Today is my stop on the brilliant The Belles blog tour!
I started this book earlier this week and 100 pages in I can tell it is already going to be one of my fave books of 2018! A brilliant YA Fantasy which will captivate you with it’s beauty from the off set.
The Belles was published on the 8th Feb 2018 published by the wonderful Gollancz and beauty, obsession and magic are at it’s heart.
So for my stop on the tour I am going to shine the spotlight on this brilliant book and it’s fab author….
Welcome to the dark decadence of Dhonielle Clayton’s sharp tale of beauty, obsession and magic. . .
I AM A BELLE. I CONTROL BEAUTY.
In the opulent world of Orléans, the people are born grey and damned, and only a Belle’s powers can make them beautiful.
Camellia Beauregard wants to be the favourite Belle – the one chosen by the queen to tend to the royal family.
But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favourite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that her powers may be far greater – and far darker – than she ever imagined.
When the queen asks Camellia to break the rules she lives by to save the ailing princess, she faces an impossible decision: protect herself and the way of the Belles, or risk her own life, and change the world forever.
You can buy a copy of The Belles here or from your local bookshop!
Praise for The Belles
‘Looking for the next big groundbreaking event in YA? This is it.’ Rick Riordan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson series
‘Sumptuous and original worldbuilding, heart-pounding plot and gorgeous prose.’ Samantha Shannon, New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Season
‘A whip-smart writer with grand, grand talents.’ Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist
‘Breathtakingly beautiful and deeply unsettling.’ Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author
About Dhonielle Clayton
Dhonielle Clayton (“Dhon” like “Don” or “Dawn”) spent most of her childhood under her grandmother’s dining room table with a stack of books.
She hails from the Washington, D.C. suburbs on the Maryland side, but now lives in New York City. She was an extremely fussy and particular child with an undying love for Cheerios (honey nut only), pink lemonade, and frosted animal cookies. A self-proclaimed school nerd, she loved covering her books with brown paper and filled her locker with Lisa Frank stickers. She loved putting headings on her homework, odd-looking pens and freshly sharpened pencils, and numerous notebooks to fill with her research. On most Saturdays you could find her with her equally nerdy Dad at Crown Books and then the comic bookstore where she stocked up on her weekly reading material. Plus, she was so spoiled that her grandfather took her to the library after school almost daily.
She attended Our Lady of Good Counsel High School because her parents thought Catholic school would keep her out of trouble. She went to Wake Forest University, and studied pre-med until she received a fateful F in Chemistry. This setback prompted her to change her major to English, and earned a BA. She rediscovered her love of children’s fiction by re-reading Harriet the Spy, which pushed her to earn an MA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University and an MFA Writing for Children at the New School.
She taught secondary school for several years – at a pre-professional ballet academy and a private K-8 school. She spent most of her twenties in and out of America – living in London, Paris, a small Japanese town, Bermuda – and wandering the planet. She’s been on five out of seven continents, and has grand plans to reach all of them.
She is a former elementary and middle school librarian, and co-founder of CAKE Literary, a creative kitchen whipping up decadent – and decidedly diverse – literary confections for middle grade, young adult, and women’s fiction readers. She is also COO of the non-profit We Need Diverse Books.
What’s next? She will be enrolling in culinary school in New York City and plans to open up a restaurant in the city of her soul, Edinburgh, Scotland
You can follow or catch up on the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!
A huge thank you to Stevie at Gollancz for sending me this fab book and for asking me to be part of the Blog Tour!
Have you read The Belles? What did you think? What was your favourite part? If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!
Today I am thrilled to have the wonder Sinéad O’Hart on the blog to celebrate the release of her debut novel, The Eye Of The North.
The Eye Of The North was released today, 8th February 2018, published by the lovelies at Stripes – Happy Book Birthday Sinéad!
Basically if you like brilliant MG adventures then this book is perfect for you!
So today Sinéad is chatting about her Top 5 Mythical / Legendary Creatures in this fab guest post….
Emmeline Widget has never left Widget Manor – and that’s the way she likes it. But when her scientist parents mysteriously disappear, she finds herself being packed off on a ship to France, heading for a safe house in Paris. Onboard she is befriended by an urchin stowaway called Thing. But before she can reach her destination she is kidnapped by the sinister Dr Siegfried Bauer.
Dr Bauer is bound for the ice fields of Greenland to summon a legendary monster from the deep. And he isn’t the only one determined to unleash the creature. The Northwitch has laid claim to the beast, too.
Can Emmeline and Thing stop their fiendish plans and save the world?
A dazzling fantasy adventure, perfect for fans of ROOFTOPPERS, THE UNCOMMONERS and A
SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
Top 5 Mythical / Legendary Creatures
Growing up in Ireland, I was raised on stories of the Fair Folk, or the Sídhe – the fairies who lived under the oddly-shaped hills you sometimes see in the middle of fields. Farmers avoid them; they’re never built on; cows are not allowed to graze on them. This is all because of the power of the Fair Folk who, despite their name, are not fair at all! Some say that when the Milesians drove the old gods out of Ireland, the Fair Folk were the few who got left behind. But who knows the truth?
I also love Norse mythology, and one of my favourite mythical creatures from that tradition is Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse belonging to Odin, the leader of the Norse gods. Odin was also called the All-Father, among lots of other names. I always thought it would be amazing to have a horse with eight legs – surely he’d be able to run twice as quickly as an ordinary horse! The Æsirsmounts in The Eye of the North, horses who are able to run on the surface of the ice (and do lots of other marvellous things, besides) are based on the idea of Sleipnir, Odin’s magical horse, though none of them (that I know of) have eight legs…
Dragons have long been one of my favourite mythical creatures. I love Smaug, the dragon in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit – but the first dragon I ever ‘met’ was Falkor, the luck dragon, from Michael Ende’s book The Never-Ending Story. It was made into a fabulous film when I was a little girl, and I loved watching him in that. I love the power and majesty of dragons in the Western tradition, and I particularly enjoy the fact that they’re seen as symbols of good luck and joy in the Eastern tradition.
I love giants. I don’t know why: perhaps it’s because I’m short and I wish I wasn’t! In the medieval texts I studied at university, there was a story about a giant who is kind and loving and compassionate towards animals, despite being huge and terrifying to look at. His outside doesn’t match his inside, and it was a lesson not to judge people by how they look. In Norse mythology, giants are skilled builders. And, of course, there’s Hagrid! Who doesn’t love him?
One of my favourite books of all time has a unicorn called Findhorn in it, and another film I loved when I was a small girl is also about unicorns. It was based on a book, too: Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. There’s something wonderful and awe-inspiring about unicorns; they’re so beautiful, yet they have the potential to be deadly. They’re the wildest creature I can think of!
You can buy a copy of The Eye Of The North here or from your local bookshop!
About Sinéad O’Hart
Sinéad O’Hart was raised in a small house full of books in the south-east of Ireland. She has a degree in Medieval English and has had many careers (including butcher, bookseller and university lecturer) before finally following her dream of becoming a children’s author. She now lives in County Meath, near Dublin, with her husband, their daughter, and an ever-expanding book collection.
You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!
A huge thank you to Sinéad for such a fab guest post and to Beth at Stripes for organising and asking me to host!
Have you read The Eye Of The North? What did you think? What was your favourite part? If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!
I am over the moon to have the wonderful Ella Harper on Tales today to celebrate the release of If I Fall her new adult contemporary romance.
If I Fall is published in ebook by the lovely people at Canelo and is an unputdownable and emotional novel about love, loss and friendship.
So today Ella shares a fab guest post about Characterisation…..
I’m really sorry for what I’m about to do…
It’s fifteen years since graduation, and Connie, Jonas, JJ and Layla have managed to remain close despite the odds. They’ve supported each other, but are some things too big for friendship?
Connie is desperate to maintain the veneer of perfect family life.
Jonas is feeling the pressure at work.
Layla’s career is unravelling thanks to her ill mother
JJ’s past is catching up with him.
When they stumble and fall, who will be there to catch them?
A truly powerful and unforgettable story of love, friendship, and real life, If I Fall is perfect for readers of Alice Peterson, Amanda Prowse and Lianne Moriarty.
Praise for Ella Harper:
‘You won’t be able to stop reading’ Heat Magazine
‘Such a beautifully heart-breaking novel, written with such poise, strength and power.’ The Writing Garnet
‘I couldn’t put it down. I went without sleep to finish this book… If I Fall would definitely make my 2018 must-read list‘ Writerly Ways
‘Highly recommended, but be prepared for tears!’ Stardust Book Reviews
‘This book was heartbreaking but beautiful…Such a joy to read, while holding back tears’ Til Then Smile Often
‘Only very rarely does a book come along that captures me and engages me as much as this one did… But don’t despair, the ending was uplifting and filled with promise’ Bookish Bits
‘I finished the book with a whopping big lump in my throat but with joy in my heart’ JaffaReads
‘Wonderful, heart-breaking and poignant… The story touched me to the core with its deeply moving plot, beautiful characters and a unique, inspiring and insightful plot’ Read Day and Night
‘A great book to curl up with’ Daily Mail
‘I had tears in my eyes’ Bookworms and Shutterbugs
‘A beautiful emotional story… I shed quite a few tears while reading this book. It’s a marvellous must-read’ With Love for Books
‘I have a feeling this book will stay with me for a long time’ Lilac Mills
‘Warm, perceptive and razor sharp. It’s everything you want from a novel’ Veronica Henry
Back in the day, when I was first writing (as myself, Sasha Wagstaff), I used to have detailed notes about all of my characters. And when I say ‘detailed’, I really mean that. I would devote pages and pages to my characters – where my character shopped, what perfume they wore, their fashion sense, their food preferences.
Now, I spend just as much time working out who my characters are, but I keep neat, concise notes – roughly half a page long – which I check and add to as I’m working through the novel. I think the difference these days, is that I am more in tune with my characters once I’ve invented them. The one thing I spend a great deal of time deciding upon is the names of my characters. I use a really good baby naming book and I enjoy finding the right names for my cast. I was able to use far more flamboyant and unusual names in my earlier novels as they were escapist and set in glamorous locations, but for my Ella Harper novels, I use more relatable, normal names. But they still have to be absolutely right! Occasionally I start writing the novel using a certain name and decide halfway through that it isn’t sitting right for whatever reason and have to dig my baby naming book out again.
But apart from the name issue, I do find that my characters form themselves in more mind more readily now and I don’t feel the need for such detailed notes. I am aware mentally of each character’s personable style and behaviour and they feel very real to me from the off-set. If anything changes about them as I’m writing, I jot it down, but by and large, I flesh them out at the beginning and get their back story laid out. I remember when I was writing ‘The Years of Loving You’, I struggled with writing the present day and my very lovely editor suggested that I didn’t write in chronological order for once, but wrote the entire past and back story first. It was a revelation as I am a very ordered person and that seemed bizarre to me – but it worked! Once I had written the past, the present became obvious and clear to me and I knew who my characters were and how they would act in the present day. The beauty of a fabulous editor!
But I think the most important part of characterisation is making sure that each character is real and relatable to the reader. That their actions and thoughts are authentic. This is more important than the perfume or aftershave they might wear, although that may get a brief mention. Each character should be true to themselves and act in a way that seems fitting with the personality and history described. I miss my characters when I finish a novel – and I mean that, genuinely. I get very involved in their lives and they are real to me. And then I start all over again with a new novel…
Ella Harper learned foreign languages, and imagined she might eventually get a glamorous job speaking French. After climbing her way up the banking ladder, Ella started idly mapping out the beginnings of a novel on an old laptop. When she realised her characters were more real to her than dividends and corporate actions ever could be, she left her job to become a writer.
You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!
A huge thank you to Ella Harper for such a fab guest post and to Ellie at Canelo for organising and asking me to host!
Have you read If I Fall? What did you think? What was your favourite part? If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!
Today I am over the moon to have the brilliant S.D Robertson on the blog with a fab guest post to celebrate the release of his new uplifting adult fiction book, Stand By Me,
Stand By Me was released on the 11th January 2018 published by Avon Books and is set to be a beautiful heart-breaking tale that you won’t want to put down.
Today S.D Robertson is sharing an insight into his writing process in this fab guest post….
They’ll always have each other…won’t they?
Lisa and Elliot have been best friends ever since the day they met as children. Popular, bright and sporty, Lisa was Elliot’s biggest supporter when the school bullies made his life a misery, and for that, he will always be grateful.
Twenty years later, life has pulled the pair apart and Lisa is struggling. Her marriage is floundering, her teenage kids are being secretive, and she’s so tired she can’t think straight. So when Elliot knocks on the door, looking much better than she remembers, she can’t help but be delighted to see her old friend again.
With Elliot back in their lives, Lisa’s family problems begin to improve – he’s like the fairy godmother she never had. As their bond deepens, she realises how much she’s missed him, and prays that this is one friendship that will last a lifetime. But sometimes, life has other ideas…
A heartwarming story perfect for fans of Keith Stewart and Jojo Moyes, that will leave you with a tear in your eye but hope in your heart.
My Writing Process
One of the things I’ve been asked about most frequently since becoming a published author is my writing process.
This is something that seems to fascinate a lot of people, but particularly keen readers and would-be novelists.
I can understand why, as in creating a work of fiction you are essentially making something out of nothing, which sounds a bit like magic.
There is an element of that, to be honest, especially in those moments of inspiration that appear out of nowhere and slap you around the face, often when you’re least expecting them.
I imagine most authors have experienced these at some point. I certainly have and, at their best, they’ve literally sent shivers of excitement down my spine about the thrilling, fresh new direction I can suddenly see for my work in progress.
Who knows where these flashes of ingenuity come from? It’s great when they appear, though. It’s right up there with seeing the product of your imagination on a shelf in a bookstore and hearing from a reader who loves your work.
Now I wish I could tell you that whole books are written like that, in a frenzied flood of dazzling prose and unique ideas that leap fully formed out of your fingers.
Sadly, that isn’t my experience so far in the years I’ve been writing novels. For every eureka moment I’ve enjoyed, there have in contrast been many hours of hard work, frustration and perseverance.
And that in a nutshell is my experience of the writing process: lots of blood, sweat and tears with the odd joyous moment of punching the air.
Starting a novel is easy. Lots of people have done that. Finishing it is hard, which is why I always have the greatest respect for anyone who’s got all the way to the end, whether it goes on to be published, self-published or (hopefully not) just to gather dust on a shelf somewhere.
So how, as an unpublished would-be novelist, do you make sure you cross the finish line? Here are my five top tips:
Start with some kind of plan. It doesn’t need to be that detailed, but try to have at least a start, middle and end in mind.
Keep character profiles to refer back to, adding to them as you go along.
Write as often as you can, preferably daily.
Always look forward. Avoid the temptation to read back what you’ve already written, unless absolutely necessary, until you’ve reached the end.
Don’t overthink the writing process or you’ll never end up actually writing. I find it’s best to get on with it and watch things unfold around you. It won’t always be easy. In fact it will often feel like hard work, but if you keep at it you’ll hopefully encounter a few moments of genuine inspiration along the way. If not, at least you’ll have a finished manuscript to polish. And let’s be honest, without that, your chances of becoming an author are zero.
You can buy a copy of Stand By Me by S.D. Robertson here or from your local bookshop!
Former journalist S.D. Robertson quit his role as a local newspaper editor to pursue a lifelong ambition of becoming a novelist.
An English graduate from the University of Manchester, he’s also worked as a holiday rep, door-to-door salesman, train cleaner, kitchen porter and mobile phone network engineer.
Over the years Stuart has spent time in France, Holland and Australia, but home these days is back in the UK. He lives in a village near Manchester with his wife and daughter. There’s also his cat, Bernard, who likes to distract him from writing – usually by breaking things.
His third novel, Stand By Me (Avon, £7.99), is a heartwarming story about the power of friendship. It is published on 11 January 2018.
You can catch up on the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!
A huge thank you to S.D. Robertson for such a fab guest post and to Sabah at Avon Books for organising and asking me to host!
Have you read Stand By Me? What did you think? What was your favourite part? If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!
And it’s February already!! I know January feels like the longest month ever, but I felt that it went super fast! Just me?!
So if your new here – The British Books Challenge is a reading challenge that will be running here on Tales Of Yesterday between 1st January 2018 to 31st December 2018 and the main focus of the challenge is reading and reviewing books by British authors.
I have created a #BritishBooksChallenge18 summary page here which will also keep track of my own progress in the challenge too.
If you have not signed up yet there’s still plenty of time – find out more about the challenge here
Please note you can sign up to the challenge at any time throughout the year but only sign up entries made on or before the 31st December 2017 will be entered to win the sign up prize.
This is the second time I am hosting this particular challenge and I have lots of things planned for us all to discover some amazing British Authors!
I have been in touch with lots of publishers who have kindly donated lots of lovely prize packs for us throughout the year for the challenge!
Right lets get started!
January’s prize pack was kindly donated by the lovelies at Electric Monkey and Egmont and contained the following 5 books!
There was a fantastic 96 reviews by British Authors linked up on the January linky here!
And thank you for embracing our Author and Debut Of The Month – an amazing 12 of you reviewed with The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart and/or The Fandom by Anna Day and earned double entries into the prize draw!
That is totally amazing! Thank you to everyone who has taken part!
I’ve picked a winner at random….
And the winner is…….
Liam @ BookWormHole with his review of The Fandom by Anna Day
These 5 fab books are all yours!
Please email me your address so that I can arrange for your prize to be sent out to you!
February’s prize pack has been kindly donated by the lovelies at Little Tiger and Stripes and contains the following 3 books!
A huge thank you to Little Tiger and Stripes for donating these brilliant books to kick off our February!
One winner will be picked at random from the list of valid reviews submitted each month and will be announced in the following month’s review link up post. The winner will then have 1 week to contact me to claim their prize or a new winner will be chosen. Obviously the more reviews you enter the greater your chance of winning and don’t forget you gain extra entries for any reviews by Debut or Author of the Month for February! It doesn’t matter if you only review one book (or even skip a month or two in the challenge!) you’ll still be entered for each review you do write.
Only participants with a valid sign up page that has been linked here are eligible for entry to the monthly prize packs mentioned on this monthly link up page – you can still sign up here
When you add your link to the Mr. Linky below please make sure you link directly to your review, not just to your blog/vlog (invalid links will be deleted)
Books must have been read and reviewed in February 2018 to count towards the challenge , however I am happy that if you read the book in January and reviewed in February to link those up as basically you are putting the review up in February – I am hoping that makes sense!
Also, please make sure that the reviews you link are for books written by British Authors – they can be born in Britain (living here or abroad) or they can be adopted British Authors (who were born elsewhere and now live here) but if they don’t fit into one of those categories then they don’t count. (as above invalid links will be deleted and won’t get you an entry into the prize pack). Please note that Britain includes England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, I’m afraid authors from Southern Ireland don’t count.
Also see the Author Of The Month and Debut Of The Month section for ways to gain extra entries each month!
And lastly feel free to share your reviews on social media using the #BritishBooksChallenge18hashtag – it’s not compulsory but it would be fun to share any great British Books you have loved with others!
Lets get chatting and celebrating all of the brilliant British books and authors that we have and all of the wonderful British books that we are reading!
Always remember – never tweet an author into a negative review and be constructive.
For more information about the #BritishBooksChallenge18 click here
If you are a publisher who publishes books by British authors or British author who would be interesting in promoting their titles through the British Books Challenge giveaways please contact me by email.
And the #BritishBooksChallenge18 Author Of The Month for February is…….
Here are ten absolutely true things about me:
1. I am a woman. I really am! I do get a lot of letters addressed to ‘Mr Stevens’, though.
2. I have a pet bearded dragon named Watson, and she is a girl too.
3. I was born in California, and I moved to England when I was three. This means that I have two passports (like a spy), and that I could be the President of the USA and the Prime Minister at the same time if I wanted to be. If this writing thing doesn’t work out, I might consider it.
4. I grew up in Oxford, across the road from Alice in Wonderland. If she hadn’t been Victorian and fictional, I think we could have been friends.
5. When I was little, I wanted to own a zoo and write books about it. I also wanted to be married to Gerald Durrell. I dreamed big.
6. Colin Dexter once sent me a fan letter. I met him when I was twelve and told him that when I grew up I was going to write murder mysteries. I must have been really insistent, because he believed me.
7. I really did go to an English boarding school, Cheltenham Ladies College. And I really did sleep in a dorm, and learn Latin, and have school on Saturday mornings. I never detected a murder, though, which was a bit of a disappointment.
8. I’ve been on University Challenge! I was the Captain of the Warwick University team. We didn’t win, unfortunately, but I did get to meet Jeremy Paxman.
9. When I was at university, I did my MA on crime fiction. So I really do have a degree in murder.
10. I used to work as an editor, helping other authors get their books published, but today I’m lucky enough to be a full-time author!
When Hazel Wong’s beloved grandfather passes away, Daisy Wells is all too happy to accompany her friend (and Detective Society Vice President) to Hazel’s family estate in beautiful, bustling Hong Kong.
But when they arrive they discover something they didn’t expect: there’s a new member of the Wong family. Daisy and Hazel think baby Teddy is enough to deal with, but as always the girls are never far from a mystery. Tragedy strikes very close to home, and this time Hazel isn’t just the detective. She’s been framed for murder!
The girls must work together like never before, confronting dangerous gangs, mysterious suspects and sinister private detectives to solve the murder and clear Hazel’s name – before it’s too late . . .
Or check out the rest of the A Murder Most Unladylike Series or Robin’s standalone book The Guggenheim Mystery!
If you read, review and link up any books by the author of the month (in the same month that they are author of the month only) then that one review will get you an extra entry into the monthly prize pack draw. So a double entry for one review!
If the author has multiple books and you read them all you will gain a double entry for each review of each book.
Look out for a special post from the lady herself sometime in February and there may also be a giveaway!
If you are a publisher who publishes books by British authors or British author who would be interesting in promoting their titles through the British Books Challenge author of the month then please contact me by email.
There are so many good debuts coming out this month that it was really hard to decide which to pick…..
So the our #BritishBooksChallenge18 Debut Of The Month for February is…….
Sunflowers In February by Phyllida Shrimpton
Lily has died in a car accident. The trouble is, Lily’s really not at all sure she wants to ‘move on’ . . . This funny, heartbreaking novel is perfect if you loved John Green or The Lovely Bones.
Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road.
She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. And very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance, arrive and she sees her own body that she realises that she is in fact . . . dead.
But what is she supposed do now?
Lily has no option but to follow her body and sees her family – her parents and her twin brother – start falling apart. And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time . . .
A moving, startlingly funny and yet achingly sad debut novel from a stunning new talent.
Disastrous cook, chaotic parent, disorganised wife, terrible giggler, and survivor of writing a book from underneath a 60kg Newfoundland lap-dog.
If you read, review and link up a review of Sunflowers In February by Phyllida Shrimpton (in the same month that they are author of the month only) then that one review will get you an extra entry into the monthly prize pack draw. So a double entry for one review!
Look out for a special post sometime in February and there may also be a giveaway!
If you are a publisher who publishes books by British authors or British author who would be interesting in promoting their debut through the British Books Challenge debut of the month then please contact me by email.
As well as following the hashtag #BritishBooksChallenge18I would also suggest following my blog using your preferred feed subscription (by email by filling in the subscription box at the top of my blog , BlogLovin’ etc) in order to keep up with the latest news and posts regarding this challenge throughout 2018!
Thanks for signing up for the British Books Challenge 2018! Happy Reading!
Now for the important part, make sure you link all of your reviews using the Mr. Linky form below. In the Your Name field please include your blog name, the title of the book and the author. Make sure the link takes me directly to your review or your entry won’t count and will be deleted from the list.
Name – Please add your name and blog / YouTube channel e.g Chelley Toy – Tales Of Yesterday
URL – Please add a direct link to your British Books Challenge sign up post here
Today I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to have the amazing Martin Stewart here on the blog with a fantastic guest post all about the amazing The Sacrifice Box!
The Sacrifice Box was released on the 11th January 2018 published by Penguin and I can confirm that it is just pure brilliance!
As Martin Stewart is our #BritishBooksChallenge18 author of the month I also have a brilliant giveaway!
So sit back an enjoy a little about The Sacrifice Box and it’s amazing nostalgia…..
An atmospheric, chilling page turner from rising star Martin Stewart, reminiscent of Stand by Me and Stranger Things.
Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley: five friends thrown together one hot, sultry summer. When they discover an ancient stone box hidden in the forest, they decide to each make a sacrifice: something special to them, committed to the box for ever. And they make a pact: they will never return to the box at night; they’ll never visit it alone; and they’ll never take back their offerings.
Four years later, a series of strange and terrifying events take place. Someone broke the rules, and now everyone has to pay.
But how much are they willing to sacrifice?
Letting My Nostalgic Spirit Run Free
Having begun its life many years ago as nothing more than a feeling I wanted to capture, it’s beyond thrilling to see The Sacrifice Box out in the world. This is a story of friendship, of togetherness; of the power our fears wield in the dark corners of our souls ― and of the importance of a good mixtape. This is a world of high-tops and Choppers, of Walkmans (Walkmen?) and big hair.
This is the small-town world of Hill Ford, 1986.
The setting fits my character, because I’ve always been prone to nostalgia. Crippling nostalgia, really. I only replaced my childhood Christmas stocking a couple of years ago because it disintegrated (I’m thirty-five years old). I have a custom-built cupboard in my living room for my childhood games consoles: Megadrive, SNES, Playstation (just Playstation, mind ― this is before they were given numbers). Most of my Desert Island Discs would be hewn from the rock of my teenage memories: Oasis, The Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics, Radiohead… (as I write, prompted by this reverie, I’ve just put The Lightning Seeds on Spotify).
I am very much chained to my past.
The Sacrifice Box was, first, a title. Its growth from that point was driven by the image of young people finding an ancient box, filling it with (seemingly) innocuous stuff and discovering that, whatever they give it, the box wants more.
But there was a problem ― this was a MG story. Ten-year-olds might make a friendship sacrifice of this nature, but not fifteen-year-olds. So the story had to change shape, and it did so with a pleasingly gothic twist: the group would make their sacrifices in the past, lose touch ― and years later, those seemingly innocuous offerings would come back to hunt them. A sacrifice made during a brief, intense, forgotten summer friendship felt just right ― and that’s where my (crippling) nostalgia came in.
Because what I had now was a story that felt a little like The Breakfast Club reuniting to fight the Gremlins, and I found that the tropes of classic 80s stories fit the story I had in mind: intense friendship, kid-centric horror, an unlikely small-town gang facing a threat their parents know nothing about…
I set the story in 1986, and I was able to let my nostalgic spirit run free.
I found it a lot of fun. Nostalgia is driven by comfort, after all ―we remember how free we once were, how unburdened by the concerns of high school and uni and work. The clothes are funny, the haircuts funnier, and the summers never-ending. Our past is known and, therefore, safe.
But danger lurks in our pasts, too, because everything is sharpest when we’re young: arguments, infatuations, self-regard, fear, laughter ― stories. Young lives are lived on a keen edge.
So, who better to write for than young readers?
I hope that you, young readers, love these characters ― Sep, Arkle, Hadley, Lamb and Mack. I hope you love the adventure, as the box tightens its grip. I hope you’re afraid to read the book on the train, for fear of snorting with laughter. I hope you’re afraid to read it in bed at night, for fear of a tap on your window…
There’s just one question left:
What would you sacrifice?
You can buy a copy of The Sacrifice Box here or from your local bookshop!
Or listen to The Sacrifice Box Spotify Playlist here
About Martin Stewart
Before I was a writer, I was a caddie, barman, recycling technician, wine advisor, university lecturer, and English teacher. My time in the classroom inspired me to turn my pen towards writing for younger readers, and now I love visiting schools to help students develop their own writing, and to encourage them to pursue their creative ambitions. As a writer, I’m interested in the stories that take place in the shadows, and exploring the tension between laughter and fear. I love the work of John Steinbeck and Philip Pullman. More than anything else, I love to edit, because that’s where the real writing gets done. You can read about how I became a writer here. As a human being, I’m interested in spending time with my partner and daughter, running on the beach with the dog, trying to make the perfect Old Fashioned, cooking with eggs, re-watching my favourite films as often as possible, and listening to podcasts whenever I can.
A huge thank you to Martin for a brilliant guest post that has made want to go and revisit everything 80’s and to Simon at Penguin for embracing the #BritishBooksChallenge18 author of the month and giving me some fab books to giveaway!
Have you read The Sacrifice Box What did you think? What was your favourite part? What are your nostalgic memories? If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!
I’ve heard so many great things about The Unpredictability Of Being Human that I am super happy to be featuring Linni Ingemundsen on Tales today with a brilliant guest post!
The Unpredictability Of Being Human was released on the 1st January 2018 published by the lovelies at Usborne and is a brilliant YA Contemporary.
Today Linni has stopped by to share The Unpredictability Of Being Human Playlist…..so turn the music upload and enjoy….
If 14-year-old Malin was God for a day, she wouldn’t change much. Dad would still yell; her brother Sigve would still get in trouble, and Mom would still think wine is good for the heart. She’d still be friends with Hanna, even if they met shoplifting. Because stuff’s okay, mostly. And if He could fix the world, wouldn’t God have done it already?
The Unpredictability Of Being Human Playlist
The Unpredictability of Being Human introduces its reader to a small town community in Norway filled with pain, humour and a whole lot of nothingness. Fourteen year old Malin describes the ups and downs of life and the struggles of being a teenager and fitting in. At the same time she watches family drama play out and buried secrets unfold.
I often listen to music when I write and below I’ve put together a playlist connected to the book. Side A are songs that I listened to when writing it while side B are songs that in one way or another remind me of the story.
Savoir Adore – Mountains
I came across this song while checking out the “Discover Weekly” feature on Spotify and it has been on my “writing” playlist ever since.
Jesse Ruben – This Is Why I Need You
I sometimes find it hard to focus on writing if I know the lyrics of a song too well. This is one of the songs I have listened to on repeat so many times that I can no longer write to it.
Allman Brown Ft. Liz Lawrence– Sons and Daughters
The vocals comes together so beautifully and so effortless. The perfect writing song in many ways.
Snowmine – Tidal Wave
This popped up randomly when listening to the radio on Spotify and I was so into the writing that I didn’t really catch the song properly. Later I found myself playing the chorus over and over in my head and it took me ages to find it again.
Needtobreathe – Happiness
About homesick hearts and other things. No matter where I am, I’m always missing somewhere or someone. And I wouldn’t want to live any other way.
Walk Off the Earth – Little Boxes
Haasund is a small town where you’ll do best if you blend in. This song captures the feeling of living in a small town where individuality is not always welcomed.
Joshua Radin – We Are Okay
At some point Malin realizes that sometimes feeling okay is enough. I mean it is better than bad after all. And sometimes that’s all we can ask for.
Firekid – Boomerang
In the book several friendships are gained and lost. This song is about losing someone and hoping they will come back like a boomerang. That doesn’t sound like life to me, but I guess one can always hope.
The Lumineers – Ophelia
The love letter in this song pretty much sums up the letter Malin wrote but never sent which was “Dear Ruben, I like you.” I guess sometimes that is all you need to say.
Ane Brun Ft Madrugada – Lift Me
Magnus thinks it is okay that he might not be able to find newest music for his record player. This is the song I imagine him playing after coming across the vinyl Duets in a thrift store.
You can buy a copy of The Unpredictability Of Being Human here or from your local bookshop!
About Linni Ingemundsen
Linni Ingemundsen is from Norway and currently works in Malta. She does not know how to draw but is somehow also a freelance cartoonist. Linni has lived in three different countries and will never be done exploring the world. Still, what truly inspires her writing is her background growing up in a village on the southwestern coast of Norway. Linni began writing her debut novel while on the Oxford Brookes MA in Creative Writing.
A huge thank you to Linni for such a fab guest post and to Nina Douglas and Usborne for organising and asking me to host!
Have you read The Unpredictability Of Being Human? What did you think? What was your favourite part? If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!
Today is my stop on the brilliant #JoinTheFandom blog tour and as it’s the last tour stop I have a fab giveaway!
As well as a giveaway I thought I would spotlight this awesome book that is all the talk on twitter at the moment and is also our debut of the month for the #BritishBooksChallenge18!
So sit back relax and enter the world of The Fandom….
‘THE FANDOM is an absolute thrill to read … Highly recommended!’ JAMES DASHNER, AUTHOR OF THE MAZE RUNNER
Violet and her friends love being part of the fandom for The Gallows Dance. But at Comic-Con, they’re somehow catapulted into the story itself – for real. Trapped in a twisted world where they’ve accidentally killed the original hero, Rose, there’s only one way to survive: Violet must fill Rose’s shoes and put the plot back on track. No story is worth dying for … is it?
You can buy a copy of The Fandom here or from your local bookshop!
About Anna Day
I’m an Author/single mum/Clinical psychologist/Geordie/ lover of stories, music and floaty things.
The lovely people at Chicken House have given me a copy of The Fandom to giveaway to one lucky winner!
You can enter this giveaway by my twitter here
Ends 29th January 2018
You can catch up on the rest of this fab blog tour at the below stops!
A huge thank you to Jazz at Chicken House for asking me to be part of the #JoinTheFandom blog tour and for the fab giveaway. And also a huge thank you to Anna for being our #BritishBooksChallenge18 debut of the month!
Have you read The Fandom? What did you think? What was your favourite part? If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!
Today is my stop on The Ice Sea Pirates blog tour and I am totally thrilled!
The Ice Sea Pirates was released on the 1st January published by Gecko Press and is an “adventure of icy seas and cold-blooded pirates, wolves, mermaids and the bravery of one girl determined to save her sister”.
Today I have the author herself with a fab guest post all about writing….
The cold bites and the sea lashes in this page-turning adventure on the ice seas. No one but ten-year-old Siri dares to face treacherous sailors, hungry wolves and the arctic winter to save her younger sister from the dreaded Captain Whitehead and his ice sea pirates.
THE ICE SEA PIRATES been nominated for five Swedish awards (including the August Prize) and has won three of them. Now the novel is finally available in English, with beautiful cover and illustrations by Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize shortlisted illustrator and author, David Barrow of Have You Seen Elephant?
With a strong girl hero, dramatic landscape and compelling episodic adventure, it’s the perfect read for fans of Rooftoppers and The Girl of Ink & Stars and is set to become a modern children’s classic in the UK.
Becoming a Writer and How I Write
When I was about twenty, I really wanted to become an actress. I applied at acting schools without success, so just for the chance to be film stars, my friend and I wrote our own script for a short film. My boyfriend back then was a media student and was given the job of cameraman. We ended up winning a local film competition. In the jury were two TV and radio producers, who asked me if I wanted to write and produce children’s radio for them. I said yes! But after this it actually took some years before I really started to enjoy writing and realised that I wanted to be an author. My first book was published in 2004.
THE ICE SEA PIRATES I spent hours and hours at the big library in Stockholm, and online, to get it all right. When THE ICE SEA PIRATES was made into a drama by Swedish radio, they put in a sea lion, but I insisted they had to take it out because there are no sea lions in the northern hemisphere. They thought it wasn’t important because my world was made up, with mermaids and bogle birds. But the mermaids and the bogle birds weren’t random; I took a lot of care creating this world. The mermaids, for instance, are a mix between walrus and human, and the bogle birds I found on a website about prehistoric animals (Walrooster). These bogle birds had toothed beaks and ate stones so they would become heavy enough to reach the bottom of the sea to find food.
I plan my work very well. The most important question you must ask yourself when you start writing is: What do I want to say? After that I come up with the characters, the beginning and the end. Then I can start writing and the time-consuming part is to find the road between beginning and end.
THE ICE SEA PIRATES by Frida Nilsson out now in paperback (£6.99, Gecko Press)
Frida Nilsson is a leading Swedish author who has been an August Prize nominee three-times and won the Astrid Lindgren Prize in 2014. In 2017, she was selected as one of Europe’s best emerging writers for young people through the Hay Festival’s Aarhus 39. Her books have been translated throughout Europe and nominated for the prestigious Youth Literature Prize in Germany and several literary awards in France.
Nilsson’s writing is characterised by humour and sincerity. She writes about the big questions in life—friendship, death and love—and has been compared to Roald Dahl and Astrid Lindgren.
About Gecko Press
Gecko Press, an independent publisher based in Wellington, New Zealand selects the best children’s books from around the world, by internationally award-winning authors and illustrators. Gecko Press books are sold in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and North America.
You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!
A huge thank you to Frida for such a fab guest post and to Laura at Gecko for organising and asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!
Have you read The Ice Sea Pirates? What did you think? What was your favourite part? If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!
Today I have the fab T A Williams on Tales as part of the blog tour for his new adult romance, Dreaming Of Florence.
Dreaming Of Florence was released on the 8th January published by Canelo and is the feel good read of the winter.
Today T.A. (Trevor) Williams tells us why he chose to set his latest book, Dreaming of Florence, in that wonderful Italian city in this fab guest post!
Fresh pasta, red wine, fine art… and love? Find enchantment this year in the magical city of Florence
When Debbie Waterson’s bicycle crashes into handsome doctor Pierluigi, she wonders if her luck has changed. Determinedly single after ending a long relationship, at last, a man worth bumping into!
Inspired to visit Florence, she soon runs headlong into that old foe: reality. But is Pierluigi the man of her dreams? Then there’s her booze obsessed boss, his forbidding secretary and her noisy inconsiderate neighbours. But could her luck be about to change? Will she find love after all?
Warm-hearted and unputdownable, Dreaming of Florence is the perfect escape for readers of Holly Martin, Tilly Tennant and Jenny Oliver
They say you should write about what you know, so that’s what I’ve done. I know Florence really well and I love the place. I worked there for almost four years, living in a very historic, but very Spartan, eleventh century convent in the hills outside the city. The area is enchanting, the city stunning, and I’ve always wanted to write about the place.
Dreaming of Florence comes on the heels of Dreaming of Venice, and is going to be followed in the spring by Dreaming of St-Tropez – nobody can accuse me of writing about drab, boring places! They are also gorgeous places to visit on those all-important research trips. Although the titles are similar, these are all standalone books. The characters are all different, but the reader will find a few recurring themes in all of them. There’s always romance, there’s always a Labrador, and there’s always a happy ending. I like happy endings and feel, with the way the world is at the moment, we could all do with a bit of Happy Ever After.
The charm of Florence is its history and its architecture, as well as its geographical location – squeezed between the rugged Appenine mountains and the rolling hills of the Chianti region. But, as well as the place, I just love the people. Florentines are a law unto themselves – and always have been. They don’t suffer fools gladly and they don’t mince their words if they’re unhappy. But, in spite of this, they are wonderfully hospitable and generous, and I count my Tuscan friends among my dearest, closest friends.
The other wonderful thing about Florence is the food. I always try to describe the food and drink of the places I write about, and I found myself salivating as I remembered some of the wonderful meals I had when I lived over there. Florence maybe isn’t the best place in the world to be a vegetarian – the iconic bistecca alla fiorentina (Florentine steak) is a huge slab of tasty steak about the size of a telephone directory – and I mean one of the old telephone directories that strongmen did their best to tear in half with their bare hands. But there’s more to it than meat. There’s the bread for example. It may sound crazy, but Florentine bread is just terrific. It’s white bread, it comes in big round loaves that you slice, and it is completely unsalted. The first time you taste it, you may well think it strange – boring even – but I promise you it grows on you.
Then there’s the wine. Who hasn’t heard of Chianti? Nowadays it’s hard to find the old straw-covered flasks, but the taste is still the same. It’s a light red wine that you can still buy direct from the producers at farms tucked away in the hills. We used to buy our wine in 50 litre demi-johns (a huge glass ball encased inside a wicker basket) and then bottle it up ourselves. Please believe me when I tell you neither I nor my wife are alcoholics, but we used to get through a good deal of the stuff and I still miss it.
I hope I’ve been able to give the reader a true representation of this magical city in my latest book. If I inspired you to visit Venice after reading Dreaming of Venice, I really hope Dreaming of Florence will have you all hurrying off to book flights to Florence. Trust me – it’s worth it.
T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.
You can catch up of follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!
A huge thank you to T A Williams for a fab guest post and to Ellie at Canelo for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!
Have you read Dreaming Of Florence? Are you intrigued? Do you love a good romance novel? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !