Tag Archives: David Fickling Books

Guest Post – Unlikely Heroes by Peadar O’Guilin


I am super excited to have been asked to feature a fab guest post for this wonderful book The Call by Peadar O’Guilin.

The Call is due to be released on the 1st Septmber 2016 published by David Fickling Books and I have heard the most amazing things about this book already!

The Call is a powerful, genre-changing YA fantasy featuring a rich, dynamic cast of characters and a truly kick-ass heroine! The ‘Ireland’ of Peadar’s fiction is both rooted in reality, the past and the future and the roles of mythology, landscape, poetry and language are central to the action.

A huge thank you to Hayley,Darran and Emma at Ed PR for asking me to feature this post.

So I asked Peadar O’Guilin about unlikely hero’s …….


“Prepare to be shocked. In fact shocked doesn’t even cover it… you will be sucked into one of the most extraordinary stories you are ever going to read.”
– David Fickling

Nessa is ten when her childhood innocence is shattered and she learns about The Call; the 3 minutes and 4 seconds that will determine the rest of her life. Every Irish teenager must play their part: some come back ‘Survivors’, some come back deformed, but none come back unchanged.
Teenagers across Ireland train vigorously in preparation for ‘The Call’. ‘Survivors’ document their stories in the Book of Conquests but as everyone’s experience is different, no one truly knows what to expect and no one imagines Nessa, the girl with crooked legs, will survive. Not even her parents.
But Nessa is determined to prove them all wrong. Targeted as the weakest student during practice drills, she develops ingenious ways to outwit her hunters. As her fellow students are ‘called’ one by one, and the boundary between the Ireland that she knows and the world of the Greylands grows ever closer, Nessa fears, not only for herself, but for her friends, ferocious Megan and sweet Anto. As she waits for the inevitable, will Nessa have done enough? Will she find a way to survive THE CALL or is her fate sealed before she’s even begun?

10 Unlikely Heroes

 It’s a strange name for a blog post isn’t it? 10 Unlikely Heroes. I mean, by definition all heroes are unlikely. Their job is to achieve the impossible. For example, we never hear of St. George and the tiny, but aggressive piglet. No! To become a legend, he had to defeat a dragon

 And yet, heroic challenges don’t always manifest themselves as exciting mythological beasts. Some people with depression achieve the impossible just by getting up in the morning. Others fight and fight to learn how to walk after a stroke, or to pass exams in an atmosphere of prejudice and disdain.

 These are the real unlikely heroes, but it would be wrong to assume nobody writes about them. There is a whole industry of “issues” books. Stories specifically about people struggling with medical conditions and disabilities and societal prejudice.

For example, there’s Sarah Crosson’s incredible “One” about conjoined twins. This year it deservedly swept every award in the universe.


There’s Jenny Downham’s masterful “Before I die” wherein a teenage girl races against cancer to find fulfillment.


And I’ll never forget how much I laughed reading Brian Conaghan’s “When Mr. Dog Bites”, where the plucky protagonist makes his way in life suffering from Turretts Syndrome…


 “Issues” Books are fantastic, necessary and important. They are beloved of parents and critics and schools. Some of them are among the best things I have ever had the pleasure to read. But you’ll never catch me writing one, because, I, my friends, am an author of adventure stories. I want danger and terror and excitement. I want hordes of monsters to tear through the town, leaving chaos and horror in their wake, and the only person who can stop them, the only one who would dare is…

 Well, who, exactly?

 St. George? Must it always be a St. George type?

 When I bring down the apocalypse, the people who inhabit the pages of the “issues” books aren’t just going to sit there waiting to die. There’ll be boys with Turrets and girls on crutches, who will want to live with just as much intensity as the body-builder types and the sports stars. Their odds will be steeper, but they’ll fight hard and if they succeed, if, wouldn’t that make them even more heroic than those for whom it was easy?

 Well, here I am. I’ve written an adventure book with just such a character, a character I love dearly. So, when I was asked for a post about 10 Unlikely Heroes, I thought, “Yes, this is going to be easy!” Off the top of my head, I thought of I, Claudius with its lame and stuttering hero. I thought of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan with his “chalk-stick bones, friable as talc”… And what about Tyrion Lannister? These three triumph over dangerous, violent circumstances. Over sneering enemies and a world designed only to crush such as they. They’re brilliantly written and engaging personalities that no reader can help but fall in love with.

 But then, I realised I’d come unstuck. Because, all three are men — nothing wrong with that, I’m made that way myself. But still. Really? I can’t think of any women at all? Also, none of the works I’m talking about here count as YA. I mean, I can name a dozen YA books with unlikely heroes off the top of my head, but they are, as I said above, “issues” books, and I’d love to be able to recommend some absolutely corking adventure stories that feature characters with disabilities, but that are not about the disabilities themselves.

 So, I throw myself at your mercy, dear readers. Please, what do you suggest?

The Call - cover

 The Call by Peadar O’Guilin is published by David Fickling Books on the 1st September price £10.99 hardback

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

About Peadar O’Guilin


PEADAR O’GUILIN is a powerful and original new voice in YA Fiction but has been writing curious stories for as long as he can remember. He attended the same boarding school as James Joyce in Co. Kildare and since then, he has written plays, published short stories, and performed as a stand-up comedian.

Language, landscape and the history of ancient Ireland are important themes for Peadar and after brief forays living in Milan and Venice he returned to his native Ireland and now lives just outside Dublin

You can find out more about Peadar on his website – www.peadar.org

Or why not follow him on twitter using @TheCallYA

Blog Tour

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

The Call blog

A huge huge thank you to Peadar for such a thoughtful guest post and to Hayley, Darran and Emma at Ed Pr for organising!

Have you read The Call?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued?  Which unlikely heros would you suggest to Peadar?  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 – Eden Summer: By The River by Liz Flanagan

Eden Summer jkt

I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for this wonderful book Eden Summer by debut author the lovely Liz Flanagan .

Eden Summer was released on the 7th July published by David Fickling Books and I have heard the most amazing things about this book already!

A huge thank you to Carolyn and David Fickling Books for having me on this wonderful tour.

For my stop on the blog tour I have a wonderful video from the author herself……

Eden Summer jkt

“My  mind  will  not  accept  the  possibility  that  Eden  could  be  dead,  now  or  ever.  Stopped.  The  end.  Nothing.  No.  My  best  friend  is  too  alive.  Too  everything.  She  can’t  just  disappear.  What  happens  to  all  her  Eden-­‐ness?  What  the  hell  happens  to  me,  without  her?”  

It starts like any other day for Jess – get up, draw on eyeliner, cover up tattoos and head to school. But soon it’s clear this is no ordinary day, because Jess’s best friend Eden isn’t at school…she’s gone missing. Jess knows she has to do everything in her power to try to find Eden before the unthinkable happens. So she starts to retrace their steps, looking back over the summer she and Eden have just spent together. She starts to notice new things. She starts to question everything she thought Eden’s summer had been about…A tense and thrilling journey through friendship, loss, betrayal and self discovery.

“A  powerful  exploration  of  the  extraordinary  power  of  friendship,  both  truthful  and  intense.  It’s  that  rare  and  wonderful  thing:  a  thriller  of  the  heart,  written  from  the  heart,  that  hits  home  straight  to  the  heart.”  

 -­‐  Melvin  Burgess,  Carnegie  Medal  winning  author  of  Junk

“Dazzling.  Utterly  gripping.  Writing  so  fresh  every  chapter  leaves  you  gasping  for  air  and  SO  tautly  plotted  it  hurts.  If  you’re  going  to  read  one  book  about  the  true  nature  of  friendship  let  it  be  EDEN  SUMMER.”  

-­‐  Brian  Conaghan,  Carnegie  Medal  shortlisted  author  of    When  Mr  Dog  Bites

By The River

**Just a little Spoiler Alert Warning before clicking on the clip**

Eden Summer jacket 3D

You can buy a copy of Eden Summer here or from your local book shop

About The Author

Liz Flanagan author pic Credit Sarah Mason Photography www.sarahmasonphotography.co.uk

Liz  lives  in  Hebden  Bridge  with  her  husband  and  two  daughters.  She  used  to  be Centre  Director  at  the  Ted  Hughes  Arvon  Centre,  and  previously  worked  in  children’s  book  publishing.  She’s  currently  studying  for  a  PhD  in  Creative  Writing  at  Leeds  Trinity  University.  Eden  Summer  is  inspired  by  Liz’s  own  experiences  of  loss.

You can find out more about Liz on her website www.lizflanagan.co.uk 

Or why not follow her on twitter – @lizziebooks

Blog Tour

Catch up of follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the below stops!  Eden Summer blog tour banner

A huge huge thank you to Liz for for such a videot and to Carolyn at David Fickling Books for organising!

Have you read Eden Summer?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued?  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 Q&A with Lisa Williamson


Tomorrow, 7th January 2016, marks the paperback book birthday of the stunning The Art Of Being Normal by the lovely Lisa Williamson!

Happy Paperback Book Birthday Lisa!

It’s been just over a year since this brilliant book was released in hardback by David Fickling Books and a year since I read it and it captured my heart.

It was featured on my 15 Best Books Read In 2015 post here.

Wow!  This was my first read of 2015 and what a way it was to start 2015.  Right from the offset, page one, this book gave me goose bumps!  Straight away I knew it was going to be something special.  Such an important, stunning beautifully written debut.  I loved every single page, every single feeling and every single message.  Most importantly this book, for me asked the question What Is Normal?  And my own answer to this is everyone is normal in their own unique ways and we should stand proud.

You can find my full review here

Today I am so over the moon to have the awesome Lisa Williamson on Tales!

When thinking about what post I would like to feature I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters in this book especially David so I thought it would be fitting to do a Q&A with that very character!

Luckily Lisa thought it was a fab idea….so here it is…

Hi David!  Welcome to Tale Of Yesterday!  I am so happy to have you here!

Firstly a little about your story…


Two boys. Two secrets. David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year 11 is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long …

So David.  Thanks for being here today and agreeing to this Q&A.  How are you?

Good, thank you. 

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

My name’s David William Piper. I’m fourteen and I’m in year ten at Eden Park School.  

You live with your Mum, Dad and Sister?  What is it like?

It’s okay, I suppose. We have quite a nice house. Not fancy or anything, but nice. 

Do you get on well with your sister Livvy?

Okay. She kind of ignores me. I think I show her up. I don’t know why, or maybe I do. We used to get on really well, like she’d follow me round the house begging me to play with her. Now all she does it roll her eyes at me and act like I’m the most embarrassing person on earth. 

Who are your friends at school?

Essie and Felix. They’re the best. We just get each other, you know? Like when I’m with them, I don’t ever feel like I have to act a certain way or pretend to be cool. We’ve been best friends in forever, since nursery school. They’re a couple, which is mostly cool but every so often a bit weird. Luckily they’re not too big on PDAs so I don’t feel like too much of a gooseberry. 

Do you enjoy school?

Not exactly. That’s more to do with the people than anything. There are some proper idiots in my year. I can’t wait to leave after year eleven. Essie, Felix and I are all going to apply to a sixth form college. Two years to go…

What’s your favourite class at school?

Textiles. I’m a disaster on the sewing machine though. I’m more into the design side of things. That’s what I’d like to be when I’m older, I think, a fashion designer, or maybe a stylist, something to do with clothes anyway. 

Where do you like to hang out?

Essie’s place. Essie’s Mum is really cool and kind of leaves us to it. Also, there’s always loads of diet cherry coke in her fridge and Monster Munch and KitKats and stuff in the cupboard. 

I hear there a new boy at school, Leo –  where did he come from?  I hear he’s helping you with your maths equations?

Yeah. He’s really cool actually and good at explaining stuff. He transferred to our school from Cloverdale at the beginning of the term. Have you heard of Cloverdale? It’s over other side of town. It’s meant to be really rough and the school is in the papers all the time because it’s so low in the league tables and former pupils keep trying to set fire to it. 

For those who haven’t met Leo could you describe him?

He’s sort of quiet, but not in a shy way, more like in a guarded way. He’s pretty serious so when he does laugh it’s like the best sound in the world. Does that sound weird? I didn’t mean it to, I just like it when he’s happy, I don’t quite know why. Essie reckons I fancy him but I don’t. I just find him interesting (Essie doesn’t think there’s a difference but there totally is). He’s grumpy but not in a mean way I don’t think, I just get the feeling he’s got a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes. I wish he’d tell my about it but he kind of shuts down when I ask him anything deep. 

How is Leo settling into school?

Okay, I think. He’s kind of keeping himself to himself. Like he eats lunch on his own quite a bit and then disappears outside. I don’t know where he goes. I kind of wish I did. Sometimes I wish I could just crawl inside his brain. 

Do you think you and Leo will become friends?

I hope so. It’s weird, because on paper we just shouldn’t be. I mean, if you’d told me a few weeks ago I’d be hanging out with someone from Cloverdale, I would never have believed you. I suppose that’s the nice thing about him being here, it’s kind of made me think differently about stuff.

I feel we need to get to know you a little better – can you tell us 5 things we don’t know about David Piper?

I’m left-handed. 

I was born six weeks premature and spent the first week of my life in an incubator.

I once stole an eyeliner from Boots. I felt so guilty, the next time I went in I put a fiver in the charity box on the counter to try and make up for it. 

I can tie a cherry stem in a knot using just my tongue.

I’ve never kissed anyone.

Quickfire Questions!

Favourite Ice Cream?

Chocolate. Always chocolate. 

Favourite Colour?


Favourite song to sing at Karaoke?

I’m a horrible singer but if I had a gun pointed to my head I’d do Shake It Off by Taylor Swift!

Favourite book or author?

Everyday by David Levithan

Favourite saying or quote?

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” (Oscar Wilde)

What do you think the future has in store for David Piper?

Wow, I don’t know. The future scares me a bit. Actually, a lot. I want to be happy, I suppose. That sounds well cheesy doesn’t it? I want to travel, definitely. I’ve only been to France, Spain and Florida so far. I want to be brave and push myself. I don’t mean bungee jumping or anything like that; I just don’t want to feel so scared of things. I’d like to go to university, to study fashion, maybe in London. I love London! 

If you could give one piece of advise to anyone reading this interview what would it be?

You want me to give some advice? Really? Um, I don’t know. The problem is, a lot of the advice I’d give someone else, is advice I should probably be accepting myself. That’s the thing about advice though, isn’t it? It’s easy to give out but really hard to put into practice yourself. Hmmmm, I guess I’d have to say, be true to yourself. It’s something I’m working on anyway…

Thank you so much for answering all my questions David. 


You can by The Art Of Being Normal here or why not visit your local independent bookshop for a copy 🙂

A huge huge thank you to Lisa for agreeing to a Q&A with a difference

About Lisa Williamson


I was born in Nottingham in 1980. I spent most of my childhood drawing, daydreaming and making up stories in my head (but never getting round to writing them down). As a teenager I was bitten by the acting bug and at 19 moved to London to study drama at university.

Following graduation, I adopted the stage name of Lisa Cassidy and spent several happy and chaotic years occasionally getting paid to pretend to be other people. Between acting roles I worked as an office temp and started making up stories all over again, only this time I had a go at writing them down. One of these jobs was at The Gender Identity Development Service – a specialist NHS service for young people struggling with their gender identity. The patient stories I heard inspired me to write The Art of Being Normal.

I live near Hampstead Heath with my boyfriend Matt, where I’m lucky enough to split my time between writing and acting. In my spare time I read a lot of books, continue to daydream and eat way too much ice cream.

Find out more about Lisa on her website – www.lisawilliamsonauthor.com

Or you can follow Lisa on twitter using @lisa_letters

You can by The Art Of Being Normal here or why not visit your local independent bookshop for a copy 🙂

Another huge huge thank you to Lisa for agreeing to a Q&A with a difference!

Have you read The Art Of Being Normal?  What did you think?  Has this Q&A or my review 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!


Review – The Art Of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson


Two boys. Two secrets. David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year 11 is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long …

Publisher – David Fickling Books

Date Published – 1st January 2015

Pages – 353 pages

Format – Hardback

Category – UK YA

Source –

I was sent a copy of this book by the wonderful Lovereading4kids and the publisher David Fickling Books in exchange for an honest review.  This does not affect my review or my opinions in any way.  Thank you both for sending me this book to read and review.  My review will also be submitted to Lovereading4kids.

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

Wow!  This is my first read of 2015 and all I can say is what a way to start 2015!  I finished this book today and wanted to write my book review straight away as I have that much love for this book.  Such an important, stunning beautifully written debut by Lisa Williamson and a great addition to UKYA. I really hope that my review does this book the justice it fully deserves and that I am able to get across just how special this book is.

**Please note – Because David uses male pronouns in his internal dialogue I have also done this in my review **

Right from the offset, page one, this book gave me goose bumps!  Straight away I new it was going to be something special.

The Art Of Being Normal tells the story of David Piper, who has always felt like the outsider and has always known that he is a transgender girl.  He has picked a name, has a collection of female clothes, a scrap book and many letters he has tried to write to his parents to let them know his feelings and wishes.  His best friends Essie and Felix are the only ones that know about David’s feelings and support him completely with Essie even giving David some old dresses she no longer wanted.  Leo Denton is the new boy in school, transferred from Cloverdale to Eden Park who’s motto is “Fairness and Initiative”, he wants to lay low and get through the rest of school year without making friends.  What he doesn’t bank on is catching the attention of the lovely Alicia, with Disney princess long eyelashes. and fighting the school bully Harry landing him in detention for weeks where he forms a friendship with David over maths equations and a dog named Phillip.

The story is told from alternate flowing perspectives with different font / styles of text to reflect David and Leo’s point of view which for me, as a reader, was perfect.  Both voices come across importantly and distinctively making both characters fully enjoyable and individual.  I also loved the fact that David loves Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food Ice Cream – ohhhh my favourite of all the ice creams – EVER!

Lisa Williamson really gets the emotions and feelings of the characters across beautifully and sensitively including obstacles that are thrown in their way.  The relationship that David has with his body is evident at the beginning of the story with a weekly examination session in front of the mirror where David writes measurements down each week to determine how his body is changing and becoming more masculine, when he knows he is a girl.  There’s a great passage of David’s thoughts when he sees a buggy with twin babies in where the baby girl is dressed in pink and the baby boy dressed in blue.  This is an assumption we make from birth and the passage really makes you think.

As well as the relationship between David and Leo I adored the relationship between David, Essie and Felix who call themselves The Non-Conformists.  They are so supportive and encouraging of David and his decisions or when things get too much and the relationship is natural and everything I, as a reader, would love in a best friend.

As the story develops further the relationship that is built between David and Leo is touching and endearing with the old empty swimming baths scene beautifully written and bringing tears to my eyes as well as some comedic light hearted scenes which involve bingo, alcohol and a memorable Karaoke scene.  Lisa Williamson has previously discussed the Karaoke scene in a previous Tales Of Yesterday post about does music influence characters or stories in UKYA which you can find here.  I have to say in answer to Lisa’s question on this post the lyrics she created really did work so well in the book.

I also loved how the book explored the rocky relationship Leo has with his Mother and in contrast the close relationship he has with his sisters.  On the other side of the coin we have David who is close to his parents, but scared they will disown him once he reveals the truth and a rocky relationship with his younger photogenic sister Livvy.  It was, for me, a welcome addition to the storyline which continued and was explored throughout the book.

The last quarter of the book did something very strange to me which involved my stomach flipping over and over and eyes becoming misty eyed with tears of joy and of thinking how this book could really help or be a support to transgender boys, girls, men and women as well as parents, teachers, carers, brothers, sisters and friends who are trying to support or maybe understand.  Or maybe to someone who is feeling confused about their gender with no where to turn.  With the recent tragic news about transgender teen Leelah Alcorn’s suicide it made me think whether, if more books like this had been available to her or the people around her, she might have felt less alone in the world.

There is a passage in the book where one character asks another what they love about a play they are watching and the answer to the question really sums up my feelings.

“The humour I guess.  And the love story, the way everything is a big muddle, but it all comes together at the last minute.  And the way you sort of know that that’s going to happen the whole way through, but when it happens you’re still really happy about it, even though you knew its was coming”

A perfect stunning, important read.  I loved every single page, every single feeling, every single message.  Transgender, gay, lesbian, straight, black, white, fat or thin no one has the right to make you feel bad about yourself and should all be accepted.  Most importantly this book, for me, is asking the question What Is Normal?  And my own answer to this is everyone is normal in their own unique ways and we should stand proud.  Maybe different is the norm?  We all need to shout this from the rooftops and spread the word and make different the norm!

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


You can find out more about debut author Lisa Williamson on her website – www.lisawilliamsonauthor.com or follow her on twitter – @lisa_letters

You can buy a copy of The Art Of Being Normal here

For more fab reviews of this book please check out the brilliant Lovereading4kids reviews of this book here.

Check out my Q&A with Lisa Williamson here

Have you read The Art Of Being Normal?  Are you planning to read?  Were you unsure and this review has persuaded you to go and buy this book?  Has this book helped you in any way?  I would love to hear from you – please feel free to use the reply button at the top of the review to post a comment or why not follow and tweet me on twitter on @chelleytoy – I would love to hear from you!

Happy Reading


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