Category Archives: Contemporary

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 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

Guet Post – The Perfect Christmas Book by Katey Lovell


Today I finally have one of my most favourite humans ever on the blog –  the amazing and super wonderful Katey Lovell to celebrate the release of her new Christmassy romantic comedy, Joe & Clara’s Christmas Countdown!

Joe & Clara’s Christmas Countdown was released in paperback on the 30th November published by Harper Impluse and is set to get you in the Christmas mood!

“Warm and romantic, every page is sprinkled with Christmas magic”  Cressida McLaughlin, author of The Canal Boat Café

So as it’s nearly Christmas and we are looking for the perfect Christmas read to snuggle up by the fire with I asked Katey exactly how to write the perfect Christmas book…..


This Christmas she’ll give her heart to someone special…

As Christmas approaches Joe Smith knows he should be celebrating with friends and family, making the most of the season. But for Joe, Christmas only holds painful memories. Ones he can feel crushing his heart, a reminder of a time he can never forget.

Clara O’Connell loves Christmas. For her it is the most magical time of the year. And she’s determined to make Joe love it too! She knows he’s hurting, but maybe she can help to ease his pain. Her plan: One special gift every day to remind Joe just how loved he is.

But the clock is ticking. Will the Christmas magic wear off at midnight or will Clara’s Christmas countdown be the perfect gift to heal Joe’s broken heart? And in doing so, maybe she will get a gift in return…Joe’s love for Christmas and forever…?


The Perfect Christmas Book

When the wonderful Chelley invited me to guest on her blog I was thrilled – she’s such a force to be reckoned with in the publishing industry, known and loved by everyone.  However, when I asked what she wanted me to talk about and her reply was ‘how to write the perfect Christmas novel’ I could feel the imposter syndrome creeping in.  I’m very proud of my festive release Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown, but perfect?  There’s a lot of weight in that word, but I am going to share how I wrote this book, step by step.

Have a ton of ideas, reject most of them, hone the good one

As I was reaching the end of drafting my second novel, The Café in Fir Tree Park, my editor Charlotte Ledger and I were in discussions about what to do next.  I was really keen to write a festive novel and tentatively suggested my ideas.  Our favourite was based around an office secret santa, but Charlotte felt the office setting had the potential to be too dry.  I wanted charity to be a big theme in this book and after dismissing the idea of setting the book in a foodbank (although there is a scene at a foodbank in the novel) ran with it centring around a fictional Manchester youth club.

Make notes on anything and everything Christmassy

Throughout October 2016 I carried my notebook everywhere and made a ridiculous amount of notes.  I asked friends what their favourite aspects of Christmas were, queried Twitter and Facebook on what they thought were ‘musts’ for a festive read (tinsel, mulled wine and Santa, apparently) and thought about how my characters were going to develop over the course of the novel.  I also came up with a title at this point, which was eventually tweaked only slightly (when the male protagonist’s name changed).

NaNoWriMo 2016

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) takes place every November and encourages writers to draft 50,000 words in 30 days.  I still had 20,000 words left to write to complete The Café in Fir Tree Park but, knowing that it would be easier to write a Christmas novel in winter, I surrounded myself with mince pies and decided to also write the first half of the Christmas book.  By the end of the month I had ‘won NaNo’ and had the first 30,000 words of what would become Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown.

Finish the book!

This stage took a while.  I had a much-needed month away from writing over Christmas and struggled to get back into the routine of writing afterwards, especially after the tree came down and Christmas was over for the majority of people.  Thankfully I’m friends with other writers who were in the same predicament and so our fictional Christmases continued in parallel.  I finally finished the first draft in May 2017.

Edit, edit, and edit some more

Personally, I always find structural edits (big changes to plot, the order events take place in, adding in subplots or additional characters) difficult.  One change often starts off a chain and it felt at times as though the novel I’d worked so hard to build was falling like one of those tracks of dominos where you touch one and the whole lot fall down.  However, I had the experience of knowing I could edit a book because I’d done it before (twice!) and knuckled down to get stuck into polishing my Christmas book.

Next came the line edits, where as well as working on editors suggestions I was keen to inject even more festive sparkle into the book.  I wanted it to be 100% Christmassy!  This is where I developed a lot of the outdoor scenes such as the one at the skating rink and at the Christmas market, to ensure I was encapsulating the magic of the traditions of Christmas in my words.

Finally, in August 2017, it was time for the proofread – the end was in sight!  I must admit that by now I was all Christmassed out – I challenge even the most avid Christmas fanatic to feel in the mood for listening to Shakin’ Stevens in temperatures nearing 30 degrees.

Let it go

As Elsa so wisely said in the Disney hit ‘Frozen’, there comes a time where you just have to let it go.  For authors, that time is publication day, when ownership is no longer yours and your publishers, but your readers.

When Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown was released in October I was nervous – would people like the idea enough to buy it?  Thankfully, people have and I’ve been fortunate that bloggers, authors and readers have shared their kind words about the book online.

So that’s my experience of writing a Christmas book – it was jolly hard work, but worth every tinsel-filled moment.  If what you’re dreaming of this Christmas is writing a festive novel I’d encourage you to go for it, and sprinkle glitter on every single page.

You can buy a copy of Joe & Clara’s Christmas Countdown here or from your local bookshop


About Katey Lovell

Katey Lovell is the author of three commercial women’s fiction novels published by Harper Collins’ imprint HarperImpulse. Her novels are about people overcoming everyday challenges with the support of their friends, family and local community. She has also penned a series of coffee-break romances (also published by HarperImpulse) and a hot romance for Tirgearr’s City Nights series.

Originally from South Wales, Katey now lives in Sheffield with her husband and son. When she’s not writing she’ll most likely be found watching musicals, enjoying live music or reading anything and everything she can lay her hands on.

You can follow Katey on twitter – @Katey5678


A huge thank you to Katey for such a fab guest post and for sharing so much about her writing process.

Have you read Joe & Clara’s Christmas Countdown?  What did you think?  Do you read Christmas reads in the lead up to Christmas?  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 – I’ll Be There For You… Why Teenage Friendships Are Important In YA by Anne Cassidy


Today I am honoured to have the brilliant Anne Cassidy on Tales with a fab guest post to celebrate one of my most anticipated end of 2017 releases, No Shame.

I recently featured No Shame as a book I was hugely excited about over on W H Smth blog here

No Shame was released on the 19th October 2017 published by Hot Key and is a companion novel to Cassidy’s previous novel No Virgin and explores the gruelling process one young woman must go through to bring her rapist to justice which I have heard Anne was moved to write after reading about the real-life cases of Ched Evans, Brock Turner and the Bradford grooming ring. No Shame is sure to be a thought provoking read.

Today Anne talks to us about why teenage friendships are important in YA in this fab guest post….


The powerful companion to NO VIRGIN.From the author of the critically acclaimed, LOOKING FOR JJ, shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize in 2004 and the Carnegie Medal in 2005.Stacey Woods has been raped and now she has to go through a different ordeal – the court trial. But nothing in life it seems is black and white and life is not always fair or just. Suddenly it seems that she may not be believed and that the man who attacked her may be found not guilty . . . if so Stacey will need to find a way to rebuild her life again . . .A tautly told and important book, perfect for readers of Asking for It by Louise O’Neill.


I’ll Be There For You… Why Teenage Friendships Are Important In YA

I focus on friendship in almost every book I write. As a teenager, friendship was everything to me. I was an only child and my need for companionship was greater than those kids who had brothers and sisters. Consequently, I was hungry for a best friend and the close friendships I had helped me get through some difficult times. When they ended, I was devastated. My novel No Virgin follows the main character Stacey Woods as her world collapses when she thinks her best friend, Patrice, is lying to her. These feelings of isolation make her feel vulnerable and easy prey to a boy who is sweet and nice to her. Sadly, this nice sweet boy eventually leads to Stacey being attacked. In the sequel No Shame, it’s Patrice, among others, who support her through the trial.

For young children, having a friend is the first step outside the safety of the family. When they go outside that warm base, they are at the mercy of other people’s whims, likes and dislikes. It’s a challenge and can be brilliant if they find the right friend; but it doesn’t always end happily.

During teenage years, it is absolutely crucial to have good friends. Relationships with the family are changing: the need for privacy and room to develop are important and teenagers lean on other kids who are going through the same thing. In No Virgin, after Stacey has been raped, she doesn’t go to the police and she doesn’t go to her parents. She waits until she can tell Patrice. Patrice is a dominant person in Stacey’s life and Stacey adores her. She is Stacey’s support and lifeline. I admire the work of rape prevention charities like Safeline, whose research shows that this is reflected in real life. Victims of abuse often don’t go to parents or teachers, or even the police. The friend is the first person many victims speak to, making them an essential part of that person’s life and case.

This has its own problems. In the case of Stacey, she leans on Patrice too much. She has to face a court case on her own and make decisions that don’t include Patrice. She gets advice, but in the end it has to be her who takes that step forward. It’s only when Stacey hardens up and steps away from Patrice that she is able to stand on her own two feet. Friendships change and grow over time, just like people. I felt it was important in these books to write a friendship that evolves and goes through its own struggles. But at its core is loving and supportive- something everyone needs.

Teenage friendship is important in these difficult years. But being able to stand on your own two feet is crucial. Just as the warm family base gives the confidence to reach outside and find friends so the comfort of close friends allows the teenager to stride out into the adult world and be themselves.

Anne Cassidy is the author of No Shame (Hot Key Books, 19th October)

You can buy a copy of No Shame here or from your local bookshop


About Anne Cassidy

Anne Cassidy was born in London in 1952. She was an awkward teenager who spent the Swinging Sixties stuck in a convent school trying, dismally, to learn Latin. She was always falling in love and having her heart broken. She worked in a bank for five years until she finally grew up. She then went to college before becoming a teacher for many years. In 2000 Anne became a full-time writer, specialising in crime stories and thrillers for teenagers. In 2004 LOOKING FOR JJ was published to great acclaim, going on to be shortlisted for the 2004 Whitbread Prize and the 2005 Carnegie Medal. MOTH GIRLS, published in 2016, was nominated for the 2017 CILIP Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the 2017 Sheffield Children’s Book Award.

You can find out more about Anne on her website – www.annecassidy.com

Or follow Anne on Twitter: @annecassidy6


A huge thank you to Anne for such a fab post and to Rachel from Midas  for asking me to host!

Have you read any of No Shame or No Virgin?  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 – Editing Emma by Chloe Seager


I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for the awesome Editing Emma by the even more awesome Chloe Seager!

Editing Emma was released on the 10th August published by the lovelies at HQ and I have already heard such wonderful things that I cannot wait to jump right in!

So today I wanted to shine the spotlight on this wonderful book and tell you a little but more about it…..


‘According to Netflix, this is NOT how my teenage life is supposed to look.’

When Emma Nash is ghosted by love of her life Leon Naylor, she does what any girl would do – spends the summer avoiding all human contact, surrounded by the Chewit wrappers he left behind.

Seeing Leon suddenly ‘in a relationship’ on Facebook, however, spurs Emma into action. She vows to use the internet for good (instead of stalking Leon’s social media),chronicling her adventures on her new Editing Emma blog.

But life online doesn’t always run smoothly.

From finding her mum’s Tinder profile, to getting catfished and accidentally telling the entire world why Leon Naylor is worth no girl’s virginity… Surely nothing else could go wrong?!

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


About Chloe Seager

Chloe Seager grew up in East London with her Mum and much-loved cat, Katie. She studied English Literature and Drama at the University of East Anglia, where she sadly realised she couldn’t act, but did rediscover her love of children’s books.

Children’s Literature was one of her favourite modules, and it made her wonder why grown-ups ever stopped reading them. She now works with YA and kids’ books full-time. Chloe lives back in East London with her boyfriend and pet fish.

You can follow Chloe on twitter – @ChloeSeager


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to HQ and Chloe for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Editing Emma?  What did you think?  Did it make you laugh?  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 – Where It All Started…. by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison


I am super excited to have the super funny Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison on the blog today to celebrate the release of their new book Freshers.

Freshers was published 3rd August by the lovelies at Chicken House and it set to make you laugh your little socks off!

So today Tom and Lucy are taking another trip down memory lane and telling us where their writing partnership began…..


Uni beckons. Phoebe can’t wait to be a fresher – especially since her crush from school will be there too. She’ll be totally different at Uni: cooler, prettier, smarter … the perfect potential girlfriend. She’ll reinvent herself completely. But Luke’s oblivious, still reeling from the fallout of the break-up with his ex. Thrown head first into a world of new friends, parties and social media disasters – can Phoebe and Luke survive the year, let alone find each other?


Where It All Started…..

It’s not a strictly a university memory, this one, but we thought we’d share a little memory of the origins of our writing partnership. Because this not-very-impressive-looking piece of pink paper marks the first time that we ever did anything creative together.
 
 It was in the sixth form at school – a play called ‘In The Name Of Love’ which was co-written by Tom, and starred Lucy. It was an absolutely shameless rip-off of a very good comedy play called ‘Noises Off’, and it was about the final episode of a trashy American soap opera. Tom played a slightly insane elderly British actor, and Lucy played a high-pitched, screaming Valley Girl. 
We had only met a few months back and were just starting to become mates – but we got together, and started going out, at the after-cast party for this play. 
During this, and the other plays we were in together at school, we realised how much fun it was working together, coming up with silly, funny stuff. We both went off to York Uni afterwards and we didn’t really do anything particularly creative during our time there, but we always planned to. And then, after graduating, we started trying to come up with ideas for stuff we could write. We first experimented with writing (half a) sitcom script about a boy and a girl in their early twenties, but it was fairly awful. And then Lucy had the idea to try and write a dual narrative YA book, and now, five years and three books later, here we are! But it was this little scrap of pink paper that started it all… There’s actually a DVD of the play somewhere, although I think it would be too excruciatingly embarrassing (for us) to ever watch…
You can buy a copy of Freshers here or from your local bookshop!
You can see a previous post about Tom & Lucy’s favourite funny books here

About Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison

Lucy Ivison, lives in London and is a school librarian who runs an online teen magazine, Whatever After, as well as teaching in girls’ schools across London specialising in building confidence and creativity.

Tom, currently living in Paris, is a journalist and has written for ShortList, Time Out, Vice, talkSPORT, ESPN and Viz.

You can follow Lucy on twitter – @lucyivison


Blog Tour

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


Another huge thank you to Tom & Lucy for a brilliant guest post!

Also a huge thank you to Nina Douglas and Chicken House for asking me to feature this and for sending me the book for review!

Have you read Freshers?  What were your thoughts?  Are you intrigued to read this book after reading this post?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment by using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy

Happy Reading!

Cover Reveal – The Last Days Of Archie Maxwell by Annabel Pitcher


 

I am over the moon to have been asked by the lovely Nina Douglas to reveal the gorgeous cover for The Last Days Of Archie Maxwell by the brilliant Annabel Pitcher.

Annabel is the International Award Winning Author of My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece, Ketchup Clouds and Silence Is Goldfish and this time she has teamed up with the lovelies at Barrington Stoke to bring us The Last Days Of Archie Maxwell.

I am super excited to read this and of course reveal this truly stunning cover!  I also have a little gorgeous intro from the lady herself, Annabel…..


The Blurb

The Last Days Of Archie Maxwell

Dads leave home all the time. It’s not that unusual, really. Leon’s dad walked out. So did Mo’s. But Archie’s? Well, that’s a different story – a story that Archie must keep secret at all cost. Archie knows he should accept Dad for who he is, so he hides his turmoil until he can stand it no longer. With nowhere else to turn, he finds himself at the railway track. The track has been calling to him, promising escape, release. The only problem is, it’s been calling to someone else too…

Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 13+


About Annabel Pitcher

I was born in a small village in West Yorkshire where there were more sheep than people. No traffic, one shop, two pubs and lots of fields to play in – perfect. I love the country and, though I’ve enjoyed living in cities, I am definitely happiest in the middle of nowhere surrounded by hills.

You can find our more about Annabel on her website – www.annabelpitcher.com

Or why not follow Annabel on twitter – @APitcherAuthor    


Cover Reveal

And now the moment you have all been waiting for, but first lets hand you over to Annabel…..

IT’S HERE AT LAST!

I am SO thrilled to share with you the gorgeous, moody cover of my latest novel, The Last Days of Archie Maxwell. This book wrote itself. Well, it didn’t, in that I spent a huge amount of time at my desk, typing away, but the words came very easily (which isn’t always the case!). The idea popped into my head one rainy day in West Yorkshire as I was walking my dog by a railway track. Our path took us across the track itself. It wasn’t fenced off. There wasn’t even a sign telling us to be careful. The track was just…. there. Easily accessible. It ran directly past the gardens of a row of terraces, visible from their kitchens and bedrooms. As I stood on the track, staring down it, a train appeared in the distance. No alarm sounded to tell me to be careful. A guard didn’t appear to shove me off the track. There was just me and the train, the train and me. I stood for a few seconds longer than I should have done, and at that point, the idea for the story came to me. I can’t wait to share it with you.

Annabel

Isn’t it gorgeous!!!

You can buy a copy of The Last Days Of Archie Maxwell here

(Please note that this book is not due for release until 15th November 2017)


A huge thank you to Annabel for the wonderful intro and insight into her new book and to Nina Douglas for asking me to feature this fab cover reveal!

What do you think of the cover for The Last Days Of Archie Maxwell?  Are you intrigued? Have you read any of Annabel’s other books?  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 – Chris Russell’s Guide To Being “With The Band” by Chris Russell


I am so so excited to have the wonderful and awesome Chris Russell on the blog today to celebrate the release of his second book in his fab Songs About A Girl Trilogy, Songs About Us.

Songs About Us was released on the 13th July 2017 published by Hodder Children’s Books and is set to be a phenomenal read that will set your heart racing!

A modern love story for fans of Zoella – and for anyone who has ever dreamed of being ‘with the band’.

I’ve met Chris a few times now and I know he is in a brilliant band called The Lightyears so when Chris got in touch about a post I jumped straight in and asked him for his top tips on “Being With The Band”…..


A modern love story for fans of Zoella – and for anyone who has ever dreamed of being ‘with the band’.

Two months on from the explosive finale to book one, Charlie’s life is almost back to normal again: rebuilding her relationship with her father, hanging out with best mate Melissa, and worrying about GCSEs. All the while, Gabe’s revelations about her mother are never far from her mind. And neither is Gabe.

It’s not long before Charlie is pulled back into the world of Fire&Lights – but the band seem different this time. But then again, so is she…

Meanwhile, tensions between Gabe and Olly continue to run high, leading to more turmoil between the band members and press than ever before. But when Gabriel and Charlie stumble upon yet another startling truth that links them together – everything they have stands to implode in front of them.


Chris Russell’s Guide To Being “With The Band”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy both Songs About A Girl and Songs About Us here or from your local bookshop!


About Chris Russell

When I was thirteen, my best friend and I went to a Bon Jovi concert at Wembley Stadium. We thought it looked like fun, so we started our own band – a band that, ten years later, would become The Lightyears. Since then, we’ve been lucky enough to tour all over the world, from Cape Town to South Korea, playing at Glastonbury Festival and O2 Arena and supporting members of legendary rock bands such as Queen, Journey and The Who. And though we never made it anywhere near as big as Bon Jovi, we did get to play Wembley Stadium, four times, to crowds of over 45,000 people.

Music aside, writing was my first love. In 2014, I published a novel called MOCKSTARS, which was inspired by my tour diaries for The Lightyears. Shortly afterwards, following a three-month stint ghostwriting for a One Direction fan club, I came up with the idea of a YA novel that combined an intense teenage romance with the electrifying universe of a chart-topping boyband. That idea became the trilogy SONGS ABOUT A GIRL, which was signed up by Hodder Children’s in 2015, and has sold in multiple territories worldwide.

You can find out more about Chris in his website –www.chrisrussellwrites.com

Or why not follow Chris on Twitter – @chrisrusselluk


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Chris for asking me to be part of his fab blog tour and for going along with my insane idea for a video!  Also a huge thank you to Hachette for sending me a copy of the book.

Have you read Songs About A Girl and/or Songs About Us?  What did you think?  Do you love Boy Band Lit??  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment by clicking the reply button at the top of this page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy

Happy Reading!

Tales Q&A with Gary D. Schmidt


Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt was one of my favourite books that I read last year.  In fact it featured on my Best Books Read in 2016 list here

Published by Andersen Press Orbiting Jupiter completely took me by surprise and simply mived me to tears.

It may be a short contemporary YA read, but it certainly hit me with all the feels all at once which have stayed with me for quite some time.  Orbiting Jupiter is a story about love, family and friendship and a message of never giving up on what you believe in no matter what.  I smiled, I shed tears and I felt so much love for these characters.  In fact thinking about it now is making me emotional all over again.  The ending in the book broke me completely.  Orbiting Jupiter is just as simplistic and beautiful as it is sad and heart-breaking.  Friendship, family, unconditional love and hope.  It will make you smile, it will make you angry, it will make you cry, but most of all it will leave you with the feeling that no matter what some things are worth fighting for.

You can find my full review here

I was over the moon to find out that Orbiting Jupiter has been picked for the Zoella and Friends 2017 book club (#ZoellaBookClub) by the lovely Jennifer Niven!

You can find out why Jennifer picked Orbiting Jupiter for the Book Club here

As you can tell Jennifer and I are huge fans of this book!

I am so honoured today to have the brilliant Gary D. Schmidt on Tales with a brilliant Q&A about Orbiting Jupiter and more….


A heartbreaking story, narrated by twelve-year-old Jack, whose family is caring for fourteen-year-old Joseph. Joseph is misunderstood. He was incarcerated for trying to kill a teacher. Or so the rumours say. But Jack and his family see something others in town don’t want to.
What’s more, Joseph has a daughter he’s never seen. The two boys go on a journey through the bitter Maine winter to help Joseph find his baby – no matter the cost.

You can buy the #ZoellaBookClub edition of this book here or from your local WH Smiths

You can find my full review of Orbiting Jupiter here


Hi Gary!  Thank you so much for taking the time to be here today to chat about Orbiting Jupiter!

How would you describe Orbiting Jupiter to someone who hasn’t read it?

 Orbiting Jupiter is the story of two boys, close to each other in terms of age, but infinitely far apart in terms of experience.  Jack’s journey is to understand a kid who has been in prison, who has a daughter, and who has lost the only one he ever loved; Joseph’s journey is to allow Jack to take that journey.

The character of Joseph is so life-like and multi-layered, how did you develop him, was he based on someone you had met?

Though this is not their story, both Joseph and Jack are based on real boys I’ve met in juvenile detention homes.  I wanted Joseph to be complex, though he hardly ever speaks in this novel.  He’s the kid we judge too quickly, the kid we blame, the kid we don’t think is ever going to amount to anything but trouble, and who we dismiss without even giving him a chance to be his best and largest self.  Those are the very kids to whom we need to give more attention–more grace.

The setting feels so much part of the novel, winter on the farm with the dairy cows, what was it that felt like the home for your book?

The setting is based on a real farm in East Sumner, Maine, where I have brought my own students and where the owners take in foster children.  It’s an organic dairy farm, and sits in a bowl within the northern Appalachians; it embodies so much of what I love in New England:  resourcefulness, independence, an embrace of winter’s beauties and challenges.  It does sort of feel like home a bit.

There is a real sense of brotherhood and family in the book – was that based on anything you’d experienced or seen yourself?

I’m glad that sense of brotherhood and family comes through in the book.  The two models for Jack and Joseph had been in the facility in which I met them for a year, and neither had seen any family member.  Years ago, I also knew a couple that took in foster kids–which I thought was wonderfully noble–until I learned that they mostly did this for the income the state provided. That was thirty-five years ago, but I have never forgotten my distaste for someone who would see these kids as a source of cash–and back then, I imagined the opposite:  a noble and altruistic family who would use any income toward a college fund–which of course wouldn’t pay for all of college, but would send a profound message of hope and confidence toward these kids.  

Orbiting Jupiter packs such an emotional punch, especially the ending – without spoilers, was that always intentional? 

Well, avoiding spoilers:  The ending was intentional.  I don’t particularly like Hallmark card endings, where everything comes out fine, as neatly tied up as a twenty-one minute sit-com.  Those books have their place, of course, but they’re not the books I want to write.  It seems to me that we need to offer honesty to young readers, and it is honest to say that sometimes, things don’t always work out all right.  Sometimes it’s okay to ask, “Where the hell are the angels?”  If we don’t say that, then what happens to a young reader when things really don’t turn out well in life?  If we send the message that that’s unusual, we are messaging a lie.

How do you write – do you plan the whole thing meticulously, or is it more free-flowing?

I wish I could say that I plan things out meticulously before I write.  Maybe when I grow up, I’ll be that writer.  You cannot believe how many times I’ve been in a school auditorium, and a student asks, “Do you use an outline?” and every teacher in the auditorium is looking at me with eyes that are saying, “Tell them you do!  Tell them you do!”  But in truth, I don’t.  Part of writing is discovery, and that means not pre-planning everything to the point that there is nothing left to discover.  When I finish a page, I really do not know what is going to happen next, and that feels right to me:  it puts me in the same place as the reader, who also doesn’t know what happens on the next page.  It helps to be in that same posture.

What books would you recommend to someone who enjoyed this book?

If you enjoyed Orbiting Jupiter, you might also like Gary Paulsen’s The Tent, about a father and son who go on the revival circuit–no kidding. 

Others might be Anne Fine’s Flour Babies, Katherine Paterson’s The Great Gilly Hopkins or her Jacob Have I Loved. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In some ways, Jack is modelled a bit upon Simon in The Nargun and the Stars–one of my very favourite books in the world.  

If you’re in high school, I’d also recommend Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, though this is a harrowing read, not at all for the faint of heart.

Which authors or writers inspire you?

What author’s inspire me?  I always begin with Henry David Thoreau, though he is much out of favor these days–but that voice!  By contrast, Giovanni Guareschi’s wit and spare storytelling amazes me; I just the other day bought a first edition of his The Little World of Don Camillo, since the copy I have on my desk is falling apart.  For language skills, Robert Frost, followed closely by the poet Jane Kenyon, though they are very, very different.  For character, Avi; for plot, Dickens every time; for setting, Jill Paton Walsh; for tonality, Susan Cooper–no one can touch her; for sheer brilliance, M. T. Anderson.

For young people going through something similar to Joseph, or Jack, what advise would you give them?

For those going through what Joseph is going through, advice seems very cheap and easy.  It’s hard to believe anyone understands who is not right there.  So here’s the advice, set in a Hasidic story:  There is a rabbi who lives, who knows where.  He has one job to do each day:  He must rise, and then pray this prayer:  “Lord, let the world go on for one more day.”  He must do this every day.  If, for whatever reason, the rabbi fails to perform this prayer, then the world will cease to exist–it’s that important.  So, here’s the advice:  Today, let the world go on for one more day.  Tomorrow, let the world go on for one more day.  And the next day, and the next, and the next–let the world go on for one more day.

What’s next for you, are you writing more?

I’ve been doing some short stories, since it’s a form I would like to learn to do better.  But the next novel will be done soon.  It’s about a butler who comes to a suburban American family to teach them about cricket–and about much more.

Thank you so much for answering all my questions Gary.  It’s honour to have you on Tales.

You can buy the #ZoellaBookClub edition of this book here or from your local WH Smiths

You can find my full review of Orbiting Jupiter here


About Gary D. Schmidt

Gary Schmidt is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received both a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and a Newbery Honor for The Wednesday Wars. He lives with his family on a 150-year-old farm in Alto, Michigan, where he splits wood, plants gardens, writes, and feeds the wild cats that drop by.

You can find out more about Gary D. Schmidt on his website here


A huge thank you to Gary for a fab Q&A and to the wonderful Harriet at Andersen Press for asking me to feature this brilliant Q&A.

Have you read  Orbiting Jupiter?  What did you think?  Has this Q&A convinced you to pick up a copy and read?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment by clicking the reply button at the top of this page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Get Ahead As An Author—Get A Dog! by Nikki Sheehan


Today I am over the moon to be hosting a post from the lovely Nikki Sheehan to celebrate the release of Goodnight, Boy!

Goodnight,Boy is due for release on the 6th July 2017 published by the fab Rock The Boat.

I’ve read this book already and LOVED it so much!  Its gorgeous inside and out!

So today Nikki tells us about how to get ahead as an author……


A tale of two very different worlds, both shattered by the loss of loved ones. Tragic, comic and full of hope, thanks to a dog called Boy.

The kennel has been JC’s home ever since his new adoptive father locked him inside. For hours on end, JC sits and tells his dog Boy how he came to this country: his family, the orphanage and the Haitian earthquake that swept everything away.

When his adoptive mother Melanie rescues him, life starts to feel normal again. Until JC does something bad, something that upset his new father so much that he and Boy are banished to the kennel. But as his new father gets sicker, JC realizes they have to find a way out. And so begins a stunning story of a boy, a dog and their journey to freedom.


Get Ahead As An Author—Get A Dog!

Dogs make the very best muses. I know because I wrote a book about a boy and a dog, with two of my own fur babies constantly by my side. Goodnight, Boy is written to and about a dog, and it explores how, even in the very worst circumstances, a dog will keep you going. Any authors reading this will know that I’m only exaggerating slightly when I say that the badlands of 20,000 words into a first draft is a pretty bad place to find yourself. As is sitting down to the smell of freshly-sent editorial notes.

So here is a rundown of why, if you want to get ahead in publishing, you should most definitely get a dog.

Basics

The only indispensable rule I know for writing is that you must have your bum on a seat, and your fingers on the keyboard to produce anything. So, if, as a dog owner, you’re forced to spend more time at home, this is a good start. If you also have a dog keeping your toes warm (as Edith Wharton put it, ‘a heartbeat at my feet’), it really does discourage you from wandering off and doing housework.

Distractions

Talking of housework, once you’re a dog owner, I can guarantee you’ll spend less time on housework, redecorating and the general maintenance of what is normally seen as an acceptable standard of hygiene because keeping up with the mess dogs create is pretty much futile. One of my dogs sheds like a dandelion clock mid blow, 24 hours a day. This may sound like a negative, but actually time spent not hoovering can be diverted into words, paragraphs, chapters, and head stroking.

Hobbies

Forget hobbies. Writing takes time; for thinking, drafting, editing, and Twitter stalking writers more successful than yourself. So the last thing you need is an interesting pastime, such as badminton or medieval battle enactment. It won’t matter though, because, as a writer you get to experience any number of strange locations and events in your head. And, if you’re ever asked at a publishing party what else you do, just say you have a dog because a dog is a hobby, and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees.

Health and fitness

There’s a syndrome, coined by the incomparable author Pip Jones, known as SAAD: Spreading Author Arse Disorder. Sedentary hours make SAAD pretty much inevitable, so you’re going to have to get some exercise in somehow. Dogs like walks even though they don’t have Fitbit buddies to impress. The longer and more frequent the better, and in absolutely any weather (unless they’re like one of mine, who is half cat, and won’t go out if showers are forecast). On walkies your dog will meet up with their mates and you’ll make friends with their owners too (think, park scene in 101 Dalmations, but, in my experience, less romantic). If you’re lucky, these humans will be the sort who don’t mind you bouncing book ideas off them or moaning about writing. Even if they do, they’re a lot more polite about it than your family are. And when you’re not exploiting the personal generosity of strangers, you get to spend time walking alone listening to music and audio books (consuming other people’s books is part of the job) or just walking in silence, which sometimes allows you hear those really shy, difficult voices that lurk at the back of your brain.

Mental health

Being a writer can be wonderful but, contrary to popular belief, it’s probably not the way to

everlasting happiness. Granted, writing can be cathartic at times, but once you’ve catharted you have to live with the fact that other people, thousands of them, will be reading, judging, maybe even hurling across the room in disgust, the product of said catharsis. Fortunately, dogs probably can’t read – though, as the first draft of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men was eaten by his dog, Max, you have to wonder. Generally speaking, however, your dog will not mind how bad your first draft is. They equally won’t care about reviews, prizes, foreign rights sales, or if you’re even any good or hopelessly derivative and commercially out of kilter. Dogs are all about here and now. And, as writers, if we can try to be more dog, and concentrate on the process rather than the product, I have a feeling that we’d not only be a lot happier, but better writers too.

Love

People worry about being lonely if they work from home, but I never feel alone. I work with fantastic colleagues who can’t talk to me. This means they can’t discuss the project they’re working on, ask what’s for dinner, or chat about school. They never disagree with me, or storm off to their bedroom, and they don’t judge me when I get in a strop because Scrivener is stupid. (It is – fact). Dogs take tolerance and unconditional love to saintly levels, and like nothing better than to soothe the furrowed brow of the needy writer with a lick, a well-placed head on the lap, or a paw in the hand. They’re philosophers, therapists, personal trainers, and friends. And that’s why authors need dogs.

One last historical note; George Eliot’s publisher sent her a pug as part payment for one of her novels. A practice that, I hope my publisher will agree, should definitely be revived for 2017.

Mother and daughter Labradoodles, Tinker (left) and Coco

Nikki and Tinker

Coco and Tinker playing with their friend, Snowy, at Brighton Beach

You can buy a copy of Goodnight, Boy here or from your local bookshop!


About Nikki Sheehan

Nikki Sheehan is the youngest daughter of a rocket scientist. She went to a convent school in Cambridge where she was taught by real nuns in long black habits. After university Nikki’s first job was subtitling the Simpsons. She then studied psychology, retrained as a journalist, and wrote features for parenting magazines and the national press. She now writes mainly about education and property and is co-founder of an award-winning property blog. She is married and lives in Brighton with her husband, three children, two dogs, a cat, and an ever-fluctuating numbers of hamsters.

You can find out more about Nikki on her website – www.nikkisheehan.co.uk

Or why not follow Nikki on twitter – @NicoletteShhh


Blog Tour

You can catch the rest of this fab blog tour by checking out the hashtag #GoodNightBoyTour


A huge thank you to Nikki for such a fab guest post and to Cailin at Rock The Boat for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

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

Happy Reading!

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