Guest Post – Top Fictional Vampires by Anna Wilson


Today I have a fab post to sink your teeth into in preparation for Halloween!

Meet Vlad The Worlds Worst Vampire a brilliant new MG children’s book by Anna Wilson which was released on the 7th September published by the wonderful Stripes Publishing.  All topped off with wonderful illustrations by Kathryn Durst.

So today I have the lady herself, Anna Wilson, with some of her top fictional Vampires…..


Vlad is the youngest member of the Impaler family, the bravest vampires that ever lived. But Vlad isn’t very brave at all. He’s even a little bit scared of the dark!

All Vlad wants is some friends and he thinks he knows just where to find them… Human school! So off Vlad goes, along with his pet bat Flit.

But how will Vlad keep his true identity secret from his new friends? Not to mention keeping them hidden from his family!

Life just got a lot more complicated…

A gentle and funny story of a little vampire who wishes he was human – this is DIARY OF A WIMPY KID meets Hotel Transylvania.


Top Fictional Vampires

Mona the Vampire – Nickelodeon

“Here’s a nice normal girl in an ordinary world. Show us your fangs! Hey, Mona!”

I loved watching this series with my kids when they were small. Mona is a child with an extremely over-active imagination – she likes to play at being a vampire with her friends. Or is she playing? The cartoon cleverly switches between what is real and what is imagined while leaving space for the viewer to make up their own mind. What I enjoyed most about the cartoon was that it seemed to say that imaginary play was as real as you wanted it to be – if you believed you were vampire that could defeat zombies, then you were a vampire that could defeat zombies! Mona uses her vampire skills to solve mysteries but also to help her cope with everything from school bullies to annoying teachers. I think she has inspired me in creating Vlad, who admittedly is not as good at being a vampire as Mona, but certainly needs his wits about him when he goes to human school.

Dracula – Bram Stoker

The ultimate vampire! This book was written well over one hundred years ago but is still read by fans of Gothic horror today. The author found the inspiration for his novel in Romanian folktales about a man called Vlad Dracula, nicknamed Vlad the Impaler. Vlad was a man renowned for his cruelty – legend has it that he drank the blood of his enemies to give himself strength. In fact there is little evidence to support this, although it seems he did enjoy having his dinner alongside the still twitching bodies of his slain enemies, which he had impaled on spikes, hence his nickname! Bram Stoker’s fictional character Count Dracula moves from his home in Transylvania to England where he does all the things we’ve now come to expect from vampires: he drinks a young girl’s blood and turns her into a vampire too; he turns into a werewolf and a bat and he has powerful hypnotic and telepathic abilities. He does not cast a shadow or have a reflection and prefers to travel at night when his powers are at their strongest. Some of these ideas have found their way into my own book, Vlad the World’s Worst Vampire, but as the title suggests, my little Vlad is pretty hopeless at all these “vampire skills”!

Twilight – Stephanie Meyer

This four-title series took the book world by storm with the publication of the first story in 2008. Teens fell for the charismatic 104-year-old vampire, Edward Cullen, who himself falls in love with a human girl, Bella Swan. Edward’s family no longer drink human blood, preferring instead to feast on the blood of animals. This means that Bella is not endangered by Edward in the same way as the girls in Bram Stoker’s book are by Count Dracula, and she and Edward are free to pursue their relationship. However, there are trials and tribulations aplenty, especially when other “newborn” vampires with more traditional views come along and try to sink their fangs into Bella to make her a vampire too. My character Vlad struggles with vampire traditions. He hates drinking blood, even though his parents don’t bite humans any more. They have their blood delivered by a blood donor van called Red Cells Express!

The Addams Family – TV series based on the cartoon by Charles Addams

I know, I know – this is not a vampire story! But I had to mention the creepy Addams Family because of the impact the television series had on me as a child. In any case, the little sister Wednesday Addams is so pale and strange she has always seemed quite vampiric to me. The cast of characters is much more varied than in a straightforward vampire tale, though – each Addams family member has his or her (or its!) own unique personality. However, they are all perfectly gruesome Halloween monsters in their own right. From Morticia, the witchy mother, to Cousin Itt, a tiny creature whose body is completely shrouded in hair, to Thing – a speaking, disembodied arm, there is enough here to make sure you don’t want to be watching the show alone on a dark and stormy night. But the show was also incredibly funny, and it was this mixture of the macabre with the amusing that I hoped to achieve my own stories. Also, if you know anything about the kooky, spooky Addams family, you won’t have any trouble at all in seeing where I got the inspiration for the names of some of my characters. Morticia just might have had something to do with Vlad’s mother being called Mortemia, for example. And the crazy personality of Uncle Gomez certainly influenced my creation of Grandpa Gory and Mulch the butler too.

You can buy a copy of Vlad The Worlds Worst Vampire here or from your local bookshop


About Anna Wilson

Anna Wilson is the author of humorous books for children. THE POODLE PROBLEM was chosen as a Richard and Judy Book Club title, and MONKEY BUSINESS and SUMMER SHADOW have been shortlisted for several awards. She lives in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire.

You can find out more about Anna on her website – www.annawilson.co.uk

About Kathryn Durst

Kathryn Durst loves working on children’s entertainment, publications, and media – especially children’s books and television series. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

You can find out more about Kathryn on her website –  www.kathryndurst.com


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Anna for a fab guest post and to Beth at Stripes Publishing for asking me to host.

Have you read Vlad The Worlds Worst Vampire?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  Who are your favourite fictional vampires?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Eloise Undercover Bibliography/Research by Sarah Baker


I am always captivated by stories set in the war especially WWII so when this little gem dropped on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago I was super excited!

Eloise Undercover by Sarah Baker was released on the 7th September by Catnip Books and I literally cannot wait to get started!

And today I have the lovely lady herself sharing some research and recommending some books in this fab guest post!


France, 1944. 12-year-old Eloise’s father has not come home in over a week, and she is getting worried that something might be badly wrong. When the Germans occupy Eloise’s town, and the Nazi Kommandant moves into Maison de la Noyer, things start falling apart. Through a chance meeting, Eloise volunteers to join the Resistance. Suspense, secrecy and danger follow her as, inspired by her favourite detective fiction books, she tries to find her father. A hidden passage behind a tapestry, a deportation list and a race against time… Will Eloise find her father? And what other secrets will she reveal?


Bibliography/Research

When it came to Eloise Undercover, I wanted to get the setting right, or as right as possible. I did an awful lot of research on the internet, spent quality time at the Imperial War Museum, asked my Dad many, many questions (he’s an unofficial WW2 expert) and read a fair few books. Here are some of my recommendations, or a further reading list, if you prefer.

You’ll note some are reference books and others are YA, middle-grade or younger.  They’re not in any particular order. I recommend them all.

Sisterland by Linda Newbery

Sophie Scholl and the White Rose by Annette Dumbach & Jud Newborn

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Last Train From Kummersdorf by Leslie Wilson

Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden

The Lion and the Unicorn by Shirley Hughes

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

The Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis

The Silver Donkey by Sonya Hartnett

The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett

The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall

Land Girl Manual, 1941 by W.E. Shewell Cooper

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

The Heroines of SOE (Britain’s Secret Women in France – F Section) by Squadron Leader Beryl E. Escott

The Snow Goose by John Gallico

What do you think? Have I missed an important read? What books set during WW2 would you recommend?


ELOISE UNDERCOVER by Sarah Baker, out now in paperback (£6.99, Catnip)

You can buy a copy here or from your local bookshop


About Sarah Baker

Sarah Baker is a children’s writer based in London. Her previous book, Through the Mirror Door, has been very well received by bloggers, bookshops and readers. Sarah has worked extensively in film, with roles at Aardman Features, the Bermuda Film Festival and as Story Editor at Celador Films. She writes guest features for a number of online magazines and blogs, including the popular #vintage baker finds pieces for Bristol Vintage. ELOISE UNDERCOVER is Sarah’s second novel.

You can find out more about Sarah Baker on her website – www.bysarahbaker.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @bysarahbaker


A huge thank you to Sarah for a fab guest post and to Laura at Catnip for asking me to host.

Have you read Eloise Undercover  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  Are there any WWII books that you would recommend?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Tales Post – British Books Challenge – September


Welcome to the British Books Challenge 2017 – September!

#BritishBooksChallenge17

We are skipping into Autumn this month with lots of fab books!

And again so many amazing reviews linked up for the August British Books Challenge.  You all did SO amazing!  I’m so glad to see you are all enjoying the challenge so much!  I heart you all very much!

57 reviews of books by British Authors were linked up in August!

That makes a grand total of 561 reviews of books by British Authors in total since we all started in January!

*group hugs*

And thank you so much for embracing our author and debut of the month for August as well as all of the other amazing books you all read!

Thank you all!

Lets wrap up warm and jump into September!


About The British Books Challenge

The British Books Challenge is a reading challenge that will be running here on Tales Of Yesterday between 1st January 2017 to 31st December 2017 and the main focus of the challenge is reading and reviewing books by British authors.

I have created a #BritishBooksChallenge17 summary page here which will also keep track of my own progress in the challenge too.

If you have not signed up yet there’s still plenty of time – find out more about the challenge here

Please note you can sign up to the challenge at any time throughout the year but only sign up entries made on or before the 31st December 2016 will be entered to win the sign up prize.

This is the first time I am hosting this particular challenge and I have lots of things planned for us all!

I have been in touch with lots of publishers who have kindly donated lots of lovely prize packs for us throughout the year for the challenge!

Right lets get the ball for September rolling starting with the winner of the August Prize Pack!


 

With thanks to the lovely people at Orion for August’s brilliant bumper prize pack which contained the following three books…..

 

All valid reviews and links by British Authors that were linked up on the August linky here were eligible to be entered to win the August prize pack. With people who read any books by our Author Of The Month, Ben Davis and/or our Debut of the month, S.T.A.G.S BY M A Bennett, earning extra entries.

But there can only be one winner!

And the winner is…….

Moonrise by Sarah Crossan  – Michelle at Fluttering Butterflies

 

Congratulations!

Please email me your address so that I can arrange for your prize to be sent out to you!

I hope everyone also enjoyed all the extra giveaways and posts I ran on my blog or via twitter over August too 🙂


 

Septembers prize pack has been kindly donated by the lovely people at Penguin Random House and contains the following book but for 3 lucky winners ……

11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan–named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover–from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

Jack Cheng’s debut is full of joy, optimism, determination, and unbelievable heart. To read the first page is to fall in love with Alex and his view of our big, beautiful, complicated world. To read the last is to know he and his story will stay with you a long, long time.

A huge thank you to Penguin Random House for donating this super brilliant Prize Pack for September

One winner will be picked at random from the list of valid reviews submitted each month and will be announced in the following month’s review link up post. The winner will then have 1 week to contact me to claim their prize or a new winner will be chosen. Obviously the more reviews you enter the greater your chance of winning and don’t forget you gain extra entries for any reviews by Debut or Author of the Month for September! It doesn’t matter if you only review one book (or even skip a month or two in the challenge!) you’ll still be entered for each review you do write.

Please Remember…..

Only participants with a valid sign up page that has been linked here are eligible for entry to the monthly prize packs mentioned on this monthly link up page – you can still sign up here

When you add your link to the Mr. Linky below please make sure you link directly to your review, not just to your blog/vlog (invalid links will be deleted)

Books must have been read and reviewed in 2017 to count towards the challenge so those books you read last year but reviewed in 2017 don’t count!  Only books reviewed in September on your blog will count towards the challenge (you could have read them in earlier in the year though – I’m feeling kind 🙂 )

Also, please make sure that the reviews you link are for books written by British Authors – they can be born in Britain (living here or abroad) or they can be adopted British Authors (who were born elsewhere and now live here) but if they don’t fit into one of those categories then they don’t count. (as above invalid links will be deleted and won’t get you an entry into the prize pack). Please note that Britain includes England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, I’m afraid authors from Southern Ireland don’t count.

Also see the Author Of The Month and Debut Of The Month section for ways to gain extra entries each month!

And lastly feel free to share your reviews on social media using the #BritishBooksChallenge17 hashtag – it’s not compulsory but it would be fun to share any great British Books you have loved with others!

Lets get chatting and celebrating all of the brilliant British books and authors that we have and all of the wonderful British books that we are reading!

Always remember – never tweet an author into a negative review and be constructive.

For more information about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 click here

If you are a publisher who publishes books by British authors or British author who would be interesting in promoting their titles through the British Books Challenge giveaways please contact me by email.


 

And the #BritishBooksChallenge17 Author Of The Month for September is…….

Sita Brahmachari

 

Sita is an author I have only recently discovered and I am loving!  I’m so happy that she is our September Author Of The Month!

Don’t Forget…..

If you read, review and link up any books by the author of the month (in the same month that they are author of the month only) then that one review will get you an extra entry into the monthly prize pack draw.  So a double entry for one review!

If the author has multiple books and you read them all you will gain a double entry for each review of each book.

 

 

#BritishBooksChallenge17

If you are a publisher who publishes books by British authors or British author who would be interesting in promoting their titles through the British Books Challenge author of the month then please contact me by email.


 

As always there are so many good debuts coming out this month that it was really hard to decide which to pick….

And the #BritishBooksChallenge17 Debut Of The Month for September is…….

The Taste Of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles

 

I am so hugely excited about this book and am so happy that it is our Debut Of The Month!

Don’t Forget…..

If you read, review and link up a review of The Taste Of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles (in the same month that they are debut of the month only) then that one review will get you an extra entry into the monthly prize pack draw.  So a double entry for one review

#BritishBooksChallenge17

If you are a publisher who publishes books by British authors or British author who would be interesting in promoting their debut through the British Books Challenge debut of the month then please contact me by email.


As well as the above I have lots of other exciting posts and giveaways going up throughout the month too which I will run through twitter and share using the hashtag so do look out for those too!

#BritishBooksChallenge17

As well as following the hashtag #BritishBooksChallenge17 I would also suggest following my blog using your preferred feed subscription (by email by filling in the subscription box at the top of my blog , BlogLovin’ etc) in order to keep up with the latest news and posts regarding this challenge throughout 2017!

Here’s to a wonderful September!

Now for the important part, make sure you link all of your reviews using the Mr. Linky form below. In the Your Name field please include your blog name, the title of the book and the author. Make sure the link takes me directly to your review or your entry won’t count and will be deleted from the list.

Name – Please add your name and blog / YouTube channel e.g Chelley Toy – Tales Of Yesterday

URL – Please add a direct link to your review post here




Guest Post – My 8 Favourite Historical Novels by Dawn Farnham


Today I am super happy to be part of the blog tour for a new historical fiction book published by Monsoon Books.

The Red Thread by Dawn Farnham is the first book in The Straits Quartet series and is a brilliant Asian Historical Fiction read.

Today I have the author herself sharing some of her favourite historical fiction books….


Set against the backdrop of 1830s Singapore where piracy, crime, triads, and tigers are commonplace, this historical romance follows the struggle of two lovers Zhen, a Chinese coolie and triad member, and Charlotte, an 18-year-old Scots woman and sister of Singapores Head of Police. Two cultures bound together by the invisible threads of fate yet separated by cultural diversity.


Favourite 8 Historical Fiction Books 

My novels are set in Asia so instead of going through all the usual and more recent suspects (a la Mantel), I would like to offer your readers and bloggers a few perhaps lesser known or older ones set in East and Southeast Asia.

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck 

Perhaps she is somewhat forgotten now but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a great read. It won the Pulitzer in 1932. She won the Nobel in 1938.  All her books set in China are worth re-finding.

The Quiet American by Graham Greene

He’s a marvellous writer. Not strictly historical but he tells the story of foreign meddling in Vietnam and its consequences better than any history book.

Red Sorghum by Mo Yan

A splendid writer, also winner of the Nobel prize.

Shogun by James Clavell

Flawed and probably historical nonsense (so the Japanese say) but he tells a good tale.

Waiting and War Trash by Ha Jin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love almost everything by him.

Roshomon by Ryunosuke Akutagawa

Classic Japanese tale transformed into many movies.

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

Conrad set many stories in Southeast Asia where he spent a long time as a sailing man.  Beautiful writing and compelling stories.

You can buy a copy of The Red Thread here

The Red Thread is going to be FREE on Amazon from 17th – 25th September

Or why not add the book to your Goodreads here


About Dawn Farnham

Dawn Farnham is the author of The Straits Quartet (The Red Thread, The Shallow Seas, The Hills of Singapore and The English Concubine), as well as numerous short stories, plays and children’s books. A former long-term resident of Singapore, Dawn now calls Perth, Australia, home. Her new book, Finding Maria is published in October 2017. Learn more about Dawn at www.dawnfarnham.com.

You can also follow Dawn on twitter – @farnhamauthor

Or on Facebook here


Blog Tour

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


A huge big thank you to Faye Rogers for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour and to host this fab piece and to Dawn for writing it.

Have you read The Read Thread?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Spotlight – AniMalcolm by David Baddiel


Today I am honoured to be part of the Lollies 2017 Blog Tour featuring a book that will guarantee to have you laughing you little socks off!

That’s right I am hugely honoured to be shining the spotlight on the super funny AniMalcolm by the hilarious David Baddiel illustrated by the hugely talented Jim Field.

And for my stop on the tour I have an amazing signed giveaway!

But first lets find out about The Lollies and this years shortlist of amazing super funny books….


About The Lollies

Michael Rosen, children’s novelist, poet and former Children’s Laureate, today announced the shortlist for the 2017 Laugh Out Loud Awards (The Lollies), a set of awards, now in its second year, created by Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, to celebrate the funniest children’s books.

Having long championed humorous books for children Rosen said of the shortlist: “This is a collection of 12 whizzy, crazy, hilarious books. They are guaranteed to tickle. Parents and teachers wondering how to keep your children interested in reading, why not start here? And you can always start them off by reading them out loud – funny voices an’ all!”

Rosen and his judging panel, consisting of Nicolette Jones, journalist and Sunday Times Children’s Book Editor and Katie Thistleton, presenter and host of the CBBC Children’s Book Club, were tasked with making the selected shortlist from over 130 books submitted by children’s publishers.

The Lollies are awarded in three categories: Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book, Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8s and Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13s. The shortlisted books in each category are as follows:

Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book

Oi Dog by Kes Gray and Jim Field (Hodder Children’s Books)

Eat Your People by Lou Kuenzler and David Wojtowycz (Orchard Books)

Prince of Pants by Alan Macdonald and Sarah McIntyre (Scholastic)

Danny McGee Drinks the Sea by Andy Stanton and Neal Layton (Hodder Children’s Books)

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8 year olds

Thimble Monkey Superstar by Jon Blake and Martin Chatterton (Firefly Press)

Hamish and the Neverpeople by Danny Wallace and Jamie Littler (Simon and Schuster)

Eddy Stone and the Epic Holiday Mash-Up by Simon Cherry (Usborne)

Future Ratboy and the Invasion of the Nom Noms by Jim Smith (Egmont)

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13 year olds.

I Don’t Like Poetry by Joshua Seigal (Bloomsbury)

The Best Medicine by Christine Hamil (Little Island Books)

My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord by David Solomons and Laura Ellen Anderson (Nosy Crow)

AniMalcolm by David Baddiel and Jim Field (Harper Collins)

The winning book in each category will be decided solely by children’s votes, with schools and parents encouraged to help kids get involved and vote via the Lollies website, www.scholastic.co.uk/lollies, or via the Scholastic channel on the PopJam app.

The winning books will be announced at an awards ceremony in London in January 2018.

The Lollies were created in response to findings from Scholastic’s Kids & Family Reading Report, (www.scholastic.co.uk/readingreport) which found that what two-thirds of children aged 6-17 looked for when choosing books for themselves were ‘books that make me laugh’.


About AniMalcolm

From David Baddiel, the brightest new star of children’s books and winner of the LOLLIES award, comes a laugh-out-loud adventure for every child who ever wondered what it might be like to be a bit of an animal…

Malcolm doesn’t like animals.

Which is a problem because his family love them. Their house is full of pets. What the house is NOT full of is stuff Malcolm likes. Such as the laptop he wanted for his birthday.

The only bright spot on the horizon is the Year Six school trip, which Malcolm never thought his parents would pay for. And yet there he is, on the bus, heading to… oh no. A farm.

Over the next days, Malcolm changes. He learns a lot about animals. More, in many ways, than he would like. He learns what it’s really like to be an animal. A whole series of animals, in fact…

It does make him think differently. And speak differently. And eat differently. And, um, smell differently. But will he end up the same as before?

Because sometimes the hardest thing to become is… yourself.

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


About David Baddiel

David Baddiel is an author and comedian. He has written and performed in a series of highly successful TV comedy shows, including The Mary Whitehouse Experience and Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned. His debut children’s novel, The Parent Agency, was the bestselling 9-12 debut of 2014 and was hailed by the Guardian as ‘funny, sometimes moving and always engaging.’ The Person Controller is his second novel – and it confirms David as a brilliant and original new voice in children’s fiction. He lives in London.

About Jim Field

Jim Field is an illustrator, character designer and animation director.

From music videos and title sequences to illustration and picture books, Jim has worked on a variety of projects.

His first picture book, CATS AHOY! written by Peter Bently and published by MacMillan won the Booktrust Roald Dahl Funny Prize in 2011.
In 2013 Jim designed and art-directed the interactive children’s exhibition ‘Journey to Space’ at Discover Children’s Story Centre.

He has since illustrated children’s books with Kes Gray, Michelle Robinson,Rachel Bright, Michael Broad, Jeanne Willis, Steve Cole and comedian David Baddiel.

Jim now lives in Paris with his wife, daughter and a small grumpy cat.


Giveaway

I have 3 signed copies of AniMalcolm by David Baddiel to giveaway with thanks to the lovely organisers of the Lollies and Harper Collins!

I am running the giveaway via twitter here

UK Only

Ends 29/09/2017

Winners will need to provide a mailing address to me to pass onto the publishers to send out your prize.

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 Antonia and all at the Lollies for asking me to host and be part of this fab blog tour and of course for the awesome giveaway!

A huge good luck to all of the Lollies 2017 nominees!  You are all fab!

Have you read AniMalcolm?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Top Ten YA Books by Cara Thurlbourn


I am over the moon to be part of the Fire Lines by Cara Thurlbourn, a fab new YA Fantasy, blog tour today with a fab guest post from the lady herself!

Fire Lines was released on the 26th September published by Bewick Press and looks absolutely fab!

So for my stop on the blog tour Cara is sharing her top 10 YA Books…..



When your blood line awakens, how do you choose between family and freedom?

Émi’s father used to weave beautiful tales of life beyond the wall, but she never knew if they were true. Now, her father is gone and Émi has been banished to the Red Quarter, where she toils to support herself and her mother – obeying the rules, hiding secrets and suffering the cruelties of the council’s ruthless Cadets.

But when Émi turns seventeen, sparks fly – literally. Her blood line surges into life and she realises she has a talent for magick… a talent that could get her killed.

Émi makes her escape, beyond the wall and away from everything she’s ever known. In a world of watchers, elephant riders and sorcery, she must discover the truth about who she really is. But can the new Émi live up to her destiny?


Top 10 YA Books

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

One of my most recent reads, recommended by my sister and devoured in a day. Totally unputdownable with a huge twist that I didn’t see coming (and I’m usually great at spotting twists!)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

I’m a sucker for an interesting narrator and The Book Thief certainly has that! I also love that against the very serious backdrop of The Second World War, Zusak celebrates books, words and freedom of expression.

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

I was given a copy of this book as a gift when I was perhaps thirteen or fourteen and that infamous first line “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink”, probably sums up all of my dreamy notions of being a writer.

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard 

Another relatively recent read of mine, I love the way Sara Barnard tackles the themes of friendship and mental health. It was also really refreshing to read something where the main focus was on the intricacies female friendship and not a romance.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Just adorable. Eleanor reminded me so much of me that it was almost painful at times. Probably my favourite read of the year.

Rebel of The Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

A fierce heroine and a blend of the wild west and fantasy, what’s not to love?! It also gives me severe cover envy with its sparkliness.

My Sister Lives On The Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher 

It’s quite a few years since I read this book but it still sticks with me as one of those ones that grabs you and doesn’t let go. I love the narrative and the way Annabel Pitcher cocoons her story in themes that are, sadly, very relevant today.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

I listened to this on audio on my commute to work and often had to delay getting out of the car because it was just too good! So atmospheric and full of mystery and intrigue.

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

I love everything about this book, from the story itself to the physicality of it. The cover is stunning, the artwork on the pages is to die for and I can’t wait to get started on her latest The Island at the End of Everything.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Still mid-read but I can tell this will be one of my stand out books of the year. Another recommendation/lend from my sister and she’s rarely wrong with her tastes!

You can buy a copy of Fire Lines here 

Or add to your Goodreads list here


About Cara Thurlbourn

Cara Thurlbourn writes children’s and young adult fiction. ‘Fire Lines’ is her first novel and it’s a story she’s been planning since she was fifteen years old.

Cara has a degree in English from the University of Nottingham and an MA in Publishing from Oxford Brookes University.

She lives in a tiny village in Suffolk and has worked in academic and educational publishing for nearly ten years. Cara blogs about her author journey and in November 2016 she crowdfunded her first children’s book. 10% of its profits are donated to animal rehoming charities.

Cara plans to write at least two more books in the Fire Lines series, as well as a young adult mystery series, and has lots more children’s stories waiting in the wings.

You can sign up for Cara’s newsletter, for giveaways, updates and latest releases, here: www.firelines.co.uk

You can also follow Cara on twitter – @carathurlbourn


Blog Tour

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

 


A huge big thank you to Faye Rogers for asking me to host this fab piece and to Cara for writing it.

Have you read Fire Lines?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Teenage Nightmares by Mark Illis


Today I have a guest post from the wonderful Mark Illis with a fab guest post!

The Impossible, illustrated by Bimpe Alliu, was released on the 27th July published by Quercus and is “a comic-book inspired adventure with a graphic novel twist” that is not to be missed!

Today Mark chats about writing for teenagers and writing his first teenage novel, The Impossible in this fab guest post….


When Hector Coleman and his mates genetically mutate overnight, his life changes in impossible ways.

A comic-book inspired adventure with a graphic novel twist for fans of Joe Cowley, Joe Sugg and Charlie Higson.

Hector Coleman. Just your average angst-ridden teenager, living a normal rubbish life in a normal rubbish town with, let’s face it, a rubbish name. Until his mates start genetically mutating … and everything changes. Apart from his name. And his girl trouble. And his embarrassingly low number of Twitter followers. All those things, unfortunately, stay the same. For now …


Teenage Nightmares

Why does a 54 year old man want to write for teenagers? Because his inner teenager is alive and well, slouching on a bean-bag behind a closed door, smelling of stale sweat, in a bad mood about something, with his head in a book. He used to read The Famous Five, then The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Lord of the Rings, then he moved on to The Wizard of Earthsea, Lord of the Flies, To Kill A Mocking Bird and The Catcher in the Rye. That’s a pretty good reading list and I’d recommend it to anyone. It nourished my imagination, played a big part in turning me into whoever (whatever) I am today, but everything’s changed since then. The range of YA fiction has exploded over the last ten years or so, at roughly the rate of a zombie apocalypse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my children is on her way out of teenager-dom, the other is on his way in, so I’ve read a lot of it in recent years, and I’ve discovered a fantastic new world, one which gives me a thrill of excitement and also a sharp slap of recognition. Somewhere along the way, my inner teenager stirred, lifted his head out of his book, blinked and said ‘Wait, what?’ (Because that’s what teenagers say these days.)

So of course, YA and teen fiction was a pool I wanted to dive into. I wanted to write for my children, I wanted to write for my slouchy, smelly teenage self, and I wanted to explore the preoccupations that have never left me. As an adult I read graphic novels, watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer  and Marvel movies, and read novels like Station 11 and The Underground Railroad, both of which play interesting games with reality. All those influences feed into my writing for teenagers.

Since I crawled out of that bean-bag about 35 years ago, I’ve written four novels and a book of connected short stories, all broadly in the genre of literary fiction. That means that I had most of the tools I needed to write YA, because writing for teenagers requires exactly the same attention to character and language as writing for adults, but I also felt liberated, felt able to introduce a fantasy, science-fiction element. Mutations, aliens!

Writing my first teenage novel, The Impossible, was similar to writing a novel for adults, because it was a precarious journey into invented lives, an attempt to find the unique texture of those lives, to summon up something authentic, to imagine an experience that was never actually experienced. But writing The Impossible also surprised me in two ways.

First, I discovered that I like my teenage characters more than most of my adult ones. I like the challenge of trying to find teenage voices without seeming cringey or weird. I like their enthusiasm and their ennui, their humour and their seriousness (often at the same time), that unguarded, jagged quality which makes them vulnerable. The life buzzing and flickering like electricity in their dialogue.

And secondly, I discovered that writing for teenagers feels at least as personal as writing an adult, literary novel. The Impossible is about teenagers coping with change colliding with their lives. To return to that first question – why am I, a 54 year old bloke, writing about that? Because change collided with my life when I was a teenager. The sort of change that you have to integrate into your life and find a way to use, because the only alternative is to be crushed by it. That’s what I wanted to explore, extrapolate from and – kind of – celebrate.

The garish, weird monsters are metaphors. It’s what makes them effective and familiar and even, in a sense, plausible.

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


About Mark Illis

Mark was born in London in 1963. He bought comics, watched Star Trek, went to see The Clash and loved reading and writing. He had some short stories published at university, and went on to do an MA in Creative Writing at UEA, where Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter were his tutors. That was a good year.

In his twenties Mark had three novels published by Bloomsbury, A CHINESE SUMMER, THE ALCHEMIST and THE FEATHER REPORT. He was also teaching English GCSE part-time, doing research for a charity called Shape, and then working as a Literature Development Worker, ‘raising the profile of literature in Berkshire.’ Exciting times. In 1992 Mark moved to West Yorkshire to be a Centre Director for the Arvon Foundation, after which he started writing for TV and radio. He has written three radio plays and has written for EastEnders, The Bill and Peak Practice. He wrote for Emmerdale for over a decade. He also wrote the award-winning screenplay for Before Dawn, a relationship drama with zombies.

Mark has taught writing in schools, libraries, universities, Reading Prison and Broadmoor Secure Hospital, and has run workshops in Hong Kong and Norway. He has taught more than 30 Arvon courses, has given readings at festivals from Brighton to Edinburgh, Cheltenham to King’s Lynn, and has reviewed for The Times Literary Supplement, The Spectator and Radio 4’s Kaleidoscope. He has recently been working for the charity First Story and for the Royal Literary Fund. He’s married with two children and a kitten and is still living in West Yorkshire.

His fourth book, TENDER, was published in 2009, and his fifth, THE LAST WORD, (shortlisted for The Portico Prize) in 2011, both by Salt.

In July 2017, his first Young Adult novel, THE IMPOSSIBLE, winner of a Northern Writers’ Award in 2015, will be published by Quercus. When teenagers in Gilpin start suffering from strange mutations, someone needs to find out what’s going on. Enter Hector, who’s suffering maybe the strangest mutation of all.

You can find out more about Mark on his website – www.markillis.co.uk

Or why not follow Mark on twitter – @markillis1


A huge big thank you to Emily at Quercus for asking me to host this fab piece and to Mark for writing it.

Have you read The Impossible?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – A Day In The Life Of Ruth Lauren by Ruth Lauren


Today I am thrilled to be part of the brilliant Prisoner Of Ice And Snow Blog Tour!

Prisoner Of Ice And Snow by Ruth Lauren was released on the 7th September 2017 published by Bloomsbury and is a brilliant MG Fantasy that will keep you gripped page after page!

Today the lovely Ruth Lauren gives us a little insight into her day in this fab guest post….



Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice.

But that’s exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside.

No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison …

An unforgettable story of sisterhood, valour and rebellion, Prisoner of Ice and Snow will fire you up and melt your heart all at once. Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell, Piers Torday and Cathryn Constable.


A Day In The Life Of Ruth Lauren

Being an author isn’t the first job I’ve had, but it is by far my favourite. In what other job do you get requests to choose the font for a letter that one of your characters wrote to another character? Or to send along a little voice recording of word and name pronunciations for the audio book narrator? This never happened when I worked in an office, I can tell you. I might write a pitch for an idea, or talk with my agent about next steps, or get something exciting like a book cover or news on a foreign sale in my inbox.

But of course, most days I don’t get an email asking for these things. Most days my inbox is just asking me to rate that blind I ordered or make a dental appointment. And most of the time, after I’ve dropped my kids off at school (that I get to do this every day is another perk of the job), I go home to sit in front of my laptop. Sometimes it really is just sitting, because a lot of my time is spent either daydreaming—when an idea for a new book isn’t nailed down yet—or solving problems, plotting out the trajectory of stories, thinking up twists and how/when to reveal them.

Other times, when I’m drafting a book, I spend most of the day actually writing (and not on the internet at all. Not that.) That could be an outline or some more detailed notes on a specific chapter, but mostly I try to add 1k words a day to whatever story I’m working on. Sometimes I’ll have to set that aside if my editor send a book back to me and I need to do another round of edits, or line edits, or copy edits, or . . . you get the picture, editing is a big part of my life!

And if I’m lucky, some days after I’ve finished my writing work, I get a lovely review from a young person who read PRISONER OF ICE AND SNOW and liked it, and then I don’t mind that my inbox told me to make a dental appointment.

You can buy a copy of Prisoner Of Ice And Snow here or from your local bookshop

Or why not add it to your Goodreads shelf here


About Ruth Lauren


Ruth Lauren lives in the West Midlands in England with her family and a lot of cats. She likes chocolate, walking in the woods, cheese, orchids, going to the movies, and reading as many books as she can. She’s been a teacher and worked in lots of different offices, but she likes writing best. Prisoner of Ice and Snow is her debut novel.

You can find out more about Lauren on her website – www.ruthlauren.com

Or why not follow Lauren on Twitter – @ruth__lauren

And Instagram here


Blog Tour

Why not catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge big thank you to Bloomsbury and Faye Rogers for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Prisoner Of Ice And Snow?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Spotlight – Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls


Today, 7th September 2017, is the publication day of the wonderful Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls and I am over the moon to be kicking of the blog tour for this amazing book with the opening chapter of the book!

Things A Bright Girl Can Do tells the story of three girls, Evelyn, May and Nell, caught up in the Suffragette movement and has had rave reviews already!

So sit back, relax and read this extract from the opening chapter…


Through rallies and marches, in polite drawing rooms and freezing prison cells and the poverty-stricken slums of the East End, three courageous young women join the fight for the vote.

Evelyn is seventeen, and though she is rich and clever, she may never be allowed to follow her older brother to university. Enraged that she is expected to marry her childhood sweetheart rather than be educated, she joins the Suffragettes, and vows to pay the ultimate price for women’s freedom.

May is fifteen, and already sworn to the cause, though she and her fellow Suffragists refuse violence. When she meets Nell, a girl who’s grown up in hardship, she sees a kindred spirit. Together and in love, the two girls start to dream of a world where all kinds of women have their place.

But the fight for freedom will challenge Evelyn, May and Nell more than they ever could believe. As war looms, just how much are they willing to sacrifice?


Extract

You can buy a copy of Things A Bright Girl Can Do here or from your local bookshop!

You can find a previous Q&A with Sally on Tales here


About Sally Nicholls

I was born in Stockton-on-Tees, just after midnight, in a thunderstorm. My father died when I was two, and my brother Ian and I were brought up my mother. I always wanted to write – when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I used to say “I’m going to be a writer” – very definite.

I live in a small house in Oxford with my husband and little boy.

You can find out more about Sally on her website – www.sallynicholls.com

You can follow Sally on twitter – @Sally_Nicholls    


Blog Tour

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

#ThingsABrightGirlCanDo


A huge big thank you to Harriet at Andersen for asking me to be part of and kick off this fab blog tour and to Sally for such a fab book! 

Have you read Things A Bright Girl Can Do?  Did you enjoy?  What do you love about historical fiction?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – The Art Of Naming Characters by Mark Powers


Today I am super excited to be part of the fab blog tour for a brilliant new super fun middle grade book, Spy Toys:  Out Of Control by Mark Powers and illustrated by the super talented Tim Wesson!

Spy Toy: Out Of Control was released on the 10th August 2017 published by the lovely people at Bloomsbury and is the second book in the Spy Toys series!

Today Mark Powers chats about The Art Of Naming Characters in this fab guest post….



Toy Story meets James Bond in the second book in this incredible action-packed series!

Fresh from the success of their first mission, our heroes the Spy Toys – Dan the Snugaliffic Cuddlestar bear, Arabella the Loadsasmiles Sunshine Doll and Flax the custom-made police robot rabbit – are ready for their next task. This time, the secret code that controls every Snaztacular Ultrafun toy has been stolen and all over the world toys are revolting and turning against the children who own them.

Can Arabella disguise herself as a super-sweet little doll in order to find out more from the daughter of Snaztacular’s top scientist? Can Dan and Flax chase down Jade the Jigsaw, the puzzling prime suspect for the robbery? And can they save the day before the mind-controlled toys forget what it means to play nice?


The Art Of Naming Characters

Few things are more delicious in literature than a good character name. Inigo Montoya. Herbert Pocket. Titus Groan. Bellatrix Lestrange. Veruca Salt. Dorian Gray. The mind savours them like a mouthful of chocolate cake.

In creating the evil elephant/human hybrid character Rusty Flumptrunk for my first SPY TOYS adventure, I took a leaf out of the book of my favourite writer Douglas Adams, one of the champion character-namers of all time. He came up with the name Slartibartfast by taking a string of extremely rude words and changing each very slightly until he had something that sounded rude, but wasn’t. If you ever find yourself on a long and boring train journey or you’re waiting to get served in your nearest branch of Curry’s and have a couple of hours to kill, you may like to ponder exactly which naughty words went into the construction of Rusty Flumptrunk.

Sometimes the unexpected use of a simple name can be humorously effective. In my new book SPY TOYS: OUT OF CONTROL, I needed a name for a unicorn. One immediately thinks of the poetic, mystical names that the great fantasy writers have dreamt up for their magical beasts: Lewis’s lordly lion Aslan, Tolkien’s slumbering dragon Smaug and Pratchett’s vast, world-bearing turtle Great A’Tuin. Which is why I decided to call my unicorn John. John the unicorn.

My current favourite coiner of fabulous names is British fantasy author Michael Moorcock, in particular the baroque handles he gives to the decadent eccentrics who populate the future Earth in his series The Dancers at the End of Time. Jherek Carnelian. The Iron Orchid. Sweet Orb Mace. Lord Jagged of Canaria. Mistress Christia. The Duke of Queens. Argonheart Po. Gaf the Horse in Tears…the list goes on. Pure pleasure.

So what’s the secret of a good character name? Lordy. Who knows? You definitely know one when you see one, or if you’re lucky, when one bubbles up from your unconscious. But there’s no guaranteed formula for creating them. All you can do is painstakingly slam different phonemes together at random in the hope of precipitating a kind of literary alchemy.

One thing I am certain of, however, is that no matter how stretched their imagination or short their deadline, no author would ever consider giving a character a name as silly as ‘Donald Trump’.

Meet John the unicorn, Dr Potty, Gemma Snowdrop, Professor Doomprickle and other oddly named characters in the second book in Mark Powers’s SPY TOYS series, SPY TOYS: OUT OF CONTROL!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy a copy of Spy Toys:  Out Of Control here or from your local bookshop

Or why not add it to your Goodreads here


About Mark Powers

Author Mark Powers has been making up ridiculous stories since primary school and is slightly shocked to find that people now pay him to do it. As a child he always daydreamed that his teddy bear went off on top secret missions when he was at school, so a team of toys recruited as spies seemed a great idea for a story. He grew up in north Wales and now lives in Manchester. His favourite animals are the binturong, the aye-aye and the dodo. www.spytoysbooks.com

You can find out more about Mark on his websitewww.spytoybooks.com

Or why not follow Mark on Twitter – @mpowerswriter


Blog Tour

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


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

Have you read Spy Toys: Out Of Control?  What did you think?  Who was your favourite character?  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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