Guest Post – A Question Of Fairytale Retellings By Zoe Marriott


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A few months ago I attended a blogger day at Walker books and was lucky enough to see the lovely Zoe Marriott again!

Zoe spoke to us about her new book Barefoot On The Wind, a companion title to Zoë Marriott’s critically acclaimed Shadows on the Moon, a magical retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” set in a fairytale Japan.

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Amoungst all of the excitement of hearing about this fab book Zoe gave out some lovely cards that she had made and we even had Barefoot On The Wind cake!

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It was wonderful hearing about how Barefoot On The Wind came to be and the passion that Zoe has for fairytales (some of which Zoe talks about in the below fab guest post).

Barefoot On The Wind is due to be released on the 1st September 2016 published by Walker Books and  I am super excited to have been asked to feature a fab guest post for this wonderful book by the lovely Zoe Marriott herself!

A huge thank you to Kat at Walker Books and Zoe for asking me to feature this wonderful post.

Sit back and relax and read A Question Of Fairytale Retellings by Zoe Marriott….


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There is a monster in the forest… Everyone in Hana’s remote village on the mountain knows that straying too far into the woods is a death sentence. When Hana’s father goes missing, she is the only one who dares try to save him. Taking up her hunting gear, she goes in search of the beast, determined to kill it – or be killed herself. But the forest contains more secrets, more magic and more darkness than Hana could ever have imagined, and the beast is not at all what she expects…


A Question Of Fairytale Retellings

First up: Hi Chelley! Thanks for having me on your beautimous blog today!

Recently an email arrived in my inbox from a young reader and writer named Hailee. She said:

             “I am trying to write a story that retells the fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses…(published by the Brothers Grimm). I am having trouble with establishing a plot that isn’t very similar to the original story. Do you have any advice/tips on writing a good fairy tale retelling and establishing believable, memorable characters?”

Stories related to mythology or folklore are some of my very favourite kind to read, as well as (probably) my favourite type to write. I am there for fairytales, from obscure Germanic fragments about bad-tempered dwarves, to those grand, over-familiar stories of kings and castles and enchantments that are indelibly linked to Disney in our minds, to the simplest Chinese fable that offers up in conclusion, ‘A sage relies upon the fruitfulness of nature, not the ingenuity of man’.

But what’s equally fascinating is the way that writers have distilled these well known stories down to their essence in order to re-create them in wildly different forms. One of the most interesting aspects of our apparent need to reinvent our shared mythology is how often the ‘essence’ of a tale varies wildly from writer to writer, even when they’re working from the exact-same versions of a fairytale.

This, rather handily, ties into the very issue that Hailee is concerned with.

Hailee’s question breaks down into two parts. The first is about her specific take on ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’ (a personal favourite of mine – great choice Hailee) and how she can distinguish it from the traditional version we’re all familiar with.

But the second question, which is about what makes a good fairytale retelling, links back into the first more directly than it might initially appear to. My tips and advice for writing a good fairytale retelling are very much rooted in the idea that we all have a unique perspective on the fairytales that are special to us. It’s THAT which makes our new versions valuable and fresh and interesting to others, though the tale may have been retold before, and even when our readers could quote the original fairytale by heart.

As for establishing believable and memorable characters? Well, that’s a whole different kettle of writing problems. Luckily, here, here, and here is my advice on that, laid out all friendly-like. Check those out when you have time.

If you were in front of me, Hailee, I would say to you: ‘Tell me about The Twelve Dancing Princesses. What do you love about this fairytale? What excites you about it? What is your favourite part?’ And your answers would tell both of us almost everything you need to know.

How? Because before you can figure out the best way to write your exciting new take on this familiar story, you need to articulate what you want to say about the original.

You see, that’s the point of reimagining a piece of shared mythology. Because, certainly, there are fantastical alternate versions of many fairytales and folk stories, where the author radically re-invents the setting, subverts the plot, and re-imagines the characters. But they do not succeed because of their divergence from the established story. That’s not where their value lies. These new visions work because each of them reflects the idiosyncratic way the story interacted with their writer’s distinctive imaginative landscape.

These writers knew what they wanted to say about their source material.

When you mention struggling to establish a plot that is dissimilar to the original version, you make tiny alarm bells ring in the back of my mind. If it’s a struggle, why do you feel you need to do this? What is wrong with the original plot? What exactly do you want to change about it – and why? Don’t get me wrong; it’s fine if your retelling hinges on utilising a different plot to the traditional one, or even if you want a different plot because you think it’ll be fun. But you need to be able to articulate the reasons why – what you want to achieve – and the answer should not be ‘Because… um… that’s what a retelling does?’

Remember that some of the most successful and beloved fairytale retellings are very, very faithful to the story that is their inspiration. They’re just as great as the more radical departures because they take the familiar and show it to us in a new light, make us reconsider our assumptions by breathing their own kind of life into the established characters or plots, and take us on that beloved journey in a new way. Within the framework of that traditional tale, they still manage to show us something unique and special to their vision of the story.

Let’s look at this process, at what I mean by ‘what you want to say’. A good example is my most recent book, which is based on Beauty and the Beast, a tale generally held to exemplify the motto: true Beauty is on the inside. I love this story, and have enjoyed many faithful retellings of it over the years, from Disney’s animated classic to the two alternate retellings offered by my writing hero Robin McKinley (Beauty and The Rose Daughter).

But I didn’t feel compelled to write my own version until it occurred to me that, in the traditional story, it is the heroine Beauty – not the Beast – who is asked to learn this lesson about judging people based on their appearance. She is the one who, despite being innocent of any crime, is taken from her family, locked up, and forced to learn to love (or at least tolerate) a Beast in order to redeem him.

The Beast, on the other hand, that proud prince whose callousness incurred the terrible curse on himself and his people, spends several decades or centuries skulking in luxury, waited on hand and foot and feeling sorry for himself until, by way of threats and coercion, he manages to acquire a young woman – a beautiful one of course! Having caught her, he then sets up a situation where she feels obligated to accept his proposal of marriage, thereby neatly ending the curse. He isn’t required to learn to see through Beauty’s outer appearance and love the beautiful person within. He isn’t required to learn to love her at all; he’s already asking her to marry him the first night after locking her up, when they’re complete strangers and she’s terrified of him. And even when he lets her go, it’s only for a limited time, and only because he intends to starve himself in her absence so that she will be wracked with guilt and will finally agree to marry him on her return.

How is it, I thought with some astonishment, that we’ve all been taught that this story is about true love and inner beauty, when in actual fact it’s about using false imprisonment, emotional blackmail and coercion to cheat your way out of the consequences of your own actions?

So when I came to write Barefoot on the Wind, I knew I wanted to create a version of the tale in which we could see from his behaviour that the Beast had, in fact, learned to love despite appearances. I wanted to show that he had actually redeemed himself, not used Beauty as a shortcut. I wanted a version where Beauty is not forced to be with the Beast, but chooses to enter the cursed forest for her own reasons, and where she returns to him not because of guilt or emotional blackmail, but because he has earned her love.

This required writing both the characters in ways which differed to their traditional depiction, and some (though not many!) changes to the plot. But all these grew organically from my love for the original and from a thorough examination of what I wanted to say about it.

What aspect or aspects of the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses sets your imagination on fire, Hailee? What made you decide to remake this fairytale for your very own? Ask yourself why you want to write this of all the stories you could write. What beautiful and frightening questions lie lurking, hidden, within the familiar framework of the tale – and what answers do you, and only you, have the ability to offer to a reader based on them?

When it comes to The Twelve Dancing Princesses, there are so many facets of the narrative that might make you long to explore further.

Is it the idea of the descent to the foreign, subterranean world belowground which has its own people, its history, its own rules, its own dark magic? Perhaps you want to explore how this realm came to be, who its people are, and what they ultimately want?

Or maybe you’re fascinated by the strength that the twelve princesses – who were so very young when they were first forced to dance – must have had or developed, to endure the enchantment? What is their plan? Do they have one at all? How have they survived this ordeal and what has it done to them?

Or perhaps you get a shiver of interest from the idea that it’s the soldier’s humble skill of tracking, learned in the wild, abandoned places of the aboveground kingdom, that allow him to finally undo this grand magic. How did he learn? What did it cost him? How does he truly feel about what he sees on his perilous journey and the reward he earns?

Build your new version of the story, faithful or fantastical or somewhere between, on that. On your own passions and your own unique vision of The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

When you’ve done this, with any luck… you will have written a very good fairytale retelling 🙂

I hope this is helpful Hailee! And thanks again for having me, Chelley.

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You can buy a copy of Barefoot On The Wind here


About Zoe Marriott

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I was born and raised in Lincolnshire, where the wild North Sea meets the gentle green-gold curves of the Wold, and I’ve known that I wanted to be a writer since I finished reading my first book; ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ by Enid Blyton. I think I was about eight, but I’ve never changed my mind in all the years since then.

I got my first publishing contract when I was twenty-two, but had to wait until I was twenty-four to see my debut novel – The Swan Kingdom – published. It went on to be shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award and the Lincolnshire Young People’s Book Award, and become a USBBY Outstanding International Book, among other honours.

Since then I’ve written many other books and have been lucky enough to win or be nominated for many other awards, including the Great Britain Sasakawa Prize and a second place in the Lancashire Book of the Year Awards. I have also received grants from the Royal Literary Fund and the Arts Council England.

I currently live in a little house in a town by the sea, with my two rescued cats, one called Hero after a Shakespearian character and one Echo after a nymph from a Greek myth. I also have a springer/cocker spaniel called Finbar (otherwise known as The Devil Hound). 

My favourite colour is green. My favourite food is Chinese dim sum. My favourite songs are ‘I Will Follow You Into the Dark’ by Death Cab for Cutie and ‘Spem in Alium’ by Thomas Tallis.

You can find out more about Zoe on her website – www.zoemarriott.com

Or why not follow her on twitter using @ZMarriott

Check out a quiz Zoe and I made previously – Which Name Of The Blade Character Are you?  – Here


A huge huge thank you to Zoe for such a thoughtful guest post and to Kat at Walker for asking me to host.

Have you read Barefoot On The Wind?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued?  Which Fairytale would you re-tell?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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Tales Post – #HashtagReads – Newsletter Sign Up


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Hashtag Reads is home to some of the best-loved YA authors including Cassandra Clare, Gayle Forman, Paige Toon, Morgan Matson and Darren Shan. It’s a great place for readers to find out about the latest YA reads, hear more from their favourite authors, read exclusive material and enter the hottest competitions.

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How would you like to Win Your Height In Books?!

Hashtag Reads are launching a fab new newsletter which will keep you up to date on all the latest Hashtag Reads bookish news and features from these fab authors and more!

*bursts in excitement*

And if you sign up now, before the 25th August 2016, you will not only receive the very first fab newsletter (due out on Thursday 25th August), but you will also be entered into a prize draw to win your height in books!

Grab the tallest person you know if you win!  Imagine all the books!

*faints in booksih glee*

Please note this competition is being run directly through Hashtag Reads and not through myself or Tales Of Yesterday.

You can sign up to the newlestter below!

The Hashtag Reads tumblr and facebook pages also have fab posts including Q&A’s and all fun bookish things!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/hashtagreads

Tumblr: http://hashtagreads.tumblr.com/

And you can also follow HashTag Reads on twitter too!

Twitter: @hashtagreads

Sign up to the newsletter now or if you are reading this post after the competition date thats okay you can still sign up too for booksh love!

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A huge huge thank you to Liz at Hashtag Reads for asking me to feature this on my blog!

Are you signing up to the newsletter?  Who are your favorite Hashtag Read’s authors?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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Guest Post – Unlikely Heroes by Peadar O’Guilin


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I am super excited to have been asked to feature a fab guest post for this wonderful book The Call by Peadar O’Guilin.

The Call is due to be released on the 1st Septmber 2016 published by David Fickling Books and I have heard the most amazing things about this book already!

The Call is a powerful, genre-changing YA fantasy featuring a rich, dynamic cast of characters and a truly kick-ass heroine! The ‘Ireland’ of Peadar’s fiction is both rooted in reality, the past and the future and the roles of mythology, landscape, poetry and language are central to the action.

A huge thank you to Hayley,Darran and Emma at Ed PR for asking me to feature this post.

So I asked Peadar O’Guilin about unlikely hero’s …….


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“Prepare to be shocked. In fact shocked doesn’t even cover it… you will be sucked into one of the most extraordinary stories you are ever going to read.”
– David Fickling

Nessa is ten when her childhood innocence is shattered and she learns about The Call; the 3 minutes and 4 seconds that will determine the rest of her life. Every Irish teenager must play their part: some come back ‘Survivors’, some come back deformed, but none come back unchanged.
Teenagers across Ireland train vigorously in preparation for ‘The Call’. ‘Survivors’ document their stories in the Book of Conquests but as everyone’s experience is different, no one truly knows what to expect and no one imagines Nessa, the girl with crooked legs, will survive. Not even her parents.
But Nessa is determined to prove them all wrong. Targeted as the weakest student during practice drills, she develops ingenious ways to outwit her hunters. As her fellow students are ‘called’ one by one, and the boundary between the Ireland that she knows and the world of the Greylands grows ever closer, Nessa fears, not only for herself, but for her friends, ferocious Megan and sweet Anto. As she waits for the inevitable, will Nessa have done enough? Will she find a way to survive THE CALL or is her fate sealed before she’s even begun?


10 Unlikely Heroes

 It’s a strange name for a blog post isn’t it? 10 Unlikely Heroes. I mean, by definition all heroes are unlikely. Their job is to achieve the impossible. For example, we never hear of St. George and the tiny, but aggressive piglet. No! To become a legend, he had to defeat a dragon

 And yet, heroic challenges don’t always manifest themselves as exciting mythological beasts. Some people with depression achieve the impossible just by getting up in the morning. Others fight and fight to learn how to walk after a stroke, or to pass exams in an atmosphere of prejudice and disdain.

 These are the real unlikely heroes, but it would be wrong to assume nobody writes about them. There is a whole industry of “issues” books. Stories specifically about people struggling with medical conditions and disabilities and societal prejudice.

For example, there’s Sarah Crosson’s incredible “One” about conjoined twins. This year it deservedly swept every award in the universe.

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There’s Jenny Downham’s masterful “Before I die” wherein a teenage girl races against cancer to find fulfillment.

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And I’ll never forget how much I laughed reading Brian Conaghan’s “When Mr. Dog Bites”, where the plucky protagonist makes his way in life suffering from Turretts Syndrome…

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 “Issues” Books are fantastic, necessary and important. They are beloved of parents and critics and schools. Some of them are among the best things I have ever had the pleasure to read. But you’ll never catch me writing one, because, I, my friends, am an author of adventure stories. I want danger and terror and excitement. I want hordes of monsters to tear through the town, leaving chaos and horror in their wake, and the only person who can stop them, the only one who would dare is…

 Well, who, exactly?

 St. George? Must it always be a St. George type?

 When I bring down the apocalypse, the people who inhabit the pages of the “issues” books aren’t just going to sit there waiting to die. There’ll be boys with Turrets and girls on crutches, who will want to live with just as much intensity as the body-builder types and the sports stars. Their odds will be steeper, but they’ll fight hard and if they succeed, if, wouldn’t that make them even more heroic than those for whom it was easy?

 Well, here I am. I’ve written an adventure book with just such a character, a character I love dearly. So, when I was asked for a post about 10 Unlikely Heroes, I thought, “Yes, this is going to be easy!” Off the top of my head, I thought of I, Claudius with its lame and stuttering hero. I thought of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan with his “chalk-stick bones, friable as talc”… And what about Tyrion Lannister? These three triumph over dangerous, violent circumstances. Over sneering enemies and a world designed only to crush such as they. They’re brilliantly written and engaging personalities that no reader can help but fall in love with.

 But then, I realised I’d come unstuck. Because, all three are men — nothing wrong with that, I’m made that way myself. But still. Really? I can’t think of any women at all? Also, none of the works I’m talking about here count as YA. I mean, I can name a dozen YA books with unlikely heroes off the top of my head, but they are, as I said above, “issues” books, and I’d love to be able to recommend some absolutely corking adventure stories that feature characters with disabilities, but that are not about the disabilities themselves.

 So, I throw myself at your mercy, dear readers. Please, what do you suggest?

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 The Call by Peadar O’Guilin is published by David Fickling Books on the 1st September price £10.99 hardback

You can buy a copy of The Call here or from your local bookshop


About Peadar O’Guilin

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PEADAR O’GUILIN is a powerful and original new voice in YA Fiction but has been writing curious stories for as long as he can remember. He attended the same boarding school as James Joyce in Co. Kildare and since then, he has written plays, published short stories, and performed as a stand-up comedian.

Language, landscape and the history of ancient Ireland are important themes for Peadar and after brief forays living in Milan and Venice he returned to his native Ireland and now lives just outside Dublin

You can find out more about Peadar on his website – www.peadar.org

Or why not follow him on twitter using @TheCallYA


Blog Tour

You can follow or catch up of the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!

The Call blog


A huge huge thank you to Peadar for such a thoughtful guest post and to Hayley, Darran and Emma at Ed Pr for organising!

Have you read The Call?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued?  Which unlikely heros would you suggest to Peadar?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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Review – Dylan The Doctor by Guy Parker-Rees


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Today I have something a little different as I am reviewing a fab new gorgeous picture book which was released on the 4th August 2016 published by Scholastic.

Dylan The Doctor is by Guy Parker-Rees and is gorgeous inside and out with beautiful words and stunning illustrations making this picture book an absolute joy to read.

I am so over the moon to be part of the wonderful blog tour for this book!

For my stop on the blog tour I am going to share my thoughts on the book and post a review….but in a slightly different way!

A huge thank you to Faye Rogers  and Scholastic for having me on this wonderful tour and for sending me the book to read.


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


Publisher – Scholastic

Published – 4th August 2016

Format – Paperback

Category – Picture Book

Source – I was sent a copy of this book by the wonderful people at Scholastic as part of the blog tour organised by Faye Rogers.  This does not affect my review or my opinions in any way and am delighted to write an honest review.  Thank you Scholastic for sending this to me to read and to Faye for organising!


** Please note Tales Of Yesterday Reviews are written as spoiler free as possible**


Firstly…..let me tell you a story I wrote…..

This story features the character created by Guy Parker-Rees in his book Dylan the Doctor and things that happen in the book.  Oh and little old me……

One day I woke up and I was feeling rather unwell.  I sighed a little, rubbed my eyes to clear the sleepiness from them and stretched until all of my body ached and pulled at every limb.

“Ugh,” I thought to myself. “Nothing is going to make me feel better today!”

I looked down at the bright and beautiful picture book sitting beside me on the bed glinting in the morning sunlight.

In the distance I heard a noise.  It was faint but I could hear it getting louder and louder!

“Nee-Naw, Nee-Naw, Nee-Naw!”

All of a sudden a smiley white face with colourful stripes jumped out of the book and appeared before me on my duvet with a doctors kit in hand!

“Today is a making-everyone-better day” he announced throwing his doctors kit down in front of me with a thud.

It was Dylan!  Dylan the Doctor!  From the book I was reading!  Surely this couldn’t be possible!

He threw open his kit with one click and swoosh.

“Do you have Head-shoulders-knees-and-toes-I-tis?” Dylan asked.  “If so I have a bandage that will help.”

I looked curiously at Dylan unable to quite believe my eyes.  “I don’t think so” I replied weakly with a feeble cough and squinting my eyes to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

“Does your arm feel all flappy?”  Dylan asked whilst lifting my arm and waggling it about like it was jelly on a plate.

“Well it didn’t, but it does now”  I giggled whilst watching my arm flop around in Dylan’s paws.

“I’ve got it!”  Dylan said with glee “You have Floppy-Wobble Fever!”

Dylan grabbed some plasters and stuck them all up my arm in a neat little row of pink plastic.

“Do you feel any better now?”  Dylan asked me.

I sadly shook my head.

“Well there’s only one thing for it!”  Dylan announced!

I gave Dylan a look of confusion as he started to pat the blanket all around me.  Tucking me in at every crease and crevice on the bed.  He plumped my pillow, made sure I was comfortable and gave me some pink medicine that tasted like sunshine and strawberries on a spoon!

“All this fuss and pink medicine is making me feel so much better Dylan” I said dreamily my eyes half closing due to the cosiness and warmth of the blanket.

Dylan topped up my orange drink by the side of my bed and fed me some super squishy pink and white marshmallows.

“Ta-dah!”  Dylan announced proudly producing a get well soon card that had exploded glitter all over Dylan so that he looked like a glistening multi-coloured star!

I took the card off Dylan.  “It’s wonderful!” I smiled.

As time went on Dylan sung me a song and performed a little Dylan dance all on his own.  He even read me a story or two!

“Oh Dylan, I’m feeling so much better now!”

Dylan smiled proudly beaming from ear to ear.  “I told you today was a making-everyone-better day”

At that moment a strange smell filled my nostrils and I looked down to where the smell was coming from.

“Erm, Dylan?  What on earth is that stinky sock doing in your doctors kit?”  I asked.

Dylan smiled and looked up at me quickly clicking shut his doctors bag.

“That is another story”  Dylan announced and jumped straight back into the book I was holding in my hand.

dylanSo that was a story I made up after reading Dylan The Doctor.

This picture book is just beautiful.  The words, the illustrations and the story as a whole.  Friendship and helping people are the moral of this story and a lovely lesson for every child to learn and grow up with along the way.  Being kind, loving and caring.

I also loved little Dotty the Bug who appears on pages to ask questions to really get you and your child talking and sharing thoughts and feelings about the book.

I would have loved to see Dylan’s smiling face smiling up at me from the page when I was a toddler.  A smile to brighten any ones day completely.

I award this book 5 out of 5 Tales Of Yesterday Books!

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You can buy a copy of Dylan The Doctor here

Or why not add it to Goodreads here


About Guy Parker-Rees GUY PARKER-REES

Guy Parker-Rees is one of the UK’s best-loved children’s illustrators. His many successes include GIRAFFES CAN’T DANCE (Orchard) and SPOOKYRUMPUS (Orchard). Guy lives in Brighton.

You can find out more about Guy on his Website: www.guyparkerrees.com

Or why not follow Guy on Twitter: @Guyguyyug


Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of the blog tour at the following stops!

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Monday 15th August

Chouett

Big Book Little Book

Tuesday 16th August

Powered by Reading

Orchard Book Club’s Mini Reviewers

Wednesday 17th August

The Pewter Wolf

Maia and a Little Moore

Thursday 18th August

Linda’s Book Bag

Fiction Fascination

Friday 19th August

Emma’s Bookery

Winged Reviews

Saturday 20th August

Tales of Yesterday

Get Kids into Books

Sunday 21st August

Library Girl and Book Boy

Acorn Books

 

 

 

 


Have you read Dylan The Doctor?  What did you think?  Has this review made you want to go grab a copy?  I would love to here from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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PHBC – Call Waiting by R L Stine


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Do you remember the Point Horror Book Series from the 90’s?  The Point Horror Series was a series of young adult point horror books and was launched in 1991 by Scholastic always with the Point Horror banner on the spine and on the top of every point horror book.  There were a number of authors that wrote these books for Scholastic: R L Stine, Diane Hoh, Caroline B Cooney, Sinclair Smith to name but a few.

Are the Point Horror books we loved as a teenager still our favourites on the re-read?  Are you new to Point Horror?  Has our opinion changed?  Are they still as good?  Do they stand up to modern day YA Horror?  Or are they a whole load of cray cray?

Lets find out…

#pointhorrorbookclub

 Join in the discussion with this months title!

Call Waiting by R L Stine

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Don’t forget to use the #pointhorrorbookclub on twitter so I can see your thoughts or tweet me using @chelleytoy

 There is a link to a poll at the bottom of this post to vote for your next #pointhorrorbookclub read! The next book will be announced on 22nd August 2016

For links to #pointhorrorbookclub posts old and new, Point Horror guest posts and interviews with Point Horror authors please click here

Also do check out our Q&A with the one and only Richie Tankersley Cusick that went live this month – here !


** Please note that as this is a discussion there will be spoilers**


The Tagline

Don’t pick up the phone….

Okay ….so…What’s It All About?

Right!

*flicks hair*

Karen Masters is so in love with douchebag hunk Ethan that when she thinks he is seeing Wendy behind her back she starts turning into Glenn Close circa Fatal Attraction era!

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Please don’t tell be Ethan had a bunny rabbit!?

Nope thank goodness he didn’t that’s all I’m saying!

Anyway, all Karen cares about is how much she loves Ethan and would do anything for Ethan etc etc and then Ethan drops the bombshell!

What she was right? He was cheating on Karen?!  We finally have a gay character in Point Horror?!

We can only dream of such a story line in Point Horror!

Well kind of but not with who she thought, but Ethan wants the best of both worlds and tells Karen that they should “see other people”!

Ugh!

Yep Ugh indeed!

This sends Karen spiralling out of control and she does the only thing she can possibly think of to keep Ethan …… pretend that she is getting creepy phone calls from someone who wants to kill her!  And these phone calls all happened whilst she is on the phone via her Call Waiting beeps!

But soon Ethan finds out that Karen doesn’t have Call Waiting!

OMG THE HORROR!

But that’s not the end of it…..then the calls really start happening!  FOR REAL!

Dum dum duuuuummmmm!

The Girl

Oh dear!  Oh dear!  Where on earth do I start with Karen Masters!?

With her dark short hair, dark eyes and very thin appearance I thought she would be one of those Point Horror girls that I would not forget in a hurry…..this was true, but maybe for all the wrong reasons!

With her parents divorced, brother always out with friends and birdlike Mum always working Karen was in the house on her own quite a lot.  But fear not as Point Horror love interest Ethan saved her from her loneliness….apparently!

Karen and Ethan both love bike rides, trivial pursuit and chessboards on rainy evenings…..the perfect romantic couple……that was until Karen thought Ethan was having it away with prop master Wendy!  Oh the horror!  So naturally Karen does the only thing that any girl should do…..stalk your boyfriend outside his own house to see what time he comes home!

And then get caught out by him whilst chatting to your friend about stalking your boyfriend on the phone!

Yep that’s right!  What a brilliant role model Karen was for all teenage girls (NOT!)…..she was very jealous indeed.

But nothing was going to stop Karen!  She loved Ethan with all her heart…he was even worth getting stressed over which gave Karen a very stiff neck indeed!

And do you know what a stiff neck is like?!  DO YOU?!

And this was just the beginning….when things start to come crashing down and falling apart between her and Ethan (mainly because Ethan was a douchebag – more on this later) Karen becomes a little unstable.  I mean making up receiving threatening phone calls just to keep your man is just the worst and then to get busted for doing it!

Oh Karen…..he’s just a boy!

Was it just me or did anyone else laugh when she started to get the calls for realises?!

Also I did admire Karen’s commitment to date nights and especially the new dance club…..horrific snowy bad weather outside is nothing to Karen!  Ethan still must take her to dance!

The Love Interest

Douchebag Ethan!

Ugh!

I mean he’s not the worst Point Horror boy we have ever had I guess!  He does stick by Karen in the end, but still!

With his long black hair, dark soulful eyes, broad forehead, silver earing through one ear and red Bonneville car he had so much Point Horror boy potential.  According to Karen he was funny, outgoing and playful, but all we got to see was him being a bad liar and lets be honest a bit harsh to poor old Karen.

He constantly broke date nights with Karen, he used the line “I think we should see other people” rather than lets break up AND “We can just go out on Saturday nights”. *rages*  He constantly hid behind his friend Jake who always seemed to be bailing him out of a Karen situation.  UGGGGHHHHH!

Ernie calling in sick so Ethan had to work seemed to be the tipping point!

Okay, okay so Ethan may have reminded me a bit of a guy I went out with at school who did the same to me and yes okay I may still be slightly bitter heartbroken about that whole time, but come on Ethan sucked big time!

I mean I guess he kind of redeemed himself in the end by sticking by Karen with the phone calls and “realising what she meant to him”, but he should have know that all along!

The perfect ending for me would have been Karen realising this and saying “look Ethan I may take you up on that seeing other people thing…hi Jake” but no! NO!

*mumbles under breathe*

What was with Ethan and Jake anyway?!  Ethan “rushing off to do math with Jake” *winks*.  Oh why couldn’t we just have a gay love triangle for once in a Point Horror!

The Gang

I have to start with best friend Micah Davis!  A bit of a flirt with blonde curly hair that she played with a lot, long nails, velvety voice that sounded like a sexy purr (?)  and a serious Kit Kat problem (who doesn’t?  Especially the peanut butter ones!) she was after Ethan all along the hussy!  She was meant to be Karen’s best friend and then when Ethan doesn’t break up with Karen she decides to push Karen further over the edge by actually making scary phone calls to her only to be busted by a chiming clock!  Ouch Micah!  Ouch!  Oh also the big finale girl cat fight!  Wow we haven’t had one of those for ages!  Me-ow!

Jake the best friend who had Ethan’s back ….ALL THE TIME.  Who didn’t want these two to get together?!  They would have been adorbs!  Anyway …. tall, with red wiry hair, long gangly arms, a horse voice that earned him the nickname Frog and who reminded Karen of a Grasshopper was severely under used and only there to get Ethan out of tricky situations with Karen.  I’m putting it out there that Jake fancied the pants of Ethan!  100%!  Who’s with me?

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Okay older brother Chris was our typical joker of a Point Horror character!  The college kid with his passion for comedy shows, practical jokes, sandy hair, millions of friends and apparently lots of girlfriends!  I have to admit some of his practical jokes on Karen were hilarious but maybe that was just me being cruel because it was Karen and it was so funny and…..okay I will stop now!

Cousin Adam was a bit of a pointless red herring character wasn’t he?  Not even his love of horror comics and horror movies or the fact that he was really into history could help him.  Having recently moved back into the area and with his rust coloured hair, dark eyes, black rimmed glasses, zits on his chin and skinny appearance he was the perfect extra character we all needed.  He was shy, had a silent laugh that sounded like coughing (?), carried a brown briefcase and liked calling his cousin after midnight!  Other than that he didn’t really do anything did he?!

And what about poor old Wendy Talbot!  Prop Master for the school production of Guys And Dolls with her straight red hair, grey green eyes and paper Mache head that was so heavy she fell down the stairs *sniggers*…. any way she got a lot of flack for apparently “flirting” with Ethan!  I felt a little sorry for her!  Was there something in that shoulder touch?! And that prop gun that Karen thought was real!!  She must have been the best prop master EVER!

Oh also a quick shout out to the two secretaries arguing over pencils and how dark they are!  THIS.  WAS. BRILLIANT!

Fashion Faux Pas

Oh I spotted a shaggy coat that made someone look like a bear!

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A pale blue down vest over a bulky yellow sweater and faded denim jeans with a hole in one knee.

And the crème de la crème of fashion faux pas’s ……Ethans silky, red and gold patterned shirt!

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Oh the 90’s!

Dialogue Disasters

Here are some bits of dialogue that made me laugh!

“You’re a nervous nut”

Micah being a good friend to Karen here *coughs*

“You’re so pale, Karen.  And you look positively anorexic”

Ugh!  Micah is the worst!

“She put her hand on his shoulder.  Like she owned him or something”

Karen advising us all that we mustn’t ever put out hands on a boys shoulder

“A Pop-Tart?  Since when are you such a health nut?!

Really?  Are Pop Tarts healthy?  I think not!

“Does Adam still spend all his time reading those old horror comics and watching old horror movies?”

*Cheers*

“She had a strong impulse to grab Ethan by the shoulders and shake him”

No Karen you must not touch a boy on the shoulders!!!

“Try to get yourself together okay?”

Ethan to Karen….after he has dumped said they should see other people…..RUDE!

“Karen, Ethan and your brother have just told me a disturbing story.  About Call Waiting!”

I’m starting to wonder if Karen’s Mum and I read the same book?

“Howcome your spending so much time with Jake these days?”

That is a very good question Karen!

Body Count

0!

Stiney offers us more or a “psychological” Point Horror rather than a blood thirsty heavy body count Point Horror this time around!

I’m sad there was no Piranha’s!

Is it scary?

Erm…..nope!  It really wasn’t.

I think I sat more open mouthed about poor Karen’s state of mind and everyone ignoring that fact than it being scary to be honest.

Did the best friend do it?

In the end YES!

DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER!

But this was only after Karen got busted making up pretend phone calls to herself on her Call Waiting option so Micah thought she would do it for realises….you know to push Karen further over the edge AND TO STEAL HER MAN WHO SHE HAD BEEN SEEING BEHIND KARENS BACK!

Some Mild Peril?

I guess driving cars at high speed in the snow and ice could be classed as mild peril?  Other than that….not really!

Oh except a hot fire poker stick in the big finale of course!

Is it any good?

It was okay…..not the worst Point Horror we have read, but certainly not the best.

It was also not as good as some of the Point Horror Stiney offered us over his time writing Point Horror….it did made me ponder if this was ever really a Point Horror or just repackaged as such.

Final Thought

Did Karen turn into Ghostface from the Scream movies?!

Cover Wars!

Which one do you prefer?

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Over to you!

As well as your thoughts on the book I’ve added some fun questions to ponder!

  • Ethan – hot or rot?
  • Jake & Ethan – were they secretly together?
  • What flavour Kit Kat?
  • What happened to Ethan and Karen after the book?
  • Are Karen & Micah still friends?
  • Lets hear your scary phone call – what would you have said to Karen?
  • Which secretary was right?  Which pencil is the best?!

You can leave a reply by using the reply button at the top of the page!

Richie

Don’t forget our fab Q&A with Richie Tankersley Cusick that went live this month – here !

It’s like a dream come true!

See you at #pointhorrorbookclub on 13th September 2016 !

You can vote for your next #PointHorrorBookClub read here!

Voting closes on the 22nd August 2016!

And the winner was…….

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The next read will be announced on the #pointhorrorbookclub page here and on twitter using the hashtag #pointhorrorbookclub on the 22nd August 2016!

For links to #pointhorrorbookclub posts old and new, Point Horror guest posts and interviews with Point Horror authors please click here

Thanks for joining in….

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Spotlight – Making Arrangements by Ferris Robinson


MA Flymbo cover FINAL Kindle Scout

I was so excited to be asked via Faye Rogers to be part of a release day blitz for a new Adult self published contemporary book released called Making Arrangements by Ferris Robinson.

And today, 15th August is the release day!

Happy Book Birthday Ferris!

So today in celebration I am going to shine the spotlight on the book and it’s wonderful author!

I even have a fab extract from the book and a giveaway!


MA Flymbo cover FINAL Kindle Scout

Against all odds, cancer survivor Lang Ellis is celebrating the one-year anniversary of her “death sentence” when her beloved husband drops dead on the tennis court.

Devoted to him, she reels from the loss, focusing on her precious granddaughter but struggling with her bossy only child, Teddy, and his aloof girlfriend, Sarah.

With her historical family estate in jeopardy, Lang realizes her husband wasn’t as perfect as she thought.

The secret he carried to his grave can ruin her life.

If she lets it.

You can buy a copy of Making Arrangements here

Or why not add it to your Goodreads list here


Extract

What do you wear the day after your husband dies? Lang wondered, damp from the shower. She put on her old sweatpants and Jack’s practically disintegrated Auburn sweatshirt because they were so soft. She wanted to feel something easy on her skin. She pressed the frayed ribbed collar to her nose and breathed in the sharp smell of aftershave and bacon grease. Jack’s smell.

Teddy sat hunched over the kitchen counter with Sarah and Katie D. on either side of him. Sarah leaned into him, her cloud of pale hair floating out over the back of Teddy’s brown sweater, hovering with static electricity. Lang watched the three of them for a moment from the doorway. She could hear murmurs of their sentences: Katie D.’s singsong voice, Teddy’s hoarse rumble, apologizing for something, and Sarah speaking so tenderly her voice didn’t sound human.

Lang closed her eyes, holding on to the doorjamb for balance, and felt Sarah’s words like they were something physical, covering her softly. Gently.

“Mom!” Teddy said, scraping the chair away from the counter. She jerked to attention.

He looked like he hadn’t slept in days; the collar of his button-down shirt was uncharacteristically wrinkled, and his azure eyes were flat.

“Oh! I didn’t hear you!” A. J. said, appearing suddenly from the hall bathroom. She looked Lang up and down, grimacing. “You still got that rubber band around your wrist.” Lang pulled the frayed cuff down to her knuckles, holding the soft fabric in her fists.

A.J. looked like a different person except for her crumpled tennis clothes. Her hair was styled and her eyes were bright and her skin was dewy. She looked like she’d found a day spa in the hall bathroom. Lang sniffed the air, detecting vanilla and deodorant.

“I smell something,” Katie D. said.

“Halston,” A. J. said, flapping her hands in circles about her neck in an effort to spread the heavy perfume around the room. Katie D. crinkled up her nose.

Lang ran her fingers under her own eyes, trying to remember the last time she’d looked in a mirror. She should have put on some makeup after her shower. Concealer under her eyes at least. She reached her hands out toward her son, then curled them into useless fists as she shook her head slowly.

Teddy wrapped his arms around her, and she felt her boy sink into her, collapsing for a second. His breath caught, and his chest shuddered against her shoulder.

“Shhh,” she said. “Don’t cry.” She felt him stiffen before he stepped away.

“How you holding up?” Teddy asked brusquely. “Who would have thought, huh? Sorry, bad joke. Dad would have laughed, though.”

Lang squeezed the edges of her mouth up into a semblance of a smile. No one would have ever thought Jack would be dead instead of her. Hilarious.


About Ferris Robinson

profile pic beach

Ferris Robinson lives in a beautiful part of East Tennessee with her husband and two dogs. The mother of three grown sons, she delights in the fact that her dogs obey her – more or less.

A former columnist for the Chattanooga Free Press, she is the editor of the Lookout Mountain Mirror and the Signal Mountain Mirror. Her work has been published numerous times in The Christian Science Monitor and the “Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series. She is a columnist at chattanoogan.com.

The author of several cookbooks, including “Never Trust a Hungry Cook,” which she wrote in college and the “Gorgeless Gourmet’s Cookbook,” Ferris was featured on the cover of Women’s World magazine. Promoting her super-easy but healthy recipes, she made numerous television appearances and sold 10,000 copies of the Gorgeless Gourmet’s Cookbook, pre-Internet. Paid subscribers from every state in the U.S. received her newsletter featuring “practically fat-free recipes for super-busy people.”

Her book “Dogs and Love – Sixteen Stories of Fidelity” has 94 reviews on Amazon, and her other books include “Authentic Log Homes.” “Making Arrangements” is her first novel.

You can find out more about Ferris on her website: www.ferrisrobinson.com

Or why not follow her on Twitter: @fkrobinson


Giveaway

For the release day blitz, Ferris is giving away one e-book copy of the book to one lucky winner!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Another huge thank you to Faye Rogers and Ferris!  Making Arrangements sounds fab!

Happy Reading!

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Tales Q&A with Georgia Clark


The Regulars

I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for a booked pitched as Dorian Gray for the Girls generation, The Regulars by Georgia Clark.

The Regulars was released on the 11th August 2016 published in paperback by Simon & Schuster UK and is a fab contemporary.

A huge thank you to Alix and Alice at FMCM for having me on this wonderful tour.

For my stop on the blog tour I have had the chance to put some questions to the lovely Georgia Clark!

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The Regulars

Best friends Evie, Krista and Willow are just trying to make it through their mid-twenties in New York. They’re regular girls with typical quarter life crises: making it up the corporate ladder, making sense of online dating, and making rent.

Until they come across Pretty, a magic tincture that makes them, well …gorgeous. Like, supermodelgorgeous. With a single drop, each young woman gets the gift of jaw-dropping beauty for one week, presenting them with unimaginable opportunities to make their biggest fantasies come true.

But there’s a dark side to Pretty, too, and as the gloss fades for these modern-day Cinderellas, there’s just one question left: What would you sacrifice to be Pretty?


Hi Georgia!  Thank you so much for joining me today!  I am so excited for The Regulars!

Can you tell us a little about The Regulars?

It’s a sexy, sassy feminist fairytale about three young women living in Brooklyn (where I live), who get their hands on Pretty, a magical elixir. One drop turns you super, jaw-droppingly hot for one week at a time. But there’s a dark side to being Pretty too…

Is there anything in particular that inspired you to write The Regulars?

I was inspired to create this story to join the exciting and important conversation that’s happening around beauty and beauty standards. From the anti-Photoshopping movement to icons like Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer celebrating and embodying a more realistic approach to bodies and being a woman, there’s a real groundswell right now that’s questioning what we want our beauty standards to look like. Ultimately my aim in joining this conversation was to put something out into the world that helped women and girls feel better about themselves and happy in the bodies and faces we live in.

 What would you do if you discovered Pretty?

Probably something close to what Evie’s agenda is: using it to become more powerful. There I am, on the Victoria’s Secret runway, high-fiving Taylor Swift before grabbing the mic and espousing an impassioned Equal Pay for Equal Work manifesto. Telling my 5 million Snapchat followers about fighting campus rape. Maybe I’d go real renegade, Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Jessica Jones-style (after all, I’d look great in Nylon) and save the city from rogue mansplainers.

Awesome!

Can you tell us a little fact about each of the main characters Evie, Krista and Willow?

Clever, cautious, idealistic Evie is an only child who secretly loves Buffy fan fiction.

Aspiring actor/hot mess Krista lost her virginity in the back of a blue Ford.

And shy, sensitive, self-destructive Willow is obsessed with the filmmaker Harmony Korine.

What was your favourite scene to write?

So many! I loved writing the first transformation scene as it has comedy, drama, tension, and some nice surprises. I really liked writing Willow’s scenes, even though her voice was the hardest for me to nail: she’s a very poetic, mysterious girl and her scenes were the most experimental.

Do you see yourself in any of the characters in The Regulars or have you used any of your own experiences in the story?

Certainly: I’m most like Evie, with splashes of Willow and Krista. I used the universal experience of not feeling pretty enough to give the novel depth, truth and authenticity. Many of the girls’ different insecurities I’ve felt myself.

If you could cast your characters from The Regulars in a big Hollywood film adaptation who would you choose?

I think Jess Biel would be a great Velma Woolf.

Jessica-jessica-biel-134892_1280_1024

Mia Wasikowska could be an interesting Willow. Tilda Swinton could play Evie’s boss at the magazine.

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And of course, Ellen Page would be Quinn.

Ellen Page

What would you like your reader to take from The Regulars?

In an ideal world, I’d like readers to feel equal parts entertained, inspired and supported. It’s not easy being a woman in this world, and personally, I feel drawn to telling stories about the female experience that can be helpful, in some small way.

We would love to know a little bit more about you!  Can you give us 5 random facts we don’t know about Georgia Clark?

  1. I was in the Cattle Club at high school and used to show cows at agriculture shows.
  2. I had braces for 2.5 years and hated every. Single. Moment.
  3. I had never been to a gym until 2015 when I started dating my (very healthy) girlfriend.
  4. I once got my aura cleansed for a magazine story and it was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life.
  5. I travelled solo through Vietnam and once spent a week singing pop songs to “teach” (re: entertain) a room full of Khmer (Cambodian) school kids.

Which of your characters would you most like to spend the day with?

Probably Krista. She’s the most fun, for sure. She’d get us into the best kind of trouble.

Growing up who inspired you into writing?  Are there any Authors or books that inspired you?

The Dark is Rising series, by Susan Cooper.

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I was totally and completely obsessed with this Young Adult series as a kid. Hungrily consumed when my imagination was a ripe and fertile thing, I really felt like I was there, alongside the Drew family, searching for the legendary Holy Grail in the mysterious windswept hills of Cornwall. I have vivid memories of the Greenwitch, Will Stanton, the Things of Power; the mix of myth, magic and memory that all good fantasy-adventure stories possess. Being an Aussie, I was raised with equal parts American and British culture, and thus feel quite fond of UK classis such as The Five Children and It, the Narnia chronicles and the Famous Five. But The Dark is Rising was always my favourite, kicking off a lifetime love of action and adventure.

Are there any recent works or authors that you admire or books you wish you had written?

I adored The Girls, by Emma Cline.

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A new favourite. The buzz book of the summer merits all the praise. Her prose is consistently elegant and surprising. Such a wise storyteller makes everyone else seem like cliché-ridden buffoons. I had the odd experience of having my life reflected back to me by a person I didn’t know.

I wish I’d written Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. I was given this novel by my best friend with the wild-eyed you-have-to-read this endorsement known to all book lovers. It’s my kind of story: snappily written, cleverly crafted, opinionated in ways I relate to, deliciously brutal, and just a cracker of a crime story.

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What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m halfway through Phoebe Robinson’s You Can’t Touch My Hair (and other things I still have to explain). It’s so smart and funny; a must-read for Fall.

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Are there any authors you would like to collaborate with?  Who?

I love collabs! Everyone I’ve mentioned, plus David Mitchell, Margaret Atwood, David Sedaris, Maggie Stiefvater, Karen Russell, and ALL funny ladies: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, Carrie Brownstein, Judith Lucy, Mindy Kaling. Bring it!

When starting a new book or idea what does your writing process look like?

I start with one of the most fun parts: brainstorming. This involves some forms of research, depending on how much I actually need to learn, and extensive note taking. It’s basically months of daydreaming, where the sky’s the limit. Only in the outline phase do I start culling ideas and getting things at order; at the very beginning, it’s pure play. 

Do you have any strange writing habits?

If I’m alone, I’ll read it out loud and do the voices. I need total silence: I get furious with snifflers/loud typers/coughers.

If The Regulars had a theme tune what would it be?

Anything by Beyoncé.

Are there any exciting plans for the rest of 2016?   

My year is packed! I’m in Canada (Nova Scotia) right now for a friend’s wedding. Heading to LA at the end of the month for a book launch and to hang out for a bit, then I’ll be in Australia for three weeks for more press and to see my family. I’ll be in NY for Fall, maybe a weekend upstate for apple-picking. I’m doing a writers’ residency outside Chicago in early winter to start a new idea!

Thank you so much for answering all my questions Georgia!

The Regulars

You can buy a copy of The Regulars here or from your local bookshop

Georgia Clark is the author of The Regulars. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and sign up for her newsletter.


About Georgia Clark

georgia clarke

Georgia Clark is an author, screenwriter and journalist who is widely published in women’s and lifestyle magazines, and writes for TV. She is enthusiastically vegetarian, proudly queer, definitely a city-dweller, a long-time lover and supporter of the arts and an advocate for the empowerment of young women.

– Follow me on Twitter/Instagram @georgialouclark
– Sign up to my mailing list from my website georgiaclark.com
– Like my author page on Facebook


Blog Tour

Follow or catch up of the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!

georgia-blog-tour


A huge huge thank you to Georgia for answering all my questions and to FMCM for organising!

Have you read any of the The Regulars?  What did you think?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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Tales Q&A with Richie Tankersley Cusick


Richie

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Do you remember the Point Horror Book Series from the 90’s?  The Point Horror Series was a series of young adult point horror books and was launched in 1991 by Scholastic always with the Point Horror banner on the spine and on the top of every point horror book.  There were a number of authors that wrote these books for Scholastic: R L Stine, Diane Hoh, Caroline B Cooney, Sinclair Smith to name but a few.

They were basically what I was reading and enjoying as a young adult and thanks to the author Juno Dawson, who started #PointHorrorBookClub on her website in 2013, I have started to re-read these books that I used to rush to the shops every weekend and buy and sit for the whole weekend reading.

Juno announced in January 2015 that she was no longer able to carry on #pointhorrorbookclub and with her blessing I am going to try and carry it on with version 2!  Juno has done a fantastic job – I hope I can keep up her good work *gulps*

For links to #pointhorrorbookclub posts old and new please click here


The #pointhorrorbookclub have read a number of Point Horror Books by Richie Tankersley Cusick including…..

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And we still have many more to revisit!

These books are most definately memorable from the Point Horror era and I have had the absolute honour of putting some questions to Richie!

For this task I recruited some awesome #pointhorrorbookclub members as well as myself with some burning questions for Richie!  Thanks for all of the brilliant questions!

For links to #pointhorrorbookclub posts old and new please click here

NB – as this is a discussion this will contain spoliers!


About Richie Tankersley Cusick

Richie

Richie Tankersley Cusick was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on April Fools Day. Being an only child, she began at an early age to invent invisible friends and special worlds of her own, which sparked her passion for writing.

Among her first and fondest memories is living alongside the bayou in the small town of Barataria. Rich with legends and folklore, this area was once frequented by the pirate Jean Lafitte, who supposedly hid his treasure within the dark shadows of Bayou Barataria. The influence of Southern mystery and charm was overwhelming to a little girl’s imagination–ruins of old plantation houses, aboveground cemeteries, moss-draped oak trees, crumbling churches, shrimp boats, old drawbridges, haunted roads, and the murky waters of the bayou. Many of these childhood experiences would prove to be major inspiration for her books. She would love the South always.

When Richie was old enough to start school, the family moved to the suburbs where they shared their home with a ghost. Though her growing- up years were spent in Louisiana, summers were spent in Missouri with her grandparents, where she received regular—and fascinating—doses of Ozark superstitions and folk tales. She attended Riverdale High School, then went on to the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now called UL Lafayette) in Lafayette (Cajun capital of the world!) where she graduated with a BA in English and a minor in English history.

Soon after graduation she moved to Kansas City, where she worked as a writer at Hallmark Greeting Cards for nine years. Once again, her house was inhabited by a ghost. Upon publication of her first book—Evil On The Bayou—she left Hallmark and began writing books full time.

Twenty-eight books later, she now lives in North Carolina with her two cocker spaniels, Audrey and Halle Berry, and shih tzu, Emma, and is currently at work on a new novel. She writes at an antique rolltop desk which was once owned by a funeral director. And yes…it’s haunted.

You can find out more about Richie and her books on her website – www.richietankersleycusick.com


I am so excited to have Richie talk to us today!

Here we talk about the Point Horror brand, experiences, writing and haunted desks!

*breaks out buttery popcorn and settles in for the ride!*


Hi Richie.  Welcome to Tales Of Yesterday and to #pointhorrorbookclub!  Thank you so much for stopping by!  We are so excited and thrilled and excited to have you here!

Hi, everyone! I feel so honored, being asked to participate in your Point Horror Club.  In fact it’s been so long since I wrote books for Point, I’m actually shocked that anyone even remembers me!  I hang my head in shame that it’s taken me so long to get back with you—punctuality has never been one of my virtues.  But I felt it was important to dig deeply into your thought-provoking questions, hoping I’d be very thorough with my answers.  All the questions were so interesting—some I’d never even considered before—and I found the interview to be both fun and challenging.  I hope you’ll forgive me if I’m too wordy with my replies—this is precisely why I’ve never been good at short stories! 

Firstly, yay to Point Horror…we have re-read three of your contributions to Point Horror so far, Teachers Pet, April Fools and Trick Or Treat.  We can’t wait to re-read more!  I always remember Fatal Secrets being my personal fave so we will have to re-read that one soon.

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 So some of the #PointHorrorBookClub have put together some (maybe too many) questions for you….we are all very excited!

Chelle, I’m thrilled that you and your group have become fans of Point Horror—especially because it’s been years since the books were published.  Does that mean they’d be considered vintage now?  🙂  However, I’d like to clarify that my only Point books were THE LIFEGUARD, TRICK OR TREAT, APRIL FOOLS, AND TEACHERS PET.  Readers often—and understandably so—think that the rest of my books were published under the Point banner, when in fact, only those four were part of the list.  I had a happy and productive stay at Point but then moved on to other publishers.  I’m so flattered that your personal favorite is FATAL SECRETS—but that one was published by Archway, as were most of my other titles. So now I’ll dive in and tackle your questions—I’m very excited, too—here goes!

[Point Horror Book Club – This is really interesting – I can only presume that maybe the UK pulishers rebranded the books or bought the books under their own Point banner here in the UK.  Speaking to Anne Finnis at YALC about this point it seemed that the books that they were sent to choose from were not specified as not being Point titles]

Right onto the questions!

Paul P: *waves* “Teacher’s Pet” was the first Point Horror book I ever bought and got me into reading!  How did your involvement in Point Horror come about?

Hi Paul! (this is me waving back!)  I really got my start with Point Horror in kind of a roundabout way, I guess.  I’d written my very first book EVIL ON THE BAYOU, which was part of a series called “Twilight,” then published by Dell.  The publisher liked the book very much, so I wrote another—but unfortunately the series ended before my book could be considered.  In the meantime, an editor from Scholastic had read my first book and really enjoyed it—so I was asked to write a book for Point.  I was given the title THE LIFEGUARD, which ended up on the Publishers Weekly Bestseller List.  And that led to three more books with Point.

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Chelle:  How many Point Horror Books did you write all together and over how many years?

I wrote four Point books:  THE LIFEGUARD, TRICK OR TREAT, TEACHER’S PET, and APRIL FOOLS, probably over the course of about four years.  After that, I moved to Archway, the YA division of Simon & Schuster, where I published VAMPIRE, FATAL SECRETS, THE MALL, SILENT STALKER, HELP WANTED, THE LOCKER, THE DRIFTER, SOMEONE AT THE DOOR, OVERDUE, SUMMER OF SECRETS, STARSTRUCK, and THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR.   I also published two adult books with Simon & Schuster—SCARECROW and BLOODROOTS.  In addition, I wrote novelizations of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, THE HARVEST, and THE ANGEL CHRONICLES.  And finally I moved to Penguin—their YA division is called Speak– where  THE UNSEEN series, WALK OF THE SPIRITS, and SHADOW MIRROR were published. THE UNSEEN was originally a four-book series, but later was also combined into two volumes, THE UNSEEN 1 and THE UNSEEN 2.  Speak also came out with a book called SPIRIT WALK, in which both WALK OF THE SPIRITS and SHADOW MIRROR were combined into one volume.

Paul P:  Did you write the Point Horror stories based on titles given to you or were you allowed to make up the titles?

For all four of my Point books, I was given specific titles to work with.  I remember when I was given the title THE LIFEGUARD (my first Point book).  They told me the cover would have a picture of a rather ominous-looking lifeguard on it.  And I was thinking,  if there’s already a picture of a lifeguard on the cover, and the title is THE LIFEGUARD, then the “bad guy” is pretty much given away already, right???  So I came up with the idea of having three different lifeguards in the book, so even though the reader knew that a lifeguard was the bad guy, they wouldn’t know WHICH lifeguard was the bad guy!!!

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Mark:  Several of your PH titles seem to have started life outside the PH stable. How did they end up being released under the banner?

Actually, I really hadn’t started on any of my Point books until the titles were assigned to me.  Then the challenge was to come up with a suspenseful idea that would reflect the title.  My main goal was always to make the book much scarier and more involved than the actual title sounded.  I always wanted to give my readers more than they’d bargained for.

Chelle:  What was the process of Point Horror publication like for you? Caroline B Cooney, in another #pointhorrorbookclub Q&A gave the impression that it was somewhat of a factory mentality, churning books out based on titles that would appeal to readers?

My personal belief is that Point did have a specific group of writers they very much respected and used for their YA horror genre.   I’m thinking that Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine were probably their most successful authors—both were amazingly prolific, and I always admired their ability to turn out so many books so quickly.  I can’t speak for them, but in my own experience, I never felt like I was expected to do any sort of “factory” thing and just churn out book after book.  After THE LIFEGUARD was published, I was given TRICK OR TREAT to work with; after that I was given a 2-book contract which included my other two Point titles.  And though I was assigned specific deadlines, I never felt the presssure to become a” book machine.!”

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Paul H:  We have come to realise that some of the more prolific Point Horror authors (Stine, Hoh) were occasionally ghost-written.  Were you ever approached to ghost-write for a fellow PH author?

No, I was never asked to do any ghost writing for Point.  The closest thing I can compare that to, is being asked to write novelizations for BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and ANGEL when I was with Archway.  In those cases, I was given the actual scripts written by Joss Whedon (the creator of Buffy and Angel), and my job was to flesh them out into book form.  The books were a lot of fun because basically, they’d already been written.

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Chelle: Did you have to work towards a specific word count for Point Horror?

Although I’ve never been a writer concerned with “word count,” my books always seemed to be around 225-250 pages.  We probably were given guidelines about the actual book length, but I don’t really remember them, and my books just always seemed to end up at that particular length.

Mark:  How long did it take on average to write a PH book?

On average, most of my books took around three months to write.  I always did two to three drafts before I was satisfied with a complete manuscript.  But after I turned in a manuscript, I’d then have many consultations with my editor, where we’d discuss different ways to make the book better.  Then I’d go back and edit and rewrite till we both agreed that the book was the very best it could be.  The books actually came out about a year to a year and a half after they were written and given final approval.

Cazzy:  Which book did you enjoy writing most and which character was your favourite?

Boy, that’s a tough one!  With every book I write, a little of myself stays locked inside it forever, and the characters stay locked inside ME forever.  But even though each and every book has a special meaning and memory, there are always some that just seem a little more special than others.  Of my Point titles, TRICK OR TREAT is probably my favorite.  Conor will always be one of my most favorite characters, and I enjoyed every second I spent with him.  I’ve even had readers ask me to write a sequel to TRICK OR TREAT, focusing on Conor and his future relationship with Martha.  A wonderful idea, I agree—but one I haven’t pursued yet. 

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Paul H:  Which of your Point Horrors are you most proud of?

That’s another tough one.  I guess THE LIFEGUARD will always be a souce of pride to me because it was my very first Point title and also my very first really successful book.  There were a lot of challenges involved with it, and I was a very new, very enthusiastic writer, who really wanted to do a good job.  I remember my concern about the book being on a beach, because I’d never really had any experience of being around beaches.  So I went to AAA and got every travel book I could get my hands on, everything about beaches and coastal areas.  I went through every book and wrote down tons of information about beaches—details and descriptions such as flora and fauna, boats, water, lighthouses, sand, shells, weather—every possible thing I could think of that was beach-related.   I made lists of words and phrases.  I kept the lists close at hand while I wrote.  Most of those details found their way into the book, gave it a realistic atmosphere, made it come alive. After the book was published, I had so many readers tell me that Beverly Island was just like the coasts where they lived or vacationed, that my beaches made them feel like they were actually there. That really made me feel good, that I’d achieved exactly what I’d set out to do.

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Mark: Which of your PH titles do you think has aged the best?

I definitely think TRICK OR TREAT has best withstood the test of time.  Readers still comment on that book, and especially on Conor.  Readers still say it scared the life out of them!  Yay!  That’s just what I was trying to do!!!  However, out of all my published books, THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR (published by Archway) seems to have remained in print the longest, and those characters are still some of my very favorites.

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Paul H:  With a few notable exceptions, Point Horror’s tended to stick to a few basic rules:  female protagonist, brooding romantic interest, a general whodunit structure.  Was it a challenge to invent compelling plots within those boundaries?

Honestly, I don’t think I was ever aware of those rules when I was writing.  I basically just wrote the kinds of books I loved and that I thought teens (mainly girls) would also love.  Surprisingly, I’ve heard from many boys who’ve enjoyed my books too, which really makes me happy.  I’ve always written stories that I personally wanted to write, even when titles were assigned to me.  I’ve always enjoyed reading YA books, both when I was a teen and also now as an adult.  Before I wrote EVIL ON THE BAYOU, I read quite a few current YA horror books, focusing on what their appeal was, what teens really liked about them, and what readers’ expectations were.  I remembered things that had always kept me glued to those books I’d loved reading as a teen—romance, suspense, mystery, cute guys (and mysterious cute guys), the totally unexpected, the irresistible challenge of whodunit.  I think that the world in general changes with each generation, but I also feel that deep-down emotions, hopes and fears, those extremely personal issues and pressures that young adults face, really don’t change that much.  Every generation is very different, but very much the same.

  I always try to write books that my readers can identify with. My main character/heroine is a sort of Everygirl—a girl any female reader can relate to. My books are more character-driven, rather than plot-driven.  I never use a formula or an outline, but at some point in my writing I suddenly realized that I usually have three guys—don’t ask me why, but three seems to be the magic number.  I usually have very supportive best friends that the main character can confide in, whether those friends are guys or girls.  The “side” characters (what I like to call them)—guys, boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends, eccentrics, neighbors, and especially the villains, are always much more interesting to me.  They influence the direction of the book, and their interaction with the main character gradually reveals her true spirit and personality.   I think you’ll find in most YA books that the adults disappear very early on, or that they make very few appearances.   In my own books, the presence of grown-ups (including parents) is usually minimal, whether they’re apathetic or oblivious, out of town or deceased, etc.  Even loving and concerned parents have very limited interaction; they’re only used for the purpose of further defining the teens.  The idea is to leave the young adult characters pretty much on their own, so they’re forced to figure out solutions for themselves.

 I try not to date my books with things like current technology or current slang, etc.  Those things change so quickly; often by the time a book is published, many fads and innovations are already out of date.  So I really try to concentrate on people and relationships, more than things.  I don’t go into a book with the idea of moralizing or lecturing or teaching any lessons.  But again, I do notice certain recurring themes in my books—like the importance of friendships, not judging by appearances, and discovering one’s true nature through adversity.

 My characters must always deal with “bad surprises.”  That is, they’re very normal, doing the right things, being good people, minding their own business when suddenly—through no fault of their own—they’re dealt disasters and tragedies and seemingly hopeless obstacles which they must overcome,.  Through these frightening situations they find courage and strength within themselves and come out stronger in the end.  An unfortunately, obstacles and challenges never go out of date.

Chelle:  We have noticed a difference between the early Point Horror book and the later Point Horror books in death rates and breaking boundaries.  Do you think as Point Horror became more popular the publishers loosened the reigns a little?

That’s really an insightful question.  You wouldn’t believe the boundaries I had to work around when I was writing YA back then.  Censorship was pretty rigid, and publishers weren’t big on gore, curse words, sex, suggestive language, etc.  Yes, quite a challenge—and today their restrictions would probably be laughable!!!  I’m sure that to keep up with the times, and to keep up with new challenges facing young adults, the publishers were forced to give a little—or a lot.  However, in my own books, I’ve never been big on gratuitous sex, violence, or gore—not then and not now.  Actual deaths and murders not-always-but-usually happen off-screen.  I tend to lean more towards suggestions rather than graphic action.  And yes, in SHADOW MIRROR, (SPOILER ALERT!)  two characters actually have sex, but ONLY because I felt it was necessary to the plot, to move it forward, to set the stage for what might happen in their futures, and also to show the reactions/personalites of the side characters who are peripherally involved.  But I’m very particular and careful about what I put into a story; I won’t write things just for the sake of shock value.

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Mark: Did you plant any friends / family in your stories?

You know, sometimes I wonder if each character in a book has just a tiny bit of some person we’ve ever known, loved, or hated in our lifetimes!!! The only characters I can truly say were modeled on actual people are the Loberg sisters in THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR.   They’re comical characters (in fact, one of them is based on me)—and my dear friend who recognized herself in the other sister,  was totally flattered—she thought the characters were hilarious!

 I LOVE my characteres, and when the book is finished, I actually go through a grieving period because I miss them so much.   My characters are as real to me as any real-life person, and I live with them 24-7 for the duration of the book.  For example, my last books WALK OF THE SPIRITS and SHADOW MIRROR were very different projects for me–not my usual horror themes, but more mystery-oriented (or what I like to call, my “quieter books”).  I was going through a very painful time in my personal life, and these characters were with me every second of every day.  In fact, sometimes I wonder if I could even have survived that time of my life without the presence and support of those characters.  And do you know that even now—when I’m feeling particularly frustrated or blocked—I actually go back and re-read those two books just to be with those beloved characters again?  Yes…I admit, this writer is a bit eccentric that way!

Chelle:  Have you read any other Point Horrors?  Which one was your favourite?

Yes, I’ve definitely read books by Point authors, though I certainly couldn’t pick a particular favorite..  In fact, I’ve read many YA authors who inspired me and influenced my desire to write YA.  There are so many good authors out there, it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite.

Paul H:  Which of your Point Horror stablemates (other Point Horror authors) did you rate the highest?  Did you ever meet any of them?

I honestly couldn’t rate any of the other authors—they all have their own different and very exclusive styles, which appeal to such a wide variety of readers. I remember when I first started writing professionally,  Christoper Pike and I were attending a conference together, and he was kind enough to share some writing advice with me, a truly unselfish gesture I’ve always appreciated.  I also love John Peel—one of my most admired authors and a special friend, even though –sadly—we’ve lost touch over the years.  R.L. Stine and I also became very good friends and did some book signings together, though—once again, regrettably–I haven’t seen him for many years.  As for myself, I’ve  always had a very strict policy:  I NEVER read any YA books while I’m writing one.  I don’t want any other books creeping into my subconscious to influence me in any way, shape or form.  Once I finish writing my own YA book, however, then I’ll start reading teen books again.  The same rule applied when I wrote my two adult books.  I wouldn’t even consider reading another adult book while I was involved with my own—so while I was immersed in writing my own adult book, that’s when I’d switch to reading YA.

Chelle: Which of your Point Horror characters would you most like to go to dinner with?

Dinner?  Do they actually have time to go to dinner in between dodging perilous situations????  Of course, it would have to be Conor from TRICK OR TREAT.   Cute, witty, mysterious, and loyal to the end—who wouldn’t want to have dinner with him???  But if you asked me about any of my other books, I’d have to say Charlie from THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR, and especially Gage and Etienne from the WALK books.

Mark:  Trick or Treat was adapted for the short lived PH audiobook collection. What did you think of that version and did you get any input into it?

You know, I don’t think I ever actually listened to it the whole way through—and since I can’t even remember it now, I don’t know how to answer your question.  However, I had no input at all—I don’t remember even knowing about it till I received a copy in the mail!!!

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Chelle:  If you had to write one more PH what would you call it?

How about MEGA-BESTSELLER????  Seriously though, I have so many titles spinning around in my head, but I won’t reveal them here. What if other writers saw them and decided to use them for their own books??!!   🙂

Cazzy:  where do your ideas come from?

Cazzy,  you wouldn’t believe how many times I’m asked that question—and every time I feel totally baffled by it.  Some ideas come from the most obvious places; other ideas come without warning from my own head.  Here are just a few examples I can think of:  Reading books; watching movies; looking at pictures; traveling; studying places and scenery; current events; being aware of one’s surroundings; talking to people; doing research, hearing about legends, folklore or mysteries (I have a soft spot in my heart for ghosts, especially since I grew up with one in my house, and also because have a haunted rolltop desk where I work); hearing an interesting name of a person, place, or thing (I have tons of books on names, both people and places); watching teens, their mannerisms, how they talk and interact; letting my imagination run wild.  I’m particularly fond of the supernatural, gloomy atmospheres, wolves, monasteries,  cemeteries, old houses (each has its own soul and personality, you know, just like a character), brooding characters, the unexplainable, and, as I mentioned before, “bad surprises.”  I believe in just about everytthing–just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  And evil has always fascinated me–how the mind of an evil person works (or doesn’t). 

 I’ve always loved watching the old, classic horror movies:  Dracula (with its many renditions), Frankenstein, The Wolfman.  My favorite was always The Wolfman—that desperate pathos of an innocent man suddenly finding himself helpless in the midst of a “bad surprise” (a horrific surprise, really). My heart always ached for him and his sealed fate.  I’ve always loved that classic character more than all the others. 

 But here’s a bit of information that might interest you.  And it’s about your homeland.  Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been absolutely fascinated with England.  Everything about England intrigued me, captivating and stirring my imagination.  Jack the Ripper and the foggy streets of London. Yorkshire and the moors.  The beautiful countryside, farmhouses, and sheep.  I loved the sea-sprayed cliffs of Cornwall.   I loved Victorian England. I loved British authors, legends, tales, and folklore.  I loved castles, churches, monasteries, houses, old towns and villages, and English history.  I loved your language and the differences in British and American words that mean the same thing (I have British dictionaries)!  And, like most Americans, I love British accents and could listen to them all day! 

 I have a huge collection of books about England (travel, history, literature, cookbooks, etc.).  I minored in English history in college. My parents gave me a trip to England for my college graduation present, and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel there four more times (or is it five?).  And the whole fascination is so odd really, because when I was a child, no one ever mentioned England to me.  I never heard about it from any friend or family member, and in school I even hated geography!  It was if England had always been in the back of my mind, just waiting for me to discover it and explore it.  Later I found out that my Tankersley ancestors had come from England.  That there’s actually a town called Tankersley (which a friend and I visited; to my disappointment it was nothing like what I’d hoped it would be, but we did have a drink at a pub!). 

 At the risk of sounding maudlin, I’ve always felt hopelessly in love with everything British—I even adore your food (and cook it for friends!). England has always inspired me. There’s so much history and heritage, romance and passion and pride about your country—you embrace your past.  And unlike so many things in America, you tend to preserve your landmarks and buildings, rather than tearing them down or replacing them in the name of “modern progress.” You are SO lucky to live there, and I am SO lucky to have gotten to visit!  I’ve always felt such a strong emotional connection that I can’t really explain.  Reincarnation?  Subconscious memories passed down and imbedded in me from past generations?  Whatever the reason, I can honestly tell you that each time I’ve traveled to England, the very second I step foot on British soil, I feel like I’m home. 

 So I’ve probably given you lots more information than you need.  And I’m sure there are still even more ways I’m able to tap into ideas, but hopefully this will give you just a hint of where they might come from.

Mark:  Which or your books (if any) do you think would adapt well for TV /film?

Please don’t think I’m impressed with myself, but I believe that ALL my books would lend themsevles perfectly for film.  Interesting characters, plot twists and turns, and surprise endings.  Too bad no directors, actors, or screenwriters seem to agree with me!

Paul H:  What was your favourite thing about the 90’s?

Hmmm…my favorite thing…

 Well, since I live in my own world and imagination most of the time, I can only tell you one of my favorite memories  Sitting in my office at my rolltop desk (the haunted one, you know), with snow falling outside my window, and the white-powdered trees brushing the windowpane.  A cup of hot spiced tea steaming on the table beside me…my cocker spaniels curled up and snoozing on the couch…the scent from a pumpkin-spice candle (anything pumpkin is wonderful) filling the room.   Scary soundtrack music playing in the background, pictures of my characters pinned on the bulletin board above my desk,   And having a wonderfully productive day full of inspiring ideas, perfect plots, and characters who’ve spoken to me and told me where they want to go and what they want to do next.  What could be better?

Cazzy:  How do you think the YA genre has changed since the 90s?

Wow, there’ve been so many changes.  You won’t find the strict censorship that was common back then.  No more passive female characters—they’ve now become stronger and self-reliant, leaders in their own right. There are now more series and sagas.  More action and fantasy, apocalyptic worlds.  More heroes and villains. To me, it seems there are fewer boundaries or restrictions now as to what an author can create.  Books now, as in generations past, tend to reflect the scary times we live in, the fears, the uncertainties, the need for some control over our destinies. There’s so much more variety in books now, more obstacles to overcome, more complicated plot layers.  Writers are a lot more free now to express themselves and their wildest ideas.  I think in this day and age—anything goes.

Cazzy:  do you think PH could make a comeback for today’s teens/pre-teens?

That’s a very interesting question and hard to predict.  Readers will always have very subjective, very personal tastes in books.  If you go into a bookstore nowadays, you’ll see shelves display themes of every kind.  Some readers prefer more action-oriented books; some prefer more introspective novels.  Some enjoy fantasy; others prefer reality. Some love to enter past or future worlds; others like to stay grounded in more familiar, everyday experiences.  Novels have a way of going through cycles.  What’s popular today often saturates the market to the point where readers feel they’ve read it all before.  And then some new trend comes along to take the place of the current fad.  I think romance will always be popular, no matter what form it takes, and that readers will always love the challenge of a good mystery and the fun of a good scare, no matter where the plot is set. So who knows?  It’s almost impossible to predict what young adults will clamor for next.  All I can say is that young adults—and publishers–are always searching for that next great idea.

Tara:  I would love to find out if there are plans for more books? YA horror is quite popular and I believe there is certainly a market for it. I want more Point Horror!

Tara, I certainly can’t speak for Point Horror.  As I mentioned before, it seems that genres tend to run in cycles. But I believe that people, no matter what age, always long for and enjoy a good scare.  That’s why I think horror will always be popular.  With the horror genre, readers can always convince themselves that the fear and danger aren’t real. If they get frightened, they can always close the book or walk away from the film.  I think horror is both compelling but also fun.  Can anyone predict what the next trend will be, or where it will take us?  There are so many possibilities out there, and so many good writers with so many wonderful ideas—to me, horror will always be around, in one form or another. 

Chelle:  I’d love to know what you’re up to now and where Point Horror has taken your career? Do you still write horror?   Is it a favourite genre of yours?

I’ll always be grateful to Point Horror for giving me the opportunity to write and hone my craft.  Having worked with both positive and negative editors,  I learned the importance of listening, compromising, and working together as a team to make the book as good as it can be.  I published my first bestseller there.  With each book written, I learned so much, which moved me forward into even more creative experiences.  I’ll always be indebted to them for taking a chance on me.

 Yes, I still write horror, and I’ll always love it.  I remember that as a child, I was seldom frightened by scary movies—in fact, I loved the suspense and the spooky atmospheres, could usually guess the ending, and was especially excited when a plot actually fooled or frightened me. 

 And though I’ve recently taken time off from writing, I’m currently at work on a new book—scary, of course!

Chelle:  Could you tell us a little about some of your other books?

All my other books are horror/thrillers, except for WALK OF THE SPIRITS and SHADOW MIRROW, which I consider to be more mystery than horror. The reason for this change is that my last editor didn’t want me to write a horror novel—she wanted something that was much tamer.  It was difficult for me to switch gears, but I really got lost in those books. I grew–and remain–especially close to those characters, and loved being part of their close-knit group.  As one reader said to me, “Who WOULDN’T want to be part of a group like that?” I always try to fill my novels with surprise twists and turns and compelling characters—except for the BUFFY and ANGEL novelizations, in which the plots and characters were already written.

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Paul H:  Who are your favourite authors?

I don’t think there’s enough room to list them all here!  My earliest inspiration was, naturally, Nancy Drew!  I also loved Margaret Mahy, Joan Aiken, Lois Duncan, Judy Blume, Margaret Mahy, and Joan Lowery Nixon.  Later I grew into Edgar Allan Poe, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Thomas Hardy. I read and still love to read what were then called Gothic Romances—now they’re referred to as Romantic Suspense.  These books heavily influenced me heavily with their dark heroes, gloomy settings, eerie old houses,  and trapped heroines. I loved Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt, Susan Howatch, Daphne du Maurier, and Phyllis Whitney. I really enjoy Nora Roberts, Tess Gerritsen, Patricia Cornwell, Tami  Hoag, and Jeffery Deaver.  But really, it’s so hard to narrow down the field, because there are so many amazing authors out there, and I don’t have the space here to name them all.

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Amy:  What was the first horror novel that you remember reading?

To be honest, I don’t remember the first horror novel I ever read.  I just know that I always loved scary books and scary movies—mainly because I found them so fascinating and fun instead of scary. And those that succeeded in actually scaring me, I considered quite brilliant.

Chelle: Growing up who inspired you into writing?  Are there any Authors or books that inspired you?

You might refer to Paul’s question above.  I’m afraid I got carried away with my answer but actually listed only a handful of authors that inspired me and made me want to be a writer. 

 But here’s a funny story for you:  when I was in grade school, we were asked to write an original story.  I wrote a very short “book” called TOMMY LIZARD’S FIRST HALLOWEEN.  I wrote it with much flair and drama, complete with illustrations.  By the way, I’m a terrible artist; I have no talent at all.  But I still proceeded to tell the story of Tommy Lizard trick-or-treating from house to house until he finally got ahold of a black jelly bean, which made him very sick.  I ended the book with my brilliant rendering of poor Tommy Lizard throwing up the black jelly bean.. then smiling and saying “Bye Bye!”  And do you know, I still have that story, written in pencil on wide-ruled paper?  Yes, my very first novel (and artistic endeavor), three very creative pages long!

Chelle: Are there any authors you would like to collaborate with?  Who?

You know, I’ve never thought about collaborating with another author.  I’m very much a loner, and I totally need my solitude to create the world I’m writing about.  I completely immerse myself in the book I’m working on at the moment—I seldom see friends, pick up the phone, or answer the door.  I even rarely leave the house, because I don’t want to step outside of my special book-world.  Even when I take a physical break from writing, I’m still writing and thinking in my head so that I don’t break the spell of the book.  As I’ve said, the characters are very real to me; I even speak to them out loud to make sure their dialogue is natural, believable, and revealing.  I try to build a world so realistic, that my readers feel like they’re actually there, that they actually know and participate with the characters.  I don’t do outlines—if I try to plot things out, then I feel like I’ve already written the book and can’t write it over again.  I never try to guess ahead when I write.  Just like the reader, I’m totally surprised at what happens next in the book.  For me, it’s like watching a movie unfold.  I basically create the characters, let them go, and watch them tell their story.  I simply follow their lead and don’t ever know how the book is going to end—or who the bad guy is—till I’m nearly finished with the first draft.  And the funny thing is, I’m always surprised!  “OMG, you’ve got to be kidding!  I didn’t know he/she was going to be the villain!!!!  I had no clue it would end this way!!!!!”

Amy:  Are there any books or films that have scared you?

I don’t scare easily, but yes, there are definitely some books and films that have scared me. Stephen King’s THE SHINING kept me glued to every page; I couldn’t put it down.  I really disliked the movie—to me, it didn’t capture one bit of the book’s brilliance, and I was very disappinted in its interpretation.  Two films that still scare me (even though I’ve seen them a million times) are THE HAUNTING (the original, not the remake) and THE CHANGELING.  I didn’t see the ends coming, and the incidents leading up to the climaxes were really unnerving!

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Amy:  Why do you think people like to be scared?

Of course, this is only my personal opinion, but to some people it’s just plain fun. Fun to be scared because people know it’s a safe scare.  If a reader gets scared, he/she only has to close the book.  If a movie-watcher gets scared, he/she only has to leave the theatre or change the channel on the TV.  It’s a way of controlling those things we can’t predict or understand; it’s a way of having some control in this frightening, unpredictable world.

 In my workshops I always suggest to students that they turn off the sound on their TVs but continue watching the show—then try to imagine what the characters might be saying.  Conversely, I suggest that students close their eyes while watching a show–then try to imagine what the characters are doing while only hearing them talk. It’s a good way to learn about action and dialogue, how to make your characters real, and how to create suspense.

 I also tell my students that less is more, and it’s a self-imposed rule I try to follow as well.  If too much is spelled out to the reader (too much gore, too many scares without any relief, etc.), the book loses its impact.  Readers can become de-sensitized, the book becomes boring, and often never gets finished.  However, if a writer puts just enough in to tease and tempt the reader, put them on an emotional roller coaster of clues and suggestions—then the reader’s imagination will take over.  And once that happens, a reader’s imagination will create scenes even more graphic and horrifying than anything a writer could ever write.

 Horror is a way to express strong negative emotions that would never be acceptable in normal society.  Horror is challenging—one never knows what will happen next.  Horror stays with you long after the initial fear is over—it makes you afraid of the dark, it makes you check under the bed and in your closet, makes you want to leave the light on.  I believe the fear of the unknown is something we all share, a feeling of powerlessness, a fear of what lies ahead that we can’t guess or imagine.  And in reading or watching horror, we have some control over the bad and scary things in life.  Horror has been around since the beginning of time, and I believe it will be around forever.

Chelle: What do you think makes a good story?

I think that to every author, to every reader, the idea of a good story is purely subjective.  What I look for and enjoy in a book will probably be different from another person’s preference.  But speaking for myself, I think a good story is one that sucks the reader in.  That transports them from their actual world into the book-world, that makes them believe the characters are real, that makes them experience thoughts and actions so completely that it’s as if the story is truly happening to them.  Characters that the reader can relate to and identify with.  Situations that make the reader think, feel, and react.  And most of all, a good story is one which shows the reader that he/she isn’t alone. That other people (represented by the characters) experience the same emotions and struggles that readers experience.  To me it’s important for a reader to finish the book with a sense of fulfillment, satisfaction, and connection.  If I can do that with any one of my books, then I feel I’ve done my job successfully.

Thank you so much Richie for taking the time to answer these questions and feature on Tales Of Yesterday and #pointhorrorbookclub. We all love your contributions to Point Horror and wish there were more!  It really is an honour and I look forward to reading more of your books!

And thank you for allowing me to meet all of  you—it’s truly been a privilege.  I’d just like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed your interview, and I sincerely wish I could meet each and every one of you in person.  Your questions have inspired me and reminded me once again why I love doing this for a living.  And if there are ever any more questions or thoughts you’d like to put out there for me, I promise to answer them to the best of my ability—I’ll even try to respond in a much more timely manner!  So thank you again for allowing me to meet with all of you and for taking the time to think of me.  I hope you continue enjoying scary books.  Horror writers need more great readers like you!

 Fondly,

Richie

So there you have it #pointhorrorbookclub!  Richie answered everything we asked!  I think it was nice to read another slightly different side to the story of Point Horror and how they came to be.  Richie seemed to have a mix of free reign and structure with her Point Horror experience which is fascinating! Nice to see that the publishing team came up with some of the titles again…this seems to be the common ground of creating Point Horror!  I also love Richie’s stories too!.

What did you all think?


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Why not join in Point Horror Book Club and the discussion on the 13th of every month?

Don’t forget to use the #pointhorrorbookclub on twitter so I can see your thoughts or tweet me using @chelleytoy

Are the Point Horror books we loved as a teenager still our favourites on the re-read?  Are you new to Point Horror?  Has our opinion changed?  Are they still as good?  Do they stand up to modern day YA Horror?  Or are the a whole load of cray cray?

You can find links to all #PointHorrorBookClub posts old and new here

Another huge huge thank you to Richie for featuring on Tales and a huge round of applause for such a fab answers!  And thank you Point Horror Book Club members yet again for fab questions!

*claps hands excitedly*

Do you remember Point Horror?  Which was your favourite?  Would you like to join in on #pointhorrorbookclub ?

Happy Point Horror-ing!

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Guest Post -What Greek God Would I Want As My Patron by Caighlan Smith


Children of Icarus high res

I am super excited to have the lovely Caighlan Smith author of the wonderful Children Of Icarus on Tales today .

Children Of Icarus was released on the 14th July published by Curious Fox and I have heard the most amazing things about this book already!

A super powerful YA novel, in the theme of Hunger Games. It’s utterly captivating with a dark atmosphere.

A huge thank you to Georgia for having me on this wonderful blog tour and for sending me a copy of the book!

So today Caighlan Smith tells us what Greek God she would like as her patron…..


Children of Icarus high res

It’s Clara who’s desperate to enter the labyrinth and it’s Clara who’s bright, strong and fearless enough to take on any challenge. It’s no surprise when she’s chosen. But so is the girl who has always lived in her shadow. Together they enter. Within minutes, they are torn apart forever. Now the girl who has never left the city walls must fight to survive in a living nightmare, where one false turn with who to trust means a certain dead end.


What Greek God I Would Like As My Patron

If I could have a Greek god watching my back, I’d have to pick Demeter.

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I’ve always loved Athena—the least reason for which being I adore owls—and I guess Apollo would be a fitting patron for a writer, given he’s the father of the Muses, but in my study of Ancient Greek mythology I’ve figured out that if you can have a god in your corner, it should be Demeter.

“Goddess of the Harvest” may not sound immediately impressive, but Demeter basically has control of everything on earth that grows. When her daughter was kidnapped, she made everything die until she got her kid back. When she’s a babysitter, she tries to make her wards immortal. Who wouldn’t want this benevolent powerhouse backing them up? Besides, she’s pretty much the goddess poster-mother for mothers, and my mom’s both my biggest inspiration and the reason I’ve made it this far in my career. Can’t go wrong putting my faith in an immortal mom.

Unfortunately, the protagonist of my new novel Children of Icarus doesn’t have a god to help her. She’s grown up believing the gods are villains, who captured the glorious and kind angels. Her beliefs are shattered when she’s forced to enter a labyrinth, which should have led to paradise yet delivers the exact opposite. She has to figure out how to survive on her own and—as she didn’t have Demeter as a babysitter growing up—that’s going to prove nearly impossible.

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You can buy a copy of Children Of Icarus here or from your local bookshop


About Caighlan Smith

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Caighlan Smith wrote her first novel when she was fourteen and has been writing ever since. A lover of mythology and gaming, Smith studied English Literature, Classics, and Creative Writing at Memorial University of Newfoundland. The “gh” in her name is silent. Smith wrote Hallow Hour, Book One in the Surreality series, in her final year of high school. Smith is currently working on the sequel to her newest YA Fantasy novel, Children of Icarus.


Blog Tour

You can follow or catch up on the rest of the blog tour at the following stops

Children of Icarus BLOG TOUR IMAGE


A huge huge thank you to Caighlan for for such a brilliant post and to Georgia at Curious Fox for organising!

Have you read Children Of Icarus?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued?  Who would your Greek God be?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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Review – The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight by Helen & Thomas Docherty


The Knight Who Wouldn't Fight

Today I have something a little different as I am reviewing a fab new gorgeous picture book that is due to be released on the 4th August 2016 published by Scholastic.

The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight is by Helen & Thomas Docherty and is gorgeous inside and out.  Beautiful words by Helen and stunning illustrations by Thomas make this picture book a joy to read.

I am so over the moon to be part of the wonderful blog tour for this book!

For my stop on the blog tour I am going to share my thoughts on the book and post a review….but in a slightly different way!

A huge thank you to Faye Rogers  and Scholastic for having me on this wonderful tour and for sending me the book to read.


The Knight Who Wouldn't Fight

Leo the mouse isn’t like the other knights. While they like fighting, he’d rather read a book. Leo’s parents are keen to turn him into a proper knight, so they pack him off on a mission to tame a dragon. But Leo knows that books are mightier than swords, and he tames not just the dragon, but a troll and a griffin, too \- by reading them stories. With its witty rhyming text and glorious, detailed illustrations, THE KNIGHT WHO WOULDN’T FIGHT is a joyful, magical picture book about the power of stories.


Publisher – Scholastic

Published – 4th August 2016

Format – Paperback

Category – Picture Book

Source – I was sent a copy of this book by the wonderful people at Scholastic as part of the blog tour organised by Faye Rogers.  This does not affect my review or my opinions in any way and am delighted to write an honest review.  Thank you Scholastic for sending this to me to read and to Faye for organising!


** Please note Tales Of Yesterday Reviews are written as spoiler free as possible**


Please note that this book is written in rhyme so therefore I am trying my review in the same style….

Even Chelley’s love a good story!

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Chelley was a thoughtful sole

A book she was in need

While her hubby is busy making Lego

Chelley likes to sit and read.

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And through the door a gem appeared

All sparkly and new

A bright and colourful picture book

All ready for me to review.

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I turned the pages one by one

And read every single word

I smiled and laughed and cheered a lot

It was the sweetest story I’d ever heard.

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Leo loved to sit and read

Stories old and new

But his parents wanted him to venture out

Poor Leo had to follow through.

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Off Leo goes to tame the dragon

To make his parents proud

With his sword and brand new shield

He rides underneath the clouds.

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A Griffin, a Troll and a Dragon

Friends he meets along the way

A brave old knight who wouldn’t fight

He had far too much to say.

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The illustrations in this book

Were perfect through and through

They capture every moment

Even lots of dragon poo!

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I highly recommend this book

For adults and children to share

The perfect little story

To show loved ones that you care.

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So snuggle on down with Leo and friends

And a pile of favourite books

Books are powerful, fun and amazing

One page will get you hooked.

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Words are all Leo needed

On his journey through the lands

A book or two to share with friends

And that, sadly, is where my story ends.

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I award this book 5 out of 5 Tales Of Yesterday Books!

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You can buy a copy of The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight here

Or why not add it to Goodreads here


About Helen & Thomas Docherty

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Helen Docherty is the author of THE SNATCHABOOK and ABRACAZEBRA. Helen lives in Swansea with her husband, Thomas, and their two daughters

Website: www.helendocherty.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/docherty_helen

Thomas Docherty is the acclaimed illustrator of THE SNATCHABOOK, ABRACAZEBRA and THE SNORGH AND THE SAILOR. He was shortlisted for the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal.

Website: www.thomasdocherty.co.uk

Twitter: www.twitter.com/TDIllustration


Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of the blog tour at the following stops

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Monday 1st August

Wonderfully Bookish

The Pewter Wolf

Tuesday 2nd August

Chouett

Library Mice

Wednesday 3rd August

An Awfully Big Adventure

Tales of Yesterday

Thursday 4th August

Powered by Reading

Big Book Little Book

Friday 5th August

Library Girl and Book Boy

Rhino Reads

Saturday 6th August

Linda’s Book Bag

Luna’s Little Library

Sunday 7th August

Emma’s Bookery

Maia and a Little Moore

 

 


Have you read The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight?  What did you think?  Has this review made you want to go grab a copy?  I would love to here from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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