists in her plot and left me hanging on the edge off a cliff right until the very end.

Verdict: A sequel that lived up to it’s prequel’s set standards, and that proved to be not only a fun and romantic read, but one with a little more depth and emotion than I expected endearing itself to me that much more.

Reviewed by Prudence

Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: July 2014
Format: eBook
Pages: 346
Genre: Retelling, fantasy, romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Prudence
Source: Own copy
Challenge: None
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Self Published Sunday Chats with Melissa Brown

This week on Self Published Sunday we are delighted to welcome debut author Melissa Brown as she talks about the inspiration behind her recently released novel, Becoming Death.
Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00026]Ever since her father’s demise, Madison Clark knew death had her number. After losing her first job, she is ushered into the cryptic family business. Little does she know her family is hiding a dark secret; they are grim reapers, custodians of souls on their journey to the beyond. Madison expects her historic legacy to have benefits beyond immortality. What she doesn’t expect is to still be struggling for cash while reaping souls on the side.
As if being Death’s minion wasn’t strenuous enough, Madison finds herself back at school with her worst enemy studying the ancient rules, methods and paperwork of her vocation. In a cascade of life changes: her best friend admits he’s in love with her and she starts a new job as a professional mourner, but she can’t help thinking her family might have other secrets.
Just when things are finally starting to feel normal again Death throws her a curveball: her next victim is her best friend. Madison must find a way to overcome the strict guidelines of being a grim reaper in order to save his life.

1. Have you always been interested in grim reapers or was it just an idea you had?

I’ve always been interested in the paranormal, I was a huge X-files and horror movie fan growing up. The idea to write a book about grim reapers came while doing research for a paper at university about fairytales and folklore. I realised female grim reapers seemed to be a rarity and thought it might be fun to place one in a modern setting.

2. When you write, do you plot or are you more of a panther?
I’m a pantser, I like discovering how the story is going to flow as much as the reader. I normally have an ending in mind I’m writing towards but even that has been known to change in the past.

3. What is your favourite UKYA book at the moment?

A Little Princess Frances Hodgson Burnett

I just re-read this and there is a reason it’s a young adult classic because it’s magical. Sara Crewe’s dreams are bigger than herself and she draws the reader into them. She is a female character that takes on any challenges thrown at her and comes through the book a stronger person.

4. How did you go about researching your book?
I spent a lot of time watching TV shows, movies and reading books with grim reaper’s in them. It was hard work, trying to keep track of all the different ways grim reapers were portrayed and the lore about them in each story.

5. Are you a secret grim reaper?

Maybe…best not get too close.

melissa brownMelissa Brown an American author that lives in Norwich, England. She is a teacher in ICT skills, English and creative writing. In 2014, she was shortlisted for the IdeasTap Inspires: Writers’ Centre Norwich Writing Competition and longlisted for the Nottingham Writers’ Club’s inaugural National Short Story Competition. She was also a featured poet at the Norwich: City of Stories launch event, where she did a live reading of my poem ‘The Library.’ She enjoys films, books, comics, fangirling and subscription boxes. She blames her love of the written word on her hometown library and fanfiction. She lives with her partner, Kris, and her awesome cat, Hailey. You can learn more about Melissa and her work by visiting her website here, her Facebook page (here) or Goodreads authors page (here). Alternatively pop over to Twitter (click here) and converse with her there

Becoming Death is available to buy from Amazon.uk (here)

Melissa is hosting a tour-wide giveaway!

For your chance to win one of 5 necklaces inspired by Becoming Death or one of
2 copies of Becoming Death check out the rafflecopter below.

This giveaway is open to UK participants ONLY.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Ensnared

A.G.Howard

ensnaredAfter surviving a disastrous battle at prom, Alyssa has embraced her madness and gained perspective. She’s determined to rescue her two worlds and the people and netherlings she loves. Even if it means challenging Queen Red to a final battle of wills and wiles . . . and even if the only way to Wonderland, now that the rabbit hole is closed, is through the looking-glass world–a parallel dimension filled with mutated and violent netherling outcasts. In the final installment of the wildly popular Splintered trilogy, Alyssa and her dad journey into the heart of magic and mayhem in search of her mom and to set right all that’s gone wrong. Together with Jeb and Morpheus, they must salvage Wonderland from the decay and destruction that has ensnared it. But if they succeed and come out alive, can everyone truly have their happily ever after?

As this is a review of a sequel it may contain spoilers

Before I type up my review of this amazing book (I wish there was a better word than amazing but I can’t find it right now) I need a moment to piece myself together because it was, as previously said, amazing and I need to do it justice, or atleast try to.

*zen position assumed to gather my thoughts that are still reeling from awesomeness*

Ok here goes.

Ensnared is, unfortunately, the final book of what has been a fantastic rollercoaster ride of a retelling of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, and although I can by no means speak for Lewis Carroll I think I can safely say A.G.Howard has done an amazing job of taking his story and bringing it to a whole new level whilst staying true to the spirit of the world he’d created.
Once more I plunged into A.G.Howard’s novel except that this time my journey started in AnyElsewhere a world in equal parts dangerous, beautiful and crazy as Wonderland if not more, as this is the home of the rejects. And if wonderland didn’t want them, you can only imagine what they’re like!

Alyssa and her father are on a mission to save her mortal and netherling knights, and to end Red’s tyrannical existence that sows death, pain and destruction once and for all. But the tasks at hand are harder than what they appear. Morpheus is unchanged and eager to save his beloved Wonderland but Jeb is not. All two volumes worth of adventures, emotional blackmail, torture and near death experiences in this deliciously creepy world he cannot call his own have finally taken their toll. Both the knights of Alyssa’s heart demand her attention, undying devotion and love, and both stake a claim to her heart. And although Alyssa is desperately trying to give just that to both in fair and just fashion, Wonderland’s undoing by Red’s hand declares and demands her immediate attention as both a netherling queen and a human with a conscience and a sense of responsibility.

This tug of war triangle increases with emotional and physical strength throughout the book with rapid pace until it spirals out of control and the ultimate price is paid.

But dear readers do not forget the most important thing of all, this is a story taking place in a world where madness and genius are two blades of the same sword that can take life, as it can give it. You need only but let go of sense. Afterall to quote the brilliant mind behind this enticingly dark novel “netherling logic, and therefore the solution, resides in the hazy border between sense and nonsense”.

The final chapter in this deliciously dark and yet vividly coloured novel that dances on the fine line between insanity and reason, plays out on Alyssa’s heart. The heart of this book is hers and it is equally the battlefield where the final verdict for herself and wonderland will be decided. And although the common enemy is Red, the remaindering opposing sides are none other than Morpheus and Jeb. They will be Alyssa’s undoing and her salvation, for what can tear apart can equally reunite. Netherling logic is at work readers and only by walking this incredibly tortuous path, forsaking sanity and clarity will you truly understand the true beauty of this novel.

A.G.Howard’s narrative techniques and style of writing clearly showed her skill in not only creating a fantastic storyline but also utilizing language and themes that further enhanced and brought to life the world that she was creating, a skill unfortunately not many use. Creating the story is half the battle, but it takes a lot of talent and dedication to carefully pick words, language and metaphors that stick to the storyline, are faithful to each character whilst generating the feeling of a dark, dangerous world so vividly coloured that you’d want to step into despite everything you know.

This was a simply beautiful and amazing ending to a fantastic series that I will be sad to see end, but that I will not hesitate to revisit. I cannot help but feel that I have been infected with netherling logic where every “act of madness is driven by the voice of reason”. Afterall the two are so closely entwined they are virtually one and the same, it just depends which side you choose to look from.

Verdict: High praise to A.G.Howard from a humble book worm who is now a little insane, but then again all the best people are 😉

Reviewed by Pruedence

Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: January 2015
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Genre: Fairytale retelling, fantasy, romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Prudence
Source: Own copy
Challenge: None
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Neverland

Anna Katmore
neverland“Any last words?”
“Go to hell, you freaking…filthy…godforsaken…”
Our noses almost touch as he dips his head and brushes a strand of my hair behind my ear. “Angel, the word you’re looking for is pirate.”
Why is there a boy who doesn’t want to grow up?
How can an apple start the sweetest romance in fairytale history?
And what does a ruthless pirate have to do with it all?
Although Angelina McFarland loves reading fairytales, she never dreamed of falling right into one herself. But that’s exactly what happens when she slips on her balcony and a flying Peter Pan catches her mid-fall.
Ending up in Neverland where no one seems to age and laws of nature are out of control, Angel has no idea how to get home. Worse, the ruthless Captain Hook captures her and keeps her trapped on his ship, the Jolly Roger, where she gets caught between the lines of a timeless battle. But the more time Angel spends with the captain, the more she sees beneath his ruthless façade. The feelings she’s growing for him are as intense as shocking, and soon she can’t stop thinking about how soft his lips felt on hers when he kissed her under the stars. But Angel and a pirate? That’ll never work. Or can it?
As Angel desperately tries to find a way to return to her real life, she discovers a train ticket to London in her pocket. It won’t be any help in getting off the island, but as her memory fades away the longer she stays, this is all she has left to remind her of her former life and why she can’t give up trying.
Or is staying in Neverland forever the better choice after all?
Grab a happy thought and follow Angel on an adventure that will keep you breathless and smiling long after you read the last page…

We were all once children, and as such I do believe there isn’t a single child who doesn’t know the story of Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, as told by J.M. Barrie. And then we grew up. We learnt all about those annoying things called responsibilities, about being mature and sensible, and above all that fairy tales are just for children.

Anna Katmore however had a different opinion. What if Peter Pan wasn’t quite the hero and all round good guy he appears? What if the gift of never growing up was actually a curse in disguise, holding back more than just a gang of orphans? And what if Captain James Hook wasn’t quite the black-hearted pirate our younger selves thought he was?
Having thrown several spanners into my childhood fairy tale I was quick to get my mitts on the book and dive into Mermaid Lagoon and unravel the mystery.

Angelina was a strong and interesting female character, but for once she wasn’t the one stealing all the limelight and I found myself very intrigued by both Peter Pan and Captain Hook too.

The narration was alternated between Angelina and James (Captain Hook) giving the reader even more food for thought as both sides of the tale are depicted. But do not be fooled, if you read Neverland in search for Barrie’s version from a different angle that is not what you will get. Anna Katmore took Peter Pan and his comrades gave the whole story more depth and background than you could imagine. Gone are the gentle themes for children of good and bad within harmless games. Neverland was enriched with the strong emotions of betrayal, hate, love, anger and loss. Feelings that would not mean much to a child too young to comprehend, but that in an adult cause a lot of damage. These emotions transcend time and space wreaking all sorts of havoc across decades.

But that is not all, because just as you think things may be finally over Anna Katmore turns things around one more time. Surely you didn’t think Captain Hook and Peter Pan were left on Neverland and suddenly learned to play nice? Did you?

Verdict: I very much enjoyed the easy read and yet thought provoking tale of Neverland and anxiously await for some fairy dust so that I may follow the second star on the right and fly straight on ‘till morning to land in the sequel Pan’s Revenge.

Reviewed by Prudence

Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: April 2014
Format: eBook
Pages: 301
Genre: retelling, romance br />
Age: YA
Reviewer: Prudence
Source: Own copy
Challenge: None
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