Category Archives: YA

Guest Post – Our Fantasy Coven by Katharine & Elizabeth Corr

Today I am excited to be part of The Witch’s Blood Blog Tour to celebrate the third and final book in the trilogy!

The Witch’s Blood by Katharine & Elizabeth Corr was released on the 8th March 2018 published by Harper Collins Children’s Books and is a must for any fantasy fan!

Today Katharine & Elizabeth are talking about their fantasy coven in this fab guest post…

Just who can you trust when no one around you is who they seem?

The final spell-binding book in THE WITCH’S KISS trilogy by authors and sisters, Katharine and Elizabeth Corr.

Life as a teenage witch just got harder for Merry when her brother, Leo is captured and taken into an alternative reality by evil witch Ronan. Determined to get him back, Merry needs to use blood magic to outwit her arch-rival and get Leo back. Merry is more powerful than ever now, but she is also more dangerous and within the coven, loyalties are split on her use of the magic. In trying to save Leo, Merry will have to confront evil from her past and present and risk the lives of everyone she’s ever loved. Given the chaos she’s created, just what will she sacrifice to make things right?

Our Fantasy Coven

‘Being a witch meant becoming familiar with hundreds of years’ worth of spells and techniques and history. Merry understood the necessity, sort of. She had to be able to cast spells with the other witches so she could become a full member of the coven. Witchcraft was a team sport. Or at least it was supposed to be.’

Merry, our main character in The Witch’s Kiss trilogy, has a love/hate relationship with the coven that she (sort of) belongs to. Excluded initially because her mum refuses to let her practise magic, Merry starts training to join the coven in The Witch’s Tears, but she chafes against the rules and restrictions. And the other coven members aren’t entirely comfortable being around Merry either, especially as her power grows. Still, the coven has an important part to play, for good or ill (no, we’re not going to tell you which!) before the end of The Witch’s Blood. We rather like the idea of having a bunch of powerful witch friends to hang out with, so we’ve decided to put together our own Fantasy Coven (limited to eleven witches, because it’s the closest we’re likely to get to picking a fantasy football team).

Granny Weatherwax (The Discworld books, Terry Pratchett)

One of our favourite Discworld characters, illustrated here by Paul Kidby. Granny Weatherwax is wise, really powerful, sharp as a scalpel, and always does the right thing. Not necessarily the nice thing, mind you. She would be brilliant as our coven leader and would have no trouble keeping the more morally ambiguous members in line.

Nanny Ogg (The Discworld books)

The brown sauce to Granny’s bacon sandwich. Nanny would be the one to keep an eye on the coven’s younger members, and she’d be sure to supply plenty of interesting ‘refreshments’ for those late-night coven meetings.


We’re plumping for the Angelina Jolie version here because a) she’s much nicer than in the Disney cartoon, b) she has cheekbones to die for and c) has wings. Super useful for when your broomstick breaks down.

Hermione Granger (The Harry Potter books, JK Rowling)

As the brightest witch in her generation (or probably almost any generation, let’s face it), we think Hermione would get on really well with Granny Weatherwax. Plus, we’d really like
to see Hermione as part of a team of powerful witches without any of those annoying (and, let’s face it, less talented) wizards hanging around.

Merry Cooper (The Witch’s Kiss trilogy)

Merry doesn’t have Hermione’s application and love of studying, but she is really powerful and she’s determined to take care of the people she loves. Definitely someone we’d like on our side.

Meg (from Meg & Mog, Helen Nicoll/Jan Pieńkowski)

Meg’s spells don’t always go to plan, but we’d still love to have her in the coven: for starters we’d get to pet Mog, which we’d love as we’re both cat people. Plus Meg has all the traditional witchy paraphernalia: cauldron, broomstick, black boots, black dress and pointy black hat. The quintessential witch.

Willow (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Super loyal, bookish and fun to hang out with, we think Merry and Willow would get on like a house on fire. Both witches are extremely powerful and at times find if difficult to exercise due restraint: but ultimately both seek to use their power to protect the ones they love. And you can’t blame them for that. Also, being in a coven might help Willow stay on the right side of the line when it came to magic; she has been known to dabble in some very dark spells…

Glinda the good witch (from The Wizard of Oz, L Frank Baum)

Glinda’s outfit choice literally makes pink the new black. We’d like our coven to be as blinged up as possible: sparkly ballgowns and jewel-studded broomsticks all the way. No sneaking around secretly for us! Also, unlike some of the other witches in our coven, Glinda has impeccable manners. She’d be useful when diplomacy is required.

Sally and Gillian Owens (Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman)

Confession time: we haven’t yet read the book on which the Sandra Bullock/Nicole Kidman film is based. Still, from the film version, we think these highly talented siblings would be good coven members: just like Merry and Leo, they’re absolutely devoted to one another, working best as a team. Plus, they have fabulous hair, a keen fashion sense and would certainly – along with Glinda – inject some much-needed glamour into the coven. Not a wart in sight.

Arianwyn (The Apprentice Witch, James Nicol)

Arianwyn is a little bit like Mildred Hubble: she gets off to a slow start, magically speaking. Failing her witch’s assessment, she’s sent off to the remote village of Lull to start life as an apprentice, somewhat in disgrace. However, just like Mildred, there’s much more to this resilient and courageous young witch than meets the eye. Not only is she fiercely loyal, considerate and kind, it turns out she’s way more powerful than anyone realised. All in all, she’s a real sweetie – the sort of witch who would definitely have your back.

Witches we definitely WON’T be letting into the coven: Jadis (aka the White Witch from the Narnia books by CS Lewis), Nancy Downs (The Craft) and Bellatrix le Strange (Harry Potter). We just don’t think any of them are really team players… But what do you think? Who would be in your fantasy coven?

Thank you so much to Michelle for being one of our blog tour hosts!

You can buy a copy of The Witch’s Blood here or from your local bookshop!

About Katharine & Elizabeth Corr

We are sisters and best friends (try writing a book with someone else and you’ll see why that last bit is kind of important). After spending our childhood in Essex, we now live ten minutes away from each other in Surrey. We both studied history at university and went to work in London for a bit. Then we stopped working to raise families, because somehow we missed the memo explaining that children are far more demanding than clients or bosses. When we both decided to write novels – on account of fictional people being much easier to deal with than real ones – it was obvious we should do it together.

Stuff Katharine likes: playing instruments badly; dead languages; LOTR; loud pop concerts; Jane Austen; Neill Gaiman; Loki; the Surrey Hills. Killing off characters.

Stuff Elizabeth likes: sketching, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, cinema, long baths, kitchen discos, Terry Pratchett, Thor, London. Saving characters.

Stuff we both like: YA / non-YA fantasy and science fiction,Star Wars, Star Trek, each other (most of the time).

You can find out more about Katharine and Elizabeth on their website –

Or why not follow them on twitter – @katharinecorr and @lizcorr_writes

Previously on Tales….

You can catch previous posts by Katharine & Elizabeth Corr by clicking on the below links…

Our Favourite Literary Curses

Our Favourite Magical Moments In Literature

Blog Tour

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

A huge huge thank you to Katharine and Elizabeth for such a superb guest post and for being so lovely to invite me onto the blog tour!  Also a huge thank you to Jess at Harper Collins for having me and sending me a copy of the book.

Have you read any of The Witch’s Kiss Trilogy?  What did you think?  Who would be in your coven?  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 – How I Found Baver and Angel by Amy Wilson

Following on from the fly away success of her debut novel, A Girl Called Owl last year I am honoured to have the magical Amy Wilson on Tales today to celebrate the release of her second YA books A Far Away Magic.

A Far Away Magic was released on the 25th January 2018 published by the lovely Macmillan Children’s Books and is set to whisk you off your feet.

Today Amy is chatting about her characters Angel and Bavar and how they came to be in this fab guest post….

When Angel moves to a new school after the death of her parents, she isn’t interested in making friends. Until she meets Bavar – a strange boy, tall, awkward and desperate to remain unseen, but who seems to have a kind of magic about him. Everyone and everything within Bavar’s enchanted house is urging him to step up and protect the world from a magical rift through which monsters are travelling, the same monsters that killed Angel’s parents.

But Bavar doesn’t want to follow the path that’s been chosen for him – he wants to be normal; to disappear. Fighting one another as well as their fears, Angel and Bavar must find a way to repair the rift between the worlds, and themselves, before it’s too late . . .

How I Found Baver and Angel

The first thing I knew about A Far Away Magic was that it had Bavar in it. He’d been in my mind for years, ever since I’d seen the tall, stooped figure of a boy leaving my local secondary school, alone and hiding behind his hair.

The second thing I knew was that Bavar lived in a huge old creepy house, where ancestors called his name from the walls. There was an aunt, Aoife, and an Uncle Sal, and there was magic.

Bavar and I had quite a few starts together before we found the right story. In my very first attempt, his words came to life around him, letters floating like little clouds everywhere he went. I kind of liked that idea, but it didn’t lead me anywhere. So we were stuck. He just mooched around in my head, for a long time, while I became increasingly interested in how we see others, how we perhaps think we know a person, solely based on how they look, the way they walk and talk, and how many of us carry our scars and differences on the inside.

That, I think, is how Angel came about. She looked like a perfectly normal girl, but she’d been through something that made her as different as Bavar, only instead of that being an external thing, it was internal. From the outside, they might look like Beauty and the Beast, but in fact they are both beautiful, and both beast. It’s when they come together that they begin to sort that out for themselves; to challenge the monsters, and the world’s perception of them.

As soon as Angel came in with her own dark backstory, Bavar and I were moving. She brought the fight, and the desire for change, and she gave Bavar a reason to do the same, and she brought the fight to me too; I had to find a way to make it all okay for them – at the very least, for them to be okay with them.

You can buy a copy of A Far Away Magic here or from your local bookshop

About Amy Wilson

This is me, with my cat Ivy on my shoulder (!) and with my headphones on, mid-writing. I quite often write with music playing, and I wear my headphones even if the sound is off, because it blocks out some of the background noise and helps me to feel like I’m in my own world.

I spend a lot of my time at home writing and looking after various animals and children. I’ve always loved to write, and I feel very lucky that now, after quite a few years of bashing away, it is my job.

I have a background in journalism and live in Bristol. I’m a graduate of the Bath Spa MA in Creative Writing. A Girl Called Owl was my first novel, my second, A Far Away Magic, is out now, and I’m now working on my third!

You can find out more about Amy on her website –

Or why not follow Amy on twitter – @AJ_Wils

A huge thank you to Amy for such a fab post and insight into her characters.  Also a huge thank you to Jo at Macmillan Children’s Books for asking me to host.

Have you read A Far Away Magic?  Are you intrigued?  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 – Inspiration by Emma Craigie

Today is my stop on the fab #YAShot2018 Blog Tour and I have been paired with the wonderful Emma Craigie! YA Shot is an author-run, author-led Young Adult and Middle Grade festival that raises the money and resources to run a year-long programme pairing libraries and schools for free author events to foster a love of reading, inspire a passion for writing, and encourage aspirations to careers in the Arts. We believe in equal access to books and opportunities for all – YA Shot brings UKYA and UKMG authors together to pursue that goal, supporting libraries and young people across the country.

So for our stop I wanted to get to know Emma and her books a little more and to find out a little about her inspiration….

The cutter came last night. I recognized her: her black clothes, her narrow face and the yellow whites of her eyes. 15-year-old Zahra has lived in England most of her life, but she is haunted by memories of her early childhood: the warm sun and loud gunfire, playing with her older sister in the time before “the visitors” came. It is hard to make sense of everything that happened, and it feels impossible to talk about, but when three eerily familiar women arrive unexpectedly for tea Zahra realises that the dangers of the past could still destroy her. What Was Never Said is the powerful story of a girl navigating the demands of two very different and conflicting worlds; a tale of surviving loss and overcoming fears.

Helga’s childhood as the eldest of five children in Germany’s First Family has been a gilded one, accompanying her parents to parties and rallies, moving between the city and their idyllic country estate. But the war has changed everything. And now, as defeat closes in on the Germans, Helga must move into a bunker in the heart of Berlin with her family and key members of the crumbling Nazi leadership – to be with their beloved Hitler. There is chocolate cake for tea every day with Uncle Leader, but Helga cannot help noticing that all is not well among the grown-ups. As each day passes, her underground world becomes increasingly tense and strange. There are tears and shouting behind slammed doors, and when even the soldiers who have been guarding them take their leave, Helga is faced with a terrible truth. Perhaps her perfect childhood has not been all that it seemed…


What Was Never Said is the story of a teenage girl who has to confront a painful past in order to protect herself and her younger sister.   Zahra and her family have come to England to escape war, but there are secrets in the family, and as her parents’ plans become clear, Zahra realises her new life is no longer safe.

The idea for What Was Never Said came into my head on a Saturday morning in July in 2012.  I was sitting in a huge auditorium in Bristol University when a skinny boy stepped across the stage in front of a long row of adults – health and legal experts from across the world – and came to the front holding a hand mic.  The hall fell silent as he began to speak:

You don’t understand how weird it is to be standing here as a MAN, yes, not a boy, a man, from my community, talking about Female Genital Mutilation.  Believe me, Somali men never talk about womens bits, even amongst themselves.

The audience laughed uncomfortably.   I squirmed inwardly.  I had met this boy a couple of times. His name was Mukhtar Hassan, he was 14 years old and a member of Integrate Bristol – –  a group which facilitates campaigns by young people.  Integrate had organised this conference,  the first ever international conference about Female Genital Mutilation, and my immediate feeling was that they had got it wrong.  Muhktar’s words were embarrassingly slangy.  “Bits” made me cringe –  not a word, I felt, which should be spoken in such a formal setting.   I held my breath, hoping things would get better.

I had met Muhktar, his older sister Muna, and the other young members of Integrate when I was doing research for a novel about a group of young friends from different religious backgrounds.    Like many young people in East Bristol they came from a Muslim Somali background – a community where FGM is still often practised.   I was really interested in the boldness and clarity of their campaign.   I didn’t know much about FGM but I soon learnt from them.  FGM is defined as non-medical surgery on the female genitalia. There are a number of different types, all of which cause tremendous pain, bring a risk of infertility and death, and deprive women of sexual enjoyment.   FGM has been carried out in some parts of the world for thousands of years, and is estimated that there are over 200 million women and girls alive today who have undergone some form of it.  It  The World Health Organisation estimates that there are 3 million girls at risk of FGM every year.   These young people were – are – determined to end it and had brought together international experts to determine how that could be done.

Muhktar continued on the failure of Somali men to talk about ‘women’s bits”:

… perhaps thats the problem.  Too many people have been quiet for too long.  But the point is IF FGM is to stop, and it HAS to stop, then everybody, regardless of gender or race, has to take a stand.  I stand here as a brother, a cousin, a son, and a future father… hopefully.  I also stand here as a friend and a human being.

I breathed out. The audience applauded loudly.  Muhktar had not got it wrong.  He had got it completely right.  He had made us uncomfortable and challenged us to overcome that discomfort.   Up to this point, I thought, like many people, that FGM was a bad thing, but that it was not my problem.   Muhktar changed my perspective.   If a 14 year old boy could stand up in front of hundreds of people and talk about “women’s bits” , I could stand up too.   Suddenly the centre of my novel shifted.   I had found the story which I needed to tell.

Chocolate Cake with Hitler is a novel which tells the true story of the children of the Nazi Joseph Goebbels.

Chocolate Cake With Hitler also started with a sudden realisation.    I had long known that at the end of World War 2 Hitler hid in an underground bunker.  I remember picturing it when I was a child, imagining Hitler lying flat in some kind of coffin shaped rabbit hole, hiding from his advancing enemies.   It must have been shortly afterwards that I heard of the fact that Eva Braun, his wife, was with him, as I can remember trying to squeeze her into this imagined bunker.   But it was much later,  long after I understood that the bunker was a concrete network of rooms, full of soldiers and secretaries, and cooks and nurses and doctors, that I learnt that there were six children down in the bunker with him.  And when I realised this, I couldn’t believe it was so little known that there had, at that point, never been a book about them.

There were five girls and one boy, aged between 4 and 12.  The children of the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda.   10 days before Germany surrendered, they had decided to show their loyalty to the Fuhrer by joining him underground in Berlin.  They knew the defeat of Germany was inevitable – but that was not what they told the children.   They pretended that they were joining their leader so that they would be with him for the imminent victory celebrations.

I started reading every account I could find of Hitler’s bunker.  The children rarely got a mention.  The person who gave them most attention in her account of her days in the bunker was one of Hitler’s secretaries, Traudl Junge.   There was a particular paragraph in her memoir, Until the Final Hour, that haunted me, and was the inspiration for telling the story of the Goebbels children from the perspective of 12 year old Helga.

Junge wrote that during their time in the bunker the children were on the whole “happy and cheerful…”  They spent their time playing in the bunker corridors and once a day drank hot chocolate and ate chocolate cake with Hitler, often singing German folk songs to him.  Junge tells us, “They knew nothing of the fate awaiting them, and the adults did all they could to keep them unaware of it… Only the oldest, Helga, sometimes had a sad knowing expression in her big, brown eyes… Sometimes I think with horror that in her heart the child saw through the pretence of the grown-ups.”

I was the oldest of five children, and I remember being 12.  It was an odd age – my younger brothers and sisters suddenly seemed very childish, but my parents and their friends were no more interesting to me.  I could hardly bear to imagine a world in which the parents were planning to kill you, and none of your siblings had any idea.   But then I couldn’t bear not to.








You can buy a copy of Emma’s books here or from your local book shop!

Chocolate Cake With Hitler was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie medal and the Financial Times / Authors Club First Novel Award.

What Was Never Said was also nominated for the CILIP Carnegie medal and is a White Raven Book. 

About Emma Craigie

Emma Craigie is a writer and teacher.  She lives in Somerset.

Her most recent novel, What Was Never Said, was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016 and selected for the White Ravens Catalogue .

You can find out more about Emma on her website –

Or why not follow Emma on twitter – @craigieemma


With thanks to the lovely people at Short Books myself and YA Shot have a copy of each book to giveaway to one lucky winner!







You can enter via my twitter here

UK Only

Ends 10/03/2018

Good Luck!

Blog Tour

Make sure you follow the rest of the fab YA Shot 2018 Blog Tour!

A huge thank you to Emma for such a fab post which has made me super intrigued to go and grab these books and to Short Books for the giveaway.  Also a huge thank you to YA Shot for having me and for pairing me with Emma.

Have you read any of Emma’s books?  Are you intrigued? Are you going to YA Shot?  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

Cover Reveal – Glowglass by Kirkland Ciccone

I am over the moon to have been asked by the awesome Kirkland Ciccone to reveal the brilliant cover for his new YA due to be released on the 3rd May 2018, Glowglass.

Kirkland is just fantastic and has gained a reputation as a hugely entertaining YA author and makes me smile all the time.

I am super excited to read Glowglass and of course reveal this truly stunning cover!  I also have a little super fun intro from the main man himself, Kirkland…..

The Blurb


Starrsha Glowglass s face is on the front page of every newspaper. She isn’t a model, Vlogger, or reality TV show contestant. Starrsha is famous for something darker: she survived a massacre that claimed her Brothers and Sisters.

Hers was no ordinary family. They were The Family Glowglass – a religious order set up by an eccentric businessman as a tax dodge. One morning the parishioners sat down to breakfast…Most didn t get back up.

Only Starrsha and her mute Brother, Simon, survived. Both now have a chance to lead an ordinary life. For Starrsha that means high school. Can a videotape bring back the dead? What s behind the red door? Why won t Starrsha s best friend reveal her true sexuality? When is a poster on a wall actually a trap? Will My Chemical Romance reform? Why is Father obsessed with vintage technology? Why does Barbie freak out Starrsha? How many rich husbands has Aunt Imelda bumped off? And why is God crank-calling Starrsha? All will be revealed when someone presses PLAY…

About Kirkland Ciccone

WINNER OF THE CATALYST BOOK AWARD 2014 – Conjuring The Infinite

Kirkland Ciccone writes and performs quirky one man shows for any theatre or venue lucky enough to have him. It wasn’t always this way though. He left school bored and restless, plotting to become a journalist until the time came for him to make a choice – performing arts or writing stories about jumble sales. Fact, in Kirkland’s case, is always weirder than fiction. He has written for cool music ‘zines such as This Is Fake DIY, Rock Louder, Neu Magazine, and Subba Cultcha. His previous shows include In Bed with Kirkland Ciccone, The Dead Don’t Sue, A Secret History, Kirkland Ciccone Plays Pop and others.

Conjuring The Infinite is his first novel.

His second novel is Endless Empress, or to give it the full title, Endless Empress: A Mass Murderer’s Guide To Dictatorship In The Fictional Nation Of Enkadar. An over the top YA book deserves an over the top title!

His latest novel of quirky YA fiction is North of Porter, a tale about a boy who takes on the world armed only with his sharp wit…and expensive designer handbag!

Kirkland lives in Falkirk with his dog Lord Fanny.

For news on upcoming novels, events and general juvenilia:

Cover Reveal

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

I started writing Glowglass (original title The Gerard Way Fan Club) last year after I’d recovered from A Mystery Illness. I couldn’t walk properly for three months. I was bloody miserable. I’d also found myself battling against a stalker and having to get that sorted out. Anyway, everyone was obsessing over 13 Reasons Why and suddenly there was a vogue for YA novels featuring retro technology. Hipster revivalism is very real. If Glowglass was a song, it might be a diss or response track. Here’s an exclusive: tapes were crap and videos took ages to rewind. Nostalgia is overrated!

In the midst of all this was the rise of the YouTube Vlogger-As-Author. I have no problem with Tallia Storm or ‘Pop Girl’ or the Vloggers – but there HAS to be other points of view, especially in YA fiction, and I see my role as someone to provide that, for better or worse. I’ve always regarded myself as a punk and that inspires everything I do, and with luck there’s a little punk spirit in this cover art. Glowglass will NEVER be on Zoella’s Book Club and it won’t be comfortable reading for everyone. There are no love triangles. The morals are murky. The protagonist isn’t relatable. It’s violent. Dark. Funny. A bit uplifting. And of course it wouldn’t be me if it didn’t spew bile in other directions. It’s also my best book so far. I know we all say that, but there’s something about Glowglass I love. I’m proud of it.

The artwork is by Andrew Forteath.

Isn’t it awesome!!

You can buy a copy of Glowglass here

(Please note that this book is not due for release until 3rd May 2018)

Previously On Tales….

You can find previous posts with Kirkland on Tales by clicking on the following links…

Whatever Happened to Kirky Ciccone?

A huge thank you to Kirkland for the wonderful intro and insight into his new book and for asking me to host the cover reveal!

What do you think of the cover for Glowglass?  Are you intrigued? Have you read any of Kirkland’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

Spotlight – Twister by Juliette Forrest

Today I am thrilled to be shining the spotlight on a whirlwind of a debut novel, Twister by Juliette Forrest!

Twister was released on the 1st February published by Scholastic and is set to be full of twists and turns to keep your head in a spin.

The lovely people at Scholastic have given me some giveaway copies so I thought I would shine the spotlight on this brilliant book in celebration….

Twister’s father has gone missing and as she’s searching for him she stumbles across a witch living in the woods. She is given a magical necklace that holds the souls of living things and can turn the wearer into a wolf, or a rushing river, or a rainstorm. But there’s a dark foe on the hunt for this necklace, a baddie who wears a coat crawling with creatures and who might have something to do with her father’s sudden disappearance…

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

About Juliette Forrest

I blame Rutger Hauer. In 1987 he starred in the Guinness commercials. They made such an impression I scribbled the dialogue all over my school folders. That’s when it struck me I no longer wanted to become an opera singer – I wanted to go to London and learn how to write adverts.

Here I am, a few years down the line, still doing what I love. I’m a freelancer now; I’m just as happy on my laptop in a client’s office as I am working from home. And talking about home, I live in Glasgow with a court jester of a Cypriot rescue dog called Vince.

You can find out more about Juliette on her website –

Or why not follow her on twitter – @jools_forrest


With thanks to the lovely people at Scholastic I have 3 x copies of Twister to giveaway to 3 lucky winners.

You can enter via my twitter here

UK Only

Ends 5th March 2018

Good Luck!

A huge thank you to Lorraine at Scholastic for sending me this fab book and for asking me to host this fab giveaway!

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

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Female Hero – Éowyn daughter of Théodwyn by Matt Killeen

A month or so ago I received an intriguing email about a new debut book, Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen.

Orphan Monster Spy is due to be released on the 8th March 2018 and is set to be “deeply disturbing and chillingly good”

Today is my stop on a fantastic blog tour for this book where Matt has been sharing some of his female hero’s…..

A teenage spy. A Nazi boarding school. The performance of a lifetime.

Sarah has played many roles – but now she faces her most challenging of all. Because there’s only one way for a Jewish orphan spy to survive at a school for the Nazi elite. And that’s to become a monster like them.

Survive. Deceive. Resist.

They think she is just a little girl. But she is the weapon they never saw coming… with a mission to destroy them all.

Éowyn daughter of Théodwyn

I struggle sometimes with fantasy – which I can love – on two counts. Firstly, and I’m looking at you video games, it has a preoccupation with anatomically dubious breast sizes and a minimalist attitude to female armour. By that I mean, fetish underwear as battle equipment. It’s not just that its offensive objectification which plays to some preoccupations that should have been left behind in adolescence, which it is. It’s also dumb. It’s impractical. Instant narrative dissonance. Caitlin Moran’s one question to identify sexism applies here: would the blokes put up with this?

Secondly and given its almost infinite possibilities, some fantasy (or sword & sorcery) tends to come with a set of tired tropes, themes and races established by J.R.R. Tolkein nearly 70 years ago. To the extent that I came out of The Fellowship of the Ring complaining that it was “too-Tolkeinesque”. I think my addled brain was attempting to articulate that decades of homages, re-treads and knock-offs had taken some of the lustre off the real thing.

I did love the movie, but at that point the jury was still out. That was because the character I was waiting for didn’t appear until the second film and her defining moment wouldn’t happen until the third, several years away. Only then could I judge the series. Would Peter Jackson – director of Meet the Feebles – get it right? Not for me, but for everyone?

Now Tolkein didn’t so much do women badly, as kind of ignore them altogether – bypassing the breast and underwear issue, I suppose. I could spend many thousands of words bitching about that, but he did create Éowyn daughter of Théodwyn, and for large parts of the book that did not suck.

I had fallen in love with Éowyn the way any straight boy of seven would have, from the minute that The Lord of the Rings was read to me (…and thanks big brother for one of the greatest gifts anyone has given anyone). She was brave and brilliant and her disobedience resulted in her being in the right place at the right time, so no one would tell her off. She was the kind of woman that made my little chest heave. So, given that, my inner-child may not be an impartial feminist on this.

Yes, she didn’t want to be a woman and wear pink, and yes that’s a cliché with its own problems, but Éowyn’s Moment of Awesome is dependent on her true nature. And boy, is her Moment of Awesome truly awesome, maybe the greatest single moment of any character ever in the realm of hitting things with bits of metal.

It is a pivotal moment in the whole trilogy. The arrival of the Witch-King of Angmar to stop the charge of the Rohirrim is a game changer. So monstrous is his presence that everybody runs. Nobody can go near him, let alone face him down. Everything hinges on this one moment. The Battle of the Pelennor Fields is basically lost at this point, long before Aragorn can get there with his ghost friends. Minas Tirith falls, there’s no march to the Black Gate, no distraction to empty Mordor, Frodo is captured and Middle-earth falls under an eternity of darkness.

But someone does face him down. One woman (and a hobbit, naturally) stands in front of her uncle’s body and dares the Lord of the Nazgûl to come through her to get him. After a lifetime being side-lined by the patriarchy, squaring up to an unspeakable horror clearly didn’t seem that much more difficult by comparison. She kills the big pterodactyl thing, she gets her arm shattered blocking his giant mace, yet still has the wherewithal to spot the flaw in his overconfidence…yes, no man can harm him, but she isn’t one. It’s a beautiful moment. With the last of her strength, she uses Merry’s distraction to drive her sword into his giant Ringwraith face.

Yes, there’s that horrible now-I’m-in-love-I-can-stop-being-myself thing with Faramir, but I kind of edited that out myself. It made far more sense to even the seven-year-old me that Éowyn could surrender her sword because, a) she was probably a little tired from all the Nazgûl slaying, b) there wasn’t anyone left to fight, and c) she was now a famous ultimate badass that people would sing songs about for all time. You know, some resolution and peace of mind on her own terms. Being a bit down before that was understandable, and it was probably PTSD brought on by a sudden life-threatening trauma or the spectre of worldwide destruction. In fact, if the chance of a snog and a future free from fear of enslavement by evil eldritch powers helped her get over that, she should be congratulated for her resilience.

In the peerless 1981 BBC Radio 4 dramatization Éowyn’s moment was lost in a cacophony of screams, grunts and sound effects so I’d waited two decades to see it come to life. I wasn’t disappointed. Miranda Otto plays Éowyn to perfection.

She doesn’t “fall in love” with Aragorn, not really. She just feels the natural leader he is, the opportunities he represents and yearns to follow him, like everyone else, male or female. And when the time comes, she and Jackson got that bravery is not the absence of fear. In fact Éowyn looks absolutely terrified every second of the encounter. Amongst all the grizzled detachment elsewhere, it makes it the standout confrontation in the trilogy. The exception to all that distress is that great epiphany. I am no man. No, she knows she’s better than that, she is the very thing she felt held her back all this time. It turns out she is good enough and had been all along. She smiles and SMITES him.

You can buy a copy of Orphan Monster Spy here or from your local bookshop

About Matt Killeen

Matt Killeen was born in Birmingham and, like many of his generation, was absorbed by tales of the war and obsessed with football from an early age. Guitars arrived at fourteen, wrecking any hopes of so-called normality.

He has had a great many careers – some creative, some involving laser guns – and has made a living as an advertising copywriter and largely ignored music and sports journalist. He fulfilled a childhood ambition and became a writer for the world’s best-loved toy company in 2010.

He lives near London with his soulmate, children, dog and musical instruments, looking wistfully north at a hometown that has been largely demolished & rebuilt in his lengthy absence.

Orphan Monster Spy is his first novel.

You can follow Matt on twitter – @by_Matt_Killeen

Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Fritha at Usborne for sending me this fab book and for asking me to be part of the Blog Tour and to Matt for such a fab post!

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

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – How Sunflowers In February Came To Be by Phyllida Shrimpton

Today I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to have the lovely Phyllida Shrimpton here on the blog with a fantastic guest post all about the amazing Sunflowers In February!

Sunflowers In February was released on the 8th February 2018 published by Hot Key and everything about it looks absolutely stunning and perfect!

As Phyllida Shrimpton is our #BritishBooksChallenge18 debut of the month I also have a brilliant giveaway!

So sit back and find a little bit more about Sunflowers In February…..

Lily has died in a car accident. The trouble is, Lily’s really not at all sure she wants to ‘move on’ . . . This funny, heartbreaking novel is perfect if you loved John Green or The Lovely Bones.

Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road.

She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. And very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance, arrive and she sees her own body that she realises that she is in fact . . . dead.

But what is she supposed do now?

Lily has no option but to follow her body and sees her family – her parents and her twin brother – start falling apart. And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time . . .

A moving, startlingly funny and yet achingly sad debut novel from a stunning new talent.

How Sunflowers In February Came To Be

Two things happened thirty eight years ago when I was fifteen years old.

One, my English teacher told me I would write a book. Two, I woke one morning knowing instantly that the vivid dream I’d just had would form the plot for said book.

Why did I wait thirty eight years to write it and get it published? It’s easy…severe procrastination served with a dollop of no confidence! In the words of Joan Konner, “Procrastination always gives you something to look forward to.” Hence I lived by that very motto, telling myself, ‘yeah one day I’m going to write a book!’ followed immediately by ‘but what if that book is rubbish?’

So what happened to force me into ditching the negatives? Basically, The Lovely Bones by Alice Seabold and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver happened. I suddenly realised that other authors were treading dangerously close to my I’m dead but I’m still here idea and if I didn’t get a move on I’d have to ask the sleep Gods to give me another dream to work with.

Although containing a few hot topics such as bullying, drugs and gender, Sunflowers in February focuses mainly on life, death and mindfulness. I have often wondered, what would any of us do if, faced with death, we could live one more day but at the expense of someone we love? Would we take that day, but want another after that? Would we do all those things we always think we’ve got time to do? Would we then have the courage to give it up and face the unknown?

 “I wish I had the chance to die knowing I have really lived”

The whole book is really an extension of that one line, uttered by my protagonist Lily, who is watching her own funeral. It is a letter to my fifteen year old self, and one which I wanted to pass on to my own teenage daughter and any young readers who may find themselves reading Sunflowers in February.

You can buy a copy of Sunflowers In February here or from your local bookshop

About Phyllida Shrimpton

Disastrous cook, chaotic parent, disorganised wife, terrible giggler, and survivor of writing a book from underneath a 60kg Newfoundland lap-dog.

You can follow Phyllida on twitter – @shrimpyshrimpy1


With thanks to the lovely people at Hot Key I have 3 copies of Sunflowers In February to giveaway to 3 lucky winners!

You can enter this giveaway by my twitter here

UK Only

Ends 28th February 2018

Good Luck!

A huge thank you to Phyllida for a brilliant guest post that has made feel so inspired and to Imogen and Tina at Hot Key for embracing the #BritishBooksChallenge18 debut of the month and giving me some fab books to giveaway!

Have you read Sunflowers In February?  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!

Spotlight – The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Today is my stop on the brilliant The Belles blog tour!

I started this book earlier this week and 100 pages in I can tell it is already going to be one of my fave books of 2018!  A brilliant YA Fantasy which will captivate you with it’s beauty from the off set.

The Belles was published on the 8th Feb 2018 published by the wonderful Gollancz and beauty, obsession and magic are at it’s heart.

So for my stop on the tour I am going to shine the spotlight on this brilliant book and it’s fab author….

Welcome to the dark decadence of Dhonielle Clayton’s sharp tale of beauty, obsession and magic. . .


In the opulent world of Orléans, the people are born grey and damned, and only a Belle’s powers can make them beautiful.

Camellia Beauregard wants to be the favourite Belle – the one chosen by the queen to tend to the royal family.

But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favourite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that her powers may be far greater – and far darker – than she ever imagined.

When the queen asks Camellia to break the rules she lives by to save the ailing princess, she faces an impossible decision: protect herself and the way of the Belles, or risk her own life, and change the world forever.

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

Praise for The Belles

‘Looking for the next big groundbreaking event in YA? This is it.’ Rick Riordan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson series

‘Sumptuous and original worldbuilding, heart-pounding plot and gorgeous prose.’ Samantha Shannon, New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Season

‘A whip-smart writer with grand, grand talents.’ Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist

‘Breathtakingly beautiful and deeply unsettling.’ Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author

About Dhonielle Clayton

Dhonielle Clayton (“Dhon” like “Don” or “Dawn”) spent most of her childhood under her grandmother’s dining room table with a stack of books.

She hails from the Washington, D.C. suburbs on the Maryland side, but now lives in New York City. She was an extremely fussy and particular child with an undying love for Cheerios (honey nut only), pink lemonade, and frosted animal cookies. A self-proclaimed school nerd, she loved covering her books with brown paper and filled her locker with Lisa Frank stickers. She loved putting headings on her homework, odd-looking pens and freshly sharpened pencils, and numerous notebooks to fill with her research. On most Saturdays you could find her with her equally nerdy Dad at Crown Books and then the comic bookstore where she stocked up on her weekly reading material. Plus, she was so spoiled that her grandfather took her to the library after school almost daily.

She attended Our Lady of Good Counsel High School because her parents thought Catholic school would keep her out of trouble. She went to Wake Forest University, and studied pre-med until she received a fateful F in Chemistry. This setback prompted her to change her major to English, and earned a BA. She rediscovered her love of children’s fiction by re-reading Harriet the Spy, which pushed her to earn an MA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University and an MFA Writing for Children at the New School.

She taught secondary school for several years – at a pre-professional ballet academy and a private K-8 school. She spent most of her twenties in and out of America – living in London, Paris, a small Japanese town, Bermuda – and wandering the planet. She’s been on five out of seven continents, and has grand plans to reach all of them.

She is a former elementary and middle school librarian, and co-founder of CAKE Literary, a creative kitchen whipping up decadent – and decidedly diverse – literary confections for middle grade, young adult, and women’s fiction readers. She is also COO of the non-profit We Need Diverse Books.

What’s next? She will be enrolling in culinary school in New York City and plans to open up a restaurant in the city of her soul, Edinburgh, Scotland

You can find out more about Dhonielle Clayton on her website –

Or why not follow Dhonielle on twitter – @brownbookworm

Blog Tour

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

A huge thank you to Stevie at Gollancz for sending me this fab book and for asking me to be part of the Blog Tour!

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

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Letting My Nostalgic Spirit Run Free by Martin Stewart

Today I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to have the amazing Martin Stewart here on the blog with a fantastic guest post all about the amazing The Sacrifice Box!

The Sacrifice Box was released on the 11th January 2018 published by Penguin and I can confirm that it is just pure brilliance!

As Martin Stewart is our #BritishBooksChallenge18  author of the month I also have a brilliant giveaway!

So sit back an enjoy a little about The Sacrifice Box and it’s amazing nostalgia…..

An atmospheric, chilling page turner from rising star Martin Stewart, reminiscent of Stand by Me and Stranger Things.

Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley: five friends thrown together one hot, sultry summer. When they discover an ancient stone box hidden in the forest, they decide to each make a sacrifice: something special to them, committed to the box for ever. And they make a pact: they will never return to the box at night; they’ll never visit it alone; and they’ll never take back their offerings.

Four years later, a series of strange and terrifying events take place. Someone broke the rules, and now everyone has to pay.

But how much are they willing to sacrifice?

Letting My Nostalgic Spirit Run Free

Having begun its life many years ago as nothing more than a feeling I wanted to capture, it’s beyond thrilling to see The Sacrifice Box out in the world. This is a story of friendship, of togetherness; of the power our fears wield in the dark corners of our souls ― and of the importance of a good mixtape. This is a world of high-tops and Choppers, of Walkmans (Walkmen?) and big hair.

This is the small-town world of Hill Ford, 1986.

The setting fits my character, because I’ve always been prone to nostalgia. Crippling nostalgia, really. I only replaced my childhood Christmas stocking a couple of years ago because it disintegrated (I’m thirty-five years old). I have a custom-built cupboard in my living room for my childhood games consoles: Megadrive, SNES, Playstation (just Playstation, mind ― this is before they were given numbers). Most of my Desert Island Discs would be hewn from the rock of my teenage memories: Oasis, The Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics, Radiohead… (as I write, prompted by this reverie, I’ve just put The Lightning Seeds on Spotify).

I am very much chained to my past.

The Sacrifice Box was, first, a title. Its growth from that point was driven by the image of young people finding an ancient box, filling it with (seemingly) innocuous stuff and discovering that, whatever they give it, the box wants more.

 But there was a problem ― this was a MG story. Ten-year-olds might make a friendship sacrifice of this nature, but not fifteen-year-olds. So the story had to change shape, and it did so with a pleasingly gothic twist: the group would make their sacrifices in the past, lose touch ― and years later, those seemingly innocuous offerings would come back to hunt them. A sacrifice made during a brief, intense, forgotten summer friendship felt just right ― and that’s where my (crippling) nostalgia came in.

Because what I had now was a story that felt a little like The Breakfast Club reuniting to fight the Gremlins, and I found that the tropes of classic 80s stories fit the story I had in mind: intense friendship, kid-centric horror, an unlikely small-town gang facing a threat their parents know nothing about…

I set the story in 1986, and I was able to let my nostalgic spirit run free.

I found it a lot of fun. Nostalgia is driven by comfort, after all ―we remember how free we once were, how unburdened by the concerns of high school and uni and work. The clothes are funny, the haircuts funnier, and the summers never-ending. Our past is known and, therefore, safe.

But danger lurks in our pasts, too, because everything is sharpest when we’re young: arguments, infatuations, self-regard, fear, laughter ― stories. Young lives are lived on a keen edge.

So, who better to write for than young readers?

I hope that you, young readers, love these characters ― Sep, Arkle, Hadley, Lamb and Mack. I hope you love the adventure, as the box tightens its grip. I hope you’re afraid to read the book on the train, for fear of snorting with laughter. I hope you’re afraid to read it in bed at night, for fear of a tap on your window…

There’s just one question left:

What would you sacrifice?

You can buy a copy of The Sacrifice Box here or from your local bookshop!

Or listen to The Sacrifice Box Spotify Playlist here

About Martin Stewart

Before I was a writer, I was a caddie, barman, recycling technician, wine advisor, university lecturer, and English teacher. My time in the classroom inspired me to turn my pen towards writing for younger readers, and now I love visiting schools to help students develop their own writing, and to encourage them to pursue their creative ambitions. As a writer, I’m interested in the stories that take place in the shadows, and exploring the tension between laughter and fear. I love the work of John Steinbeck and Philip Pullman. More than anything else, I love to edit, because that’s where the real writing gets done. You can read about how I became a writer here. As a human being, I’m interested in spending time with my partner and daughter, running on the beach with the dog, trying to make the perfect Old Fashioned, cooking with eggs, re-watching my favourite films as often as possible, and listening to podcasts whenever I can.

You can find out more about Martin on his website –

Or follow Martin on Twitter – @martinjstewart


With thanks to the lovely people at Penguin I have 5 copies of The Sacrifice Box to giveaway to 5 lucky winners!

You can enter this giveaway by my twitter here

UK Only

Ends 4th February 2018

Good Luck!

Previously On Tales…..

Click on the below links for previous post with Martin Stewart here on Tales Of Yesterday!

Tales Post – An Alternative “Easter Egg”

A huge thank you to Martin for a brilliant guest post that has made want to go and revisit everything 80’s and to Simon at Penguin for embracing the #BritishBooksChallenge18 author of the month and giving me some fab books to giveaway!

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

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – The Unpredictability Of Being Human Playlist by Linni Ingemundsen


I’ve heard so many great things about The Unpredictability Of Being Human that I am super happy to be featuring Linni Ingemundsen on Tales today with a brilliant guest post!

The Unpredictability Of Being Human was released on the 1st January 2018 published by the lovelies at Usborne and is a brilliant YA Contemporary.

Today Linni has stopped by to share The Unpredictability Of Being Human Playlist… turn the music upload and enjoy….

If 14-year-old Malin was God for a day, she wouldn’t change much. Dad would still yell; her brother Sigve would still get in trouble, and Mom would still think wine is good for the heart. She’d still be friends with Hanna, even if they met shoplifting. Because stuff’s okay, mostly. And if He could fix the world, wouldn’t God have done it already?

The Unpredictability Of Being Human Playlist

The Unpredictability of Being Human introduces its reader to a small town community in Norway filled with pain, humour and a whole lot of nothingness. Fourteen year old Malin describes the ups and downs of life and the struggles of being a teenager and fitting in. At the same time she watches family drama play out and buried secrets unfold.

I often listen to music when I write and below I’ve put together a playlist connected to the book. Side A are songs that I listened to when writing it while side B are songs that in one way or another remind me of the story.

Side A

Savoir Adore – Mountains

I came across this song while checking out the “Discover Weekly” feature on Spotify and it has been on my “writing” playlist ever since.

Jesse Ruben –  This Is Why I Need You

I sometimes find it hard to focus on writing if I know the lyrics of a song too well. This is one of the songs I have listened to on repeat so many times that I can no longer write to it.

Allman Brown Ft. Liz Lawrence– Sons and Daughters

The vocals comes together so beautifully and so effortless. The perfect writing song in many ways.

Snowmine –  Tidal Wave

This popped up randomly when listening to the radio on Spotify and I was so into the writing that I didn’t really catch the song properly. Later I found myself playing the chorus over and over in my head and it took me ages to find it again.

Needtobreathe –  Happiness

About homesick hearts and other things. No matter where I am, I’m always missing somewhere or someone. And I wouldn’t want to live any other way.

Side B

Walk Off the Earth –  Little Boxes

Haasund is a small town where you’ll do best if you blend in. This  song captures the feeling of living in a small town where individuality is not always welcomed.

Joshua Radin –  We Are Okay

At some point Malin realizes that sometimes feeling okay is enough. I mean it is better than bad after all. And sometimes that’s all we can ask for.

Firekid – Boomerang

In the book several friendships are gained and lost. This song is about losing someone and hoping they will come back like a boomerang. That doesn’t sound like life to me, but I guess one can always hope.

The Lumineers –  Ophelia

The love letter in this song pretty much sums up the letter Malin wrote but never sent which was “Dear Ruben, I like you.” I guess sometimes that is all you need to say.

Ane Brun Ft Madrugada –  Lift Me

Magnus thinks it is okay that he might not be able to find newest music for his record player. This is the song I imagine him  playing after coming across the vinyl Duets in a thrift store.

You can buy a copy of The Unpredictability Of Being Human here or from your local bookshop!

About Linni Ingemundsen

Linni Ingemundsen is from Norway and currently works in Malta. She does not know how to draw but is somehow also a freelance cartoonist. Linni has lived in three different countries and will never be done exploring the world. Still, what truly inspires her writing is her background growing up in a village on the southwestern coast of Norway. Linni began writing her debut novel while on the Oxford Brookes MA in Creative Writing.

You can follow Linni on twitter – @Llngemundsen

A huge thank you to Linni for such a fab guest post and to Nina Douglas and Usborne for organising and asking me to host!

Have you read The Unpredictability Of Being Human?  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!

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