Archive for August, 2016

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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Author Interview: Hemmie Martin

Hemmie Martin
G&G-1Alice Calwin finds herself without purpose in life after the death of her mother, whom she’d been caring for following a stroke. Theo Edwards, a literary journalist, has a sour outlook on life, bolstered by his ongoing divorce, and is feeling the pressure to revitalise his column in the newspaper. They encounter one another at a writers’ retreat in France, but Alice’s shameful past and Theo’s deceptive reasons for being there end up affecting them both in very different ways. When someone finally acknowledges their mistakes, is it ever too late to make amends?

Where did the initial idea for Garlic and Gauloises come from?

I lived in France for six years, which inspired me to write a story located there. But I also needed the loneliness and starkness that can accompany living in London (I lived there too), so I used both locations. I had the vision of a rambling chateaux run by a British couple, who advertised it as a retreat for writers and guest house, hence the writing group taking a vacation there. Alice just developed in my imagination, as did Theo, and the story blossomed from there. I let the characters develop and guide me through the story.

What was your favourite part of writing this book?

I loved developing the cast of characters – they all brought me much joy in so many ways, albeit tinged with a soupcon of sadness. That’s why a writers’ retreat was a dream to write, as I could have a diverse group of people who perhaps would not normally meet, all in one location – rather like a play.

I love writing characters with depths of sadness, and flaws that required overcoming. I’m attracted to the arena of mental health due to my background in forensic mental health nursing, and I like the complexities it can bring to a story.

What is your favourite part of being an author?

Removing myself from reality and immersing myself in a world born from my imagination. I love devising new characters, or developing ones that are part of my crime series. People fascinate me, which is why I’m usually people-watching when out and about. Some people would just call me nosey.

I also love the solitude, although that can be hard to find with a semi-retired husband in the house, and when my daughters return home from university for the holidays.

What made you decide to set this book in France?

After living in the south of France for six years, I have a love and affinity for the country and the people. I lived in Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, although I did visit Bordeaux which I felt was a more fitting setting for the story. I still love France, and was deeply saddened by recent terrorist atrocities.

What is your favourite place in France? (if you’ve ever been!)

Oh tough question, as there are many places I love. Paris offers so many cultural delights, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille were my homes for a few years (between the age of 16 and 21, hence my 18th and 21st birthdays were celebrated in France – oh the memories) However, I will answer your question by saying Juan-les-Pins as it was the first beach I braved sunbathing topless with a female French friend who encouraged me!

Are you writing another book?

I’m currently writing the fifth book in my DI Eva Wednesday crime series. I enjoy writing two genres as I believe it keeps my mind and my writing fresh.

Are you a planner or a panther?

Crime novels take a lot of planning – I use a mind map to keep track of characters and their movements, especially with regards to the crimes that take place. I have to do a lot of research with regards to the method of killing someone – I have a pile of books on poisons and forensic methods next to my bed, and my search history on my laptop is quite eye-opening. My husband believes if he dies suddenly, I would be the first suspect thanks to my reading material and research history!

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

Garlic & Gauloises – set in London & France. When someone finally acknowledges their mistakes, is it ever too late to make amends? #women’scontemporaryfiction

Interview questions by Faye
Hemmie MartinHemmie Martin spent most of her professional life as a Community Nurse for people with learning disabilities, a Family Planning Nurse, and a Forensic Mental Health Nurse working with young offenders. She spent six years living in the south of France. She now writes full time.
Hemmie created the DI Wednesday series, featuring DI Eva Wednesday and DS Jacob Lennox, set in and around Cambridge, with fictional villages. There are four books in the series so far. Hemmie has also written a psychological thriller, Attic of the Mind, and two contemporary women’s fiction, The Divine Pumpkin and Garlic & Gauloises. Mental health often features in her novels due to her background of forensic mental health nursing. Hemmie is a member of The Crime Writer’s Association.
You can find out more about Hemmie and her work on her website (here),
Twitter account (here)or
Facebook page (here).

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Summer Days and Summer Nights Review

Stephanie Perkins (editor)
28817799This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. Includes: Leigh Bardugo, Nina LaCour, Libba Bray, Francesca Lia Block, Stephanie Perkins, Tim Federle, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, Brandy Colbert, Cassandra Clare, Jennifer E Smith, Lev Grossman.

To be completely honest with you I picked up this Summer Days and Summer Nights for incredibly shallow bookish reasons at YAUK… the cover was simply gorgeous and velvety to touch, and it had an old fashioned material bookmark made into it! It looked like summer!! If summer teen romance was ever to take on a bookish form this would be it!

Naturally the lovely girls manning the stand did not have to work very hard to sell it to me, and got a lot of help from my dear friends Caz and Faye who happily thrust it into my hands and said “Get it, you’ll love it!” And right they were.

This is a collection of 12 stories by 12 different authors. In view of this I thought I would do something different and choose 3 words for each story that I felt best represented them.

1. Dark. Magic. Deep
2. Ending. Beginning. Love
3. Horror. Movie. Action
4. Hope. Choices. Words
5. Mountains. Rescue. Love
6. Love. End. Confidence
7. Memories. A chance. Healing
8. Love. Love. And thrice Love
9. Goodbye. Hello. Understanding
10. Magic. Darkness. Carnival
11. Special. Love. Different
12. Miracles. Time. Ready

Although I chose a variety of words the common underlying denominator has to be love in all its shapes, sizes and forms. Ranging from true love, loving and letting go, friendship and family this lovely easy summery breeze of a read covers it all. Being able to pick it up read a story and then put it down again made it feel like I had 12 books for the price of one and that every read was a new tale! I know that obviously it was, but it felt a lot better than having to always stop midway through a chapter and perhaps right on a cliff hanger! No cliffhangers here, only tales of romance in all of their colorful variety.

Each little story has its own set of morals to teach and impart. A few drew smiles and laughter, others drew a couple of happy tears and yet others made me appreciate a side of love I had not considered. Not all summer love is frivolous and superficial, some of it touches you forever and changes you for better.

I love how every author contributed to a different facet of what people know and think love to be. Some of these lovely authors I knew already and recognised their penmanship, others who I did know took me a little by surprise and I have to admit I was pleasantly impressed, others in turn were completely new to me but I will now be scouring the bookshelves for their work!

Reviewed by Pruedence

Publisher: Pan MacMilian
Publication Date: June 2016
Format: Hardback
Pages: 384
Genre: Romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Pruedence
Source: Own copy
Challenge: None
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Dylan The Doctor

Guy Parker-Rees
dylanDylan’s on his way – are you ready to play? DYLAN THE DOCTOR is the first picture book in a series featuring an exuberant stripy dog, who just loves to play. Created by bestselling illustrator Guy Parker-Rees, Dylan is a joyous new character who uses playing and fun to help toddlers explore and understand their world. Today Dylan is playing at being a doctor. He dashes about looking after all of his friends: Purple Puss, Jolly Otter and Titchy Chick. But who will look after poor, tired Doctor Dylan? All his friends, of course! Look out for Dylan’s friend, Dotty Bug, on every page, as she encourages readers to join in with the story.

From an outside perspective writing a picture book sounds like an easy task but when you have to factor in that the book has to capture a child’s attention and has to be interesting enough for the adult to be read time and time again, then you might just change your mind about how easy it is. It also means that a lot of picture books just don’t make the cut. And then sometimes you come across a picture book that is full of life and flair and you’re almost certain that this one might just capture the imagination of many children.

This is what happened when I read Dylan the Doctor. This picture book is incredibly sweet and cute. It is about a dog who pretends to be a doctor to help fix his animal friends. When they come across a very ill animal, Dylan prescribes rest and fuss. Upon seeing the fuss their friend is getting, the other animals all come down with the same illness. Thus forcing Dylan to give them lots of fuss too. It’s a really lovely story that is full of imagination and fun.

On top of that, the book also has a little ladybug on the corner of each page asking the reader (child) questions relating to the action happening, such as “What do YOU like to play?” – I thought this really added to the book and will definitely make this a lovely picture book for a parent to read to a child, a librarian to read at storytime or a teacher to read to her class.

Lasltly, I loved the illustrations in this book. They were really distinct and full of bright and light colours to attact the children’s attention. They also have a very crayon-like and child-friendly feel to them that I am certain will definitely make children able to relate to the pictures on the page. They definitely add that little bit extra to the story.

Overall this book is an entertaining read that is enjoyable, cute and lovely.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: August 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture book
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight

Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty (illustrator)
The Knight Who Wouldn't FightLeo the mouse isn’t like the other knights. While they like fighting, he’d rather read a book. Leo’s parents are keen to turn him into a proper knight, so they pack him off on a mission to tame a dragon. But Leo knows that books are mightier than swords, and he tames not just the dragon, but a troll and a griffin, too.

As a library assistant, one of my favourite things is getting my hands on the picture books before the children. I love having a quick read through before putting it out on the shelves and I adore seeing which books go out lots and become thoroughly loved by lots of different children. Thus, having a look through lots of different picture books, I have a good feeling about the ones that will go down well – but I’m also still only human and I mostly just think the ones I love will go down best, naturally.

That being said, The Knight That Wouldn’t Fight, is one of those books that I think children will really enjoy. One that they are probably going to ask their parents to read again and again because it’s a wonderful story. Full of rhyming words and a courageous mouse, it’s a story that I hope will capture the soul of many children throughout it’s lifetime.

And, of course, the best part – in my opinion – is that the Knight doesn’t fight but instead encourages the beasts he encounters to read. And I think that is absolutely wonderful. Because in this age where technology is running fast, it’s good to remind children that a good book is also good entertainment. Plus, it’s funny because the children are reading about reading!

It would be awful to finish this review without even mentioning the illustrations because they are central to this lovely picture book. They’re full of pastel colours that give off a friendly light, they’re full of minute details and tell they’re own story too – which is one of my favourite things about picture books in the first place. This is the kind of book that you could read simply by looking at the glorious illustrations.

All in all this is a beautiful book with a magnificent and educational story trapped inside. Well worth a read and one I think adults and children will definitely enjoy together and apart.

Reviewed by Faye

Publication Date: August 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Dragon, picture book
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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