Spotlight – Author Of The Month – Melinda Salisbury


I am so excited to have announced on the 1st of March that the awesome Queen Melinda Salisbury is our #BritishBooksChallenge17 Author Of The Month for March 17!

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

I am a huge HUGE fan of Melinda and her books are full of worlds that will leave you breathless by the end.  Melinda’s The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy is not to be missed!  Melinda Salisbury is a HUGE UKYA talent and I am so excited to shine the spotlight on her and her wonderful books as Author Of The Month!

And remember if you read, review and link up any of Melinda’s books for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  March link up here you will gain an extra entries into the March Prize Pack Draw!

Today I am honoured that this post is also featuring as part of the fab blog tour and I have a special signed giveaway which will be running through my twitter account.


About Melinda Salisbury

When not working on her next novel Melinda Salisbury is busy reading and travelling, both of which are now more addictions than hobbies.  She lives by the sea, somewhere in the south of England.

You can find out more about Melinda Salisbury on her website – www.melindasalisbury.com

Or why not follow Melinda on Twitter – @MESalisbury


The Books And Why We Love Melinda Salisbury

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favour of a doomed love?

You can find my review of The Sin Eater’s Daughter here

Return to the darkly beautiful world of The Sin Eater’s Daughter with a sequel that will leave you awed, terrified . . . and desperate for more. Ever since her brother Lief disappeared, Errin’s life has gone from bad to worse. Not only must she care for her sick mother, she has to scrape together rent money by selling illegal herbal cures. But none of that compares to the threat of the vengeful Sleeping Prince whom the Queen just awoke from his enchanted sleep. When her village is evacuated as part of the war against the Sleeping Prince, Errin is left desperate and homeless. The only person she can turn to is the mysterious Silas, a young man who buys deadly poisons from Errin, but won’t reveal why he needs them. Silas promises to help Errin, but when he vanishes, Errin must journey across a kingdom on the brink of war to seek another way to save her mother and herself. But what she finds splits the world as she knows it apart, and with the Sleeping Prince drawing nearer, Errin must make a heartbreaking choice that could affect the whole kingdom…

You can find my review of The Sleeping Prince here

The final battle is coming… As the Sleeping Prince tightens his hold on Lormere and Tregellan, the net closes in on the ragged band of rebels trying desperately to defeat him. Twylla and Errin are separated, isolated, and running out of time. The final battle is coming, and Aurek will stop at nothing to keep the throne forever… Explosive, rich and darkly addictive, this is the stunning conclusion to Mel Salisbury’s internationally best-selling trilogy that began with THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER

The Scarecrow Queen is the highly anticipated and captivating finale in the internationally bestselling trilogy that began with The Sin Eater’s Daughter. Published by Scholastic 2 March 2017.

You can buy any of Melinda Salisbury’s books here or from your local bookshop


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Scholastic I have one Signed copy of The Scarecrow Queen to giveaway via twitter here

Good Luck!


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 the wonderful Melinda Salisbury fan’s that provided me with quotes for this post.  I highly recommend this trilogy with all of my heart and soul from out March Author Of The Month!

Also a huge thank you to Lorraine at Scholastic for having me as part of the blog tour, for fully embracing all things British Books Challenge and for the giveaway prize!

And remember if you read, review and link up any of Mel’s books for our #BritishBooksChallenge17 March link up here you will gain an extra entries into the March Prize Pack Draw!

Are you a Melinda Salisbury Fan?  Do you have a favourite book out of the trilogy?  Are you new to Melinda Salisbury?   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 – 5 Reasons To Read Waking In Time by Angie Stanton


I’m super excited to be sharing a brilliant guest post today about a brand new YA Romance, Waking In Time by Angie Stanton pitched as a Time Travellers Wife for the YA market.

Waking In Time is due to be released on the 9th March 2017 published by Curious Fox and is set to be a page-turning story full of romance, twists and delightful details about uni life then and now and will stay with readers long after the book’s satisfying end.

#WakingInTime

Today I’m sharing the top 5 reasons to read Waking In Time….


Still mourning the loss of her beloved grandmother and shaken by her mysterious, dying request to “find the baby”, Abbi has arrived at uni to start her first year. But on her second day, she wakes up to a different world: 1983. That is just the first stop on Abbi’s journey backwards through time. Will is a charming student from 1927 who travels forwards through time. When Abbi and Will meet in the middle, love adds another complication to their lives. Communicating across time through a buried time capsule, they try to decode the mystery of their travel, find the lost baby and plead with their champion, a kindly physics tutor, to help them find each other again …even though the tutor gets younger each time Abbi meets him.


Top 5 Reasons To Read Waking In Time

  1. Time Travel – I mean, who doesn’t wonder what it’s like to live in another time. It’s a subject that’s long fascinated me. I’m quick to watch every movie on the topic, and I have a shelf full of time travel books. People are saying Waking in Time is a Time Traveler’s Wife for YA – which is so flattering as that’s my favourite book!
    1. Love Story – I wanted to create a love story that I would believe in, that readers would fall in love with, and, as a writer, you’re always looking for tension or obstacles which stop your couple getting together, so that, ultimately they can overcome those obstacles and it’s happy ever after.

     

    1. Secrets – There’s so many secrets! When you have one character from present day travelling back in time, and another from the past who only travels forward, there’s so much information they need to keep to themselves in order not to mess with time and put their own futures at risk.

     

    1. Buried treasure –Imagine discovering that a local legend of buried treasure turns out to be true! It was great fun deciding where to hide it and what items to include in the treasure box that would add more twists and turns to the story. Can you picture communicating over time via a buried time capsule!

     

    1. True story – the best stories for me, are always based in fact, and when I did research into my own family history I discovered a relative with gaps in her fascinating history, leaving me wondering what really happened to her. When I exhausted all my research without any answers, I realized the only way to find out the truth would be to travel back in time. And that’s how the idea of Waking in Time was born.

You can buy a copy of Waking In Time here or from your local bookshop!


About Angie Stanton

American author Angie Stanton is a life-long daydreamer who grew up with her hands on a book and her head in the clouds. As an adult she’s learned to put her talent to good use and writes contemporary fiction about life, love, and the adventures that follow. She is the best selling author of eight novels including Rock and a Hard Place, and Love ’em or Leave ’em. Angie has a Journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin. In her spare time, she sneaks off to New York City to enjoy the best entertainment experience on earth, Broadway. She is currently working on a series of Broadwaythemed books, and is also a contributing editor to BroadwayWorld.com. 

You can find out more about Angie on her website – www.angiestanton.com

Or why not follow Angie on twitter – @angie_stanton


Blog Tour

Catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops or by using the hashtag #WakingInTime


A huge thank you to Angie for a fab guest post and to Georgia at Curious Fox for organising and asking me to be part of the tour!

Have you read Waking In Time?  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 review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Tales Post – British Books Challenge 2017 – March


Welcome to the British Books Challenge 2017 – March!

#BritishBooksChallenge17

Did everyone survive Valentines and Pancake Day?

I mean how quick did February go?!

And yet again you all did SO amazing on the February British Books Challenge 2017 !  There was some fantastic reviews yet again this month and I’m so glad to see you are all enjoying the challenge so much!  You guys are all the awesomes!

112 reviews of books by British Authors were linked up in February!

That makes a grand total of 240 reviews of books by British Authors in total since we started in January!

*squeals in excitement*

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

Thank you all!

Let move onto March!


About The British Books Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right lets get the ball for March rolling starting with the winner of the February Prize Pack!


With thanks to the lovely people at Usborne February’s prize pack contained the following three books…..

All valid reviews and links by British Authors that were linked up on the February linky here were eligible to be entered to win the February prize pack. With people who read any books by our Author Of The Month, Abi Elphinstone and/or our Debut’s of the month, Who Let The Gods Out by Maz Evans, earning extra entries.

But there can only be one winner!

And the winner is…….

Mel – The Book Moo

With her review of …And A Happy New Year ? by Holly Bourne

Congratulations!

**EXCITING NEWS ALERT**

The lovely winner Mel has kindly said I can pick a runner up for this prize as she already has two of these books already!

Mel will be receiving a copy of Unconventional from the Prize Pack.

Therefore the winner of What I Couldn’t Tell You and Broken Sky is……

Andrea B

With her review of The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Congratulations!

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

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


March’s prize pack has been kindly donated by the lovely people at HQ Stories and contains the following three books (we snuck two non British authors into this prize pack this month – they were that could how could we possibly say no)…..

Beneath the surface lies a terrible secret….

Hollywood, 1975: Tragedy sends troubled film star Vivien Lockhart into the arms of Giovanni Moretti, and it seems her fortunes have finally changed. Until she meets his sister, and learns that dark shadows haunt her new husband’s past…

Tuscany, Present day: Everyone in London is searching for Lucy Whittaker – so Lucy needs to disappear. But her new home, the crumbling Castillo Barbarossa, is far from the secluded paradise it seemed.

Across the decades, Vivien and Lucy find themselves trapped in the idyllic Italian villa.

And if they are ever to truly escape its walls, they must first unearth its secrets…

Rebecca meets Sante Montefiore in this atmospheric tale of lies, obsession, and betrayal…

How far would you go to protect your daughter?

Since the night she was attacked, Jenny Kramer hasn’t been able to recall what happened. Her parents and the doctors saw to that. Her mother couldn’t prevent the terror in the woods, but she’s done all she can to stop it ruining Jenny’s life. The only thing that now bothers Jenny is the scar carved into her lower back. Which she can’t stop touching.

But if Jenny can’t remember her attacker, he can’t be caught. He could be the man next to her right now, the one who caught just her eye.

And he hasn’t forgotten anything…

Fifteen year old Aki Simon has a theory.

And it’s mostly about sex.

No, it isn’t that kind of theory. Aki already knows she’s bisexual–-even if, until now, it’s mostly been in the hypothetical sense.

Aki’s theory is that she’s only got one shot at living an interesting life–-and that means she’s got to stop sitting around and thinking so much. It’s time for her to actually do something. Or at least try.

So when Aki and her friend Lori set off on a trip to a small Mexican town for the summer, and Aki meets Christa–-slightly-older, far-more-experienced–-it seems her theory is prime for the testing.

But something tells her its not going to be that easy…

A huge thank you to HQ Stories for donating this brilliant Prize Pack for March!

I also have a couple of special post from these authors going up throughout March too!

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

Please Remember…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 click here

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


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

Melinda Salisbury!

With the final book in the Sin Eaters Daughter Trilogy, The Scarecrow Queen released this month is seems only fitting the Queen Mel is our March author of the month!

Not heard of Mel and her books?  I have you covered!

Check out a this Spotlight post about Melinda, her books and why we love her – here

Don’t Forget…..

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

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

I also have a special treat lined up too!

Look out for a guest post with the lady herself going live at some point in March with a special signed giveaway of The Scarecrow Queen!

You can find my review of The Sin Eaters Daughter here and The Sleeping Prince here

You can also find out about a previous Evening with Melinda Salisbury here

#BritishBooksChallenge17

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


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

So the #BritishBooksChallenge17 Debut Of The Month for March is…….

Open: A Toolkit for How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be by Gemma Cairney

I am super excited to read this book!  I have a feeling it’s going to be amazing!

Not heard of Open: A Toolkit for How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be or Gemma Cairney? I have you covered!

Check out a Spotlight post going live on Tales on the 5th March!

Don’t Forget…..

If you read, review and link up a review of Open: A Toolkit for How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be by Gemma Cairney (in the same month that they are author of the month only) then that one review will get you an extra entry into the monthly prize pack draw.  So a double entry for one review!

I also have some special treats lined up too!

Look out for a Q&A with the lady herself, Gemma Cairney at some point in March!

#BritishBooksChallenge17

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


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

#BritishBooksChallenge17

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

Here’s to a wonderful March!

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

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

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




Guest Post – Writing A Sequel by Sarah Mussi


Today I am so so happy  to be part of the blog tour for Here Be Witches by the lovely Sarah Mussi!

Here Be Witches was released on the 1st March 2017 published by Shrine Bell and is book two in Sarah’s Snowdonia Chronicles series!  I cannot wait to delve into this adventure as soon as possible!

Find out more about the first in the series, Here Be Dragons in this previous guest post here

Today Sarah interviews herself in the form of a brilliant guest post and discusses exactly how to write a sequel…….

*Drum roll*


Here Be Witches is the second book in the Snowdonia Chronicles trilogy by Sarah Mussi. A perilous adventure into the magical and murderous realm of mythical Snowdonia.

All Ellie Morgan wants is to be with her one true love, Henry. But she’s caught in the middle of a BATTLE as old as SNOWDON itself. A battle between GOOD and EVIL.

A WITCHES’ SPELL, cast high on the mountain, has sped up time and made matters MUCH WORSE. The dragons are awake; mythical creatures and evil ghosts have risen. And nearly all of them want Ellie DEAD.

Thank heavens for loyal friend George, (disloyal) bestie Rhi, and mysterious stranger, Davey. Armed with Granny Jones’s potions, Ellie and her companions must set out on a journey to REVERSE THE SPELL, stop the EVIL White Dragon and find Henry.

As an eternal winter tightens its grip on Snowdon, Ellie and her friends have just THREE DAYS to SURVIVE and complete their quest.


Writing A Sequel

I’m totally thrilled to be with Tales of Yesterday on day two of my blog tour for book two in The Snowdonia Chronicles: Here be Witches

THANK YOU SO MUCH Tales of Yesterday!

During my blog tour I will be interviewing myself on HOW TO WRITE A SEQUEL!

So here goes…

Sarah interviews Sarah on how to write a sequel in a thrilling and compelling romantic fantasy!

Sarah

Welcome to the world of WRITING A SEQUEL.

I am using Here be Witches to explain my thinking on how I did it.

Q.

OK.  Great. I shall be asking you lots of questions … now where did we get to?

 Sarah

A.

We got to the narrative equation and writing a synopsis.

 Q.

Ah! I remember you were going to share the synopsis of Here be Witches, can you do that now?

A.

Well, a synopsis can go on for a bit longer than you might want to post here, and a synopsis for a sequel might have to contain vital exposition from book one … so I’ll just put the beginning of the synopsis for Here be Witches in this blog. The beginning is always the most important bit anyway, as it sets the scene, identifies the genre and whets the appetite (hopefully) for more. So here goes …

Here be Witches

Ellie’s heart is broken and there is only one person who can mend it: Henry Pendragon, royal heir and Y Ddraig Goch, Red Dragon of Wales. But Henry can’t help Ellie, for he is badly wounded and entombed under Mount Snowdon, held there by ancient magic along with Sir Oswald, his fiendish uncle, and White Dragon of Wessex.

 Determined to free Henry, Ellie dedicates herself to the task. On the 29th February, an auspicious day in the calendar of dragons, she receives a distressed message from her bestie, Rhiannon, something terrible has happened at Henry’s cavern. Her heart misses a beat. As soon as possible, Ellie sets out for Dinas Emrys where Henry lies imprisoned. 

 On her arrival at the lair, Ellie discovers that her friend, and other members of a witches’ coven have performed a sinister ritual on the cliffs above the subterranean cavern, a ceremony designed to break the magic laid upon the dragons and awake them. 

 In horror Ellie hears how the ceremony went terribly wrong. The earth cracked wide, one of the girls slipped into the chasm and was impaled upon two shimmering crystals. With a sound like thunder, the mountain split open and from inside it arose a terrifying white dragon, alive, awake and very angry …

Q.

Yes, I see how each paragraph is a scene with some paragraphs acting as exposition too, but I can also see that because you have chosen to have Ellie as the narrator again, you have been unable or chosen not to have her see the witches’ ceremony first hand. Why was that?

A.

OK, those are very perceptive questions, and I can’t answer them fully until we have established a few basics. Can I just go back to basics for a minute?

Q.

Sure. Go ahead.

A.

Right before we dive into the content and the problems of point of view and the delivery of ‘off stage’ scenes, I’d like to show you how I answered some fundamental narrative questions when planning Here be Witches. They involve looking at:

What exactly is a narrative?

What exactly is a plot?

What exactly is structure?

 Q.

Why do you need to ask that?

 A.

It really helps with the planning. Here’s why…

In a narrative you need at least three things:

A character, a setting, some events (so in Here be Witches that breakdown runs like this: Ellie lives in Snowdonia and must overcome problems to achieve her goal).

In a plot we need at least three things

A character, a goal, a problem (so Ellie’s goal is to be with her true love Henry, but the magic, which has gone wrong, has banished Henry forever from the world).

For a structure we at least need three things

A beginning, middle, and an end (therefore Ellie must discover why Henry has been banished and then set out to find a way to reverse the magic and restore Henry to her and finally overcome those who wish to stop her).

Once you’ve got that in place then you can then decide about narration and point of view and ask yourself, if your lead character/protagonist is really the best person to tell this story and the one most affected by the action in general. If the answer is yes – you can then use additional devices to ‘show’ key ‘off stage’ scenes that are not within the remit of the protagonist’s point of view.

Only then can you really start to climb the narrative mountain and plan out a totally thrilling story:

Q.

OK, but how did you decide Ellie WAS the best character to narrate this story?

 A.

Well despite the fact that she was the narrator in book one Here be Dragons and there might be readers who are already invested in her story, I had to establish that she was still the best character to continue to tell the story and to do this I had to revisit an important  principle – that it’s not what happens in a story, so much as who it happens to that is the most important aspect.  Readers live the story through the characters, so they need a really nice/reliable (usually)/interesting and convincing companion to see/live the events through.

Q.

But what makes an interesting, convincing character?

 A.

Good question! Here’s the way I decide:

Firstly a character needs characteristics

A main character should be heroic, and strong (perhaps)? Good-looking (controversial?) Independent? Kind?  I try to think of characters I admire in fiction I’ve read and ask myself why do I like them? Then add my answers into the mix when creating my characters.

I also like to choose a flaw that my protagonist will need to overcome. Flaws make us human and help readers to identify with the character and understand the decisions they make. (My flaw for Ellie is that she is loving out of her element, and it is bringing harm down on those others who love her and on her home.)

Secondly, a character drives the plot forward

So a goal is important, as this is the engine of the story. I always choose the person who has the strongest/most interesting/most identifiable with goal to narrate my stories (forbidden love is a V strong goal and has driven many a better narrative than mine!). The character’s desire to achieve their goal drives the action forward, and when the character meets conflict they struggle to overcome it.

Note to self pinned on my wall: PROTAGONISTS MUST CONFRONT OVERWHELMING CONFLICT IN THEIR PURSUIT OF SOME VISIBLE GOAL.

This is so key because then the plot structure simply follows the sequence of events that lead the hero toward their goal, which mean all the hard work of plotting is done for me!

Thirdly, a character with a goal has motivation

Motivations make the character keep going when things get tough. Though sometimes it is the fear of what will happen if they fail and the stakes that drive them forward.

Finally, a character needs a background

Name/age and looks/ family/a place to live – all these things can help to make the story just right for the reader – as I choose a protagonist that might be very like the reader in some of these aspects to create reader identification.

After thinking about all of these points I decided that Ellie was still the main character and I was going to tell the story from her point of view.

Q.

So will you tell us then how you dealt with ‘off stage’ scenes and what devices you used to help the reader feel present at the action?

 A.

Yes!

I’ll do that in my next post!

So stand by for tomorrow’s blog with tips and tricks for drip-feeding or even elbowing-in all the dreaded EXPOSITION and POV conundrums with Queen of Teen Fiction! http://www.queenofteenfiction.co.uk/

SEE YOU THERE!

You can buy a copy of Here Be Witches here or from your local bookshop

 


About Sarah Mussi

Sarah Mussi is an award-winning author of children’s and young adults’ fiction. Her first novel, The Door of No Return, won the Glen Dimplex Children’s Book Award and was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award. Her second novel, The Last of the Warrior Kings, was shortlisted for the Lewisham Book Award, inspired a London Walk, and is used as a textbook in Lewisham schools. Her thriller, Siege, was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal (2014) and won the BBUKYA award for contemporary YA fiction. Her thriller, Riot, was longlisted for The Amazing Book Award and shortlisted for The Lancashire Schools Award. Her most recent novel, Bomb, was published in 2015 by Hodder Children’s Books. Sarah was born and raised in the Cotswolds, attended Pate’s Grammar School for Girls, and graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Winchester School of Art and an MA from the Royal College of Art. She spent over fifteen years in West Africa as a teacher and now teaches English in Lewisham, where she is also the current Chair of CWISL (Children’s Writers and Illustrators in South London).

Find out more about Sarah on her website – www.sarahmussi.com

Or why not follow Sarah on twitter using – @sarahmussi

You can buy Sarah’s books here


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 Sarah for a fab guest post and to Lorna at VP for organising and asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Here Be Witches?  What did you think?  Will you be picking up a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

Tales Q&A with Isaac Marion


I am SO excited to have had the chance to put some questions to the wonderful Isaac Marion author of the Warm Bodies Series which started with the first book, Warm Bodies, it’s prequel, The New Hunger and the exciting new sequel The Burning World!

The Burning World was released on the 9th February published by Vintage and Isaac Marion expands the scope of a powerfully simple story: a dead man’s search for life in all its bloody rawness.  If you like Zombie books with a twist this series is for you!

The Guardian called Warm Bodies ‘the zombie novel with a heart’; Audrey Niffenegger said ‘Warm Bodies is an unexpected treat’, and Stephenie Meyer eagerly looked forward to the next book.

Following the books release in 2010, Warm Bodies was made into a movie in 2013 starring Nicholas Hoult as it’s main character R.  A funny twist on a classic love story, Warm Bodies is a  tale about the power of human connection.  The sequel has been high up on my anticipated list ever since!

So join us to find out more and what’s next…..


‘R’ is a zombie. He has no name, no memories, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows – warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can’t understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.

This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won’t be changed without a fight…

Here it is: the prequel to Warm Bodies, released to coincide with the major film adaptation from the producers of Twilight, starring Teresa Palmer and Nicholas Hoult.

Julie Grigio drives with her parents through the crumbling wastelands of America – a nightmarish family road trip in search of a new home.

A few hundred miles away, Nora Greene finds herself the reluctant, terrified guardian of her younger brother when her parents abandon them in the not-quite-empty ruins of Seattle.

In the darkness of a forest, a dead man in a red tie opens his eyes. With no memory of who or what he is, he must unravel the grim mystery of his existence – right after he learns how to think, how to walk, and how to satisfy the monster howling in his belly…

Two warped families and a lonely monster. Unknown to any of them, their paths are set to cross in a startling encounter that will change the course of their lives – or deaths – forever.

R is recovering from death. He’s learning how to read, how to speak, maybe even how to love. He can almost imagine a future with Julie, this girl who restarted his heart – building a new world from the ashes of the old one.

And then helicopters appear on the horizon. A mysterious army is coming to restore order, to bring back the good old days of stability and control and the strong eating the weak. These grinning strangers are more than they seem. The plague has many hosts, and some are far more terrifying than the Dead.

With their home in the grip of madmen, R and Julie plunge into the wastelands of America in search of answers. But there are some answers R doesn’t want to find. A past life, an old shadow, crawling up from the basement.

In this long-anticipated new chapter of the Warm Bodies series, Isaac Marion expands the scope of a powerfully simple story: a dead man’s search for life in all its bloody rawness.


Hi Isaac!

 Welcome to Tales Of Yesterday.  I’m so so happy to have you here!  Let’s kick off with the first question shall we?

Can you tell us a little about The Burning World?

 Warm Bodies ends at the beginning of R’s new life. He’s taken the first step toward humanity, but he still has a long way to go. It’s one thing to be alive, but how do you navigate human relationships? How do you find your place in a society that doesn’t have a place for you? And can you really be a person without a past, or do you have to find some way to reconcile the person you were with the person you want to become? So R is dealing with all those problems, but there’s an even bigger question on the horizon which is how does the rest of the world react to a sudden shift in the status quo? What forces will try to fill the power vacuum? R’s personal problems quickly get sucked into a much bigger conflict.

 It’s been 7 years since Warm Bodies was first released – What made you go back to the character of R and The Warm Bodies Series?

 Well, at the time I that actually made that decision, it had only been about TWO years, so it was still pretty fresh. I’ve been working on The Burning World and the final book The Living, for nearly five years! I was always interested in where R’s story would go from the point where I ended Warm Bodies; I had a broad outline in my head, but it took some time for the vision to really take shape. There were a few epiphany moments when I realized where the story would go and what it would ultimately be about and once that spark was ignited, I couldn’t get it out of my head. From a career perspective, the timing and strategy of it all was terrible, but I had to do what I had to do and give it as much time as it needed.

 Did you find it easy to jump back into the world you created in Warm Bodies?

 I never really left it. The two years between were mostly filled with movie buzz and writing the prequel novella, The New Hunger. I dabbled in a few minor side projects, short stories and movie scripts, but Warm Bodies continued to be my central focus even during that lull.

 For those who don’t know who R is – can you tell us a little bit more about him?

 “R” is the first letter of his name; that’s all he remembers. He’s a former zombie who managed to will himself out of that dark state of being and bring himself “back to life,” which became a catalyst for the rest of the undead population. He’s an awkward guy in life or death. He thinks too much and has trouble expressing himself. He’s pretty relatable.

 Can you tell us a little about some of the other characters in The Burning World?

 Well, there’s Julie of course, the girl who helped pull R out of his fog. She’s kind of his opposite in many ways: enthusiastic, outspoken, quick-tempered, and passionate about everything. But she’s not all quirky fun. She has a very traumatic past—as do most people growing up in the apocalypse—and it brings out a dark side in her sometimes. She holds herself together with hope optimism and when anyone threatens that, she can become very dangerous.

 Julie’s friend Nora also plays a big role in The Burning World and the final book, The Living, as her history with M and lost family members—as described in The New Hunger—comes back to haunt her. Her little brother Addis becomes a unique figure in the story, a kind of ambassador between humanity and a mysterious intelligence that is observing the events of the story and pushing humanity forward…um…yeah, it’s complicated.

What was your favourite scene to write in The Burning Word?

 I would have to say the final sequence of scenes summing up the end of R’s first life was the most affecting for me. I’m always very moved by depictions of death in fiction—not violent, sudden deaths but deaths where the character has time to understand that his life is ending, all the feelings that go with that, the regret and acceptance, or in R’s case, a refusal…that’s intense stuff. And especially in this case, where R is realizing that he owes a debt to the world for the terrible things he’s done, that little glimmer of hope, the will to keep fighting against overwhelming circumstances…that really hit me hard. I think I actually cried a little while writing that scene.

 What was the hardest scene to write?

 I’d like to say it was one of the big emotional scenes, but those are actually a joy for me to write, even when they’re sad. It’s the more complex, narratively technical scenes that I struggle with, so one of the hardest was probably the ending. Setting the stage for the next leg of their journey, getting all the pieces to line up so that we understand what’s been resolved and what still remains to be done…scenes like that are always hard, just the pacing and mental logistics of it all. There’s a lot going on in this story and keeping all the threads bundled tight was challenging.

 If you could sum up The Burning World in 5 words what would you choose?

 Epic journey outward and inward.

 Can you give us 5 random facts about yourself that we should know about Isaac Marion?

 

I also make music and have recorded a couple albums but it’s been a long time and I don’t know how well they’ve aged. You can download them both for free on my Bandcamp.

I am sinister (left-handed) do not trust me.

The house my family lived in when I was 14 (a modified motorcycle garage) was condemned and burned down by the city. That was the year I started writing.

I have enjoyed the company of all the following animal friends: dog, cat, rat, mouse, gerbil, guinea pig, grasshopper, rabbit, turtle, frog, snake, iguana, horse, goat, fish, snail, slug, salamander, and unknown lamprey-like creature discovered in the mud of the Skagit River.

I have lived in RVs for a surprisingly large portion of my life.

 Do you have a favourite ever Zombie?  The zombie to beat all zombies?

 I’m not sure I know what that means—like a zombie champion to beat other zombies in a fight? Hard to picture that, so I’ll assume you mean a personal favourite from fiction. It’s still a hard question because there aren’t many zombie individuals to choose from, but I might have to say Bub from Day of the Dead, because he was the first zombie in fiction to show a personality and emotions. He even likes music! Very much an ancestor of R.

 Ultimate zombie movie?

 I’m no good at picking favourites, so I may just have to default to the original classic, Night of the Living Dead. I appreciate the stark simplicity of it, the purity of its ideas. And the performances hold up surprisingly well.

I actually just finished writing a short story from the perspective of the dying daughter that will appear in an upcoming anthology edited by George Romero, called Nights of the Living Dead. Plug plug plug.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

 One unusual tactic I’ve been testing out lately is taking my characters to a real life therapist in order to understand them more deeply. I basically do a therapy session in-character. It helps make them more real to me and sometimes produces unexpected insights into their behaviour. Even though I write fantastical stories, I want the people and emotions to be grounded in psychological realism. Sometimes I have to seek professional help!

 Growing up who inspired you into writing?  Are there any Authors or books that inspired you?

 Honestly I don’t really remember what inspired me. I first started writing seriously at age 14 and at that time a lot of my narrative influence came from fantasy novels like Tolkien and Robert Jordan but also unexpected sources like story-driven Japanese role playing games—Final Fantasy, etc. As I grew up this shifted toward more grounded fantasy in the vein of Stephen King and Kurt Vonnegut, then later the more literary stuff like Dave Eggers, Cormac McCarthy, Douglas Coupland, Audrey Niffenegger, etc. Charlie Kauffman writes movies, not books, but he’s a huge influence. If I had to pick specific inspirations for Warm Bodies itself, I might say it’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets The Road.”

 Could you tell us a little bit about what you’re writing next?

 Well first, I’m finishing the Warm Bodies Series. The final book, The Living, is written and just needs to be edited, so that’s my current project. I’m hoping to finish it in the next few months and possibly release it later this year, so you won’t have a terribly long wait to find out how it all ends. After that? I’m still trying to figure out what my post-Warm Bodies life is going to be. I have four big novel ideas floating around in my head and I just need to decide which one is calling to me the loudest. I can tell you none of them involve zombies or any other established genre staple. Very eager to write something that doesn’t come with all that cultural baggage. Fresh start, open range, freedom.

Thanks so much for answering all my questions Isaac!

You can buy a copy of The Burning World or any of the Warm Bodies Series here or from your local bookshop!


About Isaac Marion

Isaac Marion grew up in the mossy depths of the Pacific Northwest, where he worked as a heating installer, a security guard, and a visitation supervisor for foster children before publishing his debut novel in 2010. Warm Bodies became a New York Times bestseller and inspired a major film adaptation. It has been translated into twenty-five languages. Isaac lives in Seattle with his cat, Watson, writing fiction and music and taking pictures of everything.

You can find out more about Isaac on his website – isaacmarion.com

Or why not follow Isaac on twitter – @isaacinspace


A huge thank you to Isaac for answering so many of my questions and to Helen at Penguin Random House for organising.

Have you read any of the Warm Bodies Series?  What did you think?  Are you excited for this sequel The Burning World??  What do you like about it? 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 – Fave Five Bookish Inspirations by Richard Davis


I’m super excited to have a brilliant adult crime writer, Richard Davis on Tales today with a fab guest post!

The second in the Saul Marshall series, Never Again was released on the 20th February 2017 published in ebook by Canelo.  This is the follow up to False Prophet that was released in 2016.

Today Richard shares some of his bookish inspirations…


When a rogue cult turns deadly, the FBI call on former conman Agent Saul Marshall. FALSE PROPHET introduces a gripping new series from thriller writer Richard Davis

Marshall is soon drawn into a cat and mouse chase with the leader of the cult, Ivan Drexler. As the scale of Drexler’s terrorist ambition becomes ever clearer, news arrives that he has taken Marshall’s son hostage. Removed from the line of duty, he must work alone, off-grid.

As the attacks intensify, Saul will stop at nothing to defeat Drexler.

But the FBI are questioning Saul’s own part in the carnage. He must work fast to save both his country and his life. Can Saul stop the carnage before it’s too late? And can he save his son?

As wave after wave of attacks break, the clock is ticking for Saul.

As a wave of seemingly random assassinations engulfs California, Marshall finds himself drawn into a situation spiralling out of control.

He soon discovers some of the webs’ most secure protocols have been compromised by a rogue team of former Chinese agents. When Marshall realises what they plan, the stakes are raised…

And that’s before the Secretary of State gets involved. Can Marshall unravel the deceit and tricks before it’s too late? Can he stop the carnage, or will he become part of it? One thing is for certain: either way his enemies will never forget.


Five Fave Bookish Inspirations

Gordon Corera’s Intercept (non-fiction)

The full title of Corera’s recent book is Intercept: The Secret History of Computer and Spies, and that’s exactly what it is. Corera opened my eyes to a whole range of fascinating subjects – the functions of the NSA, the industrial-scale Chinese hacking of the West, the history of cypherpunks – and these are all topics that feature prominently in Never Forget. And if you’re asking yourself, what the hell’s a cypherpunk? Well, don’t worry: we’ve all been there.

Jamie Bartlett’s Dark Net (non-fiction)

Bartlett’s book – which I read after Corera’s – starts with a look at a deeply disturbing website, the Assassination Marketplace, in which anonymous individuals donate money to incentivise the assassination of high-profile individuals. This is how he introduces the reader to the Dark Net, a colloquial term for an area of the internet in which everyone’s anonymous, and there are no rules. And when I say no rules, I mean no rules. Again, this book opened my eyes, and the Dark Net is at the front and centre of Never Forget.

Patricia Highsmith’s Ripliad

Highsmith – perhaps the greatest crime writer of all time – gave the world Tom Ripley, the  archetypal con-artist serial-killer. And though, unlike Ripley, Saul’s one of the good guys, Saul’s back-story as an ex con-artist was definitely inspired by Ripley’s machinations. The utterly uninhibited Ripley appears across five novels, and they’re worth checking out. Also, Anthony Minghella adapted the first in the series, The Talented Mr. Ripley, into one of my favourite films of all time. Again, worth checking out.

Robert Harris’s The Fear Index

The Fear Index is set in a high-tech world of hedge-fund billionaires in which (spoiler alert) artificial intelligence gets wildly out of hand. And it was after reading The Fear Index that I realised that putting technology at the heart of things can makes things really interesting. Never Forget doesn’t involve AI, but it’s definitely far more technologically involved than False Prophet, the first in the Saul Marshall series.

G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday

This incredibly weird novel – a novel Kinglsey Amis once described as “the most thrilling book I’ve ever read” – was the thing that got me interested in spy fiction in the first place. A policeman attempts to infiltrate a group of anarchists and – well, things get very surreal. Although Chesterton has been very much overshadowed by his contemporary, Arthur Conan Doyle, he is in my opinion the more interesting writer of the two. His bizarre plots – both in this novel, and his other works – have been a huge inspiration to me.

You can buy this book here

Or why not add it to your Goodreads here


About Richard Davis

Richard Davis graduated from University College London in 2011 and Cambridge University in 2012. The Saul Marshall series was born from Davis’s extensive travels around the United States and his long-standing obsession with thriller fiction. He lives in North London, UK, with his girlfriend.

Why not follow Richard on Facebook here or on twitter – @DickDavisDavis


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Richard for a fab guest post and to Faye Rogers for organising and asking me to be part of the tour!

Have you read any of the Saul Marshall series?  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 review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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


In celebration of The Night Spinner, the last in the brilliant The Dreamsnatcher series, being release on the 23rd February 2017 I am so over the moon to be hosting another brilliant post from one of my favourite authors, Abi Elphinstone.

This trilogy has been phenomenal and has captured my heart and although I am sad to see it end I am also excited to see what Abi has in store for us next!

As well as all of this Abi Elphinstone is also #BritishBooksChallenge17 author of the month for February 2017!

Check out the #BritishBooksChallenge17 Spotlight on Abi and her books and find out why people are loving them – here

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

And that’s not all!

With thanks to the lovely people at Simon & Schuster I am also hosting a special giveaway on twitter to win a signed set of the trilogy in all it’s glory!

Abi is known for her many adventures, so what adventures are behind The Night Spinner?  Find out in today’s fab guest post!


About The Night Spinner

Moll Pecksniff and her friends are back for a new adventure as the thrilling trilogy that began with The Dreamsnatcher concludes.

In a ruined monastery in the northern wilderness, a Shadowmask called Wormhook sits in front of a spinning wheel. He is spinning a quilt of darkness known as the Veil. A masked figure then carries the Veil across the lands, slipping it through the windows of children’s bedrooms to poison their minds…

Meanwhile deep within Tanglefern Forest, Moll and her wildcat, Gryff, are waiting for a sign from the Old Magic before they continue their quest to find the last Amulet of Truth and free their world from the Shadowmasks’ terrible magic.
 
Still missing fellow Tribe member, Alfie, and armed only with a mysterious set of clues, Moll sets out on an adventure across the northern wilderness with Gryff and her friend Siddy at her side. They must brave the Lost Isles, scale the Barbed Peaks and face witches, goblins and giants who lurk at every turn . . . while the Shadowmasks draw ever closer.

Can Moll, Siddy and Gryff find the friend they think they have lost? And do the Tribe have what it takes to defeat the Dark magic once and for all?

Perfect for fans of J.K Rowling, Piers Torday and Eva Ibbotson.


The Adventures Behind The Night Spinner

I was lucky enough to grow up in the wilds of Scotland – a country of icy lochs, snow-capped mountains, rugged islands and sprawling moors – and when I sat down to write my third book, The Night Spinner, I thought back to the adventures I’d had as a twelve-year-old girl there: building dens in the woods; listening to stags roaring in the glens; watching golden eagles soar. And I knew that I wanted to take my characters to a land like this. The world in The Night Spinner is called the northern wilderness and adventures enjoyed up in Scotland, both as a child and more recently, coupled with a few other explorations slightly further afield, built the plot.

Re-discovering the world beyond The Blue Door

Out of all the wild places I explored as a child in Scotland, there is one that sticks out: a walk just north of a village called Edzell, a few miles from our house. After you leave the village, you cross an old stone bridge and then, on your left, there is a little blue door. You could miss it if you didn’t know it was there but my parents knew about it and they pushed it open. And what lay beyond could well have been Narnia. On the left, thundering through a steep gorge, the North Esk River browned by peat from the moors and on the right, above the gorge, a little path that wove alongside rhododendron bushes, silver birches, beech trees and a long-forgotten folly. The gorge opens up eventually, then the lochs, moors and mountains take over. When writing The Night Spinner, I walked through the Blue Door many times – to watch salmon leap from the river and to take notes inside the folly – and before long the North Esk river became The Clattering Gorge and my characters had found something extraordinary inside the folly there…

Quad-biking across the moors

To build The Rambling Moors in my book, I spent weeks walking through the Scottish glens. I heard stags bellowing, I watched coveys of grouse pour over the hills and I saw golden eagles circling the crags. I rented a quad bike one day so that I could cover more ground and as I tore across the heather, I imagined my characters fleeing the Shadowmasks across this same landscape and before long, my moors were teeming with mystical creatures: peatboggers, skeleton-stags and a goblin called Kittlerumpit (whose name I pinched from a Scottish retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairytale called Whuppity Stoorie).

Climbing Lochnagar in the Cairngorms

On Easter morning last year, I set out to climb Lochnagar with my husband – partly because I thought the name was fabulous and partly because I’d heard the view from Perseverance Wall up at the top was spectacular. During the first half of the climb the landscape was purpled by heather and green with juniper bushes. Further up though, the mountain was still locked in the icy grip of winter and it reminded me of how wild and inhospitable the Scottish mountains can be. I wanted a range of almost inaccessible mountains in The Night Spinner and so, after that climb I invented The Barbed Peaks and as I sketched them onto a fictional map for my book I drew a circle of deadly summits in their midst and called that The Stone Necklace.

Exploring Eilean Donan Castle

I’ve always loved the idea of writing about an enchanted castle. Perhaps that stemmed from living near Dunnottar Castle, a dramatic ruined fortress on the cliff top near Stonehaven, and my always believing that such a place was magical. Or maybe it was reading fairytales about maidens locked in towers and dragons lurking around castle walls. Whatever the reason, I booked a tour of the magnificently situated Eilean Donan Castle to spark ideas for my fictional castle. I pinched the location of this castle, perched on an outcrop of land in Loch Duich on the west coast of Scotland, for my book, and the items inside it – spinning wheels, cannon balls and beakers carved from the ivy that once clung to the castle ruins – set my mind reeling for magical motifs withing my story.

Swimming across Loch Duich

When I donned my wetsuit for this swim the sun was shining and I was anticipating a refreshing dip. But the clouds rolled over as soon as I reached for my first stroke and, despite it being July, it felt like I was swimming through a block of melted ice. Someone once told me that lochs are as deep as the mountains are high and as I saw across Loch Duich I remembered that – and gulped. I had no idea how deep Loch Duich was but I’d heard talk that Loch Morar, in Lochaber, was 310 metres deep. And glancing down, it felt easy to imagine monsters like Loch Ness lurking in the depths… Shortly after this swim, I wrote about a very, very deep loch at the foot of the Barbed Peaks, and I made it home to a mysterious monster.

Hiking through the Dolomites in Italy

I went to the Dolomites last Autumn because of tales from friends of staggering waterfalls, jagged peaks and World War One tunnels stretching the length of giant mountains. But once out there, I realised that I could borrow aspects of this incredible – and haunting – place for The Night Spinner. I saw mountain peaks bursting through the clouds and look-out posts on the precipices of cliffs, where Italian soldiers had watched Austrian troops advancing. And so, when writing about The Rookery, a forgotten monastery carved into the cliffs with turrets masked by the clouds, I drew on my hikes through the Dolomites.

Escaping The Labyrinth in Berlin

A few years ago, I went to Berlin to visit a friend for the weekend. She asked what I wanted to do and I said: ‘Something off the beaten track. Something weird that I can write about one day.’ And so she took me to The Labyrinth, an old warehouse in Friedrichshain converted into a maze of passageways made entirely of recycled materials. Outside the warehouse, I was given a coin by an organizer then I was blind-folded and led away from my friend. A few seconds later, I heard a door click shut and I realised I was alone, with no instructions as to what to do next. I took off my blindfold to find I was in phone box but everything was dark outside it. There was a small TV screen in front of me depicting a man placing a coin into a slot. I stared at him, bemused, then remembered the coin in my own palm and noticed there was a slot in front of me. I pressed it in. A moment later, the front of the phone box fell down and I was inside the labyrinth – a dark maze with stairs leading up to giant mirrors and passageways lined with skulls and sculptures of crooked hands. I ran through the corridors, trying to find a way out, but ended up stumbling through a trap door and landing on a mattress inside what appeared to be a giant egg with seven passageways leading off from it. I choose one and realised, half way down it, that it was shrinking in size and before long I wouldn’t be able to keep going. I backed away and tried another passageway then another, occasionally stumbling across other people desperately trying to find their way out (to this day, I have no idea whether those people were actors or punters in a similar position to me…). I blundered on until eventually I burst out of a door into the sunlight. My friend followed an hour later. ‘Did you see the white room with bizarre instruments?’ she said. ‘And the pitch-black tower ringing with echoes? I spent ages sitting in there; it was amazing.’ ‘No,’ I replied. ‘I didn’t see any of that. I was trying my best to escape.’ And as we chatted to the organisers we realised that the labrynith was, in fact, a psychological experiment – it tested whether, in the face of strange and unsettling experiences, you fled or slowed down to enjoy them. I fled, as if the Shadowmasks themselves were on my heels… But I’ve always remembered that labyrinth and in The Night Spinner, I created my own one beneath Whuppity Cairns, a collection of stones on top of Rambling Moors.

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


About Abi Elphinstone

Abi Elphinstone grew up in Scotland where she spent most of her childhood building dens, hiding in tree houses and running wild across highland glens. After being coaxed out of her tree house, she studied English at Bristol University and then worked as a teacher. THE DREAMSNATCHER was her debut novel for 8-12 years and is followed by THE SHADOW KEEPER.  This year marks the release of the final book in the trilogy THE NIGHT SPINNER!

When she’s not writing, Abi volunteers for Beanstalk, teaches creative writing workshops in schools and travels the world looking for her next story. Her latest adventure involved living with the Kazakh Eagle Hunters in Mongolia…

Twitter: @moontrug

Instagram: @moontrugger

www.abielphinstone.com


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Simon & Schuster I am also hosting a special giveaway on twitter to win a signed set of the trilogy in all it’s glory!


A huge thank you to Abi Elphinstone and Hannah at Simon & Schuster for such a fab post and for organising, embracing the #BritishBooksChallenge17, providing a copies of The Dreamsnatcher Trilogy to giveaway!

You can catch previous blog posts by Abi on Tales by clicking on the below links.

Spotlight – Author Of The Month – Abi Elphinstone

The Research Behind The Dreamsnatcher

Top 10 Shadowkeeper Songs

Review – The Dreamsnatcher

Corey’s Corner Review – The Dreamsnatcher

And remember if you read, review and link up any of Abi’s books for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  February link up here you will gain an extra entries into the February Prize Pack Draw!

Have you read The Night Spinner?  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 review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Inspiration For Molly & Pim by Martine Murray


To celebrate the paperback release of Molly and Pim and the Millions Of Stars by Martine Murray I am super excited to be sharing a guest post about the inspiration behind Molly and Pim today here on Tales.

Molly and Pim and the Millions Of Stars was initially released in hardback on the 17th January 2017 and from the 23rd February 2017 will be available in paperback.

Martine Murray’s new illustrated middle-grade novel Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars is a whimsical story about friendship and individuality and learning to see the freshness and wonder in the world.

A story about mothers and daughters and magical trees Molly and Pim and the Millions Of Stars is a magical tale about the individuality in everyone and is perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell’s Rooftoppers and author Rebecca Stead calls “an utter delight.” 

So read all about the inspiration in this fab guest post ….. 


Molly’s mother is not like other mothers: she rides a yellow bike and collects herbs and makes potions, perhaps even magical potions…

Molly wants to be normal, like her friend Ellen, and watch television and eat food that comes in packets. But when Molly’s mother accidentally turns herself into a tree, Molly turns to the strange and wonderful Pim for help. And as they look for a way to rescue her mother, Molly discovers how to be happy with the oddness in her life.


Inspiration For Molly & Pim

This seed for this story was sewn when, one fine day, I was digging a big hole in my garden to plant a mulberry tree. Into the hole clambered my young daughter. I pretended to plant her, heaping the dirt in around her feet and warning her that she would soon grow into a tree and bear lots of little fruity versions of herself on the branches. She didn’t grow into a tree as she preferred to climb out of the hole and do something a little less static, but as a result of that I wrote a very short story about a woman who accidentally plants her daughter instead of a tree. When I was casting around in my mind for an idea for a novel, I wondered instead what it would be if this was reversed and the mother became the tree. This made more sense for a novel, rather than a fable, as I was drawn to the idea of a child being “parented” by a tree or more specifically the image of a tree as sort of a mother with a child living in its branches, off its fruit and via its shelter. In a time when the environment is in jeopardy, this image arrived with a poignancy that seemed worth exploring.

Also in these times, when children’s experience of nature can be minimal or at the least very mediated and when imaginative play in the outdoors is not often encouraged or is replaced by screen time, I wanted to show a child, Molly, whose life depends on her establishing a real and vital connection with, in this case, a tree, but also with plants. In this story the mother accidentally transforms herself into a tree but as a tree, continues to mother Molly by providing shelter, shade, food and support. Molly, has to recall her mother’s knowledge of plants to try and use them to find solutions to the challenges that befall her along the way. Interspersed through out the story are pages from Molly’s notes about common plants and weeds and their historical or medicinal uses.

Many other themes develop as the story unfolds, themes particularly connected to the challenge of self -acceptance, the acceptance of difference and how all this is negotiated within the complex requirements and gifts of friendship. While the central problem of the story, the problem of Molly’s mother being a tree, speaks to the deeper mystery of our connection to nature, whether mystical, vital, sacred or lost, it also pays tribute to what is natural and universal, the cycles of change, challenge, growth, and transformation within self and in relation to others.

So the magic in this story is not of the elf sort, but is more the sort of magic that is born out of the deeper mysteries of the natural world and our connection to it. That mystery is felt as poetic and integral and engagement with it, whether imaginatively or practically, connects Molly and Pim to something greater than themselves.

You can buy a copy of Molly and Pim and the Millions Of Stars here or from your local bookshop


About Martine Murray

Martine Murray writes and illustrates picture books, middle-grade fiction and young adult fiction, including The Slightly True Story of Cedar B Hartley, The Slightly Bruised Glory of Cedar B Hartley and How to Make a Bird. Her books have been published internationally and translated into seventeen languages. She was born in Melbourne and currently lives in Castlemaine in Victoria.

You can find out more about Martine on her website – www.martinemurray.com


A huge thank you to the wonderful Martine Murray for such a fab post and insight into the inspiration behind Molly and Pim!

Also a huge thank you to Rebecca Watson for contacting me and organising this post.

Have you read Molly and Pim?  What did you think?  Where do you take your inspiration from?   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 – My Writing Process – First Draft to Final Copy by Ally Kennen


I’m over the moon to have been asked to take part in this fab blog tour for a brilliant new middle grade book, The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen.

The Everything Machine was released on the 2nd February 2017 published by Scholastic and tells the story of three kids let loose with a top-secret magical machine with a mind of it’s own!  It sounds like so much fun!

So for my stop on the tour we are delving into the writing process of the books author Ally Kennan…..


Three kids let loose with a top-secret magical machine with a mind of it’s own . . . What could possibly go wrong?

Olly, Stevie and Bird have just had a very special delivery. It’s a machine that has a name, can speak and is able to print ANYTHING they want it to. How about a never-ending supply of sweets and a cool swimming pool in the shed, for starters?

But is getting everything you’ve ever wished for all it’s cracked up to be?


My Writing Process – First Draft To Final Copy

A book begins with a vague idea, usually something that has been badgering me for years, weeks, days or hours. This idea grows and grows and becomes the thing that keeps me awake.

I always write the first draft in a state of fear and denial. Fear that I don’t know what I’m doing and denial that anything I write now will end up being in the book anyway. This is quite freeing.

It’s not very fashionable for women to talk about how their children affect their work, and one can feel a bit sneered at, but by God! My children affect mine!  I haven’t got much time to write because I have 4 children, aged from twelve years down to one year and they are always more noisy and interesting than any book I am writing.

Therefore, when I get a writing window, I go hell for leather. My earlier YA books, BEAST, BERSERK and BEDLAM, QUARRY were all written when I was pregnant  and/or had 2 or 3 young children at home. These books have all been described as fast-paced, which I always find funny. I have to crack on with the action before I have to make dinner or wipe up the sick! Maybe when my children are all grown-ups I will write glorious, ponderous prose. With faultless grammar and leavened with multi-metaphors and clever word play.

Not now though!

So I crack on with a first draft, letting the whole thing gallop along. The superb author Mimi Thebo told me to ‘let the wild horses run.’ And so I do. I let them run and run and run until they lie exhausted in a ditch, unable to even snort. This first draft is usually quite quick. Though It wasn’t like this for my latest book, THE EVERYTHING MACHINE, because I had a baby in the middle of it and everything, all the horses, stopped for about six months.

After the first draft the real work begins. The first draft kills off the red herrings, the dead ends, the cliches… It is where embryonic characters form. Where deeper, richer ideas grow…

And the second draft cuts cuts cuts cuts loads from the first draft. It is a bloody massacre. Only the good bits remain. Lots and lots more writing is done, and now, I think a little bit more about the rhythm of the sentences. The landscapes and journeys, the time lapses, the development of the characters. The sewing together. This is when  (hopefully) the magic part of writing happens. I have my rough work, now I can deep-think it, and try and make it much, much better.

The third draft is less butchery, more a gentle slapping, and do I Like these people I have created and are they interesting at all? and does the thing really work? And what am I trying to say here? After this draft I usually make someone read it (husband) or I make someone listen (my children)

I get that awful thing, Feedback.

This is always useful. No matter how horrific.

Then I go back and make more alterations and sprinkle some fairy dust and send it to my editor and hope I don’t get sacked.

I am not brave enough to send rough work to an editor.  I don’t want them to see the vulgar depths of my abilities… I like it to be as good as possible. I’d rather send the polished diamond than the rough one.

Then there is the to ing and fro ing with the editor, the sharpening and the cuttings and the pulling the whole thing together. It sounds worthy but I do believe in the team work aspect of book writing.  I need an editor! I need help! always!

After the edits come the copy edits, then reading the proofs, then BAM, there’s the book.

It’s a pretty good feeling.

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

Or why not add it to your Goodreads here


About Ally Kennen

Ally Kennen has been an archaeologist, museum guard and singer-songwriter. Her dark and thrilling teen novels have been nominated for over eleven literary awards. She lives in Somerset with her husband and four children.

You can find out more about Ally on her website – www.allykennen.blogspot.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @allykennen


Blog Tour

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

Monday 13th February

Fiction Fascination

Bookish Outsider

Tuesday 14th February

Girl Vs Books

Book Lover Jo

Wednesday 15th February

Live Otherwise

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts

Thursday 16th February

MG Strikes Back

Alejandra’s Life

Friday 17th February

Library Girl and Book Boy

Luna’s Little Library

Saturday 18th February

Big Book Little Book

Mum Friendly

Sunday 19th February

Tales of Yesterday

Powered by Reading


A huge thank you to the wonderful Ally Kennen for such a fab post and insight into her writing process!
Also a huge thank you to Faye Rogers for organising and having me as part of this fab blog tour as well as the wonderful people at Scholastic.

Have you read The Everything Machine?  What did you think?  What does your writing process look like?   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 – Heart Racing Alternatives For Valentines Day by Sharon Gosling


I am super excited to be part of the fab blog tour for a new addition to the brilliant Red Eye Series, Fir by Sharon Gosling!

The Red Eye series published by Stripes are a series of individual YA Horror stories to chill the blood and scare you to the core.  Books published in the series include Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell and Sleepless by Lou Morgan.

Fir was released on the 9th February 2017 and I simply cannot wait to read it!  I brilliant addition to the Red Eye Series.

And as it’s Valentines Day today…..

HAPPY VALENTINES!

We thought it would be great to share some heart racing alternatives to Valentines in the scary guest post…..

*evil laugh*


Moving from Stockholm to an isolated pine plantation in northern Sweden is bad enough, but when the snows come early and all links between the Strombergs and the outside world are cut off, it gets worse. With only a grudging housekeeper and increasingly withdrawn parents for company, there is nothing to do but to explore the old plantation house. Anything to stay out of the endless pine trees pressing in on them. But soon it becomes clear that the danger within the old plantation house is even greater than what lies outside…

A chilling YA horror, perfect for fans of Dawn Kurtagich, Juno Dawson and Stephen King.

Heart Racing Alternatives For Valentines Day

Why rely on a date to make your evening on Valentine’s Day? Far better to get your heart racing with a good scare! Here’s Sharon’s top tips for an alternative Valentines.

Books

The Bunker Diary – Kevin Brooks

There was an outcry when Brooks’ tale of a group of people locked in a bunker by an anonymous madman won the Carnegie Medal in 2014. It certainly shook me up – I had nightmares for weeks after reading it. It’s an uncompromisingly bleak story, all the more horrifying for the absence of any supernatural entity to take the blame. This is man’s inhumanity to man, writ large and horribly believable.

Florence and Giles – John Harding

This has the feel of the Henry James classic ghost story The Turn of the Screw, though there are no ghosts here – there’s only the growing, helpless sense that what we’re reading might be a rather twisted view of what’s actually happening. Set in New England in 1891, the book is told from Florence’s point of view, the older of two children who have been left in the care of a rich and mainly absent uncle. Convinced that the people charged with looking after her and her little brother are unfit and possibly malevolent, Florence takes it upon herself to make sure Giles is safe. Brooding, creepy and shocking.

Frozen Charlotte – Alex Bell

I love the believable mythology Bell has woven into this tale, which lends a real sense of anticipation to the action and takes the idea of possessed dolls to a whole new level. The action hits the ground running from the first page with some ill-advised meddling with an Ouija board app and winds up the tension from there. There’s a sequel coming soon, too, which I can’t wait to read!

From a Buick 8 – Stephen King

I love Stephen King and although this might not be an obvious choice for a horror from his bibliography, this is one of the first of his I read and it’s stayed with me ever since. The idea that something as mundane and apparently harmless as a car can harbour such terror and other-worldliness opens up a universe of possibilities.

The Lottery – Shirley Jackson

This short story from 1948 has become a classic of the horror genre and yet the terror in it comes not from blood and gore but from the complicit silence that reigns at its conclusion. Oh, what one human is willing to do to another.

Films

The Babadook

It’s about the evil residing in a children’s book – what’s not to like? It’s also really beautiful to look at and the child actor in it (Noah Wiseman) is unsettlingly talented.

The Mist

Based on a Stephen King novella, although the film alters the ending to make it even bleaker. Gorgeously shot by Frank Darabont, it’s worth watching in the claustrophobic monotone that the director describes as his preferred version.

The Descent

Darkness, enclosed spaces and people-eating monsters – I managed to watch this film once at the cinema but have abandoned all subsequent viewings as it freaks me out too much! Note: if you want to experience the full horror, make sure you watch the UK version – the US version features a different, more upbeat, ending.

 The Others

A classic ghost story with a great cinematic twist – the scene with the little girl in the veil really creeped me out.

The Hole

The 2001 film, not the 2009 one with the same name. My love of unreliable narrators is making itself felt with this one – it’s the story of a group of teenagers who get someone to lock them into an underground bunker to avoid school. Thora Birch is brilliantly ambiguous as the under dog (or is she?) and my scalp prickles as I remember the conversation in which it’s pointed out what will happen to them if the one person who knows they’re down there gets hit by a truck.

TV

The Fades

From 2011, this BBC mini-series is what Iain De Caestecker did before he went Stateside to join Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Paul keeps seeing visions of the apocalypse and the spirits of the dead. It’s creepy, with some great acting and a real sense of dread.

Stranger Things

I loved this, not only for all the pitch-perfect 80s observations of the genre and great soundtrack, but also for the genuinely scary nature of the monster and the ashy hopelessness of the alternate plane.

The Walking Dead

Zombies have been everywhere for a long time, but they’ve never been done better on television than in this adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s comic series – and the human characters show themselves to be as capable of acts of horror as the mindless undead.

The X Files

The first episode I ever saw was season one’s ‘Darkness Falls’, in which Mulder drags Scully out to a remote, ancient forest. There they find that illegal logging has released a miniscule bug, dormant for centuries, that really likes eating human flesh. I was thoroughly scared and definitely had a few nightmares as a result. Cut to however many years later, and my new book FIR involves an ancient forest and the forces willing to do anything to protect it. I guess it really stuck with me….

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


About Sharon Gosling

Sharon started off as an entertainment journalist, writing magazine articles and books about science fiction television shows. She’s also written, produced and directed audio dramas. In 2011, she wrote The Diamond Thief, (originally published as an ebook under the title Remy Brunel and the Ocean of Light). Published in traditional format by Curious Fox as their launch title in 2013, The Diamond Thief went on to win the Redbridge Children’s Award in 2014. The sequel, The Ruby Airship, was published in April 2014, and the final book in the trilogy, The Sapphire Cutlass, in April 2016. Sharon also still writes books about television and film – most recently she has co-written tie-ins for the Planet of the Apes and Batman vs Superman films as well as the television series companion The Art and Making Of Penny Dreadful, all for Titan Books.

Sharon and her husband live in a very remote village in northern Cumbria, surrounded by fells, sheep, and a host of lovely neighbours who will one day make very good characters in their own book. When she’s not writing, she bakes a lot of cake and bread, attempts to grow things in an allotment, and catches the baby rabbits unhelpfully brought in by the cat.

You can follow Sharon on twitter – @sharongosling


Blog Tour

Catch up of follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to the lovely Sharon Gosling for such a fab heart racing post!
Also a huge thank you to Charlie at Stripes for organising and having me as part of this fab blog tour.

Have you read Fir?  What did you think?  Are you a YA Horror fan?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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