Welcome to Serendipity Reviews !

The original UK book blog that brings you all the latest book news straight from the publishers, along with book reviews and author interviews. We read and review all genres, although we love paranormal, fantasy and contemporary books.

Friday, 31 October 2014

The Haunting of Tabitha Grey by Vanessa Curtis

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I look up at the dark, unblinking eyes of the house
and I get the weirdest feeling . . . It’s the feeling of being pulled into something and being unable to stop it happening . . .
Published by Egmont in 2012 
296 pages in paperback – also available as an ebook
Tabitha is used to changing schools and moving house. But when her family move into Weston Manor, something is different. It’s as if the house has been waiting for her. There are lavender smells which come from nowhere and the old servants’ bells ring in the night. She can hear crying in empty rooms. Tabitha’s always been imaginative. Even her best friend Gemma knows that. But this time, could she actually be telling the truth? 
Summary adapted from Hive.co.uk
Set in a sprawling Victorian manor, this spine-tingling ghost story, The Haunting of Tabitha Grey is filled with intriguing plot twists and enough tension to keep 11+ readers on their toes. A classic ghost story from Vanessa Curtis, author of Zelah Green, Queen of Clean and The Baking Life of Amelie Day .
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This is a ghost story for people who don’t like ghost stories.
It does have an old house with mysteries at the core of it to suit those who do – but it’s more than just an entertaining chiller. There’s real heart and depth to this story.
Told from the point of view of Tabitha, it is deceptively simple to read. There’s plenty of contemporary family drama as well as possible unearthly goings-on to keep the reader engaged. Ideal for teens and upwards, the cleverness is in the psychology, not in difficult prose. 
It’s told as if everything is happening now – so we can’t know what happens to Tabitha and her family until the end. This makes for more suspense and a better understanding at the moving conclusion. As you get to know her family, you really want things to work out - somehow.
The cover artwork is so effective. It leaves the reader in no doubt that there’s something eerie happening – but allows them to imagine freely. I rather wish there was no pink at all on the paperback. It would be a pity if boys were reluctant to read it because of this – it’s full of twists and turns that anyone can enjoy.
All-in-all, an ideal Halloween read for those who love ghost stories – and even some who don’t.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Jolly Snowmen By Ned Taylor and Annette Rusling

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Five little snowmen on a winter's day,
Looked at one another 
and wondered what to play…
Picking up some snowballs,
they hurled them through the air
And one little snow-friend 
was knocked to don't know where!
Summary From Caterpillar Books
Five little snowmen on a winter's day looked at one another and wondered what to play... 
Count the jolly little snowmen in this adventurous rhyming tale, as one by one they skate, slide and slip away! Featuring tactile 3D snowmen, perfect for little hands. 
This novelty book for young children tells the story, in rhyme, of five snowmen who are gradually whittled down to one. But – never fear! – all turns out well at the end when the five of them share some fun at the snow ball. 
The book has thick pages, not as thick as a board book but I should think they'll stand up to a bit of rough handling by enthusiastic toddlers. It's full of cute, snowy illustrations with plenty to talk about on every page and lots of counting to do.
The snowmen are plastic shapes stuck on to the pages; they are visible through cut outs and it's fun guessing which one will vanish next. I think little fingers will enjoy exploring those holes!
This is a fun book to share on a snowy day, and in the run-up to Christmas, with a Christmas tree and lots of presents appearing on the last page to get everyone in the mood for the festivities. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Guest Post - Secrets, lies and a whole lotta love... by Miriam Halahmy

Today, I am pleased to welcome Miriam Halahmy onto the blog to discuss the romance in new YA novel, Stuffed.
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I really enjoy the romance element of writing Y.A. fiction even though romance is not usually my starting point. My most recent novel, STUFFED, Albury Books, 2014, is the third book in a cycle of novels set on Hayling Island and this time romance is very much at the heart of the book. But this cycle of novels deal with some of the most contentious issues of our time, including immigration, asylum seekers, human rights, drug dealing and the credit crunch. 
Romance for me has to have an edge and so in HIDDEN it is quietly in the background, in ILLEGAL it emerges in extreme circumstances and in STUFFED, although the relationship is at the heart of the book, it is threatened on all sides by terrible dilemmas.
But it is still love. I enjoy writing romance because I believe that young people can fall in love, deeply, madly, truly...even if it ultimately doesn’t last. Of course sometimes it does and they go on to spend the rest of their lives together. But the emergence of those true feelings of love in the teenage years is endlessly interesting and as my characters are always put in challenging situations, romance for me has never prevented me writing about other aspects of life.
STUFFED is about two teens, Jess who is almost sixteen and Ryan who is seventeen. They start going out and quite soon they realise they are falling in love. But each has a terrible secret they are keeping from the other. Will their love survive the dilemma each is faced with? This is the heart and engine of the novel.
Jess is recovering from a serious illness and then discovers her father is almost bankrupt. He swears her to secrecy while he promises he will sort things out. Buckling under the pressure of keeping the secret from her mother, sister and Ryan, Jess confides in her diary – the only safe place to be.
Sat Nov 15th  ...Scot kept giving Ryan funny looks, just cos he’s not in our crowd. But that’s what I like about Ryan, he doesn’t know anyone, he works in the hospital and he’s going off on a road trip to Africa. I can be a completely different person with Ryan if I want. He doesn’t know about my family or any of my friends. Not even Sar: Yet. Maybe I should go with him to Africa, run away, leave this whole mess behind...
As Jess struggles to cope with her problematic father, a sudden blast from the past comes back to rock Ryan’s world. I won’t say what happens as it would be a bit of spoiler but his reaction is similar to Jess’s.
“OK!” I yell back. My voice breaks with the strain and I croak. “Give me a chance. What do you expect me to say? I don’t have the handbook on this. Christ, just give me a sec.”
I want to run, fire up the van and drive straight to Africa. That’s all I can think about. I want to drive there now. Not stop for supplies, nothing, just go, go, go.
As the story progresses, each realises the other is keeping quiet about some kind of terrible secret and they are faced with a make or break moment. No spoilers, but just to say everything comes to a head when I send Jess and Ryan and their friends on a very dramatic rock climbing trip!
How our teenagers handle this crisis and whether or not their relationship could survive was a dilemma which I very much relished taking on. 
My interest in writing comes from the drama and tensions of everyday life, against the backdrop of large crises in society – in this case the credit crunch and how it ruined many lives. But if I just took an issue and slammed it in my readers’ faces, I don’t think my books would survive. It is the way in which the reader can step into the shoes of my characters and follow their journey through the pitfalls of life, which keeps my readers committed to the story.
I run creative writing workshops and one of the things I often say is, You can’t have a plot on an empty stage. I like to people my books with fascinating characters, I love putting them into situations where romance/ love/ relationships may or may not emerge and develop, but I don’t make life easy for them.
We all have to face many challenges in life. I believe that books can help us to map the route forward. They can be a ‘try out’ for the real thing – if something similar should cross your path.
Falling in love is something that pretty well all humans are likely to do.
Writing about love is a universal theme and one which I love to tackle in my books.
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Stuffed by Miriam Halahmy is published by Albury Books.
Summary
'I didn't know that my life was going to fall through the floor for the second time before my sixteenth birthday' Jess is fifteen, Ryan is seventeen and they are falling in love...but each is keeping a terrible secret from the other, threatening to destroy their bond. On a weekend away rock climbing they move closer than ever, until a terrifying incident drives a new wedge between them. Can Jess save her family from Dad's mistakes, and will Ryan resolve his own mess from the past? If not, their love is doomed to failure.
To find out more about Miriam and her books.
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Monday, 20 October 2014

One Special Christmas By M Christina Butler and Tina Macnaughton

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It was Christmas Eve, and Little Hedgehog was busy in his kitchen.
"We wish you a merry Christmas!" he sang, stirring his yummy cake mixture.
Just then, something landed BUMP! outside his window…
Summary From Little Tiger
From the best-selling Little Hedgehog series comes another festive treat, just in time for Christmas! A brand-new Little Hedgehog paperback from the talented M Christina Butler and Tina Macnaughton. 
It’s Christmas – but poor Santa has a cold! So Little Hedgehog sets out with a sledge full of presents. “Santa’s helper is on the way!” But there are too many presents for one little hedgehog to handle. Perhaps he needs some help from his friends?
With wonderfully wintry illustrations and soft touch-and-feels throughout, One Special Christmas is guaranteed to become a firm Christmas favourite. 
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Bring on the holly! Bring on the snow, the fairy lights, the carols … One Special Christmas really put me in the mood for the festive season, even though the sun is shining as I write this review. The illustrations are glorious, full of dark, wintry skies and snow, and with plenty of tiny Christmassy details, such as the festive wreath surrounding the doorway of the riverside house. 
Santa leaves a sleigh full of presents outside Little Hedgehog's house with a note asking him to deliver them because he has a cold. Of course there are mishaps along the way but, with some help from his friends, Little Hedgehog manages to deliver every present before Christmas Day dawns. This is a lovely story about friendship and helpfulness and there's even a fuzzy hat for little fingers to feel. Don't miss it.

Friday, 17 October 2014

The Write Way with Sita Brahmachari

Today, I am really pleased to have Sita Brahmachari on the blog to discuss her new book, Red Leaves and to tell us some of her writing secrets.
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1) Your new novel, Red Leaves, has just been published. What kind of reception are you getting for it?
So far the response has been very heart-felt. The world as we live in it at the moment can appear to be a very confusing, divided and cruel place. In ‘Red Leaves’ I take my young characters out of the noise of the world so that they can find a sense of community and re-connect with what it is to feel and care for another human being no matter how different they may be from ourselves.
My three young characters Zak, Iona and Aisha lead readers into the story and the feedback that I have had is that each of the characters and their stories evoke a powerful emotional response to a universal human need …. for young people to feel protected and safe wherever they may have come from. I am very proud that Amnesty International UK has said this about the novel:
"We are proud to endorse 'Red Leaves' because of its sensitive depiction of diversity and the human need for somewhere to call home. It's a novel that encourages readers' empathy, which is a big step towards understanding, tolerance and kindness - all values that help us to uphold human rights."
Nicky Parker (Publisher. Amnesty International UK)
I am also delighted that an increasing number of teachers and librarians are contacting me to say that they think the book would make a great year 7/8 class reader because it offers opportunities to discuss some of the really difficult divisions and conflicts that affect young people living in a diverse society.
2) What is the main theme of the story?
Although the characters are from very diverse backgrounds.
Aisha is a Somali Refugee
Iona is a homeless girl from Scotland
Zak is a boy of wealthy background whose parents are going through a divorce
They share one thing in common – each is searching for a safe and secure place to call home… a place where they feel respected and loved.
3) What kind of research did you need to carry out before writing Red Leaves?
I read testimonies by young and old homeless people of their experience of living on the streets. I am a regular reader of ‘The Big Issue’ magazine and there are wonderful art works and writings by homeless people in that. I would urge everyone to read it. I read an article by the Big Issue’s founder John Bird about how homeless people feel invisible and this led me to the character of Iona – the young seventeen year old homeless girl and artist who no one is looking for in the story.
Aisha is a Somali refugee. I interviewed a young refugee girl as part of my research for my theatre script of ‘The Arrival’ by Tamasha Theatre Company (co-created by Kristine Landon Smith-based on Shaun Tan’s graphic novel) At that time I decided then that I would like to write a story with an unaccompanied refugee child as a central character.
Aisha comes from Somalia and to make sure that I was accurate in the cultural and religious references in the story I showed an early manuscript to some Somali girls in a London school. Without this young research group I could not have fully found Aisha’s voice.
I interviewed a foster mother about her experience of looking after children who have come from traumatic backgrounds and she became the character of Liliana in ‘Red Leaves’.
I am a keen follower of world news and the Civil war in Syria and the sight of so many refugee children fleeing their homes has had a huge impact on the story and this led me to believe that Zak’s mother is a war journalist in Syria.
4) I found the book trailer for Red Leaves extremely moving. What was your reaction to it when you first saw it?
The young artist Grace Manning designed a touring exhibition around my last novel ‘Kite Spirit’ for the Pop Up festival last year. She was then a student at Central St Martin’s. She has now graduated and I asked if she would be interested in working on an animated trailer for ‘Red Leaves.’ I gave her the book to read and we discussed a small number of scenes and atmospheres we would like to create. We both knew that ‘Red’ the beautiful dog who plays a central role in the story must be part of the animation. I also said that in my imagination the street artist Iona might one day be responsible for creating wonderful imaginative art work like this trailer.
Grace came back to me with a book of drawings which she turned into the thirty second animation you see. It’s a hard task making a trailer because you want to give a taste of the story and set the tone but you don’t want to give too much away. I have worked on trailers for ‘Jasmine Skies’ and ‘Kite Spirit’ and realise that it require a very specific and disciplined approach.
Once Grace gave me the beautiful animation I had to decide what words from the book I would choose… the imagery is so lyrical, and the book does play with the reworking of some old rhymes like ‘Lady Bird Lady Bird Fly Away Home,’ that I felt that a song was required and I could imagine Iona singing it as she also busks to make money so I ended up stepping into Iona’s shoes again and singing ‘Lady bird, Lady bird fly away home, your house is on fire your children all roam’. All three young people in my story dream of flying away home so it seems fitting… I imagined Iona strumming away on her guitar as she sang around the camp fire in the wood… and Aisha’s thoughts breaking through.
‘I wish I could make them understand how it feels when one day a bomb falls into the middle of your world and explodes, leaving a crater in your heart.’ ( Aisha – Red Leaves)
I feel the trailer really captures the essence of the story and I have been lucky to work with such wonderful artists on it.
5) Being an experienced writer, do you find the process gets easier with each book you write?
I don’t know if you ever feel ‘experienced.’ Every book you write there are always doubts and there’s always a moment before you start a new story that feels like it’s the first time you have ever tried to do it! But some things get easier. I have learned that I can work with a broad plan, whereas I used to believe that I couldn’t plan at all. I have settled down into a full time rhythm for my work. So that I come to it every day even when it feels like nothing will come.
Writing a book is a big undertaking. Some days you come to your desk overflowing with ideas and when you start to write it’s hard to focus on which ideas you should follow. Other days you feel like you have nothing much to say, or you’re struggling with a character or plot line and then, through the practice of writing, you find something that illuminates. The day I discovered the artichoke charm in ‘Artichoke Hearts’ was one such moment, just as the day I discovered that the ancient old lady in ‘Red Leaves’ is collecting children’s names on a leaf wreath she keeps in her den.
These moment only come when you fully immerse yourself in the story that you are writing, and quite often they come at the time you feel the most lost. If the process felt easy I think I might start to feel worried that the layers of the story were not being fully explored
6) Do you edit as you go along or do you wait until the first draft is finished?
I write many drafts of the story. In ‘Red Leaves’ the ancient old lady Elder takes clothes out of the Oxfam clothed bank and piles on layer after layer, without taking the last layer of clothing off. The first draft of my stories look like ‘an eclectic collection of leaf layers.’ Messy and ragged but as I write that first draft, pretty much letting my imagination and thoughts have free reign, I know that there is something in these layers even if I don’t consciously understand what that is yet.
The first draft is often both overwritten and underwritten at the same time but if I manage to write a first draft to the end I know that the guts and heart of the story are intact. The feeling of relief at that point is overwhelming. I study this draft carefully to try and work out where the story lies, what works and what needs to be stripped back. Venetia Gosling my editor for ‘Red Leaves’ read an early draft and we walked through the woods where the novel is set together and through discussing various scenes in the book she was able help me to begin the process of stripping back the layers and honing and tightening the story. In all subsequent drafts I am concentrate on keeping the layers that the reader will need to strip back to go on their journey of finding the heart of the story. In some ways you want the discoveries that your characters have made and maybe discoveries that go beyond what you or they have imagined, to be your readers discoveries too.
7) What are you working on right now?
I have just completed a short story about the plight of children who care for their relatives for an anthology for Amnesty International UK to be published next year by Walker Books. I am also working on the synopsis for two very different kinds of books. In one of them there’s possibly an opportunity to meet some characters that you may have met in my early novels.
8) What advice would you give unpublished authors?
I can only share with you how I do it. I am sure there are as many ways as there are authors. But this is my method. Firstly READ everything and anything. Read things especially that speak to you and try to work out why they have a powerful effect on you. If you love to express yourself in writing, don’t limit yourself or edit too early and don’t be afraid of a messy first draft. If you feel an excitement inside to tell a story or write a poem or song there is usually a powerful force behind that instinct. Go with that in the first place BUT realise this is only a rough sketch and if you care enough about the story to spend days, weeks, months and even years honing your work then you are well on your way to being a published author. It can be a winding process… a little like getting lost in the woods as my characters do in ‘Red Leaves,’ but if you manage to find your way out and have your readers drawn to follow the paths of your story, then being a writer is the best job in the world.

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Red Leaves was published by Macmillan Children’s Books in September 2014
Book Summary
Aisha is a thirteen-year-old refugee living in London. Happy for the first time since leaving her war-torn home, she is devastated when her foster mother announces that a new family has been found for her and she will be moving on. Feeling rejected and abandoned, Aisha packs her bags and runs away, seeking shelter in the nearby woods.
Meanwhile, a few doors down, twelve-year-old Zak is trying to cope with his parents' divorce. Living in a near-building site while the new house is being refurbished, he feels unsettled and alone. Discovering a piece of rubble with the original builder's signature set into it, he starts researching the history behind his home - and in doing so finds a connection with a young soldier from the past, which leads him to an old air-raid shelter in the same woods.
Both children, previously unknown to each other, meet in the heart of the ancient city woodland as they come into the orbit of Elder, a strange homeless woman who lives amongst the trees - and, as helicopters hover overhead and newspapers fill with pictures of the two lost children, unexpected bonds are formed and lives changed forever . . .
To find out more about Sita Brahmachari:

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

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The white people are waiting for us.
Chuck sees them first. He’s gone out ahead of our group to peer around the corner by the hardware store. From there you can see all of Jefferson High.
Published by Mira Ink in October 2014
Pages - 368
Summary
It's 1959. The battle for civil rights is raging. And it's Sarah Dunbar's first day of school, as one of the first black students at the previously all-white Jefferson High. No one wants Sarah there. Not the Governor. Not the teachers. And certainly not the students – especially Linda Hairston, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist. Sarah and Linda have every reason to despise each other. But as a school project forces them to spend time together, the less their differences seem to matter. And Sarah and Linda start to feel something they've never felt before. Something they're both determined ignore. Because it's one thing to be frightened by the world around you - and another thing altogether when you're terrified of what you feel inside.
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This is a powerful read and not one that can be rushed. You seriously have to take your time reading it, to make sure the events that occur in the book really hit home. The book is told in dual narrative and you get a complete picture of what it was like to live through integration during 1959. Not only was one of the main characters, Sarah, trying to fit into a white school where she wasn’t wanted, but she was also trying to deal with the strong feelings that she had been made to believe were unnatural .
The author, Robin Talley, has taken on two might big issues and dealt with them amazingly well. The integration issue alone, could have carried this book through, but the author added an LGBT element too. If I’m honest, I would have liked to see the growing relationship between Sarah and Linda given more space in the book, as it was beautiful to watch as they realised there was nothing wrong with feeling the way they do for each other. 
I love that that the story is told from both girl’s point of views. Sarah is one of the strongest female characters I have come across. She holds her head up high as people throw things at her, hurt her and call her names. The language alone in the book shocked me, so to have those names called at you every minute of the day would be draining to say the least. Deep down, Satrah believes that she wants to be at the all white school, but as the story proceeds, you realise she is doing it mainly to please her parents. Linda on the other hand, is absolutely positive that every thing her father had fought for, as he continually attempts to stop any form of integration was for the good of the community, but as events unfold in front of her, she realises that nothing her father says is right.
In this book, you get a first hand experience of what it must have been like to live through such a huge event in history. You find yourself caught up in the thoughts,feelings and actions as these kids try to live up to their parents dreams, even though their parent’s demands and actions cause them a lot of pain and misery.
The book sparks a time of change when young people were just beginning to stand up for what they believe in. Girls were realising that their was more to life than marrying young and keeping house.  I really enjoyed this book and I do think it could be used as a resource for any schools studying American History, as there would be so many factors within it to focus on.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Write Way with Vanessa Curtis

After reading and adoring, The Baking Life of Amelie Day, I managed to convince Curious Fox to let me interview the author, Vanessa Curtis. Keep reading to find out  how well she copes under interrogation…
Vanessa Curtis Photo
1) The Baking Life of Amelie Day has just been published.  Can you tell my readers a little bit about it?
The novel features fourteen-year-old Amelie who is totally obsessed with baking. She lives with her mother in a converted stable block and has a best friend called Gemma and a very supportive boyfriend, Harry.  The novel opens with Amelie about to find out that she has been selected to appear in Best Teen Baker on television – but there’s a problem. Amelie also suffers from an illness called Cystic Fibrosis and there’s no cure.  Sometimes she’s so ill that she can barely stand up straight. So her mother isn’t happy about her attending the competition in London and things reach a dramatic climax when Amelie takes matters into her own hands.
2) Where did the idea for the book come from?
I watched a TV documentary a few years ago about some young adults who had Cystic Fibrosis and were waiting for lung transplants. It really shocked me to see how they could hardly breathe and were desperately waiting for donors. When I decided to write a book about a girl who bakes I wanted to give the book a ‘heart’, too – some emotional depth. I also found out that people with CF tend to eat a lot of extra calories to prevent weight loss, so it seemed the ideal combination to feature a girl with CF who was also obsessed with baking.
3) I thought you dealt with the topic of cystic fibrosis extremely well, but I am not overly familiar with the condition. Have you had anyone  with cystic fibrosis read it and give an opinion?
Yes, I have. I followed the blog of Victoria Tremlett, who lives with CF, and wrote to her while I was penning the book. She read a copy of it recently and said that it actually moved her to tears and felt very realistic. Since then another teen with chronic illness has also said similar. So I am relieved that I have managed to do the right research for the condition and I’m also pleased that I’m able to raise awareness of Cystic Fibrosis at the same time.
4) Have you tried and tested all the recipes in the book? 
Oh yes – of course! Any excuse to do a spot of baking! I either devised the recipes myself or was given them by friends and family. I’m particularly fond of the German Gingerbread recipe and often make that.
5) Are you a plotter or a pantser when it comes to starting a new book? 
No idea what a ‘pantser’ is, but I’m guess it might mean ‘flying by the seat of your pants?’ I’m more of a plotter, although I don’t write very detailed synopses, just the bare outlines of key events in the novel and where I want them to happen.
6) Do you try and aim for a daily word target when writing?
I do try to, but sometimes more words come out and sometimes less. On a good day I can pen up to 4,000 words, which is very gratifying.
7) Do you edit as you go along or do you wait until the first draft is finished?
I tend to rattle off my first draft without paying too much attention to the finer details. Then I put the draft aside for a few weeks and come back to it with a red pen in hand,  scribble all over the text and then start the re-write.
8) Which authors inspired you whilst growing up?
I used to love reading autobiographical novels like ‘Frost in May’ by Antonia White and also mystery stories like ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ by Joan Lindsay. I’ve always loved ghost stories, so authors like M.R. James and Susan Hill have always been favourites.  I also love a humorous book, so the Diaries of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend are sitting on my bookshelves at home.
9) If you could have written any other book in the world, what would it be?
I was full of admiration for ‘The Glass Tree’ by Simon Mawer. That’s not a book for kids, but for adults. I loved the fact that the story was all based around different people coming and going from a striking glass house against a backdrop of war and social change. I’m also a big fan of the novelist Lionel Shriver – she seems to be able to get inside the head of her readers and transcribe their innermost thoughts and concerns onto the page, whilst making her writing sharp, funny and intelligent.  And of course like many children’s authors, I may occasionally have wished that I came up with the idea for ‘Harry Potter’!
10) What are you working on right now?
I’ve just completed a ghost story which my agent is in the process of selling.  I also have a YA novel about a girl in WWII Latvia, 1941, coming out in January with Usborne Books. The next novel will also be historical and will be set in 1950’s Munich.
11) What advice would you give unpublished authors?
I’m often astonished that new authors don’t read books set in the style/genres that they are hoping to succeed in. I think it’s so important to read everything you can get your hands on – without doing this, you have no idea what’s selling, what’s popular, or how to write a novel which keeps YA readers gripped and turning the page.  I’d also advise unpublished authors to consider the services of a good literary consultant, who can help with editorial issues and also with putting together a package to send to publishers. I run my own literary consultancy and really enjoy working with new authors to make their books as good as they possibly can be before submission to publishers/agents. 
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The Baking Life of Amelie Day was published by Curious Fox in September 2014
Summary
Amelie Day loves to bake - cupcakes, biscuits, bread, tarts and muffins - so she's thrilled when she's invited to compete in Britain's Best Teen Baker of the Year. But Amelie has Cystic Fibrosis and some days she can barely breathe. Determined not to let her condition or her mum stop her, Amelie musters all her flour power, but will it be enough to get her there?

To find out more about Vanessa Curtis:
 
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