Category Archives: UKYA

UK Young Adult

Guest Post – 7 Reasons I Love Trick Or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick by Joshua Winning

 


Happy Halloween!!

*evil laugh*

Today I have a spooky guest post featuring a book after my own pumpkin heart!

Anybody that knows me knows my love for Point Horror and I’m always super happy to find others who share that passion and have Point Horror memories to share

Today the Spooktacular Joshua Winning does just that talking about his ultimate Point Horror fave in the fab guest post….

Check out Joshua’s YA Horror read – Vicious Rumer!  It’s awesome!

Jessica Jones meets Dragon Tattoo in a thriller that’ll keep you up all night. 

A fresh and fiercely unique thriller, Vicious Rumer features one of the most complex and unusual heroines in years. The ruthless and independent Rumer Cross is a snarky survivor whose moving story explores notions of identity, family, death and redemption. It will appeal to fans of Patrick Ness, Ruth Ware and Joe Hill.

It’s very exciting to have Joshua here on Tales…I feel very honoured…so thank you so much Joshua!

*Hands microphone to Josh*


7 reasons I love Trick Or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick

When I was a teenager, I devoured Point Horror books the way a zombie devours brains. Of the many, many I ate up, my favourites were Teacher’s Pet, The Accident and, top of the pile, The Babysitter, which I still couldn’t get enough of three sequels later.

 But Trick Or Treat has a special place in my cold, dark heart because it’s a book I could return to every Halloween for maximum seasonal chills. It had everything you wanted from a creepy story, from the spooky mansion to the secret graveyard and beyond. In fact, I’m pretty sure the graveyard stuff directly inspired the cemetery scenes in my book Vicious Rumer (Unbound, 2018).

 In the immortal words of the book’s dad, “Guess Halloween’s got me inspired!”, so here are seven reasons I still love this book, even though I haven’t been a teenager for a (very) long time…

 It’s Halloween

Before I ever watched John Carpenter’s classic slasher movie Halloween, Trick Or Treat was my benchmark for holiday horror. It just gets so much of it right, in particular the very specific Halloween atmosphere of dread mixed with candy-stuffed excitement.

 Richie Tankersley Cusick perfectly evokes the season with flourishes of detail, like the “trees nearly stripped by October winds”, and the house where “someone had propped a scarecrow against the porch, and its hideous face flickered… in the sputtering glow of a jack-o’-lantern”. I love Halloween, and this book captures the mood perfectly.

 The cover art

The front cover of this book is other-level spooky, but in a really simple way. That autumnal sky, the jack o’lantern and the bare tree are hella evocative, giving the book a subdued look that felt really grown-up when I was a kid. And then, of course, there’s the shadow of a person sneaking inside…

 Even today, the art is really cool – I love old-school illustrated covers like this and wish they were more of a thing nowadays. Reading the book, I constantly referred back to the cover, which brings me to the next thing I love about Trick Or Treat…

 The creepy house

This pile of bricks looks and sounds like something out of Psycho, only minus the motel, and, right from the start, the old Bedford place is spooky. Take our heroine Martha’s first glimpse of it. As Cusick writes, “The house looked strangely ghostlike, rising up through pale wisps of fog, its dark stone walls and chimneys interwoven with bare, twisted trees.”

Yeah, shudder, and it only gets more interesting the more you find out about it ­– there’s a reason this house immediately gives Martha the creeps. I love the idea of a closet door that keeps popping open (who hasn’t had a door like that?), and the fact that it leads somewhere dark and dangerous is even more disturbing.

 The scares

Point Horror books are well-known for their fake scares, and while Trick Or Treat has its fair share, there are also plenty of genuinely hair-raising moments that really stick in the memory.

 The backstory about Elizabeth is both tragic and scary, the scarecrow stuff is properly chilling, and the phone calls are genuinely unnerving: “You’re dead, Elizabeth. Trick or treat.” (If you want a movie equivalent, check out the movie Black Christmas (1974), which was some of the most disturbing obscene calls you’ll ever hear.)

 The family

The nuclear unit was getting pretty outdated even by 1989, when Trick Or Treat was published, and it was so refreshing to read a book about a family that didn’t sound like the Waltons. Martha’s dad has remarried, and Martha has to contend with a new step-mom (at least, until they go away) and her new step-brother Conor.

 Conor is hot (“he was tall and slender, but his shoulders were broad… those strong shoulders hunched against the chilly night air”), quick-witted and tawny-haired (who isn’t tawny-haired in Point Horror?). Naturally, that leads to some really confused feelings for Martha (hello, sorta incest). Speaking of…

 Conor

Martha is a bit of a whiny drip (all right, she’s a huge whiny drip) but her step-brother is all kinds of awesome. “There was just something about Conor,” Cusick writes, and she’s not wrong. He’s always ready with a killer quip, most of them at either Martha or his mother’s expense, and who doesn’t love a cute joker?

 As Wynn notes, “Heads have been turning since he got here. Like the domino effect every time he walks down the hall. They haven’t been able to keep their eyes off him.” I mean, who wouldn’t want to hang out with this guy? He’s brilliant and clearly the hero of the book.

 The twist ending

Warning: SPOILERS! This book has such a great twist ending that I genuinely didn’t see coming. Of course, re-reading it, Cusick cleverly weaves in subtle clues from the start, particularly with the idea of a family who all look alike.

 Cusick keeps us guessing right up until the final couple of chapters, when Martha and Conor finally discover the secret passageway that leads from the cellar. “It was scarcely more than a crawlspace,” writes Cusick. “They had the most horrible feeling that they were crawling deeper and deeper into the earth.”

 What they find is a gorgeous, ghoulish nod back to Hammer Horror films (“An altar wreathed with candles… And the stale, faded sweetness of dead flowers…”), and a final confrontation that really pulls the rug out from under you.

 Happy Halloween!

Josh

You can buy a copy of Vicious Rumer here


Joshua Winning is an author and film journalist who writes for TOTAL FILM, SFX, GAY TIMES and RADIO TIMES. He has been on set with Kermit the Frog, devoured breakfast with zombies on The Walking Dead, and sat on the Iron Throne while visiting the Game Of Thrones set in Dublin. Jeff Goldblum once told him he looks a bit like Paul Bettany. In 2018, Joshua’s YA thriller VICIOUS RUMER was published by Unbound. His dark fantasy series THE SENTINEL TRILOGY was published by Peridot Press, and he also co-wrote ’80s teen horror CAMP CARNAGE. In 2015, Joshua’s short story DEAD AIR appeared in SPEAK MY LANGUAGE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF GAY FICTION.

You can find out more about Joshua on his website- www.joshuawinning.com

You can follow Joshua on twitter  – @JoshWinning


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

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

You can find links to all #PointHorrorBookClub posts here

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

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

A huge huge thank you to Joshua for featuring on Tales and a huge round of applause for such a fab guest post!

*claps hands excitedly*

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

Happy Point Horror-ing!


Guest Post – Tender – The Book That Made Me Cry by Eve Ainsworth

 


Today I am thrilled to be sharing a fantastic guest post from one of my favourite UKYA authors, Eve Ainsworth.

Tender was released on the 1st March 2018 and is Eve’s fourth YA and is another thought provoking read which Eve does so brilliantly.

Today Eve tells us a little about Tender – the book that made her cry….


Touching on mental health, family, friendship and the pressures that teenage carers face, as author Cat Clarke says, TENDER is “a compassionate, compelling and unflinching novel”.

Marty and Daisy spend their lives pretending. Marty pretends his mum’s grip on reality isn’t slipping by the day. Daisy pretends her parents aren’t exhausting themselves while they look after her incurably ill brother. They both pretend they’re fine. But the thing about pretending is, at some point, it has to stop. And then what?


Tender – The Book That Made Me Cry

I’m often asked why I decide to write the book that I do, or why I chose to explore a particular theme. It’s never a ‘light bulb’ moment where I wake up one morning and think ‘That’s it! That is the book I must write next.” But it’s more of an organic, gradual thing that grows slowly in my mind. Usually the seed begins with a character. A character is born in my imagination and through them, through their background and experiences, the themes will develop.

Even while I was writing Damage, I had this other voice fighting for my attention. It was a boy and it was strong. I made some notes. I quickly worked out that this male voice was a bit of a mash up of someone I used to know and a person that I would like to know. He was loud and argumentative, but he was warm too. And he had challenges. I realised that this boy was someone who put other people before himself.

From this, the idea of young carers developed.

I had worked with young carers before and they had inspired me, mainly because of their stoic and selfless attitudes. These were the young people that often struggled without complaint. They could have huge pressures at home, but they didn’t talk about it much. To them, this was their normality and the need to keep their family ‘going’ and not be a further burden was their priority.

Once I knew I was going to write about young carers I met up with one of my ex-students. She had been an excellent pupil, never been in trouble, never really got herself noticed by senior staff. But when we met, she told me more honestly about how day-to-day school life had been a struggle and how she seemed to be ‘managing’, but inside she was often anxious and worried. Her saviour, her positive outlet had been Young Carers’ sessions where she could meet other teenagers in a similar situation to hers – where she could be free from pressure, be silly, have fun. Be young!

Around the same time I was talking to a close friend. We had had children at the same time. But sadly for my friend, her youngest son had been diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy from a young age. Through my friend, I not only learnt to understand the pressures she was under – but also the pressures her entire family were under as they constantly cared and worried about this young boy. Through this, the character of Daisy was born. Daisy is a caring, resilient girl – but she is being torn apart by the worry caused by her brother’s ill health.

Quickly Daisy and Marty became my main characters, both telling their versions of what ‘caring’ can mean and how this impacts on their lives. They meet each other and this has a huge influence on how they move forward.

Tender was a book that made me cry over and over. It covers such emotional subjects that I had to take occasional short breaks. It hits home that what I’m writing is something that people are actually experiencing in real life. It can be hard going, but whatever happens these characters, these people, keep fighting on.

The developing romance between Daisy and Marty was also something new for me – but I was keen to have an uplifting and positive theme in the book too and I ended up loving these two so much – I found it quite hard to let them go.

 Tender is a book about resilience and hope. It’s about loving and fighting for the people you care for, but also that its important to find time to love yourself.

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


About Eve Ainsworth

Eve Ainsworth is a writer of Adult and YA fiction. She also loves tea (lots of it), 80’s music and most things relating to David Bowie.

Seven Days, Eve’s Young Adult debut, was published by Scholastic Uk in Feb 2015. Crush followed in 2016. Eve’s latest YA novel, Damage was published in March 2017. All of her novels explore real life, contemporary issues that are relevant to teens.

Eve has also self published The Blog of Maisy Malone, which is an adult comedy novel that has received pleasing reviews on Amazon.

Eve has had short stories published in magazines such as Writers’ Forum and Prima.

You can find out more about Eve on her website –  www.eveainsworth.com

Or follow her on Twitter @EveAinsworth


A huge thank you to Eve for a fab guest post and asking me to host!

Have you read Tender?  What did you think?  What are your favourite part?  Have you read any of Eve’s other books?  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Guest Post – Why Did I Choose To Write An Elizabethan Fantasy by L J MacWhirter

 


Today I am super happy to have a fab post from L J MacWhirter to celebrate the release of her Elizabethan fantasy Black Snow Falling.

Black Snow Falling was released on the 1st August 2018 published by Scotland Street Press and is a story of hope overcoming evil.

I was super intrigued by the premise of this book and wanted to know why Liz chose an Elizabethan fantasy to write….


About The Book

In 1592, a girl with spirit is a threat. Ruth has secrets. An old book of heresy belonging to her long-absent father. A dream that haunts her. And love that she and Silas hide from the world.

Black Snow Falling is an Elizabethan fantasy for young adults and up by L.J. MacWhirter. It’s about a spirited and privileged girl, Ruth, who has so much to lose as monstrous sexism traps her. When she is robbed of all she holds true, her friends slide into terrible danger. Hope is as faint as a moonbow. Dare Ruth trust the shadowy one who could destroy them all?

This is a story about hope overcoming evil, written with satisfying moral complexity. It draws on the author’s fascination with the inner workings of minds and mechanical machines. It’s about staying fixed or spinning out.

As a child, her engineer father introduced her to science and the vast machines of the industrial revolution. On a trip to Florence many years later, she saw a mechanical Armillary Sphere, made for the Medicis in the 1500s, which embodied the long-held belief that the earth was at the centre of the heavens. Early science, in opposition to this dominant view, was cast as heresy. Together with the misogynist sexism of the time, it became the setting for this thriller. 


Why Did I Choose To Write An Elizabethan Fantasy?

Thanks to the lovely Chelle of Tales of Yesterday for hosting my guest blog!

So the question Chelle posed was, why did I choose to write an Elizabethan fantasy? The simple but most puzzling answer is that IT chose me. Let me explain in three chunks.

  1. It started with the fantasy idea. And that idea came to find me right here.

Glen Etive. It’s right beside the better-known Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland. I was I was there volunteering for Venture Scotland, a charity that helps young people who’ve had the toughest starts in life.

 As we jumped streams and hiked through the heather, one young man was sharing his plans for the future – he’d love to be a gardener. It struck me that he’d suffered things that most of us may never have to cope with, and yet he still had hope for the future. It was visceral and tangible. As I listened, I found myself wanting nothing more to happen that could snatch his hope away… a chilling What If? struck me.

 What if dreams were actual physical entities that could be snatched away?

 What if there were evil forces at work, stealing these hopes and dreams? They would be dream thieves. In life’s darkest moments, isn’t that how it feels?

 2. The Elizabethan part came after the fantasy idea. I grew up in Cheshire, where you can’t escape all the Tudor halls. So I was already well aware of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. I’ve always admired this woman for holding on to her throne despite endless marriage proposals and assassination attempts!

I decided to locate my story at the same time as this important queen. In fact, Ruth, my main character, has actually met her (maybe that was an unconscious fantasy of my own!). So many interesting things were taking place in the 16th century that it makes a fantastic context for dreams being stolen. What’s more, less needed to happen for my characters to lose hope.

So, bluntly, it would be easier for readers to relate to Ruth, because what happens to her happens to all of us. Haven’t we all been heartbroken or betrayed? When we let someone else down, it feels awful – what do we do?

  1. I was round at my mum’s, giving her my first signed copy of the book on Publication Day (yay!), and I took this quick pic. Black Snow Falling is resting on this Tudor box that my family bought sometime, somewhere. I’ve always really loved it. It used to hold games in it when we were little, so I was always opening and closing it and thinking about how ancient it was.

Perhaps the story about my Elizabethan Ruth and those evil forces just popped out of here?

Stories are magical, aren’t they?

Black Snow Falling is available now everywhere online and in good bookshops. Please vote for it in the EIBF First Book Award.


About L J MacWhirter

L.J. MacWhirter was born just outside London, grew up in the North of England and today lives in Edinburgh with her husband and family. The stories started as soon as she could write. Black Snow Falling is her debut novel.

L.J. MacWhirter will be speaking about ‘Feisty Fantasy’ with Alice Broadway at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Saturday 11 August at 18.30.

Why not follow L J MacWhirther on twitter – @LizMacwhirter


A huge thank you to Mariarita at Scotland Street Press for asking me to host and to Liz for such a fantastic piece for the blog.

Have you read Black Snow Falling?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  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 – My Top Five Excuses Not To Write by Penny Joelson

 


Today I am over the moon to have the wonder Penny Joelson on Tales with a fab guest post to celebrate the release of her new YA Girl In The Window.

Girl In The Window is due to be released on the 9th August 2018 published by Electric Monkey and is set to be an eye opening compulsive page turner that will have you hooked.

I often wonder how writers motivate themselves as it’s often easy to procrastinate (*cough at myself who instead of writing today scrolled through twitter*) so today Penny shares her top 5 excuses not to write…..


About The Book!

See the world from another unique perspective in the thrilling new novel from the author of I Have No Secrets (a World Book Day title for 2018).

Nothing ever happens on Kasia’s street. And Kasia would know, because her illness makes her spend days stuck at home, watching the world from her bedroom window. So when she sees what looks like a kidnapping, she’s not sure whether she can believe her own eyes . . .

There was a girl in the window opposite – did she see something too? But when Kasia goes to find her she is told the most shocking thing of all.

There is no girl.


My Top Five Excuses Not To Writ

  1.  I only started using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram when I was writing ‘I Have No Secrets’. Now I, like many others, am guilty of spending far too long on these things. It is a wonderful feeling when you look at Twitter and see that someone has commented excitedly about how much they love your book. It is hard not to keep looking for ‘mentions’ or ‘retweets’.

2.  I get lots of lovely emails – especially from schools about visits as well as important emails from my editors, publicity team and my agent. I get many less important emails too – but it is hard not to keep checking in case something interesting comes.

3.  Goodreads, Amazon, Blogs. I was warned against looking at these things too much but again I am drawn to them and sometimes find the pull too tempting.

4.  I am very disorganised. Often the one piece of paper where I wrote some notes or the particular notebook I was using have disappeared under a pile and I just can’t get on with writing until I have found it.

5.  I love my family very much, but they require attention – things like meals (I can’t think why!) often at moments when I am most inspired to write. They also require taking and fetching from swimming lessons, Brownies etc. They even want clean clothes!

You can buy a copy of Girl In The Window here or from your local bookshop!


About Penny Joelson

Penny Joelson’s debut novel, I Have No Secrets, was a World Book Day 2018 title and won the Worcestershire Teen Book Award. Penny has loved reading and writing stories since she was a child and began working with disabled people when she was a teenager, which gave her inspiration for her first novel I Have No Secrets.  Penny teaches creative writing and lives in Hertfordshire with her family.

Find Penny on Twitter: @pennyjoelson


A huge thank you to Siobhan at Electric Monkey for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour and to Penny for such a fab guest post!

Have you read Girl In The Window?  What did you think?  What did you love about it?  What are your excuses not to write or blog?  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

Tales Post – Thank you YALC, Thank you Everyone

I’ve spent most of this weekend chilling out following YALC and it’s been blissful.  I’m not sure about anyone else, but it always takes me a good while to recover after a pretty full on YALC.  I’m always so exhausted afterwards so I am hoping this coming week I will have a little spring back in my step and less bags under my eyes.

I love YALC so much.  I love the books, the atmosphere, chatting to like minded people from the community and meeting up with authors that are new and familiar to me, bloggers and publishers and of course hanging out with amazing friends and people.  It always just makes me smile so much.

Before YALC this year I was feeling in a bit of limbo with my blog, my reading and even my writing.  I’ve had a lot going on recently and I’ve found it hard to find the time to fit things in. I’ve been so exhausted that I’ve lacked the motivation to do anything remotely creative.  (Although I did manage to binge watch a lot of Netflix!). I even wondered if it was worth carrying on blogging!

Cue YALC!

I didn’t realise how much I needed something to make me open up my eyes again and as silly as it sounds give me that little boost that I realised I needed in one sense, but maybe not in others.  I was SO excited for YALC, but I didn’t realise how much I actually needed YALC to snap me out of my spell of whatever was going on in my brain.

And boy did YALC do that!

I had such a wonderful time!

Some highlights for me personally were –

  • Staying in the same hotel as a couple of my friends which meant that we could meet up for breakfast every morning and then walk to YALC together and generally just chat along the way.
  • Chatting to so many other bloggers, some new to me and some I’ve met before, but seeing everyone’s happiness and enthusiasm was completely infectious.

  • Spending a lot of my time in panels or getting books signed this year rather than the workshops and whilst I had a rough plan on my highlighted YALC schedule of what I wanted to do everyday I found that I ended up just going with the flow and this was just what I needed.  It was amazing to hear and see so many wonderful authors and I left everyday feeling inspired by every single one of them.

  • Meeting lots of fab authors, but the highlight for me was sitting front row for the Tom and Giovanna Fletcher talk.  I even got to ask them a question and then got my book signed!  I have been a huge fan of them both for quite some time, but I’ve never met them so this was a dream come true!

  • All of the book stands!  OMG how fab were they!  I could have walked away with far more books than I did.  YALC is seriously dangerous for the wallet!  As well as all of the books though it was fab to talk to some of the publishers, people that I’ve met before and people that I’ve only chatted to over email.  It’s always nice to put a face to a name.

  • Meeting up with my personal publishing hero Anne Finnis and spending time with her, Kim Curran and my friend Amy.  For those of you who don’t know I am a huge fan of Point Horror and Anne was responsible for publishing them back in the 90’s.  We met up at YALC  a few years ago now and every time I see her I turn into a fan girl (sounds silly I know, but as I said to Anne…Point Horror was my childhood and if she hadn’t published them I may not be the person I am today!).  It was just lovely to take some time out to chat about books and writing amongst other things and the whole conversation was hugely inspiring.

  • An evening out with my friends Amy, Olivia and Laura and our families.  What a laugh we had over burgers and milkshakes.  We have to make this a YALC tradition!

And with thanks to wonderful family and friends I even pushed myself out of my comfort zone….

  • I normally just stay up on the YALC floor and don’t venture down to LFCC, but this year my son was determined to get me down there and with my pop vinyl obsession how could I not go down?  For those of you who don’t know, I am partially sighted and therefore I find it very stressful and hard in crowded spaces to navigate around without constantly bumping into people.  But I did it!  And I loved it!
  • With thanks to my friend Amy for pushing me a little I pitched my story idea to an agent with a view to gaining some feedback on the idea.  It was a nerve-wracking but a great experience and it was great to hear feedback which has given my some fresh ideas to put into my writing
  • I had my picture taken with a celebrity, Arthur Darvill.  That meant me pushing myself out of my comfort zone again.  I was super nervous and terrified of the queuing process down in LFCC, but I did it and as you can tell from my super happy smiling face it was amazing!

These things I would never have done before, but I always say to my son when he is going some where new to always try one thing out of his comfort zone each time, so I thought I would take my own advice!

I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you to everyone who I spoke to, hugged, laughed with and hung out with.  I have left YALC feeling motivated and inspired by every single one of you.

If ever I feel like giving up I will simply read back this blog post, think of all of the amazing and wonderful things above and the memories we created and maybe think to myself that I shouldn’t give up.  Think about how inspired every single one of you has made me feel, always so welcoming and warm and energetic.  That alone is enough.  That alone makes me beam with happiness whilst I am writing this.

Thank you

x

P.S – Jason Mamoa…that is all!

Spotlight – Show Stealer by Hayley Barker

 


Today is my stop on this fab blog tour to celebrate the release of Show Stealer by Hayley Barker!

Show Stealer is the sequel to last years Show Stopper and was released on the 2nd August published by the lovelies at Scholastic.

To celebrate I thought I would shine the spotlight on this brilliant books and I also have an awesome giveaway with huge thanks to Scholastic!


About The Books!

A dazzling, high-octane read filled with death-defying acrobatics, circus crowds with an appetite for disaster, and two forbidden teenage lovers trying to escape the shackles of their very different lives. Set in a near-future England where the poorest people in the land must watch their children be taken by a travelling circus – to perform at the mercy of hungry lions, sabotaged high wires and a demonic ringmaster. The ruling class visit the circus as an escape from their structured, high-achieving lives – pure entertainment with a bloodthirsty edge. Ben, the teenage son of a draconian government minister, visits the circus for the first time and falls instantly in love with Hoshiko, a young performer. They come from harshly different worlds – but must join together to escape the circus and put an end to its brutal sport.

The deadliest show on earth is ready for an encore…

Hoshiko and Ben have been on the run since they burned Silvio Sabatini’s circus down to the ground at the explosive finale of SHOW STOPPER. But Ben’s mother will stop at nothing to track him down and get her revenge: backing him into a corner where he is forced to sacrifice himself to save Hoshiko. The deadliest show on earth has been resurrected and if Ben thought he’d seen into its dark corners as an outsider, the true extent of the horrors that lurk beneath the Big Top are about to be revealed as he becomes the circus’ new star attraction…

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


About Hayley Barker


Hayley Barker taught secondary school English for nearly eighteen years before becoming an author. She is a huge YA fiction fan and says being published is the most exciting thing to ever happen to her.

She lives in Essex with her husband two sons and a yappy dog.

For more information, please visit Hayley’s website: www.hayleybarker.co.uk


Giveaway!

The lovely people at Scholastic have given me a copy of Show Stealer to giveaway to one lucky winner!

You can enter this vis twitter here

Good Luck!


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Emily at Scholastic for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour and for sending me a copy of the book to read and one to giveaway!

Have you read Show Stopper or Show Stealer?  What did you think?  What are your favourite parts?  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

Spotlight – Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt

 


Today is my stop on the wonderful blog tour celebrating the release of Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt!

Theatrical was released on the 28th June 2018 published by Usborne and is set to warm your heart and remind you of the magic of the theatre.

With this in mind as part of my stop I wanted to share a few of the shows that made me fall in love with the theatre…..


Hope dreams of working backstage in a theatre, and she’s determined to make it without the help of her famous costume-designer mum. So when she lands an internship on a major production, she tells no one. But with a stroppy Hollywood star and his hot young understudy upstaging Hope’s focus, she’s soon struggling to keep her cool…and her secret.


This was one of the first ever Theatre performances I went to as an angsty teenager who was heavily into grunge and rock and black eyeliner (still am) ….. and it broke my heart into tiny pieces!  It has stayed with me ever since and even listening to the music causes me to breakdown into tears!  I was lucky enough to see it again a few years ago in London and I didn’t even make it past the 2nd song before having something in my eye.  It’s a remarkable piece of theatre.

Me and the hubby booked to see this whilst we were on our honeymoon in London (we basically booked a show a night for 10 days) and it blew us away.  I will be honest we didn’t know too much about it before we booked but had heard good things and wow were they right!  I will never forget having my breathe taken away from me when hearing Defining Gravity live …amazing!  We have been trying to go back and see it ever since but we haven’t got there yet!  But soon we hope!

Another theatre trip where we didn’t really know what to expect, but the production of this was fantastic!  The music was catchy and there were some super funny and touching moments!  We loved it and wished we had been to see it again!


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


About Maggie Harcourt

Maggie Harcourt was born and raised in Wales, where she grew up telling stories. She now lives just outside Bath, and was inspired her to write Theatrical whilst attending the Theatre Production Course at the Theatre Royal Bath.

You can follow Maggie on:

Maggiehaha.tumblr.com

Twitter: @maggieharcourt

Instagram: @maggieharcourt


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Stevie at Usborne for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour and for sending me a copy of the book!

Have you read Theatrical?  What did you think?  What are your favourite #Theatrical moments?  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 – Endings & Beginnings by Victoria Williamson


Today I am over the moon to have the lovely Victoria Williamson on Tales with a fab guest post to celebrate the release of The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle.

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle was released on the 19th April published by the lovelies at Kelpies and is set to be a beautiful moving story that will keep you gripped until the last page.

So today Victoria chats about endings and beginnings in this fab guest post…


Reema runs to remember the life she left behind in Syria. Caylin runs to find what she’s lost. Under the grey Glasgow skies, twelve-year-old refugee Reema is struggling to find her place in a new country, with a new language and without her brother. But she isn’t the only one feeling lost. Her Glasgwegian neighbour Caylin is lonely and lashing out. When they discover an injured fox and her cubs hiding on their estate, the girls form a wary friendship. And they are more alike than they could have imagined: they both love to run. As Reema and Caylin learn to believe again, in themselves and in others, they find friendship, freedom and the discovery that home isn’t a place, it’s the people you love.

Heartfelt and full of hope, The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle is an uplifting story about the power of friendship and belonging. Inspired by her work with young asylum seekers, debut novelist Victoria Williamson’s stunning story of displacement and discovery will speak to anyone who has ever asked ‘where do I belong?’


Endings and Beginnings

‘In the beginning…’

‘Once upon a time…’

‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…’

Growing up, writing the start of a story seemed easy. I’d just pick one of the standard phrases copied from a fairy story or a film, and I’d be off on my adventure straight away without having to worry about character backstory or beginning with a bang.

Writing as an adult is a little trickier.

There are so many prescribed ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ for writing fiction it’s amazing any of us get the first paragraph of a book written at all! Most of the advice focuses on what we’re not supposed to do:

• Don’t begin with a lengthy scene setting
• Don’t start with character backstory
• Don’t start with a description of past events
• Don’t start with an ordinary, everyday situation

And one of the biggest ‘don’ts’ I’ve heard a million times:

• Don’t start with a character other than your protagonist

So how do you begin a story when your book is dual narrative and your two main characters are equally important?

In The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle, both Caylin and Reema tell the story from their own unique perspectives.

Caylin has lost her grandparents, and with her mother’s depression turning to alcoholism, she resorts to bullying other children for money and stealing to keep food on the table. She longs for the past when her grandparents were alive and she was part of a loving family. Her grandmother was a talented athlete, and Caylin keeps her memory alive through her passion for running.

Reema runs to remember too. She’s lost everything in the Syrian war, including her older brother Jamal, and she’s struggling to fit in and feel safe so far from home. Her memories of running through the streets of Aleppo after school with Jamal are bound up in the headscarf he bought her, and she clings on tightly to this as a symbol of everything she has lost and hopes to recover.

The way I chose to unite these two very different girls and begin their story, was by creating a metaphor for them, in the form of an injured urban fox they care for and come to call Hurriyah – ‘Freedom’ in Arabic.

Despite their different cultural backgrounds, both girls have suffered loss and are searching for a sense of belonging. Hurriyah’s own sense of loss over her dead mate, destroyed den and injured leg which prevents her from running, hunting and caring for her vulnerable cubs mirrors the girls’ struggles to overcome their own sad experiences.

So Hurriyah begins their story for them, her poems woven through the narrative to remind the reader that the girls want to feel both the safety of a permanent, settled home life, and the freedom to be themselves.

The ending of The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle however, proved harder to write. Not because I wasn’t sure how to wrap up the story, but because it’s always hard for an author to let go of characters who have been a big part of their life for so long. It’s almost like saying goodbye to old friends you’re never going to get a chance to talk to again.

One of the things all of my favourite books had in common when I was a child was the sense of loss I felt when I reached the last page and the story ended. Despite the serious issues involved, Caylin and Reema’s story is an adventure, and I’d like my readers to relate to these characters, and to feel invested in their quest to save the foxes and win their school a medal in the sports competition. I suppose the test of whether my book has had the intended impact on the reader is if they feel a little bit of the same sense of loss as me when they reach the last page and find they’ve come to end of Caylin and Reema’s journey too.

But I also wanted to end on an uplifting note. Hurriyah the fox’s refrain from the start of the story: ‘This is not home. It hurts,’ morphs into something far more hopeful at the end of the book when both Caylin and Reema realize that home isn’t a place, it’s the people you love.

That’s why I chose to end the story with an ellipsis instead of a full stop. The book may be stand-alone without a planned sequel, but the journey isn’t over for Caylin, Reema and Hurriyah. They’ve found friendship, belonging, and the sense of freedom they’ve been searching for, and so despite the fact that the book has ended, their adventures are only just beginning…

You can buy a copy of The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle here or from your local bookshop


About Victoria Williamson

Victoria Williamson grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked as an educator in a number of different countries, including as an English teacher in China, a secondary science teacher in Cameroon, and a teacher trainer in Malawi.

As well as degrees in Physics and Mandarin Chinese, she has completed a Masters degree in Special Needs in Education. In the UK she works as a primary school special needs teacher, working with children with a range of additional support needs including Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Down’s Syndrome, physical disabilities and behavioural problems.

She is currently working as a full time writer of Middle Grade and YA contemporary fiction, science fiction and fantasy, with a focus on creating diverse characters reflecting the many cultural backgrounds and special needs of the children she has worked with, and building inclusive worlds where all children can see a reflection of themselves in heroic roles.

Victoria’s experiences teaching young children in a school with many families seeking asylum inspired her debut novel, The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle, an uplifting tale of redemption and unlikely friendship between Glaswegian bully Caylin and Syrian refugee Reema.

Twenty percent of her author royalties for The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle are donated to the Scottish Refugee Council.

You can find out more about Victoria’s books, school visits and upcoming events on her website: www.strangelymagical.com


Blog Tour

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


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

Have you read The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle?  What did you think?  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

Spotlight – In Your Light by Annalie Grainger


Today I am over then moon to be part of the blog tour for Annalie Grainger’s new YA book, In Your Light.

In Your Light was released on the 3rd May 2018 published by the fab Simon & Schuster Children’s UK and is set to be a tender and heart breaking read.

Today I am shining the spotlight on this fab book and telling you a little bit more about it and the brilliant Annalie…


From the author of Captive comes a tense, gripping story of secrets, sisterhood and running away

Are you still a sister, if one of you is missing?

Sixteen-year-old Lil’s heart was broken when her sister Mella disappeared. There’s been no trace or sighting of her since she vanished, so when Lil sees a girl lying in the road near her house she thinks for a heart-stopping moment that it’s Mella. The girl is injured and disorientated and Lil has no choice but to take her home. But something’s not right… The girl claims she’s from a peaceful community called The Sisterhood of the Light, but why then does she have strange marks down her arms, and what – or who – is she running from…
 
Could she hold the key to Mella’s disappearance?
 
And what happens if the Sisterhood is unwilling to let its daughters go… 

You can buy a copy of In Your Light here or from your local bookshop!


About Annalie Grainger

Annalie Grainger lives in London, where she works as a children’s books editor. She loves writing and editing because it means she gets to talk about books all day. Her debut, Captive, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2014.

You can find out more about Annalie and her writing on Twitter (@_AJGrainger) or by visiting her website, www.ajgrainger.com


Blog Tour

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

#InYourLight


A huge thank you to Eve at Simon & Schuster for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read In Your Light?  What did you think?  Did it break your heart?  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 – Aunty Vimala’s Rules by Savita Kalhan


Today I am over the moon to have the lovely Savita Kalhan on Tales to celebrate the release of The Girl In The Broken Mirror!

The Girl In The Broken Mirror was released on the 1st May 2018 published by Troika Books and this fab YA is set to break your heart.

Today Savita is sharing a fab extract / guest post from the book with Aunty Vimala’s Rules….


Jay’s creative writing exercise is to write a fairy tale, to end with they lived happily ever after . But the way her life is panning out she s not sure it will ever reach that stage. She and her mother are moving in with distant relatives, and they have super strict rules for girls. Jay is expected to have only Indian friends, if she has any at all. How can she see her school friends, Chloe and Matt? But this is only the beginning of a nightmare for Jay. When her life implodes, how can she hide the shame and how will she find a way to keep going?


Aunty Vimala’s Rules

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today and being part of the amazing fourteen stop blog tour! It’s so exciting to be here – and to have a new book out! I’m thrilled that The Girl in the Broken Mirror is in readers’ hands. It was published by Troika Books on May 1st and I still haven’t stopped smiling.

The Girl in the Broken Mirror is about Jay, who’s fifteen, and a terrible trauma that happens to her. It’s about her journey after the trauma and how she finds help. It’s also about a huge culture clash – Jay has had a liberal upbringing, but suddenly she has to move in with distant relatives who have super-strict ideas of what a girl can do and cannot do. Imagine having to live there for a few years, with little contact with your own family, and where school is the only freedom you are allowed.

That’s what Jay, the main character of The Girl in the Broken Mirror, is faced with!

Jay moves in with her Aunty Vimala at No 42 Primrose Avenue. She has been given the room in the basement, and her mum has been given the room in the attic. She’s also been given a huge set of rules…

Aunty Vimala’s Rules

Girls must be able to cook.

Girls must do all the cleaning and washing.

Girls must dress demurely.

Girls must not talk to boys.

Girls should not go out – no sleepovers, no hanging out with friends, no wasting time.

The rules are out of place in the UK in the 21st Century. They should be out of place everywhere.

Aunty Vimala’s Other Rules

Never wash your hair on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays.

Never leave your shoes upside down.

Never taste the food you are cooking with the stirring spoon.

Never shake the pickle jar when you have your period.

Never whistle after six o’clock.

These are just a few of Aunty Vimala’s other rules. They are part religious, part tradition, and part superstition. And all of them are alien to Jay and her upbringing. She struggles to fit in with this new lifestyle, but at the same time she knows that she has to – her and her mum have nowhere else to live.

Thank you so much for inviting me here today.

I hope you all love the book

You can buy a copy of The Girl In The Broken Mirror here or from your local bookshop!


About Savita Kalhan

I was born in my grandparent’s home in a small village in the north of India. The family home has been transformed into an amazing charity hospital, which is pretty cool. I moved with my parents from that small village in India to a small town in Buckinghamshire when I was 11 months old. No, I’ve never got used to the cold or the damp or the rain!

I went to uni in Aberystwyth, where the winters were colder and the seas stormy, and got happily stuck there for a few years before heading to London and life as an impoverished batik artist, before taking the plunge and getting married in Manila. Then I headed off to the desert heat of the Middle East where I lived and taught English for several years, read like a demon, and started writing.

I’ve never stopped writing. I hope I never do.

Now, I’m in North London, with a view of the woods, a stone’s throw from my allotment where I fight a daily battle against the onslaught of an army of slugs and wrestle with plotlines, and the tennis club where I slug a few balls, and my writing shed at the bottom of the garden where I write.

Savita loves to hear from my readers and she is happy to answer any questions about herself or the book!

You can find out more about Savita on her website –  www.savitakalhan.com

Or why not follow Savita on twitter –  @savitakalhan.


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Savita for getting in touch and asking me to host this fab post.

Have you read ?  What did you think?  Was it what you expected?  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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