Tag Archives: Action

Guest Post – What’s At The Heart Of Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About Vashti Hardy

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

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

Or why not follow her on twitter – @vashti_hardy 


Blog Tour

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


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

Have you read any of Brightstorm?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS

Top 5 Mythical / Legendary Creatures

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

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

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

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

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

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


About Sinéad O’Hart

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

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

Or why not follow her on twitter – @SJOHart


Blog Tour

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


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

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

Happy Reading!

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


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

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

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


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


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

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


Becoming a Writer and How I Write

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

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

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

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

You can buy a copy of The Ice Sea Pirates here


About Frida Nilsson

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

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

About Gecko Press

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


Blog Tour

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


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

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

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Writing Advice by Dan Smith


Today I am thrilled to be hosting this brilliant Dan Smith here on Tales with a fab guest post to celebrate the release of Below Zero!

Below Zero was released on the 4th January 2018 published by the lovelies at Chicken House and is a chilling thriller that will chill you to the core.

Today Dan gives us all some amazing writing advise in this fab guest post!


When Zak’s plane crash-lands on Outpost Zero, a small Antarctic research base in one of the most isolated places on Earth, he discovers a cold, dark nightmare. The power’s out and the people who live there have disappeared. Worse, as he searches for answers, bizarre visions suggest a link to something else – deep beneath the ice – which only he can understand …


Writing Advise

I just typed ‘advice for writers’ into Google. 4,940,000 results. ‘Tips for writers’ gets 16,800,000 results. ‘How to write a novel’ gets 142,000,000 results.

What you’ve got right there is a LOT of advice for writers. But is any of it any good? I don’t know, maybe. Probably. Some of it might be.

When I go into schools I’m sometimes asked if I have any tips for writers. Often it’s a teacher who asks, but sometimes it’s one of the students. Or maybe I’m asked to write an article along the lines of ‘5 tips for budding writers’. You know the kind of thing. Unfortunately, though, I can’t impart any sure-fire-publication-guaranteed nugget of advice, because such a thing doesn’t exist.

I reckon there are two things you can do if you want to be a writer or improve your writing. The first is to read books. I don’t think I’m giving away any of the Majestic Brotherhood of Author’s secrets when I say that reading books will help with writing books. The other thing you can do is write. And write. And write. Because writing is like many other things – it takes a lot of practice, a huge amount of perseverance, a mound of dedication, a dollop of talent, and – if you want to be published – a monumental amount of luck. Multiply the luck by a gajillion if you want to get rich by writing books.

If I could put all those things in a bottle and sell them, I would now be sitting by the pool in my villa in Bali, watching the sea through the palms and wondering what to do tomorrow – stroll along the beach, or go and find a jungle waterfall to swim in.

So my advice would be to not listen to all that advice. Someone once told me that when writing a book for younger readers, the most important thing to do is to find a way to get rid of the parents. In fact, the most important thing to do is to write a story that will engage young readers – though don’t ask me how to do that!

When I started to write Below Zero, I didn’t want to get rid of the parents. I wanted Zak’s parents to be front-and-centre in his story. For many children, their parents are the most significant people in their lives, so it doesn’t seem strange to me that they should feature in a story about something that happens to children. But Zak’s parents are not perfect – just like my parents and your parents. They have flaws. They have quirks. They are human. They can be embarrassing, reassuring, strong, weak, fallible, and, most important of all, they can be wrong. And sometimes, when parents are wrong, they need their children to remind them of it – just like Zak and May do in Below Zero.

Stories reflect life. They are often hyper-realistic versions of life, or even weird, overblown, and crazy versions of real life, but they still reflect life and relationships, and worries and fears and so much more.

There is no right way to tell a story. All we can do is try our best.

BELOW ZERO by Dan Smith out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House). Find out more at chickenhousebooks.com and connect with Dan Smith @DanSmithAuthor

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


About Dan Smith

Growing up, Dan Smith led three lives. In one he survived the day-to-day humdrum of boarding school, while in another he travelled the world, finding adventure in the padi fields of Asia and the jungles of Brazil. But the third life he lived in a world of his own, making up stories . . . Which is where some people say he still lives most of the time.

Dan has lived in many places that inspire his writing – including Sierra Leone, Sumatra, northern and central Brazil. He’s even lived in Spain and in the Soviet Union, but he’s now settled in Newcastle with his wife and two young children to keep him on his toes. And, boy, do they keep him on his toes!

Past jobs have varied from dishwasher extraordinaire (or, perhaps, just ordinaire), social security fraud (detecting it, not committing it), to working on giant-sized Christmas decorations, and a fistful of mundane office jobs, but throughout all of those things, he’s always kept writing.

Dan writes for both children and adults.

You can follow Dan Smith on Twitter – @DanSmithAuthor

Or on his Facebook page here


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Dan for a brilliant guest post and to Laura from Chicken House for asking me to host and be part of this fab blog tour.

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

Happy Reading!

Tales Review – Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone


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

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

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


Publisher – Simon & Schuster Children’s UK

Date Published – 4th January 2018

Pages – 288 pages

Format – Paperback

Category – Children’s, MG, UKMG

Source –

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


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


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

And swept off my feet I was….completely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eska, Flint and Blu never give up hope.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About Abi Elphinstone

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

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


Previously On Tales…

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

Tales Review – The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone

Corey’s Corner Review – The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone

Guest Post – The Research Behind The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone

Guest Post – Top 10 Shadow Keeper Songs by Abi Elphinstone

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

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


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

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – The Art Of Naming Characters by Mark Powers


Today I am super excited to be part of the fab blog tour for a brilliant new super fun middle grade book, Spy Toys:  Out Of Control by Mark Powers and illustrated by the super talented Tim Wesson!

Spy Toy: Out Of Control was released on the 10th August 2017 published by the lovely people at Bloomsbury and is the second book in the Spy Toys series!

Today Mark Powers chats about The Art Of Naming Characters in this fab guest post….



Toy Story meets James Bond in the second book in this incredible action-packed series!

Fresh from the success of their first mission, our heroes the Spy Toys – Dan the Snugaliffic Cuddlestar bear, Arabella the Loadsasmiles Sunshine Doll and Flax the custom-made police robot rabbit – are ready for their next task. This time, the secret code that controls every Snaztacular Ultrafun toy has been stolen and all over the world toys are revolting and turning against the children who own them.

Can Arabella disguise herself as a super-sweet little doll in order to find out more from the daughter of Snaztacular’s top scientist? Can Dan and Flax chase down Jade the Jigsaw, the puzzling prime suspect for the robbery? And can they save the day before the mind-controlled toys forget what it means to play nice?


The Art Of Naming Characters

Few things are more delicious in literature than a good character name. Inigo Montoya. Herbert Pocket. Titus Groan. Bellatrix Lestrange. Veruca Salt. Dorian Gray. The mind savours them like a mouthful of chocolate cake.

In creating the evil elephant/human hybrid character Rusty Flumptrunk for my first SPY TOYS adventure, I took a leaf out of the book of my favourite writer Douglas Adams, one of the champion character-namers of all time. He came up with the name Slartibartfast by taking a string of extremely rude words and changing each very slightly until he had something that sounded rude, but wasn’t. If you ever find yourself on a long and boring train journey or you’re waiting to get served in your nearest branch of Curry’s and have a couple of hours to kill, you may like to ponder exactly which naughty words went into the construction of Rusty Flumptrunk.

Sometimes the unexpected use of a simple name can be humorously effective. In my new book SPY TOYS: OUT OF CONTROL, I needed a name for a unicorn. One immediately thinks of the poetic, mystical names that the great fantasy writers have dreamt up for their magical beasts: Lewis’s lordly lion Aslan, Tolkien’s slumbering dragon Smaug and Pratchett’s vast, world-bearing turtle Great A’Tuin. Which is why I decided to call my unicorn John. John the unicorn.

My current favourite coiner of fabulous names is British fantasy author Michael Moorcock, in particular the baroque handles he gives to the decadent eccentrics who populate the future Earth in his series The Dancers at the End of Time. Jherek Carnelian. The Iron Orchid. Sweet Orb Mace. Lord Jagged of Canaria. Mistress Christia. The Duke of Queens. Argonheart Po. Gaf the Horse in Tears…the list goes on. Pure pleasure.

So what’s the secret of a good character name? Lordy. Who knows? You definitely know one when you see one, or if you’re lucky, when one bubbles up from your unconscious. But there’s no guaranteed formula for creating them. All you can do is painstakingly slam different phonemes together at random in the hope of precipitating a kind of literary alchemy.

One thing I am certain of, however, is that no matter how stretched their imagination or short their deadline, no author would ever consider giving a character a name as silly as ‘Donald Trump’.

Meet John the unicorn, Dr Potty, Gemma Snowdrop, Professor Doomprickle and other oddly named characters in the second book in Mark Powers’s SPY TOYS series, SPY TOYS: OUT OF CONTROL!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy a copy of Spy Toys:  Out Of Control here or from your local bookshop

Or why not add it to your Goodreads here


About Mark Powers

Author Mark Powers has been making up ridiculous stories since primary school and is slightly shocked to find that people now pay him to do it. As a child he always daydreamed that his teddy bear went off on top secret missions when he was at school, so a team of toys recruited as spies seemed a great idea for a story. He grew up in north Wales and now lives in Manchester. His favourite animals are the binturong, the aye-aye and the dodo. www.spytoysbooks.com

You can find out more about Mark on his websitewww.spytoybooks.com

Or why not follow Mark on Twitter – @mpowerswriter


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Mark for such a fab guest post and to Faye Rogers and Bloomsbury for having me as part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Spy Toys: Out Of Control?  What did you think?  Who was your favourite character?  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 – A Tale Of Yesterday…From The Top Of The World by Matt Dickinson


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Today, 10th March 2016, marks the release of the awesome North Face by the inspirational Matt Dickinson published by Vertebrate Publishing!

Happy Book Birthday Matt!

This is the second book in Matt Dickinson’s Everest Files series, which is based upon upon his own experiences of climbing Everest with actor Brian Blessed during the 1996 disaster.

I am lucky enough to have been offered the chance to feature a fab guest post from Matt at part of the North Face blog tour!

First, here’s a  little about the book…..

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Ryan Hart is an 18-year-old adventurer on a mission. To get himself to Mount Everest and check out the truth about the world’s highest peak. Friends have told him dark stories about the mountain, outrageous things that he wants to see for himself.

Just a few hours after Ryan arrives at Everest Base Camp a lethal earthquake strikes. Avalanches pound the glacier, burying Ryan’s climbing buddy and killing many others. A desperate rescue saves Ryan’s friend, but only after a local Tibetan girl Tashi helps with the search.

Stress levels are running high among the climbing teams. The mountain is shut for the season because it is judged too dangerous.

Then a flashlight reveals a clue. Someone is alive, high on Everest’s treacherous north face!

Tashi is convinced it is her 15-year-old brother.

Ryan is prepared to risk everything to help.

Storm clouds gather as they set out on their illegal climb, a do-or-die mission which the local militia will do anything to stop.

Sounds awesome right?!

*Hands over to Matt*


A TALE OF YESTERDAY… FROM THE TOP OF THE WORLD!

Way back in the mists of time (in the 1920s), a British climber by the name of George Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Mt Everest. His answer was a mysterious one:

‘Because it’s there’

It was an enigmatic response, which said everything… and nothing. Yet somehow the quote has endured as a classic Everest truth. We are climbing it, Mallory was saying, because we can.

Nowadays almost a thousand people a year attempt to climb the mountain and (having met a lot of them) I thought it might be fun to come up with my own list of ‘reasons’ why folk are prepared to risk their lives to stand on the ultimate summit!

MACHO MONKS AND GLAMOROUS GURUS

These are the ‘right on’ men and women who have a direct line to spiritual enlightenment. They go to Everest because ‘up there’ they will be closer to whichever god is most in fashion at that moment. Most often found half naked, humming quietly to themselves, adopting the lotus position, somewhere near the Base Camp rubbish tip.

ADRENALINE JUNKIES

These are the most honest climbers of all. They don’t pretend there’s any spiritual dimension, they go for the thrill, the rush of risking their lives, and the ‘gnarly dude’ credentials that an Everest ascent brings. Plus, it looks great on your match.com profile!

BORED BANKERS

These Everest climbers are finance folk (men and women) who are extremely rich and go to Everest because they can’t think of anything else to do. Most often found screaming hysterically at base camp managers when they discover they can’t monitor their share portfolio as there is no Wi-Fi on the mountain.

RECORD BREAKERS

The oldest man (80). The only couple to get married on summit (yes, really!) The youngest girl (13). Most ridiculous thing to do on the summit (someone took a golf club up and smashed a golf ball into near space orbit). Fastest ascent (13 hours!) These are the bizarre accolades that can bring fame and fortune. Every year these fanatics flock to the slopes hoping for their name check in the Guinness book of Records!

NUTTERS

Everyone else who doesn’t fit into the above categories.

You have been warned! Climbing Everest isn’t crazy… but the people who do it are!

My final word if you still want to do it: take a good pair of noise cancelling headphones so you can block out the boasts and bluster of base camp chat. And pack a very thick book.

31ADtZ2XpeL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_You can buy North Face by Matt Dickinson here or why not visit your local independent bookshop for a copy.


About Matt Dickinson

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Matt Dickinson is an award-winning writer and filmmaker with a passion for climbing and adventure.

During his filmmaking career he has worked as a director/cameraman for National Geographic television, the Discovery Channel, the BBC and Channel 4. His film projects have taken him to Antarctica, Africa and the Himalaya, often in the company of the world’s leading climbers and expeditioners.

His most notable film success was Summit Fever in which Matt reached the summit of Everest via the treacherous north face. His book The Death Zone tells the true story of that ascent and has become a bestseller in many different countries.

Matt is currently Patron of Reading at Lady Manners School in Bakewell and continues to climb and explore. In January 2013 he summitted Mount Aconcagua, which at 6,965 metres is the highest peak in the world outside the Himalaya. Currently, he is planning an ascent of Denali in Alaska, one of the ‘Seven Summits’.

Recently Matt has started writing fiction for teenage readers. His debut thriller series Mortal Chaos was well received by critics and readers alike. Matt followed this up with the first of three The Everest Files books, which has proven to be very popular. North Face is the hotly anticipated second title in the trilogy.

When he’s not writing, Matt tours the UK, speaking at schools and colleges and inspiring a new generation of adventurers.

You can find out more about Matt by visiting his website here


Blog Tour

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

north_face


Another huge huge thank you to Matt for a fab guest post and to Lorna at Vertebrate Publishing for organising!

You catch another blog post by Matt about the Himalayan Megaquake here

Or a guest post about Matt’s book, Lie, Kill, Walkaway here

Are you a Matt Dickinson fan?  Have you read any of the Everest Files?  What did you think?  Has this guest post intrigued you?  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 or climbing Everest!

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Tales Quiz – Which Phoenix Burning By Bryony Pearce Character Are You?


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Today the 10th March 2016 marks the release day of the explosive sequel to last years Phoenix Rising, Phoenix Burning by Bryony Pearce published by Stripes Publishing!

Happy Book Birthday Bryony!

I really enjoyed Phoenix Rising when I read it last year so the sequel has been high up on my want list ever since!

So……

Today myself and the author of this brilliant series Bryony Pearce have put together a fab quiz where we are asking…

Which character from Phoenix Burning are you?


About The Books

61u16NKyQEL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Sail. Salvage. Survive. Toby’s father is a wanted man. For as long as Toby can remember, they’ve been on the run. The Phoenix has become their home, their backyard the junk-filled seas surrounding it. The crew of the Banshee lives for hunting down the Phoenix and now they’re closing in. Ayla has spent her whole life fighting – preparing for the moment when the Banshee will face its ultimate enemy. But Toby doesn’t want to run any more and Ayla is his only hope. Can he turn an old feud into a new alliance?

61nzuvLWBTL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Toby and Ayla have to infiltrate a sect of sun worshippers to steal the equipment their ships need. They enter a trial to be chosen as the Sun and the Moon, a position of great honour for the sect. As the trial commences, Toby and Ayla discover the true cost of failure. But there are other young couples who are equally desperate to win…Can Toby and Ayla survive days without sleep, hours sitting in the blistering sun and a deadly maze? They’ll need to work together to win – their mission depends on it…


Which character are you most like? 

Take the quiz to find out and share your results with us on twitter or leave a comment.

If you cannot see the quiz below click here and scroll down


About Bryony Pearce

Capture40-200x300Bryony lives with her husband and two children in a village on the edge of the Peak District. She was a winner of the 2008 Undiscovered Voices competition and is the author of Angel’s Fury and The Weight of Souls.

You can find out more about Bryony on her website here

Or check out her other books or order Phoenix Burning here or why not order it in at your local bookshop

You can also follow Bryony on twitter – @BryonyPearce


Check out a Q&A with Bryony Pearce here

Or read about Bryony’s favourite literary pirates here

Or see a quick fire video with Bryony here or more about the cover of Phoenix Rising here


A huge thank you to Bryony Pearce for playing along and helping to create this quiz!

Also a huge thank you to Jessie at Stripes Publishing for asking me to feature Bryony on Tales.

Have you read any of the Phoenix Rising or Phoenix Burning?  What did you think?  Have you taken the quiz?  Which character are you?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

*sets sail*

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Review – Defender Of The Realm by Mark Huckerby & Nick Ostler


Defender of the Realm

I have recently read this fun, action packed MG fantasy by the brilliant duo Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler, Defender Of The Realm which is released today on the 3rd March 2016 and I loved ever page of it!  I am so over the moon to be part of the wonderful blog tour for this book!

For my stop on the blog tour I am going to share my thoughts on the book and post a review!

A huge thank you to Faye Rogers , Mark Huckerby, Nick Ostler and Scholastic for having me on this wonderful tour and for sending me the book to read.


Defender of the Realm

Super-villains. Hungry monsters. One kid to stop them all. Meet King Alfie: fourteen-year-old British monarch and Defender of the Realm. Alfie never expected to become king so young. He definitely didn’t expect to become a legendary superhero: the Defender. Which means fighting an ancient secret battle against mega-villains and evil monsters. All while grappling with adoring crowds, paparazzi and minders. Now the terrible Black Dragon is rising. Only Alfie can stop him. Think being a king is just about wearing a crown? Wrong.


Publisher – Scholastic UK

Published – 3rd March 2016

Pages – 340 pages

Format – Paperback and E-book

Category – MG Fantasy

Source – I was sent a copy of this book by the wonderful people at Scholastic as part of the blog tour organised by Faye Rogers.  This does not affect my review or my opinions in any way and am delighted to write an honest review.  Thank you Scholastic for sending this to me to read and to Faye for organising!


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


I wasn’t sure what to expect from Defender Of The Realm, but as soon as it came through the post I skim read the first few pages fully intrigued and I was immediately drawn into a world that mixed the real world and fantasy world flawlessly and all with some historical facts, humour and well known United Kingdom landmarks too!

Defender Of The Realm tells the story or Alfie who is a reluctant heir to the thrown and who finds himself thrust into the limelight to take on his duty a little earlier in life than he would have thought.  What Alfie doesn’t expect is the extra responsibilities that come with it… you know the kind of thing…Crown Jewels, Paparazzi, BECOMING AN AWESOME SUPERHERO CALLED THE DEFENDER AND SAVING THE WORLD FROM THE BLACK LIZARD!  When Alfie becomes King he discovers a whole new duty to his country that is steeped in history and kept a secret for many years.  And when the evil Black Lizard seems unstoppable Alfie has to learn to protect his country, be King and be The Defender, but is Alfie the right person for the job?

This book is a real page turner!

I loved the feel of this book.  It felt so very British.  I loved the way even though the characters are fictional I felt like I was taking a sneaky peak behind the scenes of the actual royal family.  That’s how real the characters came across for me.  I loved the references to historical landmarks or traditions which I recognised like The Tower Of London, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey and the tradition of a Coronation and who knew there was a volcanoes under Edinburgh Castle 😉

You will never look at a Beefeater…I mean Yoeman Warder the same ever again after reading this book…..oh the secrets that they possibly hold!

It really reads like a film.  You could picture the scenes playing out on the screen in front of you.

*Hints for someone to make this into a TV show or film immediately*

To top all of this off this book was not only packed with a brilliant action packed plot and brilliant story line it also had a brilliant cast of superb characters.

I adored Alfie right from the action packed off set!  He is heir to the thrown, but doesn’t want to be treated as such and just wants to be a normal boy who can go out for pizza when he wants to.  As a reader I think you really feel for Alfie and you really want him to do well.  You see him grow and mature slightly throughout the book almost like becoming the superhero Defender brings something out in him that he never knew was there.

I also loved Hayley so so much.  The girl who looks after her gran who is thrust into the middle of the world of Alfie, The Defender and the Black Lizard when a trip to The Tower Of London with her gran turns into a battle and she finds a keeps a piece of the Black Lizards tail!  Hayley was awesome.  She says what she thinks and doesn’t give two hoots what people think.  She is honest, caring, funny and demands her voice to be heard.  The friendship between Hayley and Alfie is a friendship that would last forever.

That’s another thing about this book.  It made me laugh and giggle in places.  There are some classic one liners or comedic moments that really make you grin like a Cheshire cat beaming from ear to ear and make you love these characters and the story even more.

There were two characters especially that did just this for me… Brian and L.C.  Oh how I want them to have their own spin off or sketch show.  They were absolutely brilliant fun.  Always at Alfie’s side, but in roles of responsibility.  Brian was the more carefree of the two trying to always tell the “bad smell under his nose” L.C to give Alfie and often Hayley a break.  I loved how L.C was so traditional and does things by the book and when this does not go to plan he is all out of sorts.  But they both have Alfie’s back.  They were a brilliant comedy duo.  They kind of reminded me a little of Jeeves and Wooster or Hacker and Humprey from Yes Prime Minster.

The scene where L.C takes Alfie into the secret passage from Buckingham Palace to the Tower to a secret under ground lair had me in absolute stitches!  There’s Alfie who is experiencing this for the first time and being told to get in a small carriage as it’s quicker and there’s L.C all laid back like he’s about to board the train with his newspaper.  It’s a brilliant scene.

Also a little shout out to the badies….. Fulcher and Turpin the so called MI5 agents who would give the two wet bandits from Home Alone a run for their money and who I hope will make an appearance in book two.

And there’s the Black Lizard!

*quakes in boots*

*gulps*

*runs and hides*

Yes that’s right there is apparently going to be a book two and I cannot wait!  I need this book now!  Especially with the jaw dropping cliff hanger to end all cliff hangers that this book finished on!  I almost felt the authors write that last line with glee mixed with an extremely evil laugh 😉

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves an action packed, superhero read that will make you turn the page and laugh, but also make your heart beat and with all with a little twist along the way that I for one didn’t see coming.

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

1Defender of the Realm

You can buy Defender of the Realm (Defender of the Realm #1) here

Or why not add it to Goodreads here


About Mark Huckerby & Nick Ostler

Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler are Emmy and BAFTA-nominated screenwriters best known for writing popular TV shows such as Danger Mouse and Thunderbirds Are Go! 

You can find out more about Mark & Nick on their website www.ostlerandhuckerby.com

Or why not follow them both on twitter using @huckywucky and @nickostler


Blog Tour

Defender Blog Tour Banner

Monday 29th February

Powered by Reading

Library Girl and Book Boy

 Tuesday 1st March

Book Lover Jo

A Bookish Life

 Wednesday 2nd March

Minerva Reads

A Daydreamers Thoughts

 Thursday 3rd March

Tales of Yesterday

My Book Corner

Friday 4th March

Chouett

Ya Ya Yeah

 Saturday 5th March

Bart’s Bookshelf

Big Book Little Book

 Sunday 6th March

The Arts Shelf

Bibliobeth


Have you read Defender Of The Realm?  What did you think?  Has this review made you want to go grab a copy?  I would love to here 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 and defending the country!

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Guest Post – Top 10 Shadow Keeper Songs By Abi Elphinstone


51WQvFqEfFL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Today I am completely over the moon to be hosting a fab guest post and super giveaway from lovely author and brilliant friend Abi Elphinstone!

Abi’s second book, The Shadow Keeper, was released on the 25th February 2016 and throws us into Moll and Gryff’s magical world for a second time!

Myself and my son adored the first book in the series, The Dreamsnatcher last year and we have been craving The Shadow Keeper ever since!

You can find my review of The Dreamsnatcher here or Corey’s review of The Dreamsnatcher here

So today Abi tells us about the Top 10 Shadow Keeper Songs and there may be a few special surprises along the way!

Also don’t forget to check out the amazing giveaway at the bottom of the post where you could win a set of both books!


51WQvFqEfFL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Moll Pecksniff and her friends are living as outlaws in a secret cave by the sea, desperate to stay hidden from the Shadowmasks. But further along the coast lies the Amulet of Truth, the only thing powerful enough to force the Shadowmasks back and contain their dark magic. So, together with Gryff, the wildcat that’s always by her side, and her best friends Alfie and Sid, Moll must sneak past smugglers, outwit mer creatures and crack secret codes to save the Old Magic. With more at stake than ever before and the dark magic rising fast, can Moll and her friends stop the Shadowmasks before it’s too late? Perfect for fans of J.K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, Michelle Paver and Eva Ibbotson


Top 10 Shadow Keeper Songs

When I’m concentrating really hard I don’t write to music. It’s just me and my writing shed. But most of my thinking time takes place on the move with a lot of background noise: kids yelling about One Direction on train journeys to literary festivals, people taking business calls on buses to school events and, if I’m very, very, very lucky, killer whales leaping out of the water on ‘book research boat trips’ (!) in the Arctic. So, I’ve picked out a bunch of songs that got me fired up while thinking about smugglers, secret caves and cliff jumps. Here’s The Shadow Keeper playlist:

The Phantom Of The Opera theme song by Andrew Lloyd Webber

My favourite musical – and the song I listened to while inventing extremely awful things for the Shadowmasks to do…

Sail Away by Enya

I grew up listening to Enya (she’s my Dad’s favourite artist) and I remember hearing this song just before I wrote about the Tribe’s kayak journey to find the last Amulet of Truth.

Hurt by Johnny Cash

Anything by Johnny Cash is incredible and I loved this song so much I borrowed a variation on a lyric for Moll to use right at the end of the book: ‘I want to start again, a million miles from here.’

No One Is Alone from Into The Woods by Stephen Sondheim

The ending of The Shadow Keeper came to me before the start. I knew exactly what was going to happen, even though every time I thought about it I got a lump in my throat, and I listened to this song on repeat before I wrote the final scene.

The Lion, The Witch and Wardrobe theme, original BBC version by Geoffrey Burgon

I watched this series with my family one Christmas (up in Scotland with snow lying thick on the ground outside) and it is one of my happiest memories. Nothing, absolutely nothing, has been more magical to me than listening to this song as Lucy Pevensie opens the wardrobe door. And any time I want to write magic into a scene, I listen to this song before hauling out my laptop.

Concrete Schoolyard by Jurassic Five

When the edits are getting crazy, when there is paper strewn about the house and I feel like I am going to mad, I listen to this song and it chills me out :-).

Hold Back The River by James Bay

In The Shadow Keeper you find out who Alfie really is but when I sat down to write the book I had no idea. I just knew that his past was shady. And then, when I was walking down the street to teach a writing workshop, it came to me. I didn’t have a piece of paper on me so I wrote his story on an oak leaf – then I listened to this song.

Grey or Blue by Jaymay

The lovely Louise Corcoran (bookseller extraordinaire at Foyles) sent me a playlist last year and I fell in love with this song. I listened to it when thinking about Moll’s friendship with Alfie (though in the song there’s a lot more kissing and hopping into bed with boys than books for 8-12-year-olds might allow!).

Septimus from the Stardust movie by Ilan Eshkeri

I plan EVERY chase scene (and I plan a lot of chase scenes) to this song. I feel like I, and my characters, can fly while doing multiple leg-kicks and somersaults when this is playing.

The Gael from Last of the Mohicans by Dougie Maclean

When I imagine Moll, Siddy and Alfie with their bows and arrows (and catapults) I see them tearing across the coast with this song blaring around them.

And presenting ……Abi Elphinstone

And not forgetting the author herself in a starring role….. with some of her favourite Disney songs….. move over Taylor Swift!

 

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You can buy The Shadow Keeper here or why not visit your local independent bookshop.


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For The Dreamsnatcher playlist, click here.

Check out my review of The Dreamsnatcher here

Or Corey’s review of The Dreamsnatcher here

You can also check out The Research Behind The Dreamsnatcher here


About Abi Elphinstone

Abi 1 Norway

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. 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

Abi in Waterstones with Gryff


Giveaway

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Would you like to win 1 of 5 signed sets of Abi’s books The Dreamsnatcher and The Shadow Keeper?

The lovely Jo at Angel Publicity has kindly given me 5 sets of these fab books to giveaway…and they are signed too!

Enter below to be in with a chance of winning!

Do check out the terms and conditions…..

UK & IRE Only

5 sets = 5 separate winners winning 1 copy of The Dreamsnatcher and 1 copy of The Shadow Keeper as a set.

Books will be sent straight from Angel Publicity / the publishers so the winners will need to provide there name and address details to myself to pass on.

Giveaway ends 3rd March 2016

Winners will be announced on here and on twitter.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


A huge huge thank you to the lovely Abi for asking me to be part of this wonderful blog tour!

And a huge thank you to Jo at Angel Publicity for the awesome giveaway!

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

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Are you excited for The Shadow Keeper?  Have you read The Dreamsnatcher?  Do you love Moll and Gryff?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment by using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

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