Guest Post – Characters by Lorraine Gregory


I am super excited to have the wonderful Lorraine Gregory on Tales today to celebrate the release of Mold and the Poison Plot!

Mold and the Poison Plot was released on the 4th May 2017 published by OUP and is a fab MG tale of a character called Mold.

As well as all of this Lorraine Gregory is also #BritishBooksChallenge17 debut of the month for May 2017!

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

I really wanted to get to know Mold more so I asked Lorraine about characters in this fab guest post….


He’s got a big heart . . . and a nose to match!

Mold’s a bit of a freak. His nose is as big as his body is puny and his mother abandoned him in a bin when he was a mere baby. Who else but the old healer, Aggy, would have taken him in and raised him as her own? But when Aggy is accused of poisoning the King, Mold sets out to clear her name.

In a thrilling race against time to save Aggy from the hangman’s noose, Mold faces hideous, deadly monsters like the Yurg and the Purple Narlo Frog. He finds true friendship in the most unusual – and smelly – of places and must pit his wits and his clever nose against the evil witch Hexaba.

This is an exciting fantasy story with an array of wonderful characters, including the inimitable Mold, told in a fresh and distinctive voice by a promising new writer.


Characters

Character is everything. Doesn’t matter how great your concept is or how exciting your plot might be – characters are what make it all work, are what make people keep reading. So, as a writer, creating characters that live and breathe and inspire emotion, be it empathy, anger, love or fear, is one of our most important tasks.

The main character in Mold and the Poison Plot was relatively easy in his early creation as I had one of those odd moments of clarity where he popped into my head, voice and all! Of course then I had to dig deeper to find out his whole story and particularly what he most wanted as this would be his motivation for everything he does.

The first layer of what Mold wants is the driving force for the story – he wants to save Aggy, the woman who has looked after him all his life and is now in danger. But underneath that, he’s also desperate to find out who he really is, who his family are and why they dumped him in a bin when he was just a baby.

As the story progresses it becomes clear that Mold is incredibly loyal and will risk himself not just for Aggy but for anyone he feels might need help and this is how he meets Fergus who becomes his very great friend.

My next step then, was to discover what Fergus most wants so that he too has his own arc and motivation. Every character needs one, however small. Sometimes it’s only the author who needs to know what they are so that it can leak into the story and the reader will pick it up without it being blatant. Fergus for example wants a best friend. He’s desperate to find someone, anyone, because a deep loneliness plagues him. This is why Mold’s early defence of him triggers such unswerving devotion.

I applied this same ethic to all my characters -Aggy, Begsy, Iric… they all needed motivation for their actions. They can’t be cardboard cutout’s just doing whatever needs doing to move the story along. They have to have strong reasons for behaving in certain ways and often it’s one of the most tricky things to do well, but it’s worth the brain power to get it right.

It was also really important to me that the antagonists in my book had believable motivations too and were more than just cliche’s. There are several villains in my book, four primary and a few secondary so you can probably tell that I do love a good baddie!

I tried to make sure they all had fleshed out reasonings that again, didn’t all make it into the book, but were clear in my head when I wrote them and therefore lent resonance. Even the worst of my villains had reasons for what they were doing and some shades of grey. None of them are evil for evil’s sake. They’re all the result of their life experiences just as we are in real life. For me, fleshing out characters like that, making them live and breathe beyond the pages, is one of the most fascinating parts of writing.

One way to build up characters is to explore their history. I found it really useful to write a brief history of the world I created. By understanding how Pellegarno was shaped both societally and politically I found much of the motivation for my villains in particular. The majority of that history never makes itself into the book but it’s there in my head, lending strength to the world, making it more believable and underpinning the situation Mold finds himself in during the story.

Sometimes it can take a while for the nuance to come out, for the backstory to develop but everything that you do to improve character improves the story in my opinion. This work is often done in later drafts when the majority of the plot is already in place but motivation is something I think you need to think about as early as possible.

Always ask yourself, why are they doing this? What do they want? if you can’t think of a reasonable answer then they really shouldn’t be doing it, however important it is to the plot!

Weak characters that are placed on the page to serve one purpose and have no agency of their own can impact on the reader’s willingness to believe wholeheartedly in the story. If you lose readers belief through weak motivation or cliche it can be hard to win them back, especially children as they find it exceedingly easy to put down a book and never finish it!

But, if readers relate to a character, if they love them or hate them, they will follow them forever through your story and every blow, every setback, every triumph will resonate. Characters, real, wonderful characters with nuance and heart and depth can open worlds, expose truth, fight injustice, create change, inspire hope, touch hearts, change minds and live on forever in the readers soul.

We just have to write them first!

You can buy a copy of Mold and the Poison Plot here or from your local bookshop!


About Lorraine Gregory

I’m the daughter of an Indian father and an Austrian mother raised on an East London Council Estate. The local library was my source of all books growing up and I never stopped reading if I could help it.

All that reading led to me writing my own stories throughout my childhood and teens while I dreamed of being a proper author one day.

Unfortunately as I grew up it seemed too impossible that someone like me could ever achieve such an ambition and I decided it was better to give up such lofty aspirations. I settled down to a normal life with a job, marriage and motherhood and kept all my stories firmly in my head.
Until that is, years later reading to my son sparked my love of writing once again and I started scribbling my own tales to read to him.

Five years of hard work led to a book deal with OUP for my debut Mold and the Poison Plot, a fantasy adventure about a boy with a remarkable nose…     


A huge thank you to Lorraine Gregory and also Hannah at OUP for organising this post and embracing the #BritishBooksChallenge17.

Have you read Mold and the Posion Plot?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Sweetpea – The Playlist by C J Skuse


I am super excited to have our British Books Challenge author of the month for April, C J Skuse on Tales today with a brilliant playlist to celebrate the release of her first adult thriller Sweetpea which was release on the 20th April 2017.

If you’ve not read Sweetpea yet then your missing out!  It’s deliciously thrilling and I loved it!

C J Skuse was our #BritishBooksChallenge17 author of the month for April 2017!

Check out the #BritishBooksChallenge17 Spotlight on C J and her books and find out why people love her so much – here

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here


About Sweatpea

The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…

’I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcoholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.’

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret.

Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.

From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge.

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder…


Sweetpea – The Playlist

Music is my co-writer and always has been. Certain songs unlock certain scenes and sometimes have the effect of reimagining scenes in my head. For Sweetpea, a lot of my ‘writing’ has been done on long car journeys – whole scenes conjured up while driving along. And when I’d get home, they’d pour forth onto the screen almost exactly as I’d imagined them (but not as good, obvs – they never are!) Here are 10 songs which leant themselves very well to scenes from my first ever adult novel, Sweetpea

Rhiannon – Fleetwood Mac

I heard this song and knew my main character had to be called Rhiannon. Her original name was Tamsin. The lyrics She’s like a cat in the dark and then she is the darkness and She rules her life like a bird in flight and who will be her lover?’ are about a Welsh witch but they just spoke to the exact kind of person I was trying to create – mysterious, sexually-powerful and highly secretive.

Cheap Thrills – Sia

The lyrics depict a woman getting ready to go out for the night to dance and have fun but in my head mean something completely different. ‘Baby I don’t need dollar bills to have fun tonight.’

Glory Box – Portishead

Insidious, creepy, perfect. And the band are from Bristol which makes them even more perfect. Through this new frame of mind, a thousand flowers could bloom.

Milkshake – Kelis

She’s just reeling them in, all the time … ‘I know you want it, The thing that makes me, What the guys go crazy for. They lose their minds, The way I wind, I think it’s time…’

Them Bones – Alice in Chains

This song gave me my ending, along with a tide of goose bumps when I realised what she was going to do next. *FUN FACT*- I really, really didn’t want the book to end that way. Unfortunately, Rhiannon did. And she always wins.

Daddy Lessons – Beyonce

I could have put every Beyonce song on this list to be honest because she was in my head throughout the whole writing process. The lyrics of 6 Inch and this song in particular really sum up exactly where Rhiannon’s coming from in my mind. She learned an awful lot from watching her dad.

Candy Shop – 50 Cent

I love the predatory tone of this and though the lyrics are obviously about something else, when you apply it to Rhiannon’s predilection for murder, it bears a whole new meaning. Well, it does for me anyway. In Sweetpea, the roles are reversed –

You could have it your way, how do you want it?

You gon’ back that thing up, or should I push up on it?

Temperature rising, okay, let’s go to the next level

Dance floor jam-packed, hot as a tea kettle

I break it down for you now, baby it’s simple

If you be a nympho, I’ll be a nympho

In the hotel, or in the back of the rental

On the beach or in the park, it’s whatever you into…

Nirvana – Dumb

She’s an unhappy little soul in many ways and does what she can to get by. Murder is the troubling addiction to which she clings. ‘I’m not like them but I can pretend, The sun is gone but I have a light, My heart is broke but I have some glue, Help me inhale and mend it with you…’

The Sound of Silence – Disturbed

This song is overflowing with meaning for me and also carries on the flowers theme in a dark little way which I really love. The Disturbed version is better than the original, in my opinion.

…because a vision softly creeping

left its seeds while I was sleeping…

And the vision that was planted in my brain

still remains within the sound of silence…’

Perfect Day – Lou Reed

You’re going to reap just what you sow …

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


About C J Skuse

C.J. Skuse was born in 1980 in Weston-super-Mare, England. She has First Class degrees in Creative Writing and Writing for Children and, aside from writing novels, works as a freelance children’s fiction consultant and lectures in Writing for Children at Bath Spa University. Sweetpea is CJ’s first adult novel.

You can follow CJ on twitter – CeejaytheAuthor


You can find previous posts from CJ on my blog or by clicking on the links below …

Hot Boys In My Books!

Hidden Easter Eggs In Books

I also love this article by CJ of 10 Things I’s Like My Readers To Know here


A huge thank you to C J for such a fab post and embracing the #BritishBooksChallenge17

Have you read Sweetpea?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – All About Violet by Harriet Whitehorn


I love a good mystery and Harriet Whitehorn does just that with her brilliant MG mystery series!

Violet and the Smugglers was released on the 9th February 2017 in paperback published by Simon and Schuster and is brilliant for all of those super sleuths out there!

Violet and the Smugglers is the third book in this brilliant series with Violet and the Pearl Of The Orient and Violet and the Hidden Treasure being released prior.


 

 

 

 

 

 

And exciting news…Violet and the Mummy Mystery, the fourth book in this super series is out on August 10th 2017!

I thought it would be great to get to know Violet a little better so myself and Harriet have put together a master plan in the form of this fab guest post….



Meet Violet Remy-Robinson, an amateur Sherlock Holmes in the making…

Uncle Johnny has invited Violet and her friends to spend the summer with him on a sailing adventure around Europe and Violet couldn’t be more excited! But when she suspects that the captain of a boat nearby might be up to no good, Violet needs to put her detective skills into action… Could he be the head of a smuggling ring?

A beautiful package complete with two-colour illustrations throughout from Becka Moore. Perfect for fans of Dixie O’Day, Ottoline and Goth Girl.


All About Violet

I absolutely love lists so I’ve put one at the beginning of each of Violet’s adventures, giving you a little snippet of information about each of the main characters which will hopefully give you an insight into their personality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Violet and the Smugglers, which is largely set in Venice, I tell you every one’s favourite ice cream flavour- Violet’s is mint choc chip, partly because she likes the way the words sound together. And if you’ve read the Pearl of the Orient and the Hidden Treasure you already know that Violet’s favourite foods include cheese and tomato pizza and hot crumpets with melted butter and her favourite possession is her “Best Young Detective Award”.  So I thought it would be fun to tell you some other facts about Violet that aren’t in the books….

Full Name: Violet Therese Remy – Robinson

Born: London

Birthday: May 29th

Star sign: Gemini

Favourite colour: Blue

Favourite books: Just William, Tintin and Pippi Longstocking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best subject at school: Generally Maths and PE, but sometimes History if they are learning about something interesting like Ancient Egypt.

Worst subject at school: Music

Favourite Animal to see at the Zoo: Giraffes

Ambition: Torn between being a spy like James Bond, an explorer or a detective.

Heros and Heroines: Amelia Earhart, James Bond, Nancy Drew and of course, Sherlock Holmes.

You can buy a copy of Violet and the Smugglers or any of the other Violet books here or from your local bookshop!

And don’t forget…..Violet and the Mummy Mystery, the fourth book in this super series is out on August 10th 2017!


About Harriet Whitehorn

I was born and grew up in London, and still live here, which probably shows a great lack of adventure on my behalf.   I spend my time dreaming up new adventures for Violet and working on my new book, which is an adventure for older children set in another world.

You can find out more about Harriet on her website – www.harrietwhitehorn.com

Or why not follow Harriet on twitter – @deedeederota2

About Becka Moor

Becka Moor is a children’s book illustrator and storyteller living in Manchester. She studied illustration for children’s publishing at Glyndwr University, graduating in 2012. Since then, she has worked on a variety of fiction books and series as well as picture books.

She rents desk space in a stunning grade II listed building with other creative folk, has an obsession with cats and loves anything a bit on the quirky side.

You can find out more about Becka on her website – www.beckamoor.com

Or why not follow Becka on twitter – @beckamoor


A huge thank you to Harriet for such a fab post and to Simon and Schuster for asking me to host Harriet on my blog.

Have you read Violet and the Smugglers or any other Violet mysteries?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Spotlight – Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green


Today is my turn on the brilliant Noah Can’t Even blog tour and I am super excited to be spotlighting this debut book by Simon James Green with a fab giveaway!

Noah Can’t Even was released on the 4th May published by Scholastic and from what I have heard already you will be laughing page after page!

So for my stop on this fab blog tour I am spotlighting this fab author, illustrator and book!

Also do check the bottom of the post for an exciting event announcement and giveaway!


Painfully geeky Noah Grimes is desperate to do whatever he can to survive school. He thinks his best chance at social normalcy is to start up a romantic relationship with the wonderful Sophie, but his plans are hopelessly derailed when his best (and only) friend Harry kisses him at a party. And that’s when things go from bad to utter chaos.

You can buy a copy of Noah Can’t Even here or from your local bookshop!


About Simon James Green

Simon James Green grew up in a small town in Lincolnshire that definitely wasn’t the inspiration for Little Fobbing – so no-one from there can be mad with him, OK? He enjoyed a classic British education of assorted humiliations and barbaric PE lessons before reading Law at Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he further embarrassed himself by accidentally joining the rowing team despite having no upper body strength and not being able swim. When it turned out that being a lawyer was nothing like how it looks in Suits or The Good Wife, and buoyed by the success of his late night comedy show that involved an inflatable sheep, he travelled to London to pursue a glamorous career in show business. Within weeks he was working in a call centre, had been mugged, and had racked up thousands of pounds worth of debt. Finding strength and inspiration in the lyrics of Tubthumping by Chumbawumba, he eventually ended up working on a range of West End shows and UK tours, co-wrote a feature-length rom-com for the BBC and directed Hollyoaks for C4 / Lime Pictures. After trying really, really hard, he also managed to write Noah Can’t Even. If you are interested in stalking him, he still lives in London, where he spends a lot of time telling people that Noah Can’t Even is only partly autobiographical, and his mum has definitely never done a Beyoncé tribute act.

You can find out more about Simon on his website – www.simonjamesgreen.com

Or why not follow Simon on Twitter – @simonjamesgreen


Event Alert!

You can catch Simon James Green on tour at the following destinations with the super funny Beth Garrod and Stephanie Kate Strohm and I’m chairing the Birmingham Event!

Come along and watch the shenanigans unfold!

Details here……

Join Simon James Green (Noah Can’t Even), Beth Garrod (Super Awkward) and Stephanie Kate Strohm (It’s Not Me, It’s You) for this hilarious panel as they discuss the importance of funny books and reveal their characters’ most embarrassing moments (and a few of their own!) chaired by UKYABA award-winning blogger Chelle Toy from Tales of Yesterday.

Simon, Beth and Stephanie believe that laughter truly is the best medicine in a world that can be increasingly negative, so sign up and get your cure!

We hope you can join us for a wonderful evening fully of awkward, funny and cringeworthy stories!

This is a free event but seating is limited.
To reserve your seat please call us on 0121 633 4353 or buy your ticket here
Email us at events.birmingham@waterstones.com
Tweet us at @bhamwaterstones
Or speak to a bookseller in store.


GiveawayTo celebrate the release of Noah Can’t Even I have decided to host a little giveaway through twitter!

I have one copy to giveaway to one lucky winner!

Head over to twitter here to enter!

UK Only

Ends 31st May 2017!

Good Luck!


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Olivia at Scholastic and to Simon James Green for having me as part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Noah Can’t Even?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Five Favourite Scenes from Dougal Daley by Jackie Marchant


Today I am super excited to have a fab guest post from the author of a brilliant ne MG series, Dougal Daley:  It’s Not My Fault!

Dougal Daley:  It’s Not My Fault!  was released on the 4th April 2017 published by Wacky Bee Books and is available in paperback and is illustrated by Loretta Schauer!

So for my stop on this fab blog tour the brilliant author Jackie Marchant has recruited some fab people to share their favourite scenes from the book in this awesome guest post…..


I, Dougal Daley, am dead! Ok I’m not actually dead. But if I’m not careful I soon will be.

 In this first book, football-loving Dougal Daley finds himself at risk from the mysterious creature living in the garden shed. Nobody believes him but as a precaution, he sets upon writing his will – rewarding those who help him and disinheriting those who get on his bad side. Meanwhile, as limbs and windows alike are broken by rogue footballs and unhinged canines, Dougal finds himself in all sorts of trouble. . .and NONE of it is his fault!


Five Favourite Scenes from Dougal Daley

First of all, thanks Chelley for asking me to guest post on your blog.  Always happy to do the honours for anyone enthusiastic about books and reading!

Now, you’ve asked for my five favourite scenes from the first in my Dougal Daley series – It’s NOT my Fault.  So, I asked five random (well, sort of, in that I asked them first to give me their favourite scene – and here they are!  (In no particular order . . .)

From Kathryn Evans – the Bra Wrestling Scene:

“It’s Mrs Witzel’s fault. She really ought to know better than to lean over the fence to stroke the dog while she is hanging up her washing. Especially when she is holding a bra.”

Ah ha ha – we know what’s coming and are already chuckling in anticipation and the scene doesn’t disappoint. Honestly, these books are hilarious – tightly paced and very funny. It’s hard to combine writing slapstick humour with a taut plot but Jackie Marchant does it with fur on. And bras. Annoyingly brilliant. Wish I’d written it.

Kathryn Evans is the author of the award winning More of Me (Usborne) 

www.kathrynevans.ink        @mrsbung

From Jeanie Waudby – the Meeting the Creature in the Shed Scene

My favourite scene is the one in which Dougal closes himself in the shed to prove to his nosy neighbour that there’s nothing in there:

‘The smell was like our dog, but ten times worse. The noise was like the dog’s heavy breathing, but ten times louder. At first I could only see a large lump in the gloom, but then my eyes adjusted and I could see long, shiny black fur. And claws, even bigger than I remembered.’

I like Dougal’s stoical determination to get on with the job of looking after the creature in spite of all the difficulties. His ability to get into trouble at the same time as having such good intentions reminds me of Richmal Crompton’s William books – both are great if you want a laugh.

Jeannie Waudby is the author of One of Us (Chicken House) 

http://www.jeanniewaudby.com/    @JeannieWaudby

From Loretta Schauer – the Rabbit Droppings Scene

I like the scene where Dougal tries to give Mrs Grim a gift of rabbit droppings disguised as chocolate covered raisins.  But he’s caught and made to hoover the car as punishment, which means the cat escapes and is chased by the dog into Mrs Grim’s garden, who comes storming round to complain, slips and breaks her leg.  Dougal is grounded even though none of it was his fault – it was Sybil who tried to give him the rabbit poo raisins in the first place.

Loretta Schauer is the award winning illustrator of the Dougal Daley Series. 

  http://www.lorettaschauer.com/   @Loretta_Schauer

 From Louise Jordan – the Escaping Hamster and Crawling Ants Scene

I think if I have to pick a favourite scene I’ll go for the scene where the hamster escapes and hides behind Dougal’s Perspex boxed ants nest to get away from the cat, which alerts the dog, who picks up the ants’ nest and manages to break the box.  The ants crawl all over Sibble. I love the thought of Dougal giving all the ants names…ant 1, ant 2, ant 3 all the way to ant 196, when he had to stop counting because they all moving around and he may have counted some of them twice!

Louise Jordan is Queen Bee at Wacky Bee Books – publisher of the Dougal Daley Series

  http://www.wackybeebooks.com/  @WackyBeeBooks

From Stephanie Roundsmith, the dog, the zebra crossing and the tights scene:

Dougal Daley is one of the most loved books on the kidsreadwritereview reading scheme. The readable and fun writing style makes it widely accessible for younger readers, whilst the plot and characters keep children entertained from beginning to end.  Most children love the scene where the dog has eaten a pair of Mum’s tights and then squats on a zebra crossing in front of a queue of cars, while they ‘come out of the other end.’  They also love the handwritten notes from Dougal and his friends.

Stephanie Roundsmith is manager of the wonderful KidsReadWriteReview

http://www.kidsreadwritereview.co.uk/ :  @kidsrwreview

Thank you to Kathryn, Jeannie, Loretta, Louise and Stephanie!

You can buy a copy of Dougal Daley:  It’s Not My Fault here or from your local bookshop

Or why not add it to your Goodreads here


About Jackie Marchant

Dougal Daley was inspired by a messy bedroom and a random question from my son about writing a will. Dougal Daley has been huge fun to write about – you wouldn’t believe the disasters that happen around him (none of which are his fault of course)! When I’m not writing I love doing school visits and creative writing workshops. I also take time away from the writing world looking after guide dogs while their owners are away.

You can find out more about Jackie on her website – www.jackiemarchant.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @JMarchantAuthor

About Loretta Schauer

I originally studied performing arts and have a degree in Dance Performance – well you never know when you need a quick pirouette! I also worked in practical conservation for a long time, and spent many years battling balsam, identifying lichen, and searching for creepy crawlies before I picked up my pencils and paints and began exploring illustrating and writing for children. In 2011 I won the Waterstone’s ‘Picture This’ competition and I now illlustrate full time. However I am still happiest noodling around for fossils and shells on the beach!

You can find out more about Loretta on her website – www.lorettaschauer.tumblr.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @Loretta_Schauer


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Jackie for a fab guest post and to Faye Rogers for having me as part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Dougal Daley:  It’s Not My Fault?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Spotlight – The Adventures Of The Owl And The Pussycat by Coral Rumble & Illustrated by Charlotte Cooke


Today I am super excited to be spotlighting a fab new gorgeous picture book by Coral Rumble and illustrated by Charlotte Cooke, The Adventures Of The Owl And The Pussycat.

The Adventures Of The Owl And The Pussycat was released on the 4th April 2017 published by Wacky Bee Books and is available in paperback!

So for my stop on this fab blog tour I am spotlighting this fab author, illustrator and book!


The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea, in a box on the living room floor. They sailed away for a year and a day and these are the things that they saw… Join two curious children on a quirky adventure, loosely based on the classic Edward Lear poem, The Owl and the Pussycat.

You can buy a copy of this book here or from your local bookshop!

Or why not add it to your Goodreads here


About Coral Rumble

I have worked as a poet and performer for many years and I’m proud to have my work featured in Favourite Poets (Hodder). I have three published poetry collections of my own and have contributed to more than 150 anthologies. I am also one of the writers of the popular Cbeebies programmes ‘Poetry Pie’ and ‘The Rhyme Rocket’. I have given workshops in some fairly unusual venues as well…the grandest of which being Buckingham Palace!

You can find out more about Coral on her website – www.coralrumble.co.uk

About Charlotte Cooke

I was thrilled and proud when my picture book The Adventures of the Owl & the Pussycat was highly commended for the Macmillan Children’s Prize in 2010. Since then I have gone on to illustrate many other picture books and I enjoy making the occasional card too. When I’m not in my studio I’m usually outside running or playing referee to my two kids.

You can find out more about Charlotte on her website – www.charlottecookeillustration.blogspot.co.uk

Or why not follow Charlotte on twitter – @charlottecooke


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Faye Rogers for having me as part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read The Adventures Of The Owl And The Pussycat?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Let’s Hear It For The Girls by Cat Clarke


I am so excited to have the brilliant Cat Clarke on Tales again today, but this time to celebrate the release of her new YA book, Girlhood!

Girlhood was released on the 4th May 2017 published by Quercus Children’s Books and is set to be an absolute page turner!

Real, compulsive and intense: Cat Clarke is the queen of emotional suspense. For fans of Paula Hawkins, Gillian Flynn, Megan Abbott and Jandy Nelson.

‘Emotive, creepy AND funny. A quality page-turner’ SARAH CROSSAN

‘A new Cat Clarke novel is always something to celebrate and Girlhood could be her best yet’ JUNO DAWSON

Cat Clarke is one of my absolute favourite and hugely talented UKYA authors with a backlist of brilliant books under her belt!

Today Cat talks about some truly inspirational women in this fab guest post……


Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can’t escape the guilt of her twin sister’s Jenna’s death, and her own part in it – and she knows noone else will ever really understand.

But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels…loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Jenna died.

Then Kirsty’s behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper’s? And why is she so obsessed with Harper’s lost sister? Soon, Harper’s closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity.

How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her?

A darkly compulsive story about love, death, and growing up under the shadow of grief.


Let’s Hear It For The Girls

“They’re our future – our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going.’ –Harry Styles

Harry Styles may know the score, but the patriarchy is still alive and well in the twenty-first century. Girls today grow up in a world that consistently patronizes, diminishes and underestimates them. No wonder YA novels are chock-full of girls who smash expectations left, right and centre. The characters I tend to write are ‘ordinary’ girls caught up in extraordinary circumstances. They’re not popular or sporty or super-clever – just normal girls, trying to figure out their place in the world. But what is ordinary anyway? Who gets to decide?

Maybe there’s no such thing as ordinary. Maybe all it takes to change the world is for girls to realize their power, and to make a choice: to take up space in the world; to speak up and speak out; to help others; to protest; to make art. Here are some inspirational young women who are doing just that.

Capres Willow

Capres Willow organized a Black Lives Matter protest in London when she was just eighteen years old. She was spurred to take action in the wake of the brutal murder of Philando Castile, shot by a police officer in front of his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter.

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai doesn’t need any introduction. She’s a tireless campaigner for  the education for girls worldwide. Oh, yes, and she won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Tavi Gevinson

Tavi Gevinson started a fashion blog aged twelve, and went on to create Rookie Magazine. She’s a savvy businesswoman as well as being a writer, editor and actor.  Tavi is a staunch feminist who keeps flying the flag for teenage girls everywhere.

Jazz Jennings

Jazz Jennings is a young transgender activist. She’s been recognized as a Human Rights Campaign youth ambassador, and was named in Time Magazine’s 25 Most Infuential Teeens.

June Eric-Udorie

June Eric-Udorie recently raised £6000 to take 400 girls of colour from low-income backgrounds to the cinema to see the film Hidden Figures. She’s been named Elle’s Female Activist of the Year.

I make no apology for the fact that most of these links lead to Teen Vogue. They are killing it right now. Looking for the most incisive political commentary of the Trump administration? Then you should probably head to Teen Vogue instead of the New York Times. Anyway, back to the point…

Teenage girls WILL save the planet. Just you wait.

You can buy a copy of the book here or from your local bookshop!


About Cat Clarke

Cat Clarke is the bestselling, award-winning author of six YA novels. She was born in Zambia and brought up in Edinburgh and Yorkshire, which has given her an accent that tends to confuse people. Cat lives in Edinburgh with her partner, two ninja cats and two decidedly non-ninja cocker spaniels. She likes cheese A LOT, especially baked camembert.

You can find out more about Cat Clarke on her website – www.catclarke.com

Or why not follow Cat on twitter – @cat_clarke


Celebrate!

Celebrate the launch of Cat Clarke’s GIRLHOOD with a pic of your best mates using the hashtag  #readGirlhood… and win a signed set of books to share!

Old friends, new friends, online friends… show us the people who always have your back, no matter what

#readGirlhood


A huge thank you to Cat for a brilliant guest post and to Nina Douglas for organising and sending me a copy of the book!

You can find previous post by Cat on Tales by clicking on the below links …..

Spotlight – Cat Clarke – The Backlist:  Torn

Have you read Girlhood?  What did you think?  Who would be on your list of inspiration women?  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!

Guest Post – My Top Five Inspirational Places Or Objects When Writing/Encouraging Creativity by Matilda Woods


I’m excited to be a part of the fab blog tour for a brilliant new MG Fantasy, The Boy,the Bird & the Coffin Maker which was released on the 4th May 2017 published by Scholastic.

#coffinmaker

“A stunning, literary and utterly original debut from author Matilda Woods”

Today Matilda tells us about her Inspirational Places Or Objects When Writing/Encouraging Creativity in this fab guest post……


Alberto lives alone in the town of Allora where fish fly out of the sea and everyone knows everybody’s business. There he makes coffins for the great and small, but being the only coffin maker in town can be lonely. That is until a little boy and a magical bird enter his life and change it forever. But can Alberto keep them safe from the town’s prying eyes and the arrival of a menacing stranger?


My Top Five Inspirational Places Or Objects When Writing/Encouraging Creativity

One of my favourite things about writing is that anyone can do it, no matter how much, or how little, money they possess. Here are five simple (and cheap!) things that help me to get words down on the page.

Pen and Paper (Cost = $5.00)

Words seem to come more freely when I write with pen and paper rather than on a computer. I don’t tend to use this form for an entire draft. Instead, I pull out the pen and paper when I’m really struggling to phrase a particular scene or chapter. All my favourite descriptions in THE BOY, THE BIRD AND THE COFFIN MAKER were first written with pen and paper.

Coffee, Tea and Tisanes (Cost = 10c a cup)

The first thing I do before sitting down to write in the morning is to get a cup of coffee. I’m usually really nervous when I start writing for the day – I’m scared that no words are going to come out – so having a cup of coffee distracts me and calms me down. In the afternoon I tend to switch over to green tea or berry tisanes. I always find that the sign of a great writing day is when I get so caught up in the words that my coffee or tea goes cold!

The Library (Cost = free!)

When I get stuck writing a story I like to leave it alone for a few days or weeks and read something else. I tend to steer clear of reading any stories that are in the same genre as the book I am currently writing. Otherwise, the author’s voice tends to creep into my own work. Instead, I will read something completely different, like a memoir or a Nordic crime novel. Seeing that other people have been able to finish their novel gives me the confidence to keep writing my own.

Candles (Cost = $2.00)

When I am writing a really important scene or one with a lot of imagery, I like to write at night by candlelight. There is something about the warm glow of the light that helps me forget my doubts and just write. A scene always seems to turn out a bit more magical when I have written by candlelight.

A walk (or run) with my dogs (Cost = free!)

From left to right: Hector (the slowest), Watson (the second fastest) and Luna (the fastest)

My all time favourite thing to do when I’m struggling to write is to take my dogs for a walk. I have three and they all walk at different paces. If I’m working on a particular scene I will walk my slowest. If I’m working on the plot I will walk the next quickest. And when I just want to clear my head and forget all about the story I will take my fastest for a run. Without my dogs I’m certain I would go insane!

The Boy, the Bird & the Coffin Maker by Matilda Wood is published 4 May 2017 by Scholastic Children’s Books

You can buy a copy of The Boy, the Bird & the Coffin Maker here or from your local bookshop!


About Matilda Woods

Matilda Woods lives in the Southern Tablelands of Australia, where there are no flying fish, but there is the world’s largest cement sheep. She currently lives with her four chickens, three dogs, two cats and one bird.

You can find out more about Matilda on her website – www.matildawoods.com

You can follow Matilda on twitter – @MatildaWrites


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Matilda for such a fab guest post and to Lorraine at Scholastic for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read The Boy, the Bird & the Coffin Maker?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Tales Q&A with Aaron Starmer


Today is the UK release day of an explosive new YA, Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer!

‘Truly the smartest and funniest book about spontaneous combustion you will ever read’ JOHN GREEN, #1 bestselling author of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

Happy UK book birthday Aaron!

Spontaneous is a fab YA full of humour and fun!

I am super excited to have been able to pop some questions to the author himself about the book and beyond in this brilliant Q&A…..


Mara’s senior year is proving to be a lot less exciting than she’d hoped, until the day – KABAM! – Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period. Katelyn is the first, but she won’t be the last senior to explode without warning or explanation. The body count grows and the search is on for a reason, while the students continue to pop like balloons. But if bombs or terrorists or a government conspiracy aren’t to blame, what is?

With the help of her oldest friend, her new boyfriend, a power ballad and a homemade disco ball, will Mara make it to graduation in one piece? It’s going to be one hell of a year, where the only test is how to stay alive and where falling in love might be the worst thing you can do . . .


Hi Aaron!  Thanks so much for being here today to answer some questions about your explosive new YA book, Spontaneous!

Can you tell us a little about your new explosive new YA novel Spontaneous?

I’d love to! The concept is pretty simple actually. It’s about spontaneous human combustion. That is, people suddenly going up in flames (or, in this case, exploding!). There’s a high school and during the first week of the school year, one of the seniors randomly explodes. No explanation. Just POP! Then a few weeks later it happens to another senior. Then another, and another, until the world realizes there’s something wrong with this particular class of students. A lot of people speculate about what caused it (drugs, sexuality, etc.), but the story is ultimately about how it affects these kids, and the main character in particular.

 Can you tell us a little more about the main character Mara?

The best way I can describe her is to say that she’s straightforward. She says what she’s feeling and thinking, which isn’t always nice. She makes jokes at inappropriate times. Some people find her hilarious, while others might think she’s callous. At times, I guess she’s likably unlikable (if that’s a thing). But as the story goes along, I hope most readers see that there’s more to her than brutal honesty and sarcasm. She’s just trying to survive in the only ways she knows how. And she does care…a lot. You see that when she falls for a guy named Dylan and when she struggles to hold onto her best friend, Tess.

 What inspired you to write about teenagers who could blow up without warning or explanation?

It just seemed to fit. When you’re a teen, every event, every emotion, everything about life feels, for lack of a better word, combustible. Or at least it did for me. Like it could all end in an instant. And sometimes it does. Some of my first experiences with loss were when I was a teen. And I wanted to explore that in the bloodiest, funniest, most dramatic and literal way possible.

 On a serious note Spontaneous explores friendship and goodbyes how important was it to get this balance right between humour, honesty and tugging on our heart strings?

The trick is to ground as many things as you can in reality. The premise is absolutely absurd and that’s where the humor comes in, but you can’t make the reactions or plot twists absurd as well or else readers won’t connect with the characters. So I constantly had to think about honest, human reactions. Which means there’s a lot of confusion and vacillating emotions in the book. Also a fair bit of apathy (these are teenagers, after all). I treated it as if it were the story about a contagious virus. How would the world react to that? How would individuals?

 I hear Spontaneous is in development to become a film!  Who would be your dream cast?

I haven’t really thought about that, because I don’t want to get too excited about something that’s still a long shot (and I have no power over casting decisions). A very talented writer is working on the screenplay, so I’m just excited to see that when it’s finished. If it does actually go into production, I’d love it if they could cast actual teens rather than twenty-somethings playing teens. Actual teens would bring the awkwardness and insecurities that I think are essential for a story like this.  I’d love to hear suggestions, though!

 If you had to live in Mara’s hometown how would you make sure you survived?

There’s a character that’s mentioned briefly who builds a suit of armour out of duct tape to try to protect himself. It doesn’t work…obviously. That’d be me. A bit paranoid and willing to try anything to survive.

In five words – what should people expect if they picked up Spontaneous?

Blood. Laughs. Questions. Tears. Community

We would love to know a little bit more about you!  Can you give us 5 random facts we might not know about yourself?

  1. I have been attacked by multiple animals, including, but not limited to, a stingray, a magpie and a poisonous snake. The poisonous snake missed, the other two did not.
  2. I think that black liquorice, cilantro, olives, kimchi, and lots of other divisive foods are delicious. In fact, if it’s divisive, I probably like it (except Marmite/Vegemite)
  3. I didn’t wear jeans for about 4 years straight in my late teens/early twenties. Not once. Now I wear them almost every day. I don’t have an explanation.
  4. My great-grandfather was born in the 1842. To put that in perspective, Abraham Lincoln was 33 in 1842.
  5. I’m not very good at coming up with random facts about myself, but I am very good at movie trivia.

If Spontaneous had a sound track what would it be?

There’s actually a lot of songs already referenced in the book. Leonard Cohen’s “That’s No Way to Say Goodbye,” Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” and Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own,” being the three big ones. But there’s also a playlist called DRIVER F*&#ER DRIVE that Mara and Tess always listen to in their car, which is full of upbeat songs, mainly by women, and featuring some well-incorporated swears. I was imagining they were listening to a variety of styles and genres. Nicki Minaj, Tegan and Sara, Jenny Lewis, Haim, Kacey Musgraves, and a bunch of stuff that an old dude like me wouldn’t know about.

What are you working on next?  Any new exciting projects you can tell us about?

My next novel is called Meme and it’s a dark thriller/comedy about, you guessed it, internet memes. It’s in the editorial stages. I’ve got a few other projects that are just getting started, but it’s too early to talk about those. Thanks for hosting me and hopefully you can have me back when I can talk about those!

Of course!  Thanks so much for answering all of my questions.  Spontaneous sounds like all kinds of fun!

You can buy a copy of this book here or from your local bookshop!


About Aaron Starmer

Aaron Starmer was born in northern California and raised in the suburbs of Syracuse, New York. Before pursuing writing full-time, he worked in New York City for over ten years as an editor for a travel bookseller and as an operations director for an African safari company. His middle grade and young adult novels have been translated into multiple foreign languages and have appeared on best of the year lists from Time, The Wall Street Journal, New York Public Library, YALSA, Bank Street College of Education, Chicago Public Library and School Library Journal. His latest book, Spontaneous, is in development as a film. He currently lives in northern Vermont with wife and daughter.

You can find out more about Adam on his website – www.aaronstarmer.com

Or why not follow him on twitter – @aaronstarmer


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Aaron for some brilliant answers and to Claire at Canongate for organising and asking me to be part of the tour!

Have you read Spontaneous?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – The Opposite of You – Deleted Scene By Lou Morgan


I am so excited to have another of my absolute favourite authors on the blog today to celebrate the release of her new YA Thriller, The Opposite Of You, Lou Morgan.

The Opposite Of You is released today, 4th May 2017 published by Stripes Publishing.

Happy Books Birthday Lou!

The Opposite Of You sounds amazing and I’ve heard fantastic things already about it and whilst this is a standalone book I hear, if you are fans of Lou’s previous YA, Sleepless, there maybe a little surprise where the two worlds may touch.  So if you pay attention when you read it you may well spot a familiar face or two…

So today I have an extra special deleted scene from The Opposite Of You…..


A gripping psychological thriller for YA readers.

Some bonds should never be broken…
Bex and Naomi are identical twins. They used to be inseparable and play games pretending that they knew just what the other was thinking. But things have changed as they’ve got older and the twins aren’t as close as they used to be. Then Naomi goes missing and all of a sudden their childhood games take on a whole new meaning. Bex knows more about what’s going on with Naomi than seems possible. No one understands Naomi like she does and now her twin sister needs help.

Perfect for fans of Sophie McKenzie, Anne Cassidy and C.J. Daugherty.


The Opposite Of You – Deleted Scene

We originally wanted to have a flashback scene that showed Bex and Naomi deliberately using the link between them for something when they were younger, rather than unknowingly doing so. In the end, however, it didn’t feel like there was a natural place for it to come in their story, so it didn’t quite make the cut. It seemed a shame not to give you that insight into the two of them, though – so here’s a special ‘deleted scene’ which shows that even when you think you know which side of the story you’re on, sometimes things aren’t as straightforward as they appear…

NAOMI: aged 10

Noom!

Her sister’s voice is sharp and clear in her head – and loud enough to make her look up from her maths book. Glancing over her shoulder at the door, all Naomi sees are the lowered heads of the rest of her class working their way through the problem sheet they’ve been given; their teacher sitting at her desk making notes and the classroom assistant writing something on the whiteboard.

No Bex.

Noom!

Bex?

It’s the easiest thing in the world to answer: easier even than talking face to face. It always has been, even when they’ve been fighting.

Especially when they’ve been fighting, because it’s the only way to keep their parents out of their arguments – and there’ve been enough of those lately. Not that it matters, not really: both Naomi and Bex know that they will always find a way to work things out. How could they not?

Can you tell him I was with you? At lunchtime?

Tell who?

Please? I really, really need…

There’s a loud double knock at the classroom door and all around the room, heads look up from their problems. Only one person in the whole school knocks like that: the Deputy Head. Sure enough, the door swings open and there he is, framed in the corridor and beckoning to their teacher… but not before his eyes settle on Naomi.

What did you do, Bex?

Please? Just tell him I was with you all lunchtime.

“Naomi? Could you come here for a minute?” Miss Evans holds the door open and Naomi can feel the hot eyes of the rest of the class on her as she stands up, closes her book and walks over to where the Deputy Head is standing. He leads her out into the corridor and closes the door.

“Naomi. This won’t take a minute – I know you’re in the middle of class, and I don’t want to distract you.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’ve been having a chat with your sister about something that happened this morning, and I wondered if you can help me.”

“Yes, sir?”

“You see, two members of staff said they saw a pupil in the staffroom this lunchtime…”

And Naomi knows where this is going. In her head, Bex is suddenly very, very quiet – she isn’t usually the one who gets in trouble…

She goes with what seems like the safest answer. “I was outside, sir.”

“I know. Besides, Mr Leonard says you were by the climbing frame while he was on lunch duty, and he spoke to you. Is that right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Thank you, Naomi – that’s…”

“But – sir – Bex was there too. The whole time. With me.”

“She was?”

“Yes, sir. So she couldn’t have been in the staffroom.” Naomi holds his gaze. She’s never lied to a teacher before, but somehow, doing it for Bex makes it feel less bad than she’d imagined it would be.

“But Mr Leonard didn’t mention her.”

“She went to put her apple in the bin – but she came right back. She couldn’t have been in the staffroom,” she adds, repeating herself. She can see the doubt flickering in his eyes: maybe it wasn’t one of the Harper twins after all, maybe they were mistaken…

“All right. Thank you, Naomi – that helps a lot. You can go back to class now.”

You owe me, she tells her twin as she closes the classroom door and edges her way back through the chairs to her table.

I know. Thank you.

Was it you, though?

There’s a pause, then – reluctantly: Yes.

What were you doing in the staffroom, anyway? Naomi tries to hide her smile behind her hand, hoping Miss Evans doesn’t spot it – and more importantly, that Bex can’t hear it in her thoughts.

Lily dared me.

Dared you to what? Go into the staffroom?

I had to run in and touch the notice board.

Why?

Because they said I wouldn’t. They said I was too chicken. They said you would, but I wouldn’t.

Naomi lets this sink in.

Did you, though?

Yep.

And despite it all, she’s pretty sure she hears pride in Bex’s thoughts.

Thanks for covering for me.

Naomi rolls her eyes, but she smiles anyway.

Like I’d ever tell on you.

You can buy a copy of The Opposite Of You here or from your local bookshop!


About Lou Morgan

Lou Morgan is an award-nominated adult and YA author. Her first novel, Blood and Feathers – an adult urban fantasy – was published by Solaris Books in 2012 and the follow-up, Blood and Feathers: Rebellion, was released in the summer of 2013.

Her first YA novel, Sleepless, is published by Stripes / Little Tiger Press as part of their Red Eye horror series, while her standalone YA thriller The Opposite of You will also be published by Stripes in early 2017.

She has appeared at the Bath Children’s Literature Festival and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and has been nominated for three British Fantasy Awards (Best Newcomer, and twice for Best Fantasy Novel). Her short stories have appeared in anthologies from Solaris Books, PS Publishing and Jurassic, amongst others. She has also written genre novel-related features for magazines including Future Publishing’s SFX and is a long- and shortlist reader for the Bath Novel Award.

Born in Wales and a graduate of University College London, she now lives in Bath with her family.

She tweets as @LouMorgan – mostly when she should be writing – and can also be found on Pinterest, Tumblr and Facebook.

Or check Out Lou’s website here


A huge thank you to Lou for sharing this deleted scene and to Charlie at Stripes for asking me to host!

You can catch previous posts from Lou Morgan on Tales by clicking on the links below…

The Babadook

Talking Point

Red Eye Read Along – Sleepless

Have you read The Opposite Of You?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  Did you find the Sleepless Easter Egg in the book?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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