Posts Tagged ‘Reviewer- Faye’

Running Across the Sky

Amanda Malben

Three years into the civil war that has turned his country upside down, Sami’s home village in Syria is hit by a deadly bomb attack and he is forced to leave behind everything he knows and loves. Eventually, Sami and his family are given refuge in Coventry, England, but city life is hard to adjust to. It’s grey and cold and there are no fields to play in or animals to tend. Worse still, Sami worries about the fate of his uncle and cousins back in Syria and struggles to make new friends. In a bid to take his mind off his homesickness, Sami is introduced to Harry Adams, one of the elderly residents at the care home where his mum works. Although wary of one another at first, the pair gradually form a bond, as Harry tells Sami the story of the unusually named Splen and his dog Bobby, who lived through the Second World War and the infamous Coventry Blitz. As Sami discovers more about Splen and his dramatic escape from the horrors of conflict, the two unlikely friends make peace with their troubled pasts and forge a new sense of hope for the future.


The story started from a mad conversation with my then 11-year-old grandson Alfie. We were chatting about names and he came out with “what did Splen do?” to which I replied “Well something splendid I guess!” the name stayed in my head. He also told me that books about wizards and talking trees, and strange creatures bored him and he wanted to read about real people that were, sort of, like him. So I had to listen to my audience, stop writing the story with the magician and get real. So Splen was born. Sometimes a character will worm their way so deeply into your psyche you have to accept the inevitable and write them.

I set the book in the 1940s because I felt the word splendid was a bit old-fashioned and seemed to sit in that era rather well. Having decided on an era I then needed to pick an event. To be honest if you’d asked me, “would you write about WW2?” I think I would have been very negative about it as my setting, but sometimes when you write, things just happen. I picked the Blitz in Coventry because it was a one-off event, one night of extreme horror. Something almost biblical about the night when the bombers came. The more I read about it the more it drew me in. I toyed with the idea of using the canal as the main location. Having lived on a canal boat for 12 years it’s a subject close to my heart but somehow I couldn’t make that work.

Coventry is a place that has rebuilt its self from a devastated City to an ambassador for peace and reconciliation. It is a City where hope is abundant, a City that could offer a young Syrian refugee healing and a future. I really wanted that message to be the overwhelming theme of the story.

I needed to bring the present day in as it would give the story more impact and resonate with us now, bring history to life. Syria is sadly a perfect example of, “we never learn.” War is war no matter when or where it happens. There are some moments in the book that are harrowing but I don’t believe we should sugar coat everything. Children never cease to amaze me with their emotional intelligence. They get it, they see it again and again on the TV, but they also need hope.

I also wanted to explore the wonderful relationship between the very young and the old. They seem to enjoy each other’s company with no barriers. My grandchildren get on better with my mother than any of her children or her grandchildren! They’ll happily listen to her stories which we have all heard, probably too many times!

Most of my research was done on line, what a wonder tool! Reading first-hand experiences for both Coventry and Syria. The first-hand experiences of the children in the refugee camps are extraordinary. Some of them are breath-taking in their refusal to be beaten by their tragedies, some inevitably painful and very hard to read. And books, copious books. Visiting Coventry and The Blitz Experience Museum gave me such a sensory understanding and helped me to feel it, take me right into the night of the Blitz.

Plotter or punster? Bit of both, I have a “story,” the bare bones, how it starts where it goes and how it ends. I tend to approach every scene as a mini story and once the basic structures in place then I let my imagination go. I also find that the characters have a habit of dictating the outcomes — when you write the characters and places become incredibly real. I do sometimes become a character and start talking like them, usually when out walking with the dog — I get some strange looks occasionally! So she gets to hear everything way before it gets committed to paper.

About the Author

Amanda Malben trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama but has dedicated herself to teaching. She taught adults with learning difficulties at Northampton College, specialising in drama, and English as a foreign language to adults. A fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, she co-founded a project with Northampton University to help improve the language skills of immigrant children and their parents. Now retired, she lives in the Northamptonshire countryside close to the Warwickshire border and enjoys writing and walking her dog.

Publisher: Wrate Publishing
Publication Date: May 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages:
Genre: YA
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy

One?

Jennifer L. Cahill

It’s London in the mid-noughties before Facebook, iPhones and ubiquitous wifi, and One? follows the highs and lows of a group of twenty-somethings living in leafy SW4.
Zara has just moved to London for her first real job and struggles to find her feet in a big city with no instruction manual.
Penelope works night and day in an investment bank with little or no time for love. At 28 she is positively ancient as far as her mother is concerned and the pressure is on for her to settle down as the big 3-0 is looming.
Charlie spends night and day with his band who are constantly teetering on the verge of greatness.
Richard has relocated to London from his castle in Scotland in search of the one, and Alyx is barely in one place long enough to hold down a relationship let alone think about the future.


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I love forming new characters, they didn’t exist before I created them. I love the fact that, hopefully, people will enjoy my books and learn a little. I love the actual creative process, when inspiration strikes and the words start flying onto the page. When I started writing it felt like life turned into an adventure, as all of a sudden everything thwas potentially inspiration.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
I couldn’t possibly answer this without ruining the plot unfortunately!

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Simply Water, or sometimes juice mixed with coconut water, soda water and coconut kefir.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
I’m not sure, I just go completely into the zone, so I’m unaware of any bad habits that I might have.

How do you research your books?
I am naturally curious and lead a busy life, and I find that life itself and the people that I meet along the way inspire me. I write first, and then verify (through research) later. Writers often find that their lives err on the side of the dramatic, and I have definitely found that to be the case with me. Drama is not always good, so with negative experiences I try to learn from them and then I include a few pearls of wisdom in my books if I think that will help people and if it fits in with the story.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I would say I’m a ‘planster’ – a mixture of both 

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Camelot because it’s got that mixture of love, chivalry, romance, royalty, history and magic.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
I would pick Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, as long as she would let me play with her dragons. I love the fact that she’s extremely feminine, very beautiful but strong and commanding at the same time. I also do like the fact that she seems a bit magical and has dragons. What’s not to love! She’s by far one of the strongest characters in Game of Thrones.

About the Author

Living in Notting Hill, Jennifer L Cahill works with both individuals and blue chip clients to help them navigate and master change and transformation. She has over seventeen years’ experience in consulting specialising in change, communications, business transformation and personal development. She has a graduate degree in International Commerce and Spanish and a Masters in Business Studies. In her spare time she loves embracing her more creative side. For more information please visit www.JenniferLCahill.com or follow her @JLCAuthor

Publisher: Little Bang Publishing
Publication Date: March 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 77
Genre: Spiritual
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy

Into The Summerland

Julian Cundy

The eternal question – what happens when we die? Is there a consequence from how we lived? Is there a reckoning?
Henry Ashton’s turbulent life is at an end. As he moves on from this world, he discovers how elusive the final peace can be.
With a spirit companion by his side, Henry learns there can be no peace without reconciliation, no rest without acceptance. He must walk his own path to absolution.
“For some souls the transition from mortal life to eternal peace is an easy one, soon completed. For others, who have been troubled in their life or who cannot reconcile the events and their part in them, the journey is longer…and harder. But every soul will find its rest.”


What is your favourite thing about writing books? Who is your favourite character in your book and why? What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
My favourite thing when writing books is that moment when you hit the synergy. You’ve got the idea, you’ve figured out how you are going to express it and – finally – you’ve got the right words to set down. I have been sitting chuckling away to myself, sometimes with tears, sometimes with electricity crackling in my veins at that moment when it all comes together.
That’s when you don’t care if it’s a best seller or just one that your Mum likes. It’s the moment that you validate yourself as a writer and enjoy the achievement.
In a wider sense, the great thing about writing books is that you have time and space to develop your ideas, opinions and present them in a measured way. In the heat of discussion, debate, argument and confrontation it is often hard to remain focused. At the desk, you can take your time, articulate your thoughts and let the words flow.
My favourite character in my new novella Into the Summerland is the main protagonist Henry. He has all attributes we admire and find frustrating in the war baby generation: Stoic and principled, stubborn and prejudiced. His development and eventual reclamation, whilst keeping his dignity intact is what I’d wish for to all those souls.
My favourite writing drink is tea (of course!) Steaming hot, strong with a little sugar to taste.
If I’m wanting to relax my mind into the nocturnal zone, I will quaff some Southern Comfort with Coke.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Since I quit smoking (5 years and counting!) I’ve been on the look-out for a new bad habit.
Since most of my downtime waiting for the next burst of inspiration involves walking miles and miles along the Essex coast, I don’t really suffer from indulging in any foodie treats.
I guess the worst thing that those around would say is that when I’m in the writing mindset, I get real tunnel vision to the point that the house could be on fire and I’d keep typing. But they’re all pretty considerate and I do take everyone out to dinner to celebrate once it’s all done!

How do you research your books?
With Into the Summerland there were many references to faiths both old and new. Not overtly, I wanted to keep them subtle! But it’s critical if you are going to stray into areas that are special to people that you get it right. The old religions as well as new ones, along with general philosophies and modern life coaching tips have more in common than their followers would admit, but woe betide you for a misplaced edict! My collection of online bookmarks and library of reference books grew quite a lot during that period.
If I’m writing in the ‘real’ world then I spend a lot of time checking timetables for planes, trains and ferries. Time zones, languages and currencies all have to be right if you want to be taken seriously when writing an international thriller.
It’s also always good fun to go out and meet the experts where you can. I walked into Chelmsford Police station a few years ago to check the exact wording of a caution, much to the desk sergeant’s bemusement. Maybe I should have reflected that “You do not have to say anything…”
On a very practical level, when I’m reviewing the manuscript, I’ll make sure the story is hanging together, whilst drawing big blue crosses next to the entries where something needs to be checked. It’s important to get things right, but not as important as making sure you’ve written a great story!

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
When I get the first sketch of an idea, I figure out how it’s going to start and end. What the key plot slices are and which characters need to end up where. Then it’s just a case of how they all get there.
Which I guess makes me the classic Planster. I need the signposts, but I need freedom so the story can be flexible.
I can’t imagine having everything worked out in advance. That would be too restrictive. But I can’t imagine an open-ended writing odyssey without even the slightest notion of a destination.
When writing a previous book, things were really not working out right. I’d completed the manuscript but wasn’t happy. So I changed the ending, removed a couple of chapters and gave one of the main characters a wife.
All of which needed new back stories and a new plot line to get the now-married character to the critical part of the story. As well as a forensic line-by-line re-examination for impacts.
It was at times tortuous, but I came out with a much better book. Upshot being I guess that I need to work on my inner panster!

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
As my Steampunk style would suggest, something within the 19th century, where the worlds of Charles Dickens and HG Wells would come together in a cacophony of social rectitude and dazzling, anarchic adventure!
I’d revel in the exchanges of social niceties, knowing the underlying tensions that crackle under the surface. I’d join the mad inventors, reaching to the skies and beyond in challenging all known laws of physics, time and gravity.
I’d pick from the finest collection of gentleman’s attire and walk out along the fine streets of London, then donate the rest to the desperately poor that even to this day still live among us.
I’d attend the presentations of the most overblown, sumptuous launches, toasting the lunatics pledging to venture to the moon and back before the smoky chimes of Big Ben call all good subjects to their beds.
There must be fun, or life has no meaning. And there must be compassion or life has no purpose.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities. A tragic hero. A waster who falls in love with Lucie Manette, already pledged and then married to Charles Darnay.
Sydney has no time for social niceties and apparently has no concern over how he is perceived. His careless manner belies the relentless drive – initially we believe catapulting him towards an early demise.
Whatever Dickens plugged into to bring this fascinating character to life, I recognise and understand totally. In a world that requires conformity, the rebel shall find mischief, mirth but a long road to peace.
His triumph – and final valediction is by laying down his life for the man who makes his true love happy. He has no affection for Darnay, but complete devotion to his unattainable wife.
I’m sure that Sydney would be highly suspicious, if not highly amused by my interest in him. But he would be splendid company. And spending an evening with a bowl of punch in a tavern with him would be wonderful!

About the Author

Living in Westcliff-on-Sea Essex, Julian Cundy is a British adventurer, dedicated day dreamer, wordsmith and observer of life and all its absurdities. He is a recognisable character in his home town thanks to his eye-catching outfits comprising fine hats, cravats, tails and spats.

Publisher: Little Bang Publishing
Publication Date: March 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 77
Genre: Spiritual
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy

Double Felix

Sally Harris

He skips every second step when he takes the stairs, taps door handles twice and positions objects in pairs. The problem has become so bad that Felix is on the verge of being expelled from school because the principal has had enough of trying to run the school around his very specific rules. Then Charlie Pye arrives and turns his world upside down. She s grown up with very few rules. She eats cereal for lunch, calls a boat home, and has a very loose interpretation of school uniform. The question is, can Felix ever learn to be wrong when he is so obsessed with being right?


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
My favourite part of being a writer is that I get to make things up and get paid for it! I also love the challenge of trying to be relentlessly entertaining in the way that I tell a story and getting to create characters to take on adventures. The hardest part about being a writer for me is creating characters that I really like and then having to give them problems. In my ideal world, everyone would be happy all of the time, but that would make for some very boring stories!

What is your favourite thing about being a MG author?
My favourite thing about being an author for Middle Grade readers is that they are discerning. As a writer you’ve got to respect them as readers or they won’t go along with the journey you have planned for them. There is no talking down to them or trying to pull the wool over their eyes and this really tests you as a writer. Once you have them hooked, however, you can take Middle Grade readers along for the ride to anywhere and they will come along with you. I also love that MG readers enjoy a good laugh and a rip-roaring adventure, yet they are mature enough to tackle some big issues too.

Why did you choose to write a character with OCD traits?
I think that it is really important for readers to be able to see themselves in the characters of the books they are reading. There are lots of children who struggle with various mental illnesses like OCD and I think that they are unrepresented in stories. I wanted to share Felix’s story as a way of showing readers that they are not alone and as a way of helping other students to empathise with their peers. I’m hoping that once someone has read Double Felix, it will help them to understand people around them who are different to themselves and help them to connect in a really positive, inclusive way.

What is your favourite moment in Double Felix? (Without any spoilers!)
That’s such a hard question to answer! I have lots of favourite moments in Double Felix, so I’ve narrowed it down to my favourite three scenes to write:

1. Chapter Two when we meet Felix ‘improving’ Mrs Lovejoy’s Office – because who wouldn’t enjoy messing up their Principal’s Office!

2. I loved writing the scene where Felix and Charlie visit her ‘home’ as I’ve always wanted to live somewhere like that myself.

3. I really enjoyed writing the scene where Felix wants to get into the Library but the door is locked. The image of his bottom wiggling in the air as he tries to squeeze through the window will never leave me!

Where is your favourite place to write?

If I am writing at home, I love to be cosy. Right now it is winter here in Australia, so I’m under a woolly blanket with my dog at my feet acting like a fluffy hot water bottle and my computer on my lap. I also love to get out of the house and write when I can. Taking my laptop to a local cafe for an hour with a cup of coffee is a great way for me to get some words onto the page. Bonus points if I can avoid connecting to the Internet while I’m there and extra extra bonus points if the cafe is in a bookshop!

About the Author


Sally Harris grew up in rural Australia and after graduating from Cambridge with a degree in Children’s Literature, Sally has been busy writing and working as a primary teacher, in both Australia and the UK. Her first book, Diary of a Penguin-Napper, sold over 10 000 copies and her second book, Ruby Marvelous, has inspired children all over the world to try their hand at cooking exploding finger buns! Sally loves animals, including penguins, and, as she can’t have one of those as a pet, she has found that a dog is definitely the next best thing.

Website. Twitter.

Publisher: Wacky Bee Books
Publication Date: May 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
Genre: MG Contemporary
Age: MG
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy

The Awakened

Julian Cheek

My name is Sam. I am nothing special but apparently if I don’t wake up, both this world and that other one will be destroyed. Nice One! All I wanted was to disappear into my own world and be left alone. But, No! Even THAT was taken away from me.
Well just wait. You want me to fight? I’ll show you “fight.”
You took the most important thing in my life away from me, and now I am coming for you.
Hidden away in your mountain stronghold, even the rocks around you will not stop me getting to you.
You started this war.
I am going to finish it!
Seventeen year old Sam just wants to be left alone!
He has enough to cope with in his invisible, suburban, existence without having some fantastic and, frankly, unasked-for, alternate reality drop into his life asserting that he has powers beyond his wildest dreams. And that unless he does something, both his world, and that of Muanga-Atua, will come to a horrible end.
A terrifying episode one blustery night may be enough to start to erode the impregnable shell he thought he had built up around himself. A shell, not to keep others out, but to keep the rage in. Could he afford, as was the norm now, just to do nothing?


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
For me, my favourite things is the wrestling, trying to find the right/best way to describe a scene such that the reader is instantly transported into that environment, regardless as to whether they have ever experienced the same for themselves or not. And when there, for them to then associate with the scene, experience or event unfolding, and this, star to associate with the story as a whole

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Alice! I loved playing with the fact that she is a total enigma to Sam. He doesn’t know whether to blush, curse, get frustrated or run away, but there is something about Alice that gets under his skin, so he is almost powerless to keep away from her. Without giving too much of the story away, Alice is also key to Muanga-Atua, the alternative world Sam discovers. The reader is slowly introduced to her, and hopefully, is kept guessing till the very end.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Part of the reason for writing this trilogy, (of which “The Awakened” is book one) is because when my partner and I went to New Zealand on sabbatical, we were so amazed with the place, in terms of the scenery, culture, grandeur… and coffee, that we wrote a blog (http://www.hobbitsandseals.wordpress.com) about our experiences, and interestingly, an awful lot of coffee is consumed. So, coffee, which I find comforting, or a G&T, which is of course, the best cold drink, ever

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Of course not! Although I am sure my partner, Mitch, would easily be able to rattle off numerous habits, which, whilst not bad in themselves, annoy her! I will leave it for her to come to my rescue. Probably looking out the window and day-dreaming, rather than concentrating on the subject at hand…. And waffling, I am very good at just rambling on and on and…. Hmmm. Enough said.

How do you research your books?
I do a lot of reading and go online frequently during research periods. Another aspect, for example, when describing the scene in Paris (and, no, I will not be writing any spoiler alerts here!) is that we travel a lot and soak up the culture and landscapes as much as possible. We both write, and this comes naturally to us, so we are not describing areas or places which are unrealistic.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I take my writing seriously and so I would describe myself generally as a plotter. The story needs to have some structure from which to build itself. However, once I have refined this “skeleton” I would rather that certain aspects are allowed to wander into the “pantser” home, rip off the curtains and turn up the music till the windows crack. Both feed off each other.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
In Piers Anthony’s Adept Series, he paints a fantastic world called “Phaze”. If one could combine the world of Phaze with that of Lord of the Rings, that is where I would like to live. I love wide open scenery with huge mountains that break the skyline, and then disappear into the forests where mankind becomes so small in relation to the ageless trees, earth and nature.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Thomas Covenant, from the Stephen Donaldson series, would probably be the one fictional character I would love to try to befriend. It would be fascinating to sit with him and learn all about wisdom carved from adversary. But, like most best friends, it would be bloody difficult to stop myself thumping him at times for his sheer bloody-mindedness. Sorry, am I allowed to say, “bloody”? No? Bugger!

About the Author

Living in Petersfield, Hampshire, Julian Cheek has worked for over thirty years as an architect working on several major projects including Mercedes World, a competition for Battersea Power Station, NikeTown and most recently a high rise, Versace branded residential building in London. When not designing he is embracing his other creative interests, writing. His first book, You should not wake a hibernating Puff-Adder (2011) was a series of short stories inspired by his childhood growing up in South Africa.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: June 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 306
Genre: Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy

Fabulous Riders

Ryan Bloodworth

Hackney, east London in the early 90’s and jungle music —a fusion of Caribbean culture, rave music and the multicultural city itself— is erupting from its roots to capture the imagination of people from all walks of life. Raves are taking over the city’s underground music scene and the likes of M-Beat, General Levy and Kenny Ken are dominating the pirate radio stations. People are queueing down the street on Saturday nights to enter Paradise Club in Islington, continuing the party on Sundays at Thunder & Joy on Tottenham Court Road and later would be lining up to listen to early Fabio and Grooverider at Rage, Charing Cross. Amongst the energetic beats blaring out across the city, east Londoner and DJ Alex, of Jamaican descent, is adding his own sound to the mix alongside his mate Nathan.
Through their shared love of music and nights spent at the cutting houses a strong and beautiful friendship arises. But with the rave scene of the 90’s came the pills, certain rivalries and the ‘haters’. And one night, Nathan discovers Alex in his flat in a state of psychotic paranoia…


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I write at night and I love the feeling of being cocooned in my living room exploring the depths of my mind. I usually read for a couple of hours and then I will write further into the night. I love how ideas create themselves as my writing progresses – the writing takes on a life of its own and I feel a great sense of satisfaction from thoroughly expressing myself.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Naturally, my favourite character is Alex – who is the main focus of the novel. Many of my heroes are Black musicians; this includes John Coltrane, Bob Marley, and many Blues and Jazz musicians. I also have more contemporary heroes from Drum and Base music and Detroit Techno with DJs such as Fabio and Grooverider, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. Quite honestly, I am very impressed with these people as men. They are truly great men. I wanted to express this admiration through the character Alex and illustrate how we have a firm basis for friendship.

What is your favourite drink to consume while your writing?
I drink lots of coffee! This is partly to get me through the night but also I like a caffeine buzz to get my mind working.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Yes I do. I smoke. I find smoking very helpful to get my mind working and I like to contemplate with a cigarette.

How do you research your books?
I spend several hours a day reading anything from philosophy to history and politics. I also listen to a lot of music. I find the best way to learn about anything is to have a real interest in the subject. I find learning about history and music a great pleasure. This way I retain a lot of information.

Are you a plotter or a panter?
This is my first novel and really I think I am still developing my writing technique. Having said that, my general approach to writing a novel is to firstly spend a lot of time thinking creatively about it. Whether I’m watching TV or driving, I’ll spend hours just thinking about what I want to write. I then read and research widely. I start writing when I feel I have a good idea of what I want to write – I may write several drafts as I hone my writing. I do not strictly plot my novels – I really like my writing to take on a creative energy in the moment and I see what comes out. I like to write in a way that an improvising jazz musician would play.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
I am a huge Tolkien fan. It would be great to explore the world of the Lord of the Rings. It is a mythical world full of wonders and magic. I like to think of myself as something of an ancient warrior. Although, I might find the orcs a bit scary!

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Again, as a Tolkien fan it would be a character in the Lord of the Rings. It is very hard to choose between the central heroes of Frodo, Gandalf, and Aragon. I think perhaps I would choose Aragon as I have a great love for the archetypal warrior heroes. I would like to be a guest in Gondor and enjoy the splendour of his Kingship.

About the Author

Ryan Bloodworth lives in Surrey, UK. He has studied western philosophy at academic level and has an interest in Eastern religions and spirituality. Since clubbing in the 90s, Ryan has developed a love and vast knowledge of electronic dance music. From Detroit Techno to UK Drum n Bass, Ryan has sought to bring these inspiring music forms into his writing..

Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: March 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 159
Genre: Contemporary
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy

The Adventures of Eric the Spider

Elaine Madle

Eric may only be a little spider, but that doesn‘t stop him from having some big
adventures!
When a spider, with big, long, spider legs, is spotted behind a curtain he seems a little scary. Luckily, he is quickly caught in a box full of socks and named Eric.
But when Eric steals the socks (and a bike!) and goes on the run it is up to a diligent policeman to find the right sock-footed spider, stop Eric and rescue the bike!
Join Eric on his adventures as he escapes with some socks, flees from a birthday party, and goes camping on a very, very wet day in this beautifully illustrated rhyming book.


I am not going to lie. I do not like spiders. Not even a little bit. They make me itch and squirm and I just dislike them in every single way. And I am aware that this is not an uncommon feeling either. However, Eric the Spider is definitely a different kettle of fish! Somehow I actually found Eric to be a really wonderful protagonist for this book and cannot wait to read more of his adventures! Elaine Madle has done a fantastic job of taking a creature that is often feared and turning him into a lovable character!

Throughout this book, I found myself smiling and chuckling to myself as Eric gets up to quite a bit of mischief! I think this really makes the book that much more entertaining and I know that this is what will definitely draw in children. They can point at Eric on the page and laugh as he continues to be a naughty little spider before feeling pleased with how everything works out in the end.

Elaine and Shaun have done a wonderful job of creating a picture book that will keep the little ones entertained and may even help for people to find spiders less fearful and more interesting! Although… I don’t think I’ll be friends with a spider anytime soon! If you’re looking for a fresh, new and enjoyable picture book to share with your little one, I would definitely recommend giving this book a read!

Verdict: A funny, adventurous read that will definitely have you “itching” to read more!

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: May 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Childrens
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy

The Legacy of Old Gran Parks

Isobel Blackthorn

Set in Cann River in Australia’s rugged southern wilderness, The Legacy of Old Gran Parks is a tale of a remote town haunted by a legacy, a legacy with ominous consequences.
It’s a warm evening in the autumn of 1983 when Miriam Forster rolls into town in her broken down car.
Frankie the deer hunter, is up in the forested hinterland with her gun. Old Pearl the fisherwoman sits on her front deck down by the lagoon with her whisky and her dog. And Emily, the English backpacker, scrubs out the pie-encrusted kitchen at the roadhouse.
All is not well. There’s a hoon doing donuts at the crossroads and screaming down the fire trails in the woods; a suspicious-looking city-slicker with two small children, squatting in Fred’s shack down by the lake; a beanie-headed gaunt guy convalescing at the lighthouse; and an acne festooned creature in the hotel room next to Miriam, thrashing about in the night.
Gran Parks is stirring. Who will survive? Who will get away? Who will stay?


The Legacy of Old Gran Parks is a very unique, very fascinating but ultimately savage and dark read that I very much enjoyed. If you are a fan of Tarrantino movies, you are more than likely going to enjoy this book which starts out a little bit eerie and odd and then turns violent and dark. It was a book unlike any I have read before but I actually really loved it. It’s not something I think I would have as I tend to shy away from gruesome books but as this has a bit of a Tarantino-fakeness to it, it wasn’t as gruesome as I was actually expecting. It’s hard to describe exactly what I mean by this but needless to say that I somehow very much appreciated reading this book and would even go so far as to recommend it. I think it’s also a little bit like Scary Movie, or Final Destination, so if you like those types of films (as opposed to say Saw which I cannot stomach!), then this book is probably the perfect read for you.

One of the things I liked about the book was how it featured four women as protagonists and how they all took things into their own hands. I didn’t exactly (*cough*atall*cough*) agree with how they dealt with things but it was still fascinating to read a book with women like this at the forefront. I was, oddly enough, rooting for them all to make it through to the end of the book too. In an odd twist and turn of events anyhow. If you’re looking for a book with a feminist feel but that is also a bit horrific and dramatic, than this is the book you should pick up.

Lastly, but certainly not least, what made this book entertaining was the setting and the narration. The way the setting was almost used as a different character in itself was genius in my opinion. It made everything feel claustrophobic but also as though everyone was under its clutches and this was further endorsed at the end of the book as well. And the narration was just addictive. The lives of the women were made to seem very ordinary and boring but the truth was they were doing some very un-ordinary and far from boring things which is a true testimony to how well this book was actually written. In all honesty, the best comparison I can come up with is Death Proof, so if you have seen that film and enjoyed it, you should definitely read this book. And vice versa, of course!

Verdict: A very unique book about justice with a strong female class and a darkly humourous centre.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Hell Bound Books
Publication Date: February 2018
Format: ebook
Pages: 273
Genre: Dark Comedy Thriller
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy

Two Ticks Tuesday; More Than We Can Tell

Brigid Kemmerer
Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay…until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.
Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.
When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.

There are not enough words to describe how much I truly love Brigid Kemmerer’s books and this one was even better than the last – as if that was possible! Brigid has strong characters that she truly makes you feel. Empathy isn’t a strong enough word for the emotions she invokes in you. Her theme’s are always deep, sometimes dark but also end with hope and a light for the future. Highly recommend!

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: March 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 416
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Challenge: None

Two Ticks Tuesday; It Only Happens in the Movies

Holly Bourne
Audrey is over romance. Since her parents’ relationship imploded her mother’s been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn’t mean things are easy. Because real love isn’t like the movies…
The greatest love story ever told doesn’t feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clichés. Oh, and zombies… YA star Holly Bourne tackles real love in this hugely funny and poignant novel.

I would highly recommend this book! It was so, so good. Full of movie cliche’s, feminism, friendship, first loves, relationships, family life, etc. It was rich, raw and honest and I love how strong and vulnerable Holly made all of the characters. I especially loved Audrey’s support unit. This book is going on my favourites of the year shelf for sure!

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Usborne
Publication Date: October 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Challenge: None