Friday, 1 July 2016

Most Anticipated Books for July/ June's Book of the Month



It's been a really busy month for me, so not as much reading as I would like. Work has been extra busy and home has basically been mental. I have twin girls emerging from the jungle of GSCE hell, ready to turn my house into a beauty parlour for prom tomorrow night. Outside the house, the UK has turned into a dystopian nightmare, so what better way to lose yourself than to look at all the exciting books coming out in June. There are so many I'm looking forward in June, I really struggled to pick just five. 
1) The Other Alice by Michelle Harrison.
Michelle Harrison is one of my favourite authors. I love every one of her books! She writes so beautifully and quickly draws you into the story. I can't wait to read this
Summary
Midge loves riddles, his cat, Twitch, and ‒ most of all ‒ stories. Especially because he’s grown up being read to by his sister Alice, a brilliant writer.
When Alice goes missing and a talking cat turns up in her bedroom, Midge searches Alice’s stories for a clue. Soon he discovers that her secret book, The Museum of Unfinished Stories, is much more than just a story. In fact, he finds two of its characters wandering around town.
But every tale has its villains ‒ and with them leaping off the page, Midge, Gypsy and Piper must use all their wits and cunning to work out how the story ends and find Alice. If they fail, a more sinister finale threatens them all ...
2) Strange Star by Emma Carroll
Another one of my favourite authors! I devour every book that Emma writes. I love the whole synopsis of this book. 
Summary
They were coming tonight to tell ghost stories. 'A tale to freeze the blood,' was the only rule. Switzerland, 1816. On a stormy summer night, Lord Byron and his guests are gathered round the fire.
Felix, their serving boy, can't wait to hear their creepy tales.
Yet real life is about to take a chilling turn - more chilling than any tale.
Frantic pounding at the front door reveals a stranger, a girl covered in the most unusual scars.
She claims to be looking for her sister, supposedly snatched from England by a woman called Mary Shelley.
Someone else has followed her here too, she says. And the girl is terrified.
3) Cruel Heart Broken by Emma Haughton
Emma Haughton is superb to read if you are looking for a thriller! I loved her books so far, so I can't imagine this being any different. 
Summary
Laurie is a good girl - so everyone thinks. But seven months ago she did something that she can't undo and it's tearing her apart. 
Charlie used to be her best friend. He's done something he regrets too...and now someone has died. 
Two impulsive decisions. Two toxic secrets. Too many hearts broken. Partly inspired by a true story, this is a heart-wrenching novel about impulsive mistakes, and their devastating consequences
4) Through the Mirror Door by Sarah Baker
Ok, so I may be just a wee bit biased by this book as Sarah is a friend, but I've watched this book grow from the beginning and I'm so pleased and proud to see Sarah being published.  So all you people, go out and buy it. 
Summary
Twelve-year-old Angela doesn’t have a family – not since the tragic accident that tore her life apart. Living in foster care, suffering from survivor’s guilt and unable to face the truth of what happened that night, Angela is offered a chance: a holiday to France with her cold, distant Aunt Cece and horrible cousins Kitty and Fliss. If she behaves, she’s told that she might be allowed to stay with them, to have a family again.

But faced with the constant taunting of her cousins and still unable to accept the truth about the accident, Angela finds herself more alone than ever. Until she stumbles into a disused room in the crumbling French manor house, and meets a boy from 1898: Julien. But Julien’s time is running out. He is dying of typhoid.

5) Under Rose Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
I've heard so much about this book, that I'm now desperate to read it. It has also had such glowing reviews. 
Summary
Agoraphobia confines Norah to the house she shares with her mother.
For her, the outside is sky glimpsed through glass, or a gauntlet to run between home and car. But a chance encounter on the doorstep changes everything: Luke, her new neighbour. Norah is determined to be the girl she thinks Luke deserves: a ‘normal’ girl, her skies unfiltered by the lens of mental illness. Instead, her love and bravery opens a window to unexpected truths …
An important and uplifting debut from a British author, which tackles mental health issues such as agoraphobia and OCD.
*****

June's Book of the Month goes to... Songs About A Girl by Chris Russell!!
I knew I was going to love this book! I think I may have a tiny addiction to boy band YA books. Just a little one! As this has been my second boy band book to end up in my Book of the Month slot this year. I don't know what it is, but when I start reading them, I'm totally addicted. I love the idea of travelling with a band and being on the inside instead of the outside. And this book is told from someone who knows the music business. If you love your music, I highly recommend you read this book!




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Thursday, 30 June 2016

Final Day of the #tommyvcancer Blog Tour

I can't believe we are at the end of the month already. This blog tour has flown past so quickly. Today is the last day and I thought it would be good to do a round up blog of all the posts. Firstly I want to thank everyone who took part in the blog. This was a huge event to organise and I couldn't have done it without the help of Laura (Sister Spooky) and Faye ( Daydreamer's Thoughts). Also thank you to Tommy's Army who have done just about everything I asked them to do without even the slightest quibble. 

As many of you will know, Tommy is still in hospital, so I'm unsure if he has seen all the love he has received through social media. I can only hope we managed to raise enough awareness and hopefully some much needed funds. I hope Tommy is on the mend really soon. 

Also please don't forget about the Twitter Chat this evening.
To enter the tour,  Michelle Toy and myself will be hosting the chat from 8 until 9 pm tonight. 
The hashtag for the chat is #tommyvcancer
Please join us and help us celebrate Tommy's blog tour. We will also be annoucing the winner's of all the competitions during the chat too. 

So to finish off the blog tour, here are all the blog posts from the last thirty days. 


And to finish off this glorious blog tour properly, we have another giveaway for you. This competition runs for TODAY ONLY! I kid you not! So get entering and spreading the word. The prize includes a mystery pack from Faber, another from ED PR and a full set of Maze Runner books from Chicken House. ! What more do you need to get entering. The winner will be announced tomorrow morning.
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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

A Letter To My Younger Self by Katie Dale

It's so lovely to have Katie Dale back on the blog, with this letter to her younger self. Katie has just had her first Middle Grade novel, Mumnesia  published by Macmillan Children's Books. 
Dear younger self,
Hello from the future, twelve-year-old me! Wow, this is weird as I’ve just written a book about a woman who gets amnesia and thinks she’s travelled back in time to give her twelve-year-old self life advice, and now it’s kind of like I’m doing the same thing! Oh yeah – spoiler: you write books now! And some of them are published! Mind blown yet?
So. Twelve. A lot’s about to change, huh? Your little sister Caroline lives in fear of you becoming a “terrible teenager” (I think she thinks it’s going to be like that Kevin and Perry skit and you’re going to transform into a monster overnight!).
 You won’t, but it is a big step. For one thing, you’re about to leave all the school friends you grew up with to go to an all-girls school – an ALL-GIRLS SCHOOL! Where you have to wear red berets on school trips and skirts 2 inches below the knee – yuck! I agree, it’s not a good look, but don’t worry, coz the school itself is actually really fun! And believe me, boys are a distraction you really don’t need right now – trust me, they’ll be distracting enough later when you end up going to a mostly-boys sixth form! 
You’ll make some really good girl friends at your new school, but take my advice: don’t chase the popular crowd, or fall into a clique, as attractive and secure as that sounds – you can never have too many friends, and you don’t know what you’re missing if you limit your friendship group. And be warned, girl friendships can be very tricky. Teenage girls can be mean, thoughtless, deceitful, spiteful even, but often that’s a result of their own issues and insecurities which you may not be aware of, so don’t let them get you down or make you bitter. Stay calm, be kind, and you’ll make good friends who’ll help you through, make you giggle, and make you feel good about yourself. Cut ties with those who don’t. It may sound harsh, and it won’t be easy – I know you absolutely hate confrontation of any kind – but you’ll be much happier for it. 
Back to the fun stuff. Keep acting! You love it, and I know you’ve been overlooked for big roles in school plays so far but you’re about to get your big break in the high school musical! Keep at it and one day your dream of going to drama school will come true! You’ll even tour the country as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet! I know, mind-blowing, right?
But rejection – and learning to deal with it – is equally important. Unfortunately, your twin loves of writing and acting come with rejection as pretty much an occupational hazard, and I’m sorry, but you’re gonna face a LOT of it, so start growing a thick skin now! Don’t take it personally (though I know it’s hard not to sometimes!) and trust me when I tell you that every rejection is an opportunity to explore a new path. 
You won’t get into Warwick University to do the degree in Creative Writing you’d set your heart on, but that’s okay because going to Sheffield University instead (pointer – look up WHERE Sheffield is BEFORE you go, then you won’t be so horrified and gob-smacked at just how far away it is from Sussex when you get in – geography never was your strong point!) has LOADS of perks (though I am sorry about all the horrendously steep hills – seriously, PAY MORE ATTENTION IN GEOGRAPHY!). 
For example, you know how you ALWAYS wanted to live in America (thanks to all those Sweet Valley High and Caroline B Cooney books you’re devouring right now)? Well, because you go to Sheffield, you’ll get to spend a WHOLE YEAR studying in North Carolina, where you’ll get the chance to do a whole load of writing courses including a class by the amazing Sarah Dessen (trust me, she’s gonna be BIG in YA fiction) and join SCBWI (that’s Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators) which will help launch your writing career. Oh, and at Sheffield Uni you’ll also meet the guy you’re still in love with, fifteen years later (hint: keep an eye out for Tigger slippers…). 
So there you go – don’t feel dejected by rejection. It can be, and often is, a GOOD thing! In fact, it’s absolutely vital. It helps broaden your horizons and discover what it is you really care about, it inspires you to work harder to improve, and drives you to pursue your passions with more determination than ever. 
Oh, and if your mind STILL isn’t totally blown yet, here’s the most surprising thing of all. You know that story you wrote in English last year, in Year Six? When you were set homework to write a new version of a Fairy Tale? Don’t lose it!

That got you your first book deal
Thanks Katie for a super post.
Summary 
Lucy's mum is so out of date she's practically mouldy. She's super-strict, overprotective and won't let Lucy go to the Valentine's Ball! Lucy can't believe she was EVER a teenager . . .
Until the morning her mum wakes up with no memory of the last thirty years - and thinks she's twelve years old!
All Lucy wants is for her mum to go back to being her old self - but how?
To find out more about Katie Dale:


Don’t forget to enter the MUMNESIA GOODY-BAG PRIZE DRAW!

To enter (UK only) simply answer the question:

WHAT DO THE LETTERS SCBWI STAND FOR?

Email your answer to katiedaleauthor@hotmail.com
(p.s. there’s a special bonus draw and prize for those who answer all eight questions correctly – so why not join me next time on the blogtour?)
Good luck!

 Make sure you check out all the posts on the Mumnesia Blog Tour. 


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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Abi Elphinstone's Review for the #tommyvcancer Blog Tour

Today it's another stop on the #tommyvcancer blog tour. As you can see we are back on my blog, but it isn't me reviewing. Here is Abi Elphinstone's review of Fang of the Vampire for Tommy's tour. 


 Fang Of The Vampire by Tommy Donbavand

With his new friends, Resus Negative (wannabe vampire) and Cleo Farr (tomboy mummy), Luke Watson (reluctant werewolf) thinks Scream Street might just be somewhere he can call home. But his parents are terrified of their new neighbours and it's up to Luke and his pals to find a doorway back to the real world before it's too late. The first in the Scream Street series, Fang Of The Vampire is a pacy tale that cleverly combines a cast of skeletons, goblins, zombies and poltergeists with a sharply witty narrative voice. 
****
The characters are quirky and memorable: a chocolate chip loving skeleton teacher, a goblin called Squiffer, a talking book spirit who claims the Loch Ness monster lived in his toilet bowl, a long-lost vampire with a toaster and a bicycle wheel stuffed up his cloak and, my favourite, a super feisty Egyptian mummy called Cleo who charges headfirst into danger again and again for the sake of her friends: ' "Luke Watson," moaned Cleo as she came round and forced herself into a sitting position. "Since I've met you I've been burnt, stabbed and now blown up... This is the best fun I've had in centuries!" '

The settings are deliciously dark - Sneer Hall, goblin tunnels and Everwell's Emporium, the plot is full of twists and turns with chapters ending on tantalising hooks and Lily Bernard's moody illustrations perfectly capture the atmosphere of Scream Street and its inhabitants. I particularly loved the image of Sir Otto Sneer on page 46... Fang of the Vampire is a fun-filled, fast-moving story that will delight pre-Darren Shan kids.
****
Thanks Abi, for taking part in the blog tour!

As you all know, we’re doing this blog tour to help raise awareness and donations for Tommy Donbavand as he battles cancer. 
Here are the links to his website and how you can donate:
Tommy is the author of the popular 13-book Scream Street series for 7 to 10 year olds, published by Walker Books in the UK and Candlewick Press in the US.  His other books include Zombie!, Wolf and Uniform (winner of the Hackney Short Novel Award) for Barrington Stoke, Boredom Busters and Quick Fixes For Kids’ Parties (How To Books), and Making A Drama Out Of A Crisis (Network Continuum).

In theatre, Tommy’s plays have been performed to thousands of children on national tours to venues such as The Hackney Empire, Leeds City Varieties, and Nottingham Playhouse.  These productions include Hey Diddle Diddle, Rumplestiltskin, Jack & Jill In The Forgotten Nursery, and Humpty Dumpty And The Incredibly Daring Rescue Of The Alien Princess From Deep Space.  He is also responsible for five episodes of the CBBC TV series, Planet Cook (Platinum Films).

As an actor, Tommy played the Clearlake MC in the West End musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story for over eight years, in addition to roles in the movies Zombie Love Stories (where he battled hordes of Scottish undead) and Going Off Big Time (where he was beaten up on a bouncy castle).  A veteran of pantomime, he has portrayed just about every comic character from Abanazer to an Ugly Sister.
Tommy lives in Lancashire with his wife and two sons.  He is a HUGE fan of all things Doctor Who, plays blues harmonica, and makes a mean balloon poodle.  He sees sleep as a waste of good writing time.

Twitter Chat
To end the tour, Michelle Toy and myself will be hosting a twitter chat. 
This will be on 30th June 2016, 8 – 9pm
The hashtag for the chat is #tommyvcancer
Please join us!

Monday, 27 June 2016

#ReviewMonday with K.M. Lockwood: Watch The Sky by Kirsten Hubbard

Overview from the Barnes and Noble website
The signs are everywhere, Jory's stepfather, Caleb, says. Red leaves in the springtime. Pages torn from a library book. All the fish in the aquarium facing the same way. A cracked egg with twin yolks. Everywhere and anywhere. And because of them Jory's life is far from ordinary. He must follow a very specific set of rules: don't trust anyone outside the family, have your works at the ready just in case, and always, always watch out for the signs. The end is coming, and they must be prepared.
School is Jory's only escape from Caleb's tight grasp, and with the help of new friends Jory begins to explore a world beyond his family's farm. As Jory's friendships grow, Caleb notifies Jory's mother and siblings that the time has come for final preparations.
They begin an exhausting schedule digging a mysterious tunnel in anticipation of the disaster. But as the hold gets deeper, so does the family's doubt about whether Caleb's prophecy is true. When the stark reality of his stepfather's plans becomes clear, Jory must choose between living his own life or following Caleb, shutting his eyes to the bright world he's just begun to see.
272 pages in hardback (read via NetGalley)
Published by Disney-Hyperion in April 2015
Paperback due out in September 2016
Cover design by Whitney Manger, photograph by David Hughes
***
The description of this book intrigued me on NetGalley: a survivalist story is not exactly what you might first expect from Disney. I thought I’d give it a go – to broaden my reading range. I’m glad I did.
It’s simply written (appropriate for the suggested 8-12 age-group) but with touches of quiet poetry and simple beauty. I found the author’s use of character-led humour amongst the threat of violence and disaster was both touching and effective. 
The few central characters are memorable and engaging – for me the mysterious Kit in particular. To a reader in the UK, this is perhaps rather unexpected subject matter for a children’s novel – but it is deftly handled without sensationalism. We truly care for Jory and all his family.
Without giving any more spoilers, there is a strong, credible and satisfying resolution to the tale. It has a realistic contemporary feel, but isn’t trendy or clich├ęd – it will stand reading in future years. We can always enjoy stories that examine loyalty and trust, friendship and family.
Recommended for reasonably independent readers who want a warm-hearted story centred on relationships but with an edge to it. One worth discussing.

K. M. Lockwood lives by the sea in Sussex - see the pics on Instagram. She fills jars with sea-glass, writes on a very old desk and reads way past her bedtime. Her tiny bed and breakfast is stuffed full of books - and even the breakfasts are named after writers. You'd be welcome to chat stories with @lockwoodwriter on Twitter



Friday, 24 June 2016

Breaker by Kat Ellis


The rope around my ankles burned, but it was a good burn. It meant I wouldn't plunge head-first onto the cobblestones four stories below - at least, as long as the roped didn't break. 
Published in May 2016 by Running Press Teen
304 pages
Summary
Kyle Henry has a new name, a new school, and a new life. A year has passed since his serial killer father’s execution, and it finally looks like he has a chance to escape the stigma and fear that haunts him. 
Until he recognizes the girl sitting in the back row in homeroom.
Naomi Steadman is immediately intrigued by Kyle, but she doesn’t know he is the son of the man who murdered her mother. What she does know is she and Kyle have a connection—and a spark that Kyle continues to back away from.
Pretty soon, the death count on campus starts to rise. Someone is set on finishing what the Bonebreaker started, and reliving the horrors of their past may be the only thing that can stop the spree.
Told in alternating viewpoints, Kat Ellis’s tale of mystery and horror is full of broken bonds and new beginnings.
*****
The book is told in dual narrative which fits the tension perfectly. It allows us to get a clear picture of  two  very different sides of a story and keeps us nail biting in between the tension. I found I was so gripped by this book, I read it in two sessions.
I love the romantic sub plot within this book. By rights, Naomi and Karl shouldn't really be together as it's way too complicated and heartbreaking. Yet the instant chemistry that builds between Naomi and Karl is unstoppable. Karl is so sweet as he tries his hardest to pull away, desperate not to cause Naomi any more hurt than he already has.
The book is extremely gripping. The tension gathers quickly through the first few chapters and you find yourself desperate to find out who the killer is.
I was shocked and surprised by the final outcome. I honestly didn't expect it to end in the way it did.
There was a character who I felt we were left unsure about and it would have been good to find out there final outcome and motivation, but I can't name them as it would give away one of the suspects. However it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book.
A brilliant, nail biting drama that keeps you guessing until the end.