Category Archives: MG

Guest Post – The Worst of Germs by Gwen Lowe


Today I am over the moon to have a fab post from Gwen Lowe author of Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs!

Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs was released on the 1st March 2018 published by the lovelies at Chicken House and is set to be a fab laugh out loud middle grade!

Today Gwen chats to us about the worst germs…..


When Alice Dent gets a cold, she has no idea how much trouble it’s about to cause. Because this is no ordinary cold: it comes with some seriously weird side effects. For a start, Alice can’t stop giggling and every animal she meets sticks to her like glue! But when the mysterious Best Minister for Everything Nicely Perfect and his scary masked henchmen come to take her away, Alice realizes her troubles are only just beginning …


The Worst of Germs

In my other job, (the one where I’m a doctor fighting the spread of nasty diseases), I sometimes get asked which germs are the worst.

It’s a good question, but almost impossible to answer. You see, what we worry about professionally might surprise you. It’s not usually the exotic diseases that cause the most problems, but the everyday bugs surrounding us.

In some ways we think a bit like Mrs Dent, Alice’s mother in Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs. Mrs Dent always thinks in terms of what nasty infection she might catch from anything. Unlike us though, she takes this to extremes and puts in place ridiculous and drastic control measures. Nevertheless, the science underlying her fear is real.

For example, if Mrs Dent could bring herself to shake hands, she would check that the offered hand had been properly washed after using the toilet. Hands can carry a zoo of faecal germs, including E. coli O157, a nasty little microbe causing diarrhoea with blood in up to half the people made ill and serious kidney failure in around 1 in 10 infected children. As a double whammy, it spreads very easily – even from people who feel perfectly fine.

Then there’s campylobacter; a common cause of tummy upset. People shrug it off as “just food poisoning”, but it often puts sufferers in hospital, may cause painful arthritis, and occasionally causes serious paralysis that can last for months. It is easily avoided by not washing uncooked poultry and correct cooking, but I imagine that Mrs Dent would take the precaution of treating raw chicken like deadly poison every time she handled it.

So you might guess how she would feel about salads – excellent for passing on all sorts of germs. I imagine that rather than just washing salad leaves well, Mrs Dent would banish all lettuce from the house.

Mrs Dent certainly knows that the most infectious diseases (measles, flu and chickenpox) are spread by coughs and sneezes. It only takes a short conversation with someone in the early stages of the illness and wham, you’re exposed. I tend to glare at anyone coughing near me who doesn’t cover their mouth (and swiftly move seats), but the only real defence is vaccination. If these viruses are circulating there’s nothing else you can really do to dodge them (except perhaps to stay at home like Mrs Dent and banish all visitors).

Whilst we’re at it, there are lots of other precautions you might take to avoid catching horrible diseases. I could suggest only swimming in boringly rectangular pools well away from any toddlers (helps to avoid cryptosporidium), never touching furry animals (list of diseases too long to mention) and banning reptiles (may carry salmonella).

Still, that would take all the pleasure out of life, and I’d hate to do that. To be honest, unlike Mrs Dent, I’m happy to swim, shake hands, pat dogs and cook poultry: I just wash my hands well afterwards!

ALICE DENT AND THE INCREDIBLE GERMS by Gwen Lowe out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

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


About Gwen Lowe

Gwen Lowe is a consultant Public Health doctor in Wales who describes her job as being like a medical detective. Working with a special team, she has to urgently discover what is making people ill and then stop it before anyone else gets ill too. Previously, she has been a hospital doctor and a GP as well as a hotel washer-upper, a restaurant table clearer and a postwoman. Married with a daughter, over the years she has found herself spending time with ever-changing pairs of rescue guinea-pigs, the school rats, elderly hamsters and other little creatures.

You can follow Gwen on twitter – @gwenllowe


A huge huge thank you to Gwen for such a superb guest post and to Laura at Chicken House for asking me to host!

Have you read any of Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs? What did you think? What was your favourite part? 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 – What’s At The Heart Of Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy


Today I am super excited to have the brilliant Vashti Hardy on Tales to celebrate the release of her debut novel, Brightstorm!

Brightstorm was released on the 1st March 2018 published by Scholastic and is set to be a thrilling adventure!

Today Vashti talks about what’s at the heart of Brightstorm in this fab guest post…


Twins Arthur and Maudie receive word in Lontown that their famous explorer father died in a failed attempt to reach South Polaris. Not only that, but he has been accused of trying to steal fuel from his competitors before he died! The twins don’t believe the news, and they answer an ad to help crew a new exploration attempt in the hope of learning the truth and salvaging their family’s reputation. As the winged ship Aurora sets sail, the twins must keep their wits about them and prove themselves worthy of the rest of the crew. But will Arthur and Maudie find the answers they seek?


What’s At The Heart Of Brightstorm (the character wants vs needs)

At the heart of every story are the things a character thinks they need and want, and the thing they actually need which they are unaware of, otherwise known as the lie and the truth. The story will have a tension between these things and the character arc and theme both centre on the inner conflict between this lie and truth.

When Arthur Brightstorm learns of the death of his father, he feels he’s lost the future, because of the way he’d seen things working out in life for the three of them – Ernest, Arthur and twin Maudie destined to sail sky-ships together as a family with Arthur navigating as second in command. This is exacerbated by the fact that Maudie’s future still seems so certain to him – he can see the gap that she fills in the world as her talents mean she is destined to be a great engineer, but for himself, Arthur can only see the gap left by his father’s death. What Arthur has to learn however, or his ‘truth’, is that his future is not lost it is just different, and he now needs to learn to ‘sail his own ship’. As Harriet tells him:

‘Control is an illusion. We never know what life will throw at us. You are the master of your destiny, Arthur, and you can still do those things. Your father is still with you inside.’

So whilst Arthur chases what he wants (the truth of what happened to his father), he also finds his inner truth even though he wasn’t looking for it; what he really needed was to learn that he still had a future, albeit a different one, but he had to go on the journey to see that he could continue to achieve this dreams in a world without his father. And by going on that journey he also finds something unexpected – a new unlikely family in the crew of the Aurora.

If you’re writing a story and are a bit stuck, try thinking about what your characters wants and needs are. Think about the tension between them and hopefully you’ll be well on your way to unlocking that all important story heart!

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


About Vashti Hardy

Vashti Hardy is a copywriter who lives near Brighton with her family. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Chichester University and previously studied on the Creative Writing Certificate at Sussex University. Very active on Twitter, she is an alumna of and mentor at the Golden Egg Academy.

You can find out more about Vashti on her website – www.vashtihardy.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @vashti_hardy 


Blog Tour

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


A huge huge thank you to Vashti for such a superb guest post and to Olivia for asking me to host and be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read any of Brightstorm?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  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 – Faking Reality by Andy Briggs


Last Monday I launched an awesome giveaway on twitter to celebrate the release of the fourth and final book in this fast-paced adventure series packed with high-tech thrills from bestselling author Andy Briggs!

I’m proud to have supported Andy on his journey with the series and you can find previous posts from Andy listed below as well as details of the giveaway.

And today I have the man himself with a fab guest post about Faking Reality….

But first a little about the series…


Hidden under a small suburban town, the Inventory is a collection of the most incredible technology the world has NEVER seen: invisible camouflage, HoverBoots, indestructible metals, and the deadly war robot Iron Fist. Dev’s uncle, Charlie Parker, is the Inventory’s mild-mannered curator, with security provided by Eema, a beyond-state-of-the-art artificial intelligence system. But security is catastrophically breached when Lot and Mason from school turn up unexpectedly and, hot on their heels, a ruthless gang of thieves working for the Collector and the Shadow Helix organization. If the thieves succeed in their goal to seize the Iron Fist, Dev, his friends, and the world are in a whole heap of trouble.

Hidden under a small suburban town, the Inventory is a collection of the most incredible technology the world is NOT ready for. In this sequel to Iron Fist, much of the Inventory’s technology has fallen into the wrong hands – including Newton’s Arrow, a powerful weapon that can manipulate gravity. It’s up to Dev and his friends to get it back, and they follow the weapon’s trail around the world. Along the way they learn the terrible truth about Newton’s Arrow’s capabilities . as well as disturbing details about Dev’s origins.

Dev and his friends are back with more mind-bending tech in this third instalment of the Inventory series. The World Consortium is recruiting more agents to defend the most advanced technology the world isn’t ready for, and it’s up to Dev, Lottie and Mase to train them up for action. But will they be ready before Shadow Helix’s next strike? And has Dev uncovered all the secrets of his past, or is there more to know about his special abilities?

In the fourth book of this gripping series, the Inventory’s final secrets are revealed. Having learned a troubling truth about himself in the Black Zone of the Inventory, Dev is called back into action to defend the world’s greatest store of futuristic tech, and he’ll need all the help he can get from his friends. Someone has stolen Winter Storm, a swarm of powerful biobots, and is using them to infect and control people! Who can be trusted now?


Faking Reality

I was at a book festival organised by a school and it was all going very well… then we got to the audience Q&A section. You know the bit at the end when authors look around the room expectantly and nobody… nobody… has a single question. Then they start to come thick and fast and you have to stand with smile as you inwardly beg for mercy and the sudden end of the universe…

Well, that bit. One boy put up his hand and told me he thought some of the inventions in the Inventory were not believable and that ruined the story for him. He wanted them to be based a little more in the real world. On proper theories and science.

This was incredibly annoying. Mainly because a huge amount of the tech in the books have their origins entrenched in real science. Even the Portable Hole (thank you, quantum physics!).

I pointed out that when I was a lad, everything was in black and white and we didn’t even have the internet. That raised a gasp of astonishment from the brat… I mean, inquisitive reader. I informed him that the communicators in Star Trek stimulated the concept of the mobile phone – because they never existed when I was a kid. Gasp! And flying cars… ha, well, we actually did have them when I was a nipper….

Want to know how to blow the mind of a twelve year old? Show them this photograph of the Moller Skycar and tell them it’s not only real but it is older than they are. Boom!

Then, there’s the question of things such as Black Knight, which is the focus of the third Inventory book. Well, space elevators may not exist now, but the hard science is there. And Black Knight itself… well, spoiler alert, it’s real! Well, there is something in orbit they call Black Knight. Whether it’s an alien craft, an ancient space elevator, a piece of rocket debris or an astronaut’s lost glove – whatever it is, it certainly fuels conspiracy speculation.

I’m always looking out for real-world curveballs I can plant in my books. In Black Knight I introduce the Company of Merchant Adventurers, who also appear in the new WINTER STORM. And, yes, they are based on a real organisation. Okay, I may have embellished it quite a bit, but… (you can find out more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Company_of_Merchant_Adventurers_of_London).

Something I have always wanted to play around with was the notion of our missing moon. You may think we only have one moon… and you may be right. But as avid QI viewers will testify, there are theories and speculation that we have more… but I don’t want to tell you too much about that. I would rather you discover all about Lilith when you enter Winter Storm…

Even in the first book, IRON FIST, I gave the Collector’s thugs names that referenced famous inventors. I love planting these in-jokes, or Easter eggs, into my stories. It makes me chuckle to stumble over them… and yes, I am aware that I am probably the only one laughing. But, should you ever decide to re-read Dev’s adventures, maybe you should keep old Professor Google on standby because you never know when you might actually fall down a rabbit hole…

I mean, the ionocraft technology in Iron Fist. Just don’t, under any circumstance, try and look that up on YouTube. If you do, your brain might not be able to handle it…

Andy Briggs is the bestselling author of the gripping, tech adventure series The Inventory. Published by Scholastic, the fourth and final book in the series is Winter Stormout February 1st, it’s time to reveal all of The Inventory’s secrets.

You can buy a copy of Winter Storm or any of The Inventory series here or from your local bookshop


About Andy Briggs

Andy Briggs is a screenwriter, producer and author of the Hero.com, Villain.net and Tarzan series. Andy has worked on film development for Paramount and Warner Bros, as well as working with Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee and producer Robert Evans. With a strong social media following, Andy tours the UK regularly, doing festival, school and library events. 

You can find out more about Andy on his website – www.andybriggs.co.uk

Or why not follow him on twitter using – @aBriggswriter


Previously On Tales…..

You can catch previous posts from Andy Briggs on Tales by clicking on the below links….

A Day In The Life Of An Author

Favourite Fictional Worlds

Spotlight – The Inventory Series


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Scholastic I have 5 x sets of the complete Inventory Series to giveaway to 5 lucky winners!

You can enter on my twitter here

UK Only

Ends 19/02/2018

Good Luck!


Blog Tour

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


A huge thanks to Sarah at Scholastic for having me on this fab tour and sending me a copy of the book and to Andy for such a fab guest post!

Have you read any books by Andy Briggs?  Does the Inventory Trilogy sound up your street?  Which was your favourite in the series?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Top 5 Mythical / Legendary Creatures by Sinéad O’Hart


Today I am thrilled to have the wonder Sinéad O’Hart on the blog to celebrate the release of her debut novel, The Eye Of The North.

The Eye Of The North was released today, 8th February 2018, published by the lovelies at Stripes – Happy Book Birthday Sinéad!

Basically if you like brilliant MG adventures then this book is perfect for you!

So today Sinéad is chatting about her Top 5 Mythical / Legendary Creatures in this fab guest post….


Emmeline Widget has never left Widget Manor – and that’s the way she likes it. But when her scientist parents mysteriously disappear, she finds herself being packed off on a ship to France, heading for a safe house in Paris. Onboard she is befriended by an urchin stowaway called Thing. But before she can reach her destination she is kidnapped by the sinister Dr Siegfried Bauer.

Dr Bauer is bound for the ice fields of Greenland to summon a legendary monster from the deep. And he isn’t the only one determined to unleash the creature. The Northwitch has laid claim to the beast, too.

Can Emmeline and Thing stop their fiendish plans and save the world?

A dazzling fantasy adventure, perfect for fans of ROOFTOPPERS, THE UNCOMMONERS and A

SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS

Top 5 Mythical / Legendary Creatures

Growing up in Ireland, I was raised on stories of the Fair Folk, or the Sídhe – the fairies who lived under the oddly-shaped hills you sometimes see in the middle of fields. Farmers avoid them; they’re never built on; cows are not allowed to graze on them. This is all because of the power of the Fair Folk who, despite their name, are not fair at all! Some say that when the Milesians drove the old gods out of Ireland, the Fair Folk were the few who got left behind. But who knows the truth?

I also love Norse mythology, and one of my favourite mythical creatures from that tradition is Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse belonging to Odin, the leader of the Norse gods. Odin was also called the All-Father, among lots of other names. I always thought it would be amazing to have a horse with eight legs – surely he’d be able to run twice as quickly as an ordinary horse! The Æsirsmounts in The Eye of the North, horses who are able to run on the surface of the ice (and do lots of other marvellous things, besides) are based on the idea of Sleipnir, Odin’s magical horse, though none of them (that I know of) have eight legs…

Dragons have long been one of my favourite mythical creatures. I love Smaug, the dragon in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit – but the first dragon I ever ‘met’ was Falkor, the luck dragon, from Michael Ende’s book The Never-Ending Story. It was made into a fabulous film when I was a little girl, and I loved watching him in that. I love the power and majesty of dragons in the Western tradition, and I particularly enjoy the fact that they’re seen as symbols of good luck and joy in the Eastern tradition.

I love giants. I don’t know why: perhaps it’s because I’m short and I wish I wasn’t! In the medieval texts I studied at university, there was a story about a giant who is kind and loving and compassionate towards animals, despite being huge and terrifying to look at. His outside doesn’t match his inside, and it was a lesson not to judge people by how they look. In Norse mythology, giants are skilled builders. And, of course, there’s Hagrid! Who doesn’t love him?

One of my favourite books of all time has a unicorn called Findhorn in it, and another film I loved when I was a small girl is also about unicorns. It was based on a book, too: Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. There’s something wonderful and awe-inspiring about unicorns; they’re so beautiful, yet they have the potential to be deadly. They’re the wildest creature I can think of!

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


About Sinéad O’Hart

Sinéad O’Hart was raised in a small house full of books in the south-east of Ireland. She has a degree in Medieval English and has had many careers (including butcher, bookseller and university lecturer) before finally following her dream of becoming a children’s author. She now lives in County Meath, near Dublin, with her husband, their daughter, and an ever-expanding book collection.

You can find out more about Sinéad on her website –  sjohart.wordpress.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @SJOHart


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Sinéad for such a fab guest post and to Beth at Stripes for organising and asking me to host!

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

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Becoming a Writer and How I Write by Frida Nilsson


Today is my stop on The Ice Sea Pirates blog tour and I am totally thrilled!

The Ice Sea Pirates was released on the 1st January published by Gecko Press and is an  “adventure of icy seas and cold-blooded pirates, wolves, mermaids and the bravery of one girl determined to save her sister”.

Today I have the author herself with a fab guest post all about writing….


The cold bites and the sea lashes in this page-turning adventure on the ice seas. No one but ten-year-old Siri dares to face treacherous sailors, hungry wolves and the arctic winter to save her younger sister from the dreaded Captain Whitehead and his ice sea pirates. 


THE ICE SEA PIRATES been nominated for five Swedish awards (including the August Prize) and has won three of them. Now the novel is finally available in English, with beautiful cover and illustrations by Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize shortlisted illustrator and author, David Barrow of Have You Seen Elephant?

With a strong girl hero, dramatic landscape and compelling episodic adventure, it’s the perfect read for fans of Rooftoppers and The Girl of Ink & Stars and is set to become a modern children’s classic in the UK.


Becoming a Writer and How I Write

When I was about twenty, I really wanted to become an actress. I applied at acting schools without success, so just for the chance to be film stars, my friend and I wrote our own script for a short film. My boyfriend back then was a media student and was given the job of cameraman. We ended up winning a local film competition. In the jury were two TV and radio producers, who asked me if I wanted to write and produce children’s radio for them. I said yes! But after this it actually took some years before I really started to enjoy writing and realised that I wanted to be an author. My first book was published in 2004.

THE ICE SEA PIRATES I spent hours and hours at the big library in Stockholm, and online, to get it all right. When THE ICE SEA PIRATES was made into a drama by Swedish radio, they put in a sea lion, but I insisted they had to take it out because there are no sea lions in the northern hemisphere. They thought it wasn’t important because my world was made up, with mermaids and bogle birds. But the mermaids and the bogle birds weren’t random; I took a lot of care creating this world. The mermaids, for instance, are a mix between walrus and human, and the bogle birds I found on a website about prehistoric animals (Walrooster). These bogle birds had toothed beaks and ate stones so they would become heavy enough to reach the bottom of the sea to find food.

I plan my work very well. The most important question you must ask yourself when you start writing is: What do I want to say? After that I come up with the characters, the beginning and the end. Then I can start writing and the time-consuming part is to find the road between beginning and end.

THE ICE SEA PIRATES by Frida Nilsson out now in paperback (£6.99, Gecko Press)

You can buy a copy of The Ice Sea Pirates here


About Frida Nilsson

Frida Nilsson is a leading Swedish author who has been an August Prize nominee three-times and won the Astrid Lindgren Prize in 2014. In 2017, she was selected as one of Europe’s best emerging writers for young people through the Hay Festival’s Aarhus 39. Her books have been translated throughout Europe and nominated for the prestigious Youth Literature Prize in Germany and several literary awards in France.

Nilsson’s writing is characterised by humour and sincerity. She writes about the big questions in life—friendship, death and love—and has been compared to Roald Dahl and
Astrid Lindgren.

About Gecko Press

Gecko Press, an independent publisher based in Wellington, New Zealand selects the best children’s books from around the world, by internationally award-winning authors and illustrators. Gecko Press books are sold in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and North America.


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Frida for such a fab guest post and to Laura at Gecko for organising and asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

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

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Top 10 Memorable Sibling Relationships by Jo Simmons


Today I am excited to be part of the blog tour for the hilarious I Swapped My Brother On The Internet by Jo Simmons!

I Swapped My Brother On The Internet was released on the 11th January 2018 published by Bloomsbury and illustrated by Nathan Reed.

Today Jo Simmons shares her top 10 sibling relationships in this fab guest post!



‘I can get a new brother? On the internet?’ Jonny muttered. ‘Oh sweet mangoes of heaven!’

Everyone has dreamed of being able to get rid of their brother or sister at one time or another – but for Jonny, the dream is about to become a reality with SiblingSwap.com! What could be better than someone awesome to replace Ted, Jonny’s obnoxious older brother.

But finding the perfect brother isn’t easy, as Jonny discovers when Sibling Swap sends him a line of increasingly bizarre replacements: first a merboy, then a brother raised by meerkats, and then the ghost of Henry the Eighth! What’s coming next?! Suddenly old Ted isn’t looking so bad. But can Jonny ever get him back?


Top 10 Memorable Sibling Relationships by Jo Simmons

Siblings not getting along is a staple of fiction, but anyone part of a large family recognises that sibling relationships can be way more complex and nuanced than simple loathing. Rivalry one minute, intense love and camaraderie the next, or just simple bafflement that such different people can be produced by the same two parents – sibling relationships can provoke extreme, even confusing feelings. I’ve picked 10 books that reveal the bond in its most memorable guises.

His Bloody Project – Graeme McRae

A tricksy, grizzly book that features Roddy Macrae, a 17-year-old boy from a remote crofting community in Scotland, accused of murdering three people. The account he writes of his life while awaiting trial in prison describes his incredibly close relationship with his sister Jetta. At primary school, their teacher commented that Roddy would climb into Jetta’s apron pocket if he could. Jetta frequently answers for Roddy, with surprising accuracy, and Roddy happily takes beatings from the school bullies to deflect teasing away from her. It doesn’t end well for either of them, but then being this spookily connected to your sibling often ends in tears. Just look at Liam and Noel Gallagher…

A Girl is a Half Formed Thing – Eimear McBride

This dark, complex and experimental novel features an anonymous female author who, between dodgy sexual encounters and domestic misery, addresses her disabled brother – the “you” of the book. His brain was damaged when a tumour was removed in infancy, but the author’s love for him is a pure, clean feeling in a very grimy world of guilt, abuse and sadness. She imagines a weird underground life for them together: “In burrows rabbits safe from rain… You and only me.” The brother’s failing health becomes unbearably sad, and drives the author to be both her best and worst self.

Howards End – EM Forster

Forster’s story centres on Margaret Schlegel who, as oldest sibling, is spring boarded into the role of mother for her sister Helen and brother Tibby when they are orphaned. The wealthy siblings grow up in a comfortable household in London at the start of the 20th century and lead an intellectual and bohemian life, going to concerts, hosting political lunches, marching about London arm in arm and “ribbing” each other gently. That’s until Helen goes on a mission to help poor Leonard Bast, leading him inadvertently down a path to disaster, while Margaret seemingly betrays her principles to marry the capitalist Mr Wilcox. We watch as the two sisters negotiate their failings and compromises.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

When little sister Prim is selected to take part in the Hunger Games, her big sis Katniss stands in for her. This isn’t like your sister offering to do your paper round for you on Saturday morning because you want a lie in. This is Katniss pretty much offering to die for her sister in the lethal games. Only she doesn’t. Spoilers! Which is great for Katniss, but maybe even better for Prim, as that would have been one heck of a sibling guilt trip.

The Battle of the Villa Fiorita – Rumer Godden

When Fanny Clavering falls in love with a film director and escapes to Italy with him, two of her three children, Caddie and Hugh, pluckily decide to travel to her bolthole, the Villa Fiorita, to fetch her home. At first, the siblings are united by their naïve quest to return their mother both to her senses, and to her passionless English country life. Once in Italy, though, the eponymous battle begins and the kids are pulled apart as they face up to the complexities of adult love. A great coming of age novel, set in the early 1960s, with two vividly drawn siblings at its heart – innocent, loving Caddie and moody pubescent Hugh.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

There are five Bennett sisters spilling across the pages of Pride and Prejudice. While Elizabeth coming to know and love Mr Darcy is the main event, the relationships between the very different sisters also play out. Lydia and Kitty are daft and flighty, Mary is dull, and Jane is beautifully even tempered. It’s the bond between Jane and Elizabeth, based on mutual respect, love and support, that’s most appealing and admirable, and they pair go on to marry best friends (Jane bags Darcy’s mate Mr Bingley), to cement this.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

Cathy and Heathcliff are held up as exemplars of passionate love, but in fact, this volcanic pair were raised as siblings when Cathy’s father adopts Heathcliff as a son. They have an intense, but not a sexual relationship. Cathy famously explains to housekeeper Nelly that “I am Heathcliff. He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.” So she haunts him from the grave once she has starved herself to death, and he sets about destroying the two families he believes ruined his life. Ouch!

The Tale of Tom Kitten – Beatrix Potter

I grew up on Beatrix Potter – this is my favourite. A really simple story with gorgeously illustrated Tom at its heart. Tabitha Twitchit dresses up Tom and his sisters Moppet and Mittens for her fancy-pants tea party but they get mucky in the garden and Tom pops his buttons before the guests have even arrived. All the kittens get sent to bed as punishment but still manage to wreck the posh do by clattering about upstairs. I love the whiff of anarchy and that whole, ‘you can’t keep the kids down’ message here. It’s sibling exuberance versus the adult world of manners and social convention. The kids win!

Twelfth Night – William Shakespeare

Shakespeare has slapstick fun with twins in The Comedy of Errors, but this unique sibling relationship is most touchingly explored in Twelfth Night. Identical twins Viola and Sebastian are separated when a storm wrecks their ship, and Viola then disguises herself as a man. There’s lots of mistaken identity fun, gender-bending and people falling in love with each other, but the final scene when the twins are reunited is wonderfully moving.

The Turn of the Screw – Henry James

There are numerous spooky siblings in gothic and horror fiction – let’s agree not to mention the sisters in The Shining. This classic late Victorian chiller tells of a governess hired to look after a young boy and girl in a country house. Unfortunately for all concerned, the little darlings Miles and Flora may well be acting under the influence of the ghosts of some recently deceased former employees. A promising posting soon turns into the job from hell.

You can buy a copy of I Swapped My Brother On The Internet here or from your local bookshop!

Or why not add it to your Goodreads wish list here


About Jo Simmons

Jo Simmons began her working life as a journalist. Her first fiction series for children, Pip Street, was inspired by her own kids’ love of funny fiction, and two Super Loud Sambooks followed. In addition to children’s fiction, she co-wrote a humorous parenting book, Can I Give Them Back Now?: The Aargh To Zzzzzz Of Parenting, published by Square Peg. Jo lives in Brighton with her husband, two boys and a scruffy formerly Romanian street dog. I Swapped My Brother on the Internet is her first book for Bloomsbury.

You can follow Jo on twitter – @Joanna_simmons

About Nathan Reed

Nathan Reed has been a professional illustrator since graduating from Falmouth College of Arts in 2000. He has illustrated Christopher Edge’s How to Write Your Best Story Ever and the Elen Caldecott’s Marsh Road Mysteries Series. His most recent picture book is Samson the Mighty Flea by Angela McAllister. He was shortlisted for the Serco Prize for Illustration in 2014. When he’s not illustrating he can be found with his two boys and a football on Peckham Rye Common.

You can find out more about Nathan on his website – www.nathanreedillustration.com

Or why not follow him on twitter – @nathanreed_illo


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Jo for such a fab guest post and to Faye Rogers for organising and asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read I Swapped My Brother On The Internet?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  Do you have any favourite sibling relationships?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Spotlight – The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson


Today I am shining the spotlight on the fab new book from Lisa Thompson, The Light Jar.

The Light Jar was released on the 4th January 2018 published by Scholastic and tells the story of Nate and is a story of fear and hope, loneliness and friendship which is sure to have you turning those pages.

#lightjar

So sit back and enjoy a glimpse at this wonderful book and a little giveaway….


Nate and his mother are running away, hiding out in a tumbledown cottage in the middle of a forest. When Mum heads off for provisions, and then doesn’t return, Nate is left alone and afraid, with the dark closing in all around him. But comfort can come from the most unexpected of places – a mysterious girl trying to solve the clues of a treasure hunt and the reappearance of an old friend from his past.

Will Nate find the bravery needed to face the troubles of his present and ultimately illuminate the future?

A story of fear and hope, loneliness and friendship – full of heart, engaging characters and propulsive, page-turning mystery

#lightjar

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


About Lisa Thompson

Lisa Thompson worked as a Radio Broadcast Assistant first at the BBC and then for an independent production company making plays and comedy programmes. During this time she got to make tea for lots of famous people. Lisa grew up in Essex and now lives in Suffolk with her family. Her debut, The Goldfish Boy, was a Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month pick in January 2017 and is the bestselling debut of the year as of July 2017.

You can find out more about Lisa on her website – www.lisathompsonauthor.com

Or why not follow Lisa on Twitter –  @lthompsonwrites


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Scholastic I have 1 x copy of The Light Jar to giveaway to one lucky winner!

To enter head over to my twitter here

UK Only

Ends 17/01/2018

Good Luck!


Previously on Tales….

Click on the below links for previous posts with Lisa Thompson on Tales Of Yesterday!

Spotlight – The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson


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 Lorraine at Scholastic for asking me to be part of the blog tour, for organising and for being so super wonderful!

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

Happy Reading!

Tales Review – Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone


‘Once an adventure digs its claws in, there is not an awful lot you can do about it. Especially when magic is involved . . .’
 

In the snowy kingdom of Erkenwald, whales glide between icebergs, wolves hunt on the tundra and polar bears roam the glaciers. But the people of this land aren’t so easy to find – because Erkenwald is ruled by an evil Ice Queen and the tribes must stay hidden or risk becoming her prisoners at Winterfang Palace.

Join Eska, a girl who breaks free from a cursed music box, and Flint, a boy whose inventions could change the fate of Erkenwald forever, as they journey to the Never Cliffs and beyond in search of an ancient, almost forgotten, song with the power to force the Ice Queen back.
 
This is a story about an eagle huntress, an inventor and an organ made of icicles. But it is also a story about belonging, even at the very edges of our world . . .


Publisher – Simon & Schuster Children’s UK

Date Published – 4th January 2018

Pages – 288 pages

Format – Paperback

Category – Children’s, MG, UKMG

Source –

I was sent a proof copy of this book by the wonderful the publishers in exchange for an honest review.  This does not affect my review or my opinions in any way.  Thank you Simon & Shuster Children’s for sending me this book to read and review.  I also bought a finished copy myself from my local bookshop.


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


Back in 2015 a proof landed on my doorstep of a new book by a debut writer.  That book was The Dreamsnatcher and the debut author was Abi Elphinstone.  Three years later and I squealed with excitement when a proof copy of Sky Song, Abi’s fourth book and a stand alone story, landed on my doorstep and I just knew that a magical adventure was awaiting between the pages ready to sweep me off my feet.

And swept off my feet I was….completely.

Sky Song tells the story of Eska who has been captured inside Winterfang Palace by the evil Ice Queen who rules all of Erkenwald.  Stuck frozen inside a cursed music box Eska has no memories of where she has come from, who she is or why the evil Ice Queen wants to steal her voice from her.  All tribes in Erkenwald  must stay hidden or risk becoming prisoners themselves , but one boy, an inventor called Flint who still believes in magic, breaks into the castle on a mission to save his parents who have been captured by the evil Ice Queen.  He decides to break the curse that is holding Eska in her music box and when this causes his plan to save his parents to go wrong Flint and Eska escape together and so begins their journey to find an ancient song with the power to restore Erkenwald back to its former glory without the Ice Queen at it’s helm.

Straight away from the fairy-tale prologue you instantly know that Sky Song is going to be something very very special indeed.  Abi Elphinstone instantly builds the foundations of Erkenwald around the reader drawing them into the depths of its icy, snowy world where anything is possible and it is truly wonderful.

With it’s wintery snowy setting with vast epic landscapes and snow capped mountains Sky Song is as breath taking in the imagery it creates as the story it tells.  An adventure of bravery, friendship, kindness and belonging, through frozen waterfalls with secret hideaways, labyrinths with rope ladders,  snow monsters, Erkenbears, an eagle and most of all magic.

The story is told from both Eska and Flint’s voice with varying chapters with the story sometimes giving us a glimpse from the evil Ice Queens point of view too.  I enjoyed all of these and it made the story flow really nicely with a good pace that makes the reader eager to keep flicking the pages to find out what will happen next. 

The Ice Queen has such a terrifying, powerful and frosty presence on every page she appears on.  From her black staff, her evil magic captivating people under her spell, to her icicle organ that plays the voices of her prisoners to the whole land.  She is a magnificent character that is not easily forgotten.

The same goes for Flint’s sister, Blu, too.  I loved her character so much and I loved how devoted she is to her brother and never doubts him for one second.  Even when she is in the most gravest of danger she believes in her brother and Eska and becomes a brave adventurer herself.

Eska, Flint and Blu never give up hope.

One of my favourite parts of the book has to be when Eska, Flint and Blu find The Grey Man….who’s character I absolutely loved.  I don’t want to give too much away but he made me smile lots.

This book would make the most breath-taking film or TV movie….someone sign it up now please!

Abi Elphinstone is hands down one of my favourite authors.  And Sky Song is a classic in the making.  Her writing and storytelling is just as stunning and as precious as a diamond which will dazzle you with it’s pure beauty.

I recommend this book to both adventurers young and old and want to be swirled into a gorgeous snow storm of a book with unforgettable characters and a story that will make you feel like you have found your tribe and where you belong.

“Once an adventure digs it’s claws in, there is not an awful lot you can so about it.  Especially when magic is involved….”

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

You can by a copy of Sky Song here or from your local bookshop


About Abi Elphinstone

Abi Elphinstone grew up in Scotland where she spent most of her childhood building dens, hiding in tree houses and running wild across highland glens. After being coaxed out of her tree house, she studied English at Bristol University and then worked as a teacher in Africa, Berkshire and London. She is the author of THE DREAMSNATCHER, THE SHADOW KEEPER and THE NIGHT SPINNER, a series of fast-paced adventure books for 8-12 year olds which follow Moll, Sid, Alfie and wildcat Gryff’s quest to find the Amulets of Truth and destroy the Shadowmasks’ dark magic. When she’s not writing, Abi volunteers for Beanstalk charity, speaks in schools and travels the world looking for her next story. Her latest adventure involved living with the Kazakh Eagle Hunters in Mongolia…

You can find more about Abi at www.abielphinstone.com or follow her on social media: Facebook: www.facebook.com/abi.elphinstone; Twitter: @moontrug; Instagram: @moontrugger.


Previously On Tales…

Click on the below links for previous post with Abi Elphinstone her on Tales Of Yesterday!

Tales Review – The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone

Corey’s Corner Review – The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone

Guest Post – The Research Behind The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone

Guest Post – Top 10 Shadow Keeper Songs by Abi Elphinstone

Guest Post – The Adventures Behind The Night Spinner by Abi Elphinstone

Spotlight – British Books Challenge Author Of The Month – Abi Elphinstone


Have you read Sky song?  What did you think?  Have you read any of Abi’s other books?  I would love to hear from you!  Please feel free to leave a comment by clicking on the reply button at the top of the page or why not tweet me on twitter – @chelleytoy .  I would love to hear from you!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – An Introduction To Make Me Awesome by Ben Davis


Today I am excited to be kicking of the super brilliant Make Me Awesome Blog Tour with a fab guest post from the author himself, Ben Davis.

Make Me Awesome was released on the 4th January 2018, published by OUP, and will have you laughing your socks off!  And with illustrations by Mike Lowery…it’s just the perfect combination!

Myself and my son are huge fans of Ben Davis and we have spent many a night or too giggling whilst reading his books so am hugely honoured to have Ben on the blog today.  Ben was also one of our authors of the month for the 2017 British Books Challenge!

So sit back and let Ben introduce you to Make Me Awesome….


Hey you! Yes, you! Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and thought Wow! My life is really rubbish? I can tell from looking at you that you probably have. But I’m here to tell you that all that is about to change.

Why not climb aboard the Make Me Awesome programme and buy a one way ticket to Awesometown, calling at Successville, Dollarsdale, and Camp You’re the Greatest!

My name is Chuck Willard and I CAN make you AWESOME, just like me!

(Well, maybe not that awesome, I’m one of a kind)

When Freddie Smallhouse signs up to the Make Me Awesome programme, he’s ready to turn himself from zero to hero, all with the help of his idol, Chuck Willard. Freddie embarks on various schemes to make himself awesome safe in the knowledge that Chuck is always there, at the end of an email, to give him lots of personal advice . . . isn’t he?

A new laugh-out-loud story, from the brilliantly funny author of the Joe Cowley series and My Embarrassing Dad’s Gone Viral.


An Introduction to Make Me Awesome

Hi! I’m Ben Davis. You may know me as the author of the Joe Cowley book series. Or maybe you’re familiar with my MG books My Embarrassing Dad’s Gone Viral or Danny Dread. In all likelihood, you probably think I’m that Welsh guy that plays for Spurs. You’d be wrong to think that though because his last name is Davies and us Davises don’t take kindly to getting confused with that lot. In fact, whenever I meet a Davies I am bound by law to challenge them to a duel.

Anyway, enough about that. The reason I am on this fine blog is to tell you about my new book, Make Me Awesome, which is out now. So glad wacky old Captain Wotsit hasn’t blown us all up before it came out.

It is the story of Freddie, a thirteen year old boy whose family has fallen on tough times. His dad’s antiques business has gone under, they’ve lost their house and are having to live with miserly Uncle Barry. While Mum soldiers on and Dad sinks into a funk, Freddie is determined to pull them out of their slump, and he has enlisted some inspirational help.

Introducing the Complete Road to Awesomeness Programme – the online self-help guide carefully constructed by life coach and giver of dreams, Chuck Willard. It is Chuck’s job to help Freddie back on the path to Awesomeness with his handy hints, tips and pep talks.

But don’t take my word for it – here is Chuck’s infomercial.

The book sees Freddie utilise Chuck’s expertise in order to succeed as a young entrepreneur, sportsman and, when he runs for school President against his arch nemesis, Malvern Pope, young politician.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I read a particularly cringeworthy extract from it in this video….

I think it’s a common thing for kids to look to celebrities for inspiration. To create heroes. As a kid, mine was Eric Cantona. And you can bet if he set up a life advice programme, I would have signed up straight away. Even if I was terrible at football. And never kung fu kicked Crystal Palace fans.

But let me tell you this – all the Awesomeness you need is within you. You don’t need a celebrity or a book to teach you. Wait, what am I saying, yes you do – Make Me Awesome, out now with OUP. God, I’m rubbish at self promotion.

You can buy a copy of Make Me Awesome here or from your local book shop!


About Ben Davis


Ben Davis writes funny books for older children and teenagers. His first book, The Private Blog of Joe Cowley series has been hailed as a Wimpy Kid for a new generation.

He has also written standalone books for younger readers, like the supervillain tale, Danny Dread, and the critically acclaimed My Embarrassing Dad’s Gone Viral.

Before he became a published author, Ben wrote jokes and sketches for radio shows and various other bits and bobs.

When he’s not writing, he regularly visits schools and leads creative writing workshops.

These days, Ben lives with his wife and son in Staffordshire and in his spare time, likes to put his dog in daft costumes.

You can follow Ben on the Twitters and the Instagrams @bendavis_86 and his website is www.bendavisauthor.com

About Mark Lowery

Mike Lowery is an illustrator currently living in Atlanta. Mike’s work has been seen on everything from greetings cards to gallery walls all over the world. He is a Professor of Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta.


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Ben for a fab guest post and to Hannah and Kirsty at OUP for asking me to me part of this awesome blog tour!

#MakeMeAwesome

Have you read Make Me Awesome?  What did you think?  Have you read any of Ben’s other books?  What are your favourites?  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 – Best Books Read In 2017


It’s time to share my best books read in 2017!

I have really struggled this year not to just read, but to actually finish books!  You can read about it here

Now again this was not because there were no brilliant books to read, it was all down to me.  I feel I have been so busy with work, fitness, family and blogging that my mind and body just wouldn’t take anymore.  Anyway, needless to say that I have failed any challenges I set myself, but I’m trying not to dwell on that too much.

Whilst I only appear to have read 11 books this year this does not include the 20 – 30 plus books that I started and did not complete *rolls eyes at self*.

Anyway, even out of the books I have read I still had an amazing reading year and have picked some of my favourites below (you can see all of the books I have read here )

These will be listed in no particular order.

Before I start I would like to thank everyone for their support yet again in 2017!  The brilliant book community, all the friends I have made, fab authors for writing fab books and being generally awesome, all the publishers who have sent me books and everyone who has supported me through my third full year of book blogging.

Thank You All x

Here we go…..

(remember these are in no particular order…. )


I started the New Year off with such enthusiasm and excitement for all the bookish delights that were awaiting me and the book I decided to start with has ended up being one of my favourite books of 2017!  Caraval by Stephanie Garber captivated me from the very first page.  I don’t normally read a lot of fantasy, but the premise of this book with a circus theme, mysterious feel and set in a magical fantasy world really appealed to me.  I followed Scarlett as she left her tiny isle of Trisda after receiving an invitation from the mysterious Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.  I was mesmerised by the bright and vivid imaginary of Caraval.  I fell in love with characters who made my heartache and turned pages as fast as I could to pull myself further into its magical world.  And yes… I did fall in love with a mysterious, caped man called Legend even though it should have been forbidden and soon realised that I have a problem “thing” for men in capes!  Caraval was a marvel from start to finish and I literally cannot wait for the next book, Legendary, to be released….and yes maybe that is partly because of its namesake *swishes cape* , but mainly because this book was fantastic!

I am a huge slasher horror film lover so this book immediately appealed to me.  The story of a girl who survived a massacre that killed all of her friends and was the Final Girl who managed to escape.  I enjoyed the premise of this book and how being a Final Girl has affected our main character Quincy.  You also got glimpses into the past with flashbacks to the fatal night with the lead up to how the events unravelled right up to the climatic ending which had me on the edge of my seat.  The flashbacks for me had more pull and appealed to the slasher horror lover in me and Sager does not hold back on the shock factor when the events start to unravel.  I can’t wait to see what Sager does next as I will definitely be picking it up!

This book immediately intrigued me as I heard a lot of people talking about it on twitter and as the book is based in a cult it peaked my interest.  I immediately became drawn into the book and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out all about Moonbeam’s story.  And what a story indeed.  The about of compassion I felt for Moonbeam made be root for her all the way.  I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend.

A am a huge fan of Rhian’s already and when I heard about her new book Hope I just couldn’t wait.  From the tag line “Sometimes the end is just the beginning” to the way Rhian deals with subjects like organ donation, PMDD, friendship, family and love.  But most of all this book is about hope event in the darkest and most testing of times when you feel that all is lost.  There is a touching scene in this book that had me in tears which involves a group called Singing Medicine who are based on a real life group that work at Birmingham Children’s Hospital who I had the pleasure to meet when I chaired Rhian’s launch for Hope this year.  They bring so much joy by singing to children who are in need of a smile or indeed some hope and even just to watch them myself bought me some comfort and complete joy.  This is expressed completely in Hope and is just wonderful to read.

This gorgeous book has the makings of an instant classic that will be read to children Christmas after Christmas.  It’s heart warming and full of joy.  One Christmas Wish tells the story of Theo and what happens one Christmas Eve when his Christmas decorations spring to life.  The gorgeous illustrations by Emily Sutton reminded me of Raymond Brigg’s Snowman and bought Katherine’s wonderful, delightful words to life on the page.  This is like the best Christmas present all wrapped into one.  Just wonderful.

I adore Holly Bourne and I absolutely adored this book from start to finish.  I loved everything about it.  I loved Audrey and her project about how love is not as it is portrayed in the movies.  I loved Harry the loveable, funny love interest and I loved the cinema setting especially as I have been spending a lot of time in the cinema myself this year.  There were references to movies some of which I had heard of and some of which I am now going to seek out and discover, but most of all Holly’s writing is an absolute delight and this book made me smile from ear to ear.


So there you have it! My best books read in 2017! I highly recommend all of these books!
2018 looks set to be a fab year and I simply can’t wait to get back on track and read all of the fab books!

I would love to hear what your favourite books read in 2017 were? Are any of them the same as mine? Why not leave a comment or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy

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