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Tales Q&A with Graham Marks

 


 

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Gabe is feeling the pressure. His family has money troubles, he’s hardly talking to his dad, plus lowlife Benny is on his case.

Needing some space to think, he heads off into the hills surrounding LA. And he suddenly stumbles across a secret that will change everything. A shallow grave.

Gabe doesn’t think twice about taking the gold bracelet he finds buried there. Even from the clutches of skeletal hands. But he has no idea what he’s awakening…

Graham Mark’s chilling novel is part of the Red Eye series! 


 I recently read and enjoyed Bad Bones by Graham Marks (see my review and an extract from the book here) and I am honoured to have had the chance to put some questions to Graham to celebrate the release of this forth book in the fab Red Eye series from Stripes Publishing.

Join us to talk about the book, the characters and superhero’s!


Hi Graham!  Welcome to Tales Of Yesterday.  I’m so happy to have you here….although slightly scared of that gold bracelet you are holding in your hand and hoping it is not a present for me!

*gulps*

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Bad Bones tells the story of Gabe who’s family have fell on hard times and he is desperate to try and ease the burden and help his family even if it means running illegal errands for the school bully!  One night up in the canyon he stumbles across a shallow grave and some bones!  Upon further investigation he discovers a gold bracelet and decides that this may be the answer to his families troubles…he could be rich!  But what Gabe discovers is that he as unearthed something truly sinister!  Somebody wants that bracelet back and will do anything to retrieve it! Gabe finds he has awoken something truly terrifying!

Check out my review of Bad Bones here

Can you tell us a little about your contribution to the Red Eye series published by Stripes Publishing, Bad Bones?

 I still have the email from my agent, forwarding the email from Katie Jennings at Stripes which talked about the idea behind the Red Eye series; Katie was asking if any of my agent’s authors might be interested in contributing, and as I’d written some unpublished short horror stories, and some published horror comic strip scripts, but never done a horror novel, I thought ‘Why not have a go?’.

   I had the beginnings of an idea, no more than a page or so of notes, which had been waiting around for me to do something with it; I took the notes with me on a flight from London to San Francisco, and by the time I landed I had the storyline fleshed out and felt I had something worth going on with.

 What inspired you to write the story of Bad Bones?

 A few things…firstly there was Gabe and the circumstances he found himself in, how powerless he felt when it came to helping his family; then there was the sometimes destructive power of belief; finally there was the Law of Unintended Consequences, how Gabe had no idea where his discovery in the canyon would take him. And having created that set-up I had to find out what happened in the end.

 What made you set the book in the USA/LA?

I’ve always loved the States, since I was a kid, and California in particular; for me it’s always been a place of possibilities, of journeys and adventures. And the story idea, when it first popped into my head, was set in LA, a city I know quite well. I had an image of a young guy in a canyon at sunset and the story didn’t seem like it would work anywhere else.

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I’m slightly scared to ask this! Do you see yourself in any of the characters in Bad Bones or have you used any of your own experiences in the story?

 I still have a really strong connection with who I was as a teenager, and it’s not very long ago my sons went through that stage themselves, so I find myself drawn to those characters and know how they feel and think. But they’re only ever parts of me, never mirror images. And as all the people in my books, good and bad, are filtered through me and my twisted imagination, I have to admit I must be somewhere in all of them.

   But, apart from a couple of weird, spooky moments with a Ouija board a long time ago, I haven’t been through anything like what happened to Gabe – although having now written about them, I feel like I have!

 Gabe finds himself in some difficult tricky situations! When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

 Good question. Hmmm…[scratches head]…well, when I was at art school I had long hair at a time when skinheads, who didn’t like anyone, really didn’t like people with long hair; I got off a bus one evening and walked straight into a crowd of skins, one of whom showed me the sharpened handle of his metal comb and smiled. I turned and high-tailed it. In this case speed was the better part of valour.

*demands picture of Graham with long hair!*

How important are names to you? Did you pick the character names in Bad Bones for a reason?

 Names are top-of-the-list important to me. They have to sound real, they have to suit the character – without being in any way descriptive of that character, which is too jokey – and sometimes it’s nice if they give a character a good nickname.

   I used to use telephone directories, when they were still around, to trawl for names, but now it’s newspapers, magazines and the Net. If I see a graveyard, and have the time, I’ll wander round snapping phone pix of names I like on the gravestones.

   People often arrive in my head as a package, which was pretty much the case with everyone in Bad Bones – Gabe, Stella, Anton, and especially Benny Guettero and Cecil LeBarron. Except for Rafael Delacruz; he took a bit of research.

 One character I loved was Father Simon! I loved how he was an ex-CSI and still had all the gear in his office! What made you think up such a character?

 If you have someone evil like Rafael Delacruz you need to have the opposite side of the coin, which was Father Simon. Stella thinks he’s going to be able to help because he’s a priest, but there had to be more to it than that and when I had the idea that he was an ex-CSI it clicked for me.

   I don’t believe in what Father Simon believes in, but I can see why he does, which he explains to Gabe when he says:

“When you’ve seen the things I’ve seen, Gabe, you can’t help but end up believing in true evil…the Devil. I couldn’t, anyway, which means you also have to take on board the other side of the equation. I saw the darkest of the dark side, and then I saw the light.

You could say.” I like Father Simon, too, I like the way he surprises Gabe.

 If you could cast your characters from Bad Bones in a big Hollywood film adaptation which actors would you choose?

 Sometimes, if an actor fits the bill for one of my characters I’ll pin a pic of them up, but as a rule I don’t spend too much time describing the characters in my books because I like readers to create their own images from how the characters talk, what they do and how they do it. I use a lot of dialogue and ‘stage directions’ to allow readers see the scenes play out and make their own minds up about what the players look like.

   Who would I cast in a movie version of Bad Bones? I have no idea, I’ll have to get back to you on that one!

Do you like to scare your readers?

 I prefer to freak and creep them out. The horror element in Bad Bones is, I think, more psychological than blood’n’guts.

 We would love to know a little bit more about you!  Can you give us 5 random facts we don’t know about Graham Marks?

 1 – I have been around the world (my sister lives in Auckland and I bought a west-to-east round-trip ticket a couple of years ago and went to visit her).

2 – I’ve always wanted to be a private detective.

3 – I used to be a dog person, but now I’m a cat person.

4 – Whatever you call dyslexia of numbers, I’ve got a little bit of that.

5 – I’m very good at reading upside down and back to front.

I feel I should have asked for evidence of the reading upside down and back to front fact! 🙂

 I read that your career has spanned through children’s publishing, firstly as a Creative Director and latterly as a journalist and you’re also an award-winning author! Wow! Can you tell us a bit more about this? 

 I began my working life as a designer, working on children’s non-fiction books; when I began writing I wrote children’s books (stick with what you know…), and as a journalist I was the Children’s Editor for a trade magazine that covered the publishing industry. Can you see a pattern here?

   A fairly universal truth about writers is that when they start out they often have a side job. I was no exception, but all mine have always been to do with writing and they weren’t jobs I hated, so I was never desperate to leave them. And I like being busy.

 Can you tell us a bit about some of your other books? Is it true that your first published work was a book of poetry, which came out while you were studying Graphics at Harrow School of Art?

 It is true. I had started to write poetry at school and carried on when I went to Art School – I used to send poems into the local newspaper, which published so many of them someone complained, saying other people should get a look in. In my third year I had a graphics tutor called Paul Peter Piech, a wonderful man who happened to have his own small press; he saw my poetry, liked it and published a slim volume called Seeing is Touching, which he also illustrated with his signature woodcuts.

   Even though the book was well-reviewed I didn’t write another thing for a good ten years. My first novel, The Finding of Stoby Binder, failed to set the world on fire and it was some time before I tried again; when I did, none of the six books I wrote made me a household name and I hung up my writer’s hat for a second time. But the thing was, the ideas wouldn’t go away and some five or six years later I sat down and started working on Radio Radio…

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 I also read that you previously worked for Marvel Comics writing scripts!  This must have been an experience?

 It was a dream come true! I’ve always loved comics, they were how I learnt to read and my parents – unlike my teachers – never had any problems with me reading them because I also read a lot of books as a kid.

   To me, comics, the real thing, happened in America and I wasn’t in America. When Marvel opened up a UK office I was lucky enough to get hired as one of their writers, and it was an amazing experience.

 Who is your favourite Marvel Character?

 Of all time? Hard one, but probably Dr Strange. A close second would be Spider-Man.

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 If you could have any superpower what would it be?

 The ability to fly.

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

 I have to say that it was probably Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven which first grabbed me as a reader, then Just William, by Richmal Crompton (who I thought was a man for a long time, and was shocked to discover was a lady!) sealed the deal. From there on it was Dennis Wheatly, Raymond Chandler, Damon Runyon, among many others – all writers I picked up from my parents’ shelves.

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Are there any recent works or authors that you admire or books you wish you had written or that you would like to collaborate with in the future?

 As an adult, I’d say the authors who I’ve found most inspirational have been Tom Robbins and Elmore Leonard, both of whom have taught me so much about writing, language, dialogue and story. I’d also add Iain Banks, who could not only write the best SciFi, but was also a great non-genre novelist – The Wasp Factory is the most extraordinary debut novel I’ve ever read.

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   As to collaboration, I don’t know. It’s hard enough working with myself, and then going over everything with an editor, without adding another writer to the mix!

 What do you think makes a good story?

 Great characters, plus a beginning which, like Velcro, won’t let you go, a middle which keeps the pages turning and does not sag and an end that leaves you completely satisfied and achingly sad that it’s all over at one and the same time. Easy, really.

 Over on Tales Of Yesterday I have recently been asking YA authors if music has any influence to their writing and/or characters. Is there a particular song that influenced Bad Bones and/or it’s characters and if so how or why?

 Some of my books have a very definite soundtrack, and have specific songs mentioned in them – my oldest son wrote the lyrics I used in Radio Radio, and he also recorded a track for the promo CD that went out with the review copies – but there was no one song or band which influenced Bad Bones. I do write with music playing, and I use it to either change my mood to suit what I’m writing about, or to energize me if I’m flagging – I’ve found Green Day particularly good at doing that.

Oh Yay!  This gives me an excuse to add this music video!

 What’s next? Any exciting plans that you are able to reveal? Any more contributions to the Red Eye series?

 I have a couple of ideas bubbling away quite nicely at the moment, which is about as much as I can say right now; I don’t know what the plans are at Red Eye HQ, but they know where I am…

Thank you Graham for answering all my questions and featuring on Tales Of Yesterday……now please take that gold bracelet away it’s starting to look rather inviting…..


About Graham Marks

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Graham has spent his whole career in children’s publishing, firstly as a Creative Director and latterly as a journalist and award-winning author. His first published work was a book of poetry, which came out while he was studying Graphics at Harrow School of Art. He has also worked for Marvel Comics writing scripts and in advertising as a copywriter.

Find out more about Graham Marks by visiting his website here or follow him on twitter – @GeeMarks


I would like to say a huge thank you to Graham for answering all of my question and Stripes Publishing and LoveReading4Kids for sending me the book to read and review!

 Its been a very scary journey *looks over shoulder and shudders*!

You can buy a copy of Bad Bones here

Or why not checkout the other titles in the Red Eye Series here

Find my review of Bad Bones here

A Scary Moments Guest Post here

Also a spotlight post on Bad Bones for the #RedEyeReadAlong here or here

Also do follow the new YA community from Stripes Publishing – doyareadme.tumblr.com or on twitter @doyareadme for news, competitions and more.

Don’t forget to check out the fab Lovereading4kids also! – here

Don’t forget to check out my review of Bad Bones and a fab extract – here

Have you read this book or any of the other Red Eye series?  Do you like a scary read?  Who’s your favourite super hero?  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 and no digging up buried treasure!

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Review – Bad Bones by Graham Marks


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Gabe is feeling the pressure. His family has money troubles, he’s hardly talking to his dad, plus lowlife Benny is on his case.

Needing some space to think, he heads off into the hills surrounding LA. And he suddenly stumbles across a secret that will change everything. A shallow grave.

Gabe doesn’t think twice about taking the gold bracelet he finds buried there. Even from the clutches of skeletal hands. But he has no idea what he’s awakening…

Graham Mark’s chilling novel is part of the Red Eye series! 

See the creepy trailer below!


Publisher – Stripes Publishing

Date Published – 4th May 2015

Pages – 336 pages

Format – Paperback

Category – UKYA / YA Horror

Source –

I was sent a copy of this book via LoveReading4Kids and the wonderful Stripes Publishing!  This does not affect my review or my opinions in any way and am delighted to write an honest review.  Thank you to Stripes Publishing for sending me this book to read!


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


Bad Bones by Graham Marks is the fourth book to be released in 2015 as part of the new YA Horror Red Eye Series by Stripes Publishing with another title to come later this year.

Today I am bringing you my review and an exclusive extract from the book!

Also check out my Q&A with Graham Marks here

As you all may already know I love a creepy and scary read and loved the previous Red Eye books I have read so far, Frozen Charlotte (see my guest post with Alex Bell here or my review here), and Flesh and Blood (see my guest post with Simon Cheshire here or my review here) .

I used to love the 90’s Point Horror series when I was a teenager as well as being a huge fan of James Dawson and I am excited about the whole premise of a new UK YA Horror series with a contemporary makeover that has left me craving more and to collect and read the rest in the series asap.

You can find the original press release and more information on the fantastic Red Eye series here.

You can see the creepy Red Eye Series book trailer below….if you dare!

Graham Mark’s contribution to the fab Red Eye series is a welcome addition and one that I enjoyed.  I am a huge Indiana Jones fan and I found that whilst not exactly the same it had hints of a young Indiana Jones feel to the book which I thoroughly enjoyed!

Bad Bones tells the story of Gabe who’s family have fell on hard times and he is desperate to try and ease the burden and help his family even if it means running illegal errands for the school bully!  One night up in the canyon he stumbles across a shallow grave and some bones!  Upon further investigation he discovers a gold bracelet and decides that this may be the answer to his families troubles…he could be rich!  But what Gabe discovers is that he as unearthed something truly sinister!  Somebody wants that bracelet back and will do anything to retrieve it! Gabe finds he has awoken something truly terrifying!

The book explores an Aztec back story with Gabe unearthing the bracelet and then starting to have dreams about ancient rituals with gold masks and crucifixes and sacrifices! And when an owl, some coyotes and a stranger start to follow him and stare at him from afar Gabe begins to feel like there is something strange going on!

*Shivers*

[On a side note – every time Gabe went up to the canyon or the Aztec’s were mentions I kept visualising the Crystal Maze Aztec zone!  What is wrong with me!!!!!  Does anyone remember this? *Grabs crystal and runs for the exit*]

The characters in Bad Bones were all unique with the main focus being on Gabe and a growing friendship between himself and girl scout Stella who tries to warn Gabe about running errands for school bully Benny and his right hand “bozos”  who’s decked out van sounded awesome!  Just me?!  Whilst being a story about ghosts and Aztec rituals it had a good theme of friendship with Gabe and his best friend Anton being “blood brothers”!  There were pictures and the scars to prove it!  And with often occurring messages about trust it made me actually care for Gabe and his friends!

I especially related to Gabe’s love for Peanut M&M’s!  Nom Nom Nom!  He even cracks open a huge XXL bag to share with Stella!  Now THATS friendship!  If that was me….nope too late they are all gone!  Yummy in my tummy!

Anyway…..

For me the best character was Father Simon who Gabe and Stella turn to for help!  A man of the cloth and an ex CSI agent!  Yes you heard me right!

*plays CSI Las Vegas music*

And in his Mission / Church he had all kinds of ex CSI gadgets and gizmos and equipment and I LOVED him!  He was so cool!  He could even tell you if your note had been written in blood!

And…and….and….that’s not all!  Oh no indeedy!  Not only is he a man of the cloth and ex forensic scientist….he is also a forensic historian!!!!

See…Father Simon = AWESOME!

*Throws peanut M&M’s in mouth in satisfaction*

There was a few heart racing moments in this book with one being when Gabe’s sister is in danger and he first encounters and realises what is after him!  What pursues is a showdown where a crucifix and determination save the day…..well on this particular day anyway!

I also have a favourite line / quote from this book which I thought was chillingly beautiful….

“Like this coin, life is all about what you do with it, how you choose to spend it”

This book gets you straight into the action and whilst getting some back stories into the character it is more focused on the present and the story with some religious undertones, creepy goings on, ritual style murders, a angry man with red eyes and an action packed ending…I would NOT want to be the school bully in this book 😉

It’s a great addition to the Red Eye collection!  Go grab a copy!  But make sure it’s not guarded by some ancient bones! 😉

Do check back in a couple of weeks for a Q&A with the author Graham Marks!  Now without further ado I present to you an exclusive extract from Bad Bones……


Exclusive Extract

I am honoured, with the publishers permission to be able to share a fab exclusive extract with you from Bad Bones!  Read and Enjoy…….IF YOU DARE!

Don’t forget to check below the extract for the Tales rating of this book!

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I award this book 3 out of 5 Tales Of Yesterday Books!

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You can find out more about author Graham Marks on his website here

Or check out my Q&A with Graham Marks here

Or a guest post of Scary Moments here

Also check out a Spotlight for Bad Bones for the Red Eye Read Along here or here

You can buy a copy of Bad Bones here

Or why not checkout the other titles in the Red Eye Series here

Also do follow the new YA community from Stripes Publishing – doyareadme.tumblr.com or on twitter @doyareadme for news, competitions and more.

Don’t forget to check out the fab Lovereading4kids also! – here

Have you read this book or any of the other books in the Red Eye Series?  What did you think?  Are you a fan of YA Horror?  Do you think you will give this book a go after reading this review?  I would love to hear from you – please leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or why not tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Running from ghosts!sig

Review – Flesh & Blood by Simon Cheshire


RE_FleshandBlood_C  I must record the facts that have led me to where I am now. So that, when someone reads this, they understand. Sam Hunter’s neighbours are pillars of the community, the most influential people in town. But they’re liars too. The Greenhills are hiding something and Sam’s determined to find out what it is. As his investigation unfolds, he realizes the lies reach further than he ever imagined – is there anyone he can trust? Uncovering the horror is one thing …escaping is another.


Publisher – Stripes Publishing

Date Published – 2nd March 2015

Pages – 336 pages

Format – Paperback

Category – UK YA / YA Horror

Source –

I was sent a copy of this book originally by the wonderful Lovereading4kids in exchange for an honest review.  Stripes Publishing then asked me to be part of the blog tour for this book and sent me another copy in exchange for an honest review (which I will be doing a little giveaway further down the post 🙂 ).  This does not affect my review or my opinions in any way.  Thank you both for sending me this book to read and review.


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


Flesh and Blood by Simon Cheshire is the third book to be released in 2015 as part of the new YA Horror Red Eye Series by Stripes Publishing with more titles to come later this year.

As you all may already know I love a creepy and scary read and loved the previous Red Eye book I read called Frozen Charlotte (see my review here), and most recently Bad Bones (see my review here), but Flesh and Blood took the scares and in this case gore up another notch on the heart rate meter!   I used to love the 90’s Point Horror series when I was a teenager as well as being a huge fan of James Dawson and I am excited about the whole premise of a new UK YA Horror series with a contemporary makeover that has left me craving more and to collect and read the rest in the series asap.

You can find the original press release and more information on the fantastic Red Eye series here.

You can see the creepy Red Eye Series book trailer below….if you dare!

Dear Readers….

Here is my account of a book called Flesh and Blood….which I need to write objectively like an enthusiastic blogger would do….but firstly….this book scared the hibbie jeebies out of me!

I must record the facts, a sequence of events, the chain of suspicions and thoughts that I had whilst reading this book that led me to how I feel right now!  So that when someone reads this they understand!

I have to set down everything, to document it, from the beginning.

I have to think clearly.  Breathe deeply.

I’ll sit and think for a while.  Then I’ll write…..

I have to face the consequence of my actions, of what I would do for my love of YA Horror!

If events had happened differently, if I hadn’t been so intent of on following my love for a good old scare then perhaps I wouldn’t be here now, sitting at this desk…alone and scared!

You see, whilst reading this book I met a character called Sam Hunter who wants to be a journalist.  Sam was new to the town of Hadlington!  He moved with his parents, after they came into some money, to a house on an unlit street called Priory Mews.  New area meant new school for Sam, Maybrick High, and he soon made friends with the lovely Jo and joker Liam.  There is a mansion also in the same cul de sac where Sam lives called Bierce Priory where the prettiest girl in school, Emma Greenhill, lives with her GP mother and surgeon father and her creepy grandfather.

All pretty normal eh?….but this was the book lulling me into a false sense of security!

The Bierce Priory mansion is creepy!  At night Sam hears screams, see things he shouldn’t see …. hears things he shouldn’t hear….but that was just the noisy old mansion boilers right?!  People from the rough estate, Elton Gardens start going missing and dead bodies are found in the town with body parts or organs removed from their actual bodies!  But surely that must be the gangs from Elton Gardens right?!  And what’s with everybody getting the sniffles?!

Do we really know our neighbours?  I mean I live next door to my Mom and since reading this book have started to look at her a bit funny and in horror…..is her house like Bierce Priory?! *dum dum duuuuuuummmm*

*gulps at receiving a Halloween party invitation*

Only kidding Mom, but this book really does make you think….and creeps you out!

If I only new that this book would draw me in as much as it did, scare me to death reading late at night and make me feel a bit icky whilst eating a good spag bol….but all in a good way! *nervous laugh*

Sam tells his story through writing a journal sometimes breaking from the story to talk directly to the reader….I really felt for Sam and was routing for him all the way through!  The relationship he builds with his new friends Jo and Liam is touching and very horror movie-esqe as in he ropes them in to help when they should be running the other way!  And the poor guy sees a dead body on his first day of new school….I mean he was destined for trouble!  Poor Sam!

At one point during Sam’s account of events he begins to imagine horrific things like bugs crawling on him and mouths opening wide to eat him!  This for me was terrifying but also one of my favourite parts of Sam’s account as the detail really sent my imagination into overdrive!  I had to cuddle my Sammy Seal teddy and sleep with the light on all night afterwards….erm did I really just say that out loud?! *blushes*…I totally mean I was brave!

The book instilled memories of watching the films The Stepford Wives with a mixture of Saw and Hostel thrown into the mix!  Wow what a truly cool and terrifying combination!

Simon Cheshire’s contribution to the fab Red Eye series is fantastic!  The book and writing style do exactly what they are supposed to do for the reader as a YA Horror should and will proudly sit on my shelf next to the others in the series! Thank you Simon and Stripes Publishing for keeping my love for YA Horror well and truly alive! *pinches self to check I am still alive*

The facts of what are contained in this book that I read I really cannot share although I want to, but….spoilers… you really need to all read it for yourselves….find out the real account…the first hand account ….the truth….from Sam Hunter…IF YOU DARE!

There’s also a creepy prequel over on @DoYAReadMe! – here

I award this book 4 out of 5 Tales Of Yesterday Books!

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You can find out more about author Simon Cheshire on his website here

Check out my guest post with Simon Cheshire where he talks about his top 5 scares – here

Or a moment to chill the blood guest post by Simon Cheshire here

Flesh and Blood was also feature in the #RedEyeReadAlong in October – here and here

You can buy a copy of Flesh and Blood here

Or why not checkout the other titles in the Red Eye Series here

Also do follow the new YA community from Stripes Publishing – doyareadme.tumblr.com or on twitter @doyareadme for news, competitions and more.

Don’t forget to check out the fab Lovereading4kids also! – here


Giveaway!

Fancy winning this fab book?  I have one copy to giveaway!

RT and Follow on twitter using this link below.

End 18th March 2015.  Winner will be announced 19th March 2015.

Win a copy of Flesh and Blood by Simon Cheshire 

Have you read this book or any of the other books in the Red Eye Series?  What did you think?  Are you a fan of YA Horror?  Do you think you will give this book a go after reading this review?  I would love to hear from you – please leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or why not tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Creepy Reading

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Tales Q&A with Alex Bell


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Following recently reading one of the first books in Stripes Publishing new Red Eye YA Horror series, Frozen Charlotte which was released on 5th January 2015 I have had the absolute honour of putting some questions together for the author Alex Bell.  This is no ordinary Q&A! Oh No!  This has Questions with a TWIST!  And answers that are CHILLING AND CREEPY!

 Do you dare to read on?

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We’re waiting for you to come and play. Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind…Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lillias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there’s her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn’t be there. The girl that died.


About Alex Bell

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Alex Bell was born in 1986.  She always wanted to be a writer but had several different back-up plans to ensure she didn’t end up in the poor house first. For some years these ranged from dolphin trainer to animal shelter vet but then, at fifteen, she had an epiphany involving John and Robert Kennedy and decided to become a lawyer instead.

To that end she eagerly started a Law degree. Whilst at university, she wrote a grand total of six complete novels (admittedly there was not much of a social life during this time). The second book got her an agent with Carolyn Whitaker of London Independent Books but, unfortunately, not a publisher. The third book, written during her first summer holidays off from university, found a home with Gollancz. The Ninth Circle came out in April 2008 with possibly the most beautiful cover ever created. Since then she has published novels and short stories for both adults and young adults.

After deciding to use her Law degree for good, instead of for evil, she also works as an advisor for the Citizens Advice Bureau. Most of her spare time consists of catering to the whims of her Siamese cat.


Frozen Charlotte is a YA Horror with a contemporary makeover.  Set in a creepy old school house on an isolated windy island Sophie finds hunting for answers about her cousin Rebecca’s death a dangerous, creepy affair!  What’s more Rebecca used to play with some small dolls called Frozen Charlotte dolls and as well as looking creepy they may just be alive!  Find my full review here.

 In the hope of gaining an interview with the wonderful author Alex Bell I seemed to have encountered a creepy Frozen Charlotte doll sitting in my lemonade who seems rather worryingly eager to answer my questions and bite me….I am actually slightly scared!  SEND HELP!

Erm……Hi!  Do you have a name? 

 My name is Charlotte. We’re all called Charlotte.

Why are you and all of the dolls named Frozen Charlotte?  Where does the name come from?

We’re named after a Victorian girl who rode to a ball in an open carriage. Her mother told her to wear her cloak so she wouldn’t catch cold in the snow but Charlotte didn’t want to crease her dress and she also wanted everyone to see how pretty she looked as she rode by. By the time they arrived at the ball she had frozen to death and was stone cold dead. Ha! Get it? Stone cold dead! Hee, hee, hee!

 Describe yourself in 5 words.

 Charlotte is cold, cold, cold.  

Could I have a picture?

Frozen Charlotte

As you can see, I’ve got my gold shoes and my stockings but I still need someone to make me a dress – a pretty one that doesn’t have any bloodstains on it. I also want a bonnet.  

 How long have you lived in the Old School House?

Since 1910. It was a proper school back then with lots of girls to play with. They used to make little dresses for us out of scraps of fabric and sometimes we had fake funerals with tiny graves in the garden. We like being dead. You’d like it too. It’s such fun. 

 Who do you play with in the house?

 Sometimes we play with Rebecca. She’s dead too. 

What games do you like to play?

We love playing games! Do you want to play a game with us now? How about the Knife Murder Game? Or Push-Teacher-Down-The Stairs Game? Or – I know! I know! – let’s play the Stick-a-Needle-in-Your-Eye Game! That’s my favourite! Ooh, I love that one!

 I’ve heard you also like to cause trouble?  What kind of trouble do you cause?

We don’t cause trouble! We only want to make friends and play games. Where’s the harm in that? You shouldn’t play with needles or matches, though. That can definitely lead to trouble. 

 Where are you kept in the Old School House?

 Inside a locked doll cabinet.

Do you like being locked in the cabinet?

Would you like being locked in a cabinet?

 Do you ever escape?

That would be telling. 

 Do you know what happened to Rebecca?

 Rebecca died. Out on the cliff top. She was naughty. Very naughty.

 Okay now I’m thoroughly creeped out and as I was hoping to speak to the author Alex Bell today I guess I will have to ask YOU a little about the book!

 What role do you play in the book Frozen Charlotte?

 We just want to make friends with Sophie and Piper and Lilias. Not Cameron, though. We hate Cameron. In fact, we wouldn’t mind if we never saw him ever again. We wouldn’t mind if he had some kind of accident out on the cliff top. It’s easy to have an accident out on the cliff top, you know. 

What should the reader expect from reading the book?

 They should expect to visit a converted schoolhouse on the Isle of Skye with a great location, beautiful views and lots and lots of antique dolls to play with. Some of the games get a bit scary, though, so they probably shouldn’t read it if they’re going to whine and cry all the time and spoil the fun. We get angry when people spoil the fun. 

What’s happened to the author Alex Bell I was hoping to interview her?

She’s off playing the Knife Murder Game. She may be gone for some time. 

 Phew – I’m so glad you take kindly to interviewers!

Our pleasure. Now how about we liven things up with a game?

GULPS!!

Frozen Charlotte coffin


I would like to thank Alex for taking the time to answer these and feature on Tales Of Yesterday.  It really is an honour and I look forward to reading more of her books and more of the Red Eye series.

I’m going to lock those Frozen Charlotte Dolls away now *runs and cries for Mommy*

You can find out more about author Alex Bell on her website here or follow her on twitter – @alex_bell86

You can buy a copy of Frozen Charlotte here

Or why not checkout the other titles in the Red Eye Series here

Also do follow the new YA community from Stripes Publishing – doyareadme.tumblr.com or on twitter @doyareadme for news, competitions and more.

Check out my review of Frozen Charlotte here

Or why not check out a Twilight Zone related guest post from Alex Bell here

Or a guest post about Point Horror and Haunted Houses here

During the #RedEyeReadAlong I threw the spotlight on Frozen Charlotte here

Have you read Frozen Charlotte?  What did you think of the Q&A above?  Are you intrigued to read?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment by using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy hiding from Frozen Charlotte Dolls….I mean Reading!

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Review – Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell


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We’re waiting for you to come and play. Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind…Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lillias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there’s her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn’t be there. The girl that died.


Publisher – Stripes Publishing

Date Published – 5th January 2015

Pages – 352 pages

Format – Ebook / Kindle Edition

Category – UK YA / YA Horror

Source –

I was sent a copy of this book by the wonderful publishers, Stripes Publishing via Netgalley 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.


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


Frozen Charlotte is one of two books released this new year in  January as part of the new YA Horror Red Eye Series by Stripes Publishing with three more titles to come in 2015.   I have read and reviewed some others in the series – Flesh & Blood – here and Bad Bones – here.  I have also been lucky enough to have some fab guest posts from Alex Bell, author of Frozen Charlotte – here and Simon Cheshire, author of Flesh & Blood – here and a Q&A with Dark Room author Tom Becker here

I love a creepy and scary read and Frozen Charlotte was really spine chillingly creepy.  As some of you may already know I used to love the 90’s Point Horror series when I was a teenager as well as being a huge fan of James Dawson and I am excited about the whole premise of a new UK YA Horror series with a contemporary makeover that will leave me wanting to collect and read the rest in the series.  For me, Frozen Charlotte did exactly that.

You can find the original press release and more information on the fantastic Red Eye series here.

You can see the creepy Red Eye Series book trailer below….if you dare!

Frozen Charlotte is set in a creepy old school house on a cliff on an isolated windy island where Sophie, our main character, finds hunting for answers about her cousin Rebecca’s death a dangerous, creepy affair!  What’s more before Rebecca died she used to play with some small dolls she found in the house called Frozen Charlotte dolls and as well as looking creepy they may just be alive!

The start of this book gives us a chilling prologue set in the past many years before Rebecca’s death and gives us a short but spine chilling insight into what the reader should expect from this book and reading this late at night sent a shiver down my spine.

Sophie’s story begins in a café in her hometown where her best friend Jay play with a Ouija board with a difference –  on a mobile phone app.  Sophie decides to suggest contacting her dead cousin Rebecca Craig who died in a mysterious accident at Sophie’s Uncles house in Scotland.  Sophie finds the whole thing rather funny.  Even the messages on the Ouija App like Black Sand, Daddy Says Never Leave The Gate Open and Charlotte Is Cold do little to convince her of a ghostly presence answering their questions.  That is until a scary moment happens in the café which changes Sophie’s life forever and leads her to go and stay with her Uncle in Scotland to find out the truth.

Upon arriving on the island we get to meet Sophie’s Uncle and cousins.  There’s mysterious musician Cameron, beautiful bubbly, Piper with her own unique way of making lemonade and sad cartilogenophobe (scared of bones) younger cousin Lilias who say the dolls talk to her!  Sophie, our main character,  is a strong and brave main character who reminded me a little of Neve Campbell in the Scream movies.  I also want her sheep pyjamas and unicorn onesie as they just sound all kinds of fabulous!

As well as the main characters there are Frozen Charlotte Dolls….lots of them…and yes they are very creepy!  There is also a African Grey Parrot who gave me as a reader a little light relief mainly due to his inappropriate timing of saying things like “There’s Blood Under The Rug” which along with mysterious icy hands and mysterious laughing in the house made me wish I had not started this book in a quiet house at night!

There are some classic horror movie scenes in this book and I could easily see this book being made into a film.  For me the best most scary scene which I could actually picture myself hiding behind a cushion watching was where one of the characters hears something and goes to investigate!  In the Dark!  With only a camera flash to light her way illuminating the horror unfolding before her!  I was terrified!

Now I have to admit I have never heard of a Frozen Charlotte doll.  I recognised the description, but never knew that that is what they were called.  Whilst reading this book I looked up a description of them.  Why oh why did I do this?  Finding the description, the pictures and finding out that the story Alex Bell tells about the actual Frozen Charlotte is a real folk ballad and the story behind it is exactly as described by Alex in the book terrified the life out of me.  But remember I like to be scared! *Cries for Mommy….I mean pfffttt me not scared never!*

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Find out more about Frozen Charlotte Dolls here or about the cautionary tale concerning a young girl called Charlotte who refused to wrap up warmly to go on a sleigh ride to a New Years Eve Ball, but upon arriving at the ball, her fiancé discovers that she has frozen to death during the journey called the Fair Charlotte Ballad here.

I really liked this book and one thing I loved about this book was all of the chapters begin with a short rhyming poem that tell the story of the actual Frozen Charlotte through the Fair Charlotte Ballad.  Along with the descriptions of the stick needles in your eyes Frozen Charlotte dolls throughout the book it really sets the tone and it was really creepy.  The climatic ending got my heart racing and had a Point Horror style twist that was perfect.

Alex Bell has done such a fantastic job with this book.  I honestly will be telling everyone to give it a try and I will be reading the next books in the Red Eye Series.  Its not that scary…just quite creepy with a real horror movie vibe and I really would recommend it to any YA Horror fans alike or any one looking for something different to read.  Even if your too scared for horror….give it a go…you don’t want the Frozen Charlotte Dolls after you do you?

Also check out my creepy interview with a twist with a Frozen Charlotte Doll here!

I award this book 4 out of 5 Tales Of Yesterday Books!

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You can find out more about author Alex Bell on her website here or follow her on twitter – @alex_bell86

You can buy a copy of Frozen Charlotte here

Or why not checkout the other titles in the Red Eye Series here

Also do follow the new YA community from Stripes Publishing – doyareadme.tumblr.com or on twitter @doyareadme for news, competitions and more.

Check out a creepy Q&A with Alex Bell here

or

A Twilight Zone related guest post by Alex Bell here

Or a Guest post about Point Horror and Haunted Houses here

During the #RedEyeReadAlong I also threw the spotlight on Frozen Charlotte here

Have you read this book or any of the other books in the Red Eye Series?  What did you think?  Are you a fan of YA Horror?  Do you think you will give this book a go after reading this review?  I would love to hear from you – please leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or why not tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Creepy Reading

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